Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: A Midnight Smock

On Wednesday night before leaving for Rhinebeck I attempted to sew two smocks. I had been coveting this fabric from Clementine since summer.

Success, except for one late night error (early morning, actually): I sewed the lower front to the upper back, and the lower back to the upper front. What this means is I now have a completely reversible shirt. HA!

See the chain stitching on the inside? All that stitching and cutting happens in one pass on my Siruba machine -- the chain stitch, the overlock, and the trimming.  And it goes lickity split.

My new knitting spot:

My computer is in a small pass through room located next to our television room. I painted the walls in the spring and rearranged some furniture in an effort to make it an inviting work space.

I had placed a small wooden cot in the corner for a sunny knitting spot and overflow company. Have you ever tried to knit on a cot? In a corner?

Three days ago I dragged this chair up from the basement studio and I have been firmly planted in it since. The cot is in the barn, traded for this steamer basket, which holds my yarn.

Thank you chair, basket and old light, for encouraging me to stitch up a storm.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: My Rhinebeck Shirt

Two weeks ago, while everyone else was deliriously stitching on their Rhinebeck sweaters at the eleventh hour, I was stitching on two new smocks to wear at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. This is my Saturday smock. The hexagons were stitched this summer (have you tried hexagons? pretty relaxing).

See the giraffes? A scrap from the first pattern I ever sewed, a smock. More sentimental pieces coming soon -- we have been cleaning the barn, where my parents stored every finished (and abandoned) project my siblings and I ever made.

After forty something years of sewing I am still learning -- this tape was not cut on the bias and created some challenges. But I still LOVE this shirt.

Amy and Thea
Thea and Amy and I arrived on Thursday and kicked back in a beautiful little rental house. On Friday we roamed town as the rest of our housemates trickled in.

I drank all the dark brown liquids, always my favorite.

At the fair on Saturday there were white sheep,
and black sheep,
and llamas too.
Ellen and Beatrice

There was a grey sheep named Brutus 
who was helpful with the phone,

first-rate at hugs,

generous with kisses,

and clever at dirty jokes.

On Sunday there was a blue ribbon jumping goat and his Nun,
and a leaping llama competition.

I came home with fond memories of time spent with some of my favorite people on earth, a few coveted skeins of yarn, three boxes of biscotti, and enough knitter's mojo to cruise through three knitted hats and half a crocheted shawl in the last ten days.  Yes, I am crocheting and it is keeping me up at night. 

Tomorrow I will share the other smock and my little knitting nest, which was improved this week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Shirt

I find myself wearing the same two smocks over and over, so I cut a few more. The pattern is Butterick 5356, modified, and the cut sings to me.  The front is gathered but the back is not -- fullness just the way I like it. 

The shoulder seam runs down the arm -- there is not a traditional set-in sleeve.  Also, the underarm does not bind.

My bias tape skills are improving. 

This happy trim was an afterthought. If I had it to do again I would not have two lines of stitching on the public side. And I do have it to do again -- I could easily pick the stitches and rework it. But I have learned that I admire the art of completion more than the art of perfection in others' work. Adopting this philosophy, I will move along and make more, more, more!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Cardigan Sweater

Winnie Autumn, named for the shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee in the fall
One of my hopes with this year's project was to use up some of the materials I had in my stash. Originally I had three skeins of dark blue wool for the main part of this sweater, two variegated blue skeins for the yoke, and a ball of creamy white for highlights. But on second look, the variegated blue was not quite right, so I dyed one, two, three, four more skeins until I had the right grey-blue. 

In the meantime, I dyed four multicolor skeins for the fun of it (herein lies my materials issue). I liked them so well I incorporated them into my design. In case you've lost count, I had five skeins and one ball, and I dyed eight more. I used about five to complete the sweater. There was a net gain in materials.

The construction of this sweater is unusual: I cast on provisionally at the yoke, worked down five rows, split for the sleeves and body, worked the sleeves and body, and then picked up the stitches at the provisional cast on and resumed the yoke in the opposite direction. Why? So the dipped stitches (the points) could reach into the dark blue body of the sweater from the yoke and the hems. And because I'm a knitter.

Checking in on my year's To Do list, I have some work on the horizon: 

Old skills: Hand knit and write patternsmachine knitscreen print, sew on the Berninaserge with the Husqvarnaserge and mock chain on the Siruba, acid dye, *fiber reactive dye, weave, *spin, paint, full or felt, trim, thriftreclaim or refashion.
New challenges: Discharge print, design my own fabric at Spoonflower, embroider, crochetpompom & tassel, applique & patchwork.
Garments: Cardigan sweater, sweater vest, pullover sweater, scarfhatmittens, coat, dressshirtskirt, *leggings, tee, pants, *socks, slip, undershirt, bike shorts, apron, handkerchiefand brooch.
* work in progress

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Undershirt

Hunting season is here. Behold my blaze orange undershirt, a Dharma Trading Company bias cut silk camisole. I had worn it many times as a plain white undergarment.  I guess this project can be called a refashion.

I had some dyeing still left in me when I arrived home from Fiber College -- wait, who am I kidding? I could dye all day long. As I was unpacking my supplies I threw this in a Mason Jar with the golden orange I was craving, shook it, steamed it twenty minutes, rinsed, done.

So yes, my underwear is bright, but that's just between you and me. I am going to wear it like this until I tire of the color and then I can over-dye it.

Thanks for all the well wishes, Friends. My cataracts are gone and I am styling two new intraocular lens implants. I choked up a little after acing my eye exam -- I have not been able to read an eye chart without assistance since the third grade. Then I made that awful convulsing sound because I was embarrassed about losing my composure. Then I couldn't read the chart ...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Another Fiber College has come and gone.  Per usual I have come home with not enough photos. I waffle between capturing the moment in pixels and experiencing the moment fully, like a big bite of delicious food. 

On Friday I met with thirteen brave knitters to explore how variegated yarn behaves. We played with stitch patterns and discussed the superpowers and pitfalls of this challenging yarn. I am stunned at what I come away with in teaching. Knitters are lovely people that are not afraid to communicate joy, enthusiasm, and good ideas. 

photo courtesy Sandy Cohen of Sandolini Buckwheat Crackers

On Saturday and Sunday I played Dyetender at the Dye Tent. We jammed wool and silk and dyes into Mason Jars and then steamed them like pickles. 

I ate lobster, lounged on the beach, woke up to lapping waves, and laughed deliriously with (and at) dear dear friends. Link here to reflections from Gale Zucker and Mary Lou Egan. Keep an eye on Kirsten Kapur, Jani Estell, Beverly Army Williams and Cal Patch as well -- they motivated each other to blog more.

I encourage you to peek at the Fiber College page on facebook as well as Astrig Tanguay's page-- there you will find videos and photos from many folks that better describe the whole event. The Missus of Gee's Bend bathed the week with heartfelt song and the true spirit of Make.

On a personal note, I am in the midst of having cataracts removed. My left eye was fixed yesterday, and my right eye will be fixed next week. In the meantime, I have bionic vision in my newly corrected eye, and super myopic and astigmatic vision in my right eye -- I'm an overachiever in crappy vision. I have resigned myself to having a dicey week. Also, I was the only gal asked to take a pregnancy test before surgery. I am feeling youthful and fortunate.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Scarf

While staying at Searsport Shores this summer I set up my knitting machine for demonstration. I cast on 120 stitches of stockinette in yarn that I knew would knit up easily.

It turns out having a knitting machine set up with good yarn and mindless knitting is about like having a jigsaw puzzle set up: I'm on my way to something else but ... just a few rows.  I knit four scarves in six days.

This yarn is a cashmere blend that I dyed last year.  The pin is another thrifted find from Thea. Did I tell you we went to see Madeleine Albright's pin collection? Check the tour dates, well worth a visit, and best done in good company.

The crochet trim was completed at home.  The felted balls are from Darn Good Yarn. I used a sharp darning needle to secure the balls as I went along.

I'll be back at Searsport Shores soon with a gaggle of friends for Fiber College.  Come join me for Mason Jar dyeing on Saturday, September 6th, 9 til 5 (arrive by 3:30), and Sunday, September 7th, 9 til 3 (arrive by 1:30).  I'll have plenty of wool for sale, plus premixed dyes and a streamlined set of instructions. And/or you can bring your own skeins of wool. The steampots will be chugging!