Friday, January 30, 2015

January Garment: Purple Linden

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
Uh, wow messy hair much?
My first MaGaM make is yet another of Grainline Studio's Linden Sweatshirt.  Like my last version, I'm totally in love with it; my grey version is relieved because now it's not the only constant in my wardrobe.  (Poor thing is looking a little pilly.)  It's made from a purple ponte knit I bought ages ago, and now I understand why everyone raves about this fabric because it's a delight to sew!  Even ripping seams is easy, or at least easier than most other knits I've messed up on and cursed while tearing out seams.

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
I recently changed the lightbulb in my sewing room - yay for seeing my stitching, boo for photos.
Uh, sorry for the weird lighting in these pictures.  I keep trying to get better pictures, but either the lighting at this time of the year is being a dick or my camera is.  Probably both.  Just pretend that the sweatshirt is this colour in all of the photos:

2015 Makes Ribbon
Obviously I mean the purple, not the rainbow.
I actually posted about this top earlier in the month, when I accidentially sewed up most of the shirt before leaving for camp.  I basically did the same changes that I did in my grey version (although this time I actually changed the paper pattern), but I made a few other mods.

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
Can you see up my nose?  I think you can see up my nose.  But at least you can't see my bra strap.
First off, to solve the exposed bra strap issue, I decided to try tightening up the neckband to see what would happen.  I measured the neckline length (28") and then cut a piece 3" shorter.  I basted it on first, because it seemed like it was going to be too tight, but it turned out pretty good.  I'm pleased with the result, it's still wide, but in a nice way and not a 'hey look at my bra strap colour' kind of way.  If I want to tighten it any further though, I'll have to extend the raglan seams up, since I think the top would ripple if I made the neckband any tighter.

Oh, I also made the neckband a bit thicker.

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
Oh uh, that's a lot of fluff on the front.  I have no explanation for that.
What else?  Oh, I tightened up the cuffs, which I like a lot better.  My grey linden's cuffs were a little too loose, but who's going to rip out a seam, the zig-zag finishing, and topstitching to narrow them up?  NOT ME!

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
There's a few issues yet - there's some wicked armpit wrinkles on both the front and the back.  I don't really care, but it's something I'll probably poke at to see if I can solve it.  Suzy managed to solve her raglan sleeve wrinkles on her swim suit, so I have hope.

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
The back is pretty...big.  I'm slowly removing all of the excess ease that's supposed to be in this pattern, but oh well.  Actually, now that I think about it, I took about an inch out of the back width, but I think next time I might try cutting a smaller size for the back.  Or nipping out a bit more.  Oh well, don't care, love this sweatshirt!

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
Here's a flat picture, so you can see that I still haven't put any kind of shaping to it.  I never thought I'd be a fan of boxy tops, but here we are.  Hilariously, I'm also knitting a sweater with this exact same shape, and...this exact same colour.  Hmmm.  More on that another time.

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
My 2015 tag.  Was going to do a dangly one, but forgot to sew it in before finishing that seam. Oops.
How do you like my tag?  REALLY needed in a top like this, since it's really hard to figure out which side is the front and which side is the back.

So, with this Make a Garment a Month thing, there's different themes each month.  This month was supposed to be "something new"!  Uh, there really isn't anything new about this top, except perhaps the new tags?  I was planning on adding a zippered breast pocket, but I liked the clean look of the front so veto'd it.  And then I was going to add thumbholes to the cuffs, but after 3 different cuffs and a lot of shouting, I gave up on that too.  That crap is not an easy technique (still want to figure it out, but another time).

But I'm alright with not following the themes.  I mean, I've joined to encourage me to sew more often, not to follow themes that may not work for my garment needs.  If those two line up, then I'll go for it, but if not, I'm not going to worry about it.

Purple Linden Sweatshirt
What's with the curls, hair?  Maybe it also approves of this top.
So yeah, successful garment.  Again!  And despite having other garments I really should work on (like the Watson bra I'm half-way through sewing), is it bad that I'm plotting my next Linden?  Serious love for this garment guys, can you tell?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Watson's Bandwagon, ahoy!

I have sooooo many blog posts to write, it's a little ridiculous.  Ladies and gentlemen, I have been busy!  But I thought I'd share something right now, just to get the ball rolling.  Plus I'm excited about this project.

Guess what bandwagon I'm jumping on!  Here's to hoping I can get a decent fit with my heavy ladies.  I'm mostly aiming for less-structured and more comfortable house-bras instead of public-bras, so we'll see.  Heck, if you're lucky (or very unlucky), I might even be brave enough to model it! 

Monday, January 26, 2015


Swatching Cafe au Lait 
It's that time of year again - time for the Holla Knits Knit Along!  I joined this last year and managed to knit my Eastwood Cardigan within the 3 months of the KAL (which was amazing for me - I'm such a slow knitter).

This year, I plan to knit Cafe au Lait, a pattern I've been in love with since Holla Knits showed a sneak peak of the cable and lace months before it's spring 2014 release.  Hell, I even went online and bought the yarn the day the pattern was released.  And then the damn yarn has been sitting in my sewing room for months, so it's about time to get this done.

Cardboard Cafe Swatch
I started swatching, using the recommended yarn and needles, and it turned out pretty good.  Preblocked, the length was dead on, but the width was 3.5 inches instead of 6.  A bath and an overnight stay on my blocking mat mostly solved this.  I wet blocked it to 6 inches, but it shrunk down to 5 3/4 inches once dried.  I didn't block it that aggressively though, and if needed I could get the additional 1/4 inch out of it.  But I did some Math, and I think this will reduce the width by 2 inches.  Considering that I'm making size 48", which will give me 9 inches positive ease from my upper bust, I'm okay with losing a couple of inches of width.

This pattern is a little hard to switch to though.  I've been working on another pattern with a ton of cables, and the added lace is throwing me off.  Glad I did the swatch though, not only because it gave me an idea of the sizing and gauge, but I also got a feel for the pattern before it needs to count.  I made a couple of mistakes in the swatch, but it's a swatch so I let it be.  Think I now have a feel for the pattern.

Knit Picks Palette
ANYWAYS, this is going to be a fun KAL.  I'm also considering knitting Hodgepodge mitts out of the colours above, and I'm itching to make that black version of Deco Daisies I mentioned a while back.  Ambitious plans for a slow knitter like me, but what the heck, it's worth a try.

Any knitters out there considering joining along?  Holla Knits has some really innovative and unique patterns available, and I know from experience that this KAL is a ton of fun!  Oh, and did I mention the prizes?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

wip: a Year in Temps 2015

Year in Temps 2015
Last year, I started a conceptual knitting project that involved knitting a scarf using different colours to represent daily temperatures.  Really cool idea, but despite having all the temps for 2013 (my first full calender year in the Yukon), I stalled out by April 2013.  I just wasn't a fan of how narrow the scarf was, and wasn't too happy with the way I was handling the ends.

(I just realized I wrote the post for this on Sewing on Pins exactly a year ago today.  Hilariously, I've also signed up for Holla Knits KAL again, but more on that another time.)

So I decided to restart it this year, but this time following along with 2015 temps.  I'm using the daily average temps from accuweather and trying to knit each day.  Sometimes I fall a bit behind, like in my last rotation in camp, but I enjoyed catching up on the previous 14 days.  You can see my progress below.

Year in Temps 2015
That dark blue section is when it dipped down to -25C to -29C (-13F to -20F).  I was a little disappointed because it was actually colder, cold enough that I could've used the black, but the average was a little warmer.  There are times I wish I could use the lows, but I'll also want to use the highs in the summer, so the averages is the best compromise.  I think that means I'll never use the extremes, but I accounted for that by putting all my favourite colours in the middle section!  I'm a smart cookie sometimes.  

The darker purple area?  That was nearly an entire week of above 0C (32F) temps!  ARRRGHHH not what a skier wants to see when she's sitting in camp and itching to get onto the hill or our for a cross-country trip.  Luckily we got a couple of good snow dumps in the last few days.  But that also means I can't actually drive up my street, which is a crescent on a hill and is literally uphill on both sides - combined with the iciness below the snow means my car is being parked a 15 minute walk away.  As you can see by the light purple and darker purple on the top, temps are still hovering above 0.  BRING ON THE COLD TEMPS!

These are my colours, ranging from coldest on the left and warmest on the right.  0C is the light purple in the middle.  I cast on 44 stitches this time to make the scarf a bit wider and am knitting a 1x1 rib.  I'll be starting and ending the scarf with 6 rows of white, and adding 3 rows of white between each month.

If you want the exact breakdown of temp colours and details on the pattern itself, you can check out my Ravelry project page.

This is going to be a fun year-long project!  I'll update you all every few months on my progress.  Have you ever tackled a long-term project like this?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: Pokdej's Interchangeable Needle Case

I've been on the lookout for a decent interchangeable knitting needle* case for a while now.  I was originally planning on sewing one for myself, like I did my double point needle case, but then I came across this:

Interchangeable Needle Case
It's a clever little case made by Pokdej knitting assessories (etsy link), a woman out of Vancouver, BC.  I came across her shop via an ad** on Ravelry, and initially checked it out for inspiration.  But looking closer at her cases, I could see the quality of the product and the great design she came up with, and decided to support this shop.  Doesn't help that she's Canadian!

Interchangeable Needle Case
The cases all come with needle slots, an attached zippered pouch for end caps, tightening keys, notions, etc, and space on either side of the pouch for cables.  They come in two sizes:
  • Regular Case: has 9 slots to hold needles ranging from 3.5 mm to 8 mm, plus 4 extra wide slots for other needles.
  • XL Case: has 18 slots for two sets of needles, plus 4 extra wide slots for other needles.
I chose to get the XL case, since I have a set of wood needles and a short set of metal needles.  They all fit in perfectly, and the extra slots are great for the bulky and smaller interchangeable needles I've bought individually.

Interchangeable Needle Case
The little labels under each slot were 'sold' separately - the case doesn't come included with them.  But it was well worth the extra few bucks for the ease of finding the right size, and I was able to choose metric instead of US sizing (which can't seem to wrap my brain around and drives me batty).

I've had it for a few weeks now, and the needles are staying put despite being knocked about in my camp bag and backpack, and tossed around the room (I'm not always gentle when I decide that it's time to sleep and I have to clear off all my knitting crap to get into bed).  Looking at the pouch now, I probably shouldn't have bought one with white on the outside, but oh well, too late now.

While I probably could've made a similar case myself for less than I paid, this case is well made and well designed, and I'm really pleased to support this person and her clever little shop.  She makes some excellent knitting accessories - I love her clear vinyl box bags, and she offers build-your-own kits, where you can pick your own fabrics and colours and she'll make them up just for you!

The interchangeable needle case is surprisingly compact - it's much smaller than I thought it'd be.  I've included a mechanical pencil (oriented the wrong way - oops) for scale, below.

Interchangeable Needle Case and Pouch
See that cute little round pouch there?  That was from a goodie pack I won in a giveaway from Suzy Bee Sews.  Thanks again Suzy!  I use this case constantly for stitch holders and tightening keys, and incidentially, I used up the rest of that clear elastic on my recent Linden sweatshirt!

Notions Pouch
I love my interchangeable case.  It's so pretty, holds everything snug, and keeps track of my needles.  Couldn't have been better timing either, because the plastic case that came with my wood needles disintegrated as I was transfering needles.

Interchangeable Needle Case
Where the heck are all of my metal needles?!
Now if only I could find all of my knitting needles...  


Re-reading my post, I do want to note that I paid full price for this case and this review is totally because I'm in love with the product.  I know there can be controversy over product review posts, but no one paid me to write this (or even asked), and I'm truely gaga over this case.  :)  I actually had to force myself to hold off writing it as soon as I got my grubby paws on it, just so I could see how it held up with use.  Which is excellent, btw.  Except for the white - WHY DID I ORDER A WHITE CASE?!  Silly dirty geologist, you never learn.

* Interchangeable knitting needles are a system of circular needles where a cable can screw into the base of a pair of knitting needles, allowing you to vary the length of cable and needle size without having to buy a whole bunch of fixed circular needle sets.  Really handy if you do a ton of different types of projects and don't want a thousand different fixed circs.  There's apparently some disadvantages, but I haven't experienced any yet.
** Incidently, Ravelry is the only site that I will actively search out, click, and buy things from.  I completely ignore ads on every other site - mostly because I don't know if they can be trusted.  Ravelry only allows relevent ads that a veto'd ahead of time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Auto Sewing, Practical Plans, and New Labels

For once, my time out of camp didn't fly by.  I'm not sure why, usually it feels like I blink and it's time to go back to work.  It's not like it was boring or tedious - I had a fantastic time filled with friends and parties and skiing and chilling with The Boyfriend.  It was just...perfect.

I even had time to dig out my disaster of a sewing room (again) and do a bit of sewing.  I'd really just planned to cut out another version of my Linden in a solid purple ponte knit, and save the sewing for when I get back from camp.  But then The Boyfriend went to hockey, and all I remember was wondering into the sewing room to find a marker and suddenly there was this sitting on my sewing table:

wip: Linden Sweatshirt
Not the true colour.
Seriously though, this pattern goes together in no time.  There's six seams there: two for each raglan shoulder and one on each side.  After that, there's the sleeve cuffs, hem and neckband (which I didn't get to).  That's it.  Granted, I haven't attached any bands to this.  I was going to, but then The Boyfriend arrived home and distraction!

wip: Linden Sweatshirt
Not quite the true colour either, but closer.
My auto-sewing brain apparently choose to add some clear elastic to the raglan seams, probably because the cross-grain stretch along that seam seemed (heh) excessive, and thought this would stabilize it a bit.  I hope so, anyways.

This is going to be my January piece for Make a Garment a Month (MaGaM).  Their theme this month is 'something new' (or...something like that - I can't get on FB at work to confirm), and this definitely isn't a new pattern to me.  But the one thing I want on my other version of this top is a breast pocket to tuck my ipod or hair pin into, so I'm going to try my hand at adding a small zippered pocket. I've never done that before, and I think this stable knit should be able to handle it.

I'm tentatively planning on doing a lot of basic and very wearable garments this year that have little details (pockets, embroidery, maybe trims) to add more interest.  I want to challenge myself, but I also need wearable cake instead of pretty frosting!

2015 Makes Ribbon
The true colour, at last!  Silly camera.
Oh, and I found my 2015 labels!  I'll be adding a bit of this rainbow ribbon on garments and maybe some accessories to indicate the year it was made in.  Fun idea, eh?  I keep thinking about having proper labels made, but "Things I Make.  Plus Rocks" doesn't fit very well, and I like this idea better.  Plus it's much cheaper!

Do you add labels to your garments?  I found that my Linden really needed one, because there is very little difference between the front and back.  And it looks cute!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

fo: Deco Daisies Cowl

I have another finished project to share with you!  Except this one was finished months and months ago...I only got around to taking pictures of it last week.  Allow me to introduce my extremely pretty Deco Daisies Cowl!

Deco Daisies
I've blogged about this lovely before, both during my crochet startitis last summer and the original wip post a bit earlier.  It was such a fun crochet pattern and, while a bit complex, was pretty easy to learn a few repeats in.  This hand-painted yarn helped make this a fun knit, since the colours were stunning and I loved seeing what colour would appear next.  I think the multitude of colours made the daisies in the pattern sing, don't you agree?

Deco Daisies
Pattern: Deco Daisies, designed by Michelle Moskalok and published by Holla Knits
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Alegria in Pindo
My Ravelry Project Page

I've had the yarn for a while.  I bought it during a visit to Winnipeg, Manitoba in May 2013, and had been searching for the perfect pattern ever since.  It had to be special for this beautiful but expensive yarn.  Found it!

I modified the pattern a bit, as I only had the one ball of yarn (the long cowl requires two).  That's alright though, because I wanted a shorter cowl anyways.  I think I did 12 repeats of the pattern to get the shorter length.

Deco Daisies
Please forgive this horrible "portrait" photo. Ick.  Classic gaze-into-the-distance pose.  I should have a graduate cap on my head.  I'm only including it to show the length on a real person.
The lace opened up more than I expected, so it's a bit longer than planned. It's perfectly fine, but I fiddle with it to get it where I want it a bit more than I'd like.  Next time, I'd probably only do 11 repeats.  If the length of this one continues to bother me, I'll just pull it back and rip out a repeat.  Easy peasy.

Now I sort of want one in black to go with everything else in my wardrobe.

Do you crochet?  If not, did you realize just how pretty crocheted projects could be?  There's more out there than granny square afgans!

Monday, January 05, 2015

fo: Véron the Travel Scarf

Veron Shawl/Scarf

Travel days in and out of camp can include a lot of sitting around and waiting, never mind the hour or so flight.  Obviously this is perfect knitting time!  Last April, I started up a scarf pattern as my travel day project.  See, I find scarves to be unbearably slow - they just never seem to end and resigning myself to such a dull project is equally unbearable.  But as a travel day project?  Doable!

Veron Shawl/Scarf
It helped that this isn't really a scarf, in the traditional sense.  It's technically a shawl in that it's triangular shapped, but it's such a shallow triangle that it's wearable as a scarf.  I actually finished it off on Sunday (not a travel day), mostly because I needed a break from a very complicated project I'm working on right now (more on that soon).

Juniper Moon Farm - Moonshine
Pattern: Véron by Ellen Poirot
Yarn: Juniper Moon Farm - Moonshine in blue

I used two skeins of this rather pricy yarn.  At $20/skein, this was definitely a yarny treat for myself.  It was actually the very first yarn I bought at our LYS when it opened this spring!  With a blend of 40% wool, 40% alpaca, and 20% silk, it was a dream to work with.  So soft and squishy, with some lovely tonal shades in the twist.  It's single ply though, and after months of it being shoved in and out of a travel bag, it's looking a little worn and scruffy.  Still looks pretty though, and you can't beat the softness.  Wish is good, because being stuffed in and out of bags is how I normally treat scarves.

Veron Shawl/Scarf
Of course, the garter stitch helps with the squishy softness.  I can't stop buring my face in it!  And that cable along the edge - be still my heart! 

If you haven't noticed yet, I'm a bit in love with this scarf.

Now I just need to find a new travel project!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Goals for 2015

I'm a little disappointed about 2014; I didn't blog as much as I wanted, and I definitely didn't finish many projects.  Started a lot and planned more, but didn't finish many.

I'm not one for resolutions, but I think setting a few tentative goals for 2015 might not be a bad idea.

1. Sew more

I have a large, fully stocked sewing room and two weeks out of each month to get in it.  I think I just need the motivation to get in it.  So I'm joining SarahLiz's Make a Garment a Month.  I'm not sure if I'll dive in as deeply as others, with project planning on their facebook group every month, but I think it'll be a good challenge to get sewing!

2. Make garments I'll actually wear

Looking back at my 2014 projects, I'm starting to recognize what I wear vs what I want to wear.  There's a big difference.  For instance?  Since I finished up my Linden sweatshirt in November, I've barely taken it off.  In fact, my January garment is going to be another version of it because the original needs a break every now and then.  Obviously it's a win.

Linden Sweatshirt

In contrast, I started knitting my Marion cardigan last June and finished it by August.  Well, finished the knitting.  I never did sew in the ends and block it.

Marion Cardigan
And it's not the pattern's fault!  It's a lovely pattern and I really enjoyed knitting it.  I just, don't wear cropped sweaters, and I'm not a fan of the uber bright, grass-green colour.  You'd think you'd know that considering how much time you spend staring at the yarn and fabric as you work with it.  But I cast off the last sleeve and just didn't like it.  Colour and length were both off for me.

I do want to re-knit this pattern, but in a neutral colour and hip length at least - then it'd work in my wardrobe.  For now though, this sweater is getting shoved into the Ignore Drawer; maybe I'll revist it in 2016 and see if it's a better 'fit' then.  It is a pretty sweater, it's just not me.

So yeah - need to pick out patterns that I'll actually wear.  Hint?  This RTW top is my absolute favourite right now.  Can anyone guess what pattern I'll be revisiting soon?

My favourite RTW top
My co-worker keeps calling my style 'lumberjack chic'.  Considering that I wear a lot of plaid shirts, wool work socks, and jeans, maybe my style inspiration should be Paul Bunyan.

3. Blog more

There are so many things I want to blog about, but I get hung up on something (like this post - obviously it had to be the first post of the year) and don't get them done.  Or I don't have decent pictures.  Or that my posts need to be perfect.  Or I'm in camp and out internet is being ridiculous.  Or any number of other excuses. 

I'm not going to commit to a specific number of posts per week or month or anything like that, because that's just not realistic for me.  But I'm going to try to stop thinking that the blog posts need to look and sound clean and professional.  I'm not a professional and hell, I'm a geologist - I'm often not clean.  I'm not going to let that be my excuse anymore.  And if I'm hung up on one project post, I'm going to try not to let that block other possible posts.

I am my own worst enemy sometimes.  Silly Heather, move on and keep writing!

4. Play time with rocks!

Vesicular basalt sample found in the Yukon River.  Oxidized to the reddish-purple.
Seriously guys, I am the biggest geek when it comes to rocks.  If anyone comes into my office at work, they're lucky if they escape without a 5 minute explanation about this rock or that structural feature.  My underground buddy dreads when I bounce into his office with yet another pretty rock or a fist-full of maps.  I need to start sharing this stuff with you all more, because geology rocks! 

It's in the blog title.  You were warned.

So yeah, goals. 
Here's to a fun a production 2015 everyone!