Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bag hag

So finally, after some inspiration from my co-worker I decided to something with that sewing machine I got for Christmas. I made a skirt already, but I really wanted to make a purse!

I didn't go to a lot of trouble to include pockets and stuff because I expected it to be lousy, but I think it turned out pretty damned great! I used a pattern from the book Bag Boutique by Amy Barickman, but the general bag making instructions were better in Designer Style Handbags by Sherri Haab. It has step by step pictures which are very useful, though the part about attaching a lining makes no sense after 50 reads. It's not the writing, it's just a hard concept to grasp. I kept thinking about it in my spare time (I do that a lot, huh?) and finally figured it out.

When attaching the lining, it says to do all this turning inside out business from a hole in the bottom of the lining, but then you have an ugly area where you hand stitched the hole together. I thought of doing it by leaving the hole at the top of the bag and sealing it with top stitch. I practiced it with a pair of socks and it worked! It looks so much better! That probably makes no sense unless you are familiar with the horror of attaching a lining.

I added the button and the piece to button the bag closed as it wasn't in the pattern. I amazed myself at the liberties I took while not knowing what I was doing!

I wanted to make a bag for my friend as a belated birthday present, but I thought bag number one would be too lousy. Turns out it wasn't, so now I have a bag for myself. Yay!

This bag was made with a fabric pattern called 'Shopping Spree' by Alexander Henry Fabrics.

"I see," said the I-cord, "I see."

Once the cabled scarf was done, I wanted to make a hat. A proper hat, not a rectangle sewn together. I wanted to make a hat to match the cabled scarf, but since I hadn't made a hat properly before, it seemed crazy to start something that had cables to deal with, so I took it easy. I hadn't reduced before, so imagine trying reduce with vertical cables! No thanks.

This hat was made in stockinette using E's size 8, 16" circulars and pink Blue Sky cotton yarn. I wanted to give up as it is SO HARD to make that first row off the tight cast on, but after that first row, it was fine. I told E I wanted to add the letter "I" for my friend's baby Isabella, and she told me to follow the stitch with the other colour. Since we live in different cities, I had no example and made it up and did it wrong. It looks okay. Not great, but okay.

I didn't know how to finish, so E told me how to make an I-cord and it was at this time I realised the more I knit, the more her over-the-phone explanations were starting to make sense. It becomes easier to visualise what someone is talking about the more familiar you are with how things are supposed to look and various techniques.

So I made the I-cord and added a pom pom which I had remembered how to do from grade 2 (second grade, 7 years old). This hat was also great as I did my first ever stitch reductions! It was also the beginning of buying more and more tools as I had to go out and buy double pointed needles to finish.

Baby hat made with Blue Sky cotton yarn.

Makin' cables!

After doing about seven bands of stockinette on circular needles on the other Gryffindor scarf, I was back in the knitting rhythm and ready to try something new. E was working on the Irish Hiking Scarf at the time and tried to explain cables to me when we were at dinner or something. I couldn't make head or tail of what she was saying, but I thought about it in my private moments and I figured it out!

Since this was my first venture back into knitting and all previous ones had been done with whatever needles and yarn appealed to me at the store, grabbing bulky Wool-ease and size 8 needles (I had bought size 6, but E told me to at LEAST get 8s!) was not working for this pattern as the scarf was 9 inches wide! This was my first foray into the importance of needle size and yarn weight. So after, 12 rows, I started over, altering the pattern, getting rid of one cable so that the scarf was not too wide. I took off about 12 stitches total. This was also my first time switching between knit and purl in a row, so E so kindly explained about moving my working yarn depending on the stitch. Once that was sorted out, I made only a few correctable mistakes and I think I did the cable too early on one row, but I can't even find it.

I shipped it off to my mum and it made it in time for her birthday. She didn't mean to be rude but she couldn't believe I made it! I wasn't offended because neither could I. I'm kind of a bum, so it's always impressive to anyone who knows me when I get busy like this.

I wouldn't use the bulky Wool-ease yarn if I made this again, but I made it work and it looks pretty nice. The colour is wonderful! It's called 'Spice'. I still don't know how to stop the ends from fanning out like that. Any tips?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My history with needles

I've knitted a bunch over the years. I first learned when I was about nine. My mum cast on and taught me how to do knit stitch so I just knitted a bunch and didn't know what I was making. I sent away for Larry's Learn To Knit book, which was more of a 10 page pamphlet than a book, but it taught me how to cast on, purl and bind off, which was good value since the "book" was free. I made my sister a glasses case and a scarf for the cat, but that's about it. I didn't really understand what purling was for so I didn't use it for years.

About 12 years went by and I got a bug to knit my dad a scarf. It started off messy with some added stitches, but I eventually got the hang of it and had my first decent complete piece! My husband got a scarf soon after with a few little mistakes which I concealed, and all in garter stitch.

A couple of years after that, I decided to knit my sister a scarf. No-one told me, but I thought I'd see what happened if I knitted a row and purled a row, and low and behold: I had discovered stockinette! I didn't make a single mistake and it was a perfect scarf (though it curled into a tube as stockinette does.) I made a matching hat by knitting a rectangle and sewing it together. Not ideal, but I didn't know what else to do!

That was about four years ago and I hadn't knitted anything since. Then few months ago, my friend E suddenly got into knitting and took to it very quickly which inspired me to take it up again. She knitted me a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf for my birthday which I loved! I thought those kind of scarves were made by machines! She was making another one for someone else and I eagerly offered to help with it. Once I was done knitting part of the scarf, I quickly bought myself some new needles and have found myself busy with some knitting almost always since March!

I also work for a fabric designer and manufacturer which has inspired me to learn to sew. I got a machine for Christmas and have since made two skirts and three purses. I will also feature my sewing efforts here!

Here I am in the Gryffindor scarf made for me by E which re-sparked my interest in knitting!