On my needles: July

Well, if July is the month of sewing skirts, then it must also be the month of starting entirely too many knitting projects!  I had to frog the cardigan I had started (Nespelem) because I wasn’t getting gauge and it would have been tiny.  I will need to buy yarn for that, but I’m on a spending ban for July.  As I said before, I broke my camera, and I need a new one!  My birthday is in July, so that’s what I’m buying myself – a Canon rebel.  Right now I’m using my old camera, which has a broken viewscreen.  In spite of that issue, I will say that it takes better photos than the camera that just broke!

In the past few days I’ve managed to start three different projects, based on your feedback on my project ideas, and here they are:

I opted not to use the recommended yarn because I found this one.  I love the sparkles (there are both blue and copper colored strands,) and it’s much lighter weight than the recommended yarn (while still getting the same gauge in my swatch.)

Edda is from the Kim Hargreaves book Whisper.  I’m using the recommended yarn, Rowan all-seasons cotton.  I love this yarn, in spite of declaring my hatred of heavy cottons yesterday – the acrylic content gives it a little bounce and great stitch definition.  I am using size 6 needles, one size down from the recommended 7s (I can’t find any size 7 needles – and I can’t order them this month!)  I’m making a size up to compensate.  The color is accurate in the yarn photo – it’s a warm honeysuckle pink, very pretty!

Finally, I’m making this shawl.  The pattern is by Carol Sunday, and I’m using her yarn line, Eden 3-ply (I purchased a kit.)  I’m very excited about this project – I loved this shawl as soon as I saw it, and I love that there are multiple patterns to copy the look!  The ruffles are knit at the same time as the body, using short rows.  I prefer this to picking up and knitting later, or seaming the ruffle on.  The color is dark blue – a bit darker than in the photo.  I think this will be a very versatile shawl.  I chose a neutral color, hoping to get lots of wear (since it will take ages to knit – that’s a lot of shawl in sport weight yarn!)

So there you go… my knitting report for the upcoming month.  We’ve just bought a Roku for our TV and canceled cable, so I expect I will be watching a lot of Netflix streaming while working on these (I love the streaming service!  I can never bring myself to schedule tv time, and I don’t have a tivo, so I like being able to watch things whenever I want.)

Coming tomorrow (hopefully): a completed beignet!  My lovely husband actually bought buttons for the skirt, at my request, while he was out, as I knew I wouldn’t have time to go while Joann’s was open before at least Thursday!  He bought two sets, and told me he would return the ones I didn’t like… yes, this makes him a keeper.

On my sewing table: basics

I have seen a lot of bloggers lately reflecting on the idea of sewing basics vs sewing special pieces.  It’s probably obvious from reading my blog that I don’t sew many basics.  I don’t sew shorts, t-shirts or undergarments, and I don’t knit plain black sweaters.  I can buy all these things easily, and I want to use my sewing time making this I can’t buy for myself.  I sew a lot of dresses, which are their own outfits, so I probably don’t really need that many basics anyway!

But lately?  I’ve noticed one thing I lack in my wardrobe: skirts!   Sure, I can thrift skirts easily, but they are never the ones I want.  I like a skirt to sit on or above my waist, as I don’t think a low-rise suits my shape.  I own a full, thrifted (and refashioned) chambray skirt which I love, but other than that I have no skirts in solid colors to match the tops in my wardrobe.  As a result, those tops never get worn, which is a shame!  So I am declaring July to be the month of the skirt!  (I know I stole this idea from another blogger – can anyone tell me who so I can give them credit?)

I’m starting out simple:

I know I said I was making a chambray Beignet, but I thought again… all the pencil skirts I wear have one thing in common, they are all made of stretch wovens.  So I’m making a plain black beignet in a lovely black RPL woven.  I am leaving out the lining, pockets, and belt in order to simplify things.  Right now I’m looking for buttons – when I find the perfect set I can get the side seams fitted and finished!  My other beignet is not comfortable, and it never really was… I’m hoping my stretch fabric idea works out!

Other candidates for the month of the skirt:

My goal is to make up three skirts, including the beignet.  I’m definitely wanting to make the chambray skirt, so the other is tbd (possibly the other full skirt, as it is after all still summer!)

We will see if my boredom interferes with my plans – as much as I love wearing skirts, I get terribly bored making them sometimes!

 

Figurehead Shawl

Pattern: Figurehead shawl by Alexis Winslow, Knitscene summer 2011

Yarn: Spud & Chloe sweater (55% wool, 45% organic cotton) in barn (red) and splash (blue)

Needle: US 6

Notes:

I’ve broken my camera (it, along with my tripod, met a sad death when the cat ran straight into it!)  I’m planning to buy a DSLR next month (I want a Canon,) but in the meantime I’m stuck with my old camera, which has a non-working viewscreen, and lacks a self-timer.   It’s just easier to do dressform photos in this case.

I’ve been working on this shawl for a little while.  I needed something portable and mindless to take to the hospital, so I took my WIP along with me and finished it up.  Here is my review:

Pattern:  Excellent, with very clear instructions.  I have to confess that I wasn’t sure how the border was going to work out until the end, and I wasn’t even sure I was doing the bind off right while I was doing it, but it seems to have turned out well!  If you make this shawl, do keep in mind that you really have to search for the float you pick up on the last row – I probably got the wrong one a few times, but it turned out just fine.

I was inspired by Dr. Seuss for the color combo – it isn’t my usual sort of thing, but I like how cheerful it is.

I would rate this pattern easy: If you know how to increase by knitting into the back loop then you can manage this.  The border seems tricky, but if you follow the directions it will turn out.

Yarn:  I’m going to be honest… I really did not enjoy this yarn at all.  It gets great ratings on Ravelry, and I was excited to try it – the colors are saturated and pretty, and it seems sturdy.  It comes across more like a cotton than a wool, and I don’t use worsted weight cotton because it hurts my hands so badly.  It doesn’t have any real stretch to it, and knits up thicker than I thought it would.  It does wash beautifully – I threw mind in the washing machine on handwash (I have a front loader, and use it for pretty much everything that isn’t super delicate,) and it came out without any signs of wear.  I stretched it to try for some extra length, but I didn’t really get any.  It is a bit scratchy to me, but that sort of thing doesn’t bother me much.

Mods: No button/button loop.  Mine came out a tiny bit small, and I felt it would choke me.  I plan to wear this under jackets in the fall – it will make a nice warm layer, but I wouldn’t wear this in the summer due to the weight of the yarn.  Overall this is a highly recommended pattern if you like the style!

Progress, projects, and pictures

I have had a crazy week!  I spent most of the weekend up in Cincinnati.  A church there had hired me for two large weddings on Friday and Saturday, and we got to go to this:

Ah yes… the Goetta Festival in Covington, KY (across the river from Cincinnati.)   In case you aren’t familiar with it, Goetta is a mixture of ground meat, spices, and steel cut oats, usually fried up and served for breakfast.  It’s better than it sounds (my husband, being a native Cincinnatian, is obsessed – look how pleased he is above, after eating his Goetta corndog and Goetta chili!)  I can take it or leave it, and I chose to leave it in this case and just eat a plain corndog for lunch.

While we were in the area, we visited Knit-on in Newport, where I picked up a copy of Norah Gaughan vol 8 (and Marc got to pet the adorably tubby store cat, Tanner.)  I’ve already cast on for Nespelem:

I decided to use Rowan Cashsoft DK.  I bought this yarn years ago, and I love the pretty silver color.  I thought about using cotton, as the pattern calls for, but I have trouble with my tension in plain cotton.  Plus, this will be much lighter weight – this yarn has 142 yds/50 grams vs the 115 per 50 grams in Berroco pure pima.  The yarn is quite nice, but I will say that it tends to split and is a bit artificial feeling (it has almost as much microfiber as it does wool, and a tiny bit of cashmere.)

My other sweater (Anais) is nearly done.  Right now I’m working on a tutorial for making machine buttonholes on a handknit sweater – I hope to have it up later this week!

Behold, my next sewing project:

I have been greatly inspired by the beignet skirts I’m seeing in Me-made June.  I made one a year and a half ago, but I don’t wear it much – I was not clear on the concept of ease, and while it looks super awesome standing up, it is not comfortable to sit in. This is the cotton chambray from the Joann’s Lisette fabric collection.  I do not plan to line this version – the lining is nice and all, but I love my slips (especially under a pencil skirt!)

I also want a fun sundress for the 4th.  Last year I made Burdastyle’s Tara.  This year I want to make this sundress:

 

 

The fabric is crazy, I know!  It’s also from Joann’s, one of their spring collections (long since sold out at my store… I’ve learned to buy the good prints early!)

My step-dad is in the hospital for planned open heart surgery.  He had the surgery this morning, and is doing well, but not great, so I expect that being with my Mom will take  up a lot of time for a bit.  Sorry if I owe you an email etc – life just happens all at once, doesn’t it?

 

In my knitting queue

I’ve been trying to organize my knitting queue, without much success!  I missed a good year of new releases, so now that I’m knitting again my to-knit list is out of control!  I thought I would share some of what I’m obsessed with this summer.  Seeing them together helps me to decide which I really want to make!

Top Row L-R:

Sabbatical by Connie Chang Chinchio (Twist Collective Winter 2009) – I have loved this sweater since it was first released.  The long length and the lacy pattern both appeal to me – but I do like the other two long cardigans better(I find them to have more current shapes,) so this one may be pushed back in the queue.  See?  Seeing them all together is helpful to me!

Lace Cardi by Courtney Kelly (Vogue knitting Summer 2011) The shaped hems are super fun, and I like the magazine styling with the skinny little belt.  I’ve been wanting to try the yarn it calls for as well (Savannah by the Fibre Company)

Peterborough by Norah Gaughan (Norah Gaughan Volume eight)  I love every sweater in this book!  I plan to make this in a wool or wool blend for fall.

Middle Row:

 Edda by Kim Hargreaves (Whisper)  This is my top pick from the latest Kim Hargreaves book.  You can’t tell in the photo, but it has a great textured pattern, and cables down the fronts.  Rowan all-season cotton is a great yarn for cables.  I want to make this sweater in pure white.

Dockside Cardigan by Amy Miller (Interweave Knits Summer 2011) The dolman sleeves and shaped hems are interesting, but I think I need to see some completed versions before I commit to a fingering weight cardigan!

Nespelem by Norah Gaughan (also Vol. 8) My other favorite from the book.  I’m thinking of a silver gray.

Bottom Row: Kirra  (Berroco 294, Origami) The waffle pattern on this is really neat – like a thermal sweater!  I want to use the called for yarn, which is unusual and really pretty.  Berroco has some great yarns right now!

I own a lot of Japanese craft books.  I can’t help myself – the designs and photos are so lovely!  Japanese patterns are very different from US patterns – they are fully charted, usually in one size only (around a 36″ bust,) and the styles are generally a bit different as well.  In particular, there are lovely crochet patterns, and you know how hard it can be to find nice crochet here!  I haven’t made anything harder than a doily from these patterns (well, doilies are hard, but they are at least a predictable shape!)  This year I want to conquer these patterns.

The shawl on the top left is very popular on Ravelry, so I plan to make it first.  It calls for a sportweight yarn, and I plan on either white or gray.  I will probably need some hand holding!  The bottom right cardigan is crocheted, and uses fingering weight stelf-striping yarn – Noro might be a sub, or I might use a more subdued hand-dye, like Madelinetosh merino light.  The other two cardigans are knit, and they both look pretty simple to figure out.  Both have multiple completed versions on Ravelry, so I have more reference than just the chart and the photos (which are more arty than helpful sometimes, when it comes to details.)   The top right cardigan is here, and the bottom left is here.

And finally, the list of shawls I want to make at some point:

Top row: Figurehead shawl by Alexis Winslow (Knitscene Spring 2011)  – I’ve already started this one!  Mine will have red and aqua stripes (it is terribly Dr. Seuss looking – I love it!)

Whose Shawl Do You Think This is? By Carol Sunday – a shawl based on a design worn in a TV show that I’ve actually not ever seen, but I adore the stripes and general shape!  I plan to order a kit, because I don’t want to alter the colorway.

Cambridge Shawl (also Carol Sunday) – Some of the ladies on Ravelry have been obsessed by a shawl that the Duchess of Cambridge was photographed wearing out.  There must be five different patterns for it, but I like this one the best.  I’m undecided on a color – perhaps a nice navy?

Litchfield Shawl by Laura Aylor – just released, I love the uneven stripes, and the neutral colors.

Bottom Row:

Stripe Study by Veera Välimäki – yes, more stripes.  I have a problem.

To Eyre shawl by Carol Sunday – this shawl is based on one in the move Jane Eyre.  I haven’t seen the new movie, but Jane Eyre is my favorite book.  Naturally I need a shawl!  I want to use a dark blue tweed, maybe Berroco Blackstone tweed.

Lake of the Woods by Ilga Leja – I bought the kit for this ages ago, in the colorway pictured.  I still love the colors and design, so I need to get on that!

And this isn’t a fraction of my queue – problems I tell you!

McCalls 6069

Pattern: McCall’s 6069 View A

Fabric: Rayon Jersey from Sawyer Brook fabrics (originally from Milly)

Notions: 3/8″ elastic

I think I might recommend this pattern to knit beginners.  There are 6 pieces, but I only used 5 (I left out the pockets – they would have shown on this fabric.)  The only tricky bit is sewing the optional shoulder strap in the back, but even that is easily gotten past.  I don’t really know how long this dress took, because I only worked on it in short little spurts.  I really wanted an easy to wear summer dress, and with a few minor issues I think that’s what I got!

Issue #1 is the back.  Even with the guard strap you can still see my bra!  I do have an extender to lower my bra, which is probably what I will do.  I didn’t see anyone else having this issue, so it may just be me.  I thought the bodice was maybe an inch too long for my torso.  I think it’s blousing a bit more than it’s meant to, but I like the look from the front, so I’ll just make the bra adjustment!  I would not recommend leaving off the strap – you really need it to hold the shoulders up!

I cut a size 8 on top, and a 12 on the bottom.  I would watch the ease on the skirt – if you are like me, you won’t want it too clingy, and it’s designed to be about the same width as the bust measurement.  I did not hem the dress, and as yet I haven’t hemmed the armholes either.  I may actually go in with binding on the armholes – this knit does not take to hemming well,  I will probably leave the skirt unhemmed – I like the length where it is, and I don’t think a hem would add anything to the look of the dress.  I occasionally leave a knit unhemmed – I find that even with stabilization, knit hems sometimes look off.

The rayon knit was lovely and soft, but I have to confess that I perfer ITY and poly knits – rayons are just too soft for my machine.  This one wasn’t too bad – the last one I used kept skipping stitches, no matter what setting or needle I tried!

Other things to note – the instructions for the strap were odd.  I wouldn’t clip to the triangle for the strap until you are ready to sew the shoulder seams – otherwise you may be off.  You should also note that the waist has a 3/4″ seam allowance, and that the elastic casing is sewn through all layers, not just into the seam allowance.  It should show both lines of stitching on the outside of the dress.

I’m seeing this style everywhere this year.  I’m a fan – it’s cool and easy to wear, and it looks great on almost every figure!  I did not make the self-belt, and as yet I don’t have an “optional purchased belt” that matches.  I want a white belt, but I don’t have one.  A dark color cuts me in half too much for this dress, so I’ll have to look out for a white one – nothing too heavy looking.  I highly recommend the pattern to anyone who is looking for an easy summer project (or looking to start out in knits!)

 

 

Thank you!

I wanted to thank you all for the outpouring of comments on my post yesterday.  I have to admit, I had some trepidation after I hit the publish button – but once again, the crafting community suprised me!  I’ve been involved in many different internet communities, but never one that was as supportive and generally positive as ours.

I don’t find it easy to share things about myself.  I seem to always have other people sharing their troubles with me (not that I mind – I’m a good listener!) but I find it almost impossible to give the same treatment back.  But I can write it down and share it with the whole internet – go figure!  I think it’s the leftover bits of shyness I have.  I used to be so very shy… I used to have to talk myself into phone calls by writing out a script!  These days, I find conversation to be much easier, but I still only share things about with my close friends (and parties still make me nervous – some things never change!)

I especially thank those of you who shared your stories with me – both on the blog and in private emails.  I’m at a bit of a loss of words (unusual for me these days!) to express how touched I was, both by your support of my situation, and your willingness to share your own experiences.  I’m going to try to get back to everyone, but it’s going to take a few days, so I wanted to post a public thank you first.

I could not have imagined, when I started this blog, (now almost five years ago!) the impact it would have on my life.  I believe that I am a better person for it, and you have all been part of that journey – so again, thank you!