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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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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!

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.

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…

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.

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.

Sewing with knits: Sweatshirt success!

A month or so ago, I discovered Craftsy.com and I am now a HUGE fan. I looked around locally for apparel sewing classes and found only a few quilting workshops. Through some random googling of “sewing classes,” I discovered Craftsy.com. I was immediately excited. Craftsy offers asynchronous online classes in a variety of crafty areas, including apparel making! The classes aren’t terribly expensive, have good user reviews, and appear to be taught by experts in the field. The first sewing class I viewed, Sewing with Knits, looked like a winner. I found an online coupon code and $15 later, I was printing out five different knit patterns and getting ready to watch the first in a long series of “how to” videos hosted by Meg of Sew Liberated.

Since my schedule is pretty crazy (working from 8am to 12am is normal- urgh!), I have very slowly watched video lessons and gathered supplies for the projects featured in the course. I finished the first project this weekend, a fleece hoodie, and I am crazy proud of myself!

Trying on my new comfy weekend sweatshirt

Trying on my new comfy weekend sweatshirt

I cut the size small and didn’t alter it. I probably should have gone with the extra small as this is a little big, but I like the fact it covers my bum when I wear leggings and is roomy enough to layer over a sweater. I bought the fabric Meg suggested, a natural organic cotton from Near Sea Naturals. It was a bit pricy, but it did wash and dry well and has a lovely soft feel. Unfortunately, it’s been about 80 degrees this week, so I haven’t been able to wear it yet.This might sit in a drawer until my next trip north.

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MIllie inspected the finished garment .

MIllie, my furry sewing companion, inspected the finished garment.

The course itself is such a pleasure. Meg’s teaching background is obvious- both the video lessons and resource materials are clear, concise, and generally user-friendly.

The only thing about the course that worried me was Meg’s personal style. She’s eco-chic. She recommends organic fabrics and her finished products have a slightly hippy vibe. It works well for her, but while I love the environment as much as the next girl, there isn’t anything “eco” about my style. Since I went with her fabric recommendation, I think my finished sweatshirt is a bit on the granola side, but I still like it. It’s just sooo comfy! The next two projects are t-shirts. For these, I purchased knit fabrics at Joann’s that aren’t organic and probably weren’t created in an environmentally friendly way, but they are more representative of my usual style. Based on how easy the sweatshirt was to make by following Meg’s instructions, I am really excited to try the t-shirts. If only I didn’t have hours of work to do…