Category Archives: knitting

Journal: 16 March 2015

Things I have been up to lately

Things I have been up to lately

Since my last post, I: finished the mitts with my Christmas-present yarn, made a few new tatted bracelets, finished plying my hand-spun yarn, started knitting a shawl(ette) with it, chugged away on my Sierpinski blanket and my big green scarf, dyed some things, and did a bunch of mending that really needed to be done but ate into my creative crafting time.

The mitts are pictured above; not much to say on the topic. I’m pretty pleased with how they came out, mostly because of how warm and soft/smooth the yarn is.

Bracelets:

Two of them are this pattern, and the one in the middle is a pattern I’ve yet to post. I’ve been playing with color a bit; I’m really pleased with how the blue/yellow one turned out but less pleased with the blue/black one.

I finished plying my handmade yarn, and am pleased to report that the three-plying method using long crochet-like chains worked really well. I almost immediately cast on a knitting project with the yarn: a top-down triangular shawl based on this (knitting fool link) lace stitch. I’m hoping that I’ll have enough for a reasonable shawl/shawlette; I was too excited about casting on to bother with details like measuring out my yardage. I’m working from the outside (gray) in (towards purple), despite winding the yarn in a center-unwinding ball. Partly this is because of the colors and partly because my spinning gauge was still totally inconsistent, meaning the purple end is considerably thinner than the gray. I’m hoping it’ll look nice and like the shawl is fading prettily away, and not get all warped and sad and look like I am bad at spinning. We’ll see; wish me luck! Photos:

tea_dye

Dyed tatting, with reference pieces

I conducted a dyeing experiment using tea on some tatted things; shown at right are the tatted bit I dyed purple a few weeks ago, three bits I stained with tea, and bracelets made of the same thread and undyed to serve as a color reference. The tan one, of course, started out white. Not much happened; the tan of the formerly white one is reasonably lovely, the rainbow is a little less intense, and the “ocean” colorway thread just turned muddy. My verdict is I may do this to white pieces but should probably stop overdyeing things that already have color to them.

Sad re-dyed shirt

Sad re-dyed shirt

Speaking of which, after my rather successful re-dyeing of a shirt discussed in my last post, I was pretty confident and ready to dye my blue patchwork shirt that also got pink-splotched in the same wash load. I’m heartily disappointed in the results, shown at right; I think it’s obvious that it was amateurishly dyed over, it’s terribly splotchy right in the center front, and it just doesn’t look very good. I haven’t even had the heart to try it on and preen in front of a mirror yet, which is a bad old sign. I’m going to at least try it on, and depending how I’m feeling may pick up some black dye and see what happens, but as like as not will just throw it out (or leave it in my dresser to slowly migrate to the bottom of a drawer in shame). Ah well; fortunately I picked up some nice blue fabric at the store to make a new patchwork shirt, once I get through my backlog of sewing.

In more happy news, my Sierpinski blanket is coming along well and is over half-finished; photo:

Sierpinski blanket in progress

Sierpinski blanket in progress

Journal: New drop spindle edition

Drop spindle and some gorgeously dyed wool

Drop spindle and some gorgeously dyed wool

I’ve got some other crafting things going on, but today I just want to quickly talk about my shiniest new toy: I went to my first-ever fiber festival last weekend, and while there picked up a drop spindle and some wool and learned to spin.

Such sad yarn!

Such sad yarn!

Fortunately the spindle came with an ounce of practice wool, so the worst of my learning mistakes happened in free, undyed wool that I didn’t care too much about. And boy, were there learning mistakes: my first batch of yarn has over-spun kinks, under-spun fluffy sections, and huge variation in thickness from point to point. I’m glad I saw the spinning demonstration before buying my spindle: the person spinning talked about how everyone’s first batch is what she jokingly calls “art yarn”, and said most people are doing much better within a half-hour of starting. I guess I am a bit behind the curve, as that first batch was all pretty bad and took rather more than a half-hour, but I’m okay with that. Anyway, as soon as I was done spinning I 2-plied the yarn and knit it up into a test swatch; photos:

Despite being only 2-ply I’d guess the yarn is somewhere around aran weight, albeit varying quite a bit. I used size 10 needles because the 8’s I started with were just not cutting it. Y’all may have noticed I’m a big fan of finer yarns, so knitting this up was somewhere between an interesting novelty and torture. All the same, I’m proud of myself.

Dyed wool roving. I've already spun up a section of gray

Dyed wool roving. I’ve already spun up a section of gray

While at the festival I also picked up some nice wool to motivate myself—a gorgeously multicolor blue-faced leicester wool by Dizzie Lizzies Handpaints. It’s spinning up a lot better, partly because my skill has improved and partly I think because the wool has less oil in it, or finer fibers, or something. I wasn’t really thinking clearly, so I only picked up one batch, so the plying process is going to be interesting, matching different colors together. In future I think I will stick to spinning single-color rovings, and likely doing more dyeing myself, but this roving certainly worked as intended to motivate me to get through the practice wool.

One thing that bears commenting on is the physicality of spinning, at least with a drop spindle, compared to my other crafts. I actually gave myself a blister the first time out (and chucked a bandaid on it and kept spinning anyway), but that appears to have been due to poor technique rather than anything else. Something that’s persisted is that after spinning for a while my arms get tired: with knitting, sewing, tatting, embroidering or crochet I can curl comfortably on the couch and keep my elbows down, but the drop spindle requires me to sit straight on the edge of a chair and keep both arms elevated for long periods. I’m definitely seeing the appeal of a spinning wheel, both for ergonomic and time-saving reasons, though I don’t have any plans to get one for the foreseeable future.

Journal: 7 November 2014

Today I should start with a bit of housekeeping—well, it’s pretty much the focal point of my life at the moment, but housekeeping to the blog: after more than a year of un/under-employment, I’ve accepted a full-time job offer. I’m super excited about it; the work is in my field, at the level I have trained to, the company is generous and the people seem kind. I’m a little less excited about relocating and all the logistical hassles involved, but such is life. The upshot for the blog is that for the next month or so my crafting and posting are going to take a hit, after which I should stabilize but at reduced levels. Wish me luck!

I'm told this is very disconcerting to see not attached to me

I’m told this is very disconcerting to see not attached to me

Also unrelated to crafting, but it amuses me: for various reasons I decided it was high time to reduce the length of my hair. I’ve mentioned incidentally here that it was quite long, at least when I was talking about making scrunchies; last night I got the flatmate to chop off well over a foot, which I plan to package and send off to an ACS-approved charity. I can no longer make a bun, or make more than a stitch or two of braid, but man do I feel free. Anyway, photo at right is the disconcerting disembodied ponytail waiting to be packaged up.

deliveryIn more crafting-related news, but still on the logistical side of things, I took delivery of a whole bunch of yarn and thread the other day. I’ve got a whole bunch of new tatting thread in many colors, the yarn to finish my gray&tan scarf, and some lace-weight merino for when I finish my current two fiddly lace-weight projects.

scarfThe gray&tan scarf is proceeding apace—it’s a good travel project, so I’ve kind of been saving it for all the flying I’ve got coming up, but I couldn’t resist working on it a bit as soon as the delivery came. I’m pleased with the yarn—I got the new stuff from a different store, and got the old almond-color skein long enough ago that matching dye lots would be hopeless anyway, but both colors match well enough that I can’t find the join just by looking at the scarf. So, good enough for me.

The Great Five Blouse Project is also making progress, albeit slowly. If I’m good I’ll get the buttonholes done before my sewing machine gets packed up to move, and if I get that done I can probably finish the shirt for my first week of work, but I’m going to forgive myself if neither happens.

So much yarn, you guys.

So much yarn, you guys.

Finally, the current project I’m most excited about is a new knit-lace scarf in one of the yarns I got for my last birthday. I was a little unprepared for just how much yarn came in this hank: it’s really, really fine yarn so a perfectly normal-looking, normal-heft hank comes in at nearly 1500 yards of yarn. I found this out the hard way when I was trying to ball it up, spent an hour or so winding the yarn and still was nowhere near done. So my yarn is half-balled, half still in the hank which I re-tied and -twisted, and I am getting good use out of my little crafting basket to keep everything together.

Scarf in progress, staked out to simulate blocking

Scarf in progress, staked out to simulate blocking

The pattern comes from the “eyelet diamonds 1” stitch pattern on knitting fool; many thanks to andresue’s blog for introducing me to that website. I’ve modified the pattern a bit, done four repeats width-wise and added a garter stitch border. I’m really happy with how it’s coming along, although it is such fine yarn that it’s going to take a long long time to get a respectable length scarf out of it.

I’ve named it the Pharaohs scarf on ravelry, and will probably publish a quick pattern under that name, because the triangular bits between the yarnovers look like faces and the straight stockinette bits look like either the beard or a headdress thing, at least to me (and I’m told, “can’t unsee it”). The flatmate calls it the spaceship pattern because of how the yarnover holes line up. Here’s some more photos of the project and of a test swatch in the remnants of some sock yarn; you decide:

I learned a couple of new things about knit-lace work during the inception of this project. First is yet another reason to always, always, always make a test swatch before starting the main project: in complicated lace patterns, you really want to make all your haven’t-learned-the-pattern-yet errors in a little bitty thing that you can rip out without too much remorse, not in the real project. I was really good with this project and even blocked my swatch, although since I used a different yarn and needles it won’t give me gauge: the pattern is in sections of stockinette and reverse-stockinette, so I wanted to see how it looked blocked flat instead of all bent at the boundaries between the two. The other thing I learned is that you can get a sense of how the project will look blocked before it even comes off the needles by staking it out, dry, with pins. Having done a bit of proper blocking before gave me a sense of how much I should stretch it in this process. This is how I got the reasonable photo above, even though unstaked it’s all crinkly and bumpy.

Journal: The lesson is learned

blocking

Harlequin shirt blocking

So, I’ve finished the big knitting project I’ve been talking about recently. I am pretty unhappy with the result, unfortunately. On the other hand, I learned a *lot* from this project, and have positioned myself to make a much better attempt when I can muster the resolve to frog this thing and start over.

Ugh, curl. The back is actually worse, but harder to get photos of.

Ugh, curl. The back is actually worse, but harder to get photos of.

Lesson 1, which I should’ve known by now: knitting tends to curl, particularly at the edges. The part I learned new was that my oh-so-clever vertical-shaping technique, sections of (k1, slip 1)/(p1, slip 1) curls like nobody’s business. I was planning not to block this piece, thus I used a non-blocked swatch to get my measurements, but the relentless curling forced my hand.

Lesson 2, which I knew but didn’t think would be an issue, see above; blocking changes the size of knitted items, even if it’s not lace, even if you don’t stretch and pin it while it dries. In this particular case, it didn’t change the width (I measured while it was drying), but did change the length significantly—meaning that the arm holes gaped open to half again their desired length, and suddenly the careful waist shaping I had done was coming in around my hips, leaving the waist loose and flapping. Terribly, terribly unbecoming photos, before (curl) and after (bad fit):

Lesson 3: blocking helps with curl, but doesn’t entirely fix it, especially on drapey bits. Post-blocking, the curling up of the back neck, arm hole, and bottom edges was basically fixed, but I couldn’t get the front neck to drape nicely without curling all up (see photos above). Lesson I wouldn’t have learned without making this project, so I consider it a gain.

Lesson 4: horizontal stripes are really that bad. This comes back to the color of yarn I picked, which I was waffling about how much I liked all throughout this project. If I try a project like this again—knitting a shirt starting from the back armpit, over the shoulders, reconnecting at the front armpit, and in the round down—I will definitely use a non-variegated yarn, or one with a short enough repeat length that the effect is blotches rather than stripes. With this yarn, I think I will go back to the idea I started with, now that I have more confidence in my drafting abilities: working it diagonally.

Lesson 5, actually a positive one: drafting from sewing patterns works. I need to be a bit more careful in choosing the pattern to start from—some of the unflattering fit is because I started from a pattern eased to pull over one’s head when made from non-stretch fabric. Plus due to curl a drape-neck pattern is probably infeasible. However, on the whole the project came out exactly as I (should have) expected: the shaping scheme worked, and once I got the hang of it the translation from paper sewing pattern to written knitting pattern is not that hard to do.

Another way I came out ahead is I now have a very, very large swatch made up, in a yarn and needle size combination that I like working in, that’s blocked. The large swatch will help me get better measurements for future projects, including accounting for the effect of gravity on the length. I am lazy and impetuous enough that I never would’ve bothered making such a large swatch in advance of an actual project, so this is a fairly big win for me.

I’d love to hear any tips y’all have for better drafting/pattern design for knitting—I feel like I am groping in the dark a bit, and coming at this from a funny angle, and could benefit from others’ wisdom.

Journal: 8 September 2014

The last few weeks haven’t been great for my crafting schedule, and even worse for blogging purposes: I’ve been slogging away on two fairly large projects, finishing neither, and distracted a fair bit by other things. Real life is such a drag. Anyway, I’ve made progress on my harlequin shirt, which I talked about in my last entry, and cast on and have done about half of a large, snuggly Tunisian crochet shawl. I also had a yarn-dyeing misadventure: I should have read more carefully before attempting to kool-aid dye a cotton yarn.

Shirt in progress

Shirt in progress

The harlequin knit shirt is progressing and looks fairly shirt-like now: I’ve made it past the reconnect at the armpits and am working the slow slog of mostly even rows down the torso. The photo at right shows current progress from the front of the shirt: the shoulders straps, neck hole, arm holes, and then gathering to the circular needle. I ended up ordering additional yarn for it, as the first skein ran out well before the halfway mark. I am kind of ambivalent about the whole project at the moment; the worries about how the colorway will actually look in a garment haven’t subsided, and this is exacerbated by the fact that when I hit the reconnect, suddenly the rows were twice as long as before, so the color stripes get narrower. Furthermore, the more I work, the more every loose edge curls up on itself, so I’m worried I won’t be able to get it flat enough to wear. Ah well; I’ve learned a lot from this project even if I end up having to rip it all out and do something else.

tunisian_yarn

Three yarns that sort-of go together

While I was waiting for the new harlequin yarn to show up, I cast on a shawl in Tunisian crochet. This is using three colors of yarn from my big box of mismatched sock yarns—they’re all multis, and I only got one or two skeins of each color. These three more or less coordinate, all having a pinkish-red overall feel and comprising a reasonable gradient. I decided to supplement with the white yarn I’d gotten in case the surf shawl needed it, and I may also add some burgundy at the end.

tunisian_progress

Tunisian shawl in progress

The plan is a fairly simple half-circle shawl in Tunisian simple stitch and honeycomb stitch. For the half-circle shape, each row has four increases on average; for the first few rows I made four increases each row, then started doing eight increases every second row, then sixteen every fourth, and am now up to thirty-two every eight rows. Honeycomb stitch doesn’t play nice with single increases, so I am doing honeycomb stitch in some of the even rows in between increasing rows.

tunisian_colors

Honeycomb stitch in multicolor yarn

Incidentally, this project is making me fall in love with Tunisian honeycomb stitch, which the internet assures me is completely normal to do; it looks lovely and breaks up the monotonous straight lines of ordinary Tunisian simple stitch. In particular, I noticed with the multicolor yarns I’ve been working with that it looks really good with a different color for the posts than for the chains, which happened spontaneously in some areas of the shawl in progress (see photo). I think my next project will build on this idea—I am planning to make mitts in Tunisian honeycomb stitch in the round, making posts out of a solid dark purple yarn and chains out of either (I haven’t decided yet) a) a lighter purple multi, b) a mint-green multi with light purple accents, or c) the white solid.

tunisian_center

Shawl center, worked in white and the lightest multi

Anyway, back to the shawl—the way I am dealing with the multiple, multi-color yarns is by setting up a gradient over the whole shawl and then not worrying too much about the details. In Tunisian, it’s easy to mix colors within a row by switching yarns at the far end of the row, after pulling up all your loops and before chaining back. For the first section of the shawl, I mixed white and the lightest of the three multis this way; in the photo at right you can see the rows alternate between having white posts with colored chains vs. colored posts with white chains. The next section is entirely in the first multi; the third mixes the first and second multis; the fourth is entirely the second multi, and so on. To make sure the sections are in some sort of proportion to each other, I’m making them equal area, which means a quarter of each yarn is in the section mixed with the previous skein, a half is in the section with the yarn by itself, and a quarter is in the section mixed with the next color. Instead of counting rows and doing math, I marked the quarter and three-quarters points of all three skeins, and switch sections as close to the marks as possible. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but when I’m finished I’ll put up a pattern with more concrete instructions.

Finally, I should mention my yarn-dyeing misadventures. I’ve run across a bunch of people talking about dyeing yarn with kool-aid recently, and I’ve got a couple skeins of cotton yarn in colors I will simply never use: Christmas multi and a terrible lime green. So I picked up some kool-aid, on a whim, in the grocery store. Then I went looking for more complete instructions, and discovered that acid-fix dye only works on wool and similar fibers, not cotton. Surprise! A few people did say that it worked on cotton as well, but less effectively, so I figured I had nothing to lose and tried it. Welp, here are before, during, and after pictures of dyeing a Christmas-multi yarn in cherry kool-aid:

The thought with choosing cherry would be that the white sections would become red or pink, the red would become darker red, and the green would become brown, and I’d get a warm-colors multi. The result was what I probably should’ve expected: identical to spilling kool-aid on fabric, the white sections turned a very light pink, and the red and green sections didn’t perceptibly change. Ah well, lesson learned, very little damage done—the yarn is of equal utility to me as before, and the kool-aid cost a grand total of $0.28. Next time I’m at the store I will pick up some RIT dye and do this right.

Journal: 18 August 2014

It’s been a bit of a while since I’ve posted here—I don’t want to be one of those blogs where half the space is spent apologizing for not putting up more content, but I do want to mention that I may be posting less often for a while but that I am not hibernating. For a long while there I was binging on designing tatted lace, which makes it really easy to put up a new pattern every few days; I was also completely unemployed. More recently I’ve been feeling a bit tapped out on tatting, having embarked on a couple ambitious knitting projects instead; I’ve also picked up a very, very part-time job which is reducing my need to feel productive by blogging. This particular long break between posts was a combination of the above factors, plus I spent this past week on a family vacation with really poor internet.

Today I have a couple of hand-sewn blouses to show you—both of which showed up in my last tutorial post, but I have a couple more pictures that didn’t really fit in. I’ve got a little bitsy crochet meta-project: a box to hold in-progress projects. I’ve also got a knitting project that I am rather excited about, although I actually have no clue if I’ll like it at all when I’m done.

Sewing blouses

First, progress on the Great Five-Blouse Sewing Project: I have now completed three of five. Photos:

I’m still quite happy with the pattern, McCalls M6035, on the whole, but a little disappointed with how the stand-up collar and short-sleeve variants came out. I love Mandarin collars, but the collar coming forward all the way to the overlapping front makes it rather awkward. I kind of like how it looks with the collar folded down, but a) it’s a very old-fashioned look, which is sometimes but not always a good thing, and b) I used a non-reversible fabric, so you see the wrong side and it looks less professional. My complaint with the sleeves is just that they’re too tight—which may be more to do with my chubby upper arms than anything, so your mileage may vary. The green one is a little frumpy—using the full collar and bishop sleeve variants—but I did it deliberately, so I’m okay with it.

One final bit of news about my sewing situation is that I recently found out that Woot occasionally sells sewing machines. Really nice ones. For half their usual going price. So I’ve got a 185-stitch Brother with automatic buttonholing features in the mail, about which I am exceedingly excited. For anyone keeping score, this brings my total sewing machines up to three, and I barely use the ones I have—on the other hand, there are good reasons I don’t use them. At any rate, I am designating one of the remaining blouses as my getting-acquainted-with-my-new-machine project, and I’ll let you know how that goes.

Crochet project box

basket_inplace

Basket, full of cashmere knitting, in amongst my other crafting things

I’ve got some odds and ends—all right, several skeins—left over from the big bag o’ cotton yarn I got a while back; they are awkward colors that I don’t really want in my kitchen, but I hate to waste good yarn and I don’t mind having a, well, eclectic crafting space. I also have a knitting project on sock needles with cables, with really delicate yarn—so I thought it would be nice to have some way of holding all those little needles and all together and protect the yarn from the rest of my crafting space. Putting two and two together, I made a quick basket in single crochet out of the hideous yarn, and am rather pleased with the result. It’s not the flattest or most beautiful thing I’ve made, but it serves its purpose well enough.

Detail of claw feet

Detail of claw feet

I don’t have a pattern for this wee beasty—I bet you could do as well or better on your own—but the general idea is a flat rectangle worked in spirals, then side walls that use decreases to slope inward a little bit and hold everything together. I do rather like one detail I came up with, which is to give the corners a bit of a claw-foot. The first row of the sides is in normal single crochet, working in only the front loop of the last row of the base; the second is in single crochet except a few stitches around the corners, which are: yo, yo, yo, insert hook in back loop of a stitch on the base, pull up loop, (yo and pull through two loops) twice, insert hook through both loops of a stitch on the side, yo and pull through all remaining loops. From the inside it looks just like a sc or possibly an hdc; from the outside it is a raised column. I did this to the five stitches directly on each corner, then on one stitch to each side separated by one sc. Anyway, a couple more photos:

Knitting a drape-neck shell

Drafting and pattern creation!

Drafting and pattern creation!

drape_frontSo I’ve done a little bit of drafting of sewing patterns in the past—mostly by modifying commercial patterns. The one shown above is traced and modified from New Look 6483; I removed the seam allowance, moved the bust dart, and heavily slashed the neckline to create a drape-neck. I had an idea a while ago to make this in diagonal knitting, but ended up getting too frustrated and scrapping it. In the meantime I added the seam allowances back in and sewed the shirt shown at right, which I wear pretty frequently and like. Just before heading off on vacation, though, I realized I didn’t have a project to take on the airplane, so I hauled it all out and set to work.

Back piece of shell

Back piece of shell and first few rows of front

For some reason—I am not at all sure why this is—I hate the thought of making knits in sections and then joining them, even though I don’t mind sewing at all. I think it just offends my sense of elegance: there are so many shaping tools you can bring to bear in knitting, so you should be able to make fairly complicated garments all in one go. Plus, I hate cutting yarn, in case I decide later to rip out the project and do something else with it. At any rate, this means the construction plan needed some thought. I figured out that I could do a one-piece sleeveless shell by starting at the back, at armpit level; working upwards to the neck; working the neck like a buttonhole with a bind-off and then cast-on in the middle of a row; working down across the bust to the armpit; then reconnecting with the back and working the torso in the round. Connecting this plan to the sewing pattern required making a gauge swatch, then taking a lot of measurements across my pattern and converting them to stitch counts. At the end of a couple hours’ work I had a plan of increases and decreases.

Shoulder showing slip-stitch shaping

Shoulder showing slip-stitch shaping on outside edge

The first cast-on, since it needs to be joined later, is the double-sided cast-on you’ll see sometimes for toe-up socks: the yarn is just wrapped around and around two needles. The main part of the work is all in stockinette, since I don’t have the patience for complicated drafting plus lace at the same time, on oversized needles. The armhole shaping, which is horizontal, is done with simple decreases and increases. The back-neck and shoulder strap shaping, which is vertical but doesn’t need to be precise, I did by making some sections of (slip 1, k1)/(slip 1, p1) work, which compresses vertically. Apparently this stitch curls a lot though—hopefully I can get it flat in blocking, or failing that by sewing in a facing.

Detail of front showing cast-on

Detail of front showing cast-on

The bind-off for the neck is the usual knit bind-off, with the trick of working a knit-in-front-and-back stitch at the beginning to avoid gapping or distortion. The cast-on for the neck I wanted to make a little decorative, so it’s actually the tatting double stitch, which does just fine and creates long, lacy loops at the edge. Now I’m beginning the long, slow slog of decreases to shape the drape-neck and front armholes.

 

Detail showing yarn colors

Detail showing yarn colors

The yarn, by the way, is premier yarns’ serenity sock weight, which I’ve mentioned loving before, in the Harlequin colorway. It’s coming through really dull in my photographs, for some reason, and indeed in the online-yarn-store photographs I can find, but in person it’s a really vibrant mix of Mardi Gras teal, purple, gold, and a bit of leaf green. It’s somewhat of an interesting experience to work with—in some lights I love it and think it’s the best thing, in others I hate it and suspect I will never wear the shirt. So I’m feeling a bit of trepidation about this project. On the other hand, this yarn definitely does not want to be a shawl or a scarf or anything, at least to my mind, so I’m not sure I lose anything if the shirt doesn’t turn out great either. Wish me luck!

Journal: 12 July 2014

Since my last journal post, I have been a busy little bee—by which I think I actually mean, it has been a while since my last journal post, so I’ve gotten a fair bit done without getting any more done per time than usual. I’ve developed and posted a bunch of tatting patterns, done a bunch of utility/housewares sewing, chugged away a bit on my knitting, finished one of my blouses and started another. I’ve also done a bit of crochet that I can’t talk about just yet.

Housewares sewing:

apron_pocket

Forgive the blurry picture: apron with ruffle and with a potholder in the pocket.

The major piece of housewares sewing I did was to add a pocket and a ruffle to my frumpy apron. The photo at right shows the pocket, with a round potholder in it, and the ruffle. I am not entirely sure why I bothered with the ruffle—I think it took more work than the rest of the apron put together—but I just feel that if one is to make a frumpy floral apron, a ruffle around the skirt is required. Anyway, here’s a much better photo of the apron spread out on the floor:

apron_flat

 

tote_pocket

Card pocket for tote bag

While I was doing housewares sewing, I added a card pocket to one of the tote bags: my local grocery store has those rewards cards; I don’t want to waste wallet space on it, so it lives in the grocery bag, but having the tiny card floating in the great big bag is inconvenient. I solved this by making a small pocket and top-stitching it into the inside of the bag just below the hem. I used a scrap of quilting cotton, so managed to do the stitching by hand.

needle_case_side

Big needle case

Due to the influx of tatting thread I mentioned recently, I spent a while sorting out my yarn stash, which led to me deciding I really needed a better way to store my crochet hooks and knitting needles. In cutting out the apron, I cut considerably more narrow strips of fabric than I ended up needing, so I decided to make needle cases out of it. Out of a 32″x3″ strip I made a 15″x2″ rectangular case with a zip closure, and out of an 8″ strip I made a narrow little DPN case that fits inside the big one, and has a fold-over closure with drawstring and button:

The zipper for the main case was a salvage from an old laundry bag; it is bright blue and had a stupidly large tab/pull on it, making it impossible to set hidden. So I snipped off the tab and replaced it with macrame/friendship bracelet. The loop holding the tab was open at one end, so I was worried a soft tab would slide off; I closed it with a drop of super glue, which I am pleased with the results of. Photos, playing with the zoom settings on my camera:

I am a lot happier with this one than I am with the one on my wallet/coin purse, so I may put up a tutorial on replacing zipper pulls soon. My technique is still not quite there yet, though. I am proud of the color coordination; all of the floss was stuff I had on hand, too.

Knitting:

cashmere_cables

Starting the cables

I’ve been working on a pair of mitts/arm warmers out of the cashmere lace-weight yarn from my birthday, and it is going slowly. I’m beginning to regret some of my choices, namely deciding that cabling a fluffy, tiny yarn on #2 needles was a good idea. I haven’t dropped any stitches that I couldn’t get back yet, but all the tight little stitches and keeping track of four DPNs and a cabling needle just make me so tense that I can do about five rows on a good day before needing to switch to something else. I don’t suppose anybody out there has tips for tiny cabling without losing one’s mind?

cashmere_onhandI do think that I will like these mitts and consider them worth all the pain when they’re done, though. I’ve finished the ribbing section, including the thumb hole, on both, working on a circular needle so I can try them on (see photo), and am happy with the fit. I’m a little concerned that the cabled section may be too tight to comfortably get my hand through, and since I moved to DPNs for the cabling I can’t check it, but I think it will be all right.

cashmere_thumb

Mitt showing thumb hole

Blouses:

blue_blouse

Navy blue blouse

Finally, I’ve made progress on the blouse-sewing mega-project I mentioned in my last journal post: making five new button-up blouses. Namely, I finished blouse #1 in navy blue and started in on blouse #2 in green. Both are using McCall’s M6035 pattern. The blue one has sleeve style C: straight elbow-length sleeves, and I decided to omit the sleeve-cuff tab and the collar band, making a simpler collar. I am very happy with this pattern so far; the princess-seamed base is completely solid and flattering, the sleeves sit well, and there’s a lot of customizability.

The first blouse did remind me just how much I hate sewing buttonholes by hand; I remembered that I hate it but figured it couldn’t be but so bad, then sat down to actually sew them and it was so much worse. And I signed up to do 30ish of them, entirely of my own volition: good job seesawyer. Still, now that they are a few days in the past, I am back in “how hard could it be?” mode, besides which I have an idea for making fancy concealed plackets which will not need buttonholes, which hopefully will work out. I do also really love how hand-made buttonholes look, to the point of being driven a little nuts by the sloppy buttonholes on some off-the-shelf machine-made garments, so the relationship is a love-hate one at worst.

green_blouse_pieces

Cut pieces for the green blouse

Next up is a green blouse; I’m planning to make the full banded collar this time, and the sleeves will be elbow-length bishop sleeves (style B). I’m also changing one of the fitting details; I am right on the line between two non-interpolatable sizes (cup size, which this pattern implements with separate pieces for the front and side front, for each of three options), so I’m going to see which of this one and the blue one I like better. I am planning to try my fancy plackets with this one, too, although I may chicken out and go with the recommended straightforward button plackets. If it does work out, I’ll post a tutorial here and consider my contribution to the human race to have been made :P. The pieces are cut, and I’ve started sewing the back and side back pieces together.