Thursday, February 28, 2008

The front of a weekend

Since we last met our hero, she has been crafting up a storm!
We'll start with my weekender-in-progress:
Weekender in Progress
There's a picture of the front and back 'main panels'. As you can see, I attempted to match up the pattern on the pocket and, for my first time, I think I did pretty well!
Here's a closer photo:
Weekender in progress
So far, I'm very pleased with my bag. I think my first attempt at piping went well, as did my first attempt at using heavy duty interfacing for anything but the bottom of the bag. I'm happy to report that so far, I've had no needle breakages or other major sewing disasters. Sewing a consistent distance from the piping is difficult and my seams aren't perfect, but I'm okay with that. In the end, my goal is to make a pretty bag that I'll be able to use, and I think I'm well on my way toward doing that.

One modification I've made already: Instead of sewing the handles onto the bag just by horizontal stitching, I made two little "x"s between two horizontal lines on each handle. I think they are quite stable, so I'm hoping I won't have the handle-falling-off problem some bloggers have reported.

Also in the sewing world, I finally have pictures of the 'project bag' I made for project spectrum 08, fire.
The open bag:
Project Bag for Project Spectrum
A side view:
Empty Project Bag
The filled bag:
Project bag with WIP
I made that losely based on the Drago[knit]fly box bag tutorial, but I'm planning on writing up a tutorial of my own that will explain how you can start with the size of finished bag you want, and work your way backwards to figure out how to cut your fabric.
My bag was made from two fat quarters from JoAnn Fabrics, a 12" red zipper, and some flannel lining. The bag itself has two layers of flannel, and the handle has four, so the handle is more sturdy than the bag, but as you can see, the bag is capable of maintaining its shape while empty.

Tune in again to hear the story of what you see IN the bag, my new favorite sock knitting book, and the story of the fastest sock I've knit yet!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Just checking in...

Sorry it's been so long since I last blogged. I was hoping to get a nice post in once I got my knitpicks order, but sadly it has yet to arrive. I have to say, the tracking portion of their website is incredibly confusing: it suggests my package arrived already, when I know for a fact it did not!

Although I have yet to start my official project spectrum socks, I do have one knitting FO and one sewing FO to take pictures of and post about, but those will have to wait.

For now, I'm going to write about my most scary exciting sewing project ever: tackling Amy Butler's Weekend Travel Bag! I've admired this pattern ever since I saw it, and when I was in New York at the end of January, I bought the pattern from Purl. A few weeks ago I bought fabric (well, my first round...I'll explain THAT in a bit) from JoAnn's and I've just been waiting for some inspiration to start cutting. Last night I found the inspiration! I was looking through the Flickr group for UHandbag blog's Amy Butler patterns and I found some *beautiful* weekenders I'd like to share with you:

Weekender bag Mosaic

1. Weekender, 2. Weekender Bag, 3. Weekender Bag, 4. Melissa's Weekender Bag, 5. sew11, 6. Weekender Bag front view, 7. weekender1, 8. Amy Butler Weekender Bag, 9. Amy Butler Weekender Bag, 10. amy butler weekender bag, 11. DSC_0302a, 12. Amy Butler Weekender bag.

Simply beautiful!
So, last night I started cutting my fabric. I decided I was going to approach this project slowly so I wouldn't get too frustrated or intimidated by it, so my goal for last night was just to cut out the exterior fabric. All went well, and I even managed to (somewhat) match up the patterns for my front pockets! I tried matching the side pockets, but that didn't go quite as well. Oh well!

This morning I started cutting out the lining fabric. The way the pattern is written, you're supposed to be able to cut out both the handles and the main panels on the same side of the fabric. (If you have the pattern you'll know what I mean.) Like the instructions said, I started by cutting out the handles, but once it came time to cut out the main panel, there simply wasn't enough fabric left. I'm usually overly conservative when cutting fabric, but this just turned into more and more of a disaster. I've cut out all the pattern pieces for the actual lining, but I need to go out and buy more fabric for the piping. I'm sure this is my fault, but I'm not pleased.

The other thing I'm frustrated about has nothing to do with the pattern exactly, but has to do with the help at my local JoAnn's. (Yes, I know large chain stores aren't as nice as smaller local stores, and if I *knew* of any small local stores I'd be there in a heartbeat, but we work with what we've got!) I'd brought the pattern with me when I was buying all the fabric in hopes of getting some help with the Timtex and the interfacing. The woman at the cutting counter very nicely helped me select something for each of them, but somehow I didn't notice until today what she gave me for the interfacing was actually tear away stabilizer. Argh! Maybe I am a little bit frustrated at the pattern for far as I can tell, Timtex is out of business. The replacement is, inevitably, Pellon, however I haven't found information *anywhere* about how to know *which* Pellon I want to replace Timtex, or what I should buy when a pattern just says "heavy weight sew in interfacing." That's my rant number two.

My rant number three is completely the pattern's fault. In the materials list it telsl you you need 1 sheet of Dritz 12"x18 heavy duty template plastic, which I happily found and purchased. However, once you cut the plastic, you are supposed to be able to cut *two* pieces of 7"x16.5". I realize I wasn't a math major, but I'm pretty good at basic arithmetic, and there's no way you can cut two pieces that size out of the sheet of plastic I bought. 7+7 is not <= 12! I'm going to make do by just using one piece of plastic for the bottom, but I'm a little frustrated about that problem with the pattern. Though my other issues with the pattern are at least partly my fault, that one is not. (And yes, I did read through the entire pattern before purchasing materials, but I hadn't caught that because when the pattern said "cut two pieces of this size from that plastic" I trusted I could do it. So much for trust!)

Well, enough writing about the problems - I'm going to go to the fabric store and get all the extra stuff I need. I hope they have the fabric I want in stock still! I'll try and have some photos of my own stuff in the next post. Later!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Project Spectrum "Knitting club"

For at least the past year, if not the past two years (it's so hard to keep track of these things) I've been reading and loving Lolly's blog. Last year I admired all the Project Spectrum posts and I realized that sort of a project is exactly why I wanted my own blog.

Well, now I have a blog, so I can join Project Spectrum!
If I was as wonderful a blogger as Lolly or some other people I could mention, I'd bring my camera with me everywhere and have pictures of everything in every color. Unfortunately, I have yet to get into that habit, and even when I've remembered to take my camera with me, I've forgotten to take pictures! I decided that for my own personal way of celebrating/experiencing project spectrum, I was going to make up a knitting club.

When I say knitting club I don't mean a "lets get together and knit" stitch and bitch type club, I mean like the Rockin' Socks club. I'm going to assign myself to knit (or at least start) at least one project spectrum project for each of the four elements. I purchased yarn for the first three on Knitpicks: red sock yarn for fire, green sock yarn for earth, and grey lace weight for air. I'm going to pack up the earth and air yarn and force myself to wait until the appropriate months before taking it out and knitting.

My goals for creativity for project spectrum are as follows:
1. Knit (or at least start to knit) one theme project per element.
2. Sew one theme project per element.
3. Try and join all the ATC swaps.

When it comes to what I'm knitting and sewing, I'm giving myself some leeway as to how I interpret the theme: at the very least, the color must be one of the accepted colors. Ideally, the pattern will meaningfully relate to the theme as well, but especially as far as the sewing goes, I'm giving myself some options there.

I've already started my fire sewing project. I'm making a box bag (the likes of Dragon[knit]fly) for my fire knitting project. I've wanted a project bag, and this pattern keeps popping up on all the cool blogs, so I figure I'll start here. All I have left to do is make the handle and the lining, but it's too late now. I'll post more later. (And update this with links!)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Year of the Hat?

Another finished object, can you believe it? So far, two of the things I've finished this year are hats! I therefor dub this the year of the hat. Or at least the few months of the hat. (I have a pair of fetchings I have to write up too, but they didn't take as long as the hats. Maybe it'll turn into "the year of the extremities"?)
Jak's Jaques Cousteau[R]:
Pattern: Marsan Watchcap[R] by Stacey Joy Elkin
Materials: Cascade 220 Wool[R]; 220y/100g; 100% Peruvian highland wool; color: 8339 marine; dyelot: 9733
Purchased at: Natural Stitches in Pittsburgh, PA
Amount: less than 1 skein
Needles: size 7 clover DPNs, followed by 16" #7 Addi Turbo (swoon)
Gauge: what's that? (aka, never checked)
Size: L
Cost: $5.61 yarn, + $16.00 addis = $21.61

Started: 1/27/08
Finished: 2/03/08
Total time: 1 week
Marsan Watchcap

Marsan Watchcap

Pattern notes:
When I first learned to knit, I thought you knit into the back of a knit stitch, so all my stitches were twisted. This made knitting the twisted rib in this pattern very easy. I have to admit, I'm still not a big k1p1 rib fan when it comes to the knitting enjoyment, but nothing else works quite like it. I suspect I'd gotten this hat confused with the actual jaques cousteau hat somewhere along the line, but I'd described it to Jak as a jaques cousteau hat, so that's what he knows it as. I think this is a nice mens hat pattern, and I'd probably knit it again. I don't yet know what the recipient (a 21 yr. old male) thinks of it, but we'll see. It was a nice chance I could use the yarn I'd gotten on sale (with no plan for what to do) to make this belated holiday gift. The color's beautiful, and I'm sure I'll get it again.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Fun Little Meme and some more Fos!

" You are breakfasty, like a pile of pancakes on a Sunday morning that have just the right amount of syrup, so every bite is sweet perfection and not a soppy mess. You are a glass of orange juice that's cool, refreshing, and not overly pulpy. You are the time of day that's just right for turning the pages of a newspaper, flipping through channels, or clicking around online to get a sense of how the world changed during the night. You don't want to stumble sleepily through life, so you make a real effort to wake your brain up and get it thinking. You feel inspired to accomplish things (whether it's checking something off your to-do list or changing the world), but there's plenty of time for making things happen later in the day. First, pancakes."

That just might be my favorite quiz I've ever taken! Breakfast, especially a breakfast at 10am, (which, to me, means a leisurely breakfast) is my favorite meal of the day, and reading the paper every morning has become an important part of my daily ritual. That time of morning always holds so much promise for things to be accomplished in the day!

I really haven't been doing a spectacular job at updating the blog. I blame this on the fact that I'm still not in the habit of unloading my camera each time I use it, and who wants a pictureless blog post?

Since finishing my Urchin, I have two more recent FOs, neither of which I've had a chance to photograph. A pair of Fetchings for me, and a watchcap for my stepbrother. Though I'm not officially trying to only knit from my stash in any real way, I *am* trying to keep it from getting much bigger, and both of these projects were good stash projects. The Cashmerino for the fetchings I bought back in December when I was making a pair for my friend, and the Cascade 220 was bought in Pittsburgh at the beginning of the year because it was on sale. Happily, its shade of blue works well for my stepbrother!

The other finished objects I'll have to share with you are two sewing projects I made - two purses which were belated Christmas presents for friends of mine. Those I can show you now! (The astute might've noticed the green tweed purse as having appeared on my giftmas wrap up page a while back.)

Erika's Tweed Pleated Beauty:
Pattern: Pleated Beauty Bag from Bend the Rules Sewing
Materials: Sparkly tweed "holiday" fabric, green "spring suiting" fabric, interfacing, flannel, magnetic snap
Purchased at: All materials are from JoAnn's Fabric.
Cost: I should pay more attention to this...

Started: 1/6
Finished: 1/12
Total time: 3+ hours, over a number of days
Pleated Beauty II

Pleated Beauty II - detail shot

I like the way the green fabric sets off the gold sparkles in the tweed. Though this is definitely more of a fall/winter bag, hopefully the green can help it transition through spring.

Hannah's Clutch:
Pattern: Pleated Beauty Bag from InStitches
Materials: Brown cotton, Alexander Henry Loteria fabric, cotton batting, magnetic closure.
Purchased at: All materials are from JoAnn's Fabrics.
Cost: I should pay more attention to this...

Started: 1/12
Finished: 1/20
Total time: 4+ hours, over a number of days
Modifications: Due to a mistake on my part with the magnetic snap, I had to remake the closure tab, and make it longer than the one in the pattern. I also chose to line the tab with the lining fabric instead of with the exterior fabric.
Hannah's Clutch

Hannah's Clutch: opening

Hannah's Clutch: The Inside

Pattern notes: This was the first Amy Butler pattern I'd sewn, and the book was from the library, so there was a bit of a time crunch. Though the pattern was not as simple and easy to understand as the patterns in Bend the Rules Sewing, it was more precise. Steps like basting all layers together, though a pain to do, helped to make the finished purse look professional. I definitely plan on purchasing the book for myself so I can make more of these, and so I can make some other patterns in the book. The pattern was quite frustrating at times, but this was also the first "real" pattern I've sewn anything from, so I'm pleased with the result.

As far as the fabrics go, I love the loteria fabric, and it reminds me of the style of jewelry my friend Hannah, the recipient, wears. I liked how I was able to center the magnetic closure on the center of the devil, and if I had enough of this fabric to work a pattern like this again, next time I'll pay more attention to matching up the pattern. Though the brown wasn't an obvious choice to match with the fabric, I think it works, and Hannah enjoys brown.

There, that's enough for now I think!