Category Archives: sewing

It’s 50% Sleeves

For the most part, Summer Days was a well written pattern and a fun project to knit. I love making cardigans – especially for kids. I get so much satisfaction knitting something like this.  The more I knit the more I enjoy the projects with a finer gauge, and therefor a lighter yarn. The designer has other cute patterns for kids I would like to eventually try. Like this knitted maxi dress for tots.

I did have a problem with one section of the pattern though.  If I hadn’t made a big deal about temper tantrums, I might have had one. For the most part it is really well written and I was really enjoying it, but the underarm shaping threw me.  I would read it, and re-read it again, hoping for the light to go off in my head. Still not comprehending what to do, I made coffee, and went to a quiet rom with a notepad.  Then I let it sit for a day or two, hoping that new eyes would bring new understanding. Ravelry was no help as sections of patterns are not indexed for comments, and comments in general are truncated so if someone had insight to pass along it was stacked under hundreds of other comments that had nothing to do with my issue.  I tried whatever I could, but finally I just decided to do the next section without the written word instructions as my guide.  That strategy was part success, and part failure, but I learned enough to get back in the game.

This is what that part of the pattern sounded like to me:

Pattern: When you get to the intersection turn left

Me: Ok. …my left or your left?

Pattern: My left. But if it’s a red light, your left. And if it’s a green light my right.

Me: Uh…. ok?

Pattern: At the next intersection if it’s red, it’s my right.

Me: So my left?

Pattern: Yes. Until the end of that street, then we’ll use my left. This rule works for streets and roads, but alleys and back streets you reverse everything.

Me: The left and the rights?

Pattern: Yes, but my left and rights.

It read exactly like the Abbott and Costello’s “Whose on first?” comedy monologue. You can guess who I am in in that scenario. The pattern had charts and a description, but the double meaning of some words and the constant rule changing for a small amount of variables scrambled my brain. All that business added time to the project, which was still ultimately a quick knit.

sweater1

I love the puffed sleeves. They really get to me. They remind me of being a kid for some reason, but I had no idea why until today. These kind of vague ideas always intrigue, so I sat down and really thought about it, and for some reason Anne of Green Gables entered my mind. I loved that show when I was young. I did a google image search, and found Anne in all sorts of sweaters that I now know were my original inspiration to knit. Those P.E.I sand dunes and pretty grass fields seemed so idyllic. I didn’t see any puff sleeves, but part of me imagines Matilda scoffing at the wasted excess material. Maybe I imagined that, or maybe it’s there somewhere. One of my favourite knitting blogs posts pictures of the designer in her knits while walking along the sea shore, and I now realize where I get my affinity from. When I first decided to knit this pattern it was because of the unique sleeve construction. Normally a short sleeved sweater is a bit of a clothing oxymoron to me. So despite this sweater having a small window of usefulness, it makes up for it in cute factor, and for me, nostalgia.

buttons

The buttons are polished wood. At first I wasn’t sure about them, but now that they are sewed on I think the domed shape gives the sweater a vintage vibe. I also modified the pattern, which included adding a top button (you can see the spacing doesn’t take the top button into account), and pulled the collar trim in to come up to the edges. I’m happy I made those modifications, but I think these details also add more of a vintage look.

I hope this little girl who loves blue will like her sweater.

Woven Chevron Blanket Repurposed

Every once in awhile I decide I own too many things and feel I must remove some stuff immediately. I was going through our linens and bedding and decided there was too much, but then was unable to give a valid reason to actually get rid any of it.  Conundrum. It dawned on me that instead of buying new cushion covers for some oversized pillows I have I could sew some new ones. I repurposed a blanket with a chevron pattern into two pillowcases.

A relatively easy project, but I still managed to break a needle.  I really like them, and feel very resourceful. This is what I imagined I could do if I learned how to sew. It’;s still amateur hour, but it’s really fun to finish a project in a day.  Sewing may never be my first love, but I still appreciate what you can accomplish in an afternoon.

Here they are in our spare bedroom:

pillows1

pillows3

pillows_close

I was also able to upload some onion bags to my Etsy store. If you want to check them out, click here.

Many Happy Returns

It never occurred to me that quilting wasn’t an activity to familiarize yourself with a sewing machine, but an actual art, until I was sewing squares together. Chris donated some old shirts for my project, and I cut them up, and decided they coordinated, and that was all that was needed. Oh, not so. I started to suspect that I was in well over my head at some point, but half way through it was apparent I had drowned at step one.

Swatches2

The fabric patterns I was working with were a bit adventurous. Stripes (bold stripes!), checkers, plaid, and smaller stripes, are not a beginner quilter’s best friend, nor are they a beginner sewer’s best friend. When I laid out my squares the pattern actually hurt my eyes. I had to squint at it to see what I had done so wrong, and even then I wanted to back away in horror. All those stripes were pointing in different directions, I had no idea how to arrange the triangles to make it look good, and I had thought of none of this before I had joined them all. What came about was all that I could salvage. Hoping that I would at least have a functioning blanket, if not something that was pleasant to look at, I carried on.

It turned out less ugly than I had comes to terms with (although when previewing this post, my eyes again began to search for a place to rest and came up short), but more of a hack job than I wanted too. It’s actually not a rectangle, but a trapezoid. Chris likened it to having a friend install your new bathroom, rather than paying for a plumber. It’s definitely one of those, and I wondered if people who learn by hacking ever learn how to do things correctly. Or if they do, how long does that take?

At the same time I was sewing this together I was reading the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a good book that got me thinking about how I cultivate my own happiness, and what I could do better. I do believe that happiness is a conscious choice, and I really liked the science she brought to her daily resolutions. I was at the part in the book that mentioned “True Rules”, which are the rules we come to live by through our own experience. They may not be really true, but they are true to ourselves. I had been reflecting on some of the things I tell myself, and others, and I started to notice how much I approach these kind of tasks like my Grandmother would. She would say things something like this: “Everything is learnable. Just find someone who can help you, but if they’re unavailable you’ll probably be able to figure it out on your own.” “It’s easy, just nail it together.” “We don’t need to wait around for someone else to tell us what to do.” I half applaud myself for diving in, and also realize that patience really is a virtue, and one that would save me some time in the long run. I think a simple striped, or colour blocked blanket might be a better jumping off point. I’ll be watching many more YouTube videos about how to sew before I try this again, but thank you Gramma, I still like doing it your way most of the time.

I am a little less afraid of the sewing machine, and next time I’ll work with a pattern too. I still have the quilting part to do, which I’ll keep simple and use some purple embroidery thread to pin the flannel down with.

Quilt2

quilt3

Pros: Knitting a baby blanket would take a few weeks working within my spare time, but sewing a blanket came together in a few hours of dedicated machine work. I can see how becoming a better sewer might allow for quicker crafting satisfaction.

Cons: A noisy machine with women-like qualities to appease, along with the entire entourage of sewing equipment seemed so high maintenance. I can knit with two sticks but this project occupied my whole desk, and a good part of our living room with it’s fabric, cutting, stashes of thread, and large work surface area. I was glad to put all that mess away.

My Mad Men labels are turning out to be a crazy amount of fun. I’ve been using Paper, an app for drawing on my iPad, and I just purchased Photoshop Touch for iPad yesterday. I really love drawing, so I’m also going to get myself a fancy stylus as well. If you have a recommendation I’d love to hear about it. I haven’t been doing much drawing since I stopped going to Life Drawing at Basic Inquiry in Vancouver. I pulled out some of my sketches and Chris and I ended up framing one for our bedroom. I’ll have to find a life drawing group here in Montreal.

I hope your eyes survived the pictures. Thank you for coming back to see what I am up to!