Reviews: September 2010 Archives
Football season is here and the Sandra Lee in us wants to decorate to bring the fanatical spirit alive. We have all done the fleece throws and quilt blocks. But there are more ways to show your fervor in your living room or to spice up that (shudder) man cave.
Now at face value (and, ok, the name doesn't help our case any either) Amy Butler Gum Drop Pillows do not instill a whole lot of team spirit. They look luscious, beautiful and dreamy. In short the total opposite of Football. But should we couple our favorite team fabric with a great home dec pattern, we have instant fan power, a great place for extra fans to sit to watch the game or put up their feet. The Gum Drop pillows pack a serious punch. The pattern is so smartly simple that there are nofeminine details, no soft touches or pattern pieces to be tweaked to give it a masculine edge perfect for pigskin enthusiasts. Just a change of fabric can take this pattern to a different level. The medallion at the top seems to the best part for the fans at my house. Depending on your fabric choice, you can center your mascot at the very center of the medallion. My mom suggested that a team fabric can be stretched to accommodate 2 or more pillows by alternating team fabric with a team color fabric on each section of the pillow (4 sections of team fabric and 4 sections of a solid fabric). This pattern doesn't take much time or fabric. An 18 in. pillow (plenty big enough for feet or tushes) needs 2 yds and the 24 in. pillow 2 ¼ yds. You will need an insane amount of stuffing but if you are a recycler like me, old pillows and fabric scraps help a lot. I made the 18 in. in NFL Titans for my mom and have some Falcons set aside for my dad. They have a rivalry and I try to stay impartial but mom comes first. I found the pattern really easy and once the cutting was done, quick to put together. I took the pillow to the living room to stuff and hand sew so I could join in the action and put the pillow to good use once done. You can also check out our huge college selection here; don't over look the fleece!
I was so impressed with the finished product that I envision it in my own home though I never fancied myself a floor pillow gal. It will be great for kids to sit on for movie night, to put my feet on when I am working late on my laptop or just to curl around when reading. I hope to make 2 for the living room, as many as my little one wants in her room (once she is old enough to ask, that is) and maybe a few for my room and some for the guest room. You never know where you will need a good pillow (even dogs love it).
P.s. Just because it is a football post and it needs to be said: GO KU JAYHAWKS! And k-state- you know what I think of you.
Sweater Surgery by Stefanie Girard is one of the most fun books I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. My library is full of resource books, books with great patterns, foundation books and go-to books but not many FUN books. It is kind of scary at first shrinking and cutting a sweater but there is a freedom that regular fabric cannot give. Mistakes turn into great details, seams are lovely and size is irrelevant.
Stefanie takes you through everything you need to know to turn your old sweaters into something new and special: toys, purses, different sweaters or any accessory your wardrobe is lacking. She talks you through picking a sweater for your project or vice versa, felting (washing machine and needle), tools and notions, deconstruction, reclaiming yarn, you name it. Stefanie shows the reader how to look at the details of a sweater and use them to their best advantage: the bottom ribbing of a sweater becomes the cuff of a mitten, the buttons of a cardigan are the central design on a bag, and the reverse of a fair isle becomes an endearing softie. The projects are a little bit crazy and a little bit bold but only because of Stefanie's sweater choices. The bones of each project are on trend and adaptable to many styles. There is something for everyone because you can make it your own with sweater choices. The fabric necklaces in the book may be too bold for you but if you choose neutral colors and amber colored beads, the whole look of the necklace changes. It becomes a remarkable accessory, a conversation starter upon close inspection but not a neon sign.
Stefanie also includes home accessories in Sweater Surgery that are amazing. Just imagine soft, luxurious sweater pillows to snuggle with on your couch. Such pillows are costly and popular at all the high end boutiques but with careful selection at a local thrift store you can have the same look for under $10 instead of hundreds. There are also some great holiday decorating ideas and projects in this book.
Each project is well explained and some include patterns. In the back, there is inspiration with summaries of how to achieve the look yourself or to use as a starting point for your own creation. I chose to use a mistakenly felted cable sweater and turned it into a sweater dress for my little lady come winter. I cut up the center of the sweater and cut off the arms. I left the seams on the right side because I really dug the look in some of Stefanie's inspiration photos. I stitched with a 2 in seam allowance on the sides and then cut the seam down to ¼ in. I then stitched up the center with a ½ in. seam, leaving 2 in. open at the top (to make it easier to get it over her head). I cut 8 in off the arms and sewed the arms back on with a ½ in. seam stretching to make the arms fit. I trimmed all the seams to ¼ in. The dress fits perfectly and looks even better (it will be great paired with some polka dot or striped leggings). I may use the left over arm for a softie or arm warmers for me when knitting in the cold. This book has got my blood pumping for more sweater projects and I am excited to reuse some of my old sweater instead of tossing them.
This is a story about Kidsilk Haze.
I have worked with a fair share of mohair in my day. (To me) it is the bad boy of yarn, I love it, oh I really do, but once you have it you start to question yourself. However, like a true bad boy you never regret your time and look back fondly. It is the fight you love, the challenge that keeps you coming back for more.
What I truly, madly, deeply love about mohair is the delicacy. It floats on air. It seems to be there yet not. It is fluffy and simple. The colors are so bright and vibrant yet because of the slightness of the yarn, the color can be just a hint or in your face; your choice. It is ridiculously soft. The softness blows me away each time I touch, yet I reach out again thinking that I was mistaken previously. Kidsilk Haze lends itself to lace in a way no other yarn can. It adds another layer to the lace, a layer of subtlety. The mohair diffuses the structure of the lace, giving it a softer appearance. Lace with its hair down, if you will. Kidsilk haze is an untamed beauty that you must muster your courage to ride. It is not wool, that you can knit with your eyes half on the TV. Mohair is like that famous Roman joke:
An American couple sits down to their first Roman meal in the heart of the city itself. Their waiter comes and greets them. The couple excited tells him it is their first day and they want the real Roman experience. Their waiter smiles. The couple then proceeds to tell the waiter that they hope to catch a show after and ask him his favorite. The waiter smiles again and states "This is Rome, tonight you eat. Tomorrow you will see your show".
Now praise for Kidsilk Haze aside (and I could go all day), you must be prepared. Like the wild house alluded to above, you can't show up to ride without preparations. Tools are needed. 1) Stitch markers: not everyone will work. I used a size 11 needle with the LaLa scarf so my locking markers didn't fit my needles and I used small black rubber bands. The rubber kept them from sliding. The black stood out. Do not use jump rings or anything with a gap. The Kidsilk Haze will wiggle itself through and mess up your count. 2) Needles: mohair is no time for your fastest needles. You do not want to go fast, trust me. This baby is slick enough without those needles. Pair the Kidsilk Haze with your slowest, most trusty needles. 3) Keep calm and carry on. Not only a good rule to live by in WWII but also with this yarn. Mistakes will happen; you will get frustrated. But your project will turn out lovely. Mohair is tricky for everyone. But it will work out. Be patient and keep at it. You cannot sail big ships unless you go in deep waters.
My colloquial sayings article is at an end (man, I love those metaphors!)
LaLa Scarf: pattern found in Greetings from Knit cafe
I truly hate to write reviews of this nature: the love/hate variety. If I love something, words flow from my fingers with a vengeance and the same can be said for hate. It is when I both love and dislike something that my mind gets muddled and I can't decide which way to go and which characteristics to give precedence to. Arranging your compliments and complaints in a certain order can sway a reader as much as your words. Let's go with stream of consciousness with this and see how we do.
First, I want to clear and air. Love/hate is a saying that easily comes to mind but I feel that my relationship with the LaLa Scarf is LOVE (note the capitals)/ Grrr. I love the finished product. I love the color combinations and possibilities. I love the delicate and small nature of the scarf and I love the look of mohair and the ruffle specifically in mohair. The Grrr comes in because I found this pattern frustrating and not all was due to the pattern but also to my own hang-ups. First, I was confused by the pattern in places. The eyelet row instructs you to do a double YO first and then each eyelet following you should wrap the yarn 3 times. I found this ambiguous. I did as instructed but the eyelets were too big, looked sloppy and floppy and not quite right. The following eyelet rows I just did the double YO all the way across and it looks MUCH better and appropriate. If this is correct, what does the wrap 3 times allude to? I also had a really tough time on the picot loops. I followed the instructions for about 4-5 picot loops but found that my loops looked like rats nests and proceeded to carefully and awkwardly frog back and try again. I went slower this time but with the same result. I decided to leave off the loops and bind-off with the light green yarn to add a whisper of color at the bottom of the ruffle. I used Rowan Kid Silk Haze in Garden and Jelly.
The finished scarf is deliciously soft, flowy and delicate. I can imagine wearing this with a light t-shirt, jeans and tall boots to add color to an outfit and to take it from casual to luxurious. LaLa would also brighten a holiday dress or keep your neck warm on a stroll to take in the holiday lights. This pattern could accommodate other lightweight yarns for a sleeker look should you have a friend who is less mohair and more cashmere. Or a combination there of. Due to my hang-ups with mohair (it is so thin that it floats on air and glides so quickly across your needle that control is difficult) I would knit the bulk of the scarf in cashmere or alpaca and the ruffle in mohair (the ruffle looks amazing in mohair).
When I was pregnant and registering, I listed MANY books but the one I wanted the very most was Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby. Yes, the cover looks antiquated, the overall style screams earlier decades and the book looks like it was put together, illustrated and planned for the 1970/80's but you must look past that to find the best sewing book for babies. I mean no disrespect to all the other baby books out there. They are great and I love sewing from them but this is the Bible/ Farmer's Almanac of sewing for baby books out there. Let's face it baby fashion hasn't really changed that much from when this book was conceived. Onesies, jumpers, dresses, & footed PJs are still the staples of baby closets from coast to coast. The only difference is from year to year the details change. What this book is prepared to offer you are the patterns and simple directions to create your baby wardrobe with customizations that are popular now. Each section shows you some customizations and points out where in the instructions and on the pattern you can make your own. Couple these customizations with choosing your own fabric and you can couture your little bundle to the sky and it will cost you a fraction and because our Wee Ones are so wee, it will take a fraction of your day.
I was lucky enough to be gifted this book at one of my showers by a very lovely neighbor. I spent many happy nap times drawing pattern changes, rummaging through my notions and trim drawers, cutting several patterns at a time and sewing up a new outfit by the time my little bit woke up. I was so excited because my babe was gifted long legs and (because I use cloth diapers) an ample booty, so thanks to this book I was able to make most of her pants to fit her exactly. Pjs were another problem for the same reasons. Dresses were just plain fun simply because they are so lovely and much easier than I imagined. If you are expecting a child, grandchild or know someone who is, Kwik Sew's Sewing for baby is a wonderful gift. It is like teaching a man to fish.Made from quilting cotton from our Retro Mod sectionKnot dress made from modified pattern pieces from Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby and quilting cotton, cotton sateen, & linen. Bodice is lined. Made from pants pattern and cotton jersey.
Of all the knitting bags I have made (it might be JUST short of 100), Amy Butler's Stash N Dash is one of the top 3. It is perfect for knitting on the go (which I do a lot), small projects (my current obsession), socks and gifts. I made the biggest, Toiletry Bag, and it is perfect. I have decided I can use it as a project bag- in which I only have to pull out my needle, zip it and knit. It holds my yarn, tangle free and keeps it from rolling all over. This is also perfect when just knitting on the couch (keeps my yarn from little fingers) or at the Doctor's office. The strap hangs from your wrist so you can wear your yarn and quickly stash it away. The toiletry bag is also great for notions, wristlet for quick shopping trips, or a treasure bag for a little lady or man to tote their polished rocks, shiny coins or red marbles around. Oh and the bag is more spacious inside than it looks on the outside.
The Stash N Dash is quick to cut and sew up. I used a combo of quilting cotton (strap and top of bag) and home dec (lining and bottom of the bag) so I just interfaced the quilting cotton. Some more bags are definitely coming up and I am thinking of adding the straps or a little loop to hook a strap onto the smaller bags. These bags are a great option for Christmas presents because you can create a set in any fabric to match the recipient: dupioni silk for my sister in law, funky cotton for my mom and solids for my mother-in-law. These are also great teacher gifts, neighbors and the friend who has everything.
The perfect beginning to the fall fashion season is a good jacket and in my eyes there is no better jacket than the Midtown Trench by Indygo Junction. This was a surprisingly quick project. With all the details and beautiful flares in this pattern (large cuff, box pleats, and portrait collar) I would have thought that this was a time investment but the opposite was the case. The pattern was very well written and it seemed everything lined up and was excellently illustrated. The only trouble I had was with the hem. I ended up doing a 2.5 in. double turn hem as opposed to what was written. Also my auto buttonhole foot did not accommodate 1.25 in. buttons so I had to free hand it. I have learned that button holes are not my forte. Now buttons, I rocked those. No one sews on a button like Tara Miller. I kept the hand sewing to a minimum by doing the double turn hem and I stitched in the ditch to tack down the facings at the shoulders. That worked well. I would recommend any of our designer prints for this or smooth sateen or twill fabric. I used a size 14 needle and all purpose thread. You will need a large space to layout and cut your fabric; some of the pattern pieces are large. The fabric is Love by Amy Butler and it was great fun to work with as well. Not a big hit with the husband but all my girlfriends and mom loved it.
The top stitching incorporated in the pattern adds a lovely and professional finished. The back box pleats really add some extra swing to this jacket. The ¾ length sleeves, large cuffs and wide portrait collar are really 'on trend' but are still classics to last years. The fact that this jacket is so quick makes it easy to make several in different patterns and colors. There are 2 different versions included in the pattern. I made the shorter version without patch pockets. You can make the short for a fall jacket in some of our designer prints and the longer in laminated cotton as a great rain coat. The jacket called for 3 3/8 yd of 60 in. fabric and 3 7/8 yd of 45 in. fabric, 1/8 yd of interfacing and five 1 to 1 1/4 in. buttons. I used 5 of our ceramic buttons in a herringbone pattern. They look incredible with this print; the buttons match perfectly.