Monday, July 21, 2014

Nephew Gifts

Remember those socks that just needed the ends woven-in?

I've had them on my mind the whole time, but I had deadline knitting (and no, not the Oranje, that deadline was a fun challenge, whereas here I'm talking serious deadline, and I'll tell you about it some other time, I promise) and so I left them a little longer, but they are now complete.

The little black dots are from a liquid latex you can buy from Regia to make treads on your socks. I find it tricky to work with, but felt it was necessary in this case, as this little guy does not have my kids' experience wearing hand-knit socks, which by the way, are extra slippery for some reason. He's always on full-speed mode, and I want him safe in these socks, so I gave the dots my best shot. They look fine in the photo, but that's because you can't see the treads on the other one! You won't be able to see them when he is wearing them anyhow.

Now, I also have another hand-made gift for the guy, and all because I saw that amazing fabric with the foxes with hats, ties, and monocles. I could not resist it's cuteness, and so:

The pattern is the Camp Shirt by Nina Martine Robinson, from Fabric by Fabric One Yard Wonders. It was a pretty simple one (though I may not attempt snaps again; glad I switched to buttons in the end. The pattern suggests either/or). The pattern does not indicate any finishing steps though, so I worked flat-felled seams, and understitched the facing at the neckline. I also worked a lot of top-stitching that didn't come up in the instructions either.

I suspect this sort of thing gets left out of pattern instructions not only to save space, but also so as not to intimidate beginners. However, I found, when I was a beginner, I always felt like my work looked awful, and all that finishing (that wasn't often in the instructions) is what actually makes it look good.

My advice to those of you who are not confident in their sewing, or any of you just getting going on sewing, whether you are enthusiastic or frustrated, here is what you can do to improve your technique:

-Don't skip the pressing step.
-Read about seam-finishing and decide BEFORE sewing what you are going to use in each case.
-Top-stitch anywhere you think it would look good.

I'm only just starting to feel like I've made the leap from beginner to intermediate where sewing is concerned, but that leap is almost entirely due to improved finishing planning.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Extra Time

So, I'm going in to extra time for this cardigan, but luckily there are no penalties...

Not a bad effort, but all the other things I had going on did get in the way of finishing on time. I'm pleased with my progress and am looking forward to finishing this one. However, I think I'm going to have to put it aside until August sometime, so later in the week (or next week at latest), I will come up with something else to talk about on the blog!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Very Quick Update

Not sure if I can finish the Oranje cardigan in time, but I'll be giving it a shot! Here's where I'm at today so far:

Of course, I've also been distracted by this fabric in the meantime (so cute!), but we'll see how many things I can do over the next few days.

Hup Holland!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Hup Oranje!

Well, it's been exciting watching the Dutch team in the World Cup, and often suspenseful, as they are often apparently waiting for the last twenty minutes to get some goals; nerve-wracking, that!

While cheering the team on, I've been working on the Oranje Cardigan by Ann Weaver (love this pattern). I'm now up to the yoke, nearly at the yoke charts (but not quite). Will I finish by the end of the World Cup? Maybe. I've set it as a goal by entering in a knitalong of WIPs (work in progress) in the WIP Cup on Ravelry. It had been languishing for a good month while I worked on sample-knitting, so the World Cup was a great excuse to pull it back out and get going on it.

There's a lot more to do after the yoke, including steeks, sewing facings, weaving-in, button-band, sewing buttons...but finishing in time is not impossible anyhow!

My garden is also celebrating the Dutch soccer team:

I love my Orange Irises; they're such show-offs!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Last Week of School

 Well, it's the last week of school before summer, and that means two things: Time to whip up some teacher gifts, and time to get some treats ready for my daughter to share with her class on her birthday.

My daughter settled on brownies and blondies cut into squares and iced to look like Creepers from Minecraft. She put on all the chocolate chips while I practiced piping little blobs on the treats.

For gifts, I had the girls pick out fabric, and I spent a few days sewing up bags (just right for carrying a few things to the beach, or back and forth from school). The pattern is the Retro Bag from Fabric by Fabric One Yard Wonders. 

Much thanks to my husband who helped me get all the cutting done in one night! It was a quick and fun sew, though by the fourth one it was starting to get to be a bit of a slog, as I just wanted to be done so I could get on to my other work. Delighted with the results though! I omitted the snap and the adjustable strap as I intended them more as a tote bags than as purses.

The girls had a great time picking out fabric! I like the popsicle one best myself, though the cappuccino one is a close second. 

I was so busy last month (and much of this one) that I completely missed tulip season. Well, I did get to see them, but I didn't get around to photographing any of them.

I didn't want to miss the irises and lupins, so I stepped out and caught a bee in a few of the photos. I'm a sucker for bee-and-flower photos.

Things are busy, as I have so much housework to catch up on before the birthday party on the weekend, so this is just a very quick post. I'm also continuing work on my Oranje cardigan; progress photos on that for the next post!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Break on Through

I've reached the other side of a long tunnel of intense deadline knitting. I'll tell you more about it in September sometime.

In the meantime, I've finished up spinning the Cotton Candy Corriedale, and, as it's for my eldest, asked her opinion on what to do with it.

She wanted a shawl. She liked the idea of keeping the yarn as singles. I did a search for shawls on Ravlery that could be done with a relatively small batch of yarn (should be about 50g of laceweight, perhaps a touch less), and let her pick out her favourites. I then nixed one (was not in the mood for fussing with beads, as lovely as they are; I'm still worn out from deadline knitting!) and showed her the rest. She settled on Citron, which is what I was secretly hoping she would choose.

It's a simple little no-fuss shawl, as there's no lace involved. It's sheer, but due to the ruched sections, has a striped effect where the stitches double in density at regular intervals, and the whole thing ends up with a ruffle to echo the ruching. I was hoping for this one because I knew that the variegation in the yarn would not interfere with the ability to enjoy the pattern, and would in fact play very nicely with it indeed.

I'm liking how the colours bleed into each other and make pretty rainbowy pastel stripes as the shawl progresses, though when I reach the larger sections, it will of course break up differently. In the meantime, I'm just enjoying watching the colours change, and enjoying knitting SLOWLY for a change instead of at breakneck pace.

Of course, if I do get bored of slow and want breakneck pace, I am picking up Oranje, which I am trying to finish up during World Cup. I am completely overjoyed at the Dutch victory over Spain! I knew the Dutch could possibly win that one, though I expected it to be a difficult win if it happened. 5-1! Blown away and very excited to enjoy more soccer while knitting the Oranje cardigan for myself!

 In the meantime, a bit of spinning every day is a delightful way to spend odd moments where I just want to relax for a bit! Here's what's on the spindle at the moment (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Roving, in Sapphire Heather):

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

From Down the Rabbit Hole

I'm still very much at work on a design that I can't say a word about for quite awhile, but at least I have a fair bit to distract you with in the meantime.

First off, in the category of People You Should Know About, I just want to make a fuss about the recent publication of Blue Diamonds by Sigrun Jones, who has also designed the Prairie Gardens Cardigan. Sigrun, (who is at work on the Master Knitter program and designs great sweaters), is both an extremely knowledgeable knitter and an excellent mentor. I've been learning a lot from her, and you can learn a lot from her too as Blue Diamonds was published in Cast On Magazine, which, being the member magazine of The Knitting Guild Association, has in-depth instructional notes published alongside patterns. Go take a look!

I've made some progress on my nephew's socks; just need to weave-in ends. I haven't been getting around to that for the last while, but I am sure I can manage it before July! In the meantime, here's a photo, with one inside out (weaving-in in progress). 

Other than that, I have been spinning a bit more. A friend gave me a 'welcome to the rabbit-hole' after my last post, and she's not wrong; this is definitely addictive! It's also a great stress-break from knitting work, now that a good deal of my knitting is now defined as, albeit agreeable, work.
Here is my third attempt at making yarn, resulting in approximately 30g of approximately fingering weight yarn, measuring approximately 60 yds (I measured my arm before skeining it around my arm... only somewhat near accurate I'm sure). While I'm still spinning thick-and-thin yarn, it's rather subtly so now, and I am quite pleased.


Attempts one, two, and three in that order:

Definitely some progress being made! Since I'm out of pink wool now, I've moved on to the wool that my oldest picked out for me:

It comes out rather more subtle when spun. There's less of this type, so I'm not sure yet if I will ply it, since I'd like to make a little (in both senses) something for each daughter from the reasonably successful batches of yarn. Will happily take suggestions for project ideas! It will be awhile before I can get to it, but it is well-worth looking for ideas in the meantime.