Saturday, February 25, 2006

Fabric Bonanza

I've been resisting new fabric purchases for some time, but when the dam broke, it was a real washout! You can see larger versions of these photos at my Fabric & Findings gallery at Pbase. The first 3 photos are fabrics that I've ordered from FabricMart.

I am hoping to make a long jacket from this metallic embossed cotton.

I want to use the giraffe for a longish, straight jacket, and the faux leather/suede for a top to go under it, with a bateau-neck, CF seam split at the top for a few inches. I hope to emulate a designer look. Otherwise, it may just be the giraffe effect, all by itself.

The 3 knits are from Timmel Fabric. The first two will be my old reliable Jalie Tees, and the last is a very interesting knit. It looks like an applied lace on a sheer, and I plan a twinset. I may use the new Jalie twinset pattern, or else Nancy Erickson's twinset pattern, in the shorter length.

Many, many plans, as usual. I should get to it instead of just talking about it!

New Fabric / Old Machine

It's been quite a week. We went to the Pendleton Outlet in Nebraska City on Friday, and I did very well. They have wonderful fabric, and various sewing notions as well. I bought 5 lengths of fabric, all wool.

This is a fairly heavy wool jacquard with a lovely pattern in blue and taupe. I have vague jacket plans for it, although I got enough that I could probably do a coatdress if I wanted to.

This wonderful double-cloth wool is quite heavy, and I think an outerwear jacket is its probably destination. It's woven in panels 32" long, and is reversible. You can see both sides in the photo on the right.

I prefer the right side, at least for now. It's so much softer looking than the left, although the left has a more visibly detailed pattern.

These two are both featherweight worsted wool plaids, and they are so lightweight it's hard to believe they're wool. They will be shirts for Pearle. You can see the lovely drape in the blue photo.

I've also been looking for a very nice, tropical weight worsted wool in a dark brown, and here it is. My favorite dark brown wool pants were ready to go away, and now I can replace them. I bought enough for a skirt or jacket as well. I really think it won't be the jacket, as I don't need a basic brown jacket very badly. This wool is the only one that has a little lycra in it. Really very little, I hope. It doesn't stretch much, so maybe it will be all right anyway. I just really have come to almost hate stretch wovens most of the time.

(If you want to see larger, more detailed photos of these fabrics, please go to my Fabrics & Findings Gallery at Pbase.)

So, a very successful trip. I got some sleeve heads and interior binding as well as some invisible zippers.

The other thrilling thing, is that I finally got my Elna back from the sewing machine repairman. They had to order a very small part, and of course, the parts places aren't in any hurry. It's great to have it home again, although I've enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with my Kenmore. I think I'll leave it open for a while too, as it's very handy for some things, and I do love its chainstitch!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Scallop Hem Skirt

I made this Jalie Tee in December from a Caramel/Copper rayon ribknit, and cut out a skirt at the same time. I finally got the skirt done the other night, and decided to cut the hem off with the scallop blade I got for my larger rotary cutter. I think it turned out pretty cute, and it's such a thin knit (probably too thin for a skirt, really) that I was afraid a hem might make it hang very strangely. I did hem the Tee with Steam-A-Seam, and it's okay, but I was kind of in the "deconstruction" mood right now anyway, so thought I'd do something radical. Here's a close up.

We went to the Pendleton outlet in Nebraska City this morning, the only one left since the Bellevue one closed last year. It's smaller, but still has great stuff. I got quite a haul. I will take photos soon, and let you all drool with me, while I gloat!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cable Sweater Back

I finished the back of the Cable/Bobble Sweater on Friday, and am now on the 3rd repeat of the bobble pattern on the front. I'm rather pleased with the way it looks, and I think it's going to be a nice sweater when it's done. I'm not tired of the pattern yet, and I don't mind doing all those bobbles, which I was warned about. I did have to make my own chart for the body stitches, simply because it was so excruciatingly tiny in the magazine. Mine covers a little more than two legal-size sheets taped together lengthwise, so it's much easier to see.

Here's a close up of the second stitch pattern from the outside, and it shows the color a little more truly.

I also finally finished the Deep Caramel rib-knit skirt tonight that I cut out in December to go with a Jalie Tee, which I finished in December. I decided to take a discussion about deconstruction to heart a little bit, and instead of hemming, I just used a large rotary cutter with a scalloping wheel to trim the hem edge. I think it's kind of cute, really. And, if I get tired of it, I can always hem it more conventionally. It's a cute skirt and I like it, but it's really a little lightweight for a skirt. I always wear a slip with these skirts anyway, so it's no problem, but I really think a useful resolution for me would be to watch the weight of knit fabrics a little more closely. It would save a lot of trouble.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Coral Skirt & Tee

I finished the Coral Lace-Knit Skirt last night that I planned as a companion piece to the Coral Floral Tee. You can see another photo of it here. I used my tried and true FFF skirt pattern. It's a plain, straight skirt pattern for knits with your choice or 1 through 4 seams. I usually make it with 4 seams, but I decided to cut the CF on a fold because of the lace pattern. I also added a little width to the CF as I wanted a little more width in the skirt rather than the extra-slim shape I usually make. I like it quite a lot, and I think it works wonderfully with the Tee. I also like the hip sash, which ties it all together nicely, but it's also okay without it. The only thing I am disappointed in, is that I wish I had bought enough of the lace for a pair of pants. I think it would be really cute, and very summery. I'm sure Textile Studios is out of it though, as it was last fall when I bought this fabric.

I originally had thought I'd like a godet at the side seam, and I put one in. Of course it went in perfectly, because it looked just awful! Very much like a small rag had attached itself to my skirt. Needless to say, away it went! I often think I should do things that are a little more daring, but the classics seem to be what looks best on me. At least, that's what I think. Maybe I'm just stuck in a small rut.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sewing for a Change

I said I was feeling like I needed to do a little sewing, and I decided to finally whip up two Jalie Tees that have been on the list for a while, and that I want for spring. I bought some neat knit prints from Textile Studios, and just hadn't gotten to them. As you can see, one is a french exterior print, and the other is a coral floral. At the same time, I bought a floral lace knit in a dull coral, which is a two-layer knit, so it's not really sheer, although I will wear a slip with it, which I think will make a nice spring combination with the floral tee.

After I said I felt the urge to do a little sewing, I immediately felt like knitting, but after an hour or so, Mr. Peep, the assistant cat, laid firmly on my chart. I took this as a sign that I had better get to the sewing. I'm glad I did, but I did get some knitting done afterward too. I'm about halfway up the armscye on the back of the Silky Wool Cable/Bobble Sweater.

This sweater was the third thing, and second sweater I ever knitted. I still really like it, but it's much too big now. It's a Vogue Knitting pattern, #10 from the Spring/Summer 1993 issue. I knitted it in 1994 with Paton's Cotton DK. The color was Light Khaki, and it has since been dyed mauve. If you go to a clearer sweater photo, you can see short-row darting on the front at the beginning of the armscye. This was my first try on darts, too, and I think it was quite intrepid of me to do this on a patterned sweater for the first time. Perhaps I didn't know enough to realize it should be hard. As I look at the pattern again, I see that it also is rated "Experienced" which I most certainly was not. The yarn I used was Paton's Cotton DK, and after all this time, much wear, quite a few washings, and being packed away for a couple years, I think the cotton yarn has held up remarkably well. It was recommended by a LYS owner, and I'm very pleased that she guided me toward it. The more I look at the pattern, and remember how much fun it was to knit, the more I am thinking that I should make one again. I'll have to see if the feeling persists.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Silky Wool Progress

Click to view larger.

Here's my progress on the back of the VK Winter 01/02-#25 Cabled/Bobbled sweater in Silky Wool. I'm rather pleased with it. It's a very complex thing to knit just because all the different patterns have different row repeats, and so although the chart goes up to Row 40, as that's the longest repeat, the shortest repeat is 16 rows, I think. When I go past Row 40, I have to see where to equate with Row 1 of the 40 row pattern, and then add the prescribed amount to get the row number of that pattern. I definitely have to sit and have the chart where I can see it while I knit.

This afternoon I took a break and cut out a couple of Jalie Tees. I got some cute knit prints from Textile Studios and have been wanting to get them made up. One is a coral on white floral and the other is a pink with black line drawings of French sidewalk caf├ęs and exteriors. I hope to sew them tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Like Aged Stonework

Click on photos to enlarge.

Here's most of the bobble panel for my Silky Wool Cabled Sweater. I really like the way it's looking. It reminds me very strongly of ancient, weathered stonework whose carvings have been worn to softness. It's going rather quickly, and the bobbles have been fun, although originally I worried that I would get sick to death of doing them. They go very well, especially now that I've pretty much memorized the pattern. That helps amazingly, and although it didn't seem like it at the beginning, it is a pattern that makes sense, thus making it that much easier to memorize. I have about 5 more rows before I begin the body patterns. I want to make a new chart before I do that, as the one they have given is so very tiny, and there are some corrections that need to be made. I think a new, larger chart is just the ticket. Here's a close up of the bobble pattern.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Another Yarn Dilemma - Solved

The top sample is my gauge and sample swatch of the Bobble pattern in Silky Wool. The lower sample is from a sample skein sent by (Click on the photo for a larger, more detailed view.) It's about half wool/half microfiber, which was a combination that I had originally thought might be good for this sweater. Everything about it looked good, except the color, but they have others. I really thought I might switch after I did the sample last night, but looking at it both in person and in the photos, I really believe I'll stay with the silky wool. It just has a little more interesting look to it.

You probably notice the difference between the lower bobble pattern in the top swatch and the second repeat above it. I was not happy with the way my bobbles looked, even with several suggestions to slip the first stitch on each row, etc. I finally remembered to look in my June Hemmons Hiatt Principles of Knitting book, and of course, she has the answer to this, as well as almost anything else you'd ever want to know about knitting, and a lot of things I didn't know existed. She has a Better Bobble method.* As you can see, the good bobbles all stand up like soldiers, and look very uniform. The other methods lead to bobbles which are shy and retiring. Bold bobbles; that's what we want!

I started on the back again last night, and it's slow going so far. I have a stitch marker between each repeat, and I'm using some commercially-made ones which are okay, but I really wanted some made from straws. So, I snagged a couple straws from a restaurant yesterday, and I'll cut them into slices. That's my favorite type of marker. They're very flexible, lightweight and don't get in the way. Also, easily replaceable.

*Better Bobble Method
R1: YOinc3, turn
R2: P1, YOinc3, P1, turn
R3: K5, turn
R4: SSP*, P1, P2tog, turn
R5: Slip2kwtog, K1, PSSsO

(SSP involves slipping 2 knitwise separately, moving them back to the left needle, and purling them together through the back loop from left to right.)