Monday, 27 June 2011

invisible beauty

Sometimes it's the things that you can't see ...

An invisible zipper! Installing zippers and sewing buttonholes are two things that I have long had a mental block about. For, as it turns out, no reason at all. It was really simple to do, does require a special foot, but just involves pinning the zipper on and sewing down the edges. The groove in the foot guides it over the coils of the zipper and the result is fantastic, and invisible.

So the Marimekko lotus dress is proceeding. Despite my greatest efforts and practice toiles, I have still managed to muck it up in places, mostly in the matching of the fabric panels in order to get enough length. I think that the fit is going to be good, I still need to work out where to put the back darts though (lower than the pattern directs I think) and get to work on the lining.

Oh, and I've bought some Echino Etsuko Furuya fabric for the next one ...

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

silver slippers

Did you know that Dorothy does not really wear ruby slippers? It's true, devastating but true. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum our girl from Kansas actually wears silver slippers. Then along came Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the advent of Technicolor and, well, the rest is cinematic history.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is very popular at our house, the book not the movie because that's still a tad scary for miss bear. But she loves acting out scenes from the book and in our thrift store trawling we are always on the lookout for silver shoes which are possible to find in children's sizes. Not so much in adult sizes so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

One pair of Keds skimmers from Goodwill (brand new, $6.99) and a can of silver spray paint and I'm half-way to Oz.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


I seem to have some unusual momentum for this project - usually I start something and then put it aside to dwell on it awhile but I worked on this for the fourth day in a row.

I made my third toile of a blended size medium/large bodice. With a little tweaking I am happy enough with the fit so have stuck it together with the size medium skirt and am ready to cut from my fabric. I will first have to actually sew the fabric together; hmm, must go see about that.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

double toile and trouble

Oh so long ago, I complained a bit about Amy Butler's Midwest Modern: A fresh design spirit for the modern lifestyle because it was all show and no free patterns. Almost three years later, I caved and bought the pattern for the Lotus Cami and Tunic (which also includes a dress option).

Now usually I would consider making a toile to be just twice the work but, following the very good example of my friend Nichola, I have so far made two for this dress: the full dress in size medium and just the bodice in size large.

Why two? Because, of course, the size medium was too small across the bust, but fine everywhere else. The size large bodice fits across the bust, but gapes under the arms and at the centre back so I am going to need to do some blending there (and make another toile).

So, is making a toile twice the trouble? Well, it's certainly a lot more effort but I think that might just be an effect of expectations. I want everything done so quickly, out of the box, snap it together, quick quick quick. Sewing this dress well is going to take time, mainly to get the size right, and I do want it done well.

If I had just plunged in and made the size medium from my fabric then it would have been a complete failure already - too small and fabric all gone. Yes, to add to the fun of it all I have limited fabric to work with: I'm planning to use my Marimekko Lumimarja that I bought at Value Village (two-and-a-half years ago).

Which brings me to my next design dilemma:

Unlike in the picture above, I don't have a continuous length of fabric to work with, rather a number of pieces, none of them large enough for a full length pattern piece. I'm going to have to sew some pieces together and have a couple of options. (A few notes: the fabric will be turned on its side, there are princess seams and the middle panel will have as much red as possible as this will be closest to my face, and there will be cap sleeves but I'll think about them later.)

A) Only one horizontal seam at about the top of the hips. Above this seam there would be the branch print and below there would be solid red that continues into the print. Would this be putting a horizontal seam at an unflattering point? Well actually, the seam will be here regardless to maximise use of the fabric, but is it a good idea to highlight it with a change from print to solid red?

B) Two horizontal seams and the dress will be all print below the waist, albeit with two transitions.

Your opinions, please!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

string theory

Just how long is a piece of string?

Or rather, how long should it be? I am still struggling to determine the perfect size for a stole. I have an Oilily woven woollen stole that I love, it's just the right width but not quite long enough. The Vionnet stole that I knit last is a good size, perhaps still not quite long enough, but turned out to be too heavy. I know that I like a scarf to be at least as long as I am tall so that it can be doubled around my neck but is this necessary for a stole that I like to wear across my back, one end hanging over my left shoulder and the other end over the shoulder?

Point is, I am three-and-three-quarter repeats through my Faux Russian Stole. The pattern calls for five-and-a-half repeats and I am deliberating about doing only four and a half. This is causing me some measure of anxiety! What if that is not long enough? How will I know that the five and a half is not the right length, the length that it should be if I don't actually knit it that long? But would it be annoying to have too much extra stole floating around? And being knit from a recycled cotton/linen/silk blend, it is already getting quite heavy. Oh, questions, questions!

But of the most significance is, am I sixty-seven per cent of the way through it or eighty-three??

Monday, 13 June 2011

second life

I have cast on again for Nine Lives using some burgundy lambswool recycled from a J Crew sweater. So far I have the set up section and Chart A done; now it's time for the first colourwork chart and I really don't feel up to it. I have been working really hard on my Faux Russian Stole (21 out of 34 edge repeats complete) which is so attention-intensive that I all I really want at the moment is stocking stitch, long stretches of stocking stitch.

I also can't remember whether I decided to use pink, blue or yellow as my contrast colours. Maybe all of them? Anyway, going to hibernate this for a while while I consider. It will live to see another day.

ps. Ha, ha - just checked my last post on this; I had decided on the pink and blue as contrast colours. Thank goodness I write these things down, somewhere.

Saturday, 11 June 2011


The Vital Statistics
Pattern: A rectangular stole knit on the bias in garter stitch with a row of eyelets every now and then; that is, I made it up.
Yarn: My obsession with Noro Yuzen (56 percent wool, 34 per cent silk, 10 per cent mohair) in shade 3 continues into its seventeenth ball; this took about 8.7 skeins judging by its weight (435 grams or about a pound).
Needles: 4.5mm.
Start to finish: 1 May to 1 June 2011; I took a few days break to knit Nessie.
Stash/recycle content: Nope.

Comments: Hmm. Hmm-mm. I love this yarn. I love this colourway. I love it in garter stitch. But I don't love this stole. I think that I have said before that designing something is really difficult (I'm sure that many have said that before, and long before me). How to achieve that perfect marriage between shape, yarn, texture, drape, all of those essential elements that just make something work.

I wanted something really big with this yarn in order to see lots of it but this big is too big, too heavy, unwieldy. I wanted it in garter stitch and did it on the bias to make it a bit more interesting but the stripes are too narrow for my liking. (They're a bit wider in one section because I had one ball from a different dyelot that I spliced in colour by colour.) I also managed to run out of yarn (despite having weighed the work after finishing the set-up section) and as a result had to cast off a good few rows before finishing the final corner.

Verdict: Hmm, not sure. I don't think that this works in its current form. Do I want to rip it out and use the yarn for something else? I do actually have an idea for something to do with some self-striping yarn but it has all been spit spliced together and with that whole other ball spliced in ... really not sure. Perhaps I'll just wear it around the house for a bit, although it's warming up here now so that might not be anytime soon. Hmm, it has a reprieve for now.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


I am still thinking about Whippoorwill and about the Filatura di Crosa Gioiello. I've swatched here with the Gioiello on 3.75mm and then 3.5mm needles and have added in a bit of 'feather and fan' stitch to give it some curve. Then I have switched to Rowan Pure Wool 4ply in 'eau de nil' to test as the contrast. Even though the yarns are listed as the same weight and recommend the same size needle, the Rowan seems much heavier; too heavy perhaps?

The Gioiello certainly blocks out more loosely and I wonder if I were to knit it on 3.25mm needles and the Rowan on 3.5mm or even 3.75mm needles, whether they would balance out a bit. I would also make the first row of the Rowan yarn a garter stitch ridge to firm up the transition.

To knit this would be a bit of a gamble for me. The colour scheme is certainly a departure but I figure that if I am going to keep knitting shawls (which I think I am: ooh, I just bought two skeins of Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga! in Oak Timberworm with which to make Cladonia, but I digress) then I do have to make them a bit different, branch out, try new things. Gioiello and Rowan - will I or won't I?

Friday, 3 June 2011

may reading

I heard about both of these titles on the radio when there was a guest recommending books with a common theme, I think that it was justice. Anyway, I put them on hold and they arrived soon after each other so I ended up reading them in close succession.

Damage by John Lescroart - After a couple of disappointments I'm a bit wary of New York Times bestselling authors. This one wasn't great writing but also wasn't bad; the storyline wasn't particularly subtle but it was involved enough to hold your attention. A bit of a page-turner which isn't always a bad thing. Yes, no, yes, no - could I be any more ambivalent? I enjoyed reading it but wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino - This book was much more nuanced. Again, like with The Sleeping Dragon, I wasn't sure whether there were some cultural subtleties that were not chiming for me. Suspect X has covered up a murder and his devotion to the inadvertant murderess is treated as a virtue and is a focus of admiration, despite what it becomes clear he has done to the corpse in the process. But there's even more to it than that ... yes, I recommend this one.

If you happen to have read or subsequently read any of the books that I have, please do let me know what you thought of them.