Archives for category: finished objects

Hey everyone,

Breaking my radio silence at last… with wedding planning I was going a little nuts (more on that later; I sewed my dress, my bridesmaids’ dresses, and knit a shawl! But it all came out fine and we got married and it was great!) Post-wedding, there were all the thank-you notes to write, and I got done with all that, but still felt like hiding my head in the sand for a while. But I thought I’d reemerge and share a semi-recent FO (ha, semi-recent = knit just before Thanksgiving) with the world, and work my way up to posting about the various things I made for the wedding.

I published the Bel Canto Cowl (rav link) in Knitcircus a couple of years ago, but due to their changes, it was no longer available for purchase from their site. Someone on Ravelry requested it, which was the impetus to reknit, rephotograph, and reformat the pattern for sale on my own site, since I couldn’t use the KC photos/pattern layout. So it’s up for sale on Ravelry, in case anyone was looking for it, and here are some pics:

Pattern: Bel Canto Cowl
Yarn Used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in 37 Lettuce, 1 skein.
Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm) 16-inch circulars
Date started: November 21, 2012
Date completed: November 23, 2012
Mods/Notes:
The first version of this cowl was knit in Malabrigo Rios, which is superwash, plied, and slightly thinner than the singles/non-superwash Merino Worsted. I like the extra body and cushier fabric of the Merino Worsted version. Also, I think the lighter color shows off cables better, although there’s no denying that rich cobalt blue from the original version is TO DIE FOR.

(Side note: I haven’t cut my hair for probably a year, and it’s longer than it’s been anytime since grade school, so I’ve been having fun with hairdos–although this may look vaguely pixieish, it’s actually precariously pinned Heidi braids that came apart immediately after the photoshoot.)

Closeup:

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Ugh, I can’t believe I didn’t even manage one post per month in the last couple of months. This has been a dry, dry crafting spell (how can a baby sweater take so long?! I’ve been knitting the same gift for months now) but I finally have something to show off here!

You may recall that I’ve been pining after the patterns in the Colette Sewing Handbook since January, and I finally got around to making one of them. Check it out.

Back view:

Adoremus!

Pattern: Meringue Skirt from the Colette Sewing Handbook
Fabric: Kokka Ladybug Mushrooms 100% cotton (43 inches wide), 1 yard (!) snagged on a 40% off sale from Purl Soho–cost: $11.40; plus some leftover scraps of quilting cotton from Jo-Ann for the facings.
Date started: April 29, 2012
Date completed: May 2, 2012
Size: 6
Notes:
Last fall, as a result of me speculating on Twitter about a Woot! deal on a serger, chemgrrl’s awesome mom sent me her old serger in an amazing random act of kindness, a Bernette 43! I just had to take it in to get it tuned up. I then kept putting off using it because I was intimidated by it, wanted to take a serger class, and never seemed to time it right with the schedules for the sewing stores in the area. Eventually, though, I decided I’d just give it a shot by following along with the book and manual and Googling for the rest–this is what I did with knitting and it worked out fine–and lo, all was well!

(I still haven’t had to rethread it from scratch, and I still haven’t washed anything I’ve serged with it to see if it disintegrates, so this may yet prove to be a statement of Extreme Hubris, but it worked like a dream and was much less scary than I had anticipated.) Thank you again, Joyce! Anyway, long story short, I put together a lot of this skirt with the serger. This is not the first garment I sewed with the serger–I have another post planned for that–but I used it to do a good part of the seaming and to finish all the edges.

Verdict: I LOVE this skirt and want to make about 10 more of them in all different colors!

The entire time I was working on this, I was concerned about the sizing, because it seemed terribly small as I was putting it together and holding it up against myself, but as it turns out, it fits perfectly! I’ve had a lot of heartbreaks involving making pieces of sewn clothing that turn out to be an inch or two too small, but this was great. I went as far as just basting the darts at first instead of sewing them the proper way because I was so sure I’d have to rip them out to give myself more room in the hips and waist, but the skirt is perfectly comfortable as is.

The skirt pattern calls for something like 2 1/2 yards of fabric. I’ve made one-yard skirts before, but they were shorter and narrower, and I just couldn’t make the Meringue pattern pieces fit. I spent about half an hour turning the pattern pieces and refolding the fabric every which way, with no luck. Finally, in order to eke it out of just one yard, I ended up folding the pattern pieces down at the top, cutting the lower parts of the skirt on the grain, and cutting the upper parts of the grain crosswise for a sort of improvised yoke. I serged the top and bottom pieces together and followed the remainder of the pattern using the construction instructions from the book. (I wouldn’t recommend this approach if you can help it–I think it would have looked better with the pieces cut from a single piece, and I’m sure there’s going to be some kind of consequence down the line as far as shrinkage and fabric distortion–but the fabric was busy enough that I didn’t think it looked bad, and I managed to make the skirt I wanted out of the fabric I had!)

I cut the facings out of scraps of yellow quilting cotton (no idea how much–a quarter yard, maybe?) I also cut out pocket pieces, intending to put them in at the side seams, and then completely forgot to do it and serged together the side seam on the side that would have had a pocket in it, and put a zipper in the other side following the pattern construction, so I’ve set aside those pocket pieces for some future project.

I serged all the edges that would be left raw (facing edges, fabric edges) and serged the seams on the left-hand and for the facing construction. The darts, right-hand side seam (where the invisible zipper is), and hem were constructed using the standard sewing machine.

I drew a stitching line to follow on the facing with disappearing ink, and stitched slowly and carefully, then (following the advice on this page) trimmed the seam allowances on the rounded parts of the scallops to about 1/4 inch width, and notched almost to the seamline at the pivot points of each scallop. In addition to understitching the top facing, I hand-stitched the facings to the shell fabric afterwards to keep them in place.

The pattern was well drafted (for me, anyway) and easy to follow–no complaints! Plus it’s versatile–the scalloped hem could easily be replaced with a straight one for a nice basic A-line skirt pattern. I liked the treatment of the facing around the zipper area–you stitch it down vertically along the zipper as well as around the top, and it makes for a very nice finish.

Something I found freeing with this project was giving myself permission to cut the pattern directly out of the tissue paper it was printed on. I usually try to avoid doing this, and prefer tracing off expensive patterns like Colette patterns onto a separate piece of paper to leave the originals intact in case I ever need to use them again in a larger size (e.g. if I do my initial fitting wrong), but I got out my tracing paper this time and asked myself why I was going to bother with the extra hassle and expense of tracing and cutting from a separate piece of paper. If I needed a larger size, I decided I would just use the tracing paper to modify the pattern I had already cut out. So I cut it out, threw out all the scrap tissue paper, and felt suddenly liberated. So much time saved! And, as it turned out, it worked out just fine.

Next time I make this, I might cut the back in two pieces (with extra seam allowance added to each) in order to put in a zipper at center back, and hence side seam pockets on either side. And I would definitely try to get enough fabric that I could cut the pieces with the intended cutting layout instead of my kluged-together crosswise yokes. Oh–and I didn’t interface the facings as the pattern asks you to do. That would probably be a good thing to do next time as well.

Next up, though, I think I’m going to try a Truffle dress with some of the other Japanese fabric I got from Purl. (A birthday gift, courtesy of my dad and stepmom–thanks, guys!) I intend to sew the bodice lining first as a kind of muslin, make any tweaks and re-sew the lining if necessary, then use it as a template to cut the fashion fabric.

As an aside: Rahul is really into mushrooms and I knew he would love the Amanita muscaria mushrooms featured on this print. After taking these photos of the skirt on Friday, we went out hunting mushrooms on Saturday and found the biggest morel I’ve ever seen in my life in the woods! I was so excited until our friend told us that EVERY stall at the farmer’s market this weekend (which we missed) had enormous morels for sale and we could have gotten a huge pile of them there. Oh well–at least ours was free, and wild-foraged! We sauteed the morels in garlic butter, and they were delicious.

Pattern: Herringbone Mittens with Poms (PDF link) by Bloomington knitting friend Elliphantom
Yarn Used: Outer shell: Briggs and Little Heritage in 75 Mulberry; Briggs and Little Regal in 23 Forest Brown
Lining: Fonty Coeur d’Angora in 207 Royal; Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush in 1000 Vanilla
Needles used: US 6 (4.0 mm) for most of mitten, and US 4 (3.5 mm) for ribbing. Knit Picks Options metal, magic loop
Date started: December 18, 2011 for outer shell; January 12, 2012 for linings
Date completed: December 26, 2011 for outer shell; January 21, 2012 for linings
Mods/Notes: I made a pair of these a couple of years ago for a mitten swap, during my short-lived membership in the Madison Knitters’ Guild (I just never found myself inclined to go to the meetings, so why pay the dues?) I liked the results a lot and bought this yarn in 2009 as well, at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool, with the intention of making a pair for myself, but somehow never got around to doing it until this year.

I picked out the skeins of rough, rustic Briggs and Little from a big basket after comparing all the color combos, and was so involved in the color selection process that I somehow didn’t notice they were two different yarns, of two different weights, until after I got home. They seemed to work just fine together regardless.

I made the mittens one at a time, on Magic Loop, without much of a break between finishing one and starting the other, but my gauge varied hugely on the two mittens, so the first one hugged my hand pretty snugly, and the second was far roomier. I tried to fix this by blocking mitten #1 as severely as I could, but unfortunately, they’re still noticeably different in size. Oh well.

We had a very warm winter here; it was 50 degrees and snowless well into January, so I wore the mittens as-is for a while. On January 12, we had a first snowfall and I decided I might need to make them a little warmer. The cashmere-lined Bodhi mittens I made last year made me a firm believer in the power of a good mitten lining, so I dug out a couple of skeins of yarn that have been sitting around for ages and ages: a fluffy royal blue angora (I thought it was 100%, but it’s only 80%) and some scraps of a somewhat thicker brushed baby alpaca in white.

I was hoping the angora would last through both linings, but I ended up having to finish the second lining (cuff and thumb) with the alpaca.

I made the linings top-down for kicks:
CO 18 sts on 6s with the Turkish cast-on. Since I was using Magic Loop, I divided the stitches evenly between the two needles, 9 sts per needle.
Knitting in the round, increase at each end of both needles every round until there are 50 sts on the needles.
Continue in the round until the mitten reaches the thumb crotch.
CO 21 sts with waste yarn and backwards loop cast-on; knit onto these with the main yarn and continue working in the round, decreasing 2 sts at the center of the thumb every other row for the thumb gusset until all 21 thumb sts are gone and you’ve reached the base of the wrist.
Switch to size 4 needles and work one round as *k3, k2tog* around.
Work in 1×1 rib until cuff length matches outer cuff. BO loosely.
Unpick the waste yarn and put the thumb sts onto your needles. Join yarn, leaving a long tail, and knit in the round until about 1/4 inch from the tip of the thumb. K2tog around. Knit one more round, then cut yarn and pull through remaining sts.

Weave in ends, turn lining inside out (so the wrong sides of lining and mitten face each other), and stuff the lining inside the mitten shell. I joined the two by threading a needle with the purple yarn and sewing along the edge of the cuff with loose running stitch.

Forgive the pilliness of the mittens in these photos–they’ve been worn and dragged around in my purse for several weeks.

Things I’d change: if I’d planned for the linings, I’d probably have knit these on 7s for a roomier fit (they are very tight with the linings inside) and knit them two at a time for a consistent gauge. I’d also ideally have one consistent yarn for the linings; the Baby Alpaca Brush felt similar in the skein, but creates a much thicker fabric than the angora yarn. Classic Elite Fresco has a nice gentle halo, both alpaca and angora, and might make a nice alternative. Or, if they’re not too rich for your blood, Filatura di Crosa Superior brushed cashmere for a lightweight lining or Great Northern Yarns Mink Cashmere for a fuller-bodied alternative.

I had been saving that angora for “something special”, feeling like I shouldn’t waste it on something invisible like mitten linings, but decided “what’s more special than something functional that I’ll enjoy next to my skin every day for months?” It feels so lovely to slip on a pair of toasty warm, kitteny-soft mittens when it’s freezing outside.

You know, though, angora may be wonderful and fluffy and warm, but Jesus, it’s like the asbestos of knitting*. The fluff floats up EVERYWHERE. Up your nose, in your eyes, all over your clothes, and it’s near-impossible to get it all off. I wish there was some kind of knitting equivalent of those containment gloveboxes they use for handling radioactive materials, but for angora.

*Glitter is the angora of papercrafts.

Yo! I can’t believe it’s been more than 2 months since I posted anything here. But I’m alive and well. I’ve just been traveling a lot (was gone two weeks in May, and pretty much the entire month of June… will hopefully find some time to blog about that later).

I tried to get back into the crafting groove this weekend by sewing myself a new dress, one I’ve had in the queue for a long time. I always totally covet Wikstenmade’s clothes (though probably more because of the ethereally beautiful photography than any particularly strong fit with my own personal style) and she posted this cutout sleeve ikat top a while ago that set me foolishly yearning for a “cold shoulder” garment. (Side note: I found this other cutout sleeve dress just now… does it not totally scream “My biological clock is ticking!” in the voice of Marisa Tomei?)

Here it is: I’m calling it That 70’s Dress mainly for the shag-carpet-tastic orange hue, but these belted sack dresses were big in the days of disco too, weren’t they? Please excuse the wrinkled fabric across the skirt in all these photos–I had sat in chairs in this dress all day and didn’t feel like taking it off to iron it.

front_bokeh

Pattern: Simplicity 2406, a Cynthia Rowley pattern (see here for original), view B (knee-length, cutout shoulders, open back)

Size: a straight 12, although I probably should have tapered it out to 14 for the hips–it’s more snug in the hips than I would like when I sit down. I have to hike it up pretty high to get on my bike, there’s not a lot of ease.

Fabric used: Orange cotton/poly shirting blend–very thin fabric. I would recommend using a very fine, drapey fabric; even though this one was pretty lightweight, the sleeves still wound up very stiff because of all the facing seams.

I had a few close calls while sewing because I only barely had enough yardage. I thought I had more than enough, but forgot I would have to cut out not 2 but 4 copies of the sleeves, one pair for the sleeve and also one pair for the facings; also, I accidentally set my iron too hot at first, so I melted the interfacing and a few corners of the sleeve facings. I can’t remember how much of this fabric I had to start with, unfortunately, so I can’t tell you how accurate the pattern’s yardage requirements are.

Pattern notes/mods:

I sewed this without any closures and omitted the back slit so I could wear a bra (and sew fewer seams)–I didn’t alter the back at all, just cut it on the fold and did not cut out the back slit facing piece. I can slip it on over my head. I forgot to cut the back neck facing on the fold, so I just finished the vertical edges with a zigzag and tacked it down in two pieces. This would have definitely wound up too tight for comfort in the hips if I had added the back seam or slit as instructed, since I essentially added 1 1/4″ additional ease by cutting the back on the fold without modifying the pattern.

I think I also hemmed it a little less than the pattern calls for, but I didn’t measure exactly, just did it by eye.
front_wall
The instructions were a little puzzling. I didn’t understand the directions for the pockets, and didn’t have the patience to figure them out, so I just ignored them and put in in-seam pockets the normal way (sew them to the dress front and back, side seam goes around the pocket edges). I also thought at first that I was following the confusing sleeve directions pretty well, but once I set in the sleeves, I realized that I had wound up with sleeves with a neatly finished slit-like opening at the bottom instead of the normal tube-shaped sleeves.

If you sew this, note that you’ll probably need a loop turner to turn the sleeves inside out after the first set of facing seams; you have to get a lot of fabric through a very, very tight space.

Also, note that the front gathers are between the dots, in the middle of the dress, while the back gathers are OUTSIDE the dots, in the shoulder area. I accidentally sewed the gathering stitches in the middle of the back at first and couldn’t figure out how my pieces were supposed to fit together.

The sleeve sizing seems pretty generous; they’re loose on me, and I have pretty meaty shoulders and biceps. I think women with thin arms would probably want to take the sleeves in a bit. Also, the sleeves are quite stiff because there are a lot of seams in not a lot of space–the pattern photo shows this but I was still a little surprised at how much the sleeves stuck out from the body of the dress.
side

The sash is a little short for my taste. It’s long enough to wrap around once and tie in a short bow, or to wrap in a double loop and tie in a double knot, as shown in my photos. If I were making this again, I might want a longer sash so I could tie a more lavish bow.

Verdict: I like it! Cool. Comfy. Orange. I might consider sewing this again in a different fabric, maybe a different view, like View C with the 3/4 length balloon sleeves.

balance
P.S. I know you can’t really see it in the photos, but I love all the jewelry I’m wearing. Gold necklace made from a real oak leaf, a hand-me-down from my mom; gold ring set with a teardrop-shaped, cloudy chartreuse prehnite; Monarch butterfly wing earrings. I got the ring cheap with a Heartsy voucher–do you know about Heartsy? It’s like Groupon but for handmade items from stores like Etsy and Artfire.

My friends Kelly and Josh are having a baby soon and I made them a couple of tiny kimonos as a present!

Kimono #1:

Kimono #2 (please excuse the awful photography):

Pattern: Lucy’s Kimono, from Heather Ross‘s Weekend Sewing

Fabric used: Kimono #1: anonymous pale blue quilting cotton with black swallows; black store-bought bias binding. Kimono #2: all Amy Butler, all the time–the main fabric is Full Moon Polka Dot in yellow, and the bias binding is homemade, from a fat quarter of Acanthus purchased at Purl Soho, so between the designer quilting fabric and the crazy markup at Purl, this basically means it is the most expensive cotton bias binding ever. (By the way, I love Amy Butler but what on earth is this Photoshop disaster going on on the splash page? And why does it take 5 minutes to load the fabrics list for each collection?)

Pattern notes: Heather Ross suggests in the pattern intro that this is one of the easiest patterns in the book, which I think is not really true. It’s small, which is nice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot; the pajama pants from this book were much larger but also much easier to sew.

I found it pretty difficult to sew the bias tape around the curve of the neck because the front meets the back at a very acute angle that the bias tape has to be eased around. I couldn’t catch the second side of the bias tape consistently on kimono #1 when I was machine-sewing, so I ended up hand-sewing the bias tape in place to finish it.

I didn’t think the pattern pieces were clearly marked (I may have traced them off wrong, admittedly, but I don’t think there were any notches and the pieces are big blocky shapes, so you could conceivably sew them wrong by 90 degrees). The back and sleeves seem to be gentle trapezoids; I assume the wide end of the back-trapezoid goes towards the bottom end of the baby, and the wide ends of the sleeve-trapezoids get attached to the body of the kimono.

I didn’t use the super-narrow bias tape called for in the pattern; I think mine was 1/2 inch. It seems incredibly fiddly to work with the suggested 1/4″ bias binding for this pattern, and my version doesn’t look terribly different from the one in the book, so I’m not totally sure she used 1/4″ bias tape in the sample, either.

There are errors in the pattern–for instance, it calls for 1/2 yard of bias tape, but I think you actually need 1 1/2 yards; it says to sew the shoulder seams with wrong sides together, which is wrong, of course–they should be sewn right side together, unless you’re going for an edgy deconstructed look for your baby garment.

The book is pretty unclear about how the ties should be handled. As any woman who has worn a wrap dress knows, both sides of the wrap cannot be treated identically, because one side ends up on the inside of the dress and one side ends up on the outside. You are instructed here to “make sure the ties themselves… extend on the right side of the Kimono Front and Back in your sewing set-up” but I don’t know what that means for the side inside the wrap. I figured that there were basically three alternatives here:

  1. Don’t do anything with the inside part of the wrap (I didn’t think this was right because the book instructs you to make two ties.)
  2. Sew the 2nd tie to the inside of the wrap and tie one bow inside the kimono and one bow outside the kimono. This might be what was intended, since the photo in the book doesn’t show two sets of ties visible on the outside of the kimono. However, this seemed both annoying for the parent dressing the baby to fasten and annoying for the baby to wear–how would you like to have a bow tied on the inside of your shirt? Probably not a whole lot.
  3. Leave a hole for the second tie to go through so both ends can be tied on the outside. This is what I ended up doing, taking a cue from every wrap dress I’ve ever owned.

I did this by basically just leaving about an inch and a half of the side seam unsewn and stitching the tie onto the seam allowance on one side rather than catching it inside the seam like on the other side. Here’s a view of the inside of the kimono: you can see the hole with one tie passing through it, and the second tie sewn to the seam allowance: these two ties are tied in a bow on the outside of the kimono.

Here’s a view of the outside of the kimono, with the one tie extending through the hole:

As you can see, the seams inside the kimono are pinked. I think it should be pretty easy to do French seams instead, since most of the seams are straight and very short, but the fabric I picked was sturdy enough that I figured pinking would hold up fine.

Lots of corners on the inside of this sucker. I accidentally pressed and sewed down the seams down kind of randomly because I wasn’t always keeping future seam dependencies in mind. Some are pressed open, some are pressed to one side. The book probably instructs you on what to do, but at a certain point I gave up on following the instructions in any kind of detail.

If you decide to make this kimono and make your own bias tape, I strongly recommend a Clover bias tape maker. You will be one cranky cowboy if you try to make bias tape with one of the crappy metal ones instead. Also, Yahaira has posted an excellent tutorial for making continuous bias tape–including a link to the conversions for how much fabric turns into how much finished bias tape.

A mother at the baby shower said “I like the kimono style because if ‘things happen,’ this can be taken off without having to pull it over the baby’s head”–a practicality that hadn’t even occurred to me, naive as I am in the ways of baby-vom, but seems very sensible.

Oh, and I got them this, too:

Why, yes! That is a Captain Kirk onesie from thinkgeek.com. A necessity for any well-dressed baby. (By the way, Josh and Kelly, if you’re still working on narrowing down names, check out this book. I think Cthulhu is a beautiful name for a little girl. Or Zaius, if it’s a boy.)

Check it out, I finished something. It only took me 2 months to knit 150 yards. SO PROUD OF MYSELF.

Pattern: Anthro-Inspired Scarflet by Kim Seio (link to my project on Ravelry)
Yarn used: School Products Multi Strand Cashmere in taupe, unsure of how much but I’d estimate about 150 yards–left over from my Eastlake sweater
Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm)
Date started: December 19, 2010
Date completed: February 19, 2011
Mods/Notes:
This little keyhole ascot is a knockoff of Anthropologie’s Toasty Rose scarf (pics may not work on that link, but there are more here.) Under 200 yards, simple knit/purl/increase/decrease, it should have been a quick little knit. So why did it take me two months? I have no good answer for that. I knit about the first third of the scarf in a couple of hours, then apparently knit about 3 stitches a day for the remaining 1 month and 29 days.

It’s worked in a tidy broken rib (“Sand Stitch”) that looks very nice but is still mostly stockinette, so has a tendency to curl a bit. It’s pretty cute, but note that the weight of the flower pulls it strongly to the front of the neck so it’s hard to keep it to the side or off-center, if that is how you want to wear it.

The pattern doesn’t come with a pattern for the flower. Here’s what I did:

  • CO 116 sts with tubular cast-on (this forms the visible edge of the flower petals, so it looks nicest with this CO)
  • Work in 1×1 rib for about 1 1/2 inches
  • K2tog across
  • Bind off, leaving a long tail
  • Using the long tail, sew a running stitch through the lower half of the strip of ribbing (ie parallel and close to the edge closer to the bound off edge), going in and out about every 1/2 inch, for 2 rows spaced about 1/4 inch apart, and pull tight to gather.
  • Roll up the strip of ribbing, folding/crumpling the flower until you like the way it looks, then sew down to the outer keyhole portion of the scarf.

I had meant to just roll this up like in the original Anthropologie scarf, but the flower looked bizarre and enormous, like a cinnamon roll or something, so I preferred the more gathered look in the end.

As an aside, it is astonishing how many photos you need to take to get even a few decent ones out of the batch. Kristen wisely demonstrated this FOR SCIENCE!… but still, it always amazes me; this time I probably had 50 shots that I thought looked great in the viewfinder, but when I got a good look at them on the computer, I realized I actually looked blurry, crazy-haired, fat, generally derpy, or whatever. This all with my best attempts at makeup, soft natural light, trying not to look like a total cross-eyed idiot, etc. and not even counting the dozens I knew were hideous right away and deleted without downloading.

I wore this white eyelet dress when I was a bridesmaid a few years ago. (How great is it that I have a bridesmaid dress that I got to pick–only the “white eyelet cotton” part was specified–and that I’d actually wear again?) My earrings aren’t really visible but they are these ginormous antiqued bronze flowers with pearls in them from Modcloth and I love them.


I’m going to pretend you can’t see those mop handles in the background. Or maybe you can imagine them as all part of an grand, artistic, high-concept fashion photoshoot. Also I just realized my bra straps are showing in several of these photos, whoops. Please imagine it is a $300, hand-stitched tussah silk bra from Anthropologie and this is all part of the grand styling plan, because I don’t want to go to the trouble of Photoshopping these, or, God forbid, taking more photos of this scarf.


The purple in this photo should be much more red-toned, but the scarf color is actually pretty accurate.

I need a haircut and this dress needs ironing.

Pattern: Horned Owl, by Hansi Singh (rav link to project)

Yarn used: Wool Candy Fondant Merino DK in Truffle and Robin’s Egg, left over from another project; scraps of white yarn for embroidering the eyes

Needles used: US size 3/3.25 mm

Date started: November 14, 2010

Date completed: November 18, 2010

Mods/Notes:
This little owl made his first appearance melting a Dalek’s heart:

I made this owl as a gift for my cousin’s new baby–it will be a few years yet before he’s properly appreciated, but I think he’s completely adorable. Hansigurumi patterns tend to be very fiddly, with lots of grafting, but this one wasn’t bad; mostly worked in the round, mostly pretty straightforward.

  • The pattern is pretty skimpy on instructions for the embellishments. I ended up cutting a piece of CC yarn, folding it in half, threading the doubled end through a yarn needle, sewing a stitch and tying a square knot, doing this across several stitches and going back and tying knots in the strands between groups, then trimming everything and running a yarn needle through the yarn ends to fluff it up and separate the plies.
  • After the backwards legs on my Jackalope, I didn’t trust the “pick up stitches for left wing and work same as the right wing” instruction, so I worked the second wing separately, held it up to the owl to determine proper orientation, and sewed it on, to avoid the heartbreak of finding out one wing was backwards after knitting the whole thing.
  • I love the garter stitch texture on the wings, and the wee owly claws!
  • The pattern doesn’t give you required yardage! It doesn’t use much yarn, but beware if your yarn yardage is limited.
  • The picked up sts under the beak came out super loose and I had to duplicate stitch over them to tighten them up a bit.
  • I used small needles, and the owl came out pretty small. 6 inches high, maybe?



He is personalized with embroidery in the wingpit:

A brief aside: If you’re not a fan of Dr. Who, this project may be a little baffling to you unless you take a few minutes to read this and this. Primary reference: the Dalek episode, this scene.

Pattern: EXTERMIKNIT! (rav link to project) partially using the New Paradigm Dalek mods
Yarn used: Various washable scraps left over from making other toys: the pink and white yarns are Caron Simply Soft in Soft Pink 9719 and Natural 0002, the pale blue is Cascade Sierra in some light blue color, and the brown is Vanna’s Choice in 126 Chocolate

Needles used: Forgot to write this down! Probably something like a size 5, to get a tight fabric.

Date started: August 24, 2010

Date completed: September 22, 2010

Mods/Notes:
Here is my Dalek at rest. I knit most of this according to pattern, and used the New Paradigm mods for the top half, mostly, to account for having more brown yarn than blue. I switched to white yarn in the least visible areas (inside pocket, bottom of Dalek) because I was running low on both brown and blue. It’s stuffed with scraps of fabric, which gives it a good heft and density compared to polyfil.

The keen-eyed among you will notice the zipper around its front panel–a detail not present in the original pattern.

What could be inside?

Do I see… tentacles?

HOLY CRAP

A Kaled mutant, nude!

Here’s the empty chamber:

Knitters, there’s more.

The Dalek compartment was not knit in, but created via a couple of afterthought steeks!

These were my first steeks, believe it or not. I think it went well.

Here’s what I did:
After completing the top of the Dalek as specified, I created an opening in the front by steeking carefully along the vertical line between the knit “instrument panel” and the purled rest of the midsection–just used some sewing shears and cut straight through the middle of the rightmost line of knit stitches, along the entire height of the midsection. I then carefully unraveled the stitches from right to left on the rows above and below the desired door area, to the left end of the “instrument panel”, and placed these two horizontal pairs of exposed stitches on DPNs.

This creates a kind of door flap, hinged vertically along the left-hand side. I sewed down the outer edge of the door with one yarn tail, and used a sewn bindoff and the other two yarn tails to fasten the top and bottom of the door flap. The door flap was now bound off and would not unravel.

I picked up stitches on the other side of the steek (the stitches along the body, the rightmost edge of the “door frame”), knit along the held stitches exposed by the unraveled yarn below the door (held on DPN), picked up stitches along the “hinge” of the door, and knit across the remaining exposed stitches on the other DPN above the door.

From there, I knit in the round until I ran out of brown yarn, maybe 1/2 inch or so, then switched to white to knit the back of the panel, decreasing at the four corners by working k1, k2tog at the beginning of each needle and ssk at the end, and throwing in a plain round every now and then, until I was down to about 6 sts. I pulled the yarn tail through these last few sts to close it up. This created the inside compartment and also took care of the exposed stitches around the door frame so they would not unravel.

The Kaled mutant inside was knit as follows:
CO 3 sts in pink yarn, knit 2 inches of i-cord, cut yarn leaving a tail, slip live stitches off DPN onto waste yarn and set aside. Repeat till you have 6 tentacles, then put the live stitches all back on DPNs (2 tentacles per DPN, 3 DPNs + 1 working needle) and knit in the round for another 2 inches or so. K2tog around, knit another couple of rounds, k2tog around, cut yarn and draw through. Pull all the yarn ends but one to the inside of the Dalek’s body as stuffing. Use the last yarn end to sew up the base of the Dalek, and weave in the end.
For the eye, work back and forth:
1) CO 1 st in white
2) K1fb
3) K1, M1 (lifted), K1
4) Purl
5) K1, M1, K1, M1, K1
6) Purl
7) K5
8) Purl
9) K2tog, K1, K2tog
10) Purl
11) K2tog, K1
12) P2tog
Cut yarn, leaving a tail, and draw through the last st.
Embroider a pupil with a scrap of dark yarn.
Applique the eye to the body, hiding the pupil yarn tails behind the eyeball.

I had originally intended to close the instrument panel with just a button, snap, or hook and eye, but I found that the door lost all shape so I had to put in a zipper–probably a 6” or 8”, normal, non-separating zipper would be good; I shortened an existing longer one I had on hand. I used a normal sewing needle and matching thread to sew the zipper to the Dalek casing with a running stitch, first the outer edge of the closed zipper around the outside edges of the door, then pulling and stretching the door to fit to the inner side of the zipper.

I gave this to my stepdad for his 60th birthday and it was a big hit! And my little sister drew him an awesome matching Dr. Who birthday card featuring a Dalek and Christopher Eccleston.

A couple of notes about the pattern:

  • It makes a MUCH bigger Dalek than you might expect. Very cuddly! I think it was something like a foot high. You can see it next to some chairs at the airport in the posted photos, for scale.
  • The pattern is written in sort of an odd way (it would be easier to work from a chart where you can see how the ribbing stacks up, but all the knits and purls are written out)
  • I found the tuck stitch instructions confusing; when they say “the stitch 3 rows below”, that means below the turning row, not the current row.

Here are a couple of pictures of the Dalek making a new friend. More about the friend later.
EXTERMINATE?

FRIEND

It’s been months since I posted (things have been hectic in my non-knitting life!) and I’m almost a month late with posting about this… but better late than never, right?

I’m pleased to announce that I have a pattern published in the Winter 2010-2011 issue of Knitcircus, a Madison-based online knitting magazine. (My pattern is on page 84, but take the time to flip through the whole issue–there are some really great patterns. The layout may look similar to Twist Collective, but unlike Twist, you can purchase the entire pattern collection at once and get ALL the patterns for $8, instead of $8 apiece… my favorites this time are probably Beckett, Treccia, and Sweet Georgia.)

My pattern is called Bel Canto–the design reminded me of a hair-braiding scene in Ann Patchett’s book of the same name. It’s a simple design, all stockinette, flared at the base of the cowl to fit the body where neck meets shoulders, with simple rolled edges at the cast-on and bind-off–the one focal point of the design is a dramatic three-strand plaited cable framed with lace eyelets and sweeping diagonally across the cowl.

The sample was worked in Rios, the new plied, worsted-weight, superwash merino yarn from Malabrigo. I was afraid the color (Azul Profundo) might be too dark to photograph well, but it came out fine. It’s a lovely yarn, a bit thinner, shinier, and more slippery than the normal worsted weight singles yarn. I think you could substitute normal Malabrigo Worsted Merino in this pattern pretty easily, but I might go up a needle size for improved drape.

This was my first magazine publication, and it was exciting seeing my design professionally modeled and photographed! How cute is this photo?


This would make a nice quick Christmas present if you are so inclined–it uses less than one skein (210 yards) of Rios. In fact, the original prototype for this cowl was knit in just a few hours, and used only 98 yards of yarn (the La Lana Phat Silk Phat I picked up in Taos last summer)–it didn’t have the flared shaping at the base, though, so I don’t think you could pull off that low yardage with the current version of the pattern.

Anyway, if you’re interested, I have one copy of the Knitcircus Winter 2010-2011 Pattern Collection to give away! Leave a comment by midnight on Saturday December 4 telling me what yarn you’d use to make this, and I’ll do a random drawing on Sunday. I’m on the East Coast (Boston and NY) for the whole month of December, so I’m hoping that since I won’t have my normal life and domestic responsibilities to distract me, I’ll get a little more time to catch up on updating my blog. And finish my Christmas knitting and shopping in the next two weeks. It might be too ambitious a plan, but hope springs eternal.

Pattern: Shalom Cardigan (rav link/pdf link)

Size made: don’t harsh my mellow, man, that’s not the way I roll

Yarn used: Elann Peru Soft in color 801 (pale gray), 5.5 skeins (539 yards). This was a limited edition yarn, so it’s long gone from the Elann website, but it was really nice–45% Acrylic, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Wool, 15% Kid Mohair, a singles with a nice natural feel despite the high acrylic content, next-to-skin soft, and I think I actually got this whole bag of 10 skeins/980 yds on sale for $18 + shipping. So the yarn cost for this was about $10 for a long-sleeved cardigan. Not bad!

Needles used: US 10.5/6.5 mm

Date started: June 28, 2010

Date completed: July 29, 2010

Mods/Notes: The Shalom Cardigan comes in only one size, and it’s not quite my size. My gauge was also not quite right (I didn’t swatch, either, just cast on and started knitting). I ignored all this and kept knitting. Sometimes you just really do not want to do math. I am ashamed to say that I also only tried this on after completing the yoke–the rest of the body of the cardigan was fudged, which is why it doesn’t really fit around any part of my torso except the yoke. I kept trying on half the cardigan and saying “hey, it fits” but never did the Right Thing, which would have been to put it on a piece of waste yarn and try it on around my WHOLE BODY instead of just the left half. (Or to actually take gauge measurements and compare the stitch counts and gauge to my own actual body.)

My gauge was about 13 sts/4” (the suggested stitch gauge” but 16 rows/4” (way off from the suggested 20 rows/4”). I ended up doing 6 rows in each tier of ribbing, then 5 or 6 garter rows (3 ridges) at the end of the yoke before putting the stitches on waste yarn for the sleeves.

I cast on 10 sts under each arm for gussets, but quickly realized that was probably way too much. I worked k2tog on all the gusset stitches on the next RS row, then worked ssk/k1/k2tog at the underarm seamline for the next few RS rows until I had decreased out all the extra underarm gusset stitches. I also altered the ratio of stitches to more or less reflect the ratios of my body: 25 sts each front, 34 sts each arm, 51 sts back.

Buttonholes went in once about every 6 garter ridges at first, then every 8 ridges.

I decided to do another pair of decreases at the side seams every inch, three times, to shape the waist. (I shouldn’t have, and would have realized that if I had tried the sweater on in progress!) Increased every other RS row after passing the waistline, to get it back up to hip measurements.

After casting off the body, I found that it didn’t quite fit me except in the yoke, even after a severe wet-blocking and stretching. So while I sewed on buttons to match the buttonholes all the way down, only the top three buttons can be closed without crazy gaping and stretching. Here is the embarrassing photo for proof–see how the nice straight | at the buttonband in the yoke area quickly changes to ZSZSZS in the rest of the body?

I added long sleeves to the cardigan to make it more useful–picked up the held stitches for the sleeves and picked up/decreased the underarm gusset stitches as well, knit to elbow length and then decreased in pairs every inch or so to shape the sleeves, ending in garter stitch. The sleeves are skintight–I should have left a bit more ease.

It came out cute despite the sizing issues… I really like the combination of the vintage blue glass buttons and the pale gray yarn. The buttons are from General Bead in San Francisco, and I’ve been holding onto them for a while, waiting for the right project. (I think the only buttons I’m still hoarding for the right sweater now are a set of small, adorable sushi buttons that call for a fine-gauge plain cardi.)

Though it might appear from this photo like I’ve been wired to spy on the mob, the lump on my back is actually from the waist ties on the sundress I’m wearing.


I think it will be a nice cardigan for the fall, especially if I can manage to stretch it out a bit more with wear. Or if I happen to suddenly lose about 30 pounds in the next couple of months. I’m a little nervous about the pilling potential for this yarn because it’s so softly spun, but we’ll see how it goes. (If this one ends up being unusable, I would even consider making another cardigan from this pattern, but I’d do it properly next time.)

If I decide to continue the quick-knit cardigans trend, I’m thinking of doing a short-sleeved, wide-necked Liesl with two skeins of fingering weight yarn held together. (From what I hear, it should take me only a few days to complete…) I was also eyeing a couple of Drops patterns, like this cable-yoke one or this one with a lacy yoke. Or Loppem, which has been in my queue forever.