Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook.

Note: The review in this post was compensated in any way. I purchased this item myself and am reviewing it of my own will.
I've been hinting all week that I got a new book and that I was going to review it, and here it is, the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius.

Now, apparently this book came out June 1st according to Amazon, so since this is the end of July I'm late to the game. I have it now though, so all is forgiven, right? I have been wanting a book like this for years. The subtitle is "More Than 200 Fibers From Animal to Spun Yarn," and when I read that I stopped reading further and added it to my Amazon cart. I have been looking on Amazon for years wanting a book specifically about fiber, but all of my fiber searches resulted in books about what to do with fiber after it is fabric/yarn/roving. That didn't satisfy me. I wanted to know about it before it got to that point. And now, I have more information about fiber that I could ever remember at my fingertips.

First Impressions

When I went into my apartment complex's office to pick up my package, I was surprised as to how big the box was (all I ordered was this book). I got it back to my apartment and out of the box, and yes, this is a huge book. 438 pages huge. I quickly flipped through the pages and it became clear that this is the textbook for people interested in fiber. A textbook you want to read, that is. In my first flip-through, it also became very clear that one of the things I would love about this book is the photography. Big, beautiful pictures of animals, yarn, or raw fiber grace almost every page. Even if I wasn't interested in the wording, I decided that it would make a great coffee table book.

The Beginning Content

I opened up to the table of contents to see what I was getting myself into. I was greeted by a huge list of sheep covered in the book. I flipped the page and the list of sheep continued. That didn't even include the non-sheep animals in the book. I was surprised and delighted to discover that each breed seemed to get its own page. Once I got past the table of contents, I read all of the information leading up to the individual breed profiles. There was a ton of information packed into those first 20 or so pages, ranging from comparing and contrasting protein (animal) fibers to cellulose (plant) fibers, the process of getting fiber from animal to consumer, and the importance of shopping for breed-specific fiber. There are a ton of helpful tips, and terms that could be confusing are addressed and explained. Multiple ways of grading fiber are listed and explained in detail. At the end of the first section, there are several pages of terms that might be unfamiliar to people that will be used in the animal profiles with explanations of each.

The Animals

I haven't read all of the animal profiles yet, but the ones I have read have amazed me with their detail. The sheep are broken up by family, such as the Blackfaced Mountain family, and there is information on the family as a whole. Then, it is broken up further and addresses each type separately. There is information about the breed in paragraph form, and then there are facts such as staple length and lock characteristics listed in bullet form. Then, There is information about how it takes dye, how it spins, knits, crochets, weaves, and what it is most commonly used for. Pictures show the raw fiber, cleaned fiber, and the fiber spun, woven, and knitted.

Final Thoughts

I was completely blown away by the attention to detail in this book. The photography is beautiful. There is more information than I could ever hope for. This book will become one of those books that is a staple on the shelves of everyone who cares at all about fiber. I've read a lot of knitting/crochet/dyeing/fiber art books, and I have never seen anything like this before. Maybe if you aren't interested at all about the type of yarn you use, you won't get much out of this book. But if you love trying different types of yarn or fiber, interested in where your fiber comes from, you spin, or you dye, this book is on the required reading list.

Do you have a book that you think should be required reading for crafters/fiber artists? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Organic Yarn.

I've never done a shop update on here before, but I've added a new line of yarn that I'd like to share.

If you're familiar with my shop, you know that I unravel thrift store sweaters, skein them up and dye them. The process is exhausting and time-consuming, but I love it all the same. That being said, it was taking me way too long to get anything done. As a way to combat that, I decided to add a line of organic wool to my shop.

Why organic wool? Well, one of the main reasons I like recycling yarn is because 1. I'm not supporting the cruel practices towards sheep at many big wool companies (this is not the place to get into that, but if you're interested you can Google it) and 2. I'm being more environmentally friendly. I can accomplish both of those with organic yarn. When a yarn is called organic, it refers to every stage of the fiber process, from when it is on the animal to when it is being processed when it's off the animal. The animals aren't put through pesticide dips, and it also refers to the chemicals used when cleaning and processing the wool.

This yarn that I have been dyeing is so incredibly soft. It's 100% organic merino wool, and right now all I have is in sock weight. Each skein has enough yardage to make one average pair of adult socks. I have several more colors coming, so if you're interested in organic yarn be sure to check back. You can also join my email list by sending an email to and get notices about new products, sales, and discount codes.

I should be back tomorrow or the next day with a review of my book I've been reading!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Couple of Handmade Reviews.

Note: None of the reviews in this post were requested by the seller or compensated in any way. I purchased these items myself and am reviewing them of my own will.

This past weekend was like fiber mania. I went to a yarn shop and came back with 5 skeins of yarn and soap, and my drop spindle and fiber I ordered off of Etsy came in the mail. Also, I got a fiber book in the mail, which I will be reviewing later this week.

I love buying things off Etsy. Buying something from one person that loves what they do is so exciting. I can almost feel the passion the person puts into their craft a lot of times.

The first thing I'll review is the roving I bought from KnittyandColor. This is 4 ounces of an 80/20 blend of Merino/Silk in the color Burning Leaves.


I had seen KnittyandColor's work before on Ravelry, and when I finally got the chance to buy some fiber I found the shop again and fell in love with this. According to the listing for this item, "Merino/Silk is very soft and is great for garments worn close to the skin. The silk add lots of extra sheen and creates a very luxurious yarn!"

Sheen? Sold!

I've spun merino before, but never anything with silk, so I was anxious to try. I have only been spinning a year, and while I've improved tremendously, I don't consider myself anywhere near an expert. For you spinning gurus out there, if I don't use proper spinning lingo, forgive me and let me know so I'll know better!

I haven't spun a wide variety of things like the seasoned pros, but this roving drafted smoother than anything I've spun before. It took a bit of getting used to because I barely had to use any force to draft it, and the roving I had previously finished up didn't draft near as easily. I kept pulling too hard when I started spinning this! I am loving the subtle color changes with blacks, browns and golds. They look very warm combined together and is a perfect fall colorway. Like the listing said, there is a bit of sheen to this fiber, which I am in love with. The addition of silk really does make this a luxurious yarn. I can't wait to ply it and knit with it! Any suggestions as to what it should be?

My other Etsy purchase was a drop spindle from Spinatude. I first encountered Spinatude spindles at the DFW Fiber Fest in the Stone and String booth (where I got that awesome black/red Polwarth that I finished spinning and posted recently), but at the time I was not looking to buy a spindle. I've only had one spindle, and recently I've been itching to try others. I remembered Spinatude from the Fiber Fest and looked the shop up on Etsy. I fell in love with this spindle:

Yes, that is a yellow rose in resin. If you know me personally, you might be surprised that I loved something with a big flower. I am not a flower person. It's not that I don't think flowers are pretty, but floral prints are a bit too girly for my taste and I don't like getting real flowers because I think it's a waste. I'd much rather see them in nature. This, however, won't die like cut flowers would, and what I love about this so much is all the texture and subtle yellow color of the rose. I am very much a texture person (what fiber enthusiast isn't?) and I love being able to study all the little lines in the petals and stare at the center part (no, I don't remember my flower anatomy). I also loved the color of the shaft and thought it went perfectly with the whorl.

Okay, so we've covered that this spindle is beautiful, but how does it spin? I'll admit, it took a bit of getting used to, since not only was I using a new spindle after a year of using the same one, but I was using that merino/silk for the first time. After a couple of minutes though, this spindle and I were making yarn with no problems. It felt balanced and I can't find anything wrong with it. The only thing that surprised me was that the shaft tapers to a point at the bottom, which I wasn't used to. Not a sharpened point, but the end is significantly narrower than the rest of the shaft. I keep poking myself with it because the bottom of my other one is flat! I've pretty much gotten used to that though, so it's not causing problems. I don't know if the shaft coming to a point does anything technically (maybe it can spin better that way?), but I find it very aesthetically pleasing. It makes the spindle look much more elegant than if it had a blunt end. If you're in the market for a new spindle, I'd recommend checking Spinatude out.

That's all for my reviews today. I have a book review and some other things planned for the rest of this week, so be sure to check back.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Knitting Tragedies.

Today started off badly.

Why? I finished a sock. Wait, what? If you finished a sock, that's a good thing, right? Normally, I'd be very happy. Nothing is better than taking something off the needles and trying it on, or rather, nothing's better when it fits.

Yes, I knitted my sock too small. The Absinthe pattern on Knitty has two sizes, small and large. I by no means have large feet, I wear a 7 and have normal (maybe even a bit narrrow) width feet, so I thought the small would work. Besides, I had seen some people on Ravelry who had knitted the small for themselves and raved about the fit.

While I was knitting this (toe-up) I tried it on a few times, and it fit perfectly in the foot. I stopped trying it on though, and it stops fitting at the heel/gusset area and doesn't get any better at the cuff. I tried for a good five minutes to get the sock on before I admitted defeat.

This was my first time that I've knitted a sock that didn't fit. All I can do now is take a day to cool off about it and start over. And of course post this picture so I can still admire how lovely I think it is.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Finished Tank Top and Engagement Photos.

I got my engagement photos back yesterday from my friend Amanda Michael, and I am so excited about them! I wore my Make Up Your Mind tank from this summer's Knitty for a few of them.

If you're familiar with the pattern, you might notice that I added a band of double crochet on the bottom. I ended up making this a bit too short and wanted some more length. Actually, after wearing it once I might go back and crochet even more onto it. I prefer my tops to be a bit longer.


I really enjoyed the pattern and would highly recommend it. You definitely would have to wear something under it like another tank top, or wear it over a swimsuit at the beach.
Not related to anything crafty, but Amanda took these great photos of the cats. I keep laughing at this one of Augustus:

Othello ran into one of his hiding spots, so Amanda took photos of him in there.

I ended up not getting a whole lot accomplished yesterday, and I didn't even touch my knitting. I hope to be more productive today.

And because I can, here's some more random engagement photos:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Unraveling a Sweater Part 2: Picking a Sweater (Everything Else)

Yesterday I was in a shopping mood. I ordered a few different things all related to fiber. I can't wait for them to get here and to show them all to you! I won't tell specifically what I got yet, but I got a book, some fiber, and a drop spindle. Expect some reviews in the near future!

Today I'm going to continue my series on recycling yarn from sweaters. This is part two, and you can find part one here.

How to Unravel a Sweater Part 2 – Picking A Sweater (Everything Else)
We left off with analyzing the fiber content of the sweater, but there is still so much more to take into account when deciding if a sweater is worthy of your time and effort. Here are the last few things you need to check before you even touch a seam ripper.


Sweaters are made two ways: either the pieces are knitted (hand or machine) into the shape of each piece and they are sewn together, or large rectangles are knitted and the pieces are cut to fit the shapes needed. The latter situation is what is problematic for us “repurposers”, as if you try to unravel a sweater constructed in this way, you will end up with several short strands of yarn instead of one continuous strand. The way you can tell if your yarn will come out in one piece is to look at the seams. If the seams are serged, then they were cut and sewn together, which is not what you want. If you don’t know what a serged seam looks like, look at the inside of your t-shirt , jeans, or whatever you have laying around. Do you see some seams that look like they have lots of “V”s going over the edge of the fabric that prevent it from fraying? Those are the seams we’re talking about. In a knitted garment, the seams we can use will not have those “V”s crossing over them, and you can separate the two sides from each other. The only place where serged seams aren’t really a problem when unraveling a sweater is at the shoulders. A lot of times, a sweater will have most of the seams sewn together, while the shoulders are serged for more stability. You can cut the sweater at the shoulder seams and only lose a few inches, because it will most likely unravel from the top to bottom.

Color Changes

If you have a sweater with multiple colors, it might be best to skip it. If there are lots of stripes or fair isle, you’ll end up with small strands of yarn. If, however, there are only two or three large horizontal stripes and you don't mind having smaller amounts of different colors, then maybe it is worth it to you to unravel it.


Check your sweater for any damage. A hole or small stain might not be problematic if it’s near the top or bottom and you don’t mind losing a bit of yarn. If there are multiple stains or holes, it is probably best to not mess with it. Even if you plan on overdyeing, the stains will dye darker than the unstained yarn. Also be sure to check for any signs of felting, especially in the armpits, which can be subjected to warmth, moisture, and friction. If your sweater is felted, you can’t unravel it.

The Obvious Stuff

Sometimes you can get so excited that you've found a sweater that meets all of your requirements that you forget some of the obvious things that make a huge difference. Do you like the color? If not, can you overdye it? Do you like how the fiber feels? If the answers are no, then even if it's okay to unravel, you might not even use it, and are further wasting your time.

The next part of the series we will actually take apart a sweater!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Updates From Every End of the Spectrum.

Hello all, I meant to update earlier, but there has been a lot going on with work, wedding, doctor appointments and friends visiting the area from college.

In my crafting world, I finished spinning and plying my Polwarth fiber I got at this past Fiber Fest from Stone and String Studio. I absolutely loved the colors, and I had never spun Polwarth before (although I haven't spun much of anything to be honest...), so I was very excited to try it out. I still need to wash it and figure out how many yards I have, but I still wanted to show it off!

Don't give me a hard time if my spinning doesn't look great! Even though I've been spinning a year now, I haven't dedicated much time to it.

My Absinthe socks (or, singular sock at the moment) are coming along great.

Isn't the madelinetosh yarn great? This is the tosh sock yarn in Golden Hickory I got at Fiber Fest. It's my first time knitting with madelinetosh, and I can already tell I'll have to go back for more. The colorways are so drool-worthy.

In business world, I got my first shipment of organic merino wool in the mail the other day, and I dyed some of it today. I'm so excited about it and I can't wait to post pictures!

Yesterday was Augustus's first birthday.

Doesn't he look so happy to be celebrating with Jose?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Woes of Being a Fiber Artist/Crafter With Cats.

My cats like to destroy things. They're two young boys, so I guess that's to be expected. I've learned that I can't leave anything out that I don't want them messing with, and am normally good about that. Every once in a while though, I'll leave something out, and this will happen:

 Yes, this is the yarn for the socks I just started working on. I left it out accidentally and came back to this. It took all my restraint to be calm and I kept telling myself it wasn't the end of the world. Luckily, there was no chewing of the yarn, so it was all in one piece.

I began very slowly winding it back up. In all of the times I've done this, I've learned slowly is best. Whenever I try to rush it, I get tangles and knots and it takes even longer.

It's a lot harder to wind up a destroyed ball of yarn when you have a project on one end. I was determined to not break the yarn though. I actually didn't finish this yesterday, because it happened right as Jose and I were about to go meet friends in Dallas. I barely got any more done than you see in the picture. I have a lot of work ahead of me today.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Unraveling a Sweater Part 1: Picking a Sweater (Fiber)

I said I was going to have pictures of my tank top, but I haven't gotten around to it. I wore it when Jose and I took our engagement photos, so when I get those back I'll post some!

I have been asked by several people how they can recycle sweaters to use the yarn for their projects. There are several tutorials out there, but as this is something very near and dear to my heart that I've been doing for a long time, I plan on giving my very thorough steps, tips, and tricks with this tutorial. This will end up being a series of posts, perhaps once a week, as if I tried to make it one post it would be very long (and believe me, they will probably be long anyway).

How to Unravel a Sweater Part 1 – Picking A Sweater (Fiber)

So you’ve decided you want to unravel a sweater to use the yarn for something new. Before you rush out and grab your scissors and the closest sweater to you, there are some things you have to think about before you begin surgery on your unsuspecting garment. Not all sweaters are created equal, and not all sweaters are suitable for unraveling. Here are several things to check out and inspect before you buy a thrift store sweater or ruin that cardigan in your mom’s closet.

Fiber Content

Some of the choice in fiber content will be based on personal preference and what you want to do with the yarn. I know a lot of people who say that you shouldn't unravel anything but wool because nothing else is worth unraveling. I think that is bull, but it just depends on your needs and what you're willing to put up with. I’ll address the fibers I commonly see in thrift stores, but this is not to say that you won't stumble across some fiber I've never seen.

Protein Fibers


If you find a sweater that is a protein fiber, more often than not, it will not say anything more detailed than “wool” or “lamb’s wool.” This is the more common protein fiber you’ll most likely come across. Wool is normally a good bet, unless of course you’re allergic. Make sure you like the feel of the sweater though, as wool can vary greatly in feel. Wool is great because for the most part it will unravel with spin still in it, you can dye it with acid dyes (professional or kitchen ingredients such as Kool-Aid and food coloring), and if you accidentally make a cut where you should not have, you can splice the ends together, assuming it is not a superwash wool.


I have to restrain myself from making a scene every time I come across a 100% cashmere sweater in a thrift store. It’s like finding gold to me, and I’m sure almost everyone who has felt or owned some cashmere understands. It dyes and felts like wool will, and you can’t beat the softness. Cashmere, however, is a lot more difficult to deal with when unraveling. You have to be very gentle, as it can break very easily. It is best to go slowly when unraveling a cashmere sweater, and finer (thinner) yarn is a lot of times not worth it. I spent weeks unraveling a thread-thick cashmere sweater, and I probably won’t do it again. Also, the “halo” cashmere has makes it get stuck on its self, which only adds to the need to go slowly so as to not break it.


I’ve never found a 100% angora sweater, but instead blended with wool. Depending on how much angora there is, it can have some of the same problems as cashmere.


Normally, like angora, when I find silk, it’s blended with wool. A lot of times this yarn will come out very under-plied, but that might not be an issue for you.

Plant Fibers

Plant fibers (cotton, linen,etc.) tend to come out not plied at all, but instead lots of small strands together. This can be a pain to deal with, and if yarn splitting while you knit drives you crazy, steer clear. Also, if you make a mistake and cut the yarn, you can’t felt it back together. I have unraveled several cotton sweaters with success though, especially because I live in Texas and cotton is more practical for lots of things. If you can deal with the underplied yarn, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try, especially if you’re allergic to wool. You will also be able to dye it if you have the equipment to dye plant fibers, like fiber-reactive dye. If wanting to use a safer at-home dye method, like Kool Aid, plant fibers will not work.



Technically a synthetic fiber, even though it’s made from wood chips, rayon has most of the same qualities as the plant fibers. I’ve used several cotton/rayon blends with success. I’ve only unraveled one 100% rayon sweater and I haven’t used it yet, but I wouldn’t think there would be an issue  compared to new rayon wool. This can also be dyed with fiber-reactive dyes.


Although it is synthetic, nylon will dye with acid dyes. If I wool sweater has some nylon in it, I will still use it.

Just stay away. In all seriousness, I could see using recycled acrylic for something like dish towels, amigarumi, etc., but I would never use it for garments. That goes for new acrylic as well, though. If you don’t have a hatred of acrylic like me, then by all means, go for it. Just know that it won’t really block and you can’t dye it. You can tint it somewhat with disperse dyes, which are horrible for you and you can only get light shades when dyeing acrylic yarn.

Part 2

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Broadening My Knitting Horizons.

First, check out what I'm blocking today!


Yay!The Make Up Your Mind tank is done! Tomorrow I'll post some proper pictures and give my thoughts on it.

The past couple of weeks have been kind of frustrating. I've been busy, I'm trying to plan my wedding, Jose has been busier than normal, and I've just felt stressed in general. On Monday, Jose called me out on being overly stressed for no reason and told me I needed to do something to relax. I listened to him and took most of Monday to just chill out. I spent a lot of time spinning some yarn and knitting.

My knitting group meets on Mondays at my favorite local coffee shop Art Six, so I got there an hour early, spent some time to myself knitting and drinking some iced green tea (which apparently I hate. I love hot green tea though...).

Taking time to focus on nothing but my knitting really made me feel better. I got things accomplished, which made me feel good about myself.

On another note, yesterday I was thinking about how long I've been knitting and how much knowledge I have about it, but yet there are still techniques out there I've never tried. For example, I've never knitted socks toe-up, but only top-down. Now, because I do consider myself quite knowledgeable about knitting, new techniques don't scare me. I just haven't gotten around to some things.

I decided that I would knit some toe-up socks using the Madeline Tosh sock yarn I got at Fiber Fest this year. I settled on Absinthe from the Spring 2009 Knitty. 

Check out how much I got done last night!

Okay, so it's not much. I've done a bit more since then though. So far, I'm loving toe-up socks! It reminds me of how magical it felt the first time I did a top-down sweater.

I must have these done by the time it gets cold! Since I'm in Texas, I have until... December. I think I can handle that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crafts and Harry Potter.

The eighth and final Harry Potter movie comes out this week, and if you're a nerd like me, you can't wait to go to the midnight premiere on Thursday. If you're a knitter like me, you're probably also excited to see the knitwear in this last installment.

Knitting has always been a part of Harry Potter, from the annual Christmas sweaters from Mrs. Weasley to enchanted knitting needles that knit on their own. Dumbledore even admitted to enjoying reading knitting patterns. The movies always have some drool-worthy knitwear, whether it is their school sweater, a hat or cardigan. In fact, there are several groups dedicated to all things Harry, and even some threads solely for the purpose of admiring the knitwear and trying to come up with patterns to replicate them.

I, for one, am guilty of a couple Potter-related crafts. I was never really a fan of the knits that screamed Harry Potter like a knitted snitch or anything like that. I mostly liked the knits because of the knits themselves, not because it had to do with Harry Potter. My first was this sweater (the pattern is not online anymore, but here is the Ravelry page for it: link).

I used almost all recycled wool that I attempted to dye while in high school when I knew nothing about dyeing. I used Rit dye and my dark gray came out purple-gray. It's kind of funny know that I know how to dye. I also took it in with my sewing machine after it was done, because boxy sweaters are not flattering on me (although, are they on anyone?)

My only other "Potter-craft" was these Go Gryffindor socks.

As you can see, the colors aren't quite right, but I was okay with that. I also changed some bits of the pattern. These socks actually are not able to be worn anymore, as I wore a couple holes in the toe. I might go back and try to repair them one day.

With the premiere being this week and in the summer, you probably don't have the time/desire to try to knit anything to wear, but perhaps the movie will inspire you to make some Potter-inspired winter gear. Here are a few of my favorite patterns inspired by pieces in the movies that I've found that I haven't gotten around to yet:

Hermoine's Cable and Eyelet Hat
Lovegood Cardigan
Deathly Hallows Graveyard Beret
Of Hallows and Horcruxes Cardigan

Even if you aren't a fan of Harry Potter, these patterns are still worth looking at. You could even change the colors so that even the most die-hard Harry Potter knitting fan might not notice that it's Potter-inspired.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Finished Side Table!

Remember this thrift store table I got for $10?

You might remember that I started painting it and I posted this progress picture:

Well, here it is today!

I went over my purple paint job with a dark stain unevenly, and wiped off most of it almost immediately. It gave it this cool texture and variety in colors that I really love.

It still looks old, but now it looks cool-old instead of lame-old. I'm still very new to redoing furniture, but the basic steps I took were as follows:

  • Took off the door, hinges, and handles.
  • Filled major holes/cracks with wood filler.
  • Sanded to get the shiny layer off the laminate.
  • Primed.
  • Painted two layers of paint.
  • Applied stain.
  • Applied polyacryclic.
I'm so happy with this! I ended up leaving the handles as-is. I think it goes with the paint job. I had considered painting them either with a metallic paint so they would look new, or paint them black. I can still go back and do that later, but I love how it looks against the dark purple!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Throwback Tutorial - How to Make Leggings Without a Pattern.

I made this tutorial back in 2008 after some people had seen the leggings I'd made and wanted some basic instructions. Looking back, there are a few things I'd change because of things I've learned, and I'll address those as they come up. I originally posted this over on the Craftster forum back in 08, so if you've seen this before, don't worry, it's not déjà vu.

This has been copied and pasted from my original 08 tutorial. Notes I made today will be in parenthesis and in italics.


Okay, so I promised this a while ago and just got around to it today. I couldn't find any fabric I wanted at first and I've been busy getting ready to head off to college next month. I've never written a tutorial for anyone before, so please ask me questions if I've worded something oddly or something doesn't make sense.

1 yard (possibly more depending on your size) stretchy knit fabric (I like the kinds in the dancewear section.) (I wear around a size 6, if that gives you any idea. If you can wrap the fabric around you like a skirt and have a good amount left over on the sides, you're probably good.)
Matching thread
A pair of leggings or skinny jeans that fit you

Tutorial Notes:

Because we are using a stretchy fabric, I am using a stretch stitch on my machine. A serger would also work. I also sewed over each seam twice because they will be stretched so much and I wanted to add strength. If you aren't very experienced with sewing this kind of fabric, then please practice on some of your extra scraps left over from the pattern to get your settings right on your machine before risking ruining your leggings. (I've also heard of people doing a couple of rows of zig-zag stitches instead)

The process:

Lay out your fabric. Fold your leggings/jeans in half and lay out as seen in picture (except neater, I kind of just threw it down for the picture). Trace along the top, down the curvy side (the side with the crotch) and across the bottom, remembering to figure in seam allowances. Note: You may want to add more length to the bottom and/or top, just depending on what you're using to trace. (I made these leggings when I was 18 and didn' have much in the booty department, so it didn't matter that the front was the same as the back. Since then I've been lifting weights and am a bit more well endowed in that area, I'd need to accommodate that by making the curved part more "shallow" on one side of each leg. I will link to a YouTube video at the end of this that shows what I mean.)

Now, flip your pants (still folded) over so that they are a reflection of what you've already traced. Trace the top, curvy side, and bottom again, so that you end up with the shape pictured above. Cut out. Make a second one just like it.

Now, pin each leg right sides together and sew down from the bottom of the crotch to the bottom of the leggings on each leg.

I forgot to take a picture of this step, but you pin the curved edges of each leg right sides together. When you sew this, you should be sewing from the front of the leggings down to the crotch and up the back all in one U-shaped seam.

Measure the circumference of your leggings and subtract an inch. Cut a rectangle with a length of the measurement you just figured out and a width double the length you would like your waistband to be (You may want to go ahead and try on your leggings to figure out how long you think it will need to be).  For mine I cut a rectangle with a width of 9 inches including seam allowance, so after it's sewn on I will have a waistband of about 4 inches.

Sew your rectangle closed with the two shorter ends right sides together so that you now have a circle.

Fold your waistband in half widthwise wrong sides together. Take your leggings so that they are right sides out and pin the waistband evenly around the top. You will have to stretch the waistband a bit to get it around all of the way. Sew the waistband on, keeping the waistband material gently pulled flat while sewing.

Try on your leggings to make sure everything fits right. Depending on what you traced to get your initial shape, you may have to take the legs in a bit to make them tight, but once you get this pair made right you can use them as a guide for future pairs.

Hem the bottom. (Use a zig-zag stitch here... if you made your leggings too fitted at the ankle then you won't be able to stretch them enough to put your foot in if the hem isn't very stretchy.

Try and fail at taking a picture of yourself wearing your new awesome leggings!

End tutorial.

Here is a link to the YouTube video I mentioned above. It also shows you how to have an elastic waistband if you'd prefer that. Link

I lost that pair of leggings a couple of years ago. Mom, if you find them, I'd like them please.

Tomorrow I will have pictures of the finished table. I'm so excited about it! I'm going to end this post here, because Othello is determined to fall asleep on my laptop and keeps getting angry by my typing.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pasta Salad.

Yesterday was Independence Day for those of us here in the United States. To me, that means the three Fourth of July Fs: Family, Food, and Fireworks. Almost every county in Texas has a burn ban right now, so unfortunately there were no fireworks for us. That only left two things: family and food.

My uncle has some land about an hour and a half south of where I live, and we tend to go out there for holidays in the summer. It's a great little area with a lake and a nice little house for when it's too unbearably hot to be outside (like it is most of the time). Most of my family is very meat and potatoes, and as I'm a vegan, I normally try to plan a dish to bring so there will be something I can eat among the barbeque and cheese dip. I decided on my favorite pasta salad.

My favorite pasta salad is an adaptation on the pasta salad in Yellow Rose Recipes, which is a vegan cookbook I highly recommend. I've made some changes to suit my and Jose's tastes better and to add some more fiber and protein. You'll notice in the picture that I used regular pasta, but whole wheat or a gluten free pasta would be great as well. Also, with this recipe you can easily swap out veggies to suit your tastes or change the ratios of veggies.

Pasta Salad adapted from Yellow Rose Recipes
1 lb. penne pasta (regular, whole wheat, gluten free, etc.)
1.5 cups frozen shelled edamame (soybeans)
1.5 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces
3 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise
2-3 Tbsp sesame seeds
Salt to taste

2 cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic like me!)
1 Tbsp fresh parsley (I was out so I used 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp fresh dill (I was out so I just omitted it, but the dill adds a nice flavor)
6 oz (about half the package) silken tofu (can use lite silken tofu as well)
2 Tbsp tahini
Juice from 1 small lemon
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta and the edamame to package directions, rinse with cold water and drain, set aside.

While pasta and edamame are cooking, steam the broccoli for only a minute or two, until the broccoli starts turning bright green. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the garlic and fresh herbs and process until finely chopped. Add in the rest of the dressing ingredients and process until smooth.

Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and stir in the dressing until evenly distributed.. Add in the edamame and broccoli and stir. Add in the mayonnaise and stir. Add in the sesame seeds and stir. Taste, and add salt to taste if needed.

That's all for today. I am almost done with my table (I'm sealing it tomorrow!) so there will be final project photos coming soon. I'm also working on a couple tutorials about unraveling sweaters, but I'm not making any promises about when they'll be done. :)

-- Laura

Friday, July 1, 2011

Knitting and Cats.

Today Jose and I are meeting my mom in Dallas to go look at a couple more wedding venues. I'm hoping that after this weekend we will know for sure where and when our wedding will be. I cannot wait to finally get that set in stone.

As I mentioned yesterday,  I am currently working on the Make Up Your Mind Racerback Tank from this summer's issue of Knitty. I'm on the final stitch pattern and am close to splitting for the armholes. So far I've enjoyed this pattern for the most part, except for the fourth pattern, or the "Hindu Pillar" stitch. I love the way it looks, but the three-stitch clusters done all across every other row killed my hands. I actually ended up cutting that section a bit short and just planned to make the next section longer.

I said I'd try to have a progress picture, so here it is. I'm using a Classic Elite yarn that I got on clearance and I'm using my Knit Picks Options needles, which are amazing. If you're looking for a set of interchangeable needles, I recommend checking those out.

It took me forever to get a picture of this without Augustus in the picture! Every time I'd move him and get my camera ready, he'd come back and lay down on my knitting! I had a conversation with one of my friends that graduated from the same Fibers program I'm in about how cats probably love living with Fibers majors, but it can be a pain for the human. I didn't grow up with cats, so sometimes I'll still leave my knitting out on Jose's couch an return to yarn spread out all over the living room. The dogs at my parents' house never cared for my crafts!

I decided since my cat tried to squeeze his way into this blog post, this would be a good time to mention one of my favorite Etsy shops: The Willow Goose. Kylie at The Willow Goose makes adorable dog and cat collars, leashes, and toys. Each of my cats wears a Willow Goose collar, and they have a catnip toy that they love to play with/try to destroy. The cat collars come with little bells on them and each cat collar is made with a breakaway buckle, so if your cat gets caught on something and struggles, they can get themselves free.  I really need to get a couple of small dog collars to give to my family dogs.

My cats also have this catnip toy shaped like a rain cloud. I only got one because only Othello likes catnip, but Augustus loves this toy too. I think he likes the blue "rain drops" that dangle down and the texture of the rain cloud. I really need to order a couple more toys so they'll stop fighting over it.

Oh and the best part is that 10% of the profits go to Furry Friends Rescue, which is a dog and cat rescue organization in California.

Well, I'm off for now so I can get ready to venue hunt. Have a great weekend!

-- Laura