January 29, 2015

Choral Maxi Skirt

To prepare for my first choir concert of the semester, we each had to secure our choir dress: black top-to-bottom for girls, and tuxes for guys. This is the only time in life when girls have more flexibility in the fashion department; I am thankful I did not have to invest $100 in a second-hand tuxedo. 

Yet as simple as the requirements were, I did not have any long black "bottoms" other than jeans or worn-out yoga pants with holes. So what's a girl to do? As my closet and the Internet had nothing to show for themselves, it was clearly time to hit Jo-Ann Fabrics. 

I bought (too many) materials for a maxi-skirt for less than $20. (What I bought: 2 yds polyester jersey, elastic, black thread. What I used: 1.5 yds jersey, black thread.) 

As I didn't bring my sewing machine, I decided to do the sewing by hand (with an applique needle!) This may sound like a lot of extra work, but after making my prom dress with similar fabric and having to hand-baste every seam anyway, it is possible that doing it by hand even saved time. 

The entire process took about four podcasts of This American Life out of my four-day fall break. It was a terrific way to recharge. I referred to this tutorial for inspiration and direction. 

All in all, the skirt turned out great. It's my first maxi skirt ever and also worked great for the choir concert. I'd call that a job well done. 

Happy Crafting!!

January 15, 2015

Wine Cozy

You don't have to be around my dad for very long to figure out he is something of a wine connoisseur. Our wine cabinet is cataloged on Excel and organized unlike anything else my dad owns. We have multiple boxes in the garage that solely contain wine corks-- organized by country, grape, or maker. I just got a used bike and the payment in thanks was a bottle of wine. And I've learned over the years that the gifts that are sure to be well received are anything having to do with wine-- wine charms, wine gift bags, Mickey Mouse wine corks, or this wine cozy. 

Ruth's gift to my dad was the cork trivet pictured here. Not pictured: decorative wine cork snowman, yet another wine gift.
I've made several wine bags out of fabric and ribbon, but I wanted to try knitting one for variety. I read a few existing patterns for wine bags and jumbled them together to create the design for this wine cozy. The result is a finely knit bottom-up bag that spaciously fits a bottle of wine of any width. The i-cord ribbon completes the piece. 

This project is great for an adventurous beginner or a more advanced knitter who wants a relaxing project to make a stock of gift bags for those upcoming dinner parties. Who wouldn't want to make a wine cozy for the wine enthusiast in their life? It's tried and true!

Wine Cozy Pattern

Difficulty: Advanced beginner
Yarn: Loops and Threads Woolike in Navy #15 – about ½ skein
Gauge: 28 stitches and 34 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch with two strands of yarn
Finished Size: Fits around standard wine bottle with extra width, 14 in (35 cm) tall
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm), at least four double-pointed needles

Cast on 9 sts onto 3 dp needles.
Row 1: K round. Place stitch marker at beginning of round.
Row 2: Kfb all sts = 18 sts.
Rows 3 & 4: K round.
Row 5: K 2, kfb across = 24 sts.
Row 6: K round.
Row 7: K 1, kfb across = 36 sts.
Rows 8 & 9: K round.
Row 10: K 1, kfb across = 54 sts.
Rows 11 & 12: K round.
Row 13: K 1, kfb across = 81 sts.
Rows 14 & 15: K round.
Row 16: P round.

K round until piece measures 8.5 in (21 cm).
Next round: * K 2 tog, k 4, yo, k 2 tog, * repeat * to *, end k 1 = 71 sts.
K 3 more rounds, then rib * k 3, p 3 * repeat * to *, end k3, p2 across until piece measures 14 in (35 cm).
Cast off and weave in yarn ends.
Then CO 3 sts and make I-cord until it measures 12-15 in (30-38 cm). Weave through yarn overs.

k – knit
p – purl
yo – yarn over
k 2 tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
kfb  – knit through front and back of stitch (increase)
st(s) – stich(es)
dp – double-pointed
CO – cast on

You can find this pattern on Ravelry here.

You can view this pattern as a free PDF here.

Happy Crafting!!

January 8, 2015

Splotchy Quilted Headband

When the magical phenomena of winter break, sewing supply surplus, crafty friends, and an upcoming birthday plop themselves into my bedroom at the same time, well, clearly an adventure is about to begin. I'm calling today's adventure Splotchy

We started without any exciting ideas in mind, but I've been itching to quilt for months now. I can knit all I want during the semester (and I did...coming soon eventually), but I don't have space for a sewing machine in my dorm room, so I must satisfy the sewing fix at home. I've been planning to start another bed-sized quilt for almost a year now, but time always seems to slip by before I've begun. So, inspired by the Seminole patchwork quilting, my goal was to start and complete a quilting-related project for Kowli's birthday the next day. Spoiler alert: the endeavor was a success!

Splotchy was conceived by picking a theme fabric and then choosing additional fabrics based on the theme fabric's colors. I am attracted to batiks as theme fabrics because 1) they're nearly universally beautiful, and 2) their abundant colors are helpful for choosing fabrics that work well together. Gowri chose a wannabee-batik speckled print with navy, sky blue, sea foam green, magenta, grey, and black, and soon we had a selection of additional fabrics to make what was by now decided to become a quilted headband. 

Two of the additional fabrics, the green and the darker blue, are multicolored batiks that resemble paint blobs and dabs, prompting me to name the headband Splotchy. The headband is intentionally artsy for a supremely artsy (wait for it) art major, so all is right in the world. At least, as far as I'm concerned this moment... 

Fabric color is most authentic in this image.
You may notice that the headband is a repetition of two strip sets--now rows of fabrics--alternated to get the theme fabric to zig-zag. Though the squares aren't anywhere near uniform, they are designed to be 0.75" square.

Since the endeavor was completely spontaneous with next-to-no planning, the whole how-to-keep-the-headband-around-the-head part was proving to be problematic. But thanks to Gowri's suggestion, a little ribbon was the secret ingredient. 

Happy Birthday, Gowri!

Happy Crafting!!