Reviews: July 2010 Archives
70% wool, 30% alpaca, 100% fun. My review for Nashua Snowbird must extend back to our first meeting. I was planning my July blog calendar and had just falling head of heels for the Coco Knits Ballet Slipper that this yarn ultimately went on the create when I first beheld this yarn.
Wait, I must interrupt myself. I have been listening to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen so should my language seem overly formal and slightly romantic, you will know the cause.
Back to our story. After choosing my pattern, I needed a yarn. I imagined something wooly but not full wool. I wanted it to offer good stitch definition but also offer some fluffy since I like a good fluffy slipper. I also wanted to select a yarn that was different from the yarn used in the pattern to offer you a different take on the pattern and encourage my readers to experiment. I found all of this and more in Nashua Snowbird.
I have been a fan of Nashua yarn since discovering Ivy (it is a wool/alpaca mix with some metallic threads woven in for glamour). Snowbird is another notch on their belt. It is well wound (no split stitches at all) and the color combination was really what landed me. The 2 colors strands of the yarn were bold but similar enough to be exciting without too much daring. The colors knit up in a way that I had not imagined but was even better than expected.
The yarn is fluffy but gives the definition that I was looking for. The fluffiness is very evident when wearing my slippers. They are slippery but also very comfortable. The wool gives nice elasticity that the pattern needs since it incorporates so many techniques that inhibits stretch. The many K2togs and pleats make for a tight fit that cotton or even silk would not compliment.
A search on Ravelry shows that this yarn has been featured in many projects including hats, sweaters, toys and scarves. I would recommend it for any and all of the above projects. It would really shine with large cables and textured stitches. Snowbird might complete too much with fancy lacework unless the lace were worked on very large needles and very exaggerated.
To end: I loved this yarn and my slippers and have secured it a spot on my Christmas gift list.
I have been tempted to knits since I first received Wendy Mullins Sew U Knits. I created one very oversized t-shirt and stalled. When I decided to try my hand at Nancy's Dress, I was a little intimidated because many people say knits are tricky and my first attempt was not really what I would call a success. Some knits and some knit patterns are tricky. The Nancy Dress is not one of them. This pattern was quick and easy. It took me about 15-20 to assemble the pattern and then another 20-30 min to cut it out. But the sewing part was so easy. A little over an hour and I had a dress. A super cute, versatile dress. So I made another. It was addictive.
My first dress, I went by the pattern for every detail. My second dress I cut a size smaller on top for more insurance against the "creep down" notable in strapless dresses. I also cut the back piece of the top 2 in. shorter so it would sit below my shoulder blades and I could wear the front a little higher. This was not a problem with the first dress since the top was bigger. I cut the skirt the original size so there would be some gathering to make the skirt look a little fuller.
You can also wear this dress as a skirt by folding the top in half and wearing it on your hips. This versatility makes it perfect vacation wear. It is wrinkle free and can be worn in more than one way. I selected a small floral print jersey that could be worn with a variety of other pieces. The pattern was not too bright or bold to prevent coordination. So far I have paired it with a denim jacket, multiple colors of tank tops, a light sweater, a linen shawl with a chunky necklace and strappy sandals (It dresses up really well. It would make a great little black dress) and a ruffle t-shirt with the dress as a skirt. You can also pin a long length of ribbon to the center of the top and tie it behind your neck for straps. I wear one of my dresses once a week. It is so great as a mom to have a piece in my wardrobe that doesn't need to be ironed and I can slip on and feel great. The length is great to for modesty but short enough for a good summer breeze. I really love this dress: making it and wearing it. I would encourage everyone to make one.
Check out our recommendations for fabric here
With the first day of school fast approaching, holiday projects being planned, and warm weather ever so slowly fading into cool, it is time to start knitting for you. You have dedicated your time to summer projects, work deadlines and family fun but how much time have you set aside for some "me time". If you are like me, check the none-to-very little box please. It is understood that the time you can set aside for you may be very little but as long as you fill it with a relaxing activity (like knitting!) you can make the most of the tiniest of breaks.
Picking a project for you is very easy; simply pick something you love and can't wait to get started. Pick something small so it will be a fast knit and pick something that will enhance future "me times". For me, that was easy, Coco Knits Ballet Slipper. If fit all of the above. It was for me! I simply could not wait to cast on and it was fast (approx 4 hours of knitting time +/-). As I write I am wearing these slippers so I can honestly attest to them enhancing my future "me times". They are cute, sassy and comfy. I can also say with a smiling face that I enjoyed knitting these slippers. First of all, they were fast. #2, They were easy. #3, It was not a bunch of Stockinette stitch (which is very easy and equal to a dose of Sleepy Time tea) but small little challenges, like mini games. There were enough small challenges to keep me interested but not too much to bore me. It has been some time since I have used Short Rows so I needed a refresher and I have never knit pleats. There was a little taste of everything and not too much. It kept me interested enough to happily finish the second slipper. No second sock syndrome here. I loved learning something new, as well. The pleats were fantastic and really added to the sassiness of the slipper. I was so pleased to have finished this project but also to finish with the sensation that my feelings of excitement and anticipation leading up to the project were never depleted and I did not feel let down. I am looking forward to knitting more Coco Knits patterns. These ballet slippers have now heard top ranking on my Christmas list projects.
Knitting for you can benefit you in so many ways. For myself, I was able to find a project to look forward to. A project that I enjoyed knitting so much that very little wine was required. A project that left me feeling a little disappointed when completed, much like a really good book you don't want to end. After finishing my knitting for me project, I felt energized and rewarded. I am ready to get back to my daily grind and all I needed was 4 hours.
Check out my project notes on Ravelry
It's that time again! We have just posted our newest exclusive, free Hot Patterns pattern download, the much-anticipated Sunny Side Up Sunhat. Holly teased this one on Facebook a couple weeks back, and many people were super excited to get their hands on it.
If you haven't had the chance to work with downloaded patterns, this is the perfect one to start with (and if you have, this one will make you pleased as punch). The Sunny Side Up Sunhat is quite possibly the easiest of the downloads to assemble (although the Bossa Nova Skirt comes in a pretty close second). When it came to creating the pattern, I was actually a little hesitant for a couple reasons - here's where my confession starts:
- I've never made a hat. They kind of scare me.
- I don't really wear hats.
- I am really, really, REALLY horrible at sewing flat pieces around curves, especially when they keep going around in a circular pattern. I have several wonky looking purses that attest to this.
Since I was already taking this whole hat-making business as a challenge, I also thought I would channel my "inner Holly" and go with some fun, colorful fabric combinations. (Many of you don't know this, but Holly has absolutely zero fear of color. Well, except brown. Seriously, though, her office is bright pink and black. No kidding.)
For my first hat, I picked three prints from Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane collection.
A few notes on the actually sewing and whatnot:
- Don't let the fact that it's a hat give you a moment's pause - it's really an easy pattern to make.
- The brim is pretty wide. If it's too floppy for you, you can play with shortening it or using interfacing.
- The pattern is one-size-fits-all, but runs along the lines of an average sized head. If you need to it be a little more accommodating, you may need to play with sizing.
While I may not be a complete hat convert, I have to say I have grown fond of my new millinery masterpieces. I think I may keep them in my office to use as "thinking caps." You never know when you might need a little bit of help getting the creative juices flowing.
While I love writing these blog posts for Fabric.com, some topics are more fun than others. Today's topic will be filed under the Super Fun category. I always begin every article with research, though some need more than others. Today's article on Craftster didn't, at first, seem to be one topic that needs much research. However, it has been a while since I have visited Craftster so I went back just to reintroduce myself. Within seconds (literally seconds!) I was kicking myself for not continuing to visit daily. Right on the home page, I spotted a dress I cannot live without and nor will I!
Craftster is full to the brim of swaps, projects, tutorials, reworking, recycling, challenges and forums. Craftster is a great place to show off your latest FO as well as check out inspiration when you are hankering to start something new. Knitting, Crochet, Sewing, Upholstering, Jewelry are just a few of the crafts welcome at Craftster. In the past I have learned to make yoga pants from old t-shirts, found one of my favorite dress patterns and discovered projects that make me want to run to my sewing room and get to work right away.
Upon entering Craftster you will see 4 sets of pictures that change all the time: Hot New Projects, New Projects, Featured Projects, and Current Craftster Challenge. These pictures alone are enough to secure you on the website for hours, since one picture inevitably leads to another and another. But if you click on Community on the bar above the pictures you will find a drop down menu of all the crafts on Craftster. You are sure to find something interesting and more. My favorites are clothing, home sweet home and, oddly enough, crochet (that is my next craft to tackle). I love how you can find projects created with all new goods as well as recycled and reused items. I feel ashamed to say that the days I am able to dedicate ample amounts of time to Craftster are followed a short time later by a delivery from Fabric.com. I am duly inspired by the new prints in
Just Arrived Quilting as I am by the projects on Craftster. More often than not, my shame spiral starts with a visit to our website to get ideas for new articles, when I just pop in to peek at the new prints. It is all so innocent in my mind. I see a fabric or 15 that I LOVE (that must be said in a sing-song voice for full effect) and then I descend like a lion onto Craftster to give me a reason to purchase these new prints. 15 min later I have an order confirmation. It is all so shameful that I walk around the house berating myself for 10-20 seconds and then I feel so much better. After all I cannot possible be expected to work on my new projects in a bad mood. Plus, I have new fabric coming in the mail and an awesome Craftster project awaiting me. Who can feel bad in that situation?!
P.s. Check out the Green Ophelia Dress here!!
I would like to think my evolution of knitting needles is not too different from the average knitter. As previously mentioned, I (for the most part) taught myself to knit. So I picked up a kit from a big box store; a kit that included metal needles. Once I gained some knowledge and did some research, I started to wander from the apron strings of my kit and tried wooden needles as well as plastic . I fell, hard, for bamboo. But one day, after a desperate search for a LYS in my area, I was wandering through the small yarn store and discovered my first set of interchangeable knitting needles. While I had not yet attempted to "Knit in the Round" (That should be heard in your head with an ominous echo for emphasis), I was intrigued. Even more so when the shop owner showed me how you could attach the end caps and have really long and weird straight needles. I snatched them up right there. A short time later I learned that it is possible to knit straight on circulars without joining in the round and without the weirdness. My mind was, officially, blown! Since that day I have always knit on interchangeable needles. I repeat, ALWAYS. Straight knitting and round. Magic loop or knitting round on 2 needles. There has never been a project that they do not work for me. I shun the use DPNs. I do not like small diameter knitting with them. I use mine for cable needles and icord. Interchangeable serve as circulars, straight needles, stitch holders, and you are able to expand your cable without removing your project or switching needles. There is no need to buy a size 7 circular in 5 different length cables. One project no longer monopolizes needles. If you have a sweater and a blanket knitted with size 10, but you really want to work on the blanket, simply detach your needles from the sweater, add end caps and attach your needles to the blanket. You can switch back and forth in minutes or cast on a third.
I would recommend Interchangeables to beginners as a cost saver and building their tool box. However, they should have some knowledge of needles. Namely which material they prefer: wood, plastic, bamboo, metal. Also, give some thought to the cable. Some cables are thicker and have more memory, while others are thinner and have less memory. The thickness of a cable is important in accommodating smaller needle sizes and use for Magic Loop knitting. Memory means: does the cable hold its shape or is it loose, flexible and easily shaped to your project. This is important in allowing your project to move on the cable as well as Magic Loop.
I would definitely recommend Interchangeables to more experienced knitters because they are so simple. All your needles are in one place (or in my case 2 places: in the case & in different projects all over the house). Since more experienced knitters are more likely to add to their collection to fill it out, a set of Interchangeables will save them money.
Interchangeables can vary in price from cheap to very expensive but the variety of projects they allow you to work right out of the gate make them a value from day one and continues 20 years down the road. Invest in a needle and cable set that you can see yourself working with for years.
Every occupation has references that are the foundation of a job well done or a job easily done and sewing is no exception. With the guidance of a few of my favorite books I slowly educated myself in the correct and, consequently, the easy way to do certain tasks and complete certain projects. You will discover new skills and techniques, get inspiration for new projects or gain knowledge needed to tackle a challenge. Here are my foundation books for any sewer, beginner or beyond.
Machine Embroidery Essentials (Jeanine Twigg)- When I first purchased my sewing/embroidery machine (Brother He-120) I was stoked to be able to embroider. "This is going to be so easy!" I said to myself. Well self, you were wrong. A dozen broken needles and almost to tears or on the brink of drop kicking the machine down the stairs (the jury is still out on which), I found this book. It has opened the door to embroidery. There are notions and techniques that are not even comprehensible to a beginner such as me. I highly recommend this book to make machine embroidery enjoyable and fun.
Reader Digest: New Complete Guide to Sewing- Not just everything you wish to know about sewing but everything you could know seems to be in this book. Tailoring, adjusting patterns, stitches, feet, tools, you name it- it's covered. The book has saved my behind several times when I had a hunch on a technique to try. Each time I would check out what "The Book" says before launch my own method and I was way off. The tome has saved me countless minutes of wasted time but also frustration which can call a halt to any project for me. I have also learned how to tailor certain garments from this book, which saves me money since I can now peruse the sales rack in just about any size (knowing I can adjust it to fit). I have also gained inspiration from "The Book" as well. Not so much from the pictures but from the techniques. I can read one and just imagine the possibilities.
Sew U Knits by Wendy Mullins- I love this book so much I often read it before bed while dreaming of my soon-to-be wardrobe. Wendy's tips on working with knits are spot on. I love the one concerning resting your knits before cutting. She walks you through all the essentials of working with knit with both a serger and conventional machine. Each book comes with patterns for basic pieces and Wendy shows you how you can modify them to create a bevy of looks with recommendations of fabrics. This book is easy to follow, I recommend it for beginners on up. My first t-shirt from this book was cut and sewn in less than 2 hours.
Big Book of Window Treatments (Sunset Editors)- One cannot assume that every sewer sews only clothing. I thoroughly enjoy dressing my home as much as myself. But I don't have hours to spend searching the internet for window treatment looks that I like and hoping to find a picture big enough so I can guess how it is done. One book can give me access to many, many different options with techniques on creating them yourself. Do you really want a café curtain in your kitchen- here you are with several different customizations to choose from. Not sure what exactly you want for your living room, you just know it must block the light and keep out the drafts, check out the panels, drapes and roman shades. I have used this book for few of my neighbors' homes as well. I often sew home dec around the neighborhood and this book helps me show them the image I have in my head (especially good since I don't really have a hand for drawing). This is a must if you love to sew home dec or want to redo your home.