designing knits, part 2

Picking up where I left off: My yarn arrived, I’ve cast on, and started knitting! The yarn is as soft and delicious as I remember – and yes, it will pill a little since it’s so soft. That’s the nature of the beast for a single ply merino wool, but it’s a trade-off I’ve chosen to deal with to gain the soft feel, the drape, and the pattern effect. Actually, that leads me nicely into what I wanted to share about the process of designing this top: compromises.

That doesn’t really sound like a good thing in designing, but here’s the deal – knitting this lace top the way my original pattern is written would be somewhat convoluted, and probably a little irritating. Let’s go back to how I made the pattern in the first place: I used a soft jersey to drape the top on a dressform to the look that I wanted, then transferred that to a paper pattern. Knowing my gauge from having knit my sample, it was just a matter of marking all the places that had changes in angles (like the waist, or the tip of the shoulder, or the collar line for example), measure the distances, and calculate the amount of rows and stitches that needed to change in between all those points. It was quite a lot of math work, but I think it was a pretty accurate way of coming up with the shaping of the garment.

Now, I followed these numbers accurately. This meant counting rows all the time, and in order to keep track of where I was, I kept having to note on my pattern what row of the 8 row pattern-repeat the next increase or decrease would happen on, so I knew I was on the right row. One decrease might happen on row 5 of the repeat, then I had to count 17 rows and make sure the next decrease in fact was on row 6 of the repeat, and so on.

I don’t think most knitters would find that approach very enjoyable, or logical, or clear. So here is where my compromises come in: in order to make it easier and less frustrating for the knitter, I am choosing to move the decreases and increases to always be at the same point in the pattern repeat. That way, all you have to count is how many of those repeats to go before the next decrease. Yes, the shaping won’t be as optimal as the original, but the tradeoff is a pattern that is better to work with. In the end, I think moving a decrease 3 or 4 rows won’t make too significant of a change to warrant a more knitpicky kind of counting.

Any other pet peeves in knitting from patterns? Mine is knitting in sections and sewing the back and fronts together when it could just be knit in one piece from the start!

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2012

It’s almost inevitable to spend the end-of-the-year holidays reflecting on the year you’re leaving behind, and the one you’re approaching. 2011 has been all over the place for me; I completed my fashion design bachelor in May, I left Chicago behind to go on a three-month road-trip/camping-trip, and I moved back to Norway in August. I’ve been living without most of my belongings since leaving Chicago (they’re on their way, but goodness – several months overdue!), so settling in hasn’t been quite complete yet. With this year of adventure and nomadic living behind me, I am hoping for settling in 2012. I’m want to have all my belongings in one place again, and I’m looking forward to some measure of routine!

                           

And for a peak back at what I’ve made this past year – look at that! I think I have some colors I keep coming back to! ;) I’m quite surprised that I’ve knit more items than I’ve sewn this year, but I think the work on the collection skews that – I mean, does one tailored, fully lined coat equal one knit baby hat? I think perhaps not! But that collection has definitely ruled my sewing world this year.

What’s in store for 2012 then? I want to sew more for me. Sewing school-projects has been a ton of fun, especially going through the process of drafting and fitting patterns before sewing the actual garments. But they weren’t necessarily for me! There is a backlog of things I’ve been wanting to sew, and now is the time. For example, I have a Beignet skirt high on my list, and I’ll be doing Tasia’s sew-along for the Minoru jacket now in January.

There are most things still from my fall pallette challenge to sew, like jeans, pencilskirts, blouses, and dresses. I want to do a detailed series on tailoring jackets, and I have a handful of my own designs I’ll be making as well.

Most excitingly, I’ve been working behind the scenes on a line of sewing patterns! I’m still working hard on them, and will be starting small with just one pattern at a time. I’d love your help though, so if you’d like to be a pattern tester, follow this link to my pattern tester survey! Everybody is welcome, I’m hoping to have the first pattern ready for testing early spring.

I’m looking forward to this year, and I hope everybody else is too! Now, if only my fabrics, patterns, and tools could arrive so I could get started sewing again!

my 6 favorite free patterns on ravelry

These are my 6 favorite patterns from ravelry, a fantastic treasure trove of a site! You’ll notice that these are all baby-things and accessories, which are fairly quick and doesn’t use a ton of yarn, and those are things that makes me happy with a project. Instant gratification! And maybe some last-minute Christmas-gifts? Well, here they are:

Aviatrix baby hat

Aviatrix baby hat

This is a great little baby-hat. It is a quick knit, with adorable details, and clever construction. All the shaping is done with short-rows, and there is no seaming! I wouldn’t recommend it for the complete novice however, not just because of the short rows, but also because the pattern covers a large range of sizes and yarnweights and can be a little cryptic to decipher.

my ravelry project page | the pattern

Baby Sophisticate

Baby Sophisticate

I *love* this little baby-cardigan. It’s worked top down, with the collar and front button-band worked last (and easily in one single piece). It’s cute, and pretty easy, and.. did I say cute?

my ravelry project page | the pattern

Shifting sands

Shifting sands scarf

This, however, was anything but quick. Not in a bad way, just the slow-and-steady kind. I also used a thin yarn, which made all the cables tiny. Yes, those are hundreds, maybe thousands of cables. But they’re not hard! And this scarf has about the loveliest texture I’ve ever seen.

my blog post | my ravelry project page | the pattern

Robin’s egg blue hat

Robin's Egg Blue Hat

Another quick knit, with a seed stitch brim, and decorative flap with button. This really was fast, and would make a good, easy gift-knit. Check out the pictures of all the hats on the pattern page!

 my ravelry project page | the pattern

Pebble vest

Pebble vest

So cute I can almost not stand it! I haven’t seen this in action, but the buttons on the side and on one of the straps apparently makes it easy to get on and off little wriggling babies. The garter stitch and stockinette stitch combination is lovely, and outside of sewing on buttons, there is only one seam to join!

my blog post | my ravelry project page | the pattern

Cabled watchcap

Part of why I like this hat is the very soft, very fine yarn that I used, but most of all it’s the pattern. It has cables of two different sizes, and the repititon of the cables against the purl background is enough to make it feel interesting, instead of overly symmetrical. It’s just plain pretty!

my blog post | my ravelry project page | the pattern

Shamelessly promoting my own free patterns:

Reversible biking hat

My first attempt at writing a sharing a knitting pattern! It’s a lightweight hat with eyelets, it’s reversible, and pretty easy. I called it a biking hat because John (that’s him in the picture) said it’d be perfect underneath a cycling helmet in the colder months. I’m at three hats made from this pattern now – I’m sure there will be more!

my blog post | my ravelry project page | the pattern

Elvish leaves scarf

And my second free pattern, a lace scarf in fingering weight wool. It has an elegant leaf pattern repeat, and makes for a good intermediate lace project. The thin scarf is perfect for slightly chilly days where you just need that extra little warmth and comfort around your neck!

my blog post | my ravelry project page | the pattern

sewing underwear: the (free) pattern

Underwear. Knickers. Pants. Undies. Whatever you call them, I have a free pattern for sewing your underwear that I want to share with you! I’ve included several sizes; XS, S, M, and L – so I hope that is helpful!

I’ve been making underwear from t-shirts for years. My first undies-sewing attempt taught me that I should follow the grain of the fabric. The second time I discovered that twin needles are awesome. Most recently I’ve been playing around with different kinds of elastics to finish the underwear, and I’ll be showing that soon!

The “t-shirt underwear” pattern I’ve made is in the bikini brief style, but it can easily be tweaked to fit you perfectly. It’s graded in four sizes; extra small, small, medium, and large. I think the sizes should be pretty standard, but do let me know your feedback!

So if you want to make your own underwear, click the image above or the link below to download the pattern! The pdf includes the choice of 1 page in the 11″ X 17″ format, or 3 pages that you line up and tape together (it is formatted to work for both US Letter and European A4 – just make sure there is no resizing when you print).

Download the t-shirt underwear pattern!

I’ll be doing a couple of posts on sewing the underwear, the basics of how to sew them together, and then some options of how to finish them with different types of elastics. So be sure to come back for that!

*     *     *

Did you miss a post in this underwear-making adventure?

If you make a pair (or five?) from this pattern, please share! Comment, link back, and show off!

sewing underwear

Final update, January 2017 – I have decided not to do any more work on this underwear pattern, and in extention I won’t be making the old pattern available again either. The reason for this is two-fold. First off, I’m was no longer comfortable sharing the pattern when I stopped being happy with the quality of it. I had every intention of working on and improving the pattern to share it again, but life. Which is the second reason. I am in a different place in life and I have taken a new direction with my job (teaching! Loving it!), and I am simply no longer as driven or interested in working on sewing patterns to be shared and potentially sold, like I was a few years ago -when this was a fun and learning-driven side-project for me.

I sincerely appreciate all the interest you guys have shown in using the pattern, and I hope you will find another pattern to help you among the many that are available online. Please also consider buying a pattern from one of the talented drafters who put a great deal of time, effort and care into their products. :)

Underwear. Knickers. Pants. Undies. Whatever you call them, I have a free pattern for sewing your own underwear that I want to share with you! I’ve included several sizes; XS, S, M, and L – so I hope that is helpful!

I’ve been making underwear from t-shirts for years. My first undies-sewing attempt taught me that I should follow the grain of the fabric. The second time I discovered that twin needles are awesome. Most recently I’ve been playing around with different kinds of elastics to finish the underwear, and I’ll be showing that soon!

The “t-shirt underwear” pattern I’ve made is in the bikini brief style, but it can easily be tweaked to fit you perfectly. It’s graded in four sizes; extra small, small, medium, and large. I think the sizes should be pretty standard, but do let me know your feedback!

So if you want to make your own underwear, click the image above or the link below to download the pattern! The pdf includes the choice of 1 page in the 11″ X 17″ format, or 3 pages that you line up and tape together (it is formatted to work for both US Letter and European A4 – just make sure there is no resizing when you print).

I’ll be doing a couple of posts on sewing the underwear, the basics of how to sew them together, and then some options of how to finish them with different types of elastics. So be sure to come back for that!

*     *     *

Did you miss a post in this underwear-making adventure?

• Sewing underwear: the basics
• Sewing underwear: the extras

If you make a pair (or five?) from this pattern, please share! Comment, link back, and show off! 

things

I really did not plan to add to my fabric  stash this summer.

For reasons that are part of life – yet still bittersweet, two ladies (both wonderful, wonderful seamstresses) that we have visited on this roadtrip of ours have let me choose some fabric from their impressive and lovely stashes. They were unfortunately both at a point where they were not going to be using their fabrics anymore, and wanted to give it to someone who would appreciate and enjoy them. All in all, I’ve gained a double-knit, wool Liberty print, some wool crepes in fuchsia and black, and a subtle dark grey wool pinstripe to use for a blazer, with a jacquard cream silk lining fabric to go with it.

They are beautiful fabrics, and I am honored that these ladies gave them to me. At the same time, it makes me all the more determined to do justice to them and their skills and make something really well-made and lovely out of them!

I’ve also treated myself to a couple of things! I eyed this shirtdress pattern from lisette when it first came out; not only is it a basic pattern for a style I absolutely love (that would be the shirtdress-addiction kicking in), but it’s also from the woman behind oliver+s.  How can that possibly be bad? And when I went to pay for the pattern, it was even on sale!

The book in the background is an introductory book on canning. I was totally swayed by the pretty pictures (I always am), but it does seem like a good, basic place to start. I’m sure soulemama is partly to blame for my desires to grow and put up my own food, but that’s not a bad thing! I can’t wait to give the recipes a spin – I’ll share my attempts here when I get around to trying!

As a bit of a side-note, there has been less making this summer than what I anticipated. It turns out that there is too many interesting and beautiful things to see and do on the road – no time for knitting! I still have a bit of a backlog of things I want to share, but internet-time has been limited. I’m working on it though!