Late to the party…

My Jungle January sewing project is finished… in February. Oops.

IMG_0582I apologize for the truly terrible pictures. Snapping photos is tough when you live alone and your cat doesn’t have thumbs (I’m quite convinced she would help me out if she could).

This top was the second clothing item I created with the materials and instructions provided by the Sewing with Knits class I purchased on Craftsy.com a while ago. It proved more complicated than the fleece hoodie I first made for the course. As I mentioned in my last post, the neckline of this top gave me fits and the hemming was a disaster.

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The finished neckline isn’t half bad…

I discovered that my machine isn’t compatible with a universal twin needle and my stretch stitch options are terrible. My machine has several “stretch stitches,” but they looked awful when I used them on this fabric. Despite fiddling with the tension, the stitches kept pulling the fabric and causing it to bunch up. It looked generally horrid. My machine won’t let me adjust stitch length which may be part of the problem. Since I couldn’t get any of the “stretch stitches” to work, I stuck with a zigzag stitch. It works, but isn’t as professional a finish as I would like. The finished arm band is below. The hem around the body of the shirt looks the same.

My arm- very close up!

My arm- very close up!

In order to tame the fabric so I could hem it, I used ultra-light Stitch Witchery fusible bonding web. The knit tape I ordered online hasn’t yet arrived, so when I found Stitch Witchery at the fabric store, I decided to give it a go. To my amazement, it worked and enabled me to sew up an even hem. 

I wore this shirt today to conduct some focus group interviews for a research project and felt pretty darn good in it. The fabric is very soft (I think the best way to describe it is an ultra-light sweater weight) and I love the leopard spots. When I mentioned to a friend at lunch I had made my top, she was appropriately impressed.

I have enough of this fabric left over to create another shirt. I’m going to try the next knit piece in the course, a v-neck t-shirt in the same fabric. I think I’ll make it up with short sleeves for a look that is a bit more casual.

In knitting news:

I am nearly done with the scarf I have been making up for my brother. My next knitting project will involve increasing and decreasing stitches. I think it’s time I learned how to do more than just knit and purl. Plum colored yarn will be involved…

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Hemming knits… GAH!

Today, I tried to create a second item from the Sewing with Knits class on Craftsy.com: the scoop necked t-shirt with 3/4 sleeves in a roaring leopard print knit. It’s still a work in progress…

This photos is incredibly unflattering. The shirt is actually super cute.

This photos is incredibly unflattering. The shirt is actually super cute.

After making up the hoodie in an afternoon, I was optimistic about how easily and quickly the t-shirt would come together. It wasn’t quite as simple as I’d expected. The sleeves and sides sewed up quickly, but the neckline was a nightmare. I sewed it up and ripped it out six times. It sagged and went in unevenly. I’m not sure if it was due to the type of knit fabric I used or if having such problems is typical when working with knits. Either way, I was really hating that neckline.

The finished neckline isn’t perfect. There are some spots where it is stretched out a bit, but overall, I think it looks okay. The fit of the shirt is fabulous. I cut the extra small due to the fact the small hoodie was a bit big. It was a good call on my part and I love the way it fits.

I’m done except for hemming the bottom and the sleeves. I tried to hem the bottom and this happened:

Uneven hem disaster

Uneven hem disaster

More seam ripping ensued.

Meg, the course instructor, suggests using a knit stay tape to stabilize hems. I thought I could get away without buying any. Obviously, the hem is not a place to cut corners. I ordered the tape she recommends, fine fusible knit stay tape from SewKeysE. Now I have to wait for it to arrive. (sigh) I am not known for my vast quantities of patience.

Even if I had the stay tape in hand, I wouldn’t be able to finish this project. I’m nearly out of black thread! A trip to the fabric store has been added to the errand list for tomorrow.

Oops!

Oops!

I was hoping to dazzle in my new shirt this week, so I’m disappointed it isn’t finished. I am, however,optimistic the stay tape will solve my hem problem and I will have a lovely new shirt to add to my wardrobe.

Crochet hearts and purr-fect fabric

Today, I learned how to create crochet hearts.

My first crochet heart

My first crochet heart

How cute is that? Since Valentine’s Day is over, I wasn’t sure at first what I should do with the heats I create. Then, I decided to use them as decoration for wrapped gifts. My boyfriend’s birthday is right around the corner. Guess who’s gifts will be decorated with yarn hearts?

I learned how to create them by watching this fabulous video posted by Little Birdie Secrets.

Isn’t it fabulous?! Even a super novice like me was able to follow along and experience success. The ladies at Little Birdie Secrets are good. Their site is awash with wonderful little crafty ideas. I highly suggest you visit.

I took a break from crochet hearts to cut some fabric for my Sunday morning sewing project:

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It’s a lovely knit I purchased with the intention of participating in Petty Grievances‘s Jungle January. Unfortunately, January came and went before I could  get around to the project. Oh well… I really love the fabric and am excited to get my machine humming tomorrow. Obviously, Millie (my furry sewing buddy) approves. The fabric passed the cat-comfort test.

Knitting, crochet, and vintage magazines

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I can crochet! Well, sort of…

This weekend, I attempted to swap skills with my mom. She wanted to learn how to knit and I wanted to learn how to crochet. Mom was an avid crocheter years ago. She made afghans, baby blankets, baby clothing, bags, etc. I don’t have any memories of Mom crocheting, but I have seen the beautiful things she produced. She claims life sort of got in the way of her hobby (plus, you don’t need lot of crocheted items in Florida). My recent interest in knitting seems to have reawakened her love for creating things with yarn. Although my knitting skills are very, very basic, Mom asked me to share what I’ve learned so far.

After a few hours side-by-side on the sofa fumbling with needles and hooks, Mom produced a knitted swatch riddled with holes. My crochet wasn’t much better. My ends were completely uneven.

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Mom struggled with using two needles instead of one hook and insisted on holding the yarn in the opposite hand I do, making it difficult for me to figure out if she was wrapping the yarn correctly around the needles. While Mom fumbled, I had difficulty making evenly sized loops for my crochet chains and produced several failed swatches before I figured out how to determine where the row ended when working with single crochet. I’m still struggling with ending rows in double crochet. I just can’t tell when I’ve reached the end of a row.

Before we got started, Mom dug out some of her old crochet materials including the following two publications. The first is a small book that provides detailed how-to’s for crochet. I can’t find a publication date on it, but Mom is sure it was published during the 1970s.

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She also found this gem, a 1976 magazine published by Family Circle.

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It contains some truly horrifying 70s fashion:

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My favorites come from the section about using bed sheets to make clothing. The dresses themselves aren’t too terrible, but the poses in front of the sheet backdrops almost make the models look like nothing more than floating heads and limbs.

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The magazine did contain several items I can see myself creating and wearing today. I really like the chunky texture of this hat and scarf:

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And I love, love, love this sweater:

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The sweater is crocheted, so maybe it’s something to work towards?

As I continue to practice crochet, I am still working on my knitting skills. My current project is another scarf. This one is a bit more complicated than the last scarf due to the basket weave pattern created by alternating knit and purl stitches. I have to really pay attention to how many rows I’ve knitted and when I need to switch from a knit stitch to a purl stitch and back again.

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I found the pattern for free on Ravelry and purchased the yarn at my local Michael’s craft store. The yarn is Bernat Alpaca Natural Blend in tomato. It is very soft and easy to work with. I bought #10 needles. I splurged for rosewood, which I like working with so far. Assuming this scarf continues to go well, I plan to give it to my brother for his upcoming birthday. He’s been doing quite a bit of snowboarding lately and I think this will look good around his neck when he hangs out at the lodge after a full day on the slopes.

I worry my sewing machine is feeling neglected with all this yarn craftiness going on. I plan to get back to the sewing machine this weekend. I have another knit item from my Craftsy class I’m itching to create.

A Valentine’s Day scarf

Drumroll please…

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I knitted a scarf!

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Obviously, I am quite thrilled with myself. I learned to knit about a month ago and have finally finished my first knitted project. I found the pattern as a free download on Raverly and purchased the yarn at The Knitting Loft in D.C. (you can read more about all that here). The yarn is made from recycled blue jeans. How cool is that? The pattern is called the Wainscott Ribbed Scarf and was very simple to create. Unfortunately, it came out a tad shorter than I would have liked. I purchased the recommended amount of yarn and ran out before it was the length I wanted. Despite that, it’s very wearable and was the perfect project for a newbie knitter like me who knows only the basics.

I took it slow and only knit a row or two every evening. I’m sure if you devoted substantial time to the project (or knit a lot faster than I do) you could finish this project in significantly less time.

When I chose the pattern and purchased the yarn, I intended to give the finished scarf to my boyfriend for his birthday. I think the ribbing is manly and the blue-jean yarn gives it a bit of a tough-guy feel. Since I’m finished with it a bit sooner than I’d anticipated, I’ve decided to give it to him for Valentine’s Day instead. (He doesn’t read this blog, so I don’t think I’m giving anything away). With the recent cold weather in D.C., I’m hopeful that this scarf will keep him warm and thinking of me  during his travels about town.

Today’s purchases: Visions of plum

Apparently, plum was on my mind today. This is what I brought home from my afternoon errands:

Sheep(ish) yarn in Plumish and Magentaish. (I've signed up for a crochet class on Craftsy.com! They've totally hooked me...)

Sheep(ish) yarn in Plumish and Magentaish. (I’ve signed up for a crochet class on Craftsy.com! They’ve totally hooked me…)

Knit fabric for the dress I'm going to make as part of Craftsy.com's Sewing with Knits class.

Knit fabric for the dress I’m going to make as part of Craftsy.com’s Sewing with Knits class.

Flowers from Whole Foods

Flowers from Whole Foods

Incidentally, I am wearing a plum shirt with the brown puffy skirt today. It’s the only plum colored piece of clothing I own. My subconscious must want more plum.