Thursday, September 26, 2013

Roll Out The Barrel

I am happy to report that the dirndl was finished in time to wear at Oktoberfest this weekend. I think the in-laws had a great time at the event and I know that I certainly did. Milwaukee must really be growing on me because I'm starting to believe that an event combining good food (two words: roast pig), good beer, good polka music, and good company is just about the best thing ever.

I got several compliments on the dirndl and was very proud to say that I made it myself. I only saw a few other dirndls and was surprised to see that they were outnumbered by lederhosen and lederhosen-like outfits. I'm trying not to succumb to lederhosen envy (is that even a thing?) but husband may just find himself in traditional German garb next Oktoberfest.

Geez, just typing that last sentence makes me want to Google 'lederhosen sewing pattern'. Must resist.

Let's not discuss how my paleness has saturated the camera. Again.

Having worn the dress out for a night, I must say that it is comfortable to wear for all that it is closely fitted. I only have two negative things to say about the outfit, neither of which really concerns the pattern, Folkwear 123. First, there are blouse size issues that I mentioned in my previous post. The second is that the center front boning (which is used to support the hook and eye closures in dress view B) sticks out. The boning was rolled up while stored and the curve does not want to come out. Any suggestions for getting plastic boning to lay flat other than sandwiching it between 2 dictionaries for a while?

Overall, I'm really pleased with the outfit. It's a little plain, but I think that some embroidery or edging on the bodice will liven things up. That's a project for next year. In the meantime, I hope to find many more opportunities to wear this dress!

(And here's the point where the hat-obsessed writer of this blog totally admits to acquiring a new hat at Oktoberfest. What can I say? It was inexpensive and went with German theme. The only problem is that I'm going to have to fight the husband for the hat as it looks just as good on him.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen some photos of my latest work in progress: a dirndl. I've actually been dreaming about making a dirndl since I went to Oktoberfest last fall. I told myself I would make one for this year's Oktoberfest, but I was still awfully surprised when September rolled around and I realized I needed to get at it if I wanted to make that deadline.

Thankfully, I already had the pattern on hand, Folkwear 123, so it was just a matter of buying fabric and actually making the dress. I got some lovely olive gabardine for the dress, white rayon challis for the blouse, and a beautiful purple faux-silk for the apron. It's been fun to branch out into new-to-me fabrics. Plus, I think the fabric choices will significantly improve the look of the final outfit.

I'm getting close to finishing the dirndl but already have some thoughts on this pattern:
  • The dirndl is very fitted in the bodice. I found matching the sizing measurements to my personal measurements to be sufficient to choose the right size to fit me; this makes me think that this pattern is written for little-to-no ease. This sizing estimate worked out so well that I was able to trace the pattern for one size in the bust and another in the waist to get the perfect fit.
  • The version I'm making (View B) uses single fold bias tape as a facing to finish the edges of the bodice. This may be new favorite finishing technique.
  • I made the blouse for a small/average bust I don't think it's sufficient for anything larger than an A-cup. If I make this pattern again, I will use the large bust blouse pattern.

I'm looking forward to wearing my new dirndl when we take the in-laws to Oktoberfest this weekend. It will be so nice to not have 'dirndl envy' this year, though I will probably still admire all of the dresses to get ideas on decorative finishings. I might add some embroidery to the dirndl in the future but for this year it's enough just to have a finished garment. I promise photos next week!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool

It's that time of the year again--time for another visit to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival! I've been going to the festival on and off for a few years, most recently in 2011. It's always a great time, between the yarn shopping, looking at sheep, and watching sheepdog herding. If you have never seen a dog herding sheep, you are missing out on life (here, let me fix that for you).

Clockwise from front left: IsisonEarth, Erulin9, OneNeedleKnitting, MariaCrafts, HoneySpoon, StacyMarie, Jayannell, PorcupineSnuggles, bandbabe, xamonster

This year's festival was particularly notable for the large meet-up of Ravenclaws from the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry. In addition to seeing my former Madison knitting buddies, there were folks visiting from Illinois, Iowa, and many parts of Wisconsin. It's hard to explain to Muggles just how awesome these people are and how not creepy it is to get together with people I only know from the internet.

Shopping-wise, I exercised a lot of restraint this year and came home with only 2 skeins of yarn: MadTosh Merino Light in Calligraphy. It's probably not the thing to go to a local festival and buy yarn you can find anywhere, but this stuff is gorgeous. And I already have the pattern picked out for it: the Orchid Thief shawl (who wants to guess who that pattern is by?).

I will end my Sheep & Wool post in the customary way: with a photograph of a sheep. This lamb is only a day or two old may just be the cutest thing I have ever seen. Ever.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Owl Post

I’m a person with predictable tastes. If you know me, you know I love tea, Harry Potter, knitting Ysolda patterns, and wearing dresses. I try not to splurge on these things too much, but sometimes something comes along that I can’t resist. Like the new "Unofficial Harry Potter Knits" magazine from Interweave.

This magazine contains over 30 Harry-Potter inspired patterns, ranging from sweaters and shawls to socks and mitts. Some of the patterns are overtly Potter, like the O.W.L. mittens and modern house scarves, but most are just beautiful patterns inspired by the books. I especially enjoyed seeing knits from the books, like Hagrid's giant yellow sweater and S.P.E.W. caps, imagined in real life.

The patterns themselves are great but what really makes them stand out is the styling. The models representing Luna, Hagrid, etc. really look like the characters and the scenery is straight out of the books. Taken together, it really makes me wish I had gotten my Hogwarts letter. Alas, another year has gone by and the Hogwarts Express left without me.

I like a lot of patterns in this magazine, but I absolutely adore the O.W.L. mittens and knew at first glance that I had to knit them. They have little owls on the back of the hand but what absolutely gets me are the spells written on the palms. I'm making my pair in two close shades of gray (the actual contrast is a bit better than in the photos) so I can have the secret pleasure of wearing these mittens while still appearing to be a muggle.

If you are a Harry Potter fan and a knitter, I think you'll like this magazine. It won't give you patterns for knits seen in the movies (for that I recommend Charmed Knits), but there are a lot of beautiful wearable garments with echos of Potter in them. I think that's all the better, as I have enough overt Harry Potter stuff as it is.