Thursday, June 29, 2006

Introducing denim blues

I started this sock over the weekend. The yarn is a cotton sock yarn that Siow Chin sent me last year. I have been so reluctant to use the yarn for socks for my son because he grows so quickly that it seems like a waste to knit socks for him. I have that little problem when it comes to knitting for him. I keep thinking that he will outgrow everything in no time.

I like how the yarn looks knitted up, reminds me of denim blues. I had wanted to try the toe-up pattern, but didn't feel up to learning anything new at the moment. So I stuck with my trusty Ann Budd recipe. But the sock is not the one in the photo anymore. The photos above were taken on Sunday night. I tried it on him (while he was sleeping) and the cast on edge was tight. I re-started with 4 more stitches and a Norwegian cast on (also called the Twisted German cast on), which Ann Budd recommends as an elastic cast on. Tried it on him again tonight and it is a much better fit. No updated photos because my camera went to the Maldives. Anyway, I have not been knitting much this week. The family driver (husband) is away on a working trip (with the camera), so I have been doing all the driving, hence no knitting. But I did get to work a little on my blue patchwork. Photos when the camera comes back.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sewing lined up

Went through the fabric stash and rounded up those which I already have projects in mind.

Blue leftovers for some kind of small patchwork something.

Cottons for my daughter. I can finally start sewing for her because I found a Japanese book with simple patterns in her size.

Outgrown sweatshirt and denim skirts for reconstructed bags. On the right is a beige canvas and a thick cotton for more bags.

Assortment for myself.

Lonely piece of cotton corduroy for my son.

I did manage to sew my slippery skirt. I'm glad to report that the running stitches held up. The fabric did not slip or slide. Thanks for the tissue tip, I will definitely keep it in mind for the next time. I'll show you the skirt when I complete Autumn Lace. I also sewed my daughter a headband from Heather Bailey's cute pattern.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Slippery skirt & Autumn Lace in progress

I have cut and basted my next bias skirt, but I cannot sew it until I get the right colour thread. What you see in the photo is the wrong side of the satin crepe I'm using. It is proving to be quite slippery. When I was basting the side seams, which is just running stitches, I kept ending up with one side longer than the other when I got to the end. At first, I thought that I had cut the fabric wrongly, but later I realised it was part of the incredible drag down and stretching of a bias cut fluid fabric like this one. In the end, I pinned the 2 sides together and sewed the running stitches with the fabric flat on the floor, instead of on my lap. Will have to see if the running stitches hold the fabric firmly enough for me to machine sew - anyone has any tips for me?

I've been knitting the front of my Autumn Lace. The neckline shaping is taking a lot of time. With every decrease on a lace row, I have to figure out how to do the pattern in a way that will maintain the pattern and keep to the number of stitches I am supposed to have. And when I checked the completed back piece of Autumn Lace, I discovered that I am short of 12 rows before shoulder-shaping. Fortunately, I had not cut the yarn yet, so I will have to unravel and work on it this weekend.

P.S. Mary Tess, my shawl is 20" by 83" and I used 2 balls of 2 oz jaggerspum zephyr.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Importance of knowing when to stop

Pattern: Kimono Shawl from Folk Shawls
Yarn: Jaggerspun zephyr, ladyslipper pink 2 balls
Needle: 2.75 mm
Started: January 2006 Completed: June 2006
Are you tired of my staircase landing photos? Draped over the dining chair was the best way I could think of to photograph it. Doesn't it look delicate and ladylike on the chair? I had bought the Folk shawls book just for this pattern, and I'm glad I did. Puzzled about the post title? It is important to know when to stop because if you don't, this is what happens. Maybe I could grow taller or wear some seriously high heels.
In fact, this is after the second blocking. I got such a fright after the first blocking. It dangled down to my feet. Yikes, I dunked it back into water as quickly as I could and tried my best to re-block and it shrank back by at least 12 inches. Ok, lesson learnt. Silly me, I had wanted to use up the 2 balls of yarn (didn't want to waste leftover yarn) and I was enjoying the knitting so much, that I forgot to think about the LENGTH of this stole, err shawl, or should it be considered a blanket now? But I'm still happy with it. If you had told me a year ago that I could knit and actually complete something like this, I would have laughed. It was knitted mostly in the car, sometimes by the swimming pool or outside ballet class. So it feels good to have something made out of all that time that would otherwise have been wasted. Come to think of it, I have wasted so much of my life doing nothing while waiting. Not anymore, I can knit now while I wait.
P.S. Went with the kids to watch the movie, "Cars". My son chuckled through the entire movie, and I enjoyed it too, funny dialogue and lovable characters. And look what we found at the Bata shoe shop nearby: daughter's first pair of grown-up shoes. She wears mostly track shoes, even when she's in skirts. I think she really likes her new shoes. Last night, I saw her taking them out of the box to look at them. I've never seen her admire her track shoes before.

Monday, June 12, 2006


original pattern

prototype of modified pattern

Experimented with stash fabric. Learnt some things about bias skirts from this. It is essentially a straight or slightly A-line skirt cut on the bias. The secret to the subtle flare at the bottom is achieved by sewing a narrow hem. Without the hem, the skirt simply will not flare.

Many thanks for your encouraging comments, sewing and pattern tips. Pre-blog, I would have chucked the pattern aside, and gone off to sulk, never to believe in home sewing again. Now, I couldn't be happier, plotting the next bias skirt in a different fabric. By the way, I still do knit. If you come back in a couple of days, I have an FO to show you.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

elastic waist bias skirtoholic

If I find something that works, (like my elastic waist bias skirts shown here), I tend to stick with it. I bought this sewing pattern in the hope that it will fit just like my skirts. Then I can churn them out in every conceivable colour, wear them forever and hope that bias skirts never go out of style. But look at the size of the paper pattern compared to my fave black Marks and Spencers elastic waist bias skirt. It's too big. I read the pattern again and it says that it has 5 plus inches of ease. I don't want 5 inches of ease, so I'll have to modify the pattern. In fact, I might as well draw a new pattern modelled after my skirt. The optimist in me thinks, look on the bright side, if it works, I'll still have a pattern from which to churn out more skirts.

But I am definitely getting closer to sewing a zipper. See that little plastic packet with the blue parts? I finally bought the zipper foot attachment for invisible zippers, just need to figure out what goes where and how. I read somewhere that invisible zippers are easier to sew than normal zippers. Tips for inserting invisible zippers can be found here. If you want a free pattern for a cute dress, flirty skirt or stylish capris, take a look at these Burda patterns that you can download. But you have to do a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle first before you can sew.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The accidental top: how one thing led to another

I was going to sew this easy and elegant dress. It turned out anything but easy and elegant. After sewing and trying on, there was "pouching" in the front and back at the tummy and bum areas, so I had to un-do the top casing and cut the top edge into a curve with the middle dipping down 1.5 inches. That got rid of the pouching, but there was still too much fabric at the top, so I cut a triangle portion off each top corner so the armhole edge is now at an angle. That was still not enough, so then I decreased 1 inch at each side just after the armhole and curved it back to meet the sewing line at the hip area. No matter, it still looked like a night gown - I mean the house coat kind that you wore to bed and not the kind that Julia Roberts would wear to the Oscars. I have been watching NottingHill over the weekend. The charming chemistry among that group of friends reminds me so much of the friends in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Anyway, I finally chopped off the skirt part in the hope of ending up at least with a wearable tunic top. My style consultant (the 13 year old daughter) has just come home from camp and is catching up on much needed sleep so I asked my 5 year old son instead, if it looked nice and he asked me if I had made it out of a curtain. Ok, that does it, I should not wear this out of the house.

What about the ruffled blouse I was going to sew? The other day as I was tracing out the pattern pieces, I realised that it requires a zipper. I thought of trying another pattern, a Burda V-neck tunic, only to discover that it required a zipper too. Hmm, looks like my zipper avoidance days are over. But it's strange - how often does one find a zipper in a blouse?

I got these 3 magazines last week. The Marie Claire Idees is new - the June issue. I can't read a word of French, but it's chocful of inspiring ideas, and the photos are really beautiful. This issue has themes surrounding butterflies and very cute cows.

The other 2 magazines are old and bought from the discount rack at the yarn shop in Chinatown. There are lots of interesting books in that rack, and they updated it from the last time I went. I spent almost an hour looking at every single book but I was very restrained and bought only these two. Sweet Lace is a thread crochet book, doilies and lace. Kyoko Kubo's Styling Knit, published 1997, is quite a find because it has a classic cabled cardigan that I would love to knit someday.