Monday, May 22, 2017

Repairing the moth holes

I successfully fixed some of the moth holes on things for which I had the original yarn or something close I could use. First I fixed the hole in my brown sweater. I thought it would be the easiest of the projects because it had the largest stitch size but I spent way too much time trying to do make the repair and at times made it worse. In the end it's ok. Basically I started by duplicate stitching over good areas and then created the stitches that were missing. A picture here wouldn't really show much since the sweater color was hard to photograph. I of course know the repair is there and it bothers me but there's a lot more that bothers me about the sweater. I need to redo the sleeve openings and shoulders and then I hope to wear the darn thing.

Next I fixed a hat. The hole was near the crown and I sort of matched the stitches and made it work. The repair isn't noticeable at all but that's more because of where the hole was.

These "tiger" socks I knit for my husband had a large hole. Because I had multiple rows to replace, I tried a different approach. I pulled out some of the damaged and also undamaged yarn until I had two good rows of stitches that I could put on needles, but I didn't cut or remove any of the yarn.

I didn't have the original yarn but I found some of similar weight in my stash. The hole was next to an area where the color pooled so it worked out to fix the hole in a similar color. I cut a long length of it and anchored the free end into the sock by weaving it in. Then with the stitches on the bottom needle, I knit a row. When I got to the end of the row I used a tapestry needle and wove the working end into and around some good stitches in the sock just beyond the edge of the hole. Then I purled back and wove the working end in. I continued in this way until I was one row from the stitches on the upper needle, ending with a purl row. I then used a kitchener stitch to join the two rows.

Here's how it looks. The stitches at the far right of the mending ended up a little loose (in the middle of the picture), so it's not "perfect", but it's a sock. I minimized the lumpiness the best I could - the hole was on the top of the ankle so it shouldn't cause any discomfort.

Here's the inside of the sock. I wove in all the broken ends of yarn. There were 7 rows of stitches that had to be replaced.

I still need to fix a scarf of mine. I knit it with two different yarns, one acrylic and one a wool/acrylic mix and curiously it was the acrylic yarn that was broken and not the wool mix yarn. I wonder now if the acrylic yarn just broke. It's a fun-fur type yarn so maybe it wasn't strong, and I did wear the scarf a lot. But just because moths weren't the cause doesn't mean good news because that fluffy yarn will be ridiculous to try to figure out what goes where. And there are 3 or 4 holes. Here's the scarf in happier times:

But there is more good news. I have gone through about 85% of my stash and have not found active moths and very little evidence of old moths. Whew! And revisiting my stash was good too. I have a lot of nice yarn!

Simplicity patterns in a magazine

I picked up the latest issue of Meine Nähmode the other day - it's a German publication that reprints some Simplicity and New Look patterns. The price list on the cover of the magazine suggests that it's available in many European countries (sorry, no US distribution - but you have all the patterns available to you any way). I've seen it sold in France under the name Tendences Couture, although the issues in France are often ones published months earlier in Germany.

They are the actual Simplicity/New Look patterns, though not all the sizes or pattern views are reproduced. The styles are usually fairly recent, though not from the latest collections, and I have come across some that have been discontinued. Yes, you have to trace them, but since they generally only include 3 sizes, it's not too bad. Most of the pattern sizes they choose are in the mid-range, from about 34/36 to 42/44 with a few patterns in each issue selected for the smaller sizes and a few selected for large or plus size. Seam allowances are included, but I have found that not all the pattern markings are reproduced, and sometimes if a pattern piece is just a square or rectangle, they'll give you the dimensions to cut and not the actually pattern piece.

The instructions in my copy are in German but thankfully they also include the illustrated instructions from Simplicity. This helps me a lot, even though they're kind of tiny.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this magazine on this blog before, because since moving to Germany, when I sew a Simplicity or New Look pattern, it's probably from this magazine and not from an individual envelope pattern. I'm not even sure if they sell Simplicity or New Look envelope patterns here and if they do, they're certainly not sold at the bargain sale prices that you get at Joann's in the U.S.

I used to buy this magazine every time it came out, which is about 5-6 times a year (the 3/2017 in the upper right of the cover does not mean March, but rather the third issue this year). But due to magazine overload I've become more selective. On a side note, the last Burda I bought was February 2017 - I'm just underwhelmed by the styles since then or have many similar patterns already.

This issue has 15 patterns and although they don't tell you the pattern numbers, I've gone through and figured them out because I add these patterns to my pattern library in OneNote (links to posts about my library are here and here) and if I provide a review on, I refer to the Simplicity or New Look pattern number.

There are 8 patterns from Simplicity:

1201 - Only sizes: 38/40, 42/44, 46/48, no view A or B
8049 - Only sizes: 34/36, 38/40, 42/44, no view A
8137 - Only sizes: 38, 40, 42, no view D
1355 - Only sizes: M, L, XL, all views
1203 - Only sizes: 44/46, 48/50, 52/54, no view F
8095 - Only sizes: S, M, L, all views
8086 - Only sizes: 34, 36, 38, no view A
8134 - Only sizes: 32/34, 36/38, 40/42, all views

There are 7 patterns from New Look:

6450 - Only sizes: 34/36, 38/40, 42/44, no view C or D
6453 - Only sizes: 34/36, 38/40, 42/44, no view C or D
6428 - Only sizes: 42, 44, 46, all views
6448 - Only sizes: 34/36, 38/40, 42/44, no view A or B
6451 - Only sizes: 38/40, 42/44, 46/48, no view B
6459 - Only sizes: 40, 42, 44, all views
6461 - Only sizes: 40, 42, 44, no view D

These are the patterns I was drawn to and might actually make:

There are some patterns I definitely won't make but that's the way it is with magazine patterns. All in all, it's a pretty good deal at € 5.80 (about $6.50 with the current exchange rate).

Monday, May 08, 2017

I won!

Elliott Berman Textiles has weekly fabric giveaways on their Facebook page. Usually they pick a few winners randomly from those who "like" their post announcing the contest. But a few weeks ago they offered a creative challenge: write a poem. My poem was one of three selected!

Here is my entry, which I wrote in the style of a limerick:

Fabric to suit discerning lifestyles
cannot be found in local store aisles   
  When Dolce and Gabbana
   is pure nirvana
one shops at Elliott Berman Textiles

I received my fabric the other day and it's lovely!

The blue one is one yard of a woven viscose and the one on the right is one yard of a viscose knit. I think they'll make some nice summer tops.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

The moth situation.

Oh no! A hole!!!!
Moths. The fear of every knitter, weaver, spinner, fiber artist...or anyone who has wool in the house. I think nearly all of us have had these very unwelcome pests in our house at one time or another. It's almost impossible not to have them if you store wool (and alpaca and silk and other animal fibers) in your home, whether they're raw materials or finished goods. By the way, moths flying around your pantry are a different pest, unrelated and not interested in your wool, but still annoying and something you have to deal with as soon as you see them. Those buggers often hitch a ride in a packaged food item you brought into the house, so clean the pantry out and find the source. But I'm going to talk about wool moths here.

I recently found moths in some cheap merino fiber I got in Izmir, Turkey a couple years ago and wasn't using. So I didn't know there was a problem. It's possible the moths were there when I acquired the fiber. I bought the fiber from a bazaar vendor and it was intended for stuffing, not spinning, so it was not of high quality. I should have inspected it thoroughly when I brought it home, but instead I left it in the corner of my storage room in the plastic trash bag I brought it home in. Yeah, pretty stupid. The good thing was that it wasn't around any other fiber, except some non-wool fabric, which appears unaffected. It appeared that the moths were loving it where they were, with their seemingly unlimited food source, and probably didn't seek out other fibers. I thought of trying to save it...for about 10 seconds...and then threw the entire bag away. That could have been the extent of it, but it wasn't. I haven't been spinning hardly at all since I moved here but recently a knitting friend was interested in learning. When I went to retrieve my spindles I discovered I had tried out some of that lousy Izmir merino and it was still on the spindle...with moths. And to make matters worse, the basket that held the spindles also contained one unfinished fair isle mitten and the yarn for the second mitten from a kit I'd bought in Helsinki. Most of the yarn was a total loss but the mitten was too small anyway, so starting over with new yarn is probably what I was going to have to do anyway. Still, losing the yarn was a painful lesson. 

We knew there was a problem but just didn't want to face it. There had been a moth here and there in our apartment and some of my husband's woolen hats, scarves and sweaters were showing up with holes in them. Most of my woolen things had been fine - maybe because I was more fastidious about cleaning them. But then I started finding some holes in my things too. When I found the bag of merino moth-feast, I could no longer live in denial about moths in the apartment. It's quite possible the moths hadn't all come from the Izmir merino, but it didn't matter. Moths are moths and they eat wool. I had to do something. 

In my fiber studio I, not surprisingly, found more evidence of moths. One strange case was a hank of bamboo with some moth webbing on it and breaks in the yarn. I didn't think moths went after non-animal products, especially if animal products were around. The damage and loss of fiber was what I would consider minimal but after I rewound it I put the yarn into the freezer with a skein of wool I found with some damage. Cleaning up the bedroom revealed a felted wool hat of my husband's with some damage. Into the freezer it went.

From what I've read, the adult moths you see aren't the problem but they're indicators that you do have a problem. The larvae is what eats your fiber and the eggs are the next problem when they hatch into larvae. You can kill larvae by freezing but eggs will survive so you have to do it again. Unfortunately it's spring now so I can't just put everything outside on a cold night.

I was planning on sewing today but instead I spent the day continuing to battle the moth situation. I inspected some more of my stash and found more evidence in some spinning fiber. Again, nothing near as bad as the Izmir merino, but worrisome just the same. Our freezer is small so I decided to try another option - heat. One blog I read suggested using the oven but cautioned that you can catch fiber on fire that way so it has to be done with caution. I don't like fire so I won't try this. Another option is to put your stash in a hot car - apparently 120 degrees is the key temperature. Well, it's not hot enough here for that so this option is not possible right now. Laundering is good for finished items but not very easy to do for yarns or spinning fiber and of course there's the problem of shrinkage and felting. I decided to go a different route - steam heat. I have an excellent Laura Star steam iron that puts out very hot, continuous steam heat. So I blasted my spinning fiber with it and then stored it in zip lock bags. I also steamed the items that I'd previously put in the freezer. I then went through our winter scarves and hats - mostly things I'd knit or woven - and steamed those as well. I found some evidence of moths on them and have a few repairs to make. At least I found the damage early and it's good that I kept the left over bits of yarn!

Pile of things to fix. 
I know I am not done. I really will have to go through every bit of yarn and fiber and wool cloth in my stash as well as the wool sweaters in our closets. And I can't just do this once. I will need to inspect things regularly and steam them again if I see evidence of moths. Ugh. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

A summer scarf

I was inspired by the pattern of a sweater I saw in a knitting magazine, so I adapted the stitch pattern to make this scarf:

I'll share my pattern but I warn you that this is the first pattern I've written down, and I did it from memory. There may be errors! Also, note that I’m a lefty knitter so if you knit right handed, the stitch will come out a little different. You can use a k3tog to see if that is to your liking (that’s what was used for the sweater pattern I lifted the stitch pattern from). I tried both and the result is similar, but I found s1 k2tog psso easier and faster to do in my style of continental knitting than k3tog.

Scarf measures 8 inches x 44 inches
Yarn: Louisa Harding Jesse, 100% cotton, 2 skeins = 177.4 meters (194.0 yards), 100 grams
Color: 113 (coral)
Needles: US 8 (5 mm)

Cast on 31 st. I used a picot stitch cast on.

Row 1: s1, knit to end
Row 2: s1, purl to end

After the first two rows, start the stitch pattern rows.

Stitch pattern rows:
Row 1: s1, k4, *yo, s1 k2tog psso, yo, k3, repeat from * 4 more times, k2
Row 2: s1, purl to end
Row 3: s1, k1, *yo, s1 k2tog psso, yo, k3, repeat from * 3 more times, yo, s1 k2tog psso, yo, k2
Row 4: s1, purl to end
Repeat rows 1-4

Cast off with a picot stitch cast off

Monday, April 03, 2017

When the fabric market comes to town

I love Europe! Weekly produce markets where the demographic is everyone, not women in yoga pants buying heirloom tomatoes. Christmas markets. Easter markets. And fabric markets.

The Stoffmarkt Holland fabric market only comes to my town once a year and last year I was out of the country when it came. But this year I marked it on my calendar and clicked the Yes I will attend button on the Facebook event page. I prepared by checking out the yardage needed for a couple patterns and snipping a piece of fabric for which I needed matching serger thread.

The day had perfect weather - high clouds with occasional sunshine. I didn't need a jacket and instead of a purse to get in the way and tug on my shoulder, I wore a small backpack to carry my wallet, phone and purchases. A couple years ago I brought a portable shopping cart with me but that just gave me an excuse to fill it (which I did). My fabric stash is greater than my sewing output so the backpack was a better choice.

This market is crowded! They always schedule this to coincide with the Easter market and an auto expo also going on downtown, so occasional or non-sewers check it out and husbands accompany wives to hold their bags. Yes, I did see a few men handle and purchase fabric but it was primarily women. Older women, younger women, women with children in tow, women speaking all languages. I had difficulty in one notions booth when the clerk couldn't speak English and I didn't know what she was asking me to do and the woman next to me asked Polskie (Polish)? She would have helped me if she could.

I didn't have too much trouble at most booths with my limited German - it's not to hard to just ask for zwei meter - but I was frustrated by one notions booth. They had long tables with a hodgepodge of notions: zippers, thread, buttons, buckles, pins - everything. Just a yard or so in front of the table were those tall spinning racks with more notions hanging on the hooks. So the aisle made between the racks and the table was narrow and thus congested with people looking at the notions and people trying to pass by. And it's always super crowded. They have quite a few clerks, though it's hard to tell who works there and who's a customer. But as soon as you pick something up someone thrusts a plastic basket in your direction. So I took the basket, put my items in it and started to move down a bit to look at some more notions but the clerk started barking at me in German like I was doing something wrong and motioning for me to give her the basket. I understood a few words and think she wanted me to pay for what I had in there first, but I wasn't done shopping. I still don't understand what they wanted me to do - I guess put a few things in the basket and buy them and then get another basket a few feet down? I don't know. Frustrated and feeling claustrophobic by the crowd, I gave up and left my basket of things with her. Later I came back and bought the interfacing and thread that I wanted to purchase the first time and didn't bother buying anything else there.

My other problem with shopping was indecision. So many possibilities. So many fabrics I could envision making into things. Prices are pretty good too. Most of what I was attracted to was in the 8-14 Euro/meter range. Not a super bargain but perhaps a little cheaper than in the local stores, however the selection is what is appealing. There were a few booths with expensive fabric (24-35 Euros/meter) but it wasn't fancy-expensive fabric like beaded or embroidered, it was just really nice linen, wool or silk. One vendor in particular, TST-Stoffen, has been at previous markets I've been and the fabrics are really something special - Knipmode uses them often. I'm always tempted and this year I was prepared to buy a meter or two until I realized that their prices are no better than they have in their online store.

Picture taken to capture the name of the store and price, not for the fabric, though it's lovely.

Here's what I eventually bought:

From left to right:

  • Black with pink polka dots. Cotton with a small bit of elastane
  • Pink, beige, black, white knit with a quilted texture. Cotton and viscose I think.
  • Pink and white butterfly print. Viscose
  • Interfacing
  • 5 pieces of vinyl coated cotton - for bags or zipper pouches
  • Cotton knits in a blue/beige (it's beige on the other side) and solid beige
  • Serger thread - I buy one cone to match color and wind onto empty spools to make more "cones"
  • Bear print cotton - it's a heavier weight with one big bear on it. I plan to make either a book bag or a pillow out of it 
    Isn't he cute?
  • Pink and black variegated knit. Cotton and maybe viscose. Don't remember.
  • Black, white, gray voile large scale print. Cotton and silk according to the vendor. I found this on a bargain table - 10 Euros for the 2 meter cut of fabric.

So there you go. Fabric market! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

More socks

I quite like knitting socks - they're easy, portable, don't take a lot of yarn, and hand knit socks are comfortable to wear. I've knit 4 more pairs since my Sockapalooza round up of sock knitting about a year ago. Two pair are for me and two are for my husband. I also have 1 sock without a mate - I'm unsure if I like the way the sock fits and may not knit the second.

But here are the finished socks over the last year:

"Pairfect" Socks for husband
Stripey socks for husband

"Istanbul" socks for me

"Pairfect" socks for me
With the exception of the reddish colored Istanbul socks, all of these were knit with Regia brand sock yarn and I must say that it is hands down my favorite yarn for socks. Regia is a German sock yarn from the Schachenmayr company, which is super lucky for me because I live in Germany and I can get it for cheap at the grocery store, one aisle over from the produce. The yarn is often "last year's" selections, but we're talking 5€ (currently about $5.40) for one pair of socks (the same yarn sells for about 8-10€ elsewhere). I've tried other grocery store yarn but even though it was advertised as "super wash" and supposed to withstand machine washing, the socks I knit out of it shrank and felted when I washed them on cold (no dryer). I wash my Regia socks the same way, hang them to dry, and they're great! Now I've also knit with much more expensive sock yarns, some of which are hand-dyed and lovely to knit with and pretty to look at, but they too haven't withstood the washing machine, and they've also worn out after only a few wearings. The Regia socks are holding up much much better. I think my fancy sock yarns might become scarves and shawlettes instead.

The Istanbul socks are named because I used sock yarn I purchased in Istanbul. The yarn was actually labeled for sale in Germany because Turkey manufactures a lot of yarn for Germany, including some for Schachenmayr. The yarn I used for the Istanbul socks was a mix of wool, bamboo, and nylon. I also knit a pattern for these socks - the picture makes the socks look a bit fuzzy or even "boucle-like" but they aren't, it's just the pattern I chose. All the rest of the socks here were just knit with plain stockinette, partially because the yarn striped and I wanted the stripes to show, but mostly because plain stockinette is easy, fast, and the resulting sock is nice and smooth to wear. I like the look of socks knitted with patterns, but they're not always comfortable to wear.

The "Pairfect" socks are knit using sock yarn that Schachenmayr created to help you make matching socks. They're designed for top down knitting but you could make them toe up and get a different effect. The beginning of the ball of yarn is colored yellow and then it changes to the first color. As soon as it changes you start knitting. The first color is designed to be the ribbed top of the sock, so you just knit in rib-knit until that color runs out. Then, for this particular striping design, you knit the leg of the sock until you finish the second stripe. Then you knit the heel. The next stripe should show up after after you've finished the gusset decreases. From then on, it's just the background color and you finish the sock to the length you need it. Then you pull out the remaining yarn from the ball until the yellow leader yarn shows up. After this second yellow yarn will be the color for the cuff of your next sock, so you cast on and finish the second sock just like the first one. Perfect pairs! 

Of course you don't need special yarn to knit matching socks. I knit the stripey socks simply by looking where I started the first sock among the color changes and starting the second sock in the same place. 

So there you have it. Socks!