Category Archives: Reviews

I’m back!

Hello world! So, I had a baby. He’s a toddler now. And we moved to a new condo. And I haven’t been sewing at all (thus the total and complete lack of posting).*

However, I have gotten back into knitting!! In August, I knit a pair of toddler legwarmers as part of a swap. They were awesome. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture. But they convinced me to knit regularly again. I started a hat, and then got distracted by moving and life, but I finished it this week. I was inspired by the ridiculously cold weather that suddenly moved in to Chicago.

It’s the Aesderina pattern by Jane Richmond. Yes, I *bought* a pattern (and browsing through her website, I want to buy all of her patterns)!** It was an easy knit (and I learned a new decrease), and the resulting product is quite striking. I’ve gotten lots of compliments. Best of all, it was pretty cheap since I used less than a skein of Cascade 220 (in Spring Green, I think).

I have also started knitting socks!!Β  I took a 4-week class at Loopy Yarns. If you’re thinking of knitting socks, I really recommend a class. I learned the knitted cast-on (so easy! and stretchy!) and how to turn the heel. And I re-learned things like ssk and kitchener stitch. I’m not sure I would have stuck with it without a class. I now have 1.25 pairs of socks done. Knitting socks is a bit addictive, I think. They’re horribly time-consuming and a little complicated, but it’s so cool to think that I’ll get to wear warms socks that I knit. Still in progress, but here’s a sneak peek:

I’m on a bit of a green kick.

*It’s true that I haven’t been sewing, but I did sew a nursing cover since my last post. I also knitted a couple of diaper covers and took a crochet class (and never finished the crocheted scarf). But since that was all over a year ago, I’m going to skip over it.
**If anyone is looking for Christmas ideas for me…

An unexpected private knitting lesson

Hey look, a post!

I recently had a sudden and unexpected desire to take some classes. I hadn’t been planning to take any more sewing or knitting classes. I figured after the intro courses I could learn everything else online, and for the most part I do (I taught myself Magic Loop recently!). But I needed to get out of the house, and I guess I’m feeling like this is my last chance to take classes. I know my life won’t end when the baby is here, but I also know that with working full-time, I probably won’t want to spend my off hours away from the kiddo.

So I signed up for an Introductory Lace Knitting class at Loopy Yarns. It’s a one-time course and only costs $15, which I found appealing. It’s also only offered during the day, so I had to take a day off work (which I used to run various other errands too). The intermediate course is also during the day, so I won’t be taking it.

When I showed up for class yesterday it turned out I was the only one enrolled, so I got a private lesson! It was nice. We actually went less than the full 2 hours, but I’m sure I got as much content as if it had been longer with more people.

There’s not a lot to learning lace, which I knew going in. But it was nice to have someone verify that I was doing yarn overs correctly and to remind me to keep counting. I actually bought and used a row counter for the first time! The intro course has you start a feather and fan scarf. It’s a quite lovely and very simple pattern. I bought a second skein of fingering weight yarn (I’m not quite ready for lace weight) and will be making a shawl (a double-width scarf) instead since it seemed more practical.

Since it was just me, the instructor also taught me the knitted cast on (I’d only done long-tail previously) and a different bind off as well. In all, well worth my $15, and I had a really lovely day off of work. I even got to catch up with my Intro Knitting instructor who was working at the store yesterday.

I really wanted to take a sock knitting course before the baby comes, but the final session of the next course is three days before my due date. Even if I’m destined to be overdue, I don’t know that I’ll still want to be taking the bus downtown at that point. So instead I signed up for Intro to Crochet! Yay for learning new things. πŸ™‚

I actually have some finished (knitted) objects to show off too, but that will have to wait until I manage to take pictures of them.

Look Ma! I sewed again!

I know it’s been a while, but at long last I finished my Pendrell blouse!

Pretty Pendrell

A few weeks ago, I had it mostly done, and it looked like I would be finished quickly. But then I failed to read directions properly and got mighty discouraged. This is definitely not the fault of the pattern, which is clearly written, or the fault of Tasia’s Sewalong, which was well-documented. No, the fault is entirely mine. I start going and think I know what I’m doing and get into trouble.

In this case, my problem was that I sewed up the right side seam before doing the princess seam on the left side. Big mistake! This made it much more difficult to get the princess seam lined up properly, and I somehow ended up with extra fabric that didn’t line up. So I let it sit. For a long time. I had thought about ripping everything out, but I was afraid that the ripped out seams would show on this fabric. In the end, I left it as is and just trimmed that section to match the rest of my hem. I still don’t know exactly where the bubble of fabric was, but it didn’t matter.

Close-up of the neckline.

Sewing up the side seam too early also made it more difficult to do the armhole binding, but it still wasn’t difficult. I’d never made my own bias binding before and hadn’t even really worked with pre-made bias binding much, but this pattern made is very easy to make my own and use it for the neckline and armholes. I’m definitely a fan of this method.

Based on the fabric recommendations, I used charmeuse for the first time (from fabric.com for $5/yard). I hated working with it (it’s sooooo slippery), but I love the final look and feel.

I wore the Pendrell to work with my Beignet skirt, and in fact I bought this fabric specifically to match the Beignet. It’s a great combination!

 

Whoa. Super blurry picture.

It’s a great pattern with no closures, which is fantastic. I did have to grade down the waist and hips a bit from the size 6 I started with, but it wasn’t difficult. I do have plans to make this again, in View B and maybe even one in View A for summer. And I finished this just in time for Tasia to announce her next pattern (sign up for her mailing list to find out more)!

It’s a wrap!

As I noted earlier, I got a little bored with the pace of Gertie’s Crepe Sewalong. The Sewalong is a great idea, but I’m a fast sewer without much patience, so it just doesn’t work well for me. And the Crepe is a pretty easy pattern with very clear instructions, so I just forged ahead on my own, with lovely results!

 

Crepe Dress in my "Winter Look"

 

 

Mu husband said that this is the most flattering thing I have ever made, and I might just have to agree with him. The contrasting waistband is a definite plus for my body shape (or for anyone with a waist that’s smaller than her hips), and all shades of blue look good on me (lucky thing, since I’m obsessed with blue!).

To top it off, the dress is comfy (with one notable exception I’ll talk about later). The pockets are fantastic and hit in just the right place, and I feel very girly in this dress, which is not something I feel often.

 

Sweater Necessary

 

 

As is usual with Colette Patterns (at least in the two I’ve done so far), the instructions are crystal clear, and I was never unsure what I had to do. I did have one adventure with the seam ripper, but that’s not entirely the fault of the pattern. Although the pattern never said to sew together the back seam and made it clear that you should finish the edges, I just kept thinking that of course I would need to sew up a back seam. And I did. But of course this is a wrap dress, and the back seam isn’t sewn up. I understood that on the bodice but somehow managed to forget on the skirt. Oh well, it worked out.

You may remember from my muslin that the size 2 was way too big in the bodice, even though it matched my measurements. I cut a size 0 for the bodice on the dress and a 2 on the skirt (although a 0 on the skirt probably would’ve worked). The 0 bodice is still a little big, but I think it’s fine. There’s some leeway in this style of dress, since you can pull things somewhat tighter with the wrap.

 

Please ignore my ubiquitous ponytail!

My only real gripe is that I don’t particularly like the seam down the front. With such a tiny, busy print, I didn’t both to try to match, but with a bigger print, you would almost have to, and it would be tough since the skirt front pieces are so big. Also, the bow in the back, although super cute, is a little painful when you lean back in your chair, like I tend do. It’s also a little too high up for the cardigan I’m wearing with it, which is not a terribly long sweater. I guess I’ll need to knit a shrug to go with it if I want to keep wearing it in winter!

 

This is the first piece of clothing on which I serged all of the edges before doing anything else, and oh my goodness, it’s so much easier. I’ll be doing that in the future!

Bottom line: it’s a super cute dress with good instructions. I’m thinking of making the other view in black as a little black dress, probably with the bodice seems taken in a bit.

 

I had to take this picture twice to get the bow close to right. πŸ™‚

 

 

On Knitting a Sweater

Last night I started knitting my first sweater! I’m taking a sweater knitting class at Loopy Yarns. In four short classes, I’ll know how to knit a sweater.

We’re working on Top Down sweaters (no seams!), and everyone has a pattern from Knitting Pure and Simple. The class is all women, so I won’t get to see any of the men’s patterns, but the six of us chose different patterns and different yarns, so it will be interesting to see the variety.

I’m making:

 

I hope I look happier when I wear mine.

I really wanted to try a cardigan, since that’s what is most useful to me. And I thought it would be neat to learn how to do this shawl collar/button panel that seems to be knit sideways.

 

For the yearn, I’m going with the Malabrigo Rios in Azul Profundo. Just don’t ask me how much it cost. The yarn is gorgeous and fun to knit with so far. And it’s machine washable! I’ll get as much enjoyment out of it as I can because I can’t imagine I’ll be purchasing a lot of Malabrigo!

 

Not just blue... Azul Profundo!

So far, I’ve learned that I’m a really tight knitter. Most of my sweater is knit on size 8 round needles (29-inch). I had to go up to size 10s to get gauge! And of course I chose a pattern that requires three different round needles, none of which I owned previously, and a set of double points that I’ll need to purchase as well.

 

Last night we cast on and started the neck. I learned to increase by knitting in the front and the back of the stitch, which seemed awkward at first but has turned out to be pretty easy. Good thing because my first 47 knit rows have 8 increases a piece. When I got home, I figured out how many stitches each row should have and realized I hadn’t increased everywhere I needed to in the 4 or so rows I’d done, so I ripped it out and started over. Hopefully the neat excel chart I made will help!

This week I will be knitting those 47 rows (and purling their wrong sides) so that we’re ready to divide for sleeves next week. Whee!

1 Piece Kimono Tee

I’ve now made my first (super comfortable) t-shirt!

Kimono Tee

The Kimono Tee at work

I used the 1-Piece Kimono Tee pattern from Burdastyle. It’s free(!), and as it says, you cut just one piece of fabric. I used the Slub Poly/Rayon Blend Jersey Knit in Turquoise from Fabric.com. It was my first time working with a knit, and it was a pretty slippery fabric to cut. I think it would have gone better to cut the pattern in two pieces because cutting the neck hole out of the middle on this kind of material was not fun.

The pattern is fine, and pretty simple. I didn’t look at the directions much, so I can’t speak to them. I can say that the small was way too big for me. I used my serger (yay!) on the side seams and had to do them a second time an additional inch in on both sides. I folded under the sleeve ends to hem with a zig zag stitch on my regular machine.

kimono tee

You can see how it's just one piece!

The wonky bit you see handing off on the right sleeve is from the second time up the side seam. I need to fix that.

The fabric was so slippery on the neck and hemline that I decided to just do a rolled hem on both. I only have white serger thread, so white it is. I think it actually looks pretty cute.

Rolled hem

You can barely see the rolled hem because it rolled up so much!

My husband said the white made it look “edgy,” but I don’t know about that. I’m not 100% pleased with the rolled hem yet. I think I don’t have the tension balanced quite the way I want it yet.

The shirt is not perfect, but it’s so comfortable and nice enough to wear to work. Plus, it was good practice on the serger. I LOVE the serger, but the way, and I may just start doing all of my sewing on it. πŸ™‚ I did a lot of boring serging of seams on previously made items this weekend, and I also made a pair of really ugly (but really comfy) sweatpants that I may post here at some point. I also made a dress this weekend (I had a four day weekend, and I spent most of it sewing!), but you won’t see that until I fix some pretty egregious fit issues.

Kelly Learns to Knit!

Last night I had my first Beginning Knitting Class. It was the first of five two-hour sessions. I took the class at Loopy Yarns, based both on location (the closest yarn shop to my house) and the fantastic Yelp reviews.

Loop Yarns Storefront

Cute storefront. Picture from the Loopy Yarns website.

The store is fantastic. It’s a charming storefront in a great historic building in one of the hot neighborhoods in Chicago (South Loop). And it’s almost like you walk into another world when you enter the building. The class started at 6:30, and I got there early, but even so, it was already dark outside and very cold, but you walk in this store, and it’s bright and cheery and warm. I was greeted at the door, and everyone was friendly and welcoming. I had time to kill, so I wandered around the store for a while, and it was clear from the conversations that they have regular customers who stop by frequently.

 

Inside Loopy Yarns

Inside Loopy Yarns. Picture from the Loopy Yarns website.

I can’t speak for the yarn collection, since I don’t really know much about yarn. It looks to be extensive, but they do not have the kind of cheap yarns that I might want to buy (Red Heart or Lion Brand). The Cascade yarn I picked out for my scarf and hat (included in the cost of the class) was $8 for 220 yards. I assume they had us pick out from the cheapest yarn in the store, and in my browsing I didn’t see anything cheaper.

 

You can’t really tell from the pictures, but the store is enormous for downtown Chicago. Apparently they moved out of a previous State Street location and into this location because they could get three times as much space for the rent. It was a very good move. The most amazing thing is that they actually have a second level!Β  There’s a downstairs space that’s divided into classrooms. Last night there were at least three classes going on– mine, beginning crochet, and fair isle.

My instructor was male, which was just awesome, and he was great and really helpful. He said he’s only been knitting for three or four years, and his stuff looks great, so perhaps it won’t take too long to get good. I’m not there yet, though. Last night we learned to cast on with a long tail and to do a basic knit stitch. That’s it. We did each thing over and over again so that we wouldn’t forget. And then we ripped it all out. πŸ™‚ Our assignment before the next class (two weeks from now because of Thanksgiving) is to keep practicing.

OneΒ  thing I found odd is that we learned the Continental method. I had always heard that the English method was easier, and I think that’s what I’ve learned in the past, so I was surprised that we did this. I found it a little awkward and painful, but hopefully it will get better as I get more used to it and relax more.

No pics yet, since I ripped out my stitches, but hopefully I’ll have something to share soon. By December 22 I should have a finished scarf and hat!

And then on to sweaters…