Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Teeny Bit Artsy Fartsy

Recently, I saw online the idea of embroidering a simple striped design on a card.  You make the holes by using your sewing machine with no thread in it!

For my sister's birthday card, I had a go.  Of course, I had to make things more complicated than a few lines....

I drew an oriental lily free-hand and then sewed the holes in it

Some colouring pencil and thread, and that's it! :)

I used 3 strands of embroidery floss.
And if you're wondering what it looks like on the inside- the answer is a bit of a mess!  I didn't cover it up with another piece of paper.  A bit sloppy, right?  Maybe if I make another I'll refine my technique a little!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Blog Awards

Since I started my blog, I've been given a few blog awards by some nice bloggers.  I wasn't really sure what to do with them, and I'm a bit shy about it!  But it's time to spread the love!

Here we go :)
I got given a sunshine award from Rachel at House of Pinheiro, Seraphinalina and Neeno at Sew Me Love.  Isn't that nice of them?  Thank you!

Now I have to answer questions (embarrassing, haha)

Favourite Colour:  I almost can't choose.  But I'll go with light aqua.  It was our wedding colour and it's so fresh and lovely.
Favourite Animal:  Okay, now I really can't choose.  Bunnies?  Squirrels?  Everything cute and beady eyed!  Or fluffy!  I'm a regular visitor to you know.  A connoisseur of cute!
Favourite Number:  Numbers are too boring to have a favourite!  Haha.
Favourite Non-Alcoholic Drink:  Delicious, delicious water.  lol :)
Facebook or Twitter:  Meh to both.  I want to see people in real life!
My Passion:  Gosh, this got deep suddenly.  Ummm, since I only just started being able to live (after being so ill), I don't think I have discovered my passion yet.  Try me in a few years!
Getting or Giving Presents:  Can I have both??  There's nothing like planning a great gift.  Except maybe getting a great gift!  Okay, I'll be good and say giving.  Haha.
Favourite Pattern:  Ummm, I'm still a beginner, I haven't made much!  For now I'll just say:  any pattern I can get to fit right!  lol :)
Favourite Day of the Week:  The days me and my husband get to spend together!  So I guess I'll say Sunday :)
Favourite Flower:  I'm no botanist.  I'll just say Singapore Orchid since it was in my wedding bouquet  :)
Favourite Celebrity Role-Model:  I don't follow celebrities...

Well, that was a strange little exercise for me!

And now I have to nominate a bunch of people.  Only problem is I think most people I'd nominate already have awards, sorry guys!.... Here are some people I've nominated.  Check out their blogs :)

Andrea at Four Square Walls.
Mika at Savory Stitches
Rachel at Darling Autodidact
Kestrel at Kestrel Finds and Makes

I can't really find more blogs I follow to nominate that haven't already been given awards.  But sometimes less is more.  I fully endorse the coolness of these bloggers :)

I also got given a Liebster award by Shanni from Shanni Loves, so thank you!
You have to give it to bloggers with less than 200 followers.  See my nominations above :)  (some of them only juuuuust sneak in though).
Now nominees, you gotta put these awards on your blog so everyone knows!

Well that's that!  Time to get back to making stuff!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Dark Side of Knitting

So, I finally cast my knitting on.  Hooray!
Oh by the way, once I washed my swatch my gauge went bigger, boo!  So now there are more calculations in my future involving *gasp* changing the pattern!

And here is my progress:
The holes are meant to be there ;)

 Knitting... such a relaxing pastime.  Until of course you make a mistake!  As a beginner, knitting can transform from "ahh, how nice" to "AGHH... my stitches!!" in about 2 milliseconds.  Well, maybe that's just me!  But I'm sure I'm not the only one who's found that moment terrifying!

I've already re-started my knitting once, actually.  A few rows in on my first go, I messed up a lacy row and got severely freaked out trying to figure out how to undo my work, with all the crazy holes and increases and decreases.   I eventually gave up and started again.

But now I have to arm myself with resources on how to
a) avoid mistakes!  (prevention is better than cure!)
b) fix those dastardly mistakes if I do make them!

Gail has put up a post on her advice.  Definitely some good stuff in there!

And here are some thoughts I've had so far:

For preventing mistakes:
-Write out the instructions vertically like Gail suggests in her post.

-If you want to be really careful, don't just count the stitches at the end of each row.  Count every time you get to a marker!  This is where Gail's spreadsheet is invaluable!

-Don't knit sleepy, it'll only end in tears, lol!

For fixing mistakes:
-'Tink'ing-  It's 'knit' backwards!  That's what it's called when you individually undo each stitch.  This is super helpful, and there are plenty of great videos on youtube.  Every knitter has to know this one!

-Lifelines-  I found this technique on, a fantastic website.  You run a strand of yarn through your knitting and you can rip your knitting safely back to it if you need to.  It's like a little security blanket!  I started using it on my second go, and it has already helped me :) It also gave me an insight into how the stitches work.  I plan to put one in every second purl row- overkill maybe but it makes me feel safe :)  You can actually see it in my above photo.  I used embroidery thread, not yarn.

-Watch some videos on fixing mistakes to get you more comfortable and start to understand how the stitches work a bit better.  Here's one I liked.

-And above all- don't panic!  I did, I honestly almost cried cos I was scared I'd ruined it!  But I left it till morning and it didn't seem so scary.  Give yourself some time to collect yourself :)

Well, that's what I've come to so far!  I'm sure I'll have plenty more 'panic' moments, but hopefully I'll be better armed next time!

Hey everyone, what are your tips on knitting mistakes?  Any favourite videos or revelations you had?
And, as always, if you want to join our knit-along, check out this post :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Miette Knit-Along- We have yarn! And a swatch!

Hooray!  My yarn arrived in the mail!

Look at it! 
It's Cascade Sierra, an 80% cotton, 20% merino blend.  It feels so nice and smooth, and it's got a subtle sheen to it.  It's really nice!  I chose it because that was the yarn the pattern "officially" calls for. 

And lookit!  I already made a gauge swatch!  I'm a slow, beginner knitter so this took me hours, no joke!  I'm hoping I speed up a little bit by the end of this cardigan :)

But before I get into that, have you been following Gail's posts?  She has been going over so many helpful things, I've already learned a lot :)  And umm, guys, she also made us a spreadsheet!!  How nice is that?

Here are a few of the things I've learned so far:
-That twisty shape I received my yarn in is called a hank!  You have to wind it into balls yourself before you can knit from it!  You can see I already did two, it was actually quite fun :)
-This pattern is knit on circular needles, but it's not knit in the round- you just use the circulars because it makes it easier to hold!
-Gail rules at explaining things and is super helpful!

Now, since I'm going to be hand-washing my finished cardigan, apparently I need to block the swatch!  (Blocking is when you wet it and let it dry to shape it..or something!)  Eep!  I still need to learn what to do here!  I'm hoping this won't change the size of the swatch much though, since I couldn't resist and already did some maths based off Gail's extremely helpful post. :)
And based on my maths, I might have to alter the pattern less than I thought :)

Knit on size US size 8 needles (5mm)
Check out my swatch!  I knitted it with a garter stitch border as this is supposed to stop it curling at the edges.  As you can see, 16 stitches across seems to be 3 1/2 inches.  So that's less than the pattern gauge which is 16 stitches measuring 4 inches.  But if I'm not mistaken that's actually good!  Because my bust measurement is much smaller than the pattern, this means knitting at this smaller gauge will make it turn out closer to my size :)

And this is why I don't want my swatch to grow if I block it:  The maths I did seems to indicate I could make the smallest size and have the bust measurement turn out almost perfect!  That would be nice!

Here's my maths if you're interested:
-16 stitches divided by 3.5 inches: 4.57 stitches per inch.
-I need a finished chest measurement of 29" (that's my bust of 31" minus 2" for negative ease)
-So 4.57 times 29 equals 133.  I need 133 stitches across the bust.
-Lookit!  The smallest size on the pattern has 135 stitches- pretty close!  yay :)

So I'm thinking maybe just take out 2 stitches.  Of course I will be getting plenty advice from the pro on this!  But... this only works if my swatch doesn't go all weird from being blocked.  Boo blocking.

How is everyone else doing?  And if you want to join, check out this post for all the info you need!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Miette Knit-Along has begun!

Well, the Miette Knit-Along is officially underway!
Gail has already started putting up informative posts on how to prepare for the project, very helpful indeed!  Check them out here, here and here :)

But don't worry, it's not too late to join in- even I still haven't got my yarn yet!

So, if you're joining in, first, feel free to join our flickr group here.  Flickr is great for sharing your works in progress, pictures or any problems.  There is even a little mini-forum where we can all discuss our projects!

Second, grab the badge!
Here's how I put it on my blogger sidebar-
Go into your design settings, and click 'add a gadget' in your sidebar.  On the 'basics' tab (it should open in this automatically), click the 'Picture' gadget.  You can then add an image from the web- copy and paste this link:

You can also add a link that clicking on the badge will take you to.  I have mine linked to the flickr group:

Sorry if you're not on blogger, but I'm sure you can get this working, it's pretty simple!
Ha, there's probably an even easier way of doing it, but well, this worked for me :)

I decided to play with my croquis today and put together a Miette outfit :)  Ha, I even got carried away and got out the old colouring pencils!

Miette- I'm also planning to make the top and skirt too :)

Hopefully my finished outfit lives up to my hopes and dreams!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Fitting, I'll conquer you yet!

Welcome to "Even More Fitting" AKA "This sewing malarkey is trying to crush my iron will"

Seriously, this stupid toile/muslin is getting to be an albatross around my neck!

Okay, so on the last episode of "what does that wrinkle mean?", I was unsuccessfully trying to fix my back with a sway back alteration.  (Okay, enough quotation marks).

Nothing I pinned seemed to look right, and they all pulled up the hem at the back (which I've heard sway back adjustments aren't meant to do).  So, after I made myself a dressform, I finally had the freedom to pin it on the dressform instead of pinning, then trying on, then photographing (tedium).
Surely this would solve all my problems?   If only...

I couldn't see the "horizontal wrinkles" that a sway back was mean to cause.  I umm-ed and ahh-ed, pushed the fabric and prodded and poked my dress form, full of confusion.  Isn't the fabric supposed to tell you what to do?  So... I just grabbed it and put some pins in it where they wanted to go.

Umm... don't know what those wrinkles in front are doing...just... ignore them for now.  They were there before I pinned the back anyway.

Hang on a minute, this seems to have helped!  More confusion as I had pinned out practically the opposite of a swayback- instead of horizontal, I'd pinned vertical...  Hmm.  I started to wonder again if I was able to do fitting.

So, I've been stewing on this for days now.  I will even admit to tossing and turning in my sleep over it.  I'm thinking- maybe I never had a sway back?  Maybe I simply have some kind of small/narrow back, and a big caboose?  And, if I am to take out vertical excess, I can't simply add it to the existing darts right?  (I don't know, there's something in my brain saying you can't make a dart super wide for some reason.  Too much pointness?)  The only thing I can think of is maybe creating two darts?  Hmmmm.  So many questions.  So very many questions.

I've been thinking about maybe getting out some library books on fitting, but I'm a little scared they'll add to the brain stew, and I could end up with a steamed brain!  lol.

I also realised that on the first dress I made, and on a recent bodice toile, I had back issues too!
Please excuse these awful pictures.
Before and After.  Saggy back made me look pregnant.  I took the back waistband in by 6cm I believe
And here, please do excuse the dodgy looking photo.
Then I also realised I took some out of the back of my nightie too.

So basically I seem to have a strange back.  It looks like it might be extra thin back there or something.  I don't even know if that's a thing.  Gosh, my brain is a mess right now!  I've been going over and over this in my head, and looking for answers- it's enough to drive you bonkers!

Any feedback or help is so appreciated!
I'll look back on this one day and laugh right?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Knit Along Plans!

Here's some fancy news!  I'm going to co-host a knit-along with Gail from today's agenda!  She is so lovely and I have been enjoying following her blog.  She makes gorgeous clothing and is a pro knitter!  Go on, go check it out, I'll wait :)

After being in contact through our blogs and Ravelry, we conspired to create a knit-along for a cute (and free!) cardigan pattern by Andi Satterlund called Miette!

Gail will be posting her walking us through the techniques and construction of the cardigan.  I'll be following along and no doubt making lots of questions and mistakes learning opportunities!

Please do join us!  We even got a fancy badge, for you to stick in your sidebar :)

And I also joined flickr, just to make a flickr group for everyone who wants to join! We can share questions there as well as all the work-in-progress pics :)

Check out Gail's post on the Knit-Along here.  Ooh exciting.  I have ordered some light pink yarn online.  I hope it turns up and is the shade I wanted!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Chihuahua Amigurumi

Well after my first amigurumi, I knew I had to make another!
Luckily I had a friend who wanted me to make her one, based on her own pet chihuahua!
For this one, I used most of the basic body from the bunny I first made, but designed my own ears and tail, as well as adding in some fancy colour changes :)

I have to give him away :(
It was a lot of fun designing the amigurumi, and it isn't hard either!  All I did was use the basic principles I had learnt from the bunny design I made, and researched how to change colours.  The hardest thing about this project was finding the supplies!  All over the internet people seem to recommend 10ply acrylic or cotton, and it seems that in New Zealand 10 ply is incredibly hard to find!  We seem to have mostly 8 ply, for some reason!  So in the end I just bought 8 ply, and it worked just fine.  In fact it seemed just as thick as the yarn from the bunny kit, so maybe I'd just been using 8 ply all along..?

The other thing that proved impossible to find was the safety eyes.  I couldn't find them here in New Zealand so I ordered some from etsy.  These are 9mm by the way :)
I was a bit worried they wouldn't stand out black on black- but they are nice and shiny so it works :)

The tail is simply felt!
Of course I had to take a photo with his friend the bunny :)

You can see how different the yarns are- The acrylic I bought is quite fuzzy, with less stitch definition as well as ending up a bit firmer.  It doesn't necessarily make it 'worse', I think both are quite attractive, and suit their designs well.  Somehow though for future projects I think I will prefer the kit yarn, which I suspect may be cotton.  I'll have to continue my search!

My hand might give you an idea of how big it is!

Yay!  Amigurumi are a lot of fun :)