Thursday, December 13, 2012

FO: Lace Drawstring Bag

I'm part of a Project-A-Month KAL group on Ravelry and it's quite new. It started in September, but so far, I've only been able to join two KALs -- the October one and this December one: the Lace Drawstring Bag.

Needles: 4mm
Yarn: Bernat Super Value Solids in black

Weird, the color's washed out here.

This was a very quick knit. A nice, simple pattern to practice yarnovers and decreases. The pattern was really easy to follow (and memorize), yet it wasn’t boring at all.

I modified one thing though -- I added an extra stitch on each side so that I could seam it up more easily using the mattress stitch.

Nice and snug seaming!

Sorry for the somber color. This was the only yarn in my stash that I felt was sturdy enough to be used in a bag. It’s actually black, by the way, not gray.

Here's the project on Ravelry.

And here it is, wrapping my small, stainless steel mug at the office:

I was hoping to show you the lace pattern better with this photo but... obviously, I failed haha. It's cute though! You should try it! It's a free Ravelry download.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Busy bee

It's been more than a week and I still don't have German measles. YES. Thank you, my dear immune system.

I still haven't blogged about that dress I finished last week.

I still haven't taken any nice photos, obviously, and also, I didn't learn any new techniques, really.

Well, scratch that. I did learn that I'm getting better at using facings -- I didn't have enough fabric to make bias tape for the neck opening and armholes so I resorted to just using facings again. I also learned how to adjust the settings on my sewing machine to make sure that the tension is just right for both the upper thread and bobbin thread. It took me the whole morning playing with the settings before I got it right, but it was all worth it :) I think I'm more confident with my machine now.

And I learned that sewing standard size patterns for myself is a pain in the a**. This weekend, I promise to make a bodice block! And it will serve as my base for all future dresses. I'm sick of having to tweak so many things for the garment to fit me. And they don't even end up fitting me perfectly either. Ugh.

And lastly, I learned that this cotton fabric is SO easy to sew. Sew easy (get it?). BUT, it wrinkles easily. I'm wearing it to work today and my daily commute created crease lines under my hips and at the seat. :p This is making me want to plunge into sewing with knits, which are more forgiving. Question is... Can I really do it without a serger? :O  Reading up on several tutorials for that. I'll also be practicing with scraps of jersey to get the hang of stretchy fabric this weekend.

December is such a busy month for me. And it's not even because I'm busy making handmade gifts or shopping for some! This is the busiest time of the year for me at work, what with most of the courses ending. I hardly have time to breathe, let alone find time to sneak in some knitting and swatching. And then there's all those fun holiday parties that are coming up, with friends and family alike. Our office is having our party this coming Friday and then there's a welcome-home party the next day for a friend who is studying abroad.

I don't have any big projects on my needles for now; I only have that tiny KAL for my Project-A-Month Ravelry group, which I think I can finish before the weekend. The only other thing on my needles is a swatch for a lace design I'm trying to get together. If all goes well, this will be my first ever pattern which I will be confident enough to actually put up FOR SALE. Woo! I hope I get it right.


I met up with some fellow-crafters last Saturday for the year-ender meet-up organized by Chumpling Crafts. It was nice to meet other people who are into yarn crafts like I am.

Bheng was there and I also finally got to meet Imeng in person and give her that book on felting that I promised her! :D

And here's something I got to bring home with me:

I can't wait til my week-long holiday!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pattern: Cable Braid headband

I've been seeing similar-looking headbands online and just had to try making one on my own. It seemed fairly simple, just a small number of stitches which you overlap with cables. The only difficulty I encountered was figuring out how many regular rows I had to knit between each cable row to make it all look even.

Here are the details!

Yarn: Excel EX991 in purple, which I got from Dreams Yarnshoppe in Glorietta 5. It's one of my go-to yarn because it's relatively cheap (90m for 95 pesos, though I think they raised the price slightly), and though it's acrylic, it's soft!

Needles: 3.75mm needles which I got from Bheng. You can use different yarn and different needles, depending on how thick you want the headband to be. Mine ended up being about 1.25 inches wide.

Other notions: cable needle (I don't really have one, so I used a thin crochet hook lol), tapestry needle, a 4-5-6 inch piece of garter, regular sewing needle and thread (for sewing the garter on).

Pattern: Cable Braid headband

Cast on 12 sts. I originally used a provisional cast on, hoping to knit the band all the way and bind off both ends together, but I ran out of yarn so I had to bind off regularly on both ends separately and sew in some garter instead. This actually may seem to be a better way to go if you want a very flexible band.

Row 1: knit
Row 2: purl
Row 3: knit
Row 4: purl
Row 5: cable 4 front (slip the first 4 sts onto a cable needle, keep them in front of work, knit next 4 sts on left needle, then replace the 4 sts on the cable needle back onto the left needle, knit those 4 sts), knit 4
Row 6: purl
Row 7: knit
Row 8: purl
Row 9: knit
Row 10: purl
Row 11: knit 4, cable 4 back (slip the next 4 sts onto a cable needle, keep them in back of work, knit next 4 sts on left needle, then replace the 4 sts on the cable needle back onto the left needle, knit those 4 sts)
Row 12: purl
Row 13: knit
Row 14: purl

Repeat rows 5 to 14 until work reaches the desired length, then end with a right side row (knit). My band reached 15 inches before I cast off (only because I ran out of yarn boo).

Finishing: Sew the garter on by folding the stockinette-stitch ends of the band over the ends of the garter using a regular sewing needle and some thread.
What I did was, I placed about half an inch of the garter in the middle of the stockinette end of the band, and then folded the sides of the band on top the garter. I sewed a line first along the edge of the band, and then criss-crossed over the half-inch of the garter inside the band.

That's it! If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment :)

Note: You can make and sell projects using my free patterns but please give credit where credit is due. A simple link to my blog would be great! If you do make one, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you!

P.S. Catyanna and Bheng, I posted earlier than I said I would haha. Ginanahan ako sa comments niyo, thank you so much!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hodge podge update

Wow, it's been a week since my last post. I know I'm not the most interesting blogger around, but I like posting every other day to help me document and process what's been happening.

And because I sometimes find it hard to note down details, I'm gonna use some photos as a guide for this post.

Last week, the day I finished my daisy stitch headband, my friend Mansy asked me to teach her how to knit. She already has a dream project in mind -- a hat/bonnet. But of course, I had to teach her the basics first, like casting on, the knit stitch, and the purl stitch.

Excuse the dark photo, this was taken at the office XD

She already has enough yarn and a circular needle :)

The next day, Selena, Marc and Russ had a quick practice/run-through in our bedroom (Selena's and mine) in preparation for recording.

View from my bed, where I was all blanketed up and ready to sleep.
This was kind of a spontaneous practice for them, so I wasn't prepared.

The weekend was a lazy one, where Marc and I stayed at home mostly. We only really went out just to visit our friend Ricca's booth at the St. James Bazaar and attend this month's Attraction! Reaction! gig.

It was a VERY beautiful afternoon at the bazaar.

Silvio was just as lazy as we were this weekend.
It's so funny how cats love to squeeze themselves into tiny spaces.

Oh, and I finished that dress!

Weird photo c/o my mom.

But it deserves its own post.

Marc and I had dinner with friends last Monday night. But we ended the night here ^^ because we noticed our friend Pen had rashes all over her body. Marc and I brought her to East Ave Med Center after dinner, where she was diagnosed with German measles.

It can't be denied that everyone at the dinner was worried about contracting it too. We appreciate having spent the evening in each other's company, but none of us wanted to get German measles. To be fair to Pen, she thought she just had allergies. LOL. German measles take about a week for the incubation period... So let's check back with me again in a week? HAHA.

And Cat Art c/o Boxer:

Poor tissue roll! Also, what a waste of paper!

And I finished another headband! It's a cable-braid headband:

This will get its own post too, like the dress, cos I want to post the pattern with photos of it being worn.

The week went by pretty quickly, but I didn't get much done. Well, by my self-imposed standards anyway. Dress and headband posts tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

FO: Daisy stitch headband

Last week, I finished a very quick project using the daisy stitch:

It's another headband! It is composed of 5 rows of daisy stitches, alternating with small strips of stockinette stitch.

This was a very simple project worked back and forth with only a few stitches per row.

Needles: 2.75mm
Yarn: Fingering weight soft acrylic yarn

Cast on 17 sts using the provisional cast on.
Row 1: knit all sts.
Row 2: k1, *[p3tog, yo, p3tog] in same sts, k1* til end of row.
Row 3: knit all sts.
Row 4: k1, p1, k1, *[p3tog, yo, p3tog] in same sts, k1* til 3 sts remain, k1, p1, k1
Row 5: knit all sts.
Row 6: k1, *[p3tog, yo, p3tog] in same sts, k1* til end of row.
Row 7: knit all sts.
Row 8: k1, p1, k1, *[p3tog, yo, p3tog] in same sts, k1* til 3 sts remain, k1, p1, k1
Row 9: knit all sts.
Row 10: k1, *[p3tog, yo, p3tog] in same sts, k1* til end of row.
Row 11: knit all sts
Row 12: k1, purl to the last st, k1
Row 13: knit all sts.

Repeat rows 2-13 until the headband is of the desired length, ending with a right side row. Using the kitchener stitch, sew ends of headband together.

You can make the headband wider if you prefer to, making sure that the number of sts you cast on is in multiples of 4 +1.

Note: You can make and sell projects using this pattern, but please give credit where credit is due. A simple link to my blog would suffice! And if you do make one, please let me know; I'd love to hear from you! :D

And since my photos do not do justice to the pretty daisy stitch, here's a nicer photo from the internet:

Click photo to get to the source.

I wasn't able to sew the other night. I'm still feeling a bit woozy from that weird bug I got last week. I do hope I get to finish that dress this weekend though! Wish me strength!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekends are fun: Singing nieces

Last Friday, we had a sort of mini-reunion for my mother's side of the family. One of my cousins who now lives in the States came over with his family to spend a week in the Philippines.

The group was relatively small; not all of my cousins, nieces and nephews were present, but this did not mean that we would have any less fun together. I love my mother's side of the family -- everyone is different and interesting in their own right. I'm proud of being a part of this family. :)

Blurry :(

In the photo above, you can see two girls singing in front of everyone. They are the daughters of my cousins. and they were singing a song by Adele, I believe. Love how they were singing it with so much feeling and confidence! I don't know how they can so easily get up in front of everyone and sing. I remember being sooo shy about performing, especially in front of the whole family! I also can't remember any of us actually singing in front of everyone when our generation was that young.

Also, Kuya Victor's outfit that night was pretty cool too -- bow-tie and green socks(!).

Yesterday, my brother's eldest daughter invited us to watch her school's annual play - this year, it was Joseph the Dreamer, a musical! Although she was part of the chorus, I think she stood out. I'm so proud of her.

She's the tall on right there in front of the piano

Love how she's looking at my camera haha

I know I sound like too much of a doting aunt, but can you blame me? :)
The play was awesome. All of the kids seemed to be enjoying what they were doing. None of them appeared to be shy or awkward about being a part of the school play, not even the boys! Back when I was in highschool, the teachers had to go ballistic first before they could get us organized and ready for something like this. Hmm, I think this has a lot to do with the fact that my niece and her generation grew up with shows like Highschool Musical and Glee?

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to post about any progress with my second dress. I'm gonna have a date with my sewing machine tonight. Also posting about another headband I made, complete with a pattern.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blood, Sweat and Tears*

The word "tear" here meaning:

Noun: A hole or split in something caused by it having been pulled apart forcefully.

OK, I'm overreacting. Nothing actually got torn (except my sanity lol), but things might as well have been, considering the things that happened.

Aside from the pretty yarn in my previous post, I also bought a yard and a half of fabric to be sewn into another dress:

I didn't realize it was going to be so pink overall, but I think I'll manage.

Anyway, I browsed through my three-book collection of Japanese sewing patterns last night looking for a dress pattern that pleased me. I found one almost immediately and checked out the specs.

The pattern calls for 2 meters of fabric (which I don't have) and it requires some bias-tape-making skillz (which I also don't have. Yet.). Oh man. Well, I was thinking I could maybe trace out the pattern pieces still and just check it against the fabric to see if I can fit them all in 1.5 yards of fabric. Guess what? The dress I wanted was one of the few designs that wasn't included in the available traceable patterns. %(#^*@!*#

After a quick bout of an adult tantrum (which included me grinding my teeth, trying to take deep breaths and cursing the pattern publishers in my mind. Oh and I kind of wailed about my frustration at mom who was innocently watching TV a few meters away. Does that still make it an "adult tantrum"?), I decided to just use the pattern pieces from the first dress I ever made as a basis for the construction of this new dress from scratch.

So... Where do I begin again?

After taking a look at my old pattern pieces, I remembered that the dress I made ended up a bit too wide and loose at first. I think I had to take out an inch of ease at each side and re-sew the side seams. This got me thinking, "Hm, maybe I should just make the adjustments with the pattern pieces right now before tracing.". I took my measurements, then cut about an inch from the straight side (the middle) of the pattern piece, after which I then traced the pattern for the back onto the fabric.

I suddenly panicked. What if I made a mistake? Maybe I shouldn't have cut from the middle? Should I still continue on and cut the thing? Needless to say, it took me about 30 minutes and several assurances from mom (after some nagging from me) to make me decide to cut the piece. And so...

I cut ALONG the pattern's lines.
Yes, it's confirmed. People do stupid things when they're stressing out too much.

I did cut out the rest of the back piece though, with the correct seam allowances. More on this once I manage to get out of this scrape.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Some pretty yarn and an FO.

Last Saturday, my friend Ricca asked me to take her to Dreams, the yarn shop in Makati, and help her choose some yarn. She has an online shop (it's called I'M Presa and it's pretty good! Check it out) on FB where she sells denim tops/layers and circle shawls in various colors and I offered to teach her how to make the mobius scarves/shawls so that she could potentially add something else to her line.

Truth is, she doesn't know how to crochet (nor knit), so I had to help her make her yarn decisions at the shop. It was a good thing too, or else I probably would have traipsed around and gotten a few balls onto the counter all for me. I'm on a yarn diet, I'm not supposed to be buying anything fiber-y til January! Still, I couldn't help but notice all the new yarns they had there. Oh temptation!

But, I was a good girl and I technically didn't buy anything but my share of the big*ss roll of yarn that Ricca chose. She decided on a nice red-maroon-y color of thin acrylic-cotton blend (at least, I think it's acrylic-cotton. There wasn't any label, and it didn't feel like 100% acrylic to me) which they only had in rolls. So buy a whole roll we did.

You'd think this was too big a purchase for a first-timer like her, but we decided that we'd share it, and then I can crochet a swatch or a sample for her. If she was happy with the resulting fabric, she'd buy my share of the roll back. If she wasn't happy with it, I'd buy the whole thing from her. Win-win sitch.

Here's the yarn:

Pretty yarn, eh? And can I just say, I'm managing fine without a ball winder! Look at that ball there... Nicely wound right? All done with just my hands and a small roll of cardboard. Smugness aside, I still would appreciate a ball winder for xmas though. haha

So far, I've wound a ball and a half, using up about one-third of the whole roll. It's thin yarn, almost laceweight. I normally prefer this kind of yarn for knitting but the thing is, I use big hooks for my crocheted mobius scarves (9 or 10mm). This is so the fabric doesn't end up too thick and too stiff and I love how it makes the project look lacey and airy -- Not too warm for the tropics. A bigger hook for a scarf also makes more mileage with the amount of yarn used.

Since the yarn is thin, I tried using my 8mm hook. At first, I was worried it wouldn't work. That the hook would still be too thick for the yarn. But I guess it worked, 'cause:

It is done! My swatch turned into a sample to show Ricca that the yarn would actually work.

Here it is, worn as a shawl. Forgot to take a photo using it as a scarf.

ETA: Mobius scarf/shawl. Fingering-weight yarn with 8mm hook.
This mobius is nice and airy yet still gives some warmth. I wore it at the office for a bit, and it actually protected me from the cold. It's lightweight and easy to bring around too. Oh, if you don't know what a mobius is, you can read about it here.

The mobius strip actually works well as a circle shawl/scarf because of its twist. I find that the twist helps keep the shawl on your shoulders and helps keep a comfy twist when wound around the neck as a scarf. Though I'm more of a knitter than a crocheter, I prefer crochet for the mobius because it produces a fabric that is relatively uniform on both sides. Since the mobius has only one "side", it would be difficult to hide having a wrong side to your fabric.

And I'd like to add that I love this yarn. Even if it is synthetic, it actually kinda "sticks" to itself, meaning it has "memory" and doesn't easily lose its shape. Almost like *gasp* wool! I think I'd like to try knitting a lace shawl with this. And if ever I do end my yarn diet and go back to Dreams, I think I'll be buying more of this instead of my usual Excel yarns.

Free Pattern: Crochet-chain bracelet

Last week, I made this:

It's a reeeeeally simple crochet-chain bracelet.

6 crochet chains side-by-side, with 2sc's somewhere down the line to connect all of them together and some slip-stitches added in between to change the width at certain points.

Here's what I did:

ETA: Yarn = recycled sweater yarn, cotton.
          Hook = 8.0mm (L)

Row 1: With main color (MC), crochet 60 chain sts (or X = however long you want it). Chain 1 and turn.
[note: as I was making this first row, I put small stitch markers on the following chain stitches: 21 and 41. This will help in counting the first row]

Row 2: 1sc in second st from hook. Chain 18 sts. 1sc each in stitches 20 and 21 of chain from the row below (if you had put the markers in row 1 as indicated, stitch 20 here would be the 41st stitch from the row below, the one with the st marker). Chain 18 sts, 1 sc each in stitches 40 and 41, chain 18 sts, and then 1 sc in last stitch. Chain 1 and turn.

Rows 3 and 4: With contrasting color (CC), 1sc in second st from hook. Chain 18 sts. 1sc each in stitches 20 and 21 from the row below. Chain 18 sts, 1 sc each in stitches 40 and 41, chain 18 sts, and then 1 sc in last stitch. Chain 1 and turn. [For these rows and the next, I no longer used any stitch markers as the pattern is quite evident at this point and easy to follow].

Row 5: With MC, 1sc in second st from hook. Chain 18 sts. 1sc each in stitches 20 and 21 from the row below. Chain 18 sts, 1 sc each in stitches 40 and 41, chain 18 sts, and then 1 sc in last stitch. Chain 1 and turn.

Row 6: 1sc in second st from hook. Chain 8, then 2sc under all the other chains, bunching them all together. Chain 8, 1sc each in stitches 20 and 21 from the row below. Chain 8 sts, 2sc under all the other chains, bunching them all together. Chain 8, 1sc each in stitches 40 and 41 from the row below, chain 8 sts, 2sc under all the other chains, bunching them all together, and 1 sc in last stitch.

Finshing: Bring both ends of the bracelet together, right side out, and crochet 5 scs across both to bind together. Make sure all ends end up on one side together and braid a small tassel if preferred. Otherwise, sew in all ends.

I'm no good at writing down crochet patterns (I actually made a pattern chart, similar to a knitting pattern LOL), so let me know if anything is unclear. It's pretty straightforward once you get past rows 1 and 2. :)

*note: you can make and sell projects using my free patterns, but please give credit where credit is due. A simple link to my blog would be nice! Also, if you make any, please send me photos or feedback. I'd love to hear from you! :D

Friday, November 16, 2012

Out on a school night (or two)

I'm not a teacher anymore, but having a regular day job still means that it's difficult to go out on a "school night". The lack of sleep and the fatigue that come with going out on a weeknight turn me into a zombie at work the day after. But it's always worth it!

Last Wednesday, my sister's band Slow Hello played a gig at one of our favorite bars in the city (side-note: I used to play guitar for this band, but during the time I was working two jobs a few months ago, she got her boyfriend to play for them instead and he's been their official guitarist since). The event only had 3 bands on the bill, but each was allowed a long set. They were playing last so this meant that we ended up going home at 2 AM (!!!).

First we all met up at our neighborhood band rehearsal studio (LOL that sounds funny). They needed to practice first before the actual gig because they hadn't played together in a while.

Russ and Marc

The band + me trying to sneak in a photo.
They were in the middle of a song when I took this shot, it looks funny now how I'm just getting in the middle of everything for this blurry photo.

Look! I'm wearing my Simple Diamonds headband in that last photo. I have a free pattern for this here. People at work really noticed my headband that day. I do realize that it may not be a typical mature office look, but I also realized that I never see anyone above 20 wearing headbands anymore! Why is that? Let's bring them back! (Yes? No? Nevermind.).

While they were practicing (for two hours!), I also knit on the side. I mean, what else was I gonna do for two hours while waiting, right?

It's another headband. Am I serious about bringing the headband back? lol

This project is a product of some swatching from the other day:

With this yarn, you can't really see the daisy stitch pattern.

It looks better here, doesn't it? I'm gonna be making a few of these to maybe sell or give away. Not sure yet though. Definitely posting the pattern here when I'm done.

No photos of the actual gig cos my phone died after their rehearsal.

Thursday (yesterday), Marc's main band had a gig too, at the same bar as the other night. Guess what? They also played last. And this is how I feel right now:

But again, it was all worth it! I got to hear pretty awesome music and hangout with friends and stuff. Here's another one of my infamous (haha, not really) blurry photos:


In more crafty news, I veered away from my knitting obsession for a bit yesterday and came up with this:

It's a crochet chain bracelet. Pretty simple and pretty quick to make. What took me a while to make the two I FO'ed was figuring out the number of stitches and the division of this number to make equal "parts".

Still trying to decide if it's worth coming up with the pattern and posting it here. It's verrry simple. If you feel like you wanna know what I did, just drop me a line. :)