Saturday, June 22, 2013


I've been planning and working on two dresses.
Dress No 1 is the Burda Ribbon Dress from BurdaStyle Magazine 03 / 2013.

My plan is to make it without the ribbons, to use a bit lighter fabric and lining. I've traced the pattern from the magazine and bought the fabric and the lining. I should really learn about fabrics, I only know that the fabric is poly crepe silk and the lining is poly jersey, I think.
With a bag full of cut and unfinished projects I didn't want to ruin another fine and expensive fabric :)))

I've started my adjustments to the pattern by adding 2 cm to the neckline to make it less open. I'll also have to shorten the above the waist pieces by 2 cm and to shorten the skirt part (well, that's not really worth counting as an adjustment). I'll start with the lining and use it as a muslin for the dress. The pattern does not envision a lining, but I think it would be fairly easy to make and attach one.
However I'm moving really slowly on this project, because I also started

Dress No 2. It was inspired by Elena Kuzmina's latest Missoni style dress. I've bought the same yarn - Alize Diva Batik, but in a different colorway, mine is 3679 in fern green, grey, light yellow,  orange and pink. I only bought three skeins, and I now think I'll need four, so an urgent visit to the yarn shop is in order, while they haven't sold out the yarn from my color batch.
This is where I've got so far - 15 cm from the bottom. I steam blocked a small portion to see how it would look and I like it so far. Because length is important, I plan to knit further 5 cm, then transfer the knitting on a longer cord and steam block it properly and to repeat the process every 20 cm to avoid unwanted sagging and lengthening in the end.

I've planned my dress with knee-length and the pattern I've drafted so far is as follows:
Cast on 288 sts, distributed in 16 repeats of 18 sts each.
The chevron chart is:
m1, k1, m1, k7, k3tog, k7
The decreases will be included in the chart - 6 decreases of 16 sts each, a total of 96 stitches decreased from the bottom to the waist.
The decreases will be in the k3tog part - m1, k1, m1, k7, k4tog, k6, m1, k1, m1, k6, k4tog
Thus every second repeat will be decreased by 2 stitches, alternating the decreased repeats a total of 6 times - when the knitting is 21 cm long, 26 cm, 31 cm, 35 cm, 40 cm and 46 cm. This is what I've planned up to the waist so far, we'll see how it goes and then I'll calculated the increases for the bust and the form of the neckline. I have an idea to make it straight from the armsycles to the shoulders and to regulate the width of the shoulders with some piping and an Icord. If I ever get there :))))

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cobalt in Purple

Pattern: Cobalt by Kim Hargreaves
Yarn: Alize Sunny 220 g and YarnArt  Violet 140 g, held together
Needle: 3 mm moss stitch rib and neckline, 3.5 mm body
Time to knit: three weeks with pauses, hesitation and a dye job

I said it before and I'll say it again - this is one of the most enjoyable patterns I've knitted. The diamonds chart is easy to remember and addictive to knit, the construction is simple and elegant classic Kim that I like so much. I'll would knit it again with pleasure if a friend or a family member would like me too.

I'm pretty happy with my dye job too - aubergine is so much more my color and who knew it would go so well with light green. And BTW I dyed my hair in aubergine last month too, so - it goes well with my hair now :)))

And a few photos to break the monotony of my boring standard poses. A few days ago Gail posted a link to Rachel's vlog on posing when presenting your finished work, which I found very interesting and took mental notes to have her tips in mind when shooting this cardigan. And of course, when in front of the camera, I was again the same old me with the same old stances and facial expressions and the few pictures where I tried to be interesting look pretty silly:

Monday, June 17, 2013


My Cappuccino turned Aubergine cardigan is ready and I am happy with it! I like the color and I like the fit. But after a fortnight of rainy days and cooler weather, the temperatures today peaked 33C - not exactly a cardigan weather :))) Nevertheless, I'll organize a modelled photosession soon, and until then - two very amateurish collages:

I registered on Polyvore today, planning to make a fashion set with the cardigan. But then I abandoned the uploading of pictures of the cardigan to the common pool, so here's a very crude collage, made with cut and paste of the cardigan on top of the set I made:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

... Or Try Dyeing

This is a post about color and as always when I speak about color through my pictures I am exasperated that I cannot catch the true color of items with my camera and show it on the computer screen. And this is especially true about the last picture, which is reddish while the true color is purple-brown aubergine.

So, it seems I am one of those people who don't know what they want. And I'm also in a mood for experiments. Because knitting for me is not so much about the clothes themselves, I don't really "need" another cardigan, it's mostly about the process in its synergy of color, yarn, texture and design. What I want and need in the end is the satisfaction that I've made something I like.

And because the yarn market in my country is limited and I've been knitting intensively for the last three years, I've already tried the yarns and colors that would be my easy choices. Therefor this summer I'm experimenting with yarn combinations and colors I don't usually knit. And finding that not always the colors I like are the colors that fit me or that I would wear. As was the case with Gardenia and the coral-cream combination, which I like so much, only not on me. Or my latest cardigan - Cobalt. I liked the color combination of light and darker beige so much in the beginning. The knitting process is easily the most enjoyable I've ever experienced - I want to knit this cardigan again right away, I LOVED every minute of knitting it. But when I basted the five finished pieces and put the cardigan on me two days ago, the reaction was MEEH! The cardigan looked old womanish and dull. No point in frogging it - I like the design, I like the fit, it's the color again that troubles me. So, I decided to take a risk and dye a knitted item.

After an hour of googling the cotton dyes sold locally, I chose DYLON. Because I had in mind a pair of old corduroy pants that I've had for years but worn no more that a couple of times because of their light beige color. The corduroy fabric is 60% cotton, 35% polyester and 5% elastic thread. I've been planning a refashioning job on these pants for months, but the local dry cleaning studio, which also provides dyeing services, refused to dye them because of the poly content. And DYLON is advertised as capable of dyeing cotton-poly fabrics. The pants are really out of fashion - high waist and flared legs, but the fit is nice and the flaring can be easily fixed.

The corduroy pants

Cobalt cardigan in beige

If the color suited me, these two would have made a nice combo.

After I made the decision to dye the cardigan and chose the color, the only question that remained to be solved was whether to finish the cardigan and then dye it or to dye it while still in parts. Dyeing in parts had multiple advantages - blocking of the parts after dyeing, more homogeneous distribution of the dye and no danger of partially dyed stitches near the seams. So I decided in favour of dyeing the unfinished cardigan and some unknitted yarn, needed for the neckpiece:

And then I decided to take the experiment even further and chose the dye which is for machine dyeing. I know, that's crazy, but I really wanted to see what would happen if I put the knitting in the washing machine :) The color I liked is Burlesque Red, which I would rather call aubergine. No other mordant is required but the package of dye and 500 g of salt.

So, the experiment begins. To be machine dyed:
- a pair of corduroy pants, cotton-polyester fabric;
- knitted cotton fabric, made from combed cotton and mercerized cotton;
- two small skeins of yarn, 15 g mercerized cotton (light beige) and 40 g combed cotton (slightly darker beige)

1. I washed thoroughly the pants, the cardigan and the yarn, using mild detergent (Perwoll).
2. Rinsed heavily in tepid water.
3. Set the program of the washing machine to cotton, 40C, easy ironing (less spinning during the washing), hold rinse (no spinning cycle).
4. Emptied the pack of dye into the drum.

5. Covered the dye with the 500g of salt and put in the damp items.

6. Ran the cotton cycle, no spinning.
7. Then ran again the cotton cycle with the same settings, adding detergent (Perwoll) and fabric softener (Silan).
8. Ran an empty cycle with detergent to clear the machine. The producer promises that the dye will not damage my machine or affect subsequent washes. Probably I'm not exactly the trusting type, but I've planned my next two laundries (I already ran the first) to be only black items and then two more colored laundries, to be on the safe side. I really wouldn't want a purple stain on a favourite Tshirt or something.

9. Hung out the pants and the yarn and blocked the cardigan pieces.

The yarn and the pants are already dry and dyed in a lovely purplish eggplant color. The cardigan is still drying, I'll add a photo tomorrow.

Observations: The dye is great, I would strongly recommend it to anyone. The color is fixed, after the washing with the detergent there was no color transfer from the knitted pieces to the towels, no color bleeding. The two cotton yarns dyed differently - the mercerized lighter cotton became darker, absorbing more dye and showing excellent durability of the thread. The combed cotton absorbed less dye and showed some pilling. The pants dyed perfectly and darker than the combed cotton, despite of the poly contents, which is again an excellent testimonial for the dye.
Mistakes: shouldn't have left the yarn ends of the knitting unweaved, in the end everything was a mess and I spent at least an hour untangling the yarn. Wouldn't try dyeing large quantities of yarn in the washing machine again.
Would I try DYLON again: I really recommend the dye, it is the best I've used so far - strong, saturated color, no bleeding, easy to follow instructions. The only disadvantage is the price - it is 20 times more expensive than the local dyes and cost-wise intentional purchase of yarn to be dyed with DYLON would be unjustified. Still, I want to try the hand wash dye too, if tempted by a color.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Homemade Lemonade

On Sunday we visited a friend's country house at the foot of the Lyulin mountain, picked cherries, walked around the hills, gathered fresh thyme (and I forgot to take my camera, such a pity. I'm addicted to taking pictures, I missed it a lot). Anyway, our friend treated us to homemade lemonade he made from elderflower - a plant, which is fairly common around that region and just in bloom. So, we gathered a handful of flowers and tried the recipe at home.

It's very simple:
Leave the flowers and one sliced lemon to macerate in a litre of water for two days.
Then remove the flowers and filter the water.
Add sugar and citric acid and keep refrigerated to avoid fermentation.

Traditionally the lemonade is made as a concentrated sugar syrup, which is served diluted with water.
We decided to make it only slightly concentrated by adding only a cup of sugar and 5 g of citric acid to a litre of lemonade, to be served diluted with water in 1:1 ratio.

Fresh and light drink for a hot summer day :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sticky Chocolate Cake

Yesterday I saw this cake on Hege Troms' blog, Cloudberry with a link to her cooking blog, where she has provided the recipe for the cake and because our family are all huge chocolate lovers we decided to try it. We only changed the quantity of sugar, three cups seemed too much, so we added two cups. And I also think our quantity of cocoa was probably bigger, because the  three spoons we added were overfilled. To be specific, it was Gaby actually who mixed the ingredients and baked the cake under some supervision from me.

Very easy and delicious cake for the morning coffee (or milk), but be warned - every bite of this is a brick in the waist :)))

Шоколадов сладкиш по рецепта на Hege Troms от Cloudberry:

3 яйца
2 чаши захар
2 пакета ванилия
3 препълнени супени лъжици какао на прах
1.5 чаши брашно
125 г разтопено краве масло

Разбийте яйцата със захарта, добавете ванилията, какаото, брашното и разтопеното масло. Изсипете в намаслена тавичка (аз застилам с намаслена хартия за печене) и печете в предварително загрята фурна на 180 C за около 35-40 мин. Поръсете с пудра захар. Консумирайте умерено :))))

Friday, June 7, 2013

Oy! What about the button holes?!

My mind was really preoccupied with some stuff yesterday and I wasn't paying attention at all when I picked my knitting of the second front. First I forgot the waist decreases, so I had to unravel some 8 rows, no big deal. But in the evening, while I was knitting blissfully and watching Lie to Me, it suddenly struck me - oy! I had to make buttonholes on this front, damn! It did cross my mind to use tick-tack buttons (can't remember how these were actually called in English), but it didn't feel right, I'd rather unravel the front. Anyway, I put the knitting aside. This morning I found that I had also made a mistake in the double moss border some 9 rows below the current row. And another mistake in the current row, which I found 5 rows later (oh, my!!!).

And because unravelling is the easiest way out and one can always resort to it in the end, first I decided to try mending the buttonband locally. I dropped the middle two stitches to the 28th row, where I had to make the first hole, knitted two together and one yarn over and continued to knit these two stitches in double moss. This photo is half way up the mending:

When I reached the place, where I had made the mistake in the double moss, knitting two rows in single moss, I dropped 5 of the stitches of the buttonband, keeping the border stitch and continued knitting these locally until the current row. There is still that little irregularity in the border stitches, a bit visible on two or three rows, but I didn't want to risk wonky border stitches, if I tried to mend them too. I'm relieved I didn't have to reknit the front, the repair seems acceptable and now I have two button holes:

Here's where I've got so far. This cardigan is really addictive, a very enjoyable process:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

MMM'13 - Final Week and Recap

The whole undertaking of MMM'13 would feel incomplete to me, if I didn't report the last three days of the month. So here's what I chose - two repeats and the new cardi you saw only yesterday :)

Day 29 - Anais Cropped Cardigan by Kim Hargreaves. Nice yarn, fabulous color, beautiful pattern, a favourite knit. The RTW dress however is in disgrace with me and I'm thinking of cutting a Tshirt of a kind out of it, it's a nice silk jersey, begging for refashioning.

Day 30 - My linen shrug, in combination with a wooden necklace I made from ready-made parts and a RTW striped Tshirt. I need more striped Tshirts. May be I'll sew one myself.

Day 31 - Gardenia cardigan. This one might go to Gaby as a light cotton cardigan for the summer evenings, when she hangs out with her friends. She tried it on yesterday and it fits her well, but more importantly, these are her colors, they really suit her complexion.

So, Me-Made-May 2013 is over, hurray! Wearing all of my weather appropriate self-made clothes was not so difficult, but taking a picture of that every day was the real challenge and it got a bit old in the end. What I appreciate about such self-inflicted tasks is that they push you over the limits and the experience is usually educational. The last challenge made me change entirely my concept of photo shooting outfits. This year I dared myself to take most of the pictures with a timer and a tripod. I still have issues with relaxing, acting natural and smiling to the camera, but I'm working on that. And though tiring, taking the picture was at the same time the most interesting part of the game.

As for the outfit lessons - I need more dresses and skirts, especially for the summer. I'm a jeans girl, but looking at my pictures, I see that jeans every day is boring and at least during the summer I should wear my dresses more often.

Clothes making plans - I'll continue knitting summer cardigans, because I love wearing them. I might crochet another bag. And I'll try to sew a few wearable things too. The accomplished seamstresses at the MMM'13 flickr group were a true inspiration and I sincerely admired their collections of dresses and Tshirts. If I ever decide to take part in the monthly challenges again, it will probably be in at least three or four seasons, when I have accumulated enough new clothes :)