Noro Mitts

Heaven. Soft, fluffy heaven.

Noro Silk Garden Yarn in color 359
Noro Silk Garden Yarn in color 359

That’s the only way I can describe the Silk Garden Yarn from Noro. It really is a shame you can’t reach through the computer screen & touch these lovelies.

It was so hard narrowing down the gratuitous yarn photos to just these two.
It was so hard narrowing down the gratuitous yarn photos to just these two.

The colors are gorgeous. Whitish gray, light charcoal gray, a touch of brown, green & a hint of gold.
Noro Mitts

I made the pattern myself & will hopefully get around one day to translating my notes into a free pattern.

See the thumb shaping?
See the thumb shaping?

My hands have been uncommonly cold this winter & I felt it was about time for a new pair of fingerless mitts to wear at work- my last having been nice, but not nearly as warm as these. So I dove into using my one skein of luscious Noro & was pleasantly surprised to find I had a little left over.

They turned out to be just a little too thick & long for fast typing, but they're sooooo soft & luxurious feeling. It would be impossible to not wear them anyway.

They turned out to be just a tad too thick & long for fast typing, but they feel sooooo soft & luxurious. It would be impossible to not wear them anyway.At Foster Beach

I hear tell there’s some Noro Silk Garden sock yarn too. One of these days it will be mine! MINE!!!

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The Perfect Sci-Fi Cap

Never before have I worn a hat that made me feel like so many things at once.

It’s probably the green color, but it feels more turban-like than the vaguely 20’s cloche it’s supposed to be. This disappointed me when I first tried it on. Then I realized it was the most awesome, perfect sci-fi cap.

While you’re supposed to wear the ruched part off to the side, I think if you put it to the front it gives off more of a Worf vibe- if his mother had been one of those green aliens.

And of course, because it is green, it makes me think of Yoda.

I don’t think Yoda appreciates my impression of him. See, my hands are supposed to be his ears.

The pattern is the Corrugated Cloche by Sara Morris from knit.wear spring 2012. It’s a fast & easy knit that can be finished in a day. The ruching- achieved by picking up stitches from rows below- helps keep things interesting. Just be sure to make the smaller size. Everyone on Ravelry is correct- the size small for a 20″ heads fits loosely on a 22″ head like mine.

I’m usually an overly cautious person, but it was so pretty on this freak 60F January day the I had to go play on the ice floes like a penguin.
Of course one of my feet went through the ice, but I was purposefully walking in a really shallow area so I was fine. Still, that seemed like a good excuse to stop pretending like I had flippers & insulating feathers.

Celebrating 200 Years of Pride & Prejudice

Ahhh, 200 years since Lizzy & Darcy got married 🙂

It’s time for a BBC/Jane Austen marathon! Of course the most appropriate way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice is to read the book. But that does present a problem if you’re trying to read & sew or knit at the same time. Perhaps an audio book. Then again, an audio book doesn’t feature Colin Firth.

Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy. Yeah, you want him.

To celebrate this bicentennial I finally finished the Chawton Mittens from the 2011 Jane Austen Knits magazine. I’ve actually been wearing them since December, but didn’t get around to fixing the mistakes I made in the silhouettes until now.
Chawton Mittens
The basic pattern is easy enough once you’ve memorized it. But my problem was putting the mittens down & not picking them up to finish the second one until a month or two later. I just couldn’t get my tension right when I started them again, so ended up ripping out & re-knitting a stretch of the second mitten about four to five times. Yikes. Glad these are finished now! Whew.Palms of the Chawton Mittens

This was my first time doing a lot of color work & I really grew to like it. It’s also my first successful project that involved cables- they might be hard to see since they don’t look like traditional knotted or Aran cables, but they make up the white border around the silhouettes.

Chawton Mitten Silhouettes
The color of the mittens is a cross between the brighter blue in the above photos & the lighter blue in the ones below.

These mittens were another exciting first too- conductive thread! The thread was kind of hairy & very coarse. I worked it in as a combo of knit stitches & like roositud color work. It works OK, but I may go in & add more. It’s just not as responsive as I would like.

The silver/gray thread on the tip of the finger is conductive thread.
The silver/gray thread on the tip of the finger is conductive thread.

I learned a lot from making these mittens & now am excited to make more cabled & fair isle projects. My only regret is that I used two different yarns for this project & the white yarn pills a lot. A lot a lot. But they have held up to public transit well enough. Detail of Chawton Mittens Colorwork

To Jane Austen! She has influenced generations of readers in ways she never could have imagined. Who would have thought her works would inspire knitting magazines?

White Chocolate Capelet

I really liked the pattern I came up with for my handspun cowl; I just didn’t think it went so well with that yarn. But a nice white canvas, that would show it off well.

This capelet was knit to be less wide but much more long than my cowl. Also, I only did the teensy bit of eyelet lace on one edge instead of both.  The added length & change of color make me feel all fancy.

Click on each image for a larger view.

 

A Handspun Cowl

Just a few days after spinning this yarn I knit it into a cowl.

 

I improvised a seed stitch pattern & a touch of lace at the edges.

The dress form I received for Christmas!
The dress form I received for Christmas!

It’s long enough to double up around my neck.

Detail of Handspun Cowl

The cowl is so so warm & cozy. During Chicago winters scarves are extremely important. They’re like the caulk that protects your body from any wind finding its way in through the top of your jacket. So I’ve been wearing this almost every day.

The color really changes depending on the light- more so than any other fabric or yarn I can think of. Sometimes it looks like a rich brown & others it looks completely gray. I’ve grown to really like each of the different colors it becomes.

Stitches, a Sewing Podcast – Steam episode 1.1

I’m as excited as if I had received free vintage fabric! But I haven’t.

The thing that’s got me dancing around the house is a podcast. I’m starting one!
Stitches, a sewing podcast - Steam episode 1.1
Stitches in a podcast for people who love to sew, with a tiny bit of knitting thrown in. It’s for people who have an interest in fashion & an addiction to fibers- as in fabric, yarn, wool, cotton, linen.  And yes, I too am surprised that a few searches turned up no other programs named ‘Stitches’.

Stitches isn’t like your usual crafting podcast. I won’t be talking about the projects on my sewing table or knitting needles. Instead, we’ll have conversations about sewing related themes.  And episodes won’t be a half an hour long or more. We don’t always have time to listen to such long podcasts- especially not when there are new episodes of Downton Abbey to watch! Instead, monthly topics will be broken into a few 5-10 minute long episodes.

Our first theme is steam & I really hope you enjoy it. Down below you’ll find some podcast notes for an easy reference to the tips I talked about- or for if you’re at work & can’t listen.

*update- I just realized that some people might have problems loading the podcast widget thingie. If so, just refresh your page or click here to listen to my podcast on PodOmatic.

  • Steam is made up of excited water molecules that relax your fabric & make it more pliable.
  • It can help smooth out you fabric or warp it out of shape.
  • Torquing happens when fabric is warped out of shape during manufacturing, but you can also do it at home.
  • Pants pockets can warp out of shape with use. To help reinforce them make stay tape by cutting a strip of muslin the width of your seam allowance & steam it a lot as you pull it out from under your iron at an angle. This will torque the fabric into a curve that should match the curve of your pants pockets.
  • Steam especially relaxes & shrinks wool.
  • To unkink yarn after it’s been knit or crocheted with, steam it. Don’t iron it. It will relax before your eyes like magic. Watch this video from the awesome TECHknitting blog to see how quickly it happens.  
  • To keep wool fabric from stretching as it hung off my ironing board I tried ironing on top of a wooden table with a mattress pad covering the table to protect it from the iron. I didn’t realize the bottom of the mattress pad was made with interfacing & not fabric. After I was done bits of interfacing were stuck in the wood grain of the table, but only in blotches where I had steamed. Water wouldn’t get it off so I scratched it off with my finger nails. I scratched little butterflies into the interfacing marks.
  • Next time I will make my ironing board the same height as my table so that as I’m ironing I can move the finished parts to the table so they don’t stretch out of shape.
The little butterfly I scratched out of the interfacing that got steamed into my sewing desk.
The little butterfly I scratched out of the interfacing that got steamed into my sewing desk.

Episode two of Stitches will talk more about interfacing, steam shrinking wool, steam related sewing gadgets & listener tips.

A HUGE humongous thanks to my boyfriend Quincy. He spent tons of time sampling the introduction music (while I lounged in bed knitting) & editing the final podcast. And re-editing as I kept re-recording. Thanks Q!

And thanks to everyone who took the time to listen. I’d love to hear any feedback, good or bad. Do you like the topic & format? What themes would you like to hear about next month?

The blobs of interfacing that were steamed into my desk.
The blobs of interfacing that were steamed into my desk.

The Amelia Earhart Aviator Cap

I'm flying high over Chicago on my way to Peru. To get there, I'll need my Amelia Earhart aviator cap. That's pronounced EAR-hart, not Ehr-hart. I suspect the cutesy-ness of the pronunciation shall endear me to my fellow pilots in the sky while I'm inspecting the Nazca Lines.

Knit hat
Flying over the city without an aircraft. (Soon I'll blog about the skirt I'm wearing)

First, they'll be shocked to see a woman flying solo, as in all by herself without a plane. But then, they'll become enamored with my hat & let me dock aboard their planes midflight to refuel. You see, the hat imbues the wearer with superpowers, the ability to fly like Superman & to charm everyone's socks off.

Knit hat

This hat has a very interesting construction. It's knit flat, almost entirely with big short rows. It was fun knitting & trying to figure out what exactly I was making. I kept thinking I was knitting a different part of the hat than I actually was.

Knit hat

The pattern, which is provided free by Flor was very explicit, to the point of redundancy, but I rather liked that as I hadn't worked short rows in some months. It was a nice refresher. And to top it all off, this baby is reversible!

Knit hat

The hat comes together with one seam up the back, which I of course accidentally sewed up the wrong way the first time.

Knit hat
Oh for shame! My gauge grew as I knit this hat. You can see the bigger stitches on the left side.

I'm really pleased with my hat, even though my gauge grew by the end of it (I seem to be having that problem with all my projects lately). But I don't think it's very noticeable.

Now if only I had aviator goggles to go with my hat. Perhaps I'll find some in a thrift shop & start a Super Aviator Club. I do know one pilot who would look cute in this cap.

 

2012, The Year of Making Things

  • 49 items sewn
  • 14 sewing projects started but not completed (not including ones I muslined but never cut into the fashion fabric)
  • 12 knitting & crocheted projects completed
  • 3 knitting projects started but not completed

A record breaking year for myself. My sewing skills have dramatically improved over the last few years (in particular this year) as I started reading sewing blogs & following patterns. Stepping down from working seven days a week to part time really helped too.

But before I go further, a little info on my numbers. These are just the projects I’ve kept track of. I’m certain there are a few more out there that have not been accounted for. Many of these have not been blogged about either- I didn’t start my blog until February & as you probably know I haven’t been doing the best of jobs posting about all my creations. That being said, 22% of my sewing projects became UFOs while approximately 13% of my knitting projects are currently UFOs (I’m not counting one I started a few days ago as I’m 99% sure it will not end up a UFO). Must do better on actually finishing things.

Top 12 of 2012 (In roughly chronological order, it’s a miracle I narrowed it down this far)

  • Eames Dress– I love design & having a dress with chairs designed by Charles & Ray Eames just puts a smile on my face
  • Flying Foxes Twirl Skirt– it’s bright & it twirls, oh & it has bunnies riding bicycles
  • Mad Men Dress– another twirling skirt, love the color
  • my Sketchbook– wrote & sketched in it nonstop
  • The Ironic Boxer Knitting Hoodie– so pretty & trimmed in ribbon depicting hand knitting diagrams, but I’m heartbroken the fabric got splotchy stains in the wash- this is a must remake
  • Biking Capris– patterned them myself & made my first gusset!
  • Veggie Dirndl Dress– vegetables, twirling, built in bra, the end
  • 1912 Corset Cover Becomes a Modern Wrap– my favorite color of the year and very flattering
  • Hedgehog Socks– cute & comfy
  • Handspun Cowl- soooo warm, besides how could I it like it when I spun the yarn myself
  • Gray Gingham Circle Skirt- twirls away a drab winter wardrobe
  • Twist on the Beach Pullover- excellent design, wear it twisted around your neck or loose & hanging

The 9 Saddest & Loneliest Creations (In roughly chronological order)

  • Criss-Cross Circle Skirt– the pocket pokes out funny & if there’s the littlest bit of water on the ground the hem gets soaked in an instant
  • Bob Marley Bag– I was in the mood for upcycling experimentation, but the bag is not entirely my style & the strap is much too long
  • Hill Billy Hot Dogs Bag- received a t-shirt for X-mas last year as a gag gift & being at a loss as to what to do with it I decided to continue my up cycling experiments
  • 1912 Scalloped Skirt– I sewed on the wrong snaps so they would always pop open, the skirt really needs to be lined even though the pattern didn’t call for it
  • 1912 Corset Cover– I used muslin so of course this isn’t a top I can really wear a lot
  • Busty Bunnies Dress– I made the egregious error of lining this in cheap poly so now it’s much to warm to wear during the summer
  • Brown & White Reversible Swirl Skirt– an unfortunate stain removing incident ruined the white side of this skirt
  • Gray Sports Top– it just wasn’t well made
  • Kilmeni Socks– much too tight at the top & they keep falling down.

All in all a good year for making things. I started this blog, for months kept up with making at least one new thing every week, worked with fabulous ladies around the world on the 1912 project, met other great bloggers not only virtually but in person, ran Frosting Fornight, learned basic glass blowing, & I’m currently working on a secret long term project that I’m very excited about. To top it off I had a very fiberful X-mas with a dress form, support spindle & rigid heddle loom chief among my presents- I’m a pretty lucky person. I also learned many new sewing & knitting techniques as well as figuring some out on my own. And very importantly, I learned that I can make a big difference in my day-to-day mood if I always wear the things I make.

2012 was a tough year, but crafting & blogging pulled me through. I’m so grateful for having started this blog; it’s kept me making things on a regular basis & has introduced me to so many wonderful people. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read my blog & comment. Hope to see you in 2013. Have a fabulous new year!

Kilmeni Socks, or What-The-High-Ho-Silver Did I Do?

Kilmeni SocksI’ve been on a knitting binge lately. Part of that has included finishing my third pair of socks. The pattern is by Donna Druchunas & called Kilmeni, after the inner socks worn by Albanian men during the beginning of the last century.

Kilmeni Socks
Mis-matching swirled toes- for shame!

Originally, when I saw the pattern in Sockupied I thought I might knit it one day, but that there were too many other pretty ones I had to do first. Well, the dire need to make my third pair of socks gripped me as I realized I had begun to only ever wear two different pairs, the two pairs I had knit earlier this fall. That’s a lot of weekly sock washing.

Back of the Kilmeni SocksThese flew off my needles (compared to how long it took to knit the first two) in about ten days. How do some people knit a pair in a weekend? Perhaps one day I’ll become a sock knitting warlord & be able to write a fantabulous new sock pattern a week while knitting up a pair or two a weekend & I will call my kingdom Rock-em-Sock-em-topia & everyone will wear socks all the time & always in place of normal clothing & they’ll even put them on their heads, like Dobby from Harry Potter.

But until then I’ll try to be content with knitting socks in less than two weeks.

Wardrobe change with the Kilmeni SocksThe pattern on these is much easier to follow than you might imagine. It was probably the fastest I’ve ever memorized a pattern too.

However, I made a few mistakes. First up was casting on during my morning commute. I wasn’t quite awake yet so decided to turn my knitting over to pick up stitches for the toe instead of not turning them like the instructions told me to. I realized why this was undesirable shortly after doing it, but was too tired to care. Honestly, I like having unsightly purl bumps on the outside of one toe because I can more easily distinguish the left sock from the right one.

When I left the house in my butter yellow socks & purple tyvek shoes I felt pretty darn good. Then I got home & my boyfriend told me I looked like an Easter egg.
When I left the house in my butter yellow socks & purple tyvek shoes I felt pretty darn good (note that I did NOT wear my pants rolled up all day). Then I got home & my boyfriend told me I looked like an Easter egg.

Speaking of toes, what-the-high-ho-silver happened to the swirls? The toes are supposed to have very pretty swirls in opposite directions. Somehow the left one got lost under my foot. I’m not even sure I cast that one on while sleepy.

I’m also mildly annoyed at the uneven column of lace down the back. That’s right where the pattern called for the stitches to be broken up between two double pointed needles. Try as I might to tighten my gauge on the looser half oh the lace it just wouldn’t stay even with its partner.

Bottom of my Kilmeni Socks
See the mis-matching toes? It’s like the bottom of one foot is a selfish child & demanding to keep the swirl all for itself.

Finally, I was flippingly cheesed off & fuming like a bull over some non-knitting related things towards the end of this project. That anger translated into super tight stitches, which I thought would be good for the cuffs- I’m tired of my hand knit socks slouching down. However, it was not good for binding off. You can see in some of the pictures that the socks are biting into my legs a bit. I think the tightness might actually be causing them to slip down more than they would otherwise. Perhaps I’ll redo the bind off, but I don’t like the idea of joining new yarn to the edge of the fabric.

My new socks might look better in my lime green shoes. What do you think?
My new socks might look better in my lime green shoes. What do you think? Also, does anyone know how to clean satin shoes?

A few last construction notes- on each of my socks I’ve learned a new technique for the toes & heels. This was my first time doing a swirl toe & an afterthought (aka peasant) heel. I like the look of the heel, but think the short row is my favorite. Also, I lengthened the leg an inch longer than the pattern called for, which I think makes for a much more attractive sock.

Despite my construction problems I would recommend the pattern to others- my mistakes seem entirely of my own creation. When it comes down to it, I’m happy to have a new pair of socks. My old ones are already starting to felt on the soles!

Which shoes do you think go best with my new socks? Any footwear suggestions?

Kilmeni Socks in Green Satin Shoes
Do you think this combination looks like Easter too?

Crafting for a Happier Life

You know those times in your life that just suck? I’m there right now & like most of us I’ve been there before too. But this past week I’ve noticed something different about my current disposition. While I’m really sad (much too much family drama), I’m not as bad off as when I’ve faced similar depressive periods. I contribute this more upbeat mood to crafting- supportive friends not withstanding.

How I wish I could deal with my problems. [via]
How I wish I could deal with my problems. [via]
I like to fancy I beat all my problems over the head until I can find some sort of peace, but more often I end up dwelling & ruminating in a bad way. By wearing the things I’ve made I’ve given myself a distraction & a mental boost. It helps me focus on the positive things in my life.

It’s been an especially nice realization because a few months ago I mused about this very thing- could wearing my me-made garments improve my overall mood. Who doesn’t like to be proved right? This is not to say that wearing self-made items will significantly improve everyone’s mood or that Blammo! all depression will be zapped away. I only mean that in my case it’s made a noticeable difference.

I can’t remember on what blog I read it, but it summed things up perfectly so I’ll paraphrase- knit to create your own warmth in an otherwise cold world.

All the things I’ve made help carry me through my day, gentle reminders of what I’m capable of doing & that I’m able to shape the world around me, albeit in small ways. They’re little bits of beauty that I created- nothing to change the world, but enough to put a smile on my face.

Of course I’ve also been sewing & knitting like a mad woman.

photo
My current sock project sitting on the circle skirt I just finished. New socks are needed to keep up with the daily demand of wearing only me-made socks.

There’s all sorts of anecdotal evidence about knitting being similar to meditation, i.e. helps with depression, encourages mindfulness, etc. Most of my knitting happens during my work commute. Although I can ruminate an awful lot while knitting, the mere act is soothing & I’m trying to be more mindful about it. A recent search into knitting & meditation showed me that some knitters do things you would during meditation. When thoughts bubble up just acknowledge them, then let them go. My early, faltering attempts have proved helpful.

And when I get home I sew. Often much too late into the night, which doesn’t always yield the best results. But making progress & being close to finishing a garment makes me feel excited & helps me concentrate on the good things. It’s also hard to feel woefully depressed when there’s so much pride & satisfaction to be had from finished projects.

Have any of you noticed a difference in your day-to-day disposition when you wear something you’ve made every day? Even if the only me-made thing I’m wearing is socks, it makes a difference. Have such small things helped you, or does the outfit you’ve made need to be particularly well-executed & special for it to boost your mood?