Friday, December 28, 2007

The Sweaters and their Recipients


Chris and Zachary very kindly modeled their sweaters. They seemed very pleased with them, and that pleased me. Zachary is also showing his rolling pin. He's very much into cooking, and Alton Brown of Good Eats fame is his favorite.
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I took my sister to get her Christmas present today. I had told her I'd get her a thimble from Thimbles by TJ Lane, so we went to the studio and she tried on thimbles aplenty. She had her heart set on a Yubinuki (ring thimble) like mine, but her fingers are so tiny that they had to take the smallest one they made (a 3 1/2, which is what mine is) and cut it down for her, so we waited and browsed among all the other wonderful things they make while they cut and soldered and fitted. It's now about a size 1, or a bit smaller. She made inroads on their other inventory of chatelaines and various dependant tools, and she has a gorgeous piece of jewelry now which is also a portable sewing kit, basically. We pick up her thimble next week after it's been hardened and polished.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season, and I hope it's not over yet!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

One Last Sewn Gift

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I needed a quick gift for a little girl, and decided last night that an embellished bag would be just the ticket. Fun for me to make, and fun for her to get. I used some Pendleton wool that I'd used for a larger purse for her foster-mother a couple years ago, so I think she'll be pleased to have a "matching" bag. The lining is a black stretch cotton printed with stick figures in gold. One end of the handle is topstitched to the front and one end to the back, and a there is a snap closure. This is a very, very simple project, but I think it's just right for a six-year-old.

Showing the Inside.

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Better Photo of the Lining.

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Xmas Sweaters Finished

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I finally got both sweaters completely finished and photographed. It's awfully nice to see them lying there, all done. I hardly know what to do with myself now that I don't have one of them to pick up and work on in every spare moment.

They're both made with Bendigo Woolen Mill's Rustic yarn. It's 100% wool, and very nice to work with. Especially if you hate finishing, as it comes in 200g balls, and so there are many fewer ends to weave in, especially if you splice as you go along, as I do.

The Red Tweed sweater is a Child's Size 9/10, and the Midnight Tweed is a Men's XL. The patterns is Drops 59-6

I made one mistake which I'm glad I made. This may sound strange, but I'll explain. The patterns on the front and back of both sweaters are exactly the same, and the small box pattern at the sides has a varying number of stitches which makes the size difference. The sleeves however are a different matter. The adult sweater has a narrower version of the center cable panel flanked by the horseshoe cables, and the rest in the box pattern, as on the front. The child's version doesn't have room for all that when you begin the main sleeve stitches after the cuff. I read and reread the pattern, and finally did what (I thought) it called for. The horseshoe cable pattern with the rest in the box pattern. It worked out beautifully, and I liked the sleeve extensions even better than the adult version where it narrows to go behind the back neck, since it has a little textural pattern to it, and the adult's, which uses the main cable pattern there, doesn't. When I began the second child's sleeve, I realized I had misread the instructions, and it was supposed to be the narrowed main cable pattern without the horseshoe cables. Well, I certainly wasn't going to rip out a whole beautiful sleeve just because of that, and I really like mine better anyway.

Here's my version of the sleeve. You can see the other version below.

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One thing that's tricky on this pattern is ending the sleeve extensions at the correct point. I ended up ripping back a few rows on some, and adding a few rows on others to make the graft come out exactly in the center back.

Here's a close-up of the Shoulder/Sleeve/Body seam. You can also see the edge of the turtleneck which was picked up after the rest of the seaming was all done.

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I had a little trouble doing the collar, since my shoulder began hurting when I started knitting around on it. A couple years ago, I had the same kind of pain which began when I picked up and knitted a similar collar on a sweater for me, which turned out to be rotator cuff injury. That sweater was much lighter than this one, and I tried to think of some way to change my method enough to make my shoulder feel better. I decided to change to double-pointed needles from a circular, and that seemed to help a lot. I think shoving the stitches along while lifting and turning the sweater was the problem. With the double-points, you knit off one needle, stop and turn, then begin again. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it definitely made a lot of difference.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Elves Are Busy

Thursday (the 13th) I was helping with a Christmas Luncheon and Program put on by one of my music clubs. I wasn't in charge of any of the food, and for the first time in several years, I wasn't on the program this month either. In fact, my regular accompanist, Diana, asked me if I knew what to do since we weren't performing. It did feel strange, but nice to just listen and enjoy, too. I was simply a flunky in the kitchen, mainly before we served. The dessert was the most interesting part. We have a member who lives in Pennsylvania, but is flown back every so often to perform and tour with a dance band, and it often coincides with our meetings. She had Whoopie Pies and Wilber Buds shipped here for us. The Whoopie Pies are an Amish thing, and very good, although very sweet. The Wilber Buds look a lot like Hershey kisses, and apparently the Wilber Chocolate factory employed Mr. Hershey before he started his own company, and they had the kiss-type candy form first. Isn't history interesting? All this information, and chocolate too!

I realized when I got home after the event, that I'd been paying no attention whatsoever to the calendar, and Christmas was creeping up on me even more quickly than usual. I began to knit on my nephew's sweater with greater concentration, and finished the knitting Saturday. It looks so tiny compared to the same sweater for my brother, but I think they're both the right size. Hope so anyway!

I decided to wait and block after I finished them, and I'm really glad I made that decision, since when I stitched my brother's together, I had to do some adjusting on the length of the saddle shoulder extensions which meet and are grafted at CB, and that might have been rather difficult after blocking. I've almost finished the neckband on his. I learned something too. When I first had shoulder pain which turned out to be rotator cuff injury, it began when I was doing a picked-up neckband on a sweater for me. I was using a circular needle. This is about the same thing, except the sweater is much heavier. I began on a circular, and started getting the same type of pain again. I decided that pushing the stitches along on the circular while lifting and repositioning the heavy sweater was probably the problem. I changed to double-pointed needles, and I think it's helped a lot. It's still a chore, doing 5" of 2x2 rib on Size 2 needles, but it looks really great.

Click here for a larger view and for earlier progress photos.

Now all I have to do is stitch up Zachary's sweater and do his neckband. I really was beginning to wonder if I was even going to get done in time since I started Chris's in about June, and didn't start Zach's until November. I feel like I've been doing no needlework except knitting for several weeks now, and I'm excited to be getting close to done.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Form Workshop & Yarn

Today was the day set for the local Sewing Guild's Dress Form Workshop. I was the "leader" which turned out to be much easier than I'd dared to hope, and mainly consisted of just spearheading the effort and booking the room. Originally, 9 members wanted forms; 8 duct tape and 1 paper tape. 2 cancelled out because of late-arising conflicts, 1 decided she'd rather just watch and help, and as it turned out, 3 others didn't show up at all, so we did 3 forms and went home early. I can't blame anyone for deciding not to come, as the weather was supposed to be freezing rain and snow on top of the snow we already have. It didn't start with all that until we were about done, which was lucky. The high was only 14 degrees today, so it was not nice any way you look at it.

I did most of one duct tape form, and it turned out well I think. We had decided not to try to stuff them today as we assumed we wouldn't have time, so it will be interesting to hear how they turned out, and if everyone likes their form and uses it. It was nice to have enough helpers to cut tape and keep an eye on how it was going.

Since we got done earlier than we might have, I had time to stop at the LYS and snatch up this gorgeous ribbon yarn.

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It's Segué by Trendsetter and I think it's the most beautiful colors, so I hope it shows up correctly for you. Suggested needle size is a 15, but I think I can probably get by with a 13 or so. I want to make a simple shell from it, and will probably have to rewrite the pattern for the gauge of 2spi.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Another Warm Garment - Fleece Pants

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These pants were inspired by the really nice warm fleece top I made at Thanksgiving. I found more of the same fabric, and bought enough to make pants, which were intended to be pajama/lounging pants, but which turned out looking good enough to wear in public if necessary, although around the house is where they will most likely be seen.

As you will see in the next photos, I did an unusual hem treatment. I wanted to have elastic at the hem so that if I did wear them as pajama pants, I could pull them down over my always-cold feet. I made them extra long, and put the elastic in loosely, and when I turn the elastic up, the pant hems appear normal. I am so pleased with this, as I don't think there's much that's flattering about elastic-bottomed pants.

Here's a close up of the hem in it's normal position.

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And with the pant leg raised to show the elastic.

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And here you can see the actual length of the pantleg, with my toe pointed, and just peeking out the bottom.

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Here's a Side View,

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And a Back View.

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I used my TNT Burda pant pattern, with my wide-leg pattern add-on. This leg falls straight down from the widest point of the hip, and I like it very much. I made these with a drawstring waist, adding a 2" high yoke-like casing at the top. This style always fits me better than just cutting the top of the pant higher to accommodate it, although for very thin, drapey fabrics I like that better.

The little patch pocket was definitely an afterthought, as I realized when I tried them on after hemming, that I had nowhere to put my MP3 player or a cellphone, and that would never do. So, a fast, quick patch pocket was my solution.

I think these are a real success, as they're not only warm and comfy, they look pretty good as well. What more can you ask for?

Spot That Fake Chanel!

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Piecework Magazine had a great article this month by Claire Shaeffer about the "detective" process she goes through to decide if an unlabeled Chanel-style suit is the real thing or just a close copy.

I used to subscribe to Piecework, and liked it very much. It is aimed more at the history and curation of textiles of all kinds than at the creation of pieces today. They have wonderful instructions and tutorials for recreating some of the techniques or items that they show. Not really recreating of course, but just enough to give you a taste of the technique, and enough information to send you on your way towards learning and doing more, if you are so moved. The photos are wonderful, and their range is very wide. I finally quit subscribing, but I still look at it on the news stand now and then, and the other day I was stunned to find this wonderful article in the latest issue (Nov/Dec07) without even a hint of it on the cover!

If you're interested in the inner workings of Chanel garments, this is invaluable information. It's not exhaustive, but so much has been written already, much of it by Claire Shaeffer herself, that we should be able to find the 'basics' in other places. This is just a little icing on the cake.

One of the things that caught my eye was the use of one of the blouse fabrics (this couture suit came with 2 blouses) to embellish the lining, and also the fact that it had pocket flaps with no pockets. Unusual, apparently, but not unheard of, and the kind of thing I myself would do, since I'd know I would never put anything in one of the patch pockets on the front of the jacket, and it would simply add bulk. Since it is apparently unusual, I'm sure it was the client's idea.

The other very interesting thing was the telltale topstitching on the edge of the jacket, but not on the lining. Very tricky.