A Tiara for a Dragon Queen

I’ve been playing around with beads and charms, making some shiny trinkets to take to Romancing the Capital in August. I decided to try to make a tiara fit for a dragon queen.

Here’s my first attempt.

Bead and crystal tiara made by Deborah Cooke

I used a metal hairband as a frame. The crystals are dyed quartz and have been drilled, which made it a lot easier to secure them in place. I used 24 gauge wire for the wrapping. I arranged the crystals in order of size first, with the biggest ones in the center, then attached them to the frame. Once they were in place, I added glass beads of various shapes and sizes.

Detail of bead and crystal tiara made by Deborah Cooke

The result is quite sparkly. What do you think?

I’ve also been making some necklaces with gemstone beads, using wire. Here’s one of Dragon’s Eye Agate, with matching earrings:

Necklace and earrings of dragon's eye agate and beads by Deborah Cooke

And here’s one of Fire Agate – the agate has been dyed to enhance the colour, but it is quite spectacular. The black beads are onyx:

Fire agate necklace and earrings made by Deborah Cooke

I’ve been making earrings, too. Here’s a selection with the fun dragon claw drops:

Dragon claw drop earrings with glass beads made by Deborah Cooke

I’m going to make another tiara in different colours – if not two – and will show you them when they’re done.

What do you think? Would you or your favorite dragon queen wear any of these?

Wild Grass Pullover

It’s Friday! Let’s talk about knitting.

Wild Grass pullover knit by Deborah Cooke in Swans Island washable wool sport

I’ve been working on a pullover with a beautiful yoke. The pattern is called Wild Grass and the yarn I’m using is Swans Island Washable Wool Collection Sport. For this pattern, you make a provisional cast-on, knit a few rows, then knit up, through the yoke and the neck. Then you pick up stitches from the provisional cast-on and knit down, dividing for the sleeves then to the hems. This means that the fun part is over early. 🙂

I may re-knit the neck on larger needles. Right now, it’s more of a turtle-neck, but the pattern shows it as a cowl, which is a big part of what I liked about the design.

I bought this yarn at Swans Island when we were in Maine last summer. They make the most beautiful blankets and dye their own yarn. The colours are amazing. This is a wonderful squishy and soft yarn which is spun from merino. Here’s a link to the yarn on the Swans Island website – I’m getting a security warning because of their certificate, but maybe that will be fixed by the time you click through. Here’s a Ravelry link, too. The colours I’m using are Mallard and Pesto. The Mallard is a little darker than it looks in this picture. The yarn is also incredibly soft, so I’m not worried about having this wool next to my skin.

What do you think?

 

Easy as Mirri 1, 2, 3

I’ve been learning to sew with knits lately, which has proven to be a lot of fun. Today, I’ll show you three versions I made of a dress pattern called Mirri, from Wardrobe By You. It looks like a wrap dress but actually isn’t—the bodice is sewn in place, which is how I prefer wrap dresses. (They can’t come unwrapped this way.)

Here’s my first Mirri, modelled by the ever-lovely Nellie:Mirri wrap dress sewn by Deborah Cooke

This is sewn from a knit fabric that I found in the sale bin at my local fabric store. It’s probably a polyester and lycra blend. The idea was that the test-sew would be cheap—and disposable, if it didn’t work out, but pretty enough to wear, if it did work out.

This pattern has a minimum of pieces—left front, right front, back bodice and the skirt, which is the same for front and back. The fronts have self-facings, and there are two bands to finish the sleeves. No zipper or fastening. You just tug it over your head.

The dress is quick to cut out and quick to sew—the only note I made on the instructions was to finish the edge of the self-facing on both fronts before sewing the dress together. (Because you know what I did the first time.) I used the serpentine stitch on my machine to do that, then the overlock stitch for the seams. I sewed down the collar with the twin needle and top-stitched the sleeve band with it, too.

For the hem, I pressed on a narrow strip of fusible knit interfacing to stabilize the hem, pressed it into place, then sewed it with the twin needles, too. I like how polished that finish looks.

The fit is perfect and the length is just right. No fitting changes! Yay!

I cut out a second Mirri in a scuba knit, which is heavier than the first knit fabric, that I also found in the sale bin. The image on the scuba knit was printed in 80cm panels, and also mirrored on the center fold. I pushed this around a bit and decided that there was no ignoring that mirroring so I should work with it. I centered the skirt pieces and the bodice back on the center fold. Each skirt piece used the better part of one 80cm panel, then the bodice pieces all came out of the third one.

This one is a bit bolder, but I like it a lot:

Mirri wrap dress sewn by Deborah Cooke Mirri wrap dress sewn by Deborah CookeThe side seam on the skirt mirrors similarly to the center front and center back.

This version of the dress taught me a lot about the differences between knit fabrics. The scuba knit is a lot thicker so I made a few changes as I was sewing. On the first dress, I pressed both waist seams down, but to avoid bulk at the side seams in the scuba knit, I pressed one up and one down.

By this time, I also had a system for the collar. You sew the bottom of the collar (on the fronts) to the back neck, then the shoulder seams after that. This is the only tricky bit, as there is a nice 90 degree corner at the end of the collar seam where it meets the shoulder seam. I had the best luck sewing the shoulder seams from the sleeve toward the neck on each side. I pressed the collar seam up (towards the collar) and the shoulder seams back. I had turned under the seam allowance on the back neck facing on the first dress, making a neat inside collar with no visible seam allowances. On this one, I finished the facing and didn’t turn it under, which reduced the bulk of the seam. It still looks neat, and I like the look of the twin needle stitching to hold the facing in place.

This dress fits more snugly and the collar stands up higher. The scuba knit just has less stretch and drape. (I think it’s going to be warmer, too.) In future, I’ll cut a little more ease when using a scuba knit.

You can also see that while I was sewing the second Mirri, Nellie’s corner got a little more crowded. Now, she has to share the space with a bookcase to hold my stock for booksignings, as well as (inevitably) some dragons.

Finally, I graduated to more expensive fabric. I’d been saving this piece of cotton and lycra knit until my skills improved. It’s from the Netherlands and is really amazing. I loved it as soon as I saw it, but wasn’t sure what to make with it. Mr. Math always hums Go Ask Alice when I pull it out to look at it and it is a bit wild. (That’s why I love it.) I should have taken a picture of it uncut, but you can see it at EmmaOneSock where I bought it – this link will take you to their product page for this fabric, if they still have any of it left. I actually used the pieces cut of the scuba knit as my pattern when cutting this out—then I used the first cut skirt as a pattern to cut the second, so I could make sure the pattern matched up.

It still needs a good pressing, and to be hemmed, as well, but Nellie really wanted to try it on:

Mirri wrap dress sewn by Deborah Cooke Mirri wrap dress sewn by Deborah Cooke

Since I only had two panels, I didn’t have many options for placement of the pieces. In hindsight, I don’t know why I was convinced that the two skirt pieces had to be identical. There really is no matchy-matchy with this fabric and more chaos might have been more interesting. Also, if I’d used another zone for the second skirt piece, the two front bodices would have been more different than they are.

This knit is stretchier than the scuba knit, but still a bit thicker than the first knit fabric. The fabric is fabulous – very soft. It does have a little more tendency to stretch in the cross wise direction – and ripple – so I’ll stabilize the shoulder seams with interfacing the next time I knit with it. The fit is (no surprise) right in between Mirri 1 and Mirri 2.

I feel as if my choices for pattern placement didn’t do justice to the fabric and might have to buy another panel of it to make a T-shirt.

I’ve cut out (yet) another Mirri, but will show you that in another post. It’s in a lighter knit than the first one so I’m going to line at least the bodice. (New challenges abound!) Also, I’ll play compare-and-contrast between it and a wrap-front dress that I’ve cut using a pattern from one of the big pattern companies.

And yes, I love wearing dresses. 🙂

What do you think of my Mirri‘s?  The more, the Mirri-er?

Almost-Done Comfort Fade Cardigan

I’ve been working away steadily on my Comfort Fade Cardigan and have an update – it’s almost done!

The previous post on the sweater is here. I had finished the yoke and was comparing the fit to other sweaters in my closet. Here it is after I finished the body. (This one is top-down, so I did the bottom ribbing last.) It was tough to confirm the fit because the collar ribbing is so wide – at this point, when I tried it on, it seemed to be falling off my shoulders.Comfort Fade Cardigan in Rowan Colourspun knit by Deborah Cooke

I picked up the stitches to do the neck next (before the sleeves) to manage my yarn. I didn’t have enough of all the colourways, so decided to do the neck, then use half of whatever was left for each sleeve.

When I picked up the stitches for the neck, I forgot that the right side of the cardigan shows the purl side of the reverse stockinette. I also followed the directions and picked up with the first colour, which is my lightest one. At the bottom is my pick-up from the wrong side, which doesn’t look good on what will be the right side. At the top is my pick-up from the right side, which looks better.

Comfort Fade Cardigan in Rowan Colourspun knit by Deborah CookeI did decide to frog and reverse the order of the colourways on the collar, picking up with my last colour, which is the brown. It blends in better and looks neater. See?

Comfort Fade Cardigan in Rowan Colourspun knit by Deborah Cooke

The collar is shaped with short rows for this sweater and it’s huge. In the picture above, you can see the wedges of short rows that add to the depth of the collar. It’s quite squishy and luxurious.

I cheated on the sleeves and knitted them inside out. (Ha. This makes me feel so clever.) This way, I could knit them in the round instead of having the purl them. The only thing is that I had to remember to leave the ends on the side facing me, not the opposite side as usual.

Comfort Fade Cardigan in Rowan Colourspun knit by Deborah Cooke

The sleeves are a little long and I didn’t finish all of the decreases as specified. Here’s the almost-completed sweater – I balled up the other sleeve in the shoulder and you can see one of my DPNs peeking out there:

Comfort Fade Cardigan in Rowan Colourspun knit by Deborah Cooke

I couldn’t crop out that wonderful beam of sunlight. It’s so nice to see the sun again!

I’ll take some more pictures when the sweater is done. All I have to finish is that cuff. What do you think?

New Dragon Scale Mitts

My mitten-knitting has taken an interesting little turn of late: I made a second pair of dragon scale mitts.

You might remember the first pair, which looked like this:
Dragon scale mitts knit by Deborah CookeI used a free pattern for ribbed fingerless gloves in worsted weight, then metal dragon scales from Ring Lord. The post about them is right here.

I gave that pair away, but ordered more scales and finally got to them. Here’s the pair I made this week: Dragon Scale Mitts knit by Deborah Cooke Except for the red, they’re the same. The scales are anodized aluminum in the small size, in black and in red. I switched from the black yarn (which is Patons Classic Wool Worsted in Black Tweed) the yarn to Cascade Jewel Hand-dyed, so the knit edge at the fingers would match the scales. For these, I work a row with scales, then two rows plain – the first plain row is black and the second one red, then the rest of the mitt, including the row with the scales, is knit with red.

Dragon Scale Mitts knit by Deborah CookeI have Patons Classic Wool Worsted in red, which would have been the same yarn as the black tweed, but it’s more orange red than the scales. It’s called Cardinal, while this one I’d call Ruby. (It’s actually #9969 but that tells you just about nothing. “Ruby” is better!) Patons shows a Bright Red on their site, but I think that’s more of a brick colour. It’s possible that the shade I have is discontinued – it’s been in the stash for a while. The Cascade Jewel is discontinued but it’s a nice single ply yarn with a kettle-dyed look. I found this skein at the thrift store. If you find some, snatch it up – it reminds me of Malabrigo Worsted, though isn’t quite as soft. (I hope this means it won’t pill as readily.)

I also ordered some different scales from Ring Lord, including clear plastic ones and ones that glow in the dark. (They work! Ha! Now I have to find a fun color for the yarn.)

In the course of the big clean-and-organize of my craft stuff, I also found (finally!) a wonderful pattern for elbow-length fingerless gloves. I knit these from a Fleece Artist kit and gave the mitts to my niece. I liked them a lot, though, and remember that it had a lovely fit. I looked high and low for this pattern and found it (of course) in the most unlikely of places – with the remaining yarn from the kit. Gah. It’s called Hans – that’s a Ravelry link.

I cast on a pair to check the fit again, as I think the pattern might be easily modified to have scales. Here’s the first one, without scales.

Hans knit by Deborah Cooke in Patons Rumor

The yarn is discontinued – it’s Patons Rumour in a colourway that was never distributed. It makes me think of dragonflies.

What have you been knitting this week?

Black VK Cardigan

A few weeks ago, I told you that I’d had a Eureka moment while knitting my Comfort Fade Cardigan and now knew how to fix another sweater. This post is about that other sweater.

The pattern is from Vogue Knitting Winter 2018 and is a cardigan designed by Cathy Payson in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. Simple Cardigan is #9 in that issue. (That’s a Ravelry link.) I bought the issue when it came out, loved this sweater and bought the specified yarn – but in a tweedy black called Blackstone. (Here are some pix of the colourway on Ravelry.) I knit it up – it’s a quick knit with such thick yarn – tried it on and was disappointed in the fit. It was doing that thing of trying to fall off my shoulders. Hmm. It’s been sitting for almost a year, waiting on me to figure out how to get the fit right.

This January, I took it apart and ripped the fronts and back out to the underarms. When I reknit it, I made it narrower at the shoulders at the back. I also had found that it was bulky under the arms in the original version, so I added some short rows to make more of a sleeve cap.

Here’s the modified version – I photographed it with a long sleeve turtleneck inside it, to show the neckline and also the 3/4 sleeves. Mine are a little closer to bracelet length with that addition to the sleeve cap.

Black cardigan knit by Deborah Cooke

It fits so much better! And it’s so thick and warm that it’s perfect for these chilly winter days.

I love the mix of colours in the wool. Here’s a close up to show you that:

detail of Black cardigan knit by Deborah Cooke

Plus I finished another hat, just in time for the polar vortex. This is the same pattern (First Snow) that I used for my cupcake hats before Christmas. This time, though, I used a ball of tweedy wool that I found in the mill ends at Spinrite and added a purchased fake fur pompom.

First Snow hat knit by Deborah Cooke

These deep purple has a lot of great flicks of colour in it, in blue and red, which aren’t showing up very well. It’s pretty and I think I’ll keep this one. I have a second pompom and several more skeins of this mystery yarn in different colours, so I’ll make at least one more.

What do you think?

Teal Frost Mitts

Phew! I finally finished these! There’s something about knitting lined mittens that seems to take forever.Frost Mittens knit in LettLopi by Deborah Cooke

Frost Mittens knit in LettLopi by Deborah CookeYou probably remember that I’d also knit a pair in purple and taupe.

Frost mittens in Lopi Light knit by Deborah CookeWhen I started these mitts, I had two balls of LopiLett in taupe, two in purple and two in teal. By the time the two pairs of lined mitts were done, I had only a teensy bit of purple and teal, but still some teal. So, I knit a pair of plain mitts (without linings!) in taupe to use up the yarn.

Now it’s time to knit some different mitts…

Comfort Fade Cardigan

There is a new(ish) knitting trend to knit with colours dyed in a progressing, fading from one to the next. For me, this started with Andrea Mowbry’s shawl Find Your Fade, which was published in December 2016 and is enormously popular. There are over 8000 projects on Ravelry! Andrea has designed other knitwear that features this kind of colour shift, and I’m knitting one right now.

Her Comfort Fade Cardi is an open-front, shawl collar cardigan, which is knit from the top down. It has raglan sleeves and requires four colours to fade into each other over the length of the cardigan. Since I always find it a bit dull to knit cardigans in stockinette stitch, I thought that watching the colours might motivate me. (It worked for my Hebrides cardigan, knit in striped KidSilk Haze.)

4 Balls of Rowan ColourscapeFor this project, I raided my stash and chose my leftovers of Rowan Colourspun. I had knitted Mr. Math a vest in this yarn, then bought more to make myself a sweater when it was discontinued. Here’s a post about his vest. The pattern is called Skye.

So, in my stash, I have a russet, a brown, a green and a taupe in the Colourspun. This yarn has a gradual gradation and is kind of heathered. I thought it would be a good choice for a fade. I don’t have the right quantities that the pattern calls for – I have enough yardage, but more russet than I need and less brown. The yarn is discontinued, so I’ll work it out.

Comfort Fade Cardi knit in Rowan Colourspun by Deborah CookeHere’s the cardigan as of last Sunday. I’d just divided for the arms. You can see that the ribbing for the neckline has a good bit of space to fill – this sweater is designed to be worn open, so the fronts with the ribbing will just meet. It’s also designed so that the purl side is worn out, which makes it look even more blended.

I used the taupe first, then the green and have just started to fade into the russet. think it’s funny that the brightest bit of the taupe fell in the last two rows of it after fading into the green. 🙂

Here’s a look at the many colours in this yarn – I’ve been knitting more since the other pix were taken on Sunday, so it’s longer now:

Comfort Fade Cardigan in Rowan Colourspun knit by Deborah Cooke

The top is the taupe, fading into the green – which you can see is striping on its own – then into the russet. At the bottom, I’ve just started to transition to the brown.

I have a hard time getting a good fit with top-down raglans, but I think I’ve finally figured out why – which means I know what to do about it in future. I hadn’t finished the specified increases but it looked big, so I took it off the needles to try it on. (This is a very cool thing about top-down raglans – you can try them on as you go.) Then I compared it with a sweater I already have, which fits – in this case, one of my Hebrides in KSH. The Hebrides has a closer fit and is in a finer yarn, but you can see that it was definitely time to break for the sleeves. If I’d knit those remaining 12 rows, the sweater would have been droopy.

Comfort Fade Cardigan in Rowan Colourspun knit by Deborah Cooke

And here’s where I had my Eureka moment. See how wide the neckline is compared to the other sweater? Of course, the style is different, but when I try it on, it’s trying to fall off my shoulders. I’m narrow in the shoulders and when I sew, I always cut a smaller size above the bust to accommodate that. I should be casting on a smaller size than the one specified for my bust when I knit a raglan sweater for exactly the same reason. Aha!

I’m not going to frog this and start over, though. It’ll be a little slouchier than the original design, but I really like it. I have a feeling I’ll be knitting this pattern again, and will incorporate my changes then. In the meantime, I can fix another sweater that’s been waiting on me because I know what to do.

What do you think of this cardi so far?

The Escher Quilt

Last fall, I told you about a quilt kit I’d ordered. (That post is here.) The pattern is called Escher and the kit came with Kaffe Fassett fabrics to piece the top. I pieced it in December and here’s what it looks like:

Escher quilt pieced by Deborah Cooke

It’s much MUCH more vivid in real life.

This pattern was pretty easy to sew and the instructions were clear. I enjoyed putting it together. There was extra of every colour, so when I made a mistake in the final piecing (I cut a block that I shouldn’t have) I had enough to remake that block. The black was used for the little triangles at the center of each block: I cut up what I had left to make the widest black border possible. It’s not very wide but I like how it frames the bright colours. The top is about 62″ by 64″. I tried a couple of borders but thought they made it too busy, so it will be a bit of a small finished piece.

Mr. Math loves the finished top, but it’s a bit too wild for me. I think I might do this again, with solids or with a more restricted palette. This will be the first top that I take to be quilted on a long-arm machine, and I’m curious to see how that works out.

What do you think?

More Mitts

I’m still knitting mittens. 🙂

First, I wanted to show you those fair isle mitts in LopiLett, now that they’re finished. Here’s the previous picture of them:

Frost mittens in Lopi Light knit by Deborah CookeI knit the linings in the same yarn. The neat trick is that since the linings are knitted to the cuffs – you actually pick up the stitches at the top of the cuff and knit the lining from there – the wrong sides of both mitt and lining end up together. That means there are no ends or floats to catch your fingers inside. It also means the mittens are double-thickness and toasty-warm.

Here’s one turned so you can see the lining:

Lined mitten in LettLopi, knit by Deborah Cooke

I started a second pair in teal and have the first one done. I think I’ll line this pair with the taupe as I have more of that color left.

Frost mitten knitted in LettLopi by Deborah Cooke

I’ve also been knitting mitts for charity, although I have fewer completed this year because of the hats and these fair isle mitts. All year, I add odd balls and ends to a bag, stashing wool that I think will make good mittens. Every November, I dig out that bag (and sometimes add to it) then start knitting mittens for the food bank. I usually use an old Patons pattern for worsted yarn – it’s a single sheet that wool shops used to give out free. Mine looks about as worn as that one on Ravelry, but has scribbled notes on it, too. This year, though, I had some chunky yarn, some odd balls of Patons Alpaca Blend that I found in the sale bin at Spinrite. I found this wonderful pattern from Tin Can Knits called The World’s Simplest Mittens. It includes instructions for four weights of yarn, and five sizes of mittens, and it’s free!

Here are my first three pair, in that Patons Alpaca Blend. The two pair on the left are a children’s size and the one on the right is the medium adult size. Aren’t they cute?

Mittens knit in Patons Alpaca Blend by Deborah Cooke

I also am knitting some in ends of Rowan Colourscape Chunky. Since this is a self-striping yarn, I’ll knit as many as I can from the ends, then figure out which look the best together as pairs:
mittens knit in Rowan Colourscape Chunky by Deborah Cooke

I really like Colourscape Chunky and am sad it was discontinued. I love the colours and the way the variegation shifts so gradually. I also like that there are tweedy flicks of other colours throughout. Kaffe Fassett designed the colourways and it shows. These green ends are from this vest that I knit for Mr. Math. I have some more bits – left over from this vest for me (which isn’t as nearly as neon pink as it looks in these pix) and also this cardigan for me – plus one more sweater-lot for a cardigan for Mr. Math. I might cast that on in January.

What have you been knitting lately?