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.

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Recounting the beginnings

Top 5 of 2012

2012 is nearly over and I was hesitant to put up a year-end wrap-up post. After all, I’ve only been sewing for 3 months! I decided to go for it anyway when I saw Gillian’s lovely “Top 5” graphic on a few other sewing blogs (above). So, here are my top 5 for 2012 (well, October through December)…

Top 5 Reasons I’m in Love with Sewing:
1. It’s a tangible endeavor.
-Most of what I do at work/school is intangible. I find creating a tangible product incredibly gratifying.
2. I’m in control.
-I’m a bit type-A (Who am I kidding? I am very Type-A). The complete control this hobby allows me suits my personality.
3. My creations have utility.
-I’m typing this up while wearing the grey PJ pants I made last week.
4. The online sewing community is amazing.
-I’m so inspired by the garments and personal style of other sewing bloggers. I even posted a question on Handmade Jane and received a very helpful email in response. How great is that?!
5. It’s so relaxing!
-I totally get lost in the process. It gets my mind away from books, papers, and deadlines. I have a tough time not working, so I need this sort of distraction.

I’m looking forward to sewing my way through 2013. There is so much to learn, at the risk of sounding too gushy, I can’t wait!

Snow on Boxing Day and a dearth of fabric stores in the capital

Squee! Snow!

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“Ohhh, it’s so pretty!” I gushed to my boyfriend as the wet flakes floated down. This Florida girl turns into a five-year-old whenever she sees snow. My boyfriend took the above photo in Soho on Boxing Day in between my oh-ing and ah-ing.

I’ve been traveling throughout the frozen north this holiday. My BF recently moved to DC, so I headed to his place and we traveled to NYC from there to spend a few days visiting his family. We had a lovely time. The 24th was my birthday, so he took me out for an amazing 5 course champaign lunch at Bouley. It was heaven! I really wanted to take pictures of the food, but my BF thinks it’s tacky, so I withheld. I did take a pic of the ladies restroom. It was so beautiful, I couldn’t help myself!

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After lunch, we grabbed a cab to 30 Rock and saw the famous Christmas tree. The plaza was packed, but everyone was in such a nice mood, it didn’t feel oppressive. The tree is pretty spectacular. The photo below really doesn’t do it justice.

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Sewing Update

Since I’ve been away from my sewing machine, no new sewing projects have been attempted. I have, however, had a chance to wear several recently created items:

1. The PJ bottoms have been worn a lot in the frozen north. They have proven to be as comfy and snuggly as I hoped. They’ve even survived the washer and dryer!

2. I wore my plaid skirt on my birthday. I am sure I was the only woman in Bouley sporting me-made “couture!”

3. The puffy brown skirt also made it into the suitcase. I haven’t worn it yet but certainly will before heading home after the New Year.

While I wasn’t able to visit any of the fabric stores in NYC (maybe next time), I did look up fabric stores in DC. I have ample time to shop in the capital, but I’ve been disappointed. I can’t find a single fabric store in the city! Apparently, people here don’t sew. I guess I will have to satisfy my new hobby by reading about techniques and browsing online venues. I already have my eye on some vintage skirt patterns on eBay. I also plan on using my free time to scheme my next sewing projects. I’m learning planning is half the fun!