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.

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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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.

Knitting progress & new patterns for 2013

Since learning the basics of knitting exactly one week ago at The Knitting Loft in D.C., I have started a scarf. Here’s my progress thus far:

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I’m pleased as punch with how it’s coming along. I purchased the yarn at The Knitting Loft with Cheryl’s help before I left D.C. and headed back home to sunny Florida. The yarn is produced by a company called Kollage Yarns and is created from recycled blue jeans. How cool is that?! Assuming it continues to come out well, I plan to give it to my boyfriend for his birthday. Fingers crossed!

In sewing news… I am back home with my machine and am excited to get started on some patterns I ordered over the holiday. I’m still on a high from the successful creation of the PJ pants and am optimistic about my next pattern experience.

I purchased four patterns and the last arrived just yesterday:

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I’m going to start with the 2-hour skirt (New Look 0119). Since the 1-hour PJ pants took me 4 1/2 hours, I’m skeptical.

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I’d like to give knits a try, so I purchased this pattern (Butterick 5789). I like view B best. I think it will be nice in the A/C. It claims to be “fast and easy.” We’ll see…

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This one is super cute (McCalls M6604). I really like the cream gauzy-sleeved top on the right. It reminds me of a Chloe top from a season or two ago.

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The last pattern is my favorite and will probably be a major challenge (Butterick B5851). I love versions A and C. I envision making this pattern at least twice, once in a formal fabric and once in a more casual and washable print to put into regular closet rotation.

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The words “fast” and “easy” are not anywhere on the envelope, so I think I will hold off on attempting this one until I have a bit more sewing experience. Maybe by 2014?