Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Well, it has been a crazy busy month!  I hope you had a good holiday season, and either gave, or received, lots of fiber goodness!

I still have some sewing posts to show from as far back as the early fall!  As for knitting...not much has been finished...and what I did finish, I forgot to take a picture before giving!

Like many people, I'm starting the new year off saying I'm not buying new yarns, fabric, or patterns.  Since Christmas Day, I have actually used up some yarn!  I'm going to keep track, although some times it's difficult.  I'm not always starting with full balls, and sometimes I will have a bit leftover.  But here's the rundown so far:

1) Pink mohair narrow scarf; I think it's an OLD Paton's mohair blend.  Used the entire ball (don't think it was a full ball).
2) White mohair scarf; might be the same yarn.  Larger ball, used it all up. 
3) Green scarf, two balls Red Heart Shetland Chunky, Heather Forest.  Each ball was a different dye lot, so I did random stripes.  Sort of looks like marble!  I do have a picture and will post later.
For these three, I used the free pattern from Machine Knitting Fun.  Super easy.

4) "Lyndee Sock Monkey".  Not sure if I have the link on this computer, it's a free pattern for a machine knit sock monkey.  I can't find it on Ravelry, but perhaps a Google search will work.  I used up nearly one ball of Paton's Decor in dark grey (Not quite a new ball probably).

5) "Blankie Skirt".  A wool skirt/diaper cover in a huge size (for Meg, nighttime).  Base yarn of LionBrand Fisherman Wool in dark brown tweed (used up most of the ball, still enough left for something small), and used up (or nearly used up) several small balls of left over yarns like Headwaters Wool, Briggs & Little, and Patons Classic Wool.  I will have a picture of these later too.

So, how do I count balls?  The three scarves did use up 4 balls, sock monkey makes it 5; blankie skirt...lets call that two balls.  So, that's 7 balls of yarn in less than one week!  I'm going to make another blankie skirt with a different punch card, and that will use up even more of the small balls.

I'm still working on two shawls, a pair of duck booties, the "all in one sweater" I made at the machine knitting group, a pair of Noro socks in "clown barf"....

Friday, December 02, 2011

Some Good, Some Bad

It's been one of those weeks.  I'm working on wool longies on the Singer 155.  Nothing is going smoothly.

I love the Kroy Stretch socks that I've made.  Unfortunately, one got a hole!  It's not like a worn out spot, but a real hole.  I'm sure I can mend it, but because they're mostly not wool, it might be tricky to make sure it stays.  Don't let it stop you from trying this yarn if you haven't yet.

Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned a machine knitting workshop in next May?  The date has been changed to the week before since that weekend was Mother's Day.  Mmmm....seemed like a nice way to spend Mother's Day to me!  However, this works even better for me since my concert band is doing a concert on the May 12/13 weekend.  They also want to move it up a week, but I hope that doesn't happen.  I already had to miss a concert in October, I'd feel really, really bad missing another one, LOL.

I washed two shawls this week, and blocked them out.  The first one, the Moonlight Sonata shawl seemed a little bigger, and "crisper" (not as in, feeling crunchy, but just more defined).  I see that the first time, I couldn't stretch the sides enough to get the bottom edge stretched out.  I didn't remember that as I blocked it this time, and I seemed to have no trouble with the bottom edge.  I'm loving it even more now.  The other shawl was the Sweet Lily Shawl.  I don't know how I did it, but I got it stretched out more this time, and now the points reach my elbows!  It's still not a wrap it around shawl, but I'm much happier now.  Although, it doesn't seem as warm, LOL.  I don't think of dark brown as a summer colour, but I think the lightness of this shawl would make it ideal in the summer for those air conditioned places, and also for blocking the sun on bare shoulders.

The magic of wool.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Reviews

I am SICK right now, and although I'd love to be updating my other blog about our cruise, the pictures are on the downstairs computer and it's cold down there, and I just want to snuggle up on the couch.  While I have been knitting quite a bit, I don't have much to show.  I did recently though get some new books from the libary.  The library in my old town was small, but I think there was a knitter on staff as their selection wasn't too bad.  They had a display section near the front door where they put all new books, so it was easy to keep up with new knitting books.  Now, we're in this much bigger town.  The library is huge, and there's three branches.  I hate using the online catalogue, it's too ...clinical?  They do have display areas where they set out books on a topic, and I grab some interesting books that way.  The last time I was there, I was able to scan the shelves as I was looking for Cookie A's first book.  It wasn't in, but I did find some other gems!

"Knitting Plus" by Lisa Shroyer.  There is an extensive section on designing/altering for plus size figures.  It's actually a pretty intense section.  The patterns in the book are actually from multiple designers, which is nice.  They are arranged by the type of shoulder/armhole.  The designs are contemporary and classic.  What I find strange is the size ranges.  The sizes are not consistant.  For example, one cardigan (for which you'd want some positive ease), starts at 39 1/2".  Another more easy fitting sweater, starts at 47".  So, if the size small for the cardigan is meant for a 36" bust, then the loose fit sweater (actually, it's the cover sweater), would have 11" of does not look like that, and 11" of ease on a plus size body?  No thanks.  So just make sure to assess how you want the sweater to look and fit before choosing a size. 

I like the Barton Cardigan although the excess fabric on the back wouldn't look good on me with my swayback.  It also reminds me a lot of the February Lady Sweater, which (for my own reasons) gave me a real kicking.  I also like Passyunk Pullover, mmmm....on Ravelry, it's called the Passayunk Pullover.  I'm not sure about a yoke sweater on me, but I don't have any to compare it too.  I'd just have to watch that the neckline is not too high on my sensitive neck.  The Waltham Cabled Cardigan is charming and probably the most popular in the book, judging by Ravelry.  Vauxhall Tunic is a great fair isle option for women who don't want horizontal patterning that is the norm with fair isle.  This could also be adapted for a man's sweater.

"Knitted Wild Animals" by Sarah Keen.  I have my favourite teddy bear pattern, and I've made other stuffed animals (pig, dinosaur, elephant, alligator, bunnies...), and I love knitted stuffed animals.  However, I am torn between the quick and easy but often bland animals, and the more intricate but time consuming patterns.  These patterns seem to be a happy compromise!  They all evoke the "aaaahhhh" response, but at the same time, I'm not thinking "look at all the itty bitty pieces to sew together".  I also like the added touch of whimsical animal facts.  Watch the yarn recommendation.  It does say, in the pattern, "Light Worsted" and 3.25mm needles.  In the back, it does say that Light worsted is also known as DK.  I can't find anything that says what yarn was used for the patterns.  There is a small "learn to knit" section at the back, but it's very basic.

"Wendy Knits Lace"  by Wendy Johnson.  I like the variety of projects in this book; even the beginner projects are quite nice.  There's something for everyone.  I do have one BIG peeve with this book though.  There are no "flat out" pictures of the projects.  They're all arranged, styled photos.  In some of the pictures you can't really see the stitch pattern clearly.  I really like to see pictures of the details, or the shape, etc, so I can gauge my own piece and know if it's going right.  I am planning to make the Garden Party Cardigan, I just have to do a little math to alter the sizing to fit me better.  For some of the other patterns, I'm going to wait until there's more projects posted on Ravelry and hopefully better pictures.  And maybe I'll check her blog to see if there's pictures on there (I used to read it all the time, but got a little bored of socks all the time or shawls all the time).

What's your favourite new knitting book?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Blonde Walks Into...

....a machine knitting club meeting and knit a pink baby sweater.  It's an "all in one" design--the sweater is knit in one piece, and then  the edgings are added at the end.  She's happily knitting away on the first cuff, when she suddenly realizes that she had started a handknit baby sweater in the same yarn early in the spring...and she now wonders if the skein she had grabbed off the shelf was designated for the other, hibernating, project....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Warm Feet

I suffer from chronic cold feet.  Even in the summer, my feet get cold easily. 
Although I've been showing a lot of sewing lately (and have more to show!), I did do some knitting over the summer.  Like always, I needed a small project for sitting at the park, and a bigger project for on the couch at night.  I have been working on "Omelet" (a large shawl)

from for a while now, but my "purse project" went much quicker.  I showed the pictures of the socks from the day we went to the beach and it was cold.  It wasn't too long after that that they were finished.  However, the weather turned warm and I didn't feel like putting them on to take pictures.  Finally, on Oct 12, I was tired of seeing them on my end table, and I had the camera out taking pictures of my son's sprained ankle, so I snapped a few of the socks.  Always a challenge!
 Kroy Stripes, Mulberry.  I didn't want yarn left over, so these ended up tall, which is a nice change!
 Toe up, two at a time on one circular needle.  The eyelets going outwards on the top of the foot are the heel increases.  The eyelets going up the middle are paired with decreases.
 Once I got to the heel turning, I had to pair the outer eyelets with decreases too, so that they moved inwards and met at the middle.  In this picture above, you can see the little short row wedge (speckled grey)  at the top of the dark pink heel.  This just gave me a little extra heel depth to get over my high instep.
Part way up the leg, I realized I forgot to do the heel in a slip stitched pattern.  And that I wanted ribbing at some point.  I looked at my stitch dictionaries and found a diamond pattern to mimic the foot, and repeated it around the calf.  In the top half of the diamonds, I gradually shifted to ribbing.  It's a little hard to see in the striped yarn, but this would be a good way to add ribbing if you don't want a sudden start.
Not much else to say about them.  I did a little extra calf shaping at the top since they were getting tall, however, I did it a little late and a little sharply, so the top edge is actually a little loose.  They still stay up though.  I think they might become my new skating socks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Racer Back Dress

Back in the summer, I started reading a blog,  Shortly after, she posted a pattern/tutorial on making a racer back girl's dress, in a knit fabric.  I just knew I had to make it!  I especially wanted to try the way she showed the neck binding.  I had read other tutorials, but they left the inside edge with a raw edge showing.  This one treated the neck binding like bias tape, but in a knit fabric...could I do it (and if I could, then I could use it on the brown and black dress that I recently showed, and another dress that I was working on).

I had a bright pink jersey sheet that would be great for Meg.  The pattern came in three sizes, the largest was a 7, which is what I used (I'm pretty certain....this was a while ago now, LOL).  I did have an issue with cutting the binding for the armhole.  You have to measure the armholes yourself, but I didn't include the part of the back in the middle for some reason.

It's a great pattern!  She can put it on herself, the back is very different from the front so it never goes on backwards, it doesn't fly up high when she spins, but there's plenty of room for movement.  I really want one in my size, and I've been trying to figure out how to do a sort of shelf bra.  I think I've got it figured out, now that we're headed into late autumn, LOL.

I did have some issues with doing the binding; lining it up, sewing it even, how it should look on the inside.  But I'd still do it again!  I did a lettuce edge on the bottom.  I didn't have bright pink cones of serger thread, but I did have a red cone, and several spools of various shades of pink.  Later on, I did get wooly nylon and if I had known how great that would be, I would have gone to get some for this dress too. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bear and Booties for Blake

I found out in mid-May that one of my cousins was expecting her first baby in mid-August.  I thought for awhile about what to make her, and then it suddenly came to me that I usually make a large teddy bear, either for the birth or 1st Christmas or 1st birthday. 

I didn't remember this though until the start of September, and her shower was on Sept 13.  No problem.  I have a pattern I always use, and a basement full of yarn.

 I LOVE a teddy bear pattern by Jean Greenhowe.  I've used it many, many times over the past 12 years.  I use just about any yarn, with appropriate sized needles.  I've made teeny weeny bears, and giant grizzly bears.  This bear qualifies as a grizzly! 
Made with Paton's Divine, and I think 5mm needles (the yarn calls for 6.5mm because of the mohair, but for this use, it needs to be tight).  It's big, squishy, slightly fuzzy, and SO huggable!

The day before the shower, I saw some baby booties on a blog, and realized I could make some too!  I googled for a while and found a pattern, I think it's at "Starlight Shoes".  I searched through the fabric stash, and found several fabrics I liked.  I selected two, one for the sole, one for the body.  I didn't do the interfacing, and there were some other construction details I wasn't thrilled about (I thought the casing for the elastic on the heel was too bulky; I have some ideas to change that, but I think it would add a few minutes to the construction).  I realized after I cut the first one that there is the letter B on the fabric, so I made sure it was placed well on the second booties.

I definitely have plans to make more, some themed ones for certain.  They'd be something great to keep in the gift box as they can use up small scraps and  don't take long to make, or require special trims or closures.

They do have a left/right distinction, however, I think for newborns, it's probably not necessary.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Machine Knitting Seminar

Although Yahoo! Groups are international, there are often members really close to home.  One such member in my machine knitting groups is Marg Coe.  I got to meet her last year when she dropped off some cones of yarn, and we keep in touch.  Marg is part of an active machine knitting group about 45 minutes from me, called Kawartha Carriage Knitters' Club.  I was hoping I'd get to join this group this fall once my kids are all in school full time.  I missed this month though--I'm still getting used to this new life!

This group is going to host a seminar on May 12 and 13 in Peterborough.  I LOVE Peterborough.  You betcha, I'm going to attend this seminar.  I might even get to spend the night at my younger-taller-twin-cousin's house!  For more info on this machine knitting group and their seminar, check out their site!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Simple Dresses

It's the summer of shirring!  There was Meg's green dress, a strapless lady's top that Lucy found at Value Village and made into a dress, the blue dress for me, and a dress for Lucy.  I had been eyeing the pre-shirred fabric at Fabricland, but didn't want to pay $20/m.   It eventually got marked down to $10/m, but until I made Meg's dress (and then mine), I didn't know how much I would need.  All I knew was that just buying my bust size as the length would not be enough.  One day I had taken the girls to Fabricland and there was a cut of smocked fabric in the clearance bin...however, they don't actually mark down the remnants; it's still $10/m, even though it's a pre-cut piece.  Lucy liked one piece and agreed to a dress.  I think it was .8m.

We cut some length off (maybe a smidge too much), and we can't agree on straps.  She doesn't mind it strapless, but it doesn't stay up very well.  We might do clear straps, but the school dress code probably still won't allow that.  She does have a little black shrug that looks really cute over it.  I did the one seam as a French seam, however it made it really difficult (for me) to line up the rows of shirring.

On another trip to Value Village, I found a piece of pretty, floral knit.  The white background has a very slight texture/thick-thin affect.  It's quite thin and stretchy.  However, the piece was rather odd...there had been a section (poorly) serged onto one end, and there were some holes scattered here and there.
Lucy liked a dress design in "Built by Wendy"'s knits book.  Based on a raglan sleeve shirt, it gets a little extra width added, and no sleeves.  I made the front and back exactly the same (although the book shows them different).  I based her size on a girl's dress pattern I have, with raglan sleeves.  I don't remember if I added any to the width though, as the pattern was for wovens.  The length was pretty much just what I could do with the length of fabric I had.  I could do another panel in the same fabric (pieced together though), or in another fabric if I could find something to match).  She figures she'll just turn it into a shirt as she grows.  I did a lettuce edge on the bottom.  For the neck straps, all I could find in my trims stash was some fuchsia rickrack.  It looked good until it was washed.  I'm not into ironing rickrack.

This is pretty much the same idea as a pillow case dress...cut a rectangle and angle off the top corners (you don't even have to do that I suppose, although it cuts down a bit of bulk), then fold over a casing on the front and back.  Sew the sides, feed a ribbon or something through the front casing and then the back and sew the ends together, or use one piece for the back and one piece for the front and make shoulder ties (Lucy wanted to be able to get dressed herself so shoulder ties were not an option).

 Simple design, maximum impact with a non-juvenile fabric!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Way Back.....

Way back in late June, I decided to copy a favourite dress with a cross over bodice/empire waist.  I used plastic tablecloth on a roll to copy an outline of the dress onto.  I had this lightweight knit (Value Village find), and cut out the bodice and basted it together.  Well, I don't know what happened.  Even though I added extra to the bust, it was way too low cut!  I decided to scrap it right away and cut a new, scoop neck bodice.  I basted the bodice together, and saw I needed some changes, and altered the pattern, but I was confused.  I had to add a bit to the bust width, but take out some in the upper chest width, but somehow, it resulted in basically no change to how it fit!  LOL.
I was working with a bit of a deadline--we were heading to Indiana (check my other blog), and I wanted to take it.  So I was rushing a bit.  I decided after basting together, that the skirt front was too narrow for my comfort.  So, I cut another piece to go in the middle.  However, somehow (uh, because I made my pattern without seam allowances and writing "add S.A"  wasn't enough to clue me in), I made the center piece about 2" too short.  I also decided the dress was a tad dull.  I don't have a huge stash of knit fabrics, but I have been collecting old clothes to re-furbish/use as fabric.  I had a perfectly good black turtleneck sweater that was about the same weight.  It felt sinful to slice off some strips from the bottom, but it was the perfect width!

 I turned the armband and neckband edges in and did a double needle topstitching.  However, it didn't work as well as on the bathing suits.  It didn't survive very long.  More on that later.
It was quite comfy, I wore it down to Indianapolis for over 12 hours.  However, I found myself sweating, despite having the air conditioning on in the truck!
After I wore it again, I decided to take the sides in a little, and use my new serger to redo the the bottom hem, and the armholes.  I wasn't ready for that!  The bottom went okay, but there were some things I just didn't know about doing the armholes (clearing the stitch fingers, doing a complete "circle", going over the shoulder seams was rough...).  I really wasn't happy with the armholes.  For the neck, I decided to follow a tutorial I had just found at ikatbag (I made the dress in the tutorial too!).  I had seen other tutorials, but they result in a raw edge on the inside.  This tutorial treats the binding like bias binding.  However, I did have some difficulty with going around the curves.  The end result was okay, although there is some wrinkling on one strap.
But after wearing it again, by the end of the day, the underarms had stretched!  From my body heat?
Hard to get a good picture, but you can see it sticking out.  I can't just take the seams in again; the back is a good width, and it's mainly the front parts that went wild.  And if I take the fronts in again, will it just stretch again?
It's a nice enough dress, the upper bodice needs the straps angled inwards a bit more, but the rest is good.  I started another dress but man, it's giving me a tough time!

Friday, September 16, 2011

You Know It's Cold....

This summer I did a lot of small trips with the kids.  We found new splash pads in town, and went out of town a few times too.  One trip was to the awesome Cobourg Beach.  Due to trying to fit in so many activities before the girls went to daycamp, we were down to two possible days to go to this beach.  I choose the earlier of the two days as I really thought we'd be doing something else on the other day, which was also a Friday so I wasn't keen to head out on the highway on a Friday.
The morning of the beach trip started out nice, but by the time we headed out, big grey clouds had formed, and we actually had a few drops of rain on the way.  The beach was not crowded at all, but man! was the water ever cold, despite being a shallow and usually warm, beach.

After I forced the kids out of the water, I had to warm up a little.  Wool socks in progress was my only option!
 Two at a time, toe up, magic loop on KnitPicks nickel circulars.  Yarn is Patons Kroy Stripes in Mulberry, that I had picked up on clearance from Michaels'.  Instead of the Fleegle heel, or a short row heel, I did a similar idea to the last pair, except that I made the increases as yarn overs.  Then, I also included vertical rows of yarn over/dec in the center.  I did a heel flap (sort of like the Fleegle heel) and brought the yarn overs (now paired with a dec) back towards the middle.  Then, when they met at the middle, I went down a needle size and did a band of lace diamonds.  I went down the needle size because the number of sts needed, based on the stitch repeat, was exactly what I had, and eyelet patterns tend to be larger gauge.  When I got to the mid-point of the diamonds, I started ribbing between each diamond.  I'll show more pictures later when I'm done.  I thought I might do some diamonds with travelling stitches, but I can't be bothered now, LOL.
It did clear up and warm up we were near the end of our visit!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I had to take the girls with me to FabricLand one day.  We past by the bin of swimsuit fabric remnants (not really remnants as they are on small bolts, but they don't stock particular prints; these are mill ends).  Lucy found a nice leopard print but I said no way, she's too young.

When I was on line shopping to order some swimsuit fabric to get delivered to my SIL's in Indiana when we went in July,  I found a colourful "leopard" print.  Lucy liked it and I thought it was much more age appropriate.  Lucy wanted a one shouldered suit--Meg has one so I thought I'd copy that.  Then had the Kwik Sew sale and I bought the basic kid's suit pattern.  I really wanted to make it as is (one piece) before altering, but no, it had to be a bikini.  I followed advice from the Creative Chicks.  Lucy also wanted ruffles, but although I had her ruffled suit to reference, I just could figure how to do them like she wanted (along the shoulder and part of the top).  Then when cutting the fabric, I found it rolls in, and it's a print so the backside is sort of white.  So, no ruffles.

 I had issues with the elastic around the top's top and bottom edges. I don't know if it's because it's the crosswise grain, or if it's cause it's a more cottony fabric, but it was wavy. I redid parts of it a couple times.
She tested it at a splash park, and deemed it a success, although a little loose on top.  I took it in a bit, and then we went to a pool.  Well, it didn't work so well there.  She was trying to do handstands, and it kept falling down.  LOL.  I cinched it in with my hair elastic, but it still wasn't enough and it was a miserable public swim....esp. after she cut her toe, the bandaid wouldn't stay on, the power went out and we had to get out for 15 minutes...
I had a great idea to use some clear elastic I had just bought to make a safety strap.  Along with re-doing the upper elastic, the strap really did the job.  However, it's ripped off twice while she's taking the top off.  I tell her to slip it over her head, not wrestle her way out!  However, I've been told there are clear bra straps that might be a better option.

We had promised to take them back to the beach one evening, but it was pretty rough!  The loved it anyway!
I love the fact I have made three swimsuits!  It totally stuns me!  Six years ago, it took me nearly a week to make a fleece pouch and I didn't believe that would work!  I've stocked up on swimsuit fabric and patterns, and am looking forward to the next one!

Monday, September 05, 2011

I Wear My Pink Bikini... the summer when it's hot; I wear my yellow Speedo in the winter when it's not;
But sometimes in the springtime; and sometimes in the fall
I jump into my little pool with nothing on at all!

Anyone else sing that at  Girl Guides/Scouts?  LOL!

Early this spring I noticed my favourite one piece bathing suit (actually, the only suit I was wearing in public anymore) was becoming stretched, saggy, and transparent.  Eeek.  Bathing suits were just coming into the stores so I was able to find a new suit quickly, but I figured it couldn't be too hard to make my own.  Right?  There's only three pieces...

....on the front.  Plus 3 pieces for the back.  Plus two pieces for the ruched accent band.  And some power netting and cups on the inside....but still...all sewing is is assembly flat fabric in the correct order to make it shapely.  Right?

I closely examined my suit while sitting in the hot tub.  Multi-tasking!  Then, I took some pictures (many more than just these two), and cut it apart.  I made some pattern pieces and went to the fabric store. 

Wow, bathing suit fabric is expensive here.  The solid colour stuff is $22/m and the "mill end" prints were $15/m.  I didn't need much, but also power netting, and thread, and elastic...Just like any project, it's not cost effective to just make one!  I chose a darkish blue-purple that was the same intensity as the brown, and a fun print for the cups.  I didn't see any that I liked for the contrast band, except a bright lime that I thought was too radical.  I thought maybe I could just use the cups fabric, but I was also stuck on the fancy do-da in the middle.

As I made the pattern, I did add a little to the cups as I felt the original was a tad small.  I could probably add even more.  I even tried the twin needle top stitching after a crappy trip to a small sewing store in Oshawa where Lucy put her best pout on display.  I didn't have a matching colour for the top stitching, so chose a lime, but I'm not sure I'm keen on it.  And it looks like it was top stitched by a drunken monkey.  But over all, for my first bathing suit attempt, I was pretty darned pleased.

Till I paraded it through the house out to the hot tub and the girls said I looked fat :(

Oh well.  I do think the legs could be cut a bit higher, and maybe I should make a contrast band for under the bust to shrink the sea of blue.   It's still good for in the hot tub, although my "good one" that I bought in the spring is already showing signs of fading!  And I have bought some "real" patterns to make another suit or two.  And some more fabric online that I had sent to my SIL's when we went in July--it's WAY cheaper from American on-line stores, although I don't know what the Canadian shipping costs would be, and of course, you can't actually see/touch the fabric.  More about that when I show Lucy's suit!!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Look! I Knit!

Yes, I'm still knitting.  Not too much, but some.  Early in the spring I was working on a baby sweater...that needs to be measured, compared to "standard" baby sizes, and then the armholes worked/sleeves.  I'm still chugging along on "Omelet" from  Those pink socks that ran out of yarn got put in time out.  But back on the Father's Day weekend in June, I started another pair of socks using Kroy Stretch.  We were headed to my parents for the weekend, so I wanted something "brainless".  I think I still had to re-start one of the socks, LOL.  I worked on these whenever we went anywhere that I could fit them in my purse.  I made them two at a time, toe up, on Magic Loop.  I wanted to make the increases similar to the "Spring Thaw" socks by Cat Bordhi that I made in 2009.  I had to search the house for the magazine (found it in the bathroom, LOL), and scanned the pattern (again) just as we were leaving for Indiana (see my other blog, LOL).  However, It was too much of a headache to try to fit it into my sock, without ribbing, etc.  I decided to work the increases on the top of the foot, like some of her other socks.  As I increased, I started the new stitches in ribbing. 
Add caption
While we were in Indiana, I needed to turn the heel.  I'm not sure why I didn't pay attention to the pattern...I think I misplaced it while there.  I worked most of both heels, tried them on and decided the foot wasn't quite long enough.  Re-did the heels and realized I had done the short rows in the wrong direction---I had done my standard, top down heel turn.  I had done this also on the first attempt, but didn't notice it when I tried them on.  Ripped again.  Third time worked out, although I had to add some short rows in the back of the heel flap, as usual for me.

Then I realized I hadn't done the heel flap in my usual slip stitch pattern.  However, I was not going to rip it again.  I figured since these are mostly cotton, they'll get worn mostly in the summer with sandals or slippers.  I continued to increase the ribbing stitches around the sock as I worked upwards, matched with a decrease on each side as I wasn't needing to increase the number of stitches now.  Previously, I had done this on other socks by working the edges like cables, but it didn't give the effect I had wanted.  This way was much better.

 I continued up the socks until I ran out of the first ball of yarn.  I had two balls, but I decided not to break into the second ball.  The socks are on the verge of too short, but for summer I can fold them down, and in winter they'll be okay.  I'd rather have another whole ball to make another pair (a gift?), than have 1/2 a ball of an odd yarn in my stash.  Like I have of the purpley-orange-green pair I made in this yarn.
Although I liked how I had done the transitions from ribbing to stockinette, I didn't like my increases.  I couldn't decide while knitting what type to use, and then hoped that the holeyness would look "intentional".  Uh, no, it didn't.  So I just simply sewed shut the holes formed by the increases.  Easy peasy.  I had these ones done in under two months (I think I finished them the first week in August--6 weeks), which is pretty sad considering there was a lot of road trips (12 hours to Indiana).  However, I was also working on the shawl and doing a lot of sewing.

I immediately cast on for another pair of socks  and incredibly, they are almost finished  (mmm...I wonder if I had cast on before I finished the green ones, or if there was a much longer delay between finishing the green ones and their photo shoot?)!  I don't know how.  Concerts in the Park, Movie in the Park, kids playing in the park....guess that all adds up even better than 2 hours on the couch, LOL.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Second Blue Dress

I had enough of the blue and white sheet leftover to make a simple dress, and knew I wanted to make it shirred.  I've been wanting to do this for awhile, but it kept getting postponed.  I read tutorials, I wound my elastic thread, and cut a large rectangle from the remaining sheet, using the hem as the dress hem.  I sat down to shir.

I've mentioned before, with machine knitting, how tuck rhymes with *uck....well....ever notice how close shir is to shi* ?  LOL.  The elastic thread in the bobbin was not feeding very well, and was WAY tighter than any of the tutorials showed.  As in, the tutorials showed it would be barely gathered with the first few rows....I had it severely gathered as it was sewing.  I read more tutorials, esp. ones relating to Brother machines as those machines don't seem to like to shir... however, I have a Kenmore.  One tutorial showed a similar drop in style bobbin, and she said she had to tighten the shuttle screw.  Well, I knew I did not need it tighter, so I tried loosening it, bit by bit.  That worked, and finally by about the 4th row, I got a good tension.

I hadn't drawn my guide lines on, and my presser foot is too narrow to use as a guide for 1/2" rows (so many tutorials said they did this!).  I thought I'd be able to use the extended hem guide markings on my machine, but can't see them when you're sewing in the middle of the fabric!  I finally got fed up and drew guide lines on.  I did as many rows as I thought I needed (I wanted it to cover my bust and a bit below), then I went back and redid the first three rows since I still had some elastic left.  I could get about 3-4 rows per bobbin of elastic thread.  I actually did stop mid-row and start a new bobbin, even though the tutorials say not to...I just backstitched really well over the end.  Of course, I was using a patterned fabric; I might not have done this on a solid fabric.

I serged the side seam, wrong sides together, then did a French seam on the regular machine.  I cut two strips for the straps, and tried sewing elastic inside them to make them a little more interesting.  That was a disaster.  Maybe if the fabric was more fluid.

Once I had it on, I could see the front hem was higher than the back, since I had used only one piece, and there was no way to make the front bodice longer than the back bodice to account for the extra length over my chest, LOL.  I also saw some bagginess at the sides which could have been the poor shirring job or a size issue.  I was going to take the sides in, but that would disrupt the stretchiness of the shirring.  Next time, I will use two pieces for the bodice, so that I can taper the sides, and make the front longer.  One thing I did do was to add an extra row of shirring just on the front, to create an optical illusion of the front shirring being the same length as the back.  It could use another row.

I'm actually not fond of the straight line across my upper chest, although I like the height of this one compared to one I bought.  Which is strange because they are both just straight, and the RTW one has adjustable straps, so I don't know why it seems/is lower.  Maybe because it's a knit and slips a bit?  I made the straps wide enough to (mostly) cover bra straps, but found it was actually fairly supportive without a bra on.  The shirring though does trap sweat!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Tale of Two Dresses

Early in the summer I picked up a blue and white floral window topper, thinking it was a sheet (early June).  Later, I found a blue and white floral sheet, Mainstays brand (Wal-Mart?), 60% cotton, 40% poly.  I'm pretty sure it was a twin.  It had a nice, crisp hand; not a wimpy polyester 70's sheet.  I also found two dress patterns at Value Village in my size.  One is a shift dress, Butterick 5628, and one is a sheath dress, Simplicity 7965.

I had just tried making another shift dress, McCall's 3173.  During tissue fitting (my first "real" time), I was worried that it was going to be too shapeless, despite the large darts, so I went with making a top.  However, I didn't quite finish it as I was disappointed in the shapeless shape, and the feel of the fabric irked me (I think I live in knit t shirts too much).  Shortly after making that dreadful top (it probably isn't so dreadful, but compared to t shirts...), Elizabeth wrote a few posts about shift vs sheath on her blog, SEWN.  This was so timely for me as I was struggling with trying to break free of the empire waist style.  I thought a loose, flowy shift dress would be a nice, cool, summery dress I could quickly sew in a variety of fabrics and just throw on and wear easily.  However, I had just bought a gorgeous stretch twill sheath dress (with empire waist, but not noticeable), and it made me feel fabulous.

Despite my now second guessing a shift dress, I went ahead with Butterick 5628.  The pictures show the dress as a jumper, over a long sleeved shirt.  It also says "fitted, A-line jumper".  Doesn't look too fitted in the tiny envelope picture!  I don't remember exactly if I did a FBA or just cut smaller shoulders (I think that's what I did).  I did take an inch out of the upper bodice, the inch shown above the waist, and the inch shown in the skirt for petites.  I also made it shorter.  I had some issues with pinning the dress...stupidity, actually.  After pinning the first piece, I realized it should have been on the fold.  Re-pinned it, then realized I wanted the hem to use the sheet hem.  Unpinned it, started pinning it at the hem, and realized the sheet wouldn't be wide enough to cut both pieces along the hem.
 The sewing was going good, however, when I went to sew up the sides, I got a surprise...poor pattern drafting meant one piece was longer than the other!
I've never checked pieces prior to cutting!  I guess I should.
I didn't want to do the facings; I never get a good finish on the edges, I don't have a good stash of plain fabrics to use (the fashion fabric would show through if used), etc.  I went and bought a 1" bias binding gizmo after the (relative) success on the last two dresses with the smaller binding.  The package has wrong instructions though---it said to cut the fabric in 1" strips!  I cut 2" strips using up the odd shaped pieces leftover from cutting out the dress, sewed them together, and ended up with way more than I needed.  What a great way to use fabric!  I finished the edges, and tried it on.

Blah!  It might have been "fitted", but only at the sides, and only if I wore a sweater under it.

I can understand how fashion "experts" say a shift dress is totally hides any of the mid-section curves.  Supposedly, this makes viewers look at you and think "Oh, I can't see her waist, it must be REALLY small under there!"  Ya, right!  LOL!!

So, I added some front and back vertical darts, and took the sides in a bit (actually, I think I did this before finishing the openings).  It affects the lay of the skirt, but it's acceptable (to me).  I hemmed it, and washed it, and I think it shrunk!  It's way shorter than just the hemming would account for.  The first time I wore it out, I used a dark blue wide ribbon as a belt, but looking at the pictures now, I don't think I'll share those!  I wore it recently to a pool party and forgot the belt.  I had a couple compliments, so I think the belt is out.

At least now I know, a shift dress just isn't for me.  Maybe as a nightgown.  Even though the alterations probably took as long as the initial sewing, I DO have a wearable dress that I really like (and I found some blue sandals at Value Village!!).  Sometimes quick isn't worth the time!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Time to Catch Up

A number of issues has caused a slow down to my postings, but I hope to get back on track soon, at least, when the kids go back to school!
While at my parents for Father's Day (mid June), my mom found this fabric.  It was a pre-shirred piece, sold by Simpsons-Sears, is 50% cotton/50% polyester, and probably from the mid-70's.  I had a very similar (commercially made) shirred dress, in the same shade of green, but plaid.  I wore it when I was about 5, it's a little too short for Meg to wear as a dress by today's standards (ever look at old patterns and wonder about just how short those little girl dresses were?!).  There's no way Lucy would wear green flowers, so I had to make Meg a new dress.

The fabric is about 52-56" wide along the unshirred edge.  The package said you could make a dress for up to a 36" chest.  Indeed, I tried to stretch it to fit me, and it wouldn't.  I think that the more shirring there is, and the closer together it is, the less it will expand back out.  Also, commercially shirred fabric uses a different stitch than a home sewing machine, so maybe this affects it too. 
I  cut off some from the bottom for straps and to shorten (I cut maybe 6-8") and blindhemmed it flat.  Then I went to sew the side seams (Meg has a 28" chest, so I didn't take anything off the width).  I lined up the shirred section and pinned the smooth skirt.  And one side was longer than the other!
Crappy picture of the hem, showing the difference between the two sides, on my crappy looking ironing board.
I ripped back a few inches of the hem on either side, and lengthened one while shortening the other so that they'd meet at the edge.  Annoying.
It is on the long side, but she grows quickly, and most of her dresses are on the short side.  She really wanted a halter tie since Lucy has a halter dress, and she doesn't.  I used my 1" bias tape maker, but cut the fabric on grain.  Pressed it like double fold tape and top stitched it closed.  So much nicer than making a tube and turning!  The instructions on the tape maker are wrong though!  I think it's the "Unique" brand, not Clover.  It says to cut the strips 1" wide.  Same as for the 1/2" tape maker.  Good thing I'm far enough along in this journey that I knew better!!
This is Meg and my cousin's daughter, who is almost 3.  She's adorable!
I'm glad I got the chance to sew this up for Meg, it was pretty quick and easy and looks commercially made (I guess cause most of it is).  Stay tuned for more shirring escapades that weren't quite so quick and easy!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

SewingPatterns . com

Somehow I got on's email list.  I never look at the emails since by the time you add shipping it's usually not a deal to order from the States, compared to waiting for a sale.  But recently, Kwik Sew patterns were on sale and they hardly ever come on sale at the fabric store here, and I wanted some bathing suit patterns.  The four patterns, with shipping, came to just over $40, so I saved some money, esp. since not going to the fabric store means I didn't buy anything "extra" LOL.

However, I just got a notice today that they have shipped my patterns.  That's a week after I ordered!  Is this normal for this company?  I did once get a shipment notice from Knitpicks that was dated the day after I got the notice, LOL.  Does this mean that they JUST got mailed today, or that today was just when they sent the notice?

Itty Bitty

Almost forgot to show this project from late spring!  Lucy got a new camera for Christmas and had been keeping it in a sock.  I kept saying I'd make a case, but after some not-so-wonderful experiences trying to make a cell phone case for Meg, I put it on hold for a little bit longer.  Finally, I decided a zippered bag would work fine enough and got to work.  There's lots of tutorials for lined, zippered bags/pouches out there.  It's not a terribly difficult project, although I found it hard to figure out some steps due to the fabric choices/photos of the tutorial I used.
 A few years ago, Rob's brother, who works in the film industry making/supplies props, brought me a BIG bag of remnants, mostly upholstery weight fabrics.  That's the outside fabric, the inside fabric is satin from a Christmas mei tai that taught me slippery fabric does NOT work for straps!
I'm not sure why the top corners are angled in.  It's okay, but I'd like to know what I did wrong.
The zipper is a little bright for the fabric; I didn't have it with me when picking the zipper out and totally forgot that brown would have been a nice choice too.
I do have plans to make more of these, but there's lots of things out there I want to make!  I do have materials to make one for my band "stuff"  (oil spray, tuner, mouth piece, pencil...).

Monday, August 01, 2011


I just got a comment on the last post about the hat and mitts in my profile picture.
I just did a quick scroll through the posts under "LK150" and "Machine Knitting" and it's not there---I might have posted it before I learned about Labels.  However, it's a self-made pattern using the tuck stitch design that's in the LK150 manual.  The mitts are based upon several mitt designs out there; that was in my early days of figuring out what I like in a machine knitted mitt.
I recently washed all my winter stuff, and had trouble getting the rinse water suds free.  So there were many (hot-ish) rinse cycles...and this hat felted!  Didn't shrink too much, but it's felted alright.  Oh well, I don't wear it much.

A very similar pattern can be found in another post  and there's a link to Ray's site, the designer.  I haven't checked recently to see if he's selling the pattern or not.  For my hat, I just made one wide rectangle to go around my head, ribbed for the band, then tucked till I got it high enough, and casted off.  Fold in half and stitch the top closed (graft) and sew the side seam.  Add some tassels...
Such an easy pattern since you don't need to work decreases into a stitch pattern, or transfer stitches. 

Sorry I'm not much more help!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Something Knitted

Apparently, on March 28, I started a pair of "Stricken" socks, by Cookie A.  I needed a small portable project for working on while the kids had their various extracurricular activities.  Parts of the pattern are easy, esp. once you get into the pattern, but then other portions are not so mindless.  There were numerous little issues with these, but mostly due to not paying attention.  I did find it annoying that the instructions for the different symbols were not on the same page as the chart/symbol key.  So I'd have to flip the pages, then find my place back in the chart...and several of the moves are very similar, but some have a twist and some don't, etc.  (I was doing two at a time on magic loop).
I was using a boo-boo bin yarn from Sweet Sheep that I got from the last time I went to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair (2008!).  The yardage on the tag said 360yd, I think.  But I was having some doubts as I got near the heels.  I don't know if it was the cables or what, but it became clear I wasn't getting full socks from this ball.  I thought some sandal socks would be fine, but indeed, they were still too short!
I am having a REALLY hard time getting the pictures to move where I want them.  This "What you see is what you get" format is crap....and once it's posted, it never looks like it does in this window anyway...right down to a different font!

 I thought maybe gloves/fingerless mitts might be an option, and from the front, they looked great. However, even taking out the heel, the leg is still too wide around my wrist. I loved how the leg pattern was brought down into the heel flap (although I did NOT love the change from working in the round to working back and forth and doing those cross overs!!!!!!!!!!).
I have no idea how this post is going to look.  LOL.  Sort of how I feel about these  All the way, or back to mid-calve and try to pick the pattern back up and work decreases to fit, and then try to figure  thumb gusset increases into the pattern?  I have pink tipless gloves already; although I really felt diva-ish with elbow length "gloves" on, and could see that they would be nice on those days I'm wearing a t-shirt in the house and need arm warmth when I go out but don't want to wear a full sweater under my coat.