Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Production knitting

Suffice to say I've been doing a lot of knitting and crafting, among other things, so very little time for writing. Finished a scarf this evening; have a sock to finish, as well as two pairs of fingerless mitts and two caps. I do believe they'll all be done by December 25th, but my fingers and wrist will be feeling it by the time the season's over!

Craft fair last week wasn't so productive for any of us vendors, but apparently, things are rough all over so I didn't feel too insulted. I need to do a little sewing too for other gifts, so maybe that will give me ideas for bits and bobs to be sold on Etsy or shophandmade.com... We'll see...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Project Runway finale

So may I say that I'm not impressed with the season, overall, nor am I happy with the winner, Mean-ah Irina. However, considering that she presented a cohesive collection with a discernable theme/point of view, that was in the New York color story of black, black, and black, I'm not all that surprised.

Some people may have objected to the series relocating to Los Angeles for the season, but the garment industry here is much larger than the industry in New York. The difference is that the editorial/media center is NYC, so most of the name talent gravitates there. The import house I worked for maintained a showroom in NYC as well as another one in London, so it's a necessity for any hope of editorial coverage. I didn't think very much of this season's crop of hopefuls. I get the sense that designers are cast, not necessarily for their experience/talent alone, but also for personality, in the hope of creating onscreen drama. Most of the theatrical personalities left early in the season, so editing was necessary to create emotion this time around, because there weren't many fireworks coming down the runway this year.

In preparation for the finale, I went back to the blogs that Chris March wrote on the official PR website, and appreciated his insider's point of view dished up with a side of snark: http://www.mylifetime.com/on-tv/shows/project-runway/chris-march-blog
What's been bugging me about this particular crop is the fact that it skewed so young for the most part. Epperson, Gordana, and Krystal were the mature designers, and Gordana in particular was robbed. Her dress for the Getty challenge was ethereal, beautifully executed except for the uneven closure edge in the back, but as the judges said, was the only one of the entries that resembled it's inspiration. Althea should have been eliminated for sloppy execution, because her skirt and top were a hot mess, as Christian would have said. It's as if the producers want to ensure that young, inexperienced kids are the finalists to please their advertisers (who are looking for young trending viewers), and to hopefully keep their demographic audience young and hooked on their offerings. But really, is the Hulu-Twitter crowd going to care about Lifetime's usual array of battered woman of the week movies?

It occurs to me that no one over the age of 35 seems to have won Project Runway. So there's an implied undercurrent that the next thing can't possibly have any experience under his/her impeccable belt. The Laura Bennetts and Gordanas of the world may as well resign themselves to being passed over by someone younger and theoretically, hipper. While the judges seem to be going for artistry, what happens to the contestants who fall into the top six who manage to produce commercial, wearable collections?

In tonight's finale, Althea's knitwear was alright. Her collection did have a definite p.o.v. and look, with her broad-shouldered torso-hugging jackets and knitwear. It was a cohesive collection, if sportswear heavy, and I can see her getting scooped up by Max Mara or another fashion forward house. I admit to liking Carol Hannah's collection best. For someone who is self-taught, she's a master of draping. Her dresses were feminine and beautiful; the only shame is that she didn't stick to a consistent color story or theme. Which leads me back to Mean-ah Irina. The be-otch probably will have problems fitting into any team she finds herself in, however, she did produce designs that told a story (warrior woman in NYC, with her Athena helmets), and a color story (dark), and the use of pleating and woven details throughout the collection. Nina was right about the black - it doesn't photograph well, and the details that she and her assistant, Gordana, slaved over were pretty much obscured in the translation from live runway to camera, but the hints of ribbon, shimmer, and texture made me wished she had included lighter values in her palette. I wasn't crazy about the armor, I wasn't crazy about the helmets, although they added to the presentation, and I've disliked her ego throughout most of the season, but it seemed inevitable that she win.

Here's hoping that the next round of designers in the season that begins in January have more experience and that the drama is on the runway, not in the workroom.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Break for creativity

I have to admit I bit off a lot more than I could (mentally) chew with my grad program. It's not a great fit for me. Anyway, it had occurred to me that I hadn't done anything with any sort of fiber that was new, and I looked at a class schedule for one of my favorite local shops, Piecemakers , and signed up for the Fortuny Rose workshop with a local fiber artist, Arlene Baker. Seven hours later, voila, the French wired ribbon rose above.

Honestly, if this program turns out not to be the thing for me, which is a very strong possibility, I need to get off the fence and just start producing things that make me happy, and sell them. I like the idea of selling on Etsy. I just want to do my thing in my little cushy cave and get out to go buy supplies or go to the post office to deliver the packages.

Considering some of the people who I've taken workshops with - Arlene, Candace Kling, as well as classes with Mela Hoyt-Haden, and considering it's been 45 years since my grandmother first showed me how to wield an embroidery needle, I think I've got enough of a background to get paid. I got paid to work in the costume shop at the Fullerton C.L.O. My stuff has been onstage at Fullerton College, as well as some of my schools from way back. I've seen people sell some things that look really sweet, but homemade and unprofessional. I think I stand a pretty good chance of selling something!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Victoire cap

So this is the cap I came up with as a variation on the "Victoria Fingerless Mittens" from the Louisa Harding book, "Knitting Little Luxuries." It's a rather loose fitting cloche. I have a 22" head and it's very comfy on me. I will be expermenting on the weekend with version number two, as the friend whose birthday present this was intended to be is a good 4" shorter than me, not to mention smaller boned. I need to come up with something a bit more snug. Anyway, the how to for this version follows...


Worsted weight yarn. I used 1.5 skeins of Knit Picks Main Line, which is being discontinued. 82 yards per skein. 7 rows = 1 inch.

Knitting needles, #5 circular, and #5 DPNs.

Stitch markers, tapestry needle.

Picot cast on --- *co 5 sts using the cable method on circular needles, bo 2 sts, slip st on right needle back to left needle - 3 sts co; * repeat from * to co 113 stitches.

(N.B. Use stitch markers every 10 stitches as you finish your picots or you will make yourself crazy counting five and three then 113.)

Place marker and join, being careful not to twist stitches.
R1 - k all sts R2 - p all sts R3 - k all sts.

R4- k1* yo ssk; repeat from * to end.

R5 -k all sts R6 - p all sts R7 - k all sts.

Decrease row - k to last 2 sts, k2 tog.

k2 p2 ribbing for 10 rows.

Switch to stockinette stitch. K until 5" long, switch to DPN's, 28 sts on each needle.

Crown shaping

R1 - k9, k2 tog 10 times. 102 stitches. R2 - k

R3 - k8, k2 tog 10 times. 92 stitches. R4 - k

R5 - k7, k2 tog 10 times. 82 stitches. R6 - k

R7 - k6, k2 tog 10 times. 72 stitches. R 8 - k

R9 - k5, k2 tog 10 times. 62 stitches. R 10 - k

R11 - k4, k2 tog 10 times. 52 stitches. R 12 - k

R13 - k3, k2 tog 10 times. 42 stitches. R 14 - k

R15 - k2, k2 tog 10 times, k 1. 31 stitches. R 16 - k

R17 - k 1, k2 tog 10 times, k 1. 21 stitches. R 18 - k

R 19 - k 2 tog 10 times, k 1. 11 stitches.

R 20 - k 2 tog 4 times, k 1, 5 stitches.

Cut yarn off, leaving a 6" tail. Thread through tapestry needle, work through loops and pull tight; knot off. Weave in loose ends.

It went pretty fast, as most caps do. I had fun making it, will have some more fun coming up with the next variation. If you want to decrease, or increase, I would recommend doing so in increments of 4 stitches to ensure the ribbing alternates as it should. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


One of my friends decided that she liked the Victoria mittens I made from the Louisa Harding book, Knitting Little Luxuries. She asked me to make her a pair ages ago, and since her birthday is next month it's time to oblige. Thought it would be cheesy to just do the mittens, so I was going to make a cap I'd already made, then I thought I'd add the picot edge from the mitts, then add a cable to the mitts, and I though wait, why don't I start from scratch on a hat.

So I've spent the better part of today adapting the mittens pattern into a new hat. I've frogged it a few times because I didn't like the proportions, but I think I've got it going how I want it now. It's been an interesting process. I guess it's a lot easier coming up with a hat pattern than anything else - a sweater would have been overwhelming. I'm making notes as I'm making changes so that I can write up instructions to share once it's done to my satisfaction. I'm thinking that it's an 8-hour project, if that. Already planning on making more in other colors for other friends for Christmas.

Amazingly enough, I've had a miserable headache all day, and I've manged to be productive even with the headache. I wonder what I could accomplish, design-wise, if I didn't feel like I was dragging?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Decisions, decisions

Now that I've quit my day job, I need to get serious and start sewing for folks for money. Today I picked up some curtains from a friend so I can hem them for a smaller window on her back door. No big deal, I don't believe it will take me more than an hour. And she did offer to pay. So I've been checking out what the other ladies are charging out in cyber space, and for women who have the experience I have, they're saying don't accept less than $20 an hour. Between $20 and $30 an hour seems to be the thing for professional looking results, especially when it comes to RenFaire garb and bridal. So I'm pretty sure I need to charge at least $20 to pay myself what I'm worth. Sure I can knock a dress out in eight hours. Which would put my services in line with what someone would pay for a dress at Nordstrom or Macy's. But the dress would be fitted to my client and not need further alterations. And in all likelihood, it would be better made than something off the rack. So I shant feel too guilty. I'm thinking of banging out some waist cinchers and underbust corsets to sell on Etsy - forget eBay. I don't want anyone haggling with me over prices. I'm good with a sewing machine and hand needles. I deserve to earn a fair living, and I know that there are still folks around here who can afford me.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Catching up

The Immeritus SPEW knit along project was finished about the 9th. Happy to say that I can now do cables with very little trouble. I did like the hat pattern enough to consider it for gifts later this year.

Am back to the socks. Managed to make the flap and get the heel turned, but I don't think it's terribly pretty at this time. I am seriously considering frogging the silly thing for the sake of making a slightly smaller sock among other things. I also don't much care for the yarn now that it's working up - it's a 75%/25% wool/acrylic blend, but it's really itchy and I'm wondering how comfy this yarn could possibly be on the feet! I'm going to have to look at softer versions of some sort of wool or cotton blend. Cashmere would be divine, but I don't know if I could justify that sort of expense.

The Tilli Tomas beaded yarn project is going along alright. It really should have been done by now, but I'm finding the yarn rather annoying to work with, although it looks exceptionally beautiful in daylight, with the variations in the strands as well as the glimmer of the glass beads lending a different dimension to the texture.

Have some ideas for accessories to sell on Etsy. I don't think I can go back to my day job - I just don't. So I would have to be on the ball and sew at least six hours a day. We'll see - possible samples to come later ;)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Inching along

I have three projects that I am currently working on, none of which I am in any hurry to complete. One, a pair of socks in a German wool blend. Two, a darling little bag in the Tilli Tomas silk/beaded yarn. A little trying as the beads don't co-operate with my usual method of winding yarn around my fingers for tension. Third, cast on yesterday for the Immeritus Knit Along, Hermione's Hat, which I am making in the good ol' Lion Wool-Ease Worsted. Since I'm trying out cables, I figured I go with an inexpensive yarn so if things go south I won't tear my hair out over the expense. I feel more confident about my abilities to do the other two, therefore, I am not freaking out over cost...

I've just been carrying them along with my in my Getty tote bag - great for visiting friends, and just sitting and chatting. Of course, I can't do that with anything complicated like the lace scarf in hibernation... At least I am being somewhat productive. And I have a request for the lacy Louisa Harding gauntlets that I'd made for myself - a friend wants a pair in black as well, but I think I'll do mohair for her - she has little hands and it will look cute...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Retail therapy

I haven't paid a visit to our LYS in Brea for quite awhile. The drive alone was worth it, seeing how beautifully green the hills were after the recent rains, glowing emerald in the late afternoon sunlight. Twenty minutes and over $80.00 later, I have three more skeins of yarn - 2 skeins of Trendsetter Tonalita yarn (made in Italy), in a multiple grey colorway that should stripe. It's like a storm over the ocean, the same yarn featured in the L.A. Times slouch beret pattern. Looking forward to making that one. I also shot my (plastic) budget with one skein of Tilli Thomas Rock Star yarn, 100% silk with these incredible luminescent glass beads in the American Beauty colorway, a deep ruby/rose red. $42.00 for 100 grams. *gulp* It is just so delicious, so damn beautiful, I had to have it. The store had a little bag made up in this yarn with some matching silk dupioni - absolutely incredible. I think I'm going to use the Louisa Harding "Charlotte" purse pattern - it's rather small and plain, so the beading and the yarn will be the feature, not the stitches. I almost fainted when I saw the price tag, but my gosh, some things are to die for, and after all, rubies are my birthstone (that's my story and I'm sticking to it...)

I will take photos of the stash and post on Ravelry...

Saturday, January 31, 2009


I've done a lot of knitting since the weeks before the Holidays. I can see the difference in my stitches in projects I started a couple of years ago, and things started and finished recently. My tension is much more even, my stitches are more even. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. So now that I've made a cap and two pairs of gauntlets on dpn's, I believe I'm ready to tackle socks. Fingers crossed they come out o.k. I feel a lot more confident about my ability than I did a year ago. If anything stumps me, all I have to do is look at an online tutorial. My granny never had it so easy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Productive time

It's been a very productive month, knitting wise. I finished John's hoodie sweater, which was one of his Christmas gifts, as well as two pairs of handwarmers and a hat in the past week. I'm up to about 55" on the buttonhole scarf of doom. If I follow the measurements in the Vogue Knitting magazine, it should be about 70" long. If I listen to Vickie Howell's advice, it should be about 66" long. What's 4"? I probably got at least 8" done today - I did 60 rows.

Considering that I made the scarf narrower than called for, I'm going to have two skeins of yarn leftover, and I'm already planning on making them into a nice pair of picot edged handwarmers from the Knitting Little Luxuries book by Lousia Harding. I'm guessing that I will be starting them by the middle of next week.

I'm seriously considering picking up vintage fabrics from various (cheap) sources and making needle cases to sell on Etsy. Something unique. They want a 3% fee, so I'd have to consider that, as well as taxes and separate shipping charges. Working from home is sounding better and better. Of course, there's no telling if anyone would buy what I have to offer in this economy... Having said that, I like the idea of working on my own (if my studio ever gets built) and sending my goods off to the wider world. We'll see...