Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts

Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts
My “Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts”

I started and finished these very quickly, for me – over the 2013 Christmas holidays. They are to go with my Bronwyn Capelet, which has been on one of my circular knitting needle chords for a couple of years now – I just want to finish it already! 😛 I wanted to knit up these fingerless mitts, as I realised I had way too much of the yarn left over for the cape, so figured I could knit up an accessory to match. It seems to have worked out well… onward, with the cape!

View the project page on Ravelry.

Accidental Moebius Scarf

Fun Fur and Eyelash Yarn Moebius Cowl
An unintentional Moebius strip-style scarf

This was meant to be a fun fur and fringe yarn skirt. As is frequently the case, somewhere very early in the project, I botched it. I must have twisted the cast-on row around when knitting the first or second rows, or something. Regardless, it’s all twisted up – not just once around, but a couple of times. Luckily, I noticed it fairly quickly, and was able to bind-off, turning this into only a minor disaster – I wore it out yesterday in -16 degree weather, and it held up at keeping my chin/mouth area warm.

An additional positive lesson learned was that my initial guess on gauge for this two-yarn skirt, was way off – way too large. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong – perhaps I lost track of the stitch count in my initial gauge swatch – but I know I need to shave off quite a number of stitches from the original pattern I built out for it, in order for it to fit properly. Not too sure how I’m going to calculate that, so this will require more work / research / testing.

Check out the project page on Ravelry.

Ice Chain Scarf

Mambo Ice Chain Stitch Scarf
Chain stitch crochet scarf in Ice Yarns Mambo

I always said I didn’t want to make a million scarves, as a knitter. OOPS! What can I say… they’re just easy. At least this one is different – and I’ve kept on my usual trend of anti-adherence to the status quo by ensuring that most of the scarves/shawls I’ve knit are “different” in some way. For this one, I used a variegated white, purple and blue ruffle yarn – Mambo, by Ice Yarns.

The crochet chain stitch was super easy. Fast – only took a day. And look, it perfectly matches the very top I happened to slip on the day I finished it! Cool by me 🙂

My camera sports a fierce flash, so it was difficult to get any shots of me without my eyes half-closed, and therefore looking wasted. LOL.

Check out the project page on Ravelry.

I-cord Infinity Scarf

I-cord Infinity Scarf
An infinity scarf made from a knit I-cord

To round out the year on a high note, I figured I’d post one more before the celebrations begin.

I spent a couple of months diligently knitting this long I-cord. It was an experiment, to see what I-cord is like to knit (I had read it was hard; I didn’t think so until I finished the piece and realised all the mistakes I’d made 😛 ), what the result is like, and how I might integrate it into upcoming patterns. It wasn’t too terrible, but I made plenty of slip-ups that I had to attempt to recover, and, it appears, failed at doing so most of those times. Eesh! I’ll keep trying though. It’s a really nice look, and I’d like to make it in a few textures, bulks and lengths.

Check out the I-cord Infinity Scarf Ravelry project page.

On another note, in the interests of it having been yet another year gone by, my post from a year ago today is pretty interesting for me to review; in addition to the mini yarn-crawl I made in the Kingston-Kemptville area in fall of 2012, apparently I also made some notes for myself about potential patterns for some yarns I have sitting around. Perhaps getting to those patterns will be a “resolution” of sorts for 2014. More on that, tomorrow.

A Sewing Journey

My sister-in-law was telling me about the City of Toronto’s Parks & Rec program’s sewing classes. I’ve always seen ads for sewing classes with various private organisations in the city, but never signed up because they were something along the lines of $60 / class. So when I looked into it and found out some sewing classes are offered for free with the city, I couldn’t wait to sign up. I did, and now I’m on a 9-week journey to sew my first skirt.

McCall's Pattern M6706 | Misses' Skirts and Petticoat
M6706 | Misses’ Skirts and Petticoat

The first week of class, we learned about what type of material and pattern to buy: 100% wool or cotton material (to keep it simple), and an easy pattern that was neither Vogue nor Burdastyle, because apparently those companies don’t include “something” on their patterns (I didn’t hear what, so I’m not sure what’s wrong with them, but I’m sure I’ll find out the first time I buy a pattern from either…). In any case, I made a bit of a misstep in buying a McCall’s pattern, it seems, as the teacher said a little “hmm” when she saw it, and I know that McCall publishes Vogue patterns. *shrug* Oh well, march on I suppose! My other mistake was not taking my measurements with me. I assumed that a Misses would fit me, because a “Size 14” sounded way huge and I figured I must be a 9 or 10 max in sewing terms. Much to my chagrin, I’m apparently a Size 16, and the pattern I bought only goes up to 14. However, thankfully, my teacher showed me how to modify my pattern so it’s the correct size when I cut it out. (Except I’m already gaining winter weight, so I don’t know if I’ll still be the right size by the time it’s finished, but oh well!)

While I’ve already spent a bunch of time in some local, downtown Toronto material & sewing notions shops, I know that none of them sell patterns, and so I ventured all the way out to the Yorkdale mall area to the closest remaining Fabricland. This was a mistake – next time I think I’ll just buy patterns online, and my material downtown 😛 After I found my pattern, I asked a lady at the front desk where to find cottons in the store, and she waved me over to the material cutting station saying, “Ask the lady over there.”

McCall's Pattern 'Variation B' of M6706
“Variation B” of M6706 is what I will be making

So I ventured over to the cutting station, and saw 3 ladies there cutting out material, seeming very busy. Well, I wasn’t about to wait 15 minutes for them to be done just to ask a simple, quick question, so I ventured over to the one on the edge and said, “Excuse me?” She didn’t look up, but made some noise of acknowledgement. Taking that as a sign to ask my question (since, if she were really all that busy and couldn’t answer my question, she’d have said “Sorry, could you please wait in line?”, or “I’m sorry, I have to finish this before I can help you.”), I went ahead: “Where can I find cott–”

Here, I was cut off – the lady immediately put down her scissors, looked over her opposite shoulder to where I was standing and started to ask a question of the customer whose material she was cutting. Like I simply didn’t exist.

So I went off to look for the material. The most infuriating thing was, I had been standing next to the cotton during this time. And I saw it, however, it was labelled “CRAFT cotton – FOR QUILTING”. And so I figured, that’s not the cotton I want to be making a skirt out of.

For the next 45 minutes, I wandered around and around the store, looking at every single label I could find, muddling through what I saw on the back of the pattern, versus what I saw on the labels. Some materials were labelled close to what I was looking for, but never quite right. Eventually, I made my way back to the craft cotton section, having realised that there was not a single scrap of usable cotton anywhere else in the store. I found some plain, unprinted cotton in turquoise and black. (I can’t stand all those barfy-looking, floral prints. I don’t care what colours they’re in – they could be shades of the same blue and it would still irritate me. First – who thinks, just because I’m a woman, that the only patterns I could ever want to see on my household decorations, or to wear, are floral prints? Second – most of them are supremely small, overly-detailed flowers – extremely difficult to see from anywhere other than a foot away. Meaning when you look at it from afar, you’re seeing a blur that’s difficult to focus on. Maybe that’s fine on the street, but at home, I like things to be easy on my eyes. Harmonious. Calm.)

Anyway, finally having found what I came for, I got my material cut and paid for. Total cost came to about $32. Not great, considering the amount of effort I now have to put into making this into a skirt, but not terrible in terms of upfront cost.

The second class saw us cutting out the pattern pieces we’ll be needing, to our measurements. I barely got the first piece cut out, and class was over. Thankfully, there’s a 3-week break in between class 2 and 3, however, I’m away for two of the weekends, and the third has been so busy I haven’t had a moment to even think about it. Somehow, I need to find time this week to finish up the cutting, or else I’ll be wasting my class #3 on – that’s right – more cutting. Well, perhaps that’s okay – if I don’t have a lot of sewing to do (which it seems like I may not).

Onward, March!

Ruffle Skirt Beta Pattern Posted Ruffle Skirt Pattern Ruffle Skirt Pattern

I’ve been working on my ruffle skirt pattern for over a year. In fact, working on this pattern is one of the reasons I stopped posting in here so frequently; I knit two additional sample skirts this year, on top of planning the wedding, and so my spare time has been extremely limited. I also basically stopped knitting anything else during that time, as I took the skirt idea a lot further.

This weekend, I was struck with inspiration and I buckled down to finish designing the Knitravel stationary I had started months ago; write, re-write and edit the pattern for the skirt; and setup my mailing list / campaign to get feedback on my second (but first complex) pattern.

So, if you’re interested in knitting up this ruffle skirt, head over to the pattern page to find out the details.

Thanks so much!

Sewing Metallic Lycra/Spandex

Warning, people who sew: this post is pretty much only for myself. If you happen to find some use in it, great. Otherwise, please don’t hold me to anything here, as it is not intended to be an answer for any type of sewing issues. It is merely a reference for myself as a teach myself to machine sew.

Let me preface this by saying, I don’t sew. Or at least, I haven’t sewn – much – to date. However, I’m learning, because the allure of making my own clothes is too great to ignore. For my first (in my adult years) project, I’ve settled on making metallic spandex/lycra leggings. Yes, that’s right. Metallic. Spandex/Lycra (whatever you wanna call it). I do wear leggings (successfully, I might add – at least for now). And I do enjoy ridiculously over the top things like metallic stretch materials.

Starting from scratch, I needed to figure out the correct stitch style (I have a Singer Pressomatic merritt 1852, probably around 30 years old, very limited functionality), tension, needle type, stitch orientation (is that the right word for it?) and stitch length. So, after fiddling around for hours with the zigzag stitch (and I really mean hours) on all possible permutations of it in terms of tension and stitch length (results of which you may see directly below), I’ve settled on a straight stitch from which to sew the seams of my metallic spandex leggings (the very left column of the final image).

My Singer Pressomatic merritt 1852 sewing machine was set on the straight stitch setting, with tension of 5, stitch length about 3.5 (midway between 3 and 4), and the location of the stitch being centered. I’ve attached photos below, for my own reference, later on. The straight stitch seems to work best in terms of the seams. The stitches don’t stretch, warp or bunch the fabric in seemly ways, and the seams stay pressed together more evenly than with a zigzag stitch. For the seams lengthwise on the leg, this seems best. I’m not sure yet how I’ll tackle the waist and the ankles.

One final note: I’m using a Tailorform Size 11 Ball Point needle. I did try both a Somore Ball Point needle lablelled Butterfly 80/11 (this seemed to produce the best results in the zigzag stitch), and a Schmetz Stretch 75/11 needle (so far, this has produced the worst results with the zigzag stitch) prior. The Tailorform seems to be the best choice, for the straight stitch.