Monday, June 3, 2013

Apple Green Sweater

Long time no posts here, but that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing or knitting!  I completed this sweater about a month ago. It took me forever to knit this, and I know where the mistakes are. But I figured that no one but me would know they were there, and I found this pattern so much work that there was no way I could bring myself to undo a few inches to correct the mistake once I spotted it.

One thing wrong with this pattern, there are no instructions for buttonholes and the designer says to simply slip the buttons through the spaces in the right front.  But the spaces are not big enough. So these buttons are purely decorative. I might sew some snaps behind them if I wish to close the sweater.

This pattern is really good. I love the look of the cables with the seed stitch inside the cables. Seed stitch everywhere, even in the ribbing. And for once, my tension must have been spot on, because this fits perfectly. I often don't have that kind of success with my knitting. In fact, the next sweater cast on is definitely too small and I think it might be a present for my daughter who would love to have an Aran cardigan.

The pattern is Plaits and Links by Kathy Zimmerman and you can read about it at this link on Ravelry. I knit it with my favourite yarn, Cascade 220, a 100% pure wool. 

Plaits and Links

As for sewing, I have made capris, a blouse, a jacket, and am currently working on a cotton shirtdress. However, I find as so many others do, that if you blog, that is less time for sewing.  And I would rather be sewing.  TTFN. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sweater Blocking

I am posting these photos because they might be useful to someone else. I knit my first sweater when I was 12 years old and can't remember much about it except the colour and that our Labrador retreiver pup chewed a corner of it while we were out. He jumped up and grabbed it from on top of the washing machine. I don't recall if I even got to wear it before he destroyed it. No wonder I didn't knit again for quite a few years. Then I recall knitting another sweater when I was 18 years old, a gift for a girl who gave me a drive to school every day. She was thrilled and I am still amazed that it actually fit her and looked good. It was an Aran pullover with a turtleneck and I recall she wore it with suede mini skirts which were all the rage then. (not that I wore them!)

Despite the fact that I did quite a bit of knitting, I knew nothing about the process of blocking. My mother, who was a prolific knitter, never blocked anything. I remember her pressing pieces before sewing them together and her sweaters were always beautiful. She only knit with acrylic yarn however, and I think she missed out on the beauty of real wool yarn.

Thank goodness for the internet, because knitting magazines are sorely lacking on how to block your knitted pieces before sewing them together. 

The last few sweaters I have knit, I have pinned in place onto a styrofoam board which I covered with 1/4" gingham. I figured that the gingham would help me to line things up and it works very well for this. You still require a tape measure to get the finished dimensions correct, but then you can just use the squares to pin everything where it should be. After pinning the pieces to the board, I then misted them thoroughly with a plant mister until they were damp all over and then I left them to dry. This took several days.

But another visit to the internet and an alternate method was discovered on YouTube. Soak the sweater pieces in the sink in cool water, squeeze out the water, roll the piece up in a towel and squeeze out the excess water. Using wool, this works beautifully - the piece will be damp but not soaking and then you simply pin it in place to the measurements given in the pattern for the size you knit. And wait for it to dry. This latest sweater has taken about one day to dry. 

The back and one front pinned to dry
I began by pinning the back and one front because that was all that would fit on the board. Then when the back was dry, I removed it and pinned the other front piece. So easy to get it to match the other front as they are side by side. Once these are dry, I will do the same with the two sleeves. Then it will be ready to sew together and all that is left to do is pick up stitches around the neckline and work some ribbing there.

This sweater is far from perfect; some mistakes I undid and corrected; others I just let them go, thinking that if anyone is close enough to see the mistakes, they will have to be someone I know very well. And they will also have to be a knitter. The chances of both of those happening are extremely slim.

The front pieces side by side, the one on the right is already dry, the one on the left has just been pinned to the board and will be dry by tomorrow.

The essential tools for blocking: your pattern with the finished measurements (stretch the sweater out to measure to those numbers), tape measure and pins.

And yes, so original, I made the sweater in the same colour as the one in the pattern book. The yarn I used was Cascade 220, 100% wool, I love this yarn and it knits easily without splitting and shows stitch definition well. I have already cast on another Aran pattern, I really love cables.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Slow going

It's been quite a while since I posted anything on this blog. Since I keep it primarily as a record for myself of things I have made, I am sure that it is not earth-shattering to anyone.

I am always in need of knit tops and I recalled a top I had years ago that I really loved. An old Kwik Sew pattern #1803, long since discontinued, and requiring an extra inch on the side seams, it still works. Basically a button-front sweater, the pattern can be made in most knits. I used a black cotton/lycra jersey from the stash. The only difficulty I had was with the curling edges on the single knit. Wherever possible, I serged the seams together as this controlled the curling.

Just goes to show that old patterns can be worth their weight in gold. I am going to keep this one in circulation; with warmer weather coming, the short-sleeve version will be perfect.

Besides sewing, (I also made some RTL pants in grey from a McCalls pattern) I have been knitting. Still working on the apple green aran cardigan. This may be rated average difficulty on Ravelry, but I would rate it much more difficult. I have had to undo many rows as I made numerous mistakes in the pattern. They may have not been noticeable to others, but they were enough to bother me. The back, sleeves and left front are now done; I am nearing the end of the right front and am so anxious to start something new and something quicker.

Hopefully it won't be two months before I post another finished project. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Practical Sewing

The first of two aprons for my daughters. This is from the pattern All Day Apron from Indygo Junction.

Thinking of how many tops I have stained while cooking, I thought my two married daughters could benefit from an apron. The problem for me was that I never wanted to wear an ugly apron, and I never bothered to sew myself a pretty one. Perhaps my daughters can save their tops and dresses from grease splatters with pretty aprons like this one.

It is a great pattern to use up odd bits of fabric, as it requires 1 yard of one print and 1 1/4 yard of another, plus a little bit of bias binding for the neckline and top of the pocket. The apron ties in back and also has two straps from the shoulder to the waist that keep the apron from slipping off your shoulders.

This one is done in a tulip print plus a lime green cotton with multi-coloured dots on it. The other apron will be done in two prints of daffodils, as that daughter's favourite colour is yellow. Oops, it seems I cut the tulip fabric upside down. I didn't even notice until I posted the picture. Just keeping up my reputation of not being perfect.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Corduroy Jacket

My all-time favourite sewing is to make a jacket. I have more jackets than I can count, and some have not even been worn. It is the making of them that I love.

Two weeks ago, I decided to clear out some stuff in my sewing room, and opened a container to find these three fabrics in there plus a pattern and thread. I had bought this over a year ago, with great intentions of making this up right away, then got side-tracked. When I saw the project, my interest rekindled and I cut it out that afternoon and got working on it.

The blue is wide wale corduroy, the plaid is a flannelette sheet bought at the Sally Ann store (much cheaper than buying flannel fabric) and the print is a quilting cotton bought at the local fabric store. The flannel was stitched to all the print pieces on the wrong side, so that it forms an interlining for the jacket. I wanted a jacket that would be useful in fall and early spring, when our temperatures dip and the winds can be quite cold.

Close up of a button. A square of the lining fabric is stitched to the outside and the buttonhole made through the four layers. No need for any interfacing in a jacket like this.

The entire jacket is put together by stitching the flannel to the lining fabric, make the outer coat, make the lining, place them wrong sides together and then bind the entire jacket with bias strips made from the lining fabric. I have bound more jackets than I can recall this way, and my preference is for double binding, cut 3 3/4" wide, pressed in half, then stitched to the right side of the jacket, wrapped around to the inside and stitched in the ditch to catch the binding. It is extremely quick, gives an even binding, since you use your seam allowance as the guide.

The pattern used is this one, Butterick 5532, still currently available. The only thing I had to buy to complete this jacket was six buttons. And I have a metre of the corduroy left over, plus enough of the print to make a sleeveless top.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Source for Swimwear Fabric

Can anyone help me here with a source for good swimwear fabric?

I regularly attend aquacise classes (3X per week) and bathing suits don't hold up very long in the chlorine. So I am thinking of making my own.

I am looking for fabric that will withstand the pool water for longer than the suits I have bought so far. Most suits are nylon/lycra and they either bag out or simply shred after about a month in the pool. The TYR suits sold at Sears are 100% polyester and they last, but right now they are not available in the local store and the ones in the catalog are pricey, plus can't be fitted in advance.

I have sewn swimwear before, so that doesn't intimidate me, but I don't know of any good sources for quality fabric. Please advise if you know of any online sources for fabric. Thanks.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winter Creating

Whew, it has been quite a long time since I posted anything here. Not that I haven't been sewing or knitting. Actually I have been quite busy with my fingers.

I made a shirt dress in a cotton plaid, no pics of that yet, a cotton skirt plus some knit tops. But I have been knitting more than sewing. I think this is because I have turned into a news-junkie and the news is not available in my sewing room.

Since I can't just sit and watch television, I have picked up the needles and wool and have turned out two sweaters, one to be sewn together, a very long cowl (which is proving tremendously useful as a head cover in the blistery January weather), and am currently knitting a complicated Aran sweater.

The long cowl, probably 50" in length, then joined into a circle; it can be wrapped around my neck twice and I can pull one wrap up over my head as a hood.

The beginning of a sleeve in Cascade 220, sport weight wool

The pattern is Plaits and Links by Kathy Zimmerman. I seem to like everything this woman designs; she loves the look of cables and textured stitches, and that is exactly what I love about knitted projects. I haven't knit anything this complicated since I was a teenager, when I knit an Aran pullover for a friend. I can't believe I actually completed that, given my inexperience as a knitter, but perhaps when one is young, things don't seem as advanced or difficult as they do to the older mind.

I had almost the exact shade of green yarn on hand from a sweater I knit last year, that I then ripped out. It just wasn't right. When I saw this pattern in a magazine, I knew exactly what to do with that apple green yarn. This will be a long project, probably taking most of the winter months, but I am not in any rush to finish as I find it is the process that I enjoy, much more than the actualy finished result.

Link to the pattern on Ravelry