10.29.2017

Hello. It's me. (*To be read in Adele's voice*)


So, how do you start a blog post after 8 months of radio silence?  By ignoring most of what has happened over the past 8 months, because it's been full of ups and downs and twists and turns - as most life paths are - and if I waited until I had the words to speak reflectively about it, you'd probably never hear from me again.  So for now, we'll just focus on a sweater that I finished recently.

Now looking over my past couple of posts you might think "does she even sew anymore?" and I can assure you that I do.  Yes, sewing definitely slowed down during my time in grad school - especially during those out-of-town clinical rotations - but it never completely dried up.  As always, I'm just pretty terrible about getting around to taking pictures.  It's good to know that in a world of constant change, some things stay the same.


Perhaps I feel more motivated to take pictures of knitted items because they're a much greater investment in time and I feel that I owe it to myself to at least get some photographic evidence of all the hours I spent knitting away.  And this case, all the hours I spent cabling away, because look at all those cables!  Fortunately, it was a super-basic cable pattern that didn't require a whole lot of brain power - just staying power.

The pattern is the Coastal Pullover by Hannah Fettig and the yarn is Valley Yarns Northampton in the gold color way.  I'm kind of smitten with this color lately, which seems very timely for fall, but truth be told, I also found myself making may items in this color in the height of spring and summer.  Given my coloring, I'm not convinced that this is a color that I actually look good in, but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants.


The pattern was good, although personally I was a bit confused as to how to continue the cable pattern with the raglan increases and sleeve decreases.  I felt that I could have used a bit more guidance at that point but it all turned out just fine in the end.  The neck is a little more of a funnel neck than I would have preferred and I should have followed the darn directions and bound off in pattern, but I'm also learning to not be so darn nitpicky about the things that I make.  Are they perfect?  Far from it.  But as it turns out, that neither am I, so I'll just take them as a reflection of who I am.


As for the yarn, I have always been happy with the Valley Yarns that I've ordered.  They seem to be a good product at a good price.  The only issue I ever have is guilt at buying something on-line rather than supporting local yarn sstores, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

And this girl's gotta get some motivation to document some of my favorite makes over the past year because 2017 is quickly coming to an end and how can I have an end of the year wrap up post if I've posted a whopping 3 finished items?

2.05.2017

Smitten

 

I think that it's safe to say that when you knit the same pattern three times in a row, you are officially infatuated with the pattern.  Which, of course, means that I'm infatuated with the Bloomsbury Pattern because this is the third one that I've made it in the last several months.  O often wears hers, although sadly it seems like she's growing out of it at a super-sonic rate.  And my first Bloomsbury is on regular rotation and probably gets worn at least once a week. 


After finishing that one I knew that I wanted to make another one in a lighter color with a softer, squishier yarn.  Manos de Uruguay was the perfect choice and I love that it's kettle dyed giving the sweater just a little bit more depth.  And the yarn definitely lives up to the squishy factor that I was looking for.  It's a single ply merino that is incredibly soft, although I fear that it'll probably pill pretty easily in the future because of this.  We'll see.


I mostly just followed the pattern as it was written although I confess that I'm often not a stickler for counting rows (knit 14 rows for the collar?  Eh, this looks about right).  The pattern and I did get off to a bit of a rough start since the set up rows require a bit of concentration and I stupidly decided to start the sweater while watching a Harry Potter movie.  Needless to say, there was a lot of starting over (and cussing).  I also stupidly didn't read the pattern all the way through before starting the sweater (which is basically knitting 101), and because of this I missed adding in some of the lace pattern and, once again, found myself ripping back.  Once the basic pattern was set up, though, it was smooth sailing and a really enjoyable knit.  I've already worn the sweater a couple times and I can officially say that I'm smitten. 

Smitten enough, in fact, to venture outside in some sort of Pacific Northwest snow/sleet to take these pictures.


1.07.2017

2016 Superlatives

I realize that 2017 is well underway but when I sat down to write a post about my 2016 makes I ran into a problem - namely, that in reviewing my posts from the past year I realized that I never posted about fifty percent of the things that I had made.  This is what you get when you've been a slacker for the past twelve months.  So, folks, this is about one part "2016 superlatives" and with a smidgen of catch-up thrown in for fun.  And with that little disclaimer, let's get started!


MOST WORN



Okay, first up - most worn for me.  To choose this bra and undie set feels like a bit of a cop-out since I chose this pattern as a favorite pattern in 2015,  but this little lacy Watson set is definitely one of my most worn items for the year.  This was the year I finally tried out the long-line version of the Watson (with my first attempt being a disaster thanks to the printing ratio being off) and I successfully experimented with making the Watson with lace edging, which I officially adore.  Oh, Watson, you are so simple, yet so freaking awesome.



And as for the kids, probably the most worn item of 2016 was this Hummingbird dress.  Part of the lure of this dress was no doubt the fact that it's made out of double-gauze.  I mean, who wouldn't want to wrap themselves in double gauze each and every day?  I think O also loved the style of the dress and the addition of the lace over the bodice.  And the tips that I was able to incorporate from other fine ladies who had already sewn their own versions of the dress definitely made it a more successful project.


                                                                    LEAST WORN



Definitely this bra.  The bra band ended up being way too tight and it soon become apparent that it was going to be incredibly uncomfortable to wear for any significant period of time.  So off it went to find a new home.  Dear bra, may your new owner love you in a way I never could.


As for least worn for the kids, I'd say that these gold shorts rarely saw the light of day thanks to C's extreme pickiness when it comes to clothes.  In fact, you could put almost anything that I've made for C in the least worn category.  And yet I keep making things for her.

What's that definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different results.  Yeah, I may just be insane.


FAVORITE PATTERN



For favorite pattern we're going to mix it up a bit this year and instead go with a favorite pattern designer because this year I sewed my first True Bias patterns and I'm super-smitten with the results.  The first pattern I tried out was the Emerson Cropped Pants pattern.  It was released shortly after I sewed these incredibly voluminous culottes and so I was excited to try out a more streamlined version of culottes.  Fortunately, the pattern did not disappoint.  They were so much easier to put together than the culottes that were made with yards and yards of fabric.  I love that they have pockets and I'm a big fan of the length.  I was a bit concerned aesthetically about the elastic in the back, but as it turns out, the elastic doesn't bother me a bit.  I do wish that the rise was a tad bit higher and I think the next time I make them I'll put some pockets on the back just because I like the look of pockets on the bum a bit better, but other than that these pants are a hit and they got me excited to try another pattern - the Ogden Cami.



Initially, I bought the kid's version of this pattern because I figured that O would love it and she certainly did.  The first one was made from some leftover rayon challis, which is one of the great things about this pattern - how little fabric it requires.


In fact, when I finally got around to making a version for myself I bought the recommended amount - 2 yards - and with some creative layout techniques I managed to cut out one for myself and one for O which means that we now have matching tops.  Hurray!  Of course, it's now 20 degrees out so these tops probably won't see the light of day for several more months, but such is life.  Also, as a testament to how much I love this pattern I have plans to sew many, many Ogden Camis in the future despite the fact that they probably aren't very practical for my lifestyle.  Sometimes you just have to follow your heart.

PS - that fabulous cherry fabric is Cotton + Steel rayon challis.  Gorgeous stuff!


OVERALL FAVAORITE PROJECT


And now as we we wrap things up, I have to give a nod to my new found love of knitting because I managed to squeeze out a couple of sweaters before the year wrapped up and they are definitely some of my favorite makes.


For the kids, my overall favorte project has to be this Bloomsbury Sweater that I made for O and I'm happy to report that she gets a ton of wear out of it and the yarn has held up great.



As for me, I'm equally in love with both of the sweaters that I knit for myself.  To choose one would be like choosing between my children!  I've made a lot of sweaters in the past and these are definitely two of the most wearable sweaters that I've ever made.  The knitting bug has definitely hit me hard, but I couldn't be happier about it!

And with that, I wish you all a happy and healthy new year.

I plan on entering the new year with this quote in mind:

"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do."   - Georgie O'Keeffe

A look at years past:

2015 Superlatives

2014 Superlatives

2013 Superlatives

2012 Superlatives

12.27.2016

Hats!

Now let me just preface this post by saying that I love Ben but something he's just plain wrong.  Like when he tells me that a day playing in the snow is not the perfect opportunity to break out all our new hand knit items.

Um, snow days in the mountains are made for hand knits, am I right?


First up, C's new cat hat.  Now we all know that C has a long-standing cat obsession.  Over the years I've made her not one, but two cat dresses.  She's had cat jewelry, cat shoes, cat tights and now she can add a cat hat to the mix.  The pattern is free and is really the simplest pattern to knit.  It's written for an adult, but can be easily customized for a smaller head.  I think I cast on 84 stitches (instead of 88) and knit until the hat was about 7 inches long.  The hat essentially a square that is given shape by a small stitch on each "ear" and by the top of  your head filling out the top of the hat.  Because of that, be sure not to knit the hat too big because it's shape is less cat-like without your head filling out the top (I learned this the hard way).  The yarn is Amherst merino and is leftover from my Bloomsbury sweater.  I ended up with two leftover balls of yarn, which of course means that O also got a matching cat hat.


And if the kids each get a new hat, well, it's only fair that I get one too.  Mine is the extra-slouchy version of the Sixteen Cable Hat, with an added cable thrown in at the end.  I was super-lazy in making this hat and didn't swatch when I should have, so it's a bit looser around my head than I would have preferred but I still love it and it's definitely been getting a lot of wear over the last couple of weeks.  The yarn is Broomfield, a merino and silk blend put out by Webs.  It's lovely to knit with and lovely to wear and it seems to be holding up well.


And now, folks, we are officially ready for the cold weather!




12.21.2016

His Loss Is My Win


As 2016 is wrapping up I'm realizing that there are a whole heck of a lot of things that I never got around to blogging about, mostly because I made them for me and often can't muster up the energy to take pictures.  And when I do muster up the energy, it's at the end of the day and my clothes are sort of a wrinkly mess.

Like this Archer, for example.

Yes, yes, I made yet another Archer (number 5 if you're keeping count), although I finally got around to lengthening the body which is a pretty small modification, but it definitely makes it more wearable.


The fabric is a Japanese cotton lawn that I bought several months ago at Drygoods Design, but it looks like it's now sold out.  I originally bought the fabric to make a shirt for Ben since he's been complaining that I sew for everybody but him, but the stripe is slightly uneven and variegated and the fabric is a bit crinkly and when I brought it home all he could say was "it hurts my eyes!"  I tried to explain that if he was the one wearing the shirt, he would actually be the only one who wouldn't have to look at it (kind of like the guy who ate at the Eiffel Tower everyday so he wouldn't have to see it) but he wasn't buying my superior logic.  Fortunately, his rejection of my fabric wasn't an issue because it just meant that I got to use it for my own evil purposes.


Some might even accuse me of purposely buying a fabric that Ben hates so that I could ultimately use it all for me.

But, of course, they would be wrong.

12.17.2016

One Bloomsbury For You, One Bloomsbury For Me


The sewing hiatus is still on and the knitting bonaza is in full-swing.  For some reason, I just can't muster up the energy to sew.  Perhaps it's because I don't have a project that I'm in love with at the moment.  Or perhaps it's because sewing seems like such an effort.  Or perhaps it's just because my sewing room is in the basement and it's so darn cold down there in the winter time.  In any case, knitting has been so much more appealing to me lately.  And so shortly after I bound off O's Bloomsbury sweater I started on one in my own size.  The adult Bloomsbury is a bit different than the child's size with a slightly larger gauge and a larger lace pattern on the back but it's just as fun to knit!


For the yarn I used 100% merino Amherst yarn in jungle green that I ordered from Webs because I was so happy with the yarn when I used it for O's version.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure it was a great choice for the slightly larger gauge that was needed for the adult version.  I think because the gauge was so loose it caused the sweater to stretch a ton when I wet blocked it and I was really worried when it measured several inches longer in length than I had planned for.  After wearing it all day today, though, I'm thinking that either I over reacted or it has shrunk back up a bit.  In either case, I'm pretty happy with how it came out and I think it will be so comfy for the winter.


And we've definitely had a cold spell around here lately so all the handknit sweaters that I've made over the years are in full rotation.  Now I'm just sitting around, twiddling my fingers, trying to decide what my next knitting project will be.  Oh, the choices!

11.13.2016

One Row At A Time


With school starting up again, life is just as crazy as it ever was and I don't think I've touched my sewing machine since the end of September.  Which is fine except that I signed up to have some family pictures taken later this month and sometime between now and then I need to whip up a new dress for O.  When exactly I'll have time for that, I have no idea, so I'm not crossing out the possibility of a last-minute trip to the store to buy a dress.  There's no shame in knowing the limits on your sanity.


In any case, despite a hectic schedule for the past month and a half, I did manage to squeeze out another sweater for O.  Don't be too impressed because the gauge is pretty big on this sweater (I think around 4.5 sts/inch and I knit it on size 10.5 needles) so it actually knit up really fast.  The only part that was a little slow-going was the first part of the bodice because the increases were different than a regular top-down sweater and I was worried the whole time that I was doing it wrong.  Once I got a couple inches down, though, I could see the pattern clearly and was more comfortable jamming along in the knitting.


The pattern is the Bloomsbury Kids pattern by Svetlana Volkova (I liked her Maya pattern so much, that I went with another one of her patterns!).  The yarn is Amherst, a merino wool yarn made by Webs, and it seems to be a great yarn - not too scratchy, not too expensive.  The color options are a bit limited (especially compared to something like Cascade 220), but it was easy enough to find a color that both of us could agree on.


Knitting has definitely wormed its way back into my heart, with its portability and the fact that it can be done one row at a time.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that that's the perfect motto for my life right now - one row at a time.

10.10.2016

My Stop Along the Berlin Coat Blog Tour

If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that I have a special place in my heart for Straight Grain patterns.  Up until this point in time though, I've only made her dress patterns so I was incredibly excited to try one of her latest patterns - a coat!  It'll come as no surprise then that I immediately said "yes" when she asked me to participate in the Berlin Coat pattern tour.  


Now, one of the great things about the Berlin Coat pattern is that it comes with several design options but I knew that there were two things that were essential for any coat that I was going to make - a hood and pockets.  The first is a tribute to the never-ending fall rain in the Pacific Northwest and the second is just because you never know when you're going to need to shove something in a pocket. Because of this I chose to make the option with a simple front with patch pockets and a hood.


I should point out that there is some definite prep work in putting this pattern together.  Because of the options that I chose I had to print out the entire PDF and trace and cut all the pattern pieces.  Then once everything is cut out, you have to quilt certain lining pieces in order to incorporate batting into the fabric (although, to be fair I kind of love quilting pattern pieces).  Once the prep work is done, though, the coat comes to together incredibly easily.  The only part that had me scratching my head was the incorporation of the hood facing because I've never sewn a hood with a facing before.  Once I figured it out, though, I was pretty excited about having such a cool design feature on the coat.  The coat definitely has a bunch of extra little touches that I've never used before - like real coat facings.  Look at these beauties!


Oh and as always be sure to pick your sizing based on the measurements of your kiddo and not their age (about once a year I have to re-learn this lesson the hard way).  O is a skinny little kid and actually measures in the size 5 range, but I made a size 6 based on the assumption that she'll eventually grow.


As for the fabric, the outer fabric is chartreuse Linen Mochi by MoMo.  It's definitely heavier than a typical woven cotton but not really winter coat material, making this coat more appropriate for fall or spring.  The lining fabric is a really beautiful cotton lawn from Les Fleurs (City Toile).  It's peach and gold with little scenes from different countries printed all over the fabric and I may just be in love with it.  Both were purchased at DryGoods Design but I don't see either available on their website. right now.  The batting is just quilt batting leftover from the days when I actually used to quilt.  Quilting clothing is absolutely the best way to use up all those random quilt batting pieces and you guys know how I love to use up scraps.


O and I worked together at the fabric store to come to an agreement on fabrics that we both loved.  The buttons, however, were a bit more of a struggle.  I wanted gold buttons to play off of the gold on the lining fabric.  O wanted cheesy little dog buttons all over the fabric.  In the end we came to a compromise - I got my gold buttons on the front and on the sleeves and O got the dog button of her choice for the back vent.


It's diplomacy at work.  And it resulted in one satisfied kiddo.

Now be sure to check out the other fabulous stops on the Berlin Blog tour!

10.02.2016

And Now One For Me


Shortly after finishing O's Maya Sweater I cast on for one in my size and then knit and knit and knit and knit in an attempt to finish it before my school started once again.  Fortunately, I finished it with 2 days to spare and about 2 feet left of the yarn, which was a very big deal because I was using discontinued Jaeger merino yarn that I bought probably 9 years ago and there was no way that I was going to find extra.  I bought a bunch when I found out that it was being discontinued, used a couple skeins to knit up this sweater, and then started another sweater that sat unfinished in a bag for several years.  This meant that in order to make this sweater I had to spend my time unraveling the half-knit sweater, soaking, and re-hanging the used yarn to get the crimp out.  It's entirely possible that my family is sick of me asking them to help rewind balls of yarn.


As for the knitting, after making the kid's version I knew exactly what I was getting into and this one came together incredibly easily.  For the most part I followed the pattern but I think I added another row or two to make the armpits a bit deeper and I based the length of the sweater and sleeves on my own personal preferences rather than what was listed in the pattern.  The sweater definitely grew in length after blocking, but I much prefer a too-long sweater to a too-short sweater so I'm A-okay with the length.


The weather has definitely turned towards fall around here with an obvious nip in the air so I've already worn it several times and I give it two thumbs up when it comes to wearability.  I'm sure it'll be getting a lot of use in the next couple of months as I try to survive a wet and cold winter.


Now, I'm already eyeing my next knitting project.  The only thing I'll have to decide is whether to be a nice mom and make another sweater for my kids or to induldge the selfish knitter that I am deep-down inside.

9.12.2016

A Fall Sweater Made On Summer Vacation


Right after my summer quarter ended we headed out of town for the most wonderful and needed vacation.  Part of it was camping up in the San Juan Islands and part of it was hanging around Tofino over on Vancouver Island.  Both parts were breathtakingly beautiful and fun but I also knew that the trip would involve a fair amount of driving, ferry rides, and hopefully some leisurely mornings and evenings which, of course, meant that I needed a knitting project to keep me busy.

Now, I should probably point out that the last sweater I made was back in 2013 and I really haven't  given much thought to knitting since that time, so I started the whole process by digging through Ravelry patterns to see what piqued my interest.  I knew that I wanted top-down construction and something with some interest, but nothing that would be too difficult.  In the end I settled on the Maya Swater pattern by Svetlana Volkova and I have to say that it was a great choice.  Yes, there was a point that I had to pick back four rows (Grrrr!) but other than that it was smooth knitting.


But even more than the actual knitting, I just love how the sweater came out.  The fit is right on (I added some length in the sleeves and body - really easy to do with a top-down sweater) and the yarn is incredibly soft.  The yarn is a merino/cashmere blend from Knit Picks and I'm really happy with it. We don't have a yarn store near our house and with finals I didn't have time to go find one, so this was a great option and I'm really happy with the product.  O's pretty impressed with it too because as soon as she put it on she exclaimed "it's not even scratchy!"


Also exciting is the fact that the pattern includes adult sizes and about two days after finishing O's sweater, I casted on for one in my size.  If it turns out half as nice as hers, I'll be thrilled.

What can I say - knitting may have found its way back into my heart.

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