Knitted Ballet Legwarmers and the Magic Loop

handknitted leg warmers

I finished my first sweater and cast on stitches for a second sweater.  I know!  Not only that, but this second one is TO GIVE AWAY.

ballet leg warmers

So the standard is a little higher.  I really, really want this second sweater to be gift-worthy.  When I made the Agnes Sweater, I flew to Pasadena and knitted most of the body along the way.  I was juuuuust about ready to knit the sleeves on the flight home, and didn’t know how to use double-point needles.  I asked Jaime of Fancy Tiger at a knitting-and-coffee session she hosted, and she said she NEVER uses double points since the learned the Magic Loop.

Huh?

I already thought double-pointed knitting needles were pretty wackadoo, and now you tell me there’s a MAGICAL WAY TO DO IT, TOO?  Hellooooo, Hermione Granger!  SPEW!!

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Jaime said Magic Loop Knitting is, like, way easier.  But I didn’t really want to learn it ON the gift sweater.  I wanted to practice it first.  So when I found this perfect shell/ballet pink wool, I knew I could kill two birds with two sticks, to invent a metaphor: learn (and master) the Magic Loop and simultaneously make my daughter leg warmers for her ballet class.

knnitted in the round

I made the pair for my elder ballerina first, but when you have two young girls taking ballet at the same time, you’re pretty well assured you’ll be making TWO pair of leg warmers.  Which was fine, because I mis-read the pattern and bought double the wool, thinking that the instructions were for only one warmer, when of course they were for two.  D’oh!

These knitted up like a DREAM.  I used this pattern, cast on March 25, finished pair one on March 31 and pair two on April 5–so, somewhere around a week per pair, knitting just while they were in their ballet class and for about an hour in the evening when everyone was reading quietly or over the weekends when they were outside in the sunshine (I recognize how that sentence sounds, like we’re living in some bizarre modern Jane Austen happy unicorn fantasy, but that’s really how it happened–I am merely reporting facts here, people).

leg warmers made w magic loop

The Magic Loop part I picked up from this video, which was excellent.  I kinda played around trying to work it out on my own, but just couldn’t quite make sense of where all the pieces fit–but the video made it super clear, and I felt like I got back up to my usual knitting speed using the loop pretty quickly.  I like that using the circular needle, I didn’t get funny divots in my tube of fabric as I was knitting it, which I got with double-pointed needles on my Agnes sweater, and which I really did not like–the whole sleeve looked like a stretched-out triangle, and I was not a fan.

Our girls were so, so, so excited to get these and to wear them.  When the older of the two asked what I was making and I told her they were leg warmers and let her try one on, my husband LOLed and thought I was joking, that it was really a sweater sleeve.  When the younger asked and I told her, she immediately asked if she could wear them over leggings with her dresses, and if I’d make her a striped pair next.  She’s channeling the 80s, clearly.  They both looked like little ballet princesses wearing these in their classes, and their instructors just about melted on the floor to see our sweet girls in wooly ballet pink.

I’ve gone back to the sweater for which I was practicing, and am just about to cast off the second sleeve.  From there, it’s just ribbing and BUTTONHOLES, and then I’m a second-sweater knitter!!

#cantstopwontstop, y’all.

In the Ring: Rowenta vs the Gravity Feed Iron

For nearly ten years, I have used and strongly endorsed Rowenta irons.  They’re heavy, which is a good thing when you’re sewing and seeking to press rather than iron.  They have a steel sole plate, which heats quickly and evenly for good results on the fabric.  And they have a solid steam function that really shoots steam into your projects.

But in the past two or three years, Rowenta has really been leaving me cold, if you’ll pardon the pun.  The issue: leaks.  Oh, the LEAKS!!  I have absolutely had it with my leaking iron.  That water is HOT, y’all, so not only is it splashing and sputtering all over my project when it’s on the ironing board, but it’s dropping on my feet and scalding me.  My feet!  Unacceptable.

So a couple weeks ago, I’d finally had enough and decided to put the suggestions I’ve received to the test.  Instead of getting another Rowenta to replace my leaky iron, or even another brand of iron, I upgraded to the gravity feed iron, in hopes that I’d never have to carry a pitcher of water from my kitchen to refill my reservoir ever again.

Today, then, in the ring: the Rowenta versus the Gravity Feed Iron.whipstitch asks which iron is best

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Finished: First Sweater!

I finished!!!

first sweater

My very first knitted sweater is all done.  Well, mostly done.

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Rosa Parks: A Great Woman In Sewing

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I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama.  The earliest school memories I have celebrated the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March from Selma, and the Civil Rights movement in a very personal and immediate way.  We drove past the sites of these historic events on a daily basis, and it was an ever-present part of my childhood–both the vestiges of racial tension and the legacy of the changes in our social fabric wrought by Civil Rights leaders short decades before I was born.

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Great Women in Sewing: A List of Incredible Seamstresses

When you think of the word “seamstress,” what image springs to mind?

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When you think of the phrase “famous seamstress,” whose image pops into your head?

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Would you be surprised to learn that there are far more famous seamstresses than you may realize?  And that a lot of them are not only household names, but have changed the world for the better throughout history?

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About a year ago, just for kicks, I did a search to see how many famous seamstresses I could discover, and it was delightfully productive.  I love the word seamstress, and I love the legacy that these women have left behind with their needles.  They’ve influenced civil rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights.  They’ve impacted religious freedoms, fashion trends and workplace laws.  They’ve labored for soldiers overseas, for students in classrooms around the world, and as artists making statements about their time.

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I want to share these women with you.  I want to research and treasure their stories, and be inspired by their vision, their influence, their achievements and their passion.  Starting tomorrow, semi-weekly posts here on the blog will point you toward women who have made a difference with their needle.  I hope you’ll follow along–and share in the comments names you’d like to see featured so I’m sure not to miss anyone!

The Murder Mystery Quilt and The League of Adventurous Dressmakers: Last Day to Join!

The League of Adventurous Dressmakers

It’s only February, and I’m deeply immersed in the League of Adventurous Dressmakers.  I feel so inspired and motivated and excited about the garments I have in my queue.  Part of what slows me down, looking back on past years and the to-sew lists that never get completed, is that I love the planning stages of a sewing project, but don’t always feel accountable–everyone who reads and comments on my blog is super encouraging (loving you guys!), but you’re so supportive and understanding that when a project stalls, there’s no real pressure to pick it back up.  With the League, knowing that there are folks who are excited and asking questions and posting photos and watching to see what comes next really gets me sitting down at my needle.

pressing bodice with steam

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Knitting for Humility

On the first night of Intro to Sewing class, a young woman walked in with a brand-new sewing machine still in the original box and set it on the classroom table.  This was certainly not the first time that a student had arrived with their first sewing machine to their first sewing class, by any stretch–on a regular basis, someone would come to class direct from the checkout line at the big box store and set their shiny purchase in front of their chair.  Invariably, their faces wore a look of embarrassment, as if they should have had more experience sewing before coming to class.

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Giveaway on Sew, Mama, Sew for the League of Adventurous Dressmakers!

 

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Were you hoping to join the League of Adventurous Dressmakers this year? Today could be your lucky day! Over on Sew, Mama, Sew you can enter to win THE ENTIRE YEAR of League membership for free! There are very few entries at the moment, and your odds are so, so good. Hop on over and add yourself to the list of hopefuls!

For everyone who doesn’t win, you’ll also find a discount code to get one month FREE when you join the League.

Can’t wait to see what you’ll make this year!

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LAST CALL for a 2016 Sewing Buddy!

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I am deep in the trenches of hand-matching our Sewing Buddies for 2016!!  If you haven’t signed up yet but would like to join us, TODAY is the very last day to do so–get in under the wire and find yourself a sewing pen pal for the year!

If you ARE registered, please be certain to complete the survey, which you can find on the main Buddy page.  The survey results are what I use to match you with your Buddy, so if you don’t complete it, you won’t get a Buddy!

I am beyond excited to see so many familiar faces back this year, and just as many brand-new folks looking to make a sewing friend.  I have some really fun monthly posts ready to go for you all, and can hardly wait to see what all of you will accomplish this year!

The Only Reason The Internet Works

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I was watching an old Hepburn & Tracy movie over the holidays, Desk Set, all about replacing a crack reference librarian with a computer, back in the 50s.  And it occurred to me: she was right to worry for her job.  Because the computer couldn’t do her job, but the internet certainly does.  Need to know all Santa’s reindeer?  Google!  Need to learn the tune to a song?  YouTube!  Need to reserve a book at the library?  There’s an app for that!

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