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)!

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Works in Progress

I haven’t abandoned crafting–really–but I haven’t had much in the way of finished projects to show off. So here’s a rundown of what I’m working on.

First, I’m still plugging away on the Shawl Collar Cardigan.

I'm bringing back the one-sleeved look.

 

I have one sleeve completely done, and I’ve actually started on the second sleeve since this picture was taken. And then I’ll just have the collar/button band. Sigh. I’ll admit, this was a bit ambitious for my first sweater, and I’m getting the teensiest bit tired of the project. I still love the Malabrigo yarn, but I’m itching to be done with this and onto new things. And I’m terrified of picking up stitches for the button band. My goal is to be done with the second sleeve and started with the button band before my last class on Monday.

Because I’ve been so wanting to start another project, I did actually start my February Lady sweater too.

 

Someday this will be a sweater.

 

I think I like the tops of top-down sweaters the best. It’s such easy knitting, great for while I’m riding the exercise bike, and it’s still small and portable to take to work for lunch breaks. Soon, though, I’ll be dividing for sleeves and onto the lace pattern (eeek!). I really need to force myself to finish the other sweater before I get to that. 🙂

And I have been sewing. Slowly. We had a bit of a snowstorm here, and classes were canceled for two days. Unfortunately, they were still work days, and I worked from home the first day and trudged into work for part of the second day. On the day I worked from home, I did have some extra time for sewing, since there was no commute, and I had my whole lunch hour at home. I could get used to that. So I started my Pendrell blouse.

 

I need a dress form for taking pictures.

 

So far, I love the blouse. As horribly slippery as the fabric is, it also feels wonderful, and it drapes beautifully. Sometime this weekend I will try to get the side panels on, do the bias strips for the sleeves and hem it. I think it would look fantastic with my black Beignet skirt (which went into my thinking when I bought this fabric).

Finally, I do intend to do the men’s shirt sewalong, but my husband was stranded in a different state during the blizzard (boo!), and I haven’t had a chance to measure him yet. In any case, I’m not planning to make a full muslin for the Negroni. The fabric I bought is cheap enough that it won’t be a big deal if I mess up, and if it all works out on the first try, well, yay.

Now I just want to get started on my Ceylon and my black skirt (which may or may not be a Beignet) and some other projects I have in mind. It sure would be nice to have unlimited time. f

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. 🙂

 

 

Sweater Update

The sweater now looks like a vest.

 

I knitted something that almost looks like clothing!

 

It doesn’t quite close in the front because I will be adding a ribbed button band/collar that will add 3.5″ of width. But first, tonight I learn to add the sleeves! I’m sure I’ll like knitting sleeves right up until I have to switch from circulars to DPNs.

 

This color isn't quite true to life. The real blue is more muted.

Tomorrow: a sewing post!

 

Friday Progress Report

Well, I might not have been good about blogging, but I have actually accomplished quite a bit this week:

  • First off, the Special Olympics scarf is done and in the mail (maybe actually at its destination by now)! Yay! It was for a good cause, and it was probably good knitting practice, but I hope that’s the last scarf I ever knit, especially in Red Heart Super Saver. Anyway, I hope that the recipient enjoys it!
  • Also, the body of my sweater is done. Whee! It went a lot faster than I thought it would. Of course, it is pretty mindless knitting, just endless stockinette with the occasionally waist decrease or hip increase and finished off in a bit of garter. Anyway, I like it, and it fits. And I don’t have a picture (sorry), but it looks like a garment now, a vest anyway. On Monday I’ll learn how to pick up the sleeves. Those will be less mindless, I’m sure, especially since I’ll eventually get to the DPNs. I also have the shawl collar/button band to do. It doesn’t look super difficult, but I’ll be happy to have an instructor show me how!
  • I cut out the fabric for the Pendrell sewalong. I can’t wait until we start sewing next week!
  • Then I got bored with the pace of the Crepe sewalong and went ahead and cut and serged all of the pieces and started sewing. I finished the bodice and half the skirt. I actually had time to finish last night, but given the insane deep freeze we’re in here, I knew I wouldn’t want to wear the dress to work today anyway, so it’s on hold. Instead I started more knitting!
  • Last night I apparently had a case of start-itis (I’ve heard it’s going around). I cast on for my first sock, using the sock cocktail kit I got from Knit Picks. So far, I’m pretty dubious about socks. The needles are so tiny (in circumference), and the DPNs might just drive me batty. I’m thinking of learning the Magic Loop method instead.
  • Finally, last night, I also cast on for my February lady sweater!! I think I’m not crazy about the yarn–Wool of the Andes in Jalapeno. The green isn’t as vibrant as I pictured, and the yarn is a lot scratchier than I’d like. But it was a good price, and I think I’m going to keep going. It is a cardigan, so I’ll always have something on underneath. And I’m muted, so it’s fine if my color choice is too. 🙂 On the upside, the sweater seems like it will be totally do-able at my current skill level.

And to think, I also worked four days this week!

Grandma’s afghan

I have a lot of memories of my grandmother knitting and crocheting, but mostly I have memories of her knitting basket that was always near her couch in their living room. And she would tell us about whatever she was making (and she was always making something).

Near the end of her life, Grandma crocheted a blanket for me that I absolutely treasure. I always struggle with whether I should use the blanket or put it away for safe keeping, but I think something like that should be used.

The last thing she ever worked on was knitting a sampler afghan from some earlier version of “60 Easy-To-Knit Pattern Stitches Combine to Create Sampler Afghans“.

I wonder how long this has been in print.

I remember her working on the afghan, and I remember her wondering if she would finish it. Sadly, after she moved to a nursing home she had a stroke from which she never recovered, and she wasn’t able to knit at the end of her life.

After Grandma died, we divided up her things, and everyone knew that we couldn’t part with the knitting stuff, but no one was a good enough knitter to feel we could take on the afghan, so it’s just been sitting at my parents’ house. When my parents came out for Thanksgiving they brought me a whole basket of knitting needles and some yarns, and this book and the completed squares. When I first looked at it, it seemed overwhelming, but as I’ve gotten more comfortable with knitting, I’ve re-evaluated. I think I’m fully capable of these stitches, and eventually I would like to make this afghan.

 

Right after I took this picture, a kitty settled in to make it his new bed. He was chased away.

 

 

Grandma, being Grandma, had already chosen which squares she wanted to make and how they should go together, and I have her notes. She had completed six of the twenty squares and was in the middle of the seventh, which I have, still on the needles. And she had extra yarn already purchased. It’s actually Red Heart Super Saver with supposedly no dye lot, so I can get more if I need to.

 

Still on the needles. Gauge matching should be, um, fun.

 

 

Now I just need to figure out what size needles I need to match her gauge, which could be a fairly difficult problem to solve since my stitches are super tight. Oh, and I need to find time to knit an afghan!

I predict more than a few tears while making this. I cry every time I make her banana bread because seeing her handwriting on the recipe card makes me miss her so much. But they will be good tears, since I’ll be carrying on her legacy.

Knits in Progress

The thing about knitting is–it takes forever.

Blue and Turqua and Blue and Turqua. Forever.

I’m still knitting away on the Special Olympics scarf, which I need to finish by January 18! It’s going along fine, but K2, P2 is soooo boring, and this Red Heart Super Saver is just not inspiring (nor are these colors). I finally realized that my size 10 needles were way too long, and that’s making me work harder (or feel like I’m working harder?) than I should be.

13" needles. I can't imagine what I would need those for!

I had to get size 10 16″ circulars for my sweater (for the sleeves), so I bought them early to use on the scarf.What a difference. I need to start using circular needles for everything. :)I’ll be done with this scarf soonish. I hope. I just need to remember to budget time for all those ends to weave in. Darn color work. Oh, and I need to weave in an end where a destructive kitty chewed through the yarn. Sigh.

I’m also busy at work on my sweater, which is much more rewarding knitting, even if it will take an enormous amount of time. I love the Malabrigo Rio, even if my husband does keep making fun of me for how much I spent on it. I’m sure it’s the last time I’ll spend this much on yarn, so I have to enjoy it now. Sigh. I also love my Hiya Hiya 32″ circulars. Although the pattern called for size 8s, I had to get 10s to get gauge. Any guesses why I knit so tightly? Overanxious control freak here? Nope…

It's starting to look like a sweater!

I’ve knit (from the top) down to where we split for the sleeves and put in the scrap yarn to hold those stitches. Now to complete the body–that’s a LOT of stockinette to do. At least it’s pretty easy, with occasional decreases and then some increases for shaping. Can’t wait until I knit some guy sweaters with no shaping! And then the sleeves. And then the shawl collar. Why did I choose such a complicated pattern?