Monday, June 26, 2006

Knitting Progress & Stargazing

I'm kind of between sewing projects right now, although as you can see, the knitting continues apace. The photo above is the bottom portion of the Schachenmayr Lacy Cardigan in Toy yarn. I had hoped that this would work as a somewhat outré twinset with the Schachenmayr Lacy Shell, but the colors just aren't going to work together. I hoped that there would be enough pink in the rust of the shell to go with the pink cardigan, but it's too deep a divide to bridge. Oh well, I like them both as separate pieces, so that's okay too. The cardigan is an interesting piece to knit, as it's worked back and forth in one piece up to where you divide for the armscyes, so it goes quickly, and there will be less to seam, which is a plus. Here's a close up of the lace pattern. I just love the different colors that make up this yarn.

I'm still coming along with the Lavold tank with the lacy straps, and am getting close to where the lace pattern starts on the back, so not too long now, I hope.

I am also working on a top in Katia "Bolero" yarn, which has little pieces in the main yarn that almost look and feel like grosgrain ribbon. I think it's such a fun look, and I started knitting up the pattern they have for a cute tank top with buckles in the straps. I'm above the waist with it now, and have just about decided that I think I will change to a shell pattern so that I have more shoulder coverage. I don't know why I was seduced by the tank pattern, but it is really cute, just not for me.

For some reason this weekend I decided that I had to see if I could get to 3 stars on PatternReview. The formula for stars is arcane at best, but I finally figured it out. The upshot is that I either have to write 25 more reviews OR hope that 8 more people will add me as a favorite reviewer. It turns out that the part of the formula that counts ratings of your reviews is almost useless in getting stars. But, you may ask, why exactly do you want 3 stars? That is a really good question, and one to which I don't really know the answer. It was just one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time. Or something.

I think I am going to start on a pair of nice, summer drawstring pants, and I want them to be long enough to wear with heels. I loved it in the '70s and '80s when we wore heels with pants, and I like it now, too.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Border Print Skirt

I finally finished the belt for the border print skirt, which is what has been holding me up. As it turns out, it was not as important as I had thought it would be. If I were going to wear it with a tucked-in top, then it would be necessary to hide the elasticized waist, but with the tops on the outside, it doesn't show at all, and the belt, which is more of a narrow cummerbund, just adds bulk, although it can be nice over a top.

I originally planned this skirt to go with the jacket and blouse that you see above. I didn't have a real plan for the skirt, but I knew I wanted something a little different, with plenty of walking ease, and perhaps some kind of drape or asymmetric hemline. When I finished it, I wondered whether it would really work as part of the planned group. It's definitely a departure for me, but I really kind of like it, and I think it works. Dare I say that it's my "Homage to Lacroix"? I have always loved his wild conglomerations of prints and colors and styles which may look random, but are truly masterful. I hadn't planned this to attempt to approach that style, but it does come to mind.

Here it is with a knitted top, and very much milder in effect. You can see the bow much more clearly in the side view, too.

The photos are much clearer, and there are more at My Photos, including photos of the inside drape attachment.

The fabric for this skirt is from JoAnn's, and is a 45" polyester silky print. I bought 2 yards, and used almost every snippet. I did a baby hem the entire length before I started, and then sewed the side seam, and started trying it on with elastic around my waist. I tucked and fussed, and draped and pinned, and finally came up with an inverted pleat in the back, with the fabric in the pleat folded several times on each side of the pleat to give some depth, and to keep the fullness all at the back. The drape is stitched to a doubled ribbon which hangs from the waist, and is folded over several times to give a sturdy base for the stitching, and for the bow attachment. It also keeps the weight of the drape and bow from pulling the skirt down.

I think this is going to be fun to wear. Shoes seem to be the most difficult element to get right with this. They need a little weight, but not too much. I think the espadrilles are good with the top, but a little flighty-looking with the jacket. I'm not sure about the pumps either, though. Luckily, I won't have to decide on that until closer to fall, I don't think.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sewing Expo

Well, Jane and I went to the Sewing Expo in Omaha yesterday, and we had a really good time! We had signed up for an Emma Seabrooke class on sewing with knits, and it was quite good. She had lots of specific tips on sewing with different kinds of knits, and she not only told you what worked, she told you what didn't work, and why. Her samples were beautifully sewn, and she had lots of good ideas for different kinds of knits. One of her specialties is Slinky Knit. I've only sewn with Slinky once, but we had happened to wander into her booth before the class and looked at the great fabrics she had brought, and we went back afterward and bought. I got a piece of Slinky in one of "my" colors, a gray-green, and a piece of a Missoni-like sweater knit. Jane got orange Slinky, and a coordinating print knit. Jane said she wants whatever I don't use of the sweater knit, which is fine with me, as I'm planning only a top from it. It was one of the precut 3 yard lengths available, as was my Slinky, and that's more than I need of the sweater knit. I also bought a pattern from Emma, the Aliece, which is a V-neck cardigan with a plain- or cowl-neck top. Her sizing is very interesting, and I hadn't even looked at it when she looked me over and said Size E. I didn't know what that was, but it's a 10 with a C/D bust. Sounds good to me! Her pattern line is SewKeysE, but I don't believe believe she has a website.

The Japanese buttons at the top of this post were just irresistible! They are so darling. I got enough for a camp shirt, and the long one is just because. They're kind of heavy, and I think they're magnets to which shanks were glued. They're from Japanese Textiles & Tours which is Carol Lane-Saber's business. She taught at the Expo too, and her booth had wonderful pieces. I managed to hold myself to just the buttons, though.

As I said earlier, I was hoping for silk thread, and I found it! I got some lovely colors of Tire thread, and one spool of DMC cotton embroidery thread, all 50-weight. Jane pointed out the DMC, and said she's successfully used it when she needs a very perfect color-match. Anything DMC is usually great, so thought I'd try it. I'd not seen it before.

We also each bought a starter kit from Bo-Nash of their 007 Bonding Agent. I had seen it advertised, but never really figured out what it did. Well, they had a woman demonstrating, and it appears to be a miracle product. You can invisibly fix holes and tears in things, and I saw everything from a patterned thin silk blouse to a wool jacket. It also will bond lace appliques to silk chiffon invisibly and with no stiffness whatsoever. We both thought of many good ideas for it. I plan to try it to attach the Angelina Fiber koi fish I'm going to put on the next purse I make. I've been wondering what would be the best way, and nothing was really looking like the answer, but I think this may be it. The kit also included a leather/vinyl bonder that works the same way, a large Teflon appliqué sheet, and iron-cleaning sheets. There is no excuse now for lack of industry.

We also watched a fashion show of Park Bench Patterns. It was interesting, and the patterns are much different than the drawings I'd seen before. All in all, it was a very nice day, and I hope they will hold the Expo next year too. They say they will, and if so, I'll be there!

Today, our neighbors were having a garage sale, so I went over to chat and look, and my very sweet neighbor gave me this wicker suitcase filled with yarn that had belonged to a friend. Really a nice collection, and a complete surprise! It will be fun to play with, and the wicker case is great!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Moving Along

First of all, I want to thank everyone so much for the very kind comments on my run of bad luck. I appreciate your concern more than you know. The burn appears to be alright. I apparently cooled it quickly enough to prevent much damage. My shoulder is still hurting though, and I'm becoming resigned to its being a problem for some time. Maybe not such a big problem I hope. Because of it, I went and got a haircut today. Does this seem like a non-sequitur? Well, I can't wash it and fix it, so thought it was time for a trim anyway, and I feel much better now. I also treated myself to a blissful pedicure, and I feel quite princessy!

I'm going with a friend to the Sewing Expo in Omaha tomorrow. We will take a Knits class with Emma Seabrooke, and then just wander the vendor area until we succumb to temptation. I'm hoping for Tire silk thread. Otherwise, I guess I'll have to break down and order it. Other than that, I don't think there's anything specific I'm looking for, but I'm thinking hard, as I'm sure there must be something that I'm overlooking.

My sister sent me a really great article perfect to read before going to a sewing/fiber/textile show. It's called Right From the Start by Marci Petrini. Even if you're not going to a show, it's a good prod to begin thinking about why you approach your art the way that you do.

I received a new Katia knitting pattern book today. It's #448, Spring/Summer and there are some wonderful patterns. I have made several Katia patterns previously, and I really like their books. They always have several that I would seriously consider, the directions are good, the charts and schematics are clear, and I have decided that I think they're among the best of the yarn-brand pattern books I've seen.

One more thrilling tidbit. I feel like I'm learning to use the computer all over again, as I have begun using the mouse with my left hand since yesterday. Moving my arm from the keyboard to the mouse was obviously a problem, and I finally switched, and it was not horrible, but non-intuitive, until my sister suggested that I should switch the buttons too, and that helped a lot. Now a left click is a right click, but more importantly, it's still the index finger doing its thing!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Burning Questions and Cold Shoulders?

This bow is for the Border Print Skirt I'm working on. I thought I would get it done today, but as you'll understand if you manage to wade through the rest of this post, I didn't finish today. I did get the hand sewing on the bow done, so that was something, and very satisfying. I also worked on the Pink Lacy Cardigan to go with the Lacy Shell I finished previously. I decided I'd better at least have a nice photo of the bow, as there's nothing else good to show for today.

Well, luck has been in plentiful supply around here lately. Just not good luck. Warning: non-sewing content ahead for a ways. I know I mentioned the bad cold/respiratory thing I had, and still have the vestiges of, after about 2 weeks. Apparently I also somehow injured a shoulder, although I don't remember doing anything memorable. It's been painful down my right arm, and seemed to be somewhat of a muscle problem. I got an anti-inflammatory and was told to see if it was better in a couple weeks.

Last night I was working on my border print skirt and the Peep hopped onto the ironing board, and then decided to get off quickly. The board and the iron began to rock, and I grabbed quickly to save the iron. Very bad move, and my arm was immediately unusable without a lot of pain. Fine. It would take more time to heal.

This morning I was only using the left hand and arm to do things unless absolutely necessary, which wasn't so bad, if awkward. There was chicken noodle soup in the microwave this noon (Pearle caught my cold. More luck.) and it was boiling pretty good and was ready, so I decided to take it out. I started to lift it out, and my right arm quit, and I spilled boiling soup all down the inside of my right forearm, and all over the floor of course. So, I was alternating between running cold water on my arm, and getting down on my hands and knees trying to get the soup off the floor, with one bad arm to start with. It was quite a travesty.

I did end up at the doctor this afternoon, and he is sending me to an orthopedist, as he says there's something unstable in my shoulder, and he doesn't think rest is going to really do much for it. The burn turns out to be not nearly as bad as it might have been, because apparently cold water is exactly what you should use on a burn. I always thought we should use ice, but I guess not.

It's been a strange week and a very strange day, as these are the kinds of things that don't usually happen to me, but I guess it was my turn, or something.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lacy Shell is Finished

Last night I finished the Schachenmayr Toy Lacy Shell. It was fairly quick to knit, and I'm quite pleased with it. I got the yarn and the pattern book from Elann.

This was another garment where I did the front and back in different sizes. I knitted the Front as a large, and the Back as a small. I usually like the results I get this way, and this was no exception. Since the shoulders are cut in, I made crocheted strap keepers, which work very well. The collar was kind of weird, as they have you stop after a WS row (all plain purled row) when you put the neckline stitches on a holder. Then, when you're ready to do the collar, there are live stitches on each side in the back, and some at the CF, with bound-off stitches in between. So, I put the live stitches from one side of the back on the needle, picked up the stitches before the CF live stitches, and then realized that my pattern was going to be all screwed up if I just knitted across the CF stitches and picked up the side stitches again, as then I would purl back, and so would have 2 plain knit rows in the middle of the lace pattern. I finally picked up the side stitches and then just put the live stitches from the CF on the needle and picked up the other side stitches with a different piece of yarn, and put the live stitches on the needle from the other side of the back. Then, I began with another piece of yarn from the right-hand edge and worked a right side (lace stitch) row. This made for a few more woven-in ends than I otherwise would have had, but I didn't want a strange mistaken-looking part in the pattern right at the center front at the top. I wonder if this is what they expected you might do, or maybe this is the "obvious, done thing", or maybe there's an actual right way that I missed entirely, but this worked anyway.

You can see more photos here. It was a really windy day and I took photos out on the top deck, so hair was flying everywhere. I don't think it adds much, but there you are.

The reason I seem to suddenly be finishing a lot of knitting is that I've had a really bad cold or something (which is wonderful on top of allergies) and it has hung on like crazy. So, not so much energy to sew, but I can sit and knit. I'm finally over it, I think, but my right shoulder is now causing a lot of problems. I've never had anything like this, and apparently it's just muscle strain (they think) but it's hard to try not to use it, especially when I'm right handed. Oh well, just a small whine for the day.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Organza Blouse Finished

This is the finished Organza Little Blouse with the Matka Marfy jacket that it was made to coordinate with. I think the colors are very nice, and the blouse is okay too. I like the way the collar lays, and I think the tie ends look very nice with the jacket. There was a lot of this type of look shown in the Fall '06 runway shows, and I liked it. I would like it in a softer fabric too. It was a fun project, and it will be nice to wear when it's a little cooler out. It was in the 90's today, and I was not tempted to leave it on any longer than necessary.

I changed the neckline to a V, added a button-front placket with 6 very thin pearl buttons, and a bias tie collar. The sleeves are plain elbow length. I'm wondering if I should weight the back hem somewhat, as the details in the front add weight that pulls it forward slightly. This doesn't happen with a fabric which is not so weightless to start with.

I will start on the coordinating border print skirt next, and I'm wondering if this is going to be a wilder-than-usual outfit for me, since it has two patterned fabrics. (Oh, the thrill of it all!) Here's a view of the blouse on a hanger, and you can see more photos here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

French Seams

Well, it's been awhile since I sewed anything particularly sheer that needed french seams, but the embroidered organza Little Blouse I'm working on has seemed to call for this technique. I worked on the pattern last night, changing the CF-on-fold and scoop-neck to a button-front with V-neck. So far, so good. The fabric sews beautifully, and I just hope it won't be too stiff to be a nice blouse. It's awfully pretty fabric, and the color is great, so I'm counting on its turning out well.

I've been getting some knitting done on the Silky Tweed Tank, and am about up to the waist on the back. I've also begun seriously reading Barbara Walker's Knitting From the Top, and I can see that it's going to complicate my knitting life somewhat, for a while at least, but I think in the end it will be very helpful. It should take a lot of the fit guesswork out of knitting, and that's something I've always hated. Following a pattern in the usual way, by the time you know what you needed to do, it's way too late.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Cable/Bobble Sweater is Finished!

I am so pleased! I finally finished this sweater last night. I've been working on it since the end of January, I believe. I know I ordered the yarn about the 30th anyway. I like the way it turned out, and it was really quite fun to knit. It certainly never got boring! It's made with Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool, and the pattern is from Vogue Knitting's winter '01-'02 issue, pattern #25.

I made it as written except for adding one stitch pattern column on each side of the front. I think this gave it a good fit, as I didn't want it to be tight at all. I did have to make the sleeves much longer than they said, but that was no surprise. I joined the yarn as I went from ball to ball, so there were only a very few ends to weave in, which was quite wonderful. I ended up with about 3 1/2 skeins left over, so I guess if I need a hat or a bag or something, I'm set. The collar looks like ribbing, but it's not. It's supposed to just fall over, and it does. I tried folding it down, but I don't really care for that, at least right now. Here's a photo of it on me, and you can see close ups of the stitch patterns here.