Monthly Archives: June 2012

New hat patterns in the works

I’m finalizing edits on two new hat patterns. They’re both made with my friend Christine’s hand-dyed yarn – Skeinnydipping-  which is absolutely gorgeous and available on her website or etsy site.

Christine supplied the yarn and the photography in fact (fist pump for talented friends). I wanted the photographs to look fall-ish and spring-ish, respectively, so it was a challenging finding backdrops that didn’t reveal just how leafy and summery it is right now.

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The first hat is Ryegrass, knit from Journey worsted superwash merino.

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The second is Joyride, knit from a 55/45 wool silk blend fingering weight.

The test-knitters are doing their thing and the patterns will be up soon.

Sewing in my underwear

I had a “oh shit, it’s already late June” moment this week. My dad always announced on July 4th that summer was half over and didn’t we feel sad about that? Although we’d argue that there was still plenty left, I somehow grew up to internalize his means of measuring a summer.

So this weekend I decided to ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING. Yes.

I started with all that warm-weather sewing I meant to do with the fabric from Los Angeles. The first step was kicking someone out of the sewing nook.

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Okay fine. You can stay. But only because you’re cute.

It’s so hot in our apartment that I turned on a fan, lowered the shades, and sewed in my underwear. I don’t have a dressmaker’s form so I’m always having to try the garment on. Might as well skip a step in the undress/dress/undress game.

I was in the zone. Twelve hours went by like nothin’…one project turned into another. It was a complete time warp where the only sign that hours were passing was the number of times  the radio played “Girlfriend” by Justin Bieber (I have been banned from singing it around the house anymore). I made myself go to bed at 1am, then got up today and sewed a long while longer.

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For a warm-up I re-assembled the blue vintage dress that I’d previously disassembled to turn into a pattern. Easy peasy.

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It needed some buttons. I’ve had these old Parisian rhinestone buttons forever – it’s time they were put to use. Some stones are missing but they’re still cute.

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Then I cut into the nice white stretch cotton with watercolored flowers to make a summer day dress.

Watercolor Fabric

This turned into an epic misadventure. I tried mixing and matching patterns (the bodice from this with the skirt from this) and I inadvertently created a Laura Ashley dress from the 1990s and not in a cool ironic way. I had to re-cut the bodice, re-sew the skirt, re-do the zipper a million times. Justin Bieber could not lighten the mood. In the end I just used the 1940s Butterick pattern from last summer with the same edits as last time.

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It’s very good for flowery twirling!

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Then I took a gamble and sewed with jersey knit for the first time. It wasn’t bad! This tips roundup from Luvinthemommyhood was helpful. What I took away from it was to: use a ballpoint sewing needle, use the “lightning stitch”, and pull the fabric just a teensy bit as it feeds through the machine.

Jersey Knit

I followed this tutorial from Elle Apparel and made a maxi skirt with a folded yoga pant waist. It was so easy and the skirt is super comfy!

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There was a half yard of jersey left, so for my encore project I made a dolman-sleeved jersey top. I traced a knit shirt I got from Forever 21:

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It was just a front piece, a back piece, double-sided cuffs, and a rolled neckline. This tutorial from ikat on how to do a rolled jersey knit binding was incredibly helpful. I left the bottom hem unfinished. It’s not perfect, but for sewing jersey knit without a serger I was pleased.

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That concludes my sewing binge. After cleaning up this mess….

Sewing room

….I’m enjoying a glass of wine and some decompression on the couch. Read and I are watching Cheers on Neflix from the beginning this summer. I like that it’ll last us a while! After this, there’s always Mash. 

Test knit of ZIG ZAG cowl

For the first time ever I was a pattern test-knitter! This ZIG ZAG cowl caught my eye so I responded to the designer’s ravelry request for help. Jae wrote up a great pattern and I had so much fun test-knitting it.

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ZIG ZAG is a long tube knit in the round and then seamed at the end…so it’s delightfully thick, hefty, and squishy. The graphic design is big and bold.

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I agonized for weeks over the yarn choice and ended up pulling the trigger on two short skeins of Madelinetosh Vintage – “ink” and “glazed pecan.” These colors are from nearly opposite sides of the color wheel and pretty high contrast…I’d love to knit this pattern up again in low-contrast colors (gray and seafoam green?)

Madelinetosh Vintage is thinner weight yarn that what the pattern calls for, so my cowl is a little petite. But still plenty cozy.

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Navajo plying alpaca fiber

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I still have a big bag of cleaned alpaca fiber in my apartment. This is the stuff that was too long for the mill to process. Although the cats know just what to do with a bag of uncarded alpaca, I’m not as sure.

I overstuffed Sam’s dog bed. But it didn’t shrink the bag’s size much.

So I carded by hand yesterday and spun 120 yards of single. There’s slubs, knots, and bits of straw. It’s a messy yarn. I decided this was perfect for experimenting, and tried navajo plying for the first time. I watched some youtube videos – this was my favorite – and then gave it a try.

There was a lot of swearing.

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But then it worked! Well enough anyway. Now I’ve just transferred my problem of “what to do with fiber?” to “what to do with 40 yards of petite dirty rope?” :)

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It was a worthwhile exercise, but I think I’ll use the rest of the bag as stuffing. Maybe for those turkish-rug-pillow-covers that I’m in love with. Stuffing a couple of them would go a long ways in using up this fiber.

Ombre cake and oreo cakeballs

I destroyed the kitchen yesterday making two new desserts for a friend’s 30th house party. First a four-layer purple ombre cake and then some oreo cakeballs. Both things that had been showing up on pinterest and I wanted to try…

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I’ll start with the cakeballs. I used this recipe but with sprinkles (obviously needed!) and Trader Joe’s oreos and lowfat cream cheese. A cakeball is still a cakeball – these are not healthy – but the swaps help a little bit (no hydrogenated oil, etc.) and even more importantly, I don’t think the swaps make a noticeable difference in taste or texture.

As I was packing up the plate to go home a woman ran up and yelled, “OMG did you make those?!” And then when I said yes she gave me a great big bear hug. Haha. Always fun to get unsolicited tipsy hugs from strangers for your party contribution.

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Next, the ombre cake. This required:
– 2 boxes of Duncan Hines white cake mix
– a jar of raspberry preserves (to spread between the layers)
–  4 cake pans (I own 3, so I had to bake in two stages)
– one homemade chocolate frosting recipe taken from the back of the cocoa tin

I made the double cake mix in one big bowl, added a couple drops of coloring, stirred, and filled the first pan. Then I added more coloring to the bowl and repeated the process. I had to eyeball how much to pour in each pan…and as you can see not all of the layers are the same height, but at that point I didn’t have enough clean dishes to spread the batter between four bowls.

Here’s the layers all stacked together with raspberry jam in between:

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Then the frosting! Someone who likes cake more than me might want to argue about the merits of homemade cake, but me, I can’t really tell the difference between it and the boxed stuff. I don’t think most people can. Homemade frosting, on the other hand, is 100% worth the time. People go bonkers for it.

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The birthday girl was soooo excited to see the color layers. She had also had a few gin cocktails by then, but hey, regardless the cake was a hit. I couldn’t do all that work and not have a picture of the layers, so while she kept most of the leftovers I did squirrel one slice home at the end of the night so I could photograph it.

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