Monday, February 28, 2011

California Fabrics

This is a photo of the contents of a box now working its way toward me on a UPS truck. I think I did pretty well overall. Kathi took me, Susan and Lisa first to FIDM, both the store and museum, and then to the Fashion District. We did find some good things.I bought mostly knits, some linen, serger thread, and elastics and stretch laces. FIDM sells almost all of their fabrics for $1/yard, so it's very difficult to resist when you find things you like. Here are some detailed shots with descriptions.

L-R, from top
Plum Knit; Brown Knit; Mauvey Knit Stripe w/Eyelet Hem; Gray/Silver Small Print; Brown/Gold Cracked Knit; Gold/White Swirl Dot Knit; Pink/Gray Line Knit.

L-R, Bottom to Top
Pink/Lime Floral Knit; Pink/Gray/White Plaid Knit; Gold/White Dot Swirl Knit; Pink/Gray Link Knit; Elastics.
Black/Gray Small Print Knit; Teal/Black Knit; Brown/Gold Cracked Knit.
Serger Thread, Eyelet Hem Knit; Sage Taupe Linen.
Plum Knit, Brown Knit.

These are closer photos of the fabrics.

I can't wait for them to get here so I can start in with them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Palm Trees & Papyrus

This was the view as I looked up from a bench near the ocean in Laguna Beach. It was so perfect, I had to take a photo to share.

We went to the Sherman Library and Gardens yesterday for lunch, and of course to wander in the perfectly appointed gardens.
This is their Central Garden Fountain. The Sherman is truly a tiny gem, and it's one of my favorite places out here.
They have the most darling little pond with the figure of an otter which holds a shower nozzle. There are two turtles sunning themselves on rocks below it, and you can see Lisa (or some of her) leaning over on the right. (She said she didn't want to see her face in my posted photos, and as her obedient sister, of course I would never do that.) I think the moral here is "be careful what you ask for". It is a nice photo in general though, and I have always loved the papyrus in the center of the pond. There are not koi in this pond, but they do have huge specimens in another larger pond in one of their greenhouses. The roses had all just been pruned, and so weren't blooming yet, but the orchids are at what seemed to me to be their height.

Here's me at the Gardens.

Later on, we hit the hot tub, which was fantastic for really relaxing, and unwinding after a day of being a tourist.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fabric Shopping LA - Day One

From Drop Box

We shopped at Mood and F&S Fabrics on the way home from the LACMA exhibit yesterday. Since we're going to the Fashion District with Kathi and Susan on Friday, I should have more to take home than I brought with me. Thank goodness I have room in my suitcase. Somehow, I was prepared for this eventuality.

I knew I was looking mainly for high quality ponte-type knits for skinny pants, and that's mainly what I bought. It's so difficult to find this fabric at home, and also difficult to get the colors I want without seeing them in person. Feeling the fabric is always helpful too. I got 4 pieces for pants, so I'm pretty pleased about that. A nice brown, 2 greens, one a sage, the other more of a camo-green, and then I took the plunge and bought a piece of black. I suppose a pair of black pants will come in handy, and now I'll have one.

I found some interestingly colored tricots at F&S, and got a yard of each. They're 106" wide, like most tricots, so that's plenty and then some. The grayed blue and green are so soft looking, and they go beautifully together. I'm naturally thinking of lingerie, and I know I want to make a half-slip for sure.

The most visually interesting fabric is of course the burn-out plaid knit. I have kind of a wild idea for it that could be fun if it works. We'll see.

From Drop Box

F&S on Left, from Top: Blue Tricot, Green Tricot, Olive RPL, Black Ponte.
Mood on Right, from Top: Brown Burn-Out Plaid knit, Sage RPL, Brown RPL.

Fashion Exhibit at LACMA

Fashioning Fashion at LACMA

There's always something fun to see in Southern California, and this was fun to see. If you're anywhere near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, you should try to see this exhibit. It's really fun to see all the gorgeous garments close up. They have mirrors behind some of them so you get a 360 view, too. We went yesterday since it was a Target Free Holiday Monday. I took a few photos at the fashion exhibit.

The first two are the same dress. It's early 20th century, and I love the trim, besides the general style of course.
From Drop Box

From Drop Box

This dress has wonderful shaped collar and cuffs in velvet.
From Drop Box

This shows the cuffs, and guess who, in the mirror?
From Drop Box

A gorgeous emrboidered velvet kimono with a Fortuny-pleated skirt peeking out below. I have to think that the reason we only get a glimpse of the Fortuny dress is that it's in bad shape. What's there is gorgeous, though.
From Drop Box

This is a hat I just adore. Real gold embroidery.
From Drop Box

You wouldn't know it from my photos, but there were quite a few men's garments as well. Not quite 50/50, but probably at least a third were menswear. Most were highly embellished and embroidered, and in fabulous fabrics, so they were well worth seeing too.

There's a beautiful book available about the exhibit. It has great photos of the pieces, and lots of explanation. If you can get a look at it, you'll enjoy it.

We met a new friend at the exhibit too. It seems one can recognize fellow-enthusiasts. Hi to Mary from Fort Collins, Colorado!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Plane Knitting

From Drop Box

Of course I had to come up with something to knit while on the plane, and thank goodness I came up with a good project since I ended up spending a couple of extra hours in Phoenix's airport. I 'finished' the Verena sweater last week, but decided that although it looks exactly like the photo in the magazine, I want it longer. Since there's only the 3 ridges at the bottom instead of 3 ridges, 2 basketweave repeats, and 3 more ridges like on the sleeves and collar, I'm going to pick up stitches around the bottom edge and add the basketweave band and the 3 ridges. However, this was not a project I wanted to do on an airplane or in an airport. I wanted mindless knitting, if you know what I mean.

This is the back of the matching skirt, so far. I cast on after I got to the airport in Omaha, and all in all, I was very pleased with my progress. I love the stockinette stitch stripes, which will save the skirt from looking too wide with all that diamond patterning. It is such a fun stitch pattern to knit, too.

My other choice for plane knitting was to start another counterpane square, but I just couldn't see juggling the pages with the pattern, etc. I think I made the right choice.

Lisa and I are going with Kathi and possibly DrSue to the Fashion District on Friday. Lisa and I will also be going to Mood and the Westside on the 28th. We're hoping to meet anyone in the area for lunch or whatever on a different day. Let me know if you are interested, and what works for you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another California Trip

I've been really busy getting ready to go visit Lisa in Orange County again. I leave Saturday, and next Friday, KathiR from PR, whom I met out there in September, is going to guide us around the Fashion District. I can't wait, and I'm hoping there might be a few others who can get together with us then or another time while I'm there. I'll be there until the 1st, so just over a week.

We plan to go to the Westside to visit Mood, etc., on a different day, so let me know if you have ideas.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Counterpane Pattern Finalized

I talked about wanting to knit a counterpane recently, and I decided to swatch a little to at least see if it was something I enjoyed enough that I could see myself doing all that knitting. I first did a swatch of a pattern from Mary Thomas's Knitted Counterpanes book.
From Counterpane
I used J&P Coats' Royale Fashion Crochet Thread in Size 3, because that's what I had on hand. I like the size of the block: bigger than I'd expected, but still nice looking, I think. The color is not what I want, of course. I'd like to finish the block as a pillow top if I can find another ball of thread to match.

I next tried a variegated swatch (below left, very small) of Megan's Counterpane, the pattern I showed in the previous post (link above) in a Size 5 thread, again because it was on hand.
From Counterpane

I liked the pattern better, but the variegated color was awful, and made it difficult to 'see' the pattern itself. I went and bought some thread in the same size (5) in Natural to see how I liked it. I also got it in a Size 3, to see how I liked that size thread. I would rather use the larger gauge, as the results will be quicker. Perhaps really slow rather than glacial. In between I also tried a swatch in size 10 thread, which was not good, and I just ripped it right out.

I like the size (3), the color (Natural) and the pattern Megan's Counterpane), so I began in earnest, but haven't gotten very far, as I decided I'd better finally finish up the Verena sweater before I got completely away from it. I only had the front collar to do, and I have struggled. Perhaps it knew it was being cast aside for a new project, but I think I knitted and ripped that thing at least 5 times before I got it going correctly. I counted wrong, I was confused about how many repeats of the pattern I had to get my increases in, I did too many, I did too few, I seemed to have lost my mind in general Everything went beautifully on the whole thing, and suddenly it was the project from hell, I'm in two minds about whether to start on the skirt after this. Probably not immediately anyway. I'm going to block and make up the sweater right away, and see how resilient the yarn is. It may not be terribly suitable for a skirt, and I'd just as soon know now

I've since ripped out the square I'd begun with Natural Size 3 on a 0 needle, and started again on a Size 1 needle, which seems to make all the difference. Since I've been so slow posting all of this (most of it was written on the 5th) I've actually finished the first 'real' square, and here it is!

From Counterpane

It takes a little over 1 ball to make a square, and now I need to figure about how many I need, and order them. They are a no-dye-lot item, which is nice, but I'm not sure that's very trustworthy really, and I'd like to get all of them at once.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Fleece Thoughts -Plus- Most Fabulous French Onion Soup Ever

From inbox

First, thank you for the comments on my fleece cami. It's nice and warm. Sally had an interesting thought, which made me think. She mentioned that she'd like something that came up higher on the back since her upper back was always chilly. I then wondered why you couldn't use a pattern like Jalie 2568 with fleece. You could make the back neckline higher without too much trouble, although at some point a CB seam, some shoulder darts or other shaping method might be desirable.
You might have to be a little careful of the size you cut, comparing the amount of stretch in your fleece to the amount called for in the pattern, but fleece is pretty stretchy, and I think this could be a real winner. I have an OOP KwikSew pattern that is almost identical that I would use.

Now on to the onion soup. The perfect meal on a cold, cold day.

I have to give all the credit for this to my dear friend Barbara, of Cat Fur Studio. She is many-talented, and also has a cooking blog where I found this. Her method for making Caramelized Onions in the crockpot is fabulous and unbelievably simple. I now make sure I always have some of her caramelized onions at the ready in the fridge at all times. Makes for some wonderful things, and of course real French Onion Soup is not the least of those.

Barbara's Caramelized Onions and French Onion Soup Recipe and one more look at the delicious result.

From inbox

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fleece Camisoles

From Lingerie

Perhaps not the most sexy lingerie item, but when it's below zero with 40mph winds outside, I think most of us are a little more interested in warmth. I am anyway.

I have a fleece camisole that was part of a pajama set I bought a few years ago that I use as a camisole when it's really cold. I've always thought I should copy the idea, and I finally did. I made two. The first one is very plain, with fleece straps, and just hemmed at top and bottom, and was made from a scrap of fleece I had. It was my test version, and I didn't even take a photo of it, I just put it on and wore it.

From Lingerie

The second cami is in a polka-dot fleece I bought with this project in mind. I used a piece of embroidered and scalloped sheer tricot (from my FabricDepot Stretch Lace Valu-Pack) beneath the hem edge, and found some large chenille rickrack in a hot pink that is the perfect strap. The top edge ended up a funny, but intriguing shape because of the way I cut the front and back together. I forgot to cut the front lower in the center after I was done with the double layer, but it is a very interesting look, almost like an Elizabethan corset top, and I like it. It would look cuter with a bow or twist of rickrack where the straps connect, but the chenille rickrack is so ravelly I think I won't bother, and it would make quite a lump under clothing anyway.
From Lingerie

The original has no shaping at all really, and I didn't give this much either, just making a small pleat where the straps attach, and giving it a fairly close fit, making the stretch of the fleece do the work. I love the sheer tricot hem edge and the straps give it a little kick, perfect with polka dots.

I think these are going to go on the list of great Xmas gifts, and my sister-in-law may get one for her birthday much sooner.