On a Roll

Two finishes in one week, I’m really turning my recent trend of making disaster around!

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So, hot off the press, I’ve just finished one of the pair of socks on the left, knitted with Regalia Snowflake (?!I’ve never seen a snowflake that colour)(or maybe it refers to the pattern, but snowflakes aren’t exactly stripey either). So now, along with the pair of the right (knitted last summer in the only slightly better named King Kole Zig Zag), I have 2 complete pairs of socks to post off to my brother. Cos, Christmas presents aren’t actually properly late if they’re posted while it’s still Jan, right?

They’re both knitted with the same free pattern (thanks Fiona) but the for the second pair I used a trick I saw at a knitting group and instead of a seperate rib section, the whole of sock above the heel is knitted in a 3 in 1 rib, as is the top of the main foot (easy to do with this pattern as it’s knitted on 4 needles).  Apparently they stay up better this way (but as these are my first ever sock knits this is not the voice of experience.

As they’re a sort of joke, because my brother is forever darning socks when he comes to visit (maybe its a damning enditement of our hosting skills?) I have made up little cards of spare yarn so he can darn away to his hearts content. And I threw a spare card of darning yarn I found in a second hand shop too.

And because I hate wasting anything, I started a pair of socks for me last summer in plain yarn (with a cable pattern so I don’t get board), the thought being that I may then have enough left over from the 3 pairs to make another pair. So I suppose I better dig them out at some point.

Inspired by this recent spell of finishing, I have ripped open the crotch on my latest pair of jeans, that have been languishing in the naughty corner all month for crimes against humanity with the aim to adjusting them. Next up, the collar is coming off my sweatshirt make, after all, when I said I was aiming for Jumper January, I was kind of thinking for me not Long Suffering Husband!

Righto, better go and find some wrapping paper before I loose these socks again.  Am I the only person still finishing off Christmas presents?

Hobbit Hoodie

I finished a thing! A thing requested my Long Suffering Husband. And it took me less than a month, smashing my Personal Best for LSH sewing. Despite some trials and tribulations along the way. Go me!

It started well. I had been vaguely thinking of making him a jumper/sweater type thing when he shyly asked me if I would make him a hoodie. So, I entered his measurements into Lekala, because at the time they had a free men’s hoodie pattern (but now I get mysterious errors when I try and find it on their site) and I had been meaning to try out this potentially extremely useful source of made to measure patterns (could this lead to the golden grail of perfect fit out of the packet? Spoiler alert, not this time). Taping the pdf together was easy too as he did it! Then the pattern just squeezed onto the leftover fabric from a project of mine – hooray (a project that is currently in the naughty corner, hopefully more on that soon). Surely this was a project that was meant to be?

First up was the whole dyeing/drying/ironing thing that I’ve mentioned before, but just in case anyone wasn’t listening NEVER CUT YOUR FABRIC BEFOFRE DYEING. Trust me.

However, I got through this. With time. And patience. And lots of pins. And ironing. And my new ironing mat. (The only casualty was when I melted my pin box, whoops.) Then it was time to start sewing. I decided to start small, with the hood. I this point discovered that Lekala subscribe to the minimal instructions philosophy. “Sew parts of hood together” it said, with no picture. It’s a 3 part hood. Which way up does the middle strip go? Any markings on those seams? Nope. On the pattern pieces? Nope. Wide end at bottom or top? Does this sew a long for a completely different hoodie pattern help? Nope (not with this bit anyway). Well, a bit of detective work suggested narrow end of the centre strip at the bottom, as the middle of the shorter of the two short edges has a notch, which if at the bottom would line up with a notch at the centre of the neckline of the back. So that’s what I did then.

Next up, pockets, which I used the SBCC Brooklyn Hoodie Sew-A-Long to help with. So far so good. Then I attached my fronts, arms and backs together, all by myself this time, since this has raglan sleeves unlike the Brooklyn, but it was straightforward and everything lined up despite my dyeing related escapades.

Time to celebrate with some more complicization, as he’d asked for some screenprinting. It was nice to be able to do it while the garment would lie flat. (Luckily he decided against an anomite on each side of the hood ala Princess Leia hairstyle).


At this point, I thought I was over the worst, surely it was all downhill from here. Then came the sleeves. I double checked that the pattern was for ribbing (as I was using), not self fabric, it was. So I merrily cut, sewed, overlocked and pressed my cuffs. Only to find out they were terrible The cuff was way too big (see top right above), in fact the whole arm was too roomy. I also didn’t like how narrow the cuff was.

At this point I hadn’t sewn the waistband. So I cut I just used the pattern for the height and made it 80% of the width of the bottom circumference of the hoodie. That looked ok sewn on and there was just enough left to make two new cuffs, slightly deeper and with a much smaller circumference than the first pair. They fit LSH nicely, so then I reversed my previous calculation and divided their dimensions by 80 and then multiplied by 100 to get a new width for the end of the sleeve cuff (you with me here?) (Oh, I also had to unpick the overlocking and triple stitch on the first set of cuffs but the less said about that the better). With a new sleeve cuff opening width decided (marked by a pin in the bottom right photo above) I then drew a new straight sleeve seam, that blended into the original seam quite near to the armpit. We both liked the new sleeves and cuffs a lot better. Phew.


Then it was back to following the SBCC tutorial for tips on inserting the zipper and attaching the hood.


I’m pretty pleased with my construction of this jacket. I think the contrast topstitching works well and I like that I added a zip tag and a hanging hook that match the hoodie thread. And no-one is going to notice that the twill tape neatening my hood/main body seam is actually navy, not grey.

However, I don’t like the fit. It’s too short, especially at the back, and too wide as well – hence the hobbit comment. The adjusted sleeves are good but there’s too much fabric in front of the armpit. All of which I can’t be bothered to adjust, due to screenprinting and topstitching.

I’m giving it a 6/10. It will be worn, I did the best I could, but the pattern is just not the right shape. Which is odd, seeing as how it’s supposed to be fitted to him.I haven’t double checked but I don’t think my entered measurements were that out.

He wants another hoodie, so I’m on the look out for another pattern. Easier said than done! Anyone got any top tips (he wants a full zip so the Finlayson and Avacado hoodies are out) then let me know in the comments.

Also, if you’ve made a Lekala pattern before how did you get on with the sizing?
 

Collagraphs

Last weeks work at my printing class, brought home now dry after my class yesterday. Well, actually, most of last week was spent trying to finish the plate I’d started as homework. I didn’t get it done, so I knocked this plate up instead. (I failed that first plate  as homework this week either – a combination of complicated design and using too thick card I struggled to cut with my craft knife. )

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So, just 3 prints with my quickly knocked together collagraph. I’d taken in some scrap fabric with different textures but was told that it would just come out black. So, I  just used a little fabric, with some cardboard spirals on top and some paste as well which I squiggled in with the wrong end of a paintbrush.

So, the top print, in green, is a relief print. I rolled the ink over my plate and this is how it came out, the spirals on top show darkest. Bottom left is intaglio (in the line), the ink is scrubbed into the plate  with a toothbrush and then the plate is polished, so the ink just remains in the crevices (and in my case the fabric), the rest of the ink having been wiped off. Bottom right is a combination of the two techniques, blue intaglio first, red ink then rolled over the top.

It was interesting to play with the technique, but I think the design leaves a  little to be desired, my fabric motif looks too much like a hashtag for my liking! It got several compliments from classmates, but I can’t help thinking they’re just being polite.

This week we worked some more with collographs. I was disappointed I still hadn’t finished plate number 1 (still on my mental to do list), but I was happier with a last minute cobbled together plate number 3.

I have been trying to do some sewing as well but I keep encountering frustrating issues. I hope you’re having a smoother time of your sewing in January.

 

Dyeing Dilemas

Oh collective knowledge of the internet, you are a useful yet fickle thing.

Long Suffering Husband chose the tumeric option for his hoodie, and after checking that I could just squeeze all the pieces out of my left over fabric (yay, happy dance), I consulted the Wibbly Wob for help on dyeing with tumeric properly.  Cos you know, preparation and that.

So, to summarise what I gleaned from the collective wisdom of the internut:

Tumeric isn’t a dye its a stain. It is a dye but it’s not substantive. It can be substantive. You should only use it in cold water. You should use it in hot water. Use cold water but hot gives a deeper colour. You don’t need to use a mordant. Use salt as a mordant. Use vinegar as a mordant. You can also use alum (no idea what that is or where to get it) but that gives a different colour. The results will fade. Or they won’t. Wash as usual. Only cold wash. Only dry in the shade. Only dry indoors.

Whats a person to do?  Well, first I cut the pieces. Which in retrospect was not a good idea. (And later on, with even more hindsight, I decided it was an even worse idea. Seriously, don’t do this). Straight after I cut them I panicked that I hadn’t pre washed the fabric (uh oh, should’ve done that first (especially as I’ve just made myself something from this same fabric so maybe that’s not prewashed either)), but even if I had definitely pre washed it the whole dyeing process ends with washing and could potential stretch the pieces out of shape so I don’t recommend this. In my case I just crossed my fingers that the fleece back process had somehow “set” the fabric and resolved to treat it gently (what else could I do now I’d cut it).

Anyways, first up I put them in the bath with warm water with washing liquid in it for a couple of hours with some minimal gentle swishing. Then I drained the bath and let them soak overnight in cold water to rinse. My theory is that after all that any sizing in the fabric was now washed out (hopefully) and it would take the dye better. Oh, and I discovered that the plug had helpfully drained the water overnight all by itself. Thanks plug, I think.

Next up I soaked them overnight in vinegar and water to premordant the fabric. (Get me with my technical use of the term premordant, it’s almost like I know what I’m talking about). I have no idea if this is necessary or helpful but I figured it couldn’t hurt and I still had a big bottle of elderflower vinegar knocking about (from a failed elderflower wine attempt a couple of years back) that I only usually use for unblocking drains (with a little help from some bicarb) so it was basically a free process. By this point I had abandoned the bath for a big plastic tub that normally houses my scrap knit fabric as it needed less water and wouldn’t leak. Plus I figured that I don’t care if the inside of a scrap fabric tub ends up yellow but the rest of the family might be a bit miffed if I dye the bottom half of the bath! (Spoiler, I have still managed to dye the bottom of the bath yellow in the rinsing process.)

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So, a day and a half or so after cutting my fabric out I started the dyeing process. I did not use good practice, I  hadn’t weighed or measured the tumeric in my test piece, or my fabric before wetting and I had no idea how to calculate how much to use. Instead I bought a 400g pack of tumeric because it seemed a sensible amount (the smaller pack looked way too small, the next size up was 1kg which was frankly a ridiculous amount). I mixed all of it (why not) into a paste as best I could in my biggest pyrex jug before filling the tub to about half full with the paste and warm water from the shower. After a quick mix, I submerged my fabric, holding it down for a bit at the bottom to get rid of the air. Once it all stayed underwater of its own accord (rather than random bits floating up to the top), I left it for several hours, stirring and resubmerging a couple of times to try and ensure evenness. (Oh, this whole process was just so scientific it was untrue).

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I think I probably used too much turmeric as when I came to drain and rinse my fabric there was powdery turmeric suspended in the liquid and on the fabric which I’m guessing means that the water was holding all the powder it could (if that makes sense, I’m wishing I could remember more chemistry now). I think that might be what dyed the bottom of the bath yellow.

It took a lot of rinsing. An awful lot of rinsing. I also left the fabric soaking in washing liquid and water to help try and get some more of the turmeric out. Then I rinsed some more, soaked in cold water, rinsed again. Dyeing, it would seem, is not an environmentally sound process water wise, at least mine wasn’t. In the end, I settled for the water being mainly clear and figured I could wash the thing again once it was done.

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So, what to do with my wet yellow fabric? That’s precut and I don’t want to stretch. Well, after some thought I laid the pieces flat on old towels and rolled them up, which is how my mum used to dry delicate knitwear. That was yesterday.

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Today I unrolled the hood pieces, which were still damp, and decided to iron them dry. I thought I’d just check they were the same size as the pattern piece. The first really wasn’t and I stretched it back into shape, pinning it to the ironing board using the pattern as a template and then ironing carefully. I cursed myself for my stupidity, this could be a very long and unsuccessful process. Happily the next two pieces were pretty much the right size, so maybe there is hope for my sanity and this hoody yet.

So, now we have a slightly damp still, slightly turmeric smelling, hood. But the LSH seems pleased.

 

 

 

 

Monoprints

For my Christmas present I treated myself to was given a printmaking course. Last week we started with monoprints, mainly with collage.

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Mono prints are one offs, but you can have fun reusing the plate and changing things around and having a new design with the ghost of previous ones underneath. First off I played with some decaying leaves and seeds I picked up near my house.

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Later I had fun with strips of paper. I was inspired by curve stitching but it ended up more like pik-a-sticks.

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This image was created by tracing an enlarged photocopy of a seed onto the the back of some paper that was lying on an inked plate. The mottled patches are where I was leaning on the paper whilst drawing.

It makes a nice change from sewing and the 3 hours of studio time means I have to finish and tidy up, no half finished projects lying around cluttering up the house!

So far we have only been printing on paper. The inks aren’t fabric specific and I don’t think my fabric inks are thick enough for this technique. The inks will print on fabric, there’s some fabulous printed bunting in the studio, but I don’t know how it would wash and I think it would be a bit stiff for garments. However, there is at least one other person interested in fabric printing so we might do some experimenting.

Have you been doing anything different this week?

 

Complicization

An over familiar story of my sewing: Have a simple idea, think “ooh and I could do a, b and c as well with that”, start project, realise I can do d, e and f too, change project further, get overwhelmed by project, put it on one side (in the Box of Broken Dreams*), have a simple idea for a new project, and so the cycle begins again.

Or to put it more succinctly “Complexify: to make more interesting by adding details and fussy techniques” (thanks Alla for the definition).

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I think I am over the hump with my first January jumper and I still have 13 days to finish it. Woo hoo. So obviously I’ve started complexifying the next make to redress the balance. My Long Suffering Husband has requested a hoodie. I think I have enough fabric left over from my jumper (actually must check that now that I’ve got him to tape the pdf together). But I don’t really want matching coloured tops (we’re not that kind of couple). So I experimented with natural dyeing some of the scraps with suff I had around. The strip across the bottom is the fabric as I bought it. The colours don’t show too well (the problem with natural light photo’s is that you kind of need some light to be getting through the clouds and rain), that colour was described as latte by the seller, but I would call it camel. The middle sample at the top is coffee, my original idea, and so fitting for my caffeine addicted husband. It’s hardly changed the colour at all. My research says leaving it in longer might help.

The left hand one is beetroot juice (doesn’t everyone have several cartons of out of date beetroot juice lying around ?). Which shows more but is still quite subtle. Last night, when they were still wet (and hence darker), that was his preferred option.

Finally on the right is turmeric, no surprises there. It’s definitely the most interesting colour and today he’s edging towards that.

My worry is colourfastness, some quick internet research says that none of these dyes need mordants, which I find suprising. But then what do I know. Also I believe the tumeric may wash out over time.

Speaking of which, I found out about this Dye Work Along (thanks Dangerously Alice) today, which looks interesting. Back to the complexification again! Not sure I have time to do this “properly” right now (another of my downfalls that leads to complexification, although one I have well and truly shaken when it comes to finishing knit fabric at least), but the book looks like a good thing to put on my birthday list (and my screenprinting course will be over by then).

Ohh, speaking of screenprinting, I have my homework to finish for tomorrow, a hallway to finish painting and my tax return to do.

I shall leave you with a shot of my Long Suffering Husband (he seriously has some patience to put up with all my projects) piecing the pdf of his hoodie pattern together, as this caused a mild stir on the stashbusting group.

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His thoughts on the matter “well, I want you to make me a hoodie, why wouldn’t I tape the pattern together?”.

 

 

 

 

 

*All credit to my Sewing Fairy Godmother for coining this phrase for where all the abandoned projects end up.

Getting moving

Well, the circular scarves were well received. Although there were rumblings when The Boy realised he had one and his sister had two.  Anyway, they wore them matching sides out to go out on their bikes this afternoon. And I realised that their dad was wearing a similar circular scarf thingy that I knitted a while back.

Lovely man. He took them out so I could do some sewing. I’m finally making progress on my first January jumper. Pattern rubbed/drafted from an existing one last night. Cut this morning and started sewing this afternoon. I even think it’s going to fit. Hurrah.

In other news, I experimented dyeing some of the offcuts with things I had around.

Too many ideas, not enough time.

I hope you had a suitably relaxing and/or productive Sunday.