Thursday, February 16, 2017

Episode 19: Cute As A Button

I wanna make buttons!

Click here for the video.  :o)

This episode includes knitting, sewing, two giveaways, and the results of my wool wash experiment.

Thank you to Lynne of the Sunshine and Bubblegum podcast for the prize I won in her Ravelry group!

Giveaway threads on our Ravelry group:
For January ~ Alpaca Cloud Fingering from Knit Picks in "Cora"
For February ~ Preciosa Tonal Worsted from Knit Picks in "Panther", "Duchess", and "Boysenberry"

My Wool Wash Experiment
The Summary:  I tested 7 different detergents with my own hand dyed, very dark red, yarn.  Only one
had some color bleed.  After additional testing, I was able to get that bleeding to stop by adding a certain amount of vinegar to the bath.

pH test strips at Amazon.

My Miette cardigan by Andi Satterlund is in progress.
I made my little fabric strawberry buttons with this Dritz Cover Button Kit.

Another Simplicity 1537 dress in Telio Denim Floral from
Making yoga/jammy pants with Simplicity 4429 (an old pattern that I think is out of print but may be available elsewhere on the net).  I used French Terry Knit.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Episode 18: Experiments & Goals

Let the yarn dyeing experiments begin!

Click here for the video.  :o)

I'm getting a tad nerdy about the yarn dyeing process.  My first experiment will be to test swatches of my newly dyed, very red, skein of yarn in different wool washes.  Let's see if I get any bleeders.  And if I do, let's see if I can fix it.

Diving In shawl by Mam'zelle Flo

Simplicity 1537
Riley Blake fabric at

Friday, January 20, 2017

Episode 17: Meet Lucy

My co-host steals the show.

Click here for the video.  :o)

I chat about yarn dyeing, sewing, and I introduce the newest member of our family:  Lucy!

Oh, and I forgot to mention a January Giveaway:  600 yards of Alpaca Cloud, 100% Superfine Alpaca fingering weight, in the "Cora" colorway.  Join our Boston Mama Knits group on Ravelry and reply once here to enter.  Please note that you must be a member of the group.  Fortunately, joining requires a simple click of a button, and that's pretty much it.  ;o)

Alpaca Cloud in "Cora"
As for the rest of the episode...

Knit Picks for bare bases and Greener Shades dye
Dharma Trading Co for dye and citric acid

Simplicity Jiffy Shift Dress #8253

Friday, January 6, 2017

How Did Science Sneak Into My Knitting?!

Learning how to dye yarn has been an interesting process.  There's a somewhat complicated relationship between dye, heat, acid, and fiber that I'm still trying to fully understand.  Mess with even one of those variables, and there will be a change.  That then leads to the following questions:

What did I just do?

Do I like it enough to try doing it again?

Mind you, I'm just introducing myself to color theory as well.  And the first lesson I learned is that when you have a colorway that isn't working out, you can usually save it by making it dark purple or dark brown.  Let's just say my stash currently has a LOT of dark purple and dark brown. 

The above skeins worked out relatively well though.  Still a beginner's effort, but pretty.  You can see with three of them that I was messing with variations of pinky peach.

And that super purple guy third from the right ~ yeah, that was one of those skeins.  There is a fair amount of silk in that particular yarn, and I was quickly reminded that this affects the way the dye is taken up.  Plus I messed with the water temperature.  Things got weird, and I eventually had to call upon of the power of purple to save me.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Voile Underlining Experiment, Dress #5

A basic black, but not really.  It has tiny gray Xs.

The short version:  It didn't work out quite the way I wanted it to.

The slightly longer version

The dress fabric is once again from Riley Blake.  The voile underlining was nice and light, and though it frayed and graced my black dress with what seemed like 1000 little white fuzzies, it was nice to work with.

This dress has some heft to it that the other versions are missing.  I feels higher quality.  It looks much nicer on the inside as well.

However it's not quite doing what I had hoped it would do.  I had hoped that the little bit of extra heft would weigh it down a bit, giving it just a tad more drape to counter balance the quilting cotton.  But no.  Not in this case anyway.  Now it just feels like slightly heftier quilting cotton.  So my dress went from "stiff" to "stiff with oomph!".  It's kinda funny really.

I'll still wear the dress, of course.  I'll report back on the wrinkle-ability (wrinkleyness...wrinkle-ocity...).  Maybe with cotton, I shouldn't even concern myself with wrinkles.  Cotton wrinkles, right?

What I'm very happy about

The zipper went in nicely.  Lined up and everything!

I'm getting better at set-in sleeves.  Not much, but better.  During a moment of frustration, I had considered making all future garments sleeveless.  But I talked myself out of that ~ I can't be a sleeve weenie.  I can do this.

Overall, underlining my first dress was a good experience.  I didn't mind cutting out the extra pieces, and I enjoyed the fact that I was working a little harder and a little longer not only to learn but to add quality to my project.

I now have 4 hand sewn dresses in my closet.  All dolled up and no place to go, essentially.  And since it's currently 12 degrees out, I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I DO knit, I swear!

Ha.  I realize the last several posts have been solely about my adventures as a beginner seamstress.  Looking back, in fact, my very first craft involved sewing when I decided I wanted to learn how to quilt many years ago.

But as my blog title states, this Boston mama knits more than anything.  You can tell how I feel about yarn too based on my photos ~ the fiber is always in dreamy, ethereal light.  The yarn in the above photo in particular has been my absolute favorite for a few years now ~ Capra DK from Knit Picks.  It's a wool/cashmere blend that is incredibly soft and yields a very comfortable fabric when worked up.

The photo is also featuring the same pattern in 3 different colors.  I first knit up the French Cancan shawl by Mademoiselle C a few years ago in the Cream colorway.  I wanted a cuddly winter white shawl to wrap around my neck and shoulders during the cold months.

I loved that shawl so much, I knit up one in pink and made matching mittens.

Why do I need a third one?  For two reasons:

1) I wear these shawls ALL the time.  Love them.  Will usually reach for them over all of my other knits.  That's a good sign that the project was an all around success!

2)  This yarn was the last yarn Snoopy sat on and wrapped himself up in before he passed away.  I always loved that he thought my yarn was his yarn.  It was.    And I never minded finding dog hair in my knits.  In fact I encouraged it, and seeing little random bits of fur from him in this project makes me so happy.

The pattern calls for the body to be knit in squishy garter stitch.  I did stockinette for the first two, but for this one I am following the pattern as is.  Working on the body is repetitive, meditative, and therapeutic.

The applied border is always engaging, and I swear this is where I will slow down...not because lace and cables are more complex...but because I often stop, pull back, and admire my work.  :o)  If I cut that out, I'd be done in half the time!

I highly recommend this pattern if you're interested in trying lace and cables.  Working an applied border is not hard, and because it's a much smaller amount of stitches, it makes working this short lace and cable pattern very manageable (as opposed to lace and cables across hundreds of stitches).

Oh, and if you haven't tried Capra DK yet, this might be a good time.  Seriously.  You'll thank me.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dress #4, Polka Party!

The fabric is Riley Blake, a joyful all over white polka dot on a red background.  My younger daughter picked this out for herself, and once again, I made Simplicity 1537.

I continue to work with this pattern because I know it well enough that I don't have to worry about the basic construction at this point, and I can fine tune details.  Plus it's just darn cute.

She is a size 10, so I had to trace out new pattern pieces.  Thankfully, I remembered that I have size 14 traced out for me and needed to correctly label the pieces to avoid mixing them up!  I would NOT have been happy if, while making my next dress, I unknowingly had pieces of two different sizes.

She is thrilled with her new dress.  She wore it the day I finished it, which was adorable because it was about 30 degrees outside.  She froze in the car and on the short walk to the library, but she stuck it out because darnit...polka dots!

Clover water soluble pencils

I am happy to report that these are fabulous.  Chances are experienced seamstresses could chime here with even better options, but so far, I'm having very good luck marking up my fabric with these pencils.

New fabric 

Did you spy the new fabric?  I have 3 more dresses waiting in the wings.  :o)

Voile underlining

The gray X on the black background is currently in production.  All 3 of these fabrics are quilting cotton, and each one will be an experiment.  Dot & Dash X is yet another Riley Blake fabric.  I will be underlining it with cotton voile to see if that helps reduce that dress-made-of-quilting-cotton look and feel.  I think the idea is to give the fabric a little more weight, encouraging it to drape a little nicer.  Maybe it'll reduce the wrinkling too?  We'll see.

Didn't need to pre-wash my muslin - yikes.

A quick note.  I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to prewash my muslin fabric.  I don't know why because it becomes a dress one only practices with and doesn't wash/wear.  I think I was trying to soften it up a bit.  Anyway, muslin really wrinkles. the chart wrinkles!  In order to use it for practice pieces, I now had to iron it out to save it.  And frankly, it went from really wrinkled to only sorta wrinkled with ironing.  Basically, it was time wasted.  I had washed and ironed a fabric that needed neither.

Next...the Voile Underlining Experiment.