Cha Cha dance marathon

Two steps forward, two steps back.  I’m still working on my undersleeves.  Third time is the charm.

I unraveled my first attempt because it was going to be too small, like arm corsets.  In my second attempt, I decided to have it be two colors like the pattern suggests, I increased the number of stitches to make it bigger and I decided to use my new wooden knitting needles and not the circular needles (no reason for that other than simply wanting to see how they feel).  The instructions called for plain knitting which I interpreted as the stocking stitch (knit one row, purl one row, repeat).  One side is flat/untextured which is, in my mind, plain.  When I switched the colors, I began to see that the striping effect would be on the wrong side of the work, thus defeating the purpose of having stripes.  That is when I remembered that in Victorian knitting terminology, plain knit means knit all rows. If I knit all rows, the wrong side would be the side with no stripes and the correct side would be the one with stripes.  Duh.  Unravel again.

Attempt three.  And hopefully, the last one.  Scrap all my previous instructions for this project.  Correct instructions to follow once I finally get these things done!img_20170321_091316277.jpg

The one perk to this way of doing things, is the ribbing effect will serve to hold the puffs out in a round shape.  When I did them in stocking stitch, the puffs were flat like a hem and I began to think I’d have to stuff them to get them to hold out their shape.

 

The project Cha Cha

You know how projects can be: two steps forward, two steps back and a little side step or two.

The steps foreword happened with my Edwardian blousewaist.  I have sewn the main seams on the body.  img_20170319_202657443.jpgI like the way the embroidery and lace look but I’m definitely going to have to get a corset cover organized with this thing (and a proper Edwardian corset)!

My idea for dealing with the lace at the seams (bias tape) seems to be working.img_20170319_202636265.jpg

That lace isn’t going anywhere!

Two steps back: that happened with my knitted undersleeves.  I’m going to have to take them apart.  They are just going to be too tight.  I don’t know how tight they are supposed to be but I’m pretty sure they weren’t going for compression garments or arm corsets.  I had hoped that I could just follow the instructions and count on heavier wool and bigger needles to make up the difference but it wont.  Drat that means I will have to do some math to figure out how many rows and stitches I need.  Since I was starting from scratch, I thought I may as well buy a second color and see how it is supposed to look with the stripes.

And the side steps: I made an impulse stop at a thrift store and picked up some wooden knitting needles (like I need more) and this fabulous strip of sari fabric.  img_20170319_202724856.jpg

Oooh.  Shiney!

Obviously I can’t use this for Victorian wear.  And it is a bit much for modern work wear.  I’m thinking an over the top beach wrap.img_20170319_202948509.jpg

Well, have a good week folks.  Hopefully, I will be disciplined and be back in a couple of days with some progress to share.

I’m committed…or perhaps I should be…

A few weekends ago I bought a vintage Battenburg table cloth with the intensions of cutting it up and making an Edwardian blousewaist.  But once I laid it out, I began to have misgivings.img_20170225_201825369.jpg

The dang thing was really pretty and someone went to a lot of work to make it.  I swung back and forth.

SAVE IT: It is pretty.  If it were properly ironed and if my table was shrunk down to its smallest size it would look very nice in deed.

JUST DO IT: I did iron it and it did look nice but ironing it caused me to notice the little stains that probably pushed it into the discard pile of someone else’s life.  The fact remains that it will be a few years before I can keep my table at its smallest size and then I will promptly dump gravy on the table cloth and ruin it.

SAVE IT: It is old.  One doesn’t just paint an antique oak dresser to up date it!

JUST DO IT: It is likely more vintage than antique.  And one does paint over an old pine dresser to up date it.

SAVE IT: But… But…Ummm.

JUST DO IT: I’m going to get more use out of a costume piece than I will a table cloth.

So I did it.  Once the first cut was made, I was committed. All that is left of the table cloth is a pile of cut out pieces.img_20170318_151711919.jpg

There are a couple of Battenburg medallions and a few random bits of the embroidery that will idle in my stash for a few years until I can come up with a good use for them.  Trim and blocks on a quilt?img_20170318_151732668.jpg

There is a massive strip of the lace from the edge of the cloth.  Most of it is in good shape though some of it had to be nicked to get the pattern pieces cut out-if only I was a size 2.  The lace strip will also idle in my stash.img_20170318_151743757.jpg

And there is the smallest bit of garbage.  I may have desecrated an old thing but I sure wasn’t wasteful!img_20170318_151728645.jpg

Nothing left to do but clean up the mess.  The scene of the crime if you will.  img_20170318_151832588.jpg

There was enough fabric for the whole project except for the optional skirt that goes at the bottom.  img_20170318_151801969.jpgYou can have a skirt or “peplum” that gets tucked into the waist band of the skirt or you can just have a plain band that seems to just get covered up with a belt.  I’m going to root around the stash for some white cotton and make the band from that. It wont be a perfect match but it will be hidden and it wont be glaringly obvious…I hope.

Something else I have been considering…when I sew it together, there will be sections of seam that will be unstable because it is cut lace rather than solid fabric.  I think the way round that will be finishing the seams with bias tape.  I’m classically lazy and rarely do anything with the seams.  I know lots of sewists who take great pride in their whip stitched seams or their pretty French seams but I hate them.  But in this case I’m going to have to stifle my laziness and commit to bias tape.  I see a trip to the fabric store in my near future or a few hours of mindless cutting and ironing….

 

Progress on the undersleeves

NOTE: DO NOT FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS! I LATER FOUND OUT I WAS WRONG.  LATER POST WILL HAVE CORRECTED VERSION.

I am using the following pattern to make knitted undersleeves.5b60a444dd9211ac82061bdc1ae5ec2d

I posted here about the first phase of progress.

Second phase.

Alternating the stitch on the needle and the cast on stitches did successfully create the first puff.img_20170316_083231250.jpg

In the pattern, they say to alternate the stitches on the needle and then attach the white wool and knit 2 together across the row, thus sealing the seam, creating the puff and getting the stitch count back to 36.  Then you are to knit one more in white, 2 in color and one in white.  Then another 23 are knit in color.  If you are only using one color like I am, knit 2 together for 1 row and then knit 27 more rows.  This will create a band.  I am assuming the band will sit next to the skin and will be the support that holds the two puffs in position.

I will let you know how that goes!

Lots going on here!

I’m sharing one of my carte de visites today.  It is of a woman standing in an ornate studio backdrop.

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Just look at that dress!  Ruching everywhere!  I can’t say I like the sleeves but the skirt is amazing! She has a very heavy chain with a pendant at her throat.  There are chains behind her left arm that would be for a watch.  She also has some sort of bracelet on her right wrist and possibly on the left as well.  The high lace collar is amazing!  This lady is very well off, I think.  The hair style is very 1880’s but I can do better with the date…

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If the information I found on the internet about the Fletcher Brothers in Birmingham is correct, this card was created between 1880 and 1883.  Prior to 1880, the studio occupied 148 Wheeler Street.  At some point between 1880 and 1883 the studio acquired 146 as well…they expanded.  In 1884 the street was renumbered and the address was 212-214 Wheeler.  So assuming they were not using up years worth of cards with the old address printed on them, this photograph was printed on or near the dates that the studio address was 146 and 148 Wheeler…1880-1883.

I finished the impulse buy

I saw some wool about a month ago that called to me.  It was variegated in colors I associate with old Hudson’s Bay blankets.  It kept calling to me but I steadfastly ignored it and followed my “no new wool till I finish what is in my stash” rule. (Following this rule got easier after going through a funk because no one wanted what I was making.)

But the wool called to me for a few weeks and I decided I could make something that I want with it.  I decided to make a throw for my living room.  The dog uses the one currently there as an extra bed on the couch.  Talk about Princess.  Needless to say, I’m not inclined to offer it to guests who may wish a cozy cover while watching TV.

For the most part I am pleased with it.  The wool is chunky so it made up fast and I used a single crochet stitch for the whole thing so it was a no brain power require project.  It needs to be blocked and it probably could have used a chain stitch or two in the corners to make it lay flatter but I didn’t want holes.

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My Princess on her bed.

The colors and boxes match my carpet perfectly.

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You can really see the need for blocking in this photo!  It is just so big and heavy as it is that I’m not excited about trying to deal with blocking…

These are the colors that drew me to it.

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Now I should get to work on historical projects…which is what this blog is supposed to be about!

The reason the UFO pile gets so big

NOTE: DO NOT FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS! I LATER FOUND OUT I WAS WRONG.  LATER POST WILL HAVE CORRECTED VERSION.

It is plain and simple.  It is because I have to work.  No other reason.  If someone would pay me to stay home and make things for myself, there would be a much smaller UFO pile.

So with millions  of projects that have been sitting on the back burner for YEARS and dozens that have been sitting for months and a couple of handfuls that have been sitting for weeks, I have started a new project.5b60a444dd9211ac82061bdc1ae5ec2d

Here is how I’m doing them.  I have a set of circular needles and I am working both arm warmers at the same time.  I am using real wool, worsted weight, and a needle size recommended for the wool (4.5 mm 7 US).  I cast on 36 stitches with one ball of wool and then cast on another set of 36 with another ball.  I knit one row for one warmer and then one row for the second one.  I have done this with mitts and it is very satisfying to finish both at the same time!

I have been knitting loosely to keep it stretchy. But, if a person tends to knit tightly, they can get the same effect by using larger needles.  The pattern calls for a color change but I don’t have another color so mine will be monochromatic (white).  I am not adding to the stash by running out and buying more wool. The pattern is fairly easy to follow so far.  The Victorian patterns can be a bit vague.  To create the puff I had to read it a few times to get it but I think what happens is you knit 12 rows.  Then you change colors if you want and knit 24 more rows to create the length for the first puff.  This is where I had to use my imagination.

To create the puff I think you have to slip one stitch on the next needle then pick up the first of the cast on stitches (hence the word “commencement” in the original instructions.) Then slip the next stitch and pick up the next cast on.  Repeat until all the stitches and all the cast on stitches are on one needle.  The work thus far should be rolled up like a hem.  The wool will be on the wrong side of your needle if you are using straight needles so you will have to pass them back to the other needle.  If my mind is serving me well, I shouldn’t have this problem with circular needles. By repeating “knit 2 together” across the row you seal up the seam and get back down to the original number of stitches (36).

My mind is not grasping what the color change would look like with 12 rows in white and 24 in color.  Once created, one side of the puff would be color and the other side would be striped.  It seems to me, you wouldn’t bother having a stripe if that was the side worn next to the skin.  Damn it.  Now I want to see it with the color change (plots second pair with color change…plans shopping trip…UFO pile grows….)