Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Scenes from Iceland

We took a trip to Iceland in early June for our summer vacay and I finally got around to posting a few photos here. It was a great trip - the weather was relatively warm with only some occasional drizzle. Reykjavik is a fun city with great food and great shopping. The scenery away from the city is beautiful. We started the trip with a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon. A visit to the Blue Lagoon is basically hanging out in a giant geothermal hot tub while covering your face in a silica mask and sipping on a beverage. It was great fun!

Here's a view outside of the Silica Hotel at the Blue Lagoon, showing all the moss covered volcanic lava.

This is the famous Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik.

This is a scene from the fun main shopping street. We were there in the first week of June before the major crowds got there.

Here's a pic of the famous church.

The central Reykjavik area has tons of great outdoor art painted on many building walls. Here's a few of the them. The fourth mural is on the wall of a bakery called Brauð & Co.

We weren't in Iceland long enough to travel the ring road around the country and we didn't rent a car. We took a couple of big-bus excursions to see some of the sights outside of Reykjavik. The first excursion covered the popular golden circle loop and one stop was a geyser ("geysir") field. This is one of the geyers.

This tour includes the impressive Gullfoss waterfall.

Another stop is Þingvellir National Park. Here you can straddle the mid-atlantic ridge that separates Eurasia and North America.

The second excursion was a tour down to the south coast and back. This area covers a lot of different scenery. One stop is the famous black sand beach where you can see the rock formations that were the inspiration for the church in Reykjavik.

Here's the beautiful Skógafoss waterfall.

And here's a view of a glacier. There were more adventurous travelers hiking on the glacier, but we just viewed it from a distance.

This is a scene from the road.

Back in town, this Sun Voyager sculpture is located along the waterfront. I took this photo at around 11PM at night. It's a strange feeling to be walking around so late with sunlight and so many other people out for a stroll.

We didn't see any of the cute Icelandic horses in their natural habitat, but the Reykjavik zoo had some. They're smaller than the typical horse but very strong and also very friendly to humans.

We had a fabulous time and I'd definitely recommend a visit! Oh, I should mention that I did NOT buy any yarn on this trip. I did visit a couple of shops that stocked yarn, but I found that the yarn from the sturdy Icelandic sheep is just too scratchy for me to wear.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sewing: Vogue V1333 Skirt (along with McCalls M7093 top)

The main focus of this post is on the tucked skirt from Vogue Patterns V1333.I absolutely love this skirt. I love the feel and comfort of this cotton/linen fabric I bought at JOANN. I also love the print and how it changes angle with the pleated overlay. The pattern calls for cutting the overlay on the crosswise grainline, but I didn't have enough fabric to do that so I just cut it on the lengthwise grainline. I don't see any strange stretching issues with the overlay so I think it's fine. If you want to save a bit of fabric, I would do it that way, although cutting on the crosswise might be more interesting, depending upon how your fabric pattern looks.

I also shortened the pattern quite a bit. This is a relatively long skirt and I'm a relatively short person at 5'3" (and shrinking :)). I did all the length adjustments at the bottoms of the skirt and overlay pieces. I also removed the asymmetrical hem aspect. The pattern calls for the skirt to be shorter on the left side, but I found that the asymmetry wasn't obvious enough and it just looked like I made a cutting error. Plus, it was still too long on the right side. So, I removed the asymmetry and shortened everything a bit more, although I left it curving down a bit on the front and back centers. The pointy tip of the overlay hangs longer than the skirt body a bit, which I actually like. This skirt will see a lot of wear throughout this summer and into fall and even some milder days of winter.

The top is a second rendition of McCalls M7093, which I blogged about here. This one uses a slightly stretchy cotton for the body and a cotton eyelet fabric for the sleeve caps and side pieces. The neckline is a little bit wider than the pattern neckline and the length is shorter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Modified Flaum

This sweater was finished some time ago, but I didn't get a chance to post about it. It's a bit too warm for summer, except perhaps in San Francisco, because summer in SF is cold! This is my modified version of Flaum. I knitted this sweater before, as seen here. I liked it so much that I wanted to try it again with some Rowen cashmere that was on sale at because it's being discontinued. I also wanted to modify the body so that it knits faster than the fisherman rib so I used a simple broken rib pattern. The end result is a less puffy sweater because the broken rib pattern is not as thick. I'm just as happy with it as with the original.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pants! - V9303

I made some pants! I don't think I've made pants in over 35 years because they never seem worth the effort because it takes too much effort to get them to fit. Plus, these days, I just wear jeans or leggings, so it's easier to just shop for something that fits. However, I wanted to sew this Vogue V9303 pattern because I really liked the pocket details and the lower leg seam details and the pleat at the knee. Plus, it requires stretchy wovens and has an elastic waist, which makes them super comfy.

They are close-fitting pants, but not close like jeggings or anything like that. I used a lightweight denim fabric that has quite a bit of stretch. I did make some changes in technique. I knew that there was no way I could make the pockets look good by just turning in seam allowances so I made them as lined pockets. I used a lightweight knit for the lining. Also, I knew I could never make the zipper on the upper pocket look good by just turning in the ends and leaving the top side exposed, so I divided the pocket and used the zipper to join the pieces and the entire pocket is lined. Finally, I didn't sew the elastic to the waist band. I just encased it, and I used a 1.25" elastic instead of 1".

These pants fit pretty well, but it's a big effort to make them fit. I think that might be par for the course as far as sewing pants go. After wearing for a day, they did stretch out a tiny bit, but that's normal for denim. If I like them after much more wearing, I'll make another pair for winter with a slightly heavier fabric and a longer length.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

McCalls M7093

This is a cute top from McCalls M7083. It's a fairly straightforward pattern to sew. I chose the shorter version and omitted the pockets. The pattern calls for woven fabrics but I decided to do something different -- I mixed a knit with a woven. The lightweight knit is used for the main body of the top. The sleeves and front side panels are sewn from this very interesting sheer silk windowpane fabric underlined with some lawn weight cotton. I've had a small amount of the silk in my stash for a while and wanted to use it up. It has a bluish tinge, which goes well with the baby blue knit.

Even though I made the shorter length, I still had to shorten it some more. I shortened the back more than the front and reduced the drop angle of the front sloping hem sides. I did cut everything on the large side, since my knit is really thin and I wanted it a very drapey top. I used bias tape to finish the neckline, hem, and sleeve openings. My neckline is wider, but not by design. I had a little snipping accident when trimming a seam that left a hole so I had to cut away some of the neckline. I decided I like this wider neckline for a summer look.

The mixture of knit and woven fabrics came out great. I'm going to try this again and make an all-white top since I'm a big fan of white tops for summer.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Flaum - Finsihed at Last!

You've probably all thought I'd disappeared from the blogosphere because of the lack of postings for two months, but it took that long to finish this sweater. The pattern is Flaum, and I absolutely love this sweater. It's a good thing because the yarn is Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke which is 100% cashmere, and even at the Black Friday sale price, it's still pricey. The pattern has a really interesting construction method which leads to a shorter front than the back, and I love the high-low hems. The front pieces are also quite wide and overlap fairly well without the need of any fasteners. It also still looks nice and drapey if the front pieces do drift open. The reason it took so long was because of the fisherman's rib on the majority of the body and I made mine a bit longer than the pattern's length. I also decided to omit the pockets because they look a bit droopy to me.

I've worn this sweater several times now and love it so much that I'm going to knit another one using this Rowan cashmere that I bought at a clearance price at Stitches West. To make things go faster, and probably use a bit less yarn, I'm going to do the body stitch pattern in a broken rib.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Happy 2018!

Since it's still the first half of January, I figure it's not too late to wish you all a happy 2018! This slightly surreal photo was taken at the top of Mission Peak on my new year's day hike. It's actually very crowded at the peak, but looking over the top and into the fog and clouds makes it look other-worldly.

The next photo is my work-in-progress for the first sweater of 2018. The pattern is Flaum, and I love the simple modern look of this sweater. It also has a very interesting construction which makes the fronts slant inward and have a shorter length than the back. I'm knitting this with Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke, which is 100% cashmere -- I repeat, 100% cashmere. I'm starting the year right by knitting the most expensive sweater I've ever attempted. I sure hope it comes out okay! I did buy it during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend when WEBS offered a 20% discount. It's going to be slow progress for the rest of the sweater because the lower body is done in fisherman's rib, but I should finish sometime in February. I might make it a bit longer than the pattern's length, and I'll omit the pockets. Several ravelry knitters mentioned that the pockets were a bit droopy, and I tend to agree.