Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Warming up the old machine

Before I could start any sewing on the weekender, I spent several days cutting fabric. I did not like it. With sewing you can rip, with cutting there's no pretty fix. I like a backup. I also was attacked by a rotary cutter! Look what it did to my foot! I know, rotary cutters attack in the strangest places!

I figured the old sewing machine could use a little sprucing up before embarking on the hard core sewing portion of the WB. I gave her a fine oil treatment - the first in probably five years - and scraped out some of the thread fiber buildup. So, she was good as new, but without a proper home. I've always sewn on either my kitchen table (which was never in the kitchen), the floor (up until I broke my machine at least) or on my dad's drafting table (currently sitting in my parents' basement. For the first time ever we have a kitchen big enough to house our table and I think it's gross sewing in the kitchen. I don't really even want to walk barefoot in there,our 70s linoleum floor just grosses me out. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and do two things: 1) call home and request the beloved drafting table. Turns out my dad was looking to get rid of it, so it's a win-win situation for all. I won't get it until my parents' next trip up here, though. And 2) styled this crafty space in the craft room / cat's room / second bedroom.

Don't be jealous. And yes, that's a bucket of cat litter. I do have to share the room with her! Do you see the kitty pi (which was used oh, maybe twice? she much prefers the dog's bed)? That's my fabric scrap container now. See how resourceful I am?

With a proper area to sew, I started off with the cording. I'm using another Amy Butler pattern from the Belle collection for this part. It looks like olives and the yellow and brown match perfectly with the exterior. Score! I took Angela's advice and opted for the regular foot, instead of the prescribed zipper foot. It provides much better control with the tricky cording.

Tonight's agenda - WB fronts and a couple rows of Birch.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Family Jewels

Check out these neat blankets crocheted by my hubbie's late nana! We found these in his parents basement a few weeks ago with some of his other stuff. According to J, his nana used to "crochet all day long." I guess she made a bunch for him since he was a kid, but these are the latest in the collection. He thinks he received them in HS. The blankets are made of - you guessed it! - acrylic, I'm sure it's the ubiquitous Red Heart we all know and love. Because they've been sitting in a spider-infested, dusty basement for the past ten years I ran them through the cold cycle of the washer and let them air dry. They dried in only an hour or two.

Here's the first (my favorite):

Here's the other side. Check out the rockin' 70s colors!

And the other, more classic-colored one:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Birch Progress & Some Sewing

WEEKENDER BAG With all the knitting and summer laziness, I've let Amy Butler's Weekender Bag pattern collect dust since I bought it back in February. Sad, huh? I guess you can say I have issues. I've been sewing forever, long before I ever started knitting, but I NEVER use patterns. I've never found patterns to match the idea in my head, so I've always just used the trial and error method. It's always worked out for me. Now that I'm trying out a pattern, it's not the sewing that's bringing me down but the pattern itself. I feel like I have to learn a new language. All that said, after seeing this pattern I have to at least try. So I went out and bought some materials (can I just say I spend an hour at Joann's yesterday?):

-2 yards, Amy Butler's Sunbloom Lotus fabric in Parsley purchased from Reprodepot for exterior and hopefully handles and piping (I thought I could find a perfect match for a coordinating fabric, but these colors are impossible! I ordered a half yard extra, so I'm hoping that's enough)

- 2 yards, heavyweight cotton (with hideous eyelet to be discarded) for lining

- 4 yards Peltex. The pattern calls for heavyweight interfacing (which the saleswoman in Joann's said was Peltex) and Timtex (which many replace with Peltex). There was no interfacing nearly as thick as the Peltex, so I opted to use Peltex for everything. Cross your fingers I don't kill my sewing machine.

-5 yards cotton cording

- A 30" zipper. I had one choice. I think it's close enough.

- A couple spools of thread.

Wish me luck!

BIRCH I've been making some progress with Birch v. 2 and am halfway through the 5th repeat. Here's a picture. I'm all about class when it comes to project bags.

5 repeats doesn't sound like much, but I'm sure I'll just fly through it as the rows get shorter. Wishful thinking? Regardless of how much more I have to go, I WILL finish this before I see my mom next! I'm not sure when that will be, but I know I will see her on November 5th (the day I run the NYC Marathon!) I hope to see her before then, though. Anyway, I'm devoting about 80% of my knitting time to this project; it would be 100% but I refuse to touch Birch if my mind is not 100% clear. I have the pattern down, but still want to avoid any mistakes. Tinking back with KSH gives me anxiety.

That's all for now. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Monday, September 04, 2006

My First Swatch

Despite all the good warnings around swatching, I'm always just too lazy or too excited to jump into the new project to bother. I'll knit for a bit of the project, then measure to see if I'm on track and have been pretty lucky so far. For Bobble Blue, I knitted a sleeve for a swatch. That might sort of count. After hearing all the complaints around blogland about Hourglass Sweaters made with Cash Iroha stretching and stretching and stretching after washing, wearing, etc., I thought I should finally heed the ubiquitous warnings. Hence, my first swatch! I even washed and blocked it. I'm so proud of myself. I did knit two rows less than directed, but we won't discuss that. And now I'm swatching for Cherry without even casting on for Hourglass. I guess I can change, huh?

Notice any changes around my blog? I'm trying to neaten things up a bit, more complex when you don't know anything about html. I'm learning, though. But, that's why I'm taking baby steps with some changes, not a complete blog overhaul. Still having some issues, but it's been fun learning how all this stuff works. good times.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Prairie Tunic: Finished!

Prairie Tunic is finished, just in time for the, um, cold weather. I'm just glad it's no longer languishing at the bottom of my knit bag. It's freeing to finish a knit. Here are some pics of the thing:
Now for the stats:
Pattern - Prairie Tunic by Veronik Avery
Source - Interweave Knits Spring 2006
Yarn - Jaeger Sienna 4-ply (prescribed yarn) in lilac
Amount of Yarn - 4.5 balls. Pattern called for 5.5 balls (I made a blend of sizes. See below)
Started - May 28, 2006 (wow, that's just sad it took me so long to finish)
Finished - August 27, 2006
Modifications - My tunic is a blend of two sizes to match my body. I started with the 39.5 inch size for the bottom, but decreased 10 extra times so the top would be 36.5 inches. I wish I had made the entire piece 36.5 as the bottom is too big. I kind of knew (famous last words), but kept going just because. I have a plan, though. The pattern instructs you to leave the bottom six inches on either side unseamed, but seaming is in my tunic's future to bring it in a bit. See?! Look how much it flares out!

Other mods - Um, so the triangle shaping is completely messed up. I might just be a bad knitter, but even WITH the errata, mine looked horrible. I took a picture, but forgot to load it. Maybe i'll update at some point. You'd all probably rather not see it, though. It's bad. What did I do? Dusted off my math skills and put some addition to good use. I basically just followed the decreasing instructions until there was an equal number of stitdches on either side of the lace panel. At that point, I only decreased on the right side. Easy and pie and now looks picture perfect. Well, at least a lot better.
I couldn't decide (and still haven't) what look I'm trying to pull off with this tunic. The scene above is much more my style, what I like to call the scrubby jeans look. The tunic works well for this. While comfort is on the top of my list, getting good use out of my clothes, especially ones I spent hours making, is just as high. To reach appropriate use, it has to work with my office's business casual dress code. Enter, look number two:

Throw a more appropriate black shirt on underneath, preferably one that does not expose bra straps and maybe a suit jacket for good measure and VOILA (thanks for the spelling lesson, Veronique!) we've got work appropriate. Extra wide belt also looks cute, but in this case I was pushing for it because I just got it.

Here's another shot with a better look at the stitch pattern.

Overall, I'm 75% pleased with this knit. I'm hoping the side seaming will bring that up to 95%, which I can't complain about. With the exception of the triangle decreases, the pattern was well written.


I'm still working on the Rock 'n Weave Socks and have started swatching for Hourglass. Cherry by Anna Bell as well as one of Amy Butler's Weekender Bags are on the horizon.