Sunday, January 29, 2012

January is National Craft Month!

I love knitting, but I started cheating this month. I bought my mom a sewing machine for Christmas, and figured I would test it out by teaching myself to sew a small project. I had absolutely no idea how to even make a straight stitch, but I forged ahead anyway.

My project of choice is the E-reader cover from Urban Threads .  It was the perfect solution for my Nook Cover search, mostly because they used the same Nook model in their example.  Overall, the project had a few frustrating parts to it.  However, for a more experienced sewist, i know it would be easy as pie.  Some of my frustration occcured when I either made the speed of the machine go too fast, or I forgot to hold the thread at the beginning of a stitch, and it quickly disappeared and the needle became unthreaded.  I tried unsuccessfully to use the automatic needle threader, so I just did it the old fashioned way by manually putting the thread through the teeny tiny hole.  I remember when I was 5, my grandmother used to ask me to thread her needles because she couldn't see it.  Luckily, I still have 20/20 vision, so that wasn't a problem.

So, enough of me babbling.  You must be so excited to see the project in action.  Here we go!

Firstly, here is the lovely Sewing machine.  I got a deal on for both a machine and serger for $1 less than the price of the serger on Amazon.  Yaaay me!

Next up, I ordered the fabric from  It is designed by Timeless Treasures, and called Do Ewe Knit.  I thought the motif was fitting, since knitting is my first love.  (I am not a heartless cheater)

I also got thread, elastic and interfacing from there as well. 

I went to Michael's to get Plastic Canvas and a trusty grid ruler.

Lastly, I got these cute sheep buttons from KnitPicks.

So, now that I gathered all of my materials, it was time to begin. I washed the fabric to preshrink it.  But before I washed it, I had to seam the edges.  I started with a zig zag stitch on the red material.  This is where I made my first mistake, but hey I am going to cut it off anyway.  It turns out the bobbin thread got tangled somehow.

So, I then decided to use the serger for the edges instead.  It went by so quickly and worked out even better.  

 My next step was to cut the plastic canvas to the size of the Nook.  I wanted to use plastic instead of cardboard, because I felt that it would be more stable.

Next, I drew out the pattern onto the fabric using tailor's chalk.  There is a 1 inch allowance between the rectangles for the spine.  There is also a 1/2 inch seam allowance around the whole thing. 

Next, I cut the interfacing to the approximate size of the fabric, and ironed it.

Then, I cut the pieces out to the exact measurements to finally prep before sewing.

Here I am seaming the pieces together. I started with the inner pocket, then moved on to the piece of fabric that is behind the Nook, as you can see in this picture.

Once everything was sewn up, it was time to turn the fabric inside out.  How fitting that I used a knitting needle to really get the corners neat.

My seams, aren't perfect, but they are good enough for my first try.  At some point I felt like I ripped out more thread than I actually sewed, but I was determined to finish it.

At this point, I inserted the plastic canvas. 

I also added and an extra layer of fusible fleece to the parts that would be nearest to the screen.

Now, its time for the finishing touches.  I hand stitched the button to the front cover.

Then, I hand stitched the bottom edge, where I inserted the inner stability pieces.

And here is the finished product.  I am so proud of myself.

And to prove to you that I totally didn't give up on knitting.... I finally finished my Fuschia Cabled Earflap Hat.  It fits perfectly when I have curly hair.


And when I have straight hair. 

I actually finished the hat the Friday before Vogue Knitting Live, but just realized that I forgot to post it. 

My next sewing project that I have planned is the Cosmo Bag from Amy Butler's Style Stitches book. It's the beautiful pink one on the cover.  I have read many blog comments about it, stating that it is not well suited for a beginner, and there are a million pieces to cut out, and it takes many hours to complete it. But hey, I really want it.  So, I will forge ahead. Besides, its all a learning experience right?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ella week 2 and soft yarn for a tough guy

This is the second week into knitting this glorious coat. The assignment for this week is to work the armhole shaping and separate the back from the left and right fronts of the sweater. Special care was given by Nora when it came to instructions on how to get the perfect fit.

#1 Measure the distance from natural waist to underarm. Mine would be 7 inches.
#2 Work the bodice to an inch or inch and a half less than that measurement. So, I stopped at 6 inches.
#3 Make sure the increases fall at the center boob point of your bosom. Sounds kinda funny, but it's perfect because you ensure that the front isn't lopsided. I still have a little room for a ruffle in the front, so I am happy with my progress thus far.

Separating the fronts from the backs required binding off mid-row. That was no problem. I am happy with the way the back portion is turning out, and I happy that I am almost through my second color pattern repeat.

Did I mention how much I love this yarn? Shepherd's Worsted is a dream to knit with. I completed the Festivus gift for "The Brain". He loved the feel of the yarn so much that he tried it on, stayed in my house for an hour chatting, and never took it off. I asked "aren't you hot". He said it felt too nice to take it off. That's the best complement a knitter can get. For those of you still contemplating on a yarn choice for Ella, this yarn is tough-guy approved.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Falling in love, falling in love again!

With ELLA!

This sweater created such a buzz during Vogue Knitting Live. At first, I caught a few stares, and some oohs and aaaahs. But pretty soon, I was chatty with everyone about the KAL, and how awesome it would be if they join. I would like to give a big hug to Mindy and Linda again. They were the last set of people that I talked to, and we have been emailing ever since, discussing our plans. Ella has already allowed me to make friends from far away places. As long as there is stash, a knitting friend will last!

There are a few reasons I love Ella so much. I would compare it to Urban Decay's NAKED makeup palette. The eyeshadow kit was an instant sensation upon release, because it matched practically everyone's skin tone. From fair to dark, warm to cool, there is a set of colors in there that works for everyone. Also, the range of looks can go from natural to smoldering smokey eye. Beyond that, a second palette was just released this month.
Ella's construction allows for a beautiful fit on any body type. Petite? You can shorten it. Long torso? Make the bodice a bit longer. Not into long swing coats? Make it hip skimming length. Super romantic? Add more to the ruffles. What I love most is the fact that you can do so much with the color scheme. Solid with contrasting ruffles, stripes all over, stripes only in certain areas, solid and variegated striping effect. The possibilities are endless.

So, without further adieu, I present to you the beginning of my love affair. Ella in the NYC Diva Colorway. My color palette includes Shepherd's Worsted in in Baby Pink, Pink, Hot Pink, Zinnia Pink, Creamsicle, Orange, Antique Rose and Tilli Tomas Flurries in Stargazer Lily and Hibiscus.

In this picture I worked the pattern to the second increase. My striping pattern has even numbered rows for every color. Some stripes were started on the purl side to even out the amount of loose ends on each side. I didn't want them all to be stuck on one side of the coat.

This yarn feels like heaven. I can't say that enough. It is soft, plush and lofty. In my hands it feels like what my hair feels like immediately after a deep conditioner, minus the water. Half of my knitting time is spent just touching the knitted fabric.

Ella is so pretty, that my mom hinted at wanting one. I guess it's time to reinvent my color scheme to an orange palette. This sweater feels so good, I would gladly make 2. I guess it's time to see what colors The Loopy Ewe has. Too bad there isn't a store on NYC that carries Stonehedge Farm Shepherd's Worsted. I guess I will just have to wait for shipping.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ella's journey to Vogue Knitting Live in NYC.

I had a conversation with Melissa from Noni designs. I can't remember it verbatim, but it went a little something like this.

M: Nora and I will be in NYC the weekend of the 14th. It would be cool if we could meet up and go to La Casita. (she knows this is my favorite yarn store)
S: Yes, La Casita would be wonderful.  They have a Friday night knitting group.  It would be perfect.
M: Great!  I can't wait.
S: What are you doing Saturday?  You know Vogue Knitting Live is happening, right?  It would be awesome.  You can show off Ella, and we can get more people to join in this wonderful KAL.  I can even walk around with you, and model Ella for everyone to see.  It would be awesome.  

A few days later, here we are.   

Shameka in Nora's Blue Ella

It was so much fun walking through the crowd and talking to the wonderful knitters at VK Live, and seeing their excitement over the coat.  Then, when they realized it was the fabulous Nora Bellows who designed so many gorgeous bags at they got even more excited.  " I made your bag" "I made your flowers" "I'm so excited to meet you, can I give you a hug?".  Instantly, I whipped out my Iphone, and started inviting people to the Ella KAL Group on Ravelry (I love technology).  

The KAL starts tomorrow, so don't hesitate to make a decision.  YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS COAT!  The sizes range from a 32 bust to a 52 bust, and the A-line skirt is perfect for many shapes.  You create the bodice, then pick up stitches and knit the skirt from the waist down, so you can make it as long as you want.  Nora will be adding little variations to the design on her BLOG, and will post every Monday to keep us on track. 

How Ella Fits:
The drape is absolutely beautiful. It is neither too tight, nor too loose.  It makes me feel very pretty and girly.  I thought of doing a Tour J'ete with this exciting declaration of beautiful femeninity I had on.  Yes, I did feel extremely feminine in traditional "boy" colors.  But, it's the embodiment of the sweater that makes you feel that way.  The fabric makes you feel very warm and snuggly.  Most snuggly sweaters feel a bit frumpy, but Ella is hip, cute, and dare I say Sexy.  I love it! 

After Vogue Knitting live, we went to an Indian restaurant nearby.  Nora sat next to me and we discussed pattern writing, color theory, knitting techniques, and yarn selection.  She even hand-wound a perfect Golden Yarn Egg.  I think it's a lot cuter than a yarn Cake. 

Nora, Ella, and the Golden Yarn Egg!

Nora and the Golden Yarn Egg
A closer view.  It's perfect!
 Nora is such a talented designer.  She gave me a little insight on the upcoming project that she has, and I got a glimpse of how much research went in to creating her unique patterns.  I must say I was blown away.  As soon as I have permission to talk more about it, I will. Trust me, you will be blown away as well. 

It was an honor to spend such an amazing weekend with Nora and Melissa. Noni Designs Rocks!

Cast-On time is in less than a day. Is your Ella ready to be created?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fuschia (kiddy) Cap

I was aiming to finish my Fuschia Cabled Earflap Hat last night. It didn't dawn on me that I should finish it, until about 3 hours into watching episodes of Love & HipHop from my DVR. I had one more episode to go when I got to the crown decreases. So, I just followed the directions and carried on.

Something in my mind said that the hat looked a bit small as I was doing my decreases. However, I just decided to trust the pattern and carry on.

To make the long story short...I got so caught up in the reality TV drama, that I didn't realize I was creating my own drama. I tried on my hat and it was waaaay too small. Actually, the circumference is spot on. But, the length just doesn't cut it. I should have stuck to my formula of "knit 6.5 inches before decreasing". I mean, did I really expect the hat to fit over all these curls? Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a do-over. Check out my kiddy cap.

This actually has nothing to do with the way the pattern is written. I am taking a pattern written for a child, and adapting it to an adult noggin. What's adaptation without a few tweaks here and there? I will undo the decreases and add 2 more inches to the hat. Stay tuned.

Knitting is fun. I am laughing at this. Just as I laughed at the reality TV women who find sport in throwing glasses of tasty wine while they don high heels and tube tops. I'm so glad I have a hobby to keep me out of trouble. Hmmmmm. I may need that wine to help me rip out the mistake rows.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ella NYC Diva Swatch

I must be honest with you. This is the first time I have ever done a proper swatch for a project. The first time I knit at least 4 inches, instead of just barely 2 and a half. The first time I didn't just follow what the pattern said, use the same yarn and needle size, and just go with it. The first time I didn't use the sleeve as my gauge swatch, to have to rip it out and change something. The first time I have contemplated cutting the yarn, so that I can actually wash it. I have usually had good luck with the sweaters I have knit in the past, in that they always fit.

This is also the first time I have ever had to create a color scheme layout on my own. The first time I had to calculate yarn quantity percentages. The first time I sketched something and had to make edits, and secondary edits.

What have I learned from all this? The first time can yield amazing beautiful results.

Upon examining my swatch, I realize that I want to add another 2 rows of hot pink. I think it would look perfect in the exact location that my finger is pointing. My expected gauge should be 18 stitches and 24 rows. However, I am getting 19 stitched and 26 rows. I really like the feel of this fabric. I wonder if I can just knit the next size up. Im afraid that if I go up a needle size, the fabric will not be dense enough. Any thoughts?

Also, it is killing me that I will have to wait a whole week before I can cast on. I am so excited about this Ella KAL.

I am also on love with Shepherd's Wool. It is so soft and plush. Here is a picture of the Festivus gift for "the Brain", the Scrumptious Cowl. I have 30 more rows to go before the project is complete. He got a sneak peek of it today, and told me he wants to buy a new grey coat to match it. He also said he feels special. Awwwwww!

And speaking of cowls, I finished my Scrunchable Bling cowl. I love it. The little pieces of bling don't itch at all. It isn't blocked in this picture, but I don't think blocking is a necessity. I used superwash wool, so I think this will be fine. Now I have something to wear with that coat with the pretty fur collar. More of those pics soon..... I promise.

So, with all this finishing going on, naturally I decided to cast on something else. Last week was really cold on NYC, and I didn't have a proper knitted hat made by yours truly. So, I came up with this idea to make a Cabled Earflap Hat. This hat is designed by Julie Hentz and was originally created for a baby using DK weight yarn on size 6 needles. I took worsted weight "Heavy Metal Wool" fro. and doubled it. I am using a size 10.5 16 inch Addi Turbo needle. So far, so good. And yes, of course it's pink.

One Earflap in the making.

2 Earflaps complete

No, this is not a set of Donkey Ears.  LOL! Just joined them to the hat. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ella NYC Diva Colorway

I am so excited about my beautiful yarn for Ella. I decided to put together a color scheme to help me decide on the striping pattern. In order to do this, I copied the picture from the Noni blog into photoshop, and used the eyedropper tool to get the RGB values for each skein of yarn. I then created a set of rectangles in PowerPoint and assigned a color to each. Based on the amount of skeins of each color, I multiplied the pairs of rectangles used to represent rows. For example, I have more Zinnia Pink rows than I do for Baby Pink. I also numbered the rectangles so I wouldn't forget.

Here is my proposed color scheme. Now, I just need to run to a yarn shop to get some Addis before I head home tonight. I am ready to swatch.