Saturday, 27 February 2016

New equipment


The Treehouse sees a coming and going of gnomes, elves and pixies, but a recent arrival has made such an impact on life here at the Treehouse that her existence cannot not be mentioned here. Admittedly, 'recent arrival' is not that recent per se, as I wanted to make sure I knew her well enough to be able to properly toot my horn about her here. So without further ado: It's about time I introduce you to my new sewing companion and/or workhorse.

I have a brand new overlocker!


I owned an old overlocker before, which I inherited from my grandmother. However, it was quite an old and broken machine, and even though I spend many a day trying new things I never got it to work properly... or, at all, to be honest. I took me quite a while to realise and admit that it wasn't going to work and that I had to give up on it. I spend a couple of weeks reading up and researching new machines to see what was out there. I didn't plan to buy one for a while, but I wanted to have enough information for when I saved up enough for a frivolous sewing escapade.


Now I know you are thinking  "If you didn't plan to buy one WHAT is that brand new overlocker doing on your sewing table?" Good question! I had nothing to do with it's arrival and am just as baffled as you. I received her as a  Graduation/Christmas/Yay-you-survived-a-year-of-Big-Things gift from my boyfriend. He hadn't said anything about it, and I only noticed something was up when there was a huge cardboard box on the dinner table instead of the spaghetti I was expecting. I couldn't believe it when I opened the box, back in December. I couldn't wait to get to work on it, my Seda Dress was the first thing I've made with it.


It is surprisingly easy to use. You wouldn't believe what a difference an actual working machine makes! The insides are colour coded, and it comes with a very clear manual. The treading of the machine is still the most tedious part, but it is made as doable as possible. Also, one of those neat things you never realise about overlocking: an overlocker trims the edges of your fabric, but what comes off, has to go somewhere, right? HAVE NO FEAR! A strange, fabric-trims-catching net-like thing is here! Really, this thing is surprisingly useful. 


It came with white thread added, but in addition I still had my grandma's box spools of thread. Whites, blues, black, greys and the reddish brown you see in the picture. It feels great to sew with this machine. In comparison to regular sewing, this feels so very stable. I'm still learning a lot, but I feel quite confident working on it. I've worked it on different kinds of fabrics: woven as well as knits, and it makes such a difference! The finishing become a lot neater and the construction feels much more secure. I've started a new project recently (not telling you what until I've finished it!), and very happy with how speedy the process is.



 I hope everyone is enjoying their weekends. I'm so happy with this machine, now the only thing I need to really get sewing wardrobes full is someone to fix me a time-turner. Anyone?




Friday, 12 February 2016

Matryoshka at the Fair


Well hello there first post of February! I'm sure I've already seen this on other blogs lots since the start of the new year, but can you believe how fast 2016 is flying by? My birthday is in less than a month, ack! I have been adjusting to a new semester, with brand new courses. The workload is brutal, but the courses are amazing. Which helps a lot, when you have to pour so much of your time, and yourself in things. Some of them basically have my name written all over them, and I had been looking forward to starting them for months. As you can imagine I'm very pleased that so far they are living up to my expectations (huzzah). That said, I'm glad the weekend is here and I can catch my breath somewhat for the new week. Enough small talk though, nobody is here for my uni ramblings. Instead let's have a look at my latest make!




I have a new cardigan to show you! The project has been a long time coming, but I found she was definitely worth waiting for. The pattern is Jenny at the Fair by  Mary Jane Mucklestone. When I saw this pattern it was love at first sight, I wanted to cast on right away! But...since I tend to have that with more patterns *ahum* it had to wait a while. But now it's done and ready! The pattern is part of a collection, 'the Rhineback Sweater', edited by Ysolda Teague. Initially the patterns were only available in this collection, but later they were released as individual downloads. Admittedly I was not as sold on the other patterns in the book as I was on Jenny at the Fair. Many designers worked on the book, the patterns reflect this and are very different in style.  Most of them are not garments I could see myself knit or wear. So instead of buying the book, I waited for the single patterns.




 The yarn I used is Drops Nepal. Incidentally it is the same yarn I used to knit my very first sweater with, which I still wear and which holds up pretty well. Working on it, I sometimes had these waves of nostalgia, thinking back on how much has happened and how much my skills have improved since that first sweater way back in the day.

The cardigan is knitted in the round, with a steek at the front for the opening. I use steeks regularly in my knitting, but often with a sticky yarn, such as Shetland or Icelandic wool. Drops Nepal is a smooth yarn and I was eager (and a bit wary) to see how well it would hold a steek. I've steeked superwash yarn before, so I wasn't too scared to put me off doing it. Steeking smooth yarn is entirely possible, but I will say that I'd recommend reinforcing before cutting. Once you start cutting the yarn next to the cut, that isn't reinforced, stitches will swiftly disappear before your eyes. I steeked, and knitted the button band before blocking. With these types of cardigans it is impossible to block them to certain measurements before the steek.




The cardigan was as fun to knit as it looks (which is a lot!). I loved working the colourwork borders and breezed trough them while knitting. The colourwork motives made for very addictive knitting and I couldn't put it down before knitting "just one more row". The cuff and border have slightly different patterning, presumable to make the chart and numbers add up, but it gives extra interest to the patterning.



The colours remind me of Matryoshka dolls (In Dutch we call them 'baboesjka', an all together different Russian word, for some reason). The bold colours, particularity the combination of dark blue, red and yellow brought them to mind while I was working on the cuffs. My grandmother gave me such a doll when she came back from her travels in Russia when I was about eight years old. The doll has lived on my shelve ever since, looking down on my knitting progress.




I think this cardigan will get a lot of wear. Even though it is a heavily patterned cardigan, the colours are those that I wear a lot. I think the navy and red will tie together with the rest of my wardrobe quite smoothly. I own a similarly (but store brought) heavily patterned cardigan which I have worn to bits, this was the final nudge to start this pattern. It has certainly wet my appetite for more all over colourwork projects. First I have to finish what I'm working on now, and then I'll see what my knitting hearts wants to make next. Might make it into my summer project, when I'm not sucked up in uni work.

Have a great weekend!