4.14.2014

Finished: Spring Thicket Beret


Well, what do you know.  I really am capable of sticking to a plan.  Next on the list was "Thicket" by Alana Dakos from her new book, Botanical Knits 2.  This is my second pattern from Alana and, just as I hoped, it was a great pattern!  So well-written and easy to follow and the finished product is so pretty!  Still not quite a newbie pattern but, I'm relatively inexperienced and was able to follow it without any issues.  The only two things I changed were shortening the ribbing to conserve yarn and using the Magic Loop method when it came time to decrease.  I have such a hard time using double-pointed needles - they always fall out - so, I thought continuing on a cord would be better.  I still struggled a little bit, shown in some slight laddering in the last few rows but, overall, I do prefer the Loop method.

You know what I really love about Alana's hat patterns?  Rather than abandoning the design when it's time to decrease, she goes the extra mile to actually decrease the design, giving, in my opinion, a nicer and more professional finish.


This time, I used a yarn much closer in content to the suggested yarn than last time.  For one, I bought it as a souvenir last year in Savannah with no project in mind so, it was just sitting in my stash, pre-wound. I love practical souvenirs.  For another, I wanted the soft, pretty halo that the sample hat had.  The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk sport weight.  Having just used a dk Egyptian Cotton, the Alpaca Silk felt like knitting air!  It was an easy yarn to work with and gave me precisely the result I was hoping for. And, it blocked so nicely, making my knitting look much more consistent than it is :)



Now, can you guess what's next on my queue?  I joked on my recovery plan that I'd start on my Ginny Sweater and I'm actually doing it!  With a new hat or two along the way ;) (Can you say addicted?)  Also, my machine just came home from the shop so, I've got a few new sewing projects planned.

Any other Northern Hemisphere knitters still making winter accessories? (Head start on next year, right?) Have those of you in the Southern Hemisphere started yours yet? 

By the way, I find I have less to say about knitting projects - what would you like to see included?

Happy stitching! x

3.28.2014

Finished: Silver Moon Beret

You know what's nice about having a relatively small yarn stash and limited needles?  It makes me stick to a plan!  I last posted the knitting queue I intended to follow after my jaw surgery and I've been a good little knitter and have done exactly what I said I would.

I spent the first week and a half working on my Atlantic Cowl and finished it before moving on.  (I haven't taken "proper" photos of it yet because my face is still swollen and I'm too self-conscious to put that out there but, you can see my notes and a folded photo on Ravelry.)

Next, I continued working on the beret I shared in my last WIP post.  I finished it a few days ago and wore it during the my next venture out.  Luckily, since it sits on the back of my head, photos weren't a problem :P

Silver Moon 1

So, right, details:
This is my first Alana Dakos pattern and I have to say, I'm impressed.  Mind you, I've really only worked with free patterns previously but, this one was so clear and easy to follow.  Being a beginner, some of the stitches were new to me but, they were all well explained and it was so fun watching what they created.  The ssk really tickled me, I'll admit.  I'd done ktog before but, not ssk and didn't see the connection by just doing it. Then, I enjoyed watching the two stitches form opposite sides of the design as I went along.  The design itself is so pretty, somewhat dainty and lacy without being too delicate.  And since there are no cables, it makes a good and rewarding challenge for a newbie knitter (just watch those yarn overs - I dropped 4).

Silver Moon 3

I did make one change to the original pattern, both to make it easier and for personal preference - I omitted the bobbles and simply replaced each of them with k1 which worked perfectly.  I thought about replacing the bobble-looking i-cord at the end too but, decided it would look more finished than a hole at the top and it was a good opportunity to learn something new. Fortunately, it's an easy way to finish a hat and I do like it.

I should also note, the hat is unblocked in all of these photos. I didn't get a change to block it before Brandon saw it and he liked the texture of the natural finish.  I may block it someday to show off the design a little better but, for now, I like it as is.

Silver Moon 5

The yarn is a nice Egyptian cotton dk by Sublime Yarns, which I picked up during that store closing sale last month.  It was a bit large for the pattern but, I was eagar to start the project (this was the only pattern I bought during that sale and it was all too tempting).  I think the dk worked out fine enough because 1. it's a beret so perfect gauge isn't important and 2. I'm a tight knitter so that generally makes my gauge a bit small anyway (though I didn't swatch for this one).  Ignoring gauge, I'd say the yarn was a nice choice for this pattern.  It's so smooth and has such a lovely sheen which keeps it from looking "cheap" and shows off all of the stitches.  It is a bit heavy but, I expect that's normal of choosing cotton over wool and it still wears very well.

Silver Moon 8Silver Moon 7

Silver Moon 2

Now, to continue my "good-knitter" streak, I'm working on Thicket, from Alana's new book Botanical Knits 2, just as I planned.

What are you working? Do you have a favorite knitting pattern designer? Do you always block your projects? (Should I?)

Happy stitching! x

3.03.2014

Planning: A Recovery Queue

Ok, I've no idea how to start this post so, I'm just going to jump in.  I'm getting braces this year and, for me, that apparently requires surgery. I won't go into it because 1. you probably don't want the details and 2. I know details can make some people queasy.  The import bit at the moment (read: the part that relates to stitching) is that I'm going to be pretty much out-of-commission for at least two solid weeks and it'll be baby steps from there.

So, it's a good thing I've started knitting again because, I know even if my machine is repaired in a timely manner, I'm not going to be able to use her for any time in March.  Being the uber-planner that I am, I'm developing my "recovery queue" now so I can make sure I have all the supplies I need before I go in for surgery.  (When I wanted to start my current project, I discovered I did not own the right needles.  That is not something I want to discover when I'm in no state to go anywhere.)

Here's what I'm thinking for far:
(Click the photos for details.)

I"ll start with my new Swan's Island bulky merino, from the closing sale, to whip up an easy but pretty cowl.  A long cowl is what I had in mind when I bought the yarn, the pattern was written for this exact yarn, and I think a simple pattern using large needles will be perfect when my head hurts too much to see or count small stitches.

Swan's Island Atlantic CowlSwan's Island Merino Bulky

Next, if I haven't yet finished my Cloudy Day Beret, I'll probably work on that since the pattern will be familiar. (I'm expecting it will be done though. I'm slow but, the surgery is still a week away.)

Cloudy Day Beret by Alana DakosSublime Egyptian Cotton DK Yarn

Then, if I've been able to pre-order Botanical Knits 2, I'd like to start on Thicket, in a pretty blush-pink Alpaca/Silk blend.  I don't expect to want to tackle anything too complex or large-scale while recovering and I know this will be an easy-to-read pattern with very nice results.

Botanical Knits 2 ThicketBlue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk

If I don't have the book by that point, I'm going to kick myself for leaving Autumn Vines at the shop :-P.  Or maybe I will get really brave and try the only sweater for which I have yarn in the stash (thanks to a livingsocial coupon!).

Ginny's Cardigan source:knitting dailySwans Island Organic Washable

Nah, maybe I'll just stick to a felted pincushion :-P.

Really, it may be over-ambitious to think I'm going to be well enough to finish more than one project but, I'm hopeful.  

What projects do you have in the pipeline?  Have you ever knit your way to recovery?  Any tips?

Happy stitching! x

3.01.2014

WIP: Two Skirts and a Beret

I declared in January that I had my sojo back so, where are all the pretty garments I'm supposed to be churning out!?  Uh yeah, that hasn't been happening.  It is, however, much to my disappointment and, generally, not due to a lack of motivation.

My trusty li'l Brother decided it didn't want to be trusty anymore so, work basically stopped.  Then, a great deal came up on my (realistic) dream machine so, we sped right over thinking all would be solved.  That bubble burst with the very first stitch.  Something's wrong with my pretty new machine causing very wonky buttonholes and the motor has seized twice.  So, she'll be headed in for repairs before I've even thought of a name for her. :(




I technically did finish my lovely wool #SewGreenDecember skirt but, a series of events has prevented it from making it's online debut as well (save for Instagram, seen below). Hopefully, the issues will be resolved and we can take photos tomorrow.



My current sewing wip is a rayon black-and-white puppytooth "skater" skirt.  I went against my better judgement and cut the fabric as directed, resulting in a bias pattern at CF and CB so, I'm torn about how this one will turn out.  This is also the garment my new machine seized on so... yeah.


Fortunately/Unfortunately, a lovely local yarn shop hosted a 50% off closing sale while I was feeling disappointed about my machine situation so, now I have a shiny new knitting WIP too (figuratively and literally since it's Egyptian cotton):



It's Cloudy Day by Alana Dakos, my new favorite pattern designer.  I've had Coastal Knits for some time, though I've yet to brave enough to make anything from it (her Rustling Leaves Beret has been on the top of my swoon list for a year!), then, by coincidence I bought Cloudy Day at the shop sale. Once I realized they were the same designer, I went through the rest of her patterns and am now dying! to get my hands on her book Botanical Knits (but, you know, budgets...) and have my fingers crossed that I'm able to pre-order Botanical Knits 2 as a birthday gift.

Anyway, I'm loving both the pattern and the yarn so far.  My tension needs work but, I'm pushing on because it's so fun watching the design emerge!  I'm fairly certain I'm going to love this hat, newbie stitching and all.

What are you working on?

Happy stitching! x

1.03.2014

Planning - SWAP 2014

In my year-end post I mentioned that I want to focus my sewing on simple, classic pieces in the upcoming year.  I came to this decision in the same way many of you appear to have set your goals this year:  I realized many of my previously sewn "themed" items don't really fit my lifestyle or preferred wardrobe.  Sure, I love a loud print or girly vintage dress but, in all honestly, I don't feel entirely comfortable wearing them out and about.

Once I admitted this, it was time for a new plan.  Of course, the most realistic way to do this is to look at what you need on a daily basis.  Well, as a housewife, I don't specifically need a "work" wardrobe - I could lounge in pjs all day if I wanted (and this may or may not happen from time to time).  So, I need casual, comfortable pieces that I can do chores and run errands in.  On weekends though, I prefer to dress with a bit more polish.  No cocktail dresses of course, but, I do like simple dresses or more "put-together" separates in nicer fabrics.  (Let's just say my favorite window shopping is done at Saks.)  Something that can be work with ballet flats for early outings and errands or with heels for dinner.

Sticking to this idea is going to take some work as I ignore the printed cottons in my stash or all the new vintage-style patterns that are bound to hit the stores.  But, that's where SWAP is going to come in (it will get me through April at least!).  I don't expect to officially enter - I'm rather fuzzy on if I even can and I don't actually expect to finish all 11 garments -  but, I'm looking forward to playing along.  To plan my 11 garments, I gathered all of my inspiration photos and noticed a trend of solid colors in silk or wool (two fabrics I've hardly worked with).  It seems the Brasilia Dress was the start of a new trend in my sewing but, as it is currently the most loved handmade item in my wardrobe, it makes sense.

Since all of the garments for SWAP are supposed to "work" together/flow, I've decided on a handful of Pantone Spring colors and limited styles of fabrics to ensure everything is cohesive.  The garments are to be organized into three capsules with two additional wildcards (I'm a little fuzzy on those guidelines too.)

Here's what I'm planning (excuse the sloppy sketching and poor paint-bucket skills :P ):

Capsule #1: one top, one bottom, one dress - Weekdays

  • "Placid Blue" rayon challis sleeveless popover - McCall's 6702 - This seems like the style of shirt I'll get a lot of wear out of.  A little more polished than cotton but, still cool and relaxed.
  • "Sand" silk pleated shorts - McCall's 6403 - I often struggle with the idea of shorts because, in the climate here, they're basically necessary but, I often feel under-dressed wearing them.  I'm hoping a nice silk noil fabric will change that.
  • "Placid Blue" wool crepe dress with pleated cap sleeves and v-neckline - Self-drafted sleeve/McCall's 2401/Vogue 1174 - Since wool crepe doesn't badly wrinkle, I expect it's a fabric that will transition well across activities.  I went with a pleated skirt to allow freedom of movement.

Capsule #2: one top, one bottom, one dress - Weekends

  • "Hemlock" silk noil 3/4-sleeve dress with box-pleated skirt - McCall's 2401/McCall's 5971 - Silk noil is supposed to travel well also so, I hoping it will make this versatile too.  It's also supposed to sew more easily than most silks so, it'll be a way for me to experiment with this fiber before moving on to the scary stuff.
  • Navy silk pintucked blouse - Vintage Simplicity 2224 - A simple, loose blouse in a lightweight fabric and classic color.  This would probably be weekend wear only since it will be a bit more delicate but, it's something I've reached for before only to find I don't own it.
  • "Pool Green" wool half-circle skirt - Self-drafted - Another flowy item in a polished fabric.  I wore a RTW half-circle skirt practically weekly last summer so, it's high time I starting making my own.

Capsule #3: one top, one bottom, one outer-layer - Polished


  • "Paloma" grey silk georgette puff-sleeve popover - McCall's 6702 - I expect this will be a go-to item when the challis version just isn't polished enough (read: evenings and events).  I'm nervous about sewing georgette but, I think I need a few challenges this year.
  • "Dazzling Blue" wool pencil skirt - Simplicity 2154 - I love pencil skirts.  I've avoided making them because of that tricky vent/lining situation but, I've done it before so, it's time to get over it.  And, I'm obsessed with cobalt this year so, this fabric yelled at me until I agreed to take it home.
  • Navy boucle cardigan jacket - Vogue 8804 - This will likely be the biggest challenge of the whole collection.  Luckily though, I already have the pattern with Claire's detailed instructions and I received "Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket" for Christmas so, I think I can get through it.

Wildcards:


  • Blue Japanese double-gauze dot print popover - Grainline Archer - I bought this fabric last year specifically for this but, I didn't buy the pattern until November.  This is the most casual item on this list but, it will be a nice contrast and it's definitely one of those things I keep wishing was in my closet.
  • "Dazzling Blue" silk crepe de chine pullover dress - I just bought the prettiest cobalt crepe de chine at a local fabric warehouse but, I'm not sure what to do with it.  This item is the most likely to change but, I do know I want something somewhat casual out of it so, I can wear it to more than the ballet!
  • or "Placid Blue" and "Hemlock" cotton Amy Butler print cap-sleeve dress - Simplicity 2444 (I know, this goes against what I said at the top but, the colors match too perfectly so, I may cave.)
Phew! That's more garments than I made all year in 2013! I've made myself mini-deadlines for each item though, that I can make or break as needed, and I'm sure to pleased with anything I do finish.  With any luck, I'm on my way to a proper handmade wardrobe that I can be proud of and will actually wear.

What are your plans for the upcoming year?  Will you be participating in SWAP?

Happy sewing! x