Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Sewing Begins

Summer sewing begins with 2 pair of pants and a top.
Summer means sewing to me.  Because I don't have a sewing room set up, every time I sew I have to haul everything out, so it's seems like a bigger set up.  I tend to do it when I have longer time off from work.
Summer is perfect for that.

I kicked off with 2 pairs of linen pants. I re-drafted the pattern based on my previously drafted pattern. It basically followed the method given in the book "Make Your Own Patterns" by Rene Bergh  I didn't start from scratch. Instead, I traced the originally drafted pattern onto papers, then made modifications before I cut out the pattern.
Modifications I made for the wide leg style summer pants:

  • extra 3" ease around hip.
  • extra room around legs. 
  • extra room for crotch.
  • moved pockets more towards center.
  • added back pockets
  • added elastic insert on front side.
Result = Love

I love the elastic tab. I copied the idea from a pair of snowboard pants I have. The strips of elastic was sewn on to the side seams and encased in the waist band. A buttonhole was made on the inside of waistband to pull the elastic out.  A button was attached an inch away from it. 2 buttonholes are cut on the elastic to adjust sizes.
This elastic tab eliminates the use of belt, and doesn't have the bulk of using elastic all the way around. It also keeps a more sleek look of zippered front vs full elastic.

Both the red and green linen fabric were from stash. I got them long time ago at Joann's on sale.
The first pair used 2 yards of red. I made it capri length.  But I only had 1 1/2 yards in green, so I made the length a lot shorter.  I have to say, they came out exactly as I hoped and the fit was perfect.

I also made the striped t-shirt to go with the pants, which I showed in the previous blog.  The pattern was drafted super quickly since it was kimono style.  I just took the chest measurements, the length I wanted and drafted it from there.
The fabric came from Mills End for $3/yard, I think, I bought it a while back.

Now I'm staring at my fabric stash and dreaming of more sewing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Say What

Because I love this skirt, because I want to enjoy my summer without running test knit of multiple sizes and dealing with deadlines, because not many knitters like knitting skirts and I want to get more people to knit skirts, because sometimes I'm just so bored with all rules and proprieties of publishing a pattern, and because I just want to share this pattern, because all the becauses...

You can click the link for a free PDF file of the pattern
pattern updated 8/4/2014

Disclaimer: It's an underground pattern, NOT test knitted, NOT tech edited, NOT listed on Ravelry.

sizes: - 26, 28, 31, 33, 36, 37, 39, 42. sizes are based on waist measurements before encasing elastic
yarn - DK weight, rest of info are in pattern


The skirt is called "Say What?" The weather was in the 70s last week. I was jogging in my shorts and short sleeves on the trails behind the house. I was so happy knitting this skirt for the summer and getting ready for other summer sewing.  Then BAM! 2 days ago I woke up to 4 inches of snow. I'm not complaining as we sorely need any moisture we can get. According to the forecast, we will be back up in the 70s next week. Like I said it again and again, that's Tahoe for ya.

I finished the skirt last week, but I was too lazy to take photos. Last night I made the tee-shirt to go with it. OK, I just lied here. It was made to go with 2 pair of pants I just sewed up (to be blogged next time.)  But it seemed to go well with the skirt too, I think.

The yarn I used was Elann Limited Edition Micro Cotton, a cotton and microfiber blend.  Gotta love the fact that I was able to just toss the skirt into dryer and no significant shrinkage at all.  I made it with a diagonal element because I knew I wanted a cargo pocket skirt, so I thought a diagonal element would go well with it. Frankly, I'd be so bored if I just knit another plain skirt. I also the graduate stripes of seed stitch on upper section. The skirt was knitted top-down. I really didn't want to hem the lower edge, so I used my non-curling stockinette stitch for the bottom edge. 

Sewing the tee shirt was quick and easy. I bought the fabric at Mills end for $3/yard about a month ago.  I knew I wanted the sleeves to be kimono style (continuing from body) rather than separately sewn on sleeves, both for the look and for the easiness. It took about 15 minutes to draft the pattern, the front and the back are identical. Then the shirt was made in no time. the neck edge was just serged edge then folded over and top stitching.  I got lazy that I didn't even want to draft the facing for the neck edge.  Love the tee shirt. Paul said I look like a Gondolier wearing it. Hehe, we joked that I should wear this shirt and go work at the Gondola at Heavenly ski resort.  It's still a gondola.  Or maybe I can wear it next time I go stand up paddling.  I did stand up paddle last summer. I really, really enjoyed it.  Too bad the prices are way out of my reach, it sure makes snowboard seems affordable. 

Now I am just rubbing my hands waiting anxiously for the weather to warm up again.  

Yarn: Elann Limited Edition Micro Cotton, 7 balls (994 yards).
Needles: US 2 and 4
Gauge: 22 sts x 32 rows = 4"x4" using US #4 needles
Size: 33 waist band before elastic insert.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pattern - Positive Thoughts #1

I got a new pattern up on Ravelry.  It's Positive Thoughts #1.
It's triangular lace shawl that can be customized into various sizes.  Knitted in Cascade Yarn Heritage Silk (blue) and Cascade Yarn Heritage Solid (yellow).

Many, many thanks to my awesome, bestest tech editor Judy, and wonderful testers, Ginni, Nadia, Tatjana, Vaida, and Valentina,

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bread Affaris

I bought myself a new toy, a bread maker, specifically Oster 2 pound Exressbake Breadmaker.
I probably confessed before that I'm not much of a cook.  Paul does most of the cooking here.  But sometimes I enjoy simple baking, like making cookies, banana breads etc.  Lately I've been wanting to make breads.  But after reading instructions online, I realized the whole process is not my thing.  Last year a student told me he got a bread machine in a thrift store and he loves it. Well, I had not seen a bread machine in the thrift store around here recently, so I finally decided to get one via Amazon.

I'm in love with that machine. It's so easy to make breads, pour ingredients in and press few buttons, voila, fresh bread in 3 hours or less. I've been making bread by following recipes faithfully and boy they're good, and my weight gain can prove that. And I got greedy, I wanted that out of oven loaf of bread. I wanted that shape and that crust of oven baking. I ended up combining few recipes online and made few modifications. I made Pesto Bread!

Still not convinced that I want to knead and the dough by hands, I used the bread machine for kneading the dough. And I did the rest by hand and baked it in the oven.

I made the Pesto Bread last week, and was only 80% happy with the result.  So I tried it again today with slight modifications, and now I'm a happy person eating my happy bread.

I'm so thrilled about this.  I love the bread.  I love pesto, so I know I'd love the bread no matter what.
By no means am I a food blogger, but I really want to share the pictures as I'm so proud of myself.

And this is what I did in case anyone is curious.

Ingredients for Dough:
1 1/4 cups of warm water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar
3 2/3 cups of bread flour
1/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast

Ingredients for Pesto Filling
(I didn't measure, I just put things in food processor until the consistencylooked right.)
olive oil
Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
chopped walnut (too cheap to buy pine nuts this time.)

I put all the Ingredients for Dough in the bread machine according to the order above. Set machine on Dough cycle.

Once the dough is done and taken out of the machine:
1. divide the dough into 2 equal parts.
2. roll out each part into ~7 "x 12" rectangular piece.
3. spread pesto and sprinkle some Parmesan
4. roll the dough length-wise into a log.
5. twist up each dough log gently.
6. twist the 2 dough log with each other.
7. slit ~4" along each twist to expose a bit of the pesto filling
8. let it sit and rise for 30 minutes, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
9. bake in 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then bake in 350 degrees for another 30 minutes.
10. cool the bread for 10 minutes before slicing (sadly I was too eager to wait that long, but take my advise, it's better to cool it a bit before slicing.)

2. roll out each part into ~7 "x 12" rectangular piece.


3. spread pesto and sprinkle some parmesan

4. roll up the dough length wise into a log.

5. twist up each dough log gently.

6. twist the 2 dough log with each other.

7. slit ~4" along each twist to expose a bit of the pesto filling

9. bake in 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then bake in 350 degrees for another 30 minutes. 

10. cool the bread for 10 minutes before slicing (sadly I was too eager to wait that long, but take my advise, it's better to cool it a bit before slicing.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

First Note

Yes, when I become obsessed with an idea, I cannot stop thinking about it. Since I dyed up the gradation yarns, I just couldn't wait to knit it up.  It took one swatch to come up with a lace border that I was happy with. Or more likely, I was not patient enough to fiddle with the lace design more. It looked good enough so I started my marathon knitting and finished the shawl in 2 days.

I watched a few documentaries on Netflix, finished the series "Hidden" and almost finished with "State Within."  Hidden was well acted. but my small brain just did not get the ending. I was so confused. And the series wasn't so enticing that I wanted to analyse the plot any further. State Within has interesting plot but rather cliche in the stereotyping of Americans. But I'm very drawn into the storyline.  I need to come up with another design to finish the last 2 episodes.

To answer the question of how I dyed the yarn, I used pre-knitted sock blank from wool2dye4, and dipped dyed each section in pots of dye.  Then I moved the blank (it comes like a long scarf) back and forth in the bath where sections merge to get a better transition. I then set the color with citirc acid. Simple and quick, though not too perfect, yet.
I obviously could perfect my method more if I had more blanks to experiment with. Some of the dark area could probably be squeezed a bit by hands to get the colors more evenly.

In the end I realized  gradation yarn really does not show off lace design well.  The flashiness of yarn takes over the visual effect.  The lace gets lost visually.

It was fun though, a good way to jump start my summer after few lazy weeks.  School ends this week, yeepee!!!  I've been telling my students that I'm more excited about the end of semester than they are.  It's fun to watch them being scandalized by this revelation.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Not Much Done Lately

Just a little gradient dying this week... little experimenting.