DIY Knitting Pattern Review: Red Heart’s Teen Endless Circle Vest, Ver. 2.0

Red Heart Teen Endless Circle Vest, Front View

Red Heart Teen Endless Circle Vest, Front View

Red Heart Yarn's Teen Endless Circle Vest, Side VIew

Red Heart Yarn’s Teen Endless Circle Vest, Side VIew

Back View, Red Heart Yarn's Teen Endless Circle Vest

Back View, Red Heart Yarn’s Teen Endless Circle Vest

The Low Down: This is Red Heart Yarn’s Teen Endless Circle Vest, a free pattern. The second time I’ve made this pattern. Interested in learning more? Read on. Not so much? Come back another day to read my fiction and sewing pattern reviews.

The Dirt: Ok. You’re interested in finding out the deets on this pattern. First of all, the name (Teen Endless Circle Vest) is misleading perhaps because it might deter knitters who might otherwise like this pattern if it weren’t for that four-letter word ‘teen.’ This pattern will fit others besides teenagers. And it’s not all ‘girlish’ or ‘childish,’ it’s all about the yarn. Red Heart used a variegated, which gave it more youthful, playful look. That yarn choice also detracted from the lace pattern (yes, there is one). I personally think a solid colored yarn makes the pattern pop out big time.

Some things to consider when making this pattern:

  • Get the stitch count right. There are a lot of stitches on the needle especially after the back ribbing is finished. You might add some extra stitch markers just to get the count right and not drive yourself crazy.
  • Track the yarn-over pattern. Since I wasn’t really watching what row I was on, I did lose track of what yarn-over I was supposed to be using. In the long run, it really doesn’t matter. The pattern and the yarn, if it’s fuzzy enough, is fairly forgiving that way.
  • Memorize the stitch pattern and you’ve got a great movie-watching pattern on your hands. What’s more it’s all in the round!

That’s it. Want to see more pretty pictures? Check out these on Ravelry. I plan on casting my third rendition of this vest in black sometime soon. It’s that great of a pattern.

Fictional Forays: A Working Mom’s Tale: I Hate Halloween Sewing

Simplicity Sewing Pattern 1233

Simplicity Sewing Pattern 1233

There are three words a mother fears most three days before Halloween: “It itches, mommy.”

That’s exactly what my 3-year-old daughter Breanna said 72 hours before the biggest holiday last year. I had already spent a week making her costume – the infamous Snow White dress with a gold skirt, poofy sleeves, Peter Pan collar with a faux fur trimmed felt cape. I sewed her dress out of an inexpensive poly on my Singer sewing machine, which I drag out of my crafts closet once a year. My husband spray painted a pair of Mary Janes Walt Disney yellow and wired the blouse collar so it would stand up straight just like in the movie.

So you can only imagine what I thought when my daughter said, “It itches, mommy.” She’d been trying on the dress. She wiggled in front of the floor-length as only a three-year-old can do, crying. “Mommy, I don’t like this dress. It itches.”

I think I felt the floor drop a half-inch at this point. All this time spent on a dress my daughter doesn’t like?I asked her to be more specific. “Where does it itch, honey?” I asked her sweetly, my voice trembling. trying to resist the temptation to text my husband in all caps: SHE DOESN’T LIKE HER DRESS.

Breanna couldn’t tell me exactly what was wrong. She pointed to her shoulder, then started scratching her chest. Then she just tore the dress off, ripping the zipper I worked so I hard to insert. I gasped.  Her legs were red was red all over. Splotchy like hives. My first thought was the cheap tulle skirt.  I had no idea tulle could this. It was bad enough that my husband and I felt like we were eating felt and fur fibers all week.

But this dress. A disaster because it itched. I had no idea what to do. Halloween was 72 hours away. And my daughter wanted to be Snow White. Not just any run of the mill dress from Costume City or Amazon.com would do for my only child.

That was like 7 p.m. and my husband was still on his way home from work. I called my husband, told him to lay in a supply of Pirate’s Booty and a bottle of rose. I was fixing the Snow White dress. “You’re crazy. Just buy another one,” he said, talking over the din of highway traffic on his iPhone.

I told him no way. My daughter wasn’t going to be just another Costume City Snow White. I copied the dress exactly down to the gold braid trim on the bodice front.  I wasn’t about to throw out all my hard work. While he was at the store and after I put my daughter to sleep, I hatched a plan out on the porch, smoking an American Spirit cigarette (Gwynneth Paltrow’s favorite). So I did what any sane working mother would do in a similar situation – I would call in sick. I had two proposals due the day before Halloween. But my child comes first, not work.

So 9 a.m. the next morning I went to Vogue Fabrics, headed to the bridal section, bypassing all the other frantic mothers (they had to be – why else is a fabric store line so long three days before Halloween?). I’m certain they were frantic, they had wild-eye look. But I was envious. I was certain they were stay-at-home moms. I’m not, I’m a sales manager for a downtown mobile media company.

$30 (insane, I know, but I’m irrational when it comes to making Breanna happy) later with silk tulle in hand, I returned to the sewing machine. I armed myself with the seam ripper and ripped out the blasted tulle skirt.  Three yards later and at least three spools of Coat’s & Clark thread later, I had cut out and gathered a new underskirt, attached to the main dress. I cursed the whole way since the bobbin thread kept bunching up underneath, I was too panicky to even to look up a solution online.

I finished the dress with hours to spare that Halloween. The underskirt was more expensive than the materials for the dress and the cape together. But my daughter was ecstatic, over the blue moon really. She twirled in front of the mirror. She gave me a big hug, “You’re the best mommy.”

That’s why I sew once a year. Out of fear. I’m ashamed I just want to hear those words, “Mommy, you’re the best.” Yes, my ego needs to be stroked that way. If I don’t hear those words, I think I’m a bad mother.  I’m a bit insecure that way. I can be an ace salesperson a work, winning the praise of my boss when I get a new client, but the only praise that really matters is my daughter’s.

I’m still competitive, I’m in sales after all. We won the “Most Authentic” costume award at the park district Halloween party last year. I (I mean we) aim to win again. I need to cover the cost of sewing this year’s costume. Elsa from “Frozen” and Simplicity Pattern 1233 here we come.

I still hate sewing. It’s awful. Especially garments. I can’t deal with sewing curves, zippers, fittings and buttons. Just give me a bunch of cotton squares and let me sew a bunch of straight lines to make a quilt.

DIY Sewing Pattern Review: Vogue 8805

Endless Circle Teen Knit Vest + Vogue 8805

Endless Circle Teen Knit Vest + Vogue 8805

Vogue Patterns dress 8805, Front View

Vogue Patterns dress 8805, Front View

Vogue 8805 dress detail, Vogue Fabrics wool jersey

Vogue 8805 dress detail, Vogue Fabrics wool jersey

Vogue 8805, Back

Vogue 8805, Back

The Short of It: Vogue Patterns 8805 looks really lovely on the pattern cover but it does not work for all figures types. But YMMV.

The Longer Story: I really wanted to love this pattern especially after seeing it featured in Vogue Patterns Magazine, made three different bazillion ways by a blogger. Her dresses looked really cool.

But when it came to cutting this and sewing this for myself, well, cue those sad violins. The scissors cooperated, but the Eli Tahari border print stretch woven did not (sob!). The dress twisted oddly in the back, hugged me in the hips, and looked better from the front than the back.

Enough about the Dress That Did Not Work. More about the one that did. And that’s what you see with my new favorite knit vest, a Red Heart yarns pattern (see more pics here on my Ravelry page). Some notable things about this dress: I used:

1. a Vogue Fabrics knit (suggested fabrics are linen, crepe, lighweight double knit)

2. foldover elastic on the neckline since I was working with a knit, and turned the back into a keyhole.

3. Double straight stitch to topstitch.

And I skipped the darts.

Would I make this again? Yes, in fact I still have an eyelet border print version cut out from when I was still testing out the pattern. But I’m afraid I might run into the same problem I ran into with the first woven. So I’m hesitant. But if I were to do it in a knit, I’d:

1. Work on the topstitching, what I did looks wonky and doesn’t lay flat entirely.

2. Ditch fusibles for the hem, it makes it curl.

So I recommend Vogue 8805 with reservations, it’s easy enough to sew. The binding on the neckline might be the hardest part.

 

 

5.

 

Fictional Forays: I Hate Halloween Sewing

Frozen Fabric Display, Halloween 2014

Frozen Fabric Display, Halloween 2014

I hate Halloween sewing. There I said it, and I work in a fabric shop, where the Halloween season is one of our most profitable times of the year. We make more money in the weeks leading up to All Hallows Eve than any other time of the year. We clear out our inventory of bird feathers, boas and cheap tulle like it’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans.

That’s precisely what bores me about Halloween. For all the efforts to look different, everyone looks alike. Especially with the advance of toddler-sized ready to wear costumes you can order from Amazon. You know across the U.S. there are going to be at least 100 or so (fill in the blank), you might not run into him or her at your local Halloween party but you know they’re out there with your child’s exact same outfit. This year there are going to be a lot of little Elsas from Frozen. Ask my scissors how they know – they’ve been cutting more than their fair share of snow-flake print organza.

For the moms who do sew, every costume is politically correct. I mean your child might get sent home if she or he wears something that offends the teacher’s unions at school. Can you imagine what might happen if your child had a fake cigarette sewn to his costume? Or dangled a candy cigarette from his mouth? Or she dressed as the Straw Man from the Wizard of Oz and carried a cob pipe as he did in the movie?

Not only that, I don’t see too many children sewing their own costumes. My own love affair with fabric started when I was 9 and I sewed my first Halloween costume – a skunk costume made out of black felt and faux white fur. It was hard, especially sewing that fur, which seemed to end up in my nose and mouth, but it was worth it. I had a costume no one else had. No one! I can’t remember the last time I helped a customer who had child sewing his own costume.

So for about three weeks before Halloween I feel like all I do is sweep up a lot more sequins, boa feathers than usual. I say “Stop running” more than usual to the children who are running around the store with ostrich feathers, which they usually break and abandon before they leave the store with mom. The broken ostrich feathers? We can’t sell those of course.

By October 27 or thereabouts, I’ve had my fill of frantic mothers with squalling toddlers in strollers telling me to cut three yards of black felt or 2 ½ yards of orange tulle or five yards of white poly organza. I’m beyond tired of looking at the row after row of orange, white and black fabric bolts that greet me every time I enter the store.

By October 31 when we get the parade of local neighbors and their children dressed in their costumes and trick or treating, I’m beyond tired of Halloween. I’m ready for Christmas, I can’t wait for the fashion designers, the students to return…or have they been around and I just haven’t noticed while I’ve been busy dulling my scissors cutting yard after yard of glittery sequined fabric?

By Halloween, I’m not even in the mood to say, “Trick or treat” when the little chubby hands reach in the plastic pumpkin bowl to retrieve only the chocolates not the hard candies. At that point, I mouth the words “Happy Halloween” with little enthusiasm. And refilling the candy bowl with more chocolates so more sugar-stoked children can run around the store in their costume knocking down fabric bolts and displays? I might as well give them a shot of whiskey, it would have the same effect.

At the end of the holiday, when I help lock the door, I feel like dancing, “Halloween is over! Halloween is over!” with a handful of zippers. I want to book a trip to a warm resort somewhere in California, Mexico or Florida, anywhere I don’t hear screaming or crying children for while. Anywhere I don’t have to see orange fabric for at least a week.

But then I forget I have to walk home and deal with the crazies on the subway. Halloween, you suck. Man, I need a cigarette just thinking about October 31.

 

Interweave Knits Book Giveaway: New American Knits

New American Knits by Amy Christoffers

New American Knits by Amy Christoffers

Just in time for fall knitting (and look at that mustard colored sweater on the cover), I’ve got a new book giveaway, Amy Christoffers’ new book, New American Knits: Classic Sportswear Patterns (Interweave / F+W; $24.99). This book is filled with all sorts of accessories (hats, cowls) and garments (shrugs, sweaters, camisoles, turtlenecks) that are perfect for queuing up for your next project in Ravelry. But what I really like is how Amy named each pattern after an American artist. The sweater? Nevelson Lace Pullover. I never heard of Louise Nevelson. You?  There’s even a set of mitts named after illustrator Maxfield Parrish, a tunic honoring photographer Walker Evans’ work.

But Amy didn’t name all American artists in her book, that’s a project for her follow-up, no doubt. Which brings me to this book giveaway. To win a copy of this book, leave the name of an American artist in the comments. Tell me why he or she inspires you. Leave your book by Wednesday, Oct. 15 12 p.m. CST. You must live in the continental U.S.A. to win a copy (publisher’s rules). What else? Leave an email address just in case you win. Look forward to reading your comments.

Fictional Forays: Mood Fabrics, Nunsense & Swatch Too

Swatch Sauma, Mood Fabrics In-House Dog

Swatch Sauma, Mood Fabrics In-House Dog

What does a nun need leather for? Really, that’s what I asked myself when I saw two nuns in the leather section of our New York store. It’s really not uncommon to see gay men, actresses, models even your average everyday mother or sewer fawning over our leather selection. Heck, we even fawn over it ourselves.

So I did a triple take watching these two nuns – wearing white veils – fingering some suede, specifically some fuchsia suede, the kind of thing you might see on Beyonce’s backside, Madonna’s front side or even Boy George’s wrong side, but never on a woman dressed in a black habit and a white veil.

Naturally, I was curious, as was half the store staff. I mean, the conversation dropped a decibel or two. Everyone, including Swatch who had his ears perched way up, wanted to hear what these nuns – who had to be in their late 20s, early 30s – had to say about exactly what they were doing. I mean honestly, it’s rare we get anyone in the religious life in our store. I could understand one or two slipping into that church down the street, but here? Is Mood Fabrics not the epitome of all that’s wrong in the world? The vapid materialism? The ugly side of capitalism? Do we not contribute to the overstuffed closets (not to mention stashes) of men and women worldwide? I mean Pope Francis hasn’t mentioned Mood Fabrics, let alone New York City in his rants on unbridled consumerism, but I’m just waiting for the day he says something about the fashion in the U.S.A., and suddenly all the cameras, including the ones at Project Runway, will focus on Mood Fabric and the Garment District.

So these nuns, now maybe they don’t directly report to Francis, but you would think they would….I don’t know, I just don’t think they would come to Mood Fabrics, let alone the leather section to shop, don’t you? I understand back in the day there were religious orders that made their living sewing lingerie, but women don’t wear handsewn lacy underthings the way they used to….does that mean women of the cloth now have to survive by sewing leather accessories?

I approached these two women, sweetly and kindly as I can. I really don’t know any nuns. Nobody in my generation does. Nuns, sisters, they’re all the same in my Kindle book. Didn’t Whoopi Goldberg do an ace job playing one in a movie? Or what’s that move that was filmed in New York City with Meryl Streep and that redhead? Doubt, I think it was called?

“Ladies, can I help you with anything?” I said ever so sweetly.

One with eyes so sky blue she will never need any eyeliner looked up. “Oh hello,” she demurely. “We were just wondering what kind of needle and sewing foot you need to sew suede.”

“Is that all?”

“No, not really,” they giggled. “We’ve never sewn with leather, let alone suede. But we were going to sew a —-”

Just then the fire alarm went off. Everyone had to leave the store. Bolts of fabric went flying onto the floor, mothers with toddlers screaming in strollers made a frantic dash for the stairs since we couldn’t use the elevator. Drinks perched on the front counter spilled onto the carpet, I think I slid on a slippery patch and cursed, hoping the nuns wouldn’t hear. Shoppers squeezed down the narrow stairs to flee the premises. I saw the sisters behind me assisting an elderly fashion designer with a walker.

Once the entire store – Swatch included – recongregated across the street to watch the fire trucks pull up, I looked for the nuns. They were nowhere to be seen. I scanned the masses for the fashion designer, who had been wearing a sparkling cobalt number head to toe to go with her sequined sneakers. Nada. I mean, this was mere minutes after I saw all three together.

None of the three reappeared in the store later that day. Even a year later, I’ve yet to see any of these three return to Mood Fabrics. Yet to this day, someone on the staff who was there when the nuns were shopping, nearly every week asks me: “So what did the nuns buy? What were they making?”

Excuse my poor French, but it bugs the h-ll of me that I don’t know the answer. Sometimes late at night when I’ve had too much to drink, I think, “What did those nuns want with that leather?”

On those days, I think maybe I’ve spent a day too many at Mood Fabrics and it’s time for me to enter a religious order.

So I ask you, my dear reader, what were the nuns doing in the leather section that day? What were they going to sew? (Now this is a family-friendly blog, so keep your responses clean, if you know what I mean. If it’s not fit for your Aunt Eunice to read, then don’t even dream of putting it on this site. I thank you and this blog’s moderator thanks you.)

(P.S. This fictional foray was inspired by this blog post by Beautejadore.)

New Interweave Knits Book Giveaway: Everyday Lace by Heather Zoppetti

Everyday Lace: Simple Sophisticated Knitted Garments by Heather Zopetti

Everyday Lace: Simple Sophisticated Knitted Garments by Heather Zopetti ($24.99, Interweave.com)

Friends, this is another phenomenal Interweave Knits book give-away: Everyday Lace: Simple Sophisticated Knitted Garments. There are 18 incredible projects in here. 18. Tunics, shrugs, socks, you name it, it’s here. All in the name of lace. For those of you who don’t know or understand lace, it’s all about yarn-overs, K2, ssk and a bunch of acronyms you just don’t have in your knitting vocabulary yet. But they all up to creating a fabric that’s challenging to create (no boring K2, p2 ribbing) and even more rewarding to show off.

Now, here’s the hard part. Some rules. Nothing fancy-schmancy, just basic. You must be in the continental U.S. to enter (company rules). I also ask that you leave an email address somewhere in your blog comment. Finally, answer the question below. Do all that before 12 p.m. CST, Wednesday, Sept. 3 and you will be entered in this great contest, an incredible opportunity to add to your knitting library.

Now for the question: What’s the hardest part of knitting lace to master? If you’ve never knitted lace, what’s holding you back (I’m asking in a non-judgmental way, please understand). 

So answer the question. I’m eager to see your response.

DIY Sewing Pattern Review: McCalls’ M6886, View C

Close up, McCalls' M6886, view C, with neckline from View B

Close up, McCalls’ M6886, view C, with neckline from View B

Close up, McCalls' M6886, view C, with neckline from View B

Close up, McCalls’ M6886, view C, with neckline from View B

McCalls M6886, Main View

McCalls M6886, Main View

Sleeve, McCalls M6886, View C

Sleeve, McCalls M6886, View C

Ok. I cannot be absolutely certain that this is Michael Kors fabric, but tell me isn’t there a strong resemblance between this and “The Michael Kors wedding dress” on People Magazine’s web site?  The dresses worn by Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell? Same print, different colorway.

The Sewing Pattern: McCall’s M6886, View C with neckline from B

The Fabric: Two dimensional knit jersey from Vogue Fabrics, Evanston. The tiles looks like an alligator’s or a crocodile’s backside. The tiles also look like they’re hanging by a bare thread, and some are actually beginning to fall off. I’m afraid to think of what might happen to this fabric when it gets washed. I’ll probably handwash this.

The Ins and Outs: For sewing intermediates, this was a straightforward, sew one side, one sleeve, the neckline, then other shoulder hem, the other sleeve, the side, etc. Of course, the pattern neglects to tell you that you need to stabilize the shoulder with clear elastic or something so it doesn’t stretch out over time. I use a narrow white woven tape in my stash.

My bad: I didn’t read the instructions on the neckline, and use a 5/8″ seam allowance not the 1/4″ inch that was suggested, making this neckline a bit snug. I actually wish that I had use a fold over elastic like seen on the actual Michael Kors dresses (gold would have been cool). The Michael Kors dresses seem to have foldover elastic on the sleeve hem too, if you look closely. But I’m not making this again, one is enough, unless Vogue Fabrics stocks this in another colorway.

Still working on…: Hemming the thing, although I like the hem as is. I don’t want it any shorter actually. The sleeves are a bit on the long side, so those I might when I get around to it. Otherwise, just shove them up to my elbows and nobody sees the hem.

How I am going to wear this?: Oh, a jillion ways. On its own to a splashy night time event. For day time, wear it under a jean jacket. To make it more office-friendly, wear it with a black blazer.

About that Michael Kors fabric…: I’d get this again in a different colorway. Falling off tiles, be darn. So Vogue Fabrics, if you’re listening, get the fabric that’s used for Jennifer Lopez’s dress, ok?

 

DIY Knitting Pattern Review: Red Heart Yarns’ Teen Endless Circle Vest

 

Front View, Red Heart Yarns' Teen Endless Circle Vest

Front View, Red Heart Yarns’ Teen Endless Circle Vest

Ribbing, Back View, Red Heart Yarns' Teen Endless Circle Vest

Ribbing, Back View, Red Heart Yarns’ Teen Endless Circle Vest

Red Heart Yarn's Endless Teen Endless Circle Vest

Red Heart Yarn’s Endless Teen Endless Circle Vest

The Pattern: Red Heart Yarns’ Teen Endless Circle Vest

The Yarn: Berroco Yarns’ Ultra Alpaca, 2.5 skeins

The Low-Down: This pattern did have its days where it felt like it really was endless. All those stitches: 280! Picking up the stitches and getting precisely 280 might have been the hardest part, followed by remembering which yarn-over patt I was on.  Overall, an easy pattern, mindless really. Great movie-watching project. Since I’m a slight perfectionist (when I saw yarn-overs in the purl section I knew I had to frog), I did restart this project several times. What should have taken a few weeks took me more months than I care to remember.

Do We Have a Winner?: We do. This is an easy-peasy project. And that shawl collar is going to be so warm. I could wear this hands-down under a jean jacket. Tugged close I might not even need a scarf. It would be striking underneath a leather jacket too. In both cases, the vest almost acts as a lining (jean and leather jackets are unlined, generally).

Gonna Make It Again?: I might. Did I say this was an easy pattern? It is. Here are some variations I think that would be grand.

  • black Alpaca/wool yarn. If your wardrobe is filled with black separate, add this as a filler for those days when you need a little extra warmth but you still want to keep the midnight ink color theme going.
  • indigo…to make it blend in with your denim jacket, jeans, and skirts
  • white trimmed with faux fur yarn along the ribbed edges? This would make for a great winter white vest, great for the shivering bride as she walks to and from her wedding.

If you’re so inclined and you’re logged into Ravelry, you can see my vest here. You can also become a friend (I nearly wrote fiend).

 

 

Five New Comp Knitting, Crochet Patterns from Berroco Yarns, Ravelry

Close-up, Dalea, a comp knitting pattern from Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

Close-up, Dalea, a comp knitting pattern from Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

Dalea, comp knitting pattern, Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

Dalea, comp knitting pattern, Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

The Take-Away: This is a list of five new-to-me comp knitting patterns. Does that enthrall your knitting needles? Cool. Read on. If not, come back another day for a book giveaway, a DIY sewing or knitting pattern review.

Still reading? Neato. Here are some neat patterns, most of them still summery as the season continues.

  1. Berroco’s Dalea (see above). This sleeveless ribbed top is made up in the company’s Maya yarn, which has this pretty halo that I like a lot, but it could work in other yarns too.
  2. Also from Berroco: Minami. Little more complex with a lace panel. Still great for summer.
  3. The garland tee if you like your knits with a graphic, mod feel.
  4. My friend Mary Beth Temple has a comp crochet pattern over at Ravelry. Download Semifreddo Shawlette at Ravelry.
  5. How often does a comp knitting pattern come with a challenge? This one does. Finish by the end of October (hello Halloween?) for a chance to win one of the designer’s other patterns. Download Pink Onyx for that chance of a lifetime at Ravelry.

That’s it for now, knitting and crochet friends. Off to finish a knitting project this weekend.