Tag Archives: knitting

Knitted: Spidey’s Spiral Cowl in Yates Farm Yarn

Standard
Knitted:  Spidey’s Spiral Cowl in Yates Farm Yarn

Today’s project is the second and final installation in my short bout of knitting.  This is Spidey’s Spiral Cowl by Abi Gregorio of SpiderWomanKnits.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

I discovered this pattern after seeing the amazing sample my coworker Jenny made for the shop.  She’s a really accomplished knitter and her sample was beautiful.  I was completely enamored with it and bought the pattern.  It didn’t hurt that I still have a huge stash of yarn from Yates Farm in Windsor, Vermont from over a decade ago when I first fell in love with knitting.  I culled a lot of things from my yarn stash recently, but all the Yates Farm yarn survived the purge.  And luckily, I had some of my favorite chunky yarn in a beautiful cream color.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

It took me a little while to get the pattern down, and I contemplated my preferred working method of ignoring my mistakes, but this knits up so quickly that I decided to rip out my mistakes a few times until I really got it down.  Because this was so fast to knit, it was a very pleasant experience.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

l

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

And the final product?  Good.  Not the most awesome thing ever, but good and warm.  I think this, like the hat I wrote about a little while ago is good, but just a bit off.  This yarn is so thick that the cowl could probably stand up on its own, which means it takes a little bit of finagling to get it just right.  I’ve worn it several times and it’s really warm and cozy, which is a necessity in New England in the winter, but it does take a little work to get it looking right.  I definitely recommend the pattern, however.  It’s quick, fun, and not too hard, but is challenging enough to keep your interest.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

And now?  Back to sewing!

Recommendations

  • Christmas!  Merry Christmas, everyone!  I’m thankful that God cared about us enough to be born as a baby so we could have a relationship with Him.  Sounds crazy, but what miracle doesn’t?
  • Filson.  A friend told me about this site.  Now, I don’t have the budget to actually shop here, but shopping for inspiration is free, and this is a really inspiring site if you like to sew menswear or if you favor a rugged style in womenswear.  There are a lot of interesting details and materials that go into these garments.
  • Zipper Ease.  This was one of my recent buys from Wawak Sewing and it saved a beloved jacket of my husband’s whose heavy-duty zipper had stopped zipping smoothly.
  • Hand and Foot.  I think this is my all-time favorite card game, and probably the only one that I can remember the rules to!  You play with four people (two sets of partners) and four standard decks of cards through four different rounds to see which team can get the most points.  I looked for a good link to the rules, but they were all different from the rules I learned, so I guess you have to account for regional differences and house rules.

 

 

Fall Wardrobe–A Knitted Hat

Standard
Fall Wardrobe–A Knitted Hat

As the weather turns cooler, like so many crafty people, I get the urge to knit.  You might not know it, but after college and before sewing became my near-daily practice, I was really into knitting.  I teamed up with a friend who was more accomplished than I was, and learned all I could.  I loved knitting.  But after a few sweaters that didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped (see one example here), and realizing that I was a really slow knitter, I started to knit less.

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

And then I discovered sewing.  I had known how to sew a little, but after finally stumbling out of the fog of motherhood in the baby years, I really discovered sewing, and I never looked back.

Since then I’ve struggled to find just the right knitting projects when I get the urge to dip my toe back in.  I want something where my propensity to knit large won’t ruin the project and where I can still talk or watch TV while knitting.

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

This fall, I had a realization:  I don’t want to challenge myself in the knitting arena like I do with sewing.

I want a project I can do without too much thought so I can expend my mental energy on improving my sewing skills, while my knitting, like a good cup of coffee, can be the background pleasure in a shared conversation or a night spent watching something fun on TV.

Add to this that I seem to always want but never find the perfect winter hat and you have this project.  I still have quite a lot of yarn from a Yates Farm Yarn sale when knitting was my obsession, and I still really love it.  I decided to dig into that stash, find a yarn I wanted to use, and make another attempt at the perfect basic hat.  I found that opportunity in the aptly named Basic Hat Pattern by Nerdy Girl Knits.  It had the ribbing I wanted at the bottom and the uncomplicated top that would allow me to knit while paying attention to other things.

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

I decided, since I’ve named myself an ‘elephant knitter’ (by which I mean someone who always knits things that are too large), that I was actually going to do a swatch for this hat.  It’s a good thing I did because I had to try smaller and smaller needles to get the required gauge.  I finally got the right gauge (‘gauge’ means that by stitching a certain number of stitches in a certain number of rows I had a 4″ x 4″ square, supposedly ensuring that I’ll knit the hat to the right size), and then I was off.  I made the ribbing a little bit longer, and then subtracted those rows from the stockinette stitch of the body.  It didn’t take me long to finish, despite my slow pace.  When I finished, it was good, but just a little bit…off.  It was a little longer and wider around than I wanted, but oh well.  Large knitting seems to be my fate.  😉

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

It is a cozy hat, and I love the yarn knit up, even though I wish I had made it slightly smaller.  I’ve already been wearing it, and I may wet it just a bit and throw it in the dryer to see what happens, per a more experienced friend’s directions.  Maybe that will help it to shrink down just enough.

I recommend this pattern if you are looking for a basic hat with ribbing.  It’s a nice pattern and comes in three adult sizes (and it’s free!).  I think a beginner could do it, and an expert could easily make several.

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

Recommendations

  • Um…these weird finger hands?I don't know what to say about this photo...

    I got them at The White Elephant Antique Shop in Essex, MA.  They are weird and way more fun than they should be.

  • Toby Mac’s newest album, This is Not a Test,  is pretty cool.  It’s fun and upbeat, and features a lot of different artists and styles.  It’s been getting a lot of play in our house.
  • The Maker Style Podcast.  This podcast is still pretty new.  I’ve really been enjoying it as it focuses on garment sewing, a topic I don’t tend to find a ton of podcasts on.
  • And yet another reason to love Project Runway’s Tim Gunn:

Adventures in Shorts Fitting: McCall’s 6930

Standard

We’ve been talking a lot about shorts lately, haven’t we?  I’ve noticed that in my sewing, I tend to make tops.  I have a lot of me-made tops in my closet, but not a lot of shorts and pants.  Why is that?  Fear.  That’s it.  Silly as it sounds, I have been afraid of making shorts and pants because I don’t know how to fit them.  But this was the year of sewing first jeans and then, this summer, shorts.  I’m so glad I finally plunged in because now I have a better grasp of some of the fitting issues I might face and how to fix them.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

So let’s talk about this particular pattern, McCall’s 6930 (View A).  There are a couple of shorts options in this one, as well as capris.  They have a flat front, shaped waistband, back zipper, and pockets, with optional belt carriers.  It actually took me three tries to get this right, and I took pictures of each of them, so you could see some of the things I had to fix and the mistakes I made.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Last summer, I began my first version of this pattern.  I could tell that something was wrong with it, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I put it away until this summer.  I nearly threw these shorts out when I was cleaning up one day, but I tried them on first and realized that they weren’t as terrible as I remembered.  So, I finished them, and came up with ideas on what I wanted to improve.  The front was baggy and went up too high, and the back felt like it needed more length in the crotch seam.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The baggy front was no good.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

I looked in my trusty book, Sewing Pants that Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library, and decided to try taking a wedge out of the front and add a wedge into the back.  After I had done this, I saw that the book said not to take wedges out of the front, but there was no explanation as to why, so I decided to try it anyway.  I took out the wedge and redrew the top of the front crotch seam, making sure it was straight like before.  When I asked a friend who used to work as a pattern drafter what was up with the book’s advice, she asked if I had redrawn the center front line and, when I told her I had, she said it ought to work.  Her other suggestion was to take some of the length out of the top of the front, thereby leaving that front seam intact.  She also told me that the new grainline should be more or less perpendicular to the top of the shorts so that they would hang straight down.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The front pattern piece, above.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The back pattern piece.

Version two came out much improved.  There was one main problem, however.  I had made these out of a stretch denim…but the pattern didn’t call for a fabric with stretch.  So, as you may imagine, these shorts tend to “grow” throughout the day until they are a bit large by the end of the day.  Another minor thing that I noted was that using a lighter weight fabric for the back of the pocket is not as good as using a fabric of the same weight.  I did this in versions one and two.  It creates wrinkles and doesn’t hang as well–not super critical, but important to note.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

This picture makes me look excited about the hugeness of these shorts, but I’m really just making funny faces for my photographer.  This photo shoot got a little silly by the end…

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Fabric the same weight as my denim would have worked better than the lightweight denim scrap I used.

I cut into some of my precious fabric from Pintuck & Purl for my third version…and it came out great!  When I put these on, they just feel right.  The one thing I will probably tweak if I make this pattern again (which I’ll probably do) is to lengthen the back crotch point just a bit as the front of the legs feel closer to the body than I think they should.  The leg openings aren’t too small, it’s more like they are tilted toward the back when they should be more balanced.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Front view.  There’s a little yellow on the darts from my chalk markings, but that washed out easily.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Back view.

Each of the adjustments I made were the same as those I made on McCall’s 6848, the pajama-turned-everyday shorts I recently blogged about.  It feels good to know I am on the right track.  Now the question is, will these be standard adjustments for me, or will they be limited to McCall’s patterns?  Either way, I feel like I’m making progress in learning to fit pants and shorts, and a lot of the scariness is dissipating.  It’s such a pleasure to occasionally wear an outfit that I’ve made–not only the top, but both the top and the bottom.  I’m really happy that I tried despite my fear.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

And…..guess what?  Today is this blog’s third birthday!  That’s pretty cool!  I thought about doing a round-up of past posts, but I wanted to talk shorts one more time instead.  I’m so thankful for this blog, which has helped me grow in confidence as a writer, seamstress, and photographer.  I think I have a good groove, have seen some improvements in those areas, and I hope for more improvements in the future in both sewing and blogging.  I’m also thankful for you, my readers, some of whom have been with me from the very beginning.  Thank you for encouraging and supporting me in this.  Learning these skills goes far beyond sewing–the confidence and happiness that comes from sewing has expanded into other areas of my life as well.  So, I’m thankful for the blog, for you, and to God for the skills, time, resources, and frame of mind to grow.  Thank you.

And last but not least, let’s have some Recommendations!

  • Another fun post in the Cotton + Steel substrate series is the one all about rayon, which is new to me.  I’m looking forward to trying it out in the near future.
  • Have you ever wanted to turn your favorite button up shirt pattern into a popover top (a top with a button placket that only goes partway down the shirt)?  I have!  I just wasn’t looking forward to figuring it out on my own.  Luckily, Craftsy did it for me.  You can read all about it here.
  • Did you know it’s National Sewing Month?  It is!  To celebrate, Pintuck & Purl is doing a fun Q & A with various bloggers and pattern designers over on their blog, and I’m one of the bloggers!  You can read their blog here.
  • When knitting takes over…

The Chunky Cable Knit Hat by Lula Louise

Standard

Hi, friends!  Today will be a little different, since I have a knitting project to share!  Like many sewing people, I also like to knit, although after a few sweater disasters (for the most disastrous, click here), I’ve slowed down considerably.  Before I really came to sewing, knitting was my passion, but for the past three years, I haven’t done much of anything in that arena.  I’ve been missing it, though, so the search has been on for a pattern that is fast and easy enough to do while watching TV or chatting with other people, but also interesting.  And I think I found it:  the Chunky Cable Knit Hat, a free pattern by Lula Louise.

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

 I can’t remember exactly how I found this–it may have been through Google or Pinterest, but it was just right.  I still have some great chunky yarn left from this awesome yarn sale in Vermont, and I wanted a fun, super bulky, chunky hat.

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

 I’m so thankful to my husband for taking these pictures.  (Thanks, Babe!)  We had just taken the pictures for my button-down shirt, when I realized we could get these done, too.  This explains the funny awesome hairstyle I’ve got going on, but then, once we had taken all our pictures and were ready to run back inside (it was getting cold, and we were hungry), we realized one of our daughters had photo-bombed all of our pictures, and we had to shoot them again.  That really endeared my husband to blog photography.  Now it is his favorite thing!  OK, no.  That’s a lie.

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

This picture shall be titled I love taking blog pictures!

Now we’re just getting silly.  Let’s get back to the pattern at hand.

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

 We should talk details.  Because I tend to knit all things that are elephant-sized, I made the small.  This was a good choice for me.  I used size 13 needles, and my chunky wool yarn from the Yates Farm Yarn sale (you can see a post from another blog on this sale here).  I have minor cabling skills, and these were just right for me, especially as my knitting skills are pretty rusty.

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

The pattern is knit flat and then you sew it up at the end.  You may be able to see my seam in the back in the picture above.  This probably took me two shorter nights of knitting.

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

After I was done I also remembered one reason I stopped knitting so much.  I’ve gotten into the bad habit of knitting with my shoulders hunched, so I had a huge tension headache the next day.  Time to redevelop good habits!

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

The pom-pom on top was really fun to make.  Now I’m on a bit of a pom-pom kick.  I made this one removable by tying it onto the hat with some string in case I ever need to clean the hat and want to protect the pom-pom.

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

The only issue I had with the pattern was what I think is a typo in the small size directions on Row 9.  I think that after “p2tog*,” it should say “repeat to end”  rather than just “p2tog*, end”.  As far as fit, I do have to push it onto my head just a little bit.  I don’t know if this is because of the pattern or my knitting, but the ribbed section is a little looser than I would like, so maybe I will run a few rows of elastic thread through it at some point.  Once I push/pull it on, though, it’s nice and cozy.

Chunky Cable Knit Hat

So, my final analysis is that I like the hat a lot and would knit it again.  This is a really fun free pattern because it knits up quickly and would be an easy first cabling project.

This is a Public Service Announcement. (Fabric! Yarn!)

Standard

The day has finally come.  Pintuck & Purl, in Exeter, NH has opened its doors to the public.  You may remember that we’ve talked about them before.  When I heard a new fabric and yarn store was opening within driving distance of my house, I was pretty excited.  Thanks to the generosity of Maggie, the shop owner, I got to come in early, along with some other privileged people, and take a look around.  Now I get to show YOU some pictures.  That way you’ll know what you are looking for when you head there yourself.  Because you are going to want to.  (I’m already plotting my return.)

First impression:  Wow…and Yes!!!!

All the fabrics I always read about, but don’t really know how they feel are there, in the flesh fiber.  I’ve slowed down on my knitting in recent years, but they have some pretty tempting stuff in that department, too.  As anyone who knows me can tell you, I can go on at length about things I’m excited about, but maybe I should spare you the verbal gush and give you some visual gushing instead.  Let’s take a little tour of the shop:

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)Let’s start with this super-cute classroom space.  This is to your right as you enter.  Maggie also has this awesome calendar (I want one!) showing everything going on in the shop for the month.  (You can also view this on her website.)

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)To your left as you enter, and around a little wall, is a cozy space for hanging out, knitting, chatting.  We all know making things isn’t only about the things themselves.  It also has so much to do with sharing, whether that means talking to a friend as we knit or creating something for someone we love.  I think this space will really facilitate that.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Here’s a wider view of the shop (That’s Maggie cutting some AWESOME linen I bought.  I cannot WAIT to use that stuff.).  The door and classroom space are to my left, and you are looking at the front counter that you will see as you come in.  The hang-out space is beyond the wall in the back left.  I suppose the building is really a rectangle, but the way the shop is divided makes it feel spacious and cozy at the same time.

Let’s look at some of the lovely materials you might find at Pintuck & Purl, shall we?

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)Maggie is stocking some great indie sewing patterns as well as gorgeous fabric.  Check out that pink voile on the cutting table–that was my other purchase.  So soft!!!

I only had about an hour there, and I spent so much time examining fabric, that I didn’t even get a chance to look at all the patterns!  Darn.  I’ll have to go back.  😉

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

For those who like quilting or just the great prints you find on quilting cotton, she also has a really lovely selection of quilting fabric that can walk the line between quilting and apparel.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Need some notions?  Check!

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Cool vintage patterns?  Check!

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Vintage buttons?  Check!  Check!

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Because I am becoming frighteningly obsessed with sewing, this post is a little more sewing-focused, but that doesn’t mean the shop is.  There are plenty of goodies for knitters as well.  The yarn was really gorgeous.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Loved this stuff!!

Look at this wall of knitting needles below.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Despite the fact that I already have at least two stitch gauges, I was tempted by these.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

I still haven’t gotten over my hunger for colors after last winter, so I had fun looking in here, and…

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

…in here!

So, when you go to Pintuck & Purl, look for this red building.  This is where you are going.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Then go right on in, say hi to Maggie, and equip yourself for your next project!

Pintuck & Purl

50 Lincoln Street

Exeter, NH

603-418-7175

http://pintuckandpurl.com/

 

DIY Baby Gifts

Standard

I’m at a point in life where a lot of friends and family members are having babies.  Maybe you are there, too?  I often like to make gifts for the new baby, and I keep a three-ring binder filled with DIY projects that I’ve found, so I have a resource when I need an idea.  Most of these are from the web, so I thought I’d share some links to interesting and favorite projects with you.  I’ve tried some of these out, and some are ones I’d like to try.  Here they are:

1.  Chibi Kitty and Rabbit by My Little Mochi

This one is fun to make and super cute.  She links you to her free pattern.

Chibi Kitty and Rabbit (pattern from My Little Mochi, made by Pattern and Branch)

Chibi Kitty and Rabbit (pattern from My Little Mochi, made by Pattern and Branch)

2Felt Baby Shoes by Martha Stewart

These are also fun to make and a great way to use up felted sweaters.

3.  Do you have some parents-to-be who love Converse All Stars?  Then this one is for them.  I saw a picture in The Improper Bostonian of some Converse All Stars embroidered with a wedding message.  This is easy to adapt for new parents.  Be on the lookout for some little Converse shoes and, once the baby is born, embroider his or her name and date of birth on the side.

Now we’re into some projects I’ve never tried, but that look really cool.

4.  What about an Electrified Fox Lamp?  It’s pretty darn cute and comes with a free pattern.  I kind of have a thing for foxes (Remember Halloween?), but you can do this with any stuffed animal.

5.  Here is a quick and easy, modern-looking baby quilt.  I’ve yet to try this, but it looks fast and simple, which is about my speed for baby projects.

6.  Collapsible Storage Baskets by sew4home.  Everyone nursery needs storage.  These use recycled cardboard to keep them stiff, but also fold down for when you don’t need them.

7.  Finally, for you knitters out there, I love the book Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick.  It’s been out enough years now that you should be able to find it at the library.  She has several cute projects for kids, but one of my favorites is Curly Toed Elf Slippers.  These may be more for older kids or for when the baby gets older, but they are so darn cute, I had to include them.

Curly-toed elf slippers (pattern by Melanie Falick, made by Pattern and Branch)

Curly-toed elf slippers (pattern by Melanie Falick, made by Pattern and Branch)

I’m writing up tutorials for you on some of my most basic, but also most loved baby gifts, so you’ll see those over the next month or two.  Until then, I hope this gives you some new ideas if you find yourself in need of a baby gift.

Craft Fails

Standard

In the spirit of sharing, honesty, openness, and just laughing at our own mistakes, let me introduce Craft Fails.

Sometimes you have a great creative project going, and it just tanks.  You know, you just botch it.  The idea is great, but something in the execution goes awry.  I’ve had many projects like this.  So what do you do?  Sometimes you power through it, and ignore your mistakes.  Sometimes you just want to cuss (yes, “cuss”, not swear or curse).  But what about the real failures?  Well, I think we should share those projects because shouldn’t we all laugh at ourselves once in awhile?  I’m fairly open, so I don’t mind sharing my disasters with you.  I hope that some of you will send in your craft fails from time to time, too.  For more information on that, see the Craft Fails page.

Now!  Down to business!

I’d like to share a few Fails today to get us started.  For our first project, I give you Exhibit #1, the failed sweater project.  Behold:

Craft Fail: Giant Sweater

This is a picture of my wonderful and kind husband, wearing the sweater I lovingly knitted for him over a few years with yarn I bought from a farm in Vermont.

How lovely!

How touching!

It’s sized for a giant.

Yes, I did a gauge (a little test swatch to see if your knitting is the same size as that of the pattern’s author).  Yes, I followed the pattern.  I even tried felting/fulling it (shrinking it in the washer and dryer).   You can fit at least two people in there.

Now, sometimes these failures make me so mad I just want to cuss but this one was so bad, we just laughed (and almost cried, in my case).  It was terrible!  Sometimes my husband uses it instead of a coat for sledding, so I guess it’s still useful.

That leads us to Exhibit #2, ANOTHER sweater fail!  This was supposed to be an A-line chunky sweater, but it morphed into…a maternity sweater.  You can see me wearing it while pregnant here.

Craft Fail: Inadvertent Maternity Sweater

I tried to save this one by felting/fulling it also but, sadly, it didn’t help.  It did keep me warm when I didn’t have a maternity coat, though.  It’s all about perspective, right? (Right?)  It’s ok if you laugh.  I do, too, when I look at that picture.

Needless to say, I’m off sweaters for the time being.  I got a blast of false confidence when my first sweater fit perfectly.  Unfortunately, every sweater since has been giant-sized.  I’m sticking to hats at mittens and little things for now.

Finally, what about the project you think is success, only to find out, much later, that all those looks you were getting, that you may possibly have thought were looks of admiration, may possibly have been…um…not that.  Maybe people were laughing on the inside but, you know, it was on the inside, so you couldn’t see it.  It was kind of them to keep it inside, wasn’t it?

I give you, The Christmas Dress Made Without a Pattern.  A wonder of invention, draping, and stuff…

Craft Fail: Christmas Dress

Flattering, no?  Yeah, I thought I was so cool.  Looking at the pictures a few years out, I realize this was a craft fail.  Ha ha ha ha ha!  Yes, I am laughing about myself as I write.

Now, before I sign off, I just want to encourage you.  If you, like me, have worn your craft fails in public, do not dismay.  Fashion is fun, it’s experimental, and that outfit is just one day in your clothing life.  A vintage jewelry vendor at Brimfield once gave me the best fashion advice I’ve received.  If you like something, just wear it. Someone will probably think it’s awesome.