Monday, May 29, 2017

cross training....

‘the action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise to improve fitness or performance in one's main sport’.
I do think of machine knitting as my main sport, and I haven’t been blogging for a bit because I haven’t been knitting too much lately…that last project I had in the line-up – I did name it ‘Sydney’ – I wasn’t jumping right into it, because, you know, that ol’ ‘fear-of-running-out-of-yarn’ feeling, but I’m up for it now – my friend Jeannie, the other day, after reading my post, sent me a message saying she had 2 cones of that same yarn, the cotton crepe from Silk City - she seemed to know it was 1900 yds/lb and she gave me her dye lot – exactly the same as mine! Wow! And she offered them to me if I ran short – I will have to get going on it now!
Anyway, what I was working on is sewing a dress and I wasn’t going to bore you with the details but then I decided to tell you anyway because it is sort of tied into my machine knitting, kind of like cross-training and if you didn’t want to hear about it all you have to do is stop reading!
Way back, sewing was my main sport before I took up machine knitting but it had fallen by the wayside. I have this June wedding to go to and thought I would like to have a sewn dress to wear instead of knits because nobody there will be aware of my position in the machine knitting world and if they did, Shannon’s wedding shrug will be enough to represent if you get my drift.
My friend Cathy has an extremely impressive stash of fabrics – I’m pretty sure she will take that competition hands down - you know that one about the one who dies with the most stuff wins - and she is always telling me to check with her before purchasing any fabric or patterns. I mentioned to her that I had an idea to make a  princess-seam dress with a vintage-like print fabric with a dark background and maybe leaves or floral but nothing too wild and I could wear my black Battenburg cardi with it if the day turns cold. She brought me a bag of 4 choices, about 5 yds each and a selection of patterns!

I really liked two of her offerings and one of the patterns seemed to be just what I had in mind. It was a bias-cut slip with a floaty-looking dress of the sheer fabric over it. I made the slip using a good Bemberg lining fabric in black, no sweat and then I cut out the dress using my second choice. It was incredibly time-consuming because each piece was bias-cut singly and then needed to be flipped and cut out again, requiring you to mark the right sides of each piece and keep track of the backs and fronts and the skirt had four pieces – arrgghh – and then it all had to be basted together to check the fit before actually doing any of the final sewing and, after the basting together and trying on, I really didn’t like the way it was going so I abandoned it – OMG! A UFO for MAO! Honestly, that never happens! But I do know when to cut my losses.
I really liked the black fabric and didn’t want to screw up. I searched through my old patterns again and found this jacket pattern that I’d never used but figured I could make it work by lengthening it, adding a zipper to the back, cutting the front on the fold and raising the neckline – sounds easy if you say it fast. I didn’t want to bother with facings that would show through so I cut bias strips of the lining fabric to use to finish the neck and arm edges. Also, the real tie-in to my machine knitting was that I wanted to design my own ‘bold/cold’ shoulder sleeve for this. I took the sleeve pattern tissue, folded the top down just above the underarm notches, leaving a half-inch for finishing, and curved the bottom hemline to create a loose drape at the elbow.
I’m pretty happy with my results and knew you’d want to see and I couldn’t wait for a photographer to show up so I took this selfie in my hall mirror! Check out the vintage skirt marker – I almost forgot I had that thing!
And through this all, it just re-enforced to me anyway that machine knitting is way easier than sewing!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I’m finishing up the watermelon GFH for Janet (I had it all made and took the pieces to the Raleigh seminar to use in my seaming class) – I need to finish the side seams and do the zipper. Am also working on the sleeve for the wedding shrug but because it is all hand-transferred lace, I like to have something else, not requiring such full concentration, to do, to give myself a break.
My next project has been percolating in my head for the past month. Janet (travel and hiking sister) wants a summer cardigan – we saw a lady wearing one that caught her attention when we were in Sydney – she was walking toward us and we both turned around to catch a look at the back of it - it was a handknit (popcorn stitch), but not too thick or heavy; sort of slouchy but not sloppy; casual but too casual with a partial shawl collar; three-quarter sleeve that was the underarm/shoulder extended, no sleeve seam; slightly longer in back with curved hemline ending just under the butt, and I’ve been day-dreaming about how to make it ever since.

The yarn was presenting the biggest problem because I want to make it on the standard gauge machine because of the popcorn-look. I figure I can use that basic tuck stitch to simulate the texture. I was planning to use the knit side, but so far, my swatches all look better to me on the purl side. I have a big cone of Softball cotton 2.2 in a neutral shade – we had discussed colours and she has a lot of jewel tones in her wardrobe but wanted to get away from that and try something different but she’s not sure what – I suggested pale gray, ecru, ivory…keeping it on the lighter, neutral shades that would kind of go with anything. I did swatch up the softball but it is knitting at T9-10 and after washing is like a piece of cardboard. Scratch that. My next option is a large cone of a cotton bouclĂ© that I’m not sure where it came from (I’ve had it that long) but the label says Silk City Fibers Cotton Crepe – they don’t even show it as discontinued so I’ve no idea of the yardage…I made two swatches of tucks, one at T7 and one at T8 – they both look sort of loose and soft and it’s not washed yet. I weighed the swatch – it’s 28g and I have 540g left on the cone. I took out a largish, long cardigan of mine and lay the swatch over the back – 6 swatches would make the back, double that for the front and 4 for the sleeves portion, so 16 X 28g is 448g – this might work! The swatches are in the dryer – watch for updates!

Monday, May 8, 2017

good karma...

I got to Raleigh, NC for the Carolinas Guild seminar with a few delays but I got there, only two hours late! With my luggage! That was my big fear. I had heard some bad things about air travel lately, especially going through Toronto – they are re-doing a couple of runways and between that and the weird weather, lots of cancellations! I was thanking the air travel gods for getting me there.
We had a blast! Thanks to Cindy, Rita, Sandra, Reba, Mary and whoever else pitched in to put together a great show! My buddy, Mike Becker from Distinctive Knits, was there to teach and had a great selection of tools, accessories and stuff. April Mills drove all the way from the west coast to teach and share her knitting expertise. My friend Sonia Burda came up from Florida; Kay (aka Grace) drove down from NY and it was like old home week! Annette Dirlam, a subscriber to Knitwords from day one was there and we had fun remembering the old days - she even brought a sweater that she had made from one of my original books from 1995 (Casual Classics, her version of Sage & Navy), I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of her in it - she wore it in the fashion show and it was a big hit! And Sandra England wore her 'Fit'n'Flare' which was her own design, submitted and published in Knitwords No 14 from  Autumn 2000 - proving that knitware does stand the test of time!
I got some great suggestions for what I should be doing for my next publication – I’ll let you know what I decide on!
To fill my travelling time I read ‘Testimony’ by Anita Shreve – 5 stars! I had read ‘Sea Glass’ and ‘The Pilot’s Wife’ in the past and enjoyed them as well and now I’ll have to search out more of her titles.
Am currently Netflixing ‘Last Tango In Halifax’ – it is heartwarming, heartbreaking, ridiculous, hilarious and I love it!
Going home seemed like a piece of cake and everything went smoothly but there was no luggage when I arrived in T Bay. No big deal! I didn’t have to carry it and they delivered it to my door this morning!
Oh and I forgot to tell you, Jason called me from Rockinghorse Farm in St Cloud, MN  and invited me back to their two day seminar in September (the 15th and 16th) –  I had such a good time there in 2015 and am thrilled to be asked back – I think they might like me! :-)  I’ll be working on something special for then – I’ve got four months!

Monday, May 1, 2017

progression of a design...

I have the base piece of the shrug knit and I’m really happy with it – it’s lovely and soft and the angora has a beautiful drape to it. I wanted to be sure that it would be long enough in the back before going any further so I decided that it would be good to get Shannon here to see how it was actually going to work for her – she’s like half a minute in size but reasonably tall and I thought this would be the time to see if maybe I should/could add a sleeve to it – after all, the date in June (the 17th) could be quite cool – there are no guarantees with our weather here and we’ve just had one of the worse ice storms at the end of freakin’ April so who knows?
Anyway, Shannon came and she was on the same page, that a sleeve might be a good idea – I told her I could make one, with a very snug fit and we could try it and then re-evaluate – the yarn is holding out really well - I have more than half left so I don’t expect any issues there – stay tuned! I'm heading to NC for this weekend and I have a few more samples to knit and some packing to do so I won't get to it until next week at the earliest...