Monday, March 27, 2017

all straight things must bend

The Grainline Scout tee.  Like the Linden opened up a world of patterns for me, the Scout taught me not to fear setting in sleeves and how to bias bind a neckline properly.

My first attempt was yet again in Cotton and Steel rayon.  While I liked how the pattern came together, it was a wee bit short for my taste and I rarely wear this version.

As you can see, I didn't perfectly set the sleeves, but since I didn't realize it was possible to do better than this, I left them as is.

My second version was another Leah Duncan Art Gallery voile.  I followed this tutorial to use French seams throughout, including at the sleeve cap, and I lenghtened it by 2 inches.  This worked well for me, and this top is often worn, though I don't think I have any pictures of it.

I then followed another Grainline tutorial to lengthen the Scout sleeves to elbow length.  My first attempt at this produced sleeves that were just slightly too narrow: not quite bad enough to notice immediately but uncomfortable after being set in.  So I scrapped them and recut the sleeves a little bit wider.  I was using a lovely Nani Iro brushed cotton and just barely had enough to get the right pattern on the front of the recut sleeve.

I decided to make a neckband for the neckline rather than finish it with a bias binding, since the brushed cotton is a little thicker.  I love this top and wear it often.  

Following that success, I made another with longer sleeves from a Japanese textured cotton found at Stonemountain and Daughter.   

I tried my darndest to pattern match along the side seams, and while I did get the pattern to line up, I cut one of the pieces backwards so the design does not match correctly.  (You can sort of see this in the bottom picture.). Nonetheless, this is another favorite that I wear often.

Thinking about how much I enjoy wearing three of my four Grainline Scouts has made me wonder why I haven't made more of them!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

and when I opened my eyes

Circa June 2015, the next big development in sewing for me was the Grainline Studio Linden pattern.  I think I'd come across the pattern while hunting for more Liberty sweatshirt fleece.  I had made a handful of circle scarves out of the Liberty sweatshirt fleece for Christmas 2014 and was fairly enamored with it.  It's hard to come by, though, so I was hunting for it (probably to make a boxy tee; I think I had visions of a long-sleeved one).  While hunting, I came across the amazing Lindens in Liberty on the Make Something blog.  I think this one was the first to catch my eye, though there are a number of amazing ones.

That sold me on trying the Linden, and I found some delightful Art Gallery knit (another Leah Duncan print: Mojave) to test it out.

I was totally hooked.  I loved the great instructions from Grainline and how they walked me through making a real top so it wasn't really hard at all.  I also really loved the Art Gallery knit fabric and promptly purchased a ton more.

Though I loved that first top, it became a pajama top pretty quickly as it was a wee bit too short.  For future knit Lindens, I lengthened by 2 inches which was a great length for me.

I subsequently made 2 more knit Lindens for me, 1 for a gift, 3 Liberty Linden sweatshirts for gifts and 2 woven Lindens.

For one of my knit Lindens, I used the split hem tutorial from the Grainline blog.  I like the idea in theory but the hem pieces stuck out a little bit like wings so I'd need to fine tune that if I were to try it again.

That shirt has basically been relegated to casual wear after it pilled pretty badly from friction from my backpack on the hike seen above.

I don't have a picture of my favorite Linden though I probably wear it about once a week.  I also only have one pic of the gifted Liberty Lindens.

For the Liberty sweatshirting, I found that it was best to cut the neckline long and on the bias and then figure out the right length.

The woven Lindens were fun to try, though I'm not sure I'm going to spend the time to get the fit just right.  They are both a little tight.  

One is made from more Cotton and Steel rayon and the other from the other piece of Liberty that I got on our honeymoon.  I still need to make myself a Liberty Linden sweatshirt!

Next time: the reason why I won't bother perfecting the Linden for woven fabrics.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

wade in the water

I have been knitting lately, but never documenting, and a lot of my crafting time has gone into a new interest in sewing.  Yesterday, while organizing my sewing patterns, I realized that I'd better write down some notes before I forgot everything.  (I pretty much have forgotten everything, but I can collect what I can remember.)  I know no one is reading this blog anymore, but I'll at least have some record.  I'm going to try a few posts to catch up on the sewing that I've done so far and then will hopefully keep more detail about projects moving forward.

The events in this post are circa April to July 2015.

The first pattern that got me excited about sewing was the Purl Bee Boxy Tee.  True to its name, this pattern produces a totally wearable t-shirt out of a few rectangles of fabric.  Wamps had gotten me pretty comfortable with a rotary cutter and mat, so I wasn't intimidated by the idea of cutting rectangles.  (Come to think of it, that's how I started knitting, too, with a book of cushion patterns that didn't intimidate me because they were just squares.)

The other motivating factor was that I had fallen in love with some Cotton and Steel rayon.  I ran into their rayon substrate at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabric while looking for some flannel for a lap blanket (also a Purl Soho pattern).  It was beautiful and silky and the Stonemountain employees assured me that it was easy to sew with as long as I had thin thread so I impulse purchased it.

Several weeks later, all the rayon had given me was complete grief.  I was trying to make circle scarves out of it, but kept getting ridiculous thread nests and horrible tension problems and was about to throw out any idea of ever sewing with anything other than 100% cotton.  I tried researching solutions, but while the internet had lots of articles about how rayon was produced, I found very few useful tips about avoiding the problems that I was having sewing with it.  (Colette has now done a series about sewing with the Cotton and Steel substrates, but I don't think it includes the tips that made a difference for me.)  Anyway, eventually I found a site (which I unfortunately don't remember) that suggested a ballpoint needle.  And maybe the same site, or another site, suggested using spray starch to stabilize the rayon before sewing.  Both of those tricks turned out to be game changers for me and my circle scarves were completed.

It also helped to make sure that all the fuzz from lap blankets was brushed out of my machine.  Once the scarves were done and gifted, I was excited to try a top out of this fabric.

My first attempt at the boxy tee went better than I expected.  I messed up the neckline since I thought it was supposed to be a neckband rather than a bias binding (in retrospect, I should have been able to figure that out from the picture but I'd never sewn a neckline before so I didn't understand the directions).

As you can see, the neckline stood away from my neck.  I added some ad hoc and improperly constructed darts to make it lie flat.  And then I wore that top everywhere.  It is probably one of my most worn things that I have made.  The lovely color plus the drape of the rayon make this top work really well under suits/cardigans, both of which hide the awkward darts.

Given that success, I thought I'd just make a bunch more boxy tees.  So I cut into some lovely textured Liberty (not Tana Lawn) that I purchased on our honeymoon.  And it turned out that I'd been really lucky with my first top since the second looked like this:

Pretty bad and too bulky to be hidden under a cardigan.  I'm not entirely sure still how it tuned out so bad; there's definitely less drape to the fabric and Purl had enlarged the sleeves on the pattern between these two versions so maybe the proportions are just off, but it was startling how bad it was. If this had been my first attempt, I'm not sure I would have persisted so it was lucky the rayon one was first.

I tried again with an Art Gallery voile designed by Leah Duncan.  That turned out much better; their fabric had the right drape.  However, I have no pictures of it since the thin fabric didn't hold up to wear as well so it is in a basket waiting to be mended.

Around the same time, I talked Jenny and Elizabeth into "sewing days" which really helped me to become much more prolific with sewing.  Rather than spend hours online researching something, I could bounce ideas off of them and get advice.  And it made sewing more social as well, which made it feel more like knitting.  I think our first sewing day was on July 3, 2015, and you can see that Wamps was working on her own boxy tee:

Around this time, Wamps started talking about how great it was that I just plowed ahead with my "wearable muslins" and I tried to pretend that I knew what she was talking about.

Next time: I follow a pattern not made of rectangles.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

it's the same old circle going round, but

This hat is an amalgam of the Turn-A-Square pattern, which I've greatly enjoyed knitting before, the Purl Soho Simple Pleasures brim, and the Dessine-Moi Un Mouton sleeve stripe pattern.  I was concerned with fit, and my diagonally-upstairs neighbor suggested that I could knit in some flexibility by giving the recipient an option to wear the hat slouchy or to fold the brim and have a more fitted look.  She recommended a Purl Bee pattern with a long stretch of ribbing to start, which led me to the Simple Pleasures.

Because I was using fingering weight yarn (Plucky Knitter Bello in Pollen with stripes of Heartstrings, Old Copper, Fisherman's Wharf and Bastille), I cast on 140 stitches and then did almost three inches of 2 by 2 rib.  After that, I pretty much followed the Turn-a-Square pattern exactly, except that I used an idea for striping from the Dessine-Moi Un Mouton Pattern.  I'm in the midst of knitting a Dessine-Moi sweater and have loved the combo of stripes with blocks of the main color.  (I actually meant to follow the Dessine-Moi stripe pattern more closely, with some sections of 5 stripes and some sections of 3 stripes, but I forgot to switch to 3 when I started my second group of stripes and decided there were too few stripe sections to make it look intentional if I switched for the third group.)

All together, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out and the recipient seems to enjoy it as well, so I'll call the amalgam a success!

 To slouch or not to slouch?

Slouchy back view

Monday, April 6, 2015

why do my fingers ache for the cold?

Here's some actual knitting for the knitting blog.  When I stumbled upon a skein of the Plucky Knitter's much-beloved and now-discontinued Well Read colorway, I couldn't help but finally knit something for someone who has been pestering me for handknit goods since, oh, approximately our fourth date.   Knitting for him does, of course, break all of my rules about who I'm willing to knit for: he isn't another knitter, a small child or an elderly relative.  (Truth be told, he did briefly learn to knit so that he could gift me the world's most ridiculous scarf and then declare that he was now a knitter so he fit within the categories of people I was willing to knit for.  But I had a hard time thinking of him as a knitter when I couldn't get him to start a second project.)

However, he has made up for it by showing a degree of appreciation that I never expect from people who don't fall into those categories, and, until we hit a spell of 80-degree weather, was pretty much wearing this hat every day.  Even if it made him look a little bit crazy, it did mean that I got to look at this pretty yarn every day, so I didn't argue.  And when he brought the hat back out for our trip to Madison last week, I realized that I had missed seeing it a little bit in our unseasonably warm weather.  (I know, I know, I could still live on the East Coast if I wanted to have snow showers over Easter.)

It's the One Bourbon pattern from Thea Coleman, knit with six pattern repeats rather than seven, and ravelry details are here.  Here's hoping that you all have non-hat-wearing weather soon!

Friday, April 3, 2015

and if I haver, well...

A bit of a crafting hijack here, which will almost certainly continue in future posts.  I was the lucky recipient of a rigid heddle loom for Christmas (the Glimakra 19" Emilia) and I've been working on getting my selvedges to be decent, so that's taken up a good chunk of my crafting time.

I had planned to weave a long strip and then sew the ends together to make a cowl.  Unfortunately, I'm also still working on figuring out how to estimate the final size of a weaving project correctly and my first piece definitely came out too short.  Since I still had plenty of the warp and weft yarns left, and since I had wanted to see what it would look like if I reversed them, I wove a second piece and sewed them to each other to form the cowl.

Here you can see the original piece: with a warp of some random yarn that I think is probably Madelinetosh DK or light worsted and a weft of Plucky Knitter MCN Sport in Jewel of the Nile.  (The colorway has certainly been discontinued and I think the yarn has, too, but, oh, are they lovely!) 

Here's the piece with warp and weft reversed.

Here's how I finished it: sewed two seams, pressed them flat, sewed them down with two lines of reinforcement stitching, and chopped off the fringe.  It was mildly nerve wracking to cut, but probably not as bad as steeking.  You can see the warp yarns more clearly in the photo with the seam.

I'm looking forward to making a dent in the yarn stash with a few more weaving projects.  I've got one more that is ready to be blogged, and a project that is halfway through heddle-threading right now.  And then I have big dreams of creating a woven version of this knit vest, since it is fundamentally just three rectangles.  (Shhhh... if I'm successful at that, it will be a gift, but for someone who I'm confident will never read this blog.)  And maybe a table runner or two? 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Blog reversal

Hello! Since we acquiring scads of baby stuff by the week for our 6 month old adorable babe, Riya, we are working on keeping up by getting cleaning out and rid of stuff. I found my old tub of yarn I haven't touched in years in  a closet! There is some quite lovely yarn that was making me feel knitting nostalgic. But I have zero recollection what projects the yarn was intended for.

So I wonder... if I post a picture of a skein of yarn or two (in some cases), can you all give me ideas what to knit with it? Simple patterns required since I have yet to sleep more than 3 hours since June, and most nights it's more like a max or 1 or 2 at a time!