Sewing


I made it a point not to overload myself with gift knitting this year, though I did strive to give handmade (whether by me or someone else) whenever possible. Still, in December I kept thinking of more ideas. There are a few little things I made that I didn’t get pictures of (felted bowls and a wrist pillow for my Dad) but these were the major achievements.

(from left to right)

-Seahorse stuffie! This is not knitting, it was hand-sewn. My first stuffie/softie toy like this of any sort. It only took me about two hours and it was a lot of fun! I made this for James’ sister; it was VERY well received. I bought the pattern here.

Phineas socks. I’m glad I started these early (at the beginning of November) because they took quite awhile, as socks always do. They were for my uncle who lives in Montana, so his feet need to stay toasty warm. The yarn is Louet Gems fingering weight. I haven’t heard anything, but hopefully they fit him ok.

Tiffany mittens. These actually are not finished. I had the first one done in time for xmas, so I wrapped it up. I would have had the other done, except that I was home with my sister (the recipient) the last few days before xmas. Since I have to mail them to her anyway, I took a little break, but I hope to have them finished up before the end of the month so she can actually get some use out of them this winter in New York.

Clementine Shawlette. This may look familiar. It was quite nice to have something done that far in advance, though I didn’t get around to blocking it until right before I sent it. My grandma loved it.

-Plain Jane slippers. This is a pattern that I acquired not long after I first started knitting. Unfortunately the link doesn’t seem to be active anymore, but luckily I have the pattern on my computer. This was my fifth pair, I think. I used Queensland Rustic Wool (superwash!). This pattern is awesome: fast and cute. Made these for Michelle, because she had wanting something knitted by me so badly. The little red heart buttons were the perfect finishing touch!

Though my sewing skills are extremely limited, I have managed a few small projects since I got my sewing machine last Christmas. They have been few and far between, usually because I convince myself that getting out the sewing machine is a big ordeal and I don’t have enough time or energy to deal with it. There’s also the prep work, like cutting fabric, that I don’t enjoy as much as the actual sewing. Knitting and crocheting, on the other hand, are easily picked up from the baskets next to my favorite chair. There’s no large equipment, and no big cleanup when I’m done. My little embroidery experimentation a few weeks ago had some of those same small, portable benefits and I really enjoyed that new medium. I like branching out beyond my comfort zone and building my skills in other areas. I suppose I risk stretching myself too thin over too many crafts, but for me, the bottom line is that I’m enjoying what I’m doing. My unquenchable thirst for knowledge and expertise means I’ll always be going in a zillion different directions.

I got an email from Stitch Lounge about their second book. I went to add it to my Amazon wish list and I started clicking around to some other newish sewing books that I hope might motivate me to go beyond my knitting needles.

(click on pictures to link to Amazon)

I think that right now my sewing, etc. goals are for small projects that help me master different techniques. I don’t have a huge interest in making full garments at this point, but I am interested in altering/refashioning (hence, Subversive Seamster). I have a few too-big tshirts laying around that I want to fit me. Mainly, though, I want to do little projects that a) won’t take a lot of time to complete (one or two sittings), and b) will make awesome little gifts for the upcoming holidays and other occasions. I also don’t really like knitting small fiddly things like stuffed animals, but I think sewing them would be much more enjoyable.

If anyone has other suggestions for good books or patterns, feel free to send them along! Hopefully I won’t be all talk and no action on this.

i certainly did not mean to go so long without posting, but i guess i’ve been busy. i had a friend staying on my couch for three weeks, my sister visited, i finally rewrote my resume, and i’ve been slowly cleaning and reorganizing my apartment. and, of course, knitting.i’m in the middle of several things, as usual. a red zissou hat for james, which is temporarily on hold, because it turns out that one skein of swish superwash is NOT enough, as i had hoped. then there’s the random dishcloths i would like to have done already. i am making slow but steady progress on the drop stitch portion of “victorian ruby”. during the superbowl i powered through over 10 repeats. i finally got my scale a few weeks ago, so i figured out that i used a little under 10 grams for the lacy end. at a total of 50 grams of yarn, that gives me a maximum of 30 gram to use for the body of the scarf. i don’t know if i’ll need that much, but maybe i’ll just make it extra long.

and then, there’s this. i’ve gone and started my first sweater! the pattern is stitch diva’s simple knitted bodice, and the yarn is classic elite classic silk. grumperina has been raving about and it looked great for this pattern so i decided to give it a try. i completed the yoke two nights ago, and i have a few more body rows before i start the lace paneling. however, before i am allowed to start the lace, i have to make another swatch to figure out what size needle i need for that section. the recommended needle sizes are not working out for me (i’m knitting the main part on 6s instead of 7s). whether i use 2s or 3s for the lace section, i’m going to need to buy some 24″ circs in that size, but i figured i could swatch on what i already have.

in other crafty news, i just redid our dining chairs. last month at the big IKEA sale we got these plain, light wood, white cushioned chairs for cheap. we really needed new chairs, and i knew i could spruce them up. so with some shiny chinese-inspired fabric (in my favourite color, of course), a staple gun, and some gold spraypaint, we have a huge improvement. i love them!

i have been on a big home improvement/redecorating stint. i bought some fabric to create some curtain/shade things for our living room windows. i’m going to base them on these simple blinds. after my very few adventures in sewing, i’m feeling like i can do anything. and anyway, all i have to do is sew some straight lines. really long straight lines.

today i spent several hours figuring out how to use my new sewing machine, and making myself a dpn case! it took more time that it should have, but i actually managed to figure it out. last weekend i went to joann’s to buy some basic sewing supplies, and i got this selection of fabric destined for my case. i have been a little bit terrified at the prospect of it all, but i had all day off, and james was working, so i decided to tackle it. the machine is slightly less scary that i thought. i have used a sewing machine all of two times that i can remember…once when i was around 10 (and it was a terrible experience), and another to make fabric lining in some books i made two years ago…that wasn’t as bad, but my mom was there to tell me how to do everything. this time i was all on my own, fortunately with a user’s manual. so i figure it out, and this is what i made:

i am quite proud of myself! j has made fun of me for two reasons: (1) that i need another needle case after his mom gave me a lovely one for xmas, and (2) that i used four different fabrics on one case. i have tried to explain that this case if for different needles (he knows these are the ones that stick out all crazy because i use 4 or 5 at a time), but he still doesn’t get it. and the fabric choice is my own creative direction, so i don’t really care that much. i think it’s great, and i am completely impressed that i managed to pull it off. imagine! i can sew straight lines!

i am still going to be adding a flap to the top to keep needles in, and i need to figure out my closure method, but for now, it’s functional. and in a few days, i will have THREE more sets of dpns to put in here. tiny metal dpns from knitpicks so i can knit socks and endpaper mitts and whatever else i want.

in other news, i have been working on the “victorian ruby” scarf in victorian lace today. it is going slowly in the extremely fuzzy mohair blend i am using, and my attempts to not screw up because this stuff is impossible to frog, but it is coming out nicely so far. i’m a little over halfway done with the first wide border, and then i will be in the easy drop stitch part, so i won’t be limited to working on it when i know i can concentrate. i am enjoying working on this so far, and i really want to start my grandma’s shawl (if i can ever settle on a pattern), but fortunately i am waiting for my knitpicks order that has lots of pointy needles before that is even a possibility. but they will come sometime next week…then i don’t know if i can put it off any longer. happy new year!

so xmas knitting is over! well, not quite. i am still working on amy’s purse. it’s going a little slower than i thought, partially because i haven’t been able to resist starting some things for myself already. the knitting part is almost done, but i’m going to be lining it, and i still have to figure out what i want to do for the handles. so i think i am going to have to tell her that it’s not done when we do gift-exchanging in the next few days. she will love it when it’s done, though.xmas itself was AWESOME, especially in the knitting/crafting arena. i got my ball winder and swift! here is a picture of my sister working it. she is winding some of the lovely yarn i got for xmas.

on the left is some manos de uraguay that i got from my sister. the colors are so awesome. i can see it being a few different scarves, but i want to wait and see if i think of something else. next is the massive quantity of tweedy wool that my mom got me in ireland. each color was one huge skein (probably around 200g). when we were winding it i thought it would never end! i love this yarn but i’m not sure what to make from it. i have two other 100g skeins from ireland (one’s a darker blue, one’s limey green). i don’t know how well all those colors would go together, but i can’t decide what to do with any of it! and finally, on the bottom is some handpainted mohair and wool from montana. it was given to me by my cousin who had my name this year, but i know my aunt picked it out. it’s super pretty and i’m thinking of making a really simple garter stitch scarf, switching between the two yarns for a cool textured look.

i was really impressed with all the yarn i got. my family knows how to pick yarn! this was their first test. yessss!

in addition to all that, i got a sewing machine as well! the reason i was so blessed is because my mom bought the sewing machine off of her friend who was getting rid of it. it’s been cleaned and tuned up and looks almost new. i haven’t used it yet, but today i bought myself some fabric to make a DPN case. so that will be my first sewing project, when i am feeling really ambitious.

i also got victorian lace today from my mom. the patterns in there are so amazing. last night i couldn’t stand it anymore and i started the “victorian ruby” scarf on pg. 92. it was slow going because of my blunt-tipped bamboo needles, but i got some pointier ones today so hopefully that will make those k2togs a little easier. i’ll take some pictures of that when i’m a bit farther along.

inspired by the patterns from the book, and my mother’s delight in the lace shawl i made for her, i decided i should make my grandmother something from the book as well. so i went to article pract and picked up three skeins of misti alpaca lace the lightest blue. it’s like the color of fog burning off as the blue sky starts to hint through the mist. i haven’t settled on which one to make yet, because there are so many to choose from! at the yarn store i also couldn’t resist one skein of trendsetter yarns tonalita. the colors were crazy amazing, and it screamed, “make calorimetry!” at me. and so i shall.

that’s a lot of plans for the new year! and this is in addition to all the other stuff i’ve got in the back of my head to make.

***

all of my knitted gifts went over well. unfortunately in all the chaos i forgot to get pictures of finished things before i gifted them, and then on the recipient. some of the stuff is in the finished objects photo gallery, and if i get pictures of the other stuff in the future i will add it there.