expensive habits

5 Dec

One thing I find amusing is when people tell me “Oh, you must save so much money knitting your own sweaters and making your own clothes.”  Well… not so much.  I think I get better quality things (certainly sweaters are terribly overpriced in stores) but none of my hobbies are really very thrifty.  I mean really… you don’t even want to know what I’m willing to spend on a lustworthy yarn, and adding a new lust for fabric into the mix… well, it ain’t pretty.

But I will say… knitting has nothing on sewing, at least not when it comes to basic equipment.  I bought a set of Knitpicks Options needles when they first came out, and they are still all that I use.  Occasionally I get a new set of cords or something, but that’s about it.  I do have a knitting machine, but I consider that a totally different animal.   Sewing, on the other hand, requires actual machinery.    A decent machine with accessories, a table to put it on, and perhaps a serger, if you want to sew knits often.

After 2 months or so of sewing nearly every day on my Viking Huskystar 219, I’ve decided to buy a new machine.  This was prompted by sewing on my nearly completed Mod Sampler quilt, and the Simplicity dress I’m making.

This is my Mod Sampler quilt.  You will note that while I did finish the free motion quilting, it does not yet have a binding (the outside edge that holds everything together.)  Free motion quilting on the Huskystar was a bear – it doesn’t have much room between the needle and the machine body, so it was hard getting the whole thing done, but I did it – and I loved the process!  It’s like drawing with thread, and oddly zen.  I also have some bobbin tension issues with the machine, and kept getting strange stitches underneath that I would have to pick out.   I’m not even going to try to do the binding yet – the machine does not handle thick amounts of fabric well – anything over 2 pieces tends to cause major problems. The binding will wait for the new machine.

I’m currently making simplicity 3835, and it’s nearly done, but I cannot deal with this machine anymore.  I have been waiting, wanting to see if my enthusiasm for sewing was a temporary fling, but it seems that there is room for two true crafting loves in my life.   I love quilting – it speaks to my love of color.  In fact, my next quilting project is going to be the color wheel quilt, from Last Minute Patchwork gifts (yes, by the same author as Last Minute Knitted gifts.)

Isn’t it beautiful?  I ordered the kit from Purl, because I don’t even want to think about how long it would take me to accumulate all the colors for it.  Mine has different fabrics from the book sample of course, but it’s going to be so beautiful!

I love making clothes, because I have a hard time finding clothes I love that fit me in stores.  I fit into junior sizes, however I already have issues with people thinking I’m way younger than I actually am (culminating in at least one adult student quitting because “I’m too young to teach her anything” when in fact I was older than her.) Junior clothing is also very poorly made in general, and uses materials that I don’t love (nothing like having to buy prom dresses to go out to the opera because none of the adult formal dresses fit, buying the one you think looks least like a prom dress, feeling self-conscious, and then having the dress rip apart after one wearing.)  The idea of making my own vintage clothes appeals to me as well, as I love vintage but sometimes feel guilty wearing the often fragile items.  After reading knitting patterns, sewing patterns seem remarkably clear to me now, unlike my previous attempts.  Plus, I have my trusty simplicity guide (from the 60s or 70s) to help me out!

I love this book so much… I’m glad I thought to buy it several years ago at an estate sale (well, the fact that it came with a bunch of vintage knitting patterns helped!)  Sewing patterns haven’t changed so much, but I will say this is extra helpful trying to interpret some of the vintage patterns I have.

I find that I go in cycles – several times a year I have a frenzy of knitting and turn out most of my sweaters, and at other times I knit much less and want to work on other hobbies.  Oddly, this time of year is always a down time for me – I think I can’t concentrate on knitting when I have so many holiday things to attend to!    I’m usually lucky if I finish a single sock between Thanksgiving and New Years.  I have tried to reassure my knitting that I am not cheating on it (“really, that wool crepe meant nothing to me, and of course you didn’t see a stack of Amy Butler fabrics sneaking out of the closet the other day.  ‘Twas the cat.”)  My knitting is not convinced, but I am making progress on all my projects.  Currently I am slowed down by making baby socks – my sister-in-law requested some for my niece, as they live in snowy Wisconsin and her poor little feet are cold!  If anyone has a favorite baby sock pattern do let me know… she’s 6 months old, and I want them to fit for awhile, so newborn patterns won’t work.

I’m also lusting after Kelmscott, from the new Twist Collective.  Honestly, I think it’s one of the prettiest designs I’ve seen this year.  The new IK is all right but not exciting, so I’m really glad I found something to love in Twist this time!

I have laryngitis pretty bad right now, which as you can imagine is  tough for someone who needs her voice for a living.  I think it’s a minor cold that seems to have settled in my throat.  I get sick rarely, but when I do it’s a doozy!    I am going to take Marc to the sewing machine store tomorrow to see what he thinks (hopefully that I need one!)  Then he’s helping a friend move house, and I will stay home to try and feel better!  Luckily I don’t have any gigs this weekend.  If I had gotten sick last weekend it would have been pretty tragic, so I’m very grateful that the cold held off this long!

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33 Responses to “expensive habits”

  1. Trikada December 5, 2009 at 4:55 am #

    Ege bela.

  2. Sue Smith December 5, 2009 at 5:04 am #

    Your quilt is looking great – so pretty. Hope your throat improves quickly and you feel better real soon.

  3. jane December 5, 2009 at 5:10 am #

    Wow, that quilt looks beautiful – and I’m very impressed with the free motion quilting. I’ll be interested to see which sewing machine you end up going for!
    Your colour wheel quilt is going to be *beautiful* too – I keep getting tempted to order one of the fabric packs from Purl, but the problem is that whenever I start perusing their website, I end up adding *so* much stuff to my basket because of all the lovely things they sell that I can’t get in London, that it all gets rather out of control and I can’t ever justify actually going through checkout with it!
    You are right on the expensive habits thing – BUT, it’s easy to forget that knitting and sewing are not just ways of getting finished objects – they are hobbies for us as well, and as hobbies go, I don’t think they’re excessively expensive compared to many other things we could have chosen to fill our hours with.
    Kelmscott is gorgeous – and I absolutely love the skirt (/dress?) that the model is wearing.
    Get well soon!

  4. jane December 5, 2009 at 5:13 am #

    Wow, that quilt looks beautiful – and I’m very impressed with the free motion quilting. I’ll be interested to see which sewing machine you end up going for!
    Your colour wheel quilt is going to be *beautiful* too – I keep getting tempted to order one of the fabric packs from Purl, but the problem is that whenever I start perusing their website, I end up adding *so* much stuff to my basket because of all the lovely things they sell that I can’t get in London, that it all gets rather out of control and I can’t ever justify actually going through checkout with it!
    You are right on the expensive habits thing – BUT, it’s easy to forget that knitting and sewing are not just ways of getting finished objects – they are hobbies for us as well, and as hobbies go, I don’t think they’re excessively expensive compared to many other things we could have chosen to fill our hours with.
    Kelmscott is gorgeous – and I absolutely love the skirt (/dress?) that the model is wearing.
    Get well soon!

  5. Nancy Kennedy December 5, 2009 at 6:46 am #

    When I was growing up my mother owned a fabric and yarn store in the small town where we lived. There was people who came in and priced out yarn and when they found out how much it cost they would reply why I can buy a dress at a store cheaper. But then there were the avid people who loved making something that fit them well and that no one else had. It’s definitely not about saving money. Not at 20 plus dollars for a pair of socks. :)

    I agree Twist Collective is much more interesting this time than IW.

    Your quilt is lovely work!

  6. Jeanine December 5, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    Your quilt looks amazing. You seem to have a natural talent for sewing and quilting. What machine are you getting? I also took the plunge from knitting to quilting awhile ago. I enjoy it so much. I also have a quilt set aside waiting to put the binding on.

  7. NerdGirl December 5, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    Your quilt looks wonderful! Just think how much more you will enjoy your quilting endeavors once you have a machine that you don’t have to fight.

    Just remember, the people that think you must be saving so much money definitely don’t get handmade gifts! They’ll look at the potential heirloom that you knit or quilted and think you cheaped out because it didn’t come from a store. ;p

  8. Deborah Prusiecki December 5, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    Your quilt is beautiful. I don’t sew but I admire your work. I’ve been drooling over the Kelmscott pattern myself. Really beautiful. As for losing your voice. That happened to me a week ago….I lost it totally and as it came back gradually it settled in my sinuses and I got a raging sinus infection. Hope you take it easy and get well quickly. I’m still sick one week later and on antibiotics. I’m like you–rarely get sick but when I do, it’s huge.

  9. Susan December 5, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    The other thing about sewing is the stash. Yarn stash can conceivably be used up. Fabric stash, on the other hand, tends to increase even as you’re using it! I think it’s because you buy a piece of fabric for a project and use just part of it, and then you have the scraps leftover. My mom is a quilter and her stash is really quite epic!

    Feel better!

  10. Anonymous December 5, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    I agree about Kelmscott; it is a heartbreakingly beautiful pattern. It looks like an heirloom; I hope you knit it so I can see how gorgeous it looks!

  11. Bex December 5, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    I think the quilting really helps the quilt come together it is lovely. It is a very satisfying process to me too – even though the last time I did it I wrestled a queen size quilt into my brother machine (and the feed dogs won’t drop either!).

    Hope you feel better soon!

    • stitchywitch December 5, 2009 at 9:22 pm #

      Oh wow – I can’t imagine trying to use a machine without the feed dogs dropped for a quilt that size! Mine is a large lap size and it was hard to get in my machine. The new one has lots more room under there – I can’t wait to try quilting on that!


  12. C. P. December 5, 2009 at 10:31 am #

    Really lovely quilt u made!! Just gorgeous. I also like that color wheel quilt and look forward to seeing that!!

  13. Knittripps December 5, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    I’ve been a little disappointed with the last couple of IK issues but I still look forward to getting new issues in the mail. Have fun picking out and using your new sewing machine!

  14. martina Su December 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    Hi there, I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and just haven’t got around to make a comment. anyway, I have the same issue as you, our petite size makes it hard for us to shop in retail store. I also just recently pick up sewing and have been introduced to a japanese sewing pattern which definitely fits the petite size better. I highly recommend you to check out some japanese pattern books and oh and ah over them. you don’t have to read japanese to sew from the books. there are plenty of online resources to help you out. Good job with the quilt and skirt, hope you enjoy sewing as much as you do knitting

  15. yoel December 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    I can completely empathize with the clothing issue. At least you are tall! People still feel compelled to pat me on the head.

    The quilt is beautiful, and I can’t believe you just started quilting!! The color wheel quilt is going to be awesome.

  16. Kate December 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    That quilt is just beautiful! The colors are so rich and the white backing sets them off wonderfully. Kelmscott went straight into my Ravelry queue when it came out, too.

    Feel better soon and good luck finding a new machine!

  17. Jenny December 5, 2009 at 1:47 pm #

    A new sewing machine is SO justifiable! You may go in spurts with it but you will use it for the rest of your life. I had the frustration of the built up threads on backs of quilts too. That’s what prompted me to buy a new machine also. The new machine quilted beautifully but I think I spent too much money on it. There is a big range in prices for SM. Do your homework, testdrive different ones and be happy you got the most for the money you spent when you’re done. I got a Phaff quilt expression and I love it. But I’m sure I could have got a more affordable one and loved it also. It was my last independent purchase before I got married so I splurged. Fellow bloggers can help you out. Besides even quilting, needle down option is the next thing to look for IMO. Very useful for all kinds of sewing and I used it all the time in piecing and quilting. Mine has lots of fancy stitches that I don’t use. Don’t let those suck you in. Good luck and take your time, you can piece a couple of quilts while you look. Also I found in the beginning of my quilting that I machine sewed everything because there was so many quilts in my mind to make. Once I got over that initial new hobby infatuation, (but still loved quilting) I found that I really enjoyed sewing by hand and only used my machine for the long seams, borders etc. I think because you are a knitter you might feel the same. It’s nice to have the portability of hand sewing, applique, embroidery and not have to be at the SM to enjoy your hobby.

  18. Luni December 5, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    Don’t know what size socks you need, but this pattern is easily upsized: Garter Stripe baby socks.

    Love the quilt! You’re doing so well, you should certainly invest in good equipment. Sewing machines last for decades. (At least mine has.)

  19. Renee December 5, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    Your quilt is lovely, I can’t wait to see your new machine and what you create on it.
    Kelmscott is the prettiest knit I’ve seen in ages, and definitely the nicest this year. Happy crafting and hope you’re feeling better soon!

  20. Debby December 5, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    Kelmscott is such a beautiful sweater and so different from anything else! I had to download it from TC — my first pattern from them. I hope you knit it so that we can see the process; I won’t get to mine for some time yet as I have too many sweaters before it in my mental queue.

    Your quilts are so beautiful! I hope you feel better soon.

  21. raine December 6, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    I’ve been knitting for a couple of years now, and I would love to try sewing. Unfortunately, the only machine at my disposal is my mother’s when I go home, which is about twice the age of the internet and gets temperamental, like a housecat, when touched by strangers. I would love to hear about the costs of your new machine, however, so I can start dreaming of the day I can buy my own.

  22. Kirsten December 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    Beautiful quilt! What model sewing maching did you decide to buy?

  23. Jo December 6, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    My mom has been quilting for over 40 years and is convinced that Baby Lock makes the best machines these days. I know this is just one woman’s opinion, but man, she LOVES her latest one.

  24. Susan - Knitters Delight December 7, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    A beautiful quilt! Your next project will be just as fabulous.

  25. robinmcpa December 7, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    The quilt is gorgeous! How exciting, on the new machine! One of the people I met at that Patternreview fashion show in September made the Simplicity 3835 dress as her contest entry, and it was soooo cute on her – she won the “Judges’ Favorite” prize. Here’s a link to her finished project:

  26. Niki December 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

    Your quilt looks wonderful! I also want to get the Purl quilt, but I almost have my aunt (who is a professional quilter) convinced to make it for me ;-)

    I have been sewing since middle school, and after 15 years with the same machine, just got a new one two years back. The one piece of advice my aunt gave me was to buy the best I could possibly afford and make sure it had all metal parts. I ended up getting a Bernina activa 220 and it works great! Good luck finding your new machine, and hope you feel better as well!

  27. James December 8, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    I am new to the sewing world but I’ve been knitting for many years. This blog is so great and full of so much inspiration! In the past few years I have started selling my stuff at local craft fairs this time of year. Here is a cool article on how to do that if you need to make some extra cash during the holiday season.

  28. Angie December 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    Awesome piece of equipment. Thanks for sharing:)

  29. Megan December 16, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    Hi – I just found your blog and must say I’m addicted! I knit myself though not nearly as well as you do. My mother sews quilts and some clothes. I am going to ask her to try to make me that simplicity dress you recently posted.

    I am curious though with regard to your knitting, I recently made my first sweater (for my 8 month old niece) and I am deathly afraid that it will come apart in the wash. What is your technique or secret for sewing in the ends and seems secure enough to wear these beautiful pieces and wash them without incident?

    I am inspired by your beautiful work and can’t wait to finish the projects I’m doing now (all gifts for others) and make something for myself to wear.

    You have yourself a new blog follower!

    • stitchywitch December 20, 2009 at 4:33 am #

      Sorry I am so slow to respond – it’s the holiday rush here! I’m so glad that you enjoy my blog. Do ask your Mom to make the simplicity dress – it really was very easy, and it’s such an unusual style!

      I’ve knit a lot of sweaters, and I’ve only ever had 2 seams come undone. Generally, if something is made of wool they will eventually sort of felt themselves in place (after careful weaving in of course!) and it isn’t a problem. I try to start new balls of yarn in the seams, or at least on the sides. I recently had a sweater come apart where I had changed yarn in the middle of a cable (I know better than to do that now, but it was ages ago!) Make sure when you weave in the ends that you double back – split part of the tail and weave the end in there. On cottons I sometimes split the yarn and weave it in 2 different pieces. Cottons sometimes have ends pop loose, but it’s easy to grab them back into place with a small crochet hook. Hope that helps you – when I was new to sweaters I was so terrified of weaving in the ends yarn that I didn’t weave in the first few for months!


  30. sartenada January 4, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    That colorwheel is nice looking. I like the simplicity of it.

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