19 November 2014

Gunne Sax Inspired: Simplicity 5935

This will be my concluding post for FESA this year, as my Lola dress came out too small and my plaid cape is cut out but won't be done for ages. This dress, however, was completed two years ago with the exception of a final fitting, some missing lace trim and a hem job.

It is my first attempt at a Gunne Sax-inspired dress and I'm pleased with it. Gunne Sax dresses/patterns usually have a lot of fiddly heirloom details and complicated construction techniques. This was no walk in the park, but it was definitely a good introduction to sewing this style. We took advantage of my boyfriend's family's cabin for photos, since it was also built in the early '80s and decorated with a rustic look that provides a wonderful background.

 The fabric was a quilter's cotton but it has a historical feel to it in my opinion. I regret not buying more and being able to do a fuller skirt.

I feel very Audrey Hepburn in this photo (I think it is the dirndl plus the shadow giving me the illusion of a tiny waist)!

This dress is good for knitting and porch swinging...

...as well as fireside. It is perfect for fall because it can be worn with a cardigan or just sleeveless or with a peasant blouse underneath, so it works with whatever weather comes your way.




Pattern: Simplicity 5935 (c. 1983)

Size: 14

Rating: 4/5

Fabric, etc.: Quilter's cotton from JoAnn's, crochet lace cotton trim from JoAnn and Simplicity.com, buttons and snaps from stash, thrifted sheet for lining

Cost: Don't know anymore since the project is so old
Time: Two years
Notes: I'd like to try a muslin straight from this pattern someday, because when I made mine I modeled it off an old sloper - a bit too old, in fact, as the bodice didn't fit at all. My friend helped me fit it but even after sewing the final bodice it was much too big and even a bit too long. The back darts now go all the way up to the neckline!
I opted for snaps instead of functioning buttons. This allowed me to use tiny buttons that look nice but would otherwise be impractical because of the many layers at center front. I omitted the giant ruffle and the bow sash. I think next time I would also make a fuller skirt and use horse hair in the hem. The hem, by the way, on me is extra deep since I'm short.

29 October 2014

Fox Hat Ear PDF Tutorial Is Here!

I've gotten so many requests on a pattern/tutorial for the ears on the fox hat I sewed last year that I finally buckled down and wrote it out.
And I'm offering it free! You can download it here from my Google Docs.

22 October 2014

Rhinebeck 2014, Oak Grove Mitts and Solo Camping

Whew! I am back from one heck of a weekend! First things first, though, my review of Alana Dakos' Oak Grave Mitts that I made for FESA 2014 and Rhinebeck. The photo is of my mitts, but my friend that took the photo cheekily framed in our new camping friends!
The Pattern: Alana is an extremely talented designer, especially with organic motifs. She really goes the extra yard too, incorporating things like the border that crosses where it meets at the top of your hand. The pattern itself was error free and well written. I love that it included both a chart and written directions since I still struggle with charts. The mitts fit well enough, but I wish there was more shaping at the base of the wrist. It is tube shaped after the ribbing and with my skinny little wrists there's a bit of extra mitt going on.
The Yarn: I couldn't resist buying the recommended yarn since the photos on the pattern were gorgeous and it can all be purchased as a kit on the Becoming Art yarns website. The colorway is Sunlit Amber in Cielo Sport. The one problem I had was that the color of this yarn in the photos is misleading. It is shown as having an almost orange glow to it, when really the color overall is brown. It is a mighty pretty brown, but a brown nonetheless. Regardless of this, Lisa, the proprietor of Becoming Art, is a wonderful person and responded to my emails promptly. She dyes to order, so be warned that there is a wait to get your yarn! The yarn base itself is a great superwash wool, firmly spun so it isn't splitty at all.

Once I knew I was going to Rhinebeck, I booked a site at the Mills Norrie campground in early September. It is about 7 miles from the fairgrounds to the north and 6 miles from Hyde Park to the south. Rhinebeck has a very charming main street that you pass through with some restaurants that I'd love to try next year. Hyde Park is home to FDR's house and cabin as well as the Vanderbilt mansion, with public parks surrounding them. What really intrigued me though, was the Drive-In Movie, Roller Rink and old fashioned Eveready Diner in the same stretch of road! We had supper at the diner on Saturday after Rhinebeck. It was very crowded and we had to wait but it was great in that it was affordable, delicious and the portion sizes were huge. I do not recommend the macaroni and cheese but the brownie sundae (which could have fed four people) was scrumptious.

This was my campsite before the campground got full. It was the place to be apparently! In the afternoon it was a lot of other solo campers there for Rhinebeck as well as a smattering of knitting grannies in their campers with their yappy lap dogs and giant glasses of wine. Once dusk fell it filled up with an assortment of other folks, including a huge group of hipsters (also with yappy, unleashed dogs), several families with shrieking children and at 11 pm a brigade of boy scouts rolled in, confused about where to park. So it wasn't ideal, there was quite a bit of noise after "quite hours" and my neighbors where only about 20 feet away...but for someone camping by themselves for the first time, I was relieved not to be in a desolate campground, shaking in my sleeping bag and sure that a bear or an alien was going to come eat me.

I have conquered the wilderness! And also set up a tent all by myself!

Truthfully, I quite liked the campsite. The bathrooms/showers were in a heated building and we were right on the Hudson. Next time I might spring for a cabin though, since they were more isolated from the crowds of tents and campers and had electric light. The first night there a bunch of us got together and had a pot luck feast. I met a bunch of great people, saw some wonderful hand knits, stuffed myself on delicious eats and had a jolly good time.

Getting up the next morning to get to Rhinebeck was a little rough. I slept until 6:45, then showered, dressed and made breakfast, managing to leave the camp by 9, which is when Rhinebeck opens. This seemed to be the perfect time to get there because I didn't wait in traffic and I didn't wait in line to get a ticket either. Now, I probably couldn't have gotten a Jennie the Potter collectible mug or whatever the Rhinebeck memorabilia tent was selling but I'm willing to sacrifice for a relaxed morning with a proper NJ bagel sandwich and tea.

I started by trying to stroll through all the tents and barns and get an idea of what there was to buy before purchasing anything because there's about a billion vendors. I hadn't really researched vendors but I did know there was a book signing I wanted to get in on. Most of the vendors sell online anyways so I wasn't too worried about missing out on anything because I can buy it online later. It is really more of an opportunity to see and try things in person - for example it is a great time to buy a spinning wheel or a rug hooking kit.

I lunched at the seafood cart because they had no line and had a great cup of chowda. Then I went next door and had a piece of pumpkin pie! I even made friends with the woman sitting across from me and had a good chat going. I was bummed to find out later that there was a whole barn for wine tasting and fancy foods that I totally missed.

Then it was on to the Ravelry meetup where I found the talented duo Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig and had the privilege of gushing to them about how much I love their designs. Alana instagrammed my mitts and I got my picture with them! SQUEE!

After the group Ravelry picture (can't wait to see that), I went off to buy my yarn. I got a skein of Magpie from Peace, Love and Yarn in Sorceress. No photo, but it is a lovely superwash fingering with a bit of sparkle in it and the color is a galactic mix of peach and mauve. Then I splurged on three skeins of Pixie from Dragonfly Fibers for wimpwoman's LOTR socks in Airport Hot Sauce (for Smaug), Winter Woods (for Gandalf) and Mushroom Hunter (for Treebeard or Tom Bombadil). Photos are from their website.

My last purchase was this wonderful book, Northeast Foraging by Leda Meredith. She even signed it and was able to answer some questions I had about berries growing in my yard, which sadly were not edible. She had a lecture scheduled, but I left the fair early because I was starting to feel really overwhelmed. I read a lot of it Saturday evening and I found it very useful but it might not be first choice for a beginner because there aren't many photos to help identify plants. My mom is a farmer and has always had a good grasp of botany so I grew up familiar with the names of a decent amount of plants where I lived. So while I didn't know Queen Anne's Lace was an edible, I already knew how to spot it. Actually I really wish someone would write a guide to identifying poisonous plants because I always find plants and even if they're not edible, I still want to identify them. It would also help me feel confident with those pesky poisonous look-alikes!

14 October 2014

Bags and Rucksacks Part III: TOK Halloween Swap

I had so much fun participating in the TOKland Mini Summer Swap that I plunged right back in for the Halloween Mini Swap! TOK stands for Tiny Owl Knits and is the name of Stephanie Dosen's line of knitting patterns. They are fanciful, whimsical and a great deal of fun to knit. If you're on ravelry you probably are familiar with her design The Beekeeper's Quilt:

So I got lucky this swap and was given Megan, who had me last time. We'd become pen friends and so I knew exactly what to make her. I made an autumnal owl print project bag lined with black satin (using ye olde Purl Bee tutorial!) The owls are dressed like turkeys, pilgrims, natives or sitting on pumpkins and playing in the leaves. I ended up buying more of this for myself for a quilt and you can find it here on the JoAnn's website.
I also included Argo Tea's seasonal "Autumn Leaves" blend, two dog biscuits for her yorkies...
A card with this poem on it, which I love...
And last but not least, some stitch markers that I made to match the bag. I figured out how to make stitch markers with this tutorial, and it is very addicting. They take almost no time at all to make.

To my surprise, Megan had drawn me again! She is a very good spoiler, so much that I'm putting together a RAK (random act of kindness) package for her.
It was all packed in the sugar skull print project bag, which she made. There's two chocolate bars, tea, camping and dia de los muertos themed embroidery patterns, madtosh mini-skeins for my Beekeeper's Quilt, buttons, stickers, a treat for Paisley and best of all, a beautiful cowl she knit in one of my favorite colors.
I found several ways to wear it, some of them a little sillier than others.
I'll be on an airplane to China on halloween, so happy early hauntings!

11 October 2014

Bags and Rucksacks Part II: Project Bag Sewing Class

Last month I finally had the opportunity to teach my first sewing class here in New Jersey! It was a free sewing workshop on project bags for knitting with three of the lovely ladies in my stitch and bitch group. Paisley, of course, was well doted upon so we made sure to get her in the photo. We used the same Purl Bee tutorial, only we kept the bags drawstring style instead of converting them into a backpack.

Two women brought their own machines which were both computerized, so that was a bit tricky because I don't really use them, so troubleshooting sans manual was something!

I think this photo quite captures that spirit. Good thing I had a fully stocked bar as well as tea, cider and coffee AND stove-popped popcorn to give us a break.

In all seriousness though, it was great. It really helped me think about how to improve and streamline my space for the next class. Top of the list is that I really need to improve the lighting and get that cutting table made. We're thinking pajama pants with matching spa eye pillows.  Also, I usually teach one on one so I really had to switch gears in my brain when it came to dealing with three students. And of course, the ladies were very patient with me (and Paisley haha) which was wonderful of them. I can't wait for the next one!

Folks Serv