crafts · knitting · Sewing

Decisions (In which I am bad at them!)

I spent Easter weekend in Cincinnati – I was hired by a downtown church to sing their Easter masses, and we stayed with my husband’s family.  I had intended to finish up my Audrey sweater, but I left the instructions at home!  Still, it is nearly finished now (I worked on it last night while I performed my lone Easter tradition – watching Jesus Christ Superstar.)  Here is where I am:

I shortened the sleeves to elbow length – I turned out to be just a tiny bit short on yarn, so I finished everything except the sleeves and weighed my remaining yarn to determine how long I could make them.  This yarn (manos silk blend) is beautiful, but I can’t recommend it because it’s pilling while I knit with it – not a good sign for the longevity of my sweater!  I have not bought buttons yet.  Due to the intensity of the color, I can’t match the yarn, so I’m trying to find some contrasting (likely black) buttons that are unusual.

While in Cincinnati, I visited my favorite yarn store there (Knit On in Newport) and bought some yarn for my next knitting  project:

I’ve never used this yarn (Cascade Ultra Pima) but it has the most beautiful shine!  I have wanted to make this sweater forever, but I’m just now getting to it.

Obviously I haven’t been sewing, since I’ve been away from my machine, but I am ready to start my next project tomorrow.  The problem?  I can’t decide which of these dresses to make!  The first:

Vogue 8728 in poly charmeuse.  This pattern had a rather bad review posted to Patternreview the other day, which only makes me more anxious to try it out.  I read through the directions, and they are definitely vintage – the dress uses lapped seams, and sew-in interfacing.  It also has an unusual method of gathering the neck, involving tear away stabilizer.

Butterick 5600, which I mentioned last week, in chambray with pink buttons.  I would probably use the little puffy sleeves as well, but that’s not certain!

So… what say you all?  Which one should I make next?  Otherwise it will probably take me all week to settle on one!

crafts · knitting · Sewing

WIPs and future projects

Well, it looks like my sewcation ground to a bit of a halt there at the end!  I had a nasty dentist appointment (having the crown I chipped in Italy replaced,) which took me out for a bit, and then there were actual social obligations – family visits, birthday parties etc – to attend.   In the middle of all that, I had to show our condo for rental (our great renters are finally moving out!) Luckily, it was rented very quickly!  In addition, I’m experiencing a bit of frustration with my current sewing project.

This is Butterick 5491 in rayon jersey from Joann’s.  I had enough fabric to line the bodice, but what I didn’t realize was that it also called for underlining to bodice – that’s 3 layers of fabric in the front!  I didn’t have enough, and I wasn’t going to buy more, so I decided to take away the underlining and just line the bodice normally.  That’s gone fairly well.  The problem I’m having has to do with the neck binding.

The patterns calls for topstitching through the lining and fashion fabric to make the casing for the binding, after the lining has been sewn to the fashion fabric (the gathers for the shoulders are in place at that point.)  I can’t get to look nice at all, which frustrates me.  I think it’s my fabric – the print has so much contrast that I can’t get the topstitching to be invisible, so any unevenness shows.  In addition, the dress is really heavy with all the gathered fabric, and I worry about stretching.  I’m seriously considering creating a tie neckline (as I did in Vogue 8380.)  I think a black grosgrain ribbon would look really good there, and it would provide more support for the dress (I’m glad I left out that other layer – it’s so heavy already!)

But on the bright side – I think the dress is really cute! This photo is a few days old – I’m actually to the point of sewing the side seams (the last thing before the straps!)

I also thought I would show you where I am on my cardigan:

The color is so pretty… I can’t wait to wear it!  I’ve been a bit hung up on winding the yarn.  Usually, when you buy a yarn that isn’t wound into balls, it will be looped in a circle, which you can put on a swift (or some nice person’s outstretched arms) and wind into a ball.  This yarn seems to be wound back onto itself, and it’s taken me over an hour to wind each ball, most of which is spent swearing and untangling.  I have seen some tangled skeins, but never anything like this (the yarn is Manos Wool/silk blend.  Beware!)  I’ve gotten my husband addicted to watching Turner Classic Movies with me, and that’s what we do while I knit.  We just got the channel – where has it been my whole life?  Love it!

I hope to finish the dress this weekend, assuming I can work through my issues.  I do love the crazy fabric!  I have a few fun projects coming up, including a shirt for my husband!

I left him in the pattern section at Joann’s the other day while I was shopping, and he requested a shirt with long sleeves (he can never get long enough sleeves!)  I let him pick out this poplin fabric, and I’m planning to make a muslin this weekend.  I’ve made shirt-like things for me, but I’ve never sewn for anyone else before.  I’m looking forward to it!

crafts · knitting · patterns · Sewing

Upcoming projects, Simplicity Summer 2011

I made a muslin of the Lisette pattern, and I feel like fitting it would be more than I’m up to right now.  I have a rather narrow upper chest (at least compared to my giant singer’s ribcage) and tend to avoid higher necklines.  This one wasn’t super high, but it definitely needed adjusting.  The darts on the pattern are the sort that don’t close on the top, and I have trouble getting those to lie smoothly (in addition, the darts would need to be lowered by an inch on me.)  I don’t want to do anything complicated right now, so I’m putting it away and looking for another pattern for my city fabric.  Later on I think I will try the cute jacket from the pattern.  In the meantime, I’ve cut this project:

Simplicity 2281

It looks straightforward, but I am going to check the bodice length – it looks to have the possibility of being too long.  I’m not doing the waist decoration, but I am considering piping the waist seam – it depends on how it looks when I baste to fit.  This fabric is a rayon challis that I bought off ebay, possibly vintage.  I love the polka dots!

Since I enjoyed knitting the shawl (and my hands didn’t suffer too much, but I know I have to be careful,) I’m planning to make a sweater next.  These are the two patterns I am considering:

First is Anais by Kim Hargreaves.  The second sweater is Audrey in Unst by Gudrun Johnston (from Twist Collective Fall 2009.)  Which one I make rather depends on which one I have yarn for – it’s going to require some digging!  Both look to be good sweaters to wear with dresses, which is my goal.  I have remarkable few cardigans that I feel like work with the dresses I now favor.

Lastly, Simplicity has released their Summer 2011 patterns on their website.  My favorite is 2178, the Cynthia Rowley dress:

The shoulder treatment is fun.  I have a slightly crinkley rayon that might work for this, in a hot pink/black gingham.  I have been at a loss what to make with it, but this might work!

I also like the two new Project Runway patterns:

They aren’t perhaps setting the world on fire with innovation, but both these patterns are very pretty summer dresses.  I don’t own any similar patterns.  The rest of the patterns are a wash for me – I’m not feeling any of the sportswear, and the other dresses aren’t my style.  There is a rather nice steampunk costume pattern, which I would definitely make if I were invited to the sort of costume party where people actually wear elaborate costumes.

Perhaps today I will get in some sewing – I have much to do to prepare for my recital, but I think I have time!

crafts · finished objects · knitting · Me-made March · outfits · Sewing

Me made March day 25: Damask

Shawl: Damask, handknitted by me

Cardigan: 525 America

Dress: Simplicity2848

Shoes: Bass

This outfit could be called “I have new things, so I wore them all at once.”  I’m trying to break in the shoes (which I would likely not usually wear with black tights, but they are a tad big, so I want to be sure they are broken in before I give them a chance to cause blisters.)

I knit the shawl on size 4 needles (I am a loose knitter.)  It does require attention, because the entire thing is charted, but I would describe it as pretty low stress for lace knitting.  I didn’t get it to block into pretty scallops because I was trying to stretch it larger.  I may reblock it without pins – I’m not thrilled with the points.

I had a heck of a time getting photos of damask:

It’s very, very pink.  Which I actually like.  I wore it out to walk to the coffee shop today, along with my white shoes and this coat:

which is actually even brighter than it looks in this photo, believe it or not.  The guy who made my coffee said “wow, that’s some bright outfit.  You’re like dressed as a cartoon.”  Um, thanks?  Whatever.  I like my bright colors!  Just because, here are the new shoes:

Love them.  I wanted something that had the look of an oxford to wear with dresses for walking.  I don’t really think that traditional oxfords are very flattering to the leg, so I got these.  They aren’t as high cut (don’t go as far back on the top of the foot) as traditional oxfords.  They’re also very comfortable!  I would say they run maybe half a size large – I ordered my usual size, and ended up having to put in heel inserts to make them fit perfectly (they were close enough that I didn’t bother exchanging for a smaller size.)

I have no exciting weekend plans other than sewing – yes, we are social animals around here!  I have my studio recital on Monday night, so I’m putting a lot of time and energy into preparing for that.  Recitals are stressful, and I will be glad when it’s over!

crafts · knitting · Me-made March · outfits · Sewing

Shawl blocking, more MMM

I’m making a real effort to include more handknits in my me-made-March efforts.  Here is today:

Shawl: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark.  I knit this quite awhile ago – the photos on my Ravelry page are from before we bought our house!

The rest of my outfit is not exciting – today I have a concert, so it’s all black again.

Cardigan: Style & Co, thrifted

Dress: Ann Taylor, thrifted

Tights: H&M

Boots: Impo

Here is yesterday’s entry:

Jacket: Simplicity 2443

Dress: thrifted

Shoes: vintage

Yesterday it was nearly 80 degrees.  Today? 40.  Yes, that’s what weather is like in March.  I have to drive to Carrollton, KY tonight, so I actually care what to weather is (I am bad, since I work at home, to just adjust my home temperature to however I want to dress.)

And… I finished knitting the Damask shawl.  Yes, already.  I really think my single-mindedness is what kills my knitting mojo.  I cannot work on two things at the same time, no matter how hard I try!  So when I start sewing something, I inevitably forget to work on my knitting.  I made sure to finish this in one go, but I don’t always have the patience.  Here is is unblocked (doesn’t look like much!)

I’m not great at blocking shawls, I know I don’t use enough pins or worry about things being perfectly even.  What’s the use, when I know it’s going to get many layers of cat hair on it while its wet?

Leon would like you to know that he is definitely not thinking about laying on that the second my back is turned… no sir.  What is it with cats and wet things?  Is it only my cat?  He loves to sleep on blocking sweaters more than just about anything!

I will have a finished post for the shawl once it’s all blocked.  I’m hoping it turns out pretty!  After I get back from my concert tonight, I plan to start my new dress (single-minded, I tell you.)

crafts · knitting

hazards of travel

I always seem to catch something on long flights.  This time, I managed to get a sinus infection on the way over, and a nasty cold on the way back.  Marc has the same thing, and we’ve been pretty much useless all week.  I’ve only worn actual clothes twice since returning.  Standing up too long makes me dizzy, so I have not even set foot in my sewing room.

But!  I did cast on for a new shawl.

The pattern is Damask (Ravelry link,) and the yarn is Madelinetosh sock in Pop Rocks.  This yarn is actually called “fine sock” and has more yardage than the current base yarn used by Madelinetosh.  So far I’m loving the pattern – It’s just what I wanted, a bit of detail but not too awful.  I also love following charts for some reason.  I’m making the size small, because I find that I am a rather loose knitter, and use more yardage than is generally called for in a pattern.

While I was in Italy I wore kerchiefs or shawls every day.  This inspired me to cast on for some of my own.  I have made two triangle shawls before, and I never wear either in the traditional way – but I love them turned around like a kerchief!

crafts · fabric · knitting · patterns · Sewing

Next on my plate

Thank you for the kind comments on my cocktail dress – you have inspired me to throw a cocktail party!  My husband is excited about the idea, and I know our friends will be into it – maybe we can start a new trend?

Now that the cocktail dress is done, I’m considering what to make next.  I was wanting to make Vogue 9668, but I have not yet been able to find a fabric that I like.   I want a print, and I will just have to wait until something nice comes along!  I find fabric shopping frustrating, since I am unable to buy much locally… when I see something I like I usually just buy it, and figure inspiration will strike.

Speaking of that… here are my upcoming project plans (subject to change as always, but I usually do pretty well making it through at least a few!)

I’m going to hopefully pick up some muslin tonight at Joann’s (I have a recording session near there  tonight… I think I can get there a little early!) and start making a muslin of Vogue 1137.

I’m using the rose cotton satin I got this week (on the bottom in this photo.)  It’s a little lighter weight than I thought, though still nice, so it will work great for a summer sheath dress.  The other print (the brown above) is gorgeous in person and quite heavy… it will be very nice for fall.)  The dress calls for a lined bodice, but I’m going to line the skirt too… I may underline as well, but I haven’t decided for certain yet.

I’m also really excited to make an outfit from the April Burda .

I’m making the pants on the top and the blouse on the bottom, the pants from a nice black RPL, and the blouse from this lovely silk jacquard.

Yes, again with the polka dots… apparently I have a thing for them!  I haven’t tried Burda pants yet, but I do hear good things.  This pair look like something I would buy in a store, so hopefully they will work out for me!

And finally, I want to make my own dress inspired by  this dress, from Modcloth, using Kwik Sew 3758, which I posted about last week.

I have some cotton/silk fabric (Radiance by Kauffman) to use for the skirt (I plan to use the non-shiny side, and since it only takes 1.5 yards I should have enough left to use the shiny side for a blouse later. ) I still need to buy fabric for the top.  It won’t be exact, since I think I’m going to make the version with 3/4 length sleeves, and my stripes will be more narrow.

On to knitting… I finally got my yarn in the mail, and made my tension swatch for Petal.

I love the yarn (Rowan Milk Cotton.)  I know a lot of people bemoan the loss of 4-ply cotton, but while it came in fabulous colors I always found it rather hard, and the sweaters I made of it feel a bit like armor.  This yarn is lovely and soft.  It’s quite thin – I almost always have to go down a size or two in needles, but my swatch on size 1 needles is actually too small.  I haven’t decided yet if I will go up a size, or whether I will make the sweater a bit smaller, figuring it will stretch out anyway.   I am going to leave off the picot edging, as I don’t like the way it flares out.  I am very excited about making this sweater – I am so glad I am knitting with skinny yarns again!

crafts · knitting · Sewing

Dear pattern companies…

I made up a muslin of the Jenny skirt from Burdastyle.  I can usually make a skirt without a muslin, but I’ve never made a European sized pattern before.  I made a size 36, which is the size the chart says I should, based on hip measurement (35.5″) And guess what?

Yes, that’s right… it totally fits!  And I didn’t have to go down 3 sizes from the recommendation.  I may remove just a smidge from the waistband, but other than that it’s just as I want it (it is not hemmed, so it will be a bit shorter.)  I used my leftover gingham for the muslin, and my actual fabric is a bit stiffer.  I hope to finish the actual skirt by the weekend – it’s a super quick sew, even with a lining.

The instructions are… um… strange, but I can sew a skirt without them.  I hope it works out, because there are some other Burdastyle items I would really like to sew (I’d like a Heidi dress and a few others.)

My new Kim Hargreaves book has finally arrived from the UK, and I’ve decided that Petal will be my first knit from the book.

Interestingly, this sweater was first released as a kit on her website a few years ago, and at the time I rejected it for being beaded.  This version has a texture pattern instead of beads.  I adore the little decorative buttons!  I bought the yarn it calls for, Rowan Fine Milk Cotton.  I bought lagoon, a pretty blue-green.  I do love Rowan’s yarns, which I find to be very high quality, but I wish they had better colors sometimes… there are too many wishy-washy pastels for my taste!  This was one of only a few acceptable colors for me in this yarn.

I’m interested in the milk cotton because I find that fingering weight cotton tends to knit unevenly for me, and I hear that the milk yarn is softer.  I ordered it from the UK because I got a good deal – about 7 dollars a ball including shipping, as opposed to 13 in the US… imported yarn is pricey!  So that probably won’t be here for a week or two, but when it arrives I will get started.

That’s all for today – thanks for the get-well wishes!  I pulled off a miraculous recovery and was able to sing my two solos in the concert on Sunday, thank goodness!  The concert was wonderful, and my season with that group is over, though I have others ongoing.  I’m thinking it might be time for me to see an allergist, as this is the 3rd allergy-related problem I’ve had this year, but I am horrible about going to the doctor… we will see!

crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: Dawn

Pattern: Dawn by Kim Hargreaves from Breeze

Yarn: Rowan Handknit cotton in ecru, 5 balls

Needles: US 2 and 3

Notes: I bought the yarn to knit Dawn when I first got the book Breeze.  I swatched the stitch pattern, but I wasn’t feeling up to that many P2tog’s so I put it aside.  I found the yarn during a clean out, and decided it was time to give the pattern a try!

I have mixed feelings about this sweater.  There are a few things I would definitely do differently if I knit it again.   The stitch pattern is very hard to swatch accurately – it stretches, and it also opens up on blocking.  By the time I made it to the back, I felt that it was turning out a little big, so I switched to smaller needles to tighten it up.  That worked pretty well, though it would have been better to start smaller.  The other thing I would do differently involved the neck edging.  I would knit the whole thing separately, slipping the first stitch on the garter stitch to make a neater edge.  It’s partially knit separately and sewed on, but it needs smaller needles than the body the whole way.  Same with the sleeve cuffs – they are looser than I would like, but I do have skinny arms.  Dolman sleeves are not the best for  me, but since they are short they work pretty well.

This is a very useful sweater – can you believe I’ve never made a white sweater before?  I’m sure I will wear it often!  It was super overcast this weekend – I apologize for the lack of great photos!

crafts · knitting · patterns

Now with actual knitting content!

You may be asking yourselves “Didn’t she used to knit?”  Well, I do still knit, though obviously not as much lately.  But here’s the thing… I have 90 bajillion sweaters, and I’ve wanted to really focus the last few months on amping up my sewing skills, with the aim of making most of my wardrobe handmade, both sweaters and clothes (at some point in the distant future!)  And I am probably more of a product crafter than a process crafter – I enjoy knitting and sewing or I wouldn’t do them, but I am more focused on the end result than the process.  So knitting has fallen by the wayside.  I knew that when the time was right I would want to start a new sweater – no way could I give up something that has been such a great part of my life!    Lately,  I’ve been missing it, especially after the beetle debacle, but it’s taken til now to get everything out of cold storage and sorted away.

I wanted to start a little cardigan to go with all the great sundresses I’ve been making, so during the Project Runway finale (so happy with the outcome of this season!) I cast on:

This is Dawn, from Kim Hargreaves’ Breeze book.  I am creating a smaller size, since I think the XS would be big on me, and the stitch pattern is stretchy.  I actually bought the yarn for this (Rowan handknit cotton) when I got the book, but I’ve only just now gotten around to it.  I originally thought it would be great with my current dress project, but that’s what I get for knitting at night… this yarn is clearly ivory and not white.  But that’s ok – it will go with everything that isn’t white, and I look better in ivory than in white.

I love this book… I’ve made several of the sweaters, and still have more planned!  I’m planning to get Kim’s new book soon.  I skipped her last winter one, because I was a little burned out on patterns (what?) but I’m over that now.  I’ll probably get that one as well – because in spite of the expense of these books, I use the heck out of them.   The styles are classic and do not date.  Look at these beautiful sweaters!

Lovely!  I am resolved to knit with more cotton – I find that I wear my cotton sweaters more, as they don’t overheat me… and are unattractive to bugs (yes, I am scarred.)  Let’s face it, I don’t exactly live in the arctic circle, and I have a few sweaters (Vaila is one) that are almost always too warm.  And since I’m sewing as well, and splitting my time, I don’t hurt my wrists on the cotton.  I am actually amazed that I have managed to knit as much as I do and be a pianist without developing carpal tunel… though if I had to guess I would say that I don’t carry much tension in my hands or wrists, which may help?  I do have tendinitis from long ago, but as long as I don’t go crazy with the knitting (as I sometimes have) it’s ok.

Now we will see how long it takes me to finish this one.  The pattern is straightforward, but there are a lot of P2togs, which tend to slow me down.  I worry that it might be a bit of a slog, but hopefully it will be worth it!