Sunday, January 5, 2014

Top 5 Goals for 2014

Alright, turning away from the past and looking to the future for the last top 5 post. Rather than err on the side of anything too general ("make more...of everything!"), but also wanting to avoid the entrapment of excessive specificity ("I will sew for 30 minutes every day, except on weekends, when I will sew for at least 5 hours, etc"), I've chosen to split my goals between sewing and knitting, and focus more on particular kinds of projects and techniques.

Skinny Jeans - Unless you count the faux fur flares with safety pin closures that I made in high school, I have never actually made a pair of pants. Given that I wear jeans every day of my life, this is inexcusably baffling and also a little weird. The main challenge (or so I tell myself), is lack of access to good quality stretch denim (I did check out Mood fabrics, but they wanted around $50 to ship $20 worth of that normal for them?). However, this is the year that I will cease using that as an excuse and make myself a pair of skinnies, if for no other reason than that not having done so already has prevented me from participating in "Me Made May" since it's inception.

Bras, etc - Once you've taken care of the over-wear staples, it follows that if one wishes to have a truly self-made wardrobe, one must look to the Foundation Garments. This year in particular, I have been drawn to the diy lingerie popping up on various blogs (not in a creeper way, lol!), and have been paying more attention to bra and underwear patterns (both Jalie and Kwik Sew appear to offer some good ones). I can honestly say that the underwear I have now represent the last bastion of sweat-shoppy clothing in my wardrobe, so to replace them with homemade delicates is one of my top priorities for 2014.

DPNs - If you've read any of my knitting posts, you've probably heard me grumble and snark about double pointed needles. I have used many ingenious and laborious ways to avoid having to use them, but no more! I hereby declare that the next time I use a pattern calling for dpns, I will not shirk my knitterly duties by knitting flat and seaming, but will face the dpn challenge like a woman of courage!

Steeks - Oh god, these are so terrifying. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, steeking is a technique used to give an opening to a tube of knitted fabric. It is particularly common when working with a colourwork pattern, because it allows you to do it all in the round and not have to wrestle with the purl side. Just in case you haven't quite grasped what I mean, I'll lay it out: you knit a tube of fabric, then you slice it up the middle. You cut your knitting with scissors, aaaaaaaaaaaaah! Obviously, there are methods you then employ to secure the cut ends, but I haven't yet managed to get past the fact that you are creating hundreds of potential holes and ladders in your work. However, I really really REALLY want to make this lovely thing, and steeks are part of the package, so with a little courage and about a million tutorial videos on my side, I will hopefully prevail.

Dyeing - The last time I truly experimented with fabric dye was back in grade 8, when a bunch of my friends got together and tie-dyed all our underwear green one weekend. Since then, I have occasionally spruced up faded jeans with a bit of over-dyeing, but nothing beyond that. I have, however, always wanted to play around with some of the different shibori techniques, and last year, Sallie of "Sallie Oh" fame did a really cool and in-depth post about painted-on dye techniques that was incredibly motivating. The most challenging thing about this kind of experimenting will probably be finding ways to create something that will actually work with my pre-existing wardrobe and tastes in general, but I'm sure once I get a handle on some of the basics, I'll be able to hone in on a style or technique that works best for me.

So, there you have it: 5 goals for 2014, and the last of my top 5 lists. More importantly, I just completed 5 blog posts in 5 days!!! I've already bogged more in 2014 than I did in the last two months of 2013, ha! I want to thank anyone who has stopped by to skim through my rambling during these last few days, and especially to anyone to left a comment. And, whether you have done your own top 5 lists or not, I wish everyone success and luck with their projects in the new year :)


  1. Maybe, rather than embracing DPNs, you could learn the magic loop method. That's my knitting goal, along with more selfish knitting

  2. The thought of making jeans is rather intimidating but I look forward to following your progress! - Like you I live in jeans but can't ever imagine making anything to rival my nudies.

  3. Hmmm I think my first comment disappeared into the ether....anyway, they're great goals, I'm hoping the Techknitters dpn tips will allay my fears and help me master that technique too. And check out the Named Patterns Jamie jeans - there have been some great versions popping up.

  4. I'm with Miriana...if you haven't tried magic looping yet, give it a go! I always end up dropping a needle when I have to use dpns, but magic looping has been a friend!
    Good luck with jeans! It always feel good to make something that you know will fit into your daily wear easily.

  5. Being a huge fan of DPNs, I hope I can encourage you to work with them this year. I especially love bamboo or wooden ones & the control you can (eventually) get with them feels fantastic. Go on, I know you want to cast on a pair of socks soon, right?!

  6. hi! recently discovered your blog and love it, so saying hi. i wrote a bit about steeking, just check my archives under 'margaret.' my trick with dpns for no ladders is to knit the first stitch of each needle onto last needle worked (not new working needle.) both are not that bad once you play a bit. cheers! elena

  7. I'll leave steeking for another year… But why don't you give circular needles a try? I don't knit with anything else. People seem to go one way or the other.

  8. Hello! I've been following your blog for a while now, and I really like your style and the things you make, both sewn and knitted. :)

    I am currently making my first pair of pants (if you discount a pair of wide legged faux-suede pants I made in high school, that is), a pair of skinny jeans. I've only been able to find various shades of blue denim where I live and am making a wearable muslin in dark blue but I what I really want to make is a pair of black ones. Have you had any luck of finding black denim yet?

    1. Thanks for the comments, and it's great to hear that someone else is taking up the skinny jeans challenge :) Unfortunately, my local selection of denim is awful (lots of bull denim, a few bolts of blue cotton/lycra, and some truly hideous jeggings knit). The closest thing to black stretch denim that I've been able to find is some relatively light-weight black stretch twill, which simply won't cut it for eight months of the year. So I've turned my sights to online suppliers, who are also few and far between (I've already mentioned Mood fabrics' prohibitively ridiculous shipping costs, but Pacific Blue Denims in LA seem to have an awesome selection and more reasonable rates). I'm planning to contact them to ask about smaller yardage and specific shipping, and will post my results! In the meantime, I hope that if anyone else has a line on good denim, they'll share the wisdom :)

    2. Pacific Blue Denims were one of the few that came up in my search as well. They seem to have a very good selection of denim, the only thing I noticed was that they have a $25 cutting/processing fee for any orders under 100 yards. So I guess added to shipping that could quickly come close to $50 anyway. I think I'll contact them as well though, to hear about specific shipping rates. :)

    3. I know, I saw that $25 cutting charge too! However, just as a test, I put a few meters of denim in a cart on the Mood website and took the order through to the shipping charges stage...and they wanted $158 for shipping 6 meters of denim! Suddenly the extra $25 doesn't look so bad.

      Do let me know how your search goes, though! I'm planning on ordering some denim by mid March, so I can whip up some jeans over spring break. It would be great to hear about some other online denim-ordering experiences!

    4. I emailed Pacific Blue Denims yesterday for shipping rates and prices on a few different denims I'd picked out. The denim was very reasonable, $5.25 - $5.75 pr. yard. International priority shipping (I'm in Norway) comes to around $81 for 6 yards. I imagine domestic shipping will be a lot more reasonable, though. I think I might go ahead and order from them, even though the shipping is a little high, the total per pair of jeans will still be relatively low.

      I got a little impatient and went ahead and made a wearable muslin from some inexpensive blue stretch denim I found at the local fabric store. Even though the fabric is too thin for my liking and not the best quality, the results were still pretty good, and I have to say that sewing denim was surprisingly easy! I think the most difficult part for me might be understanding all those terms used to describe the different denim weaves and weight in order to find the most suitable fabric. ;)

      I'm looking forward to (hopefully) reading about your denim adventure in here! :)