Patterns: July 2011 Archives
I have been compiling my Christmas Knitting list this past week and given my blog schedule, my family and getting ready to move, I have had one thought and one thought only when it concerns my knitting: make it fast. Faithful readers will know that this is nothing new for me. I love instant gratification and in terms of knitting that means within a week or two. I am not a devoted sweater knitter. Give me a good hat any day! It is with this determination and central idea that I dedicate this blog posting to Chunky Yarn and it's delightful possibilities.
When my new Interweave Knits (IK) arrived this week, I was ready for my general dislike of half the projects and only real desire to knit one or two. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I wanted to knit 90% of the projects. Upon closer investigation I realized that this is because of the use of chunky yarns. Chunky yarns are awesome. Not only do they knit up fast but you generally need fewer balls to complete a project. I know it would seem the opposite because the yardage in each ball is scaled down as well but because each stitch goes further you need less. Typically you need about half the number of balls for a chunky sweater than a worsted weight. In the end the yarn costs are about the same but you really win when you finish in half the time. And Chunky yarn is not limited to sweaters. One of my most coveted projects from IK Fall 2011 is the Chunky weight lace shawl. It is gorgeous and no doubt a fast knit. Rugs, Afghans, scarves, hats and slippers are just a few of the many projects that shine in Chunky Yarn. I have found the desire to knit sweater renewed in me (something dead for at least 3-4 years now) and have not been this excited to knit since I first learned and held marathon knitting sessions on the weekends and dreamed of yarn while compiling spread sheets (I was in accounting before I ventured into writing). I feel excited to knit. I can feel that small ball of excitement in my belly much like a 5 yr. old on Christmas morning when I start filling my cart with Chunky yarn: "it will be so fast and so pretty. I could have my whole list done in 3 weeks and that leaves plenty of time to knit for ME!" So take a look at your list and see where you could add some Chunky yarn and save some time!
Yarns Pictured above: Gedifa Highland Alpaca, Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick N Quick, Rowan Big Wool
Scarf pictured above: Lion Brand Crochet Lacy Scarf in Wool Ease Thick N Quick
If you read Friday's blog post you will know that today's project was inspired by a product spread in a popular magazine. The inspiration tunic costs $124 retail and is in the Ombre style. The shape of the shirt is nothing that sensational; it's a cool shirt and all but the Ombre is what makes it GOREGOUS! Ombre is a dye technique and comes from the French word meaning: Shaded. Ombre dye technique creates a graduated effect from light to dark or from one shade to another. The inspiration tunic shifts from dark blue to light. My tunic shifts from yellow to the natural linen of the original fabric. And it was so easy to do. I started with Hanky Weight Linen in Natural and Amy Butler's Anna Tunic (Tunic Length). Once the tunic was complete and before sewing on the buttons, I set up my Ombre dye. Working outside, I put down a clean drop cloth. Next, I took my jar of Jacquard Dye-na-flo fabric dye in Sun Yellow and poured it into a clean spray bottle. Having soaked my tunic in warm water until it was wet through, I then gentle squeezed out water until it was just damp (the dye is absorbed better by wet fabric). I laid my tunic down on the drop cloth and pulled all the wrinkles out and made sure it was nice and flat. Then I started spraying my tunic starting along the bottom and slowly working up, concentrating most of the dye at the bottom and less as I went up. The spray really helps you control the dye application and also creates an Ombre effect if you widen your spray area. Once I had the front covered nicely, I carefully flipped the tunic and repeated on the back. Be careful if you have dye on your fingers where you placed them when flipping your tunic. Repeat the same with the belt, just applying dye at the ends to match your tunic when tied.
DO NOT RINSE YOUR TUNIC. Allow your dye to dry completely. This is not like RIT where you let the dye sit for 30 min and then you rinse off. You must let your tunic dry completely. Then, turn your tunic inside out and with a hot iron (set to your fabric setting) press the inside of your tunic to set the paint on the other side. To set the belt, place a thin piece of cotton between the belt and your iron. Sew on your buttons and DONE! Doesn't it look Chic? I must say I feel great in my Tunic, edgy but classic at the same time. Try this dye technique with other natural fibers. You can even use it on cotton prints to give a neat peak-a-boo effect.
The Total Cost of my tunic was $ 43.93 not including tax (which varies) and includes 2 yds of Hanky weight Linen, one jar of Dye-na-Flo, and Amy Butler's Anna Tunic. You could make a similar Ombre tunic using your own pattern collection and your costs goes down to $27.95. Less than $30! That is a value of $100 from the cost of the inspiration top to your custom fit, custom colored to your exact liking, one of a kind Ombre Tunic. Guess which I would choose!
I have seen the light and it is knitting for kids. I may have said it before but I will say it again, I Love Knitting for Kids! Why, you ask, because it is fast, fun and almost instant gratification. The time it takes to knit a project for a kid is about ¼ of the time (if that) to knit for myself. Plus, I love her so much and couple that with my love of knitting makes it twice as fun as knitting for me. The fit issues are greatly reduced (except for the unplanned growth spurt: see pictures for evidence of a very much unplanned growth spurt). I choose the Jonah Hoodie from Lion Brand because of its comfy, cozy characteristics. It looked like it would be agreeable for a toddler to wear: warm and very functional. It is all of the above. My daughter was very excited to try it on and wear it around the house. While I doubt she will be wearing this one come fall (again see pictures) but I will be making another in the next size up for the fall. I love that there are only 2 buttons but I don't agree with the placement. They are 1 row apart and butted up to the hood. Next time I will start them 4 in. down from the cast off edge and the next one 2 in. down since I will use big buttons (these are from my stash) again so she can button them herself. I will also cast on more stitches (just a few) for the sleeves so the opening for her hand is bigger. I also changed the Hoodie placement. The instructions call for the seamed edge to be the top of the hoodie but I placed the seam at the back of the hoodie because the cast on edge curved a bit and gave it more of a front-of-the hoodie look.
I also loved the yarn, Lion Brand Homespun in Parfait. It gives a Boucle like look and is SUPER SOFT to the touch and to wear. It was a bit of a challenge to work with because of the fuzzy factor but worth it since it was one hang-up every 5th or so row (not really that big of a deal but a change to one used to cotton and linen these last few weeks of summer knitting).
This is a great project to work on while cooped up with the summer heat and humidity, wishing for fall to coming all ready. It really put me in the fall mood but is not so daunting that I regret time spent. It is just the right amount to get you over the summer hump.
So now that I am an official crocheter, I figured I should get some Granny Squares under my belt to seal the deal. For those who don't know, Granny Squares are to crocheters as dishcloths are to knitters. Granny Squares are small crocheted squares that feature different designs in each that you can sew up into different projects. Some of the most popular are blankets, scarves, and shawls. Collecting and finding new Granny Square patterns is just as fun as working them up. I set out to find some that I, as a beginner, could handle and I came up with 2 good patterns. The first is a beautiful granny square which is shown in 3 colors but can be worked up in just one or two, as I did. The second is an interesting take on the Granny Square style but reshaped for Christmas to make a Granny Tree. I worked my tree up based on the instructions that called for a treble stitch. Next time I will go with the double and use a smaller hook as with the hook called for by the ball band and the treble stitch I think the finished project is too floppy to make a good ornament but would be perfect with the DC.
I have to say I loved making these. I learned some new things, obtained some much needed practice and new ways to use the skills I already had. Completing something so cute, colorful and beautiful in a short amount of time is very satisfying. Unlike the Amigurumi animals I had made previously, there was no assembly, no stuffing. Once I was done crocheting, I was done! I did learn that: yes, my tension is still too tight. How do I know this, you ask, well... the thought occurred to me shortly after my crochet hook snapped in my hand. "Self", I thought, "you may need to relax a little with this crochet business". Stay tuned to see how this revelation works out. Until then, I will keep practicing and definitely keep cranking out Granny Squares.
My Green and Purple Granny Square was knit up in Berroco Weekend (75% Acrylic, 25% Cotton) in Tomatillo and Orchid. This was a great yarn to crochet with: no splits and it was neither too slick nor fluffy. My Granny Tree was knit with Tahki Tara Tweed (80% Wool/ 20% Nylon) in Brick. This was also a fantastic yarn to crochet with. It was fluffier than the Weekend but it was also had more stretch.
I have had "Pressing Ham" on my To Make List for many years but for some reason or another (usually it is that I am never in the mood to make one) I never got around to making it. I really wanted one so I knew if I scheduled it for the blog it would get done. And What-do-ya-know...It did. Kwik Sew 3571 was a piece-o-cake too and since I am over the hump, I will be getting to the sleeve roll faster than I would have previously guessed. Since this pattern is basically 2 pieces of fabric: 1 of wool and 1 of cotton (though you could use linen too. You want to stick to natural, high temp fabric that can take the wear and tear. Avoid fancy fabric, which may look good but won't press well. You can opt for Wool Felt but not craft felt, which is mostly poly (depending on the manufacturer) and will melt. I would not use fleece or any kind of thick knit either. You need your ham to keep its shape and hold firm while you press on it. You can go with cotton on both sides if you want. I used a gingham cotton and I lined it as well with some muslin. I wanted a smooth shape and didn't want any indentations from some of the larger saw dust pieces that I had in my mix. I cut 2 from my muslin and then 2 from my quilting cotton. When I sewed them up, I made the turning opening for my exterior a little bigger than the muslin so it would be easier to sew up later. I then placed my muslin in my quilting cotton shell and then stuffed the pressing ham with the saw dust. I also added some lavender in with the saw dust for a nice perfume when the ham is heated with the iron (this was a great suggestion from my Mom, Debbi Krisher. Thanks Mom!)
I also extended, curved and tapered the end of the ham a bit to help with some narrow bits of some of the patterns I have been sewing lately and it really came in handy. I saw this on another pattern and liked the idea so modified this pattern to mimic. It ended up looking like a crook-neck squash. It is a little silly looking but totally helpful in the smaller areas. My little one loves it too since it now has a toddler handle. I will be making another in a brighter color so it is easier to find since she likes to hide it. I am also considering make a small hanging loop on one end so I can hand it from the wall for easy storage, keep it from little hands and make it easier to find. It will probably look like a giant Christmas ornament but that will just get me ahead of the game!
Following on the heels of my previous article on how to sew Pintucks with the Janome Pintuck Foot is how to then add this amazing detail to your store bought patterns. Say you have a dress or a shirt that you want to add pintucks too but you aren't sure how to add the details without altering the pattern. The solution is to sew the pintucks on before you cut your pattern piece. This can be tricky but if you plan ahead your finished piece will look amazing.
I start out by first deciding which pattern pieces will feature pintucks and mark them in some fashion. Then, I layout my fabric and pattern pieces as instructed in the pattern. The pieces that will have pintucks, I trace with tailors chalk around the outside giving a wide berth (sometimes about 1 in. around), be more generous on the width of the piece since that will be affected more by the pintucks than the length. This will give you a good idea of where to place your tucks and how long to sew them. Also be sure if you are working with pieces cut on a fold to mark the center line. You can cut out the unaffected pieces now or after you add the pintucks to the fabric. Do not cut out the pieces that will feature pintucks. Sew your pintucks before you cut out these pattern pieces using your traced outline as a guide. Sew your pintucks from the top of the traced outline to the bottom. Once you have added your pintucks, then cut out those pattern pieces. I like to go over the top and bottom of the pintucks with a basting stitch to keep them secure until the garment is all stitched up. I added 7 pintucks to the HotPatterns Cupid Cami in Sherbet Pips Squares Vanilla/Pink with matching bias tape. I modified the pattern to eliminate the ties and made 12in. long straps. The light pattern really helps the pintucks to stand out and compliment the camisole shape. Pintucks would also look great on the bodice of a shirt dress, widthwise on a fabric belt, or as a hem detail on some twill shorts.