Sweater fail

I knit a box.

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A box with weird bell-like sleeves.

As my first sweater, this is technically a success. I finished it in about a week and I can wear it. I just don’t want to…

It is the Nati sweater, a paid download through Ravelry.com. After some hunting on Ravelry, I settled on this pattern because it looked like a simple make and I felt comfortable taking it on as my first attempt at a sweater. The yarn is Cascade Yarns Lana Grande, a thick and slightly scratchy wool. It was purchased at a yarn store down in Florida.

Most of this sweater was knit in the hospital during my fiance’s brief stay a few months ago. Unpleasant memories of knitting it probably aren’t helping my distaste for the finished product.

I tried to wear it a few nights ago for drinks with girl friends, but I stopped  cold as I passed by a mirror in my apartment. Eek! I looked like a box with overgrown sleeves. Needless to say, a sweater change ensued.

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Since I don’t think I’ll ever wear this sweater and the yarn wasn’t cheap, I plan to frog it. Maybe I’ll knit a scarf and hat combo instead. I could use those and fit won’t be an issue.

I haven’t given up on knitting a sweater and recently started another. I’m working through a Craftsy.com class, My First Knit Sweater by Lion Brand Yarn. It’s a simple moss green cardigan- a wardrobe stable. So far, so good. Hopefully, my  current efforts will yield a wearable garment.

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Life in the frozen north

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I miss Florida. Palm trees…. the ocean…. herons…. alligators… I miss it all. I also miss being warm.

The only upside to dealing with cold weather is snow. DC has experienced some snow in the last few weeks and I love snow! I really love snow when I’m nestled warmly into my sofa with a steaming mug of hot chocolate.

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Snowy DC rooftops

Unfortunately, I sometimes have to leave my warm apartment while it is snowing or has just finished snowing. At these times, I am very glad I’ve learned to knit. The ensemble above has been worn a lot this winter. I admit, I look sinister. I’m writing it off as the price of warmth. I bought the puffy black coat from NY and Company on sale before the holidays and made the hat and cowl. The cowl was knit first. I purchased the yarn and pattern from Craftsy.com. It was the November 2013 Mystery Knit-Along.

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The yarn is from Sweet Georgia Yarns and the color is called  terracotta.  Acacia Cowl is the name of the pattern. This was my first attempt using cables in a knitting project. I took a cable class this summer at a yarn store back in Florida, but hadn’t used my new skills in a project. These cables were very easy to create and didn’t require a cable needle.

After I finished the cowl, I decided to make a matching hat. I ordered another skein of the terrocatta yarn and found a cabled hat pattern through Ravelry.com.

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The cables are different, so I think of the two pieces as coordinating rather than matching. The pattern did require a cable needle, but I enjoyed the fancy-shmancy stitching. I’m putting this FO down as a success.

If you haven’t tried knitting cables yet, I encourage you to go for it! It wasn’t hard and who doesn’t like the look of a classic cable?

Happy creating in 2014!

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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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!

Cupcakes, polka dots, & more plum

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Two new projects were started this evening. One involves the fabric above and this green bit for accents.

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I cut and marked the pieces so it is ready to be put together this weekend.

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My love affair with plum continues… The second project I began today is slowly growing on my knitting needles. I haven’t knit in a week and I’ve missed it. I’m worried this may be an early sign of a knitting addiction. The new project will require I learn how to create a lacy edge. I’m excited!

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Finished projects: A cozy knit jacket, an icky v-neck, and a chunky scarf

Knit Jacket (Butterick B5789)

Brrrr… it’s cold here in Florida this weekend. Perfect weather for my Saturday sewing project, a comfy knit jacket!

Butterick B5789. I made up view B.

Butterick B5789. I made up view B.

I purchased this pattern during the winter holidays with the intention of created view “B.” I bought some thick moss green knit fabric for the jacket, but both pattern and fabric sat on my shelf for a few weeks while I figured out how to work with knits through the Craftsy.com Sewing with Knits course. I started sewing this up around noon yesterday and finished around midnight. It would have taken way less time if I had not had to reinsert the sleeves about a thousand times each. Even using basting stitches, sleeve insertion was not pretty. The sleeve has a sort of pointed oval shape due to darts defining the shoulders.

The sleeve darts- they look lux and reinforce the shoulder.

The shoulder darts- they look lux and reinforce the shoulder.

They look lovely on the finished garment, but made the sleeve an awkward shape to insert into the sleeve opening. (I also took breaks for meals, snacks, and playing with/shooing the cat  out of my sewing materials. For some unknown reason she is obsessed with my seam ripper. She loves trying to bat it around the table, on the floor, etc.)

Here is the finished jacket:

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Me- headless in my new jacket.

An attempt to show the side/back of the jacket

An attempt to show the side/back of the jacket

I cut the small. The only alteration I made was to the sleeves. They were too short, so I added an extra bit of fabric to give it a cuffed look. It’s not perfect, but I think it looks okay.

Through this make, I learned that the stretch stitches on my machine are okay after all (I wasn’t happy with them after my last project). I think the problem had been the fabric and not my machine. For this jacket, I used a sort of basket weave-looking stitch (I have no idea if it has a name…). It is super stretchy and, since I can’t use a double needle, I think it looks pretty along the hem of the jacket. It gives it a nice finished look.

The stretch stitch

The stretch stitch

The finished jacket is incredibly comfortable. It covers my bum, so I think I will wear it a lot with leggings and boots.

The v-neck t-shirt

Oh, ick. Just ick. I created the second knit top in the Craftsy.com Sewing with Knits course, a v-neck t-shirt, and the pattern is all wrong for me. I don’t tend to wear v-necks because they nearly always hit my chest at a bad spot giving the world quite a peek at my cleavage. This v-neck was no exception. I’d have to wear a tank under it and I hate having to do that. It’s too hot in Florida to layer tops! So, I did not take any photos of this make and I doubt I’ll ever wear it. Since I adore the scoop neck t-shirt I made from the course (and have worn it several times already), I’m going to chalk this one up to style and move on.

Chunky scarf

Although I didn’t get much sewing done during the week, I did work on the scarf for my brother’s birthday. I finished it late Friday night.

It clashes with my top, but you get the idea...

It clashes with my top, but you get the idea…

The design is called “man scarf” and I found it through Ravelry.com.  I widened the scarf by eight stitches and kept going until it was long enough to double and wrap around my neck comfortably.

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My brother has been doing a lot of snow boarding recently, so while this isn’t the sort of  scarf he’ll want to wear on the slopes, I think it will be nice when he’s back at the lodge with the guys enjoying a few beers. His birthday isn’t until May, so maybe I can figure out how to make a matching hat by then?

Yarn used: Bernat Alpaca Natural Blends in tomato. I used 2 and 1/2 skeins.

Time until completion: About a month. I worked on it a bit at a time each night after work.

Up next on my sewing table and on the knitting needles?

I have all that lovely plum yarn from a shopping trip a few weeks ago… I think it’s time to make a scarf for me!

This afternoon, I cut the pattern for a silky top with a warm weather vibe. I hope to get started on it this evening.

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.