Bits and Bobs of News

I’ve got so many irons on the fire these days that I’m feeling a little frazzled trying to coming up with a coherent format for all the news I want to share. So we’ll go with a list. I LOVE lists!

  1. sockbook-542x600It’s been making me crazy happy since it arrived in the post yesterday, so I wanted to share with you all that the Footie Socks pattern has been translated into Japanese and has been published in a curated collection by Amirisu!

    If you, or someone you know needs some great sock patterns in Japanese, this collection is wonderful! They have a great variety of socks styles, heels, and constructions.

    And the photos are absolutely gorgeous! Plus they’ve got kits 😀

  2. One of my favorite fabrics, Essex Linen from Robert Kaufmann, has just been released in a metallic yarn-dyed line! It’s amazing! I saw it in person at the Craftsy Instructor Summit and the sheen is subtle and manages to perfectly skirt the line between casual and refined. I’m trying to figure out what I want to make with it so I can order some yardage.
  3. tarkhandress01From BRAND NEW linen, to SUPER OLD linen…. The Tarkan Dress has been identified as the oldest known garment. It’s a 5000 year old linen dress from Egypt. It’s pretty amazing to think about the hands that spun the flax, wove the fabric, and made the tiny pleats. It was discovered in a tomb in 1913, but not identified until 1977.

    The discovery of this piece started me on a dig that also yielded this fascinating page of other historical garments found in graves.

    And for us sewing geeks, here’s how to reconstruct the Tarkan Dress. Pretty amazing.

  4. I got back from Chicago and YarnCon this week. I had a great time with my good friend Amanda and got to explore some textile hotspots there. If you’re going to Chicago, aside from the great yarn stores, check out Textile Discount Outlet. It was like a treasure hunt for fabrics and sewing miscellany! I spent a couple hours wandering around, and bought some silk and lace to make a slip along with a new Craftsy class I signed up for before I left called “Sewing Lingerie” (affiliate link).

    I also stopped by Soutache, which is just such a cheerful and wonderful place. All the beautiful vintage and antique display pieces hold buckles or tiny embellishments, so you can wander and explore and find surprises. The best kind of store.

This week I need to start gearing up for some new classes I’m teaching at Vogueknitting Live in Pasadena next month, and hopefully release a new pattern that’s been tech edited and just needs a layout and a final review.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend!

M

p.s. the inimitable Stephen West has declared April to be International Shawl Month. Tag stuff with #shawlmonth. And if you want one of my shawls for it, use the code AllTheShawls2016 and you can get 20% off any of my shawl patterns.

SPRING!! Thank God!

IMG_20160315_131731The last week in Utah has seen a sleeveless day, a blizzard, and back to normal spring weather. All of this is normal for Spring in the high desert, but it’s made me start thinking about my garden and green growing things. I walked around downtown yesterday running some errands and the flowering trees are in bloom. I saw a bright yellow forsythia right next to a weeping cherry tree and it was so cheerful I stopped and looked at it for a minute.

 

The new beginning of the season always has be thinking about new projects too. I have a stack of sewing (a lawn/voile quilt top, and some new spring dresses) planned, and some hybrid crochet/sewing projects to work on during the weekends, but for now I’ve cast on a new sock project for an upcoming Dragonfly Fibers club shipment. I love the joy and excitement that comes with a new project, and I think you do too. So from now until the end of the month (31-March, Midnight Mountain Time), I’m offering 20% off all the patterns (and collections) in my Ravelry Store. I hope you start something new! If you’re looking for ideas, how about a Daelin Shawl, it works up quickly in a sport weight yarn, and would be a nice addition on a chilly morning walk. Or how about a Nesoi Tee if you’re planning ahead to your summer wardrobe.

Building a Handsewn Wardrobe

HandsewnTopWhile I was at the Craftsy Instructor Summit, I sewed a top. I had packed small (and at the last minute) and was presented with the choice of wearing a shirt a second day or making something new. I had bought a remnant of chambray from Fancy Tiger Crafts, Laura Nelkin found a needle in her travel sewing kit, and thus #SewAShirtToday was born. There were no sewing machines, but we had been given swag bags with thread and pre-cuts of quilting fabric (which turned into the log-cabiny pockets). I had a bunch of time sitting and listening to speakers, so I sewed.

I brought my hexagon Dress no. 1 and used that as a template to cut the upper body (which ensured that the armholes, neckline and bust would fit).

Some people expressed disbelief that I would hand-sew a garment. But this wasn’t new for me. I’ve made some beautiful Alabama Chanin style pieces. I sewed an Endless Summer Tunic by hand because I wanted to sew it, but also wanted to spend the weekend at the local coffee shop with The Dude instead of hunched over a sewing machine.
I’ve also been working (with long stretches of not working) on a medieval costume for my youngest brother. I’ve been drafting and handstitching the whole thing. From linen shirt, to bias-cut hose, to the astonishingly complicated cotehardee (which is done now except for the buttons and buttonholes).

I love the slowness. I love that I think about every stitch. I love that there is so much of myself put into it. So here’s some tips that I’ve been thinking about while I work on my newest garment, a pinafore inspired by this one I’ve had in my pinterest board for an eternity.

  1. IMAG0991Start with something simple. The great thing about the Alabama Chanin pieces is that they don’t actually REQUIRE a bunch of finishing. The cut edges of cotton jersey will roll in a fetching way all on their own. So you only have to sew the seams to get a workable garment.
  2. Sew internal seams first. If you’re new to hand-stitching it’s likely your stitches will be uneven, and not particularly straight. Don’t be afraid to mark the stitching line with a water soluble fabric pen. This is a little backward from how machine sewn garments are usually put together, but it will hide your somewhat wonky starter stitches inside so you don’t have to continually look at them. Also, if you’re winging it, it means you can try it on as you go and get a better idea of the fit.
  3. Love your thread. This is another thing I learned from Natalie Chanin’s class and books. Watch this video. It’s a technique that takes some of the extra twist out of your thread and preps it to slide more easily through your fabric. In fact, check out her other tips. They’re great.
  4. IMAG0992If you sew with the right fabric, you don’t need an iron. You just need a couple of tools. Personally, I love my hera marker (shown right) for creasing seams, but when I didn’t have it at the Summit, I used the flat end of a spool of thread. Worked a treat.
  5. Try a couple types of thread. For the non-obvious bits of this pinafore I use a standard polyester or polyester covered thread. But for the top-stitched bits I like to use a cordonette or other larger thread. I love the way it accentuates the hand-sewn nature of the garment. Especially with something as tightly woven as this chambray.
  6. Don’t be afraid to switch stuff up. I made a facing for the neck-edge of this pinafore, and while I was stitching it down I realized it would make a great neckline detail. So I turned the whole thing inside out.
  7. Add your own details. As I sew I think about wearing the garment. I think about stress points in the piecing. I put extra reinforcing whip stitches on those points. I use contrasting bias tape inside and I flat fell the seams. In less consumerist times people actually inherited items of handsewn clothing. Make it to last.

So go handsew something!

Daelin Shawl

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Daelin3Daelin is a soft crescent-shaped shawl, perfectly sized to be worn as either a scarf or a shoulder shawl.  With squishy garter stitch up top, and a progression of lute- like lace on the edge, it features a sweet stitch cluster and a subtle picot edge.

Daelin2

Yarn: 550 yards of sport weight yarn. Shown in Dragonfly Fibers Damsel (335 yds/115 gm, 100% Merino Wool) in ‘Mossy Bank’.

Gauge: 20 sts and 36 rows in 4 inches (10 cm) square in garter stitch after blocking.

Needles: 32 inch (80 cm) circular needle, 4mm (US6) or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: 4 markers (2 each in 2 colors for the center panel and for the edgings), safety pin style marker for marking RS of work.

Finished Size: 64 inches (162.5 cm) across wingspan, 18 inches (45.75 cm) from cast on to bind off.

Techniques Used: knit, purl, yarnover, k2tog, ssk, sl1 k2tog psso, Centered Double Decrease, p3tog, dropped k1-yo-k1, (k1, yo, k1) into the same stitch, use of markers.

 

Daelin1

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It’s also available on Craftsy :)

Spring 2016 Wardrobe Planning

I’ve been absolutely jam packed with work knitting and longing to take some time for some personal crafting. I’ve got giant piles of fabric and patterns, and with the weather changing (we slept with the window open last night!) I’m starting to think about swingy linen dresses and cotton voile.

And then my friend Eileen posted a denim wrap skirt from Anthropologie and I went down a rabbit hole.

Screenshot 2016-02-28 12.38.53

Screenshot 2016-02-28 12.32.58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I instantly thought about Art Gallery Fabrics’ new denim line and went to look at what they had. I found this beautiful printed denim and went NUTS thinking about doing some over-stitching on the print around the bottom hem of the skirt. It’s gonna be AMAZING. I ordered the denim along with a fabric I need for a future quilt from Hawthorne Threads.

Screenshot 2016-02-29 10.06.39

Screenshot 2016-02-29 10.09.17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then I started thinking about swingy linen dresses. I have this Brussels Washer Linen to make Hawthorne from Colette Patterns. I can’t decide if I want the collar or not. What do you think?

Screenshot 2016-02-29 10.17.47

PaisleyBorderPrintVoile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also got a beautiful paisley border print cotton voile from my local fabric shop, Tissú. I plan to make a drawstring waisted sundress, probably like this, but longer and maybe a fuller skirt. The fabric fades to just the indigo background color across the width. It’s lovely!

I think there’s gonna be a linen jersey version of Dress no. 1 from 100 Acts of Sewing, and maybe another Endless Summer Tunic in some of my stash of Essex Linen (one of my favorite fabrics for clothes!), or in one of the cotton voile cuts I’ve gathered. I feel a fabric dive coming on.

What does your wardrobe need to be ready for spring? I’d love to add a bunch of laceweight and fingering weight cardigans to this mix, but my knitting time is for work these days.

M

A Stitch Map is Worth 1,000 Words

Chart for the crochet motifs in the Apiculturist Scarf

Chart for the crochet motifs in the Apiculturist Scarf

In the creative universe there’s nothing quite so straight forward as a crochet chart. Crochet can be a little intimidating to knitters. With knitting we are presented one stitch after another and each stitch has instructions about what to do with it. But crochet is much more free-form.

 

Some stitches are skipped entirely, some stitches require multiple things to happen to them, and with crochet there’s not necessarily an ‘end of row’ as a natural stopping point. It can keep going and going in an eternal spiral.

 

But a crochet chart clarifies all those confusions. It visually shows you exactly where each stitch goes, and how it interacts with the stitches around it. That’s one thing that traditional knitting charts lack. We use no-stitch boxes to make knitting charts square, and in the pursuit of right angles, we loose a lot of information about how the stitches interact. What if a m5 into 1 actually made 5 stitches grow out of one?

 

Screenshot 2016-02-21 10.53.05And that, my friends, is where the genius of JC Briar comes in. JC comes to knitting with a focused and technical outlook, and her engineering mind has given us Stitch Maps.

 

Something upright and straightforward like ribbing looks the same in the chart as it does in the swatch, but when you start getting into patterns with lots of increase and decrease, the charts get much less square. Let’s take this swatch for an example. The “ribbons” in this Ribbons & Rosettes pattern take quite a bit of chart maneuvering to show up as stacked twisted knits in a traditional chart.

 

Screenshot 2016-02-21 10.52.50

But take a look at the stitch map for the same pattern. The “ribbons” can stack and undulate exactly the way they do in the swatch. The way the edge of the stitch map ripples mimics the way the edge of the swatch does the same. It’s the visually exacting equivalent of a crochet  chart, but for knitting. And it fills me with glee.

 

JC has started a library of Stitch Maps (that you can contribute to if you so desire – you just have to create a free account). I’m thinking of including a link to the stitch map version of each chart in future lace pattern pdfs. What do you think? Would you find this helpful or interesting? Feedback is appreciated.

 

Also, if you get a chance, take a class from JC. Every conversation I have with her leaves me enthused and creatively rejuvenated.

M

The Magic of Blocking

WeltSweaterDetailI’ve been working on what seemed like a simple sweater for the last month. It got ripped back a couple of times. A month is a long time for me to be working on a single project. So I was pretty over it by the time it finally came off my needles on Sunday.

The sweater (currently unnamed) is a top-down seamless cardigan, with a clean and striking welt pattern on the right front.  I wanted to design a sweater that would be easily wearable all the time. The kind of sweater you toss on when you’re chilly, and throw in your bag just in case.

The color is hard to capture without a properly lit photo shoot. It’s a very dark, earthy, multi-hued green. The color is Thyme from Baah Yarns.

 

WeltSweaterSideBySide

If you’ve ever doubted the magic of blocking, let this be a visual lesson to you. This is the same sweater before and after blocking. It’s a fingering weight superwash wool knit on US 3 needles, so it’s not SUPER open and drapey, but look at the amazing difference! It’s at least 9″ longer after blocking, and the way the shoulders and neck fit in the after is pretty drastic.

This is why my first question when people are having gauge issues is “Did you wash and block your gauge swatch?” Imagine if I had swatched and NOT washed and blocked it. It would have turned out a hot mess.

 

My Recommended Craftsy Classes

I’m a lover of learning. I’m a Craftsy instructor, and I’m also a Craftsy student. It’s so easy to take a class when you can do it on your own time and in your own home (and your own pajamas). I’m often asked what my favorite resources are for the things I make, so I’ve collected them in one place for easy access.

Full disclosure, these links will kick back a bit of the class price to me if you sign up through my link. If you prefer not to, you can go to Craftsy.com and just search for the class title. 😀

Lace Knitting Classes:

Other Fun Knitting Techniques:

  • Brioche is really fun, and there’s been a great proliferation of Brioche patterns in the last year or two, so check out Mercedes Tarasovich’s Brioche Knitting Made Easy. The patterns in the class are really great!
  • I really enjoyed Franklin Habit’s A Practical Approach to Color for Knitters. It’s full of ways to pick color that don’t require a knowledge of color theory, plus tips for knitting colorwork.
  • Nothing beats Clara Parkes’ knowledge of yarn, so check out her Know Your Yarn class.

Crochet:

Garment Sewing:

  • By far my most-watched sewing class, Sewing with Knits from Meg McElwee. No serger necessary, just a regular sewing machine and a walking foot (which she tells you all about)
  • For making a toile (or a muslin) and making a perfect fit for yourself, I really like The Couture Dress.
  • Craftsy has a series of Sloper classes. Slopers are base garments that are made to your measurements and then used as a base for a bunch of different styles. They have a sloper class for Pants, Bodices, Skirts, and for Knit Fabrics. Then, to customize your slopers, they have classes on Darts & Seam Lines, Collars & Closures, Necklines, and Sleeves. All in all, it’s a pretty comprehensive class in customized pattern-making.

Cooking:

  • I love Pho, it’s amazing, but making it has always intimidated me. Vietnamese Classics: Pho, Noodles and Beyond offers a quicky version as well as the traditional long-cooked version. It’s awesome.
  • I feel that sauce is what elevates a regular meal to a gourmet awesomeness. A Modern Take on the Mother Sauces teaches basics and variations on Béchamel, Beurre Blanc, Tomato Sauces, Brown Sauces, Velouté, Mayonnaise & Aioli, and Hollandaise & Béarnaise. It’s awesome.
  • Roasting is one of my favorite cooking techniques. It fills my house with amazing smells, it gives a lot of flavor, and it’s relatively simple. So this class from Molly Stevens called Roasting Techniques Every Cook Should Know is perfect! Give it a shot!

Have fun! And go learn something new!

Mora Shawl

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Mora1

From the stockinette leaf motifs to the open honeycomb lace, this shawl delights in playing with positive and negative space. Taking a twist on an Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi Shawl, this half-circle shawl is drapey and elegant no matter how you wear it.

Mora2
Yarn: 600 yards of lace weight yarn. Sample in Mrs Crosby Reticule (100% Superwash Merino, 840 yds/100g). Shown in “Boston Fern”.

Gauge: 23 sts & 27 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) square in stockinette after blocking.

Needles: 3.75mm (US5) 32-inch (80 cm) circular needle or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: crochet hook near the mm size of the needles used, tapestry needle to weave in ends, and wires or string and pins for blocking.

Finished Size: 60 inches (152.5 cm) across the wingspan, 28 inches (71 cm) from nape of neck down.

Techniques Used: knit, purl, slipped stitches with yarn in front. k2tog, p2tog, yarnover, double yarnover, ssk,sl1 k2tog psso, k3tog, p3tog, knit & purl into the same stitch, knitting and purling multiple stitches into a single yarnover, use of markers, crochet chains for bind off.

Mora4

This shawl is worked from the nape of the neck beginning with a garter tab. Stitches are picked up from the side and cast-on edge of the garter tab, then the shawl is worked outward in 3 directions from there. The edge is completed using a crochet bind off that results in a stretchy & decorative edge.

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It’s also available on Craftsy :)

Korda Socks

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Worked from the cuff down, and featuring a flattering chevron design, these socks are all about the details. From the tubular cast-on start to a flap inspired by
a silk stocking’s Cuban heel, to the chevron pattern continuing into the toe. These socks are sexy, feminine, and detailed just like Alberto Korda’s fashion photography of the 1950s & 60s.


Yarn: 300[350, 400] yards of ngering weight sock yarn. Sample in Mosaic Moon Med Twist MCN Fingering (80% Superwash Merino/10% Cashmere/10% Nylon, 434 yds/3.5 oz). Shown in “Exhale”.

Gauge: 17 sts & 26 rounds = 2 inches (5cm) square in Stockinette in larger needle.

Needles: 2.25mm (US1) & 2.0mm (US 0) needle(s) or size needed to obtain gauge. Use your preferred method for small circumference knitting: e.g. double points, magic loop or two-circulars.

Notions: 2 stitch markers, tapestry needle to weave in ends.

Finished Sizes: S[M, L] to t 7[8, 9] inch (17.75[20.25, 22.75]cm) foot circumferences. Negative ease is built in to the pattern.

Techniques Used: knit, purl, slipped stitches with yarn in front and in back, k2tog, yo, ssk, sl1 k2tog psso, use of markers.

These socks are knit in the round from the cuff down to the heel. Chart 3 begins the reinforced heel stitch that ows into the heel ap without interruption. The heel ap is then worked at. The heel is turned, and then stitches are picked up on the selvedge edges of the heel ap. Work is rejoined in the round and the gusset decreased. The foot is worked even until it measures approximately 1.75[2, 2.25] inches 4.5[5, 5.75]cm short of total foot length and then the toe is decreased, continuing the chevron pattern into the toe space. Live stitches are then grafted together to close the toe using kitchener stitch.

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It’s also available on Craftsy :)