Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New knitting gadgets

With so many planned knitting projects, I finally had a justification to get this circular knitting needle set.

I also finally set up an account on Ravelry (LolaT). What an organizational treat. I don't know why I've never gone on there before. It's going to take me a while to set up all my projects and things but I had no idea there were so many photos of finished projects. If you're new to knitting or just didn't know about this site, it's great.

We are coming out of a bout with the flu, the infamous H1N1, but I plan to start posting some knitting soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sailboat Skirt

[pattern photo from oliver + s]
Because I really enjoyed the Jump Rope dress pattern from oliver + s, I decided to get another one, the Sailboat Top, Skirt & Pants pattern to complete an outfit I got at Gymboree for monkey pants. As monkey pants gets older, I'm not drawn to Gymboree's matchy-matchy lines as much but I couldn't resist this adorable panda top and black short sleeve cardigan. I was shopping with coupons so that was all I was going to get. The pants didn't appeal to me that much anyway. There was a cute black denim mini skirt but it also had a panda face on it and I thought that would be a bit much.

[I have to admit, the panda looks a little scary in these pictures. My camera was spazzing out with all the white and black contrast and the white is overexposed and in your face.]
Looking in monkey pants's closet, I realized she has nothing that is red or black so I figured I could make a couple of cute little skirts to go with the outfit. I picked this oliver + s pattern because of it's timeless and classic design of course, even in a non-nautical look.

This skirt got cut and sewn up in a matter of a couple of hours which I find very satisfying. I made size four which fit really well around the waist and hips but I found to be maybe a little shorter than I expected. I think I would have preferred it to be just over the knee. I could have skimped on the folding back for the hem to make it a bit longer, but I wanted to preserve the way it was hemmed so I settled for the mini skirt look. I can always make lots and lots more of these. Also, it has a cute little pleat in the back (ignore the strangely positioned hand; that really is the back).

I was able to make them with 3/4 yards for about $5 each plus buttons. I used black denim for the first one and red corduroy on the second one because this is kind of a wintery outfit. I'm not too excited about my button selection but the buttons had to be black or red to go with the outfit and frankly there just wasn't anything better. (Light aqua or yellow buttons on the black denim would have been super cute). Sadly, I paid about $1.79 for four 3/4" buttons at JoAnns (which visiting, as I've mentioned many times before, leaves me needing to be medicated) and then I found the exact same buttons, different brand, at Walmart for a mere $.69 cents.

I know I'll get a lot of use out of this pattern as it goes up to a size 8. I can see making the skirt and matching top outfits for the Spring.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jaeger George Cardigan - completed!

Pattern: George
Book: Jaeger JB29
Materials: Knit Picks City Tweed DK
Amount: (4) 50g balls 'Splash'
Needles: US3 and US6 bamboo
Cost: $3.99/ball approx. $16.00
Notions: Buttons (Walmart .79 cents)
Size: 12-24 month. My swatch came out bigger so I knit a smaller size than what my son measured (he just turned two and was maybe one centimeter smaller than the 2-3T size measurements. However, I knit to the lengths for the 2-3T size. I made the button border following the smaller size and the collar following the bigger size. I'm not sure why, but it seems to have worked out.
Start Date: Oct. 3, 2009
Finish Date: Oct. 12, 2009

I've never knit anything this fast before. I guess the combination of Fall, being pregnant, and watching too much TV is very complimentary to knitting.

As I went along, I started worrying that the cardigan was turning out too small, but it is very fitted in the book picture so I trusted that it would come out OK. It fits perfectly, but I don't think it has any room to grow, so it may not be wearable in the Spring. On the other hand, my son is tiny and isn't growing too quickly so it might be OK. After looking at the pictures of him wearing it, I realized he looks like he has no shoulders. I guess that's what happens when your body is in the 5th percentile for weight and your head is in the 50th percentile for size -poor little fellow. Anyway, I think he looks quite cute.

The pockets were easy enough to knit up but when I was done with them, I realized I didn't really know how to sew them on the sweater. I wasn't even sure if I should use regular thread or yarn. I decided to just go for it. I lined them up using the eyeball method and pinned them. I attached them using yarn with a simple stitch going right through the top border of the pocket which you can't really see. Seems to have worked out. I did steam the pockets before and I steamed the collar at the end as well to get it laying down and stretched out nicely.

I'm glad I followed by Brooklyn Tweed inspiration and went for the tweed yarn on this. It makes him look so scholarly and kind of like a grandpa at the same time. I love it. The cables were easy and the rest of the cardigan is just stockinette stitch. I think it makes a pretty cute manly cardigan and the knitting is fairly simple. Perfect for the Fall.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

George cardigan - blocking

Progress on the "George" cardigan has been super fast, super fast for my standards anyway. Finishing in the same year would be fast. Anything above and beyond that, I would consider "super fast".

It did take me several tries to get the right number of stitches added on to the front for the button border, though. It's kind of tricky to get them equally spaced apart and to end up with the right amount by the time you get to the end. I don't know if there's a more organized way to do this. Perhaps you're supposed to count up the number of rows and perform some kind of mathematical formula, but I just used the frustrating and time consuming method of trial and error.

Before this, I had to do the blocking. A term with which I'm only vaguely familiar as I've only done it twice before and with enough years in between to really be a novice at it every time I try. I followed the pattern instructions and did it with the steam iron. Which is probably not the best, especially with cables. Because although it seems fairly fast and efficient at doing the job, it kind of flattens out the cables. I did come to the realization afterwards though, that when the instructions tell you to use a steam iron, they probably mean to just use the steam from the iron and not to actually compress the knitting by putting the iron directly on it which is what I did.

I don't know if true knitting experts would be horrified with this method, but this is what I did. I used pins somewhat sparingly, I guess, and put the pieces wrong side up on the ironing board. I put a damp flannel receiving blanket on top and used the steam iron, gently placing it on top, picking it up, repositioning it to cover the whole piece. It was fast. I re-pinned the piece usually one more time to get the edge nice and straight without the poking and steamed again. I used the tape measure to make sure the arms where ending up the same and the two fronts.

Once, I was done with this, I started piecing everything together. It's been a while, so had to re-learn how to do the mattress stitch. What seemed like a good effort at first, left me with an invisible flat seem on the inside but with three rows of the little braid stockinette stitch on the outside. So I started over and quickly got it figured out.

Now, I just need to finish the collar and pockets.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Getting more excited about knitting

I'm planning on making a few knitted gifts for Christmas again this year so I was forced to make a plan for a few projects so I could make a large enough order from KnitPicks to get free shipping. I picked my colors from the catalog this time and ignored the pictures on the website. Hopefully I'll have better luck.

In my search for fingerless gloves patterns, I found the cutest knitting website blog and shop, Cotton & Cloud. They have patterns, kits, notions and delicious photos that will make you want to knit everything there. She also has video tutorials and the PDF instructions are super detailed with amazing illustrations and photos.
[photos from Cotton & Cloud]

My project list may be a little too ambitious and I don't know how far I'll get but here's my plan even if I don't get all of these done by Christmas, I know I'll want to make them eventually.

I've been making good progress on the "George" cardigan despite having to unravel and almost start all over the first sleeve due to size alterations gone awry, so I'm hopeful my momentum will stick.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jump Rope Dress (A)

After the first Jump Rope Dress for monkey pants, I really got the urge to keep sewing stuff for her, so I completed view A of the pattern that same week. This one is made with Heather Bailey's Bijoux fabric, Tiled Primrose - yellow, in a size 5. I have to add, that I found these buttons in a budget multi-color pack at Walmart and do they ever go so well with the fabric. I hadn't even bought it for this dress. I made a feeble attempt to match the pattern on the placket with the dress bodice, but clearly wasn't trying very hard. It doesn't really matter though.

Our crazy weather suddenly went from highs of 90 to 45 and it's been too cold to go outside and take pictures. But finally, here it is. I'm so happy with this dress, the style, the fabric, the fit, everything. It's so cute and orderly. Monkey pants is not an orderly looking girl to say the least, and she looks quite proper, yet not uptight, the style is still casual and fun. Really love this dress so I'll probably make another in the Spring. I'd make another one right now, but I gotta pace myself a little.

** Details **

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Starting to knit again

Along with picking up on some sewing projects, I'd like to start knitting again. There's tons of stuff I'd love to make, but knitting takes so long (for me), I really have to force myself to focus on one thing at a time. I decided to start with a cardigan for my little boy, "George" from Jaeger Handknits JB29. I'm not too game these days to make a trip to the yarn store, so I decided on some yarn from Knit Picks since I need to keep this project budget friendly. After seeing all the gorgeous things made with tweed yarn on Brooklyn Tweed, I picked City Tweed DK yarn in color "Splash" for $3.99/50g ball.

Of course I picked the color off their website and just like last time with the "Jenny" cardigan, the colors on their website are WAY off, so the color I got is totally different from what I thought I was getting. I thought I was getting a light aqua (Splash -like the ocean) and instead it's a more saturated teal green (it's actually more like the color of Utah Lake, which you would only understand if you've seen it, but I mean that in a pretty way). What ever. I like the color anyway, but I'm still very disappointed that the accuracy of their photo color representation on their website has not improved. (Yes, I know color varies with the calibration of your monitor .... blah, blah, blah.)

Moving on. I knit a swatch (well, half a swatch -I'm kind of lazy that way) right away after receiving it in the mail. It came out a little bigger so I decided to knit the 1-2 year old size (my son just turned two but his measurements were closer to the 2-3 year old size, which is weird because he's very small for his age. Hopefully, it fits. I'm so excited that I've already made a little bit of progress in one evening of sitting on the couch watching TV. Here's hoping this one gets done.