aswim in knits

Monday, July 31, 2006

crafty weekend ...

My apartment looks like a giant craft/yarn/fabric store exploded inside. This was not helped by the 3-night visit of our 8-year-old niece.

Look ... she's crafty too!!

She learned to use the sewing machine (with a lot of adult assistance) and made a bag out of some fabric scraps from my skirt and some ribbon leftover from my wedding invitations. Yay for using up stash!!

Then, we made a leash for her new stuffed dog, Fluffy.

And, last but not least, I started another new knitting project. This is the "Hearts and Stars" blanket from Adorable Knits for Tots by Zoe Mellor. It's a christening gift for a baby who was baptized on June 4. I thought I'd best get started on it now, before it becomes a birthday gift in November!

The yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, color "Wild Orange" -- Baby J's mom requested an orange blanket, and this one is a little deeper than most standard oranges. I couldn't find a photo of the blanket on line, unfortunately. It is knit in one piece, but with moss stitch "borders" and "sashing" between blocks with raised moss stitch stars and hearts. Very cute!

Friday, July 28, 2006


Things I've been inspired by this week ...

rectangular shawls


purses and a tutorial

Japanese bags

pear shaped pin cushions

another bag tutorial (this one for a shoulderbag)

zip-up pouch tutorial

front-zip pouch tutorial

free patterns for baby clothes

baby shoes

craft studio

a new online fabric shop

Thursday, July 27, 2006

tis the season ...

... to start Christmas knitting!

In that spirit, I started some socks for the mother-in-law. Remember these ones from last year? That I finished at the absolute last minute? I don't want to repeat that again this year!

So, I bought yarn at Purl last month. I went to a conference a couple of weeks ago and I tried a few different patterns from my Charlene Schurch book. The first one came out huge, and I just didn't like the second pattern I tried. to the rescue! Here is the new and improved sock -- Baudelaire. (Hee hee, if this was a series of sock patterns, would Rimbaud be next??)

Of course, not wanting to bother much with directions, I subbed my own short row toe construction instead of the figure-8 toe. Although I am looking forward to trying out the toe-up gusset and heel flap!

I'm not using my standard Addi's for these socks. I like my Koigu just a bit tighter, so I am using some size 1 Clover bamboos which are between Addi's size 0 (too tight) and size 1 (too loose) needles. I bought a second pair so that I can still knit both socks at once!

Earlier this month, I also finished another pair of socks. (Predictable, eh??)

I worked on these while at a conference, and cranked through them. They are just my basic cuff-down sock, these ones over 64 sts, with an inch of twisted ribbing at the top. The yarn is Artyarns Ultramerino 4 (need to find those ball bands!) and I used my size 1 Addis.

Stay tuned for more craftiness to come!

Monday, July 24, 2006

home again

I'm back! I'm glad to be home again. Between June 13 and July 22, I was on the road or out of town for 23 of 40 days.

I now have a backlog of crafty things to attend to, and some completed (or newly purchased) items to show. But, since I am still feeling scattered, I can't promise that I will do this in any sort of coherent order!

First up, more sewing supplies:

On one of my days at home, I went to Winmill Fabrics and bought some fabric for more summer skirts.

This striped fabric (thread shown for scale) will be used to make this skirt.

This riotously colored stuff will also be for a skirt, probably another one of these ones, but without the ribbons...
I also tried to buy some orange sock monkey fabric to make pajama pants for Thom, but it is sold out everywhere that I looked. Bah!

Tonight might just be a sewing night ...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

gone away again

I got back from my conference in Rhode Island last night. In an hour, I'm leaving for a week at a synchronized swim meet in Orlando, with a side trip to visit my grandmother in Leesburg.

Knitting happened this week, but time to blog about it did not. So, pix upon return...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


We regret to inform you that this knitting blog has been temporarily hijacked by -- gasp! -- sewing projects of all stripes.

Maybe it's the hot weather, but my knitting is not calling to me. However, sewing projects offer a quick return on time invested, and seem much more summer-appropriate than wool socks.* I've been dreaming of all sorts of summery skirts, headbands, and bags recently.

Last night, I found myself with a spare hour, and ended up adding a few patterns to my collection.

This pattern (below) will become pajama pants for Thom, perhaps made out of some orange sock monkeys...

This next one is for my niece Gracie who outgrew her strawberry dress from last summer. I am having a hard time finding a good dress pattern for her. She is 4 1/2 years old, but very big for her age and wears at least a size 10. Most of the cute girls dresses only run through size 8. Most dresses in size 10 just look too grown-up for her. This is one of two patterns that I found that I liked, but it's a little too fancy for everyday wear, I think.

This other pattern, below, also might work, but I want something more "little girl" -- this one looks like I could make it in my size and wear it to work!

So, I'm thinking that I could take one of the patterns below and alter it to made it a little bit bigger. I've never done any pattern drafting before, but I'm sure it can't be too hard to alter a relatively simple pattern, right? Besides, with all the knitting and swimsuit designing/fitting that I have done, I have a good idea of how garments are constructed.

* No worries, I have another conference for work this week, Wednesday-Friday. Last year, I was introduced as one of "the knitters", so clearly it will be ok to whip out the socks during the presentations!! Hopefully, I will return with a new pair of socks, and possibly even have cast on for another pair...

Friday, July 07, 2006

thanks, and some inspirations

Thank you all for your kind words about my skirt! All day long, the Mafia was telling anyone who would listen that I made it all by myself!

Later today, one of my seventeen year old swimmers told me she really liked the skirt and thought it was cute. She looked really impressed when I said "thanks, I made it when I got home from practice last night!" Although, first she thought I was joking. I guess that's the best compliment :)


When not sewing, I have been circling the crafty blogs. Some things that have inspired me recently ...

Patchwork journals

Applique initial t-shirts

Girlie gifts

Baby gifts

Bags galore

Freezer paper stencils

More freezer paper stencils

Restful blue rooms

Homemade "California Mix" (June 29 entry)

Pinwheel quilt tutorial (see the sidebar)

Cute kiddie PJs and clothes

A skirt with buttons

And a button belt too

Beautiful craft rooms

Baby quilts from baby's old clothes

The creation of a skirt: Day 2

Schedule, Day 2
Subtitle: Why it takes 3 1/2 hours to assemble a simple skirt

(the finished object)

  • Pin pattern pieces to fusible interfacing (umm ... I forgot about these pieces on Day 1!)
  • Cut interfacing
  • Read pattern directions again
  • Thread machine
  • Realize that thread tension is not properly adjusted
  • Fiddle with scrap fabric and thread upper tension control for 10 minutes
  • Read sewing machine manual
  • Realize that problem lies in bobbin thread tension
  • Find teeny tiny screwdriver to adjust teeny tiny screw on bobbin casing
  • Fiddle with scrap fabric and thread upper tension control for another 10 minutes, to match bobbin tension
  • Sew darts into front and back of skirt, sew back seam
  • Read zipper installation instructions
  • Read zipper installation instructions again
  • Read sewing machine manual, only to discover that the phrase "zipper foot" is nowhere to be found
  • Take out every attachment and match to photos in manual -- including oddities such as the multi-slotted binder attachment -- three unidentified attachments remain
  • Identify one of three remaining attachments as a zipper foot
  • Google part number of zipper foot to confirm this suspicion
  • Attempt to replace presser foot with zipper foot. Fiddle around for 10 minutes before remembering that the foot needs to be in the "up" position before replacing attachments. Attach zipper foot.
  • Install zipper
  • Look for seam ripper to remove basting stitches around zipper
  • Give up on finding seam ripper, use back-asswards method involving knitting scissors and pins to remove stitches
  • Sew side seams
  • Try skirt on for fit
  • Realize skirt is at least 2" too big around the waist, even though I measured my waist and followed instructions for the right size
  • Look at pattern pieces again -- probably would have fit better if I had made 1 size smaller
  • Restitch side seams, 1/2" further in
  • Fuse interfacing to pieces for skirt facing
  • Remember that I just altered the skirt, and need to do the same for facing
  • Cut 1/2" off sides of facing
  • Sew facing. Attach it to skirt
  • Try on skirt again
  • Sneak into bedroom without waking husband (it's now after 11:30pm) to look in mirror
  • Sneak out, get pins, return to mirror, adjust length of hem
  • Read sewing machine manual again to determine how to use adjustable hemmer attachment
  • Brain protests learning new skills at midnight
  • Give up on learning how to use adjustable hemmer attachment
  • Turn up edges of skirt and stitch 1/4 from edge
  • Finish handsewing -- sew facing edge to zipper tape, tack down facing to side seams, install hook and eye closure
  • Go to bed
The next day ...

Despite the length of time it took, this was a fun project. Now that I've figured out how to use the sewing machine better, the next one should go quicker.

I've also figured out some pattern adjustments for a better fit. This skirt is still a bit large, so I will redraft the pattern to make it 1/2 size smaller for the next skirt. I'll also take in the hips a bit, since my waist is proportionally larger than my hips. And I'll learn to use the adjustable hemmer attachment next time. (Or explore the use of bias tape instead!)

(At least I learned to use the zipper foot this time ...)

Since the skirt only requires the purchase 1 1/2 yards of fabric and a zipper, it's an inexpensive project. Since it's a simple pattern, it's also a great way to play with embellishments. I'm definitely thinking about something with an applique, some sequins or beads or buttons, or some trim, or some combination of the above, for my next version.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The creation of a skirt: Day 1

Schedule, Day 1

  • pre-shrink fabric (hot water wash/high heat cycle in the dryer)
    (technically, I did this before Day 1, as I did it at the same time as our regular laundry was going...)
  • iron fabric
  • read pattern directions
  • iron pattern pieces
  • locate scissors
  • find episode of Law and Order on tv (my mindless "watch while crafting" show of choice)
    (Side note: why doesn't Comcast have L&O on its DirecTV offerings??)
  • cut out pattern pieces
  • find pins and cloth shears
  • pin pattern pieces to fabric
  • cut out fabric pieces
  • pile everything up where husband is not likely to step on it
  • go to bed

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


While I promise that I am still knitting, and plugging away on some ongoing WIPs, I must admit that I have strayed into the world of fabric.

I recently discovered a whole new world of crafty blogs -- people who may knit, but also sew, quilt, and craft in many other media -- and have been inspired to branch out beyond knitting.

So, in a moment of inspiration, I took a long lunch on Monday and went to Winmil Fabrics in Boston. I wasn't sure what I was looking for, but had heard that Winmil had great prices on all sorts of fabrics. The store is decidedly lacking in atmosphere, but the prices more than make up for the warehouse-like effect.

I ended up coming home with this Marimekko look-alike print.

(My fabric, $3.98/yard)

(genuine Marimekko print, $38/yard!)

I also bought a skirt pattern to make a simple summer skirt. Everything, including zipper, thread, etc., totalled less than $15. I wanted to work on it during yesterday's holiday, but I ended up sleeping all day instead. Hopefully, I can get some work done in the evenings this week and have a new skirt for the weekend!

Monday, July 03, 2006

home again

Yesterday morning, I got home from the 2006 Age Group National Championships in Seattle, and proceeded to sleep for most of the day.

We had a great meet -- 5 routines earned national top 10 rankings in their event. Here are a few photos of our top team in action -- they came home with a 10th place finish in their age group.

I was so busy all week, that all I accomplished was about an inch of a sock, and that included 2 plane flights of four and a half hours each!

But, craftiness resumed today, with a purchase made on my lunch hour. Pics tomorrow!