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Bolstered by the success of my first Infinity Dress, I have gone on a huge sewing and fabric-buying rampage lately. (Apologies in advance for the quality of the photos in this post. They almost all came out very bright and overexposed. Just pretend it’s a halo of heavenly light and I am about to ascend into a hovering spacecraft, and you are an exclusive witness to this special moment.)

First, Rahul and I biked out to Wal-Mart the other day–a harrowing 4.5 mile ride along narrow, busy roads, on the west side of town, across a freeway. My bike nearly fell in a ditch and when I corrected to stay out of it, I nearly got hit by a truck. It was scary. But my reward was 4 yards of 1×1 ribbed black knit fabric for only $1 a yard. I went home and made another Infinity Dress, and then made a drape neck top with the leftovers. Because my fabric was only 45 inches wide, I made a gathered skirt instead of a circle skirt, so this one has a slimmer silhouette.

I also accidentally sewed the band on top of the straps instead of underneath, but I think it’s still OK.

Here’s the drape neck top. It is sewn together rather poorly. The rib knit was much stretchier than the jersey, so I ended up with a lot of lettuce edges where there shouldn’t have been any. The pattern is Simplicity New Look 6470, View B.

Here’s the new dress.

“Oh my god, that looks SO WEIRD,” said Rahul this morning, as I was going out to water my basil plants on the balcony, and took this picture of the back of the dress to demonstrate how weird it was that my dress had no back. I thought it looked fine, but the sleeves fell off when I was bent over my plants, so I retied it to cross over in the back.



Because the skirt has a pretty slim silhouette, I just wore it underneath my next two FOs instead of changing into a new top.

These are both made with quilting cotton I bought a while back at Shiisa Quilts, from their $4.99 bed sale.

This one is made with a dark purple fabric printed with white dragonflies. I made it into a circle skirt with ties and a zipper at the waist. Because I only had about a yard of 45″ fabric, it came out shorter than I would have liked and the overall silhouette is a little bit 80’s. A learning experience. I should have stuck with a plain A-line wrap skirt like I had originally planned.

This one I’m very proud of. The fabric is a Rowan/Westminster Martha Negley cotton, dark red, striped with tree trunks. I drafted my own pattern according to the A-line skirt, fitted waist directions in Sew What! Skirts, an excellent book for the beginning skirt-sewer like myself–highly recommended. I went on to cut the pieces on the bias to make chevron stripes, put in side pockets (these need some work–for some reason, I cut them so the pockets don’t really dip down, just go straight in, so I can’t put anything in them, though I can use them to warm my hands) and installed what I think is an invisible zipper in the back. I just need to put in some snaps to secure the waistband.


After all that, I went to Jo-Ann and back to Shiisa Quilts, where they’ve dropped the price of the bed sale fabrics to $3.99 a yard and are having a buy one yard, get one yard free offer through today, so I scored a bunch of nice fabric for just $2 a yard.

Here’s some of what I got:

Cloud fabric (not on sale, but I loved it. This is Moda fabric, named, puzzlingly, “Bears just wanna have fun”)

Gray fabric with chartreuse hydrangeas, Kaffe Fassett Lille Arbour. I loved this fabric last time I was in the store, but Rahul prevented me from buying it with his protestations of how hideous it was. So I went back without him and bought several yards of it for half price. I think I might make the Anna Dress with it.

Some other stuff: from Shiisa, some blue Rowan Martha Negley fabric with green plums, some blue striped fabric, the aforementioned Kaffe Fassett fabric, and blue fabric with delicate geometric traceries–this is Free Spirit Mendhi Lotus, and is much drapier and silkier than the other fabrics. I haven’t decided what to do with any of this yet, though the default is “knee-length skirt.”

The linen print with brown embroidered flowers is from Jo-Ann (was also on sale) and is destined for another simple A-line skirt.

This is my new favorite summer dress. It was so fast and easy it hardly counts as an FO, since it’s essentially putting together a kit. I saw the fabric on sale at Jo-Ann and bought it on impulse: they sell a big roll of cotton gauze pre-smocked with elastic thread, and you just buy a piece a couple of inches larger than your bust size, sew a tube, add straps as desired, and hem it. I made nice wide straps to cover up bra straps and this dress fits perfectly, aside from the fact that I didn’t pre-shrink my fabric so I ended up with a dress an inch or two shorter than what I had wanted.

Edited to add, since I had some comments about this: if you’re in the US and don’t have a Jo-Ann Fabrics nearby, it looks like you can get pre-smocked fabric online via Hancock Fabrics. I couldn’t find this specific fabric on the Jo-Ann website, but when I was in the store they also had the same stuff in pink and green, and some tropical Hawaiian-looking smocked fabrics.

I also have some brown jersey (not shown) for yet another Infinity Dress and another try at that drape-neck top. All I can say is that it’s a good thing sewing is so much faster than knitting.

Speaking of which, here is the current progress on the Loquat Shawl:


Apparently, as maid of honor, I’m going to have to make a toast at this wedding, which fills me with a deep sense of terror and anxiety (I would rather eat bugs than do any kind of public speaking). If only they were traditionalists and left all the public speaking to the best man and all the fussy lady’s maid duties to the maid of honor. I’m sure I can carry bobby pins and straighten hairdos like nobody’s business.

I must soothe myself with admiring my newest yarn acquisition, the first shipment of the Sundara Seasons club, June 2008, the Autumn season. This is Sundara Sock yarn in Arabian Nights, a rich, warm brown shot through with henna highlights. Isn’t it gorgeous? I have a pattern idea in my head for this already, but can’t start anything new till I’m done with the shawl.

And a knitter’s PSA: Knit Picks is having their annual 40% off book sale, and they’ve just posted a bunch of new yarns for sale: delicious-looking semi-solid kettle dyes, new colors of many yarns, Imagination hand-painted sock yarn, Swish Bulky superwash, and more.

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I have two new finished objects to show you, both made from Knit Picks Cotlin yarn in Moroccan Red, an inexpensive DK weight cotton-linen blend. I blogged about it before here, when I made a Bainbridge Scarf with it for my friend Jeanne.

Now that I’ve used it a bit more, some further thoughts: the color of this yarn is lovely and bright, and the yarn is pretty soft and drapey as far as I can tell. The two things I disliked about it were the occasional long, pokey fibers I would have to pull out of the yarn, presumably bits of flax, and its tendency to shed red fuzz as I was knitting with it (mentioned in my last post). It made me feel sneezy, and if I washed my hands after knitting with it for a while, little red fuzz pills would rub off my palms. These skeins seemed less fuzzy than the one I knit before–maybe it’s the effect of aging the yarn a bit.

I was undecided before, but I’ve decided I like it after all and I would use it again, especially since they’ve added a bunch of new colors that are right up my alley. Of the old ones, only this red and the natural linen color really appealed to me. Maybe Nightfall. But I wasn’t crazy about the sherbet colors like coral and turquoise. I love all the new ones, though–Coffee, Glacier, and Kohlrabi are all beautiful.

The Cotlin yarn for these two new FOs and the Bainbridge scarf is all from the same batch. I got it from chemgrrl, who bought too much for her super-adorable Cherry sweater. I was curious about it, so she gave me the skein I made into the Bainbridge scarf, and then she swapped me the sweater quantity, plus some mohair, for some Elann Den-m-nit
I had so she could make a jacket or something for her small niece.

I had it lined up for a lobster for a friend’s baby, but I’ll have to find a different red yarn for that, because the Cotlin is now all used up!

First up, Rusted Root! (Wow, it’s been ages since I’ve done a proper FO post)

Pattern: Rusted Root, from Zephyr Style, given to me as a Random Act of Kindness by knottygnome
Size made: Small (for 32-35″ bust), although my gauge wound up being off and the sweater measured about 34″ before blocking when it should have been 32″. Not that the pattern tells you this, of course.
Yarn used: Knit Picks Cotlin, Moroccan Red, approximately 4.5 skeins
Needles used: US size 7/4.5 mm Denises for most of the sweater; US size 3/3.25 mm for the ribbing on the sleeves
Date started: May 5, 2008
Date finished: May 11, 2008
Mods: More tedious details about size and yarn usage can be found on the Ravelry page. I started with the neckline ribbing (since you pick up the same number of stitches as you cast on, in the same ratio, without short rows or any such things going on, I see no particular reason to pick up the neckline later) and worked 5 rows instead of 3, using the larger needles instead of going down a size. I did paired M1 increases around the raglan seam lines (lift from back and knit through front loop, k2, lift from front and knit through back loop).

I totally reworked the waist shaping, and then my gauge was off and I was unable to finish my reworked shaping scheme anyway–after I’d worked only 3 sets of hip increases out of my desired 5, the sweater was long enough and I decided to stop.

I also put in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s phoney seams on the sides before starting the ribbing.

I knit the neck and hip ribbing (about 9 rows) on size 7 needles, since I didn’t want them to draw in particularly, then knit the sleeve ribbing for 5 rows on size 3’s (I used k1fb to increase one on each sleeve to make the k2, p1 ribbing pattern work properly).

I used a sewn bindoff for the sleeves to make them stretchy, and a suspended bindoff in rib for the hip (since I hate sewing with that long, long tail over long distances… I really should have used the sewn bindoff at the hip, too; it could definitely be stretchier, but it’s not terrible as is, either.)

Notes:
I hope to have more photos later. It’s unblocked and hot off the needles in this photo (so it’s all uneven and lumpy, and it’s being worn over a clearly unsuitable tunic top instead of a camisole).

The thing is, I committed a Cardinal Sin of knitting with this sweater. I didn’t knit or wash my swatch the way I would wash my finished garment–I knit a flat swatch instead of one in the round (hence the aforementioned gauge issues), then hand-washed and laid it flat instead of machine-washing and drying. Then I finished the sweater and threw it in the washer and dryer. We’ll see what happens! Hopefully I can still wear the sweater afterwards. It seems silly to have to hand-wash and flat dry what is essentially a t-shirt, so if it’s not easy care, I guess I might as well find out now instead of after it’s a cherished essential piece in my wardrobe and I accidentally toss it in the hamper. Anyway, I did read up on it beforehand and people have said it tightens up a bit and takes very well to machine washing. Not sure about drying. If it’s a disaster, I surely will have notes on it in the near future–it’s in the dryer as I type this. Wish me luck!

While I think the finished top is really cute, I did find the pattern kind of weird and annoying to work with at certain points, for a few minor reasons. Believe me, I totally understand the headaches of trying to sort these things out when drafting a pattern, and I don’t think I could do any better (people who live in glass houses shouldn’t point fingers at other people’s pattern-writing abilities!) but nonetheless, should you be in the market for Zephyr Style patterns and wondering about how they’re written, let me tell you what my gripes with this were:

  • No schematics in the pattern. This is the biggest annoyance. I couldn’t decide if I should make the XS or the S (since both cover a 32” bust)–seems like the S gives a 32” actual bust size, meaning negative ease if you’re on the larger end of the range. I wasn’t sure if the sleeves would actually fit over my biceps (thankfully, they did)–I had an issue with the sleeves being too tight on my Green Gable and had to redo my bind-offs on that top before I could actually wear it. There is also no information about the intended or modeled ease.
  • No stitches put on hold/cast on at the underarm. Just a note, not a gripe (yet). I’ve just seen the put 8%-of-underarm-stitches-on-hold thing in numerous patterns, though I’m not sure what type of functional difference it makes in the fit. I’ll see how it fits when it’s done and washed.
  • Asymmetrical waist shaping decreases. OK, actually, there’s nothing wrong with this, but I kind of like symmetrical ssk/k2tog shaping on either side of a seam instead of using just k2tog on one side of the seam.
  • Very sparse with the stitch counts. I’m pretty sure I got it right, but it would have been very helpful to see a detailed breakdown of stitch counts in the puff sleeve increase/decrease sections in particular so I could easily double-check my work and see if everything was OK. I’m not personally bothered by the lack of information about the increase rounds, as I’m capable of figuring out the number of increases per increase round from looking at the directions, but a beginner might have issues.
  • The lace is not charted out, and sl1-k1-psso is written as 3 separate steps (separated by commas) which confuses me since the 3 steps consume 2 stitches and result in 1 stitch. I prefer seeing it written using hyphens/dashes. In any case, I rewrote it using ssk.
  • The lace also calls for you to read your knitting on every other round, knitting into the knit stitches and YOs and purling into the purls. I don’t mind this, but again, if you’re a beginner, it might be easier to have it specified as “Row 10: K7, p2, k6” etc.
  • As someone’s notes somewhere on the internet point out (I can’t find them now, of course), the poof in the sleeves tends to vanish for many people, probably because of the tiered increases–i.e. XS and S have the same number of increases for the puffed sleeves, meaning the XS sleeves will be puffier than the S in proportion to the rest of the sweater, and the same deal for M/L, XL/XXL. We’ll see how mine come out. I don’t have my heart set on it either way.
  • Not a lot of information about the techniques they use. M1 is specified as Make One, but there are at least 4 different actual increases that could mean. The instructions for knitting the sleeves on two circulars are very sparse (they tell you to divide the stitches onto two circulars and knit in the round, but I can see this potentially causing issues for a beginner who wasn’t familiar with the technique). No cast-on is specified, even though they specify that you should use the backwards loop cast-on in their FAQ because apparently a lot of people were having issues with their necklines or underarm seams binding because the cast-on wasn’t stretchy enough.

It’s been ages since I made Green Gable, but I remember having some of the same issues with that top as well.

Anyway–I’m excited about wearing it, so thank you again for the pattern, knottygnome! I desperately hope it fits when it comes out of the dryer.

I had a bit of the yarn left over, about half a skein, so I cast on for a dishcloth.

Pattern: Yvonne’s Double Flower Cloth
Yarn used: Knit Picks Cotlin, Moroccan Red, approximately 1 skein
Needles used: A set of 5 US size 8/5 mm bamboo DPNs (sort of annoying–they kept falling out of the stitches. Two circs or magic loop would be easier to deal with)
Date started: May 12, 2008
Date finished: May 13, 2008

Mods: I was trying to use up the half-skein of yarn left over from my Rusted Root–I ran out of yarn at row 31 and had to rummage around to find the other half-skein of yarn left over from the Bainbridge Scarf so I could finish the cloth. I had some left over, so I knit a little garter stitch loop to use for hanging the cloth up to dry (just cast on 3 sts, knit every row for maybe 2 inches, folded it over, picked up stitches from the base of the loop and knit them together with the live stitches) and used the rest of the yarn to single-crochet around the outer border of the washcloth. Also, I used a lighter weight yarn and larger needles than recommended.
Notes: I don’t know the last time I spent so little time on a project and wound up with something so pretty and functional! Again, this photo is before washing and drying the cloth, so the knitting isn’t terribly even-looking. I think this is a great pattern, though–very easy to follow and fast to knit, with beautiful results.