Hot stuff

May 31, 2014

I had this crocheted hexagon hanging around for ages.

Just placed it on some scrap fabric, drew around the same shape with a wide border and cut out 2 fabric pieces.

On the sewing machine with matching thread, sewed around the perimeter of the crocheted motif. Use a 5 mm stitch length and tied of the start and end by pulling the threads to the back and tying off.

With right sides together of the 2 fabric pieces (one with the crocheted motif attached) sewed around the perimeter leaving a small gap for turning. Folded the seams and ironed the fold. Turned inside out and then hand slip stitched the gap. Note that the corners of the fabric were not trimmed close to the stitching so there is a double set of seam allowances at each corner. This helps bulk out the points of the hexagon shape and keep them crisp.

Et voila funky hot pad.

View from the top:

crocheted hot pad front

and from the bottom:

crocheted hot pad back view

The sewing stitches completely sink into the crochet and are totally invisible and the stitching on the reverse side is covered by the backing. The yarn is Lamb’s Pride worsted, the motif is on top of a funky pattered denim and there is a home dec fabric scrap used for the backing. The motif is the popcorn hexagon from the book “201 Crochet Motifs, Blocks, Projects and Ideas” by Melody Griffiths.

I guess this is what is termed a palette cleanser project.

Chanel inspired jacket

May 28, 2014

Great post from Elliott Berman about constructing a Chanel style jacket.

Yarn stylist has some terrific posts and tips about knitting your own Chanel jacket and lining the jacket.

A lined cardigan or jacket in this style is definitely on my knit wish list when I improve my fitting techniques. Characteristics of such a garment include shoulder princess shaping, high cut armholes, 2- or 3-piece sleeves, patch pockets, trim, a rounded neckline with no collar, sleeve length to touch back of bent wrist, and silky quilted lining.

Crochet, and particularly tunisian seems especially suited (no pun intended) to create a firm fabric with the tweedy, mixed yarn look that is so characteristic of these garments.

Check out the Phildar crochet cardigan as an example of what I mean (click on photo for Ravelry link).

phildar chanel jacket

The Phildar pattern with little bobbles is echoed in Box Trim Jacket from Crochet Magazine Winter 2013.

box trim jacket

There is a different take on the genre in the 2014 Vogue crochet magazine.

vogue crochet chanel jacket


This pattern, the appropriately named #11 Chanel-Inspired Jacket, uses the classic woven mesh stitch crochet. Simple to execute but one needs an artist’s eye to put together the different yarns combinations. One risks looking like an afghan (the blanket, not the nationality).

For a gorgeous example of fabric made with this crochet technique check out the New York Noro plaid project.

noro woven mesh

The Noro yarn “does all the work” for you. Cliched but accurate. Noro colorways are special. There are lots more gorgeous examples Rav link.

3 color tunisian is another simple technique for a suitable background fabric. 3 color tunisian has been especially popularized by Stitch Diva and the image below is from the Stitch Diva tutorial for this technique.

3 color tunisian

The Colorfully Modern Cardigan (pattern available free courtesy of Lionbrand) also fits into the Chanel inspired genre.

colorful modern cardigan

The Lionbrand blog hosted a crochet along for this project:

Finished project

Blocking seaming and surface stitches

Fronts and pockets

Making the back and changing colors

Size and gauge swatching

Video demonstration of front and back post stitches

And a Colorfully Modern Cardigan Fall 2013 crochet along Ravelry group for lots of project support.

Plus while we’re on the subject of crochet post stitches and jackets, this James Coviello design from Vogue Knitting Winter 2007/2008 is a gem.

James Coviello

Suitably adjusted for length this would be a great crocheted Chanel style jacket.

And finally this style has potential for a Chanel inspired cardigan, the Helena jacket from Interweave Crochet magazine Summer 2010.

Helena jacket

I say this with caution because it would take a lot of pattern adjustment to customize the pattern fit. Plus the weird puffy sleeves would have to be totally redone and I’m not a fan of a jacket whose edges don’t meet at the front. But the pattern lines generate the visual look of princess seams and these are what makes the design worthwhile as a departure point.







Knit talent Laura Cunitz

May 27, 2014

I am getting so inspired by knitting and crochet again. There is so much to talk about from my sweater fit experiments in progress to the 2014 Vogue crochet edition (awesome!).

Today I literally stumbled across a hot new (to me at least) hand knitting talent. A woman after my own heart who runs knit experiments on her blog, incorporates crochet ideas into her knitting and is very generous in sharing her knowledge!

This talent is Laura Cunitz of Knitting Nuances.

Laura Cunitz has a pattern in the new Knitty, Fiftyfifty.


I was attracted to Fiftyfifty because of its simple clean lines and beautiful close-up photos of the great detailing. Reading further I discovered that this pattern incorporates fresh thinking about combining texture and shaping in hand knits. These fresh new ideas are posted in great detail on her blog and in free patterns available via Ravelry.

This designer is innovative and it’s so wonderful and inspirational. I love her attention to detail and technique.


Check out the post on her blog where she addresses the question if knitters are patient. I totally agree! I find the weird assumptions of non-knitters so infuriating. Knitters knit not because they are patient, it’s rather the reverse is true!


2014 getting to midway

May 26, 2014

My family frequently pokes fun at me because I spent a lot of time knitting, reading knitting magazines, browsing Ravelry etc. but I don’t have many knitted garments to show for it.

I’ve become a knitter and crocheter with excellent technique. I’m can execute five different short row methods. I’ve got every knitting implement one’s heart could desire, needles of all shapes and sizes. I’m proficient at lace, brioche, broomstick crochet, tunisian crochet. I have a museum quality stash that fills my heart with joy.

All this and yet I have beautiful knitted accessories (mostly shawls and hats) and very few garments.

Why is that? It’s not for lack of will. I have several bags containing nearly completed garment projects.

Two reasons, time and pattern. The time needed to work out and adapt the pattern and the chunk of time to orchestrate and coordinate the diverse aspects of a larger knitting project. A project that includes arm + body, + yoke + shoulder + neckline + cuffs etc takes exponentially more time and effort than something small and flat where there is only one kind of shaping taking place at any one moment.

The majority of knitting patterns are written for somebody with the same shape at the front and back. Below I show a typical example, taken from vol 7 of Wool People. I could knit this this no problem,  I’d really enjoy the process and it would be be a thing of beauty.

But . . . .  I would never wear it, not least because I’m not the type of person who wants to show her bra straps to the world. If I invest in beautiful yarn and effort, I want to be rewarded with something that fits anda garment I feel proud and comfortable wearing out and about.

problem with sweater

Most patterns for garments have some variation of these issues. Essentially when you purchase the pattern you purchase a concept, an outline, a guideline, a fashion inspiration and perhaps a technique. It is not straightforward to translate the fantasy of the pattern into something that is wearable.

If you don’t have much time for knitting and do it in occasional short bursts like most hobbyists, you get much more completed project satisfaction with something like a hat.

It is no surprise that the majority of bloggers who churn out complete sweater projects are individuals with minimal body shape and standard length shoulders. They may have to recalculate a stitch gauge here and there but a complete pattern redraft is typically not necessary for these folks. My short, stumpy, middle aged crooked body is not in this category. Plus I like the back nape of my neck to be covered without the front choking me. My preference and yours may differ.

I want this year to be the year where I work through my issue with sweaters. My stash has several yarns where I have sufficient for an entire sweater. I don’t want to fritter away my sweater quantities of yarn on small projects.

I’m committed to calculate, knit and reknit until I GET IT DONE. I also want to document to see if what I learn in one situation applies to other situations.

B5986 fabric and style

March 30, 2014

Fabric and style considerations. For sure, B5986 requires a fabric with stretch in both directions. The test garment is really comfortable to wear, as others who have made this pattern have noted. My original hope was to make this in a substantial sweater knit and have a cozy sweater dress for cold weather (snow still on the ground in these parts). But……. there is a large amount of fabric in the garment with no supportive seams. Even with the substantial amount of fabric removed after the test garment, there is still too much for a fabric with body that would weigh down the garment. This means that the best fabric for this garment would be a thin lightweight fabric with excellent recovery. A fabric with a significant amount of lycra. A drapy fabric will also be good for creating the neck folds that form the graceful neckline of the garment. Thin drapy fabric with this shape of garment really says warm weather to me. A thin rayon-lycra knit or a rayon-lycra blended with linen or cotton would be wonderful for summer giving nice body coverage without being hot. So for the time being I’m ignoring the sleeves and concentrating on a sleeveless version. The next consideration is color and pattern. Again the issue is the vast amount of fabric in the dress. In an overall color or pattern this can be overwhelming. A lighter color will show off the folds and drape more but it is tricky to carry off such a look with out giving the appearance of a paint blob (if monochromatic), or a sofa (if patterned). A dark color looks more sedate and also enhances the largen-look, Rick Owens-esque vibe of the pattern, but also risks looking frumpy and weird. If made in a darker fabric, the dress would certainly need shortening to knee length instead of the mid-calf where it currently sits. See what I mean with a montage of a few images from Rick Owens’ Fall 2014 RTW show:

There’s a picture of B5986 in the Vogue fashion show at Pullayup styled with matching color shoes and black leggings which is a nice way to style the garment. Leather/pleather leggings would kick it up a notch and give it the high fashion look.

Talking of styling, this hat on the model in the Rick Owens show featuring a dress with a similar vibe is pretty cool and would not be hard to make. I couldn’t pull it off the hat but I adore the look and am getting to the stage where comfortable neck coverage is a big plus. Rick Owens hat   The pattern photograph has a version of the garment using an uneven striped fabric and there is another version of the dress with this fabric and different pattern placement from the 2014 Puyallup Expo report at

This looks terrific, regular stripes might look too much like prison garb dressing gown but this bordered striped fabric is very classy. Another version of the dress with a bordered patterned fabric can be seen at this link. Two other bloggers have made this dress with patterned fabric, Stitch Me Up and Communing with Fabric. These versions are gorgeous with fabulous fabric choice, the pattern has has both small elements together with larger areas of variation. The patterned fabric used for these versions is very sophisticated with different elements strewn out over a large area. This type of sophisticated kaleidoscopic patterned fabric, often created with digital printing, is great for garments, and works really well for a dress like this with so much fabric.

Digitally printed fabric is becoming more available to home sewers but still is only really obtainable in a retailer that caters to garment sewers. This type of fabric with its scattered small and large design elements and borders is the very opposite of a neat, tessellated repeat fabric like is so often seen in fabric stores that cater to quilters. If you don’t have such a store locally, especially for those of us that live far away from cities, online is the way to go.

One source that I adore and highly recommend is Elliott Berman Textiles, fabulous fabrics of very high quality with impeccable service and minimal shipping charges.

OK, off to decide on fabric! My ideal would be to find a viscose lycra blend with a faux animal skin pattern (preferable something reptilian like snakeskin). Please let me know if you are aware of the availability of such a fabric!

B5986 hem hack

March 30, 2014

When I last discussed this pattern in this post, I had my first test garment and didn’t like the look of the very different hem lengths between the left and right side of the body.

This is personal preference, the left and right sides of the garment are already different at the hem as they are draped differently.

Length asymmetry in addition to the asymmetric drape is not a good look for me. In the picture below I have outlined this area of the garment in the dashed box; the length asymmetry is significant especially as I am relatively short (5ft 3 in), on a tall person this wouldn’t be such an issue.

flap problem outline


Standing in front of the mirror, I tried a number of ad hoc ways to minimize the length asymmetry. I tried different options folding under the “flap” and attaching to an internal point of the garment in the same vein as the garment construction but didn’t hit on anything satisfactory.

Finally I just marked a line approximately even with the center front around the back of the garment and cut off the fabric. I also eliminated the gathering elastic and took in the center back seam about 2 inches pegging this to about 4 inches at the hem (i.e. 8 inches of hem circumference eliminated –roughly about the extent of the gathering if I had not removed the elastic at the hem).

This gave me a much better look. The hem is not even all the way around which would be impossible to achieve because of the draping but the big pointy flap has been eliminated.

making hem more even B5986

In the picture above the bits of masking tape attached to my garment represent different locations on the pattern, for instance the red tape at the center front midsection represents the location of the front notches.

Another way to visualize the pattern alterations is to take the fabric that is removed and place it on the pattern pieces, the major alteration is to pattern piece 1A.

eliminated fabric

A more detailed schematic for how this alteration relates to the paper pattern is shown below. The new hem line (dotted red line) for pattern piece 2A starts just below F and goes to nothing just before point F on pattern piece 1A. The gathering lines are shown below for reference, along with the new position of the center back seam line.

hem alteration


The next step would be to make another version of the garment in a fabric closer to that I would use for the final garment.

But what fabric to use? Monochromatic? Patterned fabric? How substantial or thin should the fabric be for this project?


Sewers need Ravelry

March 12, 2014

This is just one more example of why sewers NEED Ravelry.

Yesterday I was looking for amigurumi patterns in response to a niece’s request. Bingo I dound one and could instantly purchase and download. Instant gratification and check out this INCREDIBLE toy pattern folks!


(click on photo for link to pattern info)

Ravelry is a perfect example of how independent designers can get an audience and go commercial.

On the other hand the sewing world is stuck in a different mode. I just read about Seamster’s Rose Hip Tights pattern on Communing with Fabric and thought it would be a fun little project. I went over to the website and put the pdf pattern in my cart. Move to checkout and here the whole process goes kaput. No matter how much I wanted to check out and hand over my $$$, the site stubbornly refused giving me the 404 error.

Here’s the screen shot I kept getting, you can see my cart contains the item but that is as far as I was able to get.

need ravelry

It’s obviously a big challenge for a small outfit to set up secure web sales so I’m not surprised by the failure. It’s frustrating when a site doesn’t function. I couldn’t even get the buttons on the header to work and give me the contact info and I tried two different browsers. Plus there is no straightforward method of contacting or reporting the difficulties. Grrr…..

Hopefully this issue will get fixed and the sewing community can go forth and purchase these patterns.

I’m sure I’m not the only person dreaming about the equivalent of Ravelry for the sewing community.


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