Friday, December 15, 2006

Lists - updated with pictures

I have many projects in the work. I just haven't taken the time to share them with you. But I finally added some pictures. Click on them to make them larger.

  1. Neck Down Hooded Tunic by Knitting Pure and Simple - done except for weaving in the ends
  2. Karaoke Cable Scarf in Malabrigo - done except for weaving in the ends The color is called "Stonechat"

  3. Hat to match scarf - done except for weaving in the ends I used the Coronet pattern from but I modified the cable part to match my scarf.

  4. Christmas gift scarf for the cat sitter, in Malabrigo - done except for weaving in ends...hmmm, I seem to have a problem finishing things, particularly the weaving part. This is my own pattern. I found the stitch pattern for the twisty parts and made it into a ribbed scarf. I'll post the instructions for it someday soon.

  5. I made 4 pincushion sewing baskets to give as gifts. Yes, I know. A picture would be nice! I'll be posting a tutorial on how to make these in a few weeks - I'm just too busy right now!
  6. Burda jacket - all thirty-something pieces are cut out! The bodice is sewn and sits on my dress form waiting for some time to work on it.
  7. Socks for me - working on sock #2 of a Katia yarn

  8. Socks for DH - yarn is picked out and awaiting the 20+ hours of airplane travel I'll be doing in the next two weeks.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wool, wool, and more wool.

Thanks for your comments on the Burda patterns. I also like 8018 and it was actually the one I set out to purchase until I started browsing the catalog and found the others. But I'm not making that one...yet. I want a jacket with a lining and feel that I don't have the time or experience to make a lining without having the pattern pieces and instructions to guide me, so I chose to make 8020. I found the perfect wool in my stash - 3 yards of a mid- to light-weight Pendleton wool I purchased from about 5 years ago. It was only $2.95/yard. Can you believe it?

And while browsing my stash I found another wool that will be great for Burda 8030. It's 60% wool, 40% alpaca and is both plush and soft. It also looks good on both sides, so it would work well for this coat. I'd also like to make this pattern in a sweater knit, but just think it would be a great use for this wool too.

And that's not all. I'd like to make Burda 8018 in this lovely Pendleton wool I also bought at - not at the same bargain price as the other Pendleton but still pretty good at $9/yard. It's been "aging" about 4 years in my stash.

But do I need all these coats/jackets? I already have the wool and it's better to be out and enjoyed and put to use as opposed to packed away in a plastic bin (hopefully not being eaten by moths - that would be SO awful!).

Last night I moved on to stage 2 of the jacket project: preparing the pattern. I chose to trace all twenty-something (!!) pieces instead of cutting them out. I didn't want to risk choosing the wrong size. These patterns aren't 99 cent McCalls or Simplicity patterns. I've started to cut out the muslin so hopefully I'll be able to check the size and get going on the real thing. In Burda I fall between a 42 and 44. I've made some tops in 44 and thought they came out too big so I started making 42 instead. But something told me to go with a 44 for this one. I want to be able to wear this over more than a thin shirt and measurement-wise I really should be a 44. So a 44 is what I cut. We'll see.

Friday, November 10, 2006

How do you use those feet?

Not the ones you walk on, but the ones you sew with?

I keep my presser feet in a small plastic box next to my sewing machine and find the ones I most often use are the edge-joining foot, the zipper foot and the regular foot. I have many others - pin tuck, fell foot, ruffler, hem stitch... but I hardly ever use them. Mostly because I don't know how they work or haven't taken the time to experiment with them. Still, I feel like I should buy every specialty foot there is.

I just recently heard about this website that has a video* for every type of Pfaff foot. I just happen to have Pfaff so that's ideal for me, but I think all sewing machine manufacturers have pretty much the same type of feet. Now maybe I'll actually try a few more presser feet from my box. And judging from the list of videos, there are a few feet I don't have. Of course, do I really need those other feet?

*not sure if there's supposed to be sound. There wasn't for me, but my computer might be a bit messed up and the videos might not be playing correctly.

Monday, November 06, 2006

In search of a coat

Why is it that despite having over 300 patterns (yikes!) and at least five years of Burda World of Fashion magazines (double yikes!) I do not have a coat or jacket pattern that I like? But the new Burda Fall 2006 styles contained some that I do like and a few other patterns that caught my eye. Here are the new additions to my pattern stash (click picture for larger):

Burda 8015:

Burda 8018:

Burda 8020:

Burda 8026:

Burda 8030:

I especially like 8030 in the knit...and I have plenty of knits in my stash from which to make this and also 8026.

And speaking of knits, I have just about finished my top-down sweater. I need to seam the hood, make a cord and weave in loose ends. Yippee! First adult-sized, sleeved sweater that I'll be able to wear (because the first adult-sized, sleeved sweater I knit is still in pieces waiting to be blocked and seamed). I've already started on another project and it's coming along well. This one's a scarf out of Malabrigo merino yarn (colorway is Stonechat) using this scarf pattern. I've already gotten lots of compliments on it at my knitting meetup and also at my sewing guild meeting on Saturday.

I had a busy sewing weekend but I didn't get any sewing done. I had my sewing guild meeting and then yesterday I met up with some internet friends for an afternoon of chatting, fabric and pattern swapping, and eating. The pumpkins I've been working on are still sitting unfinished at my sewing machine and I'm anxious to start a coat. I'm leaning towards 8015 but haven't decided whether to make the long coat or the short jacket. I'm pretty sure I have some long lengths of wool in my stash. But 8015 is so cute and I like the lines of 8020 (view B).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The lazy way to clean

We bought a Roomba. We had thought about getting one and paused by a Roomba display at Costco the other night when a guy started telling us how great they were. I thought maybe he was a sales rep but no, he was a customer there buying a second one for his 2-story house. So we bought one. After all, we have 4 cats, 2 full-time jobs, hardwood floors that show off the dust and dirt really well, and a lot of other things we'd rather do than vacuum. I found that overall the reviews for this little robot are positive, but some people report having duds and others say it doesn't do what they want or they don't like how it bumps around or makes noise. The best review I read summed it up nicely by saying not to give up your primary vacuum. What this will do is sweep the floors daily... and provide entertainment for the cats at the same time. It doesn't do thorough cleaning of carpets and won't get into tight corners and of course it has to vacuum around your shoes, the laundry basket, and the toys strewn about (in our case, cat toys).

This machine is also not a "set it and forget it" type of tool. It requires frequent cleaning so that the sensors don't get too dirty (and cause it to miss seeing the steps and take a fall). You also need to keep the wheels clean so they don't get bogged down with hair and string - a very possible scenario with 4 cats, my long hair and fringe on our rugs. So we'll see how good we are at keeping up the maintenance. I still think that will be easier than vacuuming the whole house.

So last night in between going to the door for the few trick or treaters we had, we played with our new toy. The model we bought has a docking station, remote control, and virtual walls - devices that emit infrared while the Roomba is on and keep it from entering places you don't want it to go. We have hardwood floors in our house but in the living room and dining room we have large oriental rugs with fringe. Roombas "eat" fringe, just like other vacuums - and they'll also get hung up on cords and drag them...and the object attached to the cord, so you do have to Roomba-proof a bit. The Roombas do much better on hardwood and tile than on carpet and since our carpets quickly get covered with cat hair, we're better off using our Miele in those rooms. Our main use of the Roomba will be to sweep the floors of the kitchen, hallway, family room, and our bedroom. We'll keep it out of the sewing room/office because of the oriental rug in there and the plethora of threads and pins it might encounter. Besides, it's small room and the Roomba would spend a lot of time bumping around and I worry it might not get out of there and find its home base when it's done.

The Roomba does do a lot of bumping - it's kind of funny to watch it and guess where it will go next. When it finds a straight path it does a tiny wiggle from side to side as it goes, kind of like wiggling its hips if it had them. When it finds a lot of dirt, a blue light comes on and it goes around in circles, almost as if it's gleefully doing a dance. The cats do not know what to make of it. It is a bit noisy and beeps when it turns on, beeps when it's time to go home to its base (after an hour of cleaning) and it also beeps an "uh oh" and shuts off when you pick it up. So far we haven't seen it get stuck. It's gone over small rugs and the transitions between tile and wood without too much trouble. It did try to "mate" with the base of our fan but it finally got itself back on level ground and went about cleaning. It does pick up quite a bit. The dust bin is small but that's probably both to keep the size down and also to make you tend to the device regularly.

It'll be nice to have the rooms swept of cat hair, cat litter (ugh!), crumbs, and other grit and dust bunnies while we're away at work. Hopefully this little guy will keep working away for a good long time because I think we need him!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Scenes from Iceland

I finally uploaded some photos from my trip to Iceland last July. Click here to view all of them on Flickr.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I went to the Pacific International Quilt Festival last weekend and the quilts there just blew me away. The workmanship and the artistry were just amazing. Here's a sampling of some of my favorites:

(Click for larger picture)

Here's a closeup of some of the detail on this quilt --

In addition to the local competition, they had a display of quilts from Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, Norway, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and South Africa. This one is from Britain:

This one from Japan was considered the "Best in the World":

It was an amazing selection of quilts and wearable art. I'd gone to this show about five years ago and it's now double in size. There were vendors of course. Oh yes, there were vendors. There was something for every type of quilter. I bought some fat quarters and some patterns. I actually spent two days at the show. I went on Saturday and shopped and attempted to see all of the quilts, but I didn't have all day because I first stopped by the grand opening of Purlscence Yarns in Sunnyvale. By the way at Purlescence I bought some lightweight Socks that Rock yarn in the Smoky Topaz colorway from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and some Merino wool from Malabrigo. Yummy yarns! I was exhausted by the end of the day but since my $12 entry fee on Saturday was good for Sunday too, I decided (with a little persuading from my husband) to return. This time I took the camera and leisurely enjoyed the quilts as if I were in a museum. And it really was like an art museum. Such talented quilters!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sewing Dreams

Last night I dreamt that I was sewing. It must be on my mind.

Where has the last week (or two) gone? Oh yeah, I was away on a business trip last week. I used all that boring airplane time to knit 1/2 of a sock. I'm using a pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks that makes a mock cable. You start with a basic 3 stitch rib but every third row you K2tog the first two knit stitches of each knit portion of the rib but before you take the stitches off you knit again into the first stitch. This makes a little twist. It also makes the whole sock twist a bit, which I hope is not going to cause a problem when I wear them. I turned the heel so right now I'm on the gusset decreases where I have to keep track of decreasing every other row but also keep track of working the pattern stitch every third row. This is too complicated to do without paper and pencil, so the socks are not a commuter-knitting project. It was amusing to watch my airplane seat mates glance at me (out of the corner of my eye) every time I'd whip out my notebook and make a note. They probably wondered what the heck I was doing. I was squished in the middle seat for all of my flights so knitting kept me sane...and kept me from fidgeting. I am a terrible "fidget-er." It's a wonder that I'm not thin from burning calories fidgeting (and a darn shame!). I guess I still eat too much.

By the way, on United flights of more than 3 hours they will sell you a box of snacks for $5. It's actually not too bad because unless you bring food from home, it'd cost more to buy snacks at the airport. I tried the "Right Bite" box which was OK if you don't mind stinky tuna and hummus that's a bit thin. On my return flight I tried the "Mini Meal", which I didn't like as much. The salami was greasy and there weren't enough crackers to eat with both the salami and the cheese.

While I was out east I visited my mom and we did a bit of shopping in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. It was a lovely day, even a little bit warm, so we enjoyed a nice lunch and stepped inside a few stores. One we visited was Chico's. I'd never been in one and have only heard of the store through its catalog, which I know a lot of women use for inspiration for sewing. I was impressed with at least this Chico's store in Alexandria. The people responsible for the store's displays did a fabulous job of putting together outfits and pairing them with jewelry and accessories. If I didn't have the "I can sew that" bug in my ear, I might have made some purchases. I made a note to check the website when I got home but I have to tell you -- ho hum. Not impressed. I was hoping to find the same great looking outfits...and I admit, use them as inspiration and probably not buy anything. But to me it just looked like any run of the mill online store. They showcase each item on a model, pretty much by itself. It doesn't even look like the stuff I saw in the store. I mean how much more unattractive could this be?

While in Old Town, I also checked out some shoes and boots. I desperately want some brown leather boots in a low to medium heel. But I have large calves. I like to think of them as shapely but unfortunately most boot-makers don't account for shapely calves. I check out almost daily hoping for a new shipment of perfect brown boots that will accommodate my ample lower extremities. So far nothing has come up to my liking. I tried some boots on last night at Bloomingdales. Oh they were luscious and I wanted them to fit, but the zipper only went halfway. It's not fair, this discrimination against the fat-calved. I've also found that some boots only accommodate large calves in the wide and extra wide widths. My feet are not wide, only my calves are. I did find another online source for wide-calf boots, which I may try. Silhouettes deals in clothing for larger women and also carries wide-calf boots. I never considered that women who wear large sizes in clothing also have a problem with finding boots to fit. Welcome to their world, I guess. I'm eyeing a pair there and may order them but I keep hoping Zappos will come through for me because I soooo love their free shipping and free return. I despise having to pay shipping to return something that doesn't fit. Edited to add: drat - the boots at Silhouettes that I wanted are on backorder until January 2007. Oh well.

I hope to get back to sewing this weekend. The brown tiered skirt is still in pieces. I'd really like to finish it...and wear it with some fabulous brown boots. Sigh.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Finally, some project pictures

First, I want to thank you for the birthday wishes last week! They were much appreciated and made my day feel even more special.

And now...some pictures! Click the picture for a larger view.

I finished the knitting tote bag. I left a review of the pattern over on

Knitting tote bag

Here are the needle roll-ups. Do I really have that many double points? There are more in the top pocket, hidden under the flap.

For the needles

And yes, finally some pictures of my knitting.


And my current WIP, the Top Down Tunic from Knitting Plain and Simple, in Rowanspun Aran:

I'm off on a business trip next week. I'm going to start on another pair of socks so I won't have to lug the sweater around. I'm pleased at how fast the sweater is knitting up. I've never done a top-down sweater before and it's really easy and fast because you just knit, knit, knit. The best part is that I won't have to do any seaming. I still haven't finished my UFO sweater because I have to block it, seam it, and then pick up and knit the neck edge.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I like these:

And I love these boots. But not the price tag ($450). And they probably wouldn't fit my fat calves anyway.

All of these images come from a recent Macy's catalog. So if they strike your fancy too, you know where you can get them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Today is a GREAT day!

Because it's my birthday!

And an excuse to go shopping! OK, I did play the "it's my birthday" card just a little much. Last week at my LYS for knitting meetup I bought 2 hanks of Koigu and 3 little balls of miscellaneous interesting yarns from Habu, all under the guise of a birthday present to me. I plan to make socks from the Koigu - it's gorgeous. The Habu has been calling me every time I'm in that store for meetup. They have such different yarn but it tends to be very thin and is quite expensive so I bought the small balls to make trims and accents for things I sew. One of the yarns was a mohair loop that resembled curly lambs wool. I envision knitting it up as a collar and maybe cuffs for a jacket.

Then I did some shopping in San Francisco - again telling myself it was for my birthday. My sister was in town so it was also an excuse to show her Britex and Artfibers. Even though I swore to myself I wasn't going to buy more fabric, I was under the Britex spell and could not resist. I bought two remnants: a one-yard piece of incredibly soft wool that is brown with flecks of other colors in it and a two-yard Anna Sui silk print. I was worse at Artfibers, although I have not (yet) sworn off yarn-buying. It didn't help that my sister is quite the enabler. But it didn't take much to convince me to buy. I left with the super soft 100% cotton Rush in green (rush 1) and the gorgeous merino wool Ming in a sort of pale rosy blush sort of color (Ming 12).

Today there is no shopping, unless you count stopping at Costco on the way home, but my wonderful husband baked me a chocolate devil's food cake from scratch and I have presents waiting for me tonight. Yay!

Having a birthday doesn't have to be sad as long as there's chocolate, fabric, yarn, and people who love you.

Friday, September 08, 2006

It really shouldn't be this hard...

I'm still working on the Simplicity knitting tote and I'm determined to make it work in spite of the horrid instructions. I blogged the other day about how if I followed their instructions I'd end up with a bag with raw edges on the inside and it would be flimsy because they recommend fabrics such as broadcloth, gingham and calico yet there is no mention of using any type of interfacing.

I've since discovered more problems with the pattern/instructions. Surprised? I'm not.

1. At first I thought the handles on the front were only stitched into the seam at the bottom of the bag. I didn't see how they'd be secured and thought they'd just be all floppy inside the pocket. But looking at the line drawing I see that they are also stitched at the top.

But I still think the unsecured handles along the front of the bag will get tangled up with the stuff in the pocket and I think only stitching at the top and bottom seam is rather weak for tote bag handles. I top stitched the handles down to the bag for where they're hidden by the pocket so they'll be stronger.

2. The instructions say to gather between the notches of the front pocket piece - the notches are supposed to correspond to where each handle is attached at the bottom seam. I found two problems. Aesthetically I didn't really like that only half the pocket had fullness - flat from edge to handle (notch) and full from there to the center of the bag. It seemed rather odd to me to have an asymetrically shaped pocket like that. Then I noticed that the notches on the pocket and the front didn't even line up. The drawing shows them lining up but the notches on the pattern pieces do not. Oh, but they would line up if you gathered across the pocket instead of only between the notches. Interesting. I gathered evenly across the pocket.

The back of the tote bag consists of three pieces because the needle rolls will be attached into the seams between each of these pieces. Of course when I cut my fabrics I followed the instructions, which means the back lining is also in three pieces. Not a big deal for the lining to be seamed but I think it now provides me a way to incorporate a missing feature of this tote bag. This is supposed to be a tote bag for knitters, but there is no little bag for all the knitting notions, like tape measure, point protectors, row counter, stitch markers, etc. I think I will make a little zippered pouch and attach it into the seams of the lining, but (and I just now thought of this) I will put that part of the lining on the other side (front) because the back of the bag will already be thick with seam allowances from with the needle rolls.

This bag is taking much too long! And I'm not looking forward to finding more mistakes. I thought I would whip this bag up in time for my ASG sewing group next Tuesday night but at this rate that's not going to happen. I didn't set out looking for a challenging project but I sure got one!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sewing a knitting bag

My current sewing project is this knitting tote from Simplicity 4542:

I'm using fabric that's from the "Ugly Fabric" challenge of my sewing guild neighborhood group. A few months ago we put what we considered to be ugly fabric inside a paper bag for a white elephant gift exchange with the goal of making a handbag or tote. I did pretty well as the fabric I "won" isn't exactly ugly - well, maybe not the best choice for a garment, but certainly fine for a handbag or tote. What's the fabric look like, you ask? Ah, photos...I don't know how all the bloggers can add so many photos to their blogs every day. I never seem to find time to do this, so sorry, no photo. I will photograph the final product, if I ever get there. The fabric is navy blue with thin strips of green, red, yellow and white.

The pattern has a zillion pieces but thankfully they're all rectangular in shape. Since my fabric is striped I took the extra time to cut out the pieces on a single layer so as not to wind up with noticeably wonky pieces. There is also lining, so many of the pattern pieces had to be cut out multiple times. I found a suitably matching cotton in my stash to use as the lining - you know you have too much stash when fabric begins to unintentionally match! My fabrics were not very substantial so I decided to use canvas as an interlining. More cutting...

Finally I began to assemble the tote, following the instructions. Big mistake.

Time was I stayed away from Simplicity patterns like the plague. I found their garment patterns fit poorly (make it in 2 hours and easy fit were synonymous with no fit in their case). I found their instructions were lacking, confusing, or erroneous. Lately their designs have improved and I've found myself buying quite a few at the fabric chain store sales. I haven't sewn any...until now.

My first warning with this pattern was that their suggested fabrics included lightweight broadcloth, calico, and gingham, but there is not a hint of interfacing mentioned anywhere. The tote I'm making has two needle roll-ups, for which they do specify "pre-quilted fabric." I'm not sure why, except maybe they thought the padding might protect the needles somehow. I don't have any pre-quilted fabric so I decided that when it came time to make the roll-ups, I might add some thin cotton batting between the layers.

I sat down to sew and right away hit the first question mark. The instructions say to "attach the lining" to the large rectangular back piece. Huh?? I've only made a couple of totes and handbags but all of them had a lining constructed separately from the outside fabric so that the seam allowances are all hidden. These instructions called for basting the outer fabric and lining together on each of the bag pieces. Although I questioned it, I went ahead and did so for the back piece, sandwiching the canvas inside to give it more stability. After basting the handles on, the next step was to add an exterior pocket. I did as instructed and then realized that the pocket wasn't lined. Thinking I must have made a mistake, I looked back over the pattern layout and found that, no, I followed the instructions. No lining for the pocket. They expect the exterior pockets of this tote to be made of one layer of the flimsy broadcloth, calico or gingham and nothing more. I had backed my pocket piece with canvas so it didn't look too bad without lining. Besides, I reasoned that this was ok since I didn't really want it to look all matchy-matchy with the lining and outer fabric. That was as far as I got last night and then I went to bed.

This tote bag was on my mind early this morning when I was trying to get a few more minutes of shuteye - my brain doesn't like to shut off when there are problems to be solved. I got up and looked at the instructions and I simply do not see how, following their instructions, you can avoid having raw seam allowances inside the bag! I thought maybe they expect you to finish all the seams with binding tape, since it calls for binding tape to be used all over the place anyway. But no. I've decided to take apart the piece I started and sew the inside lining separately and then place the lining inside the bag with the seam allowances hidden. The raw edges at the top of the bag are to be bound by the tape anyway, so I think my plan should work. I'm also going to fix that pocket and add another layer of the outer fabric.

I'm angry and disappointed at Simplicity for the poor construction techniques on this pattern. No sewer would be able to duplicate the look of the bags on the cover without adding interfacing (or stuffing the finished product full of paper). Unless I'm totally mistaken in how I interpreted their instructions, the bag would have raw edges on the inside. I've made only a few handbags from patterns and the one thing I found is that you have to trust the pattern. Basic clothing pieces are pretty easy to figure out - you have a front, a back, perhaps two sleeves, maybe a collar...and you almost always sew right sides together. When the instructions have an error, it's often easy to catch. But a handbag can seem to be a complicated mess during construction, especially if it contains inside pouches, zippered pockets, and tabbed closures. You may need to sew a right side to a wrong side or sew something in an awkward manner. I guess I was hoping that this Simplicity pattern would magically come out right in the end. I'm sure glad I didn't get very far along and I'll just need to spend an evening with my friend, the seam ripper, and then figure out the rest of the sewing on my own.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

About knitting...and not about knitting

I was leaving work the other day and walked past the office mailboxes and did a double take when I spied this on the table:

But alas, it's not about knitting. I work with physicists (although I am not one) and Symmetry is their publication about particle physics. I flipped through it hoping to find something linking knitting with physics but no, it was just cover art. The website for the magazine says about the cover:

After years of knitting together skein after skein of components and contributions from far and wide, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is close to putting the final stitches in place. And like this handmade sweater, the final product should wear well on particle physicists for many years to come.

Too bad. However, I do think that's a sweater only a particle physicist would love, though it may not be the knitter's fault. I thought maybe the knitter is a physicist (one of the women I work with, who is a physicist, knits. We got a laugh out of this issue and shared our disappointment that there was no knitting content inside). The publication gives credit for knitting the sweater to Corrine Niessner, who in fact is not a physicist and knits much, much nicer things. She was hired to knit this sweater and writes about it in her blog.

As far as my knitting is concerned, I have almost finished my socks. I have a few rows left and the Kitchener stitch to do to close them up. Having only done the Kitchener stitch in my Knitter's class last February, I don't think it's commuter-friendly so I started a new project - the Top Down Tunic from Knitting Pure and Simple.

(picture from their website

I'm using Rowanspun Aran in "Gables", a dark red color. The gauge was exactly right, so I'm off and knitting. This is a top-down sweater, which I've never done before. So far so good. The instructions are pretty thorough, even telling you that it'll look weird in the beginning but just follow the instructions and keep knitting. The website also has instructions and help on knitting top-down.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Where am I?

I'm here. I'm just busy with other stuff right now, like uncovering the guest room bed from underneath a load of sewing and knitting stuff. You know how it is.
I have been knitting though because I do that during my commute while my husband drives and also at a knitting meetup twice a month. I'm almost finished with my first pair of socks. I did knit one sock (a different project) last year but it had issues: too long, stitches backwards because I didn't know then that lefties have to switch K2TOG and SSK, and other such newbie-sock-knitter mistakes. But I'm pleased with the current socks and will proudly show them off here with a picture. Oh yeah, pictures. I never did finish the post-processing of my digital pictures from our trip. Someday.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Japanese fabric goodness

Crafty bloggers Super eggplant and Buzzville have teamed up and created an on-line store selling Japanese fabrics, trims and notions.

Go check it out!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Woven and spun souvenirs

I don't buy t-shirts. I don't buy refrigerator magnets. I don't buy mugs. No, when I travel, I buy fabric and yarn. I wrote about travel fabric in my blog a couple years ago. It's not that I need fabric or yarn, but I also don't need t-shirts, magnets, or mugs and I think fabric and yarn are much nicer purchases. So without further ado, here is my Paris fabric:

Travel Fabric

From left to right:
  1. crushed cotton with embroidered design
  2. linen blend
  3. lightweight cotton
  4. lightweight cotton
I'm currently working on a tiered skirt out of fabric #1. The pattern is similar to this one, except I'm using a pattern from Diana Couture magazine and the proportions of the tiers are different. I believe the magazine is a German publication but I bought a French edition. I have never seen an English version and can't find the French one available to purchase online except through a French magazine-seller.

I'm thinking about making a jacket out of #2 and tops or blouses of some sort out of the others.

I also bought yarn during my trip. Naturally I bought yarn in Iceland, home of the Icelandic sweater. There were plenty of touristy sweaters to be had but even on the coldest day on record it would be too hot to wear at home. Before our trip I found a yarn shop to visit and craftily worked our itinerary to include a visit. The store, ├×ingborg Woolcenter, has a website and you can order from them. That funny "├×" character is pronounced "th." While the store did have some fiber and handspun yarn, it was mostly a store for tourists. They had lots of handmade items from wool and felt and only a small selection of fiber. But I had to buy something of course.

Travel Yarn

According to the woman in the store, the yarn on the left was dyed with lichen and the one in the middle was dyed with Birch tree (bark, I presume). I'm thinking of making a bag with the yarn - maybe felted, maybe not.

It was nice to be in a place where knitting, spinning and weaving are thought of so highly. Not only did they have special signs marking where handcrafted goods were sold (and darn, I did not get a picture of any signs!), but you can buy yarn in the smallest of grocery stores. And good yarn too. It was cool.

When we were in Paris I didn't really seek out any yarn stores, figuring that most of the yarn is available in the US. I saw one Anny Blatt store but it was closed at the time and I never got back to it. I did browse the selection of needlework, buttons, trims, and yarns at Le Bon Marche, but either nothing caught my eye or else I could purchase the item at home, for less. I did shop at a little ribbon and button store near Place des Vosge. I bought some pretty (but expensive) trim. Forgot to take a picture of it though.

I hadn't planned on buying yarn, but when we were in Le Mans, I went to the grocery store with my friend and her mother in law and what did my wondering eyes behold, but a Phildar yarn store. My friend's mother knits so stopping in was not a problem. I bought this:

Travel Yarn

It is very soft (cashmere and wool blend) and was even on sale. However afterwards I regretted not buying some more in off-white, to use as trim or accent. I thought we could stop on our way out of town on Monday, but in France stores are closed on Mondays. I thought perhaps we could stop by when we returned, but that ended up to be the 14th of July - Bastille Day, and well, everything is closed of course! I guess it was meant to be. I have plenty of yarn anyway!

I'm still working (slowly) on the pictures from my trip. Eventually I'll get them posted.