Monday, May 2, 2016

Traveling Stars shawl part I - test swatch

OMG OMG OMG!  I am so excited!

Spoiler alert: If you're even a moderately accomplished knitter, skip this.  You'll think I'm nuts.  And very silly.

I've probably said this on here before, but I've been a beginning knitter for like 30 years.  Seriously, I'm hopeless.  Okay, I'm probably not actually hopeless, but I have too many hobbies and can't devote mastery-level attention and energy to all of them.  Knitting is definitely a second- or third-tier hobby.  I love the idea of knitting but I mostly do it because I can't find sweaters I like (I've yet to actually produce a whole sweater, by the way).  And I'm resistant to a lot of it: I like basic patterns. 

I think some of this is my arithmetic-related learning disability--patterns that require a lot of counting and keeping track of stitches are extremely stressful.  I'm not here for stress, thanks.  I'm getting better and recognizing specialty stitches when I see them, but I'll probably never be into fine lace shawls.

So . . . a couple of months ago I splurged on a ridiculous amount of Cascade Venezia merino/silk worsted weight yarn.  It was on clearance or I would never have done such a thing since my knitting skills are strictly Wool-Ease league. 

It goes without saying that you can't use that yarn on just any pattern.

I have been futzing around ever since with potential patterns but none of them measured up.  Too busy, too complicated, too boring, too whatever.  Whatever pattern I used had to be:

1) Relatively simple.
2) Not hideous on the reverse.  Didn't have to be pretty, I just didn't want it to look like hamburger.
3) Not too open.  Some eyelets = fine.  Tons of eyelets = what's the point since it's not going to keep you warm?
4) Not absolutely boring.  I'm actually fine with plain shawls with some garter ribs or whatever, but not for this.

Finally, I ran across two patterns, both of which had elements I liked.  Both are by Judy Marples: One was the Lineau shawl, which I like for the eyelet rows and raised knit stitch-on-a-purl-background band, and the other is the Deep Cove scarf (inexplicably neglected by Ravelry users.  It's a lovely pattern!), which I like for its simplicity and because the pattern is diagonal but is not knitted on the bias. 

So I emailed some knitting friends for help.  For awhile, it looked like knit-one-below was going to be the answer, but that meant knitting on the bias and . . . ugh, blocking.  So much blocking.  But another friends suggested traveling stitches.  OMG!  Traveling stitches!  Little, tiny, one-stitch cables!  Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

Diagonal pattern that's not knitted on the bias.  Easy.  Not too open.  Raised ridge of contiguous knit stitches.  Hooray!

Sorry, I know I'm out-of-line pleased with this but knitting pretty much never does what I want.

The pattern is a 14-stitch repeat (the test swatch shown has a four-stitch garter border on either side.  I forget what I cast on but it was not a multiple of 14, but that doesn't matter since it's not in the round; it just ends mid-pattern):

First row: *Knit 1, YO, K2tog, YO, K2tog, purl 4, knit 1, purl 4*
Second row: *Purl 5, knit 4, purl 1, knit 4*
--From this point on, all wrong-side rows will purl the five stitches over the eyelet band, knit the purl stitches, and purl the traveling knit stitch.

F subsequent RS rows, you move the pattern over by one pattern stitch each time, and you travel the single knit stitch:

*purl1, Knit 1, YO, K2tog, YO, K2tog, purl 3, [switch the knit stitch and the next purl stitch after it] purl 1, knit 1, purl 3*

The next RS row would purl 2, etc.

Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France black plaid part I

The pink version of this hit a snag--the facings aren't behaving themselves and I think the fabric is one I overdyed, so I can't get more (I can't match the color).  I went to get some similar cotton to test the facings and found a pink I like better, so the old pink is going in the scrap bin until I can get back to the fabric shop.

So . . . marching on to the next fabric.

Black and gray plaid homespun:

This will have a bound neckline, long sleeves, shoulder darts, plain black buttons, and . . . probably tucks in the skirt.  I was thinking about a bias strip set into the skirt but I'm not really feeling it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France raspberry rose Part I

I've had this fabric for a long time but I think I finally have the pattern the way I want it, so here goes:

Butterick 1983 4948 yet again:

The idea: 1920's style shirtwaist dress with shoulder darts, long sleeves, and shirt collar.

The main fabric is . . . either Kona or Moda Bella, and I might have overdyed it.  I've forgotten now.  The color is between deep raspberry pink and rose:

The disadvantage here is that it's been impossible to find buttons.  I wanted matching pie-crust buttons, more or less, and they don't exist.  I have several selections on order so, fingers crossed, one of them will work.

The skirt facing, cuff linings, and the underside of the collar will be gray DS Quilts leaf print, because I'm short on the pink fabric and because I like them together:

I rotated the bust dart to the shoulder.  The dart doesn't get sewn all the way down, though; I'll get a pic of the bodice front in the next post:

 Same with the back neck dart.  The darts line up when you sew up the shoulder seams:

 No more of this continuous lap nonsense.  A shirtwaist dress gets shirt sleeve plackets:

Thank you, David Page Coffin and your Shirtmaking book.  Also, this is like the best thread/fabric match ever.

See?  I'm right, aren't ?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Grit 3033 skirt conversion

I finished Grit 3033 three years ago, wore it a few times, and then gave up.   Apparently even nightgowns need test muslins.  I graded this down but the bodice was still enormous, and I did a terrible job on the neckline and armscye finish.   Too bad; it's such a cute nightgown.

 I loved the adorable retro floral fabric, though, so the thing had been languishing in my I Don't Know What To Do With This pile.

So . . . salvaging it?

I took out the waist darts and measured 34 inches up from the hem to create a new waistline . . .

 . . . then I cut it off . . . 

  . . . experienced some work delays . . .

. . . I cut the bodice into strips and used them to make a waistband . . . 

. . . doubled over and sewn into a channel for wide elastic . . . 

. . . ta da!  Skirt!  I even left the patch pocket on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

High and dry

Well, that was exciting.

We had two tornado warnings Sunday night/Monday morning, and a lot of rain.  Like, a whole lot of rain.

My boss called five minutes before I was going to leave for work yesterday and told me we were opening late; don't show up until 10:00.  So I went back to sleep (in my clothes, yes, because whatever).  Then he called again and said, never mind, we were closed.  I probably could not have gotten to work, anyway, and would have called in even if we had opened.

So, I got a little extra sleep.  Later, I went out to check Cypress Creek (high.  It was really high.  I've seen it that high before but it doesn't happen all the time) . . . 

and sewed.  I didn't do anything exciting but I did finish up some nagging mending and mini-projects: Four half-completed pillowcases  . . . 

ironing a blouse that I washed like four months ago, and made new shoulderpads for the Telephone Girl since I messed up the original ones and they bunched up in the wash. 

I altered Butterick 4948 to shoulder darts but haven't tried the pattern yet.

I have three fabrics pulled out for this variant:
1) Aunt Grace Ties One On black large-scale 1920's floral, white Peter Pan collar and cuffs, white buttons to waist, long sleeves.
2) Black on gray plaid homespun, long sleeves, plain bound neckline, black buttons to waist.
3) Rose cotton, shirt collar, long sleeves, rose buttons all the way down.  Finding buttons is going to be tricky; I have some pearlescent ones that would work but aren't really what I want.  I ordered some but I don't know if they'll be the right color.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Butterick 4948 1983 Belle France drop-waist dress


There are some issues but most of them were fixed in the pattern after I cut this and before I made subsequent versions of it:
1) Needs extra width in the upper back (done).
2) Needs back neck darts (done).
3) Needs a little more width around the hips/waist seam (done)

I need to add about an inch of length to the sleeve pattern but then it will be fine.  So this dress isn't perfect but it's totally wearable.  And it's done.  I have several more fabrics set aside for this so getting those made will be easier.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Endless loose ends

I'm not working on any one thing right now.  I have an embarrasing pile of UFO's that really should not take much to process--either finish or demolish for scrap--and mending jobs hanging over my head.  I guess it's time to make another list.  Not that I ever follow my lists, right?

1. Marian Martin 9928 (1942)/Telephone girl needs new shoulder pads.  I made them wrong and they bunched up in the wash.

2. I need to iron my white New York blouse.  Still.  I hate ironing.

3. I took the skirt off my old brown plaid brushed cotton reenacting dress, so I need to figure out which skirt pattern will fit on the available fabric.  Even if it's just a plain gathered skirt, that's OK, but it shouldn't take much to finish it.

4. The gray-green homespun that I used for the failed reenacting costume has been mostly saved. I saved the skirt in one piece and have the bodice, from which I could make a waistband, so I could get another gathered skirt out of this.

5. When I was reorganizing fabric, I pulled the sixth version of Butterick 4948 (1983) out of the closet.  I started this before I added the width to the upper back, so it's snug between the shoulders.  But it does fit.  And it was so close to being finished--all it needed was sleeves and buttons.  The buttonholes were done, even, and a test sleeve was fitted into the armscye.  The Marcus Brother Cocheco Mills fabric is lovely . . .

. . . and I had enough, if I pieced it, to cut sleeves without cutting into my spare yardage.  So . . . yeah, finishing.

6. The Grit 3033 (1946-1947) nightgown was a huge failure that needs serious grading down, but I like the fabric.   Current thought it to cut undo the waist tucks, cut it off at the waist, and add a waistband to make it a summer skirt.   The top would be cut up for the band and the leftovers would go into one of the quilt projects.

7. Fix the Proven├žal striped skirt.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Stash sorting

I've been seriously off the sewing rails since the quilt mania around New Year's (friend loved the chemistry quilt, by the way).

I took Friday off and spent the weekend sorting my fabric stash.  


I mean . . . wow.

I have too much fabric.  Like, "should open a shop" too much fabric.  Unfortunately, I love all my fabric.

Mispickel loves my fabric, too:

Consumerist shame aside, I did pull out a few large pieces to give away, threw away a lawn-and-leaf bag of scraps that I had lazily collected but that were too small and/or shredded and/or terrible fabric to realistically be of use, and I'm putting together a box of larger scraps to offer the church ladies who make donation quilts (I have a couple of small bins to go through).  I hung all my oversized yardage, bedsheets, etc, in the closet, neatly folded my regular yardage and organized it roughly by color. 

I didn't finish it but I'm down to one bin that needs to be sorted and refolded, and the aforementioned culling of smaller bins (the Civil War fabric bin in particular can probably be reduced).

More importantly, I saw all my fabric and now I can find it more easily, which means I'll be able to use it.  Part of my problem has been that I'd plan a project and then couldn't find both the pattern and the fabric at the same time.  I sold a bunch of patterns recently so that collection is a little more manageable, and now I can find the fabrics I want to use.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Simplicity 2015 1080 Dottie Angel Part III and Forester update

I haven't had time to do a second muslin, but I used 4948, which I've already made, to adjust 1080.  At this point, I'm not sure how it's different from just making a bigger size except that the "waist", such as it is, is still smaller.  We'll see.

Still moving along on the Forester.  I need to get some row markers so I don't mess up the sleeves like I have on the past sweater attempts.  It's HEAVY.  Might not be the best choice for the black sweater, but it's good practice.

It's not as ugly as I expected, though:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Simplicity 2015 1080 Dottie Angel Part II

So the first test round was a lot of WTF.

The pattern pieces, front and back, are identical except for the markings for the pockets and waist tucks on the front.  I knew going into this that the neckline would be too big, and I could tell from measuring the pieces that the bust would be borderline.  I decided to wing it and do a test using a small for the back with a medium, with small tucks in the shoulders, in the front.

The result was that the shoulders were enormous and the bust was just barely big enough.  I raised the neckline probably two inches in the back and an inch and a half in the front, and made it an inch narrower, and it's still huge.  I'm going home tonight to try using the back neckline from Butterick 4948, with neckline darts, and then a small in the front, but with an FBA.

This happens every time I want a simple project: Part of my brain is all like, just let it go and don't be so fussy, and the other part is all like, ain't gonna happen, sister--you're already talking FBA's and neck darts.  But if I don't like wearing it, it's a waste, right?

Monday, March 7, 2016

What the . . . ?

Where did the time go??

Okay, I've been doing a lot of tying up of loose ends.  I spent Saturday cleaning up my sewing area and doing little nagging repair projects: Replacing elastic in that slip that sagged down around my legs in public; shortening my cotton petticoat with tucks; sleeping in; tracing and filing away a pile of messy slashed-and-taped altered pattern pieces; etc.  I still need to iron a blouse and replace the shoulder pads in the Telephone Girl dress; I made them wrong and they bunched up in the wash.

I started a test-knit of Michelle Wang's Forester sweater, a bulky top-down raglan turtleneck made with doubled worsted-weight yarn on US11 needles, which are like knitting with sharpened broomsticks.  I'm using the last of the Doctor Who yarn--muted greens, taupe, brown, and gray doubled with brick red.  Might be interesting, or might be the ugliest sweater in history.  Well, I'll donate it if I don't like it.  If it fits, I'll use it for that black sweater at which I've failed like four times--the doubled yarn might be a good way to disguise the fact that half my black yarn has been frogged and re-knit over and over and is a bit tired.

I'm late to the party on this, but I'm planning to trace off Dottie Angel's Simplicity 1080 dress this week.  I know this dress isn't going to work right out of the packet, not because I think it's a bad pattern but because I know where I'm fussy about fit/have fit issues and thus where we are likely to disagree.  I had already started toying with the idea of raising the neckline (boat and scoop necklines are always a problem for me since I don't carry a lot of weight around my upper chest and shoulders--they gap and give bystanders an unwanted peek if I lean over, or they let my bra straps hang out) and altering the sleeves/armscyes so they could be bias-bound instead of using the narrow hem.  I might try sticking some small back neck darts in, too, once the back neck is raised.

Then I ran across Roobeedoo's post in which she grafted the Maya dress arms and neckline onto the Dottie Angel body.  I don't have the Maya pattern but I get the idea.  She also lowered the ties, which I'll have to do because of my long waist and low bust.  I don't really like back ties so I'll probably do side ties or applied waistbands with button tabs. 

Anyway, this is a pattern that could be worn year-round here in Texas and that I think could be a good blank slate for a lot of design tweaks and embellishments.  I have a bunch of fabrics set aside to try with it.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chemistry quilt part 7


I have a long way to go, but this is the easiest part.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chemistry Quilt Part 6

No pix.   I was in a hurry last night, and the quilting doesn't show well on the aqua, anyway.  I cut the binding last night--I'll be folding, ironing, and attaching it tonight!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chemistry Quilt Part 5

I got a quarter of the aqua quilted!

It's hard to see--you can actually see it better here than in real life.  I guess I matched the thread well enough.

I got an invitation to her baby shower last night.  I'm not going because we live in different states, but now I know what the craft project is supposed to be and where she's registered so I can send a decoy gift.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chemistry Quilt Part 4

Okay, all of the squares are quilted.  I have to do the aqua parts, which should be simpler since I won't have to start and stop and turn the quilt so much.  And then bind it!  And mail it!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Chemistry Quilt Part 3

I got all the blocks assembled!

It's hard to tell the scale here.  It's big.  Not T-shirt quilt big, but between a normal lap quilt and a twin.  The blocks are fifteen inches across (three five-inch squares).

I have a little bit of aqua left and I feel like it needs a narrow border.  I'm not wild about leaving the half-blocks floating in aqua, but I also think it feels a little crowded and off-scale.  I can't do much--a couple of inches--without buying more aqua, which I don't want to do as I have way too much scrap fabric already.

I don't know.  I guess I'll go home and cut a strip tonight to stick up there and see how it looks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chemistry Quilt Part 2

I went to three or four different shops (OK, all the shops in my area) on Saturday looking for counterpane fabric for the chemistry quilt.  Too blue, too green, too pale, too intense, too dark, too bright, too busy, too organic, etc.  None of them worked.  I finally went to the other Hancock's in Conroe, which sometimes has a better selection than the one nearer to me, and they had a nice aqua with wobbly pinstripes.  It's not what I had hoped for, but if you don't see the ideal I had in my head, it looks good.  I was hoping for tone-on-tone squares or baby blocks or something more crystalline, but . . . whatever.  The color is dead-on and it's at least not a plain solid.

Going together quickly:

Sorry, the design wall is in the upstairs hallway so I can't take a good straight-on picture.  I'll have to do that on the clothesline or something when I have the top all sewn together.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lap, formerly baby, quilt

This was going to be a baby quilt for a friend but, of course, it will be too big.  You get more use out of lap quilts, anyway, right? 

Mom teaches chemistry.

I haven't chosen the counterpane fabric yet.  I originally thought Creamsicle orange but might lean toward aqua.  Probably a tone-on-tone print since the blocks are big (the finished nine patches are 15 inches square)--that much solid color would be pretty boring.

Christmas gift reveal!

At long last!

The Godzilla of T-shirt quilts (seriously, it's over 100 x 100.  It's huge):