Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: A Year in Review

I've been enjoying other crafty blogger review posts this last week, so I decided to join the fun! A photo retrospective of 2008, chez K&W (in the order and manner that Blogger put them there, because it's too much work to rearrange them...). Not a bad haul - but a very strange mix, if I do say so myself!

Secret Knitting Revealed

aka The Accidental Knitting Spree

Step 1: Decide not to knit Christmas gifts.

Step 2: Have oh so talented sister (OMG, I hadn't looked at her site in a while - isn't that fabulous???) make an oh, so reasonable request.  You see, she gets cold hands.  And she's a flutist.  Which means she needs finger dexterity (which standard "fingerless" mitts tend to hamper), and a colour she can wear in the orchestra pit.  Which would be black.

Enter lambswool & angora fingerless mitts.  No troubles.

Not being one to leave well enough alone, I added my own personal experience - you have fingerless mitts on already, and you are heading outside.  Seems silly to take them off to add regular gloves - and having tried to shove mine into isotoners, I thought  how cute it would be to have mitten toppers for the fingerless mitts.

Aren't they cute?  Obvious difficulties of taking pictures of the side of  your hand notwithstanding.  These were a little more work - one, because they are surprisingly bigger than the fingerless ones (well, not surprising when you see the pics, but they were nicely balanced in my head before I started!), and two because I made up the pattern as I went along.  Well, I had made up the fingerless mitts pattern too, but did that a while ago, so it was a lot smoother sailing.  Except for the making them match bit  - somebody make me count rows on the first one so I can match without pulling back three times, will ya?  Somehow it's really difficult to accurately gauge which row I did the M1 on at the base of the thumb  ;).

So far so good.  (Well, I admit it was already Dec 12th-ish, and a bit late for sending knitwear by post, but still good!)  I was set.  No one else expected anything (ok, even A didn't expect anything - my family is too nice for that), and in fact, my little sister hates clutter and told me long ago not to give her anything unless "it screamed R" to me.

Then I did my weekly perusal of Knitting Pattern Central and what did I see?

Bike Helmet Earmuffs for my serious mountain biker, ecoconscious, also chilly sister.  Reclaimed yarn, free pattern, what's there for her not to  love?  Finished just under the wire ("the wire" being the day we picked her up from the airport - so I guess I did have a couple of days of wriggle room, really!).

And the reason for the delays, besides the lack of planning?  Well flutist sis thought the fingerless mitts might come in handy for other instrumentalists.  And I crunched numbers, and figured that making them up might pay me enough (for now) for my time, so she put the offer out there... and I got a double order!  First pair went swimmingly.  Second pair... well.  After ripping out the second mitt twice for the whole "matching" thing ranted about earlier, I lost my project bag.  Two Harmony needles and that mitt.  Much wailing and gnashing  of teeth later, I pull out a matching second-hand, short aluminium circular needle with angled tips - so not the way to do magic loop.  Which of course induced a pretty big gauge change.  Which means #3 mitt doesn't  resemble #1 mitt.  Which means making  #4 mitt to match #3. 

All worked out in the end.  Then I found the project bag (yes, maddenly frustrating, except that I was so happy to have found the Harmony needles, I didn't care).  So I was back to having 1.5 men's fingerless mitts.  Hmmm.  There's a man in this house.  Who has mentioned the liking of fingerless mitts... Right-o, one pair finished for DH!

And didn't I show him that lovely red angora sweater while we were in VV, suggesting I could make him a hat out of it?  The same reclaimed yarn I just made my sister a pair of mitts out of?  And didn't he just lose track of the two hats he has with earflaps???
Lavish Flap Hat . You see how I get myself into these messes??  And then in the end, how happy I am to have ended up there?

Thursday, December 11, 2008


What does one do, when one has a pile of holiday knitting and hasn't even started the holiday grocery list?

Sew, obviously.

The XL-men's-shirt-to-puffed-sleeved-top transformation is complete. I'm almost in love.

There was one itty-bitty problem. Somehow, after measuring 3 times, I was completely off on the neckline opening for the collar. Completely.

So, it's a bit creative. I'm crossing my fingers that the turned-and-topstitched centre bits (with selvedge binding inside) will hold up to the strain of the collar. I used zigzag satin stitching right at the join in case. And I definitely can't wear this with the top button undone... actually there's quite a few places inside I wouldn't want anyone to see!! But hey, it's a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants reconstruction, what do you expect?

It did turn out surprisingly close to my idea of it. I'm usually off on those mental sketches! I think it's going to be my favourite SWAP piece.

(And in case Mitsy ever does read this blog - sorry. I am 2/3rds of the way done your present though - and it's got bonuses! Hopefully will make up for the chance it won't arrive in time :P)

Monday, December 01, 2008

A new adventure

(copied from Stitcher's Guild SWAP post - this is the start of item #2 for my plan)

Men's X-large shirt (yeah right ::) DH found it way too small!). The geometric print and darker colours seemed to scream "puffy sleeved blouse" to me for some reason - I've been looking forward to this project!

The pattern is Simplicity 5683, which I've made a couple of times before (including for the JCC). This time I wanted to keep the button-down collar, add gathering to the under-bust seam instead of the bust darts, and doing the proper elastic treatment on the puffed sleeves (the JCC version with the band and button was very cute, but rather restricting!).

But I sat for an hour or so trying to figure out what to do with the button band. See, I thought it would be neat to keep the curved hemline, which meant keeping the button band all the way down (had originally thought I'd have the bottom front sewed together, and the button band only on the top front, polo style) so that the front swoop would go as far down and the curves would meet at the same length at the sides. But now I ran into how do I account for the seam allowances for the under bust seam. If I just hack across, I'm going to have a hard time with all the extra thickness of the button band crammed into a seam right at the front edge.

And the button bands weren't separate, they were sewn on to the face of the fabric, so I couldn't remove them, then reattach:

So the plan I came up with was to leave the bands attached for the lower section, then cut a seam allowance on the side all the way up. The top pieces got cut out separately, with a trimmed seam allowance. The idea is to take out the top stitching on the inside edge of the button band, curl the band seam allowance under, and stick the top seam allowance inside, then redo the top stitching. Things are going to get tricky right at the band-bottom meeting point. I also tried to match the print on the top piece to where it's going to line up to the bottom piece (centre bits before the gathering), but I don't know how well that will work out.

I also had to redraft the collar opening to fit my neck but still use the collar (so it's going to open up much farther down the front than it does in men's shirts). Have no idea how that's going to work out!

Keep your fingers crossed. There's a lot of leaps here, and I haven't even started sewing!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One Down, Ten to Go

Where I prove that taking timer pictures at night in winter of black items is pretty silly ;).

Behold the first SWAP item: an A-line black wool above the knee skirt.

So, I go with the slightly better flat-on-the-bed shots:

Well, hey, what would be the excitement of the final reveal, if all the interesting pictures happen during the process?

You wouldn't think this would be much of a process. Quick A-line skirt, pretty much the simplest sewing project out there, right? Right? HA!

First off, this wasn't supposed to be an A-line skirt. This was supposed to be a 6-gore skirt. But I was using a second hand wool skirt for the materials (hey, you can't argue with $8, including zipper!). Turns out the skirt was pegged - so not where I want to go. By laying out the pattern upside down, I manage to barely squeak something out, as long as there's no extra seams in the middle:

(btw - pattern? Steps: pull out previous self drafted 6 gore pattern sheet. Trace out adding seam allowances (and extra at the hem line - what was I thinking?). Try playing every which way with the fabric I have. Give up. Tape together gores and retrace A-line skirt. Repeat. Decide that above the knee with a bit notched out of the hem seam allowance is acceptable!)

Something about this skirt fought me every step of the way. Just one of those projects that refuses to allow one seam to go by unchallenged, know what I mean?

Then I discovered a major defect of our new apartment: no full length mirror.

Here's one of my timer shots for fitting purposes :P.

Hey, sometimes the camera is better than the mirror for catching fitting snafus - but man is it a lot more time intensive and error prone!!

So, the good stuff:

Lapped zipper and button at the back.

Inseam pockets (managed to rescue the pockets out of the original skirt to reinsert).

And the inside, showing the inner waistband of the original skirt (I have no idea what happened to the outer one, so I cut that out of the top of the skirt), and lining. The lining was actually stolen from the grey skirt (which will hopefully be made into another SWAP skirt), since the lining from this one was shredded in front. I think the colour contrast is more interesting, even if it's only me that sees it!

I think this is one of those projects SWAP is made for - those simple, plain, go with everything pieces that you wear to death but never get around to making because they are so plain and dull! Here's hoping to a long and beautiful friendship!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Go Big or Go Home

or, Where I Go Off the Deep End

Stitcher's Guild is hosting the 2009 SWAP Contest, and I, being the insanely optimistic person I am, decided to add one.more.thing to my plate.

Hey, I need the clothes, and I need the space the stash is taking up... and this time we've got 6 months to do it instead of 4.

Then again, you'll notice that not one thing on that storyboard has a pattern name attached to it. The pants I've already drafted and used, so they shouldn't cause too much difficulty. The mint and chocolate top should be able to use the same redraft I used for the black knit top (and matching yoga pants) earlier this year. The red skirt has been drafted (although it may have been drafted for knee length), but not tested - same with the pleated skirt. The rest I have to come up with from scratch :P. I'm hoping that I'll have time to do that as well as fit in DH's t-shirt that's coming out of the same black knit as the turtleneck (both of which I'll have to come up with patterns for - how did I get a jeans and suit patterns for DH but not a knit t-shirt one???).

Yes, it would be simpler to buy patterns - but while we're spending money, it would have been a lot simpler to buy fabric as well - as is pretty obvious up there, I had a hard time finding enough matching stuff for a whole wardrobe! But that's not the way it works in this house - we make do. Actually the storyboard has too many tops and bottoms (only need 4 bottoms and 6 tops), because I didn't know how much I could squeak out of each piece of fabric. I may end up with very nicely coordinating brown-ecru-tan-black-charcoal-white wardrobe without trouble - but what would be the fun of that ;). One thing about limits - things tend to be a lot more interesting!!

(For those who don't know about SWAP - here's the nutshell: SWAP="Sewing With a Plan". The basics that started this contest were in an Australian Stitches series of magazine articles. The SG link above explains the rules for the 2009 contest, but basically you create 4 bottoms, 6 tops, and a jacket/cardigan/vest/coat, where all the tops have to work with all the bottoms, and the jacket has to work with everything - it stretches your wearing options and makes coordinating in the morning much easier. It also makes for fascinating watching - this isn't the way people normally sew!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's been a busy month an a half...

Between the two of us, we've dealt with 3 new jobs, 4 new courses, and a move. Phew. I think we're almost getting to the point of having all the plates properly stacked instead of running around to keep them spinning!

There's been a little bit of progress:

The vintage lace cardigan is 1/2 a repeat away from dividing for the neck!!

The Vogue Knitting lace cardigan sleeves are about 3" away from the cap shaping. Turns out my row gauge was *way* off. I've had to recalculate the underarm increases so that I'll still have the right number of stitches when it comes time to bind off, and I'll have to figure out how to rework the front and back instructions so that the lace lines up still (since I'll be starting the cap at a different point in the lace repeat). There are also a couple of errors in the pattern, which I'll write about soon!

Nothing like rapidly cooling temperatures to have you figure out that a good portion of your sock collection is ready for the bin. Nothing like More Sensational Knitted Socks and leftover Fleece Artist Somoko to get me casting on my first pair of colourwork socks - um, wasn't there a sock crisis? And isn't this the absolutely SLOWEST way to make socks? Oh, except my other option, which is the knee-length aran socks I'm designing from scratch. Yeah. Third colourwork project is the speedy option!!

And in some cases, not so much progress:

Sad thing is, I need pants just about as badly as I need socks. Must.get.unpacked!

We will return to our regularly scheduled program of properly annotated posts, and more vintage pattern pics shortly!!