Summer bag and little sailboats

IMG_1086

As my exams loom closer (ohmygodohmygodohmygod..) I haven’t been sleeping well, so I’ve been crocheting in the wee hours of the morning. These sleepless nights have resulted in a new summer purse. The terrible photo above was taken on a rare day when I stopped studying, got out of yoga pants, and ventured into public.

The bag pattern is a free Ravelry download, Summer Sling Tote. It worked up bigger than I thought it would, which is good. I was worried it would be too small. There is enough room in it for all my essentials plus a book and my laptop’s power cord- perfect!

IMG_1081

The bag took me about a week and a half to crochet and line. According to Ravelry, more experienced crocheters get it done in just a few days. It’s a great first pattern, just double crochet after double crochet with some slip stitches to attach the handle. I had a tough time with gauge on the handle. I kept making my initial chain too tight and it took me three tries before I was happy with the result.

IMG_1065

The completed bag before the lining was inserted

 

Fellow Ravelry-ers (is that a word?) reported having a tough time with the lining, but I didn’t have any problems.

I used some cotton poplin I had left over from a disastrous skirt attempt (I’ll blog about that later…).  I think it’s so cute with the waves and pink sailboats!

IMG_1082

First, I fused the fabric with a mid-weight interfacing. I didn’t want the bag to flop and sag when I wore it. I like the stitch pattern and I want to show it off. I sewed in the lining by hand and was semi-successful matching up the waves at sides of the lining.

IMG_1083

The interfacing did the trick. The bag stays nice and round even with all my stuff in it. Here’s a side view:

IMG_1085

 

I am pleased as punch with my new summer tote and reactions to it are keeping me entertained. My mother was impressed and is claiming my crochet skills are hereditary (Mom hasn’t crocheted anything in 30 years…). My friends are giving me incredulous looks when I tell them I didn’t buy my bag- I made it. I think a few don’t believe me!

I have a little less than two weeks until my test, so I guess I’ll need another insomnia project… hmmm… What should I make next?

 

Advertisements

The ‘existential crisis tunic’

Wait… where did May go?!

I started off this month in San Francisco at a conference. I wore me-made on the plane home and did a solid job of wearing me-made items twice a week (I didn’t do a good job of taking photos). I even managed to make four new garments this month: gingham bow blouse, a yoga-style maxi skirt (unblogged), a red sleeveless knit top (unblogged), and the existential crisis tunic (below). I also finished knitting a scarf for my boyfriend

Scarf for my guy

Scarf for my guy (Man Scarf on Ravelry)

and made three little crochet baskets.

crochet basket (Pattern on Raverly)

crochet basket (Pattern on Raverly)

I haven’t blogged much because I have been prepping for my qualifying exams (the super terrifying mutli-day test I have to survive before I can start on my dissertation). By the time I finish studying each day, I need a crafty break, but I have no desire to read or write. As a result, I’ve been ignoring the blog a bit this month. My test is the last week in June and I can’t wait for life to get back to normal. My brain is starting to hurt…

Sewing, knitting, and crocheting have provided me with a respite from all the studying. My latest sewing project was made from this fabric:

wild tribal challis from JoAnn's

wild tribal challis from JoAnn’s

Nope, there is nothing wrong with your computer… it is bright and wild! This is not normally something that would catch my eye. (I’m blaming this purchase on exam stress.) It has a lovely drape, was 50% off the sale price, and is unapologetically loud.

I decided immediately it wanted to be a tunic, so I attempted Simplicity 4149 again.

IMG_0792

I made this pattern once before in a gorgeous shimmery linen, but the garment was a flop.

IMG_0788

The linen was too stiff. It was uncomfortable and made me look like a box. Making matters worse, the first time I washed it, the seam at the ‘V’ in the front of the tunic started to pull away and fray.

IMG_0789

You can’t really tell in this photo, but the bottom of the ‘V’ is fraying on the left side. Gah!

Disaster.

So, this was a second attempt. I worked on it for a little bit each night for about a week. It’s an easy make, but this was my first time working with challis. It’s slippery and has a bit of stretch. I’m sure with some practice this will be no big deal; however, my first few seams were wavy. My seam ripper got a workout. I ended up with this:

IMG_1042

topstitching around the neck in turquoise. It looks wavy here, but really is straight.

Topstitching around the neck in turquoise thread. It looks wavy here, but really is straight.

It’s super comfy. I was bummed that the ‘V’ is a bit too low to wear out in public without a cami underneath, but otherwise, I like the fit- flowing and comfortable. I think it will make a nice cover-up poolside as well as a top for running around on weekends.

I’m particularly proud of the detail I managed at the ‘V.’ I just wish it didn’t get lost in the print:

IMG_1045

I’m calling this my ‘existential crisis tunic’ because I finished it on a day when I was not coping well with exam stress. After throwing myself a pity-party, I decided to channel my freaking out into something productive and finished this tunic.

I’m not sure what I’ll work on next. My sewing production has ground to a halt since finishing this tunic- too much studying to do. After the exams, I have a few days of nothing but sewing and mindless television watching planned. I’m soooo looking forward to it!

San Francisco and the beginnings of Me-Made-May

photo (17)

A street car in San Francisco.

Last night I returned from a conference in San Francisco. The weeks leading up to my trip were crazy busy with the end of the semester and a mad push to finish my conference paper. Despite the intensity of preparation, my presentation was pretty low-key and the trip was filled with equal parts work and pleasure. My boyfriend tagged along, which made the trip a bit of a vacation.

Trip Highlights~

The food was amazing.

Best crap EVER at Crustacean.

Best crap EVER at Crustacean.

Alcatraz exceded my expectations. The audio tour is narrated by former guards and prisoners. Hearing about the escape attempts was fascinating and the island is actually quite pretty and lush with vegetation.

On the boat to Alctraz.

On the boat to Alctraz.

The view as the boat lands on the island.

The view as the boat lands on the island.

Inside of a prison cell. Note the crochet!

Inside of a prison cell. Note the crochet!

Close up of crochet in Alcatraz cell. Apparently, this was a common hobby among inmates.

Close-up of crochet in Alcatraz cell. Apparently, this was a common hobby among inmates.

We spend a wonderful afternoon in Napa and are now wine club members at Artesa Winery. The wines were fantastic. We barely took photos- we were too preoccupied with wine!

IMG_0859

Touring the city and vineyards wore out my boyfriend, so while he napped in the hotel one afternoon, I went in search of Britex, the famous San Francisco fabric store. Luckily, it was only two blocks from our hotel. They don’t allow pictures in the store, so I’ll just share my spoils.

My goal at Britex was to purchase a boldly printed knit for a maxi dress, but I was disappointed. The knit selection was decent, but my favorite prints were really expensive. After my massive purchases at Jo-Ann’s this past month during which nothing cost me over $6 a yard, I balked at paying $45 a yard. I just couldn’t do it. I purchased only one piece of fabric, 2.5 yards of a dusty blue knit. It was reasonably priced and I love the color.

IMG_0860

My favorite part of the store was third floor with all the patterns. They stock things I can’t find in Jo-Ann’s. First, I picked up the Colette Patterns’ Beignet. I’ve been stalking this pattern for a while. I have some denim left over from my Miette that I think may work well. IMG_0857

Second, I found my pattern for The Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge! I’m not sure what fabric to use… maybe a double knit? Despite its origination in the 1920s, I think it will look fresh and modern over a T-shirt and leggings.

IMG_0858

Last, Britex stocks Burda! Both current and select past months were available. I picked up the January and April issues.
IMG_0856

IMG_0855I’m thrilled with my purchases and can’t wait to start sewing. I just wish I didn’t have a stack of student assignments to grade…

Me-Made-May, Day 1

On May 1, I wore my green knit jacket on the plane home. Unfortunately, I don’t have photographic evidence. You all will just have to believe me. It was perfect plane apparel, comfortable and warm!

In honor of National Crochet Month…

According to the Crochet Guild of America, March is National Crochet Month. I had no idea there was an entire month devoted to crochet. My knitting needles might get jealous…

In honor of National Crochet Month, I am posting my first attempt at crochet.

Ta da!

IMG_0621

A tech cozy for a Flip camera!

I know it’s not a complicated project, but it’s my FIRST finished crocheted piece. Be impressed.

IMG_0620

A few weeks ago, my mom attempted to teach my how to crochet. (I blogged about it here.) Unfortunately, Mom hasn’t crocheted since I was a wee one and had a tough time recalling some of her former skills. I decided to search for some additional help online and found a Craftsy.com class, Crochet Lab, that appeared to meet my needs. Since I’ve been having such  a good time with Craftsy.com’s Sewing with Knits, I was optimistic. The course was also on sale for $10 which helped make my decision. So far, so good. I’ve learned how to single and double crochet.

The tech cozy is the first project in the course. It’s composed entirely out of double crochet and after many failed attempts, I was finally able to crochet straightly and consistently. The yarn I used was Sheep(ish), Vickie Howell’s line for Bernat. I’m happy with the way the cozy turned out. It only took an episode or two of Psych to create and it fits the Flip camera with a little room to spare. Although it was my first project, I didn’t keep the cozy. The camera isn’t mine! It belongs to my friend M who has allowed me to borrow it on several occasions lately for a research project. I noticed it didn’t have a case, so it was the perfect candidate for my first crochet project. I gave the camera and cozy to M this weekend. She seemed rather pleased with it and was inspired to pick up her long neglected crochet hooks and learn how to create a granny square via YouTube.  Pictures were shared via text message and I am very impressed…. and jealous. I’m going to log into my Craftsy.com course and learn how to make granny squares tonight!

I’ve been a bit of a crafting fiend lately. In addition to the cozy, I crocheted a scarf for myself, also a Crochet Lab project.

IMG_0660

It looks a bit uneven in this photo, but the edges really are straight. You don’t even want to know how many times I ripped it apart to recrochet straight edges!

I finished it in a week! The scarf I knitted my brother took me a month. I am amazed how fast this came together. Again, I used Sheep(ish) yarn and the entire scarf is composed of double crochet. It’s chunky and thick texture, which I love, is due to crocheting with two strands of yarn throughout (one yarn is Plum(ish) and the other is Magenta(ish)). The result is perfect for winter days somewhere other than Florida…. I’m modeling the scarf below with a short sleeved T-shirt. It’s nearly 80 degrees here today! Oh well, it’ll be perfect for my next winter trip north.
IMG_0662

I also sewed a knit top this week. I’ll share more about that later.

And- this weekend, a project involving the following material and pattern was in full swing.

IMG_0438

IMG_0636

I just have the zip and hem to finish tonight. Assuming all goes well, this will be my first dress. I’m optimistic.

Happy National Crochet Month!

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:

IMG_0573

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

20130213/-232301.jpg

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.

20130213-233453.jpg

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.

20130213-234438.jpg

20130213-234537.jpg

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

20130213-234645.jpg

It contains some truly horrifying 70s fashion:

20130213-234800.jpg

20130213-234820.jpg

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.

20130213-235133.jpg

20130213-235153.jpg

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:

20130213-235311.jpg

And I love, love, love this sweater:

20130213-235339.jpg

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.

20130213-235630.jpg

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.

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.