Monday, February 16, 2015

Triple Plait Scarf, Mycra Pac Field Trip & More


Triple Plait Infinity Scarf

Despite the fact that it's been a fairly insipid winter here in the Bay Area, I've been doing some knitting.

(Seriously, we've been having the most gorgeous spring-like weather, while the east coast is being pummeled with snow. But before you get too jealous, know that we are in a major drought. Think about avoiding showers (or taking really short showers), and not watering any plants, or doing fewer loads of laundry or dishes, and maybe you won't envy us so much. And to those of you in the horrible weather, I hope your misery ends soon!)

I saw this pattern on Pinterest, was compelled to buy it, and immediately started shopping for yarn. You can see my Ravelry review, but the summary recap is that I used Noro Silk Garden yarn in a black-to-brown ombre and I lengthened the braids.

Blocking it flat
(The white yarn is waste yarn for the provisional cast-on. This is thrown away when the live stitches are picked up and the scarf is joined into a ring.)

Field Trip to Mycra Pac

Have you ever heard of Mycra Pac?

Mycra Pac is a local company that makes high-end, boutique ready-to-wear. They mostly make raincoats. In fact, their signature raincoat, called the Donatella, is sold world wide. It features an a-line shape, raglan sleeves, a pleated hood, is made from a single-thickness of fabric, and is reversible. Their coats come with a coordinating bag and you can fold up your coat, placing it into the bag, or squash it into a suitcase. Because they are made from a single thickness of fabric, they are very lightweight and they resist wrinkles, so are perfect for travel.

Here are a couple examples of the Donatella. Note how the pleating gives the collar a lot of body—it can be worn different ways and forms a hood when it's raining.

But that's only one style of coat that they make. They actually make different styles of coats, not all reversible and not all for rain, and they make other things (such as vests) and accessories (such as hats, scarves and bags).

I've loved Mycra Pac for a long time and I own a couple of their raincoats, purchased on sale at a local boutique (which has sadly closed).

Mycra Pac is a very rare institution. They are a local company. Their offices are in the East Bay where they design their garments and make their samples. Most of their manufacturing takes place in San Francisco. What a gift to local sewers! Since they manufacture locally, we can sometimes get our hands on their fabrics, either from one of a couple local fabric stores, or from their outlet. (It's quite rare, but it happens.)

Anyway, I've heard about the Mycra Pac outlet for years, and I've been aware of their outlet sales, but I had never made it over there. Their offices and outlet are located in Moraga, CA. Moraga feels like it's far from San Francisco, but it really isn't. (Though if you drive over there during rush hour, you can get caught in some of the worst traffic in the entire Bay Area.) If you go during non-commute hours, it's only about a one-hour drive from my house in western San Francisco.

My friend Georgene, Sewing Diva, has been drafting patterns for Mycra Pac. She suggested that I come visit one day when she's working.

I was thrilled to take a day off work to go visit and have lunch with Georgene! I think pattern drafting could have been my calling in life, so I find it fascinating to see a real environment where it happens.

Anyway, it was a great visit. I especially enjoyed looking at all the beautiful garments in the outlet store.

I even bought one, though I had a heck of a time choosing just one! (Georgene was most helpful.)

I hope you enjoy some of the pics I took of the racks of beautiful coats for sale in the outlet.

See that red and black coat on the third from the right?
Does that fabric look familiar?
They didn't have my size, or this red one would have come home with me

I considered the coat with the green fleece sleeves...

...but I bought the one with red sleeves.

Thanks, Georgene, for a great visit! I really enjoyed meeting your wonderful colleagues and seeing where the magic happens!

Sharpening Kai Scissors

I love my Kai Scissors. I've owned Gingher and Fiskars (among others), and those are nice, but I prefer the Kai. They cut through fabric like buttah.

I have 3 pair of Kai shears, and some smaller Kai scissors as well. Two of the shears had become dull, due to my misuse of them. (I accidentally tried cutting through a hidden pin with one of them and I'd lazily used the others on paper. Many times.)

I was aware that Kai will sharpen their scissors for a nominal fee, but I searched all over their website looking for details and couldn't find any information. On Stitcher's Guild, I asked if anyone knew the details, and it turned out that Margy did.

Here's the info, which is current as of this posting. Please check to make sure that the details haven't changed before sending off your precious scissors:

We sharpen our Kai Brand Scissors only.

The 5000 series scissors are $5.00 each.
The 7000 Professional Series are $7.50 each.
The price includes return postage.

You can include a check or money order for payment, or include your contact information for us to call you for a credit card.

Kai Scissors
13716 24th Street East
Suite #103
Sumner, WA 98390

thank you,

I know that Kai has a booth at Puyallup and many folks bring their scissors to the Kai booth in person for sharpening (though I don't know if you pick them up at the show or they mail them to you afterward), but I didn't want to deal with that. So, I first ordered a third pair of shears, so I wouldn't be without both pair. Once the new pair arrived, I wrapped the older pairs in bubble wrap and mailed them off.

Sure enough, they called me for credit card information and promptly shipped back my newly sharpened babies. I shipped them my first pair, from the 5000 series (green handled) and they placed that into original packaging. They placed a cover over the tips of the second pair, from the professional line, and securely wrapped them.

I sent the bottom two pair for sharpening

It cost $12.50 and I am very pleased!

Weird Metal Thingies

Do you know what these are?

I saw these at a local fabric store over 3 years ago. I had no idea what they were for, but I really liked them. They were placed into little bags - 8 sets for $2. I bought 2 bags, then I went to eat lunch and studied them. I decided I had to have more, so I went back and bought all 11 bags that they had.

But I have no idea what they were designed for.

They are made from pewter. The bar that connects the two balls is threaded, so it's rough to the touch. One ball is soldered on and the other ball screws on and off.

I don't think these were meant to be worn in a body part, though they remind me of jewelry for piercings. (I can't imagine anyone wanting to wear pewter in their skin.)

In the three years since I bought them, I pull them out every so often and try to figure out how to use them.

I took them to DOL 3 years ago and showed them to Diane Ericson, hoping she might have some insight.

She didn't.

I've made various samples over the years. For example, I thought maybe I could put them down a center front seam. But the rigid (and long) bar distorts the fabric.

I thought maybe they could be used along the right-angled seam of a purse. But I was still a bit dubious.

Adding to the challenge is I don't have that many of them - there are only about 100 of them and I can't get more.

I am happy to report that I finally had an inspiration. I've been working on a little project that uses them.

I'm not ready to show it yet, but it's kinda weird.

It's pretty weird.

I emailed Margy, describing the weirdness, and she replied, "Cool!"

But I am wondering... does anyone actually know what these are or what they were designed for?

I'm curious, how would you use them?