Check that Box!

Hey Friends, February is almost over, but I have to show you one more thing I made before March hits us.

Will you just look at it? I am quite pleased with how it came out. Well, mostly….

The pattern is Very Easy Vogue V9151.v9151

According to my measurements (and my common sense) I made a size Medium. I don’t know why, but every time I measure myself for a commercial pattern the size I measure for ends up being quite a bit too big for me, so now I default to 1 size smaller. In this case I think I may have been able to go down another size. The fabric is a cotton/poly shirting I found at Hobby Lobby. I think it really makes the garment come alive.

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Since I was working with a check pattern I took extra care to line up the seams so everything flowed well together. In order to avoid a clunky look I cut the center front and upper back panels on the bias. Since cutting on the bias uses extra fabric I did have to piece the center front panel, but the check pattern does a fantastic job hiding the pieced bit. I have to feel for it to figure out where it is!

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I sewed most of the construction seams on my friend’s sewing machine, but the collar and the sleeves were sewn in by hand. I also finished all the seams and hems by hand, and I must say, I’m quite pleased with the low profile of the finishing work (even though it did take longer than serging or top stitching by machine)!

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The only change I made was to widen the hips a little bit. The pattern rather bizarrely tapered in toward the hips, and since I wanted to be able to actually wear the shirt, I cut the seam line straight down. Even so I wish there was a little more room in the hips or that there was a slit or a curved hem, or even that the shirt was a little shorter. It’s just not quite right. Also, the way the sleeves are set in cause the neck of the shirt to rise in front and fall in back – which is rather annoying, but just as well since the front slit is rather lower than I prefer to wear.

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All in all, it’s pretty good for a first draft, and it’s wearable and pretty. If I make this pattern again I think I’ll go down another size and possibly cut the front all as 1 piece. There’s really no reason to cut it as 3 pieces (other than visual interest). I’m also thinking about adding a little waist/hip/hem shaping, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now I leave you with my hand-finished seams. Enjoy.

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Lilting Leaves

Late last year I finished a spin that I had been working on since August. I started with 4oz of BFL dyed in lovely shades of green, and paired it with another 4(ish)oz of deep forest green Merino I had in my stash.

My goal was to spin a 2-ply sock weight, so I spun each of the singles as fine as I could while still keeping them even. Spinning fine takes forever, and by the time I was done with the singles I needed a break. Fortunately, this was around the time I went to SAFF, so I was able to refuel, restock, and be refreshed.

Everything was going well until I started plying, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. For some reason my plies weren’t locking together like I expected them to. I shrugged it off, figuring that a good soak would set everything to rights. Then 2/3 of the way through plying the yarn started doing what it was supposed to. My heart sank as I realized what had happened: part of the way through spinning the dark green singles I had changed the direction of my spinning. About 2/3 of the yarn was an opposing ply yarn, while the other 1/3 was beautiful and balanced.

I can’t tell you how frustrated I was at first. How can you switch directions in spinning without the yarn breaking or drifting apart? I wanted to have 800-1000 yards of yarn that was all the same so I could make something significant out of it. Now my plan was ruined because of a stupid mistake I made because I wasn’t paying attention.

I took a step back to let myself cool off, then made myself consider the pros instead of the cons. I’ve never made an opposing ply yarn before, so this was a learning experience. Now I know what opposing ply yarn does. It’s rather curly and delightfully kinky because of all the extra twist energy the opposing ply brings to the yarn. I wonder how this would change the texture in a knitted or woven fabric?

In a way this yarn is a lot like life. Everything can seem to be going exceedingly well, and then something happens that throws a wrench in your plans. In times like this it’s important to take the time to reconsider your perspective and see if maybe there isn’t a silver lining after all.

I can’t wait to make something out of this yarn. I think a large woven stole would be just delightful. I’m even considering lightly felting the finished fabric because I’ve never done it before and I think it would really finish the fabric in a beautiful way.

We all make crafting mistakes. What stories do you have of snatching a success from the jaws of failure?

Catch-Up

2019 is here with a bang, and while I’ve been quiet I’ve been busy!

I’d like to show you my Christmas knitting. I made 3 hats, none of them from a pattern. Hats are generally simple enough that unless I’m going for something really specific I don’t usually need to follow a pattern.

The first hat was a 2×2 rib base with a cable motif I modified from Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook. This was for my husband’s grandmother.

The 2nd hat was for my husband’s grandpa, and it was completely in 2×2 rib. I detest knitting ribbing, but it’s stretchy and manly, and sometimes you just do what you need to do.

These first 2 hats were knit in Cascade 220 Superwash Merino. The third hat was in a textured knit/purl pattern and was for my Father in Law.

I knit it in Cascade 220 Superwash, and was pleasantly surprised with how next-to-the-skin soft it was!

The hats were well received. I used to try to knit something for everyone in the family, but I find that it’s more manageable to knit for just a few people at a time.

Do you knit Christmas gifts?

Making a Tree Skirt (from Stash)

I love Christmas. It’s my favourite holiday of the year, and I get so excited about it. For me, the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving when we set up our tree. This year we put our tree up a little early, and my husband remarked that we needed a tree skirt, specifically a red one. I am always happy to show that my crafting skills are practical, so I told him I could make a tree skirt. Now I just happened to have about half a yard of red knit velvet left over from making my Renaissance Gown, as well as a similar amount of thick grey felt that has been in my stash for several years. I did some measuring and drawing and then cut my fabric.

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Since I was working with scraps (or “cabbage” as couture sewists call it) I did have to piece both the inner and outer layers, but this meant that I was able to use all but the smallest bits of my fabric. If I was making this again I would have paid more attention to the grainline of the velvet. You can see that the texture of the pieced section reflects light differently because the grain is perpendicular to the rest of the fabric instead of parallel. In the end it doesn’t matter much as the piecing hardly shows when the skirt is on the tree. (Please forgive the cat hair – my cat has decided that velvet is her new favourite texture.)

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I originally meant to sew everything on this tree skirt, but after a while I got tired of sewing, and I realized that the hem was massive and likely to shift, meaning that the more time I spent on the hem the more likely it was to become distorted. In the end I pulled out my trusty hot glue gun and glued the hem down – this way I was able to lay the whole skirt flat to minimize distortion while I worked on the hem. Normally I wouldn’t use hot glue on a fabric project, but this won’t ever be worn by a human and it will only be used for a month out of the year, so it’s not likely to have a lot of wear and tear.

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With the hem sorted, the last thing I needed to do was to attach closures. I had some “Merry Christmas” ribbon in my stash, so after sealing the ends of the ribbon I glued it onto the back of the skirt, and then tacked it on with needle and thread for good measure.

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With that sorted, I felt that my crafting was proven to be a life skill and I was ready to move on to my Christmas knitting.

P.S. Speaking of Christmas knitting, if you’re in the market for an awesome hat, I highly recommend the Drosseln hat. I may be a bit biased, but I think it’s a really fun knit, and you can get it for 25% off until Christmas with the code, “LoveMyLYS” Happy Knitting!

New Pattern! Drosseln Hat

Friends, I am so excited to tell you about my newest pattern, the Drosseln hat!

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This pattern was begun when the owner of my yarn store gave me a book of Medieval German embroidery patterns for my anniversary. As I flipped through the pages I was astounded at the beauty of the designs our foremothers used to portray the world around them. When I came to a page depicting two thrushes (drosseln) in a field of flowers I knew I had come upon something I wanted to knit. I used my own handspun and yarn from my honeymoon to create the first version of this design, and marked my place with Jane Austen stitch markers.

The pattern is written for a finished hat circumference of 21 inches (53.3cm) to fit head 21 inches (53.3cm) around. The patterned portion of the hat is extra thick, causing it to fit as if it has a small amount of negative ease. Sample gauge is included to make a smaller or larger hat (18 and 22 inches/45.5 and 58.5 cm).

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You can use a light fingering weight yarn held double or a light worsted weight for your CC, making this hat a great stashbuster. The colours really pop if one of your yarns is lightly variegated, or you can use solid or tonal colours for both yarns.

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From now until Christmas you can get the pattern for 25% off with the coupon code LoveMyLYS.

SAFF 2018: Part 2, The Haul (and Sheep)

It’s been a while since SAFF, but I bought too many beautiful things to not show them to you.

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The Tools:

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I have been wanting a Turkish spindle for a while, so I bought this beautiful beech spindle. Her name is Tigris (like the river, which I learned has roots in Turkey). Also, I bought a pair of Schacht curved-back hand carders (112 TPI). I’m learning to spin woolen rather than worsted, but it’s so much easier to find combed top than woolen preparations like rolags and batts. With these carders I can convert top to a woolen preparation so I have more spinning options.

The Yarn:

I only bought 1 skein of yarn this year (I know, who am I??), but it’s so beautiful! This picture doesn’t really show the soft rose colour off properly.

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The Fiber:

Since I took a spinning class at SAFF I went a little fiber crazy. Abby was so inspiring and she made me want to spin all the things RIGHT NOW! I bought a lot of combed top, since worsted spinning is my default method and I have the tools to change a worsted preparation to a woolen preparation now. This silver/grey fiber at the top is a yak/silk blend, and the plain white at the bottom is a BFL/silk blend. I’m completely in love with BFL – it’s such a lovely fiber to spin!

I did buy 1 beautiful batt, and my first locks! I have no idea what to do with locks, but they were rainbow dyed and I couldn’t resist.

I also bought my first cotton, and I’ve been having a fabulous time learning to spin it (tip: cotton makes it so easy to spin a superfine long-draw single!).

SAFF is not just about shopping and classes, though. There are also all sorts of fiber animals to see and pet.

So if you have a chance to go to a fiber featival, especially if it’s SAFF, go!! You won’t regret it.

SAFF 2018: The Class

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I am privileged to live close enough to Asheville, NC to attend SAFF (SouthEastern Animal and Fiber Fair) pretty much every year. This year the first day of SAFF was the day after my birthday, so I decided to make the whole latter part of the week my party. I started by taking a 2-day class with Abby Franquemont. I’ve been an admirer of Abby since I started spinning several years ago, and taking a class with her was definitely on my bucket list. This class was about colour and structure in spinning, and I had a blast!

The first day of the class we dealt with colour. We started with plain red and plain white wool and talked first about how colour is perceived differently by different people and in different contexts. We then took the red and white wool and started to combine them – first just holding them together or trying to combine them by hand. Then Abby used her drum carder to blend the colours – we spun after 1 pass, 2 passes, and 3 passes. It was really interesting to see the changes that additional blending made. Next we combined the same red and a dark brown in much the same manner, except after a few passes through the drum carder Abby added yellow and purple – colours I initially thought were incongruous, but ended up intensifying the beauty of the blend we were making. 

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After lunch we came back to talk more about how to handle colour within spinning. Abby had taken a bit of a look around the market and returned with oodles of such beautiful fibers to divide among us so we could try them all. We talked about the different ways fiber (and yarns) are dyed and how often hand-dyed fibers will have some kind of repeat if you look for it. Taking a few minutes to assess how a fiber is dyed can inform how you spin it. After the fiber was divided among us all we each started spinning what appealed to us and took the rest home to play with.

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I chose to start with this sea-green that gradually fades into a pinkish-brown and then into gold. I split the fiber down the middle, then spun it end to end for a long gradient singles, then plied it end to end for a 2-ply gradient. 

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The second day of class we started with show and tell – everyone shared with the class what they had finished since the previous afternoon. It was interesting how even though we all had the same building blocks, we ended up with very different yarns. We spent the day learning about topics as they came up – from tips on using a Lazy Kate to plying with an “Andean” plying bracelet to how to ply more smoothly (pro tip: winding off before plying makes your yarn ply better). We talked about”Navajo” or chain plied yarns, cable plied yarns, and crepe yarns. Most of us had never spun a crepe yarn and wanted to learn, so we focused on that in the afternoon, using 3 different colours of wool to create an unintentionally patriotic yarn.

A crepe yarn is a 3-ply construction where 2 singles are spun in the same direction, then plied in the opposite direction with extra twist added for an extra plying step. A 3rd singles is then spun in the same direction as the first 2 yarns were plied, and the singles and the 2-ply are plied in the opposite direction from the first ply to create a balanced yarn. It’s a really interesting construction and is supposed to be extra strong (so a good idea for high-wear items, like socks). It was really interesting to see how different everyone’s yarns were. Even more than before, we started with the same materials and the exact same directions, and yet no 2 yarns were alike.

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The last bit of class was question and answer with Abby and a quick walk through the market to look at all the pretties.

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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t usually spend money on a class. I’m all about learning from books,You-Tube, or the internet in general because there is just so much information out there these days. What I didn’t realize before this class is that you get so much more from an in-person experience than you can from reading a book or a blog or watching a video. I have been so inspired since taking this class with Abby, and I have been spinning almost non-stop. So next time you are thinking about taking a class – I highly recommend it!