Holidays: August 2010 Archives
Pearl gleams and shimmers. Pearl is elegant and sophisticated. Pearl is a knitted clutch with a textured body and lacey, scalloped flap. Pearl is lined with a sea blue Dupioni silk. Pearl is our latest free knitting pattern download.
I dreamed of pearl when I first saw Berocco's Lustra. For many months I wanted to get my hands on it and see what could be made with it to bring out the sheen and incorporate the slight fuzziness. The textured stitch came from a stitch guide but I had to reverse it for knitting in the round. The lace stitch is simple but delicate enough to add to the elegance of the clutch without detracting from the texture.
Pearl is knit with a worsted weight Tencel and Wool blend on size 8, 24 in. cable needles. You can sub in any silken or woolen yarn but I would not recommend anything too fuzzy or stark (like pure cotton). The slight fuzziness blends the gaps in between stitches in the texture. The pattern for the lining is also included. You can use any silky fabric or spice it up with patterned quilting cotton.
Pearl is perfect for any occasion where a clutch is needed. It's soft to the hand. A small luxury when you are stuck in heels for the night.
Now- I am not an old hand to embroidery but nor am I a green horn. You may find me safely in the middle of the road. This is just my experience we are discussing here, not my enthusiasm. That can be ranked way up high. You have to stand on your tippy-toes to reach it. But this is only since I discovered Sublime Stitching. Back when I was in high school and my mom started me with embroidery, we would head down to the local hobby/craft store and pick from their rather old-fashioned selection. It was just fine for my mom who was in the market for another "Home Sweet Home" sign but for a 14 yr old, a furry mouse hugging a computer just wasn't my style. Jenny Hart is much, much more my style. I mean, come on, she's got aliens, pie and pirates in there (the trifecta)!
Reading her book brought back all my fond memories of why I fell in love with embroidery all those days ago (despite the floral, whimsical jungle); the gentle "thunk" noise that the needle makes as it pierces the fabric, the gentle and precise movement, the freedom of color. Jenny's book is well written for a beginner or anyone looking to pick up tips. It features full instructions along with friendly How-tos, tips and "hey, check out this cool thing I found to do this better". The book has a nice selection of stitches followed by a stitch lesson and then PATTERNS-glorious patterns. Each is iron-on, including the stitch lesson. Most are bereft of added business in hopes that you will get creative and go crazy with your own business. I had such a good time with my stitch lesson. I choose to go with one color but different thicknesses of floss. I varied from 2-6 strands and found I much prefer 3. I left some of my lesson undone so you (my gentle readers) could see what the iron-on looks like. Jenny recommends 3-4 passes of a hot iron before checking but I found with my iron that one pass made it dark enough. My recommendation is to check after every pass. Just a little peek. I also used a 9 by 4 in. hoop as opposed to a circular hoop and thought it worked well for the longer stitch patterns in the lesson.
I have big plans for the rest of the patterns in the book and most fall into the Christmas present category. There are plenty of cupcake, ice cream and coffee patterns that are great for tea towels. I know my brother (with a band) will love one of the Mexican dancers on his guitar strap and my toddler has a ton of hoodies that need a little something special on the sleeve or front pocket. I might even try something for my husband but I will have to sneak it!
Felted Flower Bowls: what a fun, quick felted knit. I love projects like this: quick and gorgeous. Not only is this an afternoon, naptime project but it also make a great gift. Give a cluster of 3-4 to a friend for catch-alls or jewelry in different colors. They make darling teacher presents (keeping erasers, paper clips, thumb tacks, etc) or for a little lady to keep all her treasures.
But... in order to make the bowl you must first come to peace with felting. It was hard for me (my first felt was a cell phone pouch) to knit an object only to 'ruin' it, in a way, by washing it against its washing instructions. It was also hard to fathom that it would be so different after than before. But felting is so fun, shrink-dinks fun! To an extent textures can play well but in general you want to stick with garter or stockinette stitch. There are no ends to weave in and colorwork takes on a whole new meaning. While felting is easier in a top loader washing machine, it can be done in a front loader. I felted the flower bowl in a front loading machine. I choose the shortest wash cycle and checked on it after each cycle to see when it had felted enough.
Felting makes a fabric so knitting the item in its finished shape is not a necessary step. You can knit pieces or just on big piece and sew it together once dried (try Knitty's pumpkin). Felted knitting gets thicker as well as denser in the process. Felted items that work well are bags, appliqués, hats, slippers, and decorative items (agina with the felt pumpkins- I love 'em). Felt is great for shaping, cutting and is much more manipulative than non-felted knitting. Felting is only possible with coat fibers like wool, alpaca and llama. You must also be very careful of blends. I used Berocco's Lustra, a wool & tencel blend, and I will admit I had some concerns on whether or not it would felt. With a 50/50 blend my fears were pretty small but there was still a small sigh of relief when I pulled it out and saw how fine the bowl looked. I have a special place in my knitting heart for felting and I certainly cannot wait pass it on!
Here is a great article from Knitty.com on felting, ins and outs and how-tos.
Here is my project page on Ravelry.
If you haven't read Mason Dixon Knitting, you are seriously missing out. Many a knitter's obsessions have sprung from this book. I, myself, bought it after flipping through it for 2 min in a book store. I saw the pictures (didn't read a word), closed the book and took it to the check-out. I have since read it over and over and over. It is my knitting Pride and Prejudice. One project I have dreamed of but not yet attempted was log cabin. It is gorgeous and so simple. The way it is explained lends it easily to scrap yarn, mystery yarn and random yarn. You can knit till you run out and counting stitches is not really required. It is perfect TV knitting; you can knit it in squares for take-along knitting and it is great for beginners because it is just garter stitch. For those easily bored, just change colors when you tire of one. It is perfect for everyone! I began mine a couple of weeks ago from scraps of wool and wool skeins with missing ball bands. I would love to give you more info on the colors, etc but I cannot. I do know it is all wool. This blanket (oh, yes, it will be a blanket one day) will features pinks, browns, turquoise and maybe some cream; it will be for my sweet, little girl. I am picturing it as a nap blanket, for family movie nights and story time before bed. It will be lined on the back side with quilting cotton, muslin or Kona cotton once finished. I will probably hand stitch the lining on but I think it will be relaxing. The lining may make it possible for me to avoid weaving in all the loose ends (GOODY).
My log cabin began with my scraps of yarn and grew from there. Once I gathered all my wool (it really is my favorite fiber to work with) and saw the color scheme my random bits leaned towards, I knew at once who the blanket would be for and I left out the colors I didn't need. I choose the center color from the smallest scrap of yarn and knit till it ran out. I bound off the edge but left the last loop on my needle, then turned the piece to the right and picked up a stitch for every garter ridge. I knit back and forth till I felt it was big enough and then bound off on the right side leaving one loop on my needle and turned the piece to the right. I will continue till I feel the blanket is big enough. I may add a border or not. I have yet to decide. But the greatest thing is you do not need to cast on 500 stitches and knit endlessly back and forth. You cast on a few, knit for a while then build from there. You can make squares and sew them together later. You can change directions, add increases and decreases. You are golden as long as the basic method is kept true: knit, bind off on the right side, leave on loop on your needle, pick up more stitches and knit.
This is a project to challenge the mind or a relaxing way to knit up all your random bits. It all depends on your approach.
More great fibers to knit a log cabin blanket with are:
I will not mince words: this will be a bittersweet review of the Serendipity Monique Dress (Bittersweet like chocolate chips. Yummy chocolate but not as smooth as milk chocolate). I will summarize than expand. I love the finished dress and I will make more in many different fabrics because the design is versatile enough to be more or less fancy depending on the fabric used (more on this below) but the pattern gave me trouble and needs some tweaking to be as easy as it should be. I give the dress an A but the pattern a C.
Let's deal with the pleasantries first since that is more fun. I love the dress. It makes me feel very pretty when I wear it. The skirt flares a little when I twirl (Bonus!). The details and embellishments included in the pattern are the cat's meow. I love how you can "choose your own adventure", if you will, with ruffles, trim, hems, and flowers. The pieced bodice option is also very fun and looks amazing. I went with Variation 4, which called for 2 fabrics. I choose a lightweight rayon blend fabric as the main fabric and Chateau Rococo by Free Spirit as the trim fabric. The fabric combo turned out much more fancy than I had anticipated from the pattern. The pattern images gives the impression of more of a sundress, fun and flirty, but I have learned that if you choose your fabrics carefully you can have a fun, casual dress (Retro & Mod quilting cotton) or a sleek cocktail dress, fit for an evening wedding (think Dupioni Silk in tonal colors). I love the versatility of this dress. The fit was another plus. I did not make any additional alterations to the pattern to fit my shape; I made the pattern as was to give a good account to you in the fit department. The dress fit exactly in the bust and waist. I was amazed. It should be noted that I am busty so if you are not, you may want to fiddle with the darts before you call the bodice finished and move onto the rest of the dress. I made a size small which was based on my measurements taken as specified in the pattern and the fit was wonderful.
Now for a quick run through of the stumbles I came across in the pattern. The front neck facing was too big and when I sewed it onto the dress, it pulled the front of the neck out for a very unsightly look (I left this intact in the pictures to give a true representation. The facing was about ¾ in. too long. Also the notches on the neck facings didn't match leaving me to refit 2-3 times before they lined up. Lastly the front and back bodice pieces do not match with the front being ½ in. too long. All problems were fixable and not huge deals but for a beginner sewer they would have been. These are also not issues I expected to have.
The hem was a good length. The overall shape of the dress was very complimentary. Oh, I almost forgot: I decided to go for the whole visible zipper as a design detail and it worked well. I really like the look. It gives a different feel to the dress in the back but you should be warned this may be a dress you need a hand to finish zipping up. That being said I can't wait to get back to my sewing room and make another!
You can see more pictures on our Facebook page!
I love me some free stuff, especially knitting patterns. Though a free knitting pattern gets my blood pumping for two reasons:
1) I fall in love with a new designer and end up buying all their other patterns
2) I feel an undeniable desire to buy yarn immediately in order to complete said knitting pattern.
A free pattern can make my weekend, give joy to a long road trip and allow some quiet time. Some days it seems as though there is nothing more prefect than a free pattern and if the person who shared it were right in front of me, I would be forced to give them a big hug, a cup a coffee, some brownies and a nice chat about how awesome they are. Alas, that has never happened so I just give a quiet cheer and the requisite fist pump from behind my screen.
But, Say, don't you want to know where to find such delights as I described above? Of course you do. Let me share some of my favorite plunders for free knitting pattern gold.
http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/- A little tricky since you have to follow the link to see a picture and sometime there aren't any pictures but this is common among free pattern databases. This one is the most extensive I have found not attached to a brand. You only have a project name to go by but you can search by project type (i.e. afghan, sweater, scarf, etc)
http://www.lionbrand.com/content-knittingPatternIndex.html- This site is the most extensive associated with a brand. Lion Brand makes some NICE yarn and all of these patterns feature their yarn but you can make substitutions for a similar yarn should the mood strike. You can save your pattern notes for future use and most patterns have reviews for you to check out. Lion Brand also features a wide variety of Crochet patterns.
Knitty- You knew I would sneak this in here but half of Knitty is the patterns. Free patterns submitted by fellow knitters and reviewed and selected by other knitters for publication. Each pattern features many pictures of the finished product plus a schematic with measurements. All the pictures are artful and fun giving you a great idea of the true nature of the project.
Ravelry- Another you were sure I would sneak in. This is my fave feature of Ravelry: I click on the pattern tab then on the 'pattern browser & advanced search' link. Then under 'availability' (the third box on the left) I click 'free' and voila- all the free patterns I could dream of, complete with pictures. I love it. I can read the project notes, search by garment, anything and it is all FREE!
Interweave Knits- Now the Knitting Daily does not have the catalog of free patterns as the above but they are awesome patterns. Magazine quality, some challenging, professionally photographed patterns. You will find yarns used you have never heard of or designers you never meet before. It is all very exciting like a fancy restaurant that dares you to try something outside your comfort zone. You will learn something new and you will never be the same.
Of course you cannot forget Fabric.com's growing collection of free knitting patterns that I add to each month. I am gearing up for Christmas with some smaller, faster knits that will make excellent presents for the big holiday.
P.s. the featured picture is a free scarf pattern called the Sally Stripe