Fall plans: Coziness and stashbusting

Summer came and went fast and my knitting and sewing plans more or less fell into pieces. I stopped knitting to make sure wool was not causing the eczema on my hands. Anyway, I was not very motivated at all to invest time doing things that I enjoy. I preferred to invest it reading about histamine, angioedemas and immune diseases. This didn’t make me closer to the truth but knowledge is power. So I’m now a powerful ill person.

I had lots of plans for sewing, including making Gertie’s bombshell dress, which course I purchased already last year. I even had the fabric, but I didn’t have the heart… nor the weight. I finally recovered 3 out of my 10 lost kilos and I’m more or less stable, so that means I can start sewing for myself again. Another factor is that we moved to a bigger apartment in August, and now I have a dedicated sewing space and a large living room where I can cut fabric, tape patterns and leave things to be able to work on them the day after. Before this was unthinkable. Our tiny living room served as dining room, office, living room and sewing room. If I started sewing, cutting or tracing, I had to remove everything if I didn’t have time to finish at that moment. I also got an ironing board and my creases are a lot more crispy.

As I said, last year was full of plans but I didn’t have the infrastructure to make all happen. That didn’t stop me from dreaming, purchasing fabric or refraining myself from any wonderful bargain I happened to stumble upon. Luckily we had planned a good stash storage for our new apartment, and I stopped feeling that my wool and fabric were going to eat us.

And this is the story about how I started sewing and knitting again. I was working on two sweaters when my life stopped. I recently finished an Owls sweater but I still have no pictures because I need to add buttons. The other one is Armande, from Andi Satterlund. I resumed this one when half of my brain was still busy with medical concepts and had to unravel a section a couple of times. Yes, I know, this is a very simple design, but as I’ve said, half of my brain was focused on my health and the other half was simply tired.

Things are going now better knitwise and I hope I will finish this cardigan very soon.

And about sewing, I finished a couple of things when my health issues started but I haven’t shared them with you. Honestly I didn’t even took pictures and I don’t feel like wearing the bikini I made to show it here. Probably for next summer, I promise. I have a couple of blouses and a skirt that I could show you but I haven’t found yet the perfect location for pictures in the new house. To be honest, I haven’t worked on it, I still need to unpack my tripod. Please bear with me.

What I did was sewing accessories. The weather is a bit warm again, but there were some very cold days that caught us completely by surprise. I even turned the heating on since the pain in my finger joints was starting to be unbearable (and that for knitting is a no-no). So I decided that, even I wanted to sew wonderful dresses, I needed some basic warm garments and accessories to survive the coming winter.

And I’ve made slippers! I’d toyed with the idea of making them for a long while. I even bought the insoles last year and they were there, waiting to be used. I used this tutorial but made my own pattern using some scraps of paper. It’s the same idea that’s explained here, but I didn’t have this site in front of me since I felt lazy while measuring my foot and sitting on the floor.

And they fit like a glove.

Please excuse the sock marks on my feet. I was wearing something else before taking these pictures and I was in a hurry to make them with natural light. I’ve used faux leather for the sole, an old fleece scarf for the lining and some remnants of my first Thurlow trousers (I’m scared of trying them on because I know they won’t fit anymore). The faux leather was on sale because it was a small piece with some stains. It cost around €2 and I don’t mind the stains at all when they are going to face the floor all the time. Anyway, they are almost invisible.

The fleece scarf was a present many years ago from one of my aunts. I never quite liked this scarf and it was in the back of my closets in all the apartments where I lived since then (Vigo, Leuven 1, Leuven 2, Brussels, Madrid 1, Madrid 2). I don’t know why but I was attached to it because it had been a present, so I’m glad that it finally started to have a useful life. It has a vibrant yellow color with some pink and blue flowers. Beautiful for slippers lining but not so much for a scarf.

I really like how they came out, but if I were to make them again, I should probably design them slightly larger if I plan to wear thick socks with them.

And then Gerry joined the fun. See how beautiful his wings are. I see lots of birds on Instagram, and most of them have clipped wings. It makes me very sad because if birds should do just one thing, this is flying. Their metabolism, lungs, bones and digestive system are designed to facilitate this. Why do people clip their wings? They are birds, they should fly. Clipping their wings to make them obey better is cruel, coward and lazy. And if it’s done when they are very young, it prevents them from developing normal muscles. When we took Gerry to the vet last month (for a check up) she congratulated us because he is a very healthy and strong bird.

Another pattern that I had my eye set on was Maria Denmark’s SuperSocks. This is a very easy and quick project, and you can use leftovers since it takes very little fabric. I’ve used a piece from my Skull Fleece Renfrew and still have a lot left.

It’s an easy and straightforward pattern. It’s true that it fits quite well, but next time I would probably make left and right slightly different to have the toe fitting more closely and being actually able to use them inside shoes.

They are very nice and cozy though, and ideal to hang out on the sofa while knitting and watching an episode of our favorite series. I’m actually watching “Call the Midwife“, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s truly beautiful, you should see it.

 

It was not on purpose, but as I cut both pieces together, there’s almost continuity on the design. You can almost see the complete skulls if I place my feet together.

If the sole is substituted for a different material (faux leather) or if we use some non-slip glue, then they could become more versatile and be also used as slippers.

I’m thinking that this could make a quick Christmas present. I still have some Winnie the Pooh pink fleece from my niece’s hoodie, I’m sure she’ll love it.

 

 

Bowie’s inspired series

I’ve been listening to David Bowie‘s music a lot lately. And if you remember, I’ve talked about Life on Mars series a while ago. Mmh, this post is from October, so it means I’ve been Bowie obsessed for almost 4 months (omg, I should get a life). On that post I talked about the first episode of this series, saying that we gave up after watching it.

Well, I should tell you that I’ve recently finished this series and didn’t help with my Bowie‘s obsession. I wanted more, and one day, almost by accident I found out that there’s a sequel called Ashes to Ashes, yes, like the song.

After watching the first episode I was not sure what to make of it. Tyler’s world was still there, having evolved into the 80’s, Gene Hunt speech was witty and cheeky as always but Keeley Hawes‘ acting was not so convincing and at first this just seemed a little bit of the same as Life on Mars. But you know that, unlike Koen, I persevere (and I need to fill my lonely lunch hour) so I watched the complete season 1. And I became obsessed. I guessed something about the finale two episodes in advance thanks to my too good face memory, but that only increased the last twist impression.

Seriously, if you are into Bowie, 80’s music, if you’ve watched Life on Mars and you’ve enjoyed it, you have to try this series. At least you’ll have a good time watching it. And the clown will scare the hell out of you.

One skein

This is what Annalisa and Borboleta got me for my birthday.

It’s funny to think about the fact that they went to one of the oldest craft shops in Madrid. This shop celebrated their 100 anniversary this year so I’m not lying when I say that it’s old. The site pictures were clearly made with the shop closed because on a normal day you can’t even walk in there. It’s like a village market but with buttons and ribbons and wool and anything you can imagine. But it’s normally so crowded that I only go there when I need something that I can’t find anywhere else, because my friends, they have EVERYTHING.

So they went to this crazy shop, struggled with all the queues and unfriendly employees, and bought me this without having any idea at all about wool or knitting. I’m having fun just at imagining them there 🙂

I loved the present, they way they thought what I would like. But what they don’t know is that I always have problems to find projects when I just have one skein of non-sock yarn. Luckily we have Ravelry for this kind of problems. Searching in groups I found the following that could help us here:

We also have to option of advanced search.

Ravelry_search_1Apart from the usual filters we normally use to just look for a kind of garment, we can also introduce parameters like yardage or meterage.Ravelry_search_2Ravelry_search_5 Ravelry_search_3And we can also introduce a weight or needle size.Ravelry_search_4 Ravelry_search_6Et voilà! You have a much shorter list to browse.

Ravelry_search_7

You can also apply more filters. If you don’t want to spend your money on a pattern you can go for free ones. I use the Purchase Online or Ravelry Downloads since I don’t normally have printed patterns.

Ravelry_search_8What about you? Which filters do you normally use?

Telaria’s Fridays

If you didn’t know, Telaria is giving away some prizes every Friday this August, and I was the lucky one last week. The prize was a Japanese pattern book for children and 150 cm of one print belonging to Lotta Jansdotter Glimma Collections.

Yesterday morning I received an email letting me know that I was the winner. You cannot imagine what a great and pleasant surprise this was, since winning this draw never crossed my mind (I know, I should be more positive). In the email, Miren told me that, after checking my blog, she was thinking that I could be interested in a different kind of book (I’m not the mother kind of blogger), so I could choose any other book from their Japanese collection. After giving it a bit of thought, I decided to stick to this book for children, since my niece Paula will turn 4 this December and I should be making something nice for her. In the email, Miren also wanted to confirm my fabric of choice (Soba in Fog) and she was super nice all the time.

Another thing I would like to mention is that last week I ordered some fabric from them (which arrived today) and if they had realized earlier, I could have this and the prizes shipped together, which would have saved me some money. Mea culpa. This happens when you have two email addresses. Anyway, it was a nice detail that they commented on this even if it was too late.

And these are the two purchases that arrived today. The one on the left is a double gauze  and the one on the right is a lightweight cotton, and they will become blouses.

With the fabrics they also included three beautiful mother of pearl buttons and this lace bias tape. Aren’t they a beauty?

I love when online shops have these details with us. It doesn’t cost much and for us it’s like opening a surprise birthday present.

Make a complete muslin

One of the things we enjoy less of the process of sewing is making a muslin (I also hate cutting the fabric, but that’s because my place is quite small). Skipping this step is very tempting, since it implies making at lest two garments: the muslin(s) and the finished project. Another temptation we find in our way is making a partial muslin. It happens often, we think that we need to focus on the trickiest part of the garment and make a muslin of that part (e.g. a dress bodice), skipping the rest of the garment thinking that it will fit just right. Big mistake! I also know the theory, and had a partial fail because of me being lazy.

You see this partially finished Lonsdale dress? I know this dress is like the Neverending Story. It doesn’t look very good because I haven’t installed the zipper yet nor sewed the back of the skirt. I’ve just pinned the bodice to see how it would look like when finished.

Apart from the lack of zipper (and the bagginess that it implies), there’s something else that bothers me. It doesn’t look like the ones I’ve admired on the internet (some of them at least), and it won’t look like that if I don’t fix it. Yes, the bodice needs to be shortened. The Lonsdale dresses that I like most are the ones where the bodice looks short. It’s also possible that just have a short body. My hawthorn looks also a little bit weird there, but not sure if it’s due to this or because I didn’t do a correct FBA. Here another picture with the dress pinned to make the bodice between three and four centimetres shorter. Yes, this is what I want!

When I made the muslin of this dress I ended up making two muslins of the bodice, one for size 6 and another one for size 4. Size 4 was the winner with no doubt. And that was it. I then cut my final fabric and started sewing (2 weeks later, but that’s another story). What I missed from my test was the dress as a whole. The bodice looked right, but I didn’t check how the skirt was gonna look like regarding the bodice. I could have tested with a partial skirt, but not without skirt at all. We need to know how the trickiest part of our garment will look like, but also the intersecting lines of it with the rest of the complete project.

Making a complete muslin will also allow you to know your pattern instructions and tricky points beforehand, so that you will make less mistakes during the final sewing. This last argument may not convince you but I’m sure the rest of the article will.

I’m going to get a tattoo on my forehead which says: “Make a complete muslin, make a complete muslin, …”.

We’re leaving tomorrow for Belgium, so this dress will have to wait another week for this major change. Is it me or this dress seems doomed?

A-line skirt

I started a class about pattern drafting almost 1 year ago. My first project was a skirt of which I’m not especially proud. It’s an ok skirt, but it’s not exactly what it was meant to be, and now I feel some basic concepts were not explained during the class (or at least I was not aware of them). Because of that and because of my great behind I haven’t made any more skirts until very recently (dresses with circle skirts don’t count).

After a lot of thinking I decided to join this Craftsy class. It’s about designing and sewing your own A-line skirt. I was a bit afraid that I was going to pay for something that I already knew and that it was going to be worthless, but I couldn’t be more wrong. There were three concepts that were pretty basic but that also were eye-openers for me:

  • How to sew on a blind zipper without having puckers.
  • How to sew the facing to the zipper with the machine.
  • The importance of square angles at the sides (waist and hem) when designing the skirt.

After a couple of muslins this is the result:

I think the fit is quite good and those muffing pockets are adorable. I’m definitely making more of this for this summer.

Following the instructions of the class was very straight forward, simple and clear. Deborah Moebes makes everything look so easy, you just want to jump to your sewing machine and start sewing.

I confess that I had a bit of trouble designing my skirt due to my pear shaped body, but taking into account the square angles concept, I could draft a quite good pattern.

When I started this blog, it was almost exclusively about knitting. I always wanted to learn sewing and I’ve been doing some since last year, but getting my own sewing machine was the real starting point. The only problem is the invest of money a new hobby requires: acquiring the tools and knowledge. Between that and all the ideas flying in my head about future designs I’m getting a bit stressed. I think it could be due to the different nature of sewing compared to knitting. Knitting is a very slow process, so slow that you sometimes forget what you’re doing while you keep knitting stitch after stitch, it becoming an almost mindlessly process while you’re watching TV. With sewing it’s very different, because it can be very immediate; a skirt can finished in one or two days. And some of the process can’t be done in front of the TV. You need to get up from your chair, measure here and there; and the sewing machine is a lot more noisy than your knitting needles, even if they are metallic. I have the impression that it just takes more of my attention and it can become a bit obsessive. I’ve already had some insomnia nights just thinking how I’m going to make this or that, how I’m going to cut that fabric, how the final garment is going to look like.

I guess I just have to take it easy and try to switch between sewing and knitting to try to avoid becoming obsessed by any of the two. But you know, I’m queuing up so many projects in my mind that I could have a complete wardrobe. And I also would like to learn embroidery!

Note: I want to make clear that I’m not getting paid for writing this post. These are just my honest thoughts about the class.

Mad Men Dress Challenge

Here is my dress for the challenge. It’s based in a couple of dresses but I did not buy any special fabric since I knew I lacked time and this was not going to be a masterpiece. I recently found a shop here in Madrid where they have very cheap but good fabrics. Apparently they bought an old shop where the previous owner had lots of fabrics in store. The new owner doesn’t really know all they have and he’s selling vintage fabrics ridiculously cheap. I bought mine for 6.25 euros (2.5 meters). I made the pattern myself and I confess I had some troubles adjusting the skirt. I’m pear shaped and it’s not easy to make something for my huge hips. Taking into account the rush, I’m pleased with the result. I have one more dress to wear at dance parties.

After all the rush to finish it on time (I was almost feeling like the guys at the Great British Sewing Bee) I had an issue with my pictures. My SD card got somehow corrupted and most of the pictures were damaged, being much less then 1 MB and almost entirely grey. I wanted to throw my dress, the camera and my laptop against the wall, but I got over it and found a wonderful software that I can’t stop from recommending: it’s called Photorescue Expert and it does wonders.

The Great British Sewing Bee

This is my new discovery. Thanks to Tilly I have discovered this TV show from the BBC. I haven’t watched TV for years and I got tired long ago of those lame singing contests (I think there’s one now called Splash where famous people jump to a swimming pool, stupid). This uses the same formula, but it’s great! If you live in the UK, you can watch it directly from the BBC web site, but for those who live abroad we’ll always have YouTube.

Episode 1:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19Fq_X_xngU]

Episode 2:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5trYhyBMuI]

I am enjoying this ennourmously. When I see them suffering there I think of myself trying to finish my dress for the Mad Men Challenge.

WordPress nightmare

I have a problem with my blog. Some of you might have already guessed, especially if I left you comments on your blogs. Here is the thing.When I created the domain elenaknits.wordpress.com I did it under another username. It was an old name from an old blog I used to have in a previous life. When I realized my mistake, I tried to correct it by creating the username elenaknits to match my current domain. But it was not possible because it was unavailable.

I found a quick fix by creating elenatheknitter as a username, but that only made things worse. That created a new domain elenatheknitter.wordpress.com that I’ve never used and I don’t mean to.

Reading about WordPress policy, I discovered that you can change your username but then you will never be able to go back to a previous one. It’s kind of protection to avoid somebody using your domain and name in the future in case you’ve deleted yours. But my problem is that elenaknits as a username was never used. I don’t know if it was even created with the domain, because I could never use it.

I have a free account, therefore I don’t have support, and the only thing I could do was going to the forums. I asked there two days ago and the only answer I got was that what I want is simply not possible, and if the OpenID doesn’t work as a consequence it’s not important, because (in their words) it fails more often than it works.

I thought about upgrading to premium to solve this issue, but I don’t even know if fixing this will be possible, so I’m still doubting. I also thought about redirecting elenatheknitter.wordpress.com to elenaknits.wordpress.com, but there is not a free way of doing it. It just costs $12, but I am not sure yet if I want to spend money on this blog. I could start from scratch on a different domain, but I’m afraid of loosing the few visitors I have. I have made in the past a personal site with Drupal and I’ve given some thought to moving this blog to Drupal and to my own domain, but WordPress has nice features that make it easier to interact with other WordPress and blogspot users giving a more or less seamless experience.

Has any of you had similar problems in the past? How did you solve it?

I’ve got stripes!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx6NUyyEwJs]

This is what I’m saying since Sunday, after I had to change color and finally I’ve got stripes. Please forgive me for this, but it’s my first knitting colorwork (I’ve done it plenty of times in crochet but never in knitting), and even if compared to other things it’s still pretty lame, it’s colorwork!. I’m still celebrating it and Koen still singing the song of his future cardigan.

We love Johnny Cash’s music. Before starting hanging out as a couple, around 5 years ago, Koen once came to my place to watch the movie Walk the Line, that I totally recommend for those who like rock’n’roll and country music. You will not only enjoy the music but a beautiful story and the great performances of Joachin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsvZGwd8vrI]

That day we discovered that we not only shared our passion for old music but also for plenty of other things. Getting together was the best decision we could have ever made.