Tag Archive | wool

Day 1: Warmth

It lives!!!

the-house-of-frankenstein

Once again, I’ve resuscitated the blog to participate in The Idea Room’s photo challenge for the month of December. I’m going to do things a little bit differently this time and post about things I’ve made in the last, uh, however many months.

To kick it off, we’ll start with “warmth,” which was actually yesterday’s word, but when you’re chronically late like I am, what’s one day out of a whole month?

Warmth:

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May I present to you, my very first ever knitted grown-up sweater. It’s my second ever knit project, the first being a tiny sweater I knitted for Baby Sprinkaan just before he was born. I’m pretty proud of this. I made a thing! I made a wearable thing! And it is made out of the thickest, softest, chunkiest yarn I could find.

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Cozy Wool — I think it’s the Michael’s store brand

I have to wait for the very coldest days to break out this sweater or I’ll actually get too hot. I think that qualifies for “warmth.”

This sweater was fun and relatively quick to make, owing to the thick yarn and the humongous needles used to make it. Here’s a photo showing the size of those suckers compared to a regular ol’ pencil.

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Mondo knitting needles

I’m actually considering making another sweater like this in a different color. The next time I make it, I’ll pay better attention to gauge and measurements so that I don’t have to add an extra band of ribbing around the bottom to make it long enough to fit me.

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Another one of my famous “design elements.”

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To quote Rana as a 3 year old, “I’m is all worm and snoogly.”

Boy sweater

That’s a boring title, isn’t it? But there won’t be any confusion as to what I’m writing about today. Boy sweater. A sweater for the boy. A yarny garment for a male child.

If you sew/crochet/knit, you probably already know that there are a dearth of patterns out there for the little boys in the world. And, considering that around 51% of the world’s population is male, you’d think there’d be more of a demand for this type of thing. Well, I should rephrase — there is demand, but the supply is seriously lacking. So, when I saw that there were THREE boy sweater patterns in the Winter 2014 (that would be this past January) issue of Interweave Crochet, I jumped all over that. And these weren’t embarrassing granny square 70s throwback sweaters; these looked like sweaters that boys of today would actually wear and {gasp} enjoy wearing.

I chose the “Jonas” sweater and Konik and I took a trip to the yarn store. Not a craft store — an honest-to-goodness yarn store. I often can’t afford all the fancy yarns, but I wanted this to be a nice, durable sweater for my boy. The original pattern was worked with Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece, which the yarn store carried, but I didn’t like any of the colors. Instead, we went with Cascade Yarns Cascade 220 Heathers; it’s a 100% Peruvian Wool. That should keep him warm! I let Konik choose the colors and he ended up choosing two that were quite similar to the picture in the magazine — a rusty brown and gray-blue.

This pattern was worked in Tunisian crochet. The last time I tried to make a garment for one of my children in Tunisian, I was a novice at it and very            very            slow. Working the Axl afghan changed all that and now I can go almost as fast as I can in regular crochet. I started right away and whipped out the front and back of the sweater in a week or so. And then I made the fatal mistake: I put it away. I can’t remember why now. But I did. And the little sweater languished in my yarn drum for months and months until I finally picked it up again earlier this month to do the sleeves. Aside from a little counting issue I had, the sleeves worked up just as quickly as the body of the sweater and sewing it together was no sweat (see what I did there?). Hurray! The boy sweater was finished! Well, apart from inserting the zipper in the collar, but I didn’t want to wait on that to try it on Konik.

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Still awaiting the zipper.

Still awaiting the zipper.

Close-up of the stitches. Ribbing along the bottom edge, cuffs, and collar of the sweater.

Close-up of the stitches. Ribbing along the bottom edge, cuffs, and collar of the sweater.

Konik was just as excited; he had been looking forward to this sweater for a long time. I helped him put it on and… he looked like a little wool-encased sausage. And the sleeves were at that awkward length in between “long” and “3/4.” Yeah, I should have expected it: in ten months, my son grew. It made me claustrophobic just looking at him and the poor kid couldn’t even get out of it by himself. We extracted him from the sweater and sadly admitted that it was going to have to be put away for a couple years until Sprinkaan grows into it. Hopefully I won’t miss that window! It looks like Konik and I are going to have to make another trip to the yarn store and this time, I’ll make it a size bigger. Maybe two.

UFO —> FO #1: Retro baby booties

Betcha thought I had forgotten, didn’t ya? Nope, nope, those UFOs are still looming over my head. But I got one done! Like I talked about in my first UFO post, I felt like the baby booties needed to be completed first so that, y’know, the baby might get a chance to wear them. I dug them out and wow. I had barely done a thing to them when I put them away 4+ years ago. And why did I put them away 4 years ago? I have no idea. It really only took about four evenings of embroidering and about ten minutes to pin and sew the soles on. Sometimes I think I mentally construct these giant obstacles just to feed the procrastination monster.

The pattern is Simplicity 2867, originally from 1948. There are three different styles, all adorable.

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The booties are made from wool felt. That stuff is not cheap! Good thing these booties take only a miniscule amount. The little laces are just crocheted embroidery floss.

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Now that the booties are finished, we may have a problem. Sprinkaan has square little feet — they are already the width of the booties, while of course being nowhere near the length. By the time his feet get long enough to wear them without looking like little vintage clown shoes, his feet will be too wide to cram into them anyways! If I had finished these for Konik like I had originally intended, I doubt we would have had this dilemma because he has long, narrow feet. Procrastination comes back to bite me.

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Well, they’re cute. And the baby is cuter.

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As for the rest of my UFOs, I wrote them on slips of paper, put them in a jar and I pulled one out at random, with the goal of completing one per month.

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And the winner is…

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I feel it coming together

Warning: The following post may result in the theme song from “Fame” playing endlessly in your head for the rest of the day.

We had a dilemma here in the Gren household. Rana and Granota enjoy wearing skirts and dresses. They do not, however, enjoy wearing tights. Once the cooler days start kicking in, there is a lot of wailing about the atrocities of tights and the unfairness of having cold legs whilst wearing skirts. This happens every year. But this year, I made the decision not to entertain the inane Cold Legs vs. Evil Tights debate. Usually, the main complaint is that the girls don’t like how the waistband of the tights compress their bellies (I haven’t told them about control top panty hose yet; they can make that discovery on their own). Rana also gets upset about the toe line that makes funny little squares on the sides of her feet which then bother her in her shoes. So they want to wear skirts and have warm legs, but nothing touching their bellies or feet. It’s almost a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too situation. But there was one solution.

Enter: The legwarmer. And 1982. Hey, we’re gonna live forever.

I chose to use a knitting loom rather than crochet for good stretchiness in the finished product. The yarn I chose was some kind of soft, bulky wool from Michael’s; it’s almost like roving, but it’s washable.

Once you know the circumference of the leg you’re warming, choose the loom that most closely matches that measurement. My girls’ legs are about 10 inches around, so I chose the blue loom. From there, you’re basically making a tube, so there’s not a lot of “pattern” needed (unless you want to get fancy, which I didn’t this time around). I found these instructions which were great for getting me started, especially since I use the round looms so rarely, I couldn’t remember how to cast on.

Enter the Vortex

Enter the Vortex

There’s not a lot to say about the actual process. It’s repetitive and somewhat therapeutic. One thing I did learn the hard way is that finished length does not correspond well to measured length on the loom. Each girl ended up with one legwarmer longer than the other; good thing they’re stretchy (the legwarmers that is — not the girls). So my advice is to count rows, as tedious as that is, rather than to rely on a measuring tape.

A little strategic stretching and ta dah! They're the same!

A little strategic stretching and ta dah! They’re the same!

The other thing I learned is that the bind off video that is recommended in the above instructions results in a tight, unstretchable cuff. I did a little looking and found this Super Stretchy Bind Off video that worked much better for this project.

Ribbed cuff

Ribbed cuff

I kept waiting for the girls to both wear their legwarmers on the same day to get a good picture, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon. Rana was happy to pose for me, though.

You ain't seen the best of me yet

You ain’t seen the best of me yet

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Baby, remember my name.

 

Toasty toesies

All the hard work paid off! Finally, a success story! Last Friday I finished Konik’s second little sock.

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Matching socks!

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Ribbed cuff!

I used Patons Kroy Socks in “blue striped ragg;” it is a 75% wool/25% nylon blend and feels so nice. It was easy to work with and I didn’t have nearly the problems with splitting like I did when I made my first sock (different yarn). And because the socks are little, it really didn’t take that long to finish them! The best part about using self-striping yarn was that I didn’t have to measure anything on the second sock — I just matched the stripes. Three cheers for laziness!

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Nice thing with the loom — I don’t have to worry about tension. All the stitches come out nice and even!

They weren’t without their issues, though. Inexplicably, I twice made a little row of purl stitches on the first sock. And very nearly ruined the whole thing when I lost a stitch while making the heel. My repair wasn’t kosher, but I did manage to stop the unraveling and then sewed up the hole. Phew! I had a similar near-miss with the second sock. Knitting is scary.

Floating purl rows

Floating purl rows

Konik was thrilled out his little 3 year old mind to have his new socks. As soon as I finished, he peeled off the socks he had been wearing and put on the new ones. And then wore them for 36 hours straight. ha! I was a little surprised to see how they pilled up already after one (very long) wearing. Hopefully they don’t get any worse!

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It was so much fun, I’ve started one of my own.

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Warm fingers

A couple of years ago, I knitted sweet little woolen mittens for the girls. They were pink and chocolate brown variegated yarn. I felted them down so that they would be nice and dense. And then, Rana proceeded to lose every one of them over the next couple of months. At school, at a park out of town, who knows where else. I think we ended up with one mitten; it was the designated spare as it had turned out a slightly different size than the rest.

Since then, the kids had been wearing those little stretchy dollar store gloves. Those are fine for chilly days, but when it starts getting cold, they’re just too thin to be of any benefit. Besides that, my kids managed to lose one glove from each of about six pairs.

Rather than spend money on new mittens, I dug around through my yarn bin and found most of a skein of Lion Brand Wool-Ease in an odd sage green color. I don’t remember buying this. I can’t think of what I have used it for in the past since it wasn’t a full skein. Why do I have this? Where did it come from? And what happened to those few yards of it? There are no answers.

Utilitarian mittens.

Wool-Ease is an acrylic-wool blend (70%-30% I think, but I don’t know because the wrapper was also missing). I won’t be able to felt anything with this, but I am hoping that there is enough wool content to keep small hands warm and dry. In all of my crochet patterns, I couldn’t find one for child-sized mittens. There were baby mittens and adult mittens, but what about for a five-year old girl? Nada. I didn’t want to use the knitting board pattern again because, without felting, the stitches are prone to snagging (learned that the hard way with a pair of tiny mittens that I made for Konik). I found this pattern via Crochet Pattern Central. It works the mittens in one long, continuous piece, forming ribs the length of the mitten. It looks very crocheted and homemade. Stylistically, it’s not my favorite, but the pattern was easy to do and easy to size up, since it turned out to be written for baby size (where are the kids’ sizes?!). It may look cuter in a better color.

To make them a little more “fancy,” I stitched X’s up the middle rib on the back of each mitten using crochet thread. Granota protested about me crocheting a string to keep the mittens together. She may not like it, but I’m going to do it anyways. I don’t need any more lost mittens!

They look huge, but her fingers really are that long.

Next up, mittens for Rana. We’ll see what I find in my yarn bin!

These are not my pants

WWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
These are not my pants
Whose pants are these anyways?
These are not my pants
Whose pants are these anyways?
Are these Bobby’s, or Timmy’s, or Billy’s pants, no NOOOO!!!!!
These are not my pants
WOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!
BBBLLLLAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!
GAAAAHHHHH!!!
Are you listening to what I say?

That will make infinitely more sense (well, “sense” may be too strong of a word) if you listen to this song.

Last week, I embarked on my great Pants-Making Journey using Simplicity 2477 (an Inspired by Project Runway design). First time making grown-up pants, first time making a muslin. I was not going to screw up my good fabric. I carefully took all my measurements, just like my book instructed. Then I measured the pattern pieces, just like the book instructed. Astonishingly, it appeared that I would need to make the largest size in the pattern envelope — 20. (A note to non-sewers: Pattern sizes are vastly different than ready-to-wear). This didn’t seem right to me, but you’re supposed to trust the numbers, aren’t you? Isn’t that what measurements are for?

Perhaps not.

You, too, can look like you lost 50 lbs just by sewing pants many sizes too large!

Attempt #2. I dropped down three sizes to a 14 and made another muslin. It was better. Slightly baggy in some {ahem} key areas.

These didn’t fit over my jeans and were much too sheer for a modeling shot. But they look more reasonable, don’t they?

Well… maybe, despite all the measurements I took, I really am the smallest size. That seemed a little implausible, too, but I went ahead and made a muslin in a 12 and, wonder of wonders, it fit! The zipper gapped a little, but I thought, “No problem. I’ll just make that full abdomen adjustment that my book showed me how to do.”

I had run out of sheet for muslins, and, believing to have found the correct fit, it was time to cut out my fabric. At this point, I noticed that the pinstripes were actually two stripes: a white and a blue. The blue was on just one side. If it had flanked the white stripe, I could have folded my fabric in half and cut out two pieces at a time like one normally does. But because of this stripe, I had to lay the fabric out flat and cut out Every. Single. Piece. Twice. It took the better part of a day to accomplish that, making sure that the stripes on the second pieces matched the ones on the first pieces. My back was not happy after that process.

On the first day of actual sewing, all I managed to do was sew the pockets in. I used leftover fabric from my pajama pants for the lining.

Pocket!

On the second day of sewing, I worked on the fly. For hours. The benefit of making three muslins is that now I knew how to construct a fly, but it’s still a time-consuming, fiddly task. And I wanted this fly to be perfect. And it is!

Rather professional, if I do say so myself.

On the third day of sewing, my true love gave to me my pants were sewn up enough that I could finally try them on. And the side ripped out. Not the seam — the actual fabric tore. I’ve never had this happen before! I bought the fabric years ago and I can’t remember for sure what it is, but I’m pretty sure it is some kind of wool. I could do a fabric test, but I just haven’t. It didn’t smell like polyester when I ironed it; I try to avoid polyester at almost all costs. Brocade is the only other fabric I’ve worked with that frayed worse than this, though. It is kind of a twill weave, and wow, it disintegrated quickly on any cut edge. Because of that, when it ripped at the side, all I could think was how I needed to get out of the pants as swiftly and gently as possible so that I could reinforce those side seams. I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to fit. There may not have been anything I could have done at that point.

I proceeded with the waistband and the belt tabs and boy, was it looking good. These were good pants! Look at how perfectly the stripes line up! That is some über-fine tailoring, right there. Oh yeah!

Stripes as they should be

With everything done but hemming the legs, I went and tried on the pants again.

But we had our pants on
But yo these ain’t my pants
Uh, I get ’em off now—–
Um, tight, oh they so tight

Could I get them on? Yes. I could even zip them. I held the button tab together because I hadn’t put a button on yet and found that provided me with a cute little peekaboo hole that perfectly showcases my belly-button. Awesome. Horrible reality was setting in. Where had I gone wrong? Why are these pants so tight? The fatal mistake was probably that I never bothered to put a waistband on the muslins. But that means that I am at fault. So instead, I’m going to blame the kids. Yes, my kids. They distorted my body into this flabby, mushy belly poochiness. Little ratfinks.

If pants are sewn in the woods, do they make a sound?

So now I have a beautiful pair of pants (sans button or hems because, really, what’s the point?) that I can’t wear unless I do crunches morning, noon, and night. Pretty sure that defeated the entire purpose of this project. I know, I know, every cloud has a silver lining, blah blah blah. Unless I can sew another pair of pants out of that silver lining, you can keep your clouds. I need to redeem myself. Crank out something easy that I know I can do flawlessly to bolster my sewing mojo before tackling another pair of pants. Time to paw through my fabric bin…

Mystery gifts: In-law Edition

Today you get two (two!) for the price of one! This post should have gone up Wednesday, but the power went out and kind of messed up that plan. But the extra day of waiting didn’t kill you, did it?

So, the next two mystery photos were this:

And this:

The first photo is of wool dryer balls that I made for my mother-in-law.

Put them in the dryer instead of dryer sheets to cut static electricity without any questionable chemicals. Bonus! I’ve been using a set that I received in a craft swap a year ago and I love them. My mother-in-law lives in Spokane which has a fairly dry mountain climate. She tries to avoid having to use dryer sheets, so doing laundry there can get awfully prickly. I thought these might help her out. They aren’t too difficult to make, but they do take some time.

First, wind a small core of wool yarn into a grape-sized ball. Then, put the little balls into an old nylon and knot the top and throw them into a load of wash, preferably hot water.

All ready to go in the washer

The balls need to move around enough to mat and felt the wool, but you still want to keep them contained so that they don’t come unwound. After running through the washer, throw them into the dryer with the clothes to continue felting.

Core wool ball

From here, you could continue wrapping yarn, or save a little time and wrap the core ball in a bit of wool sweater like I did.

Run it through the wash again in the nylon. Then keep wrapping with yarn and felting it up to the size you like. The balls I made were about the size of a tennis ball by the time they were done. It’s not an exciting process, but wrapping the yarn balls is actually kind of therapeutic.

You can see the separate strands of yarn, but they won't come apart now.

Next up is my sister-in-law’s gift. She had asked for something warm in the way of an afghan, hat or scarf. I didn’t have time to whip out an afghan, so I decided to make the most of her hat/scarf request and made a hooded scarf.

Bulky yarn hooded scarf

I actually had to unwrap the scarf to take a photo of it because some overzealous wrappers had already gotten a hold of it. Mr. Gren was downstairs, chomping at the bit to get to the post office, so I had Granota take a quick photo of me modeling it.

You get the idea.

What can I say? She’s four.

Here’s hoping it provides my sis-in-law many warm outings this winter.

That’s the end of all the mystery gifts! We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program next week. In other words, next week will be full of other random and seemingly unconnected projects, just like always. I completed another blouse for myself the week before Christmas; finished knitting a sweater this afternoon that now needs to be sewn together; I’ve begun a multi-colored block afghan to use up a bunch of Red Heart yarn that I’ve had forever, and who knows what else I’ll pick up in between.

Bins of possibility

Yesterday, Granota wandered into my sewing room and informed me that she has no autumn dresses and she would like me to make her some. Unfortunately, she’s right. In the course of our conversation, though, I remembered that I had bought some fabric for that very purpose last year and then abandoned that project. I told her I would look for the fabric and the beginnings of the dress I had made for her last year. I looked through a plastic bin, two large bags, a laundry basket, and two boxes full of fabric. I have a little. I got ambitious and decided to measure all of it and pin a little tag to each cut of fabric and then made a list of what I had because I realized that there was fabric I had completely forgotten about. I found lots of pretty stuff!

Polka-dotted cottons

Batik and a thicker woven cotton

Floral pique and houndstooth corduroy

Stars and stripes

Lightweight cottons & denim

Wool & denim

Flannel and corduroy

Aqua wool-silk blend. Mmmm.

And more cottons and corduroy!

 

To most people, it may look like piles of fabric. But when I look at it, I see a fabulous 1950s circle-skirted sun dress; I see sweet little corduroy jumpers with Scandinavian motifs; I see a classic 1940s style suit; I see a tailored sheath dress; I see blouses and crib sheets and pajamas and more. If I had the time to sew up all of this, what wonderful wardrobes we would have!