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Open Wide Pouch: The Perfect Gift

October 29, 2014

Red Knits Open Wide PouchOne thing I’ve learned living half a country away from everyone I ever knew is that there are several types of long-distance friends. Some friends drift away, only to be seen at the occasional reunion. Others I might not hear from much when I’m away, but we pick up right where we left off when I come back for a visit. Finally, there are a few close friends that remain close despite the distance. Friends like K, who I text and gchat with week in and week out. We might not get to sit down for coffee and knitting as much as we used to, but she’s still one of my closest friends.

Since K also works at an LYS, she’s not so easy to shop for–she’s got a nice discount to get all the yarn she could ever want (and I’m pretty sure her designated yarn trunk is overflowing…). But she does need some cute bags to haul all that yarn around with her. I poked around on Pinterest and came up with this Open Wide Pouch from Noodlehead, which I’m now deeming the Perfect Gift for Knitters.
Red Knits Open Wide Pouch insideThis little bag lives up to its name: it opens up nice and wide so you can see into every corner, and it has a nice, clean finish inside and out. Overall, this project was quite easy–the only tricky part involved those zipper corners. Luckily, those parts are hardly visible in the finished bag, making the project essentially foolproof!
Red Knits Open Wide Pouch zipper tabIt’s kind of silly, but I just love the tab on the end of the zipper. K is a big fan of circles, so I positioned this tab in order to showcase them. I was so pleased when it worked out!
Red Knits Open Wide PouchNext time you need a gift for a knitter, give this pouch a try. All it takes is a little fabric (mine is quilter’s cotton from JoAnn), a zipper, some thread, and less time than you might think. And, since no knitter has ever claimed to have too many bags, this is my new go-to gift.

UFO Mondays: Wee Wonderful Wallaby

October 13, 2014

Red Knits Wonderful WallabyThis is quite the odd little UFO. It all started back in 2008, when my husband’s friends found out they were expecting. Since I can’t help but knit for any babies in my vicinity, I cast on for a newborn sized Wonderful Wallaby sweater that I planned to embroider with “Lil’ Beast” across the chest in honor of the name of the new father’s radio show.

The knitting went crazy fast. This pattern is sized from kids all the way up to adults, and I adjusted it further to be a DK weight newborn size knit on smaller needles. Even so, this little hoodie was off my needles after a long weekend. Then it was time to embroider. I got a couple letters in, and then it sat. For years.

This fall, now that the original recipient is far too big for the sweater, I pulled it out to finish. All that remained was to rip out the embroidery and give it a good bath to remove the markings I had used. Now it’s all dry and tucked away for another baby to come along. Much as I love giving personalized gifts, it’s good to have a stash on hand.

Pattern: Wonderful Wallaby by Carol Anderson
Yarn: 2.5 skeins Sublime Yarns Organic Cotton DK
Needles: US 2 & 4
Made for: a future baby
Timeline: 17 July 2008 – September 2014
Modifications: adjusted for newborn sizing by using DK and size 4 needles and following the smallest size directions. Lengths were estimated by assuming that the pattern calls for a row gauge of 3 rows per inch and going by rows rather than inches.
Worst Part: letting this one sit too long–the original parents would have loved it
Best Part: having another sweet baby gift on hand

Swish! The Linda Circle Skirt

October 10, 2014

Red Knits Linda SkirtHooray! My plaid Linda Circle Skirt is finished! It’s made out of one of those mysterious “suiting” fabrics from a big box store. The fiber must be mostly manmade, because this thing hardly wrinkles. Unfortunately, the plaid isn’t balanced, so I wasn’t able to match plaids on the side seams, but the skirt is so full that it’s hardly noticeable.
Red Knits Linda Skirt Lining and HemThe innards of this skirt are mostly pretty basic, with two exceptions.  First, I’ve lined my skirt with this happy, bright green lining fabric. It picks up on the green in the plaid and is a nice surprise when the lining peeks out. Second, I hemmed the outer skirt with a horsehair braid per Gertie’s recommendation. I’m a little disappointed with how this turned out, to be honest. In reading about the horsehair braid, I was under the impression that it would work for most fabric weights, but my fabric is a bit too light to support my braid, which is not so wide as the tutorial recommended. At any rate, adding the braid did make hemming this circle skirt a bit easier.
Red Knits Linda SkirtToday, I styled the skirt for a teaching observation with an embellished Old Navy tank, thrifted Gap cardigan, brown sweater tights, and hand me down oxford style booties.
Red Knits Linda Skirt SwishBut, most importantly of all: this skirt has a serious swish factor. I’ll have to save this one for the less crowded dance floors.

With Good Reason

October 6, 2014

These past couple years, one of my biggest goals with this blog has been to take (read: force my husband to take) better photos. They make for a better record of my projects and more interesting and useful reading for all of you. We don’t have a proper camera–we’re making do with our iPhones and some decent camera apps for now–but I think we’re doing okay.
Burgundy WurmSo why am I posting a dark, unmodelled photo of a slouchy hat on a terrible background? As this post title suggests, I have a good reason.

When we came back to campus this fall, we learned that one of our new professors had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Although she’s still teaching a class this semester (and serving on my exam committee, which is so kind of her), she’s undergoing chemo and losing her hair.

I found out that she has a difficult head to find hats for when she has hair, so she knew it would be hard to find something to wear once she had lost her hair. I did what any good knitter would do, and I offered to knit her a hat. We worked together to find a pattern and color that she’d like, and she’s so pleased with the finished hat that she’s asked if I would knit her another (spoiler alert: I will. duh.).

So this brings me back to the bad photo. Normally a condition of my knitted gifts is that the recipient has to pose for photos, but I’m guessing my prof isn’t feeling her most photogenic at the moment. And my second choice would be to model it myself, but there’s something that doesn’t feel right about posing in her hat with my full head of hair. So, this time, a flat table shot was the right choice. I hope you’ll agree.

Pattern: Wurm by Katharina Nopp
Yarn: 1.25 skeins Bernat Satin in Bordeaux
Needles: US 4 & 6 16″ circulars and dpns
Made for: Prof B
Timeline: 26 September – 3 October 2014
Modifications: used worsted weight yarn, knit middle size, and only worked 8 rpts
Worst Part: buying acrylic yarn, even though this is a nice soft one
Best Part: her reaction–it’s her new favorite hat

Frozen Dreams

October 2, 2014

Happy October! It’s time to start thinking about Halloween costumes, and in my family those costumes are always handmade.

FrozenThis year’s costume decision was easy. I’ve been a Disney princess fangirl for my entire life, and Frozen brought us a redheaded princess who isn’t half fish–finally, a princess I can relate to! (My  sister can also be a little cold, so…) Even better, my proudly Scandinavian husband is also a fan, and he’s going as Kristoff. We’ve never done a couple’s costume, so we’re pretty excited.

Since he’s just as capable at a sewing machine as I am, he’s responsible for his own costume this year, allowing me to focus on all of the components of my Anna costume:

I’ll ease into this costume with the skirt. Although in some shots it looks like Anna’s skirt may have pleats, I’m going to keep things simple and do an unlined version of the same pattern I just used for my plaid skirt (photos/blog post coming very soon!). Since the motifs at the hem are quite large, I plan to applique them.

Next, I’ll tackle the bodice, which proves a bit more complicated. I couldn’t find a good pattern match for the cut of Anna’s bodice, so I’m planning to use the same pattern I used for my showgirl costume and adjust it to have a sweetheart neckline. I’ll add the gold trim and (hopefully) embroider the motifs since they’re smaller here.

I think that I’ll do the blouse next. I’m using view E of V8747, which I hope can also serve as a fitting test version of this pattern because I don’t have a princess seamed blouse pattern I like. This pattern probably isn’t a perfect match to the original blouse, but not much of it shows, so I’m just going to add some machine embroidery around the neckline and call it a day.

Finally, I’ll make up the cape since it’s a sort of non-essential part of the costume: I still want it, but I’m sure the costume would be recognizable without it. This is the only part of the costume for which I’m using M7000, the unofficial “snow queen” pattern McCall’s released for the movie. I’m not aiming for complete accuracy in this costume, but the rest of this pattern just strays too far from the original for what I’m looking to make. The cape, however, looks pretty close.

As far as other bits of the costume go, I’ve already got some black boots, and I’m keeping an eye out for a blond extension I can tuck into my already strawberry blonde hair. At some points in the movie, Anna wears a little hat and mittens, but I’m not bothering with those.

We braved JoAnn this afternoon in order to take advantage of a big sale before everything was completely picked over, and we now have just about everything we need to get going. It’s a good thing, too: we have one less week than expected to get everything together because our friends’ Halloween party is on the 25th! I also have my hopes up way too high for trick-or-treaters since this is the first place we’ve had that might get them.

What sort of costuming are you doing this Halloween, either for yourself or your little people?

UFO Mondays: Houndstooth Blazer

September 29, 2014

Sometime in late high school or early college–it was so long ago that I can’t even remember anymore–I got it into my head that I needed a wool blazer and decided to get to making one. Never mind that I hardly sewed outside of competitions at the time: this was before the thrifting heyday, so my blazer needed to be handmade.

I vaguely remember being inspired by a Chanel type jacket in one of my teen fashion magazines, and I imagine that I went to the family’s (extensive) wool stash and found this houndstooth to pair with Simplicity 4954 view E.

Houndstooth Blazer UFOI took the time to match my patterns and sew together the main pieces of the jacket, but for whatever reason I didn’t have any lining, and the project was put aside. For a looong time. In fact, this just might be my oldest sewing UFO.

Luckily, my shape hasn’t changed so much in the intervening years that this jacket won’t fit. It could perhaps be a little bigger in the bust, but I think the open neckline will make it work. I also might not have chosen a fabric with a gold base today, so I’m hoping a higher neckline in a more flattering color underneath will offset the yellow tones.

This lovely wool required a luxurious lining to match. Surprisingly (at least to me), JoAnn carries Bemberg rayon, and I was able to pick some up at a deep discount during last year’s Thanksgiving weekend sale. Since this isn’t a fully tailored jacket with a collar, it shouldn’t take much work to finish it off and add it to my fall wardrobe.

In other news, after a month and a half of living in an apartment that was only partially unpacked (and driving me crazy. and causing interruptions to marital bliss), we finally have access to some garage space! This means that we’ve unearthed most of our sunroom, which is turning into a shared creative space where my husband has his drafting table and I have my sewing machines. Not wanting to go without sewing for an indefinite period of time, I had been wedging myself into a small space in front of my sewing table, but now I can actually access my projects and supplies again. Hopefully this means things will be back to normal around this blog.


September 18, 2014

I’ve noticed a lot of sewing bloggers sneaking in “one last” Alder dress before autumn really arrives and they need to transition their wardrobe (and, by extension, their sewing projects). I don’t see why an Alder can’t serve as a transitional piece, especially when made up in chambray.
Chambray AlderI used to have a dress that was a little like this, but it no longer fit and I had to get rid of it. I’m so excited to add this dress to my wardrobe because it really will work year round. The loose cut should work well with the lighter fabric to keep me cool on the really hot days of summer, and I’ll wear it as soon as it’s finished this fall with a cardigan and cowl, a belt to define the waist, and tights and boots.

Shannon got my hopes up high when she posted her beautiful Hawthorn dress made from fabric she had found in JoAnn’s clearance section. I had been wanting to make a chambray dress for a while, and it was so nice to know that this was an affordable and good quality fabric. Of course, when I braved a big sale to find some of this fabric, there wasn’t a whole lot left on the bolt. I’m hoping to compensate by shuffling around the cutting layout and using a premade bias tape for the armhole finishes. One or both of those pockets may go as well.

This won’t be the last “out of season” garment you see coming from my sewing table this fall. We’re planning a vacation to the sunshine state this winter, and I’d like to make a few things to celebrate the warm weather!

A Gray Shirt for Steven

September 16, 2014

Steve's Gray ShirtThis guy pretty much lives in button down shirts. For just about any weather or occasion, he’ll probably toss on one of his many button down shirts. Problem is, none of them quite fit.
Steve's Gray ShirtUntil now. He finally has a shirt that fits his broad shoulders, slim torso, and long trunk and arms.
Steve's Gray Shirt backIt’s been a long road to get here from my initial plan to make him a shirt that fits. I started with a Vogue pattern, then tried out the famous Negroni, and finally settled on an altered version of McCall’s 6613 view B. I made some fairly substantial changes to this pattern based on my shirtmaking research, but those will have to wait for another post. I will note, however, that this pattern fit my 6’4″ husband pretty well right out of the envelope, so I imagine shirts for shorter guys would need some alteration.
Steve's Gray Shirt detailThis was not the best fabric for a trial shirt. It’s a linen blend thing from JoAnn which, as I told my husband when he originally picked it out, is certain to end up in a wrinkly ball in the bottom of the dryer. It also has a terrible tendency to shift around, which made for some difficult cutting and detail stitching. Luckily, both the pieces and the stitching blend in pretty nicely, so most of the imperfections are hidden.
Steve's Gray ShirtHis bike may have a flat tire, but at least he’s got a shirt that fits.
Steve's Gray ShirtThe first of many, I’m sure.

A Circle Skirt at Last

September 9, 2014

Way back in 2010, I had some serious circle skirt envy. I was completely smitten with Sunni’s plaid Linda Hop skirt–her styling was perfect, and the proximity of her post title to my favorite swing dance, the lindy hop, seemed like more than a coincidence–so I quickly ran out to my local Hancock Fabrics for materials.
Circle Skirt MaterialsI can’t tell you what happened next, as I have no memory or blog record of why I didn’t immediately sew up my own cute plaid circle skirt with an adorably bright lining. What didn’t happen was anything beyond preshrinking: all of these materials, and even a printed pattern and a magazine article on circle skirts, have just been sitting in my sewing project stash ever since. Hell, I even have a top, tights, and shoes that will look great with the skirt.

I can’t let one more fall go by without this perfectly autumnal skirt in my wardrobe. It’s time to break out the shears.

Emelie Update, Vest Edition

September 2, 2014

Emelie TorsoNow that the semester has begun, the days are long, full, and oftentimes exhausting. I’ve wanted to take some time for myself in the evenings, but I rarely have the energy to drag myself over to my sewing machine. It doesn’t help that my future sewing room is still floor to ceiling boxes, of course.

Luckily, I’ve been able to chug along on my Emelie cardigan. I finished the body after a particularly high energy day of putting on an orientation for our new grads. Now I’ve worked the neckband and one of the buttonbands–I’ve decided to work these first because I have a little less yarn than the recommended yardage, and I may want or need to make the sleeves 3/4 length.

This colorway is so much prettier in person. I’m hoping that my photographer is better able to capture it on camera than I am, and I’m hoping that this project is finished and ready for photo soon so I can get plenty of wear out of it this fall.


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