Friday, October 29, 2010

what I've been sewing for myself

The Robin Hood costume took up a fair bit of my time, but I did manage to sew up the Kashmere fleece coat I wanted for myself.
It's the same pattern as the eyelet linen blend jacket I made, but I made the coat longer, and used the recommended fleece for it.
One nice thing about fleece - it self finishes the edges, so again, it's a pretty quick sew.

The jacket is meant to hang loose and open, but after trying it on, I added something else.
the tie belt really finishes it off. I have to say, the coat really does look better on me - this mannequin is great for in progress fitting and storing my works in progress, but for modelling, it just doesn't cut it. When I have it on without the belt, it doesn't balloon out like I'm egg shaped. (I mean, I'm slightly egg shaped, but not like this shows!) But the belt really makes it. It has pockets, and a cosy collar, and big cuffs, so I can see a lot of use for this when I have to go out this fall.
I promise some modeled shots one of these days - it's easier now that I mostly work at home.
But... how about modeled shots of the Rowan sweater instead?

I'm wearing it today - I have a lunch date with some former co-workers.

Robin Hood went of to school today in a bag - they change after lunch for the party. I think I may head over to the school later to see some of the costumes.
And yes, he's already picked next year's costume - a severed head in a jar. I had to show him the picture, didn't I...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

what I've been sewing

Well, it's October, so my sewing for most of the month has revolved around my kid and his Halloween costume. I went online and checked out patterns and let him choose what he wanted. After a couple of years of death type costumes, he surprised me and went for something completely different - ROBIN HOOD!
Well, I  embraced it, and started with my fabric stash, where I found some fabrics and trims, then hit Fabricland to fill in what I needed (and get the pattern - an important step!) - Butterick 4574.

 We found some ancient arrows at the cottage, (I made a belt quiver out of some fleece I had) and also at the cottage, found a great stick to make a rustic bow for him as well.
Add in my own black suede boots (I have mixed feelings about letting him wear my boots - I hope the weather is on my side!), and my wide leather belt (inherited from my Mom!) and we're good. A couple of feathers also found at the cottage was the proverbial feather in his cap!
He's thrilled, as am I. i short cutted a few things - there was no way I was doing full tailoring on the shirt, nor was I making full sized body darts on the vest. I also skimped on the inside finishes - It's not like this is going to get a lot of wear, so in the name of saving time, the inside isn't a finished as I would normally make it. But it looks great, and that's what matters, especially for a Halloween costume.
I wonder what next year will bring...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brown University won't know what hit them!

Brown University is the home of the Bears - The name of their athletic teams.
It's not exactly the easiest logo to recreate in knit stitches, especially to fit on mittens using 3.0mm needles. Had I chosen to use my superfine bead knitting needles and sewing thread, I probably could have reproduced it better, but as much as I love my niece, that was never going to happen...
But I came as close as I could.

I'm pretty happy with them - they are soft and warm, and have a (sort of) snarling bear on the backs. The cuffs are red to remind her of her Canadian heritage, and it picks up some duplicate stitched red in the bear's eyes and mouth.

Then there's these:
each of them has the same pattern around the cuff - so when they are held together, it reads as BROWN BEARS. And yes, these are the mitts from yesterday - I went with the rounded top, as it just seemed to suit them better. I do like the swirled top, but I think I prefer that for wider mitts that aren't quite as form fitted. i use a swirled top for thrummed mitts, for example.
Next up - the Team Canada Mittens, then this kid is done for Christmas!

Monday, October 25, 2010

gotta change one of them...

I knit one mitten with one style of top decrease, and thought I'd try a different style for the other mitten. I wasn't thrilled with style one, which is why I tried a different style.

There's the swirled version, and there's the rounded version.
Which one would you keep? And a better question, which one do you think I kept? By the time you're reading this, one has been ripped out and reknit to match the other.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I got me a new toy!

 I needed a new cell phone for work - a smart phone with email capabilities. Since this is often a work-at-home situation, being in contact is important. They are paying for the phone, but it's mine, so I had choices. I was leaning to the iPhone - I love my iPod Touch, so the touch screen capability was a big thing for me. However, my husband uses a Blackberry, and everyone at my new job uses a Blackberry, so it was STRONGLY recommended that I get a Blackberry. Since I dearly love my touch screens, I compromised, and got me a Blackberry Torch!
Can I say how much I love this thing? Slide out Blackberry keyboard, but the touch screen I so dearly love. There is a fair bit of envy coming from the husband, and I can see an upgrade in his future, although he's not as enamoured with the touchscreen as I am.
I think he's just annoyed that my toy is better than his toy...
Now, usually, I'm not the biggest fan of getting new technology right away. And as much as I love RIM, I would have liked a little time for them to work out the bugs. But since I have a three year plan, and I wasn't willing to wait, I'm going to guinea pig myself and try it out. I've had it for a few days, and so far I can say I'm very happy with the purchase. I haven't yet tried posting from it, but I can see that happening soon as well.

The one interesting thing? I don't find myself using it anymore than I would my old phone - I thought I'd be playing with it a lot more than I am. Of course, I haven't really searched out the apps for it yet - I wonder if they have any good knitting apps...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SOOOO much better

As difficult as it was to rip out an entire sweater, this Rowan Yorkshire Tweed is soooo much better in this incarnation.
The sweater is my own design, made up as I went along, with, unfortunately, very few notes. It's a top down raglan, with open eyelet increases on either side of two stitches. It's v-necked, but the front increases are different, and create almost princess seaming.

This shaping really fits the girls well. (in these photos, the "girls" are being represented by two cakes of yarn...) I'd like to say it was a well planned out design element, but to be honest, I made the increases this way without really knowing what the outcome would be, and, well, I love the result.

All the edgings and finishes are garter stitch - this was planned, as the yarn has a rustic feel, and I didn't want anything too fancy or fussy. I knitted in the button holes as I went along, and had the perfect buttons in my button stash - I didn't have to go far to find them!
I put in some waist shaping - I wanted this sweater to really fit, and I'm really happy with the result - this will be well worn.

Right now, it's laid out flat to dry, after a good long soak in Eucalan - the yarn bloomed a bit, and really softened, and I can't wait to wear it. I'm so happy with it, you may even get modeled shots of it again!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

a confession

I confess, I'm a full blown fibre snob. I like the natural fibres - wool, silk, alpaca, cotton and the like. But, there are some acrylic blends I will use, and I do like a bit of nylon in my socks for wearability.

What I really don't like are acrylics and mostly-acrylic blends that try to masquerade as wool. The Red Hearts, The Shetland Chunkys and the like. They aren't wool, and should stop pretending they are. I know natural fibres are more expensive, but for the most part, you can find great wools for good prices. Patons Classic Wool, and any of the Knit Picks wools will do the trick.

So I have to confess to this: I knit this last night for a friend of mine. She mentioned that she'd like a funky black and white scarf about 2 years ago. We've worked together for about 3 years, and have become great friends - sharing lunch many times a week. We're both moving on this week, and won't see each other much now. While I can't bear fun fur, this Frill Seeker hit the mark. I saw it at Tove's shop last week, and knew that, not only would Mary adore it, but so would so many people I like to knit for. (I've tried to educate them, I really have...)

I knit a scarf in an evening - it's perfect for people I like, but don't want to commit to an entire sweater or lace shawl for.
I have 4 more balls of it, and this will clear off a chunk of my Christmas list easily. And the recipients will love these scarves more than Noro, more than Misti Alpaca, more than the good stuff. It kills me to admit it, but really, forcing my likes and dislikes on others hasn't worked in the past, so I'm caving.

So why do I feel vaguely dirty?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a weekend's work

This past weekend was a long one in Canada - our Thanksgiving. That means a trip to the cottage, lots of food (mmm, turkey...) and lots of downtime.
Downtime or the kids means time spent outside as a pack, playing Manhunt, swimming (yes, there was swimming), and generally hanging around being kids. Downtime for the grownups ranges from lots of time spent with books, naps, tv and for me - knitting, to putting boats and other outdoor things away.

The Brown University mittens are coming along. Of course, I can't seem to do anything the easy way, like maybe just knitting BROWN mittens, no, I have to come up with an intarsia pattern for the Brown mascot. And not just intarsia, but intarsia in the round. Good thing I love my niece.

This intarsia in the round is interesting - it's back and forth knitting, so there is colourwork on both the knit and purl sides, and an interesting yarn over and k2tog or p2tog combo at the end of the rows. It works, and other than a small ridge (which blocking should take care of), there's no indication that these were not just knitted in the round. (the ridge is above, and while it looks pretty prominent here, that's more a trick of lighting and cream coloured wool - it's not that noticeable.

The second mitten was started, but I didin't want to knit this in the car on the way home (the patern was only onscreen on my laptop (no printer at the cottage), so the green Rowan sweater saw a little action - I have about 6 inches of sleeve left, some bottom edging then the front bands left.

But I'm having fun with the mittens. Once these are done, there's some Team Canada ones to make, then, just to use up the excess brown wool, I will actually make some plain brown mittens, using the dark brown and heathered brown in combination (maybe with some red thrown in). She should be well stocked and warm by the time she goes to Providence...

Friday, October 08, 2010

bragging rights

I have to brag about this, even though it really has nothing to do with me directly.

My niece - my beautiful, talented 17 year old niece was recently named to the Under 18 Team Canada for Women's Ice Hockey. She's a forward, and this is the first step towards a berth on the next Olympic Team - it's so exciting for her, and we are bursting with pride. (You should see my Mom at some of her games...)

This same girl also maintains a mid 90's academic average, and has been scouted by a number of Universities in the States. She's pretty much decided on Brown University. An Ivy league education, paid for by hockey. How cool is that?

Here's one of the best parts - she's asked for mittens!! She's hoping for something Team Canada-ish, and something Brown University-ish.
I happily spent some time with some graph paper and my computer the other day, as well as picking out wools. (Trying to recreate a Brown Bear Face with a limited stitch width was interesting, but I think I got something to work.) The Brown logo has a little red in it, so I'll use that for the cuffs as well or a Canadian touch.

I think I'm as excited about being ASKED for hand knit mittens as I am for her new adventures!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Sorry for the lackof pictures - when I wrote most of this post, my husband had taken my camera on a business trip. But I thought I should answer some assorted questions that have been raised in the comments, so here are answers without pictures:

Brenda wanted to know if I cut up my favourite sweaters to make the patterns for the sewn cardigans - no I didn't. Luckily, the shapes were all pretty simple and easy to trace out, so I still have my favourites intact. While on the topic of the cardigans, I've been tweaking the draped front one - the first copy I made (the while with the green and blue floral pattern), fit fine, but it was very stretchy, very lightweight fabric, so very forgiving. I then cut out and tried it in a grey heavier cotton/Lycra blend, and well, not so good. Still wearable, but better for someone with less broad shoulders than I have. Plus, I have a wide back, so the sleeves are pulling a bit to the back. I readjusted the pattern pieces, and tried it again in a green cotton knit fabric I found in the depths of the stash. MUCH better. The downside is that I sacrificed the beautiful grey that I REALLY wanted. Crap. Now, I'm going to have to find some more of it... And find someone who will fit into this grey sweater - maybe my niece...

The upside to this tweaking is that now I feel much more comfortable cutting into my pumpkin coloured ponte - that's the one I'm really looking forward to...

Brenda also had a question about my Red Green Sweater - did I make the original or modified sleeves. (the original is a much deeper armscye - almost a dolman-ish sleeve). I had wanted to make the modified (a more fitted style), but I think I screwed up on the armscye of the sweater body, and the actual sleeve depth is somewhere in between. The nice thing a bout the pattern is it gives you estimates of stitch counts and such, so it's easier to fudge things. Whatever, it worked out and I love the sweater. I think I'm keeping it. Sue wants a blue one, so she'll get the same sweater, only in blue.

Barbie O mentioned that I matched the embroidery detail on the sewn jacket sleeves to the body. I'm glad you noticed! I was always taught that it's the little things that make the difference between homemade and hand crafted.

CatBookMom mentioned that I could make her pajama pants anytime I wanted - here's the deal CBM - you come to Toronto to visit, and I'll make you a pair with cats all over!

Tracy wanted to know the Pattern number of the jacket - Simplicity 4025. It's really for a heavier fabric, and will be seen in the next incarnation of the jacket - a Kashmere (fabric name, not fibre content!) wool blend fabric - a stunning camel colour for a fall coat. I may sew down the lapels on this and add leather frogs as closures - we'll see...

I'm hoping to get some pictures of the yarn and charts for a new project I'm planning. It's small, but oh so important to me...

Saturday, October 02, 2010


I've been working away on my revamped Rowan sweater - it's coming along great, but I needed a diversion, a change. A new colour, a quick project. This fit the bill perfectly. Susan had gifted me with 2 balls of Noro Taiyo, and rather than overthink it, I made a simple 2 row, 1x1 ribbed scarf. Millions of these have been made before, and millions more will be made, and I'm pretty sure I'll be making some of them. It grows like the wind, looks great, and it always interesting, waiting for the next colour to change. It's very long, and can be wrapped around my neck twice.I had thought at first that it would make a nice man's scarf, but the flashes of pink and turquoise squashed that notion, especially after I asked my husband's opinion.

And the Rowan sweater? I'm still in love with it - sleeves are started, body will use up the remaining yarn, except enough for some reverse stockinette stitch borders. (I think. I may still do garter stitch borders, so I lies nice and flat...)

Friday, October 01, 2010


I love out local library, especially their online resources for browsing books and placing holds. I was doing a search this morning to see what new knitting books they have gotten it (they have a pretty extensive collection), and this one popped up:

Nuclear Jihadist [electronic resource]:
the true story of the man who sold the world's most dangerous secrets ... and how we could have stopped him
by Frantz, Douglas.

Okay, I have nothing against non-fiction books I read a fair number of them. Bu I'm trying to figure out how this book got in the list using the keyword "KNITTING"...