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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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?

Tunics and Leggings Opus iii

So far, I’ve used only two patterns for t-shirts and tunics. The first is well-fitted across the shoulders and bust, and then flares out at the sides. I’ve made short and long and longer versions with varying degrees of flare. The second is a basic t-shirt pattern that skims the body. I’ve made it short and tunic length. Then I wanted something different. Something oversize. Something cuddly and warm. I couldn’t find any patterns, and wasn’t wild about just making a t-shirt a couple of sizes too large.

Then I realized I could make a drop-shoulder version, using the drop shoulder and associated sleeve from a dress that I’ve made a couple of times. So I made a pattern from those items and added a half inch to the width below the arm holes. Then I drew a cocoon shape down the body, and planned to bring the bottom back in using a band.

Here’s the first result.IMG_1121

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The pants are a simple pull-up that I’ve made out of woven fabrics a few times. This is a something plus spandex knit. I used my twin jersey needle for the first time to hem the bottoms. Comfy outfit.

Then I repeated the process for a second, longer tunit. I tried a stand up collar. Does it have a name? It’s too wide for a turtleneck and too narrow for a cowl. I added a kangeroo pocket because the top told me to! And strung a length of cord through the bottom band, which I use to draw the bottom in. The fabric is a textured microfleece, as far as I can make out. I got it at a bar-bell shop closeout. Don’t ask.

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The leggings are from a TNT legging pattern, which I made larger because this fabric is a thicker quilted-look fabric. Cool print, eh?

You’ll have noticed the absence of glasses on my nose. I’m trying out new contacts,which I’ve had to get because I’m singing chorus in a local semi-pro production of the opera “La Boheme”. Fun! Opening night was yesterday, which is why it took me until today to write this post. I’ve been learning and memorizing music like crazy for the last month.

cut ‘n paste skirts

You know those rectangles of fabric that stores, particularly upholstery stores, have to show the fabrics you can order? They come in a wad, sometimes with holes punched at the top to secure them together, sometimes framed in cardboard? I like to collect those when I can find them. I always figure there must be something I can do with a 4 x 6″ or 8 x 12″ or 16 x 20″ rectangle.

A while ago, I used such a rectangle, along with a short width of doubleknit fabric to make a little skirt. I just sewed the rectangle to the stretch fabric at both sides, and made a casing on the stretch fabric to hold a cord, to which I attached those sports thingees that clamp down on a cord.

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Nice fabric, isn’t it? Over time I’ve been wearing it more and more often because the little slip of a thing is really comfortable.

I wanted to make another one with some green stretch fabric and this sample of upholstery fabric.

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That turned into a long learning process. The stretch fabric was too fine and stretchy; the upholstery piece was too heavy and unyielding. I tried this and then that and yet another. I ended up with two fabric panels separated by double layers of the knit fabric at the sides. Ta da!

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I sewed a couple of darts in the back panel, and inserted elastic into casing in the side panels.

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The front panel, replacing the too stiff piece I really wanted to use, is nylon, interlined with something from the scrap stash to give it the right body and stop it from glueing itself to leggings. I have to say I kind of love khaki/pea/moss greens and tend to grab any scrap of it I find anywhere.

I can’t believe I’m wearing mini-skirts.

Notice the green and pink bracelets? They’re felted. Picked ’em up at a yard sale. Ditto the hat. I got the boots second hand in Saskatchewan, which is, like, iconic cowgirl territory. I figure these boots have felt living horse between them.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I haveĀ  business to attend to. Must be somebody needs some kind of sleuthing done on horseback.