A Note on Swatching

We’ve all heard it. “Swatches are essential.” Well, are they?

Long answer short: yes.

But we’re stuck, because swatches are lying little b****es. They’ve stabbed us in the back so many times that we’ve forgotten how to trust. That too long sweater? For once I actually followed the pattern, but that sneaky b*****d lied and told me that I was doing things right on schedule. 

I know why they do it (sometimes), they stretch more with more weight or they shrink (that one I don’t get). 

Which is why I always swatch, they just usually come out looking very “project-shaped”. I am one of those knitters that don’t mind reknitting a few times (more than three, and I’ll be asking “what project?”). The reason I do this is because when the swatch is a part of the project, it lies less.  Yes, sometimes the yarn changes when washed or colors bleed, but I have a simple work-around: small swatches for color-work to test bleeding or separate washes for first time items (or until I’m satisfied that all of the dye is safely in place).  As for changes in washed items, I haven’t really had a problem. Sometimes I make a hat or something where gauge doesn’t really matter if I’m worried, but it’s still almost always a usable project.  I’m going to be honest: I don’t dislike swatches because they lie or because they’re sneaky, it’s really because that yarn is pretty much gone.  Sure, you could rip it out and combine it with other similar yarn or swatches, but I don’t.  I even keep the yarn used to tie together skeins.  I don’t cut it (if I can), I put it into a baggie to use as stitch markers and scrap yarn.  None of my yarn is “wasted”.

So what prompted my rant on swatches?  I actually swatched.  Multiple times.  Why?

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I’m designing a sweater.

Oh, and once I was done with the swatches, I turned a few into dog sweaters, so still no waste.  🙂

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You Might Want To Sit Down For This

Are you sitting? Good.

I started a new project, one to keep me sane between the Christmas knitting/sewing. It is the Beekeepers Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits. Super cute.  So I was just getting into the little hexipuffs when I reached a break in the yarn. Now this is the Cattywampus that I bought a few months ago, and I was very confused. So I looked at the ball and found the end of the yarn.  So dreading what I thought may have happened, I wound the end into a small ball, and when I got to the end, I only had a few yards in the ball.

Now some of you might know what happened, but I’ll continue my story.

So I looked at the main ball, examining every inch of it until I found a neat little hole in the side.  I immediately started rolling out more little balls in denial, but then it happened. A little chunk fell out. Now, I had pizza for dinner, so I tried my hardest to pretend that it was a piece of crust, but it wasn’t. There was a nice round moth hole in my yarn.

Now I’m nuking all my yarn in the microwave, freezing it in the freezer for a few days, and then reorganizing my stash.

This is a nightmare.

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Ugh

I just broke in and got a pinterest account.  I kind of hate myself for it, but most of the beautiful pictures that I’m looking at are linking back there, and I might as well.  I still don’t have a Twitter, so I haven’t totally given in yet.  Honestly, I hate most of this “social networking” stuff nowadays.  I have a blog to collect my thoughts and keep track of my crafts and other such progress.  Plus, I have a hard time finding blogs that really keep track of progress and show details, and I want to have a resource out there for others like me who want detail shots.  I do have a Facebook, but I can’t even remember the last time I was on it.  I’m only mid-twenties, but I remember before this networking, and I don’t really like what it’s doing to people.  But things like certain blogs and some other things are helpful.  I don’t know, maybe I’m being sort of hypocritical complaining about social networking through a social network, but that’s the way it is.

Anyway, if the Yarn Harlot hadn’t thought of it first, I might be a Craft Harlot.  I’ve started on my Christmas Crafting, This means that my 1880’s outfit has kind of gone on the wayside (but not too much).  I added a new page up top with all the places that have helped me with my historical sewing, but I think I’m going to add one with my Christmas Crafting Progress.  None of my family knows about this, so I’m hoping if anyone actually finds this they will want to be surprised instead of looking.  But then again, I don’t think anyone in my family will accidentally stumble upon this blog, as I am the only one interested in historical sewing, Doctor Who and knitting.  My mom is a crocheter and does needlework, but she is computer illiterate, so she wont find it.   

I only have two project now.  A needlepoint for my mom about Dogs, and a shawl for my bf’s aunt who I picked out of the hat.  

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Corset Pictures

Turns out I didn’t have to look very hard to figure out how to import the pictures.  I sort of feel like an idiot…. Oh well.  Here are some picture-y goodness:

Corset Pattern

Here is a very small incomplete picture of the pattern I used (I want to encourage you to go buy the book, not infringe on someone’s publication).  I loved the simplicity of this pattern, the others were also gorgeous, but I am still new to corset-making, so while I know HOW to insert gussets, they still make me a bit nervous in corsets.

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Here is my drafting of the pattern, exactly as it is written.  I like to make my changes to any patterns after I do my muslin.  I alter patterns all the time (both in knitting and sewing) but I like to honor the pattern maker, so unless I have my own vision for what it will be (like my Tardis Boloro, that will be all me) I like to see what it looks like before just changing things willy-nilly.

 

  Corset Front Beach, Knit, Sew 041Corset Side Corset Back    

These are the drafted corset.  (Yes, I used shoe string to tie it up, that’s what I had on hand)  I don’t know how well you can see in these pictures, but the waist is too high, the bust comes down too low, the hips are too high, and yes I am wearing a pair of sweatpants.   🙂

So my next task is to draft out the pattern with the extended waist line.  The hips, I think are just fine, and the bust when pulled up is also looking to be right (It was hard to tell, as the corset waist was pulling a bit when I pulled it up to check the bustline).  This does have the boning in it, as you can tell from that side view, so I think that once I change the waistline, it’ll fit much better.  

I have to head off to work in half an hour, but maybe I’ll have a fully drafted pattern by then!

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Planning stages

I have decided.  My next big project is a Tardis Dress.  I have it all planned out, with sketches and basic designs.  My goal is to have this dress ready to wear by May.  Why May?  There is a local con that gathers in May, and I would like to have it done before then.

Until then, my test piece (to see if I have the skills) is going to be a full out historical bustle period dress.  Which period, might the historically savvy of you ask?  I am leaning between the late bustle and natural form periods.  So about 1870ish to 1883ish.  Why do this period as a test?  Good question.

My Tardis dress as it stands is sort of taken from the episode, “The Doctor’s Wife”.  Her dress in that was a bit more late period (maybe turn of the century), but this is still where I draw my inspiration from.

The layers:

1. Chemise

2. Drawers

3. Petticoats (multiple, all dyed the color of the inside of the Tardis, get it?  Bigger on the inside?  I crack myself up)

4. Underskirt (colored in the paneling of the Tardis)

5. Corset (Why so far up?  Because this is a slightly steam-punk-esk dress, and the corset is going to be showing)

6. Draped Overskirt

7. Boloro

8. Hat (If I can.  My plan is to make it light up and whoosh like the Tardis, and I will need help with that)

The sketches I made to this are simple and not very good, but I’ll try to scan them in later.  (My printer/scanner went kaput the other day, and I can’t figure out how to get my pictures on my new computer, so that’s out for the time being…)  The plan is currently like this: A natural form bustle dress with a Tardis corset with embroidered paneling (the PULL TO OPEN part of the Tardis) and a light up hat.

So why a historically accurate bustle dress to practice?  I have made very few full detail dresses so far, and only two without help a very long time ago.  So I feel like I need to stretch my sewing skills and take them for a spin.  Plus I have some really nice (donated) suiting fabric that I can make this dress out of (it is a blend of non-natural fabrics (I believe) *cringe*, but it was free….so….).  I do not have the money to be going out and spending money on the fabric for this dress, so using the materials I have I can test my skills and while doing so, gather up the materials for my Tardis dress.  I plan to go all out on this dress, so I need to save quite a bit.

So far I have drafted up a corset from Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 1: Undergarments, Bodices, Skirts, Overskirts, Polonaises, and Day Dresses 1877-1882, I’m doing the Corset Without Gussets on page 54, for anyone who has it.  It came out rather nicely, and I do have pictures, but I need to figure out my camera and computer before I can get them out to you.  (I’m horribly not-tech-savvy if you haven’t noticed)  This corset was beautiful but I need to add a full four inches to the height, as it only gave me three between the underbust and top of the hip.  I’ve never fully completed a corset on my own yet, but I do buy cheap corsets from ebay and take them apart to put in real boning.  At 10-25 dollars a pop and less than that for the boning, it’s a cheap easy way to dissect a corset and learn the ins and outs.  I have made chemise and drawers before, so I’m not overly worried about them, but the outfit itself is a little worrying to me.  I may have dabbled in sewing my entire life, but this is entirely new to me.  I’m crossing my fingers!  Hopefully by the end of the weekend, I’ll have a fully drafted chemise, drawers, and corset.

I am going back to school on Aug 18th, so I’ll have little time then to work, but I’m determined to make this work.

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Next Big Project

There was a cosplay convention recently nearby that I didn’t go to, but I did go people watching at.  I love the costumes and I especially love it when I can see the detail and skill that goes into a costume.  I want to have my own.  I am giving myself six months to plan, gather materials and construct a costume for myself.  I am on a small budget, especially given how much I’ve been spending on yarn recently, so this is going to be “costume on a budget” year.  My soft deadline is Halloween, but I’ve decided that if it isn’t done then, no big deal.  I want to do something extensive, but not too extreme.  Also, I want to try new techniques.  I know how to sew and knit, but there are other skills I want to expand on.  I’d love to incorporate an electrical component of some sort.  I’m going to continue my knitting, but on my days off of work, I’ll most likely be working on a costume.

So my checklist is:

1. Find a costume to make

2. Figure out how to make it cheaply, or which components I need to save for

3. Figure out the time management (set a schedule)

4. Lean new skills

5. Post pretty pictures

I think I can do it.  Any ideas on costumes?  

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Exciting Mother’s Day

We had a late mother’s day with my mom and my bf’s mother.  I gave my mom the rainbow socks that I finished on Monday.  I also started two new pairs of socks.  Both are from my LYS Socks That Rock.  One is in the Lucky colorway and the other was the Cattywampus.  One of the Cattywampus is done, but I just have a few inches on the Lucky.  No pictures yet though.  I do have pictures though!

First is the Foqua hat:

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I love the circular pooling, and S will LOVE these colors.  This hat makes me so happy.  I ended up with only a few yards left.  I have a picture of how much I had left:

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Isn’t that crazy?  I did purchase a new skein, just in case I didn’t finish, but I was really hoping to not have to use it, and I didn’t have to!  Yay!

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These are the hats that I sent off for S.  She’s shaved her head and I hope that these help.  They are knit loosely, so that hopefully they don’t keep too much heat in for the summer, but do protect her head.

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These are the socks that I gave to my mother.  I love them so much.  I just wish they fit me more.  I have plenty left over because I make short socks.  When I buy socks from the store, I buy short socks.  I hate the feeling of socks between short socks and knee-high socks.  I have little patience for long stretches of stockinette, unless the yarn is super fun looking like these, so knee-highs are mostly out.  Which means short socks.

Back with Lucky socks and Cattywampus socks soon!  And potentially an Owl hat.

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