Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 5: Finishing the Lining and Loopy Felt Flowers

Now that I have thread, I could make the lining.  There was a freakout because I couldn't find my personal lining instructions that told me exactly how I normally make the interior pocket or where I normally sew in the label.  

I've looked everywhere and it seems those handwritten instructions didn't make it through the move from Philly.  I've started re-documenting the process.  Maybe I'll update the lining tutorial to include this "fancy" info so I can't lose it again. :)

I also finished the embellishment.  Using this felt flower tutorial I made an awesome loopy flower.  Such a great, simple tutorial with excellent results.  When I came across that link, I knew it would be a perfect match for Perrin's bag lining.  I found the cutest little button for the flower center in my stash!

I tried making the blue part have super-thin loops.  It looked really awesome, but the acrylic felt started pulling apart at the loop ends.  It would probably work with wool felt, though.  Different loop widths and lengths could look amazing in the right layers.

How you thread your "pull tight" stitches through the loop strip make a difference in how your loops lay.  For the blue one, I went in and out every loop which oriented the loops sideways.  For the cream one I skipped every other loop. so some loops are sideways and the skipped loop pops up on top.  If you're going to make these, I encourage you to experiment!

Just a couple of finishing touches left.  I'm almost done! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 4: Dealing with Yarn Ends In Arms

When I was knitting the arms, I would carry the yarn if I was only skipping over two rows, otherwise, I would cut the yarn.  There were dozens of ends along the seam where I was making color changes and cutting the yarn.

When it came time to do the finishing for the arms, I looked at a ton of different ways to weave in ends.  I really liked what is basically duplicate stitch on the back.  See how I'm weaving in the ends below?  It's a beautiful thing!

These photos show me weaving in the light purple yarn.

This shows both the end of the dark yarn and the beginning of the light yarn woven in on either side of the seam.

After weaving in 6 ends (three side-by-side sets), I tried the sweater on and discovered that weaving in so many ends so close together resulted in a stiff, lumpy fabric along the underside of my sweater arm.  The result was very unattractive and uncomfortable.

So I unwove all those ends.  And I stared at them.  And all I wanted to do is just cut them all off.

So I did ... after some hand sewing. :)

I threaded the blue yarn up the middle of the seam as a guide from the right-side of the fabric because it was easy to tell where the "seam" was from that side.  

Then I turned the sleeve inside out.  With all the carried and cut ends, the seam was less obvious.  The blue yarn was a super helpful guide.

One stitch to the left and one stitch to the right, I sewed up along the "seam".  When I came to a yarn end, I went through the yarn, then around the yarn, then pulled the thread tightly, and then I knotted the thread.  

I had to go up both on the left and right because when I started a new yarn, the end was on the left and when I broke yarn, the end was on the right.

Here's another shot of my sewing with the ends snipped.  I'm going to leave them just like that.

The last bit of finishing for the sleeves was to sew up the "seam" from the outside for extra security.

The next time I do color changes in a tube like this, I want to carry the yarn along the seam and just twist them every row.  This sweater only has 3 colors, so there would only be 2 yarns being carried at any given time, which wouldn't be too bulky.

Does it freak you out that I hand-sewed the seam and cut the ends short?

SPOILER ALERT: I'm already done with this sweater, but I still have a couple of posts left before I do the big reveal.  I only admit this because I've worn the sweater 3 times already *and* machine washed & partially machine dried it and the "seam" is superduper awesome.  So, no need to worry that the whole thing is just going to fall apart as I wear it.  This totally worked, as janky as it is. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 4: Buying Thread

I made it to the fabric store last weekend and, as promised, I picked up a rainbow of colors!  And some sorely needed neutrals.

Now that I see the haul with the fabric, I should have grabbed a light lime green, too.  I can't wait to use each of these colors in a project!

I plan on using this turquoise to sew the lining and this tan to sew on the label.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crochet Heart Scarf - Free Pattern

You may have already seen this over on CRAFT's site, but just in case you didn't, I designed a crochet pattern for them ... this cute crochet heart scarf.  

I know I'm not giving you much lead time if you want to make one for V-day, but it's a quick crochet, so you could make one tonight if you don't have anything else planned.  Grab some yarn out of your stash, put on The Princess Bride, and get stitching!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 3: Fixing Too-Wide Armholes

As I suspected, the arms on this sweater were much bigger than I wanted them to be.  They might be the right size for layering over button up shirts, but I wanted a closer, smoother fit, so I went back and made some adjustments.

Several times.

Four, I think, before I got it just right.

But first, here's some photos of what I have come to call the flabby sweater arm.
Someone was making me laugh!  The arm on the left is fixed, and the arm on the right is the pattern as written.  The arrows are pointing to the flab.

Now, my upper arms are thicker than most.  I know this because when I try on shirts that fit everywhere else, my upper arms are often squeeeeeezed.  So I don't like anything extra going on around there.  The little bump you see was mirrored by a bump on the back.

It's difficult to photograph this, but the lumpiness was simultaneously in the front and the back.

I'm looking at these photos and I can see the the lumps don't look all that bad.  In the photos they look like normal ease in the arms of a sweater.  But trust me, in person it was too much ... it's not me having delusional upper arm body image issues. Ha!

Here is the nice, neat, fitted arm after my mods.  Ahhh, look at that perfect fit. :)

This whole thing was actually a blessing in disguise because I totally forgot to cross the stitches at the armpits.  Here's what I did:

Row 1: Starting at center armpit, p/u 6 stitches (5 normal p/u one row below co edge and one stitch to the left of the last column), knit 3, k2tog, k3, k2tog, knit until last 10 stitches remain and k2tog, k3, k2tog, k3, p/u 6 stitches (one stitch to right of column and 5 normal p/u one row below co edge).

Row 2: knit all, except at corners with the extra p/u stitch where I k3tog with the extra stitch on top of the two stitches on either side of it.

That's it!  Just two rows of extra decreases on either side of the arm pit got rid of my unsightly sweater flab.  It took some experimenting to keep from creating a strange bulge near the decreases.  My first couple of tries made the sleeve look like a puffy mutton sleeve.

I will probably make this sweater again.  Next time I will adjust the sleeve stitches so I end up with the right amount without the decreases ... I think.  If I can figure out the math and it doesn't throw everything else off. ;)

And I will remember to cross the stitches at the armpit!  I will.  I will. I will!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 3: Starting the Lining

I have a little progress to report on Perrin's Starling ... and a little is better than nothing.  Baby steps, baby steps.

Two weeks ago I picked out the tear-away stabilizer from the label.  If you've ever done this, you know it's more work than it seems.  :)

Last night I pulled out the ironing board, the cutting mat, and set up my sewing machine.  I was going to stay up a little later than I should have and finish sewing the lining.  I was thwarted by a lack of coordinating thread.  I could hardly believe it: no white, no cream, no blues or greens that match the fabric.  

It might be a couple of weeks before I can trek over to a fabric store, but when I do, I'm buying a rainbow's worth of spools.

I had to put everything away, so I pinned the lining and the cut-out pocket to the ironing board before I slipped it back into the closet so it will stay nice and flat.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 2: Color Change At Ribbing

Even with the stripes, this is a very quick knit on 5.0 mm needles.  I sped through the body and did everything according to the pattern ...

... until ... haha, you knew there was an until, right?  

I didn't make the sweater as long as the pattern suggested because I like my tops to hit at the widest part of my hips.  I find that it's a great way to break up the bulk down there and having the shirt flare out accentuates my waist.  It's probably against the rules, just like horizontal stripes, but that doesn't bother me.

(OMG, see how big that armhole looks?  I'm trying to ignore how freaky big that hole is.  Just keep knitting.  Just keep knitting.)

The pattern suggested that you go down a needle size for the bottom ribbing.  I thought that would pull in too much and make the cardigan balloon-ish.  So I did two test swatches.

My suspicion was correct.  4.0 mm needles made the ribbing way too tight.  Both of the swatches are exactly the same number of stitches across and down.  The smaller needles also make a shorter row.

I was even tempted to go up a size to do the ribbing so it wouldn't pull at all.  But the sweater is cotton, so I figure it'll stretch a little and loosen up. We'll see.

A super-happy consequence of swatching was that I noticed the problem with starting 2x2 ribbing in a new color.  It reminded me of a striped ribbing trick I learned from Color Knitting The Easy Way:

The trick is, if you're knitting stripes and ribbing at the same time, to knit every stitch the first row, then go back to the ribbing on subsequent rows.  Ta da!  No dashes mucking up your stripey stripes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 2: Embroidering the Label

Embroidering the label for Perrin's Starling Handbag was a perfect craft night project.  That means I can do it *and* listen/talk at the same time.  I tried working on the blue knit lace scarf at craft night once and I ended up having to take out all three hours of work.  Gah!

I have an Embroidery On Felt Tutorial if you're wondering how I make my labels.  I forgot my trick of making sure the grain of the stabilizer goes top to bottom.  That makes it easier to remove since most of the letters have vertical bits.  Oh, well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 1: Picking Stripes

At the beginning of December I decided to start a couple of sweaters.  Out of the blue, I suddenly HAD to cast on for both of them.  One is slumbering now, but I'm still in the thick of the other, so I'm going to start blogging about it - Panoply of Purple Stripes using Stefanie Japel's knitting pattern Shapely Boyfriend.

What drew me to this pattern is:
  • Top down!!!  So you can try it on as you go.
  • V-Neck.  I'm usually warm, so having a v-neck helps me maintain a "just warm enough" temperature in the winter.
  • Free.  So I could take a look at the pattern instructions and make sure I could handle it before starting.
Looking in my stash, I noticed the three purples I got in my yarn extravaganza Knit Picks order and thought I'd combine two of my favorite clothing design elements: purple and stripes.

When I mentioned I was making a striped sweater from three different purples to a co-worker, he said, "Do you think you can pull it off?" Ha! Of course I can!  Although without seeing the three purples, I'm sure what someone would imagine is nutso.  I think the mix I have is perfectly balanced.

The next step was to figure out what stripe pattern to use.  I used Open Office Calc to test out stripe patterns because it had bunches of colors to pick from (as opposed to my ancient Excel which had 12 or something).  

I looked at the knitting pattern and figured out how many rows were going to be in the back of the sweater.  I made the OpenOffice file that many lines tall so I could get an idea of how each stripe pattern would actually look.

Here are the stripe patterns I made in order.

1. Totally random.

2. Totally ordered.

3. Each color blends into the next.

4. Same as before with less overlapping.

5. Thick dark stripes interspersed with thin medium and light stripes.

6. Kaleidoscopic pattern.

7. Now that I see this one, it looks like I made a copy/paste error in the rows because I pattern I *expect* to see here is not the one I see.

8. Orderly and neat.

9. Thick light stripes interspersed with thin medium and dark stripes.

10. Expanded version of above.

11. Medium stripes with alternating sets of light and dark stripes.

12. Light stripes with alternating sets of medium and dark stripes.

13. Dark stripes with alternating sets of light and medium stripes.

14. Overlapping sets of 3 stripes.

At this point I was feeling a little seasick from staring at stripes.  I looked back through my sets and picked some of my favorites: 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, and 14.  I asked Andrew what he liked and after hearing what he thought, ended up picking 6, the kaleidoscopic one.

I wanted to use about the same amount of each color, so I adjusted the thick medium-purple stripes to be only two stripes thick, instead of 3 stripes thick.

I can't remember, but I'm pretty sure I did a stripe swatch to make sure I liked it.  Of course I did, right?  In what world do I not swatch every tiny thing?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 1: Blocking a Starling Handbag

Now that I'm done with the Fennec Fox, I've picked my new featured craft project, Perrin's Starling Handbag.

I got to know Perrin through my site.  She wrote a crazy-sweet post about me on her blog Paper Clips and Play Pens.  After just a couple of emails, I could tell she was the kind of direct, open, and passionate person that I get along with perfectly.  I just love Perrin. :)

When I got my annual burr behind my eye about not having a futuregirl logo, I emailed Perrin to see if she was interested in helping me out, since she's a freelance web designer.  She was amazingly enthusiastic.

We exchanged several epic emails talking about my craft blog, my audience, my direction, my hopes for the site ... me me me.  Ha!  How could I *not* love it?  She even sent me sheets of preliminary sketches from her brainstorming sessions.

Our conversations got the gears turning in my head.  Eventually, I was inspired to create my own logo, but I believe I couldn't have done this without first consulting with Perrin.  I'd spent 5 years trying to come up with logo on my own, with no luck.

I wanted to pay her back for all her help.  She'd said something about wanting a Starling Handbag of her own, so, in secret, I crocheted one for her.  And I bought the fabric for the lining.  And tucked it away in my WIP drawer ... for at least a year ... sigh ...

I could have just taken this out of the WIP drawer, frogged it, and put the yarn back in my stash since Perrin didn't know I'd even started it.  It's no fun admitting your shortcomings ... but as my Midwestern up bringing taught me, doing so probably builds character, so I'm sucking it up.  As bad as I feel about letting this token of my appreciation languish, I still want Perrin have a special Starling Handbag made just for her.

As you can imagine, being tucked in a drawer for a year, her Starling had a couple of folds and creases.  I needed to lightly block it.

It just so happens that these cartons of chicken stock are the perfect shape and size to create a blocking form ... bonus that they are waterproof, too!

I inverted the Starling over the cartons and lightly sprayed it with a water squirter.  There was a little smoothing and pulling involved to work out the wrinkles.

In this photo you can see the nice crisp edge around the bottom of my Starling thanks to the innovation of Chicken Betty.  She came up with the idea of crocheting in the interior-loops-only when you transition from the bottom of the bag to the sides.  Brilliant!

After drying overnight, good as new!

This is the gorgeous fabric I bought for the lining.  I love those flowers!  I recently came across a great felt flower tutorial that I hope will work to make the outside embellishments for the bag.  Oh!  I'm looking forward to working on this handbag!