Sunday, December 31, 2017

Spinning Lately

Last June, my mom and I took a spinning class at our state's sheep and wool festival.  The topic was color in hand-dyed rovings/tops, and we learned three ways to manage overwhelming or clashing color in hand-dyed braids.  The first (on the left in the photo above) is involves tearing the braid into small pieces to create a gradient.  The second is stained-glass - spinning the colored singles together with a solid neutral singles.  The third was fractal-spinning.  Then, I had a fair amount of leftover colored singles from the stained-glass sample, so I chain-plied that to get the fourth skein in the picture.  My stained glass and chain-plied samples have too much plying twist, so at some point before I use them I'll have to run them back through the wheel to remove some of it. 
This enormous skein is spun from Hello Yarn roving that I brought home from Yarn School in October 2012.  It took me over a year to spin!  I don't remember what my final yardage was, but I'm pretty sure it's over 800 yards, and it's laceweight.  My plan is to knit it into a large square shawl, maybe something like this, or this, or this.  I'll use it to wrap around my head in winter instead of wearing a hat.
Then, I spun up two alpaca skeins to go together.  The white one is un-dyed alpaca that I bought on vacation in Vermont several years ago, and the purple is a sparkly alpaca-merino blend that was given to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  They're fingering weight, and I've forgotten the yardage on them, but I'm hoping to knit something with colorwork.  I think the purple skein has a bit too much plying twist, so I'll need to remove some of that before I can use it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Handspun Neck-warmer

This Fall, I decided I needed a scarf/neckwarmer to go with my purple down jacket.  I wanted something relatively small, and I decided to use some of my handspun.  I decided to use this yarn, which I spun from a batt I made at Yarn School back in October 2012 and apparently never blogged about.    
I turned it into this, which is loosely based on the Red Rasta Cowl, which I found browsing Ravelry for neckwear designed for minimal quantities of super-bulky yarn.  I wanted it to be snug and not mess up my hair, so I knitted it flat.  I used all but about six inches of the yarn.  It closes with three non-matching silver-colored buttons out of my button jar.  The yarn is thick enough that I didn't need buttonholes - I just push the buttons through the knitted fabric wherever seems right.
Here it is under the jacket.  It's very cosy and does a good job keeping the wind out of my neck!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fixing my socks

In the six years I lived in Texas, I knit a lot of socks and almost never wore them.  When we moved to the Midwest a year and a half ago, I had about 20 pairs of handknit socks, and each of them had only been worn a few times.  Since then, they've all been worn a lot - and I have new opinions about them.  I'm finding that I like my socks to fit with some negative ease, and to be knit at a tight gauge.  I like them to have some structure, so they don't twist around or slide down in my shoes (this problem is worse with boots, which I now own two pairs of (previously, I owned zero)).  In general, I prefer a traditional, top-down heel-flap heel to almost all of the toe-up/short-row heels I've tried. 

With this new knowledge, this Fall I fixed some of the socks in my drawer, to make them more wearable:
This pair, my Deflect socks, were just too long in the foot.  I had knit them long because the cable pattern has a very long repeat, and I convinced myself that it would be okay, but once I started wearing them often they were not okay.  I had at least an inch of extra length beyond my big toe.  So I ripped out the toe half of the feet and re-knit them significantly shorter.  Now I enjoy wearing them!
The green pair (which I apparently made before I started the blog) fit well, and I enjoyed wearing them, but I made them in a very soft yarn.  I wish I had knit them at a tighter gauge - I think they would have worn better.  As it was, wearing them often for a year, I wore a hole under the ball of the foot of one sock.  Luckily, I still had the extra yarn, so I was able to repair the hole with a knit-in-place patch, following this tutorial.   I was somewhat surprised to see how much these socks have faded from wear - the color difference is pretty clear in the photo!  I was mildly concerned that I would be able to feel the patch when I wore the repaired sock, but it hasn't bothered me at all.  I'm glad that I can wear one of my favorite pairs of socks again.
The last pair are my Skew socks, which I knitted while I was on the job market in Winter and Spring 2016.  They were too big, especially in terms of length in the foot.  Unfortunately, because of the unusual toe-up way these socks are constructed, I couldn't just re-knit the toes, like I did on the red pair.  Instead, I frogged the whole pair and re-knit them with the same yarn, but on smaller needles.  It was a little bit time-consuming, but totally worth it.  I love the way these socks fit!  They have a right and left foot, so they fit snugly in the toes across both feet, and the way the heels are constructed, they don't shift around in my boots at all.  They are a little firm to get on and off, but once on they're really comfortable.  This is the only construction I've used so far that I actually prefer to top-down heel-flaps.  I will definitely be making more of these - maybe I'll try to embellish them with some cables of lace, since the pattern is pretty plain.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Deep in the Forest Shawl

I started this shawl in May 2016, right around the time I graduated, and I finished it sometime during the 2016-2017 academic year - I was pretty behind on blocking it (sometime this fall), and I'm even further behind on blogging it. 
The pattern is the Lost in the Forest shawl.  I enjoyed knitting it, especially once I got to the leaf lace pattern (the inner border).  The first long lace section wasn't very interesting.  I used some of the navy blue laceweight that I used for another shawl in 2015, and I still have enough left for another small shawl.  This shawl is joining the first navy one in the future gift pile.

Pattern:  Lost in the Forest shawl by Cath Ward
Size: one size
Yarn: Lanna Gatto Harmony 2/30 in Captain Navy, 40g of a 100g skein (29g remaining)
Needles: US3 (3.25mm)
Started/Completed: May 2016/sometime in 2017
Modifications: none

Friday, November 24, 2017

Swan Lake dress

My niece turned four in September, and I made her a Swan Lake dress.  She is really into dance and ballet right now.  It's a flutter sleeve Geranium in size 4T (if I remember correctly), with some length and width adjustments to the skirt in order to take full advantage of the border print fabric. 

I used some digitally printed fabric from Hawthorne Threads, and to be honest I didn't love it.  It was pretty stiff, and the ink was very dense on the surface of the fabric.  I don't think I would use this fabric for quilting, and it would definitely not be appropriate for any application that needs to drape.  But the prints were adorable.  I hope it will hold up okay with frequent washing. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sheepie Shirt!

Last spring I found this adorable sheep-print quilting cotton at my local quilt shop and bought a yard with no plan.  I ended up ordering a yard of solid navy blue Robert Kaufman Cambridge Cotton Lawn to go with it and made a heavily modified version of McCall's 7285, which I made without modifications last spring/early summer.

This time, I shortened the sleeves significantly and made extensive changes to the back:
I split the back pattern piece horizontally about halfway down the armscye, and cut 2 of the yoke piece on the fold, so I could do a double-layer yoke construction with all of the yoke seam allowances enclosed.  I cut the main back piece on the fold, too, and but put the center back line about 2" away from the fold, adding several inches of space in the back.  I added some notches on the yoke and main back piece, so I could keep track of where I wanted the gathers to bunch in the center.  Then, because I no longer had a button in the back, I finished the neckline with a narrow bias facing.  I cut a 10' square and turned it into continuous bias tape using instructions from an old quilt book, and then applied the bias facing using this Craftsy tutorial.

In general, I'm much happier with this version than I am with the first.  The sleeves are more comfortable at the shorter length, and I can move more easily (although I still think the fit in the upper back could be better, as evidenced by the drag lines toward my armpits in the photo of the back of the shirt).  Most importantly, though, it doesn't have a button at the back neck!  The neckline is wide enough to go over my head comfortably, and I've found that the button on the first version catches in my braid in a terrible way, so I can't wear that shirt on days when I want to braid my hair. 

I've already started making a third version of this shirt, in a lovely floral Liberty lawn.  It's a long-sleeved version, with pintucks down the front.  The only fit change I'm attempting from this one to that one is to try to eliminate a little bit of gaping at the front neckline.  I'm excited to see how it fits when it's done!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Knitted Dishcloths

I made two more knitted dish cloths for our kitchen last summer.  The one on the left is a grandmother's favorite, and the one on the right is something I made up - it's a couple rows of garter stitch alternating with a row of p1, *yo, p2tog* across.  That one is our favorite of all our handknitted dishcloths so far, because it has the scrubby garter ridges AND lots of holes, so it dries quickly.

I'm planning to knit lots more of these - I recently ordered 17 balls of dishcloth cotton yarn from KnitPicks!  The plan is to make a bunch to keep and a bunch to give as stocking stuffers at Christmas.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Little Polo Shirts

My nephew and grandcousin (first cousin once removed) have birthdays two weeks apart, and they turned two at the beginning of the summer.  By luck, we were visiting my family in Europe for my grandcousin's birthday, and we were able to attend his birthday party.

I made two identical little polo shirts for little boy second birthday gifts.  They're size 2T Oliver + S Parachute Polos.  They went together pretty smoothly and I was happy with how they turned out, but I don't quite like this pattern as much as I like the Sketchbook Shirt.  Part of it was that I fought with my machine hemming the knits.  I ended up using a twin needle on the sleeve hems and a triple stretch stitch on the shirt hems, and wasn't 100% happy with either one.
I also think the inside of the side vent could be a little cleaner.
I did like how the inside of the collar and plackets looked, though.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A shirt for me!

In service of my goal to make some shirts for myself, I tried out a woven t-shirt pattern: McCall's M7285.  I made it out of a quilting cotton I got at the Hancock's going out of business sale last summer, and I'm thinking of it as a nice wearable muslin.  I was able to cut this and the Roller Skate dress I made for my cousin's daughter out of a 2-yard cut of fabric.
I measured the bust of an old sleeveless blouse with a similar fit and closure and then cut a straight size 10 using the A/B cup front pattern piece.  It's a little snug in the hips, even though I narrowed the seam allowances by 1/4" at the bottom of each side.  The back is also a little tight across the shoulders.
The bust darts are in the right place, but as you can see in the next picture, after I lift my arms I get a fold of fabric stuck above my bust.  I'm not sure whether that has to do with the non-drapiness of the quilting cotton, or because I made a size that is too small, or what.
It's not very visible in the pictures, but I'm also getting a little bit of gaping at the front neckline.

Even though it's not perfect, I'm planning to make at least two more of these, and I have some ideas for what I'm going to change:

  • lowering the front neckline by about an inch and eliminating the button closure at the back neck.  I don't need the button to get this one over my head, and when I wear my hair in a braid it gets knotted around the button, which is no fun.
  • adding a back yoke.  I'll make the seam between the yoke and the back piece about half-way down the armscyes, and put some gathers in the center of the back piece.   This should give me some extra room at the back shoulders, so I can move more easily.  I'm also hoping it will fix the fabric getting stuck above my bust problem.  I'll cut both the back and back yoke pieces on the fold.
  • shortening the sleeves by at least two inches.
I'm excited for the next version, but in the meantime I've been wearing this one a lot!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tiny Roller Skate Dress

I made this tiny Oliver + S Roller Skate dress for my cousin's baby.  It's the 6-12 month size, since I didn't make it until she was almost six months old.  It was pretty easy to sew, didn't take too much fabric, and turned out pretty cute.  I would definitely make it again, maybe with pockets if it was for an older child.  Next time, to save even more fabric and make it lighter for summer, I might try using bias binding for the elastic casing and to finish the sleeve/armhole edges.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Me-made-May: the last few days

What I wore:

  • Monday, May 29: Blue jeans (RTW), green long-sleeved henley (RTW), handknit socks, Geneva undies. In the evening I changed my shirt to my floral woven t-shirt and put on my maroon fleece (RTW)
  • Tuesday, May 30: Blue jeans (RTW), floral woven t-shirt, gradient shawl, maroon fleece (RTW), Geneva undies
  • Wednesday, May 31: Blue jeans (RTW), black long-sleeved t-shir (RTW)t, Lofoten sweater, Geneva undies
What I made:

I finished the blue lace shawl I've been working on for a year!

What I thought:

I felt good about me-made-may this year.  It wasn't too hare or too easy to do the challenge, and I have some Ideas for what I want to make to fill out my wardrobe.  I have hardly any me-made shirts, and if I had been teaching, I would have had a really hard time with it (our spring semester ends at the end of April).  I have plans to make more shirts/blouses, including work appropriate ones (I bought some lovely Liberty of London lawn for a blouse ...).  I also want to change the way I think about my projects, maybe shifting to an actions list in the style of David Allen's Getting Things Done system than a list of things I'd like to eventually do.  I think doing that would help me avoid some of the decision paralysis sewing procrastination that I tend towards, and help me enjoy my limited crafting time more (and help me move though projects more quickly - I'm at the point of finishing up a spinning project that I've had on the wheel for almost two years, which is just embarrassing).

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Me-Made-May Week 4

What I wore:
  • Monday, May 22: Black slacks (RTW), floral t-shirt, yellow cardigan (RTW)
  • Tuesday, May 23: Blue tiered skirt, brown long-sleeved t-shirt (RTW)
  • Wednesday and Thursday, May 24-25: Jeans (RTW), green long-sleeved henley (RTW), Lofoten sweater, pink socks 
  • Friday, May 26: Jeans skirt, J. Crew button-down shirt (RTW)
  • Satuday, May 27: spotted Adelaide dress, Lofoten sweater
  • Sunday, May 28: Jeans (RTW),  floral woven t-shirt, gradient shawlette, maroon fleece jacket (RTW), handknit socks
What I made:
I finished the two little polo shirts for my nephew and grandcousin!

What I thought:
I'm beginning to feel like wearing me-made clothes every day is no big deal, but I simultaneously feel like there are a lot of ready-to-wear clothes that I'm not wearing , and I kind of want to wear them.  Towards the end of the week, I actually forgot that it was me-made-May. Luckily I wore something I had made anyway!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Me-Made-May Week 3

What I wore:
  • Monday, May 15: Adelaide dress, Geneva undies
  • Tuesday, May 16: Navy blue gathered skirt, red tank top (RTW), grey linen cardigan, Geneva undies
  • Wednesday, May 17: straight-leg jeans (RTW), floral woven tee, Geneva undies
  • Thursday, May 18: damask skirt, black long-sleeved t-shirt (RTW), striped cashmere sweater (RTW that I visibly mended), Geneva undies
  • Friday, May 19: my favorite thrifted jeans (RTW), mauve floral button-up (RTW - this is possibly my favorite shirt), my Lofoten sweater, stripy socks
  • Saturday, May 20: straight-leg jeans (RTW), flannel shirt (RTW), purple cable pullover sweater, Geneva undies
  • Sunday, May 21: Washi dress, Smartwool tights (RTW), half-slip, autumn leaves ankle socks, Geneva undies, burgundy cardigan (RTW)
What I made:
Unfortunately, I didn't spend much time making things this week.  I cut out the pieces for two size 2T Oliver + S Parachute Polos for my nephew and grandcousin - the deadline to finish these is Wednesday, May 24.  I'm not sure if I'm going to make it.  I also finished spinning the singles of the Hello Yarn merino top that I've been working on for over a year!

What I thought:
I want to change the way I do the Future Projects page on the blog.  I will organize it into one list of things I "need," like more cloth napkins, things for which I currently own fabric and have a pattern picked out, and another list of more nebulous sewing desires.  I want to reduce the waffling that results in procrastinating sewing that I really want to do and enjoy, because I feel like I have so many things I want to make that I can't possibly figure out the next step.

I also really enjoyed reading these two posts from the Whipstitch blog.  They really get at what I've been feeling with my sewing and wardrobe lately - I have a lot of clothes that I don't particularly love or feel comfortable or attractive in.  I want to build a practical wardrobe made up of clothes I love, that isn't over-full.  I don't want a large stash.  I don't have the money or storage space for it, and I don't like the feeling of greed or the impulse to hoard that comes with it.  I would rather buy high-quality fabric that I love and will use soon after I buy it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Me-Made-May Week 2

What I wore:
  • Monday, May 8: My black and polka-dot Adelaide dress, yellow cardigan (RTW), and Geneva undies
  • Tuesday, May 9: Re-fashioned denim skirt, altered shirt, grad school hoodie (RTW), and Geneva undies
  • Wednesday, May 10: Damask skirt, long-sleeved t-shirt (RTW), striped cashmere sweater with visible mend (RTW, mended by me), mushroom socks
  • Thursday, May 11: Favorite thrifted jeans (RTW), newly finished woven t-shirt
  • Friday, May 12: Lady Skater dress, Blue shoulder-button sweater (RTW)
  • Saturday, May 13: In the morning I wore my brown and yellow floral skirt and an orange embroidered t-shirt (RTW).  In the afternoon I changed into jeans (RTW) and my new woven t-shirt
  • Sunday, May 14: My blue tiered skirt and a purple tank top (RTW)
What I made:
I finished up the top for myself that I mentioned last week.  It fits pretty well, and I'm happy with how it turned out.  I'll write a full post on it once I get some photos taken this week.  

What I thought:
I was going to say that Friday the 12th was the first day I wore a repeat, but then I realized that I wore my Lofoten sweater twice last week and I wore my mushroom socks for the second time on Wednesday the 10th ... but on those days I also wore me-mades that I hadn't previously worn this May.  I'm simultaneously surprised and not surprised that I made it 11 days with so few repeats - I have almost 20 pairs of hand-knitted socks, but not a ton of other me-made items.

The weather this week definitely shifted.  It's warm enough now that I can wear a skirt without tights or a t-shirt without a sweater and feel comfortable outside.  This is the weather that my me-made wardrobe is designed for, which reminds me that I want to work on sewing more cold-weather appropriate clothes for myself.  I traced out the long-sleeved version of the Lady Skater dress this weekend, and I have fabric washed and ready to get started sewing this week - of course, I also need to get started on birthday polo shirts for my soon-to-be-two-year-old nephew and grandcousin, so I might not get it done this week!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Moda Love Baby Quilt

One of my good friends from grad school had a baby girl in mid-April, and I wanted to send a quilt for her.  I decided to finish this little quilt top, which I stitched up in November 2015.  The quilt top was really cute, but it had two problems: it wasn't flat, and it was too big for the 1 yard of backing fabric I had bought when I bought the charm pack I used for the top.
I did exactly what I had outlined in my previous post about the quilt top.  I trimmed a few inches off two of the borders, and pieced a row of leftover charm squares flanked by grey strips into the back.  It was a tight squeeze (the pieced back was exactly the same size as the top!) but it worked.
This is the first quilt I quilted on my new vintage Singer.  I did an orange peel pattern in the grid, and wavy flower vines in the borders.  The non-flatness of the top was indeed not a problem, especially after I washed the whole quilt.  It's soft and cosy - not too densely quilted.  I forgot to measure the quilt after I washed it, but I think it's about 40 by 42 inches.

I'm very happy with how this little quilt turned out.  I like the pattern, and I could definitely see myself using it again, either as a baby quilt or as a bed quilt for a full or queen sized bed (using 10" squares instead of 5").

Friday, May 12, 2017

Old man sweater

This is the last of my Christmas gift knitting ... finished in April!  Robert had been wanting an "old man sweater" since Christmas 2015, when I made an olive green cable cardigan for our nephew, who was then six months old.  I wanted to knit one for him, but I wasn't quite sure what he wanted, and I definitely didn't want to knit him something he wouldn't like.  When the Interweave Knits Winter 2017 issue showed up, with a feature on sweaters for men, I was excited, and with Robert's cooperation, I mashed up two of the patterns in it to make this sweater for him.
He decided he wanted a pullover, not a cardigan, and we agreed that a shawl collar was required.  This would point to the Donegal Sweater, but he thought the collar poofed out too much at the back of the neck, and he wasn't wild about the stitch pattern - he really wanted cables.  He did like the cable panel on the back of the Belfast Cardigan, although he didn't like the overall fit or styling on the model.  So I replaced the decorative panel on the Donegal Sweater with a slightly adapted version of the cables from the Belfast Cardigan (the stitch counts were only off by one, so that was pretty easy).  I measured a ready-to-wear sweater that he wore a lot last fall and winter to choose the size, and then I started knitting.

Unfortunately, I started with the wrong size needles, so I had to re-knit half of the first sleeve when I didn't get gauge, and I was also knitting or sewing several other things for Christmas, so I ended up wrapping one and a half sleeves to put under the tree on Christmas morning.  I finally finished the sweater in April, and Robert loves it!  He got to wear it several times before the weather warmed up too much for wool sweaters, and every time he wore it he eagerly reminded me that I had made his sweater!  The fit is pretty good - the sleeves are a bit long and wide, but that certainly hasn't stopped him from enjoying wearing it.

Pattern: Donegal Sweater, with modifications
Size: 47"
Yarn: Valley Yarns Northampton, Color #50 Medium Grey, 100% wool, seven skeins
Needles:  US6 for ribbing, US9 for body
Started/Completed: December 2016/April 2017
Modifications: Replaced the decorative stitch pattern on front and back with cable panel from the Belfast Cardigan.  Reduced height of the the back neck shawl collar

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Me-Made-May: Week 1

What I wore:
  • Monday, May 1: My favorite thrifted jeans (RTW), a casual button-down shirt (RTW), Lofoten sweater, light brown handknit socks, and Geneva underwear
  • Tuesday, May 2: Purple Smartwool tights (RTW), my navy gathered skirt, half-slip, plum-colored long-sleeved t-shirt (RTW), blue sweater (RTW), Geneva underwear, and my green lace shawl
  • Wednesday, May 3: Favorite thrifted jeans (RTW), mushroom socks, long-sleeved t-shirt (RTW), Lofoten sweater
  • Thursday, May 4: Blue tiered skirt, long-sleeved t-shirt (RTW), mended striped cashmere sweater (RTW with a visible mend by me)
  • Friday, May 5: Lady skater dress, the same blue sweater I wore on Tuesday
  • Saturday, May 6: In the morning I was gardening so I didn't wear any me-mades.  In the afternoon I changed into my brown floral skirt, a pink short-sleeved t-shirt (RTW), and aqua cable henley sweater (RTW)
  • Sunday, May 7: Blue Washi dress, yellow cardigan (RTW)
What I made:
Well, I immediately strayed from my intention to only make for myself in May.  I ran out of time to finish a little dress for my cousin's baby that needed to be finished before the last week of May, so I finished that up.  And I realized that two little boys in my family are turning two at the end of May/beginning of June, so I ordered fabric to make a little polo shirt for each of them.  Then I started sewing on a top for me.  I had hoped to finish it during the first week of May, but didn't quite make it.  I still need to adjust and finish the side seams and do the hemming and finishing.
On the knitting front, I frogged the skew socks on the left in this photo.  These two pairs of socks were enough too big that I decided they're unwearable, so part of my plan for May is to re-knit the skew socks using smaller needles and to take out the toes and shorten the feet of the pink socks on the right.  Here's what the "new" skew sock looks like right now:

I also did a little bit of spinning - for the first time in many months I'm not knitting things for other people that I feel like I need to prioritize!

What I thought:
I realized that I don't have any me-made shirts.  Everything I've made for myself is either a skirt, a dress, socks, a shawl, a sweater, or a winter accessory.  Thinking of my wardrobe as a whole, that's not really a problem for casual wear, since I have a pretty wide variety of casual tops, especially tanks and short-sleeved t-shirts.  Where I have a big hole is long-sleeved tops, particularly work-appropriate ones.  I own enough work tops so that I don't have to iron too unreasonably often, but I don't have very many that I love or even like.  Several of them just don't fit and are in colors that I don't feel comfortable wearing.  So that will definitely inform my sewing plans going forward.

I've been reading a lot of blog posts lately about capsule wardrobes, and feeling like maybe I should do that for work.  But choosing just a few colors to base the whole thing off of feels stressful and restrictive.  I'm coming to the realization that while I like the idea of having a relatively small number of items, I can make that work without restricting myself to just 1-2 neutrals and 2-3 accent colors.  I'll make (or buy second-hand) things that I like and that I'll wear a lot, and not worry about capsule rules!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Christmas Mitten

This is the second-to-last Christmas knitting 2016 post - I'm way behind!   I knitted my mom these lovely fancy mittens - the Snowfling Mitts.  I used red and white Cascade 220 and lined them with a lovely purple hand-dyed sport-weight alpaca.  They were fun to knit and terrifically warm.  Perfect for cold Midwestern winters.

Unfortunately, the left mitten was tragically lost soon after they were put into use.  Luckily, I have leftover yarn, so I can knit a new mate this Summer.  Then I might have to knit another pair for myself!

Pattern: Snowfling Mitts
Size: One size
Yarn: Cascade 220, one skein each colors 8505 and 9404, and Foothills Yarn and Fiber 100% baby alpaca in Iris
Needles:  3mm sock dpns (a little bit on the short side for adult mittens, but totally workable)
Started/Completed: December 2016/January 2017
Modifications: Used worsted rather than DK weight yarn for the outers and sport rather than fingering for the lining

Friday, April 28, 2017

Me-Made-May 2017: plans and my pledge

I, Katherine of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item, not counting underwear, each day for the duration of May 2017.  In addition, I will devote all of my sewing and knitting time to making things for myself, with a focus on improving and expanding my work and cold-weather wardrobe.

I'm excited for Me-Made-May this year!  I've been in a bit of a sewing funk the last couple of months, partly due to limited sewing time, which paradoxically made me waste the sewing time I did have without actually sewing anything.  I've also felt kind of bogged down by several gifts I've been making for people - according to my blog, I've made exactly three things for myself in the last year: my Adelaide dress last June/July, the grey cardigan I finished last October (which I wear a lot but don't totally love), and the half-slip I threw together this Spring.

So I'm really excited to focus on making for myself next month.  I've been noticing a lot of gaps in my work wardrobe this year:  I'm set for slacks, but I don't have enough tops that I really like, and all of my dresses are short-sleeved or sleeveless.  First up on my list are a woven t-shirt and a long-sleeved lady skater dress, both in fabric I got from the Hancock's closing sale last Summer.  If both of those get finished next month, I'm thinking about a long-sleeved button-up in a beautiful light-orange voile I've had in my stash for a while and a sewn cardigan in a purple scuba knit (also from the Hancock's sale).

I'll try to keep a list of what I've worn each week.  I think this project will be helped by the fact that my semester is over as of this weekend, so I won't feel the need to be quite as dressed up at work (almost all of my work wardrobe is ready-to-wear, mostly hand-me-downs or purchased second-hand).  The one thing that could put a wrench in my plan of wearing me-mades every day is the weather - so far we've had a pretty cool spring, too cold for me to wear most of the clothes I sewed for myself in the Texas heat.  If all else fails I guess I'll wear a lot of sweaters!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Singer 66

About a month ago, Robert and I were visiting family during our Spring break.  His father and stepmother live just a few blocks from a street with several really awesome thrift and consignment shops.  I needed new-to-me jeans, so I walked over one morning to see what I could find.  I came home with not just the perfect jeans (long enough, not tight in the thighs, and with a waistband that doesn't gap in the back - the waistband facing is elastic!), but also two bread baking pans and a 1949 electric Singer 66 sewing machine!
The sewing machine was $85 and in good condition, with a new power cord.  It sews really smoothly.  It's my new everyday machine, and I'm enjoying it a lot.  It's a table model - its undersides are exposed, so you can't put it anywhere else and expect it to sew (it came with the table).  
I love that it has a really big harp space - it feels really luxuriously spacious compared to my old little Brother machine.  It has a low straight shank, so the darning foot from my Brother fits on it, and I've already done some FMQ on it.  It's a straight stitch only machine, although it does have a backstitch (apparently it was one of the first Singers to have a backstitch).  I'm hoping I can get a zig-zagger and a buttonholer for it.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Modern Arizona Wedding Quilt

One of my best friends got married last June.  I wanted to make a quilt wedding gift, but what with my graduation last May, I didn't get it started until the beginning of June.  Of course, I didn't have time to finish it before their wedding (I think I got the top finished), and then we moved cross-country in July and then I started my new job, and I finally finished it in February.

I made up the quilt pattern based on a picture of a quilt I had seen online.  I like it because it looks sort of like a double-wedding ring, but without the crazy template piecing.  I used two jelly rolls of Arizona-themed fabric from connecting threads.  I picked this fabric because my friend and her now-husband met and still live in Arizona.  It was a happy coincidence that several of the fabrics are a kind of coral-ish orange color, since our bridesmaid dresses were coral/orange!
My favorite fabric is this adorable cactus print:
I quilted loops in each row of the quilt, and bound it with leftover jelly roll strips.

Here's my sketch of the quilt blocks.  It's a twin-sized quilt (I didn't measure it after I washed it, but the blocks finished at 30" by 30", and it's two blocks wide by three blocks long).

Friday, April 14, 2017


When we lived in Texas, I used to wear skirts almost every day.  But in the midwestern winter (even the mild one we just had), it's much too cold to have bare legs, so I ordered a couple of pairs of Smartwool tights.  They are wonderful, but almost all of my skirts and dresses are un-lined light-to-medium weight cotton, and they ride up when I wear tights. I only have one skirt that's heavy enough to wear with tights and no slip.

So I made myself a half-slip using some Bemberg rayon I had bought for another project that I'm not sure will ever get made.  I followed Gertie's tutorial.  I cut two rectangles, each 25" wide and 19" long (which is wider than the tutorial suggests for my hip measurement, but I was worried about wearing ease, and I think I made the right call - I need to be able to walk to work, climb stairs, and generally feel comfortable walking around while I'm teaching).  I used French seams and a double narrow hem at the bottom.

I used a bit of lavender picot-edge elastic that I had leftover from making several pairs of undies, and I didn't use any lace or bows.

The rayon is super slippery, and the slip works really well!  It was kind of difficult to cut and sew the rayon accurately, but given the non-public nature of this project, I don't think it matters that it isn't perfect.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Another Sketchbook Shirt

This was a Christmas gift for my nephew, who was 18 months old at the time.  It is another Oliver + S sketchbook shirt.  The first two were short-sleeved, size 12-18 months, and the second one had a 1/4 inch broad shoulder adjustment.  This one is a long-sleeved 2T with the same broad shoulder adjustment.
I was looking for a nice plaid flannel, but the fabric I ended up finding at my local quilt shop was more like a homespun kind of thing than a true flannel.  I did all french seams, including the armscyes, and cut the yokes and pocket on the bias.  I used this tutorial from Really Handmade to figure out the plaid-matching at the plackets and side seams.  I think it turned out really well!

Friday, February 24, 2017


This is the first of the handmade Christmas gifts I made in 2016.  A wowligan for my niece, who turned 3 last fall and loves animals, buttons, and the color yellow.  This yellow sweater has 12 owls and 27 buttons.
I bought the worsted-weight yarn before I settled on the pattern, and it is significantly heavier than what the pattern calls for, so I had to wing it on the sizing.
The circumference ended up being 24", and although I haven't seen her wear it in person, from pictures it looks like it fits.

The biggest problem I had was with the buttons that fasten the sweater closed - I forgot to do a thread shank when I sewed them on, and they were way too tight.  I couldn't even get the buttonholes around them, so I cut off the buttons and re-sewed them.  They were much better the second time, but there still wasn't really enough room between the buttons and the button-band.  Next time I'll try to do better ....

Pattern: Wowligan
Size: 24", but I used the stitch counts for the smallest size
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted (100% superwash wool) in Buttercup, 2 skeins
Needles:  US size 8, I think
Started/Completed: December 2016/December 2016
Modifications: Used worsted rather than sport weight yarn.  I used the stitch counts for the smallest size and the length measurements from one of the larger sizes.