I finished a project ::gasp::

My declaration yesterday has indeed come to fruition, and I have made my second cowl-neck Renfrew. First up, I pulled my purple one out of the dryer to put on Trudy, my dressform and I knew it was still slightly damp, but I’m a bit dismayed at all of the moist spots that the camera sees that the naked eye does not. Photography is not my strong suit, so bear with me on this.

For this version, I used a random length of rib knit I bought at Joann’s ages ago.  The color was nice, I enjoyed working with it and while it’s not the nicest material I have sewn with, it did make up a comfortable and useful winter top.  Except, look at that cowl.  It’s doubled over and stands up on its own.  Yeah, not a fantastic match of fabric and pattern.  I have 2 more cuts of the same fabric in two other colorways and I’m thinking they would be awesome as the scoop neck version.  Even more frustrating than the fact that the cowl is so bulky is that is made from two pieces with a seam, which in my cheap-o knit is more obvious than I would like-


Seam and fading visible on the bottom edge of the folded over cowl

I am a huge fan of cowls, even if they are not really my best look, so I decided to try again, making the same view with a poppy colored rayon-lycra blend, which I hoped would have sufficient drape for the cowl.  This time, I decided to eliminate the seam running along the edge of the cowl.  I didn’t take out the seam allowance, assuming it would not matter since it’s only a little bit of extra length.

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The pattern piece has a nice shape to it, considering that most cowls I’ve done are nothing but rectangles, but the curve on the top edge was clearly eliminated when I flipped the pattern piece.  I only broke two needles getting the serger re-threaded and learned that my serger hates the spools on old Coats & Clark Dual Duty (the mercerized cotton coated polyester before they switched to 100% poly) with the rough edges.  Live and learn.  That’s what I get for only having bought 2 cones of red Maxi-Lock when I was last stocking up on serger thread.  After than bit of frustration I spent an hour swearing at the jersey for curling insanely even knowing that it’s an inherent characteristic of jersey, but really, I do have better luck using way small seam allowances when dealing with this stuff and the serger.  The only other deviation I made from the pattern instruction was choosing to use a quarter-inch seam allowance for the side and underarm seam since I was looking for a looser fit through the midsection.  I should have gone out to 5/8″ for the underarm as I find it a bit too baggy under the arms, but as I’m forever pushing long sleeves up to my elbow it shouldn’t pose a problem in wearing appearance.

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I’m really happy with the end result since the cowl is definitely more what I envisioned way back when I bought the pattern.  I really like the band finish for the waist and sleeves as I don’t have a coverstitch and find twin needles can be an exercise in frustration particularly after six months of wear and laundering and every single twin needle hem I’ve made starts unraveling.  Anyways, the entire shirt can be done on the serger and this one took 2.5 hours from first laying out pattern pieces to taking pictures, which is totally a win in my book.  My usual tendency is to remake several items from the same pattern in a short amount of time, so don’t be surprised if I make one or two more Renfrews before I get bored and move onto something new.


So I should be sewing, right?

As evidenced by my chosen title, I have not been sewing. On the plus side, I haven’t been purchasing fabric or patterns either, which is better than I usually manage during a drought. I’m hoping to whip up a top tomorrow so I can call February good for at least one project, though it will be the exact same pattern as January unless I change my mind. Last month I made Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top, view C with the cowl neck, and I’m itching to try it again with a better fabric match. I’ve been wearing the heck out of the one I already have, but I think I know what I can do to make it even better.

Also, I finally started cleaning the sewing space and it’s tidier than my pictures from last week (yay, no more Burda back issues strewn about on the floor!) but after making the bed and putting fabric that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the room there, it’s obvious I need to do some serious stashbusting. I don’t know how many yards of material I have, but I’m going to start tracking how much I’m using as I go along and hope that it motivates me to use up the stash instead of getting seduced by the never-ending supply of new pretties out there.

My sewing space

The bonus room above the garage is my dedicated sewing space, part-time guest room, and full-time mess. Not only am I a lousy housekeeper, I get easily overwhelmed by all of my crafting supplies. No, seriously, look–

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No kidding, I can’t get a thing done in there as it stands now

Yeah, that’s a pig sty. My darling husband will be the first to agree that I have too much fabric, patterns, yarn, notions, etc. The sad part is that he would be right. (Yes, dear, how does it feel to be so right?) I do have too much fabric as I always buy it quicker than I sew it. That and I’ve been fighting a half-year loss of my sewing mojo. My standing goal is to do one garment a month and I’ve only met that once since June. I did finish a top in January and should have a skirt done in February, so at least I’m showing improvement. It did not help getting sucked into a knitting vortex, where once again, I can acquire the base materials far faster than I can use them up. I submit for evidence my Ravelry stash, which has been primarily built up since Labor Day. Oops.

Also, considering that the room is 400 square feet, I don’t have a good storage setup. I have no place to put all of the fabric, so I have piles, which really isn’t good for finding anything, and when I abandon a project I leave the pieces out in the way. I really like the idea of storage cubes as they’ve worked reasonably well for stashing the kids’ toys around the house, but I don’t want to spend the money on them. Then again, if I pared back, I wouldn’t have to worry about where to store everything and could live with the space I currently have. Time for me to be paralyzed by indecision.

Wherein a sewist pitches a fit about socks

So I’ve been sewing most of my life and am pretty comfortable with making clothes that fit me. Reading Fit for Real People back in 2007 was a game changer for me in that regards, but I digress. I know that I am a 10 in sewing pattern land . . . with lots of room added to the waist *ahem* Knitting, however, is a new hobby of mine dating back to only 2010, and I’ve only been serious about it for the last year or so.

In August, I attempted my first pair of socks in some Cascade 220 Superwash that I bought in a color that I later regretted and they turned out, eh. They’re in my drawer and wearable, but I never wear them. They’re too big. Fine, that’s what happens with a worsted weight yarn and size 6 dpns. Fast forward to October- I have some lovely Cascade Heritage Handpaints that I had set aside for trying out socks with real sock yarn. The nice salesperson at my local yarn shop (LYS) directed me to Ann Budd’s Getting Started Making Socks and I sat down at home and diligently swatched the 8 Stitches Per Inch sock. I got gauge on size 2 double pointed needles, so that’s what I made sock number one with. My foot is on the small side (measured at Nordstrom post child #2 as a size 6, but everything in my closet is a 6.5, close enough) and so I picked the small adult size pattern to follow. I even wrapped the measuring tape around my foot. 8 inch circumference, check.

The pattern directs one to knit 7.5 inches before the toe decreases, which I did for both socks. Once the pair was completed, I tried them on and was underwhelmed. They were a bit saggy around the ankles and they seemed a bit loose in the foot circumference. Luckily for me, they fit my husband, so he is the proud wearer of my first “real” socks.

That makes my project sound not too great, but I was pleased to finally figure out the awesomeness of magic loop and they knit up pretty fast; and clearly, I just needed a tighter knit fabric, so down in needle size I went. I cast on my second pair of socks (did I mention I really choose to ignore the existence of those worsted weight ones?) with Heritage Silk on a size 1 circular back in October and then promptly abandoned the project. I’m easily distracted by shiny things and the Wispy cardigan was VERY shiny. January here was ridiculously cold, and I decided that I did, in fact, want a pair of hand-knit socks of my very own; so I finished sock one and put it on. Heh. It fits nicely through the ankle, the right amount of negative ease around my foot, and WTF happened to that toe?

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Readers, I knit a sock that is 9 7/8 inches long. My foot is a scant 9 inches long. How I had failed to notice that my toe decreases take 2 inches from when they start and that starting them on the far side of 7.5 inches (due to my cable pattern) was a bad, bad idea, eludes me. Even better, going through several references, authors kept directing me to start decreasing 1.25 or 1.5 inches short of the end of my foot. What idiot wants excess sock beyond the end of their toes?

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Needless to say, I now have an entire toe to rip back and am fighting a case of second sockitis with its mate. Apparently knitting patterns are just as trustworthy as sewing patterns straight from the envelope, which is to say, not at all. That doesn’t mean I can’t get a good result from the pattern, but just as with its sewing counterpart, I need to make changes so my end result fits me and not the fit model. So obvious, but I still had to learn it the hard way with my newer hobby.

Peeking around the corner…

Dear God (since you’re the only one who knows about this so far), I’ve waffled for seven(!) years about doing real honest to goodness blogging.  I haven’t before now because it’s always seemed like too much work.  And it probably is.  But after procrastinating this long, it’s clear that the best-est, most wonderful blog in the universe will not magically appear in my reader (RIP Google Reader, I still miss you eight months later).  So clearly, it is on me to create that blog.  Because nothing instills success quite like starting with a generous dose of perfectionism, right?