Saturday, August 27, 2011

Covered Buttons

Warning: This post is not about knitting.  Sorry.  It is of a general craft nature though.  If you came for talk of knitting, I'm sorry.  It will return.  I promise.

I'm in the process of making some curtains for my new apartment.  I have two long windows that have those awful metal blinds covering them.  See, ugly.


Since I'm renting and I can't uninstall the ugly things, my plan is just to keep them permanently pulled up and let the curtains do the work of blocking out the sun/providing privacy.  Not only are the curtains way WAY more aesthetically pleasing, but the cats used to love the sound the metal blinds made when scratched.

I'll tell you more about the actual curtains later.  Today, I want to tell you about covered buttons.  My curtains have decorative buttons sewn along the top where the curtain goes over the rod so that it looks like they're buttoned on (they're not, the buttons are just there for show, it's one of those "useless-but-pretty" things.)  If you've ever gone on a hunt for the perfect buttons, you know the anxiety that can accompany button shopping.  It feels like nothing is exactly right.  Enter the magic of the covered buttons.

Covered buttons are a metal frame that you "cover" with fabric, meaning you can make it match any sewing project exactly.  If you use the same fabric as your project, once the button is covered, it looks like it was made for your project... which it was.  Here is what you need.


That is a hammer (for pounding), a circle of fabric cut about 1/4" bigger around than your actual button, and the covered-button assembly kit.  You can buy covered button kits in most fabric-type stores.  I got mine at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  The kit I got had traditional "button" backs with the button shank and flat backs with no shank in case you just want to glue your button to a flat surface.  The white and blue plastic pieces are the assembly pieces.  The first kit you buy will need to have these pieces.  After that, if you save them, (I always lose them and so am constantly buying the "starter set") you can just buy the "refill" packs that just have the button parts and no assembly pieces.

First: lay the fabric with the side you want showing facing down over the white plastic bottom assembly piece and push the button top into the white piece on top of it.  This will cause the excess 1/4 inch of fabric to bunch up around the edges of the button.


Next: squish all the fabric ends to the inside of the button and place the button back on top so that no fabric ends are showing.


Next: take the blue assembly piece and place it over the shank (if you're using backs without shanks just center it over the back of the button.


Next: whack the blue piece (watch your thumbs!) with your hammer a few times.  You should feel the button back pop into place.  Pop the button out of the bottom of the assembly piece.  TA-DA!


Now you have a button that will perfectly match any project no matter how unusual the color or interesting the print.  No more settling for buttons that are a "close enough" color.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

And August is gone...

What happened?  Didn't I just get back from Sock Summit?  I feel like that was yesterday, but the calendar is telling me that it is already the end of August.  School starts on monday.  Incontrovertible evidence that fall is right around the corner is staring me in the face even thought it feels like summer is just kicking off.  I worked my last full-time day yesterday before switching over to my part-time "school schedule"--fall is here.  What better way to (grudgingly) welcome it than with an offering of wool?


That is my brother being blackmailed into modeling the Habitat by Jared Flood that I just finished.  If he looks a bit sweaty, that's because it's 88 degrees out and he's modeling a wool hat.

This pattern is one of those "looks-super-complex-but-really-just-takes-a-little-focus" types that makes you feel like you worked out something really clever when you're done.  It's for my dad's 60th birthday (which was the 11th...)  Really though, he only told me he wanted a hat on the 4th, so I think it's OK that it was finished a bit late.  Plus, it's still super hot in New Mexico where my parents live so it's not like he "needs" it right now.


The yarn is the handspun Corriedale that I made on my new Ashford Joy spinning wheel a few weeks ago.  The handspun nature of the yarn plus the heathered color means the cables are a bit subdued, but I think it gives the hat a well-worn rustic look that makes me think of those pictures of knitwear taken on a farm when it's drizzling out... you know the ones.


Extremely fun hat to knit.  I'm sure I will knit it again.  However, as much as I love buying things local it's over a dollar more to buy a paper copy from the LYS than to buy it online--since I prefer digital copies anyway, I don't think I'll be buying any more of Jared Flood's patterns as a paper version.  I'd be different if they were the same price, but one dollar added to a five dollar pattern is a 20% mark-up...  not cool.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A spinning miracle

So I showed you the beautiful new wheel I got at Sock Summit.  Time to show you what I've created with it so far.


This is a 2-ply worsted (mostly) weight yarn that I spun up in about 3 days.  One day for each single, then another day to do the plying.  Honestly I would have finished in two days except that I've heard that you have to let your singles "rest" overnight before you ply.  Anyone know why this is? What's the benefit?  It was pretty frustrating to have to not use my new wheel while I waited.

I wanted to try to spin a thicker yarn as recently I've been drafting down to almost lace weight.  The choice of ratios presented by the Joy and the ability to finely adjust the tension made it pretty easy to stay at solid worsted weight.  That's not to say that there are not some think and thin spots, but very few.


In fact, that's where my miracle comes in.  You know how you have to split your fleece into two so that you can spin your singles, then you ply your singles into a finished yarn?  (Of course you do.)  You also know how no matter how hard you carefully separate your fleece, you always end up with more left in one "half" than the other.  Well, look at this.


That's how far I was off by.  Less than a yard.  When my first bobbin ran out and I looked at the other to see how much was left I could hardly believe my eyes.  My singles were by no means perfectly consistent, but they must have been inconsistent in pretty darn equal amounts.

The fleece I started with looked like this.


It came in 3 little 1.5 oz. slivers of natural undyed Corriedale wool.  I got it during the Portland Yarn Crawl back in March.  It was pretty soft to the touch as sliver.  Now that it's spun it has a slightly "rustic" feel to it, but not too bad.  I plan on making the Habitat hat with it.  All in all I ended up with about 168 yards so it should be just enough.  Awesome.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sock Summit

Dear YarnHarlot,

I walked into the Portland Convention Center totally excited to be attending Sock Summit for the second time.  When I saw YOU hanging out talking to someone right in front of the booth for buying marketplace tickets I (internally) "lost my shit" as they say.  I grabbed my boyfriend's arm and frantically (hopefully quietly) whispered to him "That is the YarnHarlot!" (Yes, I dragged my boyfriend to Sock Summit, he was awesome about it, proving he is the best man on the planet.)  You were talking to someone and I wanted so desperately to ask to take a picture with you.  While you were talking I started thinking, "you know, I bet she's really busy, I bet she has tons and tons of stuff to do, I bet it would be a total inconvenience to break up her flow and ask her to stop what she's doing for me, especially when she's running this amazing show (with some help) and I'm just here on my Saturday off to spend a grip of money on some yarn, I bet she'd be totally resentful and hold it against me and spend the rest of her days telling stories about how this totally rude girl in a black dress with a nose ring completely threw off her chi on the second day of Sock Summit and made the whole experience crap."  So, I didn't ask for the picture.  I'm a wuss.  I don't like talking to strangers at the best of times, and even though I've read your whole blog and have, in a teeny tiny way, been a part of your life, whether you know it or not, in real life you're still a stranger and I'm still a wuss.

All my knitterly-love,

P.S. I did the same thing with Franklin Habbit.  I convinced myself that maybe it wasn't Franklin.  Maybe I would just end up making a fool of myself in front of some other 5'2" bald dude with a goatee wearing a utili-kilt who came to Sock Summit and can't understand why people keep pestering him.

Now that my lack of courage is on public display, lets see the goodies!

Cats not acquired at Sock Summit, they're just nosey.

What's that you ask?  Oh, why yes, that is an Ashford Joy spinning wheel.  Why yes, I did buy it at Sock Summit.  Why yes, I've already spun over an ounce of beautiful brown cormo on it.  Why yes, I love it like a baby.  Why yes I did spend all day at work today (my first day away from it) wondering if it was OK in the apartment with only the cats and the Babe to keep it company.  I went to Sock Summit pretty sure I was going to buy a spinning wheel but pretty sure I was going to buy a Schacht Sidekick because it's also small and folds up and is a bit less expensive.  I pointed one on display out to Ryan saying "that's the spinning wheel I'm going to get" and he said something strange.  He said, "that doesn't feel like your wheel."  In my head I sort of thought "you're crazy, that's what I came here for."  We found a booth that had several spinning wheels including a Sidekick and what is now my Joy.  The woman running the booth insisted I try them both.  From the minute I started treadling on the Joy I knew it was the wheel for me.  Spinning on it feels effortless.  It's perfect.  The cats are totally jealous.


The first booth I hit up after acquiring my new wheel was the Sanguine Gryphon booth.  Yummy.  I wanted to take one of everything home with me but alas I had to be content with just these two precious skeins.  The carmel-y colored skein is Skinny Bugga! in Honeybee.  It's screaming STEPHEN WEST at me, we'll see what pattern it ends up in.  The gorgeous teal is Gaia Lace in Lobstrosity (I think that name should go on a red yarn because it makes me thing of Lobsters... anyone know why it's teal?)

While standing in the Sanguine Gryphon booth trying to make an impossible choice I asked Ryan, "what's the most beautiful thing in the booth?" trying to get his opinion.  He said "You."  AWWWWW. Good man.

Next booth was the Signature booth.


Those are 5 size 1 double pointed needles in 5" length.  I want to cast on new socks immediately just to try them out.  Other than the spinning wheel these were my most expensive splurge.

Next was the Fiber Optic Yarns booth where they had this on display.


It's the Evenstar Shawl knit in hand-spun from one of her gradient-dyed yarns.  Of course this colorway was totally sold out, but I'll be stalking her online shop so that I can try to make a replica of this beauty.  I did buy this 50% merino 50% tencel blend from her booth...just to tide me over till I can get my hands on the gradient.


Also on the fiber front I got this 4 oz Tussah Silk top from Teresa Ruch Designs.


I'm thinking of trying to spin it down to a lace weight to get the most milage out of the luscious silk.

The last fiber I bought was this gorgeous top from HAY by Rachel. It's only 4 oz but it's so fluffy it takes up as much space as most 8 oz tops.  It's superwash merino.  I'm hoping it spins up nice and tweedy because of the carmel splashes.


Lastly, I bought these earrings made from cross-sections of old aluminium knitting needles.  I love them because I know it's knitting jewelry but it's totally inconspicuous.



Overall it was an awesome Sock Summit, minus my wuss-ness about asking the YarnHarlot for a photo. I hope you had as pleasant a weekend.