Sunday, March 26, 2023

Wheatsheaves Scarf is Back!

Technology is always changing and forcing us to change along with it. When I first published the Wheatsheaves Scarf, it was my first attempt to chart a knitting pattern with Excel. I simply plugged the chart directly into the pattern, not realizing that when it was converted to a pdf some people would have difficulty printing it. Eventually I caught on and de-activated the pattern, meaning to come back and deal with it. Then we had a move to a new house, a pandemic, and our two kids left home. A lot of stuff happened. Then Microsoft Office support was terminated. For a while, I tried switching my patterns to Google Docs, and then to the free version of Microsoft Word, but in both of those free apps, the conversion of documents to pdf's resulted in major formatting issues. Even Isabel, a software engineer at one of the major tech companies, didn't realize this was a problem, probably because she doesn't spend her days dealing with photo and knitting chart insertion issues. So, this morning I bit the bullet and finally subscribed to Microsoft 365 and in less than ten minutes all my problems have been solved. All I had to do was to create a new page 5 by scanning a print out of the Word version. Then I inserted it back into the Word document (so there was no direct Excel insertion), and finally I converted the whole thing to a new pdf. Phew!

The new version of the pattern is now back on Ravelry. My love for this design has grown over the years, especially when I see what knitters have done with it. The pattern can become a scarf or a shawl, depending on yarn choice and number of repeats worked. Look at this amazing version by HPbythesea knitted out of handspun dyed from local plants. Is it not a thing of beauty?

I had so much fun making and photographing this scarf/shawl the first time around,

 
and now I can't wait to start a new one.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Introducing Beverley

 Here are the first decent photos of my new design, "Beverley". 

 




The body is knitted in the round, bottom up; sleeves are then picked up and worked seamlessly top down. Simple. Now the work of grading and preparing the pattern for release begins. 

P.S. I installed the spring snaps onto my new Parchment Coat (not as bright as it looks here), and took it off my back for a few moments to grab this pic.

I might not take it off again until spring!

Friday, February 17, 2023

It's a Snap

 The Parchment Coat is almost there. Just need to apply these spring snaps (not ALL of them).

In the meantime, I've been wearing my coat all morning, given winter's return. After all, it's only the middle of February. We all know that winter's grip on us has a way to go before it runs out. I considered a fire in the living room, but then realized I had the coat almost ready and waiting, and I've been nice and cozy since donning it. A definite win in the sewing department.

So happy with the fabric I chose, which works well with all the other makes in my photo: the Hedgewood Sweater, my Pembroke Scarf (bright teal version), and my checked York Pinafore. It's all in keeping with the colour palette I came up with back in 2017. Doesn't that seem a lifetime ago? Enough angst over the last few years for all of us without having to dither over fabric and yarn choices!

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Point

 This morning I made fabric origami.

 As I wrote yesterday, when I need lots of bias tape I like to use the "continuous" method to churn it out. There are lots of YouTube tutorials on how to do this, but once you master it, it's amazingly quick. Above, you can see the chalk lines I drew that would allow me to cut yards and yards (metres?) of 2" bias tape for binding my coat. Then, I filled up my steam iron and, using my Clover bias tape maker, I turned it all into this.

 
 
Ignore the fact that my phone camera wants to make the background grey instead of navy. Next, I sewed a little sample of how the binding will look, just to make sure all would work, and tomorrow the whole coat will be done except for the snap closures. And washing. A quilted coat needs to be washed to develop those essential quilty crinkles.
As I stood admiring my work, Bill looked at me and asked, "Will it look like a "commercial" coat, meaning one bought in a shop. Clearly, he was concerned about being married to someone who might look a trifle embarrassing (to him). I decided not to answer, since there is no way to explain to him that having a coat that doesn't look as though it came off the rack IS ENTIRELY THE POINT!

Monday, February 6, 2023

Everything All at Once

It's not often that TWO projects move along on the same day to the stage that they can be tried on. Not finished, mind you, but joined together sufficiently that they can be put on and checked for fit.

First up, The Coat, as I've come to think of it. Actually, it's Closet Core's Parchment Coat.

Here it is at midday today. All the major seams have been joined, although not all have been pressed, as you can see. After trying it on, I laid out my bias binding to see if I had enough, but alas, I will need to begin my next sewing session making more. I use the continuous method, in case you're curious. FYI, I wasn't sure whether I wanted the binding to be in the print or the green contrast. I looked at a lot of versions of the quilted Tamarack Jacket before opting for the print.

I used Grainline Studio's method for making, quilting, and applying the patch pockets. Very tidy, inside and out.

Now it's afternoon and I'm about to join the shoulders of my simple cable pullover with 3-needle BO. 


Why not graft them together, as in Soiree, the sweater which was my inspiration for this piece? Read this tutorial here to learn the reason. 

We (and our little Mazda 3) seem to have survived the weekend record cold weather. On Saturday, when I woke up the air temperature was minus 31C with a wind chill of minus 38C. (That's minus 24F and minus 36F, for American readers.) We're back to hovering on either side of the freezing point, hopefully with the worst of winter behind us.

View from our house down toward the lake. Thank goodness for the City's sidewalk ploughs.

Bellevue House, down the street from our place.
Bellevue House, in all its 1840s Italian villa-style grandeur, down the street on the way to the lake.
 

I love walking past here; it's a beautiful dose of nature in the middle of the city, even if the apple trees were over-pruned last season.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

When the Mood Strikes ...

For a long time I've been thinking about sewing a quilted jacket. Grainline Studio's Tamarack Jacket epitomizes this style. NOT A PRIMARY COLOR's Tamarack, described here and made from a thrifted sheet, is delightful,

 as is the heavily hacked version shown in this post from Grainline.

You can see that this is not a quick project. You need to cut out three of everything (outer fabric, batting, and lining), quilt each piece, then sew and bind the whole thing (after making approximately sixteen yards of bias binding). So, this has been a sort of fantasy project, not one I've been in a rush to make a move on.

Then, just this month Closet Core came out with its Parchment Jacket.

 
Its raglan sleeves (more comfortable than Tamarack's set-in ones) called my name. Although it's part of Closet Core's new subscription service, "Crew", I realized that I could take out a monthly subscription and then cancel down the road. The pattern was included in the cost of the first month, which was less than the cost of most patterns. 

I'm finally in the mood to do this. The fabric has been bought and cut, the walking foot on my machine has been tested, and I'm so excited to have completed the back!

The navy print is the exterior. I wanted my coat to have a definite quilt vibe. This is a quilting cotton from Moda (A New Page - Stone Path). The lining is Kona cotton in Everglade. I'm keeping the quilting lines simple. Remember, once the finished coat is washed, the quilted fabric will develop the characteristic crinkles around the quilting lines and look quite different. 

If you ever decide to make a quilted jacket/coat, I highly recommend Grainline Studio's fifteen-part YouTube series taking you step-by-step through the process. I'm referring to it more than to Closet Core's somewhat cursory instructions and videos. 

Wish me luck.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Random Winter Friday

It's been a messy weather week with temps hovering either side of the freezing point. A good time to spend time indoors,

 
 
contemplating the outdoors.


I'm trying to learn how to paint with watercolours. I'm pretty bad, but it's fun anyway, and an opportunity to dream of nature in the warmer months. I think these practice pieces will make nice birthday cards.


I cut my hair this morning (only an inch off so no need to visit a pro), and here's a pic of my silvering locks along with Hedgewood and Pembroke in better light.

 Now off to make vegetable soup. Recipe here

P.S. BIG project in the offing...

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Relief and Relaxation

Do you experience January letdown? The holiday festivities and socializing are over, the long, dark, and very cold winter lies ahead, there seems to be no fun left in sight, etc. I used to feel this way. But this year, I'm experiencing relief. The need for that extra level of housekeeping because of visiting family members, the extra cooking, the post-Xmas decoration cleanup? It's all in the past. Now it's time to have fun!

I seem to be having a burst of creative energy. I don't think it has to do with the lack of snow, although being able to walk outside without winter boots is amazingly liberating. Odd that after that once-in-a-generation blizzard on Xmas Eve, our weather has been more like March than January. Look at the green grass. In January!

View of house on nearby Beverley Street.

I know my creative push isn't because of a lack of household duties. Our dishwasher broke just after Isabel left, and I've decided to forgo replacing it for now. Like most of my generation, I grew up without a dishwasher, and it feels strangely comforting to don rubber gloves and do the washing up by hand. No rush. Just me, the soap and hot water, and CBC radio. I think my current mood has to do with the lack of family responsibilities. It's one of those rare moments in life to savour.

So, I've gone back to a design I sketched and swatched last winter, the idea based loosely on Emily Foden's beautiful Soiree, first published in Pom Pom magazine and then again in her inspiring book "Knits About Winter".  My yarn is Cascade Eco+ knitted on 6.5 mm needles at 3.5 sts per inch for a nice, light drapey fabric. There are things I wanted to do differently, including a band of seed stitch above the rolled hem to deter excessive rolling, seed stitch and horseshoe cable panels instead of honeycomb and rope cabled ones, and short-rowed shoulders joined by 3-needle BO to prevent stretching of the dropped shoulders. My yarn is a lightly spun chunky instead of the fingering + mohair combo in Soiree. I do wish there were a gorgeous hand-dyed chunky wool out there. Maybe that's a future project...



 

No, you're not seeing the same yarn in different light. The swatch from last winter is in a pale grey while the actual sweater on the needles is in charcoal. It's not the colour I want to be working with at this time of year, but it's what's in my stash and I'm determined to use what I have. Yesterday I wet blocked the first five inches to make sure the size was accurate and that I really loved the drape and feel, so now I'm proceeding confidently up toward the underarms. See you in a bit.