Friday, November 29, 2013

Using what I have


Inspiration has lately been coming from the stash.  And, as in the case of this garter stitch striped scarf, also from the wonderful book Humans of New York.  [Somewhere near the back, in the last few pages, a woman outside Carnegie Hall, I think.  I’d have to go look again.  Go get the book and flip to the back, you’ll see it.]  Finding that photo--in a book not about knitting or yarn or scarves--and then finding these two yellow yarns sitting fortuitously beside one another, the darker one of which is a leftover from a years-ago requested and long-gone pair of Hufflepuff socks, has triggered this project.  Nice and plain, with color.  Yarn!  You rock. 

Also stash:


When this is gone, the tapestry granny thingy will be finished.  So close! 

Also stash:


A cardigan for me, in a light-sucking brown yarn the color of Hershey bars.  The sleeves are already finished, and I noticed, too late to do anything but rip them out and start over which I have decided not to do, that I had knit the stitch pattern incorrectly.  Well, who cares, it’s a brown cardigan, the 2013 version of my Annual Brown Cardigan.  When winter really gets here, I’ll do the next predictable thing and make a gray one.  The yarn is already—wait for it—in the stash.  Also, it snowed. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Granny mania





I started this on Friday morning, and worked on it so much over the weekend that I got a rope burn on my tensioning finger and had to put it down.  If Noro wasn’t so rough and full of vegetable matter, I do believe this would be done already.  Oh granny, why are you so compelling? 

Dean said it looks like a tapestry, which I thought was wonderful.  It does, kinda. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Success Dress


This dress is a breakthrough.  About me:  I only want to wear stretchy fabrics, and a woven shirt with a collar and buttons down the front after about an hour starts to feel like a corset.  I just want to lift my arms without showing off my bellybutton!  Actually, I’d probably wear footie pajamas all the time if I could.  Remember when Sharon Stone wore that Gap turtleneck to the Academy Awards?   I’m like that.  I’ll wear yoga pants anywhere I can get away with it. 


Also, as you know, I like to make stuff, and so would like to make some clothes for my admittedly hard-to-fit self, which should be easy because I know how to sew.  However, knit fabric is weird.  You can’t just throw it under your presser foot like anything else and stitch a seam.  You can try (and I did) but it will get ruffly, which might be what you want, but more likely will not.  So, most of the time, knit fabrics are sewn on a serger.  But I don’t have a serger!  I whined.  Alabama Chanin did come riding to the rescue, and by hand I made a couple skirts that were like sweats and wore them around like they weren’t sweats, and it was good for awhile, but you know how it is.  Eventually, you want more.  I didn’t want to have to do it all by hand, and I really didn’t want to buy a serger just so I could make my own t-shirts, but I was pretty sure there was a way to make my regular machine do a passable job of sewing knit fabrics.  Then I found this pattern, and it turned out I was right.  If you want to sew with knits on your regular machine, click here and fearlessly go forth.  Friends, it is possible.  The world has opened wide for me. 


This particular dress that I have sewn is theoretically the muslin version, but it fits me perfectly with no modifications necessary, if you can believe that, so I guess it’s ready to wear, although the bodice fabric is made from a piece of tissue-weight knit I had leftover from a (ruffly) nightgown.  It might need lots of Spanx.  I probably won’t.  See above. 



Quite a few times along the way, I put down my pins and said, “This isn’t going to work.”  I walked away, cleaned the bathroom, made a pot of soup.  Came back, tried again.  Again.  Again.  Finally, one mini breakthrough at a time, it did work.  It worked.  It feels as if I have managed to make toast with the hairdryer.  I totally fooled Miss K into making a knit dress!  Ha!  Success. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Luxury scarf


Sometimes, inspiration can come right from the yarn cupboard itself.  This happens to me all the time.  I’m in there searching around for one thing, and suddenly, I find another.  This time, it was two laceweight yarns, both Jaggerspun Zephyr (a merino and silk blend.)  In two shades of turquoise, they happened to be sitting together on the shelf, and when I saw them, I knew what to do. 


I’m going crazy for a contrasting edge right now; I love it so much.  It makes this thing sort of moderne, no? 

I didn’t use a pattern, this triangular scarf is the simplest thing in the world:  using a US 3 circular needle and holding the yarn double, I cast on at the back of the neck (I don’t remember how many—maybe two?  Four?) and then just worked in stockinette stitch back and forth, increasing twice at the center and once on each end, every right side row.  I maintained two stitches in garter at the edges.  When the yarn from the first ball ran out, I joined the second ball and kept at it for awhile until it seemed like it was time for an edging, at which time I switched to a smaller needle (US 2) and worked garter stitch until it seemed like there was just enough left for a bind off, then I bound off. 

The yarn is gorgeous.  It is deliciously soft, and the silk makes it gleam a little.  Imagine it in candlelight.  When I wear this, I feel glamorous.  I’d like to make a huge one of these in pearl gray, using about ten thousand yards of silky laceweight yarn and spending just countless hours and hours in the plain and soothing monotony of stockinette stitch.  That contrasting space between the dullness of the boring stitches and the utter luxury of the beautiful yarn is such a nice place to be.  I spend each stitch dreaming of the finished piece, how it will transform me. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Storybook Quilt


I wasn’t even planning to make this quilt.  I had a different one all laid out, ready to cut.  I was in the fabric cupboard looking for something else when these fabrics kind of asserted themselves, and I was reminded of a beautiful storybook quilt that Gill made awhile ago, and also of a lovely vintage quilt in a child’s bedroom magazine photo I saw a long time ago, in a room with teal walls and a basket chair hanging from the ceiling, and so I tossed all plans aside and started cutting.


Not that I need any more quilts, but that will never stop me. They always find a purpose. This one is made with project orphan fabrics mixed with a couple treasures (bought at Purl in New York, oh swoon) and thrifted fat quarters, and wool batting.  It is hand-quilted by me using #5 perle cotton and a big needle with big stitches.  I proudly figured out how to make what I now know are called HSTs without having to calculate square roots or use any pythagorean theorems or anything, although it turns out the proper math on an HST still isn’t tidy and the amount you add to your finished size before cutting is 7/8” which doesn’t make sense at all to this dabbler, but there is much to learn, and I am determined to keep learning it.  Anyhoo. 


The wind was howling directly into my bare eyeballs as we threw the quilt over the iron gate of what I wish you all would imagine is a spooky and abandoned mental institution (alas, it is not) and tears streamed down my face unchecked as I photographed it.  It appeared to passersby to be the saddest quilt photo shoot in the history of such things.   In fact, it was just the opposite, because this is the most cheerful quilt I have ever imagined.  My trusty assistant thought so, too.


“Should I get in the picture? “ he said, hopping over the short wall and crouching behind the quilt.  He is quite enjoying his new career as Craft Blog Model.  Well, he is awfully photogenic.  


Don’t even look at that icky binding.  Memo to self:  it is always worth the extra fabric to cut on the bias.  Quit trying to save a nickel!  If ever again I try to tell myself it doesn’t matter, and that cutting with the grain is easier, faster, and saves fabric, I will look at that picture and cut on the bias, I promise.  Grandma would agree, it is worth the effort.  She’d be proud of this, though:


Check out those triangle points.  Hoo!  That’s a thrill every time. 


I love it that making a new quilt now also involves me trying to think where there’s a mossy stone wall/dirty bridge piling/rusty iron gate/graffiti-covered dumpster where I can chuck the quilt over the edge of something beat up so I can take pictures of it.  I love it that the quest for rustic quilt shoot locations always leads to a road trip.  I blame Kaffe. 


It started to rain a little. 


The rain had a freezing, chunky quality.  That’s enough, I’m cold.  Let’s get coffee.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hats finished, and home



(pattern my own, recipe found here)

Oh, the Big Game.  Most of the time I could care less about sports, but sit me down in my stadium and give me a hot dog and a foam hat in team colors, and I will yell until my throat hurts.  I usually don’t care that much, but wow, did I care on Saturday.  So fired up!  GO GREEN!  It rained.  We were packed cheek to jowl into the upper deck, so close that we all kept sitting on each other’s clothes.  You start to form little communities up there.  You step on each others’ feet trying to get to the concession stand, and nobody gets mad.  My brother bought me hot chocolate, and I took off my wet mittens to hold the warm cup, and I knew for a fact that life is wonderful.  We won.  I cried during the alma mater, to absolutely no one’s surprise.   Someday, I’ll start talking about the marching band, and you’ll never get me to stop.  That’s at the very top of the list of things I love. 


(more of my own pattern, same as above)

I also delivered the hats over the weekend.  The satisfaction level on that project was through the roof.  The great heap they made on the table as I sorted and counted and arranged them just made me sigh deeply and think, there


(more formula hats.  See how versatile it is?)

I don’t know when I’ll ever again want to make another hat.  Life is long and I’m sure the mojo will come around again someday.  But don’t ask me for a hat right now.  Just, don’t. 


(pattern:  Eppie Bonnet)

My BFF and I hung out in her studio, and when I admired her paintings, she gave them to me.  [Me:  “But!  Your artwork!”  “You can’t…”  Her:  “Shut up.  Take it.”]


(pattern:  Turn a Square)

We sorted through family pictures and artifacts.  Birth and death certificates, fraternity pins, high school class rings.  Boy scout merit badges from 1955.  My dad’s watch.  War Department letters home from the Ardennes. Things people saved.  There was my mama’s midnight guacamole and lots of wine and laughing and crying.  When we saw the time was 2:00 am, we just set the clock back an hour and kept going.  It felt so great to be home.


(pattern:  Thorpe)


(yellow hat pattern:  Shadow Tuque.  Red and Green?  A mystery…)


(pattern: Happy Granny Hat)

Some of you wags will be counting to see if I made it to forty.  Yes, there were forty—forty-two, counting dear Carolyn’s contributions—but I did not photograph them all.  I was purely overwhelmed by hats and there you have it. 


Keep warm, hometown people.