Knitwear Refashions, Part 1

A month ago I decided to tackle the refashioning pile. I’ve posted about some of the sewing refashions I finished, but I actually tackled some of the knitwear first. One of the projects is taking a long time, since I can only knit a few rows now and then, so I’m abandoning my plan to do one knitwear refashion post so I can show you what I’ve done so far:

Sunrise Circle Jacket
Before:

After:

Because the garment has raglan style sleeves, and I wanted to use the same sort of hem on the arms as on the rest of the garment, I could only frog back to a short sleeve rather than sleeveless. I’ve added extra large decorative hook and eyes that have been in my sewing notions stash for twenty or so years. I like the change but I will have to see if I wear it now before I decided if I’m happy with it.

Cowly Vest
Before:

After:

It’s a little hard to see the change, but trust me, the vest sit better. After removing the triangles joining the shoulders I put the garment on the dress model, with the underarm about where it needed to be, and discovered a very simple solution: fold the front and back over each other and stitch into place. Very pleased with this one.

Olive Wrap Vest

On closer examination I decided a woven shawl would be nicer, so I frogged it.

I also frogged this:
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I’d outgrown it a while ago and made three attempts to add width to the front that all looked crap. I decided I didn’t want to send it to the op shop. I like the yarn, and I’m thinking of taking out the rocket needles to make another chunky scarf.

I wound up with quite a bit of frogged yarn:

All which I washed and hung to dry and straighten, wound into balls and added to to the stash.

There’s something appealing about frogged yarn, especially when it has gone slightly felty. It’s more rustic, and more honest. Some washing and wear and you see its true self, and hopefully what you knit with it won’t change any further.

The Big Blue

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Yarn: Vintage Hues (discontinued, I believe) and Dale Garn as warp and for the black stripes
Weave structure: doubleweave
EPI: 5
Comments: This is the biggest thing I’ve woven. Using doubleweave allowed me to make it twice the width of the loom – 160cm – and it’s about the same length. Unlike with previous blankets made with this yarn, I decided I wouldn’t bother to try and match the graduation of the yarn from one ball to the next, instead putting stripes of the warp yarn between them. This did mean I had to reject any ball that had a knot and sudden colour change, or the stripes wouldn’t have been an equal width.
Conclusion: I love it! It’s soft and cuddly and I can wrap myself up in it!

I also wove a scarf with the yarn as a sampler:

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The project has been on my to-do list for a few years, and now that it’s done my stash has reduced considerably. Not quite down to my comfortable baseline of 10 kilos, though.

Dreaming in Photoshop

I want to do more embroidery, and this brings up a very common crafty dilemma: what to make. We don’t have space to hang a pile of new artworks, pendants are fun and quick but I don’t need hundreds of them, and I’m not itching to attack the bed linen. What I’d like to do is embellish some clothing. These examples on my Pinterest board are along the lines of what interests me.

So one afternoon (with gloomy light thanks to bushfire smoke) I went through my wardrobe and pulled out garments that might look nice with, or be improve by, some embellishment. Then I opened the photos in Photoshop and played with the paintbrush tool to get a general idea for colours and position of designs.

This hemp vest and top, for example. I’m thinking a multi-coloured, flowery design or whitework:

Or this dress I made from a men’s shirt. I could add some feminine scrolly bits, or replicate the striped button band across the pockets, armholes and collar:

Perhaps this retro style dress needs some ladybirds on the collar and skirt, or tattoo style roses:

Speaking of roses, this jacket could do with a lift:

I’ve had these two ripply polyester tops from Motto for a while and I’m a bit bored with them. Nothing overly heavy would work with the fabric, but I like the idea of little french knots covering parts of them:

I love white shirts, but plain ones feel like part of a uniform to me. I’ve also been dying to cover a shirt yoke in colour. This one has mother-of-pearl buttons, so that put a sea shell theme in mind, too:

And this sleeveless top made from a men’s shirt begs for a subtle design:

Lastly, I have a black shirt dress that could do with a lift:

Now I’m eyeing my shoes, wondering if I could do something like this, or this or even this.

Diamond Necklace

I’m concentrating on finishing projects at the moment. I have a lot of works in progress and some of them are coming together really well.

WIPs have been listed over in the sidebar for some time, and I used the ‘strike’ code in html to slowly cross them out. Last week I went on a bit of website tweaking exploration, and I found a progress bar generator that makes them look a little fancier.

I’d like to do a bit more tweaking to this site, maybe change the theme, but I’m very good at stuffing everything up when I make changes and I’d rather spend the time finishing projects.

Turn an Umbrella into a Shower Cap

Broken umbrellas. It’s nearly always the frame that goes first, and for those of us with recycling tendencies the fabric is just begging to be used for something else. People have used them to make clothing, the most obvious being a skirt. I’m not all that keen on wearing shiny plastic, and though making a raincoat sounds like a natural transition it wouldn’t be very breathable, though this dog coat is adorable. Others have made bags out of them, which is a great idea but I don’t need more bags. This person makes beanbags out of them which is pretty cool, though I’m long past being able to sit in beanbags.

No, I decided make something I’ve been finding it harder and harder to find: a shower cap large enough to fit my head. Honestly, I swear the ones you buy in stores have been getting smaller and smaller, and the longer my hair gets the harder it is to fit them over my head and the little bun I tie my hair into.

For a while now I’ve had fabric from a plain black umbrella waiting for me to get around to making a shower cap out of, but recently I discovered that the umbrella I bought at the British Library, which changes colour when wet, was broken.

I’m going to pause here for a short gripe. This umbrella was expensive. It came, as they often do, in a little cover. The label’s care instructions specify you must keep it in the cover, but the fabric is thicker than the usual umbrella fabric, due to the special paint that changes colour, and getting it to squish back down enough to get the sleeve on is a real struggle. It was my efforts to do so that broke the frame.

Since I’d only got to use this umbrella a few times, I was determined to make something out of it. And I love the idea of having a shower cap that changes colour, too.

But this method could be used for most umbrella fabric.

So, this is what I did:

The umbrella was a medium to large size so there was plenty of fabric. I wanted to make use of the patterned part. After removing it from the frame and taking off the tie that holds the umbrella closed, I unpicked two opposite seams so I wound up with two halves:

I took one half, turned it inside out and sewed it together up the side:

I copied the seaming method, which involved folding it over before sewing. I’m guessing this make it extra strong and waterproof.

Above the top of the pattern, I sewed in halfway to the centre on both sides:

Then I refolded it in half with those two seams were pressed against each other and sewed in again from the outside to halfway, where the first seams met:

Then I trimmed off the excess fabric at the point:

Right side out, the top now looks like this:

Next I folded the outside edge of the fabric wrong sides together and sewed a channel for the elastic, leaving a gap to thread it through:

Partway around I reattached the tie, with the velcro bits removed, to use as a loop to hang the shower cap up by:

I measured some elastic by wrapping it around my head then shortening it a little so it gripped well. Then I fed it into the channel:

Tied it in a knot. You may want to sew the ends together so it sits flat. But the join will sit in the channel, not against your head, so it won’t be uncomfortable.

Done:

And yes, it fits:

I even tested it for you:

Look! The colours change:

Coolest shower cap ever.

I’ll Have One of Everything

A few years ago I ordered five years worth of Handwoven magazine as digital issues. They came on cds so I still had to wait for them to arrive. I never quite got around to reading them all, so I didn’t rush to buy more. Part of the problem was that the files weren’t all named in the same way, or even in a similar way. I’d try to keep track of what I’d read by reading a year at a time, but with all the issues out of order I kept losing my place.

I finally got around to renaming them recently. Then I noticed that Interweave was having a sale and I could buy another five year’s worth – four and then fill the holes in more recent years – for around $60. So I had even more renaming to do, but it was worth it. Suddenly I was tearing through them, five or ten issues a night.

It’s been interesting see the trends that have come and gone over the last 12-13 years. Chenille. Deflected double weave. “What is a blog?” articles. The inclusion of more rigid heddle projects. The Ashford Knitters Loom (January 2006). Ponchos! More in depth articles. Reader challenges.

When I first started buying the magazine there was so much in it that was beyond me. There’s still so much that’s a mystery. Nearly everything was directed at experienced weavers. Heck, I’m not a newbie any more but I’m a long way from calling myself ‘experienced’.

At the Guild a few weeks back I was asked where I’d learned to weave. I said I was mostly self-taught as there wasn’t much on offer about weaving at the Guild when I began. I learned and was inspired by blogs, videos, weavers forums on Ravelry, a couple of books and Handwoven magazines.

Two friends have asked me for advice or lessons recently, and that’s had me feeling more inspired to weave. I’ve moved the table loom down into the tv room to use on days too hot to be in the workroom – there certainly have been plenty of those lately! – and have a doubleweave blanket in progress.

After the huck scarf and the lessons, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ready to upgrade my table loom to 8 shafts. There’s still a lot I haven’t tried yet with 4-shafts, though. Perhaps I should set myself a list of weave structures to try before I do.

Squirrel Scorpion Book

This is another of the projects I finished during the first heatwave.

Yonks ago, when I was on my bookbinding thing, I made a cover out of stiffened fabric but never got around to binding in some pages as I thought it was a bit boring. In the meantime I cut a design off a favourite tshirt thinking I’d applique it to something. The two were destined to meet. That just left the binding.

I grabbed some yellow embroidery thread and got stitching. The gingham lining made marking up the holes easy:

The pages had been torn out of an old cartridge paper sketch pad.

I wish the diamond and spine stitching had lined up better, but the binding does need to be centred for stability. Otherwise I’m pretty happy with it.

It’ll probably become a brainstorming notebook, once my current one is full.

Huckleby Hemp Scarf

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy (warp and weft)
Source: My Secret Pal in 2006!
Loom: Ashford Table Loom
Weave structure: Huck lace
Sett: 10 dpi

I’ve woven so many big things on this loom that it’s always a pleasure and surprise to whip through a scarf. My selvedges are a bit uneven but not from pulling in. More the opposite – probably because I’m used to stretchy yarn and allowing for a lot of drawing in with wide projects.

I have quite a backlog of posts waiting to be published. The successive heatwaves and a broken air conditioner are to blame. I’m stuck in the tv room on hot days, so I craft. Which would be great if I wasn’t itching to write and worrying about deadlines. I’m tempted to bring the laptop down, but past experience tells me that I’d stuff my back up so badly I wouldn’t be able to do anything when the weather cooled again.

So I have the table loom set up on a folding table. Weaving is great for thinking. I chew over story ideas. Since finishing the scarf I’ve warped up the loom again, this time with a very different project – a doubleweave blanket using the full width of the loom woven with bulky wool yarn. It’s going to be reduce the size of the yarn stash substantially.

Fluoro Gradient Beanie

When planning out trip to Japan we discussed with the friends we were going with how we would spot each other in a crowd. I wore a bright red jacket. Paul decided he wanted a hat in a ‘safety gear’ fluoro colour. Shopping locally turned up no hats and Paul eventually found some overseas and ordered them. But this was in December and, most likely due to Christmas, they never turned up in time.

We talked about ways we could knock together something on the last two days. I had no time for sewing, so I bought some fluoro yellow paint from Lincraft. I’d pinned this this gradient painted jumper and figured I could do something similar with a black beanie Paul already owned.

The paint looked great as it went on, then dried a dull greenish colour. And it took ages to dry. So after applying two coats, and with time running out, I had a sudden flash of inspiration. I had bought flouro nail polish for some other project. Nail polish dries fast. So I attacked the hat and this time got the effect I wanted.

After we got back from Japan I washed the hat. The supposedly waterproof original paint all washed out so there’s not so much of a ‘gradient’ effect now, but with none of the dull green the nail polish looks even brighter.

Of course, the hats Paul ordered were waiting for him when we got home.

Weaving Lesson

Donna, a Canberran friend, was given a 4-shaft loom last year and has been inviting me to come up and stay, and give her a lesson. So on Australia Day I took her up on the offer.

By then she’d treated herself to an Ashford Knitters Loom as well and had whipped out three plain weave scarves. I brought mine with me as I figured it’s easy to teach someone if you can demonstrate and get them to mirror a tutor’s actions.

On the first night I had a look at the 4-shaft loom. The apron cloth was mouldy so we gave it a good clean with vinegar and a surface spray containing bleach. Some of the heddles were rusty, but most were okay. The shaft levers are positioned at the side, but otherwise the loom isn’t too different to mine in structure, and it appeared to be working fine. It did need a bit of a clean up, though.

So the next day we removed the rusty heddles on the 4-shaft loom and I gave it a good dusting with a new house-painting paint brush. We removed the heddle frames and divided the good heddles up between them, then Paul treated the rust on the frames with Killrust and sanded them smooth.

In the meantime I showed Donna how to read a draft by getting her to warp up and weave log cabin on the Knitters Loom. She picked it up pretty quickly:

Once I was sure she knew what she was doing I left her weaving that and had a closer look at the table loom. One of the cords had been replaced with blind cord, and there was a bundle of it left. The rest of the cord was old and stiff, and thinner. So I replaced it all with new but thinner cord and made sure the heddle frames were all level.

By then I was feeling a lot of affection for the loom. It had a few nifty features, including a cord you could pull at the front to release the back ratchet, an easy system for adjusting the heddle frame position, a movable reed/beater, and it’s own raddle. I’d have liked to have sanded and revarnished it, and replaced the apron fabric, but since I wanted to get Donna weaving on it the next day there was no time for fabric shopping and varnish drying.

The next day we planned out a twill sampler, measured the warp, put the warp on the room (front to back) and Donna got weaving. Though a bit more challenging for a newbie, she was soon engrossed, getting more excited as she started to see pattern emerging.

In retrospect, I would have got her to put 8ply yarn on the loom rather than 4ply, as it would have been a little easier to see the twills forming, but overall the lesson went pretty much to plan. Like me, Donna has a yarn stash she can’t knit since getting RSI, and she’s keen to see what she can weave with it.

I’d love to do another lesson showing her some of the fun things you can do with the Knitters Loom. Maybe something for the future.