Thursday, 16 October 2014

finishing glory - new look 6356

This shirt was cut out in May to be sewn together over the summer. You see, I had a break from my weekly sewing workshop to do out door summery things. And it seemed like a good idea to treat myself to some wonderful Liberty lawn to make a wonderful summer top. Something simple, that would only take a couple of hours on a rainy day. It was a good idea, but it didn't rain much this summer, so not much sewing.

I've made this pattern a couple of times now. Actually I've made Simplicity 8523 and New Look 6356, but if you lay the pattern pieces on top of each other they are the same. I love this pattern because it lets a stunning print do all the talking. And I can wear these shirts on formal occassions, and as everyday wear. The previous versions are starting to fade, which just shows how often they are going through the washing machine. I had thought about saving them for 'best', but came to my senses and treated myself to the one metre of fabric it takes to make a new one.

The problem with the previous versions is that the hem tends to sit on top of my bottom, so that they look wrinkled around the waist. This time I added some extra space at the hips. The front piece fitted well; so I took the back piece, and added 1 cm on the side seam and 1cm on to the centre back seam at the hips. This gave me a total of 4 cm extra width around the rear. The shirt still tends to ride up a little over my bum, but not as badly as it used to.

I also tried using french seams on this shirt. They are a little on the chunky side because I was nervous about enclosing the raw edge. For a straightish seam with a thin fabirc this makes a beautiful finish, and is no more effort than overlocking both edges to press open. I did try french seaming the sleeves. It was a complete disaster. I find setting in a sleeve challenging. I'd forgotten that, and french seaming them was just a thing to far for me. In the end I seamed them in normally and overlocked. Unfortunately I'd lost some of the seam allowance through my french seaming endeavours. There are still some annoying wrinkles round the top sleeve, but I'm putting those down as a learning experience.

The pattern calls for a facing at the neck, and a keyhole opening at the back of the neck. I can get the shirt on easily without the keyhole opening, so I used bias binding to finish the neck and the sleeves. Taking the time to hand stitch the bias binding rather than top stitching was really worth while. I love the finish. The hem shaping was drafted by hand, and finished with bias binding too.

Mostly I'm really pleased with this, but I have made a mental note to take my time next time I do a set in sleeve.

What sewing techniques challenge you?


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

majacraft little gem - all the accessories

Are you the sort of person who gets a gadget, and wants all the accessories to go with it? I'm not. I don't bling my phone, or buy loads of fancy gizmos for my tablet. And I hate dangly things that don't do anything, especially keyrings. I prefer simple gadgets with all the functions I want built in. In that respect Little Gem has been perfect for me. It does most of the things straight out of the bag. Why then do I just want all the accessories? Maybe not all the accessories, but definately all the flyer kits. The only thing stopping my ordering every flyer and whorl, is that they will be SO much cheaper to buy when I'm actually in New Zealand. We're talking about 25% cheaper, so worth the wait.

This has actually been a great rationaliser. Rather than just buying the whole lace flyer kit, complete with bobbins, I've really thought about the parts I need right now. The fast whorl was the first thing I ordered, and it has lived on the wheel ever since it arrived. But spinning finer yarns has created another problem. They tend to catch on the standard sliding hook that comes with the delta flyer. I was tossing up whether to buy the lace flyer kit, or the fine flyer kit, when I realised you can get the ceramic insert e-hook all on its own.

Mum very carefully packaged this little gizmo up, and posted it over to me. It seems to have solved all my fine spinning problems. To the point where I'm wondering if I need all the accessories after all.


Friday, 10 October 2014

finishing glory - needle work

I Instagrammed the other day, that this was the first thing I'd embroidered since Brownies in the eighties. Then I wandered into the spare room, and spotted the sashiko cushion. Has there been some other needle work in the last three decades that I've forgotten? Perhaps I just have needlework amnesia.

If you fancy one of these wee creatures for yourself go and check out Kiriki Press. The gang over there are so delightful, you'll probably want one of each. All the kits are clearly labeled with a skill level. This kit was skill level two. At first I wondered if I'd been a bit ambitious, but those needlecraft lessons for Brownies eventually came flooding back. The instruction sheet that comes with the kit has all the basic information you'd expect. There is a comprehensive guide on the Kiriki Press website. By comprehensive, I mean that a beginner could get going without any other instruction.

I'm actually quite excited about all kinds of needle work at the moment. What should the next challenge be?


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

finishing glory - carridale flax experiment

After all my swatching with these yarns, I wanted to see if the difference between these yarns would be obvious in a stitch pattern. The short answer is no, it isn't. I alternated yarns for each row of this hat, and put both in the pom pom. I can't tell the difference at all.

I am very happy with the hat though, so here are the details about that.

The pattern is Barley by Tin Can Knits. Well, that's where the numbers came from anyway. My guage was 22 stitches over 10cm on 4mm needles, and I used 50 grams of yarn. This is in the toddler size.

The 2x2 rib is knitted on 3.5mm needles, and I followed these directions for the tubular cast on. The slip stitch pattern on the body of the hat goes like this:

Rows 1 and 3: Knit.

Row 2: Purl 1, slip 1 wyib.

Row 4: Slip 1, purl 1

I just carried on the slip stitch pattern till I was bored with it. I love the hat, but really can't think of a recipient who's parents will appreciate a hand wash only garment. Oops.

The model is the terrimundi we keep in the bathroom to collect all the foreign coins that come home in the Hairy Man's pockets.


Monday, 6 October 2014

about a yarn - blacker designs corridale with flax

This is a yarn that has been loitering about in my basket for a couple of months now. It's one that really intregued me from the moment I first saw it over at the Blacker website. In the end I gave in and bought a couple of balls just out of curiousity. The yarn is Pure Corridale Wool with 10% Flax. Yes, flax. It's not often you see this fibre combination. Strike that. It's not ever you see this fibre combination, and I was intregued to see what the flax would bring to the party. The yarn also comes woollen spun and worsted spun, which is another option I've never seen before. Both yarns are double knitting, and come in 50g balls.

I made two samples with each yarn, using two different needles sizes, and came out with a different guage for each swatch. (I wont bore you with pictures of all four, because, frankly, it would just look like a load of knitted squares.) Using 3.5mm and 4mm needles I came out with guages of 23 stitches and 21 stitches for the worsted yarn, and 22 stitches and 19 stitches for the woollen yarn. I liked both guages for the worsted yarn, the swatch on larger needles had a lovely drape to it. In the woollen yarn, I wasn't fussed on the swatch made using the larger needle size. It looked fine flat, but I think it would open out a bit much for my liking when warn.

(Woollen top, worsted bottom.)

Some of you might be wondering what all this talk about woollen and worsted yarns is all about, so here is my potted version. Firstly, it has nothing to do with the thickness of the yarn, or the guage at which it knits up. Both of these yarns are a DK weight. It does have to do with fibre preparation and spinning techniques. Fibre for worsted yarns is combed, so that the fibres are parallel, and kept under tension as it is spun. These yarns tend to be smooth, lusterous, and have good stitch definition. In woollen yarns the fibre is carded, a little like using a hair brush rather than a comb. The individual fibre is all jumbled up and at odd angles, so the yarn tends to have more air trapped in it as it is spun. Woollen yarns tend to be light, lofty, and have a little halo. They are also a little less durable. If you start talking to spinners, you'll find that woollen and worsted are the ends of a spectrum. There are endless possibilities for yarn construction in between these two antithesis'. If you are interested in the structure of your yarn, go and look out The Knitter's Book of Wool.

The qualities of these spinning styles is obvious when you handle the swatches. I hope you can see some of the differences in the photo above. The swatch at the top is woollen spun, and the swatch below is worsted.

You might wonder what the flax brings to this yarn. In all honestly, so was I. The Blacker site says they were trying to achieve a lighter more summery yarn. I think they have, especially with the worsted spun version. Most books I've consulted discuss linen, and I did wonder if the flax in this yarn hadn't been processed as much as linen. It certainly doesn't seem to add any extra strength to the yarn, as it snaps as easily as most other pure wool yarns. Linen is supposed to be good for wicking moisture. I'm afraid I haven't gone so far as to develope some sort of armpit trial to test this.

My favourite was the woollen version of this yarn. I would love a cardi made from this to pop on during a cool summer evening. I love the cosy halo of my swatches. If you've knitted with this yarn, I'd love to hear what you thought.

There were left overs after all this swatching. Pop back tomorrow if you want to see what I did with them.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

finishing glory - mini bakery bear

Meet Nils the Micro Bear. Nils is an enigma to me. Knitted toys are just not my thing. There is a box in storage in New Zealand with a partially knitted toy in it. That toy was fiddly, and I never really understoud why you would knit a one. To my mind, they are something you sew. Or crochet, if hooking is your bag.

I was sucked in by the Mr Bakery Bear pattern. He's just so charming. His creator, Kay Jones, is charming too. And my defences were down. I was surrounded by a swag of Drops Alpaca, and suddenly it seemed sensible to knit a toy on 1.75mm needles. If you're considering knitting a Bakery Bear on 1.75mm needles, just don't. I'm still struggling to readjust my eyes so they focus on things in the distance. He is not a difficult knit, and the pattern is very clear. Each piece just slips off the needles in no time, and the making up is not too fiddly. Even as I write this, looking at Nils sitting on the shelf, it is temping to make another one in the same yarn. The alpaca gives him such a lovely soft hailo, and he is charmigly pocket sized. I've been bewitched!

The more I knit with Drops yarns, the more impressed I am. The Alpaca was on special when I bought it. Normally it's £2.90 for a 50g ball. I'm pretty sure it wasn't more than £2 when I ordered it. This yarn is really similar to Artesano Alpaca 4ply, which is usually £4 or £5. Drops has slightly less halo, but the guage and hand are much the same.

Nils' jersey is made from Eden Cottage Pendle, which I discussed here.

I've just realised that there are two balls of Drops Nepal in my stash. It is raining outside, and I'm at home on poorly dog watch. Can I resist the Bakery Bear charm? Can you resist the Bakery Bear charm?



Monday, 29 September 2014

pure wool socks

Just after I hit publish yesterday, I remembered the Wollmeise socks. These were knitted about six years ago, and they look as good now, as the day they were finished. I would go so far as to say that they are holding up better than my Regia socks.

I got my first skeins of Wollmeise just before it became stupidly popular, and hanks were changing hands for $70. Yes, you read that correctly. Somebody actually offered me that much money. It became so hard to get that I am now too scared to knit with that precious twist of yarn. I've since bought more, and am still too scared to use that hank!

This walk through my sock drawer has actually been pretty interesting. Over the long term Wollmeise would have to be my favourite sock yarn to date. The socks I have that contain a man made fibre wear well, but start to feel quite hard over time. These black socks are soft, but not quite a squidgy and cuddly as the ones I showed you yesterday. And they are holding up well to regular wearing. A lot of folk are using this yarn for shawls and things. Maybe I'd use it for an every day cardi, but I can think of nicer yarns to put around my neck.

The other nice thing about Wollmeise is that it is European. No ugly customs or postage charges. And the hanks are 150g. Few, not so hard on the wallet.

Go on, riffle through your sock drawer. What's your favourite sock yarn?