jeudi 23 février 2017

Knitting: the Journey Hat

This is the first hat that I knit during our trip to Patagonia.

The pattern is the Traveling Cable Hat from Purl Soho. It just so happens that I had two skeins of Berrocco "Voyage" yarn in my stash, of the right weight and length, so it was only fitting that I used it for this pattern.

The pattern has a nice mix of cable and twists. It was fairly easy to make once you get into the rhythm of how the stitches repeat, and it was the perfect past time to keep me occupied on the two days we drove southward on Ruta 40, in Argentina. The road spreads for hundreds of km in the dry and dusty pampa, with not much to look at other than the occasional Guanaco grazing on dry twigs off the side of the road. So while B. did all the driving, I kept my hands busy with knitting and our minds entertained with Marc Maron potcasts.

I was able to finish this hat just in time for the final stretch of our trip: a 6-day hiking trek on the O circuit of the famous Torres del Paine National Park.

I love that in the end, I knit this Traveling Cable hat with Voyage yarn while on a road trip, and wore it on the last leg of our journey. Ha!

We got back to a snow covered Vancouver and everyone was asking me if it was tough to come back to the cold after our trip, but I'm actually happy about it - it gives me a chance to wear my new hat -and a lot of my other knit items from previous years...

jeudi 9 février 2017

Knitting: Bray Cap

In December, B and I went away for a full month and traveled to Costa Rica and Chile. We were camping and backpacking most of the way, so we had to pack light. But even then I couldn't resist bringing a knitting project along, and what best project to bring than a hat.

In fact, I brought two hat projects with me, and this one happens to be #2, which I started on the trip but finished here last week.

The pattern is Bray Cap by Jared Flood for Brooklyn Tweed. It is a mixture of cables and lace, for a  slouchy result. I probably knit mine a little looser than intended as it seems to be slightly more slouchy on my head than on the pattern photos, but I do have a rather small head, so that could also be it.

The pattern includes instruction for tubular cast on, but I couldn't be bothered, so I just did a regular cast on.

Once I got the hang of the chart, the knitting was pretty straight forward and it came together quite fast (except I forgot to change needles between the ribbing and the main part, so I had to undo a dozen rows and start over with the right needles....).

I used Madelintosh yarn from my stash, Tosh Vintage in colorway Badland (worsted). It was really nice to knit with and a good combination with this pattern. Plus it's 100% superwash merino wool, and you know how I love me some merino.

I'm really happy with the result, I love the color, I think it works well with the stitch pattern, and judging from the photos, it definitely fits into my usual color scheme.

It has been snowing a lot in Vancouver, which is highly unusual (we barely ever get snow in the winter, let alone that much snow that sticks to the ground and stays over a few weeks), but I kind of like having that excuse to wear my new hat.

B, snapped all these photos yesterday morning, just before I left to go to work, and I just loved all of them, so yes, that's a lot of photos of my face for one single hat... But it's my blog after all :P

The other hat I made while on the trip was Purl Soho's Traveling Cable hat. I have to go dig through the thousands of photos taken over the month of traveling to collect some for a blog post, so hopefully I will be posting some "action shots" in the near future.

dimanche 5 février 2017

An Embroidery Project: Baby blanket

Many years ago, I discovered my step mom's collection of craft magazines, and especially one from the 70's and 80's (that has long been discontinued), named "100 idees" (100 ideas). It was an incredible wealth of craft projects, and one in particular was (and still is) a favorite of hers.

In this alphabet, each letter came with a different little character, each cuter than the other, engaging in an equally cute activity of sort. The letters were templates meant to be embroidered.
The magazine suggested embroidering the whole alphabet on a bed sheet, but my step mom used it on multiple occasion to embroider the name of the child on bed sheets or pillows cases.

As a teenager, I had tried my hand at embroidering, using just my initials, but i didn't then have much patience (or care) for it, and my letters remained unfinished for pretty much 20 years. I've always kept that little piece of fabric with me though, with the idea of one day completing it, and what's more, I've always wanted in the back of my mind, to one day use it for a new baby.

Fast forward to a year and a half ago, when our good friends K&J told us they were expecting. Right away I knew their little baby would be the recipient of an embroidered item.

Rather than a bed sheet, I decided to go with a quilted blanket.  First I started looking for a print to be used on the other side of the embroidered side. The baby's mom studied marine biology so I started looking for sea animals. It actually proved to be pretty complicated to find. Although there were a million different options for prints at my local fabric stores, very few of them had a marine animal theme and those that did just didn't appeal to me.
So I turned to online stores and found it equally challenging to find something I liked. But eventually I found this Robert Kaufman print that was perfect, and I ordered it.

Sea Animals in Ocean from Friendly Seas Collection by Cynthia Frenette for Robert Kaufman Fabrics
Once I had the "backing" fabric, I purchased a piece of fabric in a complementing solid color. The embroidery pattern gives details as to which color floss to use for each part of the letter and characters, referencing DMC floss. Luckily Michael's carries DMC and had most of the colors or a variation of so it was easy to source out.

Because I wanted this to be extra special, I also looked at all the little characters on the alphabet, and decided to switch out some of the ones that came with the letter I needed.
His mom loves foraging mushrooms so I used the little girl picking out mushrooms for the W. The little gardener was another one I decided to pick because both his parents are very outdoorsy and that fit pretty well. I also used the little fishing guy since his dad likes to fish, and the little boy with a dog since they own a dog.

I played around in Photoshop to mix and match the characters and the letters and eventually came up with the right combo. I then traced all my letters and characters from the original template, then transferred them onto the fabric. I was ready to go!

Now, all this happened around September of 2015, when the baby was due. The dad had accidentally let the name slip one night at dinner so I was able to plan out everything and I was hoping to have the whole thing done sometime within the month following his birth....

That didn't happen...

Sewing up and quilting the blanket already took me a bit of time - then I took forever to decide the placement of the name. Finally I started with the embroidering but I had very little experience in it, and it was such minute work. And  - as silly as it may sound - I was having a hard time doing it in artificial light, only in broad daylight did I feel like I could see enough to do a good job.

After a while it became clear that it wasn't going to be a present for a new born, and the more time past the less pressure I felt to get it done. So almost a year went by and we were nearing little Wyatt's 1st birthday, plus it was summer = a lot of daylight so I kicked myself in the butt and finally got it finished, just in time to give it to him as a birthday present.

So, I'm a bit embarrassed it took me so long to make, but I really love the result. I don't know that I will jump into a lot of embroidery projects in the future, but this one was really cute to make, and I'm happy I finally got to use this cute alphabet for a little boy.

I also made him a birthday card using Calvin from "Calvin and Hobbes"

My step mom also started using this alphabet a while back as a stencil for fabric paint. It takes a lot less time for an equally cute result.

Thanks to the french blog Les Centidealistes, you can find patterns and templates for a lot of projects from the magazine, including the alphabet here.

mardi 11 octobre 2016

Finished Project: Merino vest and two unexpected ways running changed my life

So yeah, I started running. Never in a million years would I have thought I would enjoy running. And yet. And yeah we've all heard that story before, and since this is still a sewing blog I won't bore you with my version of it.

But aside from now being obsessed with sewing my own athletic wear, running also introduced me to two small things that kinda litterally changed my life (not even exagerating): Merino fabric and Almond milk.

Granted, it's not like these two things just came out last month, and it may seem like a lot of "duh" moments for some of you, but if it wasn't for my newly found athletic interest,  I might not have been so inclined to try either of them. And now that I have, I can never go back.

Since the main sewing object of this post is this vest (actually completed last fall but never blogged about), I'll start with Merino. And with this statement: I'm Cold. As in, pretty much always. As in, if it's a sunny, hot summer day, but all of a sudden there's a very light breeze, I might actually get a shiver and reach for a sweater. In the past, whenever we would go out for a hike in the winter, I would pile on layers upon layers of clothing, with varying success rates at achieving comfortable warmth. Also, I would look like the Michelin man...

But THOSE. DAYS. ARE. OVER. Enters merino wool fabric. It's soft, breathable, doesn't retain sweat smell. And it's incredibly warm.

As I mentionned in this post, I got quite excited when I purchased my fabric from NZ Merino and Fabric, and ordered 5 pieces. After making my orange hoodie (also worn in those photos), I made this black vest. The vest was originally part of my race outfit but I ran out of time and finished it later.

The fabric I used this time is a heavier Merino/Spandex sweatshirting. I was originally hopping for someting a litte heavier, but in the end it's perfect.

I used Mc Call 7026  View A, without the sleeves.
I lengthenned the pattern by 3cm and made the following asjustments as I sewed it:

-Took in about 1.5cm at the front princess seam in the bust area.
-As a result, I shortenned the shoulder seam the same amount
-one issue that I ran into was that the back princess seams where a bit too tight, pulling the side seams towards the back at the waist. I had already trimmed and overlocked those seams when I realized that, so instead I let out the side seams as much as possible to compensate. If I was to make this again I would probably add 1cm ease to the back princess seams.
-The pattern comes with pockets in the side seams. I thought I would add zippers to them to make them more functionnal. Unfortunately, the pockets turned out way too bulky and made the waist line quite unflattering, so I removed them altogether. In hindsight, I should have tried cutting them out of the lighter mesh fabric that I used for the bra lining, as opposed to the same merino sweatshirting...

I also made one mistake and cut the collar pattern piece a of couple sizes too small. I didn't have enough fabric to recut, so I slashed the piece in half along the center back and added a strip of fabric to compensate for the width different. It worked fine, you wouldn't know it was a cutting mistake and not a deliberate design element.

I finished the armholes and the hem with black bias tape to avoid those areas from stretching out too much. I seem to always have that problem when sewing hems on knit. If anybody has tips on how to avoid those area becoming all wavy after sewing the hem, I'd love to hear!

I love the result, it's exactly what I needed. An additional layer to keep my core toasty.
I do still pile on layers when going out to run/hike in the cold (average is about 4), but now two of them are warm, light merino layers as opposed to thick fleece or some polyesther puffer (I would love to make myself a down puffer using this kit, but that's a whole other scale of sewing...)

As a side note, I wore these pieces pretty much every other day last winter for running, hiking, etc and washed them about as often, and they've sustained machine wash perfectly so far. Another win for merino!

I only have one full piece left, that I would like to make another running top out of, probably a half zip like this. I've  also traced a RTW merino bra and panty and plan on making a set or two with my remnants. Yeah for Merino-everything!

And now for the second life-changing item brought on by running: Almond milk. I'm not lactose intolerant, far from it (cheese and butter on bread? sour cream on... everything? yes please!), but I've always hated the taste of milk. Never could drink it. As a kid I used to put loads of sugar in my cereals to cover the taste, and then eventually I stopped putting milk in my cereal altogether (I prefer them crunchy anyways). On the other hand I always loved the idea of a cup of warm chocolate or a creamy latte on a cold winter day, never actually liked the taste. 

It's only when I started working out at home, as sort of ground work to build up muscle resistance and strength for running, that I looked for ways to make myself energy smoothies without using milk. I tried almond milk and loved it! My favorite recipe: 1 banana, 1 cup of almond milk, a table spoon of almond or cashew nut butter, add your protein powder of choice and voila! delicious nutritious breakfast drink. And of course it wasn't too long before I tried using almond milk for hot cocoa. Perfect! The taste of chocolate without that un-appealing milk flavour (:P).

So now when I come home after a hike/run in the cold and rain, I fix myself a cup of hot almond milk cocoa..and it's glorious...


vendredi 10 juin 2016

Finished Project: Merino Plantain Top

This is fabric piece #4 of 5 of my beloved merino stash. When I originally purchased the other pieces my main goal was to make warm activewear for winter running. But I couldn't resist buying this extra piece, which color was called 'Seattle Grey'. Living in Vancouver, only 3 hours north of Seattle, that reference to our most common winter weather totally spoke to me.

Instead of activewear, this time I wanted to make a simple every day top, so I decided to try Deer and Doe's free pattern Plantain. I liked the A line shape and the wide round neckline.

I cut a size 36 everywhere except for the hem, where I cut along the size 46 line (which added about 3.5cm to the length). The fit was good right off the bat, although I think I could probably use a bit more ease around the bust.
Other than that, I added 2.5 cm to the sleeve length (long sleeve version). The sleeves where still feeling a little short even with the added length, so instead of hemming them, I added a small sleeve band, which also created a slight gather at the wrist. I like the result.

I've had some issues with my previous merino makes, to get the hem to sit properply and not get all wonky after a few wash - mostly due to the stretchiness of the fabric. This time thanks to the A-line shape, the hem doesn't need to stretch over the hips, so I actually added stay tape to the hem. It worked perfectly to keep it nice and clean (at least much cleaner then without tape).

The pattern came together super easily, nothing difficult about the construction. Overall, a pretty simple to make, easy to wear shirt, with the added bonus of warmth without bulk, as merino fabric is incredible that way.

I've only got one piece of merino left (but quite a bit of scraps which I could probably make underwear out of even), destined to be another running top. But that probably won't happen until later this year as I'm now in the process of making myself...a pair of wide-legged super comfy sweat pants...

We took the photos at the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, BC, a pretty scenic setting for an otherwise