Saturday, January 26, 2013

Before & After: The Tale of The Sparkly Pineapple Shirt

It all started in Kohl's. I had just gotten paid, and eager to spend all my money, went out to buy some (much needed) clothes. Mostly for work, I picked up jeans, looked at button up shirts, and even bought my first pair of leggings, but when I ended up in the clothing section to buy shirts I felt lost and confused. It had been so long since I bought clothes in an actual store (Thank you, TeeFury). From section to section I wandered. Some clothes seemed to be for 14-year-olds, and all the other clothes seemed to be for 40-year-olds. Annoyed, infuriated, and worst of all, holding an armful of nothing but work clothes, I made a declaration to "Just crochet all of my own shirts."

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Everything looked awkward. Everything felt awkward. Even the models in the pictures, and the clothing on the mannequins didn't look appealing to me. Nothing was making sense. I was going to make my own clothes. 

I was half joking, but by the time I got home, and ended up alone on Ravelry for a good hour or two, I had looked through all kinds of shirt patterns. I was so excited, the very next day I went out and bought some cotton yarn, then started on a simple-looking shirt, Light and Lacy by Doris Chan.

I had finished it in an astounding 3 days. It worked up so fast, I was suddenly even more excited by my decision to make all of my clothes. The only problem? It fit about as well as an oversized grocery bag.

I told myself it was okay, that I had never made a form-sitting shirt before. At my size, I've never been a Small before, but it turns out that maybe I should have made a small for this shirt (I made the Medium). It was so baggy on me, that as I wore it, I swore it made me look 30 pounds heavier. I told myself it was okay, but I didn't even have the motivation to tie in the ends. I set it on my dresser, and feeling defeated, went to bed.

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The "Before"

The next morning, I don't know if I had a dream, or if the answer was really just that simple all along, but I woke up so enthused, I knew I had figured out a way to fix my shirt to make it look better.

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After much debating, and cringing, I (painfully) ripped out about 75% of my work, then made a band by decreasing the chain mesh.I was really happy that this had been a fast project, because even after ripping out most of my work, it still only took another 3 days to completely finish it. I could make two of these a week if I really wanted to supplement my wardrobe.

By making a band in the middle significantly smaller than the rest of the piece, this pulled it in a bit, then I increased it enough to have it bellow out again. It went from Potato sack to flattering A-Line piece.

(If you are looking for the technical things I did, and how to do this yourself to this shirt, you can look at the notes on my Ravelry Page.)

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Ta da! New shirt!

I love it so much now, I can't wait to wear it! Although, with it being made of cotton, and in such sparkly and bright colors, I can't imagine wearing it any other time of year besides late spring and summer.

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This was also nice, because now instead of just "dealing" with the style of a shirt (the way I would ahve if I had just bought a shirt the other day), I'm now actually looking forward to something. On top of that, I had so much fun working with the colors. The white, although you can't see it, is actually a "Holiday" yarn, so it has metallic tinsel throughout, and the blue-green stripes are Lily Sugar N' Cream "Country Stripes", a yarn I've had in my stash forever, but didn't know the perfect thing to use it on. The sparkles and the stripes give it an awesomely light oceany feel to it that I am so excited to wear around when the weather is warmer.

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I have a lot of plans to make more clothes, of course. I even picked up a book from the library today, and without even noticing the author, I got it home, only to realize the patterns were from none other than Doris Chan herself. After finding Light and Lacy, I went through all her patterns to find that I love her style! I guess I can officially consider myself a fangirl, and I look forward to expanding my wardrobe over the next few months. With such a great start, how could I not be excited?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What I've been up to: New Years Edition

The first three weeks of 2013 have gone by mostly uneventfully. I've been listening to, and even reading, a lot of books, and I still have my crochet hooks stuck into many projects. I've been trying to challenge myself, as well as finish things I started awhile back and never managed to finish. Here are a few things I've done since the new year came around.

1. Butterfly Stitch Fingerless Gloves.

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I spent literally 9 hours straining my eyes on January 1st making these. Having no real New Years resolutions, I was feeling kind of insecure and all I could think was about how I felt like I should at least greet the new year with a challenge. I had the pattern for these in my Ravelry queue for awhile, but had been too intimidated to make them- so they seemed like the perfect challenge for a new year.

A challenge they were indeed. It certainly took a lot of patience and focus, but I managed to finish both of them before bedtime. They look really awesome, and add a nice antique/vintage touch to my outfits. The "Dusty Blue" was the perfect color for them, too. It almost feels like a faded blue in an old picture.

The butterfly stitch was easy enough, it was just fiddling with things such as the size and the thumbhole that gave me a real challenge. Lots of improvising happened, but they both fit and look nice, and isn't that what really matters?

2. Senorita Skirt

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I found this pattern in the May/June 2012 Issue of Crochet Today, and I did in fact start it back in June. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to get bored really easily with repetitive patterns. Despite the fact that the shells in this pattern changed from row to row, I still found myself exhausted by shells 75% of the way through. Long story short, I put this down for nearly six months before deciding to dedicate a day to finishing it up.

After I finished it, I was pretty mad at myself. I LOVE THIS SKIRT. I love how it fits, I love how I managed to make it the perfect size, and I love how it flares out. The day after I finished it, I went out to buy some faux-cabled sweater tights so I wouldn't have to wait until summer to wear this. If only I hadn't put it down for 6 months to do 2 hours worth of work, I could have been wearing this all along! What an awesome (and seasonably versatile) addition to my wardrobe.


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Here's the doozy, guys. I knitted something. I was so proud of myself when I finished this last night at 1 AM, that instead of folding it up and putting it somewhere safe, I squished it against myself like a security blanket to sleep beside.

For months I have been trying to knit, only for my stitches to slide off of my needles and my day to end in a frustrating yell-a-thon. This time, though, instead of trying the same thing I've tried and failed with 100 times, I switched it up a bit. I got some GIGANTIC yarn (To be exact, Lion Brand's Hometown USA in Oklahoma Green), and then I dug out my Size 19 needles and went to town!

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With the giant yarn and dangerously big plastic needles, I only had a couple stitches drop off, which I managed to slip back on. The experienced knitter could certainly find my mistakes, but all in all, I'm really happy that I manged to cast on, bind off, and everything in between to make a soft, fluffy, functional cowl. I used a garter stitch, because I liked the texture it gave to an otherwise plain cowl, but hopefully I will find something I want to make with Stockinette stitch next.

I was so happy to not have my stitches fall off, and get an idea for the tension the yarn should be at, that I genuinely can't wait to knit again. I kept thinking about getting glasses. I remember thinking about how hard I thought school used to be, how all school equalled to me was headaches and squinting, then how much glasses improved my experience. I feel like using metal needles made me think that knitting was this impossible thing that only really talented and smart people could accomplish, at least until I got the right tools, and now everything is so much clearer.

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What else have I been up to? Mostly just buying stuff I want to show off.

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I used to have a "Crochet Dude" crochet hook case, but last week when the pockets for my tapestry needles ripped, and I opened it one day to find ALL OF MY TAPESTRY NEEDLES GONE, I decided I needed to fix this problem. At Michaels' I found a little Avengers Coin Purse that was Tapestry Needle Sized, along with a matching Avengers Pencil Pouch that was Crochet Hook sized. Best solution, or best solution?

As you can see, I also bought some bamboo knitting needles. I'm hoping these will solve the issue of dropping stitches once I graduate from gigantic needles to more normal sized needles.

As you may also be able to see, I bought the (LAST!!) Rosewood crochet hook at Michael's. They were on sale for $6 (as opposed to $13), and while I'm not entirely sure what the benefits of a rosewood hook are, I do know that I like wasting money on nice things, and this seemed right up my alley.

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So what's in store? Well, I can tell you that one of my biggest projects is still consistently being picked up everyday, and I still have about 25 hours left on it (I can't waaaaaaaait to show that one off!), and considering how warm and fuzzy I feel when I think about my knitting needles, I can definitely tell you that there will be a lot more of that. Not to mention, my bamboo needles still need to be put to use!