Knitting and Love

The most amazing things have come into my life in the last month and half as a result of (or in conjunction with) my decision to knit again. I’m not an expert or long-time knitter, but last winter I knit three sweaters, two of them Elizabeth Zimmermans under the influence of Kate over at Fabrickated. Then I put down my needles. I was somewhat tired of knitting endless rows of stocking stitch, have no desire to get into complicated stuff, and wondered how many hand-knit sweaters I needed. Three seemed like enough to me.

But in September I found I had two desires — one to join a “knitting circle” as a means of having some sort of social life. All four yarn shops in Vancouver have an evening when they host anyone who wants to knit and chat. The second desire was to try out Colourmart (again I have to say under Kate’s relentless promotion of them in her blog). Just kidding about the “promotion” part Kate.

When I discovered Colourmart had no-fee delivery(!!) I jumped on it, and ordered some chocolate brown merino wool ostensibly to match one skein of red/purple wool I bought last year. I’ve since discovered the red/purple is too bulky, so I’ll sub left-over cream wool from one of my sweaters of last year. I’m using a free top-down vneck pattern I found at Ravely a few years ago.

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While waiting for the wool to arrive I started attending a knitting circle at Baaad Anna’s Yarn Store. There’s so much positive about this that I almost don’t know where to begin — but they all have to do with “community”. Every week there are between ten and twenty-five knitters (most, but not all, women) of all ages. I’ve had conversations with various of them about a whole slew of topics. Some have been knitting for 50 years, so there’s a wealth of help and advice available.

Since I couldn’t start my sweater, I spent the first few weeks swatching (see the pic above). But I’ve now discovered that the yarn store hosts some knitting for charity events. If I should want, I could knit purple hats for newborn babies (yarn supplied). Every second Sunday they have a charity knit and chat. They also knit stuff for other causes. I believe right now people are knitting socks for homeless people.

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If you look past the reflections in the window, you can see the knitters inside.

I want to keep attending, which means I have to plan several projects. LOL.

I checked out what the yarn stores had on offer for a fingerweight wool, because I think I might prefer handknits made of lighter weight wool. I found something gorgeous at one of the stores, but they only had two skeins. I went back a week later because I hadn’t found anything else, either there or at Colourmart. I was possibly a little pushy with the sales clerk. I “demanded” she call their head office to see if the yarn was available at their other store in another province, and to see if it could be ordered. No luck.

BUT while I hung around the store sorrowfully looking for something else I might like, the sales clerk was busy on her cell, checking out Ravelry. She found someone selling four skeins of that exact yarn out of her stash!! Can you imagine? I went home, contacted Heather from some place in England, confirmed she still had the 4 skeins and they were in perfect condition, and ordered them.

Then my introductory package arrived from Colourmart. They included a sample pack of yarns of various weights, plus some samples I had asked for. I knit up two of the samples and decided I wanted to order them. They’re a fingerweight blend of merino, cashmere, cotton and silk, one in Khaki green, and the other in burnt orange. I had put them both in my shopping basket but by this time (a month later) they had expired. Unfortunately they appeared not to have any of the khaki left in stock! I contacted them and asked if they by any chance had a cone of it kicking around anyplace. In response, they went through their warehouse and informed me they’d found a cone for me. So I’ve placed my second order with them. But again I’m struck by the helpfulness of people, and by my luck (?) in finding what I want.

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So I now have three projects lined up. That should take me through to the summer.

I’m wondering if knitting circles happen in other cities/countries? No blogger I’ve read has mentioned anything about them, but they’re such a resource. A couple of years ago I heard about them by way of a newspaper article about a retired woman who attended several every week and unravelled sweaters she bought at thrift store to knit for charity. It struck me that she was finding a way to get together with other people and do something she found meaningful.

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Shiny Duds

I’ve been having fun with a pretty long yardage of gold silk dupione that I found in a thrift shop a few months ago. If you follow my instagram account, you might have seen an unfinished version of the Tina Givens Bianca overshirt/jacket. I’ve finally finished it.

TG patterns are meant to be sewn up on the serger. Well, those that have a 3/8″ seam allowance are meant to be. Other patterns have a 5/8″ SA, and I have to say I can’t always find which it is on a particular pattern. There are never any instructions for finishing the inside — not even something as simple as “clip seams”.

Normally I’m happy to serge the SAs, but I wanted something a bit nicer on this puppy. So I spent hours making straight and bias seam binding, folding it over the SAs, and sewing it down.

I have a few bottoms that I rarely wear, partly because I haven’t had anything to wear on top with them. Now I do.

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Shiny, isn’t it?

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I had a few antique art nouveau buttons that I decided to use.

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I like the wrist detail, don’t you?

The only problem with this is that it really is dry clean only. I tried washing a small strip, and it lost all the shine.

So, as some of you know, I bought four TG patterns all at once after discovering this company and falling in love. I’ve now made 3 of them up, am planning for the fourth, and just bought another one because they were 40% off.  The pressure!

More TG and Tessuti

It was a nice morning for picture taking today, and I just finished another Tina Givens top, which I really like, so it seemed like a good time to catch you up on what’s been unfurling from the sewing machines.

Actually I’m not going to show you pix of some of it — the pair of undies and matching tshirt doesn’t need showing right now. I’m planning to do a raft of undergarments next, so maybe there will be a post with a variety of pix of whatever comes into being.

In my last post I showed a pair of Tessuti Tamiko pants in linen, and a second pair in progress. Here’s the finished second pair.

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I love these trousers. They’re made of super fine striped wool that’s somewhat transparent. I underlined them with some blush pink silk chiffon — this fabric was so delicate I would not have wanted to sew up a separate lining from it. It was much easier to spread it out over the wool pattern pieces and stitch around the edges, giving me a double layer of fabric to work with.  These are really drapey, and unbelievably, deliciously soft against my skin. I got both fabrics from Our Social Fabric, which is still operating but in a larger space . The top is from the free Lago pattern by Itch to Stitch.

I then cut and pasted my second Tina Givens pattern, the Lotus shirtcoat. This comes in two lengths and I really want the maxi length version, but to try out the pattern I made the shorter size in some serviceable cotton/poly shirting.

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Er, the top pic shows what can happen if you don’t line the right and left sides up right when you’re putting it on. I do like this, but I am having a bit of a problem with the closure. There are two vertical seams (decorative only) at the bosom area. You are to sew the buttons along one of those seams — it’s the only place where there’s more than one layer of fabric. Then you sew loops to the edge of the other side. Then you add a loop to the opposite collar end and a button … someplace inside. The logical place for that button seemed to me to be on the 1/4 inch seam. So I did that, but when I do it up, the fabric pulls visibly. I don’t have any fabric left for a longer loop, but I’m now thinking of adding a little tab to the 1/4 inch seam and sewing the button to the tab. We’ll see if that works. Also I think my loops are a little too thick. Today they’re falling off the buttons. They didn’t, of course, when I first made them ! Also I had to widen the lower half of the sleeves. They were so narrow I couldn’t bend my elbows. I do intend to make a long version in a heavier weight fabric. I have seen a few variations of shirt coats (or are they called coat dresses?) recently, so I think they may be “in”. It’s very possible that I will like them.

Finally I decided to make the simple “Holly” tunic, for which I had to go out and buy some fabric. With these TG patterns I am always thinking of a toile first, because the patterns are weird, so I wanted something inexpensive. This fabric is a floaty cotton/nylon blend. Cotton/nylon??? I’ve never heard of such a fabric. Will it be water-resistant I wonder?

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I’m not usually aiming for “pretty” when I make clothes, but I think this is very pretty. I cut this out in a size medium, but twice took in the side seams so now I think it’s a size small. It has grown-on sleeves, and it’s kind of hard to fit those correctly I find.

Oh heck, I still have some space here, so take a look at these man-shorts I made from a 1977 pattern for misses and men’s shorts and trousers. They have a button fly, button and loop closure and drawstring without any elastic. I made them from an ultra lightweight cotton poplin for the heat we’ve been having this summer. They are delightfully cool.

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Oops, heh heh, no bra. I don’t think I’ve had shorts that ended above the knee in at least a decade. I guess we’re never too old to reveal some flesh!

So that’s it for July. I hope your summer is going well — I know people are burning up all over North America and Europe so take care of yourselves.

 

A few clothes

I have gotten lazy about blogging. I’ve also gotten lazier in my sewing, but not as lazy as in my blogging, so I’ve made a few items which I’ll post about all together now.

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This is my old TNT tunic pattern made with small piece of patterned linen from my stash. I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the sides, so pieced together something on one side from scraps.

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I used commercial seam binding for the armholes and neck. I did the neck first, and didn’t think to undersew the binding, so it doesn’t lie as flat as I would like. I made sure to undersew for the armholes. I made the trousers last summer using a basic straight-leg elastic waist pattern, but extending it width-wise to 58 inches as the waist. I’ve since altered it slightly by narrowing the legs gradually from the knee down. It stops the legs from “spreading out” and I prefer it.

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This is V9174, a Marcy Tilton pattern that I paid meticulous attention to. I had a lovely stiff cotton fabric with textured “pointelist” surface. I think it was the perfect fabric for the shirt. I expected to put on white buttons but fell in love with these metal ones. I made a grey button holes to match.

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Here it is with Tessuti Tamiko trousers in medium-weight linen that I bought white and dyed. I really love this pattern. It has a single pocket bag sewn to the front  with top stitching, and a lower leg panel that tapers in at both outer and inner leg. I used a turquoise thread for the top stitching.

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Well, the colour isn’t showing up well, but hopefully you get the idea.

And here’s a pic of the shirt button for Del. You can also see the texture of the fabric.

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I also made these lovely drop crotch/harem pants which I showed on IG. They’re made from a couple of old, old curtain panels. I made a pattern, using a pant pattern, modifying it on the inner leg, and making a triangular pattern piece for the centre front and back. I also made a waist yoke. The pant is held up by a couple of large hooks and eyes on the yoke. There was no need for a zip below that. Now that I know I don’t need a zip, I could open up the side seams to insert pockets. Maybe one day ….

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I am currently making a second pair of Tamiko trousers out of lightweight striped pink wool, interlined with silk crepe de chine. I think they’re going to be lovely, although I forgot to plan for stripe matching on the lower panels.

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Thought I would include this as I don’t know when I’ll blog again. I’m currently not “feeling” the picture-taking effort… and so many bloggers that I follow have stopped…

 

Lagenlook at last

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I discovered the patterns produced by Tina Givens, available at tinagivens.com. They took my breath away. I immediately purchased two pdf patterns, then a few days later downloaded a couple of freebies, then after the announcement of a half price sale, bought four more. That’s right. I now have eight patterns from one pattern company, all purchased within days of each other. I had to lie down and rest after that burst of spontaneity.

This is the first of them, something called “smock-it”. I liked the vertical lines of the loose princess seams and thought they would help me look long instead of squat. I also thought I could use those lines to determine fit. It can be so hard when making loose, over size clothing to know the “right” size. I first cut the size large, basted the pieces together and decided I was a medium after all. I took it apart and recut the pieces.

The fabric was from my stash, a couple of pieces that I had bought because I liked the colours. Other than colour, neither was something I was really fond of. Well, I loved the batik piece, but I knew I’m not a batik clothing kind of a person. But they were both thrifted pieces, and I figured I could always make toiles out of them. Pardon me for patting myself on the back but I do think combining the two was a brilliant idea.

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This is a completely new look for me. I think it might take some time for me to be comfortable enough in it to wear it at home. Or maybe it’s just not quite the season for this yet.

Here are shots of a couple of details of the pattern.

I used some of the batik for the front pocket bag, and the other photo is of three pleats that occur on each side of the side back panels.

I’ve got a couple of other items in progress right now, but then I’ll tackle some more of these 8 patterns. I’ve got lots of great silks and linens in the stash that I want to use up.

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They should make smashing robe-like tunics/shirts, don’t you think?

Leisure wear and other changes

It seems like a long time since I’ve been able to sew anything new. After finishing my closet refashion, which turned out to be more physically arduous than I had expected, I had to make adjustments to a couple of pairs of trousers that had shrunk in the wash. I know, I should have pre-washed them. I managed to rescue both of them, thankfully, but it took time.

I should mention that my spring has been difficult in a couple of ways. In January my dear companion, my cat Holy Smoke, became ill and died five days later. This was really hard on me — partly for confronting the suffering of a poor helpless creature, partly for having to make the decision to ease her out of that suffering when it was clear she couldn’t recover, and partly for having to learn to live without her presence in the house. She was with me for almost 12 years. Even now I keep expecting to bump into her when I enter the kitchen, or go downstairs, or, well, go anywhere in the house.

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Holy Smoke, philosopher and fabric aficianado

 

I guess I started the closet reno because I didn’t know what to do with myself. Lugging bag after bag after bag of broken plaster and lumber down two flights of stairs was maybe not the best way to keep myself busy.

For those who don’t follow me on IG, I had a narrow closet in my bedroom under the eaves. A lot of it was inaccessible because there was only a small doorway. I removed the wall and replaced it with curtains, which I placed about a foot further away from the eaves. The result is a LOT more space.

Things are returning into balance now. I was happy at last to be able to make something new. I chose to deal with some fairly thick stretch cotton fabric that I bought on sale at Fabricland in the summer. I thought it might work with an old-fashioned “sewing with Nancy” pattern from McCalls. It’s McCalls’s 3728, dated 2002, and includes a whole outfit including long and short “dusters”. 20180312_165510

 

After I lay the fabric out on the floor it looked like I could make both a short duster and an ankle-length skirt, which is the only kind of skirt I wear at home. I threw it in a cold-water wash, lined-dried it and flung it out across the floor again. It looked astonishingly shorter than it had before. A long skirt was out of the question, so I decided workout shorts would work.

Here’s the duster.

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I’m wearing it with a pair of pants from the free download “Barb” pattern, which I also made in the jumble of the spring somewhere, but didn’t much like until I hit on the idea of adding elastic to the ankles.

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The problem is not really with the pattern, but with the fabric. This is a beautiful suede-look stretch fabric, but it didn’t know how to hang below the knee. I quite like the pants now though.

Here’s the “leisure suit”.

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It’s kind of cool, isn’t it? I used the pant pattern that came in the package, but shortened them, added inseam pockets using some black jersey fabric for the front pocket bags, added grommets and a bright lime green bootlace for a tie. This is not your average warm-up suit 🙂 It was totally appropriate for the weather today, which was sunny and warmer than seasonal. At last, a taste of summer.

 

Hand knit sweater #3

I finally finished my third hand-knit sweater — can I say “of the year” even though it’s January and the year was 2017? This is a top-down sweater from Cocoknits. In the book it looked like this

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I didn’t particularly like the neckline, so I subbed the neckline for another sweater in the book. I also wanted a sweater that flared out into an A-line shape, but that was not pulled in again by a ribbed hem. I actually knit the body following the instructions to add 4 stitches every 12 rows, and then ripped it back to just under the bust because there wasn’t enough flare. I added 4 stitches (2 to each side) every fourth row instead, and I’m happy with how that turned out. The hi lo hem is made using short rows, and because I had extra stitches because of my extra increases, I ended up adding a couple of extra short rows. I like this. It’s totally simple, which tends to be my aesthetic. The yarn is not uniformly dyed, so the splotchy-stripey colour is the design feature.

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You can see the fabric better maybe below

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It took me forever (well, almost two months) to knit this and part of the reason is that I discovered I don’t really like to sit inside my house knitting for long stretches. I enjoyed knitting my first sweater in the summer, when I could sit out on one of the porches. That was a relaxing way to spend some quality outdoor time. So I’m going to wait to start my fourth sweater until it’s nice enough to sit outside.

I had to force myself to not sew anything for the last month so I could finish this!