Tuesday, March 24, 2009

end-of-springtime sweater renewal

it feels like we're in the final throws of spring here in the bay area, and if you're like me you're itching to wear some summer clothes just to encourage the season along. but i'm learning that it's advisable - no matter how anxious you are for summer - to at least bring along a sweater or two to combat the ever-changing bay climate.
i've got a lot of sweaters, but honestly i've either worn them till i'm sick of them throughout the winter, or they have holes in them, and/or don't actually fit me anymore.
so in the spirit of march mending month, and always in the spirit of conserving resources in this economy (the above and below posters are courtesy of the u.k.'s wartime "make do and mend" campaign) i've collected some options for sprucing up your sweater wardrobe.

option 1: fix a snag

i'll admit that when i snag a sweater my usual response involves cursing rolling the loose end into a ball, tugging at the edges of the sweater, and praying it stays put. i can't say this technique has ever actually worked long-term, so i'm glad to provide you with a super easy tutorial on what you're really supposed to do when you snag your sweater.

option 2: mend a hole

if you've got a more substantial hole (rather than just a loose thread bit from the snag) you can easily mend it - knits are generally really forgiving; i've done many a sloppy i'm-on-the-train-to-work-and-i'm-determined-to-mend-this-hole type of mending jobs on sweaters and you really can't tell at all. so even if you don't consider yourself a seamster/seamstress i think this is a repair you can handle. here's a little video tutorial:

How to Sew a Hole -- powered by ExpertVillage.com

option 3: embellish over a hole

i like this idea of embellishing over a sweater hole because it both makes the item wearable again as well as adds a brand-new appeal. i still recommend mending your hole first before adding embellishments. plus this option will cover up any weirdness you may have created while mending that hole.

option 4: crochet a patch

i had to include this hole patching idea because i think it's so interesting. you're basically crocheting into the perimeter of the sweater hole - this method is for big holes - and crocheting a spiral into the middle. i like it.

option 5: let's be honest, you're never going to wear that again.

part of spring cleaning is a realistic assessment of what you're hanging onto despite knowing that you'll never really wear it. i've got several sweaters that fit into that category but i'm just unwilling to toss them. i just think it's a pity to get rid of something as potentially useful as a sweater.
i'm willing to be reasonable enough to admit that it's no longer useful as a sweater, so here are a couple projects you can make out of old sweaters:

recycled sweater animals

yes, this project is brought to you by martha stewart (don't judge me). aren't they cute? the pattern looks super easy; i love the idea of upcycling a well-loved sweater into a stuffed animal, and i'm always looking for gift ideas for friends' babies.
you'll need to felt a wool sweater to start off with for this project, and martha doesn't explain that part in her online pattern, so here's a tutorial on machine felting - basically you're just washing the sweater in hot water until the fibers mat together.

recycle that yarn!

i recently needed to buy enough yarn to knit a sweater - more on that in a minute - and i realized
a) that's a lot of yarn, and
b) it costs a ton of money
so now i'm looking at those sweaters in the back of my drawer in a whole new way. inthe way a hungry wolf looks at a wooly sheep, i suppose.
it is, in fact, possible to recycle old sweaters into reusable yarn - and they tell you the best way to go about it at craft leftovers.if you're not a knitter, but like to take things apart you can always give your plunder to a knitting friend - one thing about knitters, we can't seem to turn down free yarn.

option 6: make your own

i found this sweater pattern online and fell in love - i really like owls. so in typical fashion i got really excited and bought the yarn (ugh) and started knitting - and then my enthusiasm ran over a speedbump and i haven't picked it up since. the speedbump was gauge. testing gauge is recommended for anything you're knitting that has a pattern, to make sure what you're making is similar in size to what the person to created the pattern was making. gauge is created by the particular combination of the weight of yarn you're using, the size or your needles, and how tension you use while you're knitting. i've never really understood how gauge works in a pattern, and i have very little patience for knitting something that is not actually the sweater i'm so anxious to be making, so i rarely test my gauge. i did test the gauge on this one, and instead of knitting up a nice square, i made a long skinny rectangle. but then i didn't really know what to do about my gauge being off, so i just proceeded to try making the sweater and seeing how it turned out. it turned out small. really small.

so now it's sitting on the needles waiting for me to figure out what to do.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

spring cleaning roundup

the apple blossoms are out and i am ready for spring.
here's a little collection of spring cleaning tips i've rounded up this week:

march is "mending month" over at craft magazine - and they have posted some great tips on mending and cleaning, including these great stain removal tips.
when i learned the bit about baby powder on grease stains my life changed for the better. somehow i'm constantly dripping oil on my clothes.

they've also got great advice on removing sweaty armpit stains from your cotton t-shirts. you know you've got them.
now that i've got a sewing machine, i'm determined to treat it nicely and care for it so it doesn't get cranky. if you've got one i encourage you to take this opportunity to pamper your sewing machine with this spring cleaning for your sewing machine tutorial.

finally, if you've got a much loved quilt around your house that's seen better days, i found this useful tutorial on patching up those ripped spots.

if you've got spring cleaning tips to share please send them my way.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

bacon hugs.

giving gifts is one of my favorite little pleasures.
especially if it's the perfect gift.
so when i found this item via craftastrophe i was thrilled.
not only is it so true,
and we both share a serious love for bacon.
but it's especially funny to give a jew.
and supporting independent artists and crafters is always a good idea.

happy half-birthday, sele!