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.