I got a skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Lace from another local Ravelry member, who was destashing. It was a great value, and the colours were totally my cuppa tea. The yarn itself has been discontinued, sadly. It is lovely.
The first thing I tried to make with it was a Wispy cardigan, but the laceweight was just a little too fine for my liking. I wasn’t thrilled with the fabric, so I frogged it half way through. I later tried this cardi with a heavier yarn, and ended up frogging that as well. I think this cardi just isn’t right for me.
The second attempt was a Bonny sleeveless top, but I couldn’t get gauge. I did eventually make a Bonny, with a different Madelinetosh yarn, and I love it, but that’s a post for another day.
I let the yarn sit in my stash a little while longer, until I finally stumbled upon the perfect pattern. Siren Song is lovely, and would be perfect for the green yarn with its flashes of lavender. I had more yarn than the pattern called for, so I modified it a little.
Because I was using laceweight yarn, I used size 4 needles instead of the required size 6 needles. I also knit extra repeats of the lace. The lace has three charts, all of which are easy to memorize. I unfortunately neglected to record how many repeats I did of each chart, but I know I did extra repeats of the medium and small waves. I had very little yarn left when I finished.
I was walking my dog this morning, and saw one of the resident barred owls in a tree near the pedestrian path through the park. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera, and my cellphone camera photos didn’t turn out. I decided to try coming back. I was lucky, because even though 45 minutes had passed, the owl was still there!
The owl was sitting in a tree a little way down the dirt path that leads to the hiking trails.
I moved a little, to get better pictures of the owl, and it spread its wings, so I thought it was going to fly away. Instead, it flew into a tree that was closer to me, and not obscured by branches.
The owl was most definitely not afraid of people. I’ve seen it (or others, I’m not sure how many there are in the park) several times now, and the park is well used by people. The trees the owl was in are immediately beside the paved path.
Having these birds living in the park is a treat. We sometimes hear them calling to each other at dusk, and they’re not shy, so sightings aren’t really all that uncommon. I believe one of them roosts at the end of the park nearest to our home, because I see them around that end of the park fairly often. I ended up taking about 50 pictures of the owl, and these are the best ones I got. It was a pleasure spending time observing it, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to finally take photos. I left before the owl did – it may even be in the same tree now.
I don’t often post about knits that just don’t work out, but I’m going to do so today. Some time ago, I fell in love with the Snowflake sweater pattern from Tin Can Knits (they’re local, woo!) It’s a fantastic pullover, with a nice lace yoke. I never wear pullovers, because I get too hot, but ever since I saw the sample in person at Knit City, I was obsessed with it.
Back in November, Knit Picks had a too-good-to-pass-up sale on some of their yarns. Specifically, Capra, which is normally one of their most expensive yarns. It’s a soft, squishy merino cashmere blend, and has a beautiful, subtle halo after blocking. Only the tumeric colour was on sale, but since I love Autumn colours, I snapped up eight balls of it, along with the wine colour, since I decided this was the perfect yarn for the Snowflake sweater. The funny thing about my colour selection is that I accidentally picked Gryffindor colours, which is the Harry Potter house I was sorted into when I joined Pottermore. It would be my accidental Gryffindor sweater!
As soon as my yarn arrived, I swatched and started knitting. The yoke lace is a little confusing, but I found the help I needed on the Tin Can Knits forum on Ravelry, in this thread.
Once the lace was done, it was time to work out my bust shaping. I tried short row bust shaping, but the picked up wraps were incredibly ugly. Maybe a dark yarn would be okay, but on such a light colour, any imperfections show up and are obvious. I ripped back my bust shaping and tossed the sweater in time-out, until I could find a better way to accomplish my bust shaping.
I re-read Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter, but her instructions are typically for bottom up, seamed sweaters. It made my head hurt trying to work out the shaping on my top down, knit in the round sweater. I re-read Ysolda Teague’s Little Red in the City, and it was easier to work with, because she typically writes top down, knit in the round patterns, but I wasn’t really feeling the love on how she suggests that you work bust darts.
Off to the internet I went. Read the post from the Knitty Professors again, but it uses short row shaping as well as darts, and as I said before, I wanted to avoid that. After spending way too long searching, I came across a tutorial written by a Ravelry member named strickauszeit. In the tutorial, she discusses different methods of shaping a sweater bust, using darts, specifically in top down sweaters. Eureka! I did the math, and came up with my bust shaping. I posted the calculations on my Ravelry project page, if you’re interested.
Guess what? It worked like a charm.
Now for the bad news. I’ve come to accept that there’s a very good reason I don’t wear pullovers. They’re hot, and I can’t just take it off like I can if a cardigan gets too warm. We don’t want the decency police coming after me! Granted, I’d probably tell them where to go and how to get there, but that’s another topic. After all of the work I did to make the sweater work, I started having serious doubts about whether I’d ever even wear it. The more I thought about it, the more I came to accept that I wouldn’t. The sweater would sit in a drawer, with its nearly perfect bust shaping, and that would be that.
The other bad news is that I bought far too much of the wine coloured yarn, and not nearly enough of the tumeric. I could buy more, except Knit Picks is out of stock until April, which would mean that even if I did manage to wear my sweater, it wouldn’t be until October, at the earliest. The yarn would also be a different dye lot, which may or may not end up being a big deal. At this point, I completely lost my mojo and decided to frog it.
Is that the end of the story? Nope. A frogged knitting project, while not something I often write about, is not a failure by any means. I learned a lot on this sweater! I now have a bust shaping technique for top down sweaters that works! And I like the results! I also learned that if I have to do shaping on a field of stockinette, I should use a darker colour. Granted, blocking would have helped, but while blocking is magic, it doesn’t remedy everything. I also learned that my reality is that I overheat easily, and pullovers aren’t my thing. I do have a few pullover patterns in my Ravelry queue, but most of the ones I’m likely to knit can be modified using a steek, and voila, I’ll have an awesome cardigan!
Also, this yarn isn’t going into my stash, to be forgotten until I eventually find something to knit with it. Once I’ve gotten all of the kinks out of it, I’ll be knitting Caramel, which is a free pattern, and will be amazing in Capra. I guess buying too much of the wine colour was a lucky accident. It’s also a very forgiving sweater, because it’s draped, so no bust shaping!
As for the Snowflake pattern, if anyone I know produces offspring and I feel the desire to knit for the little one, I’ll reach for this pattern. I’m also really interested in modifying the yoke to make it a cardigan…Just give me some time, okay?
Well. Raiding my stash was a failure. I have loads of quilting cottons in my stash, but they don’t have the right drape for this blouse (I could use them to make the Granville shirt, but I had my heart set on making an Oakridge first).
I suppose that means I’ll need to make a trip to the fabric store, which I will do on my way home today. I’m hoping to find something suitable for spring, since it has been so beautiful here lately. I know the rest of Canada and the US are snowed under, but we’re very fortunate here on the west coast… I don’t want to rub it in, but if you’re so inclined, this will show you just what we’ve been living with for the last couple of weeks. Crocuses. Daffodils. Cherry blossoms. Even the magnolia trees are blooming already. It’s been just beautiful.
I took this photo last weekend on the seawall at Stanley Park. It was cool in the shade, but once you got into the sunshine, it was nice and warm. We spent a couple of hours walking the seawall, talking, and taking photos. We’re very fortunate to have such a beautiful park in our city.
Mount Baker, as seen from the seawall (do you notice a trend here?). Port Metro Vancouver can be seen too. You can also see the crows going home to roost. I love watching the crows heading home for the night.
In fact, this is an opportunity to share more music with you! In January 2014, we went to see a concert called Sing it Forward, during which, I was first exposed to a young woman named Hannah Epperson. She’s an amazing violinist, and one of the songs she played is called Murder of Crows. The first thing I did when I got online the next day was buy her EP. I’ve only been able to find live videos of her performing the song, and this is the best one I could find… but if you like it, her EP used to be available on Bandcamp.com… but it’s not there anymore, sadly. If you visit her Facebook page, you might be able to find her contact information so you can buy her album, as it is wonderful. Give her a listen!
Since I took such a long hiatus, there are a lot of things to share. Just because I wasn’t blogging about my adventures with fabric and yarn does not mean I took a break from creating.
Reviving my blog meant giving it a new look too. I used a photo I took of a shawl I knit last spring and added text and the cute little bird using Pic Monkey (not hard at all, and I’m definitely not a graphic artist).
Also, if anyone wondered, the name of my blog is inspired by a song by my favourite local band,Mother Mother. The song is called Aspiring Fires… Listen here!
I’m going to share some recent finished objects in this post, and will do another post tomorrow… But for today, I’ll share what I made for our wedding, which was last June.
These three shawls were made using Handmaiden Casbah yarn, which is absolutely wonderful to work with. The colour is called wine. Links to the shawls on my Ravelry page follow:
I also have to give credit for the photographs I’m posting from the wedding, as our photographer was wonderful to work with and is a real artist. I highly recommend Wanderlust Photography.
Because I’m a crafty person, I made the dresses for the three of us. My dress was quite challenging, because it was my first full bust adjustment. Aah, the dreaded FBA! I started off going by instructions I found online, but they all made assumptions about the pattern you were using (ie: existing darts, and standard design features). My dress is a 1950’s era reproduction, so very little about it was standard. I went so far as to buy a few different patterns to see if I could get those to work, because I was at my wit’s end getting the pattern I chose to work properly.
What I found most helpful, however, was to take a Craftsy course called Adjust the Bust. I skipped pass the small bust adjustment parts of the course, because they didn’t apply to me and I was running out of time. I’m sure they’ll come in handy sewing for other people though, and the concept is the same. Anyway, the point is, if you can afford it, this course was excellent and will give you all of the skills and information you need to do bust adjustments. It does make assumptions about your pattern design features, but everything is explained in such a clear way that it makes even a more challenging pattern easy to adjust. I also just noticed that the course is half price right now!
All that being said, the adjustment was still challenging, and I did go through several muslins before I got a fit that I was satisfied with. If I could do it again, I’d have made a little more room in the bust, but the dress fit was good enough for me, and it was stressing me out, so rather than continue to fuss with it, I just went ahead and sewed it with the fit I got.
If you’re fussy like me, you’ll notice that there is a bit of tightness and drag across the bust, but most people would never see it. The stiffness of the fabric didn’t help with this effect any, but it wasn’t too bad. Of course, this being my second marriage, I wanted to be untraditional, so we went with a retro 50’s look for the dresses.
I also made my headpiece. Since I wasn’t interested in doing a traditional wedding, I bought a bunch of feathers and some netting and put together a fascinator. I also burned myself with the glue gun. I made simple earrings and necklaces for everyone, but my son bought me a special necklace to wear for the wedding.
Here I am with my daughter and my best friend, who was my maid of honour. Their dresses are both different, because they have very different body types. I made my daughter’s dress first, and it went very quickly as she didn’t need any adjustments to be made. She did mention wearing it again some time, but I suspect that by the time she has the opportunity, it will be too small. She’s nearly my height now, and it has only been eight months!
Yes, it did rain on our wedding day. What else do you expect in June in Vancouver? Fortunately, I had the foresight to buy umbrellas…
Of course, I couldn’t leave my husband out of the creative picture… so I knit him a pair of socks using yarn that was gifted to me by one of the ladies in my knitting group.
The pattern I used was called Wollmeise Socks, and was designed for the yarn, which my friend brought back from Germany with her.
And those shoes, if you’re wondering, are Fluevogs. I love their shoes, even if they are crazy expensive. I got these on sale though.
And what 1950’s style dress is complete without a petticoat? I don’t tolerate crinoline very well, so I hunted down some cotton organdy (if you live in Vancouver, they stock it at Fabricana, and it is reasonably priced!)
I can’t remember where I got the tutorial, but mine has ribbon over all of the seams, and is three tiers. I liked the cotton organdy, because it is stiff enough to hold the skirt out and keep it full, but it is soft and not at all itchy. I didn’t make an elastic waist on it, because that would add bulk. Mine has a slit, with a hook and eye closure, so it is easy to get in and out of it.
I haven’t had an opportunity to wear it since making it, which is unfortunate, because it’s just the right fullness to actually wear without feeling like you’re in costume.
There was one other dress that I made for the wedding, but it wasn’t for a member of the wedding party. My husband knows a couple who have a band, and they have played at several events we’ve attended. He approached them about performing at the reception, and we were thrilled that they agreed! Every time I’ve seen them perform, I’ve said to him “I’d love to sew for her…” She is quite petite, and has a love for vintage dresses. We worked out a bit of a trade… a new dress for her, in exchange for singing at the reception. This dress is covered in tulips, and the pattern is a Vogue vintage reproduction. I had to do a fair bit of modification to the pattern, as it was far too deep in the shoulders for her, but I absolutely loved the construction of the skirt, which is actually pleated. It made for a very full skirt, which looks great on her. I also made a crinoline to go under this dress, which I used tulle to make.
This post is getting awfully long, so I will leave it at that. If anyone has any questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll be sure to answer as soon as I can!
Quick edit to add that I made another post about my dress, so go read it here if you want more details!