Monday, December 11, 2017

Top 5 of 2017: Hits

I always love participating in the Top 5 of 2017 posts every year. This is hosted by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow and all participants take a look back on what they made that year and report on their hits, misses, highlights, reflections, and goals. At the moment, I am busy making Christmas gifts, so I can't really show you what I am making yet. What better way to still blog than to show what worked best of the things I made this year? So let's dive in with my top hits!
5. Marianne Top - This was my first make of the year back in January and it has served me very well all year long. Every time I wear this shirt, I get compliments. The fabric is very pretty, and being all rayon jersey it's very soft and comfy. The shape of this is also nice and drapey and loose, so this is my go-to when I don't want anything tight on my tummy (if you know what I mean). I can be comfortable and still look put together with this shirt. I have a few changes I plan to make when I make this again (like raising the yoke line about an inch), but my little issues have not kept me from wearing this. Totally love it :)
4. Kerfuffle Ishnana Cardigan - This was my favorite knit of the year :) I love the color (and the name - kerfuffle) plus the cable patterns on this were just so enjoyable to knit. The pattern kept things interesting the whole time yet not too overwhelming. I love how regal the sables make this look. Definitely a good one.
3. Mint Twig Renfrew - I love everything about this shirt - the fit, the neckline finish, the fabric. I really love the Doodles brand cotton interlock from Joann's, and this is a great print that doesn't look too childish. I have a few fabrics and refashions earmarked to use this hacked neckline Renfrew again. The high neck is just so flattering yet still comfortable.
2. Teal Retro Boogie Shirt - This shirt took real perseverance to make happen. I sewed 2 "muslins" to get the pattern right, and this was the final version. I wear this all the time. It's comfy, it goes with a lot of my skirts, and it still has some interesting details with the ruched front and yoke seam. This is a good example of you altering the pattern to fit your needs since I couldn't wear it as drafted. Now it's one of my top hits :)
1. Black Hollyburn Skirt - How boring is this, right? lol The longer I've been sewing my own clothes, the more I realize it's the kind of boring basic pieces I reach for over and over again. This skirt was in no way thrilling, but I reach for this thing all. the. time. Who doesn't love a well fitting basic black skirt? We all need one, and now I have mine :) The fit is great, the pockets are wonderful, the fabric is satin backed so it never sticks to my legs. All around this is a fantastic make and I will surely wear this until it falls apart.

Honorable Mentions go to my costumes I made this year :) I'm kind of cheating here, but I really did love the costumes I made and I didn't want to not acknowledge them since I couldn't really wear them everyday. But here they are:
3. The 60s Dress - I still feel like I nailed it with this 60s dress. Fabric from 1963, pattern from 1969, zipper from before the mid 70s. This was my first truly vintage pattern I've ever used myself, and it turned out so well that I want to try more :) This is certainly more costumey with the big bow, but I may actually wear this in real life if I'm feeling sassy.
2. Medieval Costume - This was a huge undertaking. I lucked out with my major thrift store score of raw silk for this dress and it was so comfortable to wear. I still feel a bit self conscious about the hat, but in the context of a madrigal feats it looked good. This was just a large project with lots of little details that really brought it together in the end to look fantastic :) My mom even wore this for a Halloween party, but we are planning another feast this year, so it looks like this will be a handy costume to have around. I'm just thrilled that it came together so well with all thrift store materials.
1. Rapunzel Costume - This costume was a puzzle to put together and I'm so pleased it came together well :) I had to do a lot of pattern alteration to make this not only fit me but to look closer to the movie Tangled. This was also made with mostly thrifted materials, which just makes me happy). I rank this at #1 because of the reactions I got from kids. I seriously love dressing up as Disney characters for that reason. So much fun. Also this top is knit so it was so comfortable - a big win :)

So those are my hits this year! I feel like I didn't make a ton (I feel that way every year, lol), but I'm glad I had so many pieces that turned out so well that I love to wear them. My percentage of successes is definitely going up :) Always a good sign.

Check back soon for my top misses of the year next (yikes).

Monday, December 4, 2017

FO: Bert's New Bed (+ Bert Update)

Well we took Bert in for his eye removal surgery on Thursday, November 16th. I got up early on my day off to drive him there. I snuggled him and said goodbye, then ran some errands and went home. Then I missed having him around, lol. I had planned on picking him up later that day, but the vet called midday and said they needed to keep him overnight, completely changing my plans. So what to do with my time? Why not make Bert a pillow bed? lol
The desire to make this actually began a week before when I was scrolling through Creativebug and saw a class for this cute cartwheel pillow. I was knitting my Salal that night, so I decided to watch the class while I worked. Of course seeing that the pillow was easy and super cute, I decided I wanted to make one. I tried to justify a family member getting one for Christmas, lol, but in the end I restrained myself in that way. I still wanted to make one up, but I did not need any extra pillows on any couches or beds in my life. But Bert being a little cat and new in my household could be a justification, right? Especially when we sent him off to have his eyeball removed - you should really get some kind of consolation prize for that type of thing, right? Right. It was enough justification for me, so I rifled through my stash to find appropriate fabrics that weren't too girly (easier said then done in my stash) and I set to work.
I knew I wanted to make at least one spoke of the pillow in minky fabric. In observing other people's cats it seems that something about that silky texture just gets them really jazzed up. I happened to have 2 partially cut remnants of minky in my stash from a thrift store bucket of fabric I bought years ago. The previous owner clearly cut a blanket back worth out of the pieces, leaving me with the outer edges of the fabric width as well as a thicker area at the end of their yardage that was larger then they needed. Since this pillow was made entirely out of pieces together long triangles, I was able to use the skinny scrap area and cut out lots and lots of pieces. I picked this green Amy Butler fat quarter to go with the minky since it was pretty but not crazy feminine looking. The class tells you that you can get 7 triangle pieces out of a fat quarter, and that is exactly what I was able to fit.
Not finding any other patterned fabrics that I felt coordinated with this one, and having accidentally cut 22 pieces out of the minky before I realized I might have too many, I decided to just stick with these two fabrics for a simplistic look. I figured since one side would be against the floor anyway, why not make it simple? I actually really like the look now that it's finished.
The class shows you step by step how to construct every aspect of this pillow, giving lots of good tips along the way. I'm not much of a quilter (I get bored, to be honest), but this was entirely palette-able quilt piecing to me. My front and back came together with no problems. I wanted to go with brown for the button and the piping, and luckily I had some premade bias tape on hand from a random thrifting excursion. I tend to grab packets of rick rack and bias tape all the time, and happily that worked in my favor with this project because I didn't have to make any, lol. The piping is a bit skinnier than the one shown in the class, but I still like the look of it.
Once the pillow was piped and put together, I started stuffing. I stuffed and stuffed and stuffed ... and then ran out of stuffing when I was almost finished. Ugh. The only place near me with polyfil was Walmart, and not wanting to run out again EVER I grabbed a 50 oz bag, lol. I could stuff a few more pillows now should the mood strike me. Anyway stuffing this was interesting, and as you can see my pillow is a wee bit lumpy. This is partly due to the fact that I forgot to interface my fabric before sewing it together (oops), partly because it's difficult to get something with flat sided pieces to look rounded with fluff, and partly due to this already being laid on and played with by a small kitten. So this is a partially used pillow and I'm now worried about it being a little lumpy here, lol. It's a cat bed, after all, and he has yet to complain.

Once the pillow was stuffed, I covered my buttons - one side with brown cotton and one side with minky - and attached them according to the video. It was a wrestle, for sure, but I think it came out nice. I like the amount of tufting I achieved and Bert likes to boop the button like it's going to turn something on, or attach it and try to smack it off the pillow (which it thankfully has not done).
I brought the pillow with me when I picked Bert up the next day - just in case, lol. He was a bit too freaked out to care. When I got him home, though, after he had settled in I set him on the pillow and he decided to cuddle up and rest on it for a minute. I was elated! lol A pet that actually somewhat liked something I offered to him! What a novel idea. My other cat could care less about anything other than her dry food bowl being full and being let out on the porch at her leisure. I've bought her a bed, a scratching post, countless toys, treats, you name it over the years, all of which have been met with the same steely stare and turn away to sit on the floor in the sun. But Bert really seems to like this pillow. He plays with the button,  he bats things around the outside of it, and sometimes he even sits on it. Hoorah!

I'm really happy with how this pillow turned out. It's a super cute project that is really quick to make. If you're at all in need of a pillow (or a cat bed), I definitely recommend you give this class a try:)

Fabric: fat quarter of Amy Butler Soul Blossoms Passion Lily in Green - $1.25, 1/3 yard cream minky scraps - $0.25 (thrifted)
Pattern: Round Button Cartwheel Pillow class on Creativebug
Notions: 2 yards brown pre-made piping - $0.25 (thrifted), 1.5" covered buttons kit - $0.50 (thrifted), thread - $0.50, LOTS of polyfil - $4.00
Time: 2 hours
Total Cost: $ 6.25

So I figured everyone would appreciate an update now that Bert has had his surgery :) Like I said, the vet kept him overnight so I was without him that evening, but I picked him up the next day and he was a little freaked but doing really well :)
This was him in the vet's office. He definitely did not like all the noise and travel. I had to bring him to work with me for a few hours, and he quickly found an extremely hidden corner and hunkered down until we could get him home.
Once we were home, I fed him (which he very much enjoyed) and then he proceeded to run around and explore things just like nothing had changed :) You would seriously never have known this cat just had any surgery except for his shaved head and stitched eye, lol. All my pics from that day are blurry because he just wouldn't stop moving. You can see his shaved forehead and eye area in the above photo though.
Now Bert enjoys lounging in our bed with us as the sun comes up - that is if he's not attacking our feet in the early morning light. We thought the surgery would take him down a peg (especially because we had him neutered at the same time), but he's just as playful and bite-y as he was before. This photo above was taken the week he came home and he was particularly snuggly. You can see his short haired forehead in the pic too, lol.
Spot the cat! Bert has discovered how much fun fabric can be. I actually have to keep my sewing room door closed because he likes to climb up my stash to this little nook he's found and he has caused quite an avalanche in the process. The pile that had started in the photo now has about half the stack he's sitting on down in the floor now. It's pretty funny to watch though :)
And this picture was from just a few days ago. He particularly loves to snuggle up around out legs. See how good his eye looks? Now that his fur is growing back, it looks like nothing ever happened. His stitches are still there, but they are self dissolving and should come out in the next few weeks. He's a super cute little guy, and he has a crazy side too, so he fits in great in our house.

That's all for right now, but I will definitely give an update about him soon :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

FO: Mini Mike & Eleven

So this project was a sudden revelation a month ago. I was struck with the perfect video entry for the Mochimochiland photo contest one morning, and I would only need to make 2 mini knits to accomplish it :) Sounds good, right? So while I haven't heard anything about the photo contest this year (I'm coming to the realization that it is not happening this year - of course, because I'm actually prepared for it, lol), I wanted to show off my little creations on their own now.
I wanted to make a video based off Stranger Things. I'm not a big tv watcher, but my husband talked me into it and I really enjoyed this show. Now that the show is so popular I figured it would be the perfect subject for the contest since most people would get the references. All I needed were my two main characters: Mike and Eleven.
Can you see the resemblance? I knitted these before the second season came out, so these are based on their looks from season 1. Eleven seemed the most obvious to make first, so I started with her.
I started off with the Mini Ballerina pattern (oddly enough considering my other minis project this year, lol) and made a few modifications to make the characters. For Eleven these were my mods:
  • white yarn for feet
  • row 14 and 15 of head - changed to light brown for shaved hair
  • make separate stockinette stitch rectangle in blue yarn: 14 sts, 5 rows long - steam block as a half circle
  • arms: knit 2 rows skin color, 14 rows blue, then 2 rows skin color. Pull through "jacket" and body
  • tutu: bind off knit-wise, steam block and attach knit side up
It wasn't really a lot to change, but it was super fiddly since this is so few stitches in such small yarn. I think Eleven took me 2 hours to make. I'm pretty pleased with the likeness though :) Check the back view:
Being that she is Eleven, I had to make her a waffle too. The waffle will play a role in my eventual video (if there is a contest next year, that is), so I decided to go ahead and make one. I just cast on 6 stitches and increased for 3 rows, then bound off. VoilĂ ! Waffle.
Mike was a little harder just from having to pick yarn for his shirt. It seems he's always wearing stripes in the show, but it's very difficult to represent thin stripes in 80s colors on such a small item. I looked through my multicolored sock yarns and liked this one best because it had lots of colors in a small area. This yarn is Yarn Bee Walk Away Sock in the Mamba colorway. I bought this at Hobby Lobby when I first started knitting and it has sat in my stash ever since, lol. I'm glad I finally used some of it (even if it is a miniscule amount). I think it worked great for Mike's shirt. I made the same jacket and arm mods for Mike and just changed the colors for his shoes and jeans, etc.
I'm super glad I had so many colors on hand to make this project happen. That's the thing about these mini knits - they are small but they take a lot of different colors to really give them character. For both of these peeps I used Knit Picks Palette in Oyster Heather (skin), Coriander heather (Eleven's hair and Mike's jacket), and Blue Note Heather (Mike's jeans and Eleven's jacket); Golden Sun Bamboo (from China on ebay) in Brown (hair and shoes), Nude Pink (Eleven's dress), White (shoes), and Butter Yellow (waffle); plus the Mamba for Mike's shirt. That's 8 different skeins of yarn! And all of these skeins are still technically full since I used less than 1 gram of each. Craziness. But when the mood strikes, I'm still glad I happen to have acquired so many colors of sock yarn.

SO there you have it - my Stranger Things homage :) I am really bummed that there is no photo contest this year, but I guess at least I am prepared if (hopefully when) there is a contest next year. And maybe I can get better at video software in the meantime. Yay for planning, lol.

Monday, November 27, 2017

FO: Salal KAL

Well it's time for my annual Andi Satterlund Fall Knit Along make :) I love Andi's sweater patterns, and I've participated in her Fall KAL for the past 4 years (201420152016 and now this sweater) so I knew I had to keep that momentum going. This year's pattern was her Salal cardigan, which I was waiting to be released by itself (originally this design was only available in her magazine, Stranded, but I only wanted this pattern so I held out), so I was thrilled to get started this time :)
I shopped my stash and came out with this nice green wool. The yarn is Cloudborn Wool Worsted Twist from Craftsy that I grabbed during their summer sale for a crazy steal ($3 each skein!) and the colorway is Emerald Heather. I've been trying to use colors I haven't knit up already - I am very prone to pick blues and purples or really any other jewel tones, so I have more sweaters in these than anything else and I like to have a variety. This green is not a color I have already made up, so it fit the bill considering my other main choice was this same yarn in a deep teal (which I have made up similar before). I'm still happy with my choice since this goes with my wardrobe but isn't a duplicate in any way, which is nice. The wool itself was fun to knit with - very springy - and while it is slightly itchy on my arms it's great considering the price I paid for it.
The main feature of this sweater design is the lace V across the front neckline. I think the shape feels vintage but still modern, and considering the rest of the sweater is stockinette I thought this would be an extremely easy make. This was a mistake, lol, not because the pattern is hard but because it's so simple that it requires attention to make sure you get it right, which I apparently didn't give enough. I knitted the upper back, then the right and left front. The first time I knitted the left front, I added too many straight rows at the sides of the neck opening, so I had to pull it all out and start over. Once I finished the left front again, I noticed that the lace pattern wasn't matching up across the front of the sweater - the left side lace point was lower than the right front. Obviously something was wrong, but I could not for the life of me figure out where the mistake was made since technically all the lace was fine. I posted a picture to the KAL board and Andi told me that it looked like I started removing the lace motifs too early on the right front. Not knowing where else to start, I ran with this and pulled out my right front. Only after I was starting to knit it again did I realize that the left front and right front had different lace charts - I had used the same lace chart (the one for the right front) on both sides, which lead to the difference in the lace length. SO I had to pull the left front out again too and reknit both, lol. This stung a bit since at that point I knew that the right front had actually been fine, but what can you do at that point, you know? I just reknit both of them while paying much more attention then I had previously and everything went fine.
Once I finished the lace, the rest of the sweater was smooth sailing. I lengthened the body by several inches because I have a long torso but also because I just wanted it to be just past my waist as I find this looks better with my skirts I typically wear. I also left off a few decrease rows at the waist to fit my measurements better. Super easy changes. Mindless knitting for the win! One thing I will say now that I've worn this out and about - the shoulders are particularly wide on this pattern for me. You can see it in the back and front photos and it gives me almost a dropped shoulder, which feels like the sweater is too big when worn. This may be a problem I've had with other sweaters, but as I'm getting better at diagnosing fit I am noticing it now. If I was to knit this pattern again, I would probably size down to the medium until the arm holes, then large bust and xl waist. It's certainly not a big enough issue for me to not wear this or anything, just something to consider for the future. I need to pay better attention to all the measurements.
Even with all the knitting and pulling out, I managed to finish the knitting within a month. I could've made this much faster, but with Halloween and my 60s dress to sew, I only knit this on the weekends at church, so I'm pretty happy with my time it took to make this all things considered. I had some forest green rayon Petersham ribbon in my stash that worked well for backing the button bands, so I did my usual version of Lauren's tutorial minus the interfacing and it worked great. The button bands feel so nice and sturdy now :)
I then searched my button stash and the only ones I liked at all were these matte cream colored ones with a flower shape step down design in the center. I contemplated if I should go with the contrasting buttons or hold out for ones that would match the yarn better, but in the end I wanted to get this finished and submitted for the KAL deadline so I went with these knowing I could always switch them later if I found something I preferred. These have really grown on my though, and I think the cream is a nice touch considering I will probably wear this with my brown skirt most of the time.
So there you have it: My Salal Cardigan :) Another lovely knitting experience and fun knit along to boot. Now I have another sweater to add to the ranks should it ever get cool enough to wear wool here. We've had a few chilly days and I'm really hoping it will drop to cooler temps soon! Think cool thoughts for me :)

Yarn: 4.51 skeins of Cloudborn Wool Worsted Twist in Emerald Heather - $15.00
Pattern: Salal by Andi Satterlund - $5.40
Notions: 7 buttons - $0.25, 40" hunter green rayon Petersham ribbon - $ 3.50, green thread - Free (giveaway)
Time: 1 month
Total Cost: $ 24.15

*And since you hung around to the end of this post, here's your reward - a super hot photo of me, lol. Gotta love the out takes :)