Saturday, June 11, 2022

Winslow: Quick and Easy

 Here are my new Winslow Culottes. I made them in a floaty Japanese cotton from Closet Core.

Helen's Closet offers instructions for numerous hacks of this pattern, two of which I employed -- the elastic back and the slash pockets. Sewing Therapy also has a useful video showing how to make the culottes step-by-step. I love the flat front (with the elastic back hidden under my jacket) and the deep pleats. The culottes also look great layered under my York Pinafores. A win, for sure.

P.S. My sewing room in the background is another room in dire need of a paint makeover. However, it'll have to wait. This week's big excitement is the installation of central air conditioning. Naturally, in the perverse way of things, we are having the coolest summer I can remember, but at least we'll be prepared.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Tutorial: How to Sew Darts

This is another of my sewing tutorials for Isabel, who is now living and working not here in Kingston. 

1. Gather your materials. You will need:

your pattern, with darts marked, your cut fabric, tailor's chalk or a water soluble pencil to do the marking, pins, and a ruler. I prefer chalk since it is so easy to use and remove. See the purple gizmo? That's my Dritz chalk sharpener. Such a useful little piece of plastic! 

2. Working on each side of the bodice separately and with the WRONG side facing, lay the pattern piece over the fabric piece, carefully lining everything up.

Anchor the pattern piece down in the areas above and below the dart. Here I am using a knitting magazine and some coasters. You don't need fancy pattern weights. I like having my self-healing mat underneath because it keeps the fabric from sliding around.

3. Gently lift the outer edges of the pattern over the dart and mark where the top and bottom of the dart meet the fabric edge.

Make just small marks for now. IMPORTANT: Some darts have the centre fold line marked. You can ignore that; it's superfluous, and the fewer marks on your fabric the better.

4. Using a pin, poke a hole through both pattern piece and fabric at the apex of the dart.


Wiggle the pin around enough to make a visible (but not damaging!) hole in the fabric. 

5. Lift up the pattern piece and the pin and find the tiny hole. Mark a cross over it. The vertical line of the cross will be helpful later on during the sewing, so extend it a bit.

5. Take your ruler and use it to mark straight lines joining the centre of the cross to the markings at the edge of the fabric.

Make the markings heavy enough that they won't rub away while you pin the dart together in the next step. 

6. Now pin the outer lines of the dart together like this. You will need the fold to be to your right when you sew, so make sure the pins will be on the side of the fabric facing you when the fold is to your right. If you find your markings are fading, touch them up before you hit the machine.

7. Time to sew. Begin by backstitching at the outer edge of the fabric and use a regular stitch length until your get to about 1/2" before the apex.

8. At that point, switch your stitch length down almost as short as it will go.

9. Complete the dart, hand turning the needle for the last 1/4" as you taper into the apex, finishing up with just one or two threads at the very point. Cut the thread LEAVING 6" TAILS.


10. Now to the ironing board. Grab a sleeve ham if you have one. (If not, a balled washcloth can work in a pinch.) Remove all markings before you proceed. Chalk rubs away easily with a dry washcloth. If you used water soluble pencil, then rub it off with a damp washcloth. Begin by setting the stitches. Simply lay the iron on the folded seam, staying away from the point of the dart. KEEP THE IRON AWAY FROM THE APEX UNTIL LATER, AS INSTRUCTED.

11. Open up the dart and finger press it with the fold pointing DOWN toward the waist. Finger pressing will really help your finished dart to melt invisibly into the fabric. Continue to stay away from the apex.

12. Apply steam to the right side of the dart, still staying away from the apex.

13. Now lay the dart over the curved end of the sleeve ham and finger press the apex open until it is quite flat. Finally, apply steam to it. It should look like this, with no puckers.

14. Turn the dart to the wrong side and tie the thread ends in a square knot (right over left, left over right, or vice versa). Clip the thread ends to about 1/2" in length. 


Thursday, April 21, 2022


 I'm using up my leftovers to make this.

Truth be told, I like some of the Ravelry projects much more than the original. Like this one, and this.
The yarns are a jumble, from Cascade Eco+ to Berroco's Mercado. So far this is fun and quick, and hopefully useful.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

On the Verge

Is an early spring a warning sign of a hotter than normal summer? I hope not. Anyway, here we are still in March and the robins and red wing blackbirds are back and the ice on the lake is on the verge of breakup. This was the view out toward Wolfe Island this afternoon. Without the sound of the open surf, the lake is eerily silent, holding its breath for what's coming.

Continuing on with the black, white, and grey scheme, here are three of my March makes. From left to right: 

  • Pants #1 from 100 Acts of Sewing, my favourite trouser pattern (note that even though I am 5'1", I always add an extra inch to these and they're still slightly above my ankles) in linen/cotton,
  • York Pinafore from Helen's Closet in yarn dyed linen check from Blackbird Fabrics (I've lost count of how many of these I've made),
  • Felicia dress from Tessuti Fabrics, an Australian company, in grey/blue linen from Pure Linen Envy.

Since a girl can't exist only in grey scale, I'm making a new Glenora in this bright turquoise Cascade Eco+. I think the colour, "Pacific", has been discontinued.

When it first arrived via mail order I thought it was overwhelmingly bright, but on this rainy day it looks just right!

Thursday, February 10, 2022

In the Mail

Pont Neuf is done and, as of this morning, in the mail on its way to Isabel. I wish I could show you how it looks on her, but given that we no longer live in the same city, this is the best I can do.

In truth, the colour of the Scout yarn is actually closer to the picture below, taken while the sweater was blocking.


1. The waist shaping was compressed into a shorter space to account for Isabel's petite stature.

2. The lower border was shortened for the same reason.

3. The sleeves were made full length. While three quarter length sleeves look lovely, it cannot be denied that if you feel chilly enough to need to wear a wool sweater, you probably want your forearms to be warm too.

4. The buttons are sewn all the way through the two layers of borders. I learned this lesson with Petrova, which also features an asymmetrical closure. Neither sweater will ever be worn with the front fully open, so why bother with buttonholes when you don't need them. No one can tell just by looking that this Pont Neuf has no fully functioning buttonholes. Plus, Isabel won't have to worry about the sweater accidentally coming open from an overstretched buttonhole.

5. For the lower border bind off I used the same technique as recommended in the Pembroke Scarf. I think it's sometimes called a Shetland BO because it's often used for lace shawls. Anyway, it worked a treat for giving the lower edge a stretchy but tidy fit over the hips.

In the thick of winter I'm daydreaming about the paint job I'm going to do on our public rooms next spring. Out with the mismatched ceiling and trim colours that came with the house and the boring beige walls. And that awful light fixture in the vestibule.

Fantasy is cheap!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Siren Call of Hand-Dyed Skeins

It's been so long since I've been in a actual yarn shop. Sigh. However, I still have a few hand-dyed skeins lurking in my (nowhere near depleted) stash. They're the equivalent of fast food or candy for knitters. You've probably been in this scenario. You're browsing in a yarn shop, not meaning to make a big purchase (because you have more than enough yarn already), and you're getting ready to leave, but then you see the wall of hand-dyed goodies. The colours! Your pulse beats a little faster, and you tell yourself it's only one skein. Then you buy a couple -- because it's not like buying a truckload of wool for a sweater. And only when you get home do you realize that there might be an bit of an issue (and I don't mean with the size of your stash).

The thing is, apart from tonally dyed yarns, hand-dyed yarns present a problem. In the skein, hanging innocently in the yarn shop, they look like this.

Ok, I'll admit I'm in an aqua/grape rut colourwise. That's not the problem. The difficulty is that when you spread out the skein, the colour splotches are localized in one or more spots, like this.

It's a result of the dye method which typically involves squirting or painting dye onto the skein while it's wound as shown above. When turned into a cake and knitted up into something like a sock, the colours will pool in ugly, undesirable ways. So what's a knitter to do? 

There are lots of suggestions online and in books for things to do with these gems, ranging from which projects work best to what stitches will blend the colour changes harmoniously. I'll let you do your own internet search. I have my own solution. Pembroke. The garter stitch, combined with the gradually lengthening rows result in an almost woven look. It's fun to knit and soothing. Some would say "numbing", but there are indeed times when you may want your brain to focus on something other than your hands.

Even with Pembroke, a tiny smidgen of pooling can occur,

but it's brief, and when the scarf is worn no one will notice. So satisfying.

As I write, the afternoon temp here is minus 17C (plus 1F). The house was creaking and popping last night. The car windows are frozen shut. Can anyone ever have enough scarves at this time of the year?

Friday, December 31, 2021

Pont Neuf

For the last week I've been working on Pont Neuf, a design by Emily Wessel of Tin Can Knits. This feminine sweater originally came out in the now defunct Twist Collective magazine, the same publication in which my designs Brookline, Vinland, and Sandridge appeared. The fact that I'm familiar with the pattern format and editing style makes knitting this so much easier. Of course, I'm having to make changes to fit Isabel's petite figure, but so far it's been pretty smooth sailing. I'm in the midst of a pause today while the body is blocking. Isabel will be moving away from Kingston later this week, and I need to be sure the sizing is on track before she departs. (Yes, my mother anxiety is at fever pitch with a move at the height of the Omicron wave.)

Here's a closeup of the gorgeous lace.

Now I must go and put together a tourtiere for tonight's New Year's Eve dinner. Stay well.