Just the quickest, shortest post here to announce that there are TONS of great yarns in my etsy shop and through December 6th, entering YARNOVERLOAD14 at checkout will get you 20% off orders of $30 or more.
I know, I know. I’ve got a million finished things I should definitely show off, like all of my Tour de Fleece spins and the shawl I just blocked a couple of days ago, not to mention some months-old sewing projects…
I’m way more excited about these Real Pants Shorts I made with the fabric left over from Vogue 1172. This is going to be an unflattering butt-and-tum-heavy post.
I’ll begin Operation Buttcover 2k14 with some essentail details. Item the first: most of my wardrobe is about the same age, which is to say, falling apart. Item the second: there is very little I won’t do to avoid shopping for jeans. Thus, item the third: McCall’s 6610.
I selected my size based on finished garment measurements, not McCall’s chart of body measurements, on account of The Big 4 and the Case of Excessive Design and Wearing Ease, and ended up tracing a 6. Then I folded an entire two inches out of the rise so it didn’t sit at my ribs and retraced, cropping the pattern at mid-thigh and redrawing the legs for a bit of a flare to get away from my ill-fitting cut-off jeans roots–the point of the exercise was a wearable muslin–emphasis on wearable. Then I cut the main pattern pieces and basted everything together with standard 5/8″ seam allowances. It was a tiny bit too tight, so I disassembled and basted again with 3/8″ allowances at all vertical seams. That was just about right, with a little excess ease at the back yoke, which I took in during final assembly.
At this point I basted in the pattern waistband–a long, folded rectangle. It’s meant to be slightly shorter than the top of the pants, using the cross-grain stretch to prevent gaping at the lower back. Without buttons, it looks like this:
For comparison, two pairs of RTW jeans–one with a straight waistband as in M6610, and one with a curved waistband:
These jeans, with their straight waistband, are the most comfortable I own–for about 30 minutes. Then the stretch denim relaxes and they start to slouch. If you look closely, you can see that the top of the waistband doesn’t quite touch my hips all the way around. With wear, that gets worse, and I’m constantly pulling them up.
These ones have a curved waistband, and while they’re a little tight fresh out of the wash, they’re very comfortable after an hour or so of wear–and stay that way! I don’t have to pull them up every time I stand up, and they don’t gape at the back.
So! I pinned out the ease in the waistband of my shorts.
Whoops. Maybe I should have basted more carefully, but check out that totally adequate fly front! My first ever! My presser foot doesn’t actually go up high enough to really deal with all those layers of fabric though, and denim will be worse.
Plan A was to use this to trace new waistband pieces, but when I did that the curve was insane and messed up the fit all over. Plan B involved tracing pieces from a skirt pattern and extending the lines so it would fit at my hips instead of my waist. Plan B was successful, but could still use some tweaking.
The result is a surprisingly successful (and comfortable) wearable muslin. The yoke, crotch, and inseam are all flat-felled–no mock-flat-fell here–complicated by minimizing the seam allowances, the outseams are serged and edgestitched to the bottom of the back pockets (those need to sit a little higher, don’t they? also, next time, more prominent topstitching), and each leg has a 1.5″ handstitched hem.
Still a little questionable at the front, things were slipping around all over as the presser foot and feed dogs tried to manage all those layers.
Oh, and that feathery tee? I made that too–Skinny Bitch*Curvy Chick’s Tonic Tee, in a cotton/poly print jersey from Girl Charlee and neck binding from some unknown purple knit I got at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco.
I have to say, I am pretty pleased with myself. I hardly swore at my sewing machine at all! But if anyone has a machine with a little more power than my poor Singer Tradition, or a lead on the type of needles a vintage Mammylock 623A serger takes or what size needles are 1 and 5/16″ in length (hint: it is not BLx1 but if you need BLx1 needles please let me know because I have 10 each sharp and ballpoint, size 80, I think?), well, I would not say no to that!
Friends, I am so so tired of hearing this. I am so tired of hearing “oh, that’s so nice, I wish I were that talented.” Didn’t your Bob Ross lessons sink in? You know, the one about how “Talent is pursued interest” and if you’re willing to practice, you’ll get all awesome at it because you develop the skills you need? That one?
As Oona’s just pointed out, we don’t need to put ourselves down to lift other people up. The amount of skill and talent and beauty and general awesomeness in the world is not finite.
Oh, wow, I could’ve done a better job of pressing the back there, huh?
So I get a little frustrated when people claim that the thing they want to do, they just aren’t good enough for it.
If the worst that can happen from trying is having to rework a lot of times, and no one’s safety or security is threatened, then you should totally shoot for that ambitious goal.
So here is a thing I made that I really do not have the skills to make. (And some really strange, awkward selfies. For which I am not at all sorry.)
Vogue 1172. Out of the envelope, it is mid-calf length, with princess seams, extended shoulders, wide v-neck, godets, side zip, lingerie straps, waist stay, and facings.
My version is knee-length, fully lined, with in-seam pockets, horsehair braid at the hem, and the (handpicked) zip moved to center back. Both skirts have a combination of French seams and bias binding. I drafted pockets myself, and added three seams to the skirt to make them work.
Until I made this dress, I had none of the experience needed to make this thing happen. I had 3 weeks to figure it out and make a ton of stupid mistakes, like assembling the bodice and lining completely, then stitching them together at the neckline and the armscyes, then clipping and grading seams AND ONLY THEN trying to turn the thing right-side out. After which I took a guess at which seam I’d have to unpick and then handsew to make it work. And guessed incorrectly. And ended up handstitching the lining and shell together at both armscyes and the neckline.
And when THAT was all done, I still had to catch stitch a full 10 yards of hem, insert the zipper (then grit my teeth because the zipper was so close to the right color that it looked like a mistake), wash it, press it, get on a plane and fly across the country with it (almost miss the plane), arrive on the other coast and rip out the zipper to replace it with a contrasting one that matched my belt, and insert the waist stay.
And let me tell you. I’m still not sure I have all those skills, not really. I’m not really good at modifying patterns yet, or sewing princess seams, and I don’t quite understand the trick to clean finishing a sleeveless bodice. But I did make the thing, so I know I can muddle through, and the next time I muddle through will be a little easier, a little less dramatic, a little tidier. And when I muck it up, it won’t be the end of the world.
This dress isn’t perfect, but it is nice (it makes me feel like a very ferocious sort of princess), and it taught me a lot of things.
Having done it once has made me braver, which means that once Tour de Fleece is over, I have something else to show off. In fanciness, it’s got nothing on this baby, but I’m still awfully pleased.
And if I can come out excited after a battle with my old nemesis “sewing,” well, friends, you can definitely do that thing you think you’re not good enough yet to try.
Wanna hear a secret?
I already know you can do the thing.
I hate traveling.
Being away from home, visiting, exploring, seeing people I rarely see? I love all that. But traveling. I loathe it. I miss my cats, I miss my bed, I miss my food and my coffee, I miss my cats. I want to be out and about for the day and back home to fuss on my cats before bedtime.
My kingdom for a sophisticated and ubiquitous transporter system!
In spite of a good deal of stress and some very sore fingers, I made it over to the other coast to see my dad marry the lady he loves and to welcome her officially into the family. And so did my dress and its many handstitched finishing touches. Unfortunately the 75F temperatures I expected were a good 20 degrees on the optimistic side. There was much freezing all around.
Photos and details on the dress will have to wait until it’s clean and pressed; at present it smells of smoke and looks so rumpled it’s as if it had been worn and then stuffed into a suitcase. Can’t fathom why that might be.
In the meantime, how about some photos of the scarves from my last post (now both in their new homes) in their off-the-loom, fringe-twisted, wet-finished glory?
Heavens, it’s been a while! I have a dress to make before the 11th of June, so I will keep my gibbering brief.
The first order of business is that I have renewed the listings in my Etsy shop, and added a whole lot of new inventory, many of which are recent spins! I’m trying to spin 14 pounds of yarn this year and so far, I am just about on track–but it’s quite impossible to use it all myself. My handspun drawer is beginning to overflow, so I really do need to move some of this squooshy stuff.
I’ve been bitten quite badly by the gradients-and-lace bug; this may or may not come up in the future.
Finally, the main point of this post–snowflake twill scarves. I put on a 5-yard 8/2 tencel warp in silver to make two, one with grey laceweight bamboo weft, and one with medium blue 8/2 tencel. Without further ado, the whole affair in photos:
The graphite scarf already has a loving home, but the blue one is also in the shop!
Hmm, it’s spring now, isn’t it? No matter, the northern parts of the east coast are still mired in Ragnarok (probably), so the holiday knits I sent out a couple of weeks ago are still relevant to my family.
First, the non-knit crafty things though–
“Is that a trio of dinosaur print flannel jimbly-jambles,” you are asking yourself, I’m sure. And let me tell you, friend–it certainly is. I sewed all three in a span of three days near the end of January and I’m pretty pleased with myself. I recently learned that all seams have to be “finished” or your garment falls apart, which really might’ve been nice to know about ten years ago. Then instead of being incredibly frustrated with my abysmal sewing skills, I might have had a couple of encouraging successes, leading me to practice more, and, in this alternate reality, I would now be capable of inserting a cuff placket instead of a miserable failure at same. But never mind, that’s a story for another day.
In addition to belated holiday jammeroonis, I made a belated holiday point twill scarf for my dad (no finished object photos, sadly, as this item was given away before I had simultaneous light and time for picture-taking), a pair of handspun colorwork mittens for my mother-in-law, a tiny sweater for a brand-new nephew, and a cabled cowl for my dad’s girlfriend.
Let’s start with the least drama-fraught item. This is a newborn-size Welcome to the Flock, and I shall henceforth refer to it as “wee sheepies.”
As almost the entire planet is probably aware, I become incoherent with delight where sheep (and especially lambs) are involved.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for my colorwork in this instance.
Just look at those fuzzy little sheep tummies and try to ignore the mess around them, okay?
I probably made quite a few modifications, but I couldn’t say what they are. I was too busy gibbering about the wee sheepies to make notes.
Next up, Irish Vine mittens.
Funny thing about these mittens. I was knitting along on the first mitten, delighted to be working with cormo, which is a lovely wool, which I had combed and spun myself, endlessly entertained to watch the pattern emerge with each round. But there were doubts, too. The fabric seemed a little thin. It was a little open. All in all, it was looking just a little bit on the side of not-quite-big-enough.
No, I thought. No, this will be fine. It’s going to stretch when I wash it. I’ve followed the pattern, it’s going to be fine.
I kept knitting.
I grafted the top closed.
I started the thumb.
It felt wrong. Really wrong. I tried on the mitten.
My fingernails nearly stabbed through the top.
I made despairing noises. I sighed. I carefully ripped the whole mitten out.
And I restarted with the yarn held double.
It was a good decision. Colorwork in too-thin yarn on too-large needles is a pretty sad sight.
Of course, I could have saved myself a great deal of time and labor if I hadn’t knitted on in denial for several days.
Last, and with perhaps the most dramatic story of all, this Nennir cowl:
I started this shortly after the Winter 2012 issue of Knitty came out, using Malabrigo sock in “Playa.”
After finishing the first chart, I decided I didn’t like the hand of the fabric. Too loose, almost mushy (not to be confused with smooshy, which is a great characteristic in a knit); my stitches looked sloppy and the cables really weren’t showing well. This is a big issue I have with Malabrigo Sock–it’s soft as anything, but it’s well on the “heavy lace” side of “light fingering,” with little twist in either singles or plying. For something calling itself sock yarn, you’d walk holes through it in about two minutes. That’s usually a deal-breaker.
But this is a cowl, not socks, so I ripped it out, held the yarn double, and started again.
Then I ignored it for a while. And then a year had gone by since I bought the yarn, but I wasn’t worried, I had lots left.
But then I knitted and knitted and knitted and knitted and suddenly there was not so much yarn. I began knitting faster, to outrun the end of the yarn. (Did I mention how knitting in denial is a very bad idea? Knitting in denial backfires almost every single time. Avoid.)
Suddenly there was half a chart left and I was definitely, definitely certain that the yarn was faster than me.
No matter, I thought. I will go to the yarn store. I will purchase another skein. Surely they’re still dyeing this colorway. If I use one strand from the original and one from the new skein, they will totally blend and no one will ever notice.
I almost didn’t find any Malabrigo Sock at the yarn store. When I did manage to locate it, there were only four skeins in just three colorways.
I ended up with “Primavera.” It’s not really close, at all, but it was closer than the others; nothing else even resembled the right combination of color, fiber, diameter, and texture.
I held out hope, though. Held double with “Playa” and kept to the back when possible, it wasn’t a particularly jarring transition.
But then, ten rows before the end, I ran out of the original color completely. And that’s why the inch or so left of center looks like a different color. Fortunately the person it will be accessorizing wears her hair long enough to cover the weird part.
It is a comedy of errors, friends.
Where does the time go?
So, when last I posted, I alluded to a new member joining my fiber tools family. Meet Hulkling:
Hulkling is a 44″ 4-shaft/6-treadle jack loom with a weighted beater and welded steel frame.
I am a little bit in love. So you’ll forgive my lengthy silence, I hope.
So far, Hulkling and I have made: some waffle weave hot pads (no finished object photos: it’s winter, there’s no light, I’m lazy, pick your excuse) which have gone to live with my mom, a point twill scarf, and a rainbow crackle scarf–and I’ve just finished threading and sleying a warp for two snowflake twill scarves. After I weave that off, I’ve got plans for some curtains to let light into my weaving space and vague ideas about towels and an already-measured scarf warp.
Here’s the point twill scarf, using Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine sett at 16 ends per inch for the warp and handspun Wensleydale singles for weft (that’s ITW “Catskill Pines” from my very first post).
Here you can see the detail of the point twill a bit better. I wish I’d taken some photos when the weft yarn was brown to really show the pattern in the cloth. Or finished object photos. This scarf came out to a bit over 6 feet, plus fringes. I gave it to my dad for Christmas.
The green stuff on the bottom of the reed is acrylic paint. This loom came to me needing a little work, mostly cleaning, but that reed was pretty badly rusted. Mom ordered me a lovely new stainless steel reed as a Christmas gift; the paint was a temporary solution so I could weave while I waited for the new equipment.
Next on the loom was this:
The draft reminds me of snowflakes, although it’s not actually snowflake twill.
I’m told this structure can probably be considered a crackle weave. I wouldn’t call it something I “designed” as it appeared while I was playing with the settings in Fiberworks. I liked what the program had drawn in and just tweaked it for symmetry.
The warp is Cascade Heritage sock yarn sett at 14 ends per inch, and the weft is handspun superwash merino in Into The Whirled’s September 2013 club colorway “Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey.”
This one’s mine. I was preparing to visit my family in NY for a week at the beginning of January and didn’t have a scarf to my name. Of course, once I got there it was in the 40s and 50s nearly the whole time, and I was stuck inside with the worst cold I’ve had in many years. What an absurd winter.
Maybe I’ll get some photos of it all finished. It washed up beautifully, and it is unbelievably soft and absolutely stunning with my nice blue coat.
Sometime in the next few days, once I get into the weaving of the snowflake twill scarves on the loom now, I’ll make a post just about that project. I also have a couple of near-finished knits–ends to sew in, blocking to do–that need to be shown off, and a big skein of handspun awaiting rewinding and glamor shots.
My Kromski Harp arrived on October 25th, a day later and a part brokener than expected. One of the ratchets had been cracked in half when it was attached to its beam, making it entirely impossible to assemble, let alone use.
I called the Woolery the next day (Saturday), and they told me to email them a picture. On Monday, they emailed back saying they would pass it along to the Kromski distributor, who would send a replacement.
I was antsy about it all week. On Thursday (Halloween), the new piece arrived, and within two hours the loom was assembled and within three I was winding a warp. On Friday, it looked like this:
A critical observer may note that the edges are a bit rough and a bit strange. Fear not, critical observer!
They got a little better when I was weaving without paying much attention.
Above, you can see just how wobbly the selvedges were at the beginning, and below, the slightly improved end. They look best around the middle, really, but I’ll show that when I unveil the washed and pressed results (it’s already done, I just need to take pictures).
The whole set-up, there. Note the very wide heddle and the very long stick shuttle on the right side. The upshot here is that I can definitely weave yardage on this baby. Downside? I am short, that stick shuttle is very long, and because I’m dragging it through the shed instead of throwing, it contributes to the strangeness of my selvedges.
No matter, the Husband Creature has offered to make me a fringe twister and some boat shuttles. We shall see how that goes. Might be good to have a model on hand to replicate, though.
From warping to cutting it off the loom, this whole thing took just 4 days.
Straight off the loom, the texture is odd: rough and stiff, in spite of the very soft warp (Knit Picks Stroll Fingering in Aurora Heather). The weft is handspun New Zealand Merino in the colorway “Fangorn” from Lanitium ex Machina, which at 23 microns is on the coarse end of the merino spectrum (but still at the fine end of the wool spectrum).
Since I don’t yet have a fringe twister, I used a binder clip attached to the leader on my Stella to twist my fringe. Here’s that set-up:
I’m already scheming about my next project. And, I don’t want to say too much yet because then I can’t do a dramatic reveal later, but tomorrow, I’m off to Chico to look at (and probably bring home) a potential new addition to my odd little fibery family.
The edges aren’t as pointy as I’d have liked, but I expected that, using bamboo instead of wool.
It’s soft and cozy and I adore it.
(Not trying to look “artistic” or anything like the model for the pattern, I swear! Trillian was headed out onto the balcony and I was greeting her.)
I also finished some yarn for my shop!
Just a quick peek for now, I’ll talk more about it in a later post. I have another bobbin already filled for a coordinating yarn, and at least one more to go. Once I’ve wrapped that up, I’ll talk about successes (and sad, disastrous failures) in making coils!
As promised, I’ve finished some things. First, there are things I finished for my shop:
This is the last 3 ounces of my first Happy Hooves shipment, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I was still feeling pretty impressed with myself a week after I finished it.
I split the batt in half and spun those halves end-to-end on one bobbin, then strung one half with beads, and plied from two ends of a center-pull ball. The colors wound up aligned almost perfectly with very little assistance on my part, and the result is soft, squishy, and bouncy with just the right amount of sparkle. 218 yards, worsted to aran weight.
Next up in shop stock is the October Happy Hooves batt, “Leaf Peeps,” on polwarth.
It showed up looking roughly like this:
And it went on doing so for a few days.
Just look at those sparkly bits. So sparkly!
But then I suddenly found that I’d finished that first bobbin of Qarth, and in the span of just over 24 hours it stopped looking like that, and suddenly looked like this instead:
I was consciously working on treadling more slowly and drafting more quickly so I didn’t accidentally let them get too thin or overspun.
For the most part, it worked pretty well, and after a soak and some violence against the side of the bathtub, these are some pretty well-behaved fingering weight singles.
538 yards here, soft and sparkly as can be…
…and looking pretty adorable snuggled up with our tiny pumpkin.
I also finally finished plying my ITW “Tuscadero” and baby camel spin, and after lots of time spent skeining and reskeining and counting, there are pictures to prove it!
It’s very feminine, but also nicely subdued.
I love it, but I’m also unbelievably happy to be done with it.
1,480 yards of fingering weight 3-ply can really cramp a person’s hand. I had some awful Plying Claw by the time I got through it all.
Seems Trillian likes this yarn too; she nuzzled at one skein several times, then curled up and used it as a pillow for a while.
On the 6th, I got to go to Lambtown, the lamb festival in Dixon. I got to fuss on 3 different bunnies (they were all wonderful soft adorable sweeties), saw some of the sheepdog competition, and bought a little bit of yarn, for a future brand-new person in my extended family, and a little bit of fiber for an instant gratification spin.
The little bit of fiber was 2 ounces of mixed BFL in “Aegean” from Sincere Sheep, and so instant was the gratification that I did not manage to get pictures of the fiber before it was yarn.
206 yards of thick and thin singles, all spun up in one day.
I had originally intended to list this one in my shop too, but it ended up a little fuzzier than I’d have liked after its bath, so I’ve changed my plans somewhat. I’ll hold onto it for a while, and then when my big new purchase and I have gotten to know each other a little, it’ll be paired with some graphite Border Leicester and find its way into the shop in a new form.
So, what’s the big new purchase, then? A 32″ Kromski Harp rigid heddle loom. It’s supposed to arrive on Thursday, and I’m so excited I can barely sleep for thinking about weaving. Once I’ve figured out what I’m supposed to do, I’ll start spinning the aforementioned Border Leicester for a 2-ply warp yarn, and use those thick and thin singles as weft. I’ve also got some 8/2 tencel on the way, which I may play with on the loom a little bit, but my primary intent is to use it as plying thread for another try at spinning coils. Perhaps I’ll find myself with a couple of bobbins ready for some melodrama by the time the loom arrives.
I have a confession.
I have Too Many Things in progress. Too many things a-spinning, too many things on the needles, and let’s not talk about the sewing projects that I’m trying to, not ignore, but…yeah, ignore, actually.
And lots of those Too Many Things in question? So close to being finished. Just shamefully close. A few fingers and a billion ends on a pair of mitts. Some simple garter stitch. A bit of ribbing. Beads and plying. A little hemming.
I like making things, I like the planning and the process. I like having the finished objects in hand. I just don’t like wrapping things up: the tedious jobs like rewinding washed skeins and taking an accurate count of wraps per inch, or sewing in ends, picking up stitches, finishing seams; the jobs that go against my nature a little bit like writing item descriptions and setting prices for the shop. (The casual self-promotion, too. I’m a very uncomfortable capitalist.)
But I’m working on it. I’ve even taken pictures of some things–I’m trying to get my fiber stash photographed before I spin any of it, but it’s slow going trying to catch enough light on my north-facing balcony with days getting shorter (and as it cools off, Trillflower like to be out there to watch and smell and lounge and otherwise get underfoot).
I’ve got three active knitting projects going right now. I won’t be able to photograph the Rock Island until I’m much farther along in the garter stitch body.
This sweater vest started out as a heavily-modified Hilja, but with all the modifications for gauge, I kind of stopped caring about pattern instructions around the neck shaping and made things up as I went. It needs ribbing at the arms and neck, and then it’ll be done. I’ve even seen to all of the ends so far. It fits well, with just enough ease to go nicely over a button-down shirt.
These are Little Cable Knee Highs, sort of, except I used my standard wedge toe and placed the gusset at the soles instead of the instep, and ignored the instructions for the heel turn because those yarn-overs really make no sense to me, and, you know what? It’s a pair of knee highs with little cables up the back and custom calf shaping. They’re a long-overdue gift for my mom (hi, mom!) in Knit Picks Capretta, which is lovely to work with and very reasonably priced.
I’ll have to untangle and wind the third ball soon, but I’m definitely going to have enough yarn. These are worked two at a time on one long circular needle, which is my current favorite method (although somewhat discouraging at times as it takes twice as long to see any decent progress). I like to wind two separate balls and then when the socks are big enough, I can tuck each ball into its sock and the whole thing is very portable.
In my last post, I mentioned a new fiber club and a new spindle coming into my possession. The August installment of the Enchanted Knoll Farm Happy Hooves Batt Club showed up at the beginning of August looking like this:
Now, in addition to the corespun also mentioned in my last post, it looks like this:
I wanted to make a fat singles art yarn with lots of cocoons, but after about 5 tries I changed my plans. Half of this will be strung with glass beads, then I’ll make a 2-ply gradient. It’s on hold for now though, because I finally started plying my “Tuscadero” spin.
I can’t believe how delicate and muted this is turning out. By the time I finished all the singles, I was sick of it, but I’m charmed again in the plying.
The spindle, a Jenkins Delight, is a wonderfully balanced, tiny, adorable Turkish number. It came with a sample of 50/50 merino/bamboo, which I started playing with immediately. In the car on the way to pick up vegetables.
That sample, about 7 grams or a quarter of an ounce, turned into about 49 yards of light fingering weight 2-ply.
Now it’s occupied with some cormo top I combed myself.
Big plans for this. Big secret plans.
Speaking of big plans, I also have big plans for the July 2013 Into the Whirled club fiber. It’s “Qarth” on Falkland.
I’m spinning it as a 2-ply laceweight gradient, to become a S[c]heherazade shawl. This colorway is magic. See those sort of dull tan-olive sections in the fiber? Well, that’s a deception. I started spinning, and it’s really strange.
It’s not dull or tan-olive at all. Here, a closer look:
I love it.
So I should have some finished things to show off soon.