Friday, December 30, 2011

Almost Aislin

The second sweater finished in my "finishing bonanza" last week!  I was knitting this one concurrently with the 1958 sweater, but never got around to doing a post about it.  It was great to pick up when I just couldn't stand to work with the ropey Louet Gems any more.

I'm a sucker for Jannette's Rare Yarns' special offers.  I don't always order when she sends out her emails, but occasionally I do succumb, and about a month and a half ago, I ordered three different colors of Kidsilk Aura because it was on super-special and it has been discontinued.

The first color I got was Ochre; when it arrived I was surprised to find that it wasn't what I consider ochre at all, but more of a light pumpkin.  Which is fine with me!  I made a list of all the things I could make with it, and finally settled on a Kim Hargreaves pullover called Aislin.

Now, I'm a big Kim Hargreaves fan.  If I could only sew one designer's patterns for the rest of my life, it would be Colette Patterns; if I could only knit one designer's knitwear, it would be Kim Hargreaves.  But peplums are just not my thing. Probably no big surprise, given that my hips are 2 sizes larger than my waist.  Who wants to emphasize that?

But I really loved the neckline of this sweater.  So I decided to knit it straight without the flouncy bits.

And I like it quite a bit!

You may notice by my hairdo that I photographed this one on the same day as my 1958 sweater!  I'm wearing this sweater with a silk scarf I made with hand-rolled edges, following a tutorial on Sarai's blog a couple years ago, right around the time she put out her very first patterns.  I really like the scarf and don't have a whole lot to wear it with, so I'm glad that it goes very nicely with this sweater.  It's a really lovely printed silk crepe I got from - you guessed it! - Vogue Fabrics, soon after we moved here.  This is two widths sewn together at the selvedge:

 And then hand-rolled at the edges:

It was really tedious to do, and made my hand cramp, but I'm really happy with the result.

And that's the last of the finished items for 2011.  Onward and upward to 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

1958 Silliness

I had a lot of fun making my 1958 sweater.  The stitch was fun, the pattern was easy to follow; it was fun to imagine a lady in 1958 making the same sweater, and imagine what she'd have worn it with; fun to think about how I would wear it.  Another thing that was fun is that I decided that if I was watching anything while knitting it, I would watch movies from 1958, or as near as possible.  I watched a few duds, a few that were mediocre and a few that I really liked.  Here's my list:

Made in Heaven (1952) - mildly amusing
Doctor in the House (1954) - two thumbs down
Fast and Loose (1954) - black and white British comedy
The Long, Long Trailer (1954) - Lucy and Desi in technicolor!
The Hornet's Nest (1955) - more black and white from Britain
The Geisha Boy (1958) - Jerry Lewis in Japan!
The Square Peg (1958) - yet more black and white from Britain
The Naked Truth (1958) - Peter Sellers!
Make Mine Mink (1960) - Terry-Thomas!  He cracks me up!
School for Scoundrels (1960) - more Terry-Thomas!  I love him!
All in a Night's Work (1961) - Dean Martin and Shirley Maclaine!  So cute!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The 1958 Sweater

It's been done for almost a week, and yesterday I finally took some time to do a little photo shoot.  Strap on your seat belts - it's going to be a long ride!!  I couldn't decide which picture I liked best, so I'm putting them all up!

I am thrilled with this sweater.  The fit is just perfect.  It's not the softest yarn out there, but it's comfortable.  It wasn't the most fun to knit with, but it sure does give nice stitch definition.  I won't bore you with the details again - here's the Ravelry page with all the particulars.

So here I am, in my best faux-vintage get-up.  I apologize for the photos being a little dark.  That's just the way it goes in Chicago in the winter!  I had every light in the place on, and I took these at noon!

I was trying to mimic the poses the model in the magazine was doing.  Here she is, with one of my vintage Vera scarves, this one from the early 1960s:

I like that pose because you can see my cute little kitten heels.  And how do you like my faux beehive?  This is about as beehivy as my hair will get, discounting the fact that it usually looks like something is nesting in there anyway since I'm not a fan of brushing it!

And how about that skirt?  That, folks, is a magic skirt.  No matter how much or little I weigh, it still fits and looks great!  I made it probably around winter of 2000 from a pattern from Burda magazine, to which I subscribed for a couple of years way back when.  Sadly, when we moved to Chicago 3 years ago, I thought I probably wouldn't get into sewing again and got rid of all the magazines AND the patterns I had traced from them!  URGH!  I would love to make this skirt  again.  It has interesting sideways darts at the front:

And take a look at the way I used to do "invisible" zippers.  I've learned to do it properly this year!

But this skirt is fully lined and even has a back vent, of which I'm quite proud:

Here's one final look at the sweater, because I want you to notice the nice leather buttons I found:

I have a feeling I'll be making at least one more sweater from that particular magazine . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sewing Recap 2011

Yesterday I was thinking about the things I sewed this year, and decided to collect all the pictures together in once place so I could see what my output was.  Wow!  I really didn't realize I had made so many things!  I've got 27 items altogether, and it's probably no surprise that the majority of those are Colette Patterns.

I decided to have a little fun and make them into collages using Picnik.  This is a new tool for me, and I'm really having fun with it.  I'm thinking I'll do one for my favorite manicures of 2011 too!

Let's kick things off with some of my favorites:  the kiss-lock clutches.  I love these, and use them, and will certainly be making more.  I'm trying to talk one of my friends into going halfsies on a metallic gold hide I saw!   Wouldn't a gold metallic clutch just be the coolest?

Next up are the Ginger Skirts.  This pattern is the first one I made any adjustments to, thanks to help from Sunni and her Ginger Sewalong.  I got a great fit in a style I love so much, I made it four times!  I also did my first piping insertion and learned how to install an invisible zipper!

Another Colette pattern I really love is the Sencha blouse.  I made this one twice, and I'm pretty sure I'll make another one at some point.  It has such a great retro feel.

Somewhat less successful were the Jasmine blouses.  The first one looked OK in the end, but I really had trouble with this pattern, mostly because of my choice of slippery fabrics.  Next time I make this one, I'll be doing it in cotton!  This pattern also pointed up my need to learn more about effectively sewing bias-cut garments, and my need to get an honest assessment of my measurements along with an understanding of proper ease for various garments, so that I can choose the right size to make.

Over the summer, I became obsessed with Colette's Sorbetto pattern, like a lot of other folks out there.  I had a blast making my own bias tape - a really good trick to have up one's sleeve! I made seven altogether, and wore them during the hot months.  I even made a matching skirt for one, to make a two-piece dress.  It's really hard to say which of these is my favorite!

Because I started reading more and more sewing blogs over the last six months, and following sewing groups on flickr, I became aware of Lisette patterns from Simplicity, and ended up buying all the adult patterns in one of JoAnn Fabrics' super-special deals.  I've so far made two Continental blouses, the Continental dress and the Portfolio dress.  A lot of the sewing I have in mind for this coming spring is based on Lisette patterns.

These last few didn't really have a cohesive theme, so I just called them "others."  They are the Parfait dress that I finally finished after two years (which ignited this round of the sewing bug), the Violet blouse that I should have made in a smaller size, and the tie I made for Hubby.

So there we have it.  Mostly successes, and a few failures; but I sure did learn some things!  I've been mulling over where I want to go from here - sewing goals for the coming year - and am hoping to put together a post on that as well, mostly so I have a way to remind myself!

One of the best things I learned this year is that there is a wonderful, supportive online sewing community out there.  Plenty of others have written about it more eloquently than I can, so suffice it to say that I've learned a lot from reading others' blogs as well as the forums on Coletterie, BurdaStyle and flickr.  And I've made some really great friends along the way too.  So thanks to all of you who continue to share your achievements, failures and love of creating here on this magnificent interweb!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A big week.

Hello, folks!  I hope that everyone who celebrates Christmas or Hanukkah had/is having a wonderful holiday.  We played it low-key and had dinner with some friends.  For the occasion, I wore the new Continental blouse I made on Friday:

We were running a little late, so I only had time to snap these photos in the guest bathroom mirror.  Once the sun goes down, the best light is in there!

I am absolutely in love with this Anna Maria Horner fabric.  It's called "Turn of Events" from her Innocent Crush line, in a very luxurious-feeling voile.  This fabric has such a fine hand, and the print is so beautiful, it was really a pleasure to work with.  On this one, I did hand-basting not only on the sleeves, but also on the bias neck facing.  I'm stunned that it makes such a difference in how easily and how well things come together.  I'm a convert!

I didn't take the time to write for several days, but I wasn't slacking.  In the last week, I finished a total of six projects!  If you take a look at my list tabs, you'll see lots of things crossed out.  This blouse and the failed Jasmine were the two sewing projects I did, and you've seen the hat and cowl I made for Hubby.  But I also finished my 1958 sweater, and another sweater I've never even mentioned!  So my aim is to get those photographed and up in the next few days.  I'm really happy with both of them.

And now on to the next thing.  I've started a new pair of socks for Hubby, but I'm thinking I'll be starting the Still Light  dress in the next few days too.  I can't wait to dig into that alpaca!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bah, humbug.

After four days of work, I finally finished my raspberry silk Jasmine top today.

I hate it.

I was trying to work slowly and carefully, but I had such a hard time with this fabric.  I'm not sure what fabric it is, exactly; it's a lightweight plain weave silk.  It was very slippery and hard to keep hold of, especially since much of this top is on the bias.

The end product is fraught with problems.  First off, it's way too big on me, even with my industrial-strength bra.  I did the same size as last time, size 2, but I think I have to finally accept the fact that I'm a size 0 up top.

Both times I've made this pattern, I've really struggled with getting the collar to lay nicely.  I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong.  If I make it again, I'll be doing it in a cotton voile to see if a little more grip in the fabric helps things along.  I think I'd also better do a fair bit of research on sewing bias-cut garments.  I clearly have room for improvement in this area.

I also made a very stupid mistake, but by the time I realized it, I was already "in hate" with the thing, so I just let it go.  Because there's no clear right or wrong side to this fabric, I made two right sleeves.  So of course the gathers at the top don't fall where they should on the left sleeve head.  I'm going to blame the fact that I've been a little under the weather the last couple days.  Yeah, that's it . . .

I did learn a valuable lesson though.  Inspired by Lizz over at A Good Wardrobe, I decided to hand-baste the sleeves in before sewing them down, and boy, did that make a difference.  I think it actually saved time, since I didn't feel like I was struggling to keep hold of everything.   Thanks, Lizz!

So - another fail.

At least I have the satisfaction of crossing it off the list!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My one handmade gift.

I can finally show the one, secret, handmade gift I made this year.  I sent it off to my mom late last week, and she received it yesterday.

On the sideboard in my dining room, I have a bowl of temari balls I've made over the last couple years.  When my mom was visiting in the spring, she commented that she'd like to have a bowl of temari too.  Wish granted!

In the fall, she sent me a box of all her leftover bits of sock yarn.  I used those to wrap the inner styrofoam core of the balls.  Then I got two large spools of serger thread in colors I thought she'd like and wrapped the balls with thread.  In the past I've always used regular spools of sewing thread, two per ball.  I really like the serger thread because it comes on a cone that can stand up, and the yardage means I don't have to stop mid-ball to start a new spool.   The only downside is that the color selection is more limited.

yarn-wrapped cores and serger thread

thread-wrapped balls

poles and equator marked

I made her six balls of different styles and colors.  I'm a novice at temari, but I really enjoy doing it.  Each ball takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to complete.  For all of these balls, I divided the sphere into 4, 8 or 16 sections.  I haven't done a lot of experimenting with divisions of 5, 10, 6 or 12, but I'm hoping to in the future.

ball, perle cotton, pins, needle, metallic thread and sharp scissors

I love to give temari as a gift because as I make each ball, I'm constantly thinking of the person I'm making it for.  My understanding is that these are given in Japan at the new year as a good wish token for the year to come.

So here are the six balls I made.  I'm showing each one from two different angles - it's hard to see all of a temari at one time!

simple 8 division - improvised design

simple 8 division - rose garden with obi

simple 4 division - wrapped

combination 8 division - wrapped

simple 16 division - kiku with obi

combination 8 division, wrapped with interlocking tri-wings

Have you ever done temari?  Do you like it, or did you find it tedious?