Category Archives: Purl

And now for something completely different

It’s almost October.  And that means it’s time for me to start knitting Jack’s winter scarf, hat and mittens, not to mention his yearly sweater.  I dragged Jack to Purl yesterday to buy some yarn for these endeavors.  He was pretty good natured about it, especially in light of the fact that he woke up at 4:30am and didn’t take a nap at all yesterday.  So as reward for a completely sleepless day, I decided to walk to Soho and fondle buy some yarn. 

Here’s what I picked up…

Jacks yarn 2009


For Jack’s scarf, I am using a pattern I found on Liesl’s blog, Disdressed.  I made it last year and it was great!  I love how you thread one end of the scarf through the other end so it doesn’t come undone and kids can’t pull them off.  Ingenious!  I started the scarf last night and should be done tonight.  I am using the multi-colored yarn for the scarf, hat and mittens.  Here’s the progress thus far…

Jack scarf 2009


The burgundy and blue yarn is for Jack’s sweater.  I am going to use the same sweater vest pattern as last year as it was really easy and fast.  I bought a book called The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patternsby Ann Budd and it’s very clever.  You can use whatever yarn you want, whatever size needles to get the guage of any of the projects in the book.  Very cool. 

Here are some shots of Jack’s last two Christmas sweaters:

Jack xmas 1a


jacks 2008 sweater


While I do have a picture of the scarf I made last year, I don’t have any of the hat or mittens though.  😦



Ok, it was a marathon day and I finished the scarf before I finished this post, if you can believe it?!?!  Because I scarcely can.   Here’s the finished scarf in all it’s glory.   The second picture shows my finger inside the hole made by splitting the 22 stitches onto two different needles (dpn’s) and knitting them separately (you have to cut the yarn after knitting one side to pick up the stitches on the second needle).  Then when both sides are equal in length, you knit them onto a single needle again and thereby closing off the hole or slit.  Ingenious!  The third photo shows one scarf end threaded through the hole or slit of the second end.

 Jacks 2009 scarf finished

Jacks 2009 scarf slot

Jacks 2009 scarf tied

I have already cast on for the hat now.  Using Ann Budd’s book (referenced above).  Just a simple hat knit in the round.  The yarn will give the interest.

Happy knitting and sewing everyone!


Pictures of projects past

As promised in my Backstory post, here are pictures of my past finshed objects (FOs) and the quilt my Mom made for little Jack.  I forgot to take one picture though, but I’m sure you’ve all seen pillows before.  LOL.

First up is the quilt my Mom made in celebration of Jack’s birth.  I asked for blues and looked through various quilting sites for a pattern.  Of course I picked a really difficult one as I have absolutely no knowledge of quilting and how hard it is to do pointy piecework; now I know.  I think it’s really beautiful and Jack still asks for it to be laid down on the floor for him to play on like when he was an infant.  He has a memory like an elephant.quilt-1

Next up on the “slideshow”  are my own FOs.  So first is a picture of my now extremely dirty totebag that I made at the Purl sewing class.  I made longer straps than the pattern called for, much to my regret.  I should have left well enough alone.  😉  I chose the fabrics from Purl and love the combo for the outside/lining if I do say so myself.  Construction details included fusible interfacing for the straps and the snap area, a snap, and an interior pocket.  I also completed a zipped pencil bag, but forgot to take a picture of that.

Tote Bag Exterior

Tote Bag Exterior

Lining w/ interior pocket
Lining w/ interior pocket
Detail of snap and interior pocket

Detail of snap and interior pocket

Now we have FOs from my class at Sew Fast Sew Easy.  First on the docket is the skirt.  Construction details are stretch woven from Kashi at Metro Textile, elasticized waist, handsewn hem with hemtape,  and skirt vent fused.   Here are some pics:black-skirt

Elasticized waist interior detail

Elasticized waist interior detail

Skirt hem handsewn with hemtape

Skirt hem handsewn with hemtape

Next up is the tshirt I made in the same class.  Please excuse the mysterious stain on the front; I have no idea what that is and it won’t come out in the wash.  The collar and seams were serged, but a sewing machine was used to hem the sleeves and hem.   Not sure why since a straight sewing stitch has no give, but it’s still a great shirt to sleep in. tshirt-1


As I mentioned earlier, I forgot to take a picture of the home dec pillow which has a most excellent invisible zipper installation.  We also completed a small tote bag, but I gave it to a friend of mine, Nikki, so I don’t have any pictures of it to show you all.  Maybe Nikki (hint hint if you’re reading this) will supply the picture in the near future.  Well, that’s it for today’s show and tell. 

In sewing machine news today, I am considering buying a new sewing machine.  Any suggestions?  I am interested in a machine that is great for garment sewing.  I’m not really interested in machine embroidery at this time, so that kind of functionality is not needed.  I want a machine I can grow into, but isn’t too much for my beginner level.  Most especially, I want a machine that allows me to just sit down and sew without any troubleshooting for hours on end each and every time I use it.  The only caveat is I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars.  Is that asking too much???


Way back in January, Lindsay of Lindsay T Sews (Again) wrote her sewing backstory and asked other sewing bloggers to tell theirs.  Well, I don’t have much of one and after reading so many blogs for so long now, my story is probably not going to compare, but here goes…

Both my grandmother on my mother’s side and my mom sewed.  My grandmother used to work at a furniture manufacturer, now defunct, Homer Brothers.  I vaguely remember them.  She sewed upholstery.  However my mom remembers that she used to sew dresses for her daughters as well.  Mom doesn’t remember how Grandma learned to sew.  Grandma didn’t sew after she retired from the factory I don’t think.  And since then, her eyesight has deteriorated from macular degeneration.  So she couldn’t sew if she wanted to now.  😦

My mother started sewing for herself, her sisters and me when I was about 3 yrs old.   She taught herself from patterns.  She said the first thing she made for me was an Easter cape.  She made prom dresses, fully lined (!), for my aunts and dresses for herself.   Mom stopped sewing when she started working full-time and when we kids started becoming a lot more active in after school activities.  However, when I was in high school, she took out the sewing machine again and made one of my prom dresses.  I still have it!  It’s a beautiful teal, watered taffeta, single shoulder strap (correct term???) full length dress.   When I was still singing for a living, much later, I used it as recital gown; it’s a timeless style.  Note to self, take picture of it tonight.  (ETA: ACK!  I can’t find the dress!!!  I must have given it away in one of my many moves in recent years.  I know I brought it with me to NY though.  SO SAD!!!)  She’s taken up quilting in the last few years and makes beautiful quilts for all the grandkids.  I will take a picture of Jack’s quilt tonight and add it to this post later. 

I came into sewing a bit sideways.  I was never interested in taking a sewing Home Ec class in Jr High or high school.  Nor did I take any interest whenever my mom sewed.  Never.  I made really bad curtains once for an apt back when I was still in Chicago (by bad, I mean that I didn’t take into account that you need more fabric when you gather the curtain).  When I moved to New York, I was making mosaics and taking classes from a mosaic artist in the city, Valerie Carmet.  Still no interest in sewing although I thought I could tackle a slipcover for my grandmother’s couch.    LOL   I bought my Singer and 12 yds of home dec fabric at that time with the intention of making the slipcover.  I made it as far as sewing 1/2 a muslin mockup and then just gave up.  I even found someone on Craig’s List who was willing to give me sewing lessons at home and helped me start the muslin, but I think that project killed my sewing enthusiasm for a while. 

I have knitted for about 6 years and have even started garment knitting (as opposed to accessories, such as scarves).  But still no interest in sewing.  Then I started reading a ton of craft blogs.  Not sure how that happened, but it did.  And then the list of blogs gradually morphed into mostly sewing blogs by sometime in 2008 (I know, I am so exact in my timing here).  I recall that the sewing blogs became a priority for me after I sewed aprons for all the women in my family for Christmas two years ago.  A friend of mine, Leslie, sewed the difficult parts held my hand throughout the process and I was very pleased with the aprons!  I wrapped them around cookbooks like wrapping paper.  I loved making those gifts.  The whole process, from picking out the fabric for each person to figuring out how to size each apron appropriately and sewing each stitch, just mesmerized me.  I was hooked.  That’s when the frenzy of sewing blog reading really reached a pitch fever.  My blog roll is so long!  I had to start using a blog reader to get me through it all each day.  LOL. 

The next step in my sewing evolution was a totebag making class at Purl.  I use my totebag every day.  I bought the fabrics there, both the lining and outer fabric.  The teacher was young, creative and she took time to answer all of our questions.  Then I took a beginner’s sewing class series called Stitch and Bitch University at Sew Fast Sew Easy.  I think it lasted 10 weeks with a class per week.  I reviewed the class on Pattern Review, so you can read the details there.  I’ve also taken some classes online with Pattern Review, Serger 101 and Techniques for Underlining, both very good! 

With all these classes under my belt, I am off to a good start.  If only I had more time to sew.  I am a slow sewer, especially if I don’t have any visual instruction.  Reading directions is challenging for me as I usually can’t visualize them well in my mind’s eye.  I usually accost my co-worker and friend, Victoria, every morning with questions on directions or sewing/knitting in general.  She’s very knowledgeable; she used to sew and still knits quite a bit.  I am working really hard to convince her she needs to get back into sewing again.  Anyway, I may not be prolific like other bloggers, but I will keep chugging along. 

My main purpose with learning to sew is to make my own clothes.  I would love to be able to sew my whole work wardrobe, including suits, but hand tailoring is a bit scary to me.  I have never even attempted pants.  I wish I could keep taking classes, but it’s expensive and the babysitting fees are killing me.  Hopefully I can teach myself like my mom did.  But I’m worried that my understanding directions “impairment” will hamper my efforts. 

I’m also not a fashionista like my friend Victoria or my fellow bloggers,  Cidell or Mica, but hopefully I will avoid making any fashion faux pas like a floral jacquard blazer or something equally horrific.  😉  I wear suits to work almost every day because it’s like wearing Garanimals as my friend Cayce calls it; you don’t have to put an outfit together.  Maybe sewing my own clothes will actually make me more fashionable?  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened. 

So, there it is, my backstory (apologies for the length).  How I came from professional singer to part-time mosaicist to humble beginner sewist.  I will add some pictures either tonight or later this weekend.  So check back!

Happy sewing everyone…

The eagle has landed!

Or, how I won the Battle of the Chiffon!

Well, last night I fixed an eye on my Singer 5160 and was determined to finish this scarf.  I took some more of the advice I was given on Pattern Review and cleaned out the bobbin area of my machine.  I opened the plate and, lo and behold, there were all these dust bunnies in there!  I used the handy dandy brush that came with my Singer and dusted away.  I even used a stiff piece of fabric to clean out the bobbin tension discs.  After screwing the plate back on, I took my Singer on a test drive with some chiffon scraps…

And voila!  It worked.  No more loose stitches on the bottom and no more chewing of my precious chiffon.  I couldn’t believe it.  No more hand sewing for me! 

I quickly sewed on the remaining scraps, frayed them and the scarf was done!  Here is my rendition of Victoria’s beautiful RTW scarf…

Anne's Scarf

Anne's Scarf

Scarf, end detail

Scarf, end detail

Closed up of scarf w/ frayed scraps

Closed up of scarf w/ frayed scraps


Next up in the queue is NOT going to be the spring/summer scarf, but an easter basket for Jack like this one that Liesl of Disdressed made…  I am going to use the cute planets and rockets fabric I bought from Purl recently.

Happy chiffon sewing everyone!

WIP and UFOs

Here’s a pic of my knitting work in progress.  It’s one of the bell shaped sleeves.  whisper-cardiganIf you’ll recall, I am making the Whisper Cardigan from the spring 2009 Interweave magazine.  This little shrug has caused some mighty problems already, but mostly having to do with yarn selection.  The first time I wrote about this project, I had visited my usual “go to” LYS (local yarn store), Purl.  I spoke with a new salesperson there, asking for a similar weight yarn to the one used in the magazine pattern.  She guided me based on the guage of the yarn (6 stitches to the inch), rather than the weight of the yarn suggested.  And I could tell right away that the yarns she suggested were  all wrong, worsted weights instead of fingering…  The end result wouldn’t be lacy and whispery at all.  It would be a regular ole sweater.  But I went against my better judgement and listened to her “expert” advice and bought a beautiful wool/silk blend yarn.  To be fair, the yarn is beautiful and wonderful to handle and will definitely be a beautiful garment, whatever it’s destined to be.  BUT it will NOT be the whisper cardigan.  I cast on about four times with this yarn with different size needles and never came close to a whisper look.  This is just one of the many experiences I have had recently where I should have trusted my instincts.  Note to self: Must listen to and trust myself more often.

So what’s a girl to do?  But go to a new store.  Upon the advice of a friend I checked out a new store (to me) on the UWS, Knitty City.  This store is chock full of yarns and full of helpful staff (not that Purl isn’t, just giving a review here).  It was also packed with customers too.  A good sign.  They had tons of fingering weight yarns from which to choose.  I wanted my shrug to go with everything, so I knew that I would choose a cream color and found a creamy mohair/silk blend that’s just gorgeous, by Rowan, called Kidsilk Haze

Now I have the perfect yarn, but do I have the perfect needles?  NO!  After I had cast on a few more times (don’t ask), I was knitting on DPNs (double pointed needles) on my subway commute uptown when I noticed that I had dropped stitches all the way around.  I had been so careful, but still had dropped stitches.  And the more I tried to pick them up, the more I dropped!!!  ARGH!!    An emergency trip to the yarn store across from my office later (which I am sad to say is closing due to the economy) and I had circular needles on which to keep my stitches safe. 

So now I am about halfway done through one sleeve.  It’s actually quite fast knitting if you don’t redo the same four hours of stitching 8 times over.  😉  Also, this is my first time knitting with fingering weight and I thought it would be annoying, but I am finding that it’s quite enjoyable.  The resulting fabric is nice to feel as well.  I think I will really love this sweater and get a lot of wear out of it.   Yeah!

[Insert clumsy segue here]  Which brings me to my next topic…  UFOs.  Do you have a lot of UFOs?  I usually don’t.  As a general rule, I normally don’t start a new project until my current project is finished.  However, this winter was a different story.  I started two projects for myself that I have yet to finish, a bulky winter sweater and a pair of socks.  I have not finished them.  They were both started somewhat contemporaneously.  They both involve new techniques and some self design elements (because, silly me, why would you want to follow the pattern exclusively???).  So I think my problems in both instances have to do with my confidence level in my own design ability (which I would say is non-existent).  And now I have started a new project, but I think this one will definitely be finished as I am not going off the pattern reservation.  And I really need it, whereas I don’t need a winter sweater anymore now that spring is here (right?  spring is here now?). 

So my questions to you are:  1.  Do you have UFOs?  2.  If so, why or how did they become UFOs?  3.  Do you think you’ll ever finish them?

Re: Sewing…  Still wondering which BWOF pattern to use for my Kokka purple print fabric.  Any suggestions?

Stash 101

As promised, here are some pics of my fabric stash.  Not all of it mind you, but some.   The first pic is of some black stretch cotton, Kokka gauzy cotton and black t shirting.  Apologies for the poor picture of black

I bought the Kokka fabric at Purl Patchwork in Soho last week.  The black fabrics were bought from Kashi at Metro Textile back in August or September 2008 I think.  I bought them for the Stitch & Bitch University sewing class I took at Sew Fast Sew Easy.  I reviewed the class here.   I made an elasticized straight skirt out of the black stretch cotton and nothing out of the t-shirt fabric.  Why you ask?  Well, the t-shirt only had 2 way stretch, and the t-shirt pattern from the class required 4-way stretch.  I don’t think they specified that though in the syllabus.  Anyway, not sure what I’m going to do with the t-shirt material at this point.  I think I have one yard left of the stretch cotton.  The Kokka print is by far the most expensive fabric I’ve bought to date, $20/yd.  I only bought one yard.  I am hoping to make a sleeveless or cap sleeved blouse with it using my new Burda WOF subscription (I have received the Feb and Mar 2009 issues already).  Any suggestions?  Here’s a close up of the fabric.  It looks like the flowers are going in both directions vertically.  Am I right?kokka-gauzy-fabric

The second set of fabrics are a creme wool and taupe bemberg lining; bought from Kashi again with the intention of making a skirt.  This was from the NY PR meet up last fall.  I don’t have a pattern in mind yet, but have several skirt patterns in my stash already.creme-wool-and-beige-bemberg

The third set was also bought from Kashi at the NY PR meet up are a black cotton lace and a deep red silk charmeuse.  I intend to make a skirt with this combo as well.  Should I use the charmeuse as underlining?  or just as lining?  So many questions…  Again, no pattern yet in mind, but it will probably be simple as the main design element will be the fabrics themselves.  lace-and-charmeuse

Next up in the fabric stash show and tell series, my knit collection and a few more wovens!

We interrupt this program…

Ok, I know that I said, previously, that this blog would primarily deal with sewing.  But something happened over the weekend while we were at Barnes and Noble.  I saw the new Spring 2009 Interweave Knits magazine.  The cover sweater is rather lackluster, but the patterns inside were actually pretty good.  There were several things that I wanted to make for myself.  So, I guess I got my knitting mojo back.  I stopped at Purl in Soho for some yarn, a beautiful wool/silk blend in cream and I cast on for this beautiful shrug


Of course, since I was in the neighborhood, I had to check out the Purl fabric store (it’s just a couple of storefronts north of the yarn store).  I want to make blouse with some gauzy fabric.  I haven’t yet picked out the pattern, so if any of you have any suggestions, let me know…  The exact fabric I bought is not in the online store, but here is a sampling of similar prints and weight.  The fabric I bought is a cream background with delicate purple flowers.  Purple is my “pavorite” color.  (fyi: my 3-yr-old niece says pavorite instead of favorite, so we all say it now.)

Coming blog attractions:  a post on my current fabric stash and one on my next sewing project, vaguely referenced above.  Gotta keep my sewing chops and mojo going too!  The knitting is just to keep me busy on my subway commutes to and from work.  As my sister says, I have to be entertained at all times.  😉

Happy sewing and knitting!