Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Wonder of Goal Setting

Standard

I am one of those people that gets a little anxious when I don’t follow through with a commitment. No matter that it was a breezy, passing goal I made on a blog in January. It kept gnawing at me. So, true to my word, I have completed three sweaters. I am now very tickled with myself, both for being a Good Girl and for having added some much-needed warmth to my wardrobe.

For the first round of photos, I was playing with my new iPhone 4S camera, which is supposed to be better than the plain ol’ iPhone 4. Hmpff. You be the judge. I just got the phone two weeks ago when my perfectly serviceable Palm Treo (yes, I know, laugh it up) finally started acting funny. Husband convinced me to get the 4S due to the improved camera (and because he wanted to ask Siri ridiculous things, like, “Where is the nearest bordello?” Turns out there is one in Holland, MI. Who knew?) Anyway, I’m not in love with the camera, but here goes anyway.

Sweater one: Miette. Love, love, love. And blogged here. I will redo this one in another color, maybe changing up the lace. I forgot to note in my previous post that I used Berocco Comfort yarn in “Teaberry”.

Sweater two: #28 Buttoned Cardi. Oh, so love this one. I made many, many mods, based on my experience with Miette. I used Galway by Plymouth Yarn, in color 156 (sorry, discontinued). I didn’t love this yarn, but it’s ok. I will be wearing it over other things, so softness is not the highest priority.  I read that it felts readily, so I will have to be careful with it.

“Better” iPhone 4S camera. Right.

Ok, maybe not fair to complain about the camera, considering my boy took this photo while looking up from his videogame. But still.

Cable detail. Lovely!

Sleeve detail

Sweater three: Jewels. My, how lovely. Great pattern. I had a yarn emergency with an oddball color. Same dye lot, but it did not match. I had to make do with three little skeins, so it is a bit short. I like it though. I used Sheep Shop Yarn Company (out of business, see review here), in Sheep Number One weight, color A078. I want to love the yarn, but I am annoyed about the color. The last skein really isn’t the right color either, but it is better. Also, it seems like it will felt in a heartbeat. Maybe even with regular wear.

Short rows to the rescue

Bottom third still looks funky. I might have to frog. Grrr.

I had been avoiding knitting sweaters, hence the goal. I had a streak of bad luck in the fitting department. So I knitted a bunch of lace shawls, consulted friends, thought about sewing constructions, and did a little research. Using Ysolda Teague’s fabulous book, Little Red in the City, I learned to design and knit short rows. What a difference.

Advertisements

Catching a Cerulean Warbler

Standard

Today I got up at the crack of dawn to stalk a threatened species of bird, the Cerulean Warbler. The things we do for love, no? My husband is an avid birder who is a volunteer bird bander through the Kalamazoo Nature Center. As such, he was invited to watch (and assist) a research team in their CW banding project.

By the time we left at 10 am, we had caught one Cerulean Warbler that was already banded (caught first last summer), and we coaxed one new bird into the net. Very exciting.

The bird is a stunner, and just as tiny as can be. Look sharp to see him in some of these photos!

I was afraid he would get away, so I held him close at first.

 

Male Cerulean Warbler, as docile as can be.

 

Hard to get good sun while standing in a forest

 

Beautiful, right?

 

My Magenta Miette

Standard

I have been playing along with Me-Made-May, behind the scenes. I didn’t take the pledge, but I have been participating. A few days ago I kind of forgot about the event and thought, “Oh shoot, I meant to wear handmade this month” but when I thought back, I realized I had been wearing Me-Made anyway! I guess that says something about the contents of my closet and how often I choose handmade instead of store bought.

This morning I finally got to wear my lovely Miette. It is on the way to 81 degrees outside, so I am no longer wearing a sweater over my t-shirt. But I looked damn good for two hours there, and I got a great compliment, so I’d say Miette is a keeper.

Bust Dart

 

Note bust shaping

I didn’t work short rows, I just used the pattern instructions for the bust darts. However, I started the shoulders in a size small, then kept increasing under the bust to a larger size. I decreased again for the waist, and increased out again for the high hip. I should have moved some of the hip increases to the back, because the increases I did in that short area between waist and hem made the sides stick out funny. It’s fine if I keep the sweater buttoned, which I guess I will always do!

I love this sweater and took lengthy notes so I can make it again. I plan to use the same basic shaping but change the lace pattern to mix things up a little. Oh, and next time I’ll put the buttons on the correct side.

#28 Buttoned Cardi

Standard
Bad name, good project. I would call this Wheat Chaff.

That is one crazy cable.

I started this a few days ago with Galway yarn, which is too heavy, stiff, and scratchy, yet I am plowing onward. I don’t really know why except that I was on a long work assignment and had only that project in my bag, so I just kept knitting it. I am a driver, and I get paid to sit and wait while my passenger does her job. It was either knit this, or nap in the car.

The #28 Buttoned Cardi is from the Fall 2009 edition of Knit Simple. I made a lot of modifications to knit it in one piece, remove ease and give it some waist shaping. I may not be thrilled with how it all works out, but then I’m not afraid to frog and start over.

The cable is unlike any I have worked before. On the row below the cable (purl side), you have to slip 2 stitches where the cable is centered. On the right side, you then hold three stitches to the back and then work one of the slipped stitches, then the three held stitches; then you hold the next slipped stitch to the front, knit three, then knit the held stitch. It is one tight little cable, let me tell you. You stack four of those babies for this sweater. One of them is right on the front edge of the sweater, so I’m not sure how that is going to block flat, but we shall see.

Left front, stitch marker for side seam, and part of the back.

I had a goal, way back when, of completing three sweaters this year, not including the Dahlia, which was probably 7/8ths finished when I made my goal. I finished my Miette for the first, though I still need to find it some buttons. #28 Buttoned Cardi will be the second. I’m still contemplating the third. I have several pullovers in my queue, but I find that I prefer cardigans these days because, for the first time in my life, I get too hot. Suddenly. Intensely. I think you can see where I am going with that. I’m 45, after all. I can’t be trying to strip a sweater off over my head before I turn all red, get sweaty, and puke. Buttoned cardis it is! #28, even.

Man’s Shirt Refashion

Standard

I saw this plaid shirt in the Eddie Bauer ad this week. For $69.

3/4-Sleeve Pattern Button-Down Shirt

Jah, what? $69?

I remembered I threw one of my son’s old plaid shirts in the “Do-Something-Interesting-With-This” basket in my sewing room, so I pulled it out and went to work.

I put it on, and pinched out vertical darts in the front and back.

Back darts

Front darts, tapered at pockets and hem.

After first try on, I lengthened the dart to the hem.

Then I pinned out about an inch of fabric all along the sleeve, from the underarm tapering to the cuff.

Finally I pinned up the length about 2 inches, minding where the bottom snap would end up. I ended up cutting off the hem and making a narrow hem.

The sleeves are a little long, but I didn’t want to ruin the cuff and placket. I thought about removing the length at the shoulder, but I didn’t want to destroy the topstitching. Instead, I decided to just leave them as is, and roll the sleeves up like the model. Cuz I’m fancy like that.

Turned out pretty cute, no? For a plaid shirt.

Now I have my eye on a chocolate brown number the Boy never wears.

Malukalong

Standard

Unblocked Maluka

You know how it is when someone in your knitting group makes something great, and you all gush over it? A few weeks ago Lisa showed up with a Maluka. MMMMMmmmmmm! So pretty. She said it was really fun to knit. We all passed it around the table and petted it. Several people started writing down the name of the pattern so they could make it, so I said, “Let’s do an -along. A Maluka-along. NO! A Malukalong!”

It IS fun to knit.

You cast on and knit just 20 stitches, working the border first. After you make the 30-something 12-row repeats, you will have a lovely, long sawtooth edge. You pick up all along the top, smooth edge of this band, and knit short rows to complete the stockinette upper portion. It makes a very pretty crescent arc. This is a shawlette, really, though I suppose you could easily knit more teeth and then increase the number of stitches you pick up.

I am using Plucky Knitter yarn. Oh dear, so beautiful. Go see.

Into the (Bra) Crazy

Standard

I hope this information helps somebody out there, because it is possible I have crossed into the Land of Zealotry.

I had an idea that I could compare the back width of my body to the back of the perfect bra, in order to determine what band to try for best fit. My method is probably overly simplistic, but it gave me some basic information.

I took my measurement from the outer edge of one underwire, across the back, to the other underwire. Then I pulled out all the bras I currently own, including many that I stopped wearing months or even years ago (and one beauty that I only wore once, eight years ago, sigh). I measured each one and did some calculations in order to make this tidy chart for you.

Several notes and caveats are in order, but I’ll put those at the end, because I hate reading a bunch of disclaimers first. Show me the chart!

Name

Size

Right (Hooks)

(Inches)

Left (Eyes)

(Inches)

Total Length (Inches)

% Stretch

Can Fit

(Inches)

Calvin Klein Customized Lift

34DD

7.25

7.5

14.75

73

20

Freya Dixie

34E

7.75

8.25

16

80

20

Merckwaerdigh CUPL 16 View 2

32G

5.5

6.25

11.75

73

16

Panache Superbra Porcelain 3371

34E

6.25

6.75

13

73

18

Triumph Amourette 300WHP

34DD

6.75

7

13.75

73

19

Unknown “Decorative” Lace

34

8

8

16

67

24

Victoria Secret Demi 209

34B

7

7.5

14.5

70

21

Victoria Secret Full Coverage (in very bad shape)

34C

7.5

7.5

15

57

26

Victoria Secret Push Up

36B

6.75

7.5

14.25

57

25

Wacoal 20421

34DD

7

7.5

14.5

80

18

Ok, notes:

1. I have listed the bras in alphabetical order by maker. It might have been better to list by size, but them’s the berries.

2. With the cups facing down, I measured the right side of the bra (with the hooks) across level from the top or near the top of the underwire to the hook. I did not angle the tape measure (see photo). I suppose you could have measured across the bottom, but this is just how I did it.

Keep tape measure level.

3. Then I measured the left side to the middle set of eyes.*

4. I measured the amount of stretch in the back elastic like this: I measured 4 inches, and then held the tape measure while stretching the bra to a reasonable but not distorted, almost maximum length.

4″ stretches to 5.5″ on this model

I figured out the amount of stretch by dividing 4″ of original length by the stretched length. For example, 4″ stretched to 5″ is 80% elasticity because 4″/5″ = 80%. In this manner, 4 stretched to 5.5 is 73%; 4 stretched to 6 is 67%; 4 to 7 is 57% and you better be throwing that shit away. (Scavenge parts first if you want to sew your own.)

5. The “Can Fit” column is the total expected length that the bra can reasonably stretch to fit. It was determined by dividing the actual length by the stretch. For example, a 12″ band divided by 80% stretch is 15″, meaning, the bra can stretch reasonably to 15″ during wear, give or take.

Here is where we can start our analysis.

Note that the 34” backs can fit from 18” to 24”, discounting the very ratty VS bra. The 36” back can fit 25”. Think about that. Clearly, this bra is going to be way too stretchy and slide up your back all day even if your ribcage is actually 36″.

Now for fun! Measure your own “back” from the outer edge of one underwire to the other underwire. I wouldn’t technically call that my back, except for bra-comparison sake. My back is 18”, and my bras all slide up my back to some degree, except for my custom me-made Merck with a back length of 16. Well, go figure. I would say after a day of wearing that Merck is actually a tad tight, but I’m going to ride it out to see if it stretches with wear. I am thinking a full-stretched length of 1″ less than your back length might be the way to go. Depending.

Measure your body in the same way to find your “back” length, going from wire to wire level across your back.

The first caveat I offer is this: the cup size and material (is the cup stretchy?) will contribute to how much the back stretches out to surround you. If the cup is too small, it will pull the back, making it stretch more, even into the realm of unreasonable and uncomfortable. Note the top two bras listed in my chart. The CK rides up my back all day while the Freya mostly stays put. Both have a Can Fit of 20″, but apparently the Freya doesn’t need to stretch as much maybe because the cups fit. (Also note, if the back needs to stretch a lot, it will also pull the cups out of shape, making the underwire migrate outward and flattening the cup.) The second caveat is that you should consider your measurements while sitting. If you are like me, you sit most of the day, so taking a measurement while standing may not be super accurate. When I sit, my ribcage and waist expand, making a bra feel tighter when I sit. Also, the bottom of the band can rub hard under the bust where the belly rolls up when I sit.

Shall we look at sports bras? Ok. Let’s. Slim pickings here, but I found these results:

Name

Size

Right (Hooks)

(Inches)

Left (Eyes)

(Inches)

Total Length (Inches)

% Stretch

Can Fit

(Inches)

Freya Active Sport AA4492

30FF

5.5

6.5

12

80

15

Lily of France Sport 2111350

36B

8.25

8.5

16.75

80

21

I admit, the Freya is impossible to wear without welts, so I have been using a 2″ extender, which makes it perfect.

Since we are having all this fun, wouldn’t it be fun to see what’s inside a push-up bra? Here you go. The tiniest, flimsiest little packet of fluid, surrounded by a load of sponge padding.

I hope this was informative, and at the very least got you thinking about band size. It is making me want to start sewing that second Merck bra, but that will have to wait until my first one is in service for a month. Then I will be sure to take lots of photos and notes to share with you.

*Which hook should you wear your bra on? It’s another controversy. I had always heard you should buy on the farthest hooks out, but I recently read something that makes more sense to me. You should buy a bra that is comfortable on the middle, to leave room on either side to accommodate minor weight gain and loss, monthly hormonal changes, loss of bra elasticity, etc. If you buy it on the outside hook, hoping to tighten it up when it stretches out, you should be throwing that baby out by the time you are moving to the farthest inside hooks because the rest of the bra will be overly stretched and not supportive. Whether this advice is true or not, the middle hook seemed like a reasonable place to measure for my chart.