Sunday, May 21, 2017

That was Yesterday (and Yesterday is Gone)

finished grey dress
And, today it is DONE! Top stitched, hemmed, and all buttoned up! The same as half dozen other versions I have already made, and yet so different! I still think it needs a bit more—Not ribbons perhaps—but I could make myself a General—I do have silver start buttons—to add perhaps to the collar or on the epaulets? Or maybe not. I am not a member (nor have I ever been) a member of the Services—It bordering on wrong to make it look too much like a uniform. Besides it not really my style to overdo. I'll leave it be for now—I can always add more trim.

Not sure if I am ready to start the dresses for the Girls—I have been sewing and sewing and its time to sweep the floor with a magnet (and pick up all the pins) and to vacuum up all the thread, and fold up all the pattern pieces and put them away (before I pull out a new pattern).

The new pattern needs to be copied (since it is sized 4 (desired) to 8) and planned. I plan to line the bodice of the dress (not a feature included in the pattern)—and use the same lining fabric to make a pair of over pants—Times have changed—I remember the song “I see London, I see France, I see (someones) underpants” which often happened with rough and tumble playing—I wore slips under my dresses, (even when I was a pre-schooler!) but hanging from monkey bars, or other play often reveled my underpants—and that was acceptable (or not and I was sometimes admonished to not play that way but to be more ladylike) I don't want my granddaughters to feel they have to be ladylike—before they are ladies. I want them to be able to dress up and still be able to play as they chose.

My granddaughters (and most girls today) wear undershorts, or something under a dress (if they wear a dress!) to modestly cover their under pants. A small pair of shorts, with easy on and off Velcro closures are a required added accessory to the dresses. They will match the bodice lining, and make the outfits.

Childrens size 4 dress will be faster to sew—and since both will be sewn with the same thread (more grey!) making them in tandem will still be faster than this last shirt dress. I used 2 full spools of thread, and 5 bobbins! Top Stitching really eats up thread!


I have loaded a new needle—and have the 3rd spool of thread on the spindle..so after a bit of clean up I will be ready to go. (tomorrow!) 

Saturday is for Sewing--or Not

Saturday, I woke early, and did a little work on the Grey dress before breakfast. After breakfast, I was exhausted.  I had a headache and low fever. So, back to bed, for a little nap. After the nap, I put way some of the clothes,  ( I did 4 loads of wash Thursday)—and didn't get it all put away—partly because 1 load was winter clothes—and these didn't put back—put packed away, and secondly, a few pieces needed a bit of touch up ironing. I didn't get the touch up ironing done in the morning.

I did next to nothing, really, at all, but I was still felt tired, and fevered. It was a beautiful, warm (but not hot) day, but after all the effort involved in putting away laundry, I ended up taking another nap. 3 hours later, I woke, did a bit of ironing—from the laundry, and the dress, too. So now, the facing and collar are done. But not the top stitching, nor the buttonholes, or hem and buttons. It is still not finished. And absolutely nothing started on the dresses for the girls.

But what ever had me under the weather all day finally passed by 9PM. I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast—but now was hungry—a salad and small serving of pasta was more than enough, and the day was over.

It is not much of a day when all you ended up doing is putting away some clean laundry, and your biggest accomplishments are naps.

But tomorrow is another day—and the end is in sight for the dress.

Today
Woke this AM feeling refreshed—My goal is to get the rest of the dress done—early. The buttons for this dress are the hammer on rivet like kind—I need to get them done during daylight hours—or wait till tomorrow.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Transformation!

A half a dozen seams later, and a pile of pieces become a dress!  Well almost a dress.

The dress fronts sewn to the yoke, and the dress back, too. Then the side seams, with the narrow back belt in the seam, and a very dress like form begins to emerge. Followed by 2 set in sleeves. It is very clearly a dress! There are still the front facing, and the collar and all those final details (buttons and buttonholes and more) but the end is in sight.

It looks a little plain—Maybe some silver fringe for the epaulets? Just joking! Thought I did consider some ribbons—thing is these days ribbons are only sold on small (2 yard or so) spool, and finding interesting striped ones? Plus there is the this--buying several spools for just an inch or two of trim?  I think the silver buttons will enliven the look enough. I don't want to go overboard on the military/uniform look.

But it does look very different than the other dresses I have made with this pattern. (see my post of 4/22 for 3 different looks) None of these details (pockets, flaps, epaulets, top stitching (or even the shoulder yoke)) were part of the original pattern—which was very plain. This is the sixth version I have made of this shirt dress—and I haven't come close to exhausting the variations I could make.  It is part of my personal uniform--that most don't recognize as a uniform at all.

Most often, I buy fabric on sale, or mill end, or remnants—and I don't always have extra (and sometimes not even enough)—this dress features a yoke lining of broadcloth—(not the self same fabric).  To do major changes is iffy and requires extra fabric.  Often I am short on length—or if not short, close. This version, like several others, is just (slightly) below the knee length.  There was enough fabric--just. One store, that closed shop in my neighborhood,  had precut 3 yard lengths--in 100% cotton. Just enough for a dress--but cotton shrinks. and after shrinkage--a full quarter yard (9 inches!) was lost--making things...well short.When they closed a bought up several of these precuts (at bargain basement prices)--

Of course—when the price is right, I buy yards and yards--(as I did of the blue that became the skirt and vest, and trim on other skirt (and there is still enough to make another yoked skirt!)

Next time around, (and there will be, in the next few years, several NEXT times) I want to add a different bottom—and make the dress with the curved lower edges of a men's dress shirt. Another small change that will result in something that is the same –and different.  Not sure what color or fabric I will use...(maybe something I haven't found or bought yet!) 

And so it goes: a little bit of creativity, a little bit of practicality, a little bit of luxury(I'll show the lining details tomorrow) —all in one.

Today is my day with the girls (grandchildren) –so I won't get any more of the dress done today—but tomorrow is Saturday—and Saturday is for Sewing. (We'll just ignore all the hours I have work on it this week!) I'll finish up the machine sewing, and then work the hand details, and have a new dress done in a week and day. If I do so early enough, will pull out some striped fabric for dresses for the girls—and get the pieces cut—and start all over again with a new project.



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Now I Remember

Why I stopped making dresses and jackets that had a military look! The Details.

I still haven't started the DRESS—I am just working on the details! Sewed up the epaulets, trimmed the seams, turned the work, pressed, added the buttonhole, and the top stitching. Repeated for the second epaulet, repeated for pocket flap, (and the second pocket flap) Top stitched the collar. Re-enforced the pockets too, and the shoulder yoke. (Where the buttons will be placed—forgot them when I did most of the iron on interfacing. That is one disadvantage of making up different versions—No one has written out details for working them.)

Hemmed the sleeves and added top stitching, too. I still need to add the pockets and flaps, before I work the yoke and side seams. Making this dress feels endless!

I am on the second spool of thread, and the 4th bobbin—And I still just have pieces—not anything that looks like a dress! It will be significantly different looking than the other versions of this dress.  But, boy, oh boy, it is so much more work!

In the next session, I will sew on the pockets and flaps, and finally be ready to make up the dress—that is sew the front to the back at the yoke and side seam. Then there will still be the sleeves and collar (and facing) and then MORE top stitching on the front of the dress.

My machine has a “top stitch” option—a forward stitch, a back wards stitch and then forward again—three stitches in the same spot to make a decorative row of stitching—but it takes almost 3 times longer than a regular row of stitching, and to be honest, I work slower to keep the row of stitches nice and straight.

New seams sewn will mean more pressing, and there are final details, (adding the buttons) and some bits of hand sewing—So there will be 2 (or more)  sessions before the dress is finished...

All this work is a reminder—details, details, details are work, work work! I won't be doing this much work again for a long time.It is a nice option to have a detailed look--but not very often!


Monday, May 15, 2017

So, Saturday Sewing—Sort of, Some More

No actual sewing of seams—but lots of “sewing” done.

A dress cut, linings and inter-facings, too. Preliminary work done, too. The fabric is a plain weave, aka monks cloth, aka canvas—What ever you want to call it, it unravels easily—so every raw edge is being overcast with a zig zag stitch—I have used two full bobbin already—and I haven't overcast all of them yet! Zigzagging is easier than covering the raw edges with seam binding.

My mother was a professional seamstress, I remember her buying huge (8 inch!) spools of seam binding—she had a dozen spools, in as many colors. I also remember the little 3 yard packets of hem & seam binding that she sneered at! She bound the seams with tape and a straight stitch—No raw edges to be seen. No just on her customers clothes, but on the ones she sewed for us (me and my sibling) as well. Not homemade clothes—but couture clothes.

All the edges finished, and fine details in place. Eventually, I even worked for her. I took on the job of making buttonholes. Most often, today, I use my machine and it's buttonhole making option, just as many of my mothers customers did—but bound buttonholes, and hand sewn buttonholes are still an option for suits--(but then, I rarely make suits these days!) and tailored jackets (these too, are mostly things of the past) As a teen I was paid to make hand sewn buttonholes by my mother--$1 for each one.

Her machine at that time didn't make machine buttonholes, and the Notions store that did also charged $1 per buttonhole, so the price was the same—What ever style was chosen.

So all the pieces are cut, most have bound edged, all the interfacing have been cut and and ironed on (my preferred style of interfacing) Other ironing as well (the pockets hems) and some pieces have been pinned—the epaulets, the pocket flaps, the collar.

So the next time I sit down to sew, I will actually start sewing!

I am making the shoulder yoked version of the shirt dress-- again. I still like to line dresses—at least partially—in this case, just the shoulder yoke will be lined—but that will make the a nice difference—the lined yoke will hide the seams. I like it when the insides look almost as good as the outsides.   I have been known to make french seams at times too—just because it is so nice to have these fine details..

This version of the shirt dress—similar to the yellow/blue/white print—with a few different details. First the fabric, a heavier cotton, (but still not heavy weight!) with even weave, in a solid color (grey). That alone is a big change from the broad clothe cotton print. There will be top stitching—On the yoke, and pockets, and around the collar and other places; epaulets, pocket flaps and so on. .

The buttons are a silvery grey metal, and the result will be a slightly military uniform look to the shirt dress. The lower pockets will also be patch pockets, too --a less common option for me. I think pockets set in the side seam are neater—just because they are less obvious. But changing the pockets style goes a long way to changing the look of the dress. All these little details and changes will add up to a big change in the look of final dress.

From start to finish, this dress will take between about 8 hours—If I credit my time at $15 an hour—that is over a hundred for a casual everyday dress.( Some dresses take a lot less time.) My labor is not the only cost (just the major one), there is also the cost of the fabric, lining, interfacing, buttons, spools and other bits and pieces (sewing machine needle aren't sold one at time, but in 4 packs—but the still need to be bought.) All these add up to different totals, (depending mostly on the cost of the fabric) but $25 is a good average. Home made clothing, if compared to store bought stuff can be 2 or 3 times the cost of a dress from a big box, chain store, made in China dress—but I really hate the cheaply made stuff. I was raised on couture, and I want couture—And if you discount the cost of my labor—I get champagne on a beer budget!

I wear custom made, one of kind clothing. My clothing last and lasts--(I have casual dresses that are 20 years old!) and it pleases me. I still have plans for more skirts and vests and even another shirt dress. But I suspect I will take a break after this dress is finished—and perhaps make some dresses for my granddaughters—get them started on appreciating lovely clothing!


I'll take photos when the dress looks like a dress--(and not just a pile of fabric).

Sunday, May 07, 2017

More Saturday Sewing


Skirt 2 with narrow yoke
Skirt 2—A solid blue yoke, with a skirt of the yellow/blue/white print is nearing completion. This skirt will be fine on its own, with a plain or trimmed T shirt, with a tank top and perhaps a camp shirt—(I have both white and yellow ones—see here—from 8 years ago!) It can be dressed up by adding the blue vest, too. Please note: my dress form is for photography, not for fitting... It has a 16 inch waist--(something I haven't had since my age was single digits!) I wish it looked just like this on me—but it does give you an idea. Here are some details (done and to come)
Waist band pocket with flap

I am picking through the scraps of fabric to trim a T shirt or two—a white one or a yellow one.. or maybe even a medium blue one-- I haven't unpacked my summer T's—so I am not sure what colors I have (that is not true—I have every color!)

I still have more blue linen like fabric—Not a lot, but enough to make half a skirt—another yoked skirt, with the solid blue as a yoke, (a larger yoke than this one) –and a different print for the other half of the skirt (there are only small scrapes of the yellow/blue/white print)—The third skirt will also go with the vest—giving me 3 options--(actually, more because the blue vest will go with lots of other skirts, and at least one other shirt dress) – to mix and match. Coordinating separates can really expand a wardrobe.

I don't remember what I had planned to make when I bought the blue fabric(about 5 years ago!)—I do remember is was a bargain bin choice, and I bought all that was left from the bolt (about 5 yards of 48 inch wide fabric) –thinking that this was enough fabric to create a number of options—and so it goes, one solid (and somewhat formal skirt,) a print skirt with blue trim, and finally a sort of color block skirt, with a deep yoke of blue, and (likely) a flared lower tier—I have several prints that might be go with.

I have been sewing almost half a century, and I know how to sew—I tend to start with commercial patterns, and then just “adjust” and add detail... In this case, the yoke is an added detail and so is the little pocket added at the lower edge of the yoke. (Which gave me no end of grief to get right!) I will make buttonholes, and add the button—and there will be 3 buttons on the yoke for the closure. I love that I was able to find buttons that are a perfect match! The little flapped pocket is #3--this skirt also has 2 side seam (full sized!) pockets.

It is more or less my own design (thought there is nothing especial original about the design) Just a few details to make it slightly different than the other half dozen skirts I have made from this pattern.

The outside of the yoke is finished, not so the inside, and there are buttonholes and buttons, and the hem—a few more hours of work left to do. But it has taken shape—and you can see how it will look—since there is work to do, but no major changes from here.

I need two new things now—a blue hat, and blue sneakers. I do have two lace hats (my knit lace ones) the blue is a close (but not perfect) match and the yellow is almost a perfect match. I have a white and yellow baseball caps, too, —but no blue sneakers (or for that matter, yellow sneakers). Most of my sneakers—old fashioned lace up ones, or casual canvas slip on's are (currently) black, grey and white--There is the a single blue pair (turquoise blue) another pair that are red—and one a paisley print. In 2015, I finally tossed a pair of custom dyed sneakers I bought to wear to my sons wedding—almost 20 years ago! At the same time, I added embroidery to a pair of white sneakers—I only wore them a few times last year (they are as good as new) These are pretty, but they aren't the best match for the yellow/blue/white print—I'll look for another pair of white sneakers—and use fabric paint and a little bit of embroidery to make a pair to match.

When you have a lot of sneakers, and wear each pair just a few times a season, you can build up a complete wardrobe of sneakers!--Some years it seems there are no colors I like—other years, I stock up on white, and then I paint them, or embroider them, or sometimes dye them. Custom shoes to go with custom made clothes—and all at bargain basement prices (and a few hours of work!)



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Saturday(s) Continues to be for Sewing

So the vest is nearing completion—It still needs buttonholes and buttons. My machine makes them automatically (don't you just love a feature like that?) All I have to do check/correct the size before I start. The matching skirt? The raw edges have been zigzagged to finish, and the pieces joined together (the Barrel is done!) Next the top and bottom edges—first the waistband, then the hem, and finally the hook and eye for the waist band. It won't get done today, and will likely be done in 2 separate mini sessions. 

Skirt & vest progress.
 My dress form, (a recycled one) is a small (6) sized Junior one—so the skirt and vest are pinned back to look smaller. But it is still a nice looking set already. You can see progress has been made.

Then, a pause for clean up—stacking up the bits and pieces of fabric that will become Iron on appliques for T shirts, and making some Bias tape to form into flowers (to make pin-on flowers to decorate baseball type hats, or even to pin onto sneakers) Not too many—anything too matchy-matchy is not the look I am going for! But sometimes a small touch is nice.

After that? Well the skirt length cuts have been washed and pre-shrunk—But before I worked on the solid colored skirts, there is the print skirt with the solid blue yoke/yelow/blue/shite print, to be done.. And there maybe another shirt dress or two—in solic colors for a change. The mental queue goes on then the pretty multicolored vest—And somewhere, soon in the next few weeks, 2 small dresses for the granddaughter—before I get started with the solid skirts... The pink will likely be the first one—It will be full summer by then—the other colors are season spanning.. but bubble gum pink is most definitely a summery color!

The dresses for the girls are going to done in stripes—white/grey/pink for one girl, white/grey/blue for the other....(there will be plenty left for me to make something for me, too. ) The blue stripe will be a good match for the blue vest—and the pink stripes will be a good match to the bubble gum pink solid –so some of that will be used to trim what ever I make from the blue stripes.

Did I mention I have 2 other pieces of grey (besides the length of dark grey for the skirt? One piece of very light grey, (enough for for a shirtdress), and another of medium grey.. One advantage of having favorite colors, is long term, it makes it easier to make mix and match separated.

I have been doing bits and pieces of sewing on days besides Saturday—and some bits and pieces of spring cleaning too—It's been a wet spring (which is a good thing) but yesterday, was sunny—and the sunshine made it very clear—Windows need Washing! And so do the window sills, and frames (I leave several windows open a crack all winter for some fresh air—the fresh air drags in lots of dirt, too!) and the curtains, and …. The list goes on, doesn't it? There is always more cleaning to do! And for me, more clutter to clear up--

But cleaning is always better when there is some creativity mixed in!



Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Best Laid Plans

Last week, I expected to have the blue linen skirt and vest finished—Wouldn't that be nice?

I worked a bit Saturday morning (the afternoon was spent at Flushing SOUP—a communal meal sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce-that supports and encourages local non profits groups.)

It was a wonderful meal—and a wonderful day (if a bit damp) . Had a great day—even won a raffle prize—too bad it was local home brews (I don't like or drink beer.)  My daughter does--and made out well.

Home by eight pm.  I was feeling sick by nine, and in-bed, fevered (shivering!)by 10—Had a bad night, and wasn't much better on Sunday.

Monday I felt better, but I needed two naps to get through the day. Worked on the vest—and made a major mistake with set in pocket... Plus I was having major problems with skipped stitches and broken thread.

Tuesday I was out all day at the DMV—another day lost.

Yesterday—I spend hours undoing the mistake I made on Monday—and--making a second mistake. (much smaller and easily able to resolve)--but still had problems—again and again.

Every crafter has had the experience of “doing things right” and having them come out wrong—and every time, we blame ourselves... We knit and tink, and knit again and tink again and spend hours blaming ourselves for things not working out—Until we finally stop asking “what am I doing wrong?--and start asking what is wrong.

In my case, I had changed the sewing machine needle before I started the vest (and skirt) –as well as making up 2 bobbins.

(I always make an extra bobbin up—then I don't have to stop mid seam to make up a bobbin—but can just switch bobbins (and then at some point –just (if needed) make up another to have on hand. The blue skirt will have all of the seam edges zig zagged over to finish—so I am sure to need a 3rd bobbin.)

Normally I would blame skipped stitches and broken threads on a old, dull needle—but I took the needle out of sealed package (so it was a new needle!) and I just didn't expect it to fail. But finally, I realized, it wasn't what I was doing wrong—it was the needle.

It is not flared, (it is not flat)
By that point I was exhausted—So I gave up for the night...
A bit more sewing today, and the end is in sight—The out side is done, the lining is done, and the two have been sew together, and now it is down to finishing.. a final press, the side seams to sew, and then the buttonholes and buttons... Some of this will be done this evening—Nothing will be done tomorrow (which should, finally, be sun-shiny!) Since Friday is my day with the girls--

I got a little tidying done yesterday, and will get more done today (Laundry for one, including some pre-washing some of the cottons planned for the next group of sewing projects!) The print vest and 4 simple solid color skirts fabrics. I have 2 more pieces of grey—very light (already prewashed) and medium—that will also go with the vest,) And while I have not been doing much knitting, I do have 5 50g skeins of silk sock wool—2 will become grey socks, 3 will become a scarf of some sort.

But first I need to finish the Vest, and the matching solid skirt, and then, a mostly print skirt—trimmed with the solid blue—And that is a lot of sewing planned! It shouldn't take long if things go as planned.. but so far, nothing has!




Saturday, April 22, 2017

Been Sewing and Will Do More—from Last WEEK!





I couldn't find my camera—so I never posted this...Got the car washed yesterday—and found my camera—which had slipped under the seat. So, with photo's—it's time to post!
The newest shirtdess

The first thing to know is while I do have some favorite colors, I love every color. I especially love purple (from the deepest darkest, to the palest shades, from blue violet to red violet, and the purest shades—I love them all.)

But purple isn't loved by everybody—and it comes and goes in popularity when it comes to fabric. There are years when you can't find anything in purple—and then a brief flowering, and then back to nothing. In non purple years I wear every color in the rainbow—Blues from pale to navy can always be found, and turquoise, too. Browns, too, and there is no shortage of the other 2 staples in every modern woman wardrobe—Black and denim! There are fair amount of neutrals (grey taupe/kahki, and brown) and there are always some wild and wacky colorful prints and knits. Orange is the least common color (it really doesn't go well with my pale skin) but there are some splashed of it—at least in some prints.
An other (new too) collarles version

The second thing to know is I practically wear uniforms. For more than 40 years, my wardrobe has always been made of a few staple styles. First—the shirt dress. Some times waisted, sometimes not (and sometimes with a front only waist feature or back only waist feature)-Shirt dresses are a perennial favorite. The details change –simple collars, or tailored ones, Yokes (front or back or shoulder) come and go, and buttons are replaces with pearl snaps, or even on occations, zippers. Most often they have sleeves (short) but some are sleeveless (and summery) and some are shortish, and sleeveless (and worn as tunics  with leggings and turtle neck shirts!)--All--all the time, have pockets... Usually side seam pockets, but some times patch pockets (especially chest pockets!). At least 2 (the side seam ones) sometimes more.
This version is a few years old.

Part 2 of "uniform"  are  A line skirts with VESTS. Sewn ones, or knitted-- I like the finished look a vest gives to an simple skirt. I have a nice selection of blazers and jackets—but these are often too formal—a vest finishes of a simple skirt and top with out being too much –Besides, I have a problem with sleeves--(I am very picky about the length, and thickness, and fit) but of course, vests never present problems!) This problem with sleeves makes if very difficult for me to find outwear (jackets and coats) that I like—but that is a whole 'nother topic!

I like jumpers, too. Simpler than shirt dresses, with scooped necks and easy arm holes—Just pop them on and you are dressed! (My grandchildren call them “Apron”dresses (or more correctly “cooking clothes”-the word apron isn't cemented into their vocabulary)

I go a few years wearing print skirts with solid tops—and they I flip flop and only wear solid skirts and print tops...and the same goes for the shirt dresses—a few years of only prints used, followed by a few years of solid fabric ones...(I am about to switch from print dresses to solid ones.) 

60% of my clothes (outer wear vs. underwear) are home made—either hand sewn or hand knit—at times in my life, the percentage was higher, and other times lower...but I have never really stop sewing.

I try to make one or two new things a year—clothes do wear out, and get damaged.   A few(5?)  years ago I was very busy and sewed up a lot of new things—and now the time has come again to add some new stuff--some of my older (20 years +) has worn out, and I need a new influx.

So first—a new shirt dress in a bright summery print--done.   Coming soon (already pinned out) a skirt and vest in a coordinating blue solid. There is enough blue for left over for a half skirt—and I will make one—a hip yoke of the blue, and lower tier of the print. Left over scraps of both fabrics will be come small appliques on T shirts- So I will have a shirt dress—to wear as is, or with the blue vest (I also have a solid yellow vest, too!) the blue skirt can be worn on its own, or with the blue vest, same with the 2 toned skirt. The solid skirt & vest combo can be dresses up with a nice shirt—or be more casual with T shirt (lots of different color T's go with blue) or a store bought print knit shirt—I have a few of those too.

Since I started this posts, (last week) the skirt and vest have been cut--and the linings and the interfaces, too.  I have thread and buttons, and have made 2 bobbins set up too--Today I will overstitch the edgings, and iron on the interfacings.. 

A print(a vest to be) and some solids that will be skirts
My second big set will be based on a vest of this printed fabric(center) I love it!  The solids, (all cotton twills) will become skirts that are great go-withs—Reddish plum, a dark purple, dark grey and not too common color for me, a bubble gum pink—Add a few T shirts that  will get some trimming with the print—and everything will go together—I have a lot of purple accessories—so out fits can be dresses up (a dark purple skirt with a pale lilac linen shirt and hand knit silk lace scarf made from ombre yarn—will make a nice, some what dressy outfit. But the same dark purple skirt with a white T that has a purple dragon fly decal—and its a simple every day out fit.

I still have a large store of fabric—But you can never have too much, can you? There are 2 lengths of blue (one indigo, one prussian blue) that will likely become solid shirt dresses (I think I have enough print ones!) and there is always a stock of denim—some heavy stiff ones, some soft and drapy ones—that will turn into vests, and skirts and jumpers—The denims range from black, to dark indigo, to medium blue—one print remnants will become vest--(I already have 3 denim vest—but the great thing is, I can always use another!) I even stocked up on needles and thread—A few weeks of sewing, and I will be bored and will put my sewing machine away—but by then my wardrobe will have healthy injection of color!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Moving Along

Life has been busy—mostly in a good way, for me. Not so much for my friend D—A fender bender (she was T-boned) left her shaken and sore (and with out a car for while). A few hours in the ER yielded a few more repeats on the secret project--25 now! But in need about 40, so while I have passed the mid way point, there is are still a lot more repeats to knit—and this project requires so sewing, too.

Pretty in Pink is making progress too. I have completed pattern repeat 2, and I am about 25% into repeat 3—and each day it looks more and more like a sweater. 24 more rows to complete repeat 3—and then a dozen (or more) rows of garter for the hem—and I haven't even figured in the sleeves!

I was worried about the yarn—and if I would have enough—that is less and less of worry everyday.


The sweater will be long (closer to 25 inches than 23 or 24) and there will be enough yarn to do at least ¾ sleeves, if not full length sleeves... I will aim at saving a few yards to knit a motif to add to a hat. The hat will be made in the green yarn (same yarn/different color) I will end up  having a  Not too matchy-matchy,  nice set.   

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Looking Like a Sweater

I divided the work onto 2 circ's so that I could put the sweater on my dress form. The dress form is very small (a junior size 4 or so) so the scoop neck is bigger scoop than it will be on me.

 And the body length is shorter too (just 14 inches from center back neck to waist--(vs my actual body measurement of 18 inches!) ) The garter yoke is about 9 inches, and the pattern stitch body is also about 9 inches.. so 18 inches of 24 done. The second repeat of the stitch pattern is almost done, too.

It is hard to see the pattern in the mottled color of the yarn—here is an image of the pattern from the stitch pattern book (No, it is not a copy right violation to post a single image from a book) The book is: The New Knitting Stitch Library, by Lesley Stanfield,  the stitch pattern is number 226.  A comment suggested the stitch pattern looked feathered--and yes, it does.  I like how it has a lot of garter, and pairs well with the yoke and front band, plus I like the ladder element (a strong vertical!) 

I could  can see the shape better (and I saw the pattern better) with sweater on the dress form. I am continuing with 4 rows a day, so the progress, is slow. But progress is being made!


My secret project is moving along too—It features a leaf motif (a perennial favorite of mine) and Part A (2 pieces) each needed 15 leaves. Part B will need at least 40 leaves, (20 right handed, and 20 left handed) and I have 10 of each at this point. So I am close to half done on Part B.   

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Busy Week

When my granddaughters are sick—my life gets busier. Nothing seriously wrong—just the normal cold and congestion that plagues children and mothers—Monday was the doctors visit, and Daughter one was the sickest. She is now on the mend, but sisters 2 and 3 are under the weather. By yesterday my daughter needed some relief—Sick children often result in an overflowing of bodily fluids (from one end or the other)--Laundry (always a chore with 3 little ones) had grown to monumental proportions with what was really just a little cold and fever—nothing to worry about—but sick kids do make messes.

I am so happy to have a car (and be able to get to her place in half the time) but—this joy does cut into my knitting time. Visiting used to create 2 hours of bus (and knitting) time. Still I have made progress (as I should since I also took time off for myself to watch a movie—Hidden Figures (excellent!)

My Pretty in Pink sweater now has 1.5 repeats of the pattern completed + 2 more rows... Each row makes the over all (stitch) pattern clearer—and makes me happier with my choice of this stitch pattern.

I like how the lacy ladder at the center of the stitch pattern make a strong vertical statement that contrasts nicely with the horizontal nature of the garter stitch. The pattern is simple enough that I learned it before I finished the first repeat.

My secret project is coming along nicely too. Part A (2 pieces) are done and blocked, Part B (1 larger piece) is 1/3rd done. And its a little harder—since it involves working the stitch pattern in reverse, because I wanted to have the pattern balanced—starting at the center and working outward. It is a small detail—one of those persnickety details I tend to like. Part B is larger than the 2 pieces of Part A put together—so working half in reverse does slow me down a little.

And, there is always just the normal household stuff to do—I still haven't put away all of my holiday decorations. The displays have been disassembled and packed up, but not put away. And they have gotten me thinking about some changes I want to make. I haven't changed my basic layout of either my living room or bedroom since I settled on them 15 years ago when I moved here. I don't think there are major changes in the making...but I am thinking its time for some changes. My sofa is an Ikea model—I am thinking about changing the slip cover—a change of color to a major piece like the sofa will really change things up!

Today, I want to get some sewing done—and my own laundry done too. I'll sneak some knitting it, too!
Or at least I hope so.. I am not feeling too well myself right now.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Getting Longer


Each and every day. The pattern (aside from the lacy ladder) is still hard to see, I really think blocking will help. Still one aspect of the pattern (and repeat) is clear-- the lacy ladder (which is surrounded by a garter stitch diamond--which is harder to see) this image has a filter to make the pattern clearer (it changes the color)  The over all design is clearer with each row. A relatively large vertical pattern.

I am using 2 balls of yarn, changing ever other row—and thankfully, it doesn't look 'striped'--which can sometime happen. I had sorted the skeins (hanks) as I made them into balls, noting that some of the skeins were significantly lighter than others—and worked the with the lightest skeins on the top and the work has been getting darker as it progresses..But this is about as dark as it gets (left image.) 

This yarn (Atacama by Araucanie Yarns) is imported from Chile, and is 100% alpaca, 'kettle dyed'--This kind of dying doesn't always have an even color (intentionally) It is not an even “space dye” but intentionally mottled. I bought the yarn when it was on sale (a clearance sale, as the store was discontinuing carrying the yarn.)  It is light--(DK weight) and very soft...But alpaca is very warm.

I bought out the stock, knowing there would not be any more coming. I also have a few skeins of this yarn in in an olive green and a blue—but just enough for perhaps a hat or scarf (the green I think is going to become fingerless gloves)—Not anywhere near enough to make a sweater or other garment--(Well, maybe a baby garment, but don't make baby garments out of hand washable luxury yarns—to much work for new mothers!)

This is my “at home project” since I think it is too big and bulky to carry around with me. I also have a small portable project –but lately that has been an at home project too—Now that I have a car, I don't spend as much time on buses or the subway—and my portable projects knitting time has been cut.

I actually have a few portable projects –a group of UFO's—a pair of socks, (for me) a pair of socks (for my SIL—but I haven't even cast on yet) a pair of fingerless gloves, (for me, too) Plus a semi secret project—for the spring/summer.

I have a queue of 20 projects –The Pretty in Pink sweater is on the queue—but the fingerless gloves and the semi secret project aren't! I guess I should review my queue!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Not a Full Repeat

Done yet.. But still making progress. And doing some mental math.

I know from experience, I like my sweaters to be at least 24 to 25 inches long, measured from center back.. I always make some short rows in the back to make the back longer than the front, too, so the sweater doesn't ride up in the back.

(there are some patterns that don't allow for this—The Ladies February sweater come to mind—I noticed almost every sweater that didn't some how add some short rows across the back, rode up in the back, and sagged in the front—a not very nice look.)

Since I don't generally like high necklines, I tend to make wide round necklines, that start about 1 inch below the natural neckline. The Pretty in Pink sweater follows this personal trend, and starts about 1 inch below a natural neckline. The yoke is 9.5 inches in center back (the  shorter center front is a full inch shorter)


So, the back yoke is about 10.5 inches—9.5 of actual knitting, 1 inch “space”. I want to finish about 14 to 15 inches of body. And I want about 1 inch of garter at the hem. So I need about 14 inches of pattern body.

Right now, I have 28 rows of a 32 pattern row pattern done..(not quite yet a full repeat.) These rows have equal just under 4 inches—the full repeat of 32 rows will be about 4.3 inches—so if I need 14/15 inches, I need, 3 full repeats, (13 inches) to make the body...The result will be ,a bit short of my preferred length- but it will be a bit longer when another inch of garter stitch is added for a hem.

I find I have pain after 4 rows (even with the compression gloves) so I have been limiting my self to 2 rows at a time, twice a day—so I need 4 rows to complete repeat 1, + 64 to complete the second and third repeat, an inch garter stitch for the hem, will be another 10 rows.

72 rows to go—Divide that by 4 and I should have the body finished in another 3 weeks.. Let say 3.5 weeks, with some time off for bad behavior--(I have had my fill of good behavior!)

Of course there will be still more time needed for the sleeves—so another month to finish. I won't have many opportunities to wear it much this winter. Maybe a week or two in February, or of there is a sudden cold snap in March. But a big chunk of yarn will have been moved from stash to FO pile.

I also plan to make an matching sleeveless shell, in a solid pink (Lion Brand Sock Yarn)--The shell will be loose fitting, and worked in the same lacy pattern as the body of the Pretty in Pink sweater Itcan (and will) be worn with a camisole as a shell, and other times as a vest with blouse or T shirt type top. And occasionally, both pieces will be worn together as a sweater set. One half of the set will be wool, the other half will be alpaca, --one half in a solid smooth pink, the other half in the kettle dyed variegated yarn—not a totally matchy-match set—but a set of sorts. The shell will be another months work.

Well that is the plan—But plans don't always work out. In between, the 2 long rows of the sweater, I am working on some decorative edging for a summer project—the stitch count varies, from 8, to 16, to 12 stitches in a 18 row pattern-- in the past two weeks I have logged 25 repeats--(I will need, eventually 75 repeats in all. So that little project is about 1/3rd done. Well the knitting part is about 1/3rd done—there is more involved that just knitting. And I plan to make at least 3 sets of this project... Each will take a month in all (March, April, May!) A simple (but secret for now!) bit of luxurious knitting.


As always, my queue and plans are ambitious—and I will have to pace myself to be able to get them all done—There are sock projects planned, (including a pair of pink socks to match the Lion Brand pink shell) and sweaters for the twin granddaughter planned, and sewing projects, and repainting my bedroom, and.... Well for now, 4 long rows a day is all I am committing to!  

Monday, January 09, 2017

Back to Making Progress

Back in October, pain did me in... First it was my right wrist—a varicose vein developed in my wrist—and the pain was horrid. I stopped knitting and restricted other activities as well.. I started looking for the Crafter's compression gloves (Lion Brand is one supplier) Time, rest, and eventually a pair of compression gloves did the trick. I just found the gloves,  last week—by then my wrist was feeling much better--(but I will wear the gloves to prevent future problems.)

Secondly, I ended up with a pinched nerve in my neck that sent waves of pain down my left shoulder and arm. This hasn't passed—but I have been working on it, too. First I am careful how I move (and more importantly, how I position myself as I sleep) and I have been working on range of motion exercisers—These have worked, and while not yet pain free, everyday, is better and better.

Meanwhile, in an ongoing project, I have (finally!) gotten my bathroom painted. All the old accessories, (shelves, and storage stuff) have been cleaned—but not all of them have been returned to the bathroom (or replaced yet.) All of these things were acquired piecemeal, or as impulse purchases, or as  recycled stuff—and I am not putting in holes to mount these.  Some are going to be re-used, some recycled—and some new ones will be purchased—but I haven't decides which or what, right now, I haven't found the “right stuff” for replacements, so the redecorating isn't complete. The bathroom looks better already with the painted completed, a new cotton pique shower curtain, and a replacement towel rod was found and installed. Small changes, but significant. More to come!

Work is also going on in my bedroom, too. It started last year (May) when I bought a new bed, and was gifted a new coverlet. Since then, I have added a new wing chair. The plan is to remove the wall paper ( an Laura Ashley print that I hung when I first moved here 15 years ago (it's time!)) and painting the room a new color—One wall a dark teal accent wall, the remaining 3 pastel turquoise(that is a paint color swatch on the chair.  White and Cafe au Lait (the color of the coverlet) will be the accent colors—I already made the chenille neck roll (white and dark teal)—that perfectly matches the chair- a bit of good luck!  I always love it when plans work out so perfectly. I have some new art work (it needs to be framed) for the room too. I also plan to knit some edging for the new sheets—Embroidered sheets with hand knit lace edging are a small inexpensive (a bit time consuming, but not really too time consuming) details that will be the finishing details. I especially like lace edges on my 100% cotton sheets. In the summer I don't use a coverlet, and the lace makes a simple bed look elegant. That has been something I have done for decades--

So, now that I am feeling better, I am getting back to working on my pink alpaca cardigan sweater. It's a top down seamless one, with no real pattern, just a plan. The plan is: seamless circular yoke—in garter, that features a button band, (and 5 buttons) Below the armholes, a lozenge shaped garter and lace pattern—I will knit the body of the sweater first, and then make the sleeve until I run out of yarn—I'd like long sleeves—but I won't be upset if I only have enough yarn for ¾ length sleeves.

So far there are only 8 rows of the 32 that make up the pattern on the body of the sweater, --so you'll have to wait a bit to see how the pattern works out. But here is a idea of what I mean by lozenge shaped—a double pointed arrow sort of shape. The lozenge will be staggered/off-set as they are in the image, too.

So lots of little bits of progress—Nothing yet completed... just a little progress here, and there and everywhere.