Misfits

Try as I might, I can’t just throw out knitwear that doesn’t fit any more. If it’s in good condition I might donate a piece to the op shop, but if it has felted I end up keeping it in the hopes I can refashion it into something else.

In the last few weeks I’ve transformed two pieces. First this origami bolero:

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It was made up of rectangles, which I pulled apart. I widened a narrow piece with garter stitch, then attached all but one piece into a strip with some garter stitch ‘gathering’ to make a long, chunky scarf:

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Close up of the garter stitch areas:

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This cardy, which I dyed a little while back, was inspired by the above bolero. It too was made of rectangles:

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The sleeves were too tight, so they’ve become a scarf:

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The rest was knit from machine washable yarn, so it hasn’t shrunk:

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So I’m thinking of replacing the rectangle that had formed the arms and back with either some ribbing knit on the Bond, or a looser sleeve/back piece of woven fabric. Inspired by this book, which arrived in the post last week:

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Yarn Shrink, Rethink

It’s been three and a half years since RSI set in and I had to give up knitting. In that time I’ve culled a quarter of the garments I made because they no longer fit well, partly because I grew, and partly because they shrank despite gentle, careful washing. So far this year I’ve culled three more garments for the latter reason. I really hadn’t worn them that much, so it’s disappointing.

And that got me thinking that if I was still knitting now, I’d be much more choosy about the yarn I made my clothes out of. But then I remember how I used to be intimidated by using expensive yarns in case I wasted them on a bad design, and that knitting was as much about enjoying the process as having a garment to wear a the end of a project.

Taste and fashions change, too.

Then there was the little discovery I made about the Paua Shell Ruanna. The green and black yarns I used are machine washable. The blue is not – or it is not as machine washable. The result is a slight shrinkage of the blue stripes, despite the fact that I’ve only washed it twice. It doesn’t bother me, but it is a mistake I don’t want to make again.

So in the spirit of learning and moving on, I’ve had a more critical look at my stash. Sure enough, I’d matched machine washable and non-machine washable yarns for a couple of other projects. I’ve now added the info to my stash spreadsheet, designated those yarns for other projects, and even shuffled the stash into tubs for ‘feltable’ and ‘non-feltable’ yarn.

From now on any garments and hats I make will use machine-washable yarn. But since most of what I weave isn’t garments and hats, that’s not a big change. I have a few projects in the to-do list for the Bond Sweater Machine, though. All but one use machine-washable yarn, thankfully. I just have to rethink one project.

A Loopy Solution

Two years ago I made this scarf:

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It’s the yarn equivalent of endless soup. The lighter purple was originally knit into socks, then frogged when they shrank and made into i-cord, then after a while I made more i-cord out of sock yarn and wove a scarf out of it.

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Which I never wore. It was a) a bit boring and b) too thick and rigid.

I was going to pull it apart, right back to yarn. But every time I went to do it I had to admit, the fabric the i-cord wove into was rather nice. Just not as a scarf.

On Monday I was thinking about my new pin loom and thought I’d finally pull apart the I-cord Scarf and use the yarn to weave some squares. But to convince myself once and for all that it was worth undoing all that work I draped it over the dress model.

And then the solution hit me. Maybe it was seeing all the interesting weaving on the weekend – particularly the saori weaving – but it occurred to me that if the scarf is too wide I can just pull out some warp yarns on one or both sides and they’ll turn into a loopy fringe. Or I could pull them out in the middle. I’ve woven scarves with loops at one or both sides, but not one with loose weft in the centre.

So I got to work, and in a little while I had this:

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Much less rigid and much more interesting! A scarf I want to wear.

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(And another item off the craft to-do list.)

Beanie a Long Time

Back in 2010 I started knitting a fair isle vest out of Patonyle sock yarn. I got to the armpits and discovered it was too small for me, so I cast off and set the piece of fabric aside. Since then I’ve toyed with plans to make a bag, a hood style hat, and finally, this:

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It was really just a matter of using a beanie I already had as a template, overlocking the edges and sewing the halves together.

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I used some of the waste yarn to make a pom pom. This is the only time I’ve put one on a hat. I’m not 100% convinced I like it, but I don’t dislike it enough to take it off again.

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This was a WIP that had been around so long it fell off the WIP list and wound up on the To-Do list again. But now it’s done, and I feel more satisfaction at that than how it turned out. Though I do think it worked out alright, and I’d have hated to waste all the hours of knitting that went into it.

Cullbriated

I have an ap called Stickies that puts post-it note like pages on my computer screen. In one I have a list called “Big Cull”. I started it before we moved in the hope I’d get through every category on it and have less stuff to shift. Of course, I didn’t get everything culled in time, so I’ve been revisiting it every time I have the itch to tidy up.

The wardrobe in the craft room has two hanging sections with, for no good reason, have three narrow doors each where two would have been fine. That meant there was a vertical beam for the middle door’s hinges that stood 2/3 the way across the space, always in the way. It ran up through the shelving above the hanging rail, too, so I had to do box tetris to get some things out.

So we turned a pair of the doors for each section into a concertina door by attaching hinges, and removed the beam. The new double door didn’t quite sit flat, partly because I had extra fabric spilling out of the fabric tub and my trims box had become two trims boxes.

Time to tackle the “fabric” category on my Big Cull list.

Oh body, did I chuck out a lot of useless fabric scraps. Turns out that a glass of Pinot Gris is a good primer for culling. I thought it would weaken my resolve. Instead it made me ruthless.

Though thinking about the fabric stash differently helped, too. I have everything in zip-lock bags labelled by type. They include denim, corduroy, felt, velvet, muslin, lining, facing, knit, silk painting scraps, fancy fabric, fake leather, polycotton, cheesecloth, calico and costume scraps. Most are leftovers from projects, though some is fabric from abandoned projects or ones I found a better fabric for, and a few are leftover from my 20-year-old self’s addiction to discount bins.

I decided I’d stick a post-it note on each bag with a possible project/s for the contents. Let’s just say I didn’t use many post-it notes. Lots of small scraps went in the rubbish. Any decent sized piece of fabric that drew a blank had to be pretty special to avoid the op shop pile. A few did. Call me deluded, but I’m still sure I will find a use for stretch fake leather – probably for a costume.

The tub not only closes now, but the fabrics aren’t crammed in. I was so pleased with my culling success I had another glass of Pinot Gris and attacked the trims, getting them to fit into one box.

Fortunately by the time I was done there was no more wine, or it could have got scary.

Summer Refashioning

I often get the refashioning bug in Spring, but this year I had no time for it. Once on ‘holidays’ I enjoyed a few days at the sewing machine. These green shorts were the main achievement, but I also tackled some basic mending and garment tweaking – taking in at the sides or removing sleeves. Most was too simple to bother blogging about. Except this long sleeve shirt refashion:

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It involved shortening the long sleeves and using the pieces as side panels and binding around the armholes. I tried folding the armhole seams first, as I’d had good results from the stretch stitches on my new sewing machine. But this time it went all crinkly so I had to cut it off and try again, using overlocking stitch to attach a binding.

I seem to have moved on to weaving now, but I’m sure I’ll switch back to sewing soon as I still have the sarong shorts to make that I bought the pattern for.

Inevitable Startitis

At first, when my ‘holidays’ started, the desire to craft was strong. I managed to tick several projects off the to-do list, including some WIPs. But I also had six months worth of new ideas brewing, and that brought about a bout of startitis. Also, my weaving session with Donna led to the stash review which led in turn to me warping up both looms. So here are some of the new projects on my WIP list.

Ribbon Scarf:

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I had the idea to turn a handful of ribbon scraps of varying sizes rescued from a costume that went in the rubbish and a scrap of gauzy fabric into a scarf by sewing the ribbons on in strips. The basting is a good tv watching craft activity.

Jacobean Kit:

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Wanting to explore embroidery more, I figured the best way to learn more is to try a few kits. So far a bit of unpicking has happened, as the instructions are probably not aimed at a novice and the photo is a bit too small for me to work out what I’m supposed to be doing. But I am enjoying it.

Stitchy Shirt:

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I’ve been loving the look of blankets and clothing covered in a kind of freeform running stitch and sashiko that I think is called ‘boko’. This vest was originally a man’s shirt that I refashioned to fit me, then bleached. I liked the blotchy look, but not the sleeves so I recently removed them. The stitching doesn’t require much brain-power, so this is one I turn to when I’m too tired to tackle the kit above.

Memory Yarn Scarf:

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I bought this yarn to try out on the knitting machine and have decided to weave it instead. It is fiddly to work with mainly because you use two strands together. I’ll be glad when this one is done.

Paua Shell Scarf/Collar:

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I’d always intended to put a collar on the Paua Shell Ruanna, but it took me so long to weave that I couldn’t bear the thought of warping up again in the same yarn. Now it feels like an easy, quick project I can knock off the to-do list, and the yarn is lovely to work with.

Double Trouble

I finally finished the baby blankets!

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They were the last thing to come off the table loom before I packed it up ready to move, and it’s taken me ages to get the binding on. As I worked on them I realised I had double the reason to procrastinate over finishing them: it was the first time I’d sewn satin blanket binding, and I had to cut fabric I’d woven, which is always slightly traumatic.

As it turned out, the binding wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected. Still pretty fiddly. I zig-zagged over the edge of the weaving before trimming about 5 mm away. Then I pinned and basted the binding on before sewing it. The second time I was confident that it wouldn’t slip about so I skipped the basting.

Unfortunately the babies they were intended for are now either side of a year old. Do babies still need baby blankets at that age? Or should I save them for the next crop of little’uns?

All Zippered Up

The Kogin Embroidery Bag is done:

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I found a great tutorial for making a zippered bag without a seam at the bottom.

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The lining is just a bit of navy cotton. The zip was in my stash of rescued zips unpicked from various things over the years.

I bought the kit a year ago, almost to the day. Took me a while to get around to starting it, so it hasn’t been a year-long project. I liked the style of embroidery, but since it’s effectively the same result as overshot weaving I couldn’t help thinking it would be a lot faster to weave it. A LOT faster to weave it AND you’d get a great deal more fabric.

But who cares about speed and quantity? The method – the journey – was a wonderfully relaxing one and I’d happily take on another kogin kit or project.

The Short and the Long of It

A few days ago, after looking through the refashioning pile, I bought a shorts pattern from Interweave and hauled out the sewing machine. First up I did a test pair using fabric scraps. It confirmed that a US large is bigger than an Aussie large, and the shorts were a tad, well, short for my liking. After a tweak here and there later I was ready to try a refashioning project.

I had this shirt, which I’d bought in the 90s and loved the colour and soft fabric, but it was pretty shapeless:

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I only just managed to get the pieces cut out, and only by patching one corner of a front.

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Instead of the drawstring the pattern calls for, I went for an elastic waist. I reused the pocket, too:

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They’re cool and comfortable and perfect for relaxing at home. I want to make the next pair from an old sarong, this time with longer legs.

I have a little test for the ‘right’ length of shorts. They should never be wider than they are long. If they’re longer than they are wide there’s a slightly slimming illusion. Even more so if the fabric has a vertical stripe or pattern, or they are darker than the top they’re worn with.