Blankie Wrap

I just made two wrap skirts, using the Vogue pattern that also included the shorts I blogged about last time. I guess, since it’s a 1992 pattern, it qualifies as “retro”. There’s nothing retro about this wrap though — to my mind it’s pure classic and timeless.

The first was a wearable toile. I used an old scrap of fabric mostly to check waist and hip fit. The skirt has only two pieces, which join at the centre back. The pattern provided four darts per side. I discovered I didn’t need the front darts, and had to halve the side darts. I also lowered the front a half inch or so. I always have to lower the front waist of anything I make. The pattern also came with a facing (the skirt is not meant to be lined). Well, I mucked around at first trying to create a new facing to incorporate my changes, but that eventually seemed hopeless. So I thought I would just make the skirt again, and call it a lining. Here’s the result.

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I was a little concerned that the overlap could reveal too much, so I added a leather “tab”, which also dressed up this otherwise pretty plain number. I also left the selvege edge unfinished at the hem. This is a really easy skirt to wear. But I regret to say the result gave some foreshadowing of the problems that followed when I made the “real” skirt. For some reason that I still don’t know, the darts on one side of the skirt lining ended up facing inwards instead of outwards. And the right side is supposed to overlap the left. Mine is the opposite.

So, for the “real” skirt, I scavenged the fabric from one of the Thai fisher pants I wrote about a few weeks ago. When I took the pants apart, I had two pieces of fabric just big enough for the two pieces of the skirt. This is fabric I love. Before cutting out the pieces I transferred the pattern pieces onto paper, with all the little changes included. I pinned these fresh, totally perfect, pattern pieces to the fabric and cut out both pieces. Then I discovered …. drum roll here … prepare for the horror …. both sides of the skirt went from centre back around to the right. Both sides. Waaaaah!

Is anybody else as geometrically challenged as I am? I just can’t visualize how something two dimensional becomes three dimensional. I get lost in parking lots. I freak out in malls when I don’t know where the exits are. I have N, S, E and W engraved in my forehead where I live because it’s the only way for me not to get lost in a city I’ve lived in for 30 years. I think there’s something the matter with me. Really.

I still can’t begin to understand how I made two pattern pieces for one side of the body only. I was able to salvage the skirt though. For the side that would be under in front, I added a little fabric remnant that I had, just overlapping it and sewing it to the large piece with a zigzag stitch. That gave me enough fabric to cut out the correct skirt half again, making sure it would go from centre back to the left.

Then I had to try to make the two lining pieces correctly. It was hell! I ended up again with the darts on one side facing in instead of out. How is this possible!

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I’m really happy with the final product though. What do you think?

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I love this skirt. Isn’t it a classic? I can see modesty might be an issue though, so I’ll probably add a snap part way down the overlap? Or maybe just use a safety pin?

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I didn’t hem the “real” skirt either, and don’t intend to. I topstitched close to the overlap edge, but discovered that made the fabric want to roll. So I inserted little strips of interfacing as a stabilizer and tried again. It worked! Cool. The things I learn from other bloggers! (I’m getting a lot of use of the exclamation mark key on my computer tonight, aren’t I?) I’ll have to make a little more use of my steam iron to get the creases out of the bottom (left over from where the original Thai fishers were hemmed).

sock it up

Yarn and I  do not have a great working relationship. You might say it’s tangled. I remember knitting two items as a teenager (with my mother doing the ‘specialty’ tasks like casting on and decreasing stitches). One was an orange orlon cardigan, and the other was a fantastically bulky and gruff ‘manly’ turtleneck sweater for my first ‘boyfriend’. Does anybody *not* knit a sweater for a boyfriend?? His mother, who actually liked me, ruined it in short order by, apparently, hanging it on a line to dry after washing it. I didn’t take knitting up again until two years ago, when I went to my local knit shop and took two courses. The first was an intro in which we knit scarves and hats, and the second was a sock-knitting course. I knit a perfectly fine hat in a lovely teal-coloured wool in the first class, but then realized I don’t like toques! I gave the hat away, in an uncharacteristic act of generosity. When I found some strange kind of unrefined and undyed yarn in a thrift store — it looks kind of like straw with hairs sticking out of it — I decided to try again. This time I knit little holes around the edge and threaded a leather thong through them. Not bad. Not sophisticated, but not bad. 2015-04-23 11.54.24 I’d found a big ball of yellow and pink spotted wool at a thrift shop which I used for the socks. They look lovely, I couldn’t have asked for better. But when I wear them I really feel how they don’t clasp my foot as store-bought socks do. I keep them in my drawer and admire them more than I wear them. 2015-04-23 11.53.44 Then I knit a sweater on my own. It called for a little waist shaping, and I thought I was being clever when I altered the shaping to fit my high waist. Now I have a bulky wool sweater that looks like it has an empire waist. Not good. 2015-04-23 11.51.40 Then I knit three quarters of another sweater with a whole pile of yarn my mother donated, at which point I realized the sweater was ALL WRONG. It seems you do need the right number of stitches both horizontally and vertically in the gauge. I put everything including a brand new complete set circular needles away. But this winter when I was travelling I spontaneously picked up some balls of lovely baby merino wool and started knitting a scarf that’s wide enough to be a shawl. I love it. And I realized I like knitting. Knitting allows me to empty my mind. And believe me, I really do need regular de-cluttering above the neck. So I pulled out two balls of sock wool that I had bought two years ago. It was a bit pricey, but I loved the look of it. Such a soft red, I thought. There were no pictures of how the yarn knit up, but I love red as an accent colour, and this seemed like such a soft red, a baby red if there could be such a thing. I figured if I could remember how to knit socks, and remember how to read the pattern, and remember how to knit with four skinny needles, it would “prove” I was ready to return to knitting. I did remember all those things, and was able to confirm by watching youtube videos. 2015-04-23 10.26.02Now that I look at the ball I don’t see it entirely the same as I saw it before I knit it up. I swear it looked like a soft, warm, soothing baby kind of red. I thought I’d get an irregularly patterned red sock. Here’s what I got. 2015-04-23 10.22.51Look at that horrible rusty orange. And what’s that awful spotted green doing in there? I didn’t see those colours in the ball!? And the stripes are so rigidly regular. I wanted spotted, not stripped. This is not my sock. This is some country grrrl’s camping and hiking sock. Pout. So what to do? Well, first knit the second sock. I’ll just pretend I’m a country girl next time I hike into town to catch an opera. Then look for a good sweater pattern and STICK WITH IT. No adjustments, no creative touches. But that’s so not me ….