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Knitting a skirt

9 Apr

I’ve never knitted a skirt, before. I’ve heard knitted skirts are kind of stretchy and saggy and difficult to wear. But I was checking out a pattern (The “Which do you Choose” dress by Jill Stover), thinking I might make a sweater from it, and I found that the swatch I was playing with (with some Knitpicks “Simply Cotton” yarn I had on hand) that it knitted up pretty fast and might make a cool skirt.  It was pretty fast, and only took 2 1/2 skeins of the yarn.  And I found a really nice bright yellow fabric to make a little underskirt type slip to wear under it.


Unfortunately, when I walk, the underskirt rides up, and I have to do a lot of wardrobe-adjusting, so overall it’s kind of stretchy and saggy and difficult to wear.

But at least I’ve tried it out, and learned something. And the pattern is really nice…I’d probably like it better for a sweater.

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Why, yes, I *have* made a jumper!

26 Mar

I finished a sweater I’ve been working on for almost two years. It’s from Susan Crawford’s book A Stitch in Time, one of my favorite knitting pattern books, where old sweater patterns of many vintages are reworked for modern yarn weights, clothing size, and with more complete, specific instructions. The one I’ve been working on has the beguiling title of “Have you Made a Jumper Yet?”

So although it sure took me long enough, I can know say with certainty that I most definitely have.

This has been a lot of knitting–and crochet. About half of this is crochet, the lacework panels on waist, sleeves, and around the neck. I’d say it’s about half and half. And on size 3 needles, well, it takes a whole lot of stitching to make fabric, and it’s a fairly loose, flowing design, so there’s a lot of fabric to it.

I love how it turned out. I especially like how the 1920’s flavor came through, it looks properly vintage. I also like the way the yarn (Elsebeth Lavold’s “Silky Wool”) worked up, the varying nature of the crochet and knit together. The crochet is flatter, more stiff, while the knit parts are drapey and luxuriously springy, with more stretch to the fabric. (I converted it from stockinette to moss stitch, and I love the texture of moss stitch in vintage patterns.)
This has been such a major project, and it has been on the needles for so long that I admit, finishing it, I am a bit at a loss. What to knit, next? How can I sit down to watch a movie or television show, with no “Knitted Jumper” to slave away at on teeny tiny needles?  (Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll find something.) 🙂

I do think this has been one of my most intensive knit projects ever. (I call it “knit” even though it’s half crochet. That’s another thing I like about old-fashioned patterns, there’s less of a divide between the two crafts, and they often appear companionably in tandem with one another.)

There are a few more pictures over on my Ravelry page, for knitting-inclined people.

Just another red sweater

29 Feb

…in what seems like a long line of them.  “A red sweater” seems like my default knitting project, but red is my favorite color, so voilà.
In a yarn store, I am statistically more likely to fall for a skein of red than any other possibility, and that is what happened in this case.

 

I made this pattern up as I went along. I was tempted to write I “designed” it, but to me, “design” indicates some forethought, some planning. What I did was start a top-down in-the-round pullover, and then every few inches I tried it on, and then ripped out what I had knitted if I didn’t like how it was working, and then re-knitted it.  It went through a lot of changes. It had panels of lace, at certain times. The shaping grew and changed. I probably knitted the equivalent of three of these sweaters by the time it was all over. It’s so different from my original “design” that in fact, had I made it as first conceived in my imagination, there in the yarn store…it would have been a hat and mittens.

I even purchased the buttons with the brim of a hat in mind.  Get a look at these buttons, they’re one of my favorite parts:


In the spirit of “why buy it when you can make it yourself?”, these buttons are handmade by a local woodworker, from a stick.  I love how the wood is a different shade toward the center, and the raw bark edges.

Other features of this “design” include…

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Sewing vs. Knitting

16 Feb

(Not that it’s a competition, because both are so fabulous.)  But they are not interchangeable.

And they are completely different exercises to undertake.

At first, when I started knitting, I thought it was so much more tedious than sewing. After all, sewing is relatively quick: If you have the right piece of fabric, you can often turn it into a three-dimensional garment with the addition of a few well-placed seams. Whip, whip! You have a skirt. The fabric does most of the work.  Whereas, with knitting, one builds the fabric stitch by stitch. And when you have built it and built it, stitch upon stitch, you then have…pieces of fabric, which you still get to sew together to create a garment.  All that work, and the knitter ends up with another version of what the savvy seamstress cuts from a bolt in a fabric store.

But then I kept knitting….and knitting, and knitting. And I learned that what knitting has going for it is that it doesn’t require such focus. I can knit and talk at the same time. Knit in a moving vehicle, knit and watch a movie. I’ve even knitted at poker games.  I’m not saying that it can’t be done, setting a sleeve or inserting a flat-fell seam while playing Texas hold’em…but, well, I’ll say it can’t be done by me. Most parts of sewing require a fair bit of mental attention–and sewing projects are often less than portable. The actions of sewing take up space all their own. I traipse from cutting table to sewing machine and then back out into my hallway, where I set up my ironing board, to press the most recent seam.  It’s hard even to have someone in the room to carry on a conversation, while I’m turning this way and that, walking about, running the sewing machine and mumbling around the pins in my mouth.  Hence, sewing’s comparatively asocial.  It likes a room of its own and some good music in the background.

As I balance the two, I notice it becomes a question not of what project is most alluring to me on any given day, but of what structure my day has. Do I have some free time to spend alone, in my home, trotting back and forth from pressing to stitching? Or am I on the move today, with only moments free riding the bus? Or maybe, today, my real focus is spending time watching Downton Abbey, and “creativity” of any sort will be only my secondary pastime.

Because when I’m busy, and the time for crafting happens only on a train going here or there, or overlaps other activities, I find that the stitch-by-stitch method of production in knitting sometimes make for craft projects that get finished much quicker, in calendar time, no matter how much more labor-intensive they may seem.

Handmade Suitcase Challenge, on the way home!

1 Feb

Last hotel-room outfit update, for this little trip. (Off again, next week, though.)

When I packed, I thought this outfit was the most boring of the batch, but it turns out to be my very favorite of the week.

“Wear the Shift” shift dress, made by me.

“Que Sera” cotton cardigan, made by me.

-Bowtie Pendant, made by Cheri Lewis, of San Francisco.

I like that even though it’s all neutral colors, the textures play well together and the patterns keep it from being boring.

Houndstooth fabric against patterned tights and lacy knit cardigan, even the scalloped pattern on the bowtie necklace adds something similar, yet different. I will totally wear this again, and am happy that my mini-challenge led to new wardrobe discoveries.

Haphazard knitting results

20 Jan

You know how some people, when they cook, they measure everything, and follow the recipe directions exactly? They put in a quarter teaspoon this, a half cup that?  And then some other people, when they cook, they just throw some salt in, and then some water, and if it needs a little more of something, well, they add a little more.

I’m like the latter, in both sewing and knitting. That’s what I mean, when I say I’m a “haphazard” handcrafter.  I make things up as I go along.  Sometimes I read only partway through the directions. Sometimes, I confess, I knit without even swatching. And sometimes, I admit, my results are questionable.

But I swear, sometimes I swatch, and I can’t tell the difference in the results!  Like the sweater I just finished this week. I swatched twice. Two swatches!  I even washed those swatches, and blocked them. But my sweater ended up too small just the same.


But I’m living with it. I realized it halfway through, of course. I had the option to rip back (weeks and weeks worth of knitting!) But no, I did not rip. I charged resolutely onward. “It’ll be form-fitting,” I told myself. “That’s a good thing, in a cardigan.”  “It’ll grow!” I decided, a week or two later. “Cotton always grows, after you’re done knitting it, and I hate saggy sweaters.”

So now it’s done, and I have to wait a few washings to see just how much, in fact, this thing is going to grow and sag…or if, in fact, it might always fit like some vintage sweater I found in a thrift shop and just had to have, regardless of the fact that it was three sizes too small. At any rate, I love the color, and I love the pattern (It’s “Que Sera”, from Knitty), and I love the sparkly crystal buttons that throw catchlights around the room when I wear it, and make it look even more like a vintage find.

And in preparation for my “handmade, only handmade” trip next week, I wore it with my “Marginal Skirt” from last week. Two halfway-great items, added together, equal great…of course they do.