Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time


Another Flower Top Finished and Sweater Update

I love it! From Vogue 8151

I love it! From Vogue 8151

My second flower top is finished! The only tiny quirk I don’t like is the hem. I was using a double needle that broke and I had to trim off part of it and start over. I think the double needle broke because I had a different kind of thread in one of the needles. Anyway, not having two spools of thread (and frankly just not wanting to be bothered) I did my own double hem stitch. It’s okay. Here’s the back


This is a very flattering shirt. The curves are all where they should be and I was amazed that the dart was great in a knit. I am going to make more of these but for now I’m heading back to another pattern I also love that I adjusted to fit. I would have made these last two out of that pattern also but I mistakenly ordered less fabric than I needed. This pattern only uses 1.75 yards – but it uses it all. I have many t-shirt patterns and am going to get going on a couple more after the Holidays. I think I’ll be baking until then.

In the meantime, I have snuck up on completing my Boxy sweater. So far this is where I’m at


There will be multi-colored ribbing on the sleeve cuffs and also on the bottom. I really love the way this has turned out. Since it’s the first sweater I’ve had any hopes of finishing without major mistakes (knock on wood) I am super thrilled with it.

That’s what I’ve been doing – plus a little planning for sewing after the Holidays – here’s a pattern high on my list

Vogue 1367

Vogue 1367

I have several fabrics for this shirt. I may need to invest in an edge-stitch foot before I start though.

So fun times – I was glad I could finish some things without tearing out my hair!



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Working on a Sweater



Over the last couple of months, I have had no energy to start new projects. I’m treading water, waiting for enthusiasm to return. I don’t like being in these periods of stress, gloom and doom. But I am and there it is.

While I have toyed with ideas for shirts (gave it up), vests (gave it up), more shirts (gave it up), I have at least been able to continue knitting. It doesn’t require any effort for me. As long as I’m not under pressure for a deadline and as long as the knitting is easy. Very easy.

I started knitting around my birthday last year. I had learned the basic cast on and off technique as a teen, but I never followed a pattern or knit anything other than a scarf. It was so time-consuming! Now I am happy to be time-consumed because I have so much time on my hands.

This sweater is the Boxy by Joji from that I got from Ravelry. I had been working on a pink one but made so many mistakes that I knew I wouldn’t wear it. So I started this one – with the pattern and it’s requirements fresh in my mind. I know that I have to learn to do a three-needle bind off and I am committed to doing that. Doing it any other way distorts the pattern on the sleeves and shoulder.



I like this sweater a lot and I know once I conquer the binding off and getting all the pattern elements correct without making a major error, I will wear it.

Thank God knitting is something I can do to keep my hands, and my mind busy. Once again, having time off from visiting my husband at the nursing home, I’m in the sewing room waiting for inspiration to strike! With persistence, it will.

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Quince and Co.

The Fabulous Saco River Dyehouse

The Fabulous Saco River Dyehouse

I almost hesitate to write this post. Why you say? Because I am afraid you will all go buy the yarn I have my sites on and I won’t get any. I’m going to take that chance.

I learned about Quince and Co. while browsing Ravelry for patterns. I came across this awesome vest called Georgia by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. She is a master knitwear designer. You can see her stuff on Ravelry.

Georgia by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

Georgia by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

In that pattern she used Quince and Co.’s Tern yarn. It is a combination of 75% American wool and 25% silk. I bought it in the barnacle color. This yarn was fun just to roll into a ball. Nice and soft and not fuzzy or scratchy. The color reminded me of a nice cup of latte’.

The vest has gone the way of most “I can’t do this” projects only because I ran out of yarn and I had made so many mistakes I just said hey go onto something else. You’re done with this. It was a good first project in that I was able to practice the rib pattern – I don’t like the rib pattern at all. I forget where I’m at. I just knit 2 purl 2 and for a while it will look like a rib and then boom it doesn’t and I have to tink it and try again. Sigh. Not being an experienced knitter I don’t know if I will ever get over my fear of ribbing.

When I started this project and my new fascination with making sweaters back in December 2012, Quince and Co. was in the process of refurbishing an old mill to use as a dyehouse. The small dyehouse they had used had closed and they were left with a problem. Too small a company to use a large dye house with big lot requirements and too large to stand over pots of dye and stir in their kitchens. Bubble bubble.

They decided, along with a couple other companies, to start their own dye house. They found the mill in Biddeford, Maine and began the huge undertaking of making it a dye house. On their blog you can see before pictures and get a sense of how much work they had to accomplish to get this up and running.

Not only did they need to refurbish the building, they also needed, I presume, to get the dyeing down right. If I lived anywhere near Portland I would be standing at their door begging them to let me work there. For free even. I love dyeing anything. I have stopped short of the cat, but only because she bites and scratches and wouldn’t let me put her in a pot of water ……………

Since I don’t live in Portland, mores the pity, and I have a ton of stuff I have to do here – I just dream about what it would be like to work in that dyehouse. The pictures of the mill before and during rehab can be seen here and you will be amazed at the work done.

But lest you forget, they make yarn. Glorious yarn in alpaca, American wool and Tern which is blended with silk and a pure linen called Sparrow. They make yarn in these gorgeous colors that look like the shore to me here in Maine. The colors are those of nature and the yarn is the yarn of every knitter’s dream.

It does not end with color or yarn. Quince and Co. prints some of the most glorious patterns by top knitwear designers you will ever see. Hannah Fettig, Gudrun Johnston, etc. Hannah’s Featherweight sweater has been in the top 10 most popular patterns on Ravelry FOREVER. It’s a gorgeous raglan open cardigan and you can play with it – add a fancy stitch to the edge, make it longer, make it shorter ……………. I have the pattern. I only need the yarn. Which I will get from Quince and Co.

Featherweight by Hannah Fettig

Featherweight by Hannah Fettig

It is only my addiction to fabric that keeps me from buying yarn from Quince and Co. daily. I’m finishing up my Boxy by Joji – also on the top 10 of Ravelry’s most popular – and then I’m on to Featherweight or Brise if it is still warm when I’m knitting. Brise is Hannah’s cardigan in Sparrow – a linen with exquisite colors, many of which are new and just out of production.

Quince and Co. is a knitter’s find – a jewel in the wonderful state we call Maine. I urge you to go to their site – browse and see if you can get out without buying a ton of yarn. Just leave the undyed Osprey alone. It’s mine.

Limited Edition Osprey Special

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Wow …………… this is hard ………

I spent almost all day yesterday learning to thread the serger. Or trying to thread the serger. I thought I had it done but when I tried to serge it just made a motor noise and wouldn’t move. Hopefully it will move once I get it threaded right. I want one of those Jet-Air threading sergers. What the hey it’s only $1700 more than this one ……. no I’ll learn this one.

I think if I ever get this threading down I will love it. I’ve determined that I will learn to thread this correctly now so that I don’t always want not to use it because it’s intimidating. Once I learn it I am going to be okay. Whimper.

I got my “jeez I shouldn’t have” load of fabric in Tuesday. It is wonderful and I can’t wait to get going on all of it. I have been busy with taking pictures and putting stuff up for sale on the web so I haven’t had much time.

I’ve also been into the attic to drag stuff out. DH is a packrat and we have so much stuff that hasn’t been out of boxes for years – and not just from our last move. It’s time to cull the madness. I finally gave up on my spinning idea too.

Last year I bought a spinning wheel thinking I could spin yarn and sell it to earn money for the overhead here at the Urban Zoo. I found out a couple of things – it is not easy to spin sea cell and soy silk — and you need a lot of accessories in order to spin what you want with a basic wheel. I really needed to add a jumbo sliding-hook flyer and bobbins and a three prong lazy kate. Not to mention I needed to buy fiber that isn’t sea cell and soy silk. The cost of fiber to spin enough yarn to make a sweater large enough for me – ! – would run around $125 and up, depending on the quality, softness and general loveliness of the fiber. Then I would need to spin it. Then I would need to dye the yarn ………

I am a new knitter having come back to the hobby after learning the basics many years ago. When I say basics, I mean basics. I could basically cast on, cast off and knit/purl straight. I never learned how to read a pattern, shaping a garment or different stitches. I am fascinated by knitting and have almost completed my first pullover in a dusty pink alpaca from Nordic Mart. I am using Joji’s Boxy pattern which you can find on Ravelry. It’s in the most popular sort method – like number 3 or 4. It is beautiful.

So between sewing and knitting I have enough to do what with DH needing a lot of attention during his waking hours. Now if I can only conquer this bad boy

My Mother's Day Present!

My Mother’s Day Present!

I ordered a Style Arc pattern too. Chloe offers a freebie every month with the purchase of any pattern. I would buy more if the shipping from Australia wasn’t so high. I love her patterns. They are full which means there’s none of this “cut two on fold” thing going on and they are on blueprint paper – not tissue. This makes it easier. I also love that there is one size per pattern. I don’t have to worry about all those other cutting lines. And they fit. I have two I make a lot. One is the Laura dress which I have altered to be a top. Somehow dresses with leggings don’t do it for me at the age of 61. I’m still a babe – I’m just an old babe. I also have the Cruise Club Kim dress which I lengthened to a maxi. That one I had to take in about 3″ on each underarm seam to keep it from bagging. Better I should have to make a pattern smaller than larger. I made the dress last spring out of a fantasically soft navy denim jersey. I love it and wear it with a cardigan I made from Miss Moneypenny’s Twinset by Hotpatterns. For that I used a panel print cotton knit in an abstract blue, black and cream with all sorts of pattern pieces and faces, etc. on it. I will have to get a picture of that.

So here’s my new patterns from Style Arc

Marie_Jacket_5109b2ef62024 MAY-13-Special

The top is going to be made out of this fabric


This is from Emma One Sock and it was in the order I received Monday. It is much prettier in real life. The Marie jacket – oh dear I have been haunting the online fabric shops for a digitally printed ponte. I found one at Tessuti Fabrics but it is now sold out. I need a ponte to hold the weight of the zipper. Back to searching ……….

I have more fabric coming. What you say? I will need to sneak this in when it arrives. Past the deadpan stare of DH and DS. Yes, I do need this fabric and yes I am worth it.



The last fabric will be a V-neck shirt from Vogue 1247


McCall's M6553 Fashion Star Pattern

McCall’s M6553 Fashion Star Pattern

This pattern is for the first fabric – the ODL print. I may make a jacket instead and if I do it will be a take on this look

Very wearable

Very wearable

Not however with my stomach showing. That would scare everyone – most of all me. But still a jacket, with sleeves, in this basic shape,

I also have three sewing books on their way

drapedrap3 pattern shapeshape

From drape drape 3 I am going to make this


and I found the perfect fabric for it at Gorgeous Fabrics

Whew this is cute

I should be all set for spring/summer clothes and on into the fall. I go back to work July 1 so I hope to have most of these done by then — here’s hoping!

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Will Work for Yarn

Picture this. A 61-year-old on the corner with a cardboard sign saying “Will Work for Yarn.” Kind of like the depression – only really depressed because she NEEDS yarn. And lots of it. Or fiber to spin – that’s good too. Food would be good – she spent all the grocery money on fabric …………….

Such is my life. While trying to adhere to the spiritually simple life and not accumulating everything I see and don’t need – I. CANNOT. STOP.

I am actively selling stuff  I no longer want on Ebay in order to buy stuff I probably don’t need. Thank God I don’t use credit cards. It’s fun until you get to your credit limit (in about a day) and then the fun stops. I want them to make a credit card with flexible payments. That would get a lot of people using them again. Bad idea.

It’s not bad enough that I honestly will work for yarn – I get frustrated when my favorite yarns start selling out and I can’t buy them. There was a sale last month on Knitting Fever Silk for $15.99 a skein. Yes, that’s a sale – it’s 34.99 usually. Well all the colors I liked were gone gone gone by payday. Whimper.

Sigh. I thought I’d give you all some pictures to drool over – just in case you have a yarn obsession too. And these are all silk so hey they’d be great to knit in summer – under the apple tree in a comfy chair with Leonard Cohen on the iPod ……………… maybe a nice glass of wine next to your chair ……………….. and your family fixing dinner for you so you can finish faster …………… and everyone cleaning house so you can finish faster. And then a yarn fairy drops down beside you and says “You can buy all the yarn you want”any time you see it”, causing you to swoon …………….


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Knitting and the Life Behind the Wool

I’ve recently started following Juniper Moon Farm and Shepherd Susie on WP. I’ve had so much fun during lambing season watching the little gals and guys come into this world – well, seeing their pictures after they are here.

This farm is the epitome of sustainable. It is life in action. Susie’s trials and tribulations are the trials and tribulations of all of us – but she has a secret weapon – the love from all of her animals. In the photos she takes you can see the love from the eyes of the lambs. When I gaze upon them I am so glad I do not eat meat and I wish desperately that no one would.

Susie sells Yarn Shares on her website – she was the pioneer in fiber CSAs which help the farmer financially throughout the year maintain their farm and gives the owner of the share a stake in the farm. When you purchase a CSA you get fiber or yarn. What a treat! It is enough just to see the babies and then to get the wool – oh my that is heaven!

Susie is moving now. She packed up all the critters on a van and took off to her temporary home until she can find that just right place for her and the babies. This is a monumental task, as we who have ever moved know. I’ve moved 16 times in 35 years of marriage and countless other times before marriage – but I never had to haul a trailer of animals behind me. My wish for all of them is a safe arrival and enjoyment of their new adventure.

Soon’s the ship comes in – I’m buying a CSA. It doesn’t cost any more than buying a few skeins of yarn from the retail shop and it is so much more IMPORTANT.  All knitters and spinners – heads up – charge to the website above and let’s get cracking! You know you want that wool – and those cute little lambs can’t wait to give it to us!

I’ve added some pictures of baby lambs here – none of these are Susie’s lambs but you can see her lambs on her blog – there’s a link at Fiber Farm.

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Today Might Be Thursday ………

Michelle Lesniak Franklin's Awesome Design

Michelle Lesniak Franklin’s
Awesome Design

Hello! Today may be Thursday to the rest of you but for me ………IT’S THE PROJECT RUNWAY FINALE!

I will admit that I am a little bit of a LUNATIC about this show. I haven’t watched it for a couple of years …….. never turned it on. I think because 1) I was working full time and in bed before 8:30 pm and 2) I was in a bad damn mood because I was working full time.

Needing my time to create – I get pissed when I don’t have that time. Two days off isn’t enough time to do all the chores, rest the brain and create at the same time. I managed during those two years to cut something out one day and then sew it up over a couple of weekends. But it wasn’t enough down time for me.

I started watching this season when Samantha was knocked off. I thought she had some great ideas and her last outfit probably wasn’t that awesome. And then Richard – I think Richard is out there. He’s not bad as a designer at all. I think he has to work in his comfort zone – not doing weird stuff. I sympathize with him, being a person who sews knits A LOT too. I love knits. I like solid knits, printed knits and I’m nuts about the new digitally printed knits too. You can find some great ones at Tesutti Fabrics online. Google it because it’s a site in Australia – free shipping over $150. Even to us.

You all probably know that I am enthralled with Michelle Lesniak Franklin’s work. The shapes, cut, meticulous finishing and style of her clothing speaks of Eileen Fisher to me. Well maybe Eileen on drugs – but classic, edgy, clean and wearable.

You all also know that I don’t get why Patricia Michaels is still there. I haven’t liked any of her designs, I use that term loosely. The designs don’t work as clothing. Fabric and paint manipulation is one thing. Fashion is another. What is she thinking? A jacket with a black dickey over it is not style. She went to Paris? And Michelle stayed home?

And Stanley – I love Stanley – I would want him to win if I didn’t want Michelle to win. His clothing is classic and forward leaning all at the same time. He can construct better than anyone. He does complain too much about his helpers though. He needs to calm that down.

Tonight we’ll see who wins ……………………. I’ll bet Swatch from Mood Designer Fabrics gets to stay up late to watch the show!