Set-In Sleeve Tips

I am currently designing a sweater/coat, meaning it’s a cardigan shape, but I wanted extra ease so I could throw it over jeans and a top like a jacket. It has been a very long, involved project because it involves color charts which I developed completely from scratch based on my inspiration photos. (More on all that later.) As you can imagine, I’m feeling lots of project fatigue at this point

As usual, the sleeves are the last part to be done. Unfortunately, I completed one entire sleeve only to realize upon bindoff that there was no way it would ever fit into the armhole. My efforts to incorporate added ease resulted in it being entirely too large altogether. But since failure is the opportunity to learn, I took the opportunity to evaluate what I missed in my calculations. Happily, I now have a much more promising-looking sleeve in the works. Below are my top three important factors to consider when you’re doing set-in sleeves – whether you’re adjusting an existing pattern or designing your own.

  1. Sleeve Length – you need to know the measurements from where you want the sleeve to end to where you want it to stop under the arm, as well as all the way to where it will be stitched at the shoulder. Of course, if you’re making a garment, you should swatch anyway, but this is extremely important for sleeves! Also, after you knit the swatch, WASH IT! Let it dry, and recheck your gauge. I made another sweater in which my gauge was consistent and accurate, but when I blocked the sweater, the sleeves ended up way too long because the fabric stretched by several inches.
  2. Cap Length – This length is calculated on a number of measurements, but it’s vital that you are accurate! (See Shirley Paden’s book to get in-depth information on calculations.) Essentially, the cap is what will extend past the under arm and cover the appropriate section of your upper arm and shoulder. It should be a curved, bell-shape and must fit the armhole of the main body of the sweater.
  3. Match Bindoffs - For a set-in sleeve to fit perfectly into the armhole, you need to match the armhole bindoffs. This is easily done, as you can simply refer back to what you did at the armhole bindoffs of the front and back of the sweater.

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to making sleeves, but if you are having trouble with set-in sleeves, perhaps a check of these three things will help you sort out your problem. I’m always happy if I can help someone avoid the same mistakes I made!


Black Bunny Fun

Stories of people who tire of their high pressure jobs and leave to go start a farm or retire to some creative utopia seem to resonate with lots of people. There are numerous books written around this theme which become bestsellers. I admit, when I used to work in corporate America, I dreamed about it too. I’m much happier with my job now, but I still enjoy reading about people who make a big change and meet with success. Bonus points when it involves the fiber industry! Black Bunny Fibers has such a backstory, plus just plain great product! I hope you enjoy browsing around on her site and blog as much as I did. I plan to go back from time to time, and do some shopping when I finally allow myself to start buying yarn again.


Crochet Innovation and Tradition

Sorry my posts have been a bit sparse, but I am finally getting recuperated and back to work. Many of you have asked me to recommend crochet artists and designers. I just read about this guy in Vogue Knitting, and I hope you’ll agree with me that his work was worth the search! He does tapestry crochet and truly turns it into art. I have never done tapestry crochet, but after seeing Diego’s work, I am inspired to learn. I hope those of you who have been searching for something innovative with crochet will find your inspiration here. Of course, the best innovation often happens with a new twist on an old tradition, which is the case with this work. Enjoy!


Reading Material

Reading-Material

In keeping with flu season, I am sick, and today is the fifth day I have a fever and pretty much have to stay in bed. I know it really is time to rest in bed when I’m too sick to even crochet or knit, as there is usually never a day that goes by I don’t pick up a project to work on. However, no matter how sick I am, I can’t sleep round the clock, so for me, reading is the next best thing. Here is my reading list, all of which is light reading, easily picked up again if you doze off in the middle. Take care of yourselves, and if you’re not sick, I think you will enjoy these anyway! Happy, and I hope, healthy reading!

Tory Burch: In Color – Lots and lots of gorgeous photos and color inspiration. Bonus for sick people – not a whole lot of reading, but beautiful browsing!

The Gentle Art of Domesticity – One of my absolute favorite books ever! Read a chapter, read it cover to cover, or again, just browse all the beautiful photography! The best word I can think of to describe this book is “soothing”.

The Knitter’s Life List – This book could also be interesting for crocheters – alot of the ideas about exploring the world of fiber apply to crochet as well. When you’re out of commission in bed, this book will help you dream up new projects to start when you are back on your feet.

Pom Pom Quarterly – I have my boss to thank for introducing me to this lovely little British publication. It covers knitting, crocheting, as well as a variety of related interests, and is a magazine I always look forward to receiving and reading from cover to cover.

 


Alpaca Culture

I have liked Alpaca Culture for some time on Facebook. They have kept my newsfeed supplied with some of the most beautiful and adorable photos of alpacas I’ve ever seen. It always brightens up my day to see one of their photos in the midst of memes and ads. If like me, you have a romantic notion (most likely perpetuated by the likes of Rachel Herron’s romance novels) of what it’s like to run an alpaca farm, you will want to browse their site before jumping into it. And if you choose to read the magazine, well, hopefully the realities are not too far off from the romance! Enjoy!


California Inspiration

Mountain sunset - taken while we were stuck in loads of traffic.

Mountain sunset – taken while we were stuck in loads of traffic.

I am back at work on new designs, and I realized as I was flipping through my sketchbook, how much inspiration I’ve been taking from where I live. This is certainly nothing new to artists, but many of the big name fashion designers talk about taking expensive, exotic “inspiration trips” before they work on their next collection.  I don’t believe in waiting for vacation to find inspiration, as I think it is everywhere if you look for it. And in my opinion, one of the best skills you can develop creatively is to find inspiration in your daily life and surroundings, not just when you’re travelling. If you have this skill, then you can pursue your creative passions even if you don’t have the means to travel.

I have loved life in LA practically from the minute I stepped off the plane. That isn’t to say it wasn’t hard relocating here – I was terrified the first day I woke up in our new apartment and realized I didn’t know a single soul, left behind everyone I might have been able to go to coffee with, and didn’t even know where the local grocery store was. It was hard work to get established in a new place, and almost 8 years later, I still get weary sometimes of being the “new girl”. But I did (and still do!) love the overwhelming sense of having a new world to explore. So many different cultures, a huge city to explore, all the sights and scenery that are nothing like where I moved from. And when I travel, I am always reminded when I come home of how happy I am to be here.

PalosVerdes

One of my favorite parts of the coastline. I could walk here for hours, I can’t get enough photos of it, and I will probably design multiple things with this as my inspiration!

Snowcaps

Snowcapped mountains on a beautiful 75-degree LA sunny day. Yes, this is taken from inside the car, on the freeway, as we were driving. Hard to believe it was probably only 20 degrees if you were actually standing on that mountain!

Southern California is quite a dichotomy – my favorite things are the mountains and the ocean. I realized as we were driving home the other day what a special thing it is to be able to take my kids up into the mountains to experience winter and snow, but to also be able to leave all the slush and 10 layers of clothing behind and come back to the balmy 70 degrees in Burbank to work. The day this photo was taken, it was about 75 degrees in the San Fernando Valley, and yet, there are beautiful snowcapped mountains visible from the freeway.

As for food, of course a huge city like LA has practically anything you could dream up. We have always loved alot of ethnic food, so that is not particularly new to us. But one of my favorite discoveries here has been fish tacos. I’m sure other places have them, so I don’t know why they weren’t on my radar before, but for whatever reason, they are one of my favorite LA foods.

Then there are the things that are just backwards compared to everywhere else. If you ever move to LA, don’t get rid of your umbrellas! Yes, it’s true that rain is scarce, but umbrellas are apparently multi-functional. We use them to shield ourselves from the sun when we attend our children’s softball games or other such events. I showed up to my daughter’s first softball game, and the other moms sitting there seemed shocked I didn’t bring my umbrella. But of course!

I have a design in the works based on this photo. The kelp forests are unique to CA, and I want to get my scuba license this year so I can see them in person. I have seen them from an underwater boat - they are like shimmering towers of waving leaves.

I have a design in the works based on this photo. The kelp forests are unique to CA, and I want to get my scuba license this year so I can see them in person. I have seen them from an underwater boat – they are like shimmering towers of waving leaves.

I hope you enjoy seeing my inspirations. If you have moments of feeling uninspired, take a day off to explore where you live. Keep a camera and a sketchbook with you, and consider what makes your surroundings unique. What is your favorite food, what are your favorite plants or animals, or your favorite spot to be outdoors? Usually if you take a moment to look more closely, you will notice things and your inspiration will revive itself.


In 2015…

You may recall from previous posts that I welcome a chance to reflect and renew my resolve. New Year’s, naturally, is one of those times. Our family is just back from a winter break in the mountains, the kids are back at school today, and my husband and I are also doing our best to return to reality. I don’t like unrealistic or impossible resolutions, but I do have things I’d like to work on in the new year.

1. Toxic relationships need to go! I tend to be very open and friendly with people, but the last several years, I’ve been a little too much so, and it’s hurt me deeply when people have taken advantage of it. I also tend to be the “fixer” – instead of letting the other person uphold their end of the friendship, I go too far out of my way to try to make everything work, even when the other person is being blatantly disrespectful. I still believe in being kind and friendly, and in giving everyone a fair chance. But I’ve also realized that when you devote too much time and energy to toxic people, you are diverting it away from the people in your life who really do deserve your best. My resolve for the new year is to not waste any more energy on people who choose not to show common courtesy and respect, and to instead focus my energy on my family and the people in my life who have proven themselves to be true friends. Even though this means a change in certain relationships and I’ve had a hard time with that in the past, I have grown enough to be sure of where I stand. Closely linked to that is learning to listen to my gut right off the bat instead of excusing bad behavior.

2. Being grateful. This includes the big things like two healthy kids and a good husband, and the small things, like the way my cats are happy to pitterpat around me in the mornings when I’m fixing breakfast and school lunches. Focusing on the things you’re grateful for makes it easier to keep negativity at a distance.

3. Gratitude leads into my next resolve, which is to be very controlling about how I think. The last few years, as I dealt with the above-mentioned toxic friendships, I often found myself in a very dark, sad place. It is hard when someone is making you feel bad to realize that it is still up to YOU to decide to stop the cycle and control your own thoughts and emotions. So, in connection with being grateful, I am also resolving to be more in control of my thoughts and who is allowed to affect my emotions.

4. Of course, I also have some artistic goals, in case you were starting to wonder. I have read many articles about the benefits of focusing on one thing at a time instead of trying to do too much multi-tasking. To that end, I will continue my goal from last year of trying to pare down how many projects I have going at one time. It has been beneficial to focus on finishing things, but I still find myself wanting to start too much at once. But I have made progress!

5. Another resolve, artistically speaking, is to continue to develop a habit of sketching regularly. This not only helps improve drawing skills, but it also makes a visual record of fleeting ideas that I’d forget about if I didn’t draw them immmediately! A note about keeping a sketchbook – don’t be intimidated by your drawing skills! The main point of it is to be able to come back to it later – if you can “read” your drawing a month later, then that’s all that matters!

What are your resolutions for 2015? I hope as you look back at 2014, you can see progress on whatever you worked on last year, and that as you look ahead, you feel the same motivation and positivity that I do!


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