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.