Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Mice and Ducks

Earlier this summer, I was in a knitting slump. I was doing a lot of sewing, but wanted something for at the TV, and I had no orders, no needs, just some WIP that I was procrastinating about. I thought for a bit, and came up with the idea of doing felted mice. I had received a gift of a CD of a friend's music, right around Christmas. I wanted to pay him for it but he refused. I told him since he used his talents to make it, I would use my talent to make something in return. At first I was going to make something for him, but thought his wife might think that's odd. I couldn't think of anything for the two of them (except a sweetheart mitten), and then I remembered they have cats!! Something for the cats!  As well, we were going to a luxury cottage, courtesy of my SIL, and she had two cats--that had moved in with her MIL, so I thought this would be a nice, little "thank you" gift. I know it doesn't seem anywhere close to an equal comparison. I was also planning a poncho for her daughter....the thing was, she was going to rent the cottage anyway and invited us, and her parents to come too, as long as we paid for all the food. So, I guess, paying for the food, and our nights we cooked, were really the thank you.

I looked through Pinterest and Ravelry, and finding a simple felted mouse seemed a bit harder than I thought it would be. In this case, Pinterest is a bit of a waste, since it was hard to narrow the search. However, many free patterns don't get posted to Ravelry because the creators think they're not "real" patterns.  I used THIS pattern.  This pattern also looks really nice, and I wonder why I didn't find it the first time!

I started off using the yarn I had bought last September from a woman in the area. I had been using it for mittens and they weren't all that soft and some of them had felted with washing, some not so much. I didn't want to do just solids, since I had so many colours, so I just went with contrasting.

Although two row stripes are easy, since these were done on circular needles, one row stripes could also be done. I could have even made two at one time on one circular. I just changed colours as I got bored. But still tried to maintain some sort of aesthetic LOL.

These are unfelted. Pretty boring, I thought. But I kept going. And going. And going. 
 I ended up with 15 in the first batch!  When I felted them (I don't think I did all 15 at once), I used a zippered mesh pouch, in with my regular laundry. However, the tails all got very tangled and some had to be amputated.
 Awwww. Aren't they cute?

 I decided to crack open some Patons "Classic Wool" for a few. I love using it for felted slippers, but I had quite a bit of very small balls, with no "matching yarn". The two on the upper right are Classic Wool. I used the same needles and same stitches, and look how tiny they came out to be. I will say, the other ones seem a little big, they average about 11cm/4" long (not including the tail) and are quite fat.

Then I started thinking...what about the dogs in our lives? My SIL had just gotten a dog. My parents were looking after our dog during the cottage trip, and they also have a dog. I had made Skippy a duck, in April 2010, according to Ravelry but I can't find it on my blog.

He really enjoyed it, but eventually chewed the head off. The squeaker has stayed inside, but I haven't tried to wash it, and it's super gross.
Yeah. Super gross.

I struggled with figuring out the feet for the duck. I started out doing the i-cord legs but couldn't really get the flippers to work out. I never thought to look at pictures or check the one I had made. When we went to my parents, my mom got out one I had made for their dog, and the feet were so different!

 I thought I had ended up making five. Willie, Molly, Belle, and there's two left. I suppose Skippy should get one of those.

I just found three unfelted mice that had gotten "put away" when I was cleaning up one day. I'm not sure if they're included in the yarn totals. Let's say they aren't, and I'm going to add them in now. The mice...Actually....I just saw another large pile of felted mice that need sewing up! So I will include those three with them. 15 mice= 199gr. Oh, let's call that 200gr. 5 ducks = 146gr.

Yarn In: 2242gr
Yarn Out:  346gr + 2570gr = 2916gr
Balance: 674gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $57.30/241 days = $0.24 per day 

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Hugh mentioned that his friends pointed out that his t shirts are either stripes, or a funny graphic. After shopping for male t-shirt fabric...well, there's not much out there. I did find this tri-shade ribbed striped knit that I thought suited him. Used the same Melly Sews free man's t-shirt pattern though I was concerned the rib knit might make it too stretchy. It does seem to be a looser fit than his other blue striped shirt, but he says it's fine.

Once again, I tried to carefully cut it and sew the stripes, but when it came time to hem, It didn't go as well as I had hoped. I did scoop the neckline out just a bit (I think. Maybe I didn't do that until I did the neck shirt).
Can you believe how much he's changed, from his first blog appearance?

The even funnier part of this shirt is that a few days before we left for a week's extended family vacation at a cottage (where this picture was taken), I realized who already had a blue tri-coloured ribbed shirt. It had been bugging me since I bought the fabric. His grandmother!! Her's is a finer rib and a much slimmer silhouette (and RTW)...we went over to menu plan and she was wearing it.   I was hoping she would bring the shirt and I could get a picture of the two of  them together!


Not to be confused with a LBD, the LDT can also, in fact, become a LBD. However, I turned it into a turquoise t shirt. LDT stands for "Laundry Day Tee" and it's hype is that it's quick and easy, faster than doing a load of laundry. It's from Love Notions and you can get it free by joining their Facebook group.  Free patterns are a great way to try a designer's style and fit. Facebook groups are a great way to see the designs on real women. I have been eyeing the "Lane Raglan" from Hey June, but  after seeing it on real people, I know the underarm wrinkles will bother me and that they are near impossible to eliminate.

  I came across the LDT on Stitches & Seams blog.  I found her write up to be excellent and knew I would have the same concerns. My front and back are not the same! I deal with this in knitting patterns ALL.THE.TIME. Sewing designers seem to understand this though, but I have found that many will "cheat" when working with knits. Cause knits stretch, right? So just stretch that t-shirt tight across the girls. Why not? The question about doing a FBA comes up a lot in the FB group. Some women do it, some don't. Most women seem really happy with the t-shirt. I wonder if unhappy posts don't make it?

I opted to go ahead and just give it a try. I found this wonderful turquoise burn out knit at Fabricland in their clearance section. The label said it had dye spots, but it was rolled up and with a paper band. It was 50% off the $15 price, I think it was a full meter, 60" wide. Once home, I opened it up and found these dark spots. I scrubbed them, and used OxyClean, and hoped for the best. Those spots did seem to disappear....but apparently I missed a few. I was able to work around them. The shirt sewed up quickly. I did a cheater FBA by tilting the pattern on the fold.

 Does that glare off the chest mean it's too tight?!
 Here is where most of my issues are. It almost seems a little snug at the armpits, but then not in the middle of my upper back. And it's droopy around my lower back. And the sleeve hems are cut straight across, so once sewn in, they angle upwards. The New Look 6735 that's become my TNT doesn't have this issue (some do seem to have a bit of an angle, but not this much). To me, sleeves should be straight when worn. Am I out of date?
And this. The sleeves are cut on the fold, which means they are symmetrical. Are your shoulders/upper arms symmetrical? Ever forget to flip a (full) sleeve pattern piece for the second sleeve and then try to sew it in and get surprised that it really does matter?  Look at those diagonal/vertical drag lines. Sad. And all to save paper and pattern prep and cutting time. I will say, when I've been trying to piece a NL 6735 on a small piece of fabric, I would have loved to have sleeves cut on the fold. But I also appreciated seeing the pattern piece fully laid out, to see if there were any issues with the pattern/print layout (like a flower growing out of your armpit).

I did a twin needle finish, with woolly nylon in the bobbin. It worked great for the neckline, not so great for the sleeves. I realized that the neckline has three layers of fabric, and the hems, only two. So when I started the bottom, I decided to try the wax paper trick. Only I was in the basement and didn't want to go upstairs to find wax paper (don't think I have any) or consult google as to how to actually do this. So, I saw some waxy paper from fusible webbing. I started with that and it was working, then I tried ripping it off, and I felt I was pulling at the stitches too much. What else did I have in the basement that could work? Toilet paper? Why not?! It dissolves when wet...

It did work quite well. I pulled off the large bits, and figured the washing machine would take care of the rest. It's been washed twice, I think, and there is still TP in the actual zig zag bobbin stitching, but none on the edges. Before I do this again, I will get proper wash-away interfacing. Or, on a bottom hem like this, just do a straight stitch. It's not stretching to go over my head!

So. I don't think I'll bother with this design again. I'll go back to the NL 6735 and doing any hacking from it.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Humble Dishcloth

Despite being an avid advocate of knitting in public (KIP), I had never been to an official "World Knit in Public Day". It's always on the weekend, and back when we lived in Orangeville, the kids were young and it felt selfish to take a day to go do that by myself. Once we moved here, I didn't join any knitting groups so I didn't feel I could just show up at the local store (that I had never bought from) to join their party. However, this year, about two days before the event, I found out there was going to be a group in Celebration Square, outside our public library. That felt less intimidating, so I inquired. And then I thought...I could take the LK150! It hasn't been used in awhile, it might like getting some fresh air. Really, it's been packed away in it's storage box!

The organizer was fine with the idea so I got set up to go! Dishcloths would be perfect! I needed some, and I could make however many I could, doing waste yarn between them, and finish them at home while watching TV. I had my husband drive me over to help carry everything since there's no parking next to the square. There was already a couple ladies there so I set up near them.

My machine did not want to be on show. It was not co-operating very well. It kept jamming, the roller ends kept popping off. I kept loosening the tension (I really should write it down on the pattern), adding weight, changing weight. Finally I shifted it all over a few needles and that seemed to help. I have never changed the sponge bar as I've never minded the loose feel to the needles. However, it might be time.

I did have a few spots where I got off track, but they're dishcloths. Doesn't matter. I only got three made. It was a three hour event. Some of that time was spent setting up, chatting with others. So if I were at home, maybe I would have gotten four done. Then again, I'd also be letting the dog in and out, answering the phone, checking emails...
The white one weighs in at 24gr, but all three weighed in at 67gr. I think the white one I weighed was the last one I made and the other ones were a bit smaller as I played with getting the right tension. Since this pattern also needs waste yarn, and there's usually some of the tail left after grafting that's not usable again, I'll call it 75gr.

Pattern is basically THIS ONE.

Yarn In: 2242gr
Yarn Out:  2495gr + 75gr = 2570gr
Balance: 328gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $57.30/236 days = $0.24 per day 

Monday, August 21, 2017


Lucy wanted a romper. I did not want to invest much time or money in this as I saw it as a trend item that won't last long once the reality of wearing a romper sets in. But I agreed to make one, as long as it was made so that the top and shorts could be separated again.

We started with the Burda 6797 shorts pattern from the last post. These shorts went together much quicker, though there was some fiddling with the lace trim where it meets the side seams.

We had gone back and forth between matching bias binding, plain black bias binding, or lace. She went with lace for at least the legs, and if I had enough, I'd do some on the top. I didn't have enough.

For the top, I started with a woven shell pattern that I haven't used. Then I followed a tutorial on making your own wrap top, and drew a new pattern based on how high she wanted it to meet at her side. For the back, it was going to go straight across with elastic at the top. I think it would have also looked cute if the back was shirred.  I messed up the first back somehow, making it way too small. No clue how I did that.

I used black bias binding on the edges/straps. I serged the body of the top, wanting to serge the two front layers together so I wouldn't have to baste them, and continue around the back. I wasn't going to hem the top, but at least way this would make it pretty quick if she wanted to take it apart again. I took it off the machine and found out that I serged the inside front panel to the back, effectively making a purse!!

Romper Purse, the hot new trend
Then I went to sew the body to the inside of the elastic waistband of the shorts. Some of it needed to be gathered to the waistband and I was really lucky that the back just fit. I realized when I went to sew it that I should have checked the back width to make sure it would be wide enough to sew to the waistband!

Second time worked, and we realized that the overlap was almost like a large pocket, since it was seamed at the bottom and both sides LOL.

 Lucy doesn't have much practice modelling for me LOL.

 Lucy got poked in the eye by a branch...

 Lucy doesn't realize she has to sometimes stay still. Lovely shot, too bad about the blurriness!
 Then we tried out in the yard.
 Not sure what was so funny...
 Or what she was doing here. I think I suggested she pretend to be throwing a ball, for some action
 "Where did the ball go?"
 Getting tired
 This one came out cute.
 I stitched it together where it crosses over since it seemed to be opening up a bit much. I wasn't thrilled with how the bias binding didn't lay very flat. I told her I can add some elastic underneath it, or switch it out for some fold over black elastic, which would snug it in nicely. Next time I'd just do that from the start.

Not dress code friendly (another reason I wasn't gung ho on this design).

She already asked for it to be taken apart, and is wearing the shorts a lot. I haven't seen the top again. 

The funny thing, we remembered after we bought the fabric that when she was really little, Lucy wanted to be called Daisy!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summertime Blues

I seem to be working with blue a lot this summer.

Both my girls said jean shorts are out, and flowy, "runner" shorts are in. I started with a pajama shorts pattern and navy blue gauze (that'll show up later in a dress for me). I made them for Megan, and she hated them. I think she's worn them to bed a few nights when she was desparate. I did some looking around on the internet and thought I didn't find anything (more on that later). So after that, we all went to Fabricland to look at the "real patterns".

How interesting to take both girls for their first foray into pattern shopping! Not only did they want flowy shorts, Lucy wanted a romper, so I was hoping for a basic shorts pattern that would work for both. None of the romper patterns in the books appealed to her (or to me...either too fussy or too basic and I wasn't buying a pattern just for potentially ONE project). The girls decided on Burda 6797 and then we went to the fabric section. They each picked out a blue print. Lucy also picked out a cute print for a romper.

 This is Lucy's fabric, "Valencia Prints", a crinkle rayon. It was on sale for $9.50/m. The shorts themselves don't take much, but if you want matching bias trim, that will use up what's left from the metre.
 I'm not sure what this was trying to show. I believe the pen and marker are pointing to something. I just dont' reember what LOL. This was Megan's fabric, "Shinta Prints", also a rayon, on sale at $6/m. I started with Lucy's shorts since I hadn't made anything for her yet this year. And she's more of a standard size.

 Here are some action shots from our recent trip to Muskoka Heritage Place

They are a little cheeky!!

I had issues with following the pattern. It's just very different than the shorts/pants I've done. The bias trim, the inseam pockets. And I've never done a Burda pattern. I wanted to use the serger but I just wasn't sure how it all goes together. The rayon crinkle makes it hard to get accurate cuts and markings. So a lot of it was intuition. I didn't catch the top of the first pocket in the waistband and realized I should have on the second pocket (or maybe on the second shorts). So the pockets were hanging down below the shorts when she used them. I tried to catch them up, and trimmed off the bottom.  The waistband, I didn't realize how tight the elastic fits in the slots, and my sewing wasn't the straightest so there were some issues.  If I remember correctly, she also managed to put a small hole in the shorts very quickly.

The greatest thing happened though. We were out at a small store, and the cashier was a girl in her late teens/early 20s.

 Megan's turn.  She tried on Lucy's shorts, so I went ahead with the same size. On Megan though, the rear is a little snug. She has a skater's bum!

 And with a skater's bum came an epic tear. It wasn't the seam, exactly. Right next to the pocket opening, on the bum side. I couldn't just take it all in and re-seam it. I didn't want to take it apart since it was quite laborious to add all the bias trim. I decided to make a patch. I started with some iron on interfacing on the inside to close it up. Then I laid a patch on top and zig zag stitched around it. It's really hard to see now!
Can you find the patch? Thank god for that busy print!!

The girls are wearing these shorts a lot. That makes me so happy! For some reason I was looking around the internet later, and came across this free pattern: https://www.purlsoho.com/create/2014/07/24/corinnes-thread-city-gym-shorts-for-all-ages/  I knew as soon as I saw it that I had seen it early on in the shorts pattern search, but rejected it because....it wasn't flowy? They seem a bit lower in the back, which is nicer (I think). You could make them more flowy by using a rayon, or cutting a bigger size and gathering it into the proper waist size. Oh, I see, these shorts don't have pockets. That might have been a big factor. I do like how the binding was added to the pieces before being stitched together. The Burda ones, I had a hard time with the ending of the binding just below the pocket. I suspect you could still add a pocket. Or change how you do the Burda ones.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back to Beige

I didn't really need beige pants. I have two pairs that are very similar (to each other) but they don't have pockets and they're heavier. So when I saw this fabric on sale I figured it'd give me another chance to fine tune my pants pattern and give me another shade of beige. I think there's 50 shades, right?

This time, I traced the old pants onto my paper to create a real pattern. I also narrowed the legs a fair bit. Even my mother, who doesn't read this and I don't see all that often, noticed they were slimmer. I wonder if the ankle is too slim though. I don't know how they'll look with my clunky shoes since I haven't worn them all summer (and my poor toes feel so much better!).

The FIRST time I wore these pants, I got bacon grease on them. Didn't notice until I was out for the day.

Argh. I did get them cleaned up. I just never got around to a real photo shoot. Last night I grabbed my husband and headed outside. It was a bit later than I had intended and he's not my favourite photographer in the family. He constantly looks for the "Make boobs bigger and tummy smaller" setting.

 I think my boobs grew two sizes during the photo shoot.
 The droopy bum seems much better, though one day I tucked a shirt in and everyone said STOP!
 This is NOT how I usually stand, honey.
 I wanted to show the waist band and the pockets. Hubby wanted to show the dog.
 Model vacant stare into the distance. I found a really close match in a knit fabric for the waistband. I didn't want something printed for these, or dark. It's a thicker knit so it doesn't wrinkle up like the band on my brown pants, so I think that makes them slimmer looking--as long as I don't tuck my shirt in.

I have no idea. THere were also several others not fit for this blog.

I did do something different on these pants that I should get pictures of. On the first two, I had measured the SA of the original pants. It was 1/2". So I serged them at 1/2" but when I went to top stitch, I no longer had 1/2" and one line of stitching was on the SA and one line on just the single layer, so they didn't quite match. This time, I seamed them on the regular machine at 1/2" and then serged the SA together. This meant a LOT of back and forth between my machines, but the end result was WAY better. Top stitching thread will be the next improvement.

However, I might be done with these pants. Three pairs in basic neutrals. Oh, wait, I still need my grey pair! When I was laying them on the paper, I couldn't figure out exactly how the grainline should be. And I recently did a pair of Kwik-Sew shorts that fit very well, so I might try a "real" pattern next.