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!

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.

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.