Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Ravellenic Games

I wanted to participate in the Ravellenic Games, but between prepping all my classes, getting settled in the new house, and having lots of sewing projects and knitting WIPs already going, there was no way I was going to do any sort of big project
But we've been talking about replacing our succession of gross kitchen sponges with washable scrubby cloths for a while now, and I had two skeins of cotton yarn in my stash from years and years ago, so Robert encouraged me to knit a few dishcloths.  The first one, up at the top, was fun and easy to knit, although since it has a seam that doesn't stretch, it ended up not being round.  I didn't manage to photograph it until it had already been used.  The second one was a super simple Grandmother's choice washcloth.  It used significantly less yarn than the first one.
The third one is a pattern I made up to try to use up the rest of the cotton yarn.  I started in the center with a turkish cast-on and a 3-stitch garter tab, then picked up three stitches on each side and started knitting in the round.  Then after a little bit I started knitting spiral stripes.  I did that until the red yarn ran out, and then I did a few rounds of garter stitch in blue and finished with a picot bind-off.  I didn't use up all of the blue yarn, but it was getting to be too big.  I also didn't manage to photograph this one until it had been used.

These were definitely a success!  They're not quite as scrubby as the scrubby side of a sponge, but on the whole they work well.  We'll see how they hold up through the washer and dryer, but I'm already planning to make more.  Our new washing machine has a very large capacity and runs best when it is completely full, so we're going to need several of these so we can change them often in between doing laundry.  Also, I have that leftover blue yarn to use up.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Not Tour de Fleece

I didn't do the Tour de Fleece this year ... because I was too busy packing up our apartment and moving!  We moved across the country for my new job, as an assistant professor of mathematics at a small liberal arts college in the midwest!

Since we got to our new house about ten days ago, we've been busy unpacking our boxes and getting settled in our new house and new town.   But I have been doing some knitting and spinning.  I'm getting close to done with my Hello Yarn singles: (the picture is from before the move)
We've also been doing some gardening.  Because now we have our very own yard!  There was a strawberry patch already established when we moved in, so I've spent some time weeding that.  The strawberry patch takes up half of a large bed alongside the garage.  Our eventual plan is to put in rhubarb in the other half of that bed, but for now it was too late to plant anything but greens, so we weeded it out and planted some kale and broccoli seeds.  It's so exciting to see the little plants coming up!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


I learned a new skill last week!  This sock (the first pair I made for Robert) has been sitting in my mending pile for several weeks.  I finally sat down and worked my way through the whole pile so I wouldn't have to move un-mended clothing.  I used this tutorial on how to knit on a patch, and I'm happy with how it turned out.  Next time I would pay more attention and make sure to knit the patch in the same direction as the socks - it didn't occur to me that this would be an issue when I was picking up stitches, but I think that would make it easier to graft the live stitches to the sock at the end of the patch.  I wasn't really thinking and knit this patch in the heel-to-cuff direction, even though the socks were knit cuff down.
The leftover black yarn from these socks is long gone, so I used some of the leftover navy blue from Robert's new socks.  Hopefully the patch will be hidden under his pant leg, so he can continue to wear these as dress socks!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Seamwork Adelaide dress

I finished my newest dress - a Seamwork Adelaide!  On the whole, I'm really happy with it, and it's a nice, light, and comfortable casual summer dress.  My 2.5-year-old niece is really into buttons lately (snaps count, too), and when she saw me wearing this dress last weekend she very seriously asked me how many buttons it has.  We counted 15.
The fabric is a drapey polyester I found on sale for about $5/yard at JoAnn at the beginning of the summer.  I used gold bias binding to finish the neckline and armholes.  It was a windy day when we took these pictures, so the skirt looks a little weird in the next picture.
I love the print of this fabric, but it was a little bit slippery to work with.  The belt is not quite flat and there is a little bit of puckering or something going on at the sides.

I made a size 8 at the top graded out to a size 12 at the bottom.  Next time, I would made the grading more gradual (i.e. start at the same place around the bottom of the ribcage but finish lower), since I think the curve out to my hips is too abrupt and finishes too high.  I held up the paper pattern to my body and decided to make two alterations to the pattern:  I changed the angle of the dart, raising the dart point by about 1.5", and I lengthened the skirt by 3.5" at the lengthen/shorten line.  Since I had so much extra length, I ended up using 15 snaps instead of the 13 the pattern calls for - I kept the spacing between snaps the same as marked on the pattern.  I also used the bottom button loop markings for the tops of the button loops.

There were a few things I thought were a bit strange with the pattern:

  • the armholes are a little tight on me.  After I printed the pattern but before I cut it out I got an email with a link to an updated version of the pattern, but since all the email said was that they changed the fit of the armhole (it didn't say how) I decided to just make the version I had already printed.  I assume that the change is to make the armhole a little bigger, and I will probably try the new version if I make this again
  • the belt seems a lot narrower and bit longer than it looks in the pictures.  Also, it seems kind of strange to me that the pattern piece for the belt is concave rather than convex at the pointy end.  If it were convex the finished belt would be the same shape but it would be easier to sew
  • the belt loop marks are only an inch apart, even though the belt loop pieces are 2.5" long.  I think the marks should probably be 2" apart
I bought a pair of KamSnaps pliers and this is the first project I've used them on.  I bought size 14 long snaps in black, and I had to cut off the tips of the prongs, since my test snaps wouldn't close.  The KamSnaps website was very helpful for troubleshooting the snaps.  For the most part they were easy to use and I'm happy with how they worked, but I did have two (out of 15) that I squished the protruding part of when I put them in, so I had to remove them.  Removing them was hard, and it put a lot of wear on the fabric around those snaps.  I put some fraycheck on, but I'm pretty much just hoping it doesn't become  a problem.  Here's what the worn places look like.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Planning a professional wardrobe

I'm starting a new job in the fall, and I feel like I need a whole new wardrobe.  I'll be a real live assistant professor, and the worn-out t-shirts I've been wearing for six years of grad school are not going to cut it - not to mention that the dress code norms (business casual) at my new school (a small private liberal arts college in the Midwest) are much more formal than the norm (full professors wearing shorts) in my grad school department at an R1 research-heavy university.

So I've been buying some apparel fabric and thinking about appropriate patterns ...
 In April, about a month after I signed my contract, I put in an order on sale at and got: 2.5 yards of  charcoal ponte de roma (75% polyester, 21% rayon, 4% spandex) for a long-sleeved Lady Skater dress, 1.5 yards of charcoal Bemberg rayon for lining a Phoebe dress, and 2 yards of teal shantung sateen (100% polyester) intended for a Phoebe dress but on second thought I think it might be too shiny and fancy for this application so I might save it for something else.  Those are all on the left in the picture.  On the right are fabrics I bought a few weeks ago when my sister-in-law and I went to shop the Hancock's Fabrics closing sale.  From top to bottom, they are 2.5 yards of blue geometric quilting cotton for a Megan dress, 1.75 yards of charcoal polyester gabardine for a Phoebe dress, 2 yards of quilting cotton for a McCall's M7285 view C (in the next picture), 2 yards of a navy blue wool blend for a McCall's M6757 skirt, and 2 yards of purple scuba knit for a Jenna cardigan.
I expect to buy a few pairs of warm tights (or make some leggings), and I already own two pairs of black dress slacks (although one of them needs to be hemmed), a yellow cardigan, and a handful of work-appropriate blouses.  I would like to have a white button-down shirt, which I'll most likely buy second hand, and maybe one or two more blouses.  I really want to try the Granville shirt pattern, but I didn't see any good shirtings at Hancock's.  I also have enough of a lovely light tangerine cotton voile with a firefly print for a fabric-hogging dress, so I think I might either make some of that into a Granville or another M7285 (and then still probably have enough left over for a non-fabric-hogging sundress).

With all of that (if I manage to sew very much of it between now and the start of classes) I think I'll have a pretty good business-casual capsule wardrobe!  I'm really excited about making more of my clothing, learning more apparel sewing techniques, and dipping my toes into fitting!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Madder shawlette finished

I finished this little shawlette in April, I think.  It was so long ago that I don't really remember.  After I finished it, it sat around for several weeks waiting to be blocked, and then several more weeks waiting to be photographed, and then the photos sat in my computer for another couple weeks.  I have a whole list of blog posts to write, but the combination of lots of post-graduation unstructured time, lots of moving-related stress and a to-do list a mile long makes it hard to actually sit down and write them.
This was a kit my mom put together for me for my birthday in February.  She picked out a special skein of yarn and included three patterns for me to choose from.  It was a fairly quick and easy knit.  I photographed it on a beautiful secretary-style desk made by my husband's great-grandfather.  Here's a modeled picture to show the scale.  I thought it was pretty small, but it looks almost like a full-sized shawl when I've got it on.
Pattern: Happenstance
Size: One size
Yarn: Abiquiu Dye Studio Abrash in Madder
Needles: US4 or 5 interchangeable circulars.  I don't remember.
Started/Completed: March 2016/April? 2016
Modifications: I added one extra repeat of the main chart before starting the border chart

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Birthday shirt

My nephew just had his first birthday.  I wanted to make him something to wear, like I've done for his sister for each of her birthdays.  I chose the Oliver + S sketchbook shirt.  I made the 12-18 months size and it fit him - I hear he's already worn it twice!
The only modification I made to the pattern was to use snaps instead of buttons.  I figured that snaps are easier for me to put in than buttons and buttonholes, and are also easier for his parents to fasten and unfasten when they're dressing him.
I felt like a sewing rockstar when I put in the collar - I followed the instructions in the pattern, including hand basting the collar to the shirt rather than pinning, and it went very smoothly.  Next time, I will use Nicole's trick of cutting the interfacing for the collar to make it fold more nicely.  I also love the little box pleat in the back.
I think I will be making this one again as my nephew gets bigger.  And it was a great way to dip my feet into shirt sewing.  I plan to work my way up to shirtdresses and men's and women's dress shirts!