It was the third one that nearly killed me

OK, so that’s an exageration, but by the time I was finishing the third and final last minute Christmas make I was feeling pretty rough. That’s what coming down with a stomach bug does to you.

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Still, if you will leave taping and cutting out the pdf until first thing Christmas Eve morning (the house was blissfully quiet as I was the only one up) and cutting and sewing until after the kids are in bed and you’ve walked your mum home (I’m thinking it was about 9pm, it’s a bit of a blur now), then you don’t have a lot of choice if you need to get it done in time. Let this be a lesson to you me.

I was fairly confident as I knew a tshirt dress, with only 5 pieces (front, back, 2 sleeves, neckband) would be a pretty quick make, but I hadn’t counted on how rough I would feel. I even switched the pedal over to slow mode to help me cope (usually only used when kids are on the machine).

But, I did it, well almost, it didn’t get hemmed until a  couple of days later but it did get worn on Christmas day. And I decided to skip the planned step of adding in some side pockets.

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So, this is Nivalis number 2, sized up 2 sizes from last time, one size because the last one is quite slim fitting with not much growing room and the second size because this fabric was a bit thicker and not quite so stretchy as last time (I think it might be ponte). Probably I should’ve only sized up one size as now it’s really quite long, but never mind, she’ll grow.  Also, I left off the tabs this time (that was planned, not just because I ran out of time).

Secret Summer Sunshine

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This is not a pair of jeans. I have nearly finished my 5th Liana’s, but procrastination and life in general keep conspiring to get in the way.

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This is the scarf I’ve knitted my mum for Christmas, finally finished, ends woven in, blocked (kind of) and all ready to wrap. Not bad going considering that I bought the yarn at the beginning of January planning to make it for her mid March birthday.

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Yarn: 3 skeins of Rowan Alpaca Colour one each of  Emerald, Agate and Garnet.  The colours change subtly within each skein, which I didn’t realise at the start.

Stitch: moss (seed) stitch, cos I like the texture and who wants a scarf with a right side and a wrong side.

Inspiration: My Birthday Scarf, as several times whilst I was making it my mum said she liked the randomness of the stripes, but it wasn’t in her colours. I’m pretty sure these are more her colours and I hope the substitution of baby alpaca for silk is acceptable too.

Length: All the yarn. And with 3 skeins, rather than the two last time, it makes a proper scarf. In fact, she will probably complain this one is too long. Also, this is a tad narrower at 35 stitches rather than 42.

Top Tip: For moss stitch, use an odd number of stitches so you start each row on the same stitch. I made so many less mistakes on this scarf than the last one.

This scarf was knitted in so many different places, including a long winding journey at the top of the front of a double decker bus winding its way slowly through Devon on a  Sunny day in May (it’s a long way to the VW specialist garage), and I like to think a little bit of all those places is knit into the scarf.

Fingers crossed she appreciates it.

 

 

 

Swiss Darning, part 3

My third and probably final post on this subject where I actually get around to mending a hole directly with Swiss darning.

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So, onto the really useful bit, where you have a hole, rather than just some knitting that you want to reinforce or embellish, and it’s not so big that you use the patch method.

This lovely pic by the way is not my handiwork. The white knitting is a jumper the woman sitting next to me brought to the course to mend. You can see there are fine white threads zig zagging up and down across the hole. These are scaffolding threads to darn around and were expertly stitched by our tutor Stephanie.  She used normal sewing thread so that the darn doesn’t get too thick.  You can see that my fellow student has started swiss darning onto existing stitches under the hole in a contrast thread.

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By contrast, this was my attempt at mending a hole on a pair of tights. I was really struggling with the small guage of stitches, the dark fabric and generally wasn’t confident I was doing it right (my scaffolding threads would only come out parallel, despite ripping out and trying again 5 times, when using the woven darn method I can never get my threads parallel, typical). The result is pretty messy too.

So, with the help of the lovely diagrams in this blog post I set about trying again at home. I actually cut a hole in the small piece of knitting we were given to practice on at the class so that I had a largish gauge pale thing to practice on.

First off the scaffolding thread. I’m using green darning yarn here, which is thinner than the yarn the piece is knitted from. The key for me was to realise those zig zags are not random, but actually done in the same way as a normal Swiss darn, albeit an elongated one. So, I start with my needle through a hole in a stitch underneath the gap. Then I go up and backwards as usual, put my needle in, take it out the next hole and then go back into the hole below that I started from. Then I come out the next stitch over and repeat the process until there is scaffolding across the whole of the hole. I had to concentrate to get the tension right and not pull the edges of the hole together.  If there is the loop end of a stitch at the edge of the hole, put your thread through that to save it unravelling further, you can see some at the top of the hole in the last photo above.

Then I took some red yarn (a little on the thick side truth be told) and swiss darned a couple of rows under the hole (and slightly wider) to get me started. So far so normal, but then on my next row I was soon at the point of having to darn into a gaping hole…

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Once I’d taken the leap of faith into the void it was surprisingly easy. The stitch is the same as usual. You start at the bottom coming up through the hole at the top of a darn on the row below, so you’re all safely anchored. The top part of the stitch has no knitting to go in and out of, but instead goes around the V of scaffolding threads coming out of the stitch you started from. Then you go back into that stitch you started from and on to the next one.

Here I am going back the other way. The trick is not to pull the stitch too tight and to trust the stitches will stay up, seemingly unsupported as they are at the top. As you make a row of darning each stitch is unattached from the ones either side and looks a little odd, but when you come back along on the next row, the new stitches that you make hold the ones below together. I also thought it was quite neat that as you make a new stich it pulls the scaffolding together, so it’s always a V shape.

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I kept going until I found myself darning the stitches at the top of the patch to the row above the hole. If this had been a real mend then I would have done an extra couple of rows at the top. The main issue I had was on the left hand side, where the stitches at the edge of the hole unravelled as I was trying to darn them and then I didn’t have a scaffolding thread to darn into. I think the result would’ve been neater in a slightly thinner yarn.

There’s been a real interest in this on the Mend It May Group. I’m no expert, (rather I’m practicing the adage that the best way to learn something is to show someone else), but I hope this inspires a few people to give it a go or find out more.

Why not check out these funky elbow patches (with excellent diagrams on Swiss Darning, I love me a good clear diagram), sweater darning inspiration and this pinterest board of mending techniques.

 

 

 

Birthday scarf

I bought two skeins of hand dyed mulberry silk yarn on the Isle of Skye last year, with some birthday money, and I’ve just finished knitting a scarf with it a few weeks before my next birthday. I’ve really enjoyed knitting with it as it feels so soft and silky and has a lovely lustre. The colours remind me of a flower meadow.

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I was unsure how many stitches to cast on, so it seemed only right to choose 42. I knit mainly in moss stitch (the mistakes just give it charm) until I ran out of yarn and was random with my colour striping of the mainly green and mainly yellow yarn.  The resulting scarf was a bit short, so I made it into a mobius strip.

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My mum has commented more than once that she liked the random effect in this scarf (but it’s not her colours), so I’ve started anew with new yarn and colours, this time casting on 35 stitches (as I thought she’d want a slightly narrower scarf and have learned since last time that it’s easiest to have an odd number for moss stitch, so you can always start with the same stitch – we’ll see if this results in less mistakes). Hopefully this one will be finished in time for Christmas.

 

A circus of Puffins

*Actually, the time before I made this t shirt was my first ever Full Bust Adjustment and I messed it up and fudged it. I wasn’t quite sure how to manage one on a kimono sleeve t shirt but according to a comment on Maria’s blog“you just cut off the sleeves, and then put them back on after the adjustment”. Righto. I think I did this right.

Next up, the back. I decided that as I’d gone to all that fuss with the front, maybe I should finally learn how to do a sway back adjustment on the front, using this tutorial from Kitschycoo, in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

 

So, more taping (does anyone actually tape the whole pdf together before starting to cut pattern pieces out?), chose where to do it (err, no lengthen/shorten line as per tutorial, so I chose a handily looking placed join in the taped together pieces), mark wedge to be taken out (in blue) scratch head, re-read tutorial, mark wedge the correct way around (in pink, I’m loosing 2cm height from the centre back here), trace top half of pattern (with seam allowance included trick), mark top part of wedge, rotate greaseproof tracing paper so that line is now at the bottom of wedge, trace bottom part of pattern. See, that wasn’t so bad was it?  And now there are two personalised pattern pieces and walking the side seams looks like the side seams are still about the same length. Brill.

A short panic about cutting into my precious fabric later (really I should use a fabric I don’t care about to test my fit, but all my jersey is precious), 4 seams (with clear elastic in the shoulder seams) later and I’m ready to try it on.

Not too shabby, the swayback has definitely helped reduce pooling in my lower back, it’s a little tight around my ever expanding waistline (no, no happy news here, just pies) and it’s far too long, as despite making this mistake last time, I cut the 4XL length with the L size.

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Just some finishing to do. Inspired by Dandelion Drift recent shoreline boatneck  post I use this variant of this technique to finish my sleeves and neckline in orange ribbing. Happy colours! (I cut the neckline ribbing at about 90% the length of my neckline).  This was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, I love the orange but had to trim my seam allowance to get the binding to work as instructed. The inside looks a bit messy but worst of all the sleeve hem is still flipping up in the pictures above. Arghh. Bane of my sewing with knits life.

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Then I hacked off some inches from the bottom and added a wider orange rib band (so the length ended up back to about where it was drafted, nice and long without being silly).

And the jobs a good un. And now I can wear puffins all day long! My daughter’s comment on it was “these two are talking to each other and this one is ignoring that one”…

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?

Mid Jan

So, after nearly managing an impromtu and frankly not really thought through attempt to blog every day for the 12 days of Christmas, things have been a little quiet around here.

Partly that’s due to the running, which I have been managing 5 mornings a week. Well, I say running, I’m still walking for a large part of my route and yesterday I was overtaken on the running bit by someone who was definitely walking! Good job I’m not remotely competitive. Mainly I’m just impressed that I’m actually getting up at silly o clock to go out (as would anyone who has shared a house with me and knows my love of hiding under the duvet until the last possible minute) –  anything else is a bonus. Anyway, amongst other benefits, my pre breakfast walk/jog/run has led to an earlier and frankly more sensible bed time for me. Which combined with a resurgence in trouble settling the boy to sleep at night (though thankfully we’re no where near as bad as this has been in the past) has rather squeezed out my evening sewing time.

Then there’s my sewing to do list. Vying for top place are Sort Out The Hot Mess That My Latest Jeans Have Become (some seriously unflattering creases have appeared just as I was about to do buttonholes and beltloops – currently they’re waiting to be tried on again to see if washing them has magically fixed this issue, I’m not holding my breath) and Make Something Warm and Longsleeved For Me To Wear – which I have seem to have built into an overcomplicated Thing in my mind, possibly due to the expense of the fabric involved. And yet I have promised myself that I’m going to finish at least one jumper in January. So faced with the seemingly impossible task in the time I have I haven’t been sewing at all.

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I have however been knitting. I’m trying to blast through sock number four of the two pairs that I was making my brother for Christmas (yup that’ll be Yuletide 2015) so that I can send them off. Heel turned now, hurrah. Just 72 rounds to do before decreasing for the toe of which 5 are done. Gosh sock yarn is fine isn’t it. I’m beginning to think there might be as many stitches in a sock as a jumper knit in thicker yarn.

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Aside from that I started an introduction to printmaking course, which is 10 half day sessions (one a week). It’s not specifically for fabric printing, but one of the other people there was teaching the screenprinting course I went on last year (she’s doing it as personal development funded by her work) and we were wondering about bringing some fabric paints in to experiment with. In the first week we were mono-printing, but all my work was left at the studio to dry so I can’t show you yet. So instead, here is a picture of my hallway wall, which I’m in the middle of giving a fake tan too, also known as painting it gold. (A kind of spur of the moment decision that resulted from giving the hallway a spring clean and realising just how mucky the walls are. I was a bit unsure at first but it’s growing on me and at least there is now a wall in our house that isn’t magnolia).  Coat one is on, trying to find the time to do coat 2 in daylight with enough drying time before the kids reappear from school is proving tricky!

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Finally, tonight I have done some sewing! The boy actually fell asleep while I was settling his sister (this is unheard of) and as my husband is out, so I can be as antisocial as I like. I celebrated with a little easy sewing. Three short circular scarves / headbands / earwarmers /whatever made with left over scraps. Which weren’t on my to do list but my daughter was upset that I wanted to put the one that I made her for Christmas in the washing machine (just cos it had a large chocolate stain on it, Mum’s are so fussy) so I thought I’d run another one up in the scraps from her Christmas dress. I paired it with the last of the stripey knit from my mystery bundle, which is lovely and soft and subtle enough not to shout at the other print.  Whilst I was at it I used some more leftovers, teal and flower fabric to make another one too, which has come out a little tight for me so that will be for the girl as well. So then I decided I better make the boy one so he didn’t get jealous, especially as there was a little more stripey knit left. So now I’ve made three and the flowers and stripes are all gone from my scrap knit tub.

Hopefully that’s broken my sewing duck (is that even a phrase?) and I will soon be showing the jeans whose boss and turning out jumpers like there’s no tomorrow. After all, we are actually getting winter temperatures now.  Oh and finishing sorting and counting my stash.

What’s your half hour sewing fix?