Sunday, November 18, 2007

Alien Illusion Scarf: my greatest triumph!

I was kinda scared to get started on this because it required so much concentration, but I was determined and I plowed ahead. While it wasn't due until late November, I took it on a trip with me in late August to get an early start on it.

I was making it for one of my best friends, Agatha. It was for her 30th birthday so I wanted to make it special. She's been having a difficult few months, so I thought this was a great way to show her how much I cared about her with something I made with a lot of time and love put into it. The tricky part was knowing what to make. We don't have similar taste when it comes to fashion, but since she actually likes aliens, when I thought of the alien illusion scarf I thought it was perfect.

As I said, I started knitting it in late August. It's a little scary when you first start because you can't see anything appearing, and you feel like you are wasting your time, but once the first repeat is done, you can see the alien plain as day. After a while, despite all the different stitches in each row, you really get a feel for the pattern and it's easier to knit without meticulously checking the pattern on every row.

I got a lot of it done in August and September. Everyone I showed was really blown away by it. I worked at a trade show in Vegas and on one of the quieter days, Miho and I whipped out our knitting. Miho made everyone look at the unfolding scarf and everyone was wowed by it. It helped ease my mind when I worried that Ag might not like it.

I think I didn't touch it at all in October, and thinking I only had one repeat to go, thought it would be no big deal. Then rather than having until the end of November, Ag was coming to visit in early November so I had to hurry up and finish it before she got here! I went nuts just days before she arrived and got it done. I came so close to a disaster with just over a foot of the green left when I was done with the main part. Sadly, there was not enough of even the black for the fringe, so I went into a total panic about getting more. I had bought the yarn in San Francisco in
May and couldn't find the tags anywhere. I was going to describe to Emily where in the store it was and what it was like, but then I remembered Blue Sky had a colour called Lemongrass that was very much like the one I had used. I headed over to the yarn store with the scarf and was delighted to find an almost perfect match. No problem at all for making a fringe, that's for sure!

Ag was arriving on Sunday and we went out on Saturday night. I was offered a second beer and passed because I needed to finish the scarf. It was tedious, but at 1am, 10 hours before she was due to arrive, the scarf was finished!

As for the mystery of the yarn, I have the Stitch N' Bitch calendar on my desk at work. I don't bother to rip the page every day and such was the case for the week following the presentation of the finished scarf. On Friday of that week, I peeled back all the pages, and wouldn't you know that on MONDAY, the day after I gave the scarf away, the "Fave Fiber" was Malabrigo kettle dyed, pure merino wool. Yay! I couldn't believe it was on the calendar two days after I was frantically trying to figure out what it was! I went to their website and found the details. The colours I used were Black (195) and Apple Green (11). When looking at the ball, the colour changes looked a little worrisome, but when knitted up, you can see any difference. The black is really as black as it gets and I discovered when I bought the Blue Sky Cotton in black which just isn't as black! It was a very nice yarn to work with, and should keep the wearer (if they wear it) very warm. Malabrigo has an amazing array of colours as you can see on their site.

Gregg and Miho says I shouldn't talk about "the mistake" but I can't get over it, plus I may as well impart what I did to overcome it (aside from professional counselling which I kinda need for it). On ONE row, I purled some knits and vice versa. I didn't notice it until I was almost a whole repeat away. I wanted to go back and fix it, but that was pretty crazy since it was barely noticeable. I thought about undoing the knitting at that point and going down to the errors, but I could see that getting very messy on this tight piece. What I did instead was, when I was done, go to that area and create bumps where there needed to be, and flatten the bumps that shouldn't be there with tight stitched. It's not perfect, but it corrects the misplaced bumps and lack thereof that was irking me. I didn't tell the recipient, though I wanted to because I like to divulge all the details and confess to such things.

In total, the scarf took me 30-35 hours. I'm approximating about 5 hours per repeat. It wouldn't have taken as long, but with going back and fixing mistakes and the speed lost after putting the piece down for a while and losing momentum and familiarity with the pattern, that's about how long it took.

As for what Ag had to say when she received it...not much. :( I might as well have picked it up at Target. More on that, like Shirley's shawl, to be the subject of another blog.

As usual, working without writing about it

It's been so long since I last posted, and while I haven't done a great deal, I have made some cool things.

Back in July, I made a retirement gift for a lady at work. After 38 years with the company, Shirley was retiring. I worked with Shirley closely in my two years with the company, and after taking a bit of time to get use to her ways, I ultimately had a great respect for her and wanted to make her something special, rather than just contributing to the work pool for a gift.

I got this Shirley t-shirt at a clothes swap and wore it on her last day. I was really worried she would think it was weird, but she loved it and didn't even ask how I came to own such a shirt.

I thought about the colours Shirley most often wore to work. Shirley was always very well dressed and co-ordinated, something I don't expect to be bothered with by the time I reach her age. She seems like like pinks and purples, so I decided to make her a shawl in purple. It was pretty simple, but very pretty. I used Ingenua yarn in purple and used size 15 needles.

I was going to put tassels on the end, but after consulting with my friend who also works there, it didn't seem like tassels were quite Shirley's style, so instead I wove some pink ribbon at each end to give it a nice finish.

Rockin' it as a shawl (sorry I didn't drape it symmetrically, but the photographer was getting impatient)

...and workin' it as a scarf. Also, my hair is rad in my first beehive. One of many since this one.

As for what Shirley had to say about her gift, I'm saving that for another blog...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vegan Pal 2 Questionnaire

My wet dream, sans the marshmallow which isn't vegetarian.

I feel really bad because I haven't made anything in two months. I've been a bit lethargic but I've been getting the house in order again which makes it easier for me to want to work. Oops! I forgot, I knitted a scarf/shawl so I should put that up soon. Wow. I'm not as useless as I thought. I really need deadlines. I can't get much done without them. In the mean time, I must stop accumulating dress patterns until I make something new! I have two deadlines in the works. An as yet undetermined project for my friend Tami's baby due late November and also Ag's birthday gift of an illusion knitting scarf (if you are Ag, please don't click on that) which is also due at the end of November. Why do my deadlines always come at the same time? Ugh! Anyway, they should both be started no later than November 10th. I'm so pathetic! I also want to finish my gloves, my fall scarf, and start my smitten kitten purse, so I better get hoppin'!

In the mean time, Vegan Pal 2 can keep me busy! What am I saying? I totally just overwhelmed myself!

1. What is/are your craft(s), & how long have you been doing it/them?

Knitting and sewing. I've known how to knit for about 20 years, but I've only become good at it in the last few and taken it seriously in the last 18 months. I work at a fabric designer so I learned how to sew since I get lots of great fabric for nada. I've been sewing for almost two years and started with purses and have since moved into dresses which you can see on my blog.

2. Are you a vegan, vegetarian, veg-curious, veg-friendly or other?

Vegetarian with a vegan husband.

3. Is this your first swap, or have you done previous swaps before? What makes a swap enjoyable for you?

This is my second swap. I did the Vegan Pal last year. I love it because I love surprises and getting packages in the mail. Geez, I sound 12 years old.

4. What is/are your favorite color(s)? Do you particularly dislike any color(s)?

Red, purple (deep, not lilac), burnt orange and fall colours. I really dislike pastel colours and don't care too much for pink.

5. Do you have any allergies (such as pets, foods, fibers or cigarette smoke)?

None that will affect this swap. Oh, but I hate cigarette smoke!

6. Do you have any companion animals? If so, name(s) and type(s)?*

A beagle named Ralph, kittens named Birdsworth, Penfold and Meeshka and a Mediterranean Miniature Donkey. None of these animals have been born yet, but one day they will be.

7. Do you collect anything?

Tikis, knock off Dr Pepper cans (eg, Dr Perky, Dr Thunder, Dr Wow etc), vintage dresses, especially 60s mod at the moment.

8. Do you have a favorite vegan food, snack or dish? If no fav that's vegan (for those who aren't vegan), what's your favorite food? (Hopefully your pal can find a vegan version!)

Chocolate! Dark chocolate, but not super bitter. For meals, I love Italian, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Ethiopian. I love pretty much every cuisine there is if there's lots of veggie options. I don't care for Chinese much just because it's kinda bland next to all those others! I guess the Chinese WAS tasty when I had that freakishly coloured pork in the fried rice.

9. What are some of your favorite/least favorite tastes/flavors? (e.g. sweet, salty, chocolate, crunchy, smooth, tart, sour, spicy, thai, whatever - Help your pal get a feel for what kind of recipes you might like and/or never ever make.)

I don't really like fruity desserts or licorice. I'm more into chocolate. I mean, I'm obsessed with chocolate. I also don't like pickled anything, but I don't expect to get anything like that in this swap.

10. What tools/supplies/accessories for your craft(s) are you wishing you had but don't? Also, what do you have TOO many of? (basically a wish and anti-wish list)

Gosh, I have a bunch of stuff and with only one project in mind, I can't think of what else I might need! Here's what I have:

2 x size 3 16" circulars
Size 5 29" circulars
Size 6 16" circulars
Size 6 DPNs
Size 7 16" circulars
Size 7 DPNs
Size 8 felxible straights (and another set with lighted tips!)
Size 8 16" circulars
Size 8 DPNs
Size 9 29" circulars
Size 10 29" circulars
Size 10 straights
Size 15 straights

...and various things like tape measures, point protectors, needle gauge, stitch markers, yarn cutter, row counter, crochet hook. Again, that's all the stuff I DO have. If you think there's something else I need, send it along! I can't think of anything I need sewing wise, oh wait, maybe some pinking shears! Oh gosh, I just remembered that I am currently carrying around my small tools like DPNs, counters, stitch markers and tape measure in a ziplock bag since I outgrew the pencil case I was using. Very sad!

11. Are you on Ravelry? What's your handle?

What's that now? It that some weird new thing on the internets? I'll stick to my CB radio, thanks.

12. Is there anything else you would like your pal to know about you?

I think I've said enough. My MySpace says a lot too.

13. What scents do you like/dislike?

I love jasmine and rose. I dislike patchouli and incense.

14. Do you prefer fall or Halloween or some other Autumn theme?

Either, but maybe I'll lean more towards Halloween due to my deprived childhood (see next answer.)

15. Just for fun - tell your favorite Halloween or Autumn related memory.

I'm from Australia, so we don't do Halloween there, so I don't really have any of those. I saw Halloween on TV though and wanted it so bad. I've never much cared for autumn as a season because I'm such a summer girl, but I've been getting into Fall fashions the last couple of years. I do love the colours. What a lame answer!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Butterick Retro Patterns

The reprinted Vogue vintage patterns are oh, so tempting, but at $18 - $25 each, it's a little steep for a pattern, I think. Imagine my delight when I found in the Butterick catalogue some lovely reprinted vintage patterns for only $5.99 each! Bargain!

Here is my first attempt at a full skirted dress and using bias tape. I love learning about new notions and then going to the store and finding a section I've walked by dozens of time open up to me in a new way, and such is the case for bias tape! as the pattern boasts, it was easy and I guess relatively fast. It's only three pieces, so the cutting and attaching the bias tape and snaps took the longest.

The most painful thing about making this dress was doing the snaps and buttons. I hate hate sewing. I hate it so much. I really need to learn to embrace it, but it's so hard when everything I hand sew is a complete mess! Luckily you can't see any of that in the final product, so it can remain my dirty little secret. Well, not really if I post about it publicly.

Here's a close up of the buttons. The middle is held together with snaps, so the red buttons are pure decorative. I thought of leaving them off, but I knew it would look so much better if they were on, so I did it and I'm glad. You can also see how pretty the fabric is, nice and close. The pattern in called 'Emilie' from Alexander Henry Fabrics' 'Vienna' group.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Stuck in a pumpkin rut

Everyone who saw the pumpkin hat agreed that it was adorable and awesome. So of course, once I'm onto something tried and true, why mess with it, right? Well, before I realised it, I'd gone and made no less than FIVE pumpkin hats for babies. And their mothers and grandmothers were all so happy because it IS such a gosh darn cute hat. But alas, with so many babies being born in the last year, some of the parents were going to overlap. My friend Nicole gave birth in February and our friend and her best friend Rachel gave birth mid May. So since I knew Rachel had already seen the pumpkin hat that I made for Nicole's baby, I had to come up with something else. I had gotten to the point that when my knitting mentor asked me what I was working on, I was a little ashamed to say "Another pumpkin hat..." but all recipient mothers, be sure, it was only because I love them so!

So I tossed some ideas around and thought of going with a different fruit. I went up to San Francisco with a full ball of Blue Sky cotton in tomato colour in tow, determined to return to LA with something new! I went to Imaginknit in SF which is probably the most fruitful yarn store I've ever been to. I just love it! With the aloof and arrogant SF attitude on hand, the clerk was still helpful, all the while making me feel like my projects were stupid. Oh well. I got the yarn for the illusion scarf I have to finish by November and also I saw a tomato hat sitting in the window! I'd been scared to try any such yarn switching in my knitting (is this intarsia, of fake intarsia?), but after Desiree showed Emily, and Emily showed me that it was pretty easy, I thought I could do it. So, only by examining the one in the store, I created my own tomato hat! The switching yarns wasn't hard at all, and the result as you go is very rewarding. It looks so purrrdy. Not much else to say about it, other than that it looks delicious! I got a text message from Rachel saying that James loves his hat! The onset of the tomato rut has begun as I have already made two and am negotiating a third...

So many things, I almost forgot some!

On the same day as finishing the green dress, Go-Go dress and knitting a pair of fuzzy dice, I also made a purse for my sister's birthday! As I was going to see her at the end of March, she told me I didn't have to mail her gift in time for her birthday on March 13. Of course, this gives me license to wait for the last minute and add it to all my other self imposed deadlines!

I think I forgot to take pictures of the fuzzy dice, but I will ask my sister to take some as they were a gift for her fiancé, Sam's 30th birthday. They aren't very digital camera savvy, so perhaps I'll get some pictures before he turns 60.

With this bag, using the "Smile Around The World" print which resembles the "It's A Small World" ride at Disneyland which my sister loves, I made my first use of store bought handles. I was delighted and shocked to see that Joann had them in stock. I'm sure it was a random occurrence and I wont count on there to be any there next time I decide to make a purse. It was fun to make little loops to attach the handles.

I told my sister that the Indian looking at the top was us.

I also finally made use of the magnetic clasps which I searched for for months and obtained months ago. They were a little out of alignment, but with stuff in the bag, you can't really tell.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Not writing, but still working!

I haven't posted in a while, but that's because I've been slipping in projects amidst a lot of other business. When I'm not busy, I like to nap and such things, so quite frankly, I'm amazed I've done anything over the last three months!

Being as anal as I am, I wasn't satisfied with my green dress and its loose fit in the bustal area, so I undid a heap of work, went to my friend's house and got her to pin it to fit it to me better. She did this and I stayed up until 3:30am sewing, the night before I was leaving for almost four weeks, but I got it done. I wont bother posting a picture because it looks the same, but it FEELS so much better!

Also in that sewing class I was taking which started me on the green dress, I made a Go-Go dress out of some rad fabric from my work. I'd being drooling over it for ages and had been sitting on it for quite some time. I had to do something with it, and it was soon revealed that it would be a Go-Go dress. My taste has been shifting more into 60s stuff, so there could be more like this, and it'll be easier not trying to do full skirts! My main reason for choosing this pattern was because it had sleeves. I really wanted to tackle sleeves. I was all panicked and it came down to the last class and I was all ready for sleeves and I rushed to the teacher's desk and said "What do I do?!?!?!" and she said "Like everything else, what do we do?" Luckily, I just heard her going over this with the new students. Though I understood the concept, the reminder was useful, "Face to face, edge to edge, seam to seam?" "Yes," she said "now do it!" So I did it, and just as simply as that, the sleeve fit right into the sleeve hole! There was a little extra, but I used it to make cute puffs at the top. I have rad, white Go-Go boots to go with this dress, but you can't seen it in this picture. I'm sure there will be another great Go-Go dress soon and pictures with visible boots.

Me and my friend Emma. I'd been to a Go-Go class before I caught up with her.

It's a little tight under the bust, but I learned a lot of lessons with this piece as I altered a pattern. I'm going to have to get use to this as I make fitted dresses to accommodate my wee bust and wide hips! Unfortunately I took in a bit too much, but it was a learning experience. The tragedy of this dress is that before I actually wore it out for the first time, I went to iron it as it was all crumpled from being in my suitcase (I took it to Australia) and I accidentally left the iron on the zipper too long and melted it a bit, separating a couple of inches from the fabric. I'm so upset because this is no reflection on my sewing skills, but my ironing!

Moving on from that, after I came back from Las Vegas, Australia, and Salt Lake City where I went for work, I got cracking on a shirt. I was keen to try a collar, but I am not quite sure this pattern was quite the challenge I was looking for. It's still totally cute though and I learned some new things, like creating bunch under the bust in lieu of darts, and I must say, it worked nicely! I really appreciated the power of basting there! I also did my first serious button holes.

There's a little tie in the front but you can't really see it and I can't be bothered taking more pictures. Anyway, it looks good! (click to enlarge)

People like to go for more matching threads, but I like contrast, so I went for this wild green thread and a red button as there is red in the print. I did the button with the machine for the first time! Much better than by hand once you line it all up! I was too scared to use the foot though, and manually turned the wheel for the needle.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sewprising myself

I haven't posted in a while and I haven't been knitting in a while. I did a bit more work on the gloves, but they are back in the basket. I did make a lining for my yarn basket, right in time to neglect my yarn, apparently!

But I don't feel too bad because I have been busy sewing! I've finished my beginner class at LACC in which we made a skirt. I didn't learn all that much from it, but it was nice to do everything from scratch and be on the same page as the teacher when I went into the intermediate class!

The intermediate class allows us to bring in our own pattern and work on it with her help. I'm a little annoyed because she took myself and another girl into a beginner class so we just work while she teaches the others the beginner stuff, but obviously I feel bad to ask a question when they are learning the basics that I knew all along. This past week she was explaining basic machine operation, a class I missed when I was a beginner and I am so glad I did because I thought I was going to shoot myself listening to her explain how to thread a bobbin and I was free to do what I wanted!

So for the intermediate class, I whipped out this pattern I bought on eBay last year. I thought it looked simple, but when I opened it up, I completely freaked out and it put it away until now. I thought it would be a great project for this five week course, but alas, after getting the teacher's help just to cut the fabric, I took it all home and finished the whole thing by myself! It took a long time because I was learning how to read the pattern as I went, but I did figure it out and it did come out perfectly!

The only problem with it is that it is about an inch too big in the bust. The good thing is that I made it exactly as the pattern called for, it's just that I didn't realise I'd lost an inch in my bust. When I measured, it wasn't anything I did other than lose weight! The bad news is that in order to take it in, I have to take off the entire cuff, and zipper because the zipper is on the side. If it was in the back, I could fairly easily take it in on the sides, but because the zipper is on the side, I have to rip that out too. Drag. As much as I can't be bothered, I think I have to because it looks a gazillion times better with that inch pulled back.

I wore it to work the day after I finished it to show my friend who first got me on a machine and she was very impressed! I took it to class last Saturday and my teacher declared how proud she was. Yay!

I am currently working on the matching jacket and a Go-Go dress to go with my white Go-Go boots I bought last week. I am taking Go-Go classes next month, so it would be rad to shake it in a dress that I made!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Unlike Desiree's pathetic claim that she had a four day bout of not knitting (which, in reality was probably only about 8 minutes) I have had some serious down time! I haven't knitted in over a month. I was going really well and knitted another pumpkin hat for a baby and got a ripping good start on a glove, but I was on vacation and it all came to a stand still. I think the problem was that I was at a point in the glove where I really needed to concentrate, and I was too busy travelling, tired or getting distracted to commit the attention it deserved.

I've now knitted it up to the base of the pinky since this picture was taken, and there it sits.

I hope to get cracking on that soon, but in the mean time, I have a lot of friends with babies on the way, so I have to get working on something for them.

Prior to my trip, I had a few sewing adventures and made a purse for Emily's birthday, and a hearty one for my Vegan Pal in the vegan pal swap. That was a lot of fun and I look forward to participating in another swap soon.

The "Batty" bag for Emily's birthday. My corner seams are getting much neater! (click to enlarge any images)

The hearty purse for my Vegan Pal, Carla in Toronto.

I'm currently busy getting my house in order. I have a lot of big ideas, but I get completely uninspired having to work in our cluttered apartment. So once that's all done, I hope to feel like working on more stuff!

I have my first sewing class on Saturday morning and I'm really looking forward to it. Well, I'm kinda not because I think the first class will be the most basic stuff that I already know how to do, but I'll still go. I'm sure I'll learn something! I'll miss the second class because I'm going up to Seattle that weekend, so I hope I don't miss anything I really need!