Friday, December 31, 2010

Last FO of 2010

Happy New Year to everyone out there in the blogosphere! I hope that 2011 will be great year for you all.

This is my last finished object for 2010. It is a cardigan-stole, more or less. It wears like a stole in the back, but the front feels like a long slouchy cardi. The yarn is Shepherd's Wool from Stonehenge Fiber Mill. I think this yarn is probably one of my favorite worsted weight wool yarns. It's really soft against the skin, comfy to knit with, and reasonably priced. The pattern is self-designed. I wanted to make something like this after finishing the textured cardi, which also wears like a stole on the back. I wanted something shorter and without the inverted V back.

This garment doesn't look that interesting from the back when photographed, but up close and personal, the texture stitching is sort of nice. The color in this back photo is much closer to the actual teal color.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Looking at the above photo, you're probably wondering what it's going to become when finished. It's probably best described as a stole with armholes. I sort of like stoles because they provide a nice covering for the back without being too warm. However, I don't like having to hang on to them to keep them in place, so I find them a bit impractical. The textured cardi feels a lot like a stole when worn, but it's a bit too long, and I wanted to make something without the inverted V in the back.
So, I created by own pattern for this stole with armholes. I made a "muslin" of my pattern using some inexpensive knit fabric in order to get the pattern right. Here's what it will look like when done, more or less. There's going to be a 2x2 ribbing added at the bottom edge.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sort of ugly but really functional

I picked these up at a thrift shop recently for 25 cents each. I don't really like their looks that much but they are the best thing ever for keeping slippery garments like knit jersey dresses from slipping off the hanger.
These were crocheted over basic wooden hangers, and I should just make a few myself because I think I would find them more attractive if I just chose a different color scheme.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fall color

We don't get much in the way of fall colors in the SF bay area. However, our one Japanese maple tree will do its thing once a year. I'm not sure if it's my imagination or what, but it seems a bit late this year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sewing FO: You can't go wrong with animal prints

Actually, I think this is more like a quasi animal print, but it's a fun dress anyway. The pattern is Vogue V8552, which I made earlier this year in linen. This fabric is a strange polyester/lycra moleskin, which is sort of slick on the wrong side. It does not hold a pressing at all, which makes it annoying to sew with, but it's actually pretty comfortable to wear. I got it on sale at JoAnn for a very low price. This time around, I eliminated the pockets and sewed the tucks as pleats on the inside. For winter, it's a bit chilly to wear by itself, but it looks good under a black cardi or shrug.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

FO: Faux capelet cardigan

I just finished this cardigan that is loosely based on the Boho Blouse by Stephanie Japel. I liked that capelet-like look when I first saw the pattern, but I didn't think it was cape-y enough, and I thought the trim hit too high on the bust line. I wanted the sleeves longer, but I couldn't just keep knitting further until separating out the sleeves because I would end up with ginormous armholes. I ended up separating out for the sleeves at the normal place, casting on a few stitches for the body section, then continued knitting the sleeves flat with additional increases. I made the sleeves end at the same point where the body trim ends, but instead of sewing the sleeve sides together, I sewed them to the sweater body itself. This helps the sweater look a little more capelet-like.

The pattern as written calls for a very fast rate of increases on the yoke such that all the increases are completed by 4" of yoke. This would cause the upper part of the bodice to be too loose, which I didn't want. I did the more standard rate of increases. My yarn is a very textured wool blend that I bought on my Japan vacation, so I omitted the cable stitches in the pattern. Finally, I wanted a cardigan instead of a pullover.

That blurriness you see on the sweater is not due to my camera or your eyesight. I partially felted my sweater by accident. My sweater ended up a bit large when finished , so I decided I would soak it a tiny bit, then run it through the dryer to shrink it. I did try this first with my swatch, and it worked well. However, for the actual garment, I decided to try a longer drying time, and I was amazed by how much it felted and horrified by how much it shrank. Luckily, it was still quite damp, so some of the shrinkage was reversible. I ended up wearing it all day, dampness and all, so that it would dry and form to my own body's shape. I also kept tugging at the various hem parts all day to keep the length from shrinking, which must have looked odd indeed. Ah, the things we knitters will do.

In the end, it's a bit shorter than I would like, but the width fits nicely. I lost the lovely yarn texture, but I gained the soft felted fuzziness. I'm pretty happy with the end result.

I have a theory about why my garment kept growing in size. The yarn is heavily textured, and all the texture-y bits don't pull through the stitches easily so the stitches start off fairly tightly knit. As I handled the garment more and more, the little bits of texture worked their way through the stitches and opened them up and the gauge got bigger as did the sweater.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day in the U.S.
It coincides with Remembrance Day, or Poppy Day in countries such as U.K. and Canada. I like the Poppy Day concept, so I decided to crochet a red poppy to wear today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

FO: Goodale

I've finished Goodale and I'm very happy with it. The yarn is Brown Sheep Serendipity Tweed. My biggest modification for this sweater is adding increases along the front. I started the increases at about 2" from the top front edges. By the time I reached the hem, I added about 3" to each of the fronts. This keeps the sweater from flaring wide open in the front.
I made some other customizations as well, because customizing my knits is just how I roll.
- I made it longer and added waist shaping.
- I made 3/4 length sleeves because I had a lot of spare yarn, and longer sleeves are better for fall.
- Instead of sewing the bottoms together for the folds, I folded before the ribbing and picked up 2 stitches together for the front ribbing.
- I sewed down the tops of the front lapels up to the pocket openings.
- I made my I-cord 1 stitch wider but used small needles to keep it tight. I twisted it for a figure 8 in the center.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I don't really do much for Halloween other than wait for trick-or-treaters. We usually get close to a hundred kids or so. I don't think we have that many kids in the neighborhood, so I'm not sure where they come from. I decided to at least dress up a little more festively this year. This was my ensemble for greeting the kids.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On the needles

I'm one sleeve away from finishing Goodale. The yarn is Brown Sheep Serendipity Tweed. I had a lot of yarn so I decided to make longer sleeves. Longer sleeves are better anyway for a fall sweater. I love the front lapel pockets on this pattern, but I don't like the wide opening. On me, sweaters like that tend to sit even more open than shown on a model. I added increases to the front of the sweater. It still flares open when worn, but it's a much narrower opening.

I'm also working on the Geodesic cardigan. The yarn is Araucania Ranco solid. I knit all of the back of this cardi during the various airplane and train rides on the Japan vacation. The pattern is written for knitting the body in one piece, but I converted it for flat knitting. Smaller pieces are much more portable. Also, this is a hand-dyed yarn, and rather than worry about alternating skeins and color changes, I just decided to knit the different pieces from different skeins and not worry about color shade differences.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Japan souvenirs

I just returned from a vacation to Japan, spending 4 nights in Tokyo and 3 nights in Kyoto. I had a great time, even though I got bitten by a gazillion insects and the plane ride home was a breeding ground for respiratory infections because of all these passengers who were sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and phlegming (I don't think that's a verb). Of course, in addition to the sightseeing, I had to look for a few yarn shops and buy some souvenir yarn.

My first stop was at Okadaya in Tokyo. This is a seven story craft shop, with most of the 6th floor devoted to yarn and other knitting goodness. The address is 3-23-17 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, very near the train station. Thanks to pinku for posting a list of Tokyo shops back in 2006. Now, even though I had the address, it's still not easy to find it. Although I knew that the Tokyo address consists of the subareaNumber-blockNumber-buildingNumber, I did not know that the building numbers are not spatially ordered. I found out later that they are ordered by their construction dates. So, you sometimes have to walk around a block to find an address. Also, not all blocks have their numbers displayed anywhere, and many shops don't display their own addresses. After a while, I realized that for larger shops, it's easiest to just look upward for large signs instead of looking at doorways!

They have a large selection of Japanese and imported yarns. I just decided to focus on the Japanese brands.

I ended up purchasing 8 skeins of this really luxurious merino/alpaca/acrylic yarn. Don't you just love the phrasing on the label?

Next up was a trip to La Droguerie, which is a French craft store with several shops in Japan. The Tokyo address is 4-13-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, in the very chi-chi Omotesando shopping district. They have a smallish selection of pricey yarn, but tons of unique trims, beads, and buttons, also pricey.

I ended up buying some buttons and spent enough to receive a promotional giveaway bag. (Notice the Eiffel tower bead).

Now, on to Kyoto. While there, I decided to check out the Kyoto branch of La Droguerie. It's located on Kitiyama-dori, right across the street from the Kitiyama entrance to the wonderful Kyoto botanical garden, and we were going to visit the garden anyway. The merchandise seemed to be about the same as in the Tokyo store, although there might have been more yarn. I just bought a few not-very-exciting beads to hang on that safety-pin closure that I bought earlier.

Next was Avril, which is sold in New York as Habu Textiles. They are located in a restored building called the Sacra building in the center of the shopping zone, at the corner of Sanjo-dori and Tominokoji-dori. The shop space is like a huge loft, and they have an amazing collection of yarn, many with unusual textures and exotic fibers, and much of it costing more than I would ever spend on yarn.

However, even the priciest of shops has a sale basket, and in it I found this great textured wool/nylon yarn in fall colors. I bought 2 skeins.

In the same building as Avril is the Idola buttons and beads shop. It is smallish, but stocks a lot of very unusual buttons.

I ended up buying just two of these silvery buttons.

The amazing thing is -- I managed to pack all of this into my luggage!

Monday, September 27, 2010

FO: Textured Cardi for fall

This is the textured cardigan by Rebecca Taylor in Vogue Knitting fall 2010. This is a fun cardi to wear. On the front, it wears just like a long shrug, and on the back, it feels like I'm wearing a stole. It's comfy and cozy without being overly warm. The yarn is Shepherd's Wool from Stonehenge Fiber Mill, which is really nice and soft and is not itchy to me.

This garment is just knitted as a rectangle and then cleverly seamed to create the sleeves. For the body, the only thing I did differently was to add 2 stitches on what would become the front edge. I knit them on the right side, and slipped the first stitch on the purl side. This creates a neater and tighter front edge.

I decided to just use the same yarn for the pockets instead of trying to find a matching fine-gauged yarn. Since the yarn is heavier, I only made the pockets 38 stitches wide and my cables are 6 stitches each instead of 10 so they aren't as dense.

For the bottom back ribbing, I had to sew a slanted seam that starts out about 1" wide and narrows down to one stitch. If I didn't do that, that bottom section pokes up and outward and looks like the rear end of a duck. I recently saw a ready-to-wear version of this sweater by Rebecca Taylor at Bloomingdale's. The stitch pattern is not the same and the pockets are bigger, but it's definitely the same cut and shape. For that sweater, the back bottom ribbing is knit with increases so that you get the same mitered effect with a normal seam. It's interesting that the knitting pattern does not reflect this.

I love the shape of this cardi-shrug enough that I'm going to try and a make a much shorter version of it. I'll find a simpler stitch pattern, and I will change the shaping a bit by using increases and decreases to create a V-shape for the bottom of the back -- that way the front sections won't have to pull up so much to joing the back and the back bottom will be relatively flat.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Knitting updates

I've been making progress on Goodale. I'm adding increases to the front sections so that the sweater will not be as open. I'm also making it a bit lon ger and adding some side shaping. Progress has been slow because I've been sidetracked with knitting this textured cardigan by Rebecca Taylor from Vogue Knitting Fall 2010.

I was fascinated with this pattern the moment I saw it in the magazine's online preview. I love the texture and the unique construction. What's interesting to me is that I'm the one and only person on ravelry who is knitting this garment, and there are only 11 others who have queued it up. I wonder why so few other knitters find it as fascinating as I do.

This is really a simple knit because you just knit a 6 ft x 18" rectangle and sew it up. It's just like knitting a scarf for a very large person. I have to admit that it's getting a bit monotonous, especially since there are a lot of P3tog stitches in the pattern, but I've got about 4 ft. done, so onward I go!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sewing FO

I've finished a sewing project, and I LOVE this dress. The pattern is Vogue V8552, with a few mods. I avoid sewing a lot of dresses because they usually require a big fitting effort, and to do it right requires sewing up a muslin version for at least the bodice portion, and I'm too lazy to do muslins. This pattern is an easy fitting one, so I figured I could adjust it as I go, and I wouldn't need to do what The Other Half would call "fire a test shot".

For the mods, I added waistline tucks to the front to give it a little more shape. I narrowed the pockets a bit and also widened the placement. I really liked those gaping pockets in the photo, but in person, they stuck out way too much. The dress is unlined, but I decided to line both the pockets and the cap sleeves with a contrasting green cotton. The pattern called for sewing down the pocket flaps, but I decided to just tack the corners down by hand, and I sewed a button on each corner of the flaps.

My fabric is a heavy weight linen that I purchased at a local fabric shop in San Francisco. (Is there such an acronym as "LFS" in the sewing world"?). I subsequently looked for it online and found it sold here as drapery fabric. I should keep drapery fabric in mind in the future if I want heavy weight linen.

I'm thinking of making this pattern again with a much softer fabric and sewing the side pockets. I might also just sew the tucks as inside pleats, and wear it with a thin belt.

If I saw this dress hanging on a rack in a shop, I would probably never try it on because I would dismiss it as shapeless and unflattering. This reminds me that I should be a little more willing to try on garments because sometimes, they just look quite different when worn.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

FO: Ambrosia

I've finished Amnbrosia from Interweave Knits Summer 2010. This is actually not quite Ambrosia because my front cables are more squiggly because I sort of neglected to read the cable pattern and just did something that I thought looked like the picture. It doesn't quite look like the picture, but I didn't even notice until I finished the entire body of the sweater! The yarn is Classic Silk from Classic Elite Yarns. I had a hard time capturing the color in photos -- it's sort of the color of a fruit smoothie.

I'm very happy with this sweater. In addition to the accidental difference in cable design, some other mods include omitting the waistline ribbing and using a single crochet followed by reverse single crochet trim on the neckline instead of the I-cord. I added one stitch on edge side of the cables and slipped that stitch at the start of each row, then applied a row of crocheted slip stitches onto the edge for the finishing. This gave me sturdy and non-stretchy front edges. For the sleeves, I went down one needle size shortly after picking up the stitches, then went down one more size for the ribbing. I wanted to ensure that the sleeve openings don't flare out.

For the fasteners, I bought some jumbo hook and eye tape, which made the job a lot easier. I especially like the large-sized hooks and eyes. What I don't like is that it's white in color -- it doesn't show through on the front, but you can see the white inside if you look down onto the neckline. It's not a big deal, but I wonder if I should have dyed it or something before using it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I'm almost finished with my Ambrosia-more-or-less, from Interweave Knits Summer 2010. I say more-or-less because it wasn't until I finished the entire body of the sweater, including finishing the edges and sewing on the hook-and-eye tape, that I realized I had done the front cables differently from the pattern! When I started, I just sort of read the stitch notations, then did the stitch pattern without really actually reading the instructions -- I just did something that I thought looked like the photo. But, it doesn't matter since I like it anyway, and it has basically the same look and feel as the real Ambrosia. My cables just look a little more wavy.
I omitted the middle ribbing section on purpose -- I've discovered that narrow waistline ribbing doesn't really do that much for me and I always fuss too much about its placement. I also raised the neckline a bit so that it's just above the point where the body is split from the sleeves.
It seemed like too many knitters were not entirely happy with the neckline I-cord, so I decided not to try it. Instead, I did my favorite edging of a row of single crochet followed by a row of reverse single crochet.
My yarn is Classic Silk by Classic Elite Yarns. I'm quite happy with this sweater, and I just have one sleeve to go -yay!

I recently cast on for Goodale, using Brown Sheep's Serendipity Tweed. I really like the little pockets formed by folding the fronts over, but I don't w such a wide opening in the front, so I'm adding increase stitches about 3 inches from the edge. That should put the front pieces much closer together after the folding over.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yarn bombing sighting

We took a short vacation to the Lake Tahoe area this last weekend, and the trip included a stopover in Reno, NV. While there, I spotted this lovely piece of yarn bombing located in the river walk area.

While we're on the subject of artsy sitings, Reno also has painted recycled pianos scattered about town. Here's one of them. I did notiee anyone playing on it though.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

FO: Jordan

Thanks for all the nice comments about my two-toned shell. If you're celebrating the Fourth of July holiday, I hope you're having great one!

I recently finished the Jordan pattern by Wendy Bernard. The yarn is one of my favorites -- the discontinued Jaeger Trinity. I bought this last batch from Robin.

This a great pattern. I don't really like very lacy garments, but for some reason, this one appealed to me. The two lace stitch patterns are easy to memorize, and it knits up very quickly. For the arrow lace pattern, I did 4 repeats instead of 3 because I realized that I wanted a little more length when I reached the first set. I also played with changing needle sizes here and there. I used one size smaller on the midsection to give it a tiny bit of waist shaping. For the shoulder pieces, I changed over to one needle size larger after about 3 inches, so the pieces gets wider towards the center, and I get some shoulder shaping. The lace patterns alternate between 11-stitch and 9-stitch repeats. The topmost stockinette section is supposed to be an 11-stitch repeat, but I kept it at 9 stitches because for some reason it flared out too much at 11 stitches. All in all, this is a great summer top!