Saturday, October 31, 2009

A sewing FO

I used to do a lot of sewing years ago, but I don't do it that often anymore. Once in a while a random neuron fires and triggers the urge to sew something. Recently, I came into possession of an interesting piece of embroidered fabric. It came from someone's estate and has an aged vintage-y look to it, but I don't think it's really that old because the fabric feels like polyester. It looked perfect for one of these trendy loose-fitting blouses, so I put the sewing machine into action. This is McCall's M5885, sans the front ruffles. This pattern is a very loose-fitting top. I cut to size 10 for the top section, but narrowed the bottom to the size 6 width. I also shaped it a little more on the sides and added a couple of long darts in the back. I could have probably cut the top parts to the size 6 and it would have been fine. I'm quite pleased with the result.

The pattern is really simple -- it's the embroidery on the fabric that makes this top interesting.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

FO: Felting Experiment #3: Peace out, man

First off, thanks for all nice compliments about my Flourish Vest. I think that pattern would look great on a lot people, and it would be easy to do small size adjustments since most of it is in reverse stockinette.

This is my third felting experiment. It's actually more of an experiment with intarsia and felting. I really like those small gift-bag shaped bags that you get from a lot of retail establishments. I use them often to carry a lunch or other small items for transport. I decided to make a similarly shaped tote bag that is a tribute to the sixties. You know, peace, summer of love, Woodstock, flower power, whatever. There are probably some people who believe the sixties never ended. This bag here, it's my attempt at keepin' the dream alive. Here's one side, with the peace symbol.

And on the other is my attempt at flower power. I think it would have been better if I used a different color for the center of the flower, but by then I was sort of tired of this intarsia thing.

I knitted this with Cascade 220, using two strands, and size 10 needles and size K crochet hook. I used about 3.25 skeins for the main color. Before starting, I knitted an 8"X8" square and did the whole wash-wash-dry-wash-dry cycles to get the final dimensions for gauge determination. The bag is knitted as a long rectangle, then the sides are knitted as smaller rectangles and attached with single crochet. The handles are done with half-double crochet.

Here are a few things I learned from this experiment:
- It's hard to get a good smooth stitch pattern when the gauge is large. As The Other Half said to me: "You don't have enough pixels"
- It's really important to keep yarn held on the underside during color changes very loose with a good amount of excess because the washing and drying will shrink this yarn and pull the pattern too tight if there isn't enough spare length
- I really don't have enough patience to do multi-colored knitting, especially if the yarn has to be held doubled.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

FO: Flourish Vest

I love this Flourish Vest from Knitscene Fall 2009. The yarn is Cascade Greenland, a superwash merino yarn. I think it's a great pattern and I'm surprised there are so few ravelry knitters interested in it. I knit the smallest size, but my gauge is looser at 17 stitches/4". My row gauge is also bigger, so I eliminated one of the smallest cable patterns (18 rows) to compensate for the extra length. I adjusted the placement of my waist decreases and increases accordingly. I used needles 3 sizes smaller for the front bands to achieve a tight button band and I used 5 instead of 4 buttons. Both of these things were done to prevent the dreaded button band gaposis.

I used 3-needle bind off on the shoulders, as I usually do. I had to do decreases on the last row of the front shoulders because the pattern is written to have more stitches on the front shoulders than on the back.

I really liked knitting with this yarn. 100 grams gets you only 137 yards, so it's not one of these light and lofty yarns. It feels very sturdy and really springy. My vest wears like a garment that contains lycra, which is actually a good thing because it results in a really good fit. The yarn is so springy that the ribbing bounces back to its unstretched state even after lots of steaming.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

WIPs and giant fuyus

It's time for an update about my works in progress (WIPs). I'm almost done with my Flourish Vest from Knitcene Fall 2009. All I've got left are the two armhole bands. It fits wonderfully so I'm very pleased with it. I eliminated one of the smallest cable repeats at the top.

I'm also working on this faux quilted vest as a Christmas gift for my mother. It's not yet Halloween, but I figure I'd better work on it now so that I won't stress about it later. This is actually a very simple and quick knit. I'll be knitting a front button band instead of installing a zipper. The stitch pattern looks nicer than I thought it would. It really does have a nice "quilted" look.

One of my favorite things about fall is the arrival of the fuyu persimmons at the fruit stands. Even better than that -- I can harvest my crop from my own giant fuyu persimmon tree. (The "giant" refers to the fruit variety, not the tree size.) Woohoo!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Slinky ribs FO

It seems like this sweater took a long time, but I'm finally done! This is Slinky Ribs from Custom Knits. My yarn is the recommended Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool.
I ditched my original idea of wearing it as reverse stockinette -- it looked good that way laying on a flat surface but not as good when worn.
I changed the lower ribbing pattern because I thought the V formation might provide a more slimming illusion for my mid-section. I used garter stitch for the bottom rows to prevent rolling. My neckline is done with purl stitches to roll inward. I did not bother with buttonholes -- I just sewed the buttons through all layers. I raised the neckline by almost 2 inches.
I really like the style and fit of this pullover. The biggest disappointment is that I'm stuck wearing a t-shirt under it because this yarn is just too scratchy. I raised the neckline just so that I could wear it standalone, but it's not going to happen. As a skein, the yarn felt okay against my skin. Oh well -- I'm hoping the short sleeves will prevent it from being too warm with the T-shirt underneath.

On the matter of the sleeves, I did not pick up stitches and knit from the armhole. I knit standard set-in sleeves and sewed them on. I'm not fond of the "afterhtought sleeves" technique in the book. I think that picking up stitches will result in sleeves that are too wide because you end up having to pick up enough stitches to cover the armhole. If you look at the schematic for this sweater's smallest size, the short sleeve circumference is 13.75", which is about 2" wider than I like for pullover sleeves. For the Lettuce Coat, I did pick up stitches for the sleeves but the pattern calls for smaller needles to keep the width smaller. The stitches at the top of the arm look a little stretched as a result.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I bought a new knitting book today, and I love it! The book is Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr, and it is chock full of really unique knitting stitches and some very cool patterns. Even if I don't knit the designs, they provide plenty of good ideas.

I'm throbulating over this dress pattern. This could look really fabulous, or really really bad. I could wear this with leggings, and I love leggings. The problem is, it would take a lot of knitting for me to find out if it's really good or bad. Plus, once leggings go out of style next season, I'm stuck with a too-short dress or a too-long top. I'm thinking of trying it anyway.