Sweater Rescue!

Six months ago I finished knitting the Crowberry Cardigan (pattern design by Sarah Alderson). It was almost a win — but there were too many things wrong with it for it to be something I would actually wear.

Crowberry Cardigan

The original Crowberry

I couldn’t stand the way the bottom half of the cardigan gaped open around my belly — who needs extra attention in that area? Here’s what I wrote in my Ravelry project notes at the time:

The gaping, rolled out edges on the bottom half is one hot mess. It draws attention to my stomach in a most ridiculous way. :/

Some notes to self:

1. stop kidding yourself that doing waist decreases on cardis is a good idea. Waist shaping only causes a fitted, open cardi to gape open around the middle. Not pretty.

2. always, always make the buttonholes smaller than you think you should. I’m considering a little post-knitting surgery to make the button holes smaller so they don’t gape as much.

The gaping buttonholes

Love those buttons, but they were a bit too heavy for this DK-weight sweater and the buttonhole gaping was ridiculous.

Detail of Crowberry motif

Detail of Crowberry motif

Crowberry Cardi - the back view

Crowberry Cardi – the back view

So this sweater sat in my drawer for 6 months causing me to feel irritated every time I opened that drawer and saw it, because I felt like it should have been a well-loved, well-worn garment.

But everything changed with a visit to the yarn shop! I dropped in to get an extra skein of yarn to finish another cardigan I’m working on, and I saw this amazing vibrant yellow Sadnes Garn Mini Alpakka yarn. I didn’t know what I would do with it yet, but I bought 3 skeins on a whim. I have been loving the grey-yellow colour scheme I’ve seen popping up everywhere lately, and I realized that this new yarn could save my Crowberry!

I got to work ripping out the applied i-cord edging all around the garment, and replaced it with wider seed-stitch button bands on the front that would help to close up that gaping.  A seed stitch border along the bottom and an applied i-cord edge at the neck, and voila! A cardigan I will definitely wear now.

Crowberry Redux

Sure, the button band isn’t perfect (I have yet to knit a cardigan that I think has a good button band that doesn’t distort when it’s buttoned up), but this doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m just elated that I saved this sweater!

crowberry_redux1 crowberry_redux3

How about you? Do you have any stories of triumph over a previously-not-so-great garment? Do share!

 

The Four Leaf Clover Coffee Table

Just gonna brag a bit here about my talented husband! Back in January I mentioned in a post that he was working on a wooden-slab table. I’m happy to report it turned out really well, and is an amazing one-of-a-kind creation.

Four-leaf clover coffee table designed & made by Dave Rose

Four-leaf clover coffee table designed & made by Dave

This table started life as our neighbours’ huge, old maple tree. Unfortunately, it had reached the end of its life and had irreparable rot in the trunk and had to come down. Our neighbours were kind enough to let Dave have a huge section of the trunk that wasn’t rotted out. They know he loves woodworking and he’s made them bowls and serving trays out of bits of their black walnut tree when it was pruned back. The table began as horizontal slabs of the tree trunk:

tree slabs to be made into table

He spent hours and hours and HOURS flattening those slabs out and sanding them down. Literally days and days on this part. I think at one point in the process he would have preferred to be poking his own eyes out with a dull spoon.

He carved mortise-and-tenon joins in all of the pieces so they fit together firmly without any screws or nails.

table3

table4

The legs were created from 2 sets of X’s…he and I spent quite a while discussing how criss-crossed legs could be put together. I’m happy I can be of help in the design process. Often all you need is to bat around some ideas with another person to finally hit on the right solution.

table5

table6

Braces were added to attach the table top to the base and ensure the legs are completely stable.

table7

Finally, the table’s surface was finished with linseed oil to bring out the natural colour and shine of the wood, then sealed with polyurethane to protect it from wear and tear.

Four Leaf Clover Coffee Table

Gorgeous, isn’t it? The ironic thing is, it doesn’t really fit in our house. We both knew that would probably be the case as he was working on it; because the table’s got a rustic, natural look to it we knew it wasn’t going to go so well with our modern decor. So Dave’s thinking of selling it. The next challenge is figuring out how to price it. As with all hand-made creations that take weeks of work and a lot of skill as well as expensive materials — ok, in this case, the materials were free, but it’s not every day that an 80-year-old tree comes down in your neighbourhood — it should be worth a LOT of money. On the other hand, if you actually ask for what it’s worth, that usually seems way too expensive to most people in our Ikea-saturated world.  He’s thinking of asking $1000 for it. But then, how does he get it in front of the eyes of the right people? You can’t just post something like this on Craigslist and expect to sell it in your own city. Or can you? Maybe Etsy is the way to go, but I get the sense that Etsy sellers need to have an established Etsy business — in other words, maybe it’s weird to set up an Etsy shop just to sell one thing. What do you think? Does the price seem reasonable? What’s the best way to try to sell it? Dave will appreciate your advice!

What is the Sound of One Mitten Clapping?

Knitters, do you do this? I made this mitten over a year ago. It has been sitting alone, unused, and unloved, contemplating its own extinction like the unicorn on Noah’s ark. I don’t remember what size needles I used to make it, and I didn’t even make notes about it in Ravelry. I can’t imagine I’ll ever get around to knitting it a mate. (And now that I’ve anthropomorphized it, I’m feeling pretty damn guilty about that.)

Sad, lonely mitten

Sad, lonely mitten

thrummedmitten

In happier times. Sadly, and unsurprisingly, I find this single mitten to be of little use in winter.

I knit it using this free pattern for thrummed mittens. Thrumming is a technique whereby you add a tuft of fleece roving to the stitch in a regular pattern. This produces those contrasting V’s you see on the outside, and the loose ends of the fleece stay on the inside of the mitten which creates not only a puffy mitten of clown-like proportions but also a super-warm layer of insulation — it feels divine sliding your hand into that mitten full of fleece. The yarn is handspun I bought in Prince Edward County during an October weekend getaway and I bought the roving at a yarn shop on Main Street in Picton.

So, you do this, too, right? Maybe we should set up an online matchmaking service for single socks and mittens…

BTW, I see you eying my awesome chunky-knit hooded sweater. I knit that from the pattern Wilde by Melissa Schaschwary using Malabrigo Rasta yarn. Amazingly smooshy to knit; amazingly pill-y to wear. Ain’t it always the way.

hoodie

Wearables: Fashion & Technology

I’ve become quite interested in ‘Wearables’ lately — that’s a term used to refer mainly to clothes/shoes/accessories that have some type of electronics embedded in them that can do various things such as respond to environmental factors or biometrics (e.g. sweater embedded with LED lights that change colour depending on wearer’s mood) or even display data. One nifty example is the “Twitter dress” by Cute Circuit, which is a great-looking dress that displays tweets that include the hashtag #tweetthedress in real time. You can see it in action in this video.

Twitter Dress

The Twitter Dress by Cute Circuit

There’s also a whole range of ‘e-textiles’ (electronic textiles or smart textiles) that include things like:

  • conductive threads and fabrics that conduct electricity and therefore the circuitry can be fashioned right out of these fabrics rather than having to use wires (see photo of samples of copper taffeta, silver lycra and others at e-Textile Lounge)
  • luminous fiber optic fabric (see examples here)
  • ‘muscle wire’ that flexes when heated with electrical current, and returns to its original shape when cooled — interesting possibilities for incorporating into garments

Lest you think wearable technology is something only for engineers and code geeks, there is a big DIY aspect to it and it’s not terribly difficult to create wearable electronics. I took a 6-week class late last year on wearables with Instructor Erin Lewis. One of her projects involved taking a simple pair of mittens and, using conductive thread, a small battery, and some LED lights, ‘hacked’ them so when the wearer put their hands together, the mittens lit up.

LED_mittens_Erin_Lewis

Erin Lewis demonstrates her responsive mittens. The LEDs light up when she puts her hands together.

The palms have decorative patches of conductive fabric, which essentially close the circuit when pressed together, allowing the battery power to flow to the LED lights.

The palms have decorative patches of conductive fabric, which essentially close the circuit when pressed together, allowing the battery power to flow to the LED lights.

As part of this class I learned how to use a loom to weave and incorporated fiber optic cable into the weave. Fiber optic cable conducts light all along its length, so I attached LED lights to the ends of the cables. My intention is to eventually hook those lights up to a circuit boards that, say, reads data from Twitter and changes colour when someone tweets me, and then incorporate that fabric panel into, say, the outside of a handbag. The possibilities, while not endless, are kinda neat to contemplate.

The prototype fiber-optic weave.

The prototype fiber-optic weave. The lit-up stripes are a bit hard to see.

What I really liked about the class was that it was the perfect blend of handmade and high-tech. I also made a pair of knitted wrist warmers that, when I placed my metal (conductive) ring on a patch of conductive fabric on the wrist warmers, sent an alert in the form of a vibration to someone else.

The wrist warmer with electronic circuitry to send a subtle 'nudge' to a partner wearing another circuit in their clothes.

The wrist warmer with electronic circuitry to send a subtle ‘nudge’ to a partner wearing another circuit in their clothes.

I have a tendency to fall down a rabbit hole while surfing the vast range of cool wearable technology out there, and I’m fallllling….faaaalllllllinnnnngg…. So to keep myself on track today, suffice it to say that I’ll likely be posting more on specific aspects of wearable technology over the coming months…and that a project on my Sewing To-Do list is to make a skirt that incorporates some LED lights that light up when I swing the skirt around, or maybe can even be controlled from my phone. Here’s some inspiration for that with this neat light-up skirt from PuzzleLightDresses on Etsy.