23 February 2007

What She Said....

and how I wish I had been able to get the words out first! Tricia Royal of Bits and Bobbins has an excellent post regarding how she differentiates style and fashion. I have been trying to get a post up on the same subject for several months, but I couldn't get the words to come out right. No need now - I'll just send everyone over to her blog to see what she said.

If you disagree with what she says, or have a different take on the style vs. fashion topic, please leave a comment on her blog or here.

15 February 2007

How Not To: Felt

Here's the first of probably many entries in the series of "How Not To" do something. Hopefully, someone can learn from my mistakes and avoid some of the "fun" I've had.

So, how not to felt. Felting is when you wash a wool garment and the fibers meld together. It can produce a really cool look for knitted or crocheted items. I had thought about trying it for awhile, and had read some articles on it. It seemed simple enough.

When I decided to remake my Aran-style wool pullover into a bag (see previous post), I thought about how it would look felted. Unfortunately, I thought about this AFTER I had cut the sweater in to. My "brilliant" plan was to try felting the sleeves to see if I liked the look of the wool. If I did, then I'd do the part I was using for the purse.

Let me remind you that this sweater was machine made, not hand knitted. Which means that it is made up of many small pieces of yarn, not one continuous one as in hand knitting. So I throw the piece in the washer with some towels and go do other stuff. Return when load has finished to find-----a mess!!!! Bits of yarn were all through the washer, and what didn't come apart, was wadded up. No, I didn't take a picture. Fortunately, the trash can was nearby, and it was chucked in there.

If I had any sense (which is doubtful, sometimes), I could have tried sewing around the cut edge to better hold it together. Or, put it in a pillowcase, again to help keep it together. But no, I just threw it in.

Oh well. Lesson learned.

Here's some web sites to check out to learn how you should felt a wool sweater. Obviously, I need to read them CAREFULLY!!


If anyone has any other sites or instructions for felting wool sweaters, please pass them along. I need all the help I can get. I also need to find another wool sweater to try it on (and in Memphis, wool if not easily found!)

11 February 2007

Look What I Made!!

First - I did NOT knit this. My knitting skills are very basic (knit, purl) and there is no way I'm ready to attempt an Aran style pattern. No, this purse was remade from a sweater I had. The inspiration came from a bag I saw at work. I have a part-time retail job at Talbots, and last fall they had a purse that looked to be knitted. It was a bobble pattern, and my first thought was "I'll make one!" since I can't afford to buy one (even with a generous employee discount) and I prefer to make my own things. However, I quickly realized that 1) I hadn't learned the stitch yet and 2) I knit WAY too slow!! I've crocheted for a long time, so I am much quicker, but I liked the knitted look. So, I had to think of another option.

Then I remembered the Aran style sweater I bought in England. Made from 100% wool, it was too hot for most winter days in Memphis, and I always felt fat and bulky wearing it. I had sat in my dresser drawer for years, and the moths had found a couple of places. I decided turning it into a purse I would actually use would be a much better use of the materials.

Step one - I cut the sweater below the sleeves, leaving me with the piece at left. The side seams were untouched, so I didn't have to worry about them. Because of the raw edge, and since it was machine knit (i.e. it was knit with a lot of pieces of yarn, not one continuous piece), I stitched a large, tight zig-zag seam around the raw edge. Then, I sewed the that opening shut. I now have my bag!

I don't have a serger, so I had to use the zig-zag stitch rather than serging the edge closed. Oh well----so far it seems to be holding.

Next step is to make the lining. Because the bag is made from knitted material, it will S-T-E-T-C-H!! I took some fabric I had, cut a piece to put inside the bag, and stitched up the sides and bottom.

Next was time to make the pockets for the lining, because I need all the help I can get organizing my stuff! I measured about what I though would be a large enough piece of fabric, and added a bit for overlapping the interfacing. I decided the pockets should be interfaced for added support, since that was where my electronic stuff was going. I cut a piece of interfacing, placed it on the wrong side of the pocket fabric, overlapped the fabric edge and stitched around all, mitering the corners.

Now it was time to sew the pocket onto the lining. Placing the wrong side of the pocket against the right side of the lining, I sewed around both sides and the bottom. Next, I measured how much room I needed for my various electronic pieces, and sewed a dividing line down to make two pockets. At left is how my phone and PDA fit into the pockets (although the pockets are deeper and the items aren't hanging out the top.

Next step is to sew the lining to the purse. Putting wrong sides together, I carefully pinned it so the top of the lining was at the bottom of the band (which was going to be the casing for my handle). I then sewed around the entire purse to attach the lining.

On to the handles. My original intent was to purchase round, wooden handles, but when I was ready for the handles, there wasn't extra money in the budget. I wasn't sure whether to wait until I could buy some (by which time it might be too warm in Memphis to carry a wool bag!), or try to sort something else out. While looking through a needlework book, I found a crochet pattern for making a round cord. After trying various size hooks to get the size and look I wanted, I crocheted the handles out of black (to hide the dirt!) yarn.

Now, I made a bit of a goof. Since I guess my mind was thinking about the round handles I had intended to use, I sewed the cord together BEFORE making the casing out of the bottom band of the sweater. Which meant, I had to wrap the casing around the handle, then hand stitch it closed. Of course, if I had used wooden handles, I would have had to do it this way, but with the crochet cord, I could have sewn the casing, then threaded the cord through, then sewn the cord together. Oh well, it all worked out.

Here's another view of the finished product as worn by me! I have used it off and on since I finished it and the only thing I want to add is a velcro closure at the top to help hold it together. Otherwise, it has been a very practical purse!

Next time I go thrifting, I'm on the lookout for other pullover sweaters I can cut apart and make into purses to sell. Stayed tuned to see what I can come up with.

Oh, and in my next blog post, I'll tell you about the biggest goof I made in the entire project!!

06 February 2007


I have become such a joiner! Seriously, I normally keep to myself, but after realizing how much I got done - and how much I enjoy a challenge - participating in the Etsy Upcycle and the Ugly Betty contests, I've decided to add a couple of other challenges to my "to do" list.

First up is Warm Up America. I discovered this through Vicki Howell's blog (and if you don't read her blog, you should!) I wish I had found it earlier, and organized some knitting friends to participate, but better late than never. I love this project because the squares are relatively quick to knit (quicker gratification), I can use up yarn I've had lying around, I get to try some different patterns without committing to a large project, and I get to give something back (since I have more time than money). Check out the website for details about size, yarn, and where to send completed squares.

I am also tying in my Warm Up America work with Project Spectrum 2.0. For each two month period, you are to use three colors (one, two, or all 3!) to see what you can create. And it can be knitting, sewing, photography, even baking! To begin with, I'm knitting my squares in blue and white (OK, it's actually cream, but close enough!).

I am also creating earrings out of buttons from my stash, using only blue and white. I played around with a couple of designs last night, and I may add some silver (close enough to gray!) beads to enhance it - and I can no doubt use other colors I have for more pair later. Once I get the design completed, I'll post pictures. What's interesting is I pulled out my blue buttons over the weekend and looked at what I had. I realized I had more of the small 4 hole buttons than anything else. I just sort of kept that in mind, and yesterday, inspiration struck.

I have three sewing projects I need to finish, and they all fit the color theme! Finally, motivation to get this done! First is a denim skirt I'm shortening and fitting better. This one shouldn't take long, and if I can finish it quickly, it will look great with my brown boots. This is first on my list.

I also have a navy silk top I'm remaking. I bought the top about 14-15 years ago, but it is now too big, and the style isn't flattering. I've removed the sleeves and will probably make it a sleeveless top to wear this summer. The original back had a three button closure, so I may use that piece for the front. I'm still trying to work out the neckline - probably sweetheart or V. I have read up on how to work with this type of silk (georgette), so once I finalize the look, I'll be ready to go.

And last, is the jacket I thrifted last fall. The background is silvery/grey with blue flowers. I've already removed the shoulder pads and it looks better. I'm trying to decide whether to remake it, or wear it alone as a top. I haven't really focused on this one yet, but need to look through some inspiration clippings and get some ideas.

Next, I'm thinking of trying to start a knitting group. I know 3-4 people who knit/crochet, and I think it would be fun to get together once a month to sit, knit, and talk. I need to contact a few people and see what we can come up with.

Finally, I may have a chance to work on the wardrobe for a short film being shot here. Of course, no pay, but the experience would be priceless. I even had Jonathan sign up to be an extra, so hopefully this is something we can do together. I'll post more once I know more.

Now, I need to knit a few rows tonight-------------------

Red Heart Pin

Red Heart Pin
Originally uploaded by reduxdesigns.
Here's my latest Etsy listing - a red heart pin, hand crocheted just in time for Valentine's Day. I've listed two - the 3rd I sent to my mom because I know she'll wear it!!

These are really quick and easy to make. I tried about 5 patterns to get just the look and size I wanted.

You can check it out here.