Thursday, March 29, 2012

Teddy Bear Update 1 - Cutting Out The Pieces

I have a friend that really loves my teddy bear.  So much so that I decided to surprise them with one of their own.

I looked at the fabric store for teddy bear patterns, thinking It would be easy to find one just like mine.  But I was mistaken.  I couldn't find a good teddy bear pattern at all.  Luckily, a quick internet search turned up the exact pattern I made Neville from on eBay.  Can you believe that this is my first purchase from eBay?  Crazy, huh?

I bought this amazingly soft and plush faux fur at the fabric store.  It's a very traditional teddy bear color.

So soft!  So cuddly!  I bought miles of this stuff.

The challenge with fluffy faux fur fabric, though, is that you can't just lay the pattern pieces on it and cut them out.  The fabric is just too bumpy and weird.  So I had to trace each pattern piece onto grocery bag paper, which is more durable.

Then I used the grocery bag pattern pieces to trace onto the back of the knitted fur base.  It was really hard to trace the pattern pieces, so I ended up using the sharpies.  I was afraid the marker smell would linger, but it dissipated within a day or so.

Teddy bears have a surprising number of pieces to make them all up.  It took seemingly forever to cut out all the pattern pieces, trace all the pieces onto grocery bags, cut out the grocery bag pieces, trace them onto the fur, and cut out the fur pieces.  Gah!  So long.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 9: Button Closure

I think I've finally reached the end of things to say about this sweater ... haha!
First, I want to marvel at the fact that I had this amazing wooden button in my stash.  It matches the mid-purple perfectly.  I still can't get over that.

I originally had the button closure lower on the sweater, but after wearing it a couple of times, I realized that it was too low once the yarn relaxes.  I also only had the purple button and a crocheted loop, but I noticed that the underneath ribbing would sag and fold back as I wore the sweater.  

Button 2.0 includes an interior button and loop.  The interior button is a small shanked button that I sewed onto the bulk of the steek for stability.

The purple button is not shanked, so I stabilzed it by sewing it on with a small clear button on the inside (aka an anchor button).  The inside-underneath button keeps the purple button upright ... meaning my yarn loop doesn't pull it over to the side.

TECHknitting recently had a lot of great posts about buttons in which you can learn everything you ever wanted to know and more about putting buttons on your hand knit and hand crocheted garments, inlcuding using anchor buttons.

Ta da!  I am wearing the hell out of this sweater.  I really should start on another so I'll have it for when this one wears out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 8: Project Notes

Paige emailed and asked me how I keep notes about my projects - specifically about modifications I make to patterns.  I thought I'd share my answer with you, too.

The first little chart I made was this stripe chart.  The brackets on the right  designate where I can carry the yarn and where I break the yarn.

As I was knitting, I would make notes on the printed pattern.  Any notes on other paper, like the stripe chart, I tape to the paper to keep everything together.

For each section of the pattern, I created a check box for every row (or set of rows).  I also indicated whether it was D M or L, which is Dark, Medium, or Light Purple.  And, I also put the cut/no-cut brackets on right to remind me NOT to cut the yarn.

All my mods are here, hand-written as I made them.  Then, after I was all done, I put them in my sweater's Ravelry project.  I did this because I love reading other people's posts on Ravelry that explain what they did on a pattern.  It can be *super* helpful to know lots of people made a sweater longer, or found the instructions confusing.

Another thing I love about Ravelry when I'm browsing through patterns is looking at other people's projects from the pattern.  I can see real people wearing the sweater they made.  I think that's a much better indication of what I might make ... since I'm usually not the same size as the model they used.  Sometimes a sweater that looks incredible on the model doesn't look so hot on a middle-aged woman.  

And, sometimes the converse is true.  I've seen plenty of homely looking sweaters really shine when someone gets creative with the color or changes just one tiny part of the pattern  So much inspiration and real-world experience can be found on Ravelry.  It's an incredible resource for my knitting and crocheting!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 7: Finished Sweater

Ta da!

It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday ... freezing, but beautiful.  I have my coat and scarf at my feet in these photos.  I'm sure everyone else at the park thought I was nuts. :)

You can see in this photo that the elbow gets a little baggy after a couple days of wear.  I like the length, so I'll just have to live with it.

Originally, I planned to do the ribbing in the medium purple color, but when I tried to order the extra yarn, it was on back order.  Of course, now, I can't imagine that ... the dark purple is the perfect ribbing color.

The only thing that's a little goofy is I started at the top of the back with the dark purple, so the stripe merges with the ribbing creating a weird angled shape.  If I hadn't done that, I'd have a crisp dark line around the back neck.  Next time I'll plan the ribbing/stripes better.

Here you can see just how windy it was.  I love the little peek you get at the light green steek.  When I went shopping for a shirt to wear with this sweater, I couldn't resist this v-neck because it matches the steek perfectly!

I still have a couple more things to show you about the sweater ... the button stuff, and my project notes ... but I didn't want to make you wait for the final photos anymore!  Or, more truthfully, I couldn't stand not sharing them!

I make everyone pet this sweater when they find out I made it.  The Knit Picks Comfy Worsted is so SOFT it's crazy.  It's also super fuzzy, which has resulted in gigantic pills under the arms and at the waist where my purse rubs the sweater.  I'm getting a sweater stone to help remove the initial pilling.  I get the sense that once the "baby duck down" fuzz has worn off, we'll be fine.

I've machine washed and dried this sweater a couple of times.  I've found that I have to dry it all the way so it shrinks back up to "knit size" then, as I wear it, it relaxes back to "cotton stretch size", similar to a pair of jeans.  I think I can figure out how to knit the next one so it relaxes into the right size.  Currently, after it relaxes, there's a little too much ease under the arms and at the bust.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Doll Face Surgery

There's another crafty woman at my workplace, but she doesn't do the yarn arts.  I like to show off my projects to her because, as a fellow crafter, she understands how much work can go into a project.  So, one day, I was walking into the office and she said, "Can I show you something?"  and she pulled out this doll.

She explained that it was a doll that her parents bought for her on a trip to Europe when she was very young.  She'd brought it down for her son to play with ... and the dog ate its face!  "Can this be fixed?" she asked.  I looked at it a second and although it's a pretty heinous injury, I figured I could do *something* so I replied, "Of course.  I can fix this for you."

So I took it home and it sat in my WIP pile for weeks and weeks while I let my subconscious think about it.  The kinds of things that would pop into my head were that maybe I could steal some yarn from the doll's back which is covered by a shirt and transplant it to the face.

I finally sat down this weekend and started poking around her face and discovered that there was just one little cut in one little yarn that caused this hole.  I dug through my stash and found yarn this exact color: Red Heart acrylic that I had I bought to make the ground hog.

I separated the 4-strand yarn into 2-strand lengths so it was the right thickness to match the doll.  I sewed the loose ends of the cut yarn to secure them, and then I wove the new yarn into the knitting to close up the hole.  I also had to fix the red yarn that makes up it's nose and mouth.  It's super creepy sewing on a doll's face when it's eyes are *right there* staring at you.

It's not perfect, but it's not bad, either.  The new yarn blends right in.  I could barely see a difference up close with my magnifying granny glasses on.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.

She was very happy, too, which is all that really matters. :)

I think this doll is supposed to be a sailor.  It has a cute little beret, a sailor-striped wool sweater, and colorful patchwork pants.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Crafting In Public

Wednesday, March 14th from 5:00-7:00 at ING Cafe at 101 Post Street, San Francisco (at Kearny).  Everyone welcome!  Bring a project and hang out with us.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 6: Finished!

You've seen me making this purse along the way, so there's not much to say now except ... hooray!  We had an unbelievably nice day last Sunday when I took these photos.  I felt like I was getting sunburned!  It was 75 degrees out.  Insanity for around here.

I added a pin back for the flower so Perrin can take it off to machine wash the purse.

Ahhhh.  Feels good to be done. :)  

Next week I'll introduce you to the next "Featured Craft Project" on my to do list.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 6: Actual Steek

... and then it was time to steek the real sweater!

I was a little baby about it and started on the clean edge that had no yarn ends.  So slick looking!  I usedEunny Jang's crochet Steek Tutorial as my guide.

I picked this crazy green because I love purple and green.  The wonderful part is the steek is completely hidden on the inside of the sweater, so I could have used any color.  It's fun to see the little pop of green when I'm putting my sweater on.

And now the side with a million-and-one yarn ends.  Ridiculously, I discovered that I'd lost a stitch on the edge about halfway through the sweater.  I had to adjust my crochet line to move over a stitch since I was steeking one stitch away from the edge.  It's not noticeable, but gah, what a terror moment when I first saw it.

I took this opportunity to remove the weird L-shaped edge where the V-neck meets the curve around the back of your neck.  I'd noticed on ravelry that people were getting little poofy pouches there when they added the ribbing.  Because I was steeking, I could just cut off the extra!  Woohoo!

  A quick try-on before I sew along the furry side and then cut all the ends off.

Oh, triple purple sweater, I love you!  I was having trouble taking the sweater back off to work on it.  Then, when it was time to do other things involved with living ... I kept wearing the sweater in this state because the Knit  Picks Comfy yarn is so soft and warm.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 5: Swatching the Steek and Ribbing

I wanted to steek the front edges of my sweater to allow me to cut off the myriad of ends the stripes left.  I was a little worried though, so I swatched the whole thing.  As hilarious as it sounds, at times like this, I feel like a master painter making a detail practice painting ...  it's the same kind of thing, right?  Practice makes perfect. ;)

I knit a whole swatch of the stripe pattern and even did the bottom ribbing.  Then I steeked the "furry" edge of the swatch.

So pretty on the top!

So pretty on the bottom!

I tested out several different stitch patterns to secure the yarn ends.  I  have to sew my steeks to secure them since I'm not using wool (which would stick to itself).

More test stitching.

And the bit I left without any stitching at all ... which I then tugged on a little, just to make sure I really did need to stitch the steek.  The answer was a resounding, "Yes!"

Next I tested out adding the front edge ribbing.

I tested out picking up different numbers of stitches.  On the left is way too few picked up stitches and the right is way too many.  I pulled out one of the sides and finally found a number that was "just right", which is 3 for every 4 rows.

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! :)