Friday, November 21, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Leggings

These leggings are cut from thick cotton knit with tons of stretch. I dyed them with Pro Chem MX Fiber Reactive dye.

I serged the leggings first with white thread, then garment dyed them in an intense bath of golden yellow plus a little purple in our old toploader. The fabric did not take the dye as well as I hoped. I performed the waistband stitching with matching thread last -- the thread I use does not take the dye at all.

On super cold days I will stay toasty in these with thermal tights underneath.  Everyone needs stretchy pants. And I will be able to pretend I am a bird in my stretchy pants.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Triangle Scarf

One little skein of Nash Island Fog (lamb's wool and angora), purchased this summer at Clementine, and a few yards of Graceland Farm Alpaca, a generous gift from my friend Elizabeth, hooked up in a flurry.  I am indeed enjoying making accessories, and this thing called crochet.

A note about this old shirt: The fabric is an inexpensive cotton sold as "quilter's cotton". It has faded, softened, crinkled, and broken-in to a state that I adore.  I encourage budding garment sewers to work with yardage from the "quilting" section for your first stab at a pattern -- you might be pleasantly surprised at the results. And if your results are not to your liking, you have at least addressed the pattern's fit at a reasonable cost. A small price for huge learning.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A New Knitting Pattern, Joan Fuller

Steadfast friends are jewels indeed.  Approachable, kind and witty,  Joan Fuller Brock was my Mom’s dear pal.  She was in the saddle for any manner of fun, or any not-fun.

Like Joan the person, Joan Fuller the sweater is a compatriot at the ready for a concert in the park or a cup of coffee and pajamas.  It is knit from the bottom up on circular needles, with short row shaping at the hem and the cuffs to create curved hemlines.

The front is cropped to feature a bit of one’s shirt, dress, or a spectacular belt buckle.

The sleeves and body are joined on a circular needle, and worked into a raglan yoke. There are no seams to sew.

The bust and sleeves are graded proportionally to each other, therefore ease can be determined by your own personal preference. Wear it loose or fitted, you know what works best.

Finished Bust
31½-34-36½-39---41½-44-46½-49---51½-54-56½-59 inches
Suggested Yarn
Green Mountain Spinnery’s Weekend Wool
2-ply worsted weight, 140 yards
6-6-6-7---8-8-8-9---10-10-11-11 skeins
or another robust and toothy yarn
1270-1360-1410-1490 yards required
16 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches
in stockinette stitch on larger needles
18 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches
in cable pattern on larger needles
Skills Used
Cabling, short rows, working a small
circumference in the round.
• Needle sizes: US 8 (4.5mm) & US 9 (5mm) suggested to obtain gauge. Needle styles: 32” (80cm) or longer circulars for the body, and your preferred needle style for working sleeves in the round (double points, two circulars, or one long circular).
• Stitch markers: 4 to indicate cable panel boundaries, plus 4 of a different color or style to indicate shaping, and 2 locking markers for row counting
• Cable needle
• Stitch holders: Spare circular needles or waste yarn
• Tapestry needle
• 5 excellent buttons, and 5 small flat buttons for inside the button band (optional)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Wingfeathers Shawl

Back in September I fell head over heels in love with Amy Lou Stein's freshly minted Wingfeathers Shawl, written by Cal Patch. Amy's was worked in a fat and buttery yarn, and I couldn't keep my hands off it.

Crochet is not my skill.  I set out to address that this year.

Imperial Wings

Heritage Anemones
At Rhinebeck I purchased two skeins of Esopus from Jill Draper Makes Stuff, one for me and one as a Christmas gift for my Mom. At Show 'n Tell my Mom lit up at the sight of my Wingfeathers in progress. I cracked and delivered her Esopus to her two months early. I think she "looped on" that night.

I will be taking this shawl on a shopping trip to the fabric store. Surely it deserves a companion smock of its own.

I ran out of yarn three quarters of the way through my last row, so I pulled the row out and devised a picot stitch that consumed a touch less yarn. In the end I had about five yards left.

I am thrilled with the end result of this project. It is made from the delicious yarn of a friend, the pattern is designed by another friend, it was set in motion by a third friend, and my Mom is working another one. I am learning a new skill that I adore, one that I set out to learn in February. I am calling this one of my biggest successes of the year.

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!