Category Archives: Knitting

Ten Years Blogging!

Ten years ago I designed a WordPress site and published my first post. I was at the beginning phase of learning to sew my own clothes. I started by mostly refashioning thrift clothes. My progress was slow and gradual. Now, ten years later, almost everything I wear is me-made, and I have achieved my goal.

It would take too long to go through ten years and find the highlights; I’d rather be sewing! But I will share a few examples. Beware: image heavy!

This was the first project I shared (it was close to Halloween):

These are some of the outfits I’ve sewed:

Some of my refashions:

The main focus of my blog has been sewing clothes, but I’ve also done plenty of other needle arts and crafting.

My quilted projects:

My embroidery:

I stopped knitting because of carpal tunnel and arthritis issues. Sewing by machine is much easier on the hands.

Some knitting and crochet projects:

Some of my favorite posts:

The Dress Doctor Part 1

The Dress Doctor Part 2

Thoughts on First Year of Blogging

What My Mother Wore

End of Summer Leftovers

Sewing During the Pandemic

My most popular post is Easy Fix For Too Small Skirt. That’s a great title! Subsequently, I’ve realized my tutorial is not so easy; I removed and reinserted a zipper. I also removed the waistband and sewed foldover elastic.

I ‘ve never been a frequent poster, but my goal has been to have at least one post every month. I’ve only missed three months in 10 years.

What has changed in 10 years? I’m older, ha! The traffic on blogs has decreased as the rise of the smart phone has changed the focus to apps like Instagram, which are more easily read on a small device. In the sewing world, independent pattern companies have gained a larger customer base, and larger sizes are now routinely included as a result from some heated debates on Instagram. A few of those pattern companies were started as a progression from blogging.

I have a free WordPress account. I am happy with WordPress, and would recommend the platform, although I find it harder to use the new editor. Ads are perfectly fine at the end of a post, but a few times I have seen ads in the middle of a post which I don’t like. I appreciate the free platform, and that my blog will remain up indefinitely without any action from me. After uploading 1,679 photos and publishing 174 posts, I have only used 37% of my allotted storage space.

So should I continue? Most of what I sew is pretty boring – everyday tees, pants and shorts. But the things I make are my story, and I like telling it, so I doubt I will suddenly stop at this point in time.

I’m always excited about the latest thing I’m sewing! Currently I’m working on a fall/Halloween wall quilt. I finished sewing the quilt top, and I will be back with the completed project, and the story about it.

To my readers, I hope you have found something of use or interest in these pages. You probably also know the pleasures of creating with your own hands, and together we inspire each other to make, to learn, to grow.

A Look Back at 2019 And On to 2020!

Taking stock at what I made in 2019:

I sewed 14 clothing items: 2 pairs of pants, shorts, a knit romper, 3 knit tops, a knit dress, 2 woven tops, a dress to woven top refashion, a spring jacket, a hat, and a knit nightshirt. I also sewed a zippered pouch.  I knit a short sleeve pullover, 2 scarves,  a dog sweater, and dog bandanas.  The striped pullover is the first sweater I completed since 2010.

How did I do on my 2019 Make Nine challenge?  I completed 6 items.

Out of the three items I didn’t make, only the cross stitch picture was started.  I didn’t get very far, even though it seemed like I spent many hours on it. I can see the roof of a house, and the wing of a goose.  It was tough going, and then I stopped.

I preferred to be sewing last year than doing anything else.  I also sewed more with knit fabrics than ever before.

Besides underwear, the only ready to wear item I bought in 2019 was a Hanes hooded zippered sweatshirt for under $10.  I’ve been wearing them since I was in high school! I don’t have a ban on buying ready to wear.  I just prefer to sew most things.  I still have a lot of ready to wear clothes in my closet that I enjoy wearing.  Some of my clothes get light wear and I keep things for a very long time.

My favorite  sewing related thing I bought was a huge table at my local hardware store.  This 6 foot long table has become my fabric cutting table, and has made that part of sewing so much easier than getting down on the floor. It folds up and fits under my couch when not in use.

On to my 2020 Make Nine:

  1. Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns.  The high waisted version. Stretch denim with a zipper fly and hardware.
  2. Mama Bear Joggers by Patterns for Pirates.  I want slim knit pants, but not leggings. Making these from ponte de roma for comfort, and without cuffs.
  3. Angelia Shorts from Itch to Stitch.  My fabric is khaki twill.
  4. The next 3 pieces are from Vogue 9246 (Vogue Five Easy Pieces).  The jacket. I will make it in tan twill in a medium length.
  5. Vogue 9246 top.  I have a striped knit in mind for this.
  6. Vogue 9246 pants. The pattern has a cropped wide legged pant and a slimmer full length pants, both with an elastic back. I have a cropped linen blend in mind for this.
  7. Willamette Shirt by Hey June Patterns. I want a collared woven shirt. I have a gingham from an estate sale in mind for this.
  8. Paisley thrifted fabric. I bought this in 2015 and I want to sew it up. I want a peasant/boho type top, and think Love Notions Rhapsody Blouse may be the one.
  9. Phoenix Top by Hey June Patterns. Interesting lines with a bib inset and gathers.  Reminds me of a top I wore in the 70s. I plan on making the view with the pictured bell sleeves.

 

I’m still sewing on the same basic mechanical machine I bought in 2010, a Brother XL2600i with 25 stitches and a 1 step buttonhole. At the time I bought it, I wasn’t sure if I would actually use it, or if it would end up stored in the garage.  Sewing has become a way of life to me.  To elevate the quality of my sewing, I’ve decided to buy a serger.  It is time for me to learn.

My other sewing goals for 2020:

To match stashed fabric with patterns, especially for tops.

To buy fabric wisely, especially to buy more bottomweight fabric for pants.

Techniques I want to learn are sewing a collar and welt pockets.

That’s a wrap!  Happy New Year!

Knitting a Top Down Raglan Pullover

I was excited to finish this pullover that I started knitting in March.  It is the first sweater I’ve knit since 2010!

The pattern is called Pink from the book “Custom Knits” by Wendy Bernard published in 2008.   I wanted a very basic style.  I have enjoyed knitting a top down in the round raglan before so I did it again.  The increases are before and after 2 markers so there is nothing to keep track of.

There are a lot of stitches on the needle before separating out the sleeves, and the knitting isn’t joined in the round until the v-neck is completed. My preferred way to knit in the round is on 2 circular needles, which I first learned to knit socks.

My yarn is Caron Cakes , blueberry cheesecake color, an acrylic and wool blend worsted weight.  I knit size large.

The body in a size large has 176 stitches and has a bust measurement of 39 inches in the gauge of 18 stitches to 4 inches. My yarn is aran weight, a little heavier than worsted and the finished measurement is 40 inches which fits me without any ease.

There are flecks of different shades of blue in each sequence so the effect is marled rather than pure stripes.  I quite like this and I love not having many ends to weave in.  I knit a short sleeved pullover with only 2 cakes.  I managed to match the sleeves and purposely used the darker blue for the ribbing.  I used a coupon for the yarn so this sweater only cost me a very economical $10.

I just love it with denim!

Knitting: The Second Round

A cold, rainy winter provided all the inspiration I needed to get out my knitting needles.

I stopped knitting for awhile after I had problems with my hands and was diagnosed with carpel tunnel syndrome in January 2011.  Gradually, I began knitting again but only garter stitch strips.  I was concentrating on learning to sew, and my creative energies were elsewhere.  Maybe I didn’t want to be too interested in something I was trying to avoid doing.

Now I want to add knitting back into the mix. I am inspired anew, and thinking about what I would like to make.

To start the year, I knitted a cowl completing  #6 on my “Make Nine List” to hand knit an accessory.

It was knit in garter stitch in navy, gray, and off white with random stripes and then seamed to form the join.

When I was cleaning out a closet I found a foot of a scarf with the needles removed and the stitches saved intact on a length of waste yarn.  I estimate I started it about 10 years ago! I was able to find the pattern, the Dayflower Lace Scarf, put it back on the needles and count to find the row I should start on.  I finished this scarf too.

I wrote out the lace pattern on an index card, and then used a paper clip to keep track of the row I was working on.

I have three reasons for wanting to continue to knit.

The process of knitting itself:

I want the soothing rhythm of creating with just my circular needles, to experience the yarn, watch the fabric I’m making, and to play with colors and patterns.  Some of the techniques I haven’t done that interest me are gradient color changes, an Icelandic circular yoke with a color design, and double knitting.

To use my stash:

Knitting can be a bit expensive as compared to sewing. Nice yarn can cost between $50 and $120 for a sweater’s worth.  I already have yarn for at least 4 sweaters, so I would be knitting for “free”.

To have some sweaters and accessories to wear:

hand knitted socks and dog sweater worn this winter

After enjoying the process of knitting, I’ll have some pretty and unique things to put on when the weather turns cold.

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The following is my account of my experience with carpal tunnel syndrome:

I used to be a daily knitter. My hand symptoms started when I had trouble turning off my alarm clock in the mornings because my hands had gone numb.  Then my numb hands would cause me to wake up at night.  When these symptoms progressed to the point that I was waking up several times a night, and the numbness was also continuing into the daytime I became concerned and went to the doctor.

I was given these gloves to wear.

I removed the metal insert from one glove to show the curved shape. The metal keeps the wrist from bending and provides support. I wore them every night and stopped knitting.  My hands would still go numb when I held the phone for too long or when holding other objects.  Now, for the most part, I only wear the right glove occasionally, usually in the winter, and vary my hand activities.  I also use a computer mouse with my right hand, but I don’t spend nearly as much time on a desktop computer as I did between the years 2000 – 2010. My keyboard and mouse usage could have contributed to my carpal tunnel symptoms. I used to also have forearm pain after many hours of mouse clicking. Remember the ball inside the mouse? My left hand does everything else, and two of my joints have signs of arthritis from wear and tear.

Knitting and other hand crafts can contribute to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, arthritis, and repetitive stress injuries. My advice is if you experience pain or numbness, don’t ignore your symptoms.  Slow down, consult a doctor, and make modifications as needed.

Have you experienced hand, wrist, or arm pain or injuries from crafting? Did you make changes as a result?

 

A Look Back and Make Nine 2019

First a look back at 2018:

I completed 5 items from my 2018 Make Nine List: summer pants, raglan tee, embroidered kitchen towels, refashion from stash (3 refashions), and Christmas sewing.

Embroidered blouse, crochet yoke tee, basket quilt with (previously) embroidered center, and collared button shirt were not finished (or started).  Will anything carry over?  Let’s see.

The Make Nine Challenge was started by Lucky Lucille, and the photo collages are popular on Instagram.

Last year my make nine was just nine hand written notes. This year I am being less vague, and I’m showing either the pattern or fabric I will be using.

2019 Make Nine

  1. Embroidered Blouse – Using the Folkwear pattern “Old Mexico Dress”, the yoke will be hand embroidered.
  2. Crochet yoke tee – with the pictured crochet thread.
  3. Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull on Jeans –  for comfort and because they have real pockets.  I was planning on using a stretch denim I already had but didn’t have enough fabric.
  4. Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top –  I don’t have the fabric yet.
  5. Autumn Twilight Cross Stitch Picture – I have never stitched a full size picture for framing before and I like this flying geese scene.  This is a kit with 16 count aida.  It will be challenging, but it’s doable.
  6. Hand knit accessory –   a scarf knitted with the pictured navy and gray yarn.
  7. Stretch Denim Shorts – this is the fabric I wanted to make the pants with.  I might use the same pattern for the shorts.
  8. Knit Fabric Dress – I could use a basic dress, and notice I have never liked wearing traditional dresses with zippers.  I’m not sure if I will use a pattern, or just make an elongated tee.
  9. Spring Jacket – McCalls 7333 –  I am planning to use a linen blend fabric I already have.

The list contains a variety of most everything I know how to do: sewing, freehand embroidery, cross stitch, knitting, and crochet.  So much creativity – at least in my mind and on paper, ha!

I have actually started 3 of these projects already!  I love making lists, do you?

Casting on for a Blanket

The needles were all packed away on a high shelf in the closet. The yarn had been displaced to make room for fabric.

This winter, rainy days and nights made me wish I had something on the needles to pick up and knit.  My hands found varied uses during my knitting hiatus and rested from too much repetitive motion.  The numbness in my fingers had subsided and I had stopped wearing my hand braces at night.  In truth, I think I had gotten burned out on knitting, and needed a break anyhow.

I saw a garter stitch blanket that I wanted to cast on for right away: Caron Essential Stripes Knit Blanket.  It was the perfect combination of comfort knitting with just enough interesting aspects with the use of three colors, striping, and color blocks. I like that it is knit in five panels.  There won’t be much sewing up to do, and the weight of a big heavy mound on the needles with long rows to get through is avoided.

Which yarn to use and which colors?  I swatched with a few different acrylics and read reviews on yarns.  Some of the negatives I read about were yarns described as scratchy, splitty, and squeaky. Sounds like a cartoon trio of mice!  Another thing to avoid is an acrylic that is “plasticky”.

Why acrylic?  I want a blanket that is easy care, machine washable,  durable, and low cost.

I have never had a yarn squeak, but I did discover some differences in yarns.  Take a look at these two samples:

2 acrylic yarns: top Red Heart Soft, bottom Loops and Thread Impeccable

I have a definite preference in the appearance of the two yarns.  I much prefer the bottom yarn that is matte to the shiny one.  The Impeccable has more heft, looks cottony and reminds me of marshmallows.  It’s also more sturdy and less stretchy.

Besides individual preferences, choosing a yarn depends on whether it will be knitted or crocheted and what will be made from it.  If I were making something to wear, I would be more concerned with drape.  The colors and shades of a color a yarn is made in is also an important consideration.

The pattern was written for Caron One Pound, and the blanket looks very appealing in the pictured colors in the beautifully staged room.  They didn’t have those colors in the store, and I wanted to swatch before deciding on my colors.  I did buy one skein of the One Pound to swatch, and it is also matte, although a little stiffer than the other yarn I knitted up.  It would also be a good choice for a blanket that will hold up through frequent washing.

So for this blanket, Impeccable it is!  After much waffling, I settled on the aran, navy, and soft rose combination.

There wasn’t a photo of the entire blanket, so to see how the sections would look together I mapped it out using my old Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet that I still have installed.  I played around with it and made some changes.  By reading the pattern more closely I also realized that the panels are meant to be laid horizontally (widthwise) with the ridges going vertically.

knitting on size 9 Susan Bates circular quicksilver needles

I’m not on a tear to finish this.  I just love that it’s there waiting to pick up when I want to knit.

Have you left and then gone back to a craft years later?

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Learning to Knit Booklets: Vintage Style

Let’s start with the oldest one from my collection.  It doesn’t have a date on it, but I am guessing it dates from the 1950s or early 1960s.  It features a cute cover, illustrations of a prettily dressed young miss, and a cartoon format to the instructions.

fun way to learn knitting booklet 1950sgirl learning to knit in cartoon form vintage booklet

 

The back cover shows a few simple projects.

back cover of fun way to learn knitting booklet

 

Wait a minute – what is that?  A creepy face on the back of her kerchief!

knitting weirdness - vintage face kerchief

What was the designer thinking?  Well, we need some kind of embellishment to make the hood appeal to the younger set, and what girl wouldn’t want eyes on the back of her head.

I first learned to knit and crochet in 1973 or 1974, and I still have the little booklet from the class.  Those faces on the yarn are  actually cute.

I don't know how to knit or crochet 70s

One of the projects:

1970s owl crochet top

Owls were very popular in the 70s, but I’m thinking maybe that’s not the best placement for the owl eyes.

The Gitche Gumee Headband is another groovy design from the same booklet, although it’s neither knit nor crocheted.

70s headband

 

I  also have a few early 1970s copies of a knitting and crochet magazine called 101 Sweaters.  Seventies fashion wasn’t just ponchos –  although the hairstyles and makeup are dated, many of the patterns hold up well.

101 Sweater Magazine

 

 

The magazines also have a section for men’s patterns:

1972 photo of knitting patterns for men from 101 Sweaters magazine

The guys on the left are cool, but could the guys on the right be any more dorky in those outlandish sweaters?

That wraps up a look at the good, the bad, the ugly, and the weird knitted and crocheted patterns and fashions of yesteryear. Do you like to collect old patterns or make things from them?