Monday, April 28, 2014

A cozy cowl for spring

 By the calendar it's officially spring, but here in Central Oregon it doesn't really feel like it yet. Typically it takes until late June or even July 4th to really start getting warm.  Especially in the mornings. Typically it's still below freezing.

So, I won't be putting away the wool sweaters and the hand-knits just yet.  After my last big sewing project I wanted something easier and mindless so I went with Annabella's Cowl.  It's a pattern from Churchmouse Teas and Yarns when I got to visit last Thanksgiving.

I strayed from the recommended yarn and used Berroco Flicker which is so nice and soft.  I ended up sizing up several sizes from the pattern recommendation and ended up at a 10.5 I think.   

I love the yarn and the pattern is so easy to knit.  I really perfected my knitting while not looking. I've been really practicing being able to look away while knitting plain stockinette and this cowl gave me plenty of practice.

It's so warm and cozy and since it's a nice neutral color, I've been wearing almost daily.  

I highly recommend this pattern and if you can make it up to Churchmouse to visit it's a great place!  Bainbridge Island is so quaint and fun.  I'm hoping to get back this summer.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Albion Family - Behind the Scenes

Participating in the Albion sewalong was by far the biggest sewing project I've ever completed.  It was a lot of hard work and I really couldn't have finished it without a lot of help and cooperation from my husband especially.  I literally worked on this nearly every day from the beginning of January until early March.  I devoted a lot of entire weekends to sewing and actually blew off a lot of run training for my upcoming race in April.  (I'm probably going to pay for that one!)

I thought it would be fun to show you some behind the scenes photos of the construction phases of the project.  So here we go: The Albion Family - Behind the Scenes!

My husband was a huge help in creating the deer antler toggles.  When I originally told him what I wanted to do for the toggles he had all sorts of ideas on how we could cut them and stain them.  All the antlers we had we somewhat weathered from being outdoors exposed to the elements.  This bleached them white and left them somewhat brittle in places.
My husband put a cutting wheel on the die grinder for some high speed cutting.

Cutting through those antlers was actually quite smelly.

Antler tips.  You can see how weathered they are from being outside.

My husband used a milling vice to hold a section of antler and then used a cutting disc in a drill press to cut thin cross-sections for buttons.  Do you see all that haze?  It smelled terrible.

Toggles and buttons.

Throughout this whole process I was so worried about my old Pfaff hobby machine.  This machine is older than I am (34 years) and is a hand-me-down from my Mother.  (I actually borrowed a machine from a co-worker just in case this thing bit the dust!) My little Pfaff has a lot of history.  It's made dozens of children's dresses, prom dresses and even helped make my wedding dress.  It's been a great little machine, but is really getting long in the tooth.  I had to do a lot of belt adjustments to make it through all the Albions and the heavy canvas.

Below shows a close-up the wool army blanket lining for my husband's Albion.  I opted to do a hand-stitched blind hem and then top-stitched that by machine.  I was having a hard time with all the wool staying put when I tried to just hem with the machine.  Too much fabric!

For my Albion, I made version 2.  This marks my first time making bias tape.  I used the method outlined in a tutorial from the Coletterie.  I went out and bought a bias tape maker for this. It sure made pressing easier.  I also went and bought glass head pins just for making the bias tape.  It made things a lot easier to press since I could put the iron right on the pins.

Clover bias tape maker.
Making the Albion for my little girl was a little bit tricky.  I was essentially creating an entirely new pattern and I wasn't sure at all if it would fit.  I had to have her try the thing on multiple times during construction. She was a cooperative model. :-)

Where are my sleeves, Mom?

Before toggles.

Insides showing lining.  It's a quilting cotton I found at JoAnn.

The back showing piping on hood and yoke.

And finally here's a few detail shots of my husband's coat showing the hang tag I added and the pocket placement and construction.

I hope you enjoyed the behind the scenes look at my Albion family.  It sure was a fun project and I feel so happy to be able to have made coats for all of us to enjoy together!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Albion Family-Claire

For my daughter's Albion I had to actually draft my own pattern!  I've never done this before so it was very nerve-wracking.  I used the smallest size Albion pattern and then, by hand, scaled it way, way down using a coat she already has as a size guide.  Since the Albion coat has straight side seams, the whole process was a bit simpler, but it still took quite a bit of engineering.

I thought it would be fun to add some color to her coat since the olive drab military surplus canvas looked a bit boyish so found a bright lining and hot pink piping.  The lining is a quilting cotton print.  I also rounded the patch pockets because I thought it looked a bit more feminine.  

My little one gets the same handmade white tail deer antlers that her Daddy hunted for dinner.  She doesn't have quite enough teeth for venison yet, but soon!

Plenty of room to grow in this coat and that means more time for adventures in the beautiful Oregon outdoors!

Albion Family-Jane

For my part of the Albion Family I made version 2 with the side seam pockets and hood.  The fabric is a thrifted and repurposed military surplus army pup tent waxed canvas.  It seemed like the perfect fabric for this type of coat.

For interest and to keep the military inspired style I put felled seam details on the front, sleeves and on the facings.

For the bias binding I used a quilting cotton print in bright colors that match the olive drab of the coat.  I think it adds some femininity to an otherwise unisex style coat.

The toggles and sleeve buttons are fashioned out of white-tail deer antlers hunted here in Central Oregon.

The hood was very useful on this blustery day for keeping my hair tamed a bit.  Can you see my pup behind me?  Does it look like I have a tail?

We went out for a little hike on one of our favorite trails in the Deschutes National Forest.  As my little girl gets older we hope to wear our matching Albions on many more adventures!

The Albions were perfect for our little adventure and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.  You could see all 7 peaks of the cascades from north to south.  What a fantastic day!

The Albion Family-Russell

When I first laid eyes on the Albion pattern by Colette patterns I just knew this was THE pattern for my little outdoorsy family.  We live in the high desert of Central Oregon.  Bend, to be exact.  Bend is unlike where 90% of Oregonians live and unlike what most people think of when they think Oregon.  Bend is dry.  Bend is a desert.  Bend is also beautiful and up near the Cascades mountains and home to some of the best outdoor recreation you will find, arguably, in the entire lower 48.  Skiing and boarding?  Yep.  Golf?  You bet!  Trail running?  Heck yeah! Mountain biking?  Oh my, YES! Hiking? Of course! Hunting, fishing, boating, kayaking, bird watching, horseback riding, festivals, art walks, brew pubs, coffee shops .... I could go on and on and on.

But this isn't an advertisement for Bend.  This is about my sewing.

So, I present to you my Albion Family!

I decided to make all of us matching Albion coats to wear on our rural property and also out hiking and backpacking.

Here is my husband, for whom I made version 1 with a lining.

Do you see the black "US" stamp on the back of the coat?  That is because I repurposed thrifted waxed canvas from an army surplus store.  This fabric was originally army pup tents.  I cut it all apart and refashioned it into coats for us.

For my husband's coat,  I made version 1, but I omitted the hood and drafted a collar instead.  For the lining I used thrifted military surplus wool.  It's very warm and also pretty heavy.

Taking inspiration from a waxed canvas coat my husband already had, I added a weather flap and a zipper closure.  This will keep out any driving rain and wind.  

For the patch front pockets, I added snaps to keep the flap closed and rivets to the corners to strengthen them.  My husband can be pretty hard on clothing.

Here is the inside of the coat showing the zipper I added and the wool surplus blanket lining.

The toggle closures were a project in and of themselves.  The are handmade from white-tail deer antlers hunted here in Central Oregon.  White-tail deer a great and sustainable source of lean, organic protein and we love venison.  My husband helped me cut them into toggle shapes and also thin cross-sections for the buttons.  I sanded and stained them with some wood stain to give them a little better color.

Here we are on one of our favorite trails in the Deschutes National Forest.

The Albion is a great coat for work around our property.  Bend is a desert and while sunny a beautiful a lot of the time, it gets pretty darn cold in the mornings even late in the spring and early summer.  Wood heat is a great and cozy way to stay warm on the cold mornings and nights.

The Albion is a fantastic pattern and perfect for our lifestyle.  This coat is going to get tons of wear!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Finished Knit: The Central Oregon Hoodie

Here's a confession.  I actually finished this cardigan months ago.  I think it was somewhere in September or October and I'm finally just now posting some real pictures of it!  It was nearly a year ago when I first blogged about starting the project.  It didn't actually take me a year to finish it as it got set aside numerous times while life and other things got in the way.  

So, for whatever reason I picked today when it never got above freezing and there is about 2.5 inches of snow outside to take pictures..  It was about 4F when I took these.  I about froze in the 15 minutes it took to grab these shots!  I'm becoming inspired to take more and better pictures of my finished projects as the days are getting longer and I have more chances to do photo shoots in natural light.

Many sewing bloggers have been posting about their goals for 2014.  One goal I'd really like to work on is to make the time to take better photos.  I have a decent camera, a tripod, and a remote and  there simply is no excuse for not taking better photos.  I always feel so self-conscious and silly doing my solo photo shoots.  It also feels so narcissistic and vain, but I'm endeavoring to get over that feeling because when I see other bloggers photos I don't think of them as vain.  It definitely is all in my head.

So here we go: on with some better pictures!

I did 2 swatches for this and ended up sizing down a needle to get gauge.  I'm glad I did as I think it fits rather well.

I honestly love this cardigan and I wear it all the time.  The yarn I chose is Tahki Yarns Donegal  tweed in the colorway # 882 Goldenrod.  I wanted something bright for the dark winter months and this fits the bill without being over the top.  This yarn is also quite warm. Often times indoors I find it to be uncomfortably warm and I perspire a bit.  It may be too warm for people who live in warmer climates ie. places where it routinely gets above freezing in the winter!

Getting all the knitting done on this truly took focus and perseverance.  I did the sleeves simultaneously on one long circular needle so they would match and also because I couldn't bear the thought of doing another sleeve after completing the first.

After all the knitting then comes the gargantuan task of seaming and knitting the button band!  I used mattress stitch for the side seams and used a crochet hook for the shoulder seams and setting in the sleeves.  The hood is done using a 3 needle bind off which is actually kind of neat and leaves a nice seam finish.

I love the finished look and I'm glad I finished it, but honestly knitting a sweater in pieces and then seaming is really a bear.  I got so depressed about the whole project several times and lost a lot of momentum throughout.

The next big knitting project I attempt I think will be a top down pull over or cardigan that requires little to no seaming.

What do you think?  Top down knitting or do you not mind doing pieces and then seaming later?

Thanks for reading.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Albion Zipper Tutorial

Hello Everyone!

I've been participating in the Albion Sewalong this month with Colette Patterns.  If you haven't heard, it's a contest featuring one Colette's newest pattern releases, the Albion Duffle Coat as part of the new Walden line.  Colette patterns has also launched a Facebook page for the sewalong that is proving to be a great place for discussions and for us to all help each other out with difficulties we are having.

One discussion that came up yesterday on the Facebook page is about the zipper installation.  I purchased the Albion Companion, which outlines a method for installation.  I modified this method a bit so I could enclose the raw edge of the zipper on the left side of the coat. I'm going to attempt to explain what I did so hopefully others can try it too.

If you follow the Albion companion, the only step I'm altering is step 1.  Instead of placing the zipper face up away from the raw edge, I'm actually placing it face down right along the raw edge.  See illustration below.  I basted the zipper in about 1/4" from the raw edge.

I apologize that this illustration is such low quality.  I did it in paint quite hastily.  I need to learn Illustrator.

I then proceeded with the directions as outlined in the pattern for attaching the lining to the neckline

This photo shows the zipper sandwiched between the facing and the coat front with the wrong sides out.  I stitched the neckline as indicated in the instructions and then stitched the facing on with a narrow hem being sure to leave the zipper teeth exposed on the inside.

The images below show the enclosed zipper tape when you turn everything right side out.

The trickiest part of this method was making sure the yoke lines up on each side.  I had to pin-baste the facing a few times and then flip right side out to check the alignment.  It was worth it, though, to be sure the left and right yokes line up.  

I hope this helps!  Let me know if there's anything that I can clarify.

Thanks for reading.