Wednesday, January 30, 2013

wip wednesday

Why do i bother making blankets?  They are, without fail, horrid, never ending projects that i hate the sight of when i finally (years from now) finish.

All right I'm done being melodramatic.  In progress pic of my mom's birthday present.  It's a new lap blanket (lapghan?) since the last one I made her is getting quite ratty.  Her birthday is at the end of February so I'd better get cracking.  

By the way, I make blankets because so many scraaaaaappppss.

This will be my first time trying to link up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  Before this week I thought that it was merely the alliterative appeal that had so many people doing WIP Wednesday.  But no, duh, it's because there's a linky partay over there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

not a lady

Not lady enough for a pencil skirt anyway.  I'm opposed to any skirt that's so difficult to run/squat down to pick up bottles/climb stairs/get into the car in.  But it seemed more appropriate for a job interview than my usual jeans or full skirt.  Never say never, but seriously never again.

It's made from a nice subtle black and grey pinstripe men's shirt (which you can't see cuz January in Seattle doh).  I got the idea from (where else?) Pinterest.  Megan Nielsen (whom I obviously luurve) made one but kept the buttons for interest on the center front.  Since I wanted a more traditional/professional look I cut off the plackets and sewed up the front which became the center back.  After that it was just a matter of pinning and sewing until I had the right fit.  I also lined it (go me!).  Unfortunately I felt the lining slide out of the hem while sitting in my interview (fail!).  I shall have to fix it, but since I can't imagine an occasion on which I would willingly don a pencil skirt again I am procrastinating. 

The black blazer I purchased at Ross specifically for the interview and damn.  I'd almost forgotten what crap their clothes are.  If I stitch down the facing (which hangs loose something awful) it won't look so bad but seriously, why didn't they do that?

I actually think it's quite nice looking, but boo for skirts that aren't conducive to real life.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

vintage modern darling

I don't recall who said it but blog guilt is a strange beast.  Why do I feel guilty?  To whom exactly do I apologize for blatant blog absenteeism?  Poor light conditions?  General disappointing imperfection?  Redundancy and repetitiveness?

I don't know, so I'll just go ahead and apologize once for my truancy, the light (or lack thereof) in Seattle in January, and the fact that this is yet another rendition of the Darling Ranges dress.

here i am looking incongruously badass on a field of rainbow hearts 
The thing I like about this pattern is that it's simple to alter.  It's just a basic button-up dress without a lot of fuss.  I've used it to make shirts so far but this time I did a full skirt with pockets...  you know, like the kind pants have.

The original pattern has a rectangular gathered skirt (a dirndl I think it's called) with pockets sewn into the side seams.  I only sewed it up like that once for a muslin and decided it wasn't my style so I used the skirt pieces from another pattern and drafted my own pockets (which are finished with bias tape ooh lala so fancy).  I've used that pocket piece on several pairs of pants and skirts and I don't like it.  I like this kind of pocket better.  They stay put and don't bulge out or pull down oddly.

I'll try and do a swayback adjustment on my next one, I'm not diggin' all those wrinkles on the back.

You can't really see the pattern on the other shots so here's a better look.  You can also see my fish mobile (which never got a blog post but fully deserves one) and my little helper.  That's what I'm looking at by the way.

The material was a top sheet from Goodwill.  I do have some nice fabric but I'm in that awkward phase where I'm too chicken to use it.  What if I ruin it!?  I keep telling myself once I get some more practice...

I've modified the pattern pieces so many times it's hard to say what other changes have happened on the bodice.  You can see my awesomesauce pockets though.  Yes!  I did have some weirdness around the neckline and had to turn under the neck edge (after I'd already finished it with bias tape!) and sew it down.  It's all right, but doh!  I don't know why this one time it came out all wonky and gapey.  My computer insists gapey isn't a word but I beg to differ.

I never can get the twirly shots to work but it's twirly!

All in all I'm happy and I will continue to use this pattern to death.  For the price I certainly intend to get my money's worth!  (I'd like to add that this pattern is obviously awesome and worth the money.  That's why I keep using it.  Plus, supporting indie designers instead of the big evil corporate pattern makers.  It's a win-win).  Total cost: $2.75 and there's enough fabric left for a skirt.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Evil Rag Quilt of Death

Why won't this pic stop being green?  Idk.  I wanted to make the boy a blanket for Christmas and I was inspired by this tutorial to make a rag quilt.  In case you haven't made one "Rag Quilt" is code for helllll.

A regular quilt would've been a helluva lot easier.  And next time that's what I'll do.  Towards the end my machine kept jamming.  I won't lie it almost didn't make it.

I used some of his old receiving blankets for the backside of the quilt which makes it a little extra special =)

I also bought some special Dr. Seuss and cars fabrics.  I also pieced some squares because why not?

Now that it's all said and done the blanket is well loved by everyone so that makes it worth it...  I guess.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

it's good to have goals

i make the same new year's resolution every year and that's simply to be better.

a better person, a better mother, a better wife, a better me.

this year there are a few more specific items on the agenda for my personal life which i won't bore you with here.  here i shall simply state some goals for my crafty endeavors.  of course things change so i won't beat myself up too much if i don't achieve everything, but it's good to have goals and if there's one thing i really live for it's crossing stuff off of to do lists so here goes...

1. i am once again participating in intswemodo which means i'll try and knit 12 adult sweaters/shrugs/vests this year.

2. make 4 pairs of socks.  just a random number, but it seems doable

3. learn to sew.  better.  make some actually wearable stuff

4. built a wardrobe.  after so many size changes i really have very little that fits me at all so i just want to build a strong wardrobe with pieces i love and feel confident in

5. shop the stash.  seriously i don't know who keeps sneaking yarn into my house, but it's time to knit through it.

6. this is a constant goal of mine, but it bears repeating: shop local or indie, buy second hand, reuse, recycle, reduce my carbon footprint

oh yeah, one more

7. finish at least 2 of the (ahem) several blankets i've got lying around the house in various states of completion.  everyone needs more handmade blankets in their life.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

wip wednesday,,,

on thursday...  but wip thursday doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?

still chugging away on my endpaper pullover.  i've finished one of the sleeves to the underarm and am just about to start the bust shaping on the body.  i cast on the second sleeve and have the ribbing plus about 2 inches of colorwork done.  all in all i feel pretty much on schedule to finish 12 sweaters this year.

but then, the year is still young eh?  anybody else have any overenthusiastic goals for this year??

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

it's not a purse it's a man bag!

let me start by saying pinterest totally completes my internet experience.  that being said i hate people who compile other people's ideas on their blog in those "200000 things you should know" or "40 toys to make for kids"  screw you.  seriously.  come up with your own ideas.  that being said i found one of those pins and repinned it because it had a car toy carrier shown.  i never have been able to refind that thing but here's my own drastically different interpretation anyway.

it folds up into a little bag with handles and button closures.  of course the fabric has race cars 

when it's opened up there is a pouch for cars, a zippered pouch for other necessary travel items (like small dinosaurs, ninjas, etc) and there's a race track all the way around.  I used the same fabric to make extra pieces that fit under the zipper pouch so you can extend the road (cuz like who just drives around in a circle amiright?)

here's where the cars go.  there are only 4 separate slots but they'll fit his big cars (the cars movie cars)

here is the zipper pouch.  holy craft don't even ask how i made that thing.  i intend to learn how to make a proper one sometime soon but this thing is serviceable if not pretty

so there you have it.  construction process?  man you don't even want to know.  did i mention i've never made a bag of any sort before?  let's just say i used all or part of 3 fat quarters, an old dark colored shirt, some scraps of white knit, and a bit of heavy duty interfacing.  that's not all, there's some other stuff in there, but you get the idea.

Monday, January 7, 2013

tips & tricks: stranded

No, not that kind of stranded.  Today some general stranded knitting tips for your perusal, consideration, and general cogitation.

1. Keep the stitches on the right needle spread out like this:

Not scrunched up like this:

This'll help keep your floats nice and even.  When you aren't using a strand of yarn it's carried behind the stitches and makes a float.  The hardest thing for me when I first tried colorwork was keeping my floats loose enough.  Tight floats make your fabric pull in and pucker like crazy so this is pretty important.

2. Weave/catch/wrap long floats.  I recently saw someone imply that this isn't really necessary, and perhaps if you live in a world without watches, buttons, knobs, and wardrobe malfunctions it isn't.  For those of you who live in my world however, I recommend wrapping every 3 or 4 stitches.  Floats can easily get snagged and snagged floats leads to tears and curses.  They can also mess with your tension.  How do you weave your floats?  Like this:

Top left: two strands coming out of the work.  Top right: cross the strands
Bottom left: twist the strands around each other.  Bottom right: you can (kinda) see how the grey strand is coming out of the middle of the long run of beige stitches and that's how it's done.

3. Pick an easy pattern for your first go.  I don't mean pick a scarf or gloves (although fingerless gloves are an excellent starter pattern to practice your tension).  Pick a stitch pattern that's intuitive.  It will help you learn to read your knitting and you won't have to constantly refer to the chart (thus giving you more concentration to bestow upon maintaining your tension).

A simple chevron pattern is easy to remember and predict.
Endpaper mitts are a popular choice for beginner fairislers
How do you know if it's simple?  One way is to look at the size of one repeat.  4 stitches by 8 rows?  Easy. 10 stitches by 10 rows?  All right...  50 stitches by 100 rows?  Maybe not for your first go.

4. Work it in the round.  This is optional but highly recommended.  Why?  You can't read the pattern from the wrong side which makes purling across pretty much interminable.  Plus it's pretty hard to keep your tension nice on those edges (at least that's what I've found).  

5. Work it inside out.  Especially if you're working on DPNs or magic looping.  Otherwise the floats where you change needles are liable to be way tight.  As a matter of fact, as long as you're working inside out you don't need to worry too much about tight floats.  It helps keep your floats nice and long.  That's a good thing.  Remember tight floats mean tight sleeves/gloves/whatever and puckered stitches.

That being said, be sure to pull your yarns tight at the beginning of each needle.  Too long and loose floats can be unattractive.  I find I get the best results by pulling tight when I'm knitting the second stitch not the first.  If I pull the first stitch tight the yarn always ends up loosening back up.  This brings me to...

6. Blocking works wonders.  I don't have a good before and after, but trust me.  Blocking will smooth out most tension issues as long as they're not pervasive (think lots of too tight floats).  Be aggressive (just be sure to block your swatch so you know if everything's gonna get crazy big).

7. Work your gauge swatch in the round.  I know, I know.  But do it anyway.  If you don't believe me, try it both ways.  I think you'll be surprised.

8. The purl faux seam.  Sounds crazy right?  Why would I work something in the round and go to the trouble of including a fake seam???  Because it will hide the jogs between rows and that's a good thing.  Plus it gives you a good place for increases/decreases.  All my decreases are worked on either side of that purl stitch.  I've tried using a knit stitch instead, and while it looks all right it doesn't really hide the jog as well.  Not that anyone but you is ever going to look that closely at your non-seams.

9. Find what works for you when it comes to weaving in ends, but remember that you've already got some extra yarnz to hang on to.  Do yourself a favor and try the braided or Russian join.  They're both pretty great but I think the braided join is easier.

10. Use a nice cast on.  Seriously.  Use a tubular cast on.  Just do it.  Techknitter's tutorials are generally brilliant.  She doesn't seem to have one for casting on 2x2 ribbing but now that I've done it I might put up a tutorial on how it works.   Seriously, though, why waste all that time and effort and not use the nicest looking cast on you can find???  I promise, it's not that hard.  I don't even need to look at the tutorial any more (I use tubular cast ons always).

See how pretty and stretchy?  Tubular cast on for 2x2 rib

11. Steek it.  Seriously, it isn't that bad.  If you have any sewing experience at all and a sewing machine I can highly recommend that option.  Block your piece, sew your reinforcements, cut, turn, sew.  No big D.  Even with superwash wool it's unlikely to all unravel as soon as you cut (after sewing your reinforcements of course).

12. Don't be afraid.  Tackle this one step at a time.  First try knitting in the round, then the tubular cast on, then a small stranded project, then a whole stranded steeked sweater or blanket or whatever.  Just remember people were doing this before you ever started knitting and they'll be doing it long after you've been buried in your favorite knit cardigan.

13. Finally, and this one may seem obvious, but do not put two different stranded WIPs in the same bag together and then knit.  Tragedy will ensue.

I hope that the wisdom gained from my abject failures (I jest; most of them weren't that bad... but some of them were pretty bad) can help someone just starting out.  If the internet had been then what it is now it would have definitely saved me some bitter tears.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

tips & tricks: colorwork

So I originally wanted to write a post with some advice for those wanting to tackle colorwork (e.g. fair isle) knitting for the first time.  Once I uploaded all the pictures for this one, though, I decided it would be way too big for one post if I put up everything so stay tuned; there's more to come tomorrow.

Today's  topic: what to do if you realize that you messed up on the row before (or even a couple of rows before).  This is basically how it works with any kind of knitting.  Frog not; just drop the offending stitch right off your needles.

Take your right hand needle (or an extra needle) and pull on the yarn to one side of the offending stitch, thus pulling it out of the loop (stitch) below.

... and here it is once you'e pulled the stitch out.  Repeat as necessary for as many rows as you need.  I prefer to fix one stitch at a time, though, for simplicity's sake.

Now stick your right/spare needle through that recently liberated loop (in this case grey) from right to left/front to back (things can get a bit shifty but hopefully you get the idea.  If you pick this stitch up twisted or backwards it will show.  Of course, it's your sweater I'm not gonna make you fix it.  Then again, if you aren't gonna fix it right why fix it at all?).  

Now that you've got the grey stitch on your right needle, what color should be above it?  In this case white (tan/beige/whatever) is next.  Note that this example was staged and the stitch was fine to begin with.  Ironically when I picked this up and started knitting today, though, I'd done 3 stitches in a row wrong.  Would that I'd gotten pictures of the real thing but alas this will have to do for now.

Anyway, find the beige strand (called a float) from the correct row and stick your needle under it.  It should be behind the stitch on your needle.  I think it's worth mentioning if it's in front of that stitch you'll end up with a purl not a knit stitch.  This is kind of a biggie.  Especially if you're fixing several stitches in a row or going down several rows.  Picking up the wrong strands can mess up your tension and just generally ruin your day.

Now it's time to get your left needle involved.  Stick it through the front of the grey stitch with the beige strand still laying across the right hand needle.  It will basically look like you're about to do a normal knit stitch except that you're not hanging onto any yarn tails.

Now pull that beige strand through the grey stitch with the right hand needle (again just like you're doing a normal knit stitch)

et voila!  

It is fixed.  

This is the same general idea you can use to fix a myriad of mistakes: a miscrossed cable, a knit instead of a purl, I can't think of anything else off the top of my head but for realz if you don't know how to do this it's worth learning.

Obviously this post is already very photo heavy so I'll be back with more colorwork tips tomorrow.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Endpaper mitts

For a dear friend who always brings the boy something special when she visits and plays tirelessly when his poor padres are pooped.

I think she deserves a little something special for Christmas this year.  But Santa ain't gettin' credit for these guys.  I used the Endpaper Mitts pattern again (my second time using this pattern but both have been gifts).  Blue yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy (omg smoosh I love this yarn drool) and the white is Plymouth Yarn Dye for Me Happy Feet.  I really like the Plymouth for colorwork projects because it's similar to most of my favorite sock weight yarns, it's white (or off white) and it's pretty reasonably priced.  I can't actually remember how much I paid but the skeins are big and I remember thinking the price was right.  

Anyway, she says she likes them and how cute is that scarf?  Want.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Apron in Action

My boy likes to help Mommy in the kitchen.  Well, he likes to help eat make cookies anyway.  And throw soapy water all over the floor.  That too

Inspired by Karen's apron-a-long I made not one but three aprons.  This one had to wait to be modeled though since it was a Christmas present and it's a wee, shall we say, small for moi.  I bundled up his apron, some water colors, and a cookie cutter thinking they kind of went together and here's what we got.

Making cookies.  We've got the dough in the bowl and all's well so far.

Is it time to cut them out yet?  He thinks so.

What's this?  That's not right.

It is angered.

There's dough stuck in the cookie cutter!  Tragedy!

How quickly it goes so bad.

By the way, he now has a jacket, a pair of matchy pajamas, and an apron from this material.  Thankfully the quilt just about finished off the rest of it.  He picked this material out and, while fun, I can't look at it anymore.

For the apron I just measured him pretty haphazardly and drew up a pattern piece.  It's an apron; not rocket science.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

groovy baby (dress)

Hella groovy amiright?  I don't know where this crazy tie dyed pillow case came from, but if the original owner happens to be reading this: sorry, you're not gettin' it back.  

I used the same tee pattern I used for baby girl's Christmas PJ top but lengthened it to be more dress length.  Said pattern was made by tracing around an existing onesie and adding seam allowances (and a little bit of room to grow, you know how babies are).  I don't like to toot my own horn or anything (who? me?  never) but this pattern came out just right with no fuss. 

playing with her christmas butterfly
It's just one piece for the front and back.  I cut the front out using the pattern piece exactly and cut the neck about an inch higher for the back.  One piece for the sleeves (cut on the fold, none of that asymmetrical sleeve cap stuff here).  And a neckband cut out to 85 percent of the neck measurement.  It seriously took less than an hour to make this.  Me likey.

In the background here you can see the quilt.  Oh God, that quilt.  I'll write a post on that as soon as I get decent pictures of the whole thing.

I wanted to keep the hem of the pillowcase which made this project extra fast but that meant cutting everything off grain.  One thing I've found when repurposing knits is that they're almost always cut way off grain.  C'est la vie.  No big D this thing fits just fine and is so stinkin' cute anyway.

Final thoughts? Groovy

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

wip wednesday

it's gettin' there

isn't it purty?

left: last week. right: this week

i thought this sweater would take forever but i'm making pretty good progress.  we'll see if i make it to 12 sweaters this year, though. my guess? not at this gauge!