Craft holiday II

My post-Christmas break in NZ is nearly over, so it must be time to show off all the things I made! Like my previous craft holiday, I took full advantage of having access to Mum's sewing machine. This time I made tops using downloadable indie patterns. I haven't had much experience sewing from patterns (as opposed to following photo tutorials on blogs or just figuring things out myself) - so I learned a lot along the way. :)

I started off making a Wiksten top out of some lightweight cotton fabric with a diagonal tie-dye stripe. I enlarged the pattern one extra size, which worked well - hooray for drawing skills! The fit is pretty good, certainly good enough for a casual top.

I dove into making a second one, this time using a crystal-print cotton sateen fabric from Spoonflower and plain white bias binding. Mum thought the fabric was far too heavy for a Wiksten top, and (surprise, surprise) she was totally right - it didn't drape well, so the not-quite-right fit around the armholes was very obvious. She fixed the problem by demonstrating how to put in some small darts above the bust line - thanks Mum!

I moved on to another pattern for my next sewing adventure, a Fen top in a black linen-cotton blend. Instead of following the pattern's instructions I kind of did my own thing while sewing it up. This worked out very well with the bias binding around the neckline (which is super tidy if I do say so myself):

However, I messed up with the seams - I decided to do French seams again, but didn't realise it would cause problems with the curved underarm seams. Luckily the fabric looks the same on both sides, so I just decided to turn the top inside-out and continue. It's not a mistake, I declare, it's a design decision to have my French seams on the outside. ;)

Again, my fabric was a bit too heavy for the pattern, but I think it looks ok this time. It's certainly a very comfortable, roomy top. I'll be looking out for lighter, drapier fabrics to make more Fen tops the next time I do some sewing.

Learnings:

  • using proper patterns isn't hard or scary
  • I can enlarge a pattern if necessary by looking at the outlines of the other sizes and just drawing one size further 
  • bias binding isn't hard to get nice and tidy (if you use the iron a lot)
  • fabric choice is IMPORTANT - pay attention to the pattern's fabric suggestions, and Mum's warnings
  • French seams are awesome, but not for curved underarm seams
  • linen / linen blends are easy to work with
  • bust darts are my friends 

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I've also been knitting away on a new scarf design which I plan to release in the next week or two, once it's all photographed and polished up. Here's a peek at the scarf-in-progress...

Socks!

I'm in the midst of a sock-knitting phase, brought on partly by the cold weather (we're getting frosts in the mornings!) and partly by the urge to knit up some of my sizeable stash of sock yarn.

I'm a relative beginner at knitting socks, so I've been reading up on how to get a good fit on blogs and the Ravelry forums. I found the Kiwiyarns Knits series of blog posts 'Secrets of the Socks' especially useful (and inspiring, with all the pretty yarn photos). Part 1 is about super-twist sock yarn, Part 2 is about sock structure and fit, and Part 3 is about different kinds of sock yarn, and how hard-wearing they are.

So far I've been using merino/nylon blend yarn from Vintage Purls, double-pointed needles, and simple patterns. The pair I'm currently working on is the most decorative - the stitch pattern isn't just simple stocking stitch - and I think it's a great pattern for variegated yarn: the toe-up version of Scott Base from Sezza Knits.



Today I'm wearing a pair of DK-weight socks, which are lovely and thick and warm. They're Basic Adult Toe-Up Socks, in Vintage Purls Max. The colour is called 'Mauveine', a bright glowing purple! This is my second pair using this pattern/yarn combo - I made my first pair last winter.


Yesterday Dad took some cute photos of me playing with Hazel and showing off my blue stripy socks. These are Super Simple Socks (a free top-down pattern by Tash of HRYC), again in Vintage Purls Sock. I want to make more in higher-contrast stripes - maybe black and yellow bee-stripes. :)






Pick a path

I'm knitting something a bit different at the moment, which is teaching me a lot about the way I knit these days - I've joined in Ysolda's "mystery" knit-along (or KAL), Follow Your Arrow.

The idea of a mystery KAL is that each week, a new "clue" or section of the knitting pattern is released, and the knitters taking part complete that section and share photos. This is the first mystery KAL I've attempted! I got seduced into it by the choose-your-own-adventure aspect: there are 2 options per "clue", and 5 clues in total, so there are 32 possible shawls.
Plus, I'm an Ysolda fangirl, so it was inevitable really. ;)

I'm choosing between the 2 options for each clue by flipping a coin. This is so I don't change my mind a million times, and to preserve the mystery aspect - I don't know quite what's going to emerge from my needles....

Because I don't have any pictures or diagrams of the finished shawl as I'm knitting, I find I really have to pay attention to each set of instructions - I sometimes need to read sentences several times, and compare the charts to the written instructions to be sure of what to do. It shows how much I usually rely on the visual cues when following other patterns. It's kind of like being a beginner again.

This is my shawl with 3 clues completed (and lifelines in place between sections):

Follow Your Arrow by Ysolda, knit in Vintage Purls Sock.

Of course, after looking at everyone else's photos, I really want to knit some of the other options too! My plan is to knit a second shawl, taking the opposite "path" through the options. The two shawls will be knit from the same pattern, but have no elements in common. Pretty cool. :)

'The Twelve Months of Knitting'

Want to know what a year's worth of knitting and crochet looks like? Tash of HRYC posted a photo of her 2013 finished projects in two tidy stacks, and I was curious to see what mine would look like. Folding things tidily is not my forte, so mine's more of a pile... ;)

Finished knit/crochet projects, 2013

I had to double-check with my Ravelry projects page which things were completed this year - there were more than I thought! There are a couple of items not shown, such as the tea-cosy I sent off for the Royal Melbourne Show swap, the tree-cosy for Yarn Corner's Royal Parade project, the yellow circles for their NGV display, and the handlebar-cosies on my bike. And I included my green cardie, which was begun in 2012 but finished this year.

So what's in the pile? All together now:

On the twelfth month of knitting, my needles gave to meee:
One pair of mittens,
Two cutesy cardies,
One cashmere jersey,

Four cooo-zyyy haaats!

Four fancy shawls,
Three woven hearts,
Two woollen birds,
And a pavlova tee-ea cooosyyy!

My First Knitting

Last year Mum & Dad framed my very first dodgy knitting attempt for my birthday present. It's a classic - full of accidental increases and general weirdness! In my defense, I wasn't very old at the time. I think I had intended to make a doll's scarf.

Here it is in all its glory...