Monday, April 18, 2016

Sewing Goals 2016

Even though I have taken a sharp detour into knittery, I am still doing the old sewing thing! Never fear!

Sewing Goals 2016
-Clean my sewing area. It's a bit of mess and it's kind of driving me crazy to sit down at my table, so..
-Learn to use my serger! That's right, I got a new serger!
-Perhaps sew up some active wear? I saw the most amazing gold foil floral spandex at the Yardage Town :)
-Use up stash (can you sense I have a problem with hoarding pretty things?)
-Learn to do a Small Bust Adjustment
-Work on fitting my garments better!
-Sew buttonholes/learn how to use my one-step button holer on my machine! I'm thinking a shirt dress will do very nicely towards this goal
-1 wedding guest dress in May
-Baby blankets! Two for coworkers by ~August/September, two for a friend's babies who are long overdue some baby gifts, one more for a friend (gender unknown)
-Semi related: buy a good iron

You'll probably still see a backlog of projects that are from before these goals were made, but I shall try to distinguish them. In any case, everything is still working towards advancing my skill in sewing!

I have all these lofty goals, but as you can see having another handcraft hobby makes it difficult for me to put one thing down to work on the other. Perhaps I will try to alternate a knitting project and a sewing project.

I guess we'll see how I fare!

Monday, March 28, 2016

2 - Newborn Swirl Hat

Newborn Swirl Hat | Is As If

Ravelry Links -- Pattern: Swirl Hat | Project Page

Can I just say how much I love how this picture turned out? Finishing this project coincided perfectly with all the trees going into bloom around here, especially these perfect pink and yellow ones.

Oh yeah, and the hat is pretty adorable too ;)

I've had this pattern downloaded since February 2012!! This was way before I ever started knitting! I actually think I must have gotten it off Ravelry in the idea that I would either try to replicate it in crochet or learn to knit since it looked easy. It's multi-sized so it's a great hat for literally everyone. I made the newborn size and it looks so teeny tiny! It is pretty stretchy though.

After finishing my socks (which were a disaster and a half - I'll have to take pictures and write up a whole thing about them), I was left with this little tiny bit of yarn, and a baby hat seemed like it was the perfect way to use it up. Of course I do actually have a second ball of this yarn, but I just didn't want this little partial floating around. It's an acrylic/nylon blend, very soft, but not something I'd want to knit more things for myself out of.

I was inspired to knit baby hats due to Katrina's YarnThirty podcast in which she talks about her own experience. If you're interested in the personal anecdote of someone who has had a baby in the NICU, listen to this part of Katrina's podcast (should be cued up to ~35 minutes when she talks about it). And in a follow-up comment on the Ravelry discussion board, someone else mentioned a couple of interesting points:

[And I did a lot of research on it and found that you should use very low/no animal fiber content yarns due to sensitive skin ... and found that many NICUs needs bigger size baby hats because they receive many preemie hats.]

This yarn was perfect for just such a thing: soft, washable, and cheery colors. I predict I will likely use that second ball to make lots more baby hats in different patterns :)

Another hat down! If I just made baby hats, I'd probably have 500 hats in no time!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Black and Gold

BlackandGoldDress

As I mentioned a while back, a friend of mine got married last last November, and I made these lovebirds for the bridal shower. I also made a dress to wear to the wedding since I didn't have anything that seemed wholly appropriate for a fall wedding.

They got married at a really beautiful estate in Temecula, CA, there were even peacocks wandering the grounds!

There was even this really neat hedge maze that you could run around in!

BlackandGoldDress

Here's the pattern I used for the dress - a vintage pattern from an estate sale although now reprinted. As you can see, it's got a faux wrap style that I liked a lot just from looking at the illustration.

Butterick6582


Details:
Pattern: Butterick 6582, view C
Size: Cut out a 12 but graded down to about an 8? Obviously I didn't quite realize about Big 4 design ease when I found the pattern so I did think a 12 had a chance of fitting.
Fabric: 2 yards of black and gold-flecked crinkle-texture polyester charmeuse from Yardage Town, 2 yards of black poly posh lining from JoAnn
Notions: 22" black invisible zipper
Size Alterations: I "graded" down to maybe about an 8, but all that really means is that I eyeballed about 5/8" - 1" in from the edge of the pattern where appropriate
Design Changes: "Drafted" a full lining instead of facings, side zipper changed to CB zipper
Techniques used: Clean finish lining, installing an invisible zipper
Construction Notes: Once again working on the clean finish method, so only sort of following the pattern instructions. Hand sewed the lining to the zipper once it was installed in the fashion fabric because I still can't figure that shit out (I will probably keep this comment in all my construction notes until the end of time because do not understand).
Will you make it again? I don't know. Initially, I was pretty jazzed about how this turned out, but after some examination of the pictures/pattern, I don't think I did this pattern justice. Which means maybe I should revisit it. The bodice is supposed to be a faux-wrap style but not surplice. I have severely over-fit the bodice to the point where I've removed all the illusion that is supposed to look like a wrap. I am still loving the pattern illustration with the wide neckline and high wrap style, so I may try again in some kind of drapey but casual fabric, but change it so that weird little triangle on the left shoulder is a fully wrapped bodice?
Final thoughts: I think having re-examined it for fit, it's not great, but I loved it then and I'm certainly not ashamed of it as it is approximately the third garment I ever made.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

1 - Ombre Calzetta

OmbreCalzetta

Ravelry Links -- Pattern: Calzetta | Pattern: Ombre Slouch Hat | Project Page

In pursuit of my knitting goals, I decided I definitely needed to learn stranded color work, aka fair isle because there are so many pretty patterns out there I want to knit!

I was given a skein of Red Heart Grande (80% acrylic/20% wool) which is a super super bulky yarn. Perhaps one of the chunkiest yarns I have ever seen. A chunky easy stranded color work project seemed like a good way to use up this random yarn. I used Calzetta as the actual pattern for the hat and applied the color chart from ombre slouch hat. Fortunately, I had some nicely coordinating yarn already in my stash to use for the main color.

A couple things that I learned from this project:
-I need to do a better job on the ribbing. It has no recovery so just stays majorly stretched out, but the whole hat is stiff enough to stay on the head I think.
-The stranded work was actually not too hard to do, but I did majorly get the skeins tangled up with each other. I think I might be able to solve that problem using a yarn guide. I can't knit English/throwing so I can't do the one color each hand that some people can do. It's supposed to be easier to knit fair isle continental, so I'm hoping that holds true for me too.
-Also, you can see that I wasn't able to work the full chart, and that I probably should have started earlier too, but I thought I was supposed to work 5" from the ribbing not 5" from the cast on edge, so I had to start decreasing much earlier than I expected.
-On that note, I probably should have given up working the chart on the decreases as they have ended up a little muddied. But I couldn't shake the idea that I wanted a full transition to the second color on the top.
-And unrelated to this specific pattern, but nonetheless about this hat: pompoms turn out bigger than you think! Clearly I have gone way off the deep end with this softball sized pompom, but it's still kind of fun :) I made my own cardboard pompom maker using this DIY (also good for making shapes inside pompoms).

 Cheers to Hat #1 of the 500 Hats Project! Onward!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Knit Goals 2016 and Introducing The 500 Hats Project

This year I am resolving to do something about my yarn stash. And finish all my outstanding WIPs.

I'm not doing too bad in the WIPs arena. I'm doing Finish It February hosted by Lina Knits on Ravelry, so I've already got a pair of socks and a hat finished. Then I'll just have one sock that needs a mate, sleeves and ribbing on my pullover sweater, and decisions about my cardigan. The cardigan doesn't have much left to go, just part of a sleeve then a button band, but it's not well made (I was accidentally doing backwards YOs so the stitch pattern doesn't really pop) so I may frog it. Or not. I may finish it for practice and then try to block it to open up the eyelet pattern. Also, I knitted it in cotton, so I don't know what I would do with all that cotton if I did frog it. Thoughts?

Knit goals for the year
-Finish the WIPs
-Knit a hat for Nathan's dad for Christmas (nothing like starting early!)
-Learn brioche
-Practice stranded colorwork
-Generally improve my knitting ability
-Work on my 500 hats project (see below!)

Ok! I think these are pretty doable!

Now let's talk about the yarn stash. Oh the yarn stash. There's nothing like moving to put your hoarding stash into perspective. I've got 2 clear 55 gallon buckets stuffed full of yarn and then random little skeins stashed all over the place. A lot of it is super saver that I used to use when I made a lot of amigurumi. The amigurumi production has since slowed way down, and I'm focusing more on wearables at the moment.

Thus was born The 500 Hats Project! #500knithats
(Bonus points to whoever can tell me where the name comes from)

I want to use up the yarn to make hats for charity. But it's not as simple as all that. I want to improve my knitting skills at the same time. So I'm hoping with each successive hat, the techniques will get slightly fancier. At the moment, I haven't decided on a charity to donate the hats to. They may go to a local charity here in San Diego, or I may send them elsewhere, you know, where it's actually cold. Leave a comment if you have any particular charity in mind!

Disclaimer: I may not actually make a total of 500 hats, I just want to use up my yarn stash, so whatever the yield is, that's what it'll be. Unless anyone wants to join me?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Happy New Year!

Ok, yes it is February, isn't it? Let's just say Happy Lunar New Year and pretend like I've been getting my act together to revive this old blog a little bit ;) Here's hoping for a little more regular posting since I actually do have a lot of projects to share!

Brief administrative aside: I tried to implement Disqus on my blog a few months ago so I could reply to all your lovely comments, but the damned thing doesn't play nice with Blogger - in fact, it's a known issue. So, I've reverted back to the native Blogger comment form which is good enough (you'll just have to come back to see my reply or do email notifications of replies), let me know if it's not working since I half-assed the uninstall of Disqus.

Anyways, have some photos of Half Moon Bay where I briefly visited while I was in Northern California over the holidays.

HalfMoonBay1

HalfMoonBay2

HalfMoonBay3

HalfMoonBay4

HalfMoonBay5

HalfMoonBay6

More new posts hopefully coming soon! Let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to see more of here :)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

LongCat Heating Pad

In honor of the Put A Cat on it! Sewalong I have kitted myself out in several pieces of cat related apparel/accessories! The toasty flannel/fleece cats pajamas make another appearance on the blog (previously talked about in this post); the newest addition is the thing around my neck, discussed below; and I'm even wearing kitty cat studs by Michelle Chang.

I had every intention of making a swishy sundress with a cat/floral cotton. I even went out to Yardage Town and bought some floaty georgette for the skirt. Alas, I moved to a new apartment in the middle of the month, and so my stuff is everywhere, and the sewing table has yet to be set up. (I don't even know where the fabric I bought for this ended up. And you can see the clear plastic bins of yarn and fabric behind my head which tells you what the state of the apartment is like.) I'll still make the aforementioned dress, but it may not get finished until next spring.

LongCat Hotpad | Is As If

However! I have sewn a new cat related thing!

I saw this pin from Sweet Living Magazine and decided that I had to have that. I sometimes get these horrible neck spasms that leave my neck completely immobile for at least an entire day if not multiple days. Hot washcloths seemed to help a little, but they don't stay hot for very long, and they're wet. This seemed like the perfect solution!

Enter LongCat!

Longcat

There is no printable template in the magazine, so I had to draw my own. Less artistically inclined people may find this somewhat difficult, but I have two suggestions on that front.

1) Print out a line drawing of a cat in similar pose. Use the slash and spread method - cut the paper in half (head and front feet on one side, tail and back feet on other), insert and tape new piece of paper between the two halves and then connect the lines of the body.

2) Make a more 3D type model (like this DeviantArt user) and make a long rectangle with feet on either end. Then attach a stuffed head and tail after filling the main body.

I ended up using half a yard of quilting cotton and something like 3 pounds of rice?  I took the concept one step further though and added scent to my rice!

I used:
- 8 oz. bottle of imitation vanilla (no need to use authentic since we're just here for the scent)
- cinnamon
- nutmeg

I put all the rice into one of those plastic produce bags from the grocery store, but a big ziploc will work too! Then, I added the whole bottle of vanilla, a bunch of cinnamon, and a couple dashes of nutmeg. Mix the whole bag together by mushing everything around and give it a sniff to see if you want more cinnamon or nutmeg. Once everything is pretty well coated, spread out the rice on a rimmed baking sheet in a thin layer. Now you have to patiently wait for it to dry before you can funnel it into your longcat. You could try putting the baking sheet into the oven to dry but I've never tried it and I didn't want to cook my rice.

Tip: don't over-stuff the longcat; it still needs to be flexible enough to drape around your shoulders and neck.

Longcat is perfect for sore muscles but also just to use as a heating pad when it's cold outside. I usually microwave it for about 2 minutes before using.

I don't usually join sewalongs mostly because I never finish anything in a decent amount of time, but I had to join a cat one!  Thank you to Cation Designs for hosting and always providing us with plenty of Walnut pictures :)