Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Newborn Baby Hat on the SK155 Knitting Machine

In a community group on Facebook, someone shared that the local hospital has not been getting donations of baby hats lately, and could anyone help. Of course!! There was a hand knitting pattern supplied: With DK yarn, 3.75mm needle, cast on 70. Rib for 3". Switch needle size (but I never did) and stockinette for 2". Decrease 7 stitches every other row (Row 1: Knit 8, Knit 2 together and repeat; Row 3: Knit 7, Knit 2 together, repeat; Row 5: Knit 6, Knit 2 together, repeat; etc).  The pattern was written for knitting flat. If you do, I suggest adding a stitch so when you seam, you still get the decreases at the top spread evenly. I knit them in the round--Magic Loop style--so no seaming needed. I also use an alternate cable cast on. It's really nice for ribbing. I got the instructions from Montse Stanley's "Knitter's Handbook" but I assume instructions can be found online these days.

Although they didn't take me long to hand knit, I really wanted to machine knit some because of course it will be faster, right?

Oh Emm Gee. I won't go into details, but every, and all, and then some, mistakes that could be done on the SK155, I did. It was the only machine I had accessible, and I thought I could do DK on T1. It was too loose.
The pink and white striped one at the 9:00 position was the first (finished) hat on the SK155. The other pink striped, two purple, dark rose, and autumn colours ones were further attempts.

Well, I have lots of worsted, so on with that. I kept tweaking the pattern, getting back into the MK groove. I think the latest result is the closest to the hand knit version. My number of rows in the ribbing is a bit different in this hat than the pattern because I was worried about running out. I added two rows in the stockinette section to compensate. I ended up with yarn left over LOL

4.5st=1", 7 rows =1" on T1, SK155, worsted weight yarn

Cast on 50 sts, for 1x1 ribbing, using zig zag cast on and Tension "R".  Hang cast on comb. Do two circular rows (knit only on main bed one row, then the ribber bed for the next row).

Rib for 18 rows. I gradually increase the tension, one dot at a time, from TR to 0 to T1. Some of the yarns needed T1** because they were just a little stiffer.

Transfer stitches to main bed, or do what you need to to knit circular stockinette

Knit 14 rows.

Decrease 7st every other row. From right edge: move 2nd stitch to the left, count 5 needles; move next stitch to the left; repeat across row. I like to move stitches over to fill in empty needles. Knit 2 rows.

Next decrease row: move 2nd stitch from right, to the left. Count over 4 needles, move next stitch to left; repeat across the row. Knit two rows.

Keep doing this until 8 stitches remain (I think).

Thread yarn end through stitches and tighten. Sew up with mattress stitch, taking half a stitch from each edge.

I actually like to knit two more stockinette rows in the main part, and then when doing the decreases, on the last couple decrease rows, I eliminate the plain row in between the decrease rows (so, do the K2tog, knit 2 across, then the next row is K2tog, knit 1 across, then next row is knit 2 together across the row.
Allow 30gr of worsted weight yarn. The grey and fuchsia hat weighed in at 25 grams, after sewing and trimming ends. I think it was Loops and Threads "Impeccable".

Yarn In:  3344gr
Yarn Out:  6051gr + 402gr = 6453gr
Balance:  3109gr more OUT than in!
Costs: $42.35/182 days = $0.23/day

Monday, June 22, 2020


Over the past few summers I've made the girls a variety of shorts, mainly from the Burda 6797 pattern, but I did do one pair of Sinclair Patterns "Moxies", for Megan. They were a little snug in the bum and the pocket doesn't fit her phone, so she hasn't worn them. Great design though. She wanted some new sleep shorts this summer. I made one pair from an older pajama pattern and she hated them. The fabric is a non-stretch knit, like a heavy sweatshirt. I even put a large pocket for her phone, but no. 
Then I bought Winter Wear Pattern's "Endless Summer Shorts". If you're trying to build up a pattern collection frugally, I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter. Along with Ellie and Mac and Sinclair Patterns, you can stock your pattern library really economically using their sales. 

I know the picture doesn't look like much LOL. That's kind of the point. Basic shorts that can be done in a myriad of fabrics for all your needs. And, pockets! I did have a few issues with the pattern writing, but I was able to muddle through based on my own experience. One diagram for the pocket didn't really make sense and the names for the pocket pieces were hard to keep track of. The decorative placket piece is supposed to be topstitched down on the outside of the shorts, but I don't think a single pair in the (incredibly large number of) photos showed a contrast piece being used so it was hard to figure that out. Once I figured that out, I did them how I've done pockets before, so the piece went on the inside of the front of the pocket, to give it stiffness. It adds a bit of a hidden pop of pattern--you can't even see it here!

Not too short. I might lengthen them for me though. Just a smidge.

This is how much I had to work with. I got the fabric from my mother in law when she moved into a condo. It's cotton, feels like a quilting cotton, not much drape. I made a sun hat last summer with it, and shorts for Lucy too.

This is how much I had after. I believe I made the waist band from a cotton-lycra knit instead of following the waist band instructions. It looks like a lot on its own in the picture, but on the right is my rotary cutter, and at the top center is my phone.

After I made these ones, I made her a pair in satin. Why not? She loves how slippery they are in bed LOL. Might make myself some too!

These are the Burda shorts I made for Lucy a couple summers ago. They aren't drapey like the ones I made from rayon, but the bias binding trim was a lot easier to do since it could take a good press.

She's gotten compliments on these shorts. Shorts are a great thing to make yourself. They take hardly any fabric and can be so versatile. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Something New

Even though I've been knitting continuously 26 years, I do still find new things to try. This year, I decided to give mosaic knitting a go. I think I saw some ideas in a yarn newsletter (Knit Picks, Yarnspiration, etc) and started Googling. I found a website with a lot of patterns and I opted to do the pattern they use in this post, called "Doodle". I wasn't sure if either of the two light coloured yarns I had would be enough, so I alternated them. I had twice as much of the green, so that was an obvious choice. I started this at my mom's during March Break, and I had brought the two light colours because I was finishing the previous blanket, and the green was one of the yarns she received from her friend to give to me.

I swatched. Ripped, knit.... did some math, and cast on. I continued to have difficulties following the pattern, and I wasn't consistent with my right edge stitches and how I carried the yarn. The three yarns were making a neat edge, being carried up the side, but I knew I would have to do something around the edge.
I made frequent errors that I wouldn't see for a few rows down the pattern. So frustrating, as it's not the easiest thing to rip out and get back on the needles. Here, you can see the most frequent error I made, on the second motif down from the top, all across that row.

I discovered my math was way off! Really, really off. Like, how did I do that?! Like, about 12" too narrow. What?!

Here's where it gets into the True Tracy Way. I carefully, painstakingly ripped out the cast on row. I had done it in white, and the first two rows were garter stitch in white, to set up the pattern. It was a challenge at first, but eventually I figured out which loops I needed. I left those loops, and the last row I had finished on, on lengths of yarn (knotted, to form a sort of stitch holder). Then I carefully picked up stitches along one edge, and used white to knit two rows. It was an obvious change of direction, so the crisp white line became a design element. Picking up in garter stitch is pretty easy, one stitch per ridge, but because of my inconsistencies along the edge, some spots were a challenge. Then, I knit the same pattern outwards along one edge, about 5", ending where it looked decent and logical in the pattern. I left the stitches on another length of yarn. Then I did the same for the other edge.

Now, imagine the blanket . The two side wings do not have the white "line" from the set up row at the bottom or the last row at the top of the middle. I went from where the right edge "wing" met the cast on, and picked up along the new right edge of the piece I just knit, knit across the last row, and down the left edge of it, ending at the last row of the body piece. Then I turned, and knit back to the start (with the white). That created a white ridge line on that side. I repeated this on the other "wing". Now, I had a white ridge row going all the way around the blanket.

I continued on in garter stitch ridges, in the green. I was getting low on it, and I was kind of hoping to use it up. Not quite. I made sure to do a double increase on the four corners. I didn't need a wide border since the length was already almost perfect.
From a distance, it's intense. 

See the white line going up between the body and the side panels? 

See the join between the two different directions, near the top? This was the right edge, where the colours are carried up

And this is the other edge.

The yarns were not the softest or had nice drape. Then  I machine washed and dry it and it was a different blanket. They two light colours were Red Heart "Comfort"--the giant balls you buy at Wal-Mart. Never judge a yarn by how it's in the skein, or even knit up--until you wash it! 

I will probably do more mosaic patterns. This took me two months, with only one small affair with another project in the meantime (the crochet Amish puzzle ball). In the few few repeats of the motif, I thought, I'm never going to memorize this pattern. However, it's a very intuitive pattern (except for the centre row which adds the little nubs on either side of the box) and it does become easy to read the knitting. It's also fairly good for not having to look at each stitch.  Choose a short stitch repeat for your first project! Six stitches is easier to memorize than 10 or 15! 

This is probably the heaviest blanket I've done. Garter stitch is heavy and mosaic stitch is thick. When I do the scrap yarn, c2c garter stitch, they take 400gr-500gr; this one took 765gr. 

Yarn In:  3344gr
Yarn Out:  765gr + 5286gr = 6051gr
Balance:  2707gr more OUT than in!
Costs: $42.35/162 days = $0.26/day

Thursday, June 04, 2020

It Feels Like Winter...

We had a super nice week in April, but then winter came back and we continued to get random snowfalls into May! Then, all of a sudden, summer hit. Nonetheless, I did actually make these back in the middle of real winter. 

If you've been around here for awhile, you know I love mittens, and am always trying to find the best mittens. I love to knit wool mittens but I recognize how much faster sewn mittens are. Naturally then, mittens from sweaters was a natural next step. I tried other patterns but I don't understand why they had thumbs coming out of the palm LOL. And, what about flip tops?

When I saw these flip tops at Melly Sews, I knew I had to make them! And from a recycled sweater of course! First up, though, a test pair with actual fleece.

I don't appear to have any issues with them. I might have adjusted how the thumb gusset was done so I could use the serger. They fit looser than I'd like, but  going by the picture with the pattern, that is how they were designed.

Up next, a sweater. I chose this teal sweater because I have a teal scarf I love, and at the time, I was picketing with the elementary teacher union, and our signs had teal on them LOL. 
The ribbing on sweaters make for awesome edges, as long as they're not overly felted. Thinking that I might want a matching hat, I realized that sleeve cuffs are already sized to fit your wrist LOL

But....but...the cuff is much bigger than the pattern! And why should I have to cut the cuff just to seam it again? Oh, the brain power I used to figure out how to make the mitten body into one piece!

I realized I had to make a snip into the body, between the curved top and the straight portion, so I could sew on the partial piece for the flap.

Can you see, on the right edge, where the serged piece overlaps the curved piece, there's a bit of a slit?

Serged the thumb on

Not sure what I was trying to show here, I think it was serging on the thumb, very carefully
Not sure about this either LOL. 
They ended up way too long for my short fingers so I had to keep trimming the tops. Also, I thought it would be cool to have the cuff at the top of the thumb so I didn't have to hem. I didn't measure very well though LOL. Fully down, it does keep my thumb warm and I can fold it back if I need my thumb.

These aren't as warm as the two layer mittens from felted sweaters--this was a thinner, less felted sweater as well. Even with all the thinking and the adjustments, it was still quicker than knitting them. I do find that they slide down though. I was at one of the pickets events and the union send an email with photos of the event, and there I was, at the front, tugging on my mitten LOL. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Pretty Much Done

I wrote earlier about the process of making the skating skirt for Megan. Not the quick sew it could have been, and this dress is similar....though partially for different reasons.

The whole first part of that post, about buying and printing the patterns holds true for this one too (This is Jalie 2684 Mock Neck Dress), so I won't discuss those issues again.

I also wrote in that last post about the fabric offer I received from https://fabric-online.com/.  Megan decided on a red velvet! So exciting! It came and we petted it! I realized though that there was no vertical stretch. Oh no! Will it still work? How?

I consulted with other costume sewists in a great Facebook group called "Spandex Doesn't Scare Me". It was suggested to use the velvet "sideways", with the stretch going vertical instead of horizontal. Another suggestion was to add a bit of extra length. That's what I went with. I also figured the stretch mesh on the upper chest would give some stretch, and I decided to make the panties with some cotton-lycra. After going through my stash, I actually decided on a slinky knit. I figured it would help ensure the skirt doesn't stick to it. I also wanted to make a shelf bra.

It all went together pretty well. At the sides of the beige mesh, I used clear elastic. By now, everything was shut down and I couldn't just browse the fabric store for options but I really thought the clear elastic would be a good option. I think it worked okay. However, once it all got put together, I had her try it on before stitching the back of the collar down. The beige mesh (which was wonderfully donated by the woman who owns the sewing studio that does the classes I've attended! I had put out a plea in her local sewing group on FB because the stores were closed, and I really didn't want to order 1/2 meter of mesh online!) section was not laying right. It seemed to be too long. So I had to re-work it. I'm not 100% sure it's "perfect" but Megan is happy.

The chiffon! I tried to be extra careful when I cut it. When I went to sew it together, I could see the pieces didn't match! One edge of both the front and back of one of the colours was too long. I carefully trimmed them, deciding one layer would be slightly longer than the other. You know, for that little extra bit of uniqueness! I sewed it on and let the dress hang for awhile before hemming. It didn't grow anymore, so I must be getting better.

Megan decided she did want back straps after all. I kind of forgot that. I went to gather the materials to make the straps and this sequined stretchy trim fell off the bookshelf! No way. Fate.

I'll get into more details later, I just wanted to get this up because it is basically done. We are waiting for some crystals to arrive because she really wants to "stone" it. I like it as is. Her music is from Sweet Charity, and in this scene, the dancers are in all black. The lead dancer in wearing a square straped halter and  I wanted to add straps to mimic that, but she said no. The dresses in the scene are not blingy at all, but she figures no one will know where the music is from anyway.

We got the news late last week that figure skating can start up again, May 19 (but not hockey or lacrosse!). However, the town facility where she practices is closed till May 31, so we still have to wait. We don't know if the facility will open on June 1; the town has cancelled everything through June, and July 1 (Canada Day) festivities.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Beautiful Dreamer

I am almost caught up to real time! There's a couple pairs of shorts I made for the girls, two (almost identical) bathing suits for Lucy and a bathing suit cover up from the cruise that I still need to blog, but the problem is getting pictures.

I bought this pattern Nov 26 2018, which was maybe a day before I left for a Florida roadtrip. I was taking the silver cardi I had made but I wasn't overly thrilled with it.  I saw this one, Beautiful Dreamer by Shwin Designs and liked how you use a piece of contrasting woven in the upper back. It says $5US, however, my records show I paid $9.60US!

I have been wanting to make it, but could never decide on fabrics! Such commitment! Needing a woven, AND a knit, that look good together! Stress! I finally decided I was going for it. I had this neat fabric, I believe from Fabricland, that I thought I would make a pool cover up for the cruise. Never had the time. Thought it could still be a dress, then I realized it was rather revealing with the holes. Doesn't even qualify for a work shirt! Then I realized, a cardigan it shall be. Now, what for the woven? I had some white twill but it just didn't feel right.

I had an idea! I could just take a knit, fuse some interfacing on it, and call it a woven! And...this fabric is striped! I could cut it on the bias so the stripes went diagonal for some neat interest! Yes ma'am, sign me up.

I got it printed and started taping together. I questioned in the Facebook group if I would need an FBA (not really) and how much should I shorten it, and where are the shorten/lengthen lines as indicated in the instructions. I was assured they were there. The quality of the printing was not very good. I had done B&W, but you know how you lose the detail when you print a photo too big? The white areas were a little shady, the lines were a little fuzzy. I could not find lengthen lines.

I opted not to do a FBA (I honestly can't remember if I shortened it). I was moving along fine and appreciated the mirror image rather than cut on a fold, sleeves. But wait a minute! There were no notches on the pattern, as indicated in the instructions. Which was the front of the sleeve? I got the answer in the group, and luckily, that worked with how I had cut them.

It all came together pretty well. I tried to match up the stripes, but they're "rustic" stripes, not precise, so it's not going to line up perfectly. That's fine. Much better than I would have done 5 years ago!  I really love the back! I always feel so wide in my back photos but this is okay!

I don't feel overwhelmed by the fabric in the front, don't feel like I'm swimming! It's hard to see in the photos, but  pale peach  doesn't really show at a distance. Which is good, because I was worried it was too peachy and not neutral enough. 

I really like this sweater! I don't think it was worth the $9.60US I paid (about $12.50Cdn) but for sure it's worth the $5 US. I will likely make more. Maybe even with an actual woven yoke!

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Sundance Jacket

I have been wanting to blog this jacket for so long!  How long? The class was posted Feb 2018 and there was one in March and one in May; not sure which one I did. It was quite a splurge for me, but I'm glad I did it. The pieces were pre-cut and we did not get the pattern, we were told each step. I bought the pattern later but haven't made another one yet. Still on my to-do list! The fabric was really nice, the zipper was perfect. There were some issues with getting verbal instructions--hard to keep track of six giggling ladies all at different points in the process. I was actually able to think ahead at one stage at prevent a zipper issue that some of the other ladies experienced. 

The Sundance Jacket:

Hideous face LOL. My photographer made me pose again:

So much better LOL

Excuse my Corona hair. 
It's hard to see the details on the back. The one on the website looks like the seams have been flatlocked, which I haven't ever done, so mine is a little less structured looking. 

 I never got around to hemming the sleeves. They are a little long, I usually fold them back.
I was so distressed by the total lack of pockets, that I eventually got around to adding one inside pocket before our Sept 2019 cruise. I took some black cotton-lycra, fused some light interfacing to it,  hemmed the short edges. I folded it in half, and carefully sewed it to the seam allowances on the inside. It doesn't show anywhere on the outside. 

Now. These pictures are the After shots. Yes. The size chosen for me was based on my bust, and the pieces were pre-cut. Which meant that while the bust fit, the rest of the jacket was swimming on me. It was okay, but did not have the nice fitted look as seen on Greenstyle's website. I pretty much took most of the back apart and stitched smaller and shorter, especially the pleated bottom. It was just too long on me. This was all possible only because there are so many pieces. It saddens me when I see someone has sewn a very simple top and is expecting it to be well fitted and custom--the only places to really adjust are the side seams (besides things like doing an FBA). Seams allow precise fitting, exactly where you need it.

I love this jacket. My family does not. They call it the Magician's jacket. They say it looks like a tux jacket (with the tails). I really want to make another, and maybe in a print, it will be more casual. It doesn't have to be made with the pleats--and I could even take these off this jacket--but I thought it elevated it from a simple, run of the mill, yoga jacket, to something a little more upscale.