Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beam Me Up...

...Scotty -- a slouchy tam from Anne Hanson of Knitspot.  Knit in some Koigu PPPM (Painter's Palette Premium Merino), a fingering weight 100% wool, 175 yards per 50 g. skein.  The price on the label was only $8.50 (US), so it's obviously been in the stash for a while!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Plain Vanilla

Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, just a plain vanilla cowl necked pullover. 

Stats:  Yarn:  Louet Sales Natural Cotton Boucle, 100% cotton, Aran weight, 150 yards per 100 g. skein.  Purchased many moons ago -- possibly from Elann??  Pattern for sweater body generated by Sweater Wizard (raglan sleeves, no waist shaping, round neckline).  I hadn't used this program (for me) for quite a while, and I had forgotten that I find the armhole depth to be too long for my taste.  I think (hope?) that I can get away with it here in this heavier yarn, but NOTE TO SELF:  shorten those armholes next time!

The ribbing (Twin Rib, Barbara Walker, Second Treasury) is hand knit.  This yarn languished in the stash for years because I just couldn't think of an interesting pattern to use it for.  It was swatched five ways from Sunday, but in the end -- simple is best.  My hands refuse to hand knit cotton yarn for larger projects, so the body of this was done on the LK-150 -- a great little hobby machine which handled this heavier-than-I-should-have-attempted-on-a-mid-gauge like the champion it is, although I know it would have preferred a DK weight wool -- next time sweetie, I promise!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A "Quick" Knit

One good thing about moving, you never know when some forgotten project bobs back up to the surface.  I had two pieces of this sweater completed (except for ribbing) when it got shoved into a project bag and ... nothing, totally ignored for months.

Time to get this one done, and into the finished column.  This was a machine knit project, and naturally I had neglected to label my nice big swatch with the machine settings I used to achieve the gauge of the original pieces.  Amazingly though I did have the Sweater Wizard generated pattern I was working from -- small victories.  At any rate, taking a guess (and crossing my fingers) I went with my best estimate.  Whew, must be a good guesser, as it worked out to be a matching gauge.

Specs:  Machine Knit (Silver Reed LK-150) drop shouldered pullover worked in Silk City Fibers Stretch Cotton, color Blue Jeans.  Waist, sleeve and neckline ribbing handknit in a K2, P2 rib.

Sizing cotton sweaters tends to be a real headache for me -- make it exactly  the finished dimensions you require then watch it sag and grow.  I'm hopeful the little bit of Lycra in this yarn will help with that -- we'll see. 

I was working with two cones of this yarn, and still have a good bit left -- wonder if Mr. Monty would like a hoodie to match?

Friday, October 18, 2013


All assembled, and ready to be put away as cooler weather approaches -- Dansez, from the book "Knit to Flatter" by Amy Herzog.  Knit in Silk City Fibers Stretch Cotton, color Sand. 

Alterations:  neckline brought up a bit higher, and short row bust darts made, in addition to the vertical bust darts called for in the pattern.

  This pattern is a scoop neck, three-quarter length sleeved pullover with set in sleeves.  Worked in stockinette stitch, with a simple lace pattern at the hip and lower sleeve.  The neckline has a simple rolled edge finish.  Knit in pieces (back, front and sleeves) and sewn together.  Actually, I used a crocheted chain stitch to join the pieces, as I wasn't sure about sizing, and I thought it would be easy to 'unzip' the seams and re-do if necessary.  The fit seemed fine, and the seams looked good, so the crocheted seams stayed.  I love when things work out that way!

As can be surmised from its title, Amy's book is all about fit -- by identifying our particular body type, then choosing styles that will best flatter each type (she profiles three types --  top-heavy, bottom-heavy and proportional).  She gives instructions for techniques to customize to your individual shape, and there are patterns for sweaters -- geared to each of her three types.  I haven't studied the book well enough to give an in-depth review, but I have liked what I've seen so far.  I think it would certainly be helpful to any knitter who is interested in customizing, and adding shape, to their knitwear. 

Amy favors what she calls vertical bust dart shaping -- basically the front is knit wider than the back at the bust (hip and waist measurements remain the same), but she also covers how to do short row bust darts.  I like that she advises waist shaping done in the interior of the pieces, rather than at the edges, a technique I first encountered in a Lily Chin class years ago -- it's a sleeker look I think.  At any rate, take a look at this book if you are at all interested in learning some basic fitting techniques for knits.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Did you ever have a project that stalled for the silliest of reasons?  Yeah, I thought so.  I have had this little cardigan knitted up since the end of August, and it has languished on top of the cedar chest because I just couldn't bring myself to work in the ends.  All fourteen of them.  I know, I know,  I'm just a sloth.

The pattern is Brynna, by Chic Knits.  The yarn used was Rowan Wool Cotton, a 50/50 blend of merino wool and cotton.  Put up in 50 g. balls, 123 yards per ball.  This yarn was an absolute delight to knit, and I kind of wish I had more.  Kind of, because I am still trying to find a place for all the containers of yarn that made the move.  Discontinued color, which I thought was a lovely caramel brown, but apparently the folks at Rowan called it pumpkin.  I just can't get away from orange, even when I try.  Body was lengthened and sleeves were made longer than the pattern's cap sleeves, but shorter than the 3/4 length pattern variation.  I made it to work as a little transitional topper, and I think it fits the bill. 

Waiting on the sidelines -- Dansez Pullover from the book "Knit To Flatter" by Amy Herzog.  The knitting portion of the program is done, and it lies in four pieces, waiting to be seamed together and the ends run in.  It was knit from a coned yarn (Stretch Cotton by Silk City Fibers) so it probably doesn't have more than 14 ends to run in either -- so we'll see how long it takes me to get around to that one.  I'm hoping publicly mentioning it is done except for assembly will embarrass me into actually doing it.  Ha!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wearin' O' the Green

OK, it's not March, but green has jumped to the forefront here at Mingling Yarn.  First up:  a crochet summer cardigan.  This is one of my own 'designs' -- which basically means I plugged a couple of simple stitch patterns into a very basic shape.  The yarn is an oldie from the stash - Italy Baby by Plymouth Yarn.  It's 100% cotton in a fingering weight.  The sleeves are 3/4 length and done in a simple mesh stitch.  The body of the cardigan is another simple stitch from a Japanese stitch compendium - Crochet Patterns Book 300.

Then we have a jaunty green beret.  This one is from ancient stash.  Koigu KPPPM (Painter's Palette Premium Merino) plus some coordinating KPM (Koigu Premium Merino).  The top is done in the KPPPM, the underside in the solid(ish) color.  This is a pattern from Interweave Crochet, Winter 2008 - Pinwheel Beret.  The only modification I made was to make the 'plate' portion a bit bigger than the pattern called for - in other words I increased more than called for.  Dead easy pattern that gives a nice result.  It was a bit of a bore, doing all that sc, but I worked on it during the move, so boring fit the bill.
Here's a view of the underside -

Friday, August 9, 2013


...in one of those boxes is the fabric I want for a pair of Style Arc Barbara pants that I would like to sew.  Guaranteed that it will be in the very last box that I look in. 

Phase II of the move has been completed, and there are now only 60+ boxes left to unpack.  Piece o' cake!  Finding a place to actually put the stuff from those boxes -- not so easy.  Sigh.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A New Beginning

Getting settled in the new digs -- and here's the space where the sewing/crafting magic will happen (or not).  The former owner had an office space here, as is probably evident.  Not entirely conducive to good sewing ergonomics, but it will do for now.  Still many items from the old sewing room to be transported to the new, but I have enough here now to start sewing. 

In an attempt to ease back into the sewing groove I'm starting out with a Style Arc pattern, Gorgeous Gore Skirt.  Only two pattern pieces (cut multiple times, of course) and fabricated from an ITY knit -- just the thing for cool, effortless sewing.  Photos to follow.

Monday, June 17, 2013


...is the element in which great things fashion themselves together.  (Thomas Carlyle)

Or, it's what happens when you're trying to fashion a multi-part interstate move!  We're in the thick of it now, but hope to be back to more regular posting soon.

There has been sewing -- Style Arc Willow pants, two separate versions.  There has been knitting -- style number 6 (openwork back tee) from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2013 issue.  There has been crocheting -- a lacy, 3/4 length sleeved cardigan, my own design, done in a lovely spring green cotton.  Alas, no photos of any of it -- hopefully once we're settled in the new place. 

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this thought -- use up that stash!  Whether it's fabric or yarn -- it's a real pain in the *@#* to box up and move all that stuff.    Keep cool, keep stitching, and we'll see you in Maryland.  :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Once more, with feeling

Once again, the Style Arc Stacie jean jacket.  Fabric is a cotton pique from Gorgeous Fabrics.  Cuffs, collar and flaps are faced with a Liberty Tana lawn print.  Snaps are from Snap Source.

This is version 4 -- not pictured previously is one in red twill that was made for my youngest daughter.  And now, Stacie will be retired, at least until next year.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Heartbeat Redux

I wasn't sure I really wanted to post this, but just in case there is a lesson here for someone else...

Quite a while ago I knit this sweater, a design from Just One More Row.  I had some frustrations with it -- all concerning the fit.  It's actually a very easy sweater to knit.  Here's the deal -- this is presented as a pattern that can be made in any size, any gauge.  To quote the instruction booklet "This unusual sweater begins at the center neckline and is knitted out to any size.  Vertical side panels fine-tune the fit."  Yardage information is provided for knitting a yarn at 5 st per inch in sizes ranging from 32" to 64".  There is a photo of a cute little top, shown on a flat mannequin (uh oh, could that be a clue?). 

So, here's my beef:  Yes, you probably can knit this sweater to a circumference of 64".  But will it fit any other aspect of your body, without adaptation, except the circumference?  Will it look like the photo illustration?  Because here's the thing -- this sweater is built geometrically.  As it increases in width, it increases in depth.  Unlike most human bodies.  Those of you who sew, and wear larger sizes, may be nodding your head about now.  How often have you lamented the fact that sewing patterns are (mostly) graded this way?  Just because you need extra circumference doesn't mean you are also 6 feet  tall.  And just because you need extra girth you may not need the extra length between your shoulder and bust or waist.

The first time I knit this sweater I knit it with positive ease.  A family of four could have lived in it comfortably.  My mistake, and one I make frequently -- adding too much ease.  This version has negative ease.  Its total circumference is 36".   That's not tiny, but it's also not incredibly large, as modern chest sizes go.  And yet -- even at 36" -- it was way too deep at the neckline for (my) wearing comfort.  The designer suggests working additional neckline edging to counteract this problem.  My neckline edging is 4 times wider than that shown in the pattern photo.  Due to my narrow shoulders, I would really prefer it to be wider, but it was beginning to look disproportionate to me so I stopped.

So, what did I learn?  Besides the fact that once a design has slapped me around I should probably not ask for a re-match?  Well, I think I can reliably say that this design is probably not meant (as shown) for those of narrow shoulders and larger bust -- unless you like the look of a yoked sweater -- because that's how deep that neckband is going to be.  And if you need a sweater with a circumference  that's a bit larger?  Be prepared to do some adapting to fill in those front and back necklines.  Unless, of course, you like a navel-revealing look!

Sigh, when will I learn?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

And then...

So, we survived four days without full power -- two days with partial power from a generator, then two days with zip when the generator went toes up -- and then we decided it was an excellent time to do this:

That's a laundry room after cabinet/counters/sink removal.  And that has proceeded with the usual home renovation fun (insert hysterical laughter here), but I'm sure it will be totally worth it when complete.  And if I say that enough it will surely be true.

But we can't let minor inconveniences get in the way of sewing fun!  And finally, after much dithering around, I got a spring version of Style Arc's Stacie jean jacket finished:

Not modeled, sorry, but then you've seen the autumn version worn, and it fits just the same.  Fabric is a stretch denim, in a lovely shade of green -- how on trend!  Closures are antique copper colored snaps (size 20) from SNAP SOURCE.  As mentioned, pattern is from STYLE ARC, Stacie Jean Jacket.  It is beautifully drafted, and sews together easily.  I took issue with a couple of directions, but I don't want to say they are wrong, just that they puzzled me.  First was the direction to sew the collar pieces together and then top stitch them before sewing to the neck.  I'm not sure how you can easily sew the undercollar to the neck edge along its entire length if it has topstitching already done -- perhaps there's an industry secret I don't know -- but in any case, I top stitched after affixing the collar to jacket.  Also, I couldn't figure out just what was expected to be done to finish off the front facing at the collar edge.  Could have asked Style Arc, they are very responsive to customers, but instead I just turned down the raw edge and sewed it down as I was sewing down the inside collar edge.  Worked, looks fine, no raw edges, happy sewist. 

There has been knitting, but due to 2 million (I exaggerate; it's only 50,000) ends needing worked in it isn't ready for its close up.  This was a re-visit to a former nemesis -- the Heartbeat sweater from Just One More Row.  I think I have ended up with a wearable sweater.  Not sure if I want to go through with explanations of my continuing issues with the math behind this one, but photos will follow. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

And Central Virginia Grinds to a Halt

Things I am thankful for today -- a generator, even though it only supplies partial power to the house, at least we have some heat and running water -- power has been out since sometime in the middle of the night, and not likely to be restored until tomorrow at the earliest.  Pray the propane holds out!

Also grateful for Internet access -- and most importantly -- Blue Bell Banana Pudding ice cream in the freezer! 

Stay warm and safe!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


That was a lot of knitting, but Lido is finished -- I was hoping to get it done before the end of February and I made it (just barely).

Still too chilly and grey for a modeled shot, but done, done, done.  Actually though, I still am puzzling a bit over the closure.  The pattern calls for I-cord ties affixed to the front edges, but I don't see how they fasten that way in any way except having the front edges meet.  However, the accompanying photo shows it being worn with the fronts overlapped, and that is how I want to be able to wear it -- otherwise it looks boxy and a bit big.  I have a feeling the solution may involve sewing a couple of snaps, so perhaps I am not entirely done, done, done.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Style Arc Stacie

On the sewing front I'm getting ready for spring by trying out a jean jacket pattern from Style Arc -- I'm planning on making it in a nice bright color for spring, but wanted to check the fit before cutting into my lovely orange fabric.  Luckily I had some nice stretch corduroy on hand which will work well in my wardrobe next autumn.

After measuring the pattern, I thought it wise to give myself a little extra room in the bust and the hip area.  The shoulders generally fit well for me in Style Arc patterns, so I left that as it was, and the waist seemed to be good also.  Basically, I felt I needed a FBA (full bust adjustment) and just a scootch more room around the hips.  Adding to the side seams of front and back pieces by tapering out from the waist to about 1/4 inch from the hip gave me a much appreciated extra inch.  The FBA was made by adding slightly to two of the lower front pieces -- again, tapering to nothing at the waist.  The front yoke piece remained the same size.  I think it worked fairly well, and the jacket can be comfortably worn closed should I ever want to. 

Fasteners are from Snap Source -- I used the size 20 (1/2 inch or 13 mm) caps in the antique brass finish.  I really like the ease of applying these snaps, and they come in a wide range of colors. 

This time, the fabric was so 'springy' and thick that I had a little trouble keeping it from shifting while I placed the middle layer of the snap tool on the fabric.  Luckily, I discovered that a pencil could hold the fabric steady while I was doing that, and because the middle layer has a pencil sized hole in it I could keep the fabric held down until everything was securely in place.  Worked a charm.

And here's the jacket being worn, but before I had applied the snaps --

 I think it will be a nice layer for changeable spring weather -- once again, Style Arc comes through!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Anticipating Spring

It's a raw, dreary day, and there's still plenty of winter left I'm sure.  Nonetheless, it's time to put aside the woolen fabric and yarn and look forward to warmer days.

I'm usually caught still finishing up winter projects once the nicer weather rolls around, but this year will be different.  To wit: 
Lido, a light little wrap from Hanne Falkenberg.  I don't expect to wear it quite like the model shown, but I think it will be a handy layer for warmer weather.
This is knit in Hanne's own line of yarn, in the same fresh green as the model.  I'm working it on US size 2 needles (2.75 m) at a gauge of 100 stitches to 4 inches -- no, no, that's just some knitting humor -- it's really knit at 28 stitches and 54 rows per 4 inch (10 cm) swatch.  Since I'm not a spectacularly fast knitter I expect it may well be warm enough to wear it by the time I'm done.  Here's where I am now:
Roughly 2 inches or so into the lower eyelet portion of the top -- one sleeve has been picked up and knit, one sleeve still has stitches waiting for pick up.  As you can tell, it's knit seamlessly (mostly) from the top down.  While it was a little discouraging when all 1,000,000 stitches - fronts, sleeves, and back - were on the needle, things are going a bit faster now that I am only working on the fronts/back. 
One aspect of it is speeding by though.  It has two 33 cm (roughly 13 inches) I-cord ties called for to fasten the fronts.  Ordinarily working 26 inches of I-cord on such small needles would not be my most favorite thing, but this little gadget made quick work out of it --
It's a simple little I-cord machine, The Embellish Knit.  A tiny little 4 stitch circular knitting machine that does only one thing - I-cord - with only a couple of weights of yarn (fingering or sport, basically), but it does that one thing like a champion -- cranking out my 26" of I-cord in about 5 minutes.  In the photo you can see a wee little tail of I-cord coming out of the bottom of the machine.  Normally the weight (it's a clothespin with metal bits inside!) would be attached to the cord itself, but for photographic purposes I removed it.  Does anyone need such a Johnny One Note gadget?  Nope, not at all -- but I sure am glad I had it!
I've started Spring sewing too, but that's a story for another day...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ultrasuede Challenge

Recently, our ASG neighborhood group had a little challenge -- use thrifted Ultrasuede garments to make a purse, or bag.  One of our members had collected garments over the years, and brought some in for us to look through and purchase, if desired.  I picked out an olive green Ultrasuede Facile skirt, and also a heavier weight lime green wrap skirt.  For a grand total of $10 -- who wouldn't snap that up?

I had some scraps of Ultrasuede from another project that I added to it to come up with this small bag --

There was plenty of fabric left over, so I went with a jaunty beret --
Here's a close up of the small bow and button trim:

And there's still more left -- but that's for another day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To start the year...

...off right -- a little sewing, a little knitting.

I've mentioned a time or two that I really like Style Arc, so when I feel like I need a little instant sewing gratification you'll most often find me there.  This time I went with their drape-front cardigan, Nina. 

The fabric is a rayon/poly blend (I think!) from Sewing Workshop, and my preference is to wear it belted.  It's an easy-to-wear layer, and was quick and easy to make.  I did not follow the pattern suggestion to serge finish the front and bottom edges.  Instead I used a binding on the front edge, and a narrow hem on the bottom and sleeve edges.  Otherwise, it's a 'straight from the envelope' make.

The knitting is a sweater from the Ann Budd book "The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters" -- Feather and Fan Flare.  It's knit from the top (natch!) with a circular seamless yoke.  The yarn used is Tahki Stacy Charles Zara.  I don't often knit sweaters seamlessly, so I was interested to see how I'd like using this method.  All in all, it went quite well.  My only complaints are that it gets a bit heavy towards the end, and I really miss having a place to hide my joins, especially when using a yarn that can't take a felt-splice.  As for sizing, I went crazy and went down a size which meant I was dealing with negative ease, but I think it all worked out fairly well.   I tend to end up with sweaters that are just a scootch too large, so this time I forced myself to go smaller.  It was a struggle though --although I tried it on as I was knitting it (which is a nice feature of top-down!) I still could not accept that it wouldn't be too small until it was washed and blocked and I had my final try on.  So, hopefully a lesson learned.

I've made a little progress with the hat blocking -- it has had sizing applied and been steamed into shape on the hat form.  You can see it below -- off the hat form and resting on a Styrofoam head. I may have gone a little overboard with the gelatin sizing.  I think perhaps a lining would be appropriate in the crown section to keep hair/sizing apart.  This was totally meant as a learning experience though, so I'm not going to worry about it.  If you can tell from the photo, it now needs to have excess felt trimmed away from the brim.  That edge will be turned under and hand stitched.  I'll also be learning how to 'swirl' or curve the grosgrain ribbon band into shape in order to insert it where the crown and brim meet.  Hand stitching doesn't come easy to me, so it will probably take a while to get those things done.  Then the fun begins -- decorative trims.  It will be interesting to try out a few new (to me) ribbon embellishments or feather trims.  More later!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


...I took a little break -- ah, how refreshing!

But now it's a new year, with new things to accomplish.  I've been enjoying all the "resolutions" type posts around the 'net, but not going to go there myself.  I often wish I was more productive, or at least produced things that actually work together -- collections, if you will -- but the plain fact is that I do this (sewing, knitting, crochet, whatever) for fun, not necessity.  So, fun will often lead me down impractical paths -- but it's a lot more enjoyable than having "shoulds" and "have to" hanging over my head.  Which brings me to --

Hats!  Love them, and am trying to make them more a part of my daily life, and now I seem to have a need to actually make them.  You've seen the sewn ones I've done recently, but now I'd like to try actually molding one on a form.  I'm hoping I come out with something wearable from this --

a hat form
A wool felt "hood"
                          and this --

Not too keen on working with toxic chemicals, so I'm going to try a gelatin sizing.  That might make for some interesting hair should I get caught in the rain, but it's probably better than going mad as a hatter.  I'll be using the book Hats, by Sarah Cant for some guidance.  It doesn't 'seem' to be terribly complicated, but we'll see what choice words I'm saying when I'm smack dab in the middle of it!
Updates as I go along, but now it's time to fire up the steamer!