Sunday, July 26, 2009

A few days with a Norwegian on my lap

It could be fun if the Norwegian was tall and handsome. Instead, I was spending some hot and steamy hours with a very hairy one.

Don't try this at home on a hot July afternoon: a Norwegian sweater in your lap makes for a very hot time. I consider myself a fairly experienced knitter, and yet this was the scariest knitting I've ever done: cutting the Norwegian sweater.

A question I asked on Ravelry produced a few useful answers and links; Eunny in particular sewed her Norwegian sweater by hand, and since I don't have a sewing machine I followed her tutorial, still available here. Let me go off on a tangent: I loved Eunny's blog. I loved it so much I am reading it again these days (and it inspired me to finally finish this %$$#@! sweater). She was such an inspirational knitter and created gorgeous sweaters. I am quite mad at Interweave for taking this great blogger and knitter and making her editor at IK, thus killing both the blog and the magazine with one strike. I loved Eunny's style as her own knitter, but I find the magazine under her direction very dowdy and uninspiring. I even canceled my subscription. And no, Fall 2007 doesn't count, since that issue was still put together by Pam Allen (who by the way is producing beautiful publications in her new position).

Moving on from the politics and style issues of contemporary knitting: the first sleeve worked perfectly! I realize people have been making these sweaters for a while, and thus most of the kinks have been worked out by now, but it still absolutely amazing and delightful to see such an improbable process (measure! sew! cut! sew! what? how?) come together and produce a beautiful sleeve.

Now if I only I could match the process on the other sleeve... and if only the sweater would fit...

Here's what this stuff looked like. Please ignore my chipping nail polish (Sephora's Mermaid in the Shade, lovely color) - I've been totally checked out these past few days and too lazy to take it off.

- sewing by hand around the future cutting lines. Followed Eunny's tutorial here, but sewed two lines on each side: one half a stitch away from the cutting line and another one stitch away. I'm paranoid like that. To make things even more exciting, the sewing thread is buried completely in the knitted fabric, so there was a moment at the beginning when I was wondering whether I was cutting on the right line...

- cutting in progress. I cut some of the floats on the wrong side, just to make sure I wouldn't snip the sewing thread.

- after cutting the first one:

- sewing in the first sleeve: I pinned it on the wrong side but then used mattress stitch to attach it from the right side.
- still working on the mattress stitch. You can see here the orange facing of the sleeve (EZ said "use a lighter yarn" and I did, using some leftovers from the Kaffe non-vest). My man is man enough that he can wear bright orange and pale pink on the inside of his sweater and not mind.

- the magic moment: the underarm of the sweater looks clean and professional and somehow the sleeve matched the cut opening perfectly (I know, I know, I measured it to be so, but still - amazing!)

- this morning, even before drinking my coffee, I did this: the reinforcements for the second sleeve:

- and this is what the "steek" looks like from the inside, before the sleeve facing was attached to the body. It's a puny "steek" but seemed to hold together rather well. The humidity and ridiculously high temperature probably helped felt this as well.

- an unexpected side benefit of mattress stitch: it provides yet another reinforcement of the "steek." If this sucker comes apart, I will cry for a long time.

Breaking news: the sweater fits!! I'll just pretend I designed it to be "slim-fitting" on purpose. Regardless of how tight it is, the recipient will wear it because he loves me beyond reason :) I'm still working on the collar, but I'll have finished pictures soon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Flower brooch

Verbena was missing only one thing:

A "silk" fabric flower brooch ala J Crew. I used some of leftovers from the lining of the skirt I made a while back. It is not silk, and this item will be a mess should it ever be washed, but it looks allright and au courant:

I cannot understand how retailers can sell clothes made out of fabric with unfinished edges. The vast majority of people doesn't craft, I realize, so they don't know that such edges will unravel and look bad after one or two washings, or even as the garment is being worn. Still, for the prices these retailers charge (I'm looking at you, J Crew), you'd think they could at least finish the edges; or are we only supposed to wear the $90 flimsy top once?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Untitled (work of art)

The Lazy Blogger Award goes to me this month, for making stuff and crafting up a storm and not posting anything about it until today.

I finished Verbena from Rowan 45 weeks ago, then neglected it for a while under the excuse that I needed ribbon. Of course I needed ribbon, but I don't live in a ribbon-deprived region: craft stores abound here, only a short drive away (sadly, I haven't been able to find any in walking distance in New Haven). I was also terrified at the thought that the cardigan had turned out too small. After wearing it a few times and realizing that it's not the case, ribbon magically appeared and voila: finished cotton cardigan. I am very much in love.

I don't know whether to add the embroidery or not. I kind of like the cardigan as it is, and I'm doing plenty of sewing otherwise. The trip to the craft store awakened something:

Fat quarter pillow cover for my absolute most favorite tiny pillow in the world. This pillow is one of the few items I brought with me to the States many years ago (together with a fancy teaspoon, a coffee mug now sadly chipped and a huge plush toy moose), so I am very attached to it. I also cannot sleep without it. The pillow cover is as simple as these things get: sew on three sides (the back is a plain beige cotton fabric), stuff pillow form, fold cover over and secure with a few stitches. These stitches will be easy to remove when I need to wash the cover, and it's so much faster than making buttonholes!

The big project of the week has been a set of natural-colored linen napkins and kitchen towels. Inspired by the book Linen, Cotton, Wool as well as a recent article in Piecework about embroidered Norwegian wedding cloths I bought some linen and I am embroidering it with some images from the Norwegian cloths. This is the pattern from the article, but I'll probably do something a little smaller and a little less fancy for the other napkins: if they are all this beautiful, I won't let anyone use them!

I am having a blast with this. I am also imagining these beautiful napkins and towels in my new kitchen: I've just signed the lease on a new apartment with a very nice, light-filled kitchen and... hold on to your seats... a BALCONY!!! I can have a garden again! I can dry my clothes outside again! I will be one block away from an antique Italian pastry shop! Mmmm...