Saturday, September 29, 2012

Renfrew du Jour

Yet again!

But I changed it up this time!  I made View C, with the cowl neck and the three quarter sleeves.  In my bird print fabric.  I just need to make one more, and then I'll have one for every day of the week.

When I made my first Renfrew, way back in June, I was so anxious to get started that I only traced the pieces for the scoop neck and short sleeves.  Yesterday afternoon, knowing that Hubby would be out this morning playing basketball and thus enabling me to have a sewing morning, I traced out all the other pieces.  So now I can make any Renfrew I want, any time I want.   Ha!

I was almost finished by the time he got home.  I got a little distracted and didn't check the placement of the birds on the waistband piece, so I've got some mirror-image bird business going on down there.  Oh well. 

I was a little surprised by how short the three quarter sleeves ended up being (and I've got slightly short arms) - I guess I was expecting bracelet length.  And I feel like it's a teensy bit wide across the shoulders - probably because when I did those seams, I didn't realize that the tension dials on my serger had shifted, so they got stretched out a little.  Oh well.

As soon as I finished it, we headed out the door to the local banh mi shop for lunch, closely followed by frozen yogurt in Chinatown, eaten on the way to the park.  It's a beautiful day - really too hot for this top.

Guess I'll have to change into one of my other Renfrews.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lace Layering Tee

Yeah, I've been hitting the knits again . . .

A couple weeks ago when I was at Vogue perusing the remnants section, I came across a piece of stretch knit lace.  I'd been interested in trying this stuff out, so I picked it up.

I spent some time thinking about what I wanted it to become.  I've seen some really cute projects out there using this type of knit as the bodice of a floaty dress, or as in insert in a blouse.  But I decided that a practical garment for me would be a lacy tee shirt that I could layer under sweaters or jackets, or over tank tops.  So yesterday I got out my trusty Renfrew pattern and went to work.

Because I knew I wanted this to be a layering garment, I thought about ways I could reduce bulk.  I ended up eliminating the all the bindings.  For the neckline and sleeves, I serged the raw edges then folded them back in a narrow hem, which I stitched down using a tricot stitch (also called a three-step zig-zag) on my sewing machine.  You can't see it though, because the white thread disappears into the white lace - that's a good thing!  I like the clean edges this finish gave the top.

For the bottom edge, I did away with a hem altogether and cut the front and back pieces so that the bottom edge is the selvedge.  This will make the top nice and sleek when I tuck it into a skirt or pants.  Also, the Renfrew top as drafted is quite long, so doing away with the hem band shortened it to a length more suitable for tucking in.

The fabric is quite sheer, and I'm pretty sure it's synthetic.  The stretch goes both ways, so I was able to choose which way I wanted the motif oriented.  I toyed with the idea of tea-dying it, but decided that white would be a more versatile layering color.  And honestly, I'm not sure how well a synthetic would tea-dye.  By being careful in my cutting and eliminating the bindings, I was able to have a pretty substantial piece left - about 15" x 40" - so I can use this again in the future as an insert.  I sewed all the seams on the serger, and just stitched down the hems with the sewing machine, so the inside has a nice, clean finish.

I'm really happy with the way the top turned out, and working with the stretch lace wasn't as difficult as I'd thought it would be.  The only downside is that the texture of the lace makes it not the most comfortable thing to wear right next to the skin.  But I guess I can suffer for fashion . . . once in a while.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

BFF Cowl, part 2

I finished the first part of my BFF Cowl project with Evelyn last night, and have already sent it off to her.  This morning I couldn't wait to start the second part, so I grabbed another ball of yarn and got going.

Now, I woke up with a huge sinus headache, and when I get like that, I often have a hard time thinking straight.  BUT, I think this pattern is trickier than it needs to be. 

I'm used to knitting from a chart, if there is one, so I started knitting away, assuming that the first row was the right side.  But when I got to row 8 - uh oh!  I realized all might not be well.  I went back and looked at the written instructions, and discovered that there's a little problem. 

There are three separate sets of directions you need to follow when knitting this pattern:  the chart, the line-by-line instructions for each stitch pattern, and the "set up" instructions for each cowl.  I didn't have any problems with the "Stepanie's Link," but for this piece - "Ysolda's Link" - the instructions don't correlate!  The "set-up" instructions say that row 1 is a right side row, while the stitch pattern instructions say it's a wrong side row.  The chart doesn't give any hint at all.

After reading all the instructions closely (something I rarely do), I decided that I would be better off working from the chart and starting with row 1 as a wrong side row.  Once I got that sorted, I was able to knit happily away, and finished the first repeat of the pattern.

I'm very happy with how it's coming along.  The Cascade Cloud knits up with fantastic stitch definition, and I love the ruffled quality of the seed pods.

And how do you like that background?  That's my new knitting chair!  I spent all day Tuesday driving out to Ikea, getting the chairs, driving back and then putting them together, but it was worth it.  The POÄNG makes a great knitting chair.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Multi-disciplinary Destash, part 3: Yarn

The yarn section is the largest part of my destash, so I'm going to break it up over several posts.  For purchasing guidelines, see this post or the Destash tab under the header.

Noro Kureyon - $60
I've knit a lot of sweaters with Noro yarns over the years, but nowadays I just don't feel very interested in the stripey things, so I'm letting the last of my stash go.  This is a full bag of Kureyon, all the same color and dyelot:  Color 184, lot D.  This generally retails for $9 a ball, so this is a pretty good deal for anyone who loves Kureyon.  The main colors are teal, magenta and ochre brown.  My Ravelry stash page is here.

Noro Silk Garden - $80

This is another full bag, color 251, lot G.  Silk Garden retails for $12 a ball, so again, a significant saving here.  The main colors in this yarn are magenta, slate and soft pink.  My stash page is here.

Noro sweater - $60

This one is kind of unconventional.  It's an oversized sweater I knit and only wore once.  It's just not flattering on me, either in shape or color.  Anyone wishing to buy this is free to either keep it and wear it as a garment, or frog it and use the yarn.  It was knit with Noro Kureyon in color 183.  I've included the remainder of the yarn, and the total is approximately 9.5 balls.  The buttons are also still on the sweater.  My Ravelry page for this sweater is here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Multi-disciplinary Destash, part 2: Quilting Cotton

This time around, it seems I'm more interested in the modern quilt designs than the Depression-era ones.  So I'm letting go of the fat quarter bundles that have been sitting in my fabric stash for about ten years.

These bundles were sold to me as "1930s reproductions."  I can't really verify if that's true or not, but they do have a kind of old-fashioned feel.  Each bundle has 6 or 7 fat quarters.  I'm showing them here in the bundle, and with the fabrics spread out.

Each bundle is $15, which includes shipping in the US.  You can see the guidelines for purchasing destash items here.

Bundle 1

Bundle 1

Bundle 2

Bundle 2

Bundle 3

Bundle 4

Bundle 4

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Friend Evelyn

Still on the subject of friends made via the internet . . . Last week my friend Evelyn emailed me asking if I'd do a little knitting project together with her.  She sent me the link for the newly-released BFF Cowl, designed by Ysolda and Tiny Owl Knits.  What a cute idea!  Interlocking cowls, knit in pairs and exchanged with a friend - a knitterly take on the friendship necklaces I'm sure we all had as kids.

Well, how could I refuse?  We tossed some color ideas back and forth, and then I took myself off to the LYS in search of some yarn to use.  I ended up finding a yarn Evelyn had recently used and loved - perfect!  Even more perfect was that it was in the sale bin!  I took it as a sign.

We agreed to cast on Sunday and each do a blog post today.  As I was just finishing my cast-on yesterday, a message from Evelyn popped up - she had just started her cowl too!  So funny!  And it turned out that she chose to start with Ysolda's cowl, while I had chosen to start with Stephanie's cowl!  So we've got two different yet coordinating WIPs to show you today.  Here's mine:

This is Cascade Yarns' Cloud, in the colorway Lupin.  Cloud is a very apt name for this yarn - it's a soft, squishy chainette.  Now that I've got it in my hands, I can see why Evelyn raved about it so much!  You can see Evelyn's cowl on her blog post today - the seedpod stitch is so beautiful.

If you'd like to join the fun with a friend, Evelyn has started a BFF Cowl KAL page in her Project Stash KAL Group.  I really love the idea of having a little piece of a friend's knitting to help keep warm over the winter!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I met Eileen!

I had my third blogger meet-up yesterday!  I got to meet the lovely Eileen of Eileen's Basement.  She was in town for a work seminar, but forced herself to stay an extra day to do a little fabric shopping, tee hee hee!

I've been reading Eileen's blog for quite a while, and she and I have corresponded a bit as well over the last several months, so she wasn't completely unknown to me before yesterday.  So it was great to finally meet her in the flesh.  She is a truly lovely and very interesting person, and I had a great time spending the day with her.  The fact that we were indulging our inner fabric geeks was icing on the cake!

She came over to my house early and we headed off to Starbuck's first, to fortify ourselves with coffee.  (Also, the fabric store wasn't open yet!)  Our first stop was Fishman's Fabrics

Now, Fishman's is my LFS* - it's so near my house that I could walk there if I wished.  But I don't often shop there!  I went several times when I first moved here, and while they had some lovely fabrics, it wasn't very well organized and the prices were somewhat higher than I'd hoped for.  About a year later, they started a massive re-organization and things were even harder to find.  So Vogue became my default fabric shop, and I really only ever went into Fishman's for buttons to put on sweaters.

Oh. My. Word.  I did not know what I was missing!  The shop is so well-organized and well-lit now, and they have a vast array of gorgeous fabrics - the sort I've been reading about but have never actually put my hands on.  Yes, the prices are higher than Vogue, often by quite a bit.  But these fabrics are something special, truly quality materials.  I had expected to pop in and maybe spend a half hour before moving on, but we spent at least an hour and a half drooling and exclaiming and pawing at fabric.  I also remembered to ask one of the employees to take our picture:

Notice how we can't take our hands off the fabric.

Of course, for the rest of the day I got so involved in chatting away with Eileen that I forgot to take any more pictures!

After we left Fishman's, we took the scenic route north to Evanston along Lake Shore Drive.  Our first order of business was lunch, although we got slightly distracted by a thrift shop along the way!  And as we were heading to the "big Vogue" after lunch, we found another antique shop, this one with loads of antique buttons.  Eileen knows a lot more about antiques than I do, so it was fun to see what she was drawn to.

Of course, we spent a couple more hours in Vogue, and Eileen was able to find a lot of the fabrics on her list, as well as a few extras.  It will be great to watch her sew these up over the next several months; Eileen is a more advanced seamstress than I am, and I learned a lot just by talking with her and watching her shop for fabric and notions.  She's got several vintage patterns she's planning on working up, so if you're into vintage sewing, do check out her blog.

My one purchase for the day was a pair of applique scissors.  I had just read about them in Gertie's new book, so when I saw them at Vogue for ten dollars, I snapped them up!

However, I also got a present.  Look at this gorgeous hank of sock yarn Eileen brought me from the wool festival she'd been to the weekend before:

I think this is going to have to become come cable-y socks.

So, all in all a lovely day spent with a new friend.  Isn't the internet grand?

*Local Fabric Shop

Friday, September 21, 2012

Multi-disciplinary Destash, Part 1: Handspun Yarn

I'm sure I've mentioned that I moved a lot of my knitting, spinning and sewing stuff out of my guest room when our family was here.  As I started putting things back after they left, I decided that it would be a good time to reorganize.  And as I reorganized, I decided that maybe I should destash some of the things I've been holding on to that I don't love so much any more, to make room for things I do love.

I came up with the idea to do a Multi-disciplinary Destash, because I have things for sewing, spinning and knitting.   As I was updating my stash on Ravelry and putting things back in their places in the guest room, I pulled the things I'm ready to let go of.  But I've been procrastinating about actually doing it, because it seems like such a big job!

So today as I was taking pictures of some of it, I decided that I'll do it in increments.  Most of what I'm destashing is yarn, and I'll list those for sale on Ravelry as well, along with spinning fibers.  I have a little bit of quilting cotton, and when I post those, they will only be for sale here.  I probably won't be able to do these posts all in a row, because they really do require a significant amount of time.  But I'm going to try to get them all done over the next week or two, and as a post becomes a few days old, I'll move unsold items to a page which can be found under the header.

So here's how it will work: 

*The prices I've listed for each item include shipping within the US.  If any of you International Friends would like an item, I'll get an estimate of the shipping and split the cost with you. 

*I prefer payment through PayPal, but if you would like to buy an item and wish to pay by check, I will ship the item after the check clears.

*If you wish to buy an item, please send me an email at the address above in the Contact tab.  I will respond to requests on a first-come/first-served basis.  Once I hear from someone wishing to buy an item, I will mark the item as pending.  Once the sale has been completed, I will remove it from the post or page.

*Most items are new and unused, but if any part of it has been used, I will explain this in the description.

OK?  So now on to the fun stuff!  Today's installment is Handspun Yarns.  (All spun by me, of course!)

Fall - $25

These skeins of 100% Merino hanspun were dyed and spun by me.  The fiber was left over from yarn I made for a friend as a birthday gift a few years ago - these colors were her choice, not mine!  The yarn is magenta, orange and mustard.  These three skeins total 675 yards of 12 WPI 2-ply yarn, approximately a DK weight.  You can see another photo in my Ravelry stash here.

Pansies - $50

Pansies - close up

Pansies is 100% Merino, dyed and spun by me.  It's pretty, but since the colors didn't come out the way I was expecting, I've never really loved it!  This is approximately 1125 yards of 12 WPI 2-ply yarn (DK weight), enough for a sweater.  Two of the hanks have been wound into skeins, and one has been swatched from and then frogged (just the first few yards).  The Ravelry page is here.

Ponderosa - $12

Ponderosa is the yarn I posted about a few weeks ago.   This one is superwash Merino, again a 2-ply at 12 WPI (I'd say it's a light DK weight).  This skein is approximately 230 yards.  It's pretty enough, but a little masculine and drab for me.  I swatched with it and then frogged it back - it's just too muted for me to want to make a whole project from!  This one doesn't have a Ravelry page yet.

Demi purse - $10

This is a felted purse I designed and knit several years ago.  The yarn was spun by me.  The bag measures about 11" wide by 6" tall, and has a hobo-style flap with magnetic closure.  I think it's cute, and I had a fun time making it, but it's not very practical for me - much too small!

OK folks, that's it for today.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An unusual reaction.

Wow, everybody!  Thank you so much for all the lovely compliments on my dress!  I'm hoping I get to wear it sooner rather than later.  I was encouraged when a friend said yesterday it is supposed to be cold on Sunday.  But then I looked at the forecast, and it is only supposed to get down to 60 degrees (Fahrenheit, of course!) - cool, but not cold enough for a full-on wool dress!

Here's another project I've got going on the sidelines.  (I want to get my big project a little further along before I take any pictures - at the moment it only consists of ribbing.  Not too exciting!)  I bought this ball of sock yarn back in early August when Alicia and I got together and went yarn shopping in our coordinating outfits.  This is one of those self-striping yarns, in colors that don't really go with anything.  But I was strangely drawn to it - I kept coming back to it in the store, and finally decided it had to come home with me.  A couple weeks later I cast on and made the first sock:

Here's the unusual reaction:  I don't really want to make the second sock!  Not because of Second Sock Syndrome (I've never suffered from that, thankfully), but because seeing it like this in my knitting basket makes me feel so happy!  I just really love these colors together, and I think it's fun to see the sock and the ball of yarn next to each other.  Once I finish the second sock, they'll be put away in my sock drawer and I won't see them nearly as often, although I suspect they're going to become a favorite pair.  So I think this will remain In Progress for a while.

Have any of you ever felt this way about something you were working on?  I feel this way a lot about books I read, but this is the first time I can remember feeling this way about my knitting!  I'm usually very driven to finish!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sneaky Peek

I feel like I keep on showing pictures of finished objects twice:  once laying on the bed or hanging from a hanger, and then again on my body.  I'm really not trying to get double blogging mileage out of my FOs, I just get too excited to share them, and can't always wait until I have time to set up a whole photo shoot!  I'm sure you guys know how that is - after a few days, the excitement of having finished a project wears off, and you move on to the next thing.  I also worry that if I don't get my ideas about the project down on "paper" soon after completion, they'll be lost.  Remembering stuff is not my forte.

So here's my Allegheny Dress that I finished up on Sunday.  I've had a busy week and honestly, the weather is still too summer-like to put this on, so you're getting a picture of it on the bed!  But just a couple shots:

The finished dress hits right at my knee.  I didn't really want to make it that long, but I had to in order to end the cable repeat in an attractive spot.  I figured I'd want the extra knee coverage anyway in the winter - above-the-knee dresses look so cute with tights, but my knees always get cold!

You'll notice that I chose to do a rib at the bottom rather than the folded hem.  I looked at a lot of the finished dresses on Ravelry, and it seemed that most of the dresses that used the hem flared out at the hemline in a way that I don't find very attractive.

I had planned on making 3/4 sleeves, but decided to take them back to elbow length after I finished the skirt.  I feel that the shorter sleeves look better with this length of dress.

I had also thought that I would add extra increases on the skirt, since my bottom half is a larger size than my top half.  But it turned out that I didn't need to, and I was wary of turning this into an A-line dress.  As it is, it's only very slightly A-line, a shape I think is just right.

For any of you long-waisted gals who are thinking of making this:  I added about an inch before working the ribbing at the waist, and it still wasn't enough.  I'd say the ribbing hits at my high waist.  Not bad enough for me to rip it back, but if I make this again in the future, I'll probably add another 1 - 1.5 inches before working the rib.

So I'll leave you again with promises of modeled pictures in the future - but I doubt it will be in the very near future.  We're having the most glorious weather around here these days!  Once it cools down and I wear the dress, I'll take some pix of the whole ensemble!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lunch with friends.

As promised, here's my Tippi Dress on my body rather than on a hanger!  We had lunch with some friends who have birds, so I thought it was the perfect thing to wear!

The somewhat larger waistband elastic turned out to be a good thing - I'm stuffed!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I just can't seem to get enough of sewing with knits these days.  On Thursday, I sewed not one, not two, but three knit garments:  another Kimono Dress, a Dolman-Sleeve Tee and a Foldover Waist Skirt.  This morning I made a second Dolman-Sleeve Tee, and I'm hoping to knock out another this afternoon, plus maybe another skirt.  What is going on here?!

Let me show you my new wardrobe, in order of execution.  First up is the dress, in another of the fabrics I got on sale at Girl Charlee.  This fabric is called "Raining Dots."  It's a cotton-modal blend, and is so silky soft.

With this dress, I think I can say I've perfected my technique - it came off without a hitch!  Here's a closer look at the fabric:

Next I used Cindy's new, free top pattern.  I've been wanting to try this out since she first posted it.  I love her blog and I'm always so impressed by the way she just makes stuff - no pattern, just ingenuity! Of course, this is another sale fabric from my Girl Charlee haul - did anyone else stock up in the Labor Day sale like I did?  This fabric is called "Limoncello Floral Burnout" and is sadly no longer in stock.  It's quite thin, but doesn't have a whole lot of stretch.

The design is in pale yellow and cream, on a white burnout background:

I'm kind of a sucker for burnout!

Lastly, I knocked out the Foldover Waist Skirt pattern from the Craftsy class on sewing with knits.  This is a truly quick and cheap project - it only uses a yard of fabric (for the knee length skirt) and has three pieces:  front and back, which are the same, and one waistband piece.  Three seams and you're done!  It looked tiny, but fit perfectly.  The pattern is a-line, so I used the waist measurement to determine my size.  I made this from some very thin, drapey unidentified jersey I got at Vogue.  Because I didn't want to interfere with the amazing drape and swish at the bottom edge, I didn't hem it.  Sadly, I got a little over-zealous in my seam pressing, and stretched it out so much that it hangs on my hips!  But that didn't stop me from wearing it out for coffee with Alicia yesterday, which is why it looks wrinkled now!

waistband folded down

waistband unfolded - this is how I wore it

Yesterday I didn't sew a thing, but this morning I got back to it and made Dolman-Sleeved Top #2, in Girl Charlee's Graffiti Stripe Jersey in Tangerine.  I will admit that I spent a fair amount of time arranging my fabric so that the stripes would match, but even so, I was able to make this top in about an hour and fifteen minutes total!  That includes arranging the fabric, cutting out, sewing and ironing!  Upon completion, we headed over to Chinatown to get me the frozen yogurt I've been craving for two weeks.  Here I am in front of Joy Yee Plus, in my new tee shirt, frozen yogurt in hand:

I've got another piece of this fabric in navy and white stripe, which I'm hoping to make up this afternoon.  I'm also a sucker for dolman sleeves, so I really love this pattern!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tippi Dress (The Birds)

A while ago I bought this bird-print fabric from Girl Charlee with the intent of making a long-sleeved Renfrew top.  But the more I thought about it, the more I felt I'd rather it become a dress.  So yesterday I made another knit Kimono Dress, with a few changes.

This time, rather than folding the neck and sleeve edges back and topstitching, I made narrow binding bands.  I'm really pleased with the more finished look this gives.  For my size (size small), I cut bindings of 1" x 18" for the sleeves and 1" x 22" for the neckline.  I sewed the short ends together, then folded the bindings in half and ironed them along the fold before sewing them to the neckline and armholes.  All seams on this dress were done on my serger.

I did a better job on my elastic application too.  This time, I pressed my waist seam allowance toward the top, and applied the elastic to the very top edge of the skirt.  It went in much more smoothly than the last time, when I tried to sew the elastic to the seam allowance!  However, I cut my elastic longer this time and now I'm wishing I hadn't!  I gave myself an extra inch or two because I felt like after I ate, my first dress was too tight!  But with the longer elastic, the dress doesn't hang in the same way.  Live and learn!

The biggest problem I had with this dress was with the hem, believe it or not.  I've been watching another Craftsy course on sewing with knits, and the teacher recommends using a walking foot.  I decided to try it out.  It worked great on my samples, but made a huge mess of my actual hem!  The fabric wouldn't feed through, and I ended up with a big, tangled, knotted mess on the back and stitches so short they almost cut through my fabric!

I tried it twice and got the same result - I literally spent at least half an hour trying to pick it out!  I finally gave up and just did a straight stitch with my normal presser foot.

When Niecey-poo and family were here, she and my sister-in-law and I went shopping for school clothes at Old Navy (they LOVE Old Navy!).  I happened upon this bird-print scarf that I thought would be a nice compliment to the dress:

You're getting hanger photos because I'm "saving" this to wear on the weekend, with some black flats and a super cute red, black and turquoise hat I have.  Now to figure out where to go in this ensemble!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The hard part!

About 10 or so years ago, a friend and I took a class at the community college on free-motion quilting.  If it were a real class, I would have failed.  I just couldn't get the hang of it!  So I've never attempted it since.  But now I have this top that needs to be quilted . . .

So the other day I took the last few scraps from my quilt and some old, leftover batting, put on my free-motion foot, and gave it a go.

And it wasn't as hard as I'd remembered!  I had done some research though - Elizabeth Hartman has some excellent tips on her blog.  I've become a huge fan of this lady!  I really enjoyed her Craftsy classes - she's a great teacher.  And I love her design sense.

So here are my little samples:

The yellow was my first attempt.  I found it easier to do straight lines than curves, and I fiddled with the tension quite a bit.  It also took me a while to find a good rate of motion; when you do free-motion quilting, the stitch length is set at zero and the feed dogs are down, so any movement that happens is because you make it happen!

This first green piece was my second sample.  I was playing around with a boxy quilting design to see if I'd like it on my Disappearing Nine Patch.  I'm thinking it's busier than I want though.  But I'm pretty proud of how consistent I was able to be!

This was my last piece of scrap, so I tried out a wavy design.  I don't think this is right for my top either, and it's a lot harder for me to keep consistent stitch length on curves.

I'm still a little nervous about my ability to maneuver a blanket-sized quilt while keeping my stitches even, but I think in some ways it may be easier than working on these little 6 x 6" squares.  I found I didn't have a whole lot to grab on to, and my fingers were getting in the way!

Even though it's a little scary, I'm excited to get all my materials together and start the actual quilting process.  Any of you quilters have any other tips to add?