Wednesday, May 23, 2018

FO: Recoleta Cardigan

It feels like ages since I last posted a finished sweater! It's actually been since November, so really not that long, but compared to my usual turn out it just feels like a while. After finishing all my obligatory knitting for Christmas and whatnot, I had the itch to make a slightly complex sweater. I had a major case of start-itis at the end of January (which I talked about here) and this sweater was my most tempting project from that bout (none of the other things are finished yet, lol). Anyway I've had this planned for years, so I'm thrilled to finally have it to wear.
This is the Recoleta pattern by Joji Locatelli. I've admired it for a few years now and finally decided to bite the bullet. I've only done a few sweaters with multiple charts to follow, so it felt a bit intimidating at first. In reality this wasn't bad at all. I pulled out my grandma's old cross stitch magnet board for the charts and stacked them one above the other, then carried a piece of paper to cover over what I've already done and show me each line with magnets as I went. I also made sure to make my row with small sticky notes as well in case things moved around in my bag (which they did frequently). With those guides to help me, the charts were no problem to follow. The back lace is certainly the more impressive looking area. I love this lace pattern and I really enjoyed knitting it. In fact I liked it so much that I carried it all the way to the hem instead of changing to ribbing across that section like the pattern calls for. I am very happy with this choice and the lace pattern is nice and stretchy so it's a perfect substitute (and much prettier).
And a closer look at that lovely lace :) I just love the texture overall and that's very difficult to show in a photo - it has a great variation of depth in the lace from the knits and purls. This yarn really helped the stitch pattern pop out. I used Cascade Venezia Worsted, a lovely 70% merino wool 30% silk blend. The yarn has a very nice shine and it is quite warm - that might not be what I was hoping for with living in Florida, but it will be good in winter, lol. The yarn is smooth and soft and it was lovely to knit with. I grabbed 6 skeins of the Van Dyke Brown colorway from Craftsy for a great price back in 2015 specifically for this sweater and I used 5.5 skeins so it all worked out very well.
And here you get a glimpse of the other star of this show - the shawl collar :) The collar is the same thickness down the front and around the back, giving a nice bunch up at the back of the neck. This is actually where you start knitting the sweater! The construction was really neat - you use a provisional cast on, knit a rectangle of the collar in one direction, then take out your cast on and knit the same in the other direction, then you pick up stitches between the two and grow from there into a cardigan. Magic!
I love the nice wide panels of the lace down the front. Again - look at that texture - love it! I went for a more fitted look on this but still long and long sleeved. A lot of the samples show more overlap of the lace panels on the front, and I could make them overlap more with a shawl pin or something, but I wanted to go for the more open front look I've seen so much lately and I'm happy with how it turned out.
My only niggle about the fit is in the shoulders. I've only made 1 other raglan sweater, so I didn't really know any changes I would need to make ahead of time and you really can't tell until the sleeves are on and then it's done. The raglan "seams" are a smidge too tight, so when I put the sweater on I have to put both arms in and then give an extra tug at the shoulder on each side to make it sit right. I see in these photos I still didn't get it sitting in the right place :/ I made a size Large all over except the sleeves themselves. I knitted almost one complete sleeve before trying it on and deciding it was too tight and I wouldn't be happy with the fit. So I ripped that out and added more stitches at the underarm - I believe I did XL instead of L for the stitch count and it all worked great. Now the sleeves are comfy but the raglan is still tight. I think I just needed a touch more length on the raglan seam. Ah, well. It's not that big a deal - just something to think about next time I come across this construction.
Overall I really love this sweater. I love the style, love the lace, love the yarn. If only I could reasonably expect to wear it soon, but I will get to sometime. Interestingly I made this hoping it would take a good chunk of time to complete and I made it in 3 months, so technically it was more time than I usually do given that it's in worsted weight yarn, but still given the more complex multiple charts situation it took a little time. All in all a lovely way to spend my random spare time, wouldn't you say? Now that this is finished I can focus on my other projects started in January before letting myself start another sweater :)

Yarn: 5.52 skeins of Cascade Venezia Worsted in Van Dyke Brown - $40.00
Pattern: Recoleta by Joji Locatelli
Time: 3 months

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tiny FO: Pacifier Clips

So, I've had a little side project going on the past few weeks - I've been helping to take care of 2 adorable twin baby girls! I get them one day a week until they are old enough for daycare and we have been having a grand time :) Of course having little peeps around makes me want to make things for them, and the first thing I made was ridiculously simple but necessary. The girls kept knocking their pacifiers out of their mouths and they would fall on the floor when out and about - no cool! I couldn't have nasty floor germs infecting these cuties. I had to swing by Hobby Lobby for something and what did I find but a pack of pacifier clips - perfect! I grabbed a 4 pack and made some that night.
Pacifier clips are one of the easiest yet most annoying things to sew depending on your sewing machine, lol. Mine definitely did not like sewing them. I searched pinterest for a tutorial just to make sure I cut the right size pieces, and this one was great. I pulled out my scrap cotton bag and came up with 4 different fabrics with just barely enough - it's moments like this that I am actually grateful I don't get rid of any scraps. I even had scrap piece of interfacing - a total win!
 The clip pieces are some colored plastic ones by Babyville. Having never had a baby, these took a moment to figure out. That sucker really clips on! Definitely go with these instead of the suspenders clip style if you have a kid that pulls on things. I was worried I would break it just trying to get it open, lol. No breaking yet though.
 So I followed the tutorial and sewed an interfaced tube of fabric, turned it right side out, then tucked one end inside as best I could (it's not great - I hate tubes, lol). You just slip the fabric in the clip and overlap the fabric enough for your machine to fit across and make a square. In my case, I went with 2 lines and they are not as close to the cli pas I wanted - my machine really hated making these and I had to push the fabric through with a stiletto the whole way (thus the uneven stitching - ugh). It's not my neatest work, but it held on so I went with it.
At the other end of the tube I just added a loop of ribbon to the tube before top stitching it closed. This goes through the holes on the pacifier to connect it to the clip. Again - not my best work, but they babies have yet to complain...
 I made 4 that night with fabrics that matched the clip colors best :) I love that all of the materials are scraps except the clips themselves - even the ribbon was leftover from costume projects. So for $2.25 plus about 30 minutes, I have 4 clips ready to go. I gave 2 to the foster parents and I kept 2 at my house in case the others get lost or I need them at my house. The girlies seem to like them:
The family has even designated which clip goes to which baby, lol, so we can help tell them apart. The babies aren't super mobile yet, but it does make these easier to grab and find due to the bright colors on the straps. I know they will be even more important as the girls get bigger.
Another one in use while I watched them one day :)

So I know this is kind of a silly post for something so easy, but if you know anyone having a baby I would recommend making some up as a gift. Grab a few pacifiers at the store and them make a thoughtful yet useful present. Also aren't these babies so cute?!

Prepare to see a few more baby related posts staring these girls :) I just couldn't help but make them some things.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

FO: Blue Laurel Mimi Blouse

Now that I've showed the finished product of my White Mimi Blouse, I'm gonna back it up a bit and show you the "wearable" muslin. After my experience trying to make this pattern years ago, I knew it would need some alterations to work for me, but I didn't know exactly what I needed to do. I wanted to make a muslin that would hopefully be wearable, and I achieved that for the most part. So one day I pulled out the pattern and traced a combination of the size 6 and 7 (after the 8 turned out so enormous). I went ahead and raised the neckline 5/8" and cut a size 7 everywhere except for the shoulders and neckline, which are a size 6. The more I delve into fitting my body, the more I realize that I have narrow shoulders compared to the size of the rest of my body.
I used a fabric I bought at The Sewing Studio so long ago that I did not have a record on my blog (maybe 2011?). It was a designer remnant, so I don't know the exact fabric content, but my guess is a rayon challis. It's light and drapey and breathable plus I liked the demure color and pattern at the time. I've been wanting to sew this pattern up in this fabric for quite a long time, so it just fell into place. The shirt itself turned out "wearable" if not my favorite example of my work. I went into this just overcast stitching the seam allowances like I usually do, but this light weight fabric didn't seem to benefit much from that and the insides are not as secure as I would like. We will see how it holds up. Also while I was sewing the gathered areas on the back and shoulder, I accidentally pressed the gathers and the results seem like tiny puckers all the way across. I'm hoping they will puff back up after a wash, but it was a bit of a bummer at the time and it doesn't look super great at the moment.
I made the shirt the regular length of the pattern and it turned out a good length to be worn out or tucked in, so I was happy there. Apparently I did not stay stitch the neckline soon enough in my sewing process - I believe the pattern didn't tell you to until a ways in? Or I was just steaming ahead and did things out of order, who knows - so my collar warped a bit. No amount of hot ironing and steam would straighten it out and it is particularly wavy on my left. Bummer. I also noticed that even with making the size 6 at the shoulders, it was still quite wide there on me - almost like a drop shoulder (you can see this on the left of the above photo). In this style of shirt, it just looks sloppy and ill fitting to have the shoulder drop so low. So learning curve with this being a muslin and all, I was able to make that change on my second version, but it left this shirt feeling a bit dumpy on me. The drop should combined with the width at my bust being a bit loose makes me feel a bit like this is a thrifted and unfortunate old lady shirt :/ I went down a size at the bust on my next version as well.
The back doesn't look awful except for my gathers/puckers at the yoke. Something about my collar makes it keep wanting to pull upward a bit at the edges too - maybe I cut too much off the inner edge for turn of cloth and now it's over turning? Is that a thing?
Here you can see the waving in my stretched collar :( Also there is a lot of excess fabric above my bust - even with the gathering I can see that it's too blousey there, making me realize I needed a hollow chest adjustment. I used simple pearl shank buttons I've had for who knows how long. They were a nice but subtle choice, I think.
I had one other snafoo with this shirt - When I was trimming the sleeve seam allowance, I accidentally clipped a hole in the sleeve cap :/ I blame the floaty fabric, but by the time this happened I was already not happy with the collar, so it just added to the overall feeling that this shirt is a bummer. I was able to interface the spot and sew a tiny seam to close the hole. I don't think anyone will notice since it's so close to the seam, but I know it's there. Ugh.
So this on was not a total winner, but since it was technically a muslin I can't really complain, right? lol Yeah right, I still will. I hope to still wear the shirt - as it is the fit is not very flattering, but I'm thinking if I tighten things up at the bust that it will at least be wearable. The true test will be if it gets worn for Me Made May - the time when I pull out everything even if I hardly ever wear it, lol. So we can't win them all, but this shirt lead to one I really like, so at least there's that.

Fabric: 2 yards blue printed rayon challis - $9.00
Notions: Pellon SF101 interfacing - $1.00, 6 white buttons - $1.00, blue thread - $1.00
Pattern: Mimi Blouse from Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes
Time: 8 hours
Total Cost: $ 12.00

Friday, May 11, 2018

(Please Vote For Me!) My Entries in the Mochimochi Land Annual Photo Contest

Before I get into the details (in case you're only here for a quick read) - Please click here and vote for my video entry for this contest! I'm one of the 3 finalists and your vote would be greatly appreciated :) Read on if you have a moment to learn more about what this all is, lol.

Each year, Anna of Mochimochi Land hosts a photo and video contest. The idea is to use items you have made using her patterns and make some type of clever photo scene or video. I entered for the first time last year, and almost immediately after that deadline I thought of other ideas for the contest. I decided to use those ideas for this year's contest :) This meant I technically had a whole year to make it happen so I shouldn't be doing things at the last minute like last time (hahaha, yeah that's funny). Being me though, I waited until the final week to pull things together. I knitted my pieces throughout the year, but I didn't actually take pictures and whatnot until a week before the original deadline of March 31st. I was thrilled when the deadline was extended for another month. I used to take pictures as a side gig, but I never dabbled in video. Last year's video suffered for this - I still am super tempted to remake my video now that I know a bit more what I'm doing because I do believe in the idea and that it could've been cute if it was executed better. Anyway, this year's video was a long time coming  - it's cheesy and ridiculous and I'm pretty proud of it. I present to you: Stringer Things. (you can watch it here, or you can click here to watch it and to vote!).
This was quite the process to make! I definitely learned a lot of what I would do differently next time, but for my first real (and somewhat successful) animation I think it turned out rather well. Maybe my story was a bit too ambitious for a short video, but if you've seen the show Stranger Things I think it's still funny. I made all of the items you see in the video. I made Mike and Eleven especially for this, but the rest are items I've made over the years. Even the backdrop and ground are actually sweaters I've knitted :) No matter what happens in the contest, I did have a lot of fun making this (and I think my family did too - thanks, Kelly, for doing my audio!)

So anyway, there are 3 finalists in the video contest and the prizes are pretty sweet, so I would greatly appreciate if you could CLICK HERE TO VOTE. Please do watch the others and vote for your favorite. The others did a great job.

My photo entry received an honorable mention again this year. I will confess that I feel like I dropped the ball with this idea. My original plan was to recreate a Degas ballerina painting with mini knitted dancers. I needed a handful of ladies to make this work, but I only managed to make 2 :/ Womp womp. So while my Degas Project may still happen one day, I decided to use the two I had to make a different scene. I call this picture Ballet at the French Court:
Again I used a hand knit sweater for the background (interestingly though I did not knit this one! I bought the pattern sample from Emma Welford for her Polonaise Cardigan so I got the style I love but didn't have to make it myself! lol). I thought the bow and lack of buttons at the front was perfect to act as a stage curtain. The mini Notre Dame is a paper postcard I bought in France years ago and finally built. Anyway, it was fun even if it wasn't what I originally intended. I'm glad I got an honorable mention though :)

So that's another of my big deadlines met this year. Again I would greatly appreciate if you would CLICK HERE TO VOTE, lol have I said that enough yet? The voting is open until May 20th, so please do so promptly. Thank you so much if you do vote, and I will be sure to mention the outcome here when it is announced!