Tuesday, 31 July 2012

fifth course

I've been randomly knitting away on Tim's secret pink stripe smorgasbord delicious socks. I'm up to the fifth different yarn and they're coming along nicely. Just stocking stitch in the round for a while now, then ribbing I guess. I don't think I'll even need to do any shaping as they are certainly not going to be knee highs (as the pattern accommodates).

And I am working on the lace edging for Cladonia, these are long rows now:

And I'm still working on my blouse. Here's a snippet of the fabric, upcycled from a men's shirt that I bought in ... Australia, maybe? From the op shop, brand is Blazer, it's a medium-weight cotton with this little dark blue print of sprigs. It looks just like a patchwork print but the material is heavier.

I managed to totally muck up the front yoke facing so it wasn't sitting nicely at all. Now that I have removed it, it appears that the front yoke and front yoke facing are completely different shapes ... not at all sure how I managed that. Am trying to maintain momentum in order to actually finish it (rather than resorting to the more pleasant task of cutting pattern pieces out for a different blouse. I've only done one so far).

Saturday, 28 July 2012

all that remains

I have finished the striping on my Cladonia (the second version) and this is all that I have left of my skein of Brooklyn Tweed Loft in 'old world'. There's only a few metres there. I truly thought that I was going to run out, so sure that I started canvassing other Ravellers with 'old world' in their stash to see if anyone could spare a gram or two. It wasn't necessary (phew) and now I am on to working the lace section in 'blanket fort' which really is beautiful (only two rows so far so not much to see). I'm just hoping that I'll have enough yarn to finish it ...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

key change

Not to infer that 'truffle hunt' is a major colourway and 'blanket fort' a minor (although 'truffle hunt' is the most wonderful brown/grey with a hint of lavender that ever existed) but in the process of reworking my Cladonia I have just shifted from striping in 'truffle hunt'/'old world' to 'blanket fort'/'old world' before working the border in 'blanket fort'.

(Now I am completely unmusical and actually have no idea what a key change really is. Tim and I will be listening to music and he'll say 'there's the key change' and I am oblivious. On the other hand, when Tim asks me what I'm laughing at and I say that it was something in the lyrics, his response is 'oh, you actually listen to the words'.)

I put a lot of thought into where to make the colour change. I decided to stripe half of the shawl's area in truffle hunt' and 'old world' and the other half in 'blanket fort' and 'old world'. To work out which row this meant making the colour change on, I had to rummage deep in the recesses of brain and recall some maths. I based the calculations on a full circle and started by calculated the circumference as sixteen times the number of stitches in each section (448). From there I got the nominal radius of the circle (and from there calculated the area nominal radius (c = 2πr) - I say nominal because the radius of a circle cannot be expressed in stitches). Result was 71(-ish).  

Then to calculate the area of the circle (a=πr2) ... and yes, blah blah blah. I remember in high school maths classes there was always someone who would complain 'when am I ever going to use this in real life?' Not me because I was studious but if someone had told me I'd be using it to calculate how much of my shawl to knit in a different colour I would never have believed them.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

attitude adjustment

So after my recent mini crisis of confidence in the sewing field, I took a deep breath and just got down to it. I think part of it is just accepting that it's a learning process and that there are going to (possibly, likely) be a few iterations.

I laid out my front side pattern piece and cut into it, lowering the bust apex, spreading the pattern piece out, closing the resulting dart, inserting extra tissue paper and taping it all together. It was, like most things when you follow the directions, easy.

Then yesterday evening I cut out the front, back and side pieces from calico and stitched it up. It was a bust (pardon the pun but was one ever more apposite?) Didn't fit - I had lowered the bust apex too far and hadn't added enough in the bust and will have to start over again. BUT, even with these shortcomings, I saw the shape of things to come, a top that is going to fit me. As soon as I get a free half hour or so (which really, is as long as it takes to do the fba as per the instructions that come with the pattern) I'll give it another shot.

And I'm delighted that I didn't even cut into or waste a shred of my super-cute fabric, upcycled from a French Connection blouse purchased second hand.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


And then after I have finished a couple of knitting projects, I inevitably find my interest swinging back to sewing.

Part of the impetus for this is the recent demise of a couple of t-shirts. In all of America, or so it seems, I have not been able to find anything as good as my favourite Witchery t-shirts - 100 per cent cotton, scoop neck, and long. I've tried a Gap essential t-shirt in the tall fit - good length, atrocious quality. I've tried an American Apparel u-neck t-shirt - ok, except really limited colour choice. And as I may have mentioned before, I'm really tired of wearing t-shirts all the time and long for a blouse or dress from woven fabric. One that fits.

Will this be it?

I was reading somewhere about full bust adjustment (fba) methods and came across mention of Palmer Pletsch's Fit for Real People which I then bought and read (and really liked) and then looked at their patterns and bought this one (McCall's M2818). Mostly because with the princess seams it has the potential to resemble a gorgeous Alma Aguilar dress that I have fallen in love with.

So, yes, now all I have to do is actually make it. These Palmer Pletsch patterns come with all of the markings necessary for making common fit adjustments, including the fba. And although I found their book very up-beat and encouraging, somehow, faced with the pattern, I feel terribly daunted. Yes I need to adjust the bust but by how much? And how much ease do I want? And is there enough ease in the pattern already if I just lower the bust apex? And ... and I just need to get on with it. Lower the bust apex, do the fba and sew a muslin.

Yeah. In the meantime, I ordered a few more t-shirts.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

in the sink

But not down the drain (phew!).

This is my Attabi Wrap/Cowl/Infinity Loop having a little soak before blocking (so to speak):

And here it is 'blocking', that is, stretching out:

This is how I have had good results blocking a long cowl before - instead of lying it flat and risking creases, I block them in the round:

Step 1 - pad a broom with a couple of towels.
Step 2 - loop cowl over padding and suspend broom between two chairs, or, if the cowl is really long as was the case here, between two lines on the clothesline.
Step 3 - weight it down with a heavy book resting on a bundled up towel.

I have used the most recent Haruki Murakami here - 1Q84 - and I fear that this is the only use that I will have for it. After having waited months for my turn to read it from the library, I don't think there is any way I could get through it in the allotted three-week time period.

Anyway, there is a significant difference in stretch factor between the i-cord cast-off edge and the rest of the cowl, so I concentrated the not insignificant weight of Murakami there. I may use the woven floats to tighten the opposite edge up a bit, or not - will try it on first to see how it sits.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


 I kind of like this Vogue Bellville Sassoon dress. Or rather, I see potential in this pattern for a dress that I might like. The basic shape reminds me of a Ted Baker dress that I own, my 'wear-to-weddings' dress.

Imagine this one all in one colour (including the flounce; actually, particularly the flounce) and certainly without the appliquéd bow. That's what I did and then I ran into some trouble - is the bow entirely applied or is it part of the bodice construction?

I searched all over the internet for any news of this dress and the only relevant item that I found was that this pattern is a best seller. Perhaps not one that actually ever gets sewn. So, in the interests of the sewing public and to record the details for posterity, I bought the pattern.

And here is the relevant instruction diagram. Not evident from the photo is that there is a horizontal tuck just below the neckline. And the bow is indeed part of the construction. I'm not sure what it would look like without the free floating bow ends, and I'm not sure how one would do an fba, and I'm not sure that it would work in a more casual woven instead of a wool crêpe, and I'm not sure that I would ever make it either, but at least my curiosity is satisfied.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

i knit a cloud!

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Whippoorwill by Carina Spencer.
Size: Large.
Yarn: Filatura di Crosa Gioiello in colourway 26 (30 per cent wool, 30 per cent mohair, 20 percent nylon, 10 per cent acrylic, 10 per cent cotton); 2.05 skeins. And madelinetosh tosh merino light in colourway 'well water' (100 per cent merino); 0.43 skeins, a present from Di.
Needles: 3.5mm to knit and 4.5mm to cast off.
Start to finish: 8 June to 27 June 2012 (yes, June of the same year).
Stash/recycle content: Alas, no.

Comments: I started planning this shawl at the very end of December 2010. It took me a while to get around to knitting it but once I did, wow, quick knit. I wasn't so lucky on yardage with the Gioiello though - I did need to buy a third ball for want of only about 11 yards of yarn. As it was, the third ball was a different dye lot to the first two (looks exactly the same but curiously a slightly different texture) and I knit the last of the white/gold sections from the third ball, thereby using up a little more than 11 yards of it! The tosh merino light is an absolute dream to knit with and the resulting fabric is gorgeous. As is this colourway, I definitely want to use it again. And there is just enough mohair in the Gioiello to make it sticky so when the shawl is flung around your shoulders, it actually stays there.

This shawl is a lovely design and a great shape. The instructions are, however, a bit confusing for being overly descriptive of how to make yarn-overs. Reading all the extra information bewildered me so I just started knitting and encountered no problems. Where the pattern calls for an M1 increase, I did a yarn-over and on the next row, worked into the back of the stitch.

Verdict: Llovelly. (Get it? Whippoorwill, Gioiello, Well Water.)

Monday, 2 July 2012

june reading

Wicked: the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire - Oh, wicked good. I am no fan of musical theater but will admit to having been curious about this story when it was on stage recently (as in since I had children). So I was delighted to be able to read the story instead. And it is a wonderful story, very complete, very clever, very satisfying. Highly recommended.

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton - another good read. I didn't enjoy it as much as the previous two but they were very hard acts to beat.