Monday, February 27, 2012

a spring cardi knit-along

Hi there! I'm back from Oxford and I had a wonderful time! I also visited London, the famed Goldhawk Road and even Walthamstow market and found some very nice fabrics and charity shop items... but I haven't had time to upload my pictures yet, so more about that later. Actually, it feels like I've been meaning to share about a dozen things or so with you, that I haven't got to, yet. Shame. *g* I won't get to it today, either. I've got my internship introduction later. I'm so excited, and slightly nervous. I hope they're all nice...

Anyway. Spring Cardi knitalong. I think I mentioned it before, it's hosted at Cat&Kascha's (a German blog, as Ali had to find out - if you also want to join, I can tell you the gist about it, though :) and I'm pretty late in joining. I'd been supposed to post inspirations on Feb. 6 and my pattern and yarn last week, and today is all about the yarn and gauging square. Needless to say, I haven't quite settled on either a yarn or a pattern yet.

I've been thinking quite a bit, and looking through Ravelry for patterns, and I think it will be in my best interests to make a long-sleeved, cropped, bolero-like cardi. Most of my spring  and summer dresses are tight around the midriff and then turn full or a-line (or, like the Crepe, have a cute bow at waist hight) and longer cardis tend to bunch up the skirt, which I don't think looks all that flattering. That actually does limit the available patterns quite a bit, a lot of the jackets are longer or have short sleeves. Here are some cute ones (the photos link to the ravelry page):

Now, the following two I really, really like. I'm thinking I could just lengthen the arms a bit, and for the second one, maybe shorten the ribbing so it would be the right length.
The first one is worked in one piece, though, so I'm not quite sure if I'd be able to actually lengthen the sleeves. Maybe a nice option for a second, more summery shrug? Then of course, there are the basic-but-boring options:
As for the color, I've been thinking about more spring-like options like coral or grass-green, but when I think in terms of versatility, I think I need to make it navy. I have shrugs in red and black already, and thrifted a coral short-sleeved one in Oxford, and I think navy would complement about half my dresses - which is a good ratio, right?

I had a look around the internet for yarn, but I'm not quite sure if I like that. I want to see the colors in person and touch the yarn. So I'm going shopping tomorrow afternoon. I've been thinking about merino wool (because it feels so yummy!) and cotton mixes. We'll see what I can find.

Which pattern would you knit up for a spring cardi? Are you knitting anything for spring?

Hope you have a great week!
The other cardi knit-along participants can be found here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Me-Made-Mittwoch and Things

Ah, how time flies. Even though I'm officially on break, it seems I don't get a lot done. There was a lot going on last week, what with my boyfriend's birthday, his brother coming for a surprise visit, going to the theater and watching a friend's performance of a live radio play/musical. This week it has been spontaneous babysitting duty and finally picking up the last of my report sheets and carrying them 3 floors down to the registrar's office (inter house mail - why bother, when we can have 220 students standing in line to pick up their stuff every semester?). Of course, they had missed ticking off one of the report sheets that I brought by weeks ago, but I know that the only good weapon against bureaucracy is lots of paper - I had all of them with me! Take that, evil secretary! So now I'm officially allowed to start my internship in two weeks, yay!

Before I start a serious life of being grown-up, though, I'm going to visit a friend in Oxford next weekend! I've already planned a half day in London when I arrive on Saturday, and another couple of hours before I leave Wednesday afternoon, to check out the fabled Walthamstow Market and Goldhawk Road, of Fabric Fandango fame! Apart from these, can anyone recommend any other fabric/notions shops (preferably on a student budget), yarn shops, thrift stores etc.? I've been to London a couple of times before I started sewing, so I'm not set on lotsa sight seeing. Or does anyone know cool shops in Oxford? Anyone up for a coffee (or tea, of course)?

In sewing news, I have resolved to finally finish up my winter sewing plan, or at least anything that has been on the list for ages or won't transition well into spring. The reddish wool Meringue with the polka-dot lining is on top of the list and all cut out, and there's my (too short and ill-fitting in the shoulders) checkered dress that I've decided wants to be a skirt (which is especially fun because I actually used French seams). There's also lacy underwear, both as refashion (adding lace to some long undershirts inherited from my sis) and new (as in lace-edged knickers, like Urban Rustic's here). I'm proud to say that I have already mended 5 good bras, which had underwires sticking out! If I'm very motivated, there may also be a pullover-to-cardi refashion and a New Look 6000 in green knit. And then I'll be free for spring sewing!

Speaking of spring sewing, last year's happy spring dress, my polka-dot Crepe, was featured on the Coletterie! How exciting! I'm still pretty giddy about that! :)
Also, the incredibly lovely Debbie has sent me some lace from her stash (her grandfather hat a bridal dress business, isn't that awesome) in thanks for the scarflet giveaway she won (and some Jasmin tea. Have I ever mentioned that I *love* tea? Thanks again, Debbie!)
Isn't it lovely? I've already admired the cute blouse embellishments that Ali and Jessica did with it. Or should I wait for my very own wedding dress...?
In other news, I'm thinking very hard about joining the spring cardi knitalong that is held by German sewing blogger Cathrine (who also hosts Me-made Wednesdays). She also alerted me to the amazingly inexpensive DROPS yarns and all the cute free knitting patterns they have on Ravelry (and their own website - hundreds of free patterns!).

This very elegantly brings me to another topic: I've heard a few people wonder why there wasn't something like Ravelry for sewing, and someone recommended MySewingCircle. I checked it out and while it's still being developed, it feels like a brother site of Ravelry very much, down to the pattern search, being able to see projects made from a pattern, being able to add your whole fabric stash and using it to make mood boards/plans! It's very ingenious, even though there aren't lots of people yet (although I already found Sarah and Donna - hi there!). Since it seems like an incredibly useful site that's just missing some more people to be a great community, you may want to check it out and join? I'm sure we could rock the house!

Two more interesting things I came across: a list of independent pattern designers (including a lovely button) and an interesting article about red vs. blue dresses in history, fashion design and literature.
Also, Annabell, who I recently came across because of Debi's Sew Grateful week, is sharing a lovely slip pattern from a German 1930s pattern magazine, which she converted to PDF, with her followers. She also writes entertainingly about sewing and knitting with vintage patterns and has a very lovely stash of them (I'm jealous!). Three good reasons to check out a new blog, if I may say so?

Ok, now stage free for my Me-Made Mittwoch outfit. A slightly awkward indoor shot today, since I didn't feel like going down 4 flights of stairs and stand in the rain. ;)
me-made Mousy dress and purple Renfrew top

Oh, about the knit fabric series... I've taken loads of pics already, but haven't felt like actually writing anything yet. But I will, and soon!

What are you up to this week?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Night Out

Is anyone else getting fed up with winter? Even though we had lovely fall weather until almost mid-December, I could really do with some warmer weather by now. While I like the ice-cold (between -10 and -20°C) but sunny weather of the last week better than not-quite-freezing gloom and sleet, I'm feeling like a Michelin man in multiple layered tights, leggings, tank tops and long sleeves. No fun! (Also, would you believe that this is the first time that I'm spelling "leggings" correctly? Seems the third "g" is only optional in German...)

Still, last week was lovely. I completed my final exams (well, before board exams next spring) which were nice and short and relatively easy - and there were only three of them! I received my placement for internship and got into paediatrics - my first choice! :-) I also got first choice for Internal Medicine, and the Surgery one is only a 5 min bike ride from my home. Yay!
leaving uni after exams

Then I went to visit my parents for my stepdad's birthday. We cooked a lavish 4-course meal, I visited my little half brother (who recognizes me despite only seeing my three times a year, and is also able do tell between different brands of tractors by the color of their wheel rims - and he's only two-and-a-half!), visited my grandma and we looked at old pictures of her and her sisters as little girls! She allowed me to take some of them with me and I really have to scan them in before giving them back - some of their dresses are so cute, and my grandma was so pretty as a young woman. And her dashing boyfriends!

My parents accompanied me back to Berlin and we had a lovely weekend together, spending one night in a hotel with a bar on the top floor and a view over Berlin (b-day present for my stepdad, and we were so glad we didn't have to use public transport at -23°C outside!), drinking cocktails of all colours and spending time in the spa, trying out a couple of Vietnamese restaurants (it's a trend... and yummy! we also bought a cookbook), drinking lots of Jasmin tea and generally having a good time.

I wore this cutie for our night out.
excuse the goofy grin - this was after the cocktails...
Do you ever think back to a time when you had very little clue about sewing? This is the very first dress I made, back when I didn't know anything about exotic like zipper feet or interfacing. I was slightly horrified with myself when I saw some of the issues before attaching the lace collar (which, after two years of thinking about it, I finally bought off ebay a while ago). Notching the seam allowances of the neckline and arm holes went a long way, though, and after slip stitching the facings to the dress, this is really very wearable. If slightly short.

Would you believe that I even altered the pattern for my very first dress? It's a simple Burda sheath dress with a slight A-line, which I shortened and inexpertly added width to the hem, to get a more 60s feel. I'll need to get a better photo of it at some point. My friend suggested adding a little lace doily as a pocket, which I think is a cute idea.

What with exams and family action, there hasn't been any sewing going on (hand-stitching a bit of lace doesn't count... ;-), but I finished a teal snood in a chunky acrylic yarn (finally, after casting it on three times to get the size right!) and started on a black sock while travelling. Incidentally, do any of you know how to make socks more durable? The striped socks I gave away for Christmas seem to have gotten holes in the balls of the feet after a few wearings. I guess I should have used actual sock yarn (once again, Alessa: research before buying/making stuff!), but are there other tricks I could use? Seems the person in question regularly shreds hand-knit socks after a few wearings...

Hope you're having a good week, however the weather!