Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not Really Too Soon, But Definitely Sooner Than I Thought

I am a major over-estimator of how long things will take me to accomplish (for small things--big things I grossly underestimate). Last week I was thinking of how soon Christmas will be upon us, and that I'd better get started knitting with the Christmas sock yarn I had bought.


When I saw this yarn in the 'Holidays' colorway last year, I could not find it anywhere--it must have flown off of the shelves. This year I thought I might find an odd ball or two online, left over and unloved. Would you believe I found this on Amazon of all places?

I decided to make these from the toe up. TU socks appeal to my desire to not have much in the way of yarn remnants as I can just go and go until I'm almost out. However, I find that TU socks just do not fit me in the way that I like. There's a bit of snugness in certain parts that I don't love. I'm going to stick with the cuff-down pattern that seems to work for me (based on the Winwick Mum sock-along).


I tried very hard to make these fraternal twin socks (as one of you lovely folks called them in a comment) and thought I had succeeded based on the toes. But take another look.


I don't know how I did it, but I've obviously got mad skills to have made socks that start off different and end up identical.


I love these self-striping, self-fair-isling yarns. I wish someone would dye them in red and white, or blue and white, so that they'd look Scandinavian, but I'll take what I can get.


I did have a teeny hiccup on the heel flap, it looks like--I must have stitched instead of slipped. And not once, but twice. I enjoy this part cuff-down so much more--you pick up and knit the stitches and I feel like a knitting rock star when I do it. This way it just happens and I can't figure it out, so I feel more dumb-lucky instead of awesome, haha.


As I cannot begin toe-up socks fewer than three times before I stop messing up, I thought I'd be weaving in ends much closer to Christmas, instead of under two weeks. But I love having these to look forward to, as they're so perfectly Christmas-sweater-for-your-feet.


It's probably good that these are done, because this book was delivered today, and it's so beautifully filled with patterns, prose, and pictures that I can feel an obsession coming on.


I'm actually going to a knitting workshop on Thursday taught by these two fellas--I'm hoping they'll let me take some pictures to share!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Murder Mystery Quilt Along: Block 8

Good Monday morning! When does anyone really say that other than a holiday, right? I can't believe it's Labor Day. We were supposed to have a family BBQ yesterday, but the threat of a hurricane had us canceling things. True to expectations, it was one of the most beautiful days in the history of the world--blue skies, perfect temps, great picnic weather. Thanks, local weather folks--you may only care about ratings, but I care about accuracy.

Anyway, my quilt block. Every month I am amazed that another month has passed, as I remember when this first started. Finally, though, I think we might be starting to get somewhere. I think I know who the murderous fiend is, but I still have no idea about the quilt blocks.


That's not a big wrinkle. That's a trick of the light. Nothing to see here, folks. This month's block came with a few options--applique, and curved piecing. I went with curved piecing, forgetting it's not on my list of favorite things ever. BUT I have a dress pattern I want to make with princess seams, so I suppose this can serve as practice.

This month's block came with a hint as to which block this block connects to--the first block we made way back in January.


Wow, that's a bad wrinkle. I fold these all together instead of keeping them lying flat, and they all must have ganged up on August's block.

What I would like to do (but never remember until I write this post each month) is to cut up the picture of the quilt block that comes in the monthly pattern, and sit and play with them as a puzzle of sorts. I've tried rearranging my quilt blocks in just such a way, but they're big and floppy and annoying to play with while crawling around on the floor.

Well, that's August. Today is Fantasy Football draft day. We don't have a work league this year, so my brother said I could get in on he and Z's team. I've never played before last year and always thought it quite silly, but I came in second place last year on sheer beginner's luck (losing by less than two points--points that were obtainable if I had made even one of two decisions differently), and found it quite fun. I actually found myself looking forward to rooting for "my guys." So I bid you adieu until next time.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Queen Bee Bag

Every once in a while I get a tremendous urge to work with purse frames. I think they're just so chic and fun, and can look as casual or as glam as the fabrics you choose to work with. The onset of this latest urge coincided with the restocking of an adorable bag kit at my favorite bag-shopping-spot u-handbag. They supplied the handle, the frame, the interfacings, and everything else, and I supplied the fabric and thread. I went for a couple vintage looking Tim Holtz prints that I found at Joann's on clearance (they were quite pricey to start with, so clearance brought the price down to 'reasonable').


I wish just a teensy--OK, hold on, I'm going to interrupt myself. Have you seen the Amazon commercial with the baby and the dog and the lion costume? Is that not the sweetest? OK, sorry. So, I wish just a teensy bit I had lined up the gusset and the front better, but I'll get over it. Some day.


A little bling always helps, eh? These chunky built-in rings are perfect for the bigger clips on the end of the leather strap. And the strap is just the right length to carry in your hand, in the crook of your arm, or slung over your shoulder.


The handle is quite lush, too. It's definitely one of the nicer leather straps I've ever seen. If you buy them separate from the kit you get two straps for not a bad price, so if you want to up the ooo-la-la to any bag a bit keep it in mind. 


This bag went together quite easily. I think the part that took the most amount of thought was getting the pocket to line up just so with the front of the bag so that the break wasn't too noticeable.


Of course once stuff is in there it shifts a bit. The back has no pocket and is plain--


I don't remember the exact name of the fabric, but it's from Tim Holtz's Eclectic Elements line. I think it's 'Vintage Photo Cards' or something to that effect. The lining is from the same fabric line, and if it hadn't been printed slightly crooked I'd have made it the exterior, I'm so in love with it.


Remember when businesses used to give out rulers or yard sticks with their name printed on it? I cut all of my fabrics out and spent a day pondering if I loved this enough to deal with any crookedness in the print if I put it on the exterior, and the answer was no. I guess I could have cut it on the bias as it's interfaced anyway and wouldn't have stretched. Why can't I have these thoughts when I need them?

The bag ended up being a little smaller than I thought, but it is still a great size--big enough for all the essentials and a small umbrella or a bottle of water or something like that. I can't wait to carry it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Gathered Front Top and a Question

When I took sewing lessons years ago, the patterns she preferred to use to teach us newbies came from the KwikSew line. They really aren't half bad--the instructions are pretty clear, the pieces sturdy, and the designs are cute (for the most part). The fit isn't always the best, but I suppose that really just comes down to your body type versus how the designer drafted the pattern (though I never seem to have such issues with Vogue or Jalie patterns). Anyway, this is the last top I made for myself this summer.

Disclaimer: I took these photos after work tonight, when the sun was descending and shining into the room and hitting the mirror in that way that makes annoying shimmery lights show up in photos. My options were to have everything look yellowish in indoor lighting, or to make it look like a bag of flour recently exploded on me. I went with the floured look, because what is life without whimsy?


This is KwikSew 4160. It has a cute collar option I was considering making, but I left it off as I could see it being super hot (just as it's been here lately in Philly) and me getting very annoyed by it, so I went with the basic faced v-neck.


Those gathers drove me insane. I feel like gathers in knits are ridiculously tricky, and this is a thin rayon knit that was quite slippery, so my temper flared more than once, that's for sure. I wasn't sure if I wanted that tab on the front or just the gathers, but I went with the band. Somehow, though it looked perfectly straight, it got twisted in the wash, so I had to pick the stitches out and restitch it. That band is now necessary because the fabric is so fine that I knicked a wee hole in it that the band is now covering. So shhhhh--don't tell anybody, m'kay?

One little mental issue I have with this shirt is that I feel like all that fabric in the front makes me look pregnant. It's a comfortable shirt--very soft, just the right kind of roomy--and not terribly unflattering. I guess it's just a style I'm not used to.


I suppose it's a good thing that nobody asked if I was indeed pregnant. Anyway--I do have a question for those of you experienced with sewing knits. Every time I sew a hem on knits, it looks terrible. I've tried different needles, stitch lengths, and tension settings, and I get the same results--


This drives me bonkers. What am I missing? Any advice?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Balloon Ride Over a Meadow

Lest you think I have lost my senses and went teetering precariously in a basket up in the sky whilst being suspended by rope and hot air, I'd like to dispel that notion right away by saying that I'm talking about socks. Ever since I can remember I have been irrationally fearful of hot air balloon rides (irrational only because it's not something that happens without your decision to take part, generally, unlike spiders which can happen upon any unsuspecting soul whether you like it or not, thereby making that a completely rational fear), and a recurring (rare, but recurring) dream I have involves me falling out of one, sooooo....

What were we talking about? Oh yes, socks. There has been a lot of sock-knitting photos popping up in my Instagram feed, and this made me really want to get back to knitting socks. I had bought some Patons Kroy sock yarn in 'Meadow Stripes' months ago, and figured I'd get around to using it. Be warned--I haven't blocked these yet so they aren't picture-perfect


I started off on those teeny nine inch circulars, but switched to DPNs for the heel flap and turn, then back to the circs. I know that short row toes and heels would probably be easier, but this part right here is my favorite part of sock-knitting--


--right there. That part where you pick up the stitches and turn the heel and get the gusset decreases going. It just looks so very...sock-y.

Because I didn't figure out my yarn stripes before I knitted, I ran into a slight hiccup when the skeins started at different color spots. Not wanting to risk running out of yarn, I decided to make two differently striped socks--


This does not bother me like I thought it would, as it adds that handmade 'thing' to it that absolute matching perfection would lack. They're the same, but different. The second sock I did using the magic loop method, and things got a little fiddly for the heel flap and turn--I think I prefer this method least.

The second pair I made from Knit Picks Felici sock yarn, in 'Balloon Ride.' Oh. My. Heavens. I don't think they always have this yarn available, so if you like to knit socks try this one out for sure. It is deliciously soft and sublime. I think it would also make a great sweater, if you've got the patience for a sock-weight sweater.


I went down a needle size for this pair, and they fit me perfectly (the others are just a touch bigger than I prefer, but they still fit fine). Otherwise, same stitch count and everything. I wish I had made the leg about an inch longer, but it's fine. I don't usually wear high socks anyway. It's more like a "dang, I could have used almost all the yarn" sort of thing.


These I wanted to be the same as I think the thick stripes not matching up would bother me more than the skinnies not matching. I knit these entirely on DPNs, but girl genius here did the gusset decreases on the wrong stitches, so there's a little bit of laddering going on.


I can't wait to wear these. I stocked up a bit on the Felici yarn, so I've got plenty to keep me going here (those little balls are my leftovers from this pair)--


I used the Winwick Mum sock-along pattern for both of these, the only change being the needle size between pairs. The instructions are free on her blog, OR she's also got an e-book you can buy so it's a little more handy to use on a device-that's-not-a-computer.  The short circs actually make the knitting fly, but can be a little tougher on the hands until you get used to the short needles.

Aren't socks funny things? I always thought you'd have to be some kind of genius to make them, but once I did I thought "Hey, that's kind of fun!" And trust me, I am not a genius. Not even close. But really--you knit a tube 'this' way, and then you have to, while keeping everything connected, turn that tube 'that' way so it goes in an entirely different direction, and you have footwear. Every time I make something like this I send a silent 'thank you' to our knitting ancestors for figuring things out so the rest of can feel like rock stars occasionally.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Navy Pindot Scarf Collar Shirt

Ahoy ahoy! So...it's been pretty gross outside, eh? Not sure about where you live, but here in Philly it's fluctuated between unbearably hot and unbearably humid with sometimes copious amounts of rain. In short, it has not been comfortable. Once we hit the dog days with summer, I hit my limit pretty quickly and am ready for sweaters-and-boots weather. Or at least sleep-with-the-windows-open weather.

I had mentioned in this post that I had made myself a few shirts, so here's the second one. This one is actually my favorite. Sorry for the bad photos--it's hard to take photos of yourself in a mirror with sun glare in late afternoon when you're really hungry, hahaha!


The pattern is Jalie's Scarf-Collar shirt, and the fabric is a navy pin dot from Girl Charlee. The fabric is quite thin, but is really soft and comfortable. I find that navy fades really quickly, so I'm not loving that aspect of the fabric, but otherwise I'm fine with it. There were a lot of options with this top for the scarf collar--you could tie it, let it flow loosely, or feed it through a slit or buckle-type-thing-whose-name-I-don't-know.


If When I make this again, I'll probably try one of the other options or to modify the bow a bit. The fabric is so light that the bow makes it feel kind of heavy and like it's pulling down the front of the shirt to reveal almost too much at times.


The shirt is ridiculously easy to make. The markings are spot on, and everything matches like a dream. The front of the shirt has a seam up the front for this nifty...kind of...burrito?...method of stitching the collar and the shirt together. It's like the entire shirt (literally) is stuffed inside the scarf bit, you sew it, and turn it out and boom--you've got this nifty front of a shirt that's insanely easy.

I'm one of those people who buys something they like in all the colors, so I can see myself going overboard with this. The fit is flattering, and you can achieve so many different looks by just changing the fabrics. I also really like that the armscye is spot on--it's not cutting off circulation, but then it's not hanging so low that if you made this a sleeveless top you could see straight through one side of the shirt and out of the other.

This is my second Jalie shirt, and I completely recommend their patterns--they're very accurate, the instructions are good, and the styles overall are flattering. I guess they're average-priced (maybe a little pricey?)--I'm not really sure--but my take is that if you find a pattern you like that you can make over and over it's worth it.

Next time maybe I'll show you some socks I've knit. Yeah, I'm ready for sweater weather. Indeed.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Murder Mystery Quilt Along: Block 7

I suppose a good way to track the passage of time is to have some sort of a visual countdown that serves as a periodic reminder of just how quickly it moves along. This mystery quilt along is serving that purpose nicely. It's hard to believe that about six months ago I had one block and thought "Oooo, I can't WAIT to see this come together!" And now I have seven (and I'm still having the same thought).

After a very trying day of sewing on Saturday that had me this close to cursing and yelling at no one and everyone out of sheer frustration, I figured I'd at least sew up my quilt block as I should be able to manage that. So here is block seven. Already.


At least this month I have an idea of what this is supposed to be. I'm fairly pleased with my applique stitching, too--


And here are all seven blocks together:


It's too cumbersome to crawl around on the floor and rearrange blocks, so I'm thinking of cutting the template pictures out of paper and messing around with them that way. Because otherwise I have no clue.

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