crafts · knitting · Life · patterns · Sewing

Still alive!

I have survived my dentist experience!  It may have been the hardest one so far (and I am including having the front crowns) because I had a deep root cleaning at the same time.  I would not wish that on anyone, but fortunately I was sedated and remember very little of it.  (Although apparently I made my husband promise not to film me and put me on youtube before the drugs wore off!)  It is still pretty painful, but it’s getting better now.  Today all I did was sit around and try to come up with things I could eat that didn’t involve chewing.   When I’m sick, I still eat exactly the same things I did when I was 8… chicken soup (from the lipton mix… I know, it’s awful for you, but I love it,) yogurt (with cream on the top if I can find it,) and rice pudding.   My husband voted for Jello, but I don’t like jello… I know, I’m the only one.


I did manage to put the buttons on my dress, and it is basically finished.  The only issue I’m having is that the lining wants to show in the front, so it will need to be shortened.  I didn’t do the hem the way the instructions said, so it’s probably a bit long.  That’s an easy enough fix, and I hope to finish it in time to wear it to a baptism this weekend.

I’m considering my next sewing and knitting projects.  I really want a knitted bolero, so I’ve been sifting through my books.  I’m considering this vintage pattern, from an issue of Stitchcraft:

The pattern is available free here.  I would need to purchase yarn and decide on a color scheme… my supplies of skinny yarn are sadly depleted.

I also have quite a few Kim Hargreaves patterns I’m thinking of… but we will see.  I can’t wait for her new book, I always find them so inspiring (and yes, they can be similar, but I adore a peplum, I can’t help it!)

The next dress I make will be the 50s sundress with the rose fabric I showed a few entries back.  I want to finish it for a wedding, and I don’t want to be rushed.  I’m also thinking of blouses, and maybe trying a pair of ankle length pants?  I haven’t got a pattern for that though… I want something tapered, but without too much fullness around the hips.  Think late 50s/early 60s.  I think they were called cigarette pants?  And I’m still searching for fabric for my purse.  I’d better hurry up – spring has arrived, and I’m still carrying a purse made of tweed!

Thanks for the shoe help – I’ve ordered the Clarks and the Seychelles – I can’t wait for them to arrive!  I love Zappos… not only do they have free shipping, but they are headquartered here, meaning that they sell off all their returned shoes super cheap in their warehouse store.  Must make a trip there soon…

crafts · knitting · Sewing

Knitting and sewing this week

I know, way to make with the creative titles, right?  It’s just been one of those weeks.  I made a quite muslin for the Sencha blouse and… too big all over, as well as possibly unflattering on me anyway.  I give you all permission to yell at me if I start talking about wanting to make something with cut-on or dolman sleeves… so unflattering to the petite.  I looked like a big ol’ blousy triangle.   So I decided to make a muslin of this dress, the Sense and Sensibility Swing dress.

I was hoping to make it from a pretty Rayon Challis (above)for spring.  The bodice muslin went better than I expected – I even understood the shoulder instructions, which called for topstitching a seam.   There are a few issues, and I need to decide whether this dress is worth the work.

My dressform, who has yet to be named, is actually a bit more buxom than I.  You cannot buy a reasonably priced dressform that goes down to a 31.5″ bust.  This one stops at a 33, but it was a gift, so what can you do?  I see a few problems here… first of all, I don’t like where the gathers fall (too close to the underarms.)  It looks weird on the dummy, and worse on me, since I am smaller.  The’s easy enough to fix.  I already shortened the bodice by almost 2 inches, as it was super long before, and this style doesn’t work without a well fitted waist and bust.  The ties are too short – again, an easy fix.  I will probably remove the back tucks – they are cute, but they just don’t work on me, as I am very narrow and straight through the back.  The sleeves seem to be strangely drafted, but I may shorten them, since I don’t love the length they are here.  There’s a short sleeved option, which might be nicer in the floral fabric anyway.  There was a whole ton of ease in the sleeve cap, leaving me uncertain as to whether the sleeve should be gathered or not.  I opted to gather, since it wasn’t going in otherwise.  It’s a little janky, but my gathering skills are a work in progress.  Maybe I’m being a perfectionist, but I never feel like they are evenly gathered!  I’m going to go back to my old method of gathering – sewing a strand of crochet thread on with a wide zigzag stitch.  It makes a much more even gather possible, and you won’t break any threads.

Finally, the dress just exactly fits me in the waist, even though I cut a good 2 sizes up in the waist and skirt.  I never knew before I started sewing that my top and bottom measurements were so different!  Explains why I can’t find dresses that work on the top and bottom. I feel like there’s too much material in the chest area, so it might need an adjustment for small bust?  Maybe I should move the crossover in a little?  It fits through the shoulders, and they are very flattering (I do have shoulder pads in on the first photo above, but not the 2nd… this style looks better with them in.)    I generally like all the gathering.  I’m just a little discouraged because it seems that everything comes out big in the chest on me.  I suppose everyone has their fitting challenge, and that must be mine.  40s dresses have always been good to me in true vintage, so I know this will work if I can get the fit right (50s? not so much… I am too skinny, but I wear them anyway!)

I’ve also been contemplating my next knitting project.  I’ve decided to go on to knit something out of one of my vintage booklets.  I looked for inspiration, and narrowed it down to these:

#1 is from the 50s, and I like the lace treatment.  #2 (on the left in the photo) assures me that it is not, in fact, a bedjacket, but a cover-up for over your evening dress.  The last 3 sweaters are all knit in light fingering, and all are from the 40s (the 1st 2 are worsted.)  I did look for some 4-ply yarn today, but I suspect I will have to look at heavy lace weights to achieve 8 st/in (With fingering I am lucky to get 7, as I am a loose knitter.)  Zephyr might work.   Any votes?  I do like them all, and I am not scared of the small weights either (hey, short sleeves!  I can do that!)

And finally, having to do with none of this, the preview for spring/summer Vogue knitting is out, and I have to say that I am very impressed!  They have a whole section of 1920s inspired knits, and they are to die for.  Look at these lovely lace capelets:

The sweaters in the section are equally lovely.

Yay, Vogue – thanks for improving after I nearly gave up on you!

crafts · knitting

Spring knitting 2010

Ok, that’s it… I am done with winter.  With snow on the ground, and more coming soon, I just don’t want to look at tweedy yarn or wooly fabric.  My wooly WIP?  Going into the basket until late summer.  I’m not working on it anyway, due to its mind-numbing boring-ness.   It’s time to look toward spring, and I’m going to give myself permission to start work on some lovely warm weather projects!  With that in mind, I went looking for the new spring knitting patterns, most of which are out or at least previewed by now.

First is the new Knitscene, which is in stores.  How am I not going to love it when Connie is the featured designer?  She has designed my most favorite sweater projects.  I love her henley (first below) which has some great details and looks like waffle stitch (love me some waffle stitch) and the geodesic cardigan, which besides having a cool name rings one of my current bells – laceweight yarn knit at a loose gauge.  There are also some really beautiful shawls in this issue, including one knit in worsted weight (I wear my worsted weight lace shawls constantly… they are both warm and classy!)

The preview for the new Interweave Knits is out as well.  I have to tell you, I am not feeling it.  I like a few pieces, and I will buy the magazine because I am a collector, but with the exception of Connie’s tank (do I sound like a broken record here?) I am not sure there is anything I would make.  OK, unvarnished truth time here… I really hate the loose knitted camisoles over long sleeved shirts.  It’s just odd, and I don’t know anyone who dresses like that.  Now, I’m sure the camisoles may be nice on their own, but the styling is just weird.  I don’t really knit camisoles anyway (in my experience, if it’s hot enough for something strappy, I don’t want a sweater) but I can’t be the only one who just hates this look.

Ok so… enough whining about that.  I also took a look at Rowan’s offerings this season.  First of all, I’m really excited that they are doing a dedicated crochet book.

The designs are nice too, although some of them are a bit too oversized for my taste.  Love the white off the shoulder top above!

Rowan Magazine 47 is not bad for a summer issue.  I’m not sure I will pick it up, because it’s a little blah, but I’ve noticed that they tend to struggle with warm weather items.  I don’t subscribe anymore for that reason, and I usually only buy the winter issues.  They also have a new yarn made from recycled clothing, and a really great dedicated pattern booklet to go along with that.

I can’t tell much about the clothes from the photos, as the model has terminal slouch.  And maybe it’s the whole “British country” look that I love again, but at any rate isn’t the purple color pretty?  I really want to check out this yarn!

And finally, while not exactly new, I’ve finally broken down and bought a copy of A Stitch in Time by Jane Waller.

I’ve wanted it since its release, but I kept waiting for a US edition.  No such luck, but with my recent rediscovery of vintage (well, I didn’t forget about it, it’s just that I started caring more about dressing that way I wanted) I had to have it.   If you love vintage, you need this book!  The styling is gorgeous, and the patterns are just as they should be – faithful to the original styles, with updated terminology.  There’s nothing more than I hate “updating” a vintage pattern – sure, expand the size range, but don’t change the things that made it so great in the first place (adding large amounts of ease is the biggest offense here.)  In addition to the cover sweater, which is glorious, these are my favorites:

It was hard to pick favorites – I love most of the book!  Most of the sweaters are knit in fingering or sport yarn, with a few gauges that are crazy tiny.  And remember, once of my New Year’s resolutions was to knit more in small yarn.  Many of these would make great spring sweaters, as lots of short sleeved numbers are included.  I do have lots of vintage knitting patterns, but these are easier to deal with, and I’ll get to some of those eventually!

If I keep wishing, warmer weather will come, right?

crafts · knitting · Life · Sewing

Wearing handknits: Vaila + resolutions 2010

I only wear Vaila when the weather gets super cold – and as we aren’t breaking the freezing line this week, I think it qualifies!  Made of Malabrigo, it’s soft but tends to pill and catch lint.  After a year’s distance, I like it far better than when it was new.  I wouldn’t make it again, because I have sworn off of bottom up sweaters knit in one piece, but it makes a nice cozy sweater on a day of teaching indoors.

I have an update for you all about my attic!  It isn’t finished yet – we will be working on it during this long weekend (Marc has Friday off.)  The floor is in, and the paint is done on my side.  We have another window and the stairwell to paint, and then I have to panel in around my windows where the wall is exposed.  The biggest change was probably the floor, going from this:

to this:

Believe it or not, that’s vinyl.  It looks very realistic, and I just love it!  It looks great with the new wallcolor

I made a trek to IKEA this weekend and got a desk that was on sale, as well as a table for cutting and crafting.  I set it up, and I’m so pleased with my area!

Oops, need to put that vent cover back!  Having the extra space is going to be wonderful, I can already tell.  I’ve put the futon at the end of the room, in front of the windows – it hides the duct back there for now, and makes it harder to see in at night from the street, though there is still a ton of light.

Of course, all this work means that I haven’t actually made anything in weeks, but that’s ok… it’s going to be worth it in the end.

As for 2009… farewell to you, I say!  I’ve had a hard year, which involved me making a major job change and starting my own business.  The first half of the year I was very depressed and felt trapped… now it’s as though I’ve come out into the sunlight and can breathe again.  Church work was not for me – I found that working that closely with church officials produced a level of cynicism that I’m having a hard time dealing with… but in time I think I will feel better.  I also had a lot of difficulties where my personal beliefs conflicted with church teaching… let’s just say that I’ve never been good at not speaking my mind, and while I succeeded in keeping quiet it only made me miserable.

But that’s all over, and building my studio has been a great experience!  I’ve also been doing quite a bit of performing again, which is great… and most of all I actually get weekends, and I get to spend them with my wonderful husband, who has been there for me through all this strife.

I’ve made a lot of new friends this year, and I feel as though my shyness is finally behind me.  I’ve learned to sew, which has been great and has opened a new world to me.  So while it’s been a difficult year, it was necessary to get me through to a healthier place.

Now to the hard part… my resolutions for 2010.  Let’s look at them more as “suggestions,” shall we?

1. Continue to build my teaching studio.  I want to maintain between 30 and 35 students, and right now I’m at 30.  I need to remind myself to be selective about who I accept – I don’t necessarily take everyone as a student, because sometimes I can tell it’s going to be a bad fit.

2. Build my sewing skills.  I’ve really taken off with sewing in the last half of 2009, and I want to build on those skills.  I want to sew from some vintage patterns and work towards my goal of having 50% of my wardrobe be handmade (I won’t get there this year, but it’s a goal for the future.)

3.  I’m interested in going further into vintage dressing/hairstyles (and to that end I’ve been setting pincurls in my hair often, as in the photo above.)  I’ve gotten positive reactions from the people around me, which pleases me.  I don’t want to look costume y, you understand, but I have a passion for those styles that I have been stifling in order to blend into my position.

4.  Knit more basics.  Look, I love color.  Everyone knows it.  But sometimes you need a little white or black cardigan, and I don’t have one.  I’m definitely going to be focusing on basics in the first part of the year.  I also want to really try to know from some of my vintage patterns.  I resolve to slow down – I have 90 bajillion sweaters, and I need to stop rejecting beautiful small gauge knits because I think they take too long.

5.  Don’t keep unhealthy relationships going.  Enough said.

6.  Continue to become more comfortable with who I am.  I’ve made great strides, and I want to come to a place where I don’t apologize for myself anymore.

7. Take more weekend trips with Marc, now that I have weekends.  We love to travel, and there are lots of little places to visit in easy driving distance.

That’s all for now – I hope you all have a great 2010.  This blog has really meant a lot to me, and I appreciate everyone who has stopped to read and comment!

crafts · knitting · Sewing

Wardrobe planning

I have friends who are have completely and utterly organized wardrobes.  Clothing is arranged around color schemes, with lots of pieces that mix and match.  They know exactly what they own, and on identifying a hole in their wardrobe they quickly purchase something to fill it.  My friends have enviable, organized closets.  Everything is pared down and streamlined.

Look… I’m never going to be that person.  For one thing I lead a strangely eclectic life, which requires both teaching clothing, nice dressy church clothing, and formal wear or evening styles for performances.  I essentially require 3 wardrobes, none of which even touch on the clothes I live in when I’m not working.  I love bright colors and many different styles.  Most of all, I prefer that my clothing evoke some sort of a reaction from me – in other words, if I don’t love it I’m not wearing it.   I’m not into matchy.  I’m not super trendy, but at the same time I do like interpreting what’s current in a way that (hopefully) doesn’t make me look like I’m trying too hard.  However, I want my wardrobe to be more organized.  I don’t want to end up with oodles of clothing that I never wear, but not a single button down shirt (a situation that I currently have going on.)  I want to fix this, but let’s face it.. I’m not going to the mall.

To that end, I’ve signed up to take the Wardrobe Refashion pledge.  Starting in January, I have pledged to thrift, create etc items for my wardrobe for 2 months.  My husband points out (quite rightly) that this is actually not a challenge for me, considering that I have only bought one item of clothing for myself from a real (ie non thrift/vintage) store in the past 6 months.  Bah humbug I say – I’m looking at this as an opportunity to get organized with my thrifting, knitting, and sewing.

There are some items that I find quite readily while thrifting.  There seem to be a plethora of sheer pretty blouses and nice basic skirts.  There are lots of knit tops, though often not ones that fit me (I find that while I am quite short waisted, I also have a long torso.  Store bought tops are almost always too short for me.)  I am always finding cute purses for under 5 dollars.  Jackets are pretty easy, and often good quality.  But there are something that I cannot find, and that I really am starting to need to be a part of my wardrobe.

I have a folder on my desktop called “inspiration.”  There I save pictures of items of clothing I would like to have in my wardrobe, and scheme ways to either make them, or refashion thrift store finds into something similar.  Many of the photos are probably from Anthropologie or Modcloth, my current favorites for this type of not shopping.   I also like to browse the runway shows at – I like seeing what’s coming up, and often I get good ideas.   I also browse a lot of vintage shops, and have a few other haunts.  The first items that I cannot find are blouses.  Not sheer ones (remember when they were huge a few years ago?  Yeah, now they languish in thrift store hell.)   I need blouses and button down shirts that are: A. Long enough for me and B: Actually flattering.  This is harder than you might think.

I really love the return of plaid.  I’m all about trying to work some plaid into my wardrobe – I think I have at long last managed to brush off the taint of grunge.  The first shirt is made of flannel and I love it… I have been looking for a suitable plaid, but have found none locally, so I guess I will have to order one.  It’s also really similar to Simplicity 2501 (on the right.)

The next item I don’t have much of in my closet?  Dresses.  I experience severe sticker shock whenever I visit a department store, and end up leaving with some cheap item from the junior’s dept that I don’t care for anyway.  I really want to sew some of my own dresses.  I notice that lately I’m seeing many dresses that mimic a dress/skirt combo.  I like this idea, as tucking things in never looks so neat.

Other random dress styles that I like…

1. I like the effect of the straps in a different fabric.  Similar to Macaroon by Colette patterns.  2.  I like maxi dresses, but I hate how low cut some of them are.   Someday it will be warm again, and I will want a breezy long dress.  3.  I have a really similar fabric, and a vintage vogue reissue.  Perhaps an outfit for a summer wedding?  4.  Again with the plaid, plus denim!  5.  I’m obsessed with this sort of neckline.  Love the 60s vibe.

Sadly, I need some pants.  This is that hardest part (isn’t it always?)  I’m not proportional – I am a bit pear shaped, and I have a hard time finding pants that I like at all.  I am not at all up to making my own pants yet, but I’m confident that determined thrift shopping will score me some finds.   I never buy pants because I find shopping for them depressing, what with never ever knowing what size to try on, and nothing ever fitting the way I want it to.  And to be honest?  I’d usually rather wear a skirt anyway.  I used to wear skirts/dresses every single day, and I miss it!

And finally… I require a fabulous faux leopard jacket.  I don’t need one.  Just want one.  I have been stalking them on Etsy for ages, so despite the fact that I have half a closet full of coats, I am determined that one will be mine.

If you’ve made it this far, your reward is a terrible photo of me modeling the muslin for the Vogue cowl neck.

For a test run this is surprisingly wearable – and I thought I hated the color peach!  Well, it’s not my favorite, but I look less dead than I expected (I bought this on the clearance rack at Joannes… I was not being picky for muslin fabrics.)   I really love how this came out, so I’m hoping it looks as good in the actual fabric!

I’m so pleased to be off this week… I plan to get in plenty of sewing and knitting.  Salina will be finished.  It’s actually almost getting there, and I seem to have found my temporarily misplaced mojo!

crafts · knitting · patterns · Sewing

In which I pretend that Christmas is not, in fact, almost here

My powers of denial are great.  This afternoon it occurred to me that Christmas is next week.  Have I bought any presents?  Nope.  Decorated the house?  Nope, except for the Advent train my sister-in-law gave us, which Marc put out only because, well, it’s a train.  Sent any Christmas cards?  Nope. And I probably won’t.

Over the many years that  worked for churches I developed a dread for the holiday season.  Apparently the fact that I’m no longer in that line of work has not lessened my scrooge-y-ness, nor has my recent reading of Scroogenomics helped (I do recommend the book!)  I just don’t like all the emphasis on buying stuff, and the heightened expectations of family togetherness inevitably lead to disappointment or conflict (not always in my family specifically, I’m just saying…) I’m singing one Christmas eve mass, which is not stressful (and I don’t have to plan it!)  But there is no avoiding it… I’m going to have to shop.  I try to stick to the local shops, as even thinking about the mall gives me headaches.

Above: how I feel after any type of shopping excursion.

I’ve got to finish baby socks for my niece.  Baby socks are like all the annoying parts of sock knitting with none of the nice boring straight parts (unless you enjoy turning a heel, in which case more power to you!)  Other than that I do not knit presents.   It just adds stress to knitting for me.

I’m finding Salina oddly stressful as well.  I think it’s all the stockinette, combined with a really fragile yarn that keeps breaking.  I’m carrying on, but I do not feel inspired, so I avoid knitting and then feel stressed out about not knitting (issues, I has them.)  I wish my knitting machine could handle sport weight yarns, because this would be a prime candidate!

The new knitty is out, and I find Spoke to be interesting.

The directions say you could leave it a cardigan, which I think I might prefer.  I almost never make anything from Knitty – I think it’s just not my style.  Occasionally there is a lovely sweater (see: Amelia) but often I find the designs puzzling – at least once every issue I think “well yeah, you could knit that, but why? ”  But anyway, Spoke is really pretty, if a bit more unusual than I usually go for.  I’ll be curious to see some finished versions, since I know I won’t get to this for awhile.

I have been teaching myself to sew knit fabrics on the Bernina (who, thanks to you all, is now named Audrey!)  I may get a serger someday, but that’s not in the cards right now.  I bought some leopard print matte jersey.

Here’s something that’s probably not apparent from my knitting: I love animal prints.  Seriously, I bought a pair of zebra print ballet flats a few months ago, and they are nearly all that I have worn since.  I was thinking of attempting this top:

But I’m not for sure on that yet.  I have more of the leopard than I thought (it was an exceptionally generous cut) and it may want to be a dress.  At any rate, I’m pretty sure that I want a leopard dress.  I’m picturing this top in something a little softer.

After my experience with the vintage shift, I’ve decided that it’s going to be important for me to learn how to grade patterns.  Modern patterns are multi-sized (though occasionally not multi-sized in my size) but vintage patterns are one to a package.  In addition, I’ve been buying Burda magazine (Burda is put out by the same people who put out Verena knitting magazine) and their patterns often stop larger than I need.  I have at least 2 right now that will need to be traced and resized.   I’ve found some good tutorials online (Threads magazine has one) and there are instructions in my “Vogue sewing book” as well.

Sewing is not helping to curb my pattern addiction, but hey – it’s been ages since I really took a good look at my non-knitted wardrobe, and it needs help!

crafts · knitting · quilting · Sewing

expensive habits

One thing I find amusing is when people tell me “Oh, you must save so much money knitting your own sweaters and making your own clothes.”  Well… not so much.  I think I get better quality things (certainly sweaters are terribly overpriced in stores) but none of my hobbies are really very thrifty.  I mean really… you don’t even want to know what I’m willing to spend on a lustworthy yarn, and adding a new lust for fabric into the mix… well, it ain’t pretty.

But I will say… knitting has nothing on sewing, at least not when it comes to basic equipment.  I bought a set of Knitpicks Options needles when they first came out, and they are still all that I use.  Occasionally I get a new set of cords or something, but that’s about it.  I do have a knitting machine, but I consider that a totally different animal.   Sewing, on the other hand, requires actual machinery.    A decent machine with accessories, a table to put it on, and perhaps a serger, if you want to sew knits often.

After 2 months or so of sewing nearly every day on my Viking Huskystar 219, I’ve decided to buy a new machine.  This was prompted by sewing on my nearly completed Mod Sampler quilt, and the Simplicity dress I’m making.

This is my Mod Sampler quilt.  You will note that while I did finish the free motion quilting, it does not yet have a binding (the outside edge that holds everything together.)  Free motion quilting on the Huskystar was a bear – it doesn’t have much room between the needle and the machine body, so it was hard getting the whole thing done, but I did it – and I loved the process!  It’s like drawing with thread, and oddly zen.  I also have some bobbin tension issues with the machine, and kept getting strange stitches underneath that I would have to pick out.   I’m not even going to try to do the binding yet – the machine does not handle thick amounts of fabric well – anything over 2 pieces tends to cause major problems. The binding will wait for the new machine.

I’m currently making simplicity 3835, and it’s nearly done, but I cannot deal with this machine anymore.  I have been waiting, wanting to see if my enthusiasm for sewing was a temporary fling, but it seems that there is room for two true crafting loves in my life.   I love quilting – it speaks to my love of color.  In fact, my next quilting project is going to be the color wheel quilt, from Last Minute Patchwork gifts (yes, by the same author as Last Minute Knitted gifts.)

Isn’t it beautiful?  I ordered the kit from Purl, because I don’t even want to think about how long it would take me to accumulate all the colors for it.  Mine has different fabrics from the book sample of course, but it’s going to be so beautiful!

I love making clothes, because I have a hard time finding clothes I love that fit me in stores.  I fit into junior sizes, however I already have issues with people thinking I’m way younger than I actually am (culminating in at least one adult student quitting because “I’m too young to teach her anything” when in fact I was older than her.) Junior clothing is also very poorly made in general, and uses materials that I don’t love (nothing like having to buy prom dresses to go out to the opera because none of the adult formal dresses fit, buying the one you think looks least like a prom dress, feeling self-conscious, and then having the dress rip apart after one wearing.)  The idea of making my own vintage clothes appeals to me as well, as I love vintage but sometimes feel guilty wearing the often fragile items.  After reading knitting patterns, sewing patterns seem remarkably clear to me now, unlike my previous attempts.  Plus, I have my trusty simplicity guide (from the 60s or 70s) to help me out!

I love this book so much… I’m glad I thought to buy it several years ago at an estate sale (well, the fact that it came with a bunch of vintage knitting patterns helped!)  Sewing patterns haven’t changed so much, but I will say this is extra helpful trying to interpret some of the vintage patterns I have.

I find that I go in cycles – several times a year I have a frenzy of knitting and turn out most of my sweaters, and at other times I knit much less and want to work on other hobbies.  Oddly, this time of year is always a down time for me – I think I can’t concentrate on knitting when I have so many holiday things to attend to!    I’m usually lucky if I finish a single sock between Thanksgiving and New Years.  I have tried to reassure my knitting that I am not cheating on it (“really, that wool crepe meant nothing to me, and of course you didn’t see a stack of Amy Butler fabrics sneaking out of the closet the other day.  ‘Twas the cat.”)  My knitting is not convinced, but I am making progress on all my projects.  Currently I am slowed down by making baby socks – my sister-in-law requested some for my niece, as they live in snowy Wisconsin and her poor little feet are cold!  If anyone has a favorite baby sock pattern do let me know… she’s 6 months old, and I want them to fit for awhile, so newborn patterns won’t work.

I’m also lusting after Kelmscott, from the new Twist Collective.  Honestly, I think it’s one of the prettiest designs I’ve seen this year.  The new IK is all right but not exciting, so I’m really glad I found something to love in Twist this time!

I have laryngitis pretty bad right now, which as you can imagine is  tough for someone who needs her voice for a living.  I think it’s a minor cold that seems to have settled in my throat.  I get sick rarely, but when I do it’s a doozy!    I am going to take Marc to the sewing machine store tomorrow to see what he thinks (hopefully that I need one!)  Then he’s helping a friend move house, and I will stay home to try and feel better!  Luckily I don’t have any gigs this weekend.  If I had gotten sick last weekend it would have been pretty tragic, so I’m very grateful that the cold held off this long!

crafts · knitting · quilting · Sewing · yarn

Crafting memory

I was not a crafty child.  Honestly, if you had told me ten years ago that I would love crafting this much I would have laughed at you.  I always hated craft night at Girl Scouts because I felt that my crafts never came out as well as everyone else’s.  My middle school art teacher told me that I had no discernible talent.  So maybe I was a late bloomer?  Or maybe I just don’t do anything in half measures.

Anyway… so I’m making a quilt.

But more on that in a moment (stare at the pretty fabric!)

I often hear other knitters tell stories about growing up watching their mothers and grandmothers knitting.  But, so far as I know, no one in my family has ever knit a single stitch.  (We did have a few crocheters, but no one in my immediate family.)  That’s not to say that they weren’t crafty.  My grandmother was a quilter.

I was to a large extent raised by my Grandmother, for reasons I won’t go into.  She was the sweetest woman you could imagine, but she had a backbone of steel – the many disappointments of life never fazed her.  For 26 years she was absolutely the rock of my life.  When she fell ill my junior year of college, I moved back home without hesitation, a decision I have never regretted.  She passed away 4 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her (and yet thank her for the strong woman I have become!)

She left me her things, and I have been trying, especially over the last 2 years, to slowly go through them.  It isn’t easy.  She saved everything, much of it for me, and I tend to get very emotional.    Going through boxes this week, I found a journal in her handwriting written about and to me during my early childhood, something which I know I will now cherish.

I also found (and this was the reason for the cleaning this week) her quilting and sewing things.  So much fabric… acres of dusty linens from the 50s and 60s, stored in cardboard boxes for who knows how many years.  I found a large packing box full of hand crocheted doilies, tea towels, and aprons.

I found a box marked Patterns that contains vintage sewing patterns, mostly from the 1960s.

I wasn’t even aware that she had sewed her own clothes, but the pieces on most of these patterns have been cut, used, and carefully replaced.  Some of them are in my size, and I plan to keep them around for later.

I also found several unfinished quilts, including this wall hanging:

I actually remember her working on this in the mid 1980s.   Much of the quilting is finished.   She quilted by hand, and she did teach me how.  I have always loved quilts, but hand quilting is really slow.  Every year I go to the state fair and stare at the quilt section with envy.  But this year?  This is going to be the year I relearn all these long forgotten skills.

I have picked a pattern for a small machine quilted beginner’s lap blanket, and I’m going to go for it (sewing test blocks now, it makes me happy that I remember many of these skills!)  My machine sewing is better that I thought – I got the special foot that helps you get a 1/4″ seam every time, and it is tremendously helpful!

I still find sewing clothing intimidating.  I got the SEW U book on the recommendation of the fabulous Robin of Yarn Crawl, and it has been tremendously helpful.  I like the way the author explains things, and between that book and the S.E.W. Workshop, I’m feeling more confident.  I looked into garment sewing classes, but unfortunately my working hours mean that none of them will work for me (this is usually the case for me with classes and knitting groups as well.)  I’m probably going to try making a skirt, since simple a-line skirts seem easy.  Maybe in this fabric?

I like to think that my crafty Grandma would be proud of me.  She certainly would have loved all of the colors and patterns I gravitate towards – where do you think I got my love for bright colors?  From my Grandma, who didn’t really believe that getting older meant you should fade quietly away into that good night.

Soon I’ll show you some of the wonderful vintage fabric of hers that I found – it’s all very dusty and must be thoroughly washed.  Opening the boxes gave me an allergy attack and a migraine last week.

So… that’s what I’ve been up to.  Lots of planning, lots of practicing.  I also cast on for Salina, but I’ll post more on that when I have more to show – it’s not the fastest knit ever, but it is beautiful!

Happy Halloween to you all – Marc and I plan to wait on trick or treaters, and have tons here, in such a dense area.  Halloween is very good for my business – parents see my sign, I give out my card, and usually I get a new student or two.

Here is a preview of Salina, looking very tiny to start.

crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO:Tsunami socks

Pattern: Tsunami socks, from Knitted Socks East and West

Yarn: Socks that rock lightweight in moonstone, nearly all of 1 skein

Needles: US sz 0 Knitpicks metal DPNs

Notes: This was a really enjoyable knit.  The pattern was completely clear, and this pattern was easily memorized.  I made a few alterations – after the leg section I decreased down to 61 stitches for the foot, because it would have been too big with the larger number.  I also decreased more quickly than called for on the toe.  I don’t know why, but I always have to do this – I think maybe my toes aren’t very pointy.

I enjoyed the yarn, which was very firm.  I don’t think it’s very lightweight at all, and these socks probably would knit up smaller in the called for yarn (Regia silk I think.)   It’s also not quite as even looking as some sock yarns.  I can’t say it’s my favorite sock yarn ever (I prefer softer yarns) but it is nice.  To my mind it’s similar to Colinette Jitterbug, which has a similar hard twist.  My row gauge was big, and I should have made the heel flap much shorter – it’s way too long on me.  But that’s ok, I love the pretty wintery colors, and I can’t wait to knit more socks from this book!


crafts · decorating · knitting · Life

In the meantime…

Wow – what a great response to my question about other crafts – I’m glad to be in such great company, and I hope my quest to learn to sew goes well!  I’m waiting on a part for my machine, though I do now have a copy of the manual, and I’ve been working on my knitting (of course!)

My next sweater is going to be Salina, from Rowan’s Vintage Knits.

Yes, I finally found a yarn.  I’m using Rowanspun 4-ply, double stranded.  I actually have 2 colors – Jade and a dark blue, and they look great together!

I also finished one of my tsunami socks.

Socks that rock lightweight is surprisingly not light.  It’s got to be on the heavy side of fingering, or maybe it’s just very dense.  I like knitting with it quite a bit!

I’m also giving serious thought to redoing our attic soon.  Marc uses it for his things, but I don’t like to be up there, and I would like a craft area.  It has central air and new windows (including skylights) as well as plumbing, but it lacks drywall and needs a new floor (currently a very old linoleum.

The stairs:

main area

Big new windows (at either end.)

What do you all think?  I think we can it mostly do ourselves, and I need a house project!