Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fall please?

Hello faithful readers! Sorry it has been such a long time since my last post! I am currently working on my new website and wanted to wait until it was finished to post a new blog. As you may have noticed, this is not a new website. I decided that instead of holding out another week or so I would continue posting my creative ramblings for your reading pleasure.

With that said I will let you in on something I began at the beginning of June. It is called the "Christmas Morning Sweater", perfect for midsummer right? Wrong. Some people refuse to knit at all during the summer months because it is simply too hot outside. That wasn't the problem in this case. In fact, I choose the warmest, bulkiest yarn possible for my summer knitting because people keep the AC set to 47 degrees (well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but still it's far too cold inside for most of the summer) so it feels nice to have a cozy sweater in progress on my lap.

The actual bummer part of knitting such a wonderful Christmas sweater in the summer is that now that it's finished I love it and can't wear it without dying of heat exhaustion!

In my mind this would be an ideal situation for wearing this incredibly soft, warm, happy sweater:

Cozy right?

This is the current situation:


Now, take note of this moment. If you know me at all you will realize that this is in fact a very rare occasion. Instead of basking in the glorious heat of summer I am counting down the days until we get a nice, chilly, rainy day so I can finally wear my grey, 100% alpaca, wonder sweater.

I must give props to the designer Caddy Melville Ledbetter for an incredibly well written pattern! Way to be awesome! This pattern is from a book called Warm Knits, Cool Gifts
which has quite the selection of great pattern, I highly recommend it.

This sweater is a gorgeous garment with a non-traditional sleeve and a removable cowl. It was named the "Christmas Morning" sweater because it is cozy enough to be worn in the early morning festivities on Christmas morning then can be transformed into a dressier looking piece (with the addition the cowl) for Christmas dinner.

This project took from start to finish about 10 days.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to make a dress form

A few weeks ago I ended up in a conversation with a budding young dress designer. She had accidentally sliced open her finger with a rotary cutter and was worried that she wouldn't be able to finish her newest dress design in time for fair. As we talked she mentioned that she had made her own dress form. WHAT?!? You can make dress forms?! How come I hadn't thought of that?

The next available minute I googled methods to make my very own! I had had enough of attempting to alter my clothing by pinning it on myself then sewing a tiny bit and repeating the process a million times.

1 roll of duck tape
3 cans of expanding insulation foam
1 large trash bag
Tape measure
Mod-podge for paper mâché
Paper bags or pictures for paper mâché

Begin the process by cutting a good amount of duck tape into strips of varying length.

Next cut a hole in the top of the trash bag for your head and in the sides for your arms. Slip it on. Work quickly so you don't die of heat exhaustion. This part is actually more suited for 2 people. Begin taping the body shape over the bag beginning at the lower edge and making sure it lies tightly against the body. Pay special attention to the chest and shoulder region, it will take more tape in shorter pieces. I did most of this part on my own then got Johnny to help me with the shoulders and neckline. I placed grocery bags where the trash bag didn't cover all my skin so the tape wouldn't stick. Cover the whole body 3 to 4 times with tape so it won't move around when you take it off.

Now comes the fun part. Have whoever is assisting you cut a line down the back so you can escape from the duck tape mold. When you're out, tape it back together again. During this part the shoulder on mine collapsed but I was able to push it back out to the correct spot.

Now that you have a nice mold of your body head out to a well ventilated area for the stuffing process! Warning - the spray insulation is crazy sticky! So I recommend wearing gloves. Before filling with insulation foam I filled my form with some additional bags to keep it in the correct shape.

Fill in the whole form with foam including the center of the body. On a side note - make sure you have enough insulation to fill the whole thing, I originally only bought 1 can and had to run to Walmart in the middle of the process to get more. Keep your tape measure handy so you end up with the correct dimensions after filling.
Wait until foam has completely hardened before proceeding.

If there are any areas that could use more stuffing go ahead and fill them with crumpled newspaper. The goal here is just to make a solid form.

When I was researching this process I found that some chose to remove the tape but that seemed pretty unlikely to work out in my case so I decided to leave the tape on and paper mâché over the top of it. I am a sucker for great pictures so I asked my dad if I could cut some out of his older photography magazines.

I found some photos I was fond of then prepped the form for mâché by cutting off the insulation that had expanded out the arms and neck. Then I began attaching the first layer of paper (which was just strips of brown paper bag) using mod-

After the first layer is done, begin attaching photographs (or if you prefer just leave it brown)

Once the entire body is covered and looks like you want it to, cut a piece of ribbon and place it around the natural waistline as a reference when fitting.

Ta-da! And there you have it, a homemade dress form!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Knitting for necessity...."Naomi" pirouette socks

Sometimes I design for fun, sometimes to make something I can't find at a store and sometimes I design because I just really need something.

This week it was the later. When I visited The Studio a couple weeks ago I was invited to drop into classes over the summer. I decided to attend the last day of the summer intensive they were putting on. Unfortunately none of my dance attire or shoes are here in CO. I had some yoga pants and a tank top I could use but was still severely lacking in the shoe department.

Certain types of dance don't require shoes but since I didn't know what they would be teaching on the day I dropped in I figured I should probably bring some just in case we were doing ballet or anything that involved turning. I hadn't danced for about 2 years so I figured I'd have enough trouble and didn't need to add the problem of my feet sticking and not being able to turn.

I decided to make myself some pirouette socks. A pirouette sock is a little sock that just covers the toes and ball of the foot. As the name suggest, they exist to assist with turning and any motion that requires sliding your foot across the ground.

I didn't have a pattern so I had to come up with one. I checked out my stash and found about 3/4 of a ball of sock yarn, that'd work. I then experimented with a couple different styles and after a couple tries found one that would work. I needed something that was tight enough to stay on while turning and wide enough to accommodate my toes when they are spread apart (usually while turning or balancing). This is the pattern I came up with. It is essentially just a cuff and a toe so it works up very quickly. This would be a great gift for any dancers in your life! Enjoy!

'Naomi' Pirouette Socks Pattern

One size- adjust size by casting on in multiples of two

50 yards superwash sock yarn approx. (I just used some leftovers I had in my stash)

(5) Size US 1 dpns or size to obtain gauge
three stitch markers
Darning needle
20in of 1/4 in elastic

9sts and 12 rows equals 1" in stockinette

k- knit
P- purl
CO- cast on
K2tog- knit two stitches together
Ssk- slip, slip, knit
Sts- stitches
PM- place marker


CO 64 sts, divide sts evenly among 4 dpns. Join for working in the round being careful not to twist the sts. PM for beginning of round.

*K 1, P 1; repeat from star until knitting measures 3/4in

Next row begin working in stockinette (since we are in the round that means you'll need to knit all rows). Continue until sock measures 3 3/4in.

K 16, PM, k 32, PM, K 16

Decrease round:
K to three sts before marker, k2tog, k1, slip marker, k1, ssk, k to three sts before marker, k2tog, k1, slip marker, k1, ssk, k to end

Repeat decrease round until 16 sts remain.

Remove markers and close toe with kitchner stitch.

the measure the correct length stretch the elastic around your foot so it is a little tight, this will help keep the sock on during the action. Let it overlap about a quarter of an inch and cut. Sew the elastic where it overlaps and then into the ribbed section of the sock, make sure to sew it down in multiple locations around the cuff so it wont slip out.

I chose to call this pattern the 'Naomi' Pirouette Sock because for a few years I danced with a wonderful young lady and beautiful dancer named Naomi. Naomi and I lived near each other so we rode to and from classes together for a few years. Needless to say we had all sorts of adventures in that time. Now whenever I remember the time I spent dancing for Mary Constantine- Nelson I always think of Naomi. Special thanks to Naomi for being my model!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My new favorite pants!

These past few months I have been seriously contemplating what I want to include in my wardrobe and the specific reasons for including each piece. I decided that each piece should have a purpose yet also be flexible enough to dress up or down and also be worn with any other piece in my wardrobe. So that meant I needed a color scheme to use and also a climate range.

After I figured out what I'd ideally include, I went online to all of my favorite stores to find pictures of each piece to work from.

Next I headed to the fabric district in LA. If you've never been there you really should check it out! It is a little chunk of town that is cram packed full of fabric stores that sell just about any type of fabric, notions and other fun stuff imaginable. The kicker is this, it's all at wholesale prices. I made sure I was getting a good deal by checking out the prices per yard for the fabrics I wanted at a regular fabric store before I hit up the garment district. The difference was significant.

Now, I decided that for a number of reasons I didn't want to include jeans in my garment selection. They don't travel well and I just don't prefer them in general. Pant selection number one: I wanted something similar to this linen pant from J. Crew except I didn't want to pay $80 for them and I didn't want a drawstring.

I think linen is incredible stuff! It's breathable, drapes nicely, cool in the summer and packs up fairly small. Bummer thing is that it also wrinkles easily. I checked out a normal price for linen and it ranges from $12-$18 per yard and I would need about 2 1/2 yards for pants like this. Gross. When we got to the fabric district I immediately started searching for a mid weight linen, preferably in slate grey or olive green. Unfortunately, I couldn't find either color and had to settle for a dark charcoal instead. Guess how much I spent? $22 for 5 yards!! Amazing!!

Since I got the linen for such a great price I was also able to get a semi sheer silk print ($7 for 5 yards...seriously love this place). More about that fabric later.

After we had spent a few hours in the fabric district and feasted on street food we headed home. As soon as we arrived I began cutting out the pattern pieces I would need. When I finished that I laid out my fabric in the hallway (only place long enough to fit it) and cut out the fabric pieces. The pattern i had was actually for capri pants so i just added about 7 inches in length to the leg pieces. There was supposed to be interfacing as well for the pockets and waistband but I didn't have any so I figured it would be fine to do without.

I began sewing the pants according to the instructions but after I had gotten about two thirds of the way through and tried them on I decided that they looked too formal. I then backtracked and took out the zipper, sewed up the spot it occupied and instead of making a regular waistband I opted for a very lightly gathered elastic waistband. After a couple little alterations they ended up how I wanted them. The pockets and darts make them not look like lounge pants but I didn't have the regular waistband or zipper to make them dress pants either. Perfect! Somehow because I didn't follow the directions I ended with a little pile of extra pieces. Oh well.

**note: hair straightening iron works great for ironing darts! In fact if you're traveling and there isn't an iron you can use your straightener to iron your pants or touch up your shirts. **

Next I had to deal with the hemline. I hadn't pre washed the fabric (dumb idea) so I would need to add a few extra inches in length to allow for shrinking. I put on the pants which were SUPER long and had my mom pin them evenly for me. Then I sewed the hem but didn't cut off the extra fabric just in case I should need to let them out after washing.

As soon as I finished the hem I threw them in the wash and prayed that I would still fit them when they got out. Thankfully they shrank the perfect amount so I didn't have to change the hem at all! Now they are my favorite pants and I am contemplating making a couple more pairs :)

Happy Independence Day week!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

High Fashion and Knitwear?

First - go to this blog and read the post from Tuesday, June 28 "Men's Fashion Knits"

Seriously this is what gets me inspired. The mixture or all the high fashion and runways with knitwear! I dont usually send people to other blogs but this one was so great I just had to pass it on. Thanks Michaela!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ballet and Chopin always inspire me to paint

This week we made it to Colorado! Upon waking up Monday morning I found myself with an incredible amount of time to do whatever I pleased. At first I was at a loss. What on earth was I going to do with all of this time?

Over my morning coffee I decided to check out what was going on at the dance studio I danced at while in high school. I was hoping to check out their recently remodeled studios and perhaps find some old friends there. I hopped in the truck and drove down to Loveland only to find a locked studio. Humph. It was still pretty early so I sat down at the coffee shop across the street to see if anyone would show up. It was there that it dawned on me that all of the summer sessions might be taking place at the Fort Collins studio. I called and confirmed my suspicion.

Around one thirty that afternoon I showed up at the Fort Collins studio and was given the grand tour by the wonderful owner Jennissa. I then asked if perhaps I could stick around long enough to sketch the pointe class. She was only too happy to oblige. Here are a couple sketches I came up with. I focused mostly on the legs and feet.

I left the class feeling inspired and after returning home decided that I needed to paint. I browsed around the internet to find a picture to work from and finally found one of a dancer in Alonzo King's LINES Ballet.

Conveniently my mom is an artist so even though I left my painting supplies in CA I managed to find a blank canvas, brushes and some paint.

I decided to only use a portion of the canvas so the very first thing I did was cover the unused parts with gaffers tape so I wouldn't smudge the white of the canvas. Then I painted in most of the background except a general area where I ultimately wanted the dancer to be.

Next I sketched in a rough outline of the dancer and painted a more exact background.

Then I turned on Chopin (my very most favorite composer) and began the more precise shading and shaping. I love black and white art so it seemed natural to choose to paint in black and white for this piece. However, I always find it a bit more challenging to paint in mostly black because all of the different shades of grey require you to mix a different blend of water and paint. But with as difficult as it was at times I must admit that I loved every minute of it!

After I had finished the detail work I pulled off my gaffers tape outline to find some of the grey from the stage in the painting had seeped under the tape. This is what I call an artistic accident because I loved the effect it had on the look of the piece! At that point I was almost finished. I added some white paint over the white areas on the canvas just to add a bit of dimension and a subtle texture.

And here she is!

Earlier today I went in search of the perfect frame and decided upon a very feminine white one that cradles this piece so well! Unfortunately I neglected to take a picture of it in the frame before I gave it to Jennissa so you'll just have to use your imagination :)

With all this time for creativity, I have a lot to write about so there are more blogs coming soon!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Well hellllloooo there summer!

As of this afternoon we are officially done with all Camfel shows until August! After our show today for about 200 first graders we started on the 48 hour drive from Scranton, PA to Los Angeles, CA.
We are so excited to get home after ten months on the road!

The exciting thing is that we'll spend about six weeks of our summer housesitting in Wyoming. That means I will have a ton of time to experiment with creating all sorts of cool things!

I am just finishing up my summer pattern for a lace tunic for which a blog post and pattern should be coming shortly.

Also Johnny and I are planning on launching a new podcast soon called "Yarn Tripper"! It is a podcast all about traveling for fiber enthusiasts. It'll include things like where to eat, what to see, where to stay and a great fiber find! We have already recorded one episode that should be available after we get back and settled a bit.

I can't wait to blog about all the fun stuff that's in the works! Happy summer to you all!