Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Sewing Machine Still Works

As usual, a little behind the times - but seasons have a habit of coming around again.

Vinage pattern, size 8 - which is quite a bit smaller than me. But this pattern was just three main pieces, and the sleeves are definitely big enough as is, so I did a simple slice up the middle of the front and back pieces and added 1" for each side (total 4" added). This was meant to be a beach coverup for when the sun got too much for my skin (one day I'll actually be outside long enough for that to happen!), and I just happened to have a densely woven fitted sheet that was too small for my bed.

Just needs buttons/buttonholes and a little finishing, and it's done! I switched the sewn-on top binding to a drawstring casing (I stared at it for half of sunday afternoon, and finally figured out that folding over wasn't going to cut it, no matter how I did the raglan seams, so I made a top facing pattern - went on quickly, no muss, no fuss). The intent here was to be able to alter the size of the neckline to raise/lower the blouse as needed. Not sure how well this is going to work in practice due to the sleeve length (which is just at my wrists in these pics), but I did try to leave enough elastic to allow me to push up the sleeves on my arms.

The sheet fabric has more body than I expected, so this is going to stay pretty poofy. I'm going to play with layering and see if I can get a look I like that would work for more every day than just beach wear - vests? garters on the sleeves? under 1/2 sleeve jackets?

Here's hoping for an FO soon, and the start of a new run on sewing projects!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bit Scattered

but then, what else is new?

Things seem to be slowing down on the knitting front:

Almost done the back of the vest. Which, in the tradition of Murphy means that the library just ordered a few new copies of Fitted Knits and mine is in transit to my branch as we speak - I was predicting another 6 months recently! I guess I can check how off my guestimate dimensions are!!

Working on the 3nd try at a cabled sock pattern - a little annoying when something doesn't work out on the other side of the heel and it gets ripped out *again*.

Durrow has been pulled out of the mothballs, the first sleeve frogged, and the body size checked again to make sure it's ok. Time to figure out where I was!

Then last weekend I talked with my FIL, and he wants a sweater! We'll have to see how a transatlantic email discussion works for sweater design...

So all this scattered attention on the knitting might have set me up for the 15 page "SWAP 2008" thread over at Stitcher's Guild. What's better for lack of focus than a focused plan? Especially when that focussed plan is in a totally different medium. I'm hearing the siren call of the SWAP... it worked so well last summer to get me inspired and turning out finished objects! Then again, what I need right now is comfy and warm, so maybe I shouldn't get too pulled away from the yarn.

Hmmm - combined sewing and knitting SWAP? Would that make it a SKWAP?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Scarf, and Pattern-Worm*

Ah, the benefits of helping a generous mom organize her new sewing room! Two autumn shade Paton's SWS (Soy Wool Stripes) sorta came home with me. And before you could blink, became My So Called Scarf. At the moment, I'm planning on keeping it too - how did I get so far in my knitting journey while still using the same store-bought scarf I've had since high school?

so called scarf

sws scarf end

sws scarf middle

Stats: pattern listed above (easy-peasy!), 2 balls of Paton's SWS, colour 70605, 7.5mm needles (no corresponding US size - between 10.5 and 11), ended up blocked to about 6"x54" (15x140cm).

(As for the yarn - silky, soft, shiney, pretty colours - 3 knots in the first ball, one in the second. All but one of the knots were pretty close in colour sequence though, so I didn't lose too much yarn. There was no bleeding in the water, and so far no pilling.)

Then, last week and the beginning of this week, I was ill - so my defences may have been low. I've been patiently waiting for the "Fitted Knits" book to arrive from the library to make the U-Necked Back-to-School Vest (check out the knit along blog for many wonderful reditions). It's still not here. But the idea wouldn't let go, and I really wanted a warm torso NOW, so I pulled out the cones of yarn I recently found at my neighbourhood second hand shop.

Reasons why I shouldn't do this:
1. no pattern
2. the cone yarn is highly spun, stiff, and very scratchy (rug yarn?)
3. the swatch says, with doubled yarn, I need to use 4mm needles for a reasonable fabric - the only circular I have in 4mm is too slippery for this yarn

What do I do?

back-to-school swatch

1. look at the pictures - since I'd have to rewrite the pattern for the smaller gauge anyway, why not just start from scratch? It's can easily be a tube with several stitch patterns I recognize - I may or may not put in the bust darts, not like I need them.

2. well, it's a vest - it's over top of other things, scratchy shouldn't be a problem

3. knit it on straights, in two pieces. This part I'm not entirely happy about, because of the tube effect of the reverse stockinette - stockinette - reverse stockinette bands at the bottom, midriff, and edges. There will very likely be a lump over the seam which won't roll properly.

In testimony to the tenacity of the idea - I'm 7" up the back already. Maybe I'll make it again later, properly.

(*pattern-worm is in relation to "earworm" - where something keeps repeating in your head like a snippit of a song and won't let go)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Finished Arwen!

Not the best photos, but the cream of the 20 or 30 I took. Black is sooooo hard to photograph, especially in a dark bathroom with a mirror that seems fine, but every time I futz with the photo settings, I find fuzz and spots :P.

Details: Cardigan for Arwen, from Interweave Knits Winter 06, by Kate Gilbert
Reclaimed 100% cotton, black.
Gauge swatch got stated gauge with 5mm (US8) needles.

Due to the growth factor of cotton, and the fact that my "wingspan" was half way between the smallest and second smallest sizes, I went down to the smallest size.

Pre-blocking pics:

After a heavy steam & pins block:

Then, after wearing it for a couple of days:

I think it's coming into it's own. The steam block gave me breathing room, and extra length (it's now 13.5" from the underarms, instead of the 12" I knit it), and with wearing it can now easily go over sleeves. The hood got drapier too - but that's fine, I like my hoods big and drapey!

Visible - I lengthened the hood an inch, because a comparison with my favourite fleece hoodie suggested it would be tight otherwise. I also tightened the cuffs of the sleeves by a little over an inch by adding 4 more short rows to the sleeves and taking out 8 straight rows in the middle of each (one cable repeat). I left the upper arm width the same, since it's 2" bigger than my upper arm measurement (sigh, I used to have muscles!), but with the inelasticity of the cotton I think it could have done with a little more to make getting it on over shirts easier.

Not-so-visible - I started with a crochet-provisional-cast-on and then knit up the hems as I came to them (leaving the last stitch near the side seams free to make seaming easier). I didn't change it to knitting in the round for two reasons - one, because I thought the cotton could use an extra bit of structure to keep it from creeping indefinitely, and two, because I like the gratification that comes from finishing each piece - it seems to go faster that way than knitting everything at once. I'm not afraid of seaming. I used a twisted German cast-on for the cable panels at the front instead of backwards loop (mostly because I couldn't get the backwards loop even over that number of stitches). I tried two different "provisional" cast-ons for the sleeves (see earlier post!), and the figure-8 definitely was the better way to go (although the cabled part still wasn't a walk in the park) - this way I could graft the cuff directly instead of picking up the stitches then grafting them (smoother finish to make turning back the cuffs look nice - theoretically), and I could also do an easy 3-needle bindoff for the bottom of the sleeves instead of mattress stitching head-to-tail stitches. On the second sleeve, I increased one stitch after the shoulder bind off, so that the back-sleeve seam, which eats up a stitch, wouldn't cause a bubble compared to the front which has no seam.

Lots of little tweaks, some successful, some not quite so much. But I'm very pleased with the result! On top of that, who doesn't need a black cardigan?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Almost finished, almost... aw, #$%@#

First of all, I always forget the vast land that is the hood. Once I'm finished the fronts and back and sleeves, I think "in the home stretch now!". But hoods, hoods are big. Especially the way I like them. So the past week and a bit has been a bit of frustration at how long this is taking!

Yesterday saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Last inch. Just have to get one more repeat of the cable pattern, making sure I end on row 6...

Done! Now to graft the top seam, cable to cable...

#$%#@@##%$%$^$%$@#@%$#%$. The left cable is not at row 6. The right cable and left cable have been at different rows for a long time now, a fact that should have been abunduntly clear to me at least once I started the hood (all in one piece - I even noticed that I was doing the same action for both sides. This means that the tops of the cables are identical, and therefore, when you flip them end to end do not line up because the cable isn't symmetrical). If I had been thinking, I would have checked with the beginning of the second sleeve, because something in the back of my head was saying that the way the cable on the edge was going compared with the cable on the sleeve was different this time around...

Upshot: THE NUMBER OF ROWS BEFORE THE START OF THE SLEEVES ON THE FRONTS IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. It's not important what number that is (as long as it matches the back), but it's incredibly important that the left and the right are the same. I don't know whether this fact was pointed out in the pattern (I have a bad habit of skimming), but do NOT go just by measurements. Especially in a drapey yarn.

So I was lying in bed with a quandry. How do I fix this? The proper way would be to undo the hood and one side down to the armpit and do it properly. I immediately threw this idea out as taking way too long - due to the drape, the extra four rows on the right side won't be noticed (hence why I didn't notice them when I was measuring the fronts in the first place). Not worth the effort. I could undo part of the hood, and try to put in a couple of short rows on the left side and see if the drape would hide them, and thus end up with the same number of cable rows on each side. I could try to end the cables, then put in a few rows of reverse stockinette to graft together at the peak (turned out to be tough because of the asymmetric nature of the cable - one braid section stands by itself and would have to be just stopped, versus the twist and end that can happen when they overlap). I could try and see if at some point the cables as they are could be merged, or plot out a new braid pattern to force them to merge.

Turns out, it wasn't all that tough. One more row on each to get the twist, then repositioning the stitches on one side for the next row and grafting the stitches together. Seems they melded perfectly fine two more rows down. But what's life, without a little panic?!

Next up: pre- and post-blocking pics. I'm thinking of trying just a heavy steam block to begin with, cotton takes forever to dry from full immersion. I've also taken pictures of the cable grafting for a possible tutorial, but I'm not sure how well the black is visible for instruction purposes.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lasa Shawl Headband

The new Magknits is up - and my first design is in it!!!!!

Lása Shawl Headband

I haven't gone over it with a fine tooth comb yet, but one thing did jump out at me - apparently they only use black and white for the charts, and colour was pretty important to one section of mine!! I'll have to see what can be done about the Magknits version, but in the mean time, here are the colour versions (click for much larger pictures!)***ETA: Wow, that was fast - there was no problem to fix, and she did it in an instant! Well, I'll keep the charts here, because it's often helpful to be able to blow them up large - much easier to read that way. I may also rewrite them with better symbols, rather than just ascii characters - let me know if you'd like it sooner than later!

And by request:

Schematic, with dimensions.

Close up of corner edging.