Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Stash Less - using up the scraps

After I finished my Overbury Flip Tops I struggled for a few days trying to decide what to knit next. My last few projects had all been planned - yarn had been purchased with specific projects in mind and now I was at a dead end. 

The two lovely and bright skeins purchased in Paris on a holiday whim haven't found their projects yet. Typically, as with all my impulse buying, I've only bought a skein of each. While that's enough to make some very snazzy socks, I want to make something more visible with these precious skeins, and without finding extra yarn to go with them, or the perfect pattern, I'm not going to cast them on.

While these two skeins represent a wonderful adventure and whatever they eventually turn into will be very cherished, they both fail all of my Stash Less goals. I've added to the stash without having projects in mind, I've purchased quantities that might not work for what I want to make, and I haven't thought about what these skeins will also go with in my wardrobe. 

So, to resolve my dilemma of having nothing to knit, I had another look in the stash and picked up some leftovers. I figured a hat would go nicely with my Overbury Flip Tops, so I grabbed the remaining Uncommon Thread yarn. Then I grabbed the leftover Vintage Purls yarn from Husband's winter beanie, and the last of the blue Spinning A Yarn silk merino from my Onda Cardigan. 

With all of that - no fresh skeins required - I knitted a Fjordland Hat by Dianna Walla, from Pompom Quarterly issue 7. 

This was a really fun, quick knit, that took less than a week. The fingering weight makes it perfect for spring, and as well as using up leftovers, I used a pattern I'd already purchased through my magazine subscription. 

This is getting to the core of what I want to achieve with my Stash Less Challenge. I'm using patterns I already own (you may have noticed the recent obsession with all knitting coming from Pompom Quarterly patterns) and yarn in the stash. But it's not yarn that's just in the stash - it's leftovers that usually I would just get rid of, or just leave in a bag until I gather enough other leftovers to donate to an op-shop. 

This little project has helped me rethink about all of those little scraps lying around, that can be turned into something awesome with a few clever combinations. I think the next few projects might take a similar shape until I finally figure out my next intended project.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Finished Object - Overbury Fliptops

These might just be the coolest (read warmest) most practical things I've ever knitted.

The perfect use for my lovely skein of The Uncommon Thread's Tough Sock yarn, happily purchased on a day out in London with a good friend at Loop London, and finished with two vintage fabric buttons from my awesome boss. 

The pattern, by Lydia Gluck, is in the first issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. It's really well written and a nice alternative to knitting a pair of socks. Highly recommend!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Equilibrium Cardigan - deadlines met

I really underestimated how long it would take to property finish this cardigan. I met my deadline with the knitting, and started seaming the shoulders to the back on Friday night. That took a while, but I figured the sleeves would be relatively quick to do. So on Saturday, I sat out in the sunshine and set in the sleeves. It took me four hours. I had to unpick the sleeve seams a few times to try and make them as tidy as possible. The pattern is really well written, but one thing I think it would benefit from is instructions on the best way to do all of the seams. I kind of guessed my way through and I think it looks okay, but I'm sure I could have done a better job with a bit of guidance from the designer, to see what techniques she used.

Evening though it took a while, I was okay with it. All I had to do then was pick up stitches for the front and neckband ribbing and knit like eight rows. Except that it was 400 more stitches (way more than I expected) and another couple of hours. Saturday night was consumed by Netflix and Knit, which I'm totally cool with, but I had hoped to at least get it washed and on a blocking mat on Saturday, to give it as much drying time as possible.

By midnight, it was all done. 
I gave it a bath and soak this morning, and had it out in the sunshine to make the most of the extremely good spring weather we're currently having. Once dry, I spent a good hour weaving in the final ends and I'm happy with the result. 

I've only ever used Outlaw Yarns' Vanitas DK for accessories before, but I will definitely be using it again for garments. It is so incredibly soft and warm, without feeling too heavy. The pattern, by Gina Rockenwagner for Pompom Quarterly Issue 16, was really well written and clear. Aside from the seaming questions I have, I found the pattern easy to follow and I'd recommend it to others. 

I'm sure this is going to get a lot of wear. I can see it being worn to work and on the weekends, and I'm expecting it to become a staple in the wardrobe. Given it's a bit pink, this is quite odd for me, but as spring is coming and pastels become a big deal, this can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Spring schedule for a winter cardigan

We're six days into spring and it's suddenly dawned on me that the winter cardigan is a bit late to completion. Luckily, I work in an office with air-con that likes to run cold and the wind is still a bit chilly, but I'm determined to finish my Equilibrium before the new season gets really underway.

I've given myself a schedule. Today is Tuesday. 
I've finished the body and one sleeve. I've taken the opportunity to knit at any spare moment, like on the train on Sunday - see above - I'm going to cast on the second sleeve as soon as this post is done, and I intend to have it finished on Thursday.
That gives me Friday evening to knit the ribbed plackets and set in the sleeves and funny shoulder bit, and then the weekend to wash, block and dry. If I really struggle, I'll give myself a bit of Saturday to do the seaming. I'm one of those people who needs a bit of a deadline to get things finished, so Sunday it is. I'm not allowed to start sewing anything until this is done. This is a good incentive!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Latest sewing make - Papercut Patterns' Moana top

Something very cool has happened. Last weekend I made something without making any mistakes. As someone who is still quite nervous about sewing, this is a very big deal!

+ this new toy

+ my great Liberty fabric find
= my new favourite top for work!

I've long admired Papercut Patterns from afar, often tempted by the beautiful packaging and really clean, stylish designs that would work so well with the rest of my wardrobe.
For a long time though, and we're talking years, I've always been too scared to buy. The finished products by other makers always looked so amazing, and the designs always looked so professional, that I figured the skills to make such awesome garments would be unattainable. 

This was until I got back from my big trip, armed with some lovely fabric, and a commitment to take my sewing to the next level. For me a big part of this is investing in the tools I need to really make a go of sewing. For my first year or so, I was very fortunate to use the Sew Love Lounge before it closed and use all of the amazing tools there. I had my mum's sewing machine to use, and it's great, but without an overlocker I knew that eventually all of the clothes I was making would eventually fall apart due to the lack of good finishing. 

I had a bit of money left over in the travel fund, so I took the plunge and purchased a four thread overlocker. And it was so worth the investment. At the same time I ordered the Moana Dress pattern, finally feeling equipped to make it. 

I learnt three new things with this make, techniques that I've never done before, and I was really happy that I took my time, figured them out and ended up with a nice finish.

First up was sewing in a full facing. I've always gone for a bias binding finish because it just looked easier, and in a way, it is. A facing requires more fabric, and this insane technique to sew the armholes up - rolling everything into a 'burrito' and wrapping the facing around it, then sewing a seam without stitching all the fabric rolled in the middle. I'm terrible at explaining it, but luckily, Papercut are excellent. The instructions were really simple and clear, with good diagrams. This is something I really appreciate in a pattern, because there are lots of gaps in my sewing knowledge and usually I just need a technique explained in really simple terms. 

Next was an exposed zipper. I've never attempted an invisible zipper because I don't have the right foot for my sewing machine, so I was relieved that an exposed zipper didn't require a shopping trip for another type of zipper foot. I managed to install the zipper on the first go (my last attempt took at least seven tries) and I'm very happy with the result. I think it looks clean and if you have a nice zipper, why not show it off? I also think it's a bit easier than installing a regular zipper, because you can really see what you're doing, rather than having the fabric obscuring it. I also enjoyed hand stitching the facing to the zipper at the end, to finish everything neatly.

And the best thing about this make? Those finished seams!

Yes, I realise the thread is white. I thought about trying to change it, but a couple of things stopped me. 

1 - it was threaded correctly and I didn't want to screw it up by trying to re-thread it the first time I used it for a project.

2 - the seams are on the inside, so really, no one would notice. 

It's so nice to be able to complete a project at home that is neatly finished. I won't have to worry about it falling apart in the washing machine or that it'll start unravelling when I wear it somewhere. I think I might get started on the dress version of this pattern over the weekend, but I also have some knitting to do - just so many options!