Selfish Sweater KAL: I’m in!

Starting to cast on a few days late, I couldn’t miss participating in the Selfish Sweater KAL. Just before Christmas I bought this red Cascade 220 to make a Chuck sweater and some days later, Andi announced this KAL, so the timing couldn’t be better. I wanted to make Chuck for a while and it’s finally happening! I love the retro look, but I’m slightly worried about the neckline. It’s flattering indeed but I’m not sure if I will get easily cold and if that will stop me from wearing it.

This sweater fits in what I’ve planned for 2015: making garments that fit my actual style, lightly inspired by the 40s and 50s decades. I’m so happy about it!

I also purchased wool for a teal Marion cardigan and a hot pink Hetty. I started Hetty last year but I felt so meh about the yarn and color that I quit knitting it and it’s lost somewhere in one of my drawers. I dislike the yarn so much that I don’t know what to make with it. Hopefully this Cascade 220 will result in a beautiful cardigan that will make me forget the unfinished one.

I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. May your bobbin always be full and your feet warm!

Completed: Second Reversible Zippy Hoodie

I made this Reversible Zippy Hoodie last year and it was a garment loved by everybody and worn to death. My niece Paula is still wearing it nowadays, but it’s clear that she needs now a larger size, so I thought this could be the perfect gift. The one of last year was size 4 and this is size 5.

I bought the two main fabrics from Plush Addict and also a violet ribbing, but I soon realized that it was not going to work. I combined again a cotton quilt and fleece. There were several nice cotton quilts but after preselecting three, my sister chose this one. Sadly, there were not so many options for fleece and I soon discovered that matching these two was not going to be easy. Luckily I found this white ribbing at Telaria, and everything went smoothly from then onwards. The white ribbing looks really nice but I can’t help thinking that it’s the worst color to use for the cuffs, especially if it’s for a little girl. The second day she was wearing this, the cuffs were already dirty with mud and chocolate.

I also used the white ribbing as a piping substitute for the hood front and pockets edges to make the transition smooth from one fabric to the other. I think it works beautifully. I did a much better work at matching prints than the last time. Now both fronts and pockets are correctly matched. For the pockets I used wash away quilt tape and I have to say that they didn’t move while sewing them on.

I’m normally against consumerism and I dislike the message “Minnie loves to shop” but there fleece fabrics that my niece would like, and having Minnie on it is a plus.

Taking pictures in winter is quite difficult due to light restrictions, but this time I decided to go out to our little terrace and I love the result. Just disregard the fallen leaves and dirt in general. I’m much better at keeping it clean and tidy during the warmer months.

About the pattern I have nothing new to say. It’s very well written and Amanda guides you on every step. The sewing of the cuffs is a little fiddly but the hoddie comes along nicely and once you turn everything right side out it feels like magic.

Apologies for the next picture, but it’s the only one of Paula wearing the hoodie (completely my fault, I was too lazy to take more pictures). She’s lost a tooth and is eating a sandwich while modeling the hoodie. It was quite cold those days over there, so she’s still wearing something else underneath.

Completed: Armande

According to my notes I started this project in March and finished it yesterday. I’m not normally a slow knitter, but this year I took a long break from the needles due to health issues. The cardigan was finished about a month before Christmas, but I’m a disaster to sew in buttons. These were in fact the third set I bought for this cardigan. The first buttons were flat and too wide, and I was afraid that they were going to stick out when buttoned up. The next buttons were better on that sense, but a bit more pink. I liked them but when I had four or them installed, I realized I was missing one, and the shop where I purchased them was a bit far and I was in a hurry since I was leaving the day after for my mother’s place, 600 Km away. I decided to go to a close by shop and I got these buttons. I like them a lot, but the shaft doesn’t behave all the time.

I made size XS and the only modification was adding buttons and buttonholes all the way to the top instead of just just till the chest. I like the original pattern but I get cold very easily and in some cases I will need to close the cardigan all the way up. I was not sure if this was going to work, but seeing these pictures, I like it.

I almost shortened the sleeves by one or two inches but I finally knitted them as instructed and I’m happy with the result. They are really snugly.

I was a bit worried about the end result since my ribbing tends to be on the loose side and I always have to go two size needles down. Here you have ribbing and regular stockinette on the same row so changing needle is not an option. I think it looks ok and doesn’t feel too loose.

I love pockets in my cardigans. These ones are constructed just like the ones from From A to Z. I love how clever Andi‘s designs are.

I love Andi‘s designs in general, but I see this one especially wearable if you’re a trousers girl like me. It gives a nice low back coverage and it protects your neck from cold drafts. And it has a retro look. What else could a girl want?

My Ravelry page here.

The Top 5 of 2014

I found about this last year, and once again I’m participating. I’m not very good at these things but looking back is always a good idea to be able to look forward.

Top 5 Hits

Luckily this year I can nominate my top 5 hits without having to dig too deep. I think I’m getting better at this and I’m learning to make my own style.

This is technically from the end of 2013 but as I’ve just made another one (not blogged yet), I count this as a success this year too.

This was a project that took forever but it was worth until the last stitch. I modified the armscye and added a quilted lining, and I can say that I’ve worn this to death. I’m taking a break now because the temperatures are too low but I foresee a lot of wear from February onwards.

My weight has changed this year and I’m not sure they fit me well right now, but I have made in total three pairs (two this year). Now that I know more about fitting I should try to make another pair but better. I think I’ll try Gertie’s trousers this year.

  • Lady Skater Dress

Unblogged due to my health issues, but I made my second this summer and I’ve cut a third. I just love this pattern, and after making a a couple of tweaks (narrowing upper part and sleeves, shortening bust, lengthening skirt) it’s become my to-go pattern to make knit dresses. I see many Lady Skater dresses and tshirts in the future.

After a long search for the perfect 40s blouse pattern, finally Gertie’s second book was a blessing. This was made with no mods and I already have fabric to make 6 more. This is going to be part of my signature style.

This is one of the very few knits accomplished this year, but I truly love this sweater and I’m wearing it while typing this.

Top 5 Misses

This bag was not a miss in itself. In fact I’ve used it quite a lot to transport my sewing tools to the shop where I used to have sewing classes, plus also for the very few trips I made this year. The problem here was the interfacing used for the bottom. It was good and sturdy but did not survive the washing machine. When the bag came out of the machine the interfacing had transformed into a little ball. As everything is enclosed, I don’t want to take it out but that means the bottom of the bag is not stiff anymore. Even like that it makes a wonderful travel bag.

I never ever wore this skirt. It’s was also probably because I went out very little this year due to my illness and I hate ironing. I think I’ll install horshair braid on this one and see what happens next spring and summer.

This blouse is just not my style. I made some Sewaholic patterns because they gorgeous and are designed for pear shaped women, which means that there’s in general less fitting to be done, but now I’m finally more selective and trying to sew and knit garments that match my style, even if that means more fitting issues. I have more experience, so that doesn’t scare me like before.

Top 5 Highlights

  • Koen

My boyfriend is my best blessing. He sticks with me and endures all that’s lately happening like a champion. He’s my rock and my partner in everything. I love you, Koen, you know that.

  • New apartment with a dedicated sewing space

We moved in August to another apartment. It’s much bigger than the previous one, and finally I could get a dedicated sewing space, which makes everything faster, neater and simply better. The picture above is just after installing the table. It has more things nowadays, but I’m with my family these days so I can’t take a picture right now.

  • A Serger

Koen surprised me on my birthday with this wonderful present. I’m still learning a lot about it but I succeeded at using it to overlock edges. The next step will be using it to sew knits. As soon as I get back home, I promise.

  • Gerry

Being home bound for so long can be hard on one’s moral but this little guy keeps me company and my spirits up. He’s funny, smart, cheeky and sweet (when he wants). Having a lovebird can be demanding sometimes, but they give you so much in return. My sewing and knitting are slower sometimes because of him, but I wouldn’t want to live without him.

Top 5 Reflections

Something that really took a big toll this year was my health (or the lack of it). I could have sewn more, knitted more and enjoyed life more in general if it was not because of this. I had little issues before, but in April I started to feel that there was something clearly wrong with me. It took me months and numerous doctor visits until I got referred to the mast cells specialists in August. By that time my weight dropped to 44 kg and I was desperately hungry and lost. I can’t still see the end of this but at least I know I’m in good hands. But the other side that nobody sees is that since August I’m eating everyday the same. My diet is reduced to five foods and I only drink water (and my morning tea). I’ve learned to appreciate the good things I have and the good people who stood beside me (Koen, you’re my rock), but I’ve also lost much in the way. I lost time, I lost money, I lost some of my illusions and I lost quite some friends. In a certain way it’s something good, because the ones who stayed are the true ones; but it’s also hard to stop seeing people who where your party fellows and who gave you so many happy moments. Many things are gone, and many people too. I’m still learning about not dwelling on it too much. It mortified me for a while but not anymore. I guess when this happens you learn to weight what you have, and you also learn to prioritize things. What mortifies me right now is being tied to my home and not being able to do things normal people do, like eating outside or enjoying a casual snack. I have to say no often to eating-out plans. This usually happens with people that don’t know about my condition. Usually old friends who pass by Madrid and expect to meet and socialize like it’s done over here. I hate having to tell the same story again, but I think I hate it most because I can’t tell the end or the conclusion. It’s like telling a story which you don’t know very well and ignore the end. At least I have learned to take pleasure on the little things, but recounting my story still makes me cry sometimes. I guess I still have a long way to go.

Top5 Goals

  • Getting healthy or have a normalish life: I know I have a long way to go but I’m not giving up on having some improvements. The good thing about my doctor is that she answers my emails quite fast (usually the same day), so if things don’t work, we fine tune the treatment to see if things could go better. Mast cells issues are not very well known and many times is just trial and error.
  • Building a capsule wardrobe: Teresa from Canary Knits got me started on this. I’m usually pretty lazy to do this kind of things, but I think it could be interesting for the next point.
  • Sewing and knitting my style.
  • Keep learning about my new serger.
  • Being able to travel: I know this will take time and may not be for 2015 but I won’t give up.

Completed: Another Owls Sweater

This sweater was one of the victims of this year’s incidents. First, this wool started as an Aiken, but after knitting most of the sweater I discovered that I didn’t have enough wool (ugh), so I unravelled it and started this owls. What can go wrong with an owls sweater? Soon I also discovered I was going to have the same problem here, but Ingrid came to my rescue and sent me a skein. I checked our ravelry messages and it all started in January. I worked on the sweater and a bit after working on those owls the project stalled. It was the time I couldn’t eat and my eczema was at its worst.

This is the first picture I have from when I was working on the sweater, and it’s from the beginning of March. Gerry was 5 months here and he made knitting in the evenings difficult because this usually happened.

I did the same mods than on my first owls (shaping on the sides instead of the back as the pattern instructs you to do) but I made it a tad longer, since with the other one I have problems covering my lower back while sitting.

This Artesano Aran is my new favorite yarn. It’s very soft and squishy, and things knit fast with it. It has 50% of alpaca, so beware those who are allergic to it. This is going to keep me warm this winter!

Excuse the mess on the table, but I’m working on three sewing projects and I’m taking advantage of having my own sewing space. This would have been impossible last year in our little living room. I love our new apartment. Gerry was a bit moody here and tried to bite me several times. I think he hates my lipstick.

Published also in my Ravelry page.

My take on Gertie’s 40s style blouse

I’ve been looking for some time for the perfect pattern to make a 40’s style blouse. I secretly (and not so secretly) admired Liz and Tasha‘s blouses and I wanted to make something like this. Last year, for the Fall for Cotton, I modified a pattern, and after lots of sweating and swearing I got a blouse that I more or less liked it, but that sadly got very little wear. I think the reason is that it’s too short, the collar is a bit too small, and the hem is a bit too flared. Anyway, I wanted to have more of this kind of blouses, but it’s very difficult to get vintage patterns in Spain and the shipping from the US makes it quite pricey. But then Gertie released her new book and I decided that I needed to try her blouse pattern.

Lately I’m having a nightmare of work. Some people are on vacation, others ill, and work is piling up like crazy. This is why I’m not sewing as much as I’d like. When I finish by working day I’m so exhausted that the only thing I can do is sitting in the couch and knitting some stitches while staring at the void or watching a scify b-movie from the 50s. So with this blouse I committed the sin of sewing it without making a muslin. I measured the pattern pieces and it seemed to be fine, and a blouse is more forgiving than a dress or a pair of pants. The result is good enough, and you can see Gerry here posing like he was a vintage brooch.

One of the things that I wanted to accomplish with sewing (and knitting) is making my own style clothes. I hate clothes shopping, and mostly is because I just don’t like what I see. I dislike the style and it also makes me feel that we all should wear the same clothes and walk out of very loud stores like robots wearing the same clothes. And somethings are just plainly not flattering, but it’s like people are blind (or brainwashed). I hate consumerism, and having to buy new clothes because the ones at the shop are low quality and their style changes from season to season, and apparently wearing the pants from last year is a mortal sin. I never fitted in the box. I tend to wear jeans/pants almost everyday, paired with tshirts. Many of my tshirts are on dark colors, often with skulls, rock’n’roll messages and similar things. Sometimes I feel that tshirts is the only thing I’m wearing and it would be nice to dress up a little bit without necessarily wearing dresses (I get cold easily and as I’ve said, my going outs are mainly to the grocery store). I think a nice blouse comes in handy here, and this one is as comfortable as a tshirt.

With sewing, unlike with knitting, I feel things happen faster, projects get finished in less days and we have constantly new patterns tempting us almost everyday. I think, finally after two years of sewing, I’m finally focusing more on what I really want to sew, on my own style.

This shirt will look a bit nicer paired with a garment sitting on the natural waist, unlike this pair of RTW jeans. Anyway, it’s not really formal and it looks quite good like this too. Many of my tshirts have a similar length. The only mod was skipping the pocket. The print is crazy enough so this was a bit unnecessary to me.

I think Gerry doesn’t like my lipstick. He also bit my nails when I used to paint them red. I rarely wear lipstick lately, sadly just when I’m taking pictures for the blog. As I’ve said, we barely go out, and I try to avoid makeup to no stir my already hyperactive mast cells.

As you can see, I placed snaps here too. This take on the 40s blouse is quite personal and not really vintage so I took the liberty of installing snaps, which took less than 10 minutes and was done just before going to bed. I don’t want to imagine what could have happened if I decided to have regular buttons and buttonholes.

Like with my Nemesis blouse, the back is a bit baggy, but I guess this is what you get when using tucks to shape your blouse. I really like this print, and it also matches my current style. I’m not good with words, especially when in big groups or with people I don’t know, and I’m getting worse due to lack of training. I like that sewing lets me make what I want and let my clothes speak for me.

I really like how this blouse came out and I have already planned many more. I just need to finish a present for my niece Paula and have more time for selfish sewing.

BTW, I changed location to take pictures because on the previous one there were some patches of sunlight. Seeing these pictures, I also like this one, and you can see where I work on my sewing. What do you think?

Serging my way to neat edges

Please excuse the bad quality pictures, but my mobile camera doesn’t behave in low light conditions. Same as Gerry, just that he does it in any light conditions.

My birthday this year was nothing special, there was nothing to remember and some things to forget (like a gastroenteritis), we didn’t go out to celebrate (the only think I can do outside involving putting things in my mouth is drinking plain water) and it was Monday (who doesn’t hate Mondays?). But there was something at least that helped to bear it. This was the year that I got ill, that I broke my nose, got a vocal cord paralyzed, lost friends (a side effect of being chronically ill); but it’s also the year that I got a serger! During months and years I’ve been suffering in silence about my poor and messy edges. My sewing machine has a faux overlocker foot, and I was all the time between zigzags and faux overlocker stitches. But none of them made me 100% happy. A few times I opted for French or flat felled seams, but it was more work and in some cases the fabric and the project called for something else. I delayed the purchase first because we were living in a tiny apartment, and then because I had a lot of sudden expenses (health, new apartment, health, and health). So I always said to myself that I could live with what I had, that anyway nobody was going to see the inside of my clothes. But Koen came with this present on the day that I needed to be cheered up the most.

As this machine is something that I wished but also something that was a bit out of my reach, all related to it was a mystery and almost magical. The truth is I knew nothing else than it made neat edges. Period. I didn’t know how you get those results. It was like the principles behind a car engine. No idea. Well, maybe I knew a bit more about this last topic. But Koen foresaw this and included also this wonderful book:

Yes, Gerry already chewed up the borders when I was not paying attention. It seems he’s not only interested in my pins: he’s also interested in serging my projects!

I caught here the engineer infraganti while he was trying to fix my serger tension. Thanks to him I learned to thread it from scratch, that think that should not be named.

The first day I was worried that I was going to feel overwhelmed by so many new things, techniques and concepts, but I broke the ice with my new machine but serging the edges of my last project. It took me some scraps to reach the right tension, but this looks good to me.

I’ll show you what I made in my next post. It’s something that I wanted to make for quite some time, and I’ve finally found the perfect pattern.