Monday, November 30, 2015

Learn to Knit Slippers with Me!

I've just confirmed that I get to teach a knitting class for everyone (not just beginners!) through St. Louis Park Community Education

When - Wednesdays, Jan. 20 through Feb. 17; 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Where - Lenox Community Center, 6715 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park, MN, 55426

Contact - (952) 928-6442 or to register and enroll.

Price - $59 + materials 

What - Learn how to knit fun slippers! This pattern, originally published in 1950, has been updated by me so that you won't have to decipher outdated knitting terms. This pattern is easy enough for a beginner, but still great for a more experienced knitter to take a trip down memory lane. 

You will need a pair of size 9 US (5.5 mm) knitting needles and around 220 yards of worsted-weight yarn.

I'll  bring tools to make pompoms to the last class, in case anyone wants to do that!

P.S. - I succumbed to peer pressure and went ahead and wrote the pattern. You can get it here.

Friday, November 27, 2015

I Made A Tshirt!

It's a little funky, but it's all mine!

The pattern is from this Craftsy class, but I couldn't have done it without also watching Linda Lee's Craftsy class. It's a little big on me, so it might end up just being workout/sleep top, but I'm still pretty excited!

(BTW, every single Craftsy class is on sale for just $19.99 or less, but this is NOT a Bl*ck Fr*day post. That is an affiliate link, though, just so you know.)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Siege of Sewing!

Happy Thanksgiving, to all who celebrate it!

p. 6

I just think this is cute.

"Each season before beginning a "siege of sewing", which most of us indulge in at intervals, study the fashion magazines to note style tendencies. If possible, secure a high class French fashion portfolio, several high class American fashion magazines, and several pattern quarterlies which are available in every local community, noting advertisements in magazines and newspapers as well."

All good advice, I think!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015


Mending was the sole use I had for my sewing machine for a long time, and it's still pretty good at it. This is a strip cut from an old bedsheet, used to shore up and repair a tear in a cotton kimono my sister gave me many years ago. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dip Your Toes Into the Victorian Era!!!

My friend, Wendy, and I are planning a workshop for this coming April. 

We will make a teeny version of my Bootstrap Socks and learn about how that fits into 1850.

Join the authors of "Yarn Works" and "Sock Architecture" for a day-long dive into history. Wendy J. Johnson (author of "Yarn Works: How to spin, dye, and knit your own yarn") will start in the morning with the methods and materials available in dye baths of the 1850s. Choose a provided 19th Century dyestuff to hand-dye a skein for a pair of adult-sized socks and learn past (and modern) natural dyeing techniques. Lara Neel (author of "Sock Architecture: Heels, toes, and techniques for knitting awesome socks" will pick up the ball in the afternoon with the history of sock knitting in the Victorian era and will walk you through methods for knitting socks that have been partially lost to history. As you knit a mini sock, Lara will show you techniques that are fast, fun, and fantastic—and can be used in any sock pattern you choose.

You will go home with the naturally-dyed skein of yarn that you dyed in the morning (enough for a pair of adult socks), the mini-sock you created in the afternoon, and a pattern to knit an adult-sized pair of socks using the techniques you learned in the afternoon.

Additional workshop benefit: The day-long session is being held at Gale Woods Farm, a 410-acre, working educational farm and park within the Three Rivers Park District. It's located on picturesque Whaletail Lake in Minnetrista, Minnesota. You will have an opportunity to tour the farm facility with a farm staff guide and meet the animals during a break in the day. Before or after the session, you may take advantage of the walking paths located throughout this beautiful site.

Cost: $75.00 (cost includes supplies*)

Date & Time: Saturday, April 2, 2016 – 9 am – 4 pm (A half-hour is allotted for lunch. Class participants should bring their own lunches. Refrigeration and a microwave are available. Tea, coffee, and water will be provided.)

Location: Gale Woods Farm, 7210 County Road 110 W., Minnetrista, MN 55364

Ages of participants: For ages 16 and over. (We can only accept a total of 16 participants so sign up early!)

*All materials & supplies (except needles & misc. knitting notions) will be provided by the instructors. You will be given a miscellaneous supply list when you register.

Register by March 15, 2016 at the Three Rivers ParkDistrict/Gale Woods website or call Gale Woods at 763-694-2001.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Reading Practical Dress Design: A Laboratory Manual in Fitting and Free-Hand Pattern Making, by Mabel Erwin (1933)

Ok, lovelies. This is the kind of thing that used to drive my coworker Joyce crazy. I think she thought my interest in old drawings/photos/books was a bit strange, and certainly not blog fodder.

The "vintage"  Math4Knitters shows have all been replayed! I'm working on a new series that I will launch at the beginning of 2016. 

In the interim, my Throwback Thursday posts will be all about me reading this sewing book from the 1930s. It seems to have a lot of great information in it on fitting and design details. I have a copy from my local library, but there's also a version online here

I'm ignoring her "purchase a new corset" advice and taking away the parts that I think seem useful! I think, at this time, a lot of sewing patterns were sold with just one size at a time, so grading in between sizes was harder. But, it still seems like sound advice for choosing a size to start from a multi-size pattern.

p. 5

How to choose the best size, when you are in-between sizes. 

- Try tightening your measuring tape to the smaller size and loosening it to the larger size, to really see the difference between the two on your body. You may be comfortably closer to one or the other. 

- The larger size can usually be altered easily by adding a tuck.

- In general, choose the best fit for the section of the dress/garment that has the most design details. For example, if a dress has pleats or yokes in the hip area, choose your size based on the hip measurement.

- If your measurements are very different from the ones in the pattern's size chart (bust is one size, waist is another, hip is yet another), try to choose dress patterns that have a waistline seam and gore lines, so that you'll have a better time fine-tuning the fit. 

The larger size might be best when:

- You have wide shoulders. (That's me!)

- Your body is shaped more like an oval than a circle.

- You have a high bust.

The smaller size might be best when:

- Your body is shaped more like a circle than an oval.

- You have a low bust.

- Your hips are small, in proportion to your bust.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blue Sky and Clouds

I'm heartbroken by the violence and hate in the world, but it keeps turning. Even on rainy days, we have to try to remember the sun. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sometimes You Rip, Sometimes You Sew

Here's one of the many things knitting taught me that also applies to sewing and life.

When you don't like what you're getting, and you can do it over, just do it over. 

Otherwise the bad job you did on that seam/gauge swatch/email will haunt you for as long as you care to think about or use the thing. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Boo Boo Balm

OK, returning to previous obsession for a bit. After you have made your herb-infused oil, you can blend it with a little beeswax and essential oils and make a pretty awesome, and easy, salve for bumps and bruises. I love it!

Complete info. in Beeswax Alchemy, the book that made my basement smell awesome. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Raglan Baby Sweater Yoke

I DO still knit. It's just that many of my projects are Top Secret. It's the curse of knitting things that are meant to be released later.

This is the yoke to a raglan baby sweater, from my Autumn Dreams pattern (without the extra garter stitch ridges). 

I'm just about to start the sleeves. And, no, I'm not trying to launch a Baby Noir line. Although, that would be pretty cool, in my opinion!

When one of my family members was laid up earlier this year after surgery, I wanted to give her something easy to knit. So, I had her cast on a certain number of stitches and simply work garter stitch for 6 inches. She used a very pretty, variegated yarn. Her piece will be the bottom half of the sweater. I chose this lovely charcoal since I didn't have a solid color that matched any of the colors in her yarn. 

I think it will be pretty cute!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Appleton Dress!


About 4 months into my sewing journey, I took most of last Sunday and made this

I was a little afraid to spend that much on a kit, BUT, I had already pinned the same fabric from a different website with a note: "buy 2.5 yards and make a dress for yourself."

It felt like fate! I was afraid it might be too hard for me, but the instructions were clear, with diagrams showing every step along the way. 

I only made two changes: I added 1" of ease to the biceps and I cut about 6" off one of the ties. It was just too long. My mega arms have made dresses and shirts hard to fit since I was about 6 years old, so I'm totally ok with making that adjustment. 

The curved neckline is super comfy and the skirt length is perfect. I was a little nervous at having a "straight" skirt, but it fits well. I generally like my skirts to have at least an A-line, but I'm thinking that what really matters is the correct fit. 

I especially love the novel feeling of not needing to wear a cami under the dress. I know some people would do that, but the neckline is so snug that I don't mind wearing it as a deep v-neck. Us short, curvy girls benefit from that neckline shape! I have other wrap dresses that really need a cami underneath and I think it makes the overall fit not nearly as awesome. Plus, I spend all day pulling it into place under my dress. Or maybe I need higher-quality camis in my life. 

And, for those of you who wear tights with their dresses - this fabric doesn't cling to tights. At all. Ever. 

So, to sum up: Great fit = no safety pins or cami needed!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Story of My Sewing Machine

Kind of a bad photo. Sorry!

I bought my sewing machine at a thrift shop in Traverse City, MI, around 2004, when I lived there. I've always loved thrift shops, and this one is especially awesome, since it benefits the Women's Resource Center.

It was kind of an impulse buy and kind of not. My clothes, bedsheets and I had just endured 2 years of bad washing machines during graduate school, so I had a few things that I loved that really just needed a little mending. If I recall, this Singer 328k cost about $25 (maybe less?), which was cheaper than buying 3 new sets of sheets and less emotional than saying goodbye to my favorite skirt. I kind of hope that everyone else has those few really special clothes that they love to wear and mourn when they, well, wear out!

At the time, I told my dad about buying a sewing machine and he said, "Lara, you must be careful to stay on your budget." He has no memory of this, but the singsong way he said "budget" cracked me up, so I remember. 

I couldn't get the tension knob to work correctly, so I did have it tuned up. The repair guy said that if I took care of it, it would last another 40 years, since it's all metal gears and a rubber belt, inside. 

I checked books out of the library on mending and proceeded to mend my sheets so well that I still use those sets. I also checked out books on garment construction and was promptly scared off by things like interfacing. For some reason, choosing/ using interfacing scared me to death. My friend who sews tried to tell me that not EVERY project has Scary Interfacing, but I didn't believe her. 

So, for the past 11 years, I've moved this machine with me to three houses and only used it for mending. About 4 months ago, I was talking with an editor at work and she told me that you can sew t-shirts and other knit fabrics on a regular sewing machine without a serger. I said, really? Even my loud little antique machine? She said, of course! The last time sewing knitwear was really popular, about 30 years ago, no one had sergers at home. We all just did it with a small zigzag stitch. 

...and I saw the awesome dress Annie Modesitt made herself as a copy of a dress she already had. (I can't find it on her blog, maybe I just saw it on Facebook?) So, now I knew that it was possible to make my favorite kinds of clothes and also make new versions of my favorite clothes? These are skills that I really want to have. 

Next thing you know, I was signing up for sewing classes like this one on Craftsy and it was off to the races! I really enjoy the feeling of learning something new to me. I call my little old Singer Madame Chanteuse, because that's French and I'm apparently obsessed with all things French. She was made in Scotland in 1965. If you have one and don't have a manual, you can download it for free here

I keep finding new and exciting ways to make her not work properly (presser foot not down, needle in backwards, needle not in all the way, foot not screwed on tight enough, threaded wrong, sloppy bobbin, wrong needle, another wrong needle, presser foot pressure too low, presser foot pressure too high, messing too much with the bobbin tension, no thread on the bobbin, not oiled/cleaned so that she squeaks like the Tin Man). 

So far, she has always forgiven me. Eventually.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Friday, November 06, 2015


The fabric was so thin that I had to line it. I cut the lining out sideways, so it kind of puckers on my tummy, but I tend to wear my shirts untucked, anyway! I love it!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Copy of My Favorite Light Jacket

I think I did pretty well! I love the color. It's just a touch big - next time I'll make it smaller.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

New Couch!

I mean, I realize you might not all care, but the couch is where I do most of my knitting, designing and daydreaming!