My eldest, who will soon be 14, is a big Legend of Zelda fan. A few weeks ago, I found some awesome Majora’s Mask fabric at Dressew, and bought a metre of it on a whim. I figured I’d eventually decide what to make with it.
Eldest is going for a sleepover tonight, and needs to bring a pillow, so I figured why not make a pillowcase? I whipped it up yesterday, in about an hour. When I make pillowcases, I base them on the measurements and techniques from the One Million Pillowcase project, and use this pattern from All People Quilt. I modify the pattern a little. In this case, I cut a 3″ wide strip of green broadcloth and pressed it lengthwise in half to make an accent strip between the printed fabric and the plain black fabric. When you prepare the opening, just baste this strip to the edge before sewing the loop. Easy as pie! I also had to make it a little smaller than the pattern tells you to, because my green fabric was 1″ too short and I didn’t want seams in it. The joys of sewing from your stash and using up leftovers!
Kid likes the pillowcase, I got to use up some stash fabric, and I’m a happy mum. I’m hoping to find some kind of awesome must-have fabric to make a fun pillowcase for the boy at some point, but nothing has caught my eye.
On Tuesday, my 10 year old son told me that his teacher’s last day before maternity leave is November 26. He said he wanted something for the baby, and asked me to make a blanket. No matter how hard I tried, I could not convince him that a hat would be perfectly acceptable, practical, and most importantly, easy for me to complete before Mrs. C. goes on leave.
No, only a blanket would do! She’s his favourite teacher. He gave me puppy dog eyes. I was done for.
On my way home on Wednesday, I stopped at Michaels to shop for yarn. I had plans to make the Pemberley Blanket, and decided that an Aran weight yarn was close enough, mostly because it was so inexpensive. The yarn I selected was only $2.50 per ball, but at regular price, it was nearly $7. None of the bulky yarns were on sale, so Aran it is!
I don’t normally like knitting with acrylic, but given that baby things get dirty easily and I can’t count on Mrs. C. knowing how to care for woolen knits, acrylic was the way to go. Also, the price was right. I sat down on Wednesday evening to knit, then had second thoughts about the pattern. I had limited time, so did I really want to knit a blanket that would require me to frequently refer back to the pattern? Instead, I decided to knit the Pine Forest Baby Blanket, since it is a two row, seven stitch repeat. I had it memorized by the fourth row.
I normally don’t like knitting with acrylic yarn. Call me a yarn snob if you will, but I don’t like how stiff the yarn is while working with it, or how it feels knitted up. The stiffness never seems to go away. This photo shows the finished blanket. While the lace is visible and open, rather than crumpled and closed like it would be if I’d used wool, it is also very bumpy and stiff. Not the nicest to have against a baby’s delicate skin. Normally, you’d block any knitted item, but you technically cannot block acrylic, because it doesn’t behave like wool does. It simply springs back to its original shape, and still feels stiff and bumpy.
This is when the magic of “killing” acrylic yarn comes in. The trick is to use a lot of hot steam to slightly melt the acrylic fibers. Acrylic yarn is technically plastic, so you have to be really careful when doing this for two reasons. One, you don’t want to melt the yarn onto your iron. Two, there’s no going back. If you mess up, you can’t just steam it back to the shape you want it to be. This is fine for my blanket, because I wanted it bigger and more stretched out, but in a garment, you need to be accurate when killing your acrylic. You can see the difference between the before and after photos. In the second photo, the lace is opened up, and flat. It even looks softer. Unfortunately, you can’t feel the difference, but I’d happily wrap a baby in this blanket now, since the yarn has lost its stiffness and itchiness after being killed. The blanket grew by about a third in the process, which is great, because it’ll be useful for longer than if I hadn’t killed the acrylic.
This was my first go at killing acrylic. If you want to read more about it, there are loads of tutorials about it, but this is the one I used. Does this mean I’ll use more acrylic in my knitting? Probably not often, because it makes my wrists ache, but for baby gifts, I’d be willing to do so again. Just don’t ask me to knit a 600 yard blanket in less than a week.
I hope Mrs. C. likes the blanket. My Ravelry project page is here.
My sister in law has a home-based long-arm quilting business, and because of the size of the quilt, I asked her to quilt it for me. This quilt is massive! I knew there was no way I could ever possibly quilt it on my machine without hating every minute of it, so having it done on a long-arm was the way to go. She quilted it with a series of leaves, in pale yellow thread. I’m really pleased with the quilting, and there’s no way I’d have been able to do it myself. She gave me the finished quilt in October, but because other projects were a priority, I let it sit for a while. I spent a few hours on Sunday binding it, and threw it in the washer today. Thank goodness for glue basting, or I’d have lost a lot of blood thanks to all of the pins I would have needed! I’m really pleased with my quilt, and love how it looks on the bed. It’s so much better than the boring Ikea duvet we had on it previously.
Happy Halloween!!! My daughter is a big manga and anime fan, and even introduced me to some stuff I quite enjoy. If you told me a year ago that I’d be obsessing over anime, or impatiently awaiting the next issue of a manga series to be released in English, I’d have laughed my head off at you.
Anyway, she decided that for Halloween this year, which is her last year trick or treating, she wanted to be her favourite character from Naruto. Her favourite character is Gaara, who is part demon.
I could have purchased a costume for her online, but as anyone who reads this blog knows, I love a challenge, and would prefer to DIY a project, even if it ends up costing me more. For the record, this costume didn’t – I saved around $90 by making it myself. The costumes run at least $125, and they’re shipped from China, so by the time you add international shipping, it gets pretty expensive.
I didn’t want to have to try drafting a jacket from scratch, so I went hunting for similar patterns. Ideally, I would have used the sewing pattern for Neo’s jacket from The Matrix, but it’s out of print, and expensive. It has the right type of collar, slim fit in the torso, and length necessary, but there’s no way I was spending that kind of money on a sewing pattern. Another pattern I looked at was for a priest’s frock, but it wasn’t fitted enough through the torso, and I’d have had to open it up at the back seam from the waist down. What I ended up buying was a civil war reproduction pattern. The seamlines aren’t entirely right for the costume, but it gives the slim fit through the torso, and it had an option for an extension for the front closure of the jacket, which was perfect, since Gaara’s coat opening is off centre. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty darned close.
I bought my fabrics at Dressew, and made up the costume over the course of about four days. The jacket itself is lined, and the only modification I made was to use a zipper instead of buttons for the closure.
The vest was actually more challenging than the jacket, because Gaara’s vest only covers part of his torso. I found a free men’s vest pattern on Burdastyle, and cut off 2″ of fabric from the side. I added the zipper to the front. Bonus is that it gives her somewhere to put her phone, since the jacket lacks pockets. The vest was a real pain to sew, because the fabric was a knit (it was the only thing I could find that was the right colour), so it wanted to stretch, crawl and pucker. Of course, I didn’t think to use tissue under the presser foot as I sewed, until after I’d ripped out the zipper twice. The fabric was a cheap synthetic, and it wanted very badly to melt onto my iron. If I put my iron on a low setting, the seams wouldn’t lay flat, so I ended up having to put the iron on a higher setting and used a pressing cloth. Total pain, and the remainder of the fabric has gone into the trash, because I have no desire to ever use it again.
Unfortunately, the only wigs I could find would have shipped from China, and I didn’t have enough time to order one, so I bought a red wig from the costume store and gave it a very bad, messy haircut. They had the right style of wig in other colours, but Gaara’s hair ranges from bright red to dark auburn, so I didn’t think a cotton candy pink wig was going to be acceptable! I think the haircut worked out fairly well, once we put some hair gel in there to make it spiky. The kanji on her forehead was done with a MAC lipliner pencil, using a stencil I made by printing out the kanji and cutting out the pattern with an exacto knife. The eye makeup was MAC paint pot liner, which was ideal because it’s soft, easy to work with, and isn’t difficult to apply on someone who keeps flinching because she never wears makeup. I had purchased makeup for her, but it was lousy, so I ended up using my own.
Her reaction when she saw herself in the mirror was priceless. She couldn’t believe how different she looks! I’d say the girl is pretty happy with her costume, and she can wear it again when Fanexpo comes through town again next spring.
In July, my husband and I hopped on a plane and went to visit a friend of ours who lives in the wilderness of northern British Columbia. While we were visiting, I completed a pair of CanCans.
I made them with Knit Picks Palette, in the Lingonberry Heather colourway. I’m pretty pleased with them, but they do not fit me! I have slightly larger than average hands, and this pattern doesn’t come in multiple sizes, so I knew I was taking chances. I also didn’t swatch. I decided to keep them for a gift, since you never know when you need something to give away.
Turns out, one of the lovely people I have met online over the years needs a new pair of fingerless mitts. She’s got arthritis in her hands, so she’s not able to knit anymore. I sent these on to her, to keep her aching hands warm.
Ravelry project is here. The pattern is an easy knit, but I don’t like how the cables turned out according to the pattern. The pattern has you cabling without a cable needle, and some of the corners come out a little sloppy that way, so I used a cable needle instead. It slows you down, but the results are much nicer.
I love starting a new project, even if it is a project that I purchased supplies for a while back and didn’t get around to starting. This is sneak peek at my High Light quilt.
The fabrics are from Dressew, and include some Michael Miller pieces, which are more costly than most quilt fabrics I’ve purchased, but they’re very good quality and very pleasant to work with.
I posted a schematic of what I had planned here, and I’m done piecing now. I started cutting fabrics on Thursday evening, and spent Friday and Saturday afternoon sewing. That’s one of the reason I love quilts with large blocks – they go together very quickly. The other reason is that they look more modern than a lot of quilts with small blocks, and you can have fun with larger prints.
This is a large quilt – we have a queen sized bed, but I hate that the sheets hang down below the duvet, so I decided to make a king sized quilt. It was easy to modify the pattern – all I did was make it wider by one row of blocks (which are 20″ across, give or take). I could, theoretically, quilt it on my machine, but that doesn’t sound like much fun. Fortunately for me, my sister in law has a long arm quilting machine, so I’m bringing the quilt and batting with me to visit her, and we’ll talk about quilting it. I don’t have backing fabric yet, so maybe she has a cheaper source for it than either Dressew or Fabricland. I don’t want to pay $50 for backing fabric if I can help it.
I’m going to make some coordinating pillowcases as well. Not shams, because frankly, I’m too lazy to take them off the pillows every night. I’ll use the grey floral with the yellow (which I have lots of) as edging.
The next time you see my quilt top, it’ll be on the bed!
It’s been a month since I posted, because I really haven’t had any finished objects to share. It’s been a busy summer, with taking my daughter to visit her grandparents and a two week visit from her best friend, which included a camping trip.
After knitting my last sweater, I had several false starts on other projects, so I wanted something that would be easy and mindless to knit. I also wanted it to be fun.
I came across the Spring Thaw shawl pattern, which looked simple enough, and it is a free pattern to boot! I had this gorgeous rainbow Kauni yarn in my stash, which I had purchased with the intention of making a shawl, so I grabbed my needles and started knitting.
With this yarn, as you knit and the shawl gets larger, the colour bands get narrower. When I first started the shawl, it felt like the yellow would never transition to the next colour. My only complaint with the pattern is that it doesn’t give any advice as to how many repeats you need to do for your yardage. I believe I ended up with 15 repeats of the leaf chart before moving on to the intermediate edging. I didn’t really keep track though, so I could be wrong.
One of the great things about this pattern is that the leaf lace is incredibly easy to read, and I found that once I’d knit the chart a couple of times, I didn’t need to refer back to it, so it made this project ideal for travelling.
I took this picture of knitting while on the way to Nanaimo to pick my daughter up from her week with her grandparents. I am currently using it as my profile picture on Ravelry, because I think it’s a cute photo.
The night before we went camping on the Sunshine Coast, I blocked the shawl. It had been sitting for several days, because I didn’t want to block it on the bed, but since my son is away at his dad’s house for the summer, I used his bedroom floor.
Kauni is NOT a soft yarn. It’s actually quite rough, which is part of the reason I used it in a shawl, rather than a sweater, which has more skin contact. Because of the roughness of the yarn, I opted to soak it for about an hour in Eucalan and some rich hair conditioner. Sounds strange, but it does really help!
Here’s the shawl, blocking. You can see the leaf detail. My apologies for the poor image quality on this one, it’s an Instagram photo, and I didn’t have enough lighting. My project page on Ravelry is here if you’re so inclined.
While camping, I knit a hat and started a sweater, but those are projects for another post. I also started a bulky weight sweater (yes, I started a bulky sweater in summertime, because I am completely insane and like to cook myself under a pile of yarn). The bulky sweater is coming along nicely, and I should be finished in a week or so.