Knitting all the things

Knitting all the things

Since I haven’t felt like blogging much lately but have felt like knitting, I have a lot of things to post about. I feel like blogging is something that I can only do when my energy and enthusiasm is high. Sewing clothes for myself requires a lot of mental and emotional energy too. But knitting, knitting is comforting and easy most of the time, so I do that when my energy is low.

First up, here is a lovely big triangular scarf/shawl. This yarn was a gift from my lovely friend Kate who dyed the yarn herself! I love the subtle color gradations that she achieved. The yarn is 100% Australian merino in a 8ply/dk weight. The pattern is Herald by Janina Kallio. I do love her designs, they are lacy but modern and asymmetric which really appeals to me. This pattern is designed for 4ply/fingering yarn on 4.0mm needles so I upsized to 5.5mm which gave me the right texture and drape with the heavier yarn.

It makes a very snuggly, large scarf and I just love it.

Next up is a scarf that took 5.5 years to finish. I cast this on on Boxing Day 2010 when I was away at the beach with my extended family and I was a beginner knitter looking for a project to learn how to do yarn overs.

The pattern is a free one, Flame Chevron Scarf. It was really much more complicated than I needed at the time but it did the job of giving me good yarn over practice.The yarn is Bella Baby Layette a Spotlight yarn which is 80% bamboo and 20% wool. It’s not anything I’d choose these days much to does have a nice silky feel around my neck that is good for warmer weather.

Here’s a little pattern free hat that I made to knit up the one skein of handspun art yarn that I purchased at KnitFit last year.

I did a rolled brim, stockinette and decreased the crown evenly, nothing fancy. I swatched and then reused the swatch yarn, then basically knit the whole thing twice after my first attempt was wider than it needed to be but not deep enough. Such is life when you make up the pattern on the fly. I had only just enough yarn to get this hat out, with only a few inches left at the end.

I feel that is hat is a bit of a statement. A statement that says ‘I’m a fiber artist, and I don’t give a fig about fashion’. God knows that weird little purple sheep locks sticking out of your hat is not fashionable, but I absolutely adore this hat anyway, and will definitely wear it come winter.

And to finish off, here’s a little dress that I knocked together for Althea. The printed cotton fabric was a gift from my mother in law. Althea was going to a Girl Scout day camp where they have camp names, and she waned to be called Koala. So we made this dress up – a koala dress for Koala.

 

I traced the bodice pattern off a Hanna Andersson dress that she owns and the skirt is simply the whole width of the fabric on the front and back, and cut in half lengthwise. I would have liked to do some straightening and matching of the koala print but I didn’t have the fabric to spare – it is only just long enough using all the fabric. The sewing quality if this is not terrific, but Althea helped and sewed a few of the seams and it was ready in time, which was important to her.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately!

Cashmerette Concord Tee – sewing win!

Cashmerette Concord Tee – sewing win!

I was soooo excited when this pattern was released (link here). A t-shirt drafted on a curvy block, with cupsizes- awesome! I had actually had disappointing results from the Cashmerette Washington dress (unblogged) but was determined to make this work. My end aim was to make my own graphic printed tees that fitted perfectly by refashioning commercial tees, and this has totally worked out!

Iteration 1
I used an old t-shirt of my husbands for this – is is 100% cotton jersey with not much stretch, the neck and sleeve bands are stash fabric.

I emailed Jenny for a sizing suggestion and she got back to me quickly – such good service. This is a straight 20 C/D. My measurements are 45-40-52 (with cup size much larger than C/D but it works). I went for a size that gave me zero ease at the bust rather than negative ease as the knits I was planning to use are not very stretchy.

Iteration 2

This is cotton-elastane jersey from the stash, and the V-neck option. Wearing this around convinced me that I needed a smaller size in the shoulders and a full bicep adjustment. I also added an inch of length at the waist.

Iteration 3

This is a refashion of a mens 3XL short sleeve shirt from threadless on clearance. Sadly these lovely designs are printed on a 45% polyester shirt – ugh.

I feel that the fit is getting very good by this tee. It is an 18 C/D down to the underarm and then 20C/D on down, with 1″ full bicep adjustment and 1″ added length at waist. You can see I reused the sleeve hems from the original tee.

My only regret is that I straight stitched the neckband seam allowance down. I did stretch as I sewed, but is has still caused unsightly gathers and pulling in. I have worn this shirt a lot though.

Iteration 4

This is my favorite, another threadless mens 3XL.

You can see I had to cut off the top of the design to get my pattern piece on, but I still think it looks ok. I zigzagged around the neckline this time. This version gets worn straight from the wash – I love it!

Iteration 5 – a tangent.

Well actually this threadless mens 2XL long sleeve was too narrow in the hips to fit my Concord pattern piece so I refashioned it for my 8 year old. Lucky girl! I love this print. This tee is also 100% cotton.

The pattern is Ottobre 3/2010-31 Funky Sisters. This is size 152 with 3cm added to each side seam. I compared the pattern pieces to some of her current tees and this pattern is super-super slim fit as drafted.

So I’m now in search of some more awesome graphic tees to refashion. unfortunately I’m going to have to use a raglan pattern to get long sleeves, but I’m ok with that. And the Cashmerette Concord tee pattern – 100% thumbs up from me, it’s a super curve flattering draft with great instructions. Thanks Jenny!

Rainbow stripes duvet cover

Rainbow stripes duvet cover

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It all started with a rainbow solids jelly roll and it eventually grew into a pieced top and then a duvet cover for my daughter’s 8th birthday. I pretty much made it up as I went along, which is know is not what most beginner quilters do – but it was the process the suited me.

I started by arranging my strips into  pleasing rainbow gradation. I eliminated a few ugly brown and black strips.

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I then taped out the size of a US twin duvet on the floor and starting arranging the strips in patterns.

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I was rather fond of this starburst but all those crazy angles seemed a bit overwhelming. In the end I settled on plain rainbow stripes. This was inspired by a quilt I found online but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was.

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I then bought some white strips and sewed them together too.

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I cut my rainbow stripes and added white stripes to each end (unpicking the appropriate seam from the solid white stripe block), then added plain white panels between.

I then used a plain white twin bedsheets as a lining to the pieced top, so that i wouldn’t have lots of unfinished seams up against the duvet, they would be protected and the whole thing would last longer. I used basting pins to pin the two layers together and then sewed straight lines along the vertical columns. I used a walking foot but still had a fair amount of shifting.

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Then I used another white sheet to create the duvet pocket. You cans see that I used the hemmed sheet ends for the opening itself, and added buttons and buttonholes.

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The buttons were the first I have done on my Juki machine and the first automatic buttonholes that I have ever done. It was pretty fun and easy, and certainly quicker than manual buttonholes, which is what my old mechanical Elna could do.

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I decided to make a matching pillowcase to go with the duvet cover. This is also lined and has a buttonhole closure.

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Here’s how the whole set looks on the bed. US size twin duvets are much wider than the old Australian single size ones (of which I still have a few from my childhood). The duvet hangs down much further one each side of the bed than I was expecting, not that that’s a bad thing. The bed pictured is an Australian single which is apparently 2″ narrower than a US twin mattress.

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Overall both I and my daughter were pretty pleased with this! It was certainly more expensive than buying a duvet cover and pillowcase, but I feel the design is child appropriate and also suitable for an older girl or rainbow-loving adult, so should last a fair while. While a proper quilted quilt might be more timeless, a duvet cover will get a lot more day to day use, and was what my daughter wanted.

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2016 reflections

2016 reflections

I’m sitting here with coffee and sourdough toast, and it’s 6am on the first of January – I guess it’s time for reflections. After 2014’s year of massive change (having a third baby, moving across the world), I consider 2015 a year of consolidation. In 2015 Althea became much happier at school and has some lovely friends, Julian started at a new, friendly co-op preschool, and Tessa turned into a talking, walking toddler. My Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is finally under control and stable, and I guess I’ve settled into, and accepted, my role as a stay at home parent of three children at this time.

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We managed to get our entire family able to bike ride together – Althea on her own bike with gears and the younger two in a trailer, which is really, really heavy to pull especially since it’s so hilly here, but for someone who used to love her daily cycle commute, being able to take a family Sunday morning bike ride is a big achievement.

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I managed to get into a great lap swimming routine, two evening a week, then it fell apart. I joined a great choir, then it fell apart. That’s ok. I’m starting with a new choir next week, and I’m going to try to set up a home yoga routine, starting with a 30 day yoga camp.

My sewing mojo just disappeared this year, but my knitting mojo fired, probably partly because of my awesome Sunday knitting group. Such an interesting group of women – I’m so lucky to have found them. I did manage to sew a few things including a pieced duvet cover for Althea’s birthday in September. Since Santa brought me an automatic buttonhole foot for Christmas it might actually get it’s button closures some time soon.

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This dress/skirt for Althea is my favorite piece of sewn clothing for the year.

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This skirt is one of the few useful bits of clothing I made for myself this year. I made a lot of duds.

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I made my first Customfit sweater this year which I am very, very happy with. It’s a bit short but is still a great fit improvement on every other sweater I’ve ever knit. I have almost finished my second Customfit, it’s an alpaca Foyle’s cardigan. I am so determined to have it finished while winter is still in full swing – it’s going to be warm.

A wearable sweater – huzzah!

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I’m pretty proud of this Welcome to the Flock set I made for Tessa.

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Baa-able hat for Julian

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The lace required a lot of concentration but I’m so proud of this alpaca Rosewater hat.

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We had three lots of Australian visitors in 2015, my mother-in-law in March, my dear friend in August and my sisters in December. This was just so wonderful and I’m so grateful that they all gave up so my of their time and money to cross the vast Pacific Ocean to see us.

The beautiful rose garden in Portland, Oregon, that I visited with my friend Kate.

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I also survived the three month summer school vacation which was, well, pretty challenging. Our house was very hot, with no cooling and we had quite a few nights when it was too hot to sleep. Three months of being the sole source of entertainment for three children was tough, even with a few activities (holiday programs/day camps) thrown in. I also eventually calmed down when taking taking my three little drowning hazards swimming in the lake. We only took a two day/one night weekend away to Mt Rainier. Next summer we’ll definitely try for more.

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I’m looking forward to 2016. We are taking out first trip back to Australia since we moved here, and it’s going to be timed for sunshine and Womadelaide! It’s going to be bittersweet seeing all our dear friends again and then leaving though. Hopefully summer will be less exhausting.  Julian is starting school in September and Althea is changing schools. I’m going to try Tessa out with a few hours of preschool. Hopefully full nights of sleep will materialize. I’m not going to make crafting goals, as that is too much pressure for me. Crafting fits around the other non-negoitatable things in my life. I make things as the mood takes me, catching the sparks of joy.

A baby in January, a toddler in December 2015.

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Wishing you all the very best in 2016. Another year, another adventure.

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Rayon challis and shirring

Rayon challis and shirring

So I’m a bit obsessed with both rayon challis and shirring at the moment. Rayon challis is just the most lovely, draped summer fabric, and I’m beginning to think that shirring might be the answer to my woven bodice and stiff waistband issues. I started with experimenting with shirring and ended up making Tessa a pattern-free shirred dress!

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I modelled the size of a RTW dress that fit her and added some straps – super easy and I think it turned out pretty cute.

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She’s really running, climbing and exploring so dresses are a bit more practical now she’s off her knees nearly all of the time. I preached the fabric but the dress has shrunk up lengthwise since I made it – rayon challis does have a habit of doing this.

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I’ve got more challis in the works – I think all the girls will be wearing lots of it this summer.

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Gathered Skirt for Althea

Gathered Skirt for Althea

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Althea recently had a day off school due to a teachers strike, which conveniently fell on Julian’s preschool day. She desperately wanted to do something fun (you know, without her pesky brother) and to sew something with me. This skirt is what I came up with, for us to make ‘together’ during Tessa’s naps.

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I might add that Althea didn’t actually sew any of the skirt (“but I might wreck it”), and contented herself with sewing some straight lines on a scrap of fabric and lying under the cutting table reading a book.

The pattern is Gathered Skirt for all ages, a free pattern on the Purl Bee blog. The best feature of this pattern is the large side pockets. I was inspired by Soulemama’s version

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The worst feature is that if I wanted to print it out it would take 27 pages (!), so I had to constantly scrawl up and down on my phone, which was pretty annoying. Weirdly, instead of letting the elasticated waistband create the gathers, the gathers are created by pulling two threads and sewing the resulting gathers onto the waistband. This skirt is actually more involved than it looks.

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My waistband casing turned out a bit narrow for the elastic and I had a hard time getting the elastic in and fabric distributed around. Next time I’d make the waistband a smidgen wider. This pattern also convinced me to buy a quilting ruler.

I made the size 10-11 years, and the elastic to fit her waist which is a bit bigger than the pattern was drafted for (usually she fits measurement charts quite well). The fabric is a printed rayon challis left over from a Gabriola maxi skirt for myself at has been sitting dejectedly around my sewing space, nearly finished, for some time.

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It’s nicely twirly, the pockets are very practical for girls that like to pick up interesting things, and very comfortable. It drapes nicely in the rayon challis – it’s less pouffy than the pattern photo. Overall, a successful project, even though I didn’t quite get it finished on our designated girls day. It should get on to finishing my maxi skirt!

Malibu skipping skirt

Malibu skipping skirt

This is my favorite make for a long time – I am insanely pleased with it. I have loved this pattern, Malibu skipping skirt by Studio Tantrum, ever since it was released. Althea has only recently become old enough for it, as it is an older girls style. Here is the blog post that Nancy Langdon, the designer, wrote when she released this pattern two years ago, with lots of beautiful versions of the design.   She describes it as an eight-gore wasp waist suspender skirt reminiscent of the 1950s.

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The pattern is available in sizes 98/104 to 170/176, so right up to teen sizes. I made up the size 146/152 from my 140cm seven year old. This would have looked more like the pattern photo had I made the size down, but given how fast she grows I just couldn’t bring myself to make a size she would potentially be out of in a few months.

The back is fitted with darts, which can be left unsewn for a stockier figure. Because I chose the larger size I actually had to make the darts even deeper, giving the back a corseted look.

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The fabric is a Kaufman Newcastle Indigo denim from fabric.com. It is 7oz per square yard and is actually a linen/cotton blend. The fabric has beautiful drape, perfect for a denim dress. It also crinkles a lot as you can see in these unearned photos. Here it is ironed, but life is too short to iron this for one day of school wear (yes she wears cat ears to school!).

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I am planning to order more of this fabric to make a skirt for myself! I feel a bit sad that Althea got this piece.

This pattern has so many gorgeous details, curved panels the form Vs and centre front and centre back, stand-out lined pockets, lots of topstitching, belt loops, four slot button holes in the back seams, fitting darts, centre back zip, and I added a faced hem using a contrast colour bias binding.

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If you follow the excellent instructions you would get a lovely finish using a facing at the upper edge. Knowing that this skirt would go straight from dryer to body without passing by an iron I could not bring myself to use a facing, I really hate them and knew it would stick up if unironed. Instead I lined/interlined the upper torso pieces.

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I sewed the lining to the top edge, turned and pressed, and then treated it like one piece. This worked fine and means that I can let the darts out easily as she grows. It does mean that the finish along the top edge is less than perfect, but still looks better than a rolling facing in my opinion.

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This skirt has a lot of pieces, it is very involved for a childs skirt! The instructions tell you to label the pieces well and I agree this is essential. Here are the eight gores constructed.

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Althea loves this skirt and so do I! It was such a fun sew. It is great to tree climbing and the playground.

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And twirling of course….

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