Monday, December 12, 2016

Twigs and Willows Sweater

I recently finished knitting Twigs and Willows from Botanical Knits. This is a classic cardigan pattern with some nice yoke detailing. Mine is made with a small amount of negative ease for a fitted look. It is knit as flat pieces and sewn together, which is my favorite way to go. I changed the side shaping a bit to spread the bottom decreases out instead of doing them all in the ribbed section. I could have spread them out even further than I did. For the neckline finishing, I used an applied 4-stitch i-cord because I figured it would match the cabling in the yoke a bit better. For the front bands, I used needles 3 sizes smaller to create a denser fabric for the ribbing. Before the pieces were assembled, I was worried that the yoke cabling would be tight and pull in too much, but it turned out fine once the sleeves are sewn on. I did my own shaping for the sleeves, but I don't think it differed much from the pattern instructions. All in all, I'm happy with this cardigan.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Gifts for Knitters

This post is in the name of shameless advertising. My Etsy Shop has some fun stitch markers suitable as gifts for your knitting friends and family or for yourselves. There's still plenty of time to order them. My latest addition are these pullover yoke style sweater stitch markers. What could be more self-referential than knitting a sweater using sweater stitch markers?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sewing: Vogue V1515 Blouse

I had sewn the skirt from Vogue V1515 and blogged about it here. Now it was time to tackle the blouse. It's a summer blouse, but I wanted to make it anyway. There were a ton of little modifications and additions that I went through to achieve the final product. Here's how it all went down:

  • I had some very lightweight striped white cotton that I wanted to use, but it's too thin on its own so I would need another layer. Instead of using the same fabric for the second layer, I chose another lightweight semi-sheer cotton from my stash.
  • I didn't want my blouse to be as short as the pattern's version, but I didn't just want to add some more length. I decided I would add a slightly ruffled piece onto the bottom, sort of like a mild flounce. I added it only to the inner layer. The two layers are sewn separately and attached only at the neckline and armholes.
  • I used french seems for the sides of the layers, and I used narrow hems at the bottom of the outer layer and for the flounce. I used the armhole facing to finish the armholes, but it would have been easier to use bias tape.
  • For the collar, I didn't attach the elastic directly to the fabric on one side. Instead, I made a casing by sewing the inner and outer layers together.
  • After sewing the collar but before attaching it to the body, I tried it on and as I suspected, it was too tall and kept tickling my chin. I made a new collar that is about 1/2" shorter in height and the elastic is closer to the top.
  • The back quasi-flounce piece does not ruffle as much because the top has a longer curved back but I didn't increase the curvature of the flounce piece. I'm fine with that.
  • This is a very wide blouse -- I cut quite a bit from the side. It's easy to see that it's very wide from just looking at the pattern pieces.
I'm very pleased with the result, so now I just have to wait for warmer weather!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Knitting: Horizontal Vertical Kimono

Thanks for your kind comments about my last sewing project. For this post, I'm returning to the normally scheduled knitting program. I finished the Horizontal Vertical Kimono sweater, which is a free pattern from Cascade. I used Valley Yarns Brimfield, which is a nice merino/silk blend that's easy to knit with and seems to wear well so far. I love this sweater. It's knit side-to-side as one piece from one front to back to the other front. Because it's knit side to side, the sweater tends to conform to the body better because of the way it stretches. You can easily adjust the length of this sweater, but row gauge is important for getting the width correct.

I only made a couple of tiny changes from the pattern. I made my armhole bands about 2.5" inches instead of 3". I also wanted to scrunch in the armholes a bit, so I picked up 6 stitches for every 7 for most of the armhole and 3 stitches for every 4 around the shoulder area. This also helps prevent the armhole band from poking upward at the shoulders. For the front bands, I picked up 11 stitches for every 12 because the double seed stitches tends to be a higher gauge than stockinette and I didn't want the front bands to flare out either.

In the name of shameless advertising, if you like my shawl pin, it's 3D printed in plastic, and you can buy it here in my Etsy shop. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sewing: Vogue V1515 Skirt

I made a skirt for fall and winter from Vogue Patterns V1515. My fabric is a great bottom weight cotton/poly slightly textured knit that I bought at Joann last year. I love this knit and I wish I could find more cotton/poly knits like it out there -- the poly makes it hold its shape and the cotton makes it really comfy. There are tons of all-polyester knits but I just don't find them breathable to wear. This is a pattern that falls into the interesting-construction category, and I love the quirky and asymmetrical look of it.

The skirt pattern provides two versions - one for wovens and one for knits. The knitted one relies on just the stretchiness of the fabric to hold the skirt up and I knew that wouldn't work with my non-existent rear end, so I added a waistband which encloses some elastic. The trim on the pattern is done with piping but I just used some double-fold wide bias tape. I used the same tape to encase the bottom edge instead of hemming it. For the middle trim, I ironed out the two edge folds and sewed the bias tape into the seam and then edge-stitched the tape to the skirt.

The skirt is a bit on the long side and I'm a bit on the short side, so I cut off about 1.5 inches at the bottom. If I made it again, I might also trim an inch from the middle piece. I omitted the pocket because to me, it sort of looks too much like an appendage growing on my hip. The bottom section does bulge out on one side, and the bulge is accentuated on my version because I used a heavier knit. With a softer, lighter fabric, it would probably drape more, as seen in the drawing and on the model.

I'm very proud of myself for actually wearing some boots to take these photos. Usually, I'm lazy and just wear slippers and never show my feet!

This post is linked into Gray All Day's Sew It Chic October.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sewing: McCall's M7385 Revisited

I liked my first rendition of McCall's M7385 so much that I thought I would do a lather, rinse, repeat. This time, I used a cotton sateen with a tiny bit of stretch. I bought this fabric a year or two ago from JoAnn because I really liked the feel and drape and its slight stretchiness. I could never figure out what to with it until this pattern came along. The stretch is not needed for this pattern as it has a nice easy fit. This dress is a bit softer and heavier than the first version but it's still a garment for warmer weather. It's been 90 degrees recently in the SF bay area so I could wear it. I used the same modifications that I made for the first version except that I made the lapel facings in contrasting black cotton. I used contrasting white buttons on top of the black.

I added a link to this post on the Gray All Day blog.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Crossroads sweater

I finished knitting Crossroads by Yumiko Alexander. The pattern is published in her "Modern by Choice" book, which I purchased early this year at Stitches West. I was attracted to thsi pattern because of the asymmetrical hemline,which occurs naturally because of the different gauge and drape of the bottom lace pattern. The pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn, but I didn't want it that light and airy. I wanted something a little more substantial that I could wear without a second layer underneath. Wearing a second layer with a cotton/silk knit defeats the purpose of a warm weather knit. I used the DK weight Rowan Purelife Revive yarn so the sweater doesn't have an open weave. I knit the smallest size at a slightly smaller gauge. Here's a list of the other mods:

  • I knitted shorter sleeves by casting on 8, then 6 stitches at the underarms.
  • I added some shaping to the neckline since I don't love boat neck sweaters. For some reason, I don't like how they feel against my throat.
  • I used short rows to shape the shoulders and 3-needle bind-off to join them.
  • For the neckline and sleeve trims, I used a row of single crochet followed by a row of reverse single crochet.
  • I reduced my needle size by 1 (from 5 to 4) starting at the upper midriff area because I wanted it a bit smaller on top.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sewing: McCall's M7385

I finished sewing McCall's M7385 recently, but I probably should have sewed it two months earlier to get the full use of it for summer. It's a great easy wearing dress for warm weather so I'm hoping that we'll get some hot Indian summer days in October. The fabric is a really nice medium weight cotton that I think I bought online from Mood on sale some time ago. I've always had issues with patterns that have waist line gathering, but I liked this one because the gathers do not cover the entire front and the waist seam also slants upward from the side. I did made a few small changes to the pattern.

  • The pattern calls for lining just the side upper front pieces and I didn't want to do that because I wanted to keep the bodice cool and light in weight. I finished the armholes with bias tape cut from the fabric.
  • For some reason, the pattern does not call for a front facing piece, which is odd since the front "lapels" can fold over and the wrong side would show. I added front facings and also interfaced the corner sections so that the lapels would be crisp.
  • It's difficult to see in the photos but I sewed a button onto each lapel to keep them tacked down.
  • I added a bit extra width to the shoulders and to the front armhole areas for a bit more coverage.
  • I narrowed the skirt sections a tiny bit to cut down the fullness.
  • I top stitched many of the seams, because that's just how I roll.
I like this dress enough that I'm going to make another one in a printed cotton stretch sateen that is a little less crisp with a little more weight. I'm thinking of using a contrast fabric for the front facing/lapel.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bettie's Pullover

I recently finished knitting Bettie's Pullover. The yarn is Knit One, Crochet Too Batiste, one of my favorite yarns. It's made of merino/linen/silk and very comfortable most of the year, although the higher crew neckline makes it a bit too warm for summer. It may turn out to be one of my favorite pullovers. It has a very vintage-y 40s look to it -- I call it my Bletchley Park sweater.

As usual, I made some mods from the pattern.

  • I wanted short sleeves, and I ignored the instructions for knitting and attaching sleeves as you go. They looked too complicated and I wasn't sure about the fit. I just bound off and decreased for the arm holes and knitted standard set-in sleeves.
  • I only used one needle size smaller for the lower ribbing and didn't cast on that many extra stitches. For the body shaping, I used a smaller needle size for parts of it and did side decreases for the narrowest waist section since I had stockinette stitches at the sides.
  • I aimed for a slightly wider neckline and also a slightly lower one in the front. I would have liked it lowered a bit more because I'm not a fan of high crew necklines.
  • For the neckband, I did the ends as K1P1 and converted to double knitting for the main section. The double knitting gives it a lot of body. I skipped the button hole and just sewed the button through all layers.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

McCall's M7381 - Maxi Dress

I was recently bitten by the maxi dress bug because I kept seeing them in shops and on the blogs. I don't think I've worn one in over 30 years, so I figured it was time to try again. I wanted something really light and airy for hot weather. I chose McCall's M7381 and my fabric is this silk and cotton voile that I bought from The color is a bit subdued but I love the feel and drape of the fabric.

I did make some changes from the pattern instructions. The pattern calls for a lining for the bodice, but I wanted to keep it really light so I omitted the lining and finished the openings with bias tape cut from the same fabric. I changed the shape of the front bodice pieces to be a little higher on the front neckline and I slanted it across the front for a wrap look. My goal was to prevent wardrobe malfunctions but it didn't help so I ended up sewing the pieces together for about one inch at the top of the overlap. The side seams are sewn with french seams. Since the fabric is thin, I lined just the top half of the skirt. The lining encases the seam and serves as a casing for the elastic.

I've worn this dress a few times and I absolutely love it. I photographed in on a breezy day, which helps give the skirt that floaty look. I have plans to make this again in the shorter length.

Monday, July 4, 2016



I finished knitting this Anemone sweater shortly before the weather got warm, so I haven't really worn it much. My yarn is Katia Cotton Merino, which is 70% cotton and 30% merino. The yarn doesn't feel like cotton at all, and it's incredibly soft and warm.

As usual, I made a few changes to the pattern. I used the stitch pattern only on the front and just did the back as stockinette. I did this partly because I was lazy and partly because I wanted a less bulky sweater. I also changed the raglan ratio a bit to have more stitches on the sleeves and less on the body. I made the center stitch pattern a little narrower because I wanted more stockinette on the side in order to add some shaping. And finally, I just went with short sleeves because that's generally how I roll. I'm happy with the fit, but I'll have to have more wearing time to see how the yarn holds up in the long run.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hoot Hoot! 3D Printed Numbered Owl Stitch Markers

I added these cute owl stitch markers to my Etsy Shop. The markers are embossed with beaks and feathers on one side and the numbers from one through eight on the other. I have them in yellow and pink and will be adding some orange ones shortly.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Forest Weave Sweater

I recently finished knitting a sweater using the Forest Weave pattern. I used Cascade Ultra Pima cotton yarn, which is one of my favorite all-cotton yarns. It has really nice drape and feels very soft to knit with. I love this sweater -- it makes me feel like I should be hosting a show at an art gallery or something like that. I did make a few mods, as I usually do. I reduced the circumference by 8 inches. It is 40 inches as compared to the 48 inches for the pattern's smallest size. The sweater is knit side to side for the front and back pieces, so I reduced the number of rows and scrunched the cable pattern down by having fewer rows between the cabling rows. It still feels a smidgen too wide, but the drape seems to improve with wear, so it's looking narrower with more wearing time. I also did not knit sleeves but just added some rows of garter stitch onto the armhole opening. I did some decreases at the top to prevent the band from poking upward.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Cutest Shop Ever

Until last weekend, I had never shopped before in the Presidio Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. I went strolling through there last Friday and I stumbled upon one of the cutest shops I've seen in a long time. It's name is The Ribbonerie and it specializes in tons and tons of ribbons. This shop looks like something you might find in one of those narrow streets of Paris or Tokyo. It's got ribbons for sewing, ribbons for wrapping, and ribbons for any other purpose you can think of. I didn't buy anything because I couldn't think of what I might need. I did take some photos though.

It's got some other vintage items for sale like these cool hats.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Vogue V9079 in printed stretch denim

I recently sewed up Vogue V9079 in this printed stretch denim I got at JoAnn. I loved this print as soon as I saw it. It felt a bit too stiff on the bolt, but I washed and dried it twice and that softened it up pretty well. The denim is sturdy enough so that the dress holds its shape and the stretch makes it really comfy. Since it's denim, I decided to top-stitch it to death. I put double rows of top-stitching on the neckline, the front curved seam, and around the armholes. I used orange thread which both matches the print and contrasts really well with the white and the blue.

This dress is unlined so if you're going to make it, it's best with a fabric that has a some weight to it. It's not a tight fit, but a bit of stretch definitely makes it easier to wear. One of the things I like about this pattern is the shape of the back pleats. The top of each pleat goes up to the neckline instead of ending at a point. For some reason, this is a better fit for me and also makes for easier alterations if you want to adjust the shape of the upper back.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New 3D Printed Stitch Markers

I added these paw prints stitch markers to my Etsy Shop. Being a dog lover, I made these with the idea that they are dog paw prints, but I think can be the paw prints of other types of creatures also.

Along with being colorful and cute, these should be snag-free markers.

Friday, April 29, 2016

New sweater

I recently finished knitting this sweater from an improvised pattern. This is more or less a classic pullover, with a slight vintage look. It came out a smidgen shorter and a tiny bit more fitted than I wanted, and that's probably adding to the vintage effect. The yarn is Handwerks Silky Sock, which is a fingerling weight silk/merino yarn. It's the first fingerling weight sweater I've ever knitted. It didn't take as long as I expected, probably because the sweater is small and only has tiny quasi sleeves. I used most of two skeins, for a total of 870 yards.

The pattern is pretty simple. The bottom section is a broken rib, as is the neckline and sleeve edgings. The center panel is stockinette. The side panels are stockinette interspersed with 1x1 cables that shift one by stitch every other row. This sweater is shaped by increases from the bottom band up towards the underarms. I was aiming for a more dolman effect, but I didn't do enough increases as I approached the armholes section. The fit turned out fine anyway, and I really like the dressier look and feel of a fine gauge sweater. It just seem like very slow going when I'm knitting it.

Here's my tip for putting edgings on this kind of extended shoulder quasi sleeve. I picked up the stitches around the armhole at two stitches for every three rows except at the top 2.5 inches at the shoulder seam. For that area, I picked up one stitch every other row. This pulls in the top area and prevents it from poking upward at the upper arm.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pictures from an exhibition

I went to the De Young Museum last week. It was a great time to visit -- the Oscar de la Renta retrospective show is there and last week was also the Bouquets to Art week. I thought I'd post a few of the photos from the day's visit.

This pic shows some of the day dresses in the collection. I think I could actually wear that pink number with the embroidery.

These colorful caftans are from a collection of resort wear.

Some more lovely gowns.

I believe this group is from the garden inspiration section.

This was probably one of my favorite gowns. It actually has a lot of texture -- too bad we couldn't touch it!

On to the flowers. This was one of the cutest floral arrangements. The painting that inspired it is in the back, but I did not capture it very well. It does have a little yellow cart.

Both the painting and the floral arrangement have a dark look, but I sort of like it.

Here's one more.

This scene overlooks the museum entrance area with hanging bouquets.

This was probably my favorite floral arrangement. The tub is filled with hydrangeas.