Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! (In Which I'm a Doll)

I showed you the Cabbage Patch Doll hair hats, so I thought I'd show you the whole package I put together for Halloween:
I found the baby doll dress and blouse with big white collar at Goodwill last weekend. The white tights and red Mary Janes were already in my closet. Not bad, right?

A couple others dressed up at work:
 and we had a fun time of it.
The one who suggested wearing costumes came without one, and she's the one hiding behind the mask of the boss's face.

I think I've gotten my use out of the Cabbage Patch Doll hat now.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Skirting my Baggage (Part 1)

I saw this skirt at Goodwill and loved the fabric, immediately thinking "Purse"! (Ok, so actually my first thought was that my sister would love this fabric, but I pushed that away quickly so I wouldn't be tempted to give it to her since she happened to be shopping with me.)

My first thought was to turn the skirt upside down and just sew the waist shut to  make the bag, but I decided I didn't want the top wider than the bottom.

So I sewed the hem shut. I did no deconstruction, figuring the bulk of the hem would just add strength and structure to the bottom. I just butted the two edges together and zig zagged the seam.
 I didn't bother go right to the ends. It was too bulky to sew over the side seams,
 and I knew that I would be cutting them off anyway.

I wanted to gusset the bottom corners so the bag would have shape to it. I turned the bag inside out and folded it so that the bottom seam and side seam matched up and formed 45 degree angles with the folds:
Then I marked a sewing line. In this case, I marked 1.5" from the point. I made sure it was straight by lining up the bottom seam with the line on the ruler and making sure the point where the ruler met each fold was the same distance from the seam.
 I marked the line on each corner and sewed across them both:
I turned it inside-out to make sure it looked good:
The very observant among you will notice that the side
seam doesn't match up with the center bottom seam.
That is because the side seam wasn't centered. The
skirt designer made the front narrower than the back.
That's because it was Ann Taylor and she makes good
stuff that fits. Because guess what...for most of us, it
takes more fabric to go around our backsides than
across our fronts.
 and then zig zagged it on the inside to reinforce the seam and cut off the excess:
 And here I had my bag:
But it wasn't what I wanted. It looked like a great project bag. But I wanted a purse. So I decided to cut off a lot of the length:
I think I cut off about 6 inches and then did all of the steps explained above again! Seamed the bottom and gusseted the corners.

Then it was time to think about a strap. I've had this belt for a number of years:
I kept it long after I stopped wearing it because I thought it would make a great purse strap. One problem I noticed right away was that I thought it was leather, but it's not! Whatever plastic it's made out of isn't aging very well. But without any other good options, I decided to use it anyway. I kept attaching it simple by just sewing over the tassel ends just below the rings.
The purse itself doesn't really have enough structure to hang well with one strap attached to either end, even though I think the belt looks great.
For this picture, I inserted a rod just inside
the top so that the purse wouldn't sag and gap.
The purse will hang a lot better with a pair of straps attached to the front and back at two points. I just read a recommendation for the lace weight cotton from Knitpicks for weaving and I may have just ordered a yellow, brown and green so I could make some new straps. While I'm waiting for them to get here, I'm hunting down a good weaving pattern to go with all the great geometric shapes on the bag itself.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Just for Fun

I told you it was coming...
My sister and I finished enough Cabbage Patch Doll hats that we could all have one. (One sister is missing; her hat has bangs but no pigtails.)

The one sister who didn't hear about it on Facebook (and whom we didn't tell) took to the idea right away. She plans to wear hers to the elementary school where her husband is the principal. You know, in case the teachers take him too seriously!
The four of us pictured here wore the hats when we went to the haunted house. They were a huge hit. I didn't collect names, but there were certainly actors breaking character to whisper to us, I love your hats.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Half way through Socktober...

Yup, the month is half over, but I can show you a toe:
That means one sock is done. One to go!

Go, Socktober!! :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lace Tunic: Finished

In early September I finished the main knitting on my Lace Tunic. The back had already been blocked (I was testing to make sure it would block to size before I invested time in the front) so I only had to lay out the front and side pieces after they had a good soak.
I had to pull pretty hard, but everything was made to match the measurements in the schematics. The pulling just opened up the lace and netting more.

Once they were dry and I had some time, I started seaming the pieces. The squares are turned on point and inserted into the seam at the lower edge of the front and back. Then you seam the front and back together above.
That is a wicked-good looking seam, if I do say so myself.

Next I was supposed to seam the shoulder seams so that the armholes and neck could be trimmed in the round. But I didn't feel like working in the round. (The length is just the right length to be annoying: too long for magic loop and too short to work in one loop. And I didn't feel like working with two cable needles.)

So instead, I knit the armhole trim in the flat,
and then seamed one shoulder seam so that I could knit the neck trim in the flat:
Then I seamed the last shoulder. All the trim was knit in garter stitch so the seams were very easy to hide.

And then that was it; it was done!
I'm still deciding on the length--whether it's just right or a little short. I feel like the body could be a little longer, but I don't want the side pieces to come down below my knees. So I guess I'm saying it's good.

I love the cotton for this pattern. When I first bought the sweater to ravel, I just thought it would be a nice light neutral and had no idea what I would do with it. (I don't use much cotton besides for dish cloths, so who knows what I was thinking!!) But it's easy to wear and just right for an extra layer. It feels good on.
It was an interesting lace pattern. The stitch count is not consistent throughout the repeat. I also didn't do it exactly like the pattern, but followed a modification by KnittingAmazon on Ravelry. I didn't compare the two too carefully, but I believe the modification made the pattern more symmetric.

The lace morphs into a much simpler pattern for the shoulder straps and back yoke. It's a bit of a cop out, but I can understand why the designer did it. Such a big open lace on the shoulder straps wouldn't be stable enough and would be very difficult (tedious) to write out for different sizes.

I am very happy with how my neck trim came out. The cast off is just right; not too tight, not too loose. I also worked carefully to leave no holes along the pick up line and to pull in the lace in the center front so it looked good.
The hemline is a nice scallop. It's starting to roll already (as stocking stitch does), but not too badly.
I still think the side inserts are a clever way to get a bias hem line with straight pieces.
If I get tired of them one day, I could easily remove them and just wear the garment as a tunic with side slits.
But for now I have to watch my hands. I catch myself doing this as I walk around
and that is not a good look!

Project Stats
: 23 Jun '13
Finished: 14 Sep '13
Pattern: Open Eye Tunic by Deborah Helmke (magazine it was in was $6.99)
Materials: 263 grams of cotton from a Croft & Barrow Sweater ($1.25)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Socktober Day 5 Update

I've been making good progress on my elephant socks. As usual, chart knitting is completely addicting and hard to put down. This pattern uses one large chart for the leg, but I find it easy to keep my spot by using a couple sticky notes on the pattern.
I put them on "upside down" just above the row I am currently knitting. This way you know exactly what row you're working on and you can see the work that just did. As I work charts, I refer to the row I just did more than counting stitches on the current row. It's generally easier and keeps you on the right path. The only part that's a pain is you have to move the stickies every row. But I think it's easier (and less permanent) than highlighting each row as you go.

I had some comments in response to my first post where I claimed I would be following the pattern and not making my usual changes. Apparently some of my readers found this hard to believe! Well, so far I would say that I have followed the pattern...but it was an iffy start.

The pattern says to start with a twisted German cast on over two needles. I have to admit right up front that I didn't even know what that was, but I do know what I like to use. So that's what I did, and I cast on with the same method I would use for a two strand double stitch.* It's the same cast on I used for my "punked" youtube video,** only in this case I used two strands of red instead of different colours.
What you're looking for is a cast on that won't bind the top edge. It needs to stretch with the ribbing.

[*Can I just add an "internal footnote" to say that although this makes me sound like a curmudgeon who doesn't like to learn new things, it's more an issue of really wanting to start a new project and not wanting to slow down to look stuff up? I prefer to think I'm eager; not close-minded.]

Below a close up, and you may be able to see how the cast on looks like the stitches just wrap around the edge in a K1, P1 pattern. (It completely blends in with a 1x1 ribbing, but it's not quite as smooth on the 2x2 ribbing of this pattern...but you will notice that I didn't substitute it. (Although I considered it.))
Now, before you start jumping around and saying I cheated, after recommended the twisted German cast on, the next line of the pattern says, "you can use your favorite cast on." And so I did. And so, technically, I am still following the pattern.

Since working on the sock, I have looked up the twisted German cast on (anything you need to learn about knitting, just search youtube). It is a cast on that uses knots between each stitch--something I don't like. Knots restrict movement. Knots make hard little knobs in your knitting. Although you occasionally need to use them, I try to avoid them. And when I heard that this cast on is normally done over two needles to make it "stretchier," I put up another black mark against it. If you ask me, using two needles just makes it looser, not stretchier and makes it look messier. I just don't like it. Even the cast on I did use looks "ruffle-ly" and loose when it's not being worn. I can't imagine it being even looser. Anyway, that's where I stand and I'm glad I used the cast on I did. (Even if it was a complete pain in the keister to do in a single colour. Worth it.)

Anyway, once the 2x2 ribbing was done, and the leg chart was knit, it was time for the heel. A "partridge heel." I have heard of them (a lot) but had never done one. I knew it was a type of slipped stitch heel flap, and it turns out I was right. On the heel flap, you slip every other stitch on the knit rows. Not only do you slip them but you twist them as well. So they kind of stick out.
And because the slip stitches alternate "columns," you get a pretty sort of checkerboard pattern. The slip stitches draw in the knitting and are supposed to make the back of the heel more durable. On the back you get longer floats on every other row,
which also is a type of reinforcing as the floats double the knit stitches and give you two layers, in a sense. When I slip stitch the heel flap, I usually line up the slipped stitches so they're always in the same column of stitches. I believe this is called a Dutch heel and considering I learned it from my Dutch grandmother, I guess that makes sense. (Unless this is another case of Dutch meaning German (like Pennsylvania Dutch). I'm not sure.)

And again, for my certain readers, I will note that the pattern instructed me to slip the last stitch of each row and knit the first stitch of the next row, which is completely opposite of what I usually do (slipping the first stitch and knitting the last stitch). But I followed the pattern along to see where the designer was taking me. Turns out the two methods would have been equivalent, but I didn't know that until I did it, so I did it her way. (See? Following the pattern!)

The heel turn. It's a very sharp angle. I'm not sure I
like that. But it'll stretch to shape when being worn,
so it's nothing to make a big deal about.
Once you get to the bottom of the heel, you do the turn with some short rows and decreases. This is also a first for me. Usually the bottom of the heel flap is half of your total stitches and you have to decrease all the stitches you pick up from the side of the heel flap. But in this case, you end up with fewer stitches at the bottom and only decrease some of the side stitches.

My mind is still working out if this will make for a better fit (it certainly will make for a shorter gusset), but I will find out in the making. Again, following the pattern to see where it will take me...

Once the heel flap and turn were done, it was time to pick up those stitches on the sides and continue working all the stitches:
You start with the left sock, so this is the "inside" side.
This is where I really struggled. After completing the heel, the designer had the nerve to tell me to cut my yarn. AAAHHH. Cutting yarn in the middle of a sock!? That is crazy talk. But right in the pattern, she admits that she hates to work in ends, so I had to take her instruction to cut the yarn seriously. I did stop to consider how else I could work it, but I decided to just trust her and cut my yarn. It hurt though.
This is the "outside" so you can show off your
clever little elephant.
At this point I tried the sock on. It's tight going over my heel, but then fits fine. That's the risk with stranded socks--they really don't stretch. I went down a needle size because usually 72 stitches is way too big. I think it's going to be ok.

(Famous last words?)

**Story here if you don't know it or want to reread it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Socktober 2013

It's that time again...time to celebrate Socktober. No, this is not another excuse to drink beer in October. It's just an excuse to knit more socks. (Needless to say the crowds are smaller at this event, but the fun usually lasts all month.)

I knew I had a skein of Pagewood Farm's Chugiak sock in "Really Red" that had been waiting for a long time to be put to use. I decided this was the time. But not plain red socks (as if red could ever really be plain), but I wanted to do some colourwork with it.

I did a mental search for some coordinating sock yarn, and I had none. But I did have a wool/angora sweater that I bought some time in August. It's white and I thought it would be perfect to practise dying (when I get to it). Meanwhile, the white would be perfect to work with the red.

So last week, I took off one of the sleeves and raveled it. The angora makes it "sticky" and a little tough to take out, but this piece wasn't too bad. I had a couple breaks in the top shaping, but after that it was clear sailing.

It still took the entire evening, however; in part because the sweater is done in brioche stitch and that means a lot of yarn. I got about 400 meters from just the sleeve. (That would be enough to do a pair of socks right there--even my long ones.)
I now had to find a pattern. I haven't done a pair of colourwork socks before but I've looked at a few patterns. My favourite so far is the "Water for the Elephants" pattern by Rose Hiver. I'm just a little obsessed with elephant patterns and add them to my Ravelry queue often, and I had just finished reading the book, Water for Elephants, that inspired the pattern. Seemed like a good choice.
I'm knitting without a net and am going to start the socks without a swatch. Besides being my first colourwork socks, I am also going to depart from my usual routine and follow the pattern in knitting the socks from the cuff down. I considered knitting more on top so they would be longer (I hate the draft short socks don't stop), but I'm just going to follow the pattern. I decided I have enough going on and am going to give myself a break. (Following these charts will be work enough!)

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...