Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shoes! Fluevog Amandas, To Be Exact.

My camera crapped out this afternoon while I was taking pictures, so for today here's some shoe goodness from the Fluevog site!

I went into the city this afternoon and picked up a pair of these Fluevog Amandas.  I tried them on a few days ago, went home and took a long hard look at my closet to make sure that they'd be a practical  purchase - inasmuch as a pair of pink oxfords can be practical - and then returned today to buy them.  These will fill a gap in my closet of shoes that are relatively casual, polished enough to wear with a pair of slacks or a skirt, and low-heeled for walking, which I do a lot of these days.

And have I mentioned that they're pink?

Photo copyright Fluevog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

FO: Construction Class

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That's right: I am the proud creator of a pair of tiny pants, a camp shirt with mismatched buttons, and an itty-bitty skirt.  Now I just have to find some extremely tall, thin eight-year olds who could wear them.

These three garments are the finished products of my construction class for school.  I had almost finished the skirt and camp shirt over three months ago, but hadn't done a few little things, like sewing the buttons on the camp shirt and hand-sewing the last six inches of the skirt hem.  The pants, on the other hand, I hadn't even started a little over a month ago.  I've been going in to school five hours a day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the last month or so, and getting going on the pants was high on my list of things to do.

Finally, last night around 10 pm, I sewed the hook and eye on the pants, and they were done.

This class taught me a huge amount about the actual big-picture details of sewing garments.  Sewing swatches is helpful for learning concepts, but I have to admit that I didn't really understand how a French seam really worked on a garment until I sewed one on the side seam of the tiny skirt.  I feel a lot more confident in my sewing abilities, and I'm excited to get a table in my studio so I can start doing some sewing and pattern work at home!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pattern Review: Wool People 3

Wah!  Another Wool People is out, and once again I'm in love.  This time, it's slightly unexpected, though - where usually I go for the accessories, I am in mad desperate love with the sweaters in this collection.  Here are my highlights:

Brecken, by Amy Christoffers

I want this cardigan in my sweater drawer.  Right.  Now.  It's easy, but has a little bit of detail.  Not too fitted, not too loose.  Would go perfectly with jeans and a t-shirt, or over a dress as it's styled here.  Love love love love love.

Corrina, by Ann McCauley

I have a little grey pullover that I bought for about five dollars a few years ago, and last winter I wore the crap out of it.  Corrina reminds me of that sweater, but even better - I love the lattice pattern at the hems and the hint of a v-neck on a slightly wide crew neck.  I don't usually like crew necks, but having that little detail at the neckline makes it wearable and pretty.  It's also a slight A-line, which I tend to like as a silhouette.

Reine, by Alexis Winslow

Another frigging adorable cardigan.  This one is a little sweeter than the first, with the cabled button band and pocket opening that give it a soft, vintage feel.  I've also been favoring this type of sweater lately, with a nearly straight front neckline.  I've found this type of piece is easy to layer, because I don't have a v-neck or crew neck interfering with the neckline of the shirt underneath it.

Biston, by Mercedes Tasovich-Clark

Another good layering piece.  I think this would be a great little shrug to throw over a sundress on a cool summer night, and I like that they styled it that way.  

Walpole, by Hannah Fettig

I adore the silhouette of this sweater.  Unfortunately, I have to give it only an honorable mention in terms of wearability for me, but only because it has a raglan sleeve, and I can't wear raglans.  Otherwise I think this sweater is very flattering - I like the vertical detail at the front, it really draws the eye up to the face.


As an aside: I realized a while ago that I can't wear raglans and didn't know why, and I finally asked the head of my school what would make them a bad fit for my body type.  She stood me up, took one look at me, and told me that my shoulders are narrow and rounded, and raglans emphasize that.  Who knew??  For some reason, I always thought that my shoulders were wide, but I realize now that every time I do a fashion illustration I tend to make my croquis' shoulders narrower because I'm used to my own proportions.  Fashion school has been awesome for learning how to be honest about my own body without value judgements, to fit the body that I have instead of holding out for the body I could have if my genetics were different or if I worked out three hours a day.


Anyhow!  Overall, I loved this issue of Wool People.  I really like that they've started designing sweaters out of Loft, the fingering weight sister yarn to Shelter, because I find that I really enjoy both knitting and wearing lighter-weight garments.

There's also a new feature in the back that makes the design nerd in me sing: flat sketches.  A flat sketch is a technical diagram of the important construction details in a garment - raglan sleeve versus set in, waist shaping versus a-line, etcetera - and outside of school, I've most often seen them on the backs of sewing pattern packets.  Most (maybe all?) of Brooklyn Tweed's patterns have these flat sketches, but this is the first time that they've been included as part of the lookbook.  I find that tremendously helpful when planning a garment.

Apparently I will never tire of the Wool People series, because I'm perhaps even more enamored of this one than issues past - which is saying something!  Go team Brooklyn Tweed!

All photographs are copyright Brooklyn Tweed 2012.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Finishing: Zelda

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At this point, poor Zelda deserves her own category of In Progress.  She's a ZIP, not a WIP!  Hahah.

Dumb jokes aside, I've started to feel good about this project again.  It's a Joan McGowan-Michael pattern, and although I love her aesthetic, I fought tooth and nail with this pattern.  This last weekend, I pulled Zelda out from my I-should-really-finish-this-eventually basket and started working on her again.  It's hard to see the difference, but I sewed the shoulder seams and picked up the neckline.  As we speak, she's taking a warm bath so that setting in the sleeves is easier.

Initially, I had been a little worried about how fitted this sweater is going to be, but after trying her on again today I think the fit will turn out just fine.  I expect her to grow a little bit in washing, which hopefully will help tremendously with the fit issues I wasn't sure about, namely in the tummy/high hip area.  I find that sweaters with negative ease in the bust and waist, and a bit of positive ease down from the waist to the hip, is a pretty good look for me - this sweater is negative ease all over, so I'll need to wear her over skirts or high-waisted slacks in order to maintain that hourglass silhouette.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Before Blocking: Ashton in Giverny

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I finished my Ashton the other day, and I'm really happy with how it turned out!  I was a little nervous about my yarn amounts because I used a bigger needle size, but I ended up having around 30 yards left over.  Overall, this was a super fun and quick little knit - and now my shawlette-blocking pile is up to three!  I'm thinking about buying some Inspinknity flexible blocking wires so I can block the circular shawls more easily.

Today's another busy day - I'm going out to lunch with my friend Palomino and then heading out to knitting on the Eastside - but first, I'm picking up two skeins of Cascade Alpaca Lace from a local fabric store!  I got the new Knit Wear magazine yesterday, and fell in love with two different tops out of it.  I already had two skeins of Alpaca Lace in a soft lavender color, and one of the tops I love, called the Froth Mobius, calls for 4 skeins of that yarn.  I called the fabric shop where I bought the yarn originally and they happened to have two more skeins of the same dyelot!  Hurrah!

I do solemnly swear that this purchase is for stashbusting, even if I am doubling the amount of yarn I have.  We'll just overlook that little detail.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

FO: Embroidery Swatch

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So on my Big Damn List of Stuff to Get Done, there is a notebook of swatches from Sewing I, II, and III to finish.  I had just a few things to get done here and there, so I've been going in to school on Wednesday nights to work on it.  I decided to work on the embroidery swatch at home, since hand-sewing can be so time consuming.

So yesterday, I sat and watched many episodes of Glee and did some embroidery on the drawn-thread hem stitch square from last week.  I knew that I wanted to use a few particular stitches, so I made up this little fern and flower motif.  Originally, I just used the lavender and dark green thread, but the flowers looked a little bare without anything in the center, so I grabbed a length of yellow thread yesterday when I was at the school working on pants construction.


Initially, I had just freehand sketched some flowers on the back and stitched over the sketches, but I didn't like how sloppy it looked.  I started searching for something small and circular to trace instead, and found the perfect thing - a bobbin!  So I traced the outside and inside circles of the bobbin, marked six points on the outside and six on the inner circle, and went to town.  Even though each petal isn't quite perfect, I like it much better!

I did yellow French knots in the centers of the flowers, and let me tell you, they're a total pain.  I finally figured out that since the knots are not technically not secured, the coils come undone if you pull too hard on the thread or mess with the coils too much.  It took me many tries and a lot of cursing to make knots that I was happy with.

Even though it's a simple design, the overall effect is exactly what I was going for.  And now the embroidery portion of my sewing notebook is done!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mac Attack!

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The furry person in our house has been getting more time out of his cage as life has calmed down from the move, and he's been chilling out more as a result.  He's still pretty squirrelly most of the time, but sometimes he'll burrow into the couch or the pillows on our bed and hang out for a while.  I've learned not to have a blanket covering me when he's out, though - he likes to bite feet and knees, but only when he can't see them!

You'll have to excuse my pajamas - I was taking pictures of Lumberjack with Mackie and he traded me the rat for the camera.


He did finally stay still for a couple of minutes, and was rewarded greatly with willow chew sticks and yogurt drops.

It's a hard, hard life for a rat.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why Are You Still a WIP, Wisp? Oh Right, Buttons!

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Last Friday I took a trip to the Eastside to have lunch with my friend Palomino, go to knitting group, and have dinner with my parents.  I took Palomino to a local yarn shop for the first time, and we had a ton of fun looking at yarn.  I love introducing new knitters to the good stuff!

I also stopped by the fabric store to look at buttons for my Wisp.  This scarf is so lightweight that it needs super light buttons, and I was thinking that I would go with a neutral mother-of-pearl button.  I was all set to buy some copper-colored buttons when I decided to lay out these yellow buttons on the scarf - just for fun!  I liked the color combination so much that I bought them.


I figure the scarf already looks like muppet fur, so I might as well go all out.  I still haven't figured out what kind of outfit I'll be able to wear this scarf with, but that can come later!

Friday, June 15, 2012

WIP: Ashton in Giverny

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Well, it's official: I have become a tiny-adorable-shawl knitting factory.  I've started another one.

The other night, I had cast on for Laminaria in pure silk laceweight, but realized about twelve rows in that I should have changed some k3togs into sssks, otherwise the pattern ends up asymmetrical.  Now, I love me some asymmetry, but I think it has to be a prominent design element in order to appear intentional.  And the thought of ripping out pure silk makes me want to cry a little inside.

Enter the Ashton Shawlette.  I saw this pattern on Ravelry a while back and liked it, and saw it again yesterday and suddenly had to have one.  It's a free pattern, and it takes one skein of Tosh Merino Light.  Jackpot!

I also noticed that while the designer has several extremely beautiful shawl patterns for sale, this adorable shawlette is free.  I'm not sure if this is intentional or not, but I think offering a free pattern is a great way to introduce people to your designs - that way, if they love the free pattern, they're more likely to pay for a pattern later.  Very smart!


I have many a free agent skein of Tosh Merino Light in my stash, because I know that one skein makes a nice little shawlette and I can't resist the colors.  This one is called Water Lily, and I love it madly.  Pink and green, two of my favorite colors, brilliantly blended somehow into one cohesive colorway.

So I wound it up and started yesterday, and between a knitting/lunch date with a friend and my Issaquah knitting group tonight, I'm hoping to make some major headway today!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beauty in Tedium

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Today I had the bright idea that I would do a little bit of embroidery, then write a blog post.  So I spent about two hours hand-sewing this frigging 6-inch section of muslin with drawn thread hemstitching.  I used a regular old sewing needle and waxed sewing thread, which I can't recommend enough for hand-sewing.

Most craft stores sell little blocks of wax in a plastic container.  You pull the thread through the wax, grab a piece of scrap fabric, sandwich the thread in between two layers of the fabric, and run the iron over the whole length of thread - I usually press four or five inches on one end of the thread, then set the iron down on top of my thread sandwich and pull the rest of the thread through.  This sets the wax and keeps the thread from twisting around so much.

Anyhow, the first hour and a half of sewing this?  Totally fun.  You essentially pull some weft threads and bind the two edges that it creates, bundling the bare warp threads as you go.  It was pretty cool to watch the whole thing go from holey to pretty and lined in tiny, tiny stitches.

The last half hour, however, sucked.  My hands started cramping up and I practically started going crosseyed.  Luckily, now that I've done this, any embroidery that I do on this swatch next is guaranteed  to be painless!  Probably.  Hopefully.  Please.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I've been having a sucky couple of days - silverfish in the bathtub, frustration at school, hardcore awful eczema that only seems to respond to steroids... the list goes on.  So, because I'm feeling a little too cranky for my own liking, here's a short list of things that I love and appreciate today.

copyright Joji Locatelli

1.  Joji Locatelli's June knitalong scarf, To Infinity and Beyond.  I love this pattern, and I think it looks gorgeous in a lightly variegated yarn.  I found it a few weeks ago on Ravelry and loved it, but forgot to favorite it... then completely forgot who designed it or what it was called.  With Lumberjack's help, I searched my web history (which was hard, because I troll patterns on Ravelry... a lot) and found it by searching KAL and cowl.  Win!

I think this skein of Dream in Color Smooshy With Cashmere is just the ticket to make a big, squishy pink-purple version of this cowl.


2.  Lists.


I wrote this list of all of the classwork I have to finish a few weeks ago, and have been steadily chipping away it since.  It's felt really good to get things finished.  It's also interesting that I feel so much better about myself and life in general when I have structure and goals.  I think that has been a big adjustment for me since graduating; where college was about living up to other people's expectations, post-grad life has been much more about figuring out what expectations I have for myself.  The last year has been hard in that way, but I think (hope?) there's been forward progress.

3.  Friends.


A few weeks ago, two different friends sent me wonderful things - one in the mail, and one home with Lumberjack from work.  A few weeks before that, one of my best knitting friends from college - who is currently living abroad - sent me a gift shawl pattern on Ravelry.  It made me feel really loved, and it made me miss them like crazy.

I've also been spending time with some really awesome women in both my new knitting group and my Issaquah knitting group, and I can't even say how much I enjoy hanging out with them every week.

Since moving and starting to work harder at school, I feel like I've been really sucking at giving back in these friendships, but I'm hoping that I can come back down to earth and be a good friend again soon.

4.  People who post silly animal pictures and videos on the intarwebs for all to enjoy.

cute rat picture does not belong to me... but still cute!

There - crankiness averted!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

WIP: Hedera Socks

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Last night, Lumberjack and I started watching Battlestar Galactica.  I needed a project to work on, so I pulled out these Hedera socks, which have been in progress since the end of April.  I knit the last eight repeats or so, finished the toe, and shazam!  New pair of socks.  Now I just need to wash them and weave in the ends.


I was looking back at my sock goals list from earlier this year, and realized that I'm pretty far off of where I was planning to be - but maybe not in a bad way!  Out of the four skeins of sock yarn I chose:

1.  Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, Robin's Egg
2.  Socks That Rock lightweight, Water Lilies
3.  Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, Dove
4.  Sundara Yarn Sock, Cobalt over Mediterranean (I think?)

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I've knit up one skein into a different pattern than I had originally planned, destashed one, and the other two still haven't been knit up.  Despite that, one pair of socks is a start - now I've just got to make some more!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend WIP: Afternoon Tea

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After I finished Summer Flies a few weeks ago, I didn't feel quite ready to be done with knitting cute little shawlettes, so I decided to cast on for a new one!  I started Afternoon Tea, one of the patterns that I was drooling over last week.

This yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Robin's Egg, and it's been in my stash for about two years.  It was originally slated to be a pair of socks, but I decided to scrap that idea; I was about to wind up a different colorway of Tosh Sock in my stash, and then realized that this one was already wound.  And what with my decision to try to use up wound-up balls in my stash, I figured that this was a good opportunity!


I wasn't 100% sure about the color, but now that it's cast off, I think I like it.  I don't have much pale turquoise in my wardrobe, which is interesting because I love pale turquoise/red combinations!

I used almost all of the yarn - I probably have 10-20 yards left, which is a bit more than the designer had when she finished.  I think I'll chalk it up to slight differences in gauge (I didn't check before I started - bad knitter!), and perhaps a difference in skein weights.  I was just glad to have plenty to finish the picot bind off, which took forever but looks super cute.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thinking About Stash

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In preparation for our move, I did a pretty big stash overhaul.  I pulled the yarns that I was pretty sure I wasn't attached to anymore, and ended up destashing quite a bit thanks to my Issaquah knitting buddies.  My reasons for culling certain yarns were varied: some I had bought with a specific project in mind that didn't work out, some I had swatched and hadn't enjoyed working with, and some were lovely yarns, but not something I would choose to buy today.

I've found my tastes have started skewing heavily towards hand-dyes, as many people's have in the last few years.  I enjoy working with them and I enjoy petting and/or wearing the final product, too.  There are still many yarns that I like that are commercially dyed - Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter and Loft, Isager yarns, and many Classic Elite yarns, to name a few - but for one-skein projects, I really love me some Madelinetosh, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and Malabrigo.

My total stash reduction from the destashing?

3,147 yards, pictured above.

My total knit this year so far?

5, 245 yards.

Not too shabby!

And, in the interests of getting my stash content down to stuff that I really adore - and because skeins are pretty! - I've been thinking about going through and knitting up the skeins that have been wound into balls.

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Plus a few more whose photos are on my old computer, which I can't get to.

Yeeeeeah, so that's totally not unreasonable.