Thursday, January 24, 2013

To start the year... 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!