Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ms. Green (blue)


Mr. Green (blue)
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
Well here's a recent FO that sat in my UFO pile for too long; elastic in the waistband, only needing a moment at my sewing machine and 4 waistband stitches left to close. Sometimes, my laziness is maddening. ANYway. I went to Miami and wanted to have these cozies to lounge around my parent's apartment in. Aside from the bulk of the seams, they are extremely cozy. Cotton ease is very squishy. I think if I were to knit another pair of lounge shorts (and I doubt that I will) I would probably go for a pattern without much in the way of crotch seams. Actually, if I found the right yarn at the right price, I could be tempted to knit the Unmentionables from Knitty, but it hasn't happened yet.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Miami/ AquaArt & Art Basel

Soooo... I went to Miami on Thursday to visit my parents and go to Art Basel and the satellite shows. Thursday night was the opening for Aqua Art in the Wynnwood neighborhood of downtown Miami. My friend Laura had a booth with the Taylor & Mackenzie Gallery so I was pleased to show my support and hang out with her and my dear friend Melanie at the Vangaurd Gen Art Party. The party was super fun; tons of people from God knows everywhere, dressed to play, dance, mingle, drink, and look at art. I gotta say, I was very impressed with the show. This wasn't no art school mandatory. Even though I was wearing some beautiful/painful 4 inche heels, I made it my mission to see everything in the space (which was considerable) and I am happy to say I succeeded my mission.

Krause Gallery had 3 of my favorites from the entire show: Jordan Eagles who was making bloody art before vampires where sexy again, Rob Tarbell who paints with smoke, and Stephan Zirwes who hangs out of a helicopters to take pictures that make one feel very small.
Also, notable for those who like Francis Bacon and can spot his inspiration: Oscar Bernal (Volakis Gallery). Do check it out.

Friday I spent sleeping in very late, playing with Marmalade (squishy kitty) and I went to a complete oratorio performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah, featuring the Boca Raton Symphony with my parents at the Miami Cathedral. It was quite impressive, and quite long.

So...... Art Basel. Yes. I went on Saturday... and I succeeded in seeing everything there as well. It was oh-my-aching-feet large. Huge. I saw all my favorite blue chips (Francesco Clemente, Lucien Freud, Joan Miro, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, David La Chapelle, Alexander Calder, Ghada Amer, yada yada yada...) and that was only about a 10th of the entire show. By the end, my mind was mush and my dogs were dead. So I bought a few discounted art magazine and met up with Mel and Laura again at their friend Leo's house for the rest of the night. Good times.

I was really lucky that my mother was generous with her car and didn't hassle me about whether or not I remember how to drive (duh... it's like riding a bike) and that Miami is so easy to get around, and the roads are in such great condition! I love that town. I definitely want to go again next year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Danny Roberts' work is quite inspiring to me. His character sketch book specifically has been a big motivator to me to draw more often. Thank you Danny for sharing your creative spirit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Bloody Vampire


Did you not see the knitty suprises yet? Well, in case you don't live in my universe, the geek knitters are fah-reaking out over My Vampire Boyfriend (rav link) socks by Kate Atherley.

The socks are bloody gorgeous. They have hearts (!) and cunning little bite mark cables (!) and the cable patterns are all charted out and incredibly visual, thus easy to follow! As if these socks weren't pretty awesome by themselves, they are also inspired by the Vampire hottie craze. You know what I'm talking about. Bill and Eric from the Southern Vampire Series & True Blood, **coughEdwardCullencoughTwilightcough**, and the Salvatore bros from Vampire Diaries etc. are some recent additions to a catalogue of sexy, but tortured (and sometimes evil) undead lovers... Angel & Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, David & Michael in the Lost Boys, David Bowie as John in The Hunger, Gary Oldman as Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the list goes on. Just thinking about all the vampire boyfriends out there is some fun, which only makes this pattern more tempting.

My vampire boyfriend comes at an excellent moment, not only for knitting & pop culture, but for me. I am currently season 6 deep in my first ever viewing of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. I have no idea why I didn't watch when it originally aired. I must have thought it looked corny and I didn't even give it a try. Why, oh why? And now, it's over 10 years later and I am hooked. Not only am I watching Buffy, but I am watching the Angel spin-off congruently. Disc for disc. Yup, I'm a geek. Luckily for me, I have not 1 but 2 friends who own the entire box set of both shows and who are generously loaning them to me as I work my way through the series. Consequently, I'm getting lot's of knitting and sewing done while watching, but not so much blogging. But I digress. At the season 6 point in BTVS, **WARNING, 9 YEAR OLD SPOILER** Buffy is having a clandestine affair with Spike, whom I've been smitten with ever since he summed up her relationship with Angel way back in season 3 in that awesome monologue which ends; "I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it."

So... Spike, aka William the Bloody, is MY vampire boyfriend.

Prog shot:



Amazing how motivation works, huh? After a quick bit of thought, I decided I could make this happen on the CHEAP. I don't normally stash red yarn fingering, but I did have several skeins of Lion Brand Sock-Ease in my sock stash. After nixing the Cotton Candy I decided to give the Rock Candy a go with my stash of Tropical Punch & Cherry Koolaid & red food coloring, and voila!

Before & After:
Bright red like an open gash in some places, and dark like a scab in others with varying shades of coagulation in between. Here's a few pics from the quick and easy dye session:



First, I soaked the skeins over night in my crock pot with a 1/2c vinegar and a enough water to cover them. The next morning (10/31) I refreshed the water and added a splash of fresh vinegar and turned the crock up to high. As the water heated up, I mixed up my Koolaid/coloring in about a cup of boiling water. I also made myself a french press.... caffeine and kool-aid dyeing... an excellent start to a saturday the morning.

Doesn't the dye look like fresh blood? I love it. 
At this point I was having a pretty good time (caffeine was kicking in).


Once the dyes is poured carefully over the yarn, and stirred gently to make sure to strikes through the entire dye bath, I put in the lid and walked away for an hour. After a while the water was pretty clear so I turned off the heat and let it sit for a bit with the lid off before I took it out to rinse.


I noticed that the bottom skein still had some grey areas were the dye didn't strike, so I threw it back in the crock pot with the rest of my red food coloring. I think I need to get a big enamel pot one of these days for dyeing yarn. The mini crock pot just ain't cutting it.


Up next (I hope)... playing catch up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My current Obsession


Full Front
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
I know that I have been absent for a while. It's all on account of all the fantastic sewing I've been doing. And, I have been reading the Sookie Stackhouse series on the train this summer (done with box set [#7] now) and so I haven't had as much productive time on the knitting front (although my wip list has grown!). Sewing at home means that I am making progress on my inaugural viewing of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (season 4 & Angel season 1, simultaneously).... I think you have an idea of how busy I've been in my at-home time. Lot's of FOs deserve a blog post, but if you are looking at flickr or patternreview.com you probably know what I have accomplished this summer. Not to mention all theblog worthy start-itis that I've suffered, or the vacation I took, or the family wedding I went to with my crazy, adorable parents... no I just posted the cat video. Patience/laziness is my virtue!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick Sketch with Colored Pencil


gj_MIN_2009.7.13
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
After a lapse in practice, I spit this one out and I'm pretty pleased. It's not exactly spot on the inspiration picture (I think I made her look even younger) but I like her petulance.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A few late night stitches

The sewing mojo has certainly been flowing lately and I've had a few happy successes. The key is to pick the right size (always dicey), the right fabric for the pattern. It has been a challenge and a pleasure to work with fine fabrics.

Wrestling with thread tension on some very fine silk & cotton batiste. French seams were a necessity.

Gathering on a floral print rayon. I think I prefer to machine baste rather than hand baste the gathering stitches because it makes the final stitching easier and the gathers more even.

Elasticized shirred panel on stretch silk charmeuse.
Practice makes perfect, and sometimes things are easier than they look. 



Friday, June 19, 2009

Brief Peak


SilkKercheif1
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
I know I haven't posted in FOREVER... Not apologizing for that because I have been very productive and very un-photogenic and now I am going on vacation with only the hope that I continue to be productive in my relaxed state. This is a pic of my 2 most recent and gratifying FOs. Silk Kerchief and my Tulip Burda WOF Blouse. The Blouse will have it's own post in the (hopefully) not to distant future.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Experiment / Excercise

So, my friend and I have a started doing this thing were (all done over IMs) we pick a picture out of the inter-web and then we spend a little time drawing it and when time is up (whenever that is) we show each other what we've done. We compare and talk about it a bit and it's a nice way to end the evening (it's better for the brain/eyes than watching the Colbert Report until midnight anyway). So far, we've only done something like 6 sketches. My sketches are usually completed first (I bore easily.... yet I am easily amused) and I spend a ridiculous amount of time snapping pics and uploading (must get scanner out) while my friend finishes. Anyway, he suggested that I post the latest one to my blog (but I doubt he reads....).... and since a few of my internet friends have also mentioned that they liked my watercolors from a WHILE ago, I thought I should try to add this medium to my restless over-sharing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wiksten Skirt

Sewing Success!
The pattern is the "tulip Skirt" from the premiere issue of Stitches magazine. It's designed by Jenny Gordy of Wiksten Made. Jenny posted some helpful corrections on her blog and when I emailed her with a construction question she got back to me right away. Thanks Jenny!

Modifications: (a) I made the largest size and I lengthened it by 1 3/4".
(b) Since I like my seams to be nice and tidy on the inside, and since I don't have a serger, I tested out a french seam (too bulky and didn't press well) and a flat felled side seam. I really like the way the flat felled seam looks in the linen, and it lies very flat so that's what I went with.

Top stitched hems.

Mussel shell buttons.
I picked these out at a store around the corner from MJ Trim. I like MJ, but their button selection isn't really the best or biggest.... MJ just has the nicest store. I don't want to give them my business just because they are so well known and have slick store, so I always try to check out other stores in the garment district. You can usually find even better prices and comparable selection if you look around.

I love my automatic button hole maker.
I always test it out before hand to practice getting the placement right.

I think I did pretty good on this test.

Here is the finished skirt.
I wore it in Friday, which was a gorgeous day here in NYC. I met up with some of my knitting friends in Bryant Park at lunch and I got one of them to snap this picture. This skirt is very comfortable and easy to wear. I think I'll make this pattern again, but I might eliminate the waist ties and add a button to the waistband instead. This version was has a hook and eye at the front waistband, which is a little awkward for my taste. Over all, I am delighted with this skirt. I love it when sewing projects go this well. It is so reassuring and motivating.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Still waiting for spring

So that pretty, lovely, hand dyed merino became this soft and comfy hat!
Yarn: 1 skein LB Collection Superwash Merino DK (hand-dyed by moi) 
and way less than 1 skein of Rowan Kid Silk Haze, color: Midnight 
Needles: Sz 8 16" bamboo circulars

My only modification was to increase the number of CO sts to 96, so that it would be super relaxed and slouchy on my 23" head, and when I got to the first decrease round I decreased evenly down to the required 88 sts. Knitting this hat was very relaxing and pleasant. It definitely lives up to its name. I was a little worried that I wouldn't have enough of the DK merino because I only dyed 1 skein but it turned out that I had enough left over for a beautiful lace swatch. The colors go together perfectly with the KSH that has been hanging around my stash forever. This hat also compliments my Ice Queen (another recent, un-blogged FO).

I've been so productive knitting lately (not so much with the sewing unfortunately) that I kind of have a back log of stuff that needed to get photographed and posted. This weekend The Boy was sweet enough to photograph what must have seemed like a whole trunk show. I don't think I'll get around to blogging about everything... I don't think I'm that disciplined in the blogging department yet, but I do want to share some of my recent favorites. 

This one makes me super happy.

Pattern: #22 Lace Shawl, Knit.1 Spring 2008
Yarn: Universal Yarns; Eden Silk, 3 skeins in Brick.
Needles: Sz 7 Addi Turbos.

I am freak'n thrilled by this shawl. It is pretty, practical, and it was way easier to knit than it looks and it was fast and fun. (Except the edging. That was boring, but over soon enough).

The chart is available for free download on the Knit.1 website. Not the lace edging... need the magazine for that (although there is an error in the edging anyway that's pretty easy to spot).
I did modify the chart somewhat because I noticed that it didn't match the magazine picture. Basically, I made all the double decreases centered instead of left leaning and I changed some of the side lace decreases to always face inward (ssk on left edges, and k2tog on right edges) so that they flowed into the lace pattern.

FYI: the error in the edging is that the giant YO is miswritten as a M1. 
It just doesn't really work as written.  

Something else that makes me happy:
 An awesome mostly stockinette sweater, that I didn't have to knit!
My knitting buddy Laura knit this gorgeous Sunrise Circle Cardigan and as she was sewing up the first seam had to face the awful truth: this cardigan had sleeves meant for monkeys. They were WAY too long! So after marinating in time out for a whole year, she gave to me! I have monkey arms! And I can't believe it, but only a month later I finally seamed it up and stitched down my first hem.

I think I did a pretty decent job at it if I must say so myself. The sleeve hems took 1 evening and the body hem took 2 evenings. The buttons & loops were super quick.... which makes me think it has something to do with the fact that this is a free knit, and I have relatively little work invested in it. How else can I explain letting my Retro Swing Jacket languish without proper closures?

There's more that I've knitted and finished and photographed, but I have a TV date with Anthony Bourdain and even MORE knitting. Ciao!

Friday, March 13, 2009

First Hand Dyed Yarn

1 skein of Lion Brand Collection Super-wash Merino DK.
I used my yarn swift at its biggest setting to unwind the skein of yarn into a BIG hank.
Dyed using Jacquard Acid Dyes; Sage (green) & Perwinkle (blue) & 6 packets of Grape Koolaid.
I used these instructions from Dhartma Trading.  It was so easy, and I am so delighted with my results that I know I will be dying and over dying yarn again. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Missoni Love

I found my favorite show this season. Missoni.
Everything is so cosy, beautiful and feminine. 
Everything about the look appeals to me personally.
The colors are great - perfect for me!
I love the layering of different textures. 
I'll be wearing multiple hand knits this fall for sure!
I love the dramatic swing of the dangling scarves.
I've been smitten by Rodarte for a while now, but this take on large open lace is even more appealing. Certainly more wearable for "everyday".
And I love the cowl inspiration. 
This looks sort of like a mobius, but not. 
The best I can tell, it's knit flat with one end seamed to a side, but what's going on with the other end? Is this more of a hood than we can see?

Monday, February 16, 2009

FINISHED!


Cable Luxe Side
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
The end of the project kind of snuck up on me in the last hour. I started to get a sick kind of roller coaster feeling as I was binding off... a combination of excitement and nerves. Then it took me most of yesterday afternoon to sew it all up neatly.

I love it! Cozy and warm and it fits me better than any other sweater I own. I'm glad I like it because I've been knitting this thing since OCTOBER, and that's a long time to find out if a knit makes you happy or not.

As happy as I am with the results, I can't help but analyze the silhouette of it in comparison to the Pringle of Scotland sweater that it is inspired by. I've had the picture (grabbed from NewYorkMinknit) as my desktop image for 5 months now as motivation and I am so very tempted now to knit another one, in a bulky yarn with the exaggerated swing shaping and more accurate cables. Knowing what I know now, and using a bulkier yarn it would go much faster. Tempting, but I think I'll hold off on that idea until next fall.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

First Try-On


First Try-On
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
The thing about knitting that I don't like, is that you have to commit yourself to the project before you can ever try it on. Luckily, if you don't like it you can always rip it out and reclaim the yarn (not so with sewing... ask me how I know this and you will hear a sad story about crepe backed silk satin by BF got me in Como) BYGONES. ANYWAY. It appears that the cable Luxe Tunic will fit me in the way I was hoping. Now all that is left is the sleeves. I am dragging it out though because I will miss knitting this sweater when it is over (I mean, done). Reaching this point of success has also given me license to cast on for 2 (yes TWO) lace projects which I am currently cheating on the CLT with.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fresh Start

So far, I have been making pretty good on my resolution to sew more.
The first week of the new year I made a skirt:

Pattern: Sidonie; www.burdastyle.com (no longer free L)
Fabric: 2 yards blue wool, purchased for $7/yard at a little shop in the garment district, and white nylon lining.
I modified the pattern slightly, adding 2 inches in length at the hip curve and since I am a bit hippy, blended a smaller waist (44) to larger hip (46). 

After I seamed the skirt together, I basted the lining to the outer fabric and tried it on to assess the fit. Even with the bias taken into account I could see right away that it was too big. This is a re-occurring problem I have with patterns and it drives me INSANE. I measure myself carefully and honestly, pick the correct size according to my measurements, even make adjustments, and it’s too big. GRRRRrrrr! Muslins are an absolute must, but since I haven’t made much with the burdastyle patterns yet I am taking it slowly with the simpler patterns in order to get a better understanding of my size in these patterns and the typical wearing ease. With the Sidonie skirt, I simply re-stitched the seams 3/8” in from my first seams which was the difference between sizes and it fit much better.

The next weekend I finished up a slightly more complicated sewing project that I’d been taking my time with: 

Pattern: Liz Blouse; www.burdastyle.com (purchased – worth it)
Fabric: Striped shirting that I’ve had in my stash since grad school. It was given out by the design department and I was told it was remnants from Marc Jacobs – so I squirreled it away like any fan-girl would, dreaming of the perfect shirt to make with it. Well, the time to make things happen is NOW.
This pattern is very straight forward, with shoulder to hem princess seams which makes a custom fit only a matter of patience and time. I originally cut a muslin in a size 44. When I tried it on, I noticed that the armholes where huge (which I had also noticed with my still un-photographed Anda Dress) and the upper back was too big. I had chosen the size based on my full bust rather than my upper bust (and I’m a D cup) so I re-cut the pattern blending the 44 hip on front and back pieces, to the 42 upper back and front. I also extended the front bust curve a little bit to give my chest some more room. Then, even though I was terrified of cutting the fabric without a second muslin, I went ahead and did it… I decided to get over my fear of failure and disappointment in favor of learning from experience. Also, I knew that my first fit was close enough that it was unlikely to be too much of a disaster if it didn’t go perfectly.

I took my time sewing, pressed the seams out and checked the fit before pinking my seams (I don’t have a serger) and then I hit a mental block when I got to the stand up collar. I had built up in my head the fiddly-ness of sewing in collars and so I set it aside until I could devote time and attention to it. That took a month – most of December. When I finally bit the bullet and faced the “hard part” I realized that the burdastyle instructions, while vague, did prescribe a simple method of finishing the collar: topstitching. No hand stitching! It was easy and fast and that gave me the get-to-it I needed to finish the rest. I even had fun making the button holes (practice on scrap makes pretty perfect). Alas, my button hole thread doesn’t match my top stitching thread, but at least the colors work with the fabric. I am thrilled with the fit and my results.

Buoyed by my successes with the Liz blouse and the Sidonie skirt, I whipped up an instant gratification sort of project: 

Fabric: Stretch lace and elastic all came from my stash (probably purchased from the dollar table at Walmart years ago) 
I didn’t modify the pattern at all (size 38) because I wanted to test the fit as is. Don’t fix what might not be broken, right? Well, the fit is perfectly cheeky and I am well covered. After I wear them a few times I’ll decide if I want to tweak the pattern for size. 
I didn’t add elastic to the legs because it wasn’t necessary for fit, the fabric isn’t fraying, I’d like avoid the panty line thing, and I have limited selections of lingerie elastic in the stash anyway. I just zig-zagged the crotch sides and it’s fine. I didn’t bother with finishing the end of the crotch piece either because it doesn’t fray. If they fall apart in the wash I won’t care, this was basically FREE project start to finish.

Up next: MORE UNDIES. I have some old lingerie patterns that include bias cut panties. I've already cut a muslin out of some violet colored organdy (polyester I think, old stash scraps). If they turn out awesome (hope and pray) I will splurge on silk organza or georgette. I'm thinking Jean Yu for inspiration.

On the Knitting front:
I am still making progress on my Cable Luxe Tunic (see previous post). The KAL has been very motivational and informative. I am this close to finishing the front (sewing is stealing my time) and then I’ll only have the sleeves left. Also on the needles: second half of my Flow tank (rav link) in Lion Brand’s Recycled Cotton, marine blue. LOVE this yarn. Really, I know I’m a bit of LB fangirl, but this stuff is perfect for summer and I am California dreaming. I’ll pick this project up for subway knitting as soon as I finish my current pair of subway socks. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

CLT Back Blocked


CLT Back Blocked
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
I blocked the back, and as one can see, the shape has relaxed a lot and this pleases me very much. It did grow 2 inches longer then necessary, so when I finish the front (sooooon) I will likely rip back a bit.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cable Luxe Back Progress


Cable Luxe Back Progress
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
I just bound off the back and I think I'm going to like it! Now on to the front. I really need to pick up the pace on this so I can wear while it's still freezing.

Note to self (or likewise interested knitters): I bound off on the RS, in pattern (rib), purling the slipped stitches.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2008 Wrap Up & 2009 Resolutions

Well, 2008 is over. I am very much looking forward to the new year. I know the outlooks is somewhat bleak, but I am grateful for a fresh start. I am resolving to move forward with optimism and enthusiasm. 

Looking back, I see that I spent A LOT of my time this year knitting. (mosaic below)
 
I did not spend that much time sewing. I found sewing to be tedious, time consuming and my failures where disappointing. I have realized 3 things about sewing: 1) it can be tedious and 2) it is a lot harder (compared to knitting) to fix mistakes, and 3) most patterns need alterations in order to fit (me) properly, so muslins are a must... even more so than a knit gauge swatch.

I am thrilled with my knitting output this past year, however I want to increase my sewing output. That is a resolution for 2009; to sew more & to get better at pattern alterations. Also, I am resolving to finish a project before I take on another. I tend to be quite fickle with my attentions because I have so many ideas that I want to try. So I will attempt to keep the number of WIPS consistent. 

Challenges I would like to take on this year: 
knit a lace shawl (in lace weight yarn)
color work (finish Confectionary Tank)
sew more major clothing items than I buy (dresses!)
knit down my stash
design a knit
 


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