Tights to Top Refashion

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Refashionistas… we’ve all seen it. That tutorial about how cutting the crotch out of your old tights makes a killer long-sleeve crop top. But does this really work? It can’t be that easy, can it?

Well, yes. It can. Almost.

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I have my victim lined up – an awesome print on a warm knit pair of tights that are just slightly too small to function as they were originally intended.

And of course I have my idea, which came from this youtube video I found on Pinterest. The creator of the video uses sheer nylon type tights, but the idea is the same, no?

Yes and no. We’ll get to that.

FIRST you cut out the crotch. I went with a wide V-neck type of neckline, but you could pretty much do anything here as long as your head fits through.

Then you STICK YOUR HEAD THROUGH THE HOLE. I think maybe your arms go down the legs too.

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Are we done? Is it that easy? Kind of. This very much works as a finishing point, especially if you are working with tights that have a lot more elasticity. But mine, which were more knit leggings than tights, were too saggy in the arms, with too much bunching of the material under the armpits. But the boob-holding department was on point (ha)!

So I used the very advanced and technical sewing equipment known as a plate and a Sharpie to fix the arm problem.

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Measuring about 7 inches from the bottom of the top (that is the waistband of the leggings), I used a plate to evenly mark out a dip in the fabric for the armpit.

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And then measured a short straight line from the crest of the plate marking toward the waistband, to taper the otherwise sudden change in the cut of the garment. I also measured off a long tapering line from the other side of the crescent all the way down to the cuff of the sleeve/leg to slim down the fit of the arm. I did this for both arms, of course.

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I pinned it and sewed it all up with a zigzag stitch BEFORE cutting the extra fabric, just in case I was unhappy with the result. I wasn’t!

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Hooray! I had successfully eliminated most of that saggage. I proceeded to cut off the extra fabric and finish all the edges with an overcasting stitch (I don’t own a serger yet, but my Brother HS-2000 does a decent job sewing knits on “08” stitch setting.  Time for the fashion show!

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That’s it!

 

-MF

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Mandala Top Pattern Release Sale!

Today is the day!

I’ve been working frantically on creating these Mandala Tops, and the pattern that accompanies them, since my friends started requesting them in May. I have worked this pattern over and over again, in all three sizes, as well as creating charts, editing photos, and revising the design until I was completely satisfied with it.

So I’m very excited to finally release this pattern for sale in my Etsy Shop!

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UPDATE 6/14/16 – This pattern has been revamped! And to avoid confusion, I’ve curtailed the old description that was on this post. To get the latest info on the Mandala Top and the pattern add-ons, see this blog post.

If you like this pattern, please visit my Facebook page and share it with your friends!

You can, of course, also find me on Pinterest and Ravelry.

 

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-MF

Fractal Plying on a Drop Spindle

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Fractal plying seems to be everywhere I look in the spinning world. And for good reason- it’s an interesting way to work with color that adds a bit of spontaneity and surprise to the look of the finished product. I’ve been excitedly waiting for the right moment to spin up the 50/50 Merino Silk top from Corgi Hill Farm, and this seemed to be it.

The quintessential Noddy Shot

The quintessential Noddy Shot

Ben from Schacht Spindle Blog has a wonderful explanation of fractal spinning here. It’s really fairly straightforward for a 2-ply yarn: Take roving, split in half down the middle. Set aside one 1/2 portion, take the other 1/2 portion and split it into quarters.

The 1/2 portion gets spun from end to end into a single, creating long color changes. The quarter portions get spun end to end one after another into one long single with four repeats of shorter color changes. See? Barely any math at all!

The key to keeping things fractal is always spinning from the same direction. Say one end of your roving is red and one is blue. If you start to spin one portion of roving from the red end, you will also start every other portion of roving from the red end as well.

Lovely right? Except I’m working with a drop spindle, which presents unique problems. There’s simply no way I am going to fit 2 oz of laceweight single ply on a 5/8 oz drop spindle, which means that my two portions of fiber can’t be spun or plied as uninterrupted singles. Since most descriptions of fractal plying are on spinning wheels, this problem isn’t mentioned much – you load your 1/2 portion onto a bobbin and your 4 1/8 portions onto a different bobbin – easy. Not so with the spindle – 21 g of fiber loaded on was pushing it.

The only other reference to fractal plying with a drop spindle I have seen so far is the Spinning for Stripes series of posts from “Mom” at Simply Notable. After some comment-area sleuthing, I discovered that Mom using felted joining on her singles to get around this problem.

I am way too uptight and control-freaky for that, plus my attempts at felted joins never seem to hold up (especially not in this case, since my fiber is half silk!). I was going to have to spin separate skeins.

My solution? Spin one of my quarter portions from end to end – load onto a toilet paper roll, and weigh it out (subtracting the weight of the cardboard roll). This portion weighed out to 17 grams.

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The short repeat ply is up front (labeled as 1/4 – 17 g) and the longer repeat is at the back.

Take the 1/2 portion (the roving that is half of the original) and weigh out the first 17 grams, taking care to start at the correct end, and separate the length (as you would to grab a piece – not down the middle). Spin up this 17 grams and load it onto a toilet paper roll. Once plied together with the 17 grams of 1/4 portion, this will be Skein #1.

The first 17 g of the 1/2 portion of roving

The first 17 g of the 1/2 portion of roving

This first part worked awesomely, producing a perfectly matched pair of plies to make into a yarn.

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The first two singles plied together to form the first skein of fractal yarn.

The moment I measured out 21 grams for the next skein, I knew there would be a problem: Due to my imprecise splitting of the roving, my main roving section was not going to measure up to all my 1/4 portions. I was going to have over 10 grams of leftover singles. Disappointing.

Well, next time I will weigh out my roving as I’m splitting it, and hopefully that will help. As for the leftover singles, I will just ply them differently. Carrying on!

The weighing strategy worked well, at least, for making sure my plies were nearly the same length – the yardage for #2 was not perfectly matched like for #1, but it was very close.

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I couldn’t resist posting pictures, even though I am still currently working on producing skein #3. I did mess around with chain/Navajo plying some of the extra fiber, for comparing and contrasting and such.

The Navajo ply method keeps the colors tidily separated

The Navajo ply method keeps the colors tidily separated

Lastly I’d like to add that since my fiber was dyed in a repeating colorway, it’s not really vital to the look of the future FO that I carefully number my skeins – because each skein has a very similar look. However, were I working with a fiber dyed in a gradient colorway the order in which I worked up my skeins would matter a lot more because each skein would contain a long color repeat ply that was different than the other skeins.  Now, more pictures.

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I dubbed this yarn “Bag of Jewels” because of the gemstone colors and the rich sheen the silk adds to the finished product. I am excited to knit something with it, but the work involved with spinning it in the first place is definitely an accomplishment in its own right!

-MF

EDIT 9/8/15 – If you’d like a more in-depth look on how to choose rovings for fractal spinning, here’s a great article (as always) from Knitty.

EDIT 6/7/16 – I ended up crocheting with this fractal ply yarn, if you’re curious to see how fractal ply measures up to being crocheted, you can see the piece featuring this yarn here.  As usual with variegated yarns, crocheted pieces muddle the colors more, but it did turn out lovely all the same. AND I was able to make a knit headband to match.

Tidbits Linen Stitch Bag

Remember Tidbits Linen Stitch? That was only my second post, from what seems like a million years ago (but was only 6 months). Well, that delightful diversion remained hanging from the knitting needle at the very bottom of my WIP basket since I posted that little tutorial. I’ve been cleaning up old hangers-on and scribbling their names out of my project notebook. In the case of this little swath of linen stitching, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it… it was just a matter of getting it done.

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A simple envelope style bag. The ultra-bright colors and the woven look-alike stitch reminded me of the beautiful textiles of South America. The use of various yarn weights and russian joining (which produces some frayed ends poking out here and there) adds to the folksy, rural feel of this piece (aka – messy looking), which I accentuated by adding little tassels made from my handspun, Andean-plied Targhee sample and finishing with an I-cord strap, from the same handspun.

Andean plied Targhee

Andean plied Targhee

The awesome thing about this bag is that it is made exclusively from yarn bits that were under 20 yards in length. I love projects that challenge me to use things that are otherwise doomed to non-usefulness.

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Watching different colors blend together using linen stitch is fun, with the added advantage of a simplistic stitch pattern to zone out on. Linen stitch creates a right side (the woven looking side) and a wrong side (the bumpy garter stitch looking side), so a fold-over bag like this is a great way to use the fabric so that the right side is featured and the wrong side stays hidden.

-MF