Saturday, June 28, 2014

Scarf: Six Months Later

There is actual knitting of the two-needles-plus-yarn variety happening behind the scenes of the Knitbook, but it is secret.  I am taking part in the June edition of the Geek & Nerd Swap 2014 and don't want to spoil the surprise for my swap partner.  When the package is safely in her hands, details of my finished objects will be posted here.

In the mean time, I pulled out the last remaining Christmas scarf, intended for another of my younger brothers.  It will be a Binary, as this brother is studying computer science.  When I unearthed it after six months of waiting its turn, it looked like this:

I don't remember it being that lumpy when I put it away.

I said as much to my husband, who is not crafty himself in anyway.  Neither of his parents work with textiles, so his education in things come solely from me.  His answered me with, "What if you blocked it?  Would blocking help?"

I think he has learned more than I realized.  Still I don't think blocking will help; the grey is stranded far too tightly across the edges, making the blue pucker into odd "seams" there.  This scarf will be getting a do-over.

Monday, June 23, 2014

New Project Plans

While I love the pink grapefruit dress, it has dominated my crafting time for a solid, hectic month now, and I am ready to move on.  I also feel the need to limit the amount of storage space I need for fabric, which means the images below are not ideal.

Project 1.

That pile is about 1.5 yards and many good-sized scraps of pink lycra, the remains of two earlier dress projects (since I hadn't learned to estimate yardage for a dress accurately).  I want to turn it into a latin dress, as a way of practicing a few dress making and decorating skills without needing to buy several more yards of skirt fabrics.

Project 2.

I realize that this doesn't look like a project or pile of fabric.  It looks like a ballgown.  This dress was my first ballgown when I resumed competing about a year ago, and it doesn't work for me any more.  Over a year of dancing, I have lost some weight, and this dress no longer fits well.  I could probably deal with cutting down the dress, though it would be a serious pain, but this dress has some stylistic problems that make it not worth it for me now.  The waistline of this dress means it gives the wearer a lovely hourglass figure (my waist looked really, really small in this dress) and it can hide a lot of hip and rear under the skirt.  Now that I don't have the same figure, the dress just makes me look short and a bit squat.  It is therefore hanging unused in my closet, taking up space.

This dress has been and is posted for sale, but I haven't had any offers and there is a price floor below which it makes more sense to dismantle the dress to reclaim the rhinestones and yards of fabric as raw materials.  Well, it makes more sense to my sort of logic.  If nobody takes it before I finish project 1, this dress will undergo some major surgery.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Finished: Pink Grapefruit Dress

It's all done and ready for dancing.  Rhinestones don't photograph well in my opinion, but hopefully you can see that there is more detailing of the roses on the side panels of the dress as well as the changes I described in the previous post.  This dress currently boasts Swarovski padparadsha ss20, crystal AB ss20, and a small amount of crystal AB ss30 as well as crystal AB sew-on stones.  It also has a few gross of Chrisanne's radiance ss16 crystals on there.

Now I am ready for it to be just a dress and not a project any more.  On to the next thing!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dozens and dozens of Stones

The final step to have the pink grapefruit dress ready for competition was to add more rhinestones.  I don't mind gluing on rhinestones; it is not difficult, and my husband is pretty good at helping with it to cut down on the time needed.  I have found that designing with rhinestones is an art that I most certainly haven't mastered, and I tend to underestimate how many stones a project needs.  That happened here, and now I am finishing it with more stones.

My approach to stoning is low-tech.  I use no-hotfix stones, which means no glue has been preapplied to the little rocks.  I pour the stones onto plates or into shallow bowls, one per type of stone.  My dress is on my duct tape dress form, which I like to use for two reasons.  For one, the dress form gives me a fairly stable backing to push against as I am placing the stones.  For two, it means the fabric is already stretched as it will be when I wear the dress.  I worry about gluing stones onto unstretched fabric and then having them pop off when the dress is worn.

The glue I am using for this project is Chrisanne's jewel glue, which I find rather thin and slow to dry.  My approach is therefore to place several small dots of glue and let them get tacky. . .

 . . . and then place each stone on a glue dot with a pair of tweezers.

A friendly tip--I advise anyone out there doing this to find a pattern of laying down glue dots such that you aren't resting your hand on the recently glued section to access the next part.

The pins you see in some of my photos were to give me visual guidelines for my stoning.  I did not want to be too precise since the goal was to have stones scattered across the dress, but I had pins at the top hemline to help me space out specific sizes of stones as I added the straight line there, and the ones at the bottom were to indicate how far down on the dress I wanted the higher density of stones to reach.

That's it for the back of the dress.  The front central section needs similar treatment, and then the rose outlines on the side fronts and backs need to have missing stones replaced and extra details added.  Then this dress will be ready for competition!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Now with more skirt



I am not sure it shows well in these photos, but the dress now has an additional ten meters or so of hemline under there.  I am very glad to have that taken care of.  Even with my serger going over a previously serged seam, sewing three layers of organza together was a pain.  The fabric was slippery and would drop pins and slip apart and slip out of under the presser foot, and when it was all done I had four places where the new layer had not been sewn to the dress and needed to be redone.  But it is all together now.

This operation does not seem to have done anything weird to the length of the overskirt relative to the underskirt, thank goodness.  No additional hemming is required.  Now onto the stoning!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pink Grapefruit Progress

New straps?  Check.

I also discovered that one of the old straps was about an inch (2 cm) longer than the other.  These things happen when one sews in a hurry.  The new ones are the same length.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finished: Tilting Ribs Cowl

Thursday morning I finished knitting the scarf for my brother.  Thursday evening I sat down to graft the ends together. 

The pattern (Tilting Ribs Scarf) is for a scarf, but I thought a cowl would stay out of my brother's way better, as cowls have no loose ends that can dangle.  To make the join as invisible as possible, I started with a provisional cast-on (the red yarn you see in my photos).  When I was ready to graft, I picked up the stitches held by the cast-on and unzipped and unpicked the crochet chain.  The Cascade 220 had managed to wrap itself around my red scrap yarn in several places, so some unpicking was necessary.

I then spent 40 minutes trying to sort out why I had picked up one less stitch then was supposed to be there.  I found it eventually.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Ballgown in Three Days

This is the project that ate my month of May.

I am an amateur ballroom dancer, and I make my own costumes.  This is my current competition dress, and it has a bit of a story behind it.  My competition season had all of its biggest events in late April and May.  I had been planning on making a new dress by then, but the fabric that I had ordered hadn’t arrived in time.  However, there was a particular color of fabric I had been stalking for a couple of months, and some of it went on clearance in mid-May.  I splurged and bought the fabric to start making a dress.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Christmas Scarf

About a year ago, I made a scarf for one of my little brothers.  I decided then, only half way through the year, to make gifts for each member of my rather large immediate family for Christmas.

That didn’t happen, in part because after consultation with my mother it seemed that everyone wanted and would actually use scarves.  Scarves are not exactly small projects, and agreeing to make five of them was making a fairly large time commitment.  I also got somewhat distracted over the course of the summer with other things, which didn’t help.  Still, I got half of those gifts done by Christmas (the youngest half of my family) and gave everyone else promise notes.  This Tilting Rib Scarf is one of those belated Christmas gifts.  It is intended for the oldest of my brothers, who if given the choice prefers outdoors, going-hunting-with-the-dogs, mountain man activities.  This pattern was selected because, after extensive consultation with my husband, it was deemed suitably manly.  Manliness was also the reason for the dark grey color.  I am making it in Cascade 220, so it will be warm and sturdy.  I just hope he can keep his dogs from eating it or anything like that.

This scarf has been living in my backpack as my transit project, and I had hoped to have it done by the end of May.  However, May was rather suddenly dedicated to another project, which interfered with getting the scarf done.  I’ll introduce the usurper next time.


Hello, and welcome to the Experimental Knitbook.  Here you will find pictures and details about the sewing and craft projects that I work on; I knit, crochet, sew, and occasionally dabble in things like counted-cross stitch, embroidery, and patchwork.  I am mostly self-taught and have learned a lot from the blogs of others, and hope to record pictures and information here that will help others learning the same things. 

A few comments about the name of this blog:
The ‘experimental’ part references the fact that my day job is a scientific researcher, and I perform experiments.  It is also a pretty good description of how I normally work—I regularly adapt patterns and techniques, which can have unpredictable results.  While keeping a lab notebook isn’t necessary in my field to log results, they are useful to record details of what methods worked and what didn’t, and I hope this blog serves a similar purpose.

Knits are singled out because I spend most of my time working with knit fabric; I knit a lot of accessories, and most of my sewing is with stretch fabrics.  Whatever your interest is, I hope you find something worthwhile during your stay.  Enjoy!