Monday, September 26, 2016

Finished Object - Overbury Fliptops

These might just be the coolest (read warmest) most practical things I've ever knitted.

The perfect use for my lovely skein of The Uncommon Thread's Tough Sock yarn, happily purchased on a day out in London with a good friend at Loop London, and finished with two vintage fabric buttons from my awesome boss. 

The pattern, by Lydia Gluck, is in the first issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. It's really well written and a nice alternative to knitting a pair of socks. Highly recommend!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Equilibrium Cardigan - deadlines met

I really underestimated how long it would take to property finish this cardigan. I met my deadline with the knitting, and started seaming the shoulders to the back on Friday night. That took a while, but I figured the sleeves would be relatively quick to do. So on Saturday, I sat out in the sunshine and set in the sleeves. It took me four hours. I had to unpick the sleeve seams a few times to try and make them as tidy as possible. The pattern is really well written, but one thing I think it would benefit from is instructions on the best way to do all of the seams. I kind of guessed my way through and I think it looks okay, but I'm sure I could have done a better job with a bit of guidance from the designer, to see what techniques she used.

Evening though it took a while, I was okay with it. All I had to do then was pick up stitches for the front and neckband ribbing and knit like eight rows. Except that it was 400 more stitches (way more than I expected) and another couple of hours. Saturday night was consumed by Netflix and Knit, which I'm totally cool with, but I had hoped to at least get it washed and on a blocking mat on Saturday, to give it as much drying time as possible.

By midnight, it was all done. 
I gave it a bath and soak this morning, and had it out in the sunshine to make the most of the extremely good spring weather we're currently having. Once dry, I spent a good hour weaving in the final ends and I'm happy with the result. 

I've only ever used Outlaw Yarns' Vanitas DK for accessories before, but I will definitely be using it again for garments. It is so incredibly soft and warm, without feeling too heavy. The pattern, by Gina Rockenwagner for Pompom Quarterly Issue 16, was really well written and clear. Aside from the seaming questions I have, I found the pattern easy to follow and I'd recommend it to others. 

I'm sure this is going to get a lot of wear. I can see it being worn to work and on the weekends, and I'm expecting it to become a staple in the wardrobe. Given it's a bit pink, this is quite odd for me, but as spring is coming and pastels become a big deal, this can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Spring schedule for a winter cardigan

We're six days into spring and it's suddenly dawned on me that the winter cardigan is a bit late to completion. Luckily, I work in an office with air-con that likes to run cold and the wind is still a bit chilly, but I'm determined to finish my Equilibrium before the new season gets really underway.

I've given myself a schedule. Today is Tuesday. 
I've finished the body and one sleeve. I've taken the opportunity to knit at any spare moment, like on the train on Sunday - see above - I'm going to cast on the second sleeve as soon as this post is done, and I intend to have it finished on Thursday.
That gives me Friday evening to knit the ribbed plackets and set in the sleeves and funny shoulder bit, and then the weekend to wash, block and dry. If I really struggle, I'll give myself a bit of Saturday to do the seaming. I'm one of those people who needs a bit of a deadline to get things finished, so Sunday it is. I'm not allowed to start sewing anything until this is done. This is a good incentive!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Latest sewing make - Papercut Patterns' Moana top

Something very cool has happened. Last weekend I made something without making any mistakes. As someone who is still quite nervous about sewing, this is a very big deal!

+ this new toy

+ my great Liberty fabric find
= my new favourite top for work!

I've long admired Papercut Patterns from afar, often tempted by the beautiful packaging and really clean, stylish designs that would work so well with the rest of my wardrobe.
For a long time though, and we're talking years, I've always been too scared to buy. The finished products by other makers always looked so amazing, and the designs always looked so professional, that I figured the skills to make such awesome garments would be unattainable. 

This was until I got back from my big trip, armed with some lovely fabric, and a commitment to take my sewing to the next level. For me a big part of this is investing in the tools I need to really make a go of sewing. For my first year or so, I was very fortunate to use the Sew Love Lounge before it closed and use all of the amazing tools there. I had my mum's sewing machine to use, and it's great, but without an overlocker I knew that eventually all of the clothes I was making would eventually fall apart due to the lack of good finishing. 

I had a bit of money left over in the travel fund, so I took the plunge and purchased a four thread overlocker. And it was so worth the investment. At the same time I ordered the Moana Dress pattern, finally feeling equipped to make it. 

I learnt three new things with this make, techniques that I've never done before, and I was really happy that I took my time, figured them out and ended up with a nice finish.

First up was sewing in a full facing. I've always gone for a bias binding finish because it just looked easier, and in a way, it is. A facing requires more fabric, and this insane technique to sew the armholes up - rolling everything into a 'burrito' and wrapping the facing around it, then sewing a seam without stitching all the fabric rolled in the middle. I'm terrible at explaining it, but luckily, Papercut are excellent. The instructions were really simple and clear, with good diagrams. This is something I really appreciate in a pattern, because there are lots of gaps in my sewing knowledge and usually I just need a technique explained in really simple terms. 

Next was an exposed zipper. I've never attempted an invisible zipper because I don't have the right foot for my sewing machine, so I was relieved that an exposed zipper didn't require a shopping trip for another type of zipper foot. I managed to install the zipper on the first go (my last attempt took at least seven tries) and I'm very happy with the result. I think it looks clean and if you have a nice zipper, why not show it off? I also think it's a bit easier than installing a regular zipper, because you can really see what you're doing, rather than having the fabric obscuring it. I also enjoyed hand stitching the facing to the zipper at the end, to finish everything neatly.

And the best thing about this make? Those finished seams!

Yes, I realise the thread is white. I thought about trying to change it, but a couple of things stopped me. 

1 - it was threaded correctly and I didn't want to screw it up by trying to re-thread it the first time I used it for a project.

2 - the seams are on the inside, so really, no one would notice. 

It's so nice to be able to complete a project at home that is neatly finished. I won't have to worry about it falling apart in the washing machine or that it'll start unravelling when I wear it somewhere. I think I might get started on the dress version of this pattern over the weekend, but I also have some knitting to do - just so many options!

Monday, August 29, 2016

A knitter's weekend when KAN isn't an option

This time last year I was recovering from a wonderful weekend at Knit August Nights, one of the annual New Zealand knitting retreats that hosts amazing classes and an indie yarn market. This year though, after having a big trip to Europe, I figured the bank account needed a little rest. So while lots of amazing KAN photos filled up my Instagram and Facebook feeds, I took a bit of time to have my own crafty weekend.

I'm officially over half way through my Overbury Fliptops. I've finished fliptop number one and the cuff of fliptop two. I've decided these mitts are the pinnacle of genius. I mean, they keep your hands warm, but they're also smartphone suitable, which is a real bonus. I'm enjoying the slip stitch cuff which is keeping the knitting interesting, and the biggest issue I've had so far is what buttons to add to secure the fliptop down when I'm using said smartphone... 

I'm using The Uncommon Thread's tough sock yarn that I bought at Loop in London, and it's so lovely to knit with. I've lost the skein band, but I think the colourway is Peat and it's one of those greys that will go with everything. We're in for another cold snap in Auckland this week, so I'm going to do my best to finish them very soon.

And I've also made a lot of good progress on my Equilibrium cardigan. Yes, you do see a Pom Pom Quarterly theme here. Both of these projects have come from different issues of the magazine, and as part of my Stash Less challenge, I'm trying to knit from patterns I already own, rather than buying more. Luckily my Pom Pom subscription comes with a very inspirational range of great patterns.

This is a simple stocking stitch knit, but the mix of increases and decreases into an X shape are giving it a really modern edge that will go with a lot of my wardrobe. I'm loving the Outlaw Yarn Vanitas DK for this project. I've knitted accessories with it before, but this is going to make for one luxurious caridgan that's going to be pretty versatile once finished. I still have to finish the back and the sleeves, and I need to watch a couple of how-to videos to remember how to proceed with the upcoming short-row section for the back. 

I also did a bit of sewing this weekend too, but more on that later in the week.
I really enjoyed taking the time to reconnect with my knitting after being away and then catching up on everything after my return. Sometimes it takes a little while to get back on top of everything and be able to find the space to reengage with projects. I definitely got the time to do that this weekend, and I'm feeling like I'm back on track! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Paris knitting

Although I had intended to do some knitting while I was away, honestly all I managed was one inch of a cuff for a mitten. I decided to spend most of my time exploring, and making the most of being in an amazing place, and just change focus for a bit. But I did manage to find some treasures. Like Lil Weasel, where I got my hands on a skein of Hedgehog Fibres for the first time. This is such a beautiful little shop inside on of Paris' beautiful passages with independent art and gift shops.

It wouldn't be a visit to Paris without a quick brunch at L'Oisive Thé, which is the most adorable knitting shop / cafe that I've visited. We need one of these in my neighbouthood. Here I treated myself to a skein of Blue Moon Fibres Sock.

I have broken a rule with these skeins - I don't have a plan for them at all. It could be more socks or if combined with some other stuff, maybe a shawl, but I'm really pleased to have a couple of souvenirs from my trip, no matter what they end up being.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A tour with Stitching Up Paris

One of the highlights of my trip to Paris was a tour with the lovely Barbara of Stitching Up Paris. And it was like going fabric shopping with a close friend, someone I've known for a long time!

I've already raved about the book in numerous blog posts, but there is nothing better than being shown around by a local. Barbara took me around lots of beautiful fabric shops in the Sentier and the Bastille, and Filles du Calvaire, and while I was quite restrained with my shopping, it was incredible to see the variety of shops and different fabrics. The possibilities are actually endless here.

I was a bit silly and didn't take note of every shop we visited, but we focussed on fabric. And amazing little craft shops that just sold thread. Like Sajou (above). Oh my goodness, just heaven.

And I'm still trying to remember where I took this photo. I'm in love with the patterns and want to order them online (suitcase restrictions limited my purchasing) and of course, the photo is too blurry for me to figure out what the brands are... any ideas?

Here are my purchases from my tour, from General Diff and Tissu Market. Typically, they are all in my favourite colours, and both the checks are three metre coupons, so there is a lot of opportunity here. A huge thank you to Barbara for an amazing afternoon!