Monday, May 30, 2011

Leopard? Lichen? Camouflage?

I'm not really sure.  It looked a lot better in my head.

American Apparel California Trooper
Zoya Shawn
China Glaze 2030
Konad plate m57

I'm holding onto a new ball of Calmer - getting ready to start Maris!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

French Style

For several years, I've been buying knitting magazines directly from Phildar in France.  I just got two new ones this week:

Phildar magazines number 50 and 53

Magazine no. 50 has a lot of great patterns, but I am especially digging these two:

How adorable is this little crocheted bolero?

Now, I was a French major in college (yes, really), so it's not big deal for me to get these in French.  Phildar does sell some magazines in English, but for some reason, they don't translate every single issue.  I don't always buy the "easy to knit" issues, but occasionally I do if I like some of the patterns or styling.  Number 53 is just such an issue.  

When I opened it up, I found that the format had changed somewhat from the last time I bought one of these.  All the instructions are super clear, and at the back there are lots of illustrated tutorials for beginners.  I think these are so clear that this would make a great reference for people who like the Phildar magazines but don't speak French.  Here are some examples:

Cute little cardi with gathered pockets . . .

and very clear, pictorial instructions!
(click to enlarge)

One of the tutorial pages from the back.  These could help
non-French speakers build a vocabulary of French
knitting terms.
(click to enlarge)

Up until a year or so ago, ordering online from Phildar was an exercise in patience; it would take weeks for the goods to arrive.  But they've changed things and the last several times I've ordered, I've received my magazines within the week!  I think the shipping is pretty reasonable (7.5 Euro), and Phildar has lots of sales throughout the year - right around the new year, they were having a sale WITH free shipping, even to the U.S.!  Can't beat that!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

FO Preview

I was a busy little bee this week and finished not only Mandarine but also my first Ginger skirt.  Here they are, unmodeled:


You can't really tell from the photos, but the buttons are navy and pearly white.  I LOVE navy and orange together, especially if you throw in some white!

Ginger skirt by Colette Patterns,
version 1

I am SO happy with my finished skirt.  I'm glad I did this version first rather than the one cut on the bias.  Now that I know it is successful, I feel a lot better about cutting into my lovely bow fabric!

This was the very first time I altered a pattern to my measurements, and the fit is perfect.  I can't wait to make lots more of these.  The cut is so flattering, it makes me look much slimmer than I actually am!

It was also the first time I inserted piping into a seam, and only the second time I've done an invisible zipper.  I made myself go slowly and carefully, and was successful with both:

I think I could even wear them together!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fancy Shoe Friday

Behold today's Fancy Shoes:

Velvet-trim Kitten Heels, Boden

Today's look is especially in keeping with the spirit of Fancy Shoe Knitting, because I am wearing my House Cleaning Clothes (having just cleaned the house):  grungy, old mesh capri exercise pants and an old t-shirt.  And my legs are unshaven.  The incongruity of it delights me.

Here's a better look at the shoes, which deserve so much better than what I'm giving them at the moment:

I love the (what I imagine to be) 60s vibe.  I also love that the sole is bright pink:

As you can see, these have been well-loved!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stars in the daytime.

There have been far too few pictures of nails around here lately!  I haven't been changing my polish as often because I've been so focused on sewing and finishing up Mandarine.  For the last several days, I was wearing this:

Zoya Reva, Sunshine Collection, summer 2011

It is a super sparkly color with a ton of golden glow - much too overwhelming for my humble little camera!  But boy, did it stain my nails!  I can never figure out how it does that through the base coat . . .

Oh, and see my little boo-boo?  I nicked myself with the rotary cutter when I was cutting out my skirt pieces the other day.

Last night I switched it to this:

Zoya Breezi, Summertime Collection, summer 2011
topped with CND Sparkling Silver Effect (holiday 2010)

You can see that I'd been knitting if you look at my index finger!  See the dent from carrying the yarn?  I made it up to the armhole on The Jan Sweater last night.

I really liked this polish - it applied so nicely.  It was pretty on its own, but I decided to jazz it up with  the fine silver shimmer.  This morning, I had planned to stamp some little silver crowns on it, but as I was going through my image plates, the stars just jumped out at me:

Bundle Monster plates BM05 and BM14
Stamped with China Glaze Millennium

Isn't that pretty?  I just love it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mandarine: Buttons

I finally finished Mandarine last night.  I spent quite a bit of time carefully seaming and sewing on the buttons.  On the last few cardigans I've made, I've used a method for sewing on the buttons which allows me to sew through the knitted fabric but not onto it, by placing another, smaller button on the inside and knotting the thread underneath it.  I thought I'd share it here in case it is useful to anyone.  I feel this helps the buttons be more stable and pull at the fabric of the sweater less.

I just sort of made this up - so if there is a name for this technique, I'm not aware of it!  Also, I'm sorry for the poor quality of the photos.  I was doing this at about 9:30 last night, so needless to say, the quality of light wasn't fantastic!

OK - here we go!  First, I carefully mark the placement of the buttons.  I like to use scraps of constrasting color yarn:

Next, I thread a sewing needle with a quadruple strand of sewing thread.  I cut off about 60" of thread from the spool, then fold it in half.  I thread the two cut ends through the eye of a needle and bring the needle to the center, then knot all four ends together.  This way, I don't have to make as many passes through the button.

I bring the needle through my knitting at the place marked for the button from the back to the front, leaving a tail of about 3 inches:

Then up through the button:

and back down through the button and through the fabric to the back:

and through a smaller, flat button.  Note that the tail remains - I'll use this for knotting later.

From here, I go into the other side of the smaller button on the back side, then up and down through both buttons (front and back) three times.  Make sure to keep the threads all aligned nicely - with four strands it is easy for them to become unruly.

After three passes through both buttons, come back up to the front, but don't go through the button.  Rather, bring the needle out between the fabric and the button:

and wrap the thread around the base of the button three times then pull tight, to form a shank for the button.  (If you are using a shank button, you don't need to do this.)

Bring the needle back through the fabric and out between the back button and the fabric, like so:

One thread is on the left side of the small button, and one thread is on the right. Wrap the left thread once around the button counterclockwise, and the right thread once around clockwise.  Next, we're going to tie a square knot:

BUT the second half of the knot will actually be a surgeon's knot:

Pull the ends of the thread tight and then snip them off close to the button.  And voila!  Nice, neat, sturdy buttons inside:

and out!

I'm interested to know if anyone finds this helpful, or if it has just taken me this long to figure out what everyone else already knew!

** Many of these pictures are clearer if you click on them :-)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Slight change of plans.

When I went to the fabric store yesterday to pick up muslin and piping for my Ginger skirt, I came across this:

Needless to say, two yards of it came home with me.  I've amended my plan, and am going to make this one first.  There were two full bolts of this at my JoAnn's, whereas I bought the last two yards of the green bow fabric.  So I figure I would rather test out the pattern on this fabric, because I can get more if necessary.

The pattern is pretty straightforward, but I'm going to be applying piping around the waistband, which I've never done before, and for which the instructions are not included in the pattern.  So there is a possibility of failure.

Yesterday I traced out all my pattern pieces on pattern making paper, with the adjustments for my measurements, and today I cut out the pieces.

I also managed to get some work done on Mandarine yesterday:

Shoulders are sewn together and collars are attached up to the shoulder.  Now all I have to do is keep knitting each side of the collar until they meet in the back, then bind off and sew them together.  And of course, sew the side seams and sleeve seams and set in the sleeves.  The end is in sight!  I picked up some really interesting buttons today too!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Glessner House, Prairie Avenue

View of Museum Campus/Central Station
from Grant Park

Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium

Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue
All photos taken Friday, May 6.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fancy Shoe Friday. On Saturday.

I was so excited about all the sewing stuff, I already got sidetracked!  So I'm doing my Fancy Shoe Knitting today:

Fancy Shoe Knitting

I'm working on finishing up Mandarine.  I've completed all five pieces of the body, and am at the point of doing the (separate) collars.  I've got about half the first collar done, so I may be able to finish this weekend, if I can keep from getting further distracted!  I'll need some buttons though, which probably requires another trip to the fabric store.  Uh-oh!

J. Crew Penelope Mary Janes

I'm wearing my "PMJs," as they are known among a certain sector of Gleeks.  These babies have only ever been worn for FSK.  That's right - I have never worn them out in the wide world.  I love them though.  I bought them when they were in the store, years ago, but I believe they have become quite the sought-after item now.  Here's another peek:


I actually sort of wish I had bought the blue/red combo - one of the reasons I've never worn these is that I have a hard time figuring out what to pair them with.

OK, now I'm just teasing you.

And here are some nail pix.  I put on Zoya Heather last night:

A really lovely color.  Zoya lists this as a 3 on their opacity scale of 1 to 5, but I'd call it a 4 myself.  I was expecting it to be sheerer.  This is only two coats.  It was a little tricky to apply, but evened itself out with the second coat.

Today I added some Konad:

I'm dubbing this "Fredericks of Hollywood."

This is Konad plates m57 (fishnet) and m71 (wallpaper).  I'd seen a few other bloggers do this look, and I liked it and wanted to try it.  It's one of the reasons I bought the m71 plate, although it has lots of great designs I see myself using.  I stamped with Sinful Black on Black, and boy, was clean-up a hassle.  I still haven't gotten off all the residue around my cuticles, and I killed one of my brushes trying to get it off.

I'm sure you've figured out by now that the shoes and nails are all a ploy to distract readers from the lack of tangible knitting content  . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

It was nice out today!

Look what I wore!

Dorky in-the-mirror shot!

The colors of the dress are perfect with this Pippa Sweater by Lucinda Guy that I made years ago.  I'm glad, because I don't have many things it goes with.  But when I went out to do some errands, I switched the sweater out for an old canvas jacket from Old Navy, and my pink crochet beret (Kim Hargreaves Peaches):

I wore shoes too, but nothing exciting, just my old Keen ballet flats :-)

I love my new dress!


Well, I did end up ordering those two Colette Patterns (Ginger and Violet).  Seeing Erika's finished Violet Blouse made me want my own, and then I discovered a Ginger Sewalong.  How could I resist?  Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch is hosting the sewalong, and has a great lineup of guest bloggers who will be doing a series of posts to help guide even absolute beginners through making the skirt.  And may I just say, I wish I could have the skirt she made to kick things off?  That fabric is to die for!  And the red piping!  swoon . . .

Now, I'm not an absolute beginner, but I do feel that this sewalong will be a great learning experience for me.  I have been sewing since my teens (yes, 30+ years ago), but only intermittently.  In junior high and high school, I made a lot of my own clothes, and when I was in graduate school, I got into making quilts and a couple of Folkwear patterns entirely by hand (because I enjoy hand stitching, and also because I didn't have a sewing machine at the time!).  About ten years ago, I made Hubby a couple of shirts that he still wears and claims are his favorites.  And around that time, I subscribed to Burda magazine and made several pieces from the patterns included.

But my love of sewing is on-again/off-again.  I'll do a bunch of sewing for six months to a year, and then my machine will sit, alone and forlorn, for five or more years.  One of the reasons I haven't been as interested as I used to be is that I feel I'm much harder to fit than I used to be.  I now take one size for my hips but one to two sizes smaller for my waist, and I never learned to do any fitting or tailoring.  So I'm hoping to learn some of those skills through my participation in the sewalong.

I was down with some strange virus for the early part of the week, but yesterday I finally made it to the fabric store to get my fabric, and look what I found:

Is that not the cutest thing?  I love the retro vibe!  The pattern is quite large:

And the fabric is slightly thinner than I'd hoped to find.  But I just couldn't pass up this print!  I'm going to treat it like a stripe, and matching stripes is another thing I'm hoping to learn from the sewalong.

I also got some fabric to make a coordinating Violet blouse to go with it!

This is a cotton shirting, almost like a dotted swiss, but the dots are squares:

I actually think both sides are really cute, so I'll have to decide which side to make the right side.  I'm leaning toward the tufty side . . .

I decided after the fact that I'll do some black piping around the waistband of the skirt and maybe around the edge of the collar of the blouse too.  I have to go back to the fabric store anyway to get lining fabric for the skirt.

I did get my zipper, and also some hemming lace that matches the zipper, just because!

So now all I need are my patterns!  I ordered them on Monday, and they shipped on Tuesday, so I should be getting them soon.  In the meantime, I have to wash and iron the fabric . . .