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“Transitional”

September 18, 2014
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I’ve noticed a lot of sewing bloggers sneaking in “one last” Alder dress before autumn really arrives and they need to transition their wardrobe (and, by extension, their sewing projects). I don’t see why an Alder can’t serve as a transitional piece, especially when made up in chambray.
Chambray AlderI used to have a dress that was a little like this, but it no longer fit and I had to get rid of it. I’m so excited to add this dress to my wardrobe because it really will work year round. The loose cut should work well with the lighter fabric to keep me cool on the really hot days of summer, and I’ll wear it as soon as it’s finished this fall with a cardigan and cowl, a belt to define the waist, and tights and boots.

Shannon got my hopes up high when she posted her beautiful Hawthorn dress made from fabric she had found in JoAnn’s clearance section. I had been wanting to make a chambray dress for a while, and it was so nice to know that this was an affordable and good quality fabric. Of course, when I braved a big sale to find some of this fabric, there wasn’t a whole lot left on the bolt. I’m hoping to compensate by shuffling around the cutting layout and using a premade bias tape for the armhole finishes. One or both of those pockets may go as well.

This won’t be the last “out of season” garment you see coming from my sewing table this fall. We’re planning a vacation to the sunshine state this winter, and I’d like to make a few things to celebrate the warm weather!

A Gray Shirt for Steven

September 16, 2014

Steve's Gray ShirtThis guy pretty much lives in button down shirts. For just about any weather or occasion, he’ll probably toss on one of his many button down shirts. Problem is, none of them quite fit.
Steve's Gray ShirtUntil now. He finally has a shirt that fits his broad shoulders, slim torso, and long trunk and arms.
Steve's Gray Shirt backIt’s been a long road to get here from my initial plan to make him a shirt that fits. I started with a Vogue pattern, then tried out the famous Negroni, and finally settled on an altered version of McCall’s 6613 view B. I made some fairly substantial changes to this pattern based on my shirtmaking research, but those will have to wait for another post. I will note, however, that this pattern fit my 6’4″ husband pretty well right out of the envelope, so I imagine shirts for shorter guys would need some alteration.
Steve's Gray Shirt detailThis was not the best fabric for a trial shirt. It’s a linen blend thing from JoAnn which, as I told my husband when he originally picked it out, is certain to end up in a wrinkly ball in the bottom of the dryer. It also has a terrible tendency to shift around, which made for some difficult cutting and detail stitching. Luckily, both the pieces and the stitching blend in pretty nicely, so most of the imperfections are hidden.
Steve's Gray ShirtHis bike may have a flat tire, but at least he’s got a shirt that fits.
Steve's Gray ShirtThe first of many, I’m sure.

A Circle Skirt at Last

September 9, 2014

Way back in 2010, I had some serious circle skirt envy. I was completely smitten with Sunni’s plaid Linda Hop skirt–her styling was perfect, and the proximity of her post title to my favorite swing dance, the lindy hop, seemed like more than a coincidence–so I quickly ran out to my local Hancock Fabrics for materials.
Circle Skirt MaterialsI can’t tell you what happened next, as I have no memory or blog record of why I didn’t immediately sew up my own cute plaid circle skirt with an adorably bright lining. What didn’t happen was anything beyond preshrinking: all of these materials, and even a printed pattern and a magazine article on circle skirts, have just been sitting in my sewing project stash ever since. Hell, I even have a top, tights, and shoes that will look great with the skirt.

I can’t let one more fall go by without this perfectly autumnal skirt in my wardrobe. It’s time to break out the shears.

Emelie Update, Vest Edition

September 2, 2014

Emelie TorsoNow that the semester has begun, the days are long, full, and oftentimes exhausting. I’ve wanted to take some time for myself in the evenings, but I rarely have the energy to drag myself over to my sewing machine. It doesn’t help that my future sewing room is still floor to ceiling boxes, of course.

Luckily, I’ve been able to chug along on my Emelie cardigan. I finished the body after a particularly high energy day of putting on an orientation for our new grads. Now I’ve worked the neckband and one of the buttonbands–I’ve decided to work these first because I have a little less yarn than the recommended yardage, and I may want or need to make the sleeves 3/4 length.

This colorway is so much prettier in person. I’m hoping that my photographer is better able to capture it on camera than I am, and I’m hoping that this project is finished and ready for photo soon so I can get plenty of wear out of it this fall.

Sock Innovation

August 27, 2014

BexMy Bex socks are finished, and they are incredibly luxurious! These socks are not only knit up in a beautifully intricate twisted stitch pattern, but they’re also made out of Regia Silk, a merino/nylon/silk blend that is very soft and smooth. I probably should have reserved this yarn for a fine gauge cardigan or a shawl, but I couldn’t resist using an extra special yarn for these socks.
Bex DetailThese socks are also particularly special because they’re the very last pair in my Sock Innovation project. That’s right, it’s the end of an era. Let’s have a look back at all the socks that were:

Sock InnovationDetails on each pair of socks can be found in my Ravelry notebook.

When I began this project, I had no idea that it would last just over five years and span half the country, several jobs, a graduate degree, and some major life events. These socks represent the time it took to knit up over 6,000 yards of thin yarn into tiny stitches arranged in complex patterns. Most of these socks are still in my own sock drawer, waiting for boot season to arrive, but several pairs warm the feet of my husband and friends. And although I didn’t love every moment of knitting every pattern, I’m proud of each pair.

My copy of Cookie A’s book is looking pretty worn these days, but it’s nice to know that, of all the knitting books in my collection, I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth from this one. I’d like to think that my next pair of socks will be of the plain vanilla variety, but I can’t help noticing the other beautiful sock knitting books, one of which is even by Cookie, on my shelf…

UFO Mondays: Back to School

August 25, 2014

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow summer came to a close, and classes began again this morning! I’m happy to be back teaching college freshman composition again, this time while mentoring a new PhD student and Teaching Fellow in our department. She had a fantastic first class–I’m already so proud!

I may be in the 22nd grade, but I still love me some back to school supplies. In honor of the new academic year, I finished up this pencil bag, a longtime UFO that I began during one of my previous degrees.
Pencil BagI used this tutorial from my favorite embroidery company, Sublime Stitching. This project had some new to me techniques, some of which I abandoned for something easier, like the binding finish on the lining…
Pencil Bag Embroidery…and some of which I embraced, like the reverse applique of the embroidered writing implements. I like the effect, but I’m not sure how well it’ll hold up given the cheap fabric I used for this project.

Really, this project is all about the embroidery design, which I find cute despite it being a bit askew. At any rate, I’m happy to have a little something to organize my highlighters and dry erase markers this fall.

Fall Plans

August 21, 2014
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I’ve still got a project or two on my summer crafting list, but with beginning of semester meetings this week and classes starting on Monday, I’m definitely in a fall state of mind. You know I’m all about sewing and knitting with a plan lately, so my fall crafting schedule is looking pretty full already.

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Incidentally, many of the items on my list fall under the “Fall Essentials Sew-Along” over at The Creative Perfectionist. Sew-alongs are always such great motivation to get my projects out of the UFO pile or stash and into my closet! Here’s what’s on the docket this fall:

  • Several garments that feel like fall, including finishing my Emelie sweater (if I can find some buttons that look right–no luck so far), a plaid circle skirt, and a houndstooth blazer that I’m hoping will still fit despite cutting it out years ago.
  • A cocktail dress that I started for a gallery opening and hope to wear to a wedding this fall. I may also knit a shrug or shawl to cover my shoulders since it’s strapless.
  • At least one more of Sweetie’s shirts. Sure, I still haven’t finished the first one, but I’m going to keep that on the “summer” list since I plan to finish it within the next two weeks or so.
  • Some dressier winter items, including my Lady Grey coat and a pair of cabled mittens.
  • Two Dale of Norway sweaters: one for Mom, and one for me (a long-time UFO that’s nearly finished).
  • A few UFOs, including some baby items and giftie things to tuck away.
  • In the not-fully-planned-but-still-want-to-make department, a Halloween costume, something new to wear dancing at PittStop Lindy Hop, a gift for a friend’s baby, and an item or two for my everyday teaching/studying/writing lifestyle.

Yet another long list to accompany what promises to be a busy semester, but this list–and the detailed schedule I’ve laid out because I’m ridiculous like that–will help me keep my creativity (read: sanity) going amidst a whole lot of studying for comps.

Outfit Along 2014 | Goodale and S1803

August 15, 2014

I missed the Outfit Along deadline by a long shot, but my outfit is now finished, and I promise I have a good excuse!
Outfit AlongI knew I was taking a big risk by signing up for this -along with a multi-part move on the horizon, but I also thought I picked reasonable knitting and sewing projects to fit within the time I had. And I did. This time, the issue was my energy levels. I remember more than a few evenings where I had the time to work on my dress but simply didn’t have the energy to sew. Knitting is so much easier–it’s already right next to my couch, and I can just pick it up!

By the time moving day(s) arrived, my cardigan was finished, and my dress didn’t need much more work. Once I unearthed my sewing machine and found room to wedge a chair in front of it–my future sewing room is full of Sweetie’s tools while we wait for some garage space–it didn’t take long to finish this outfit.Goodale backMy cardigan is a do-0ver of Goodale, and one advantage of knitting this sweater a second time was taking advantage of all the useful project notes on Ravelry. I won’t bore you with the details of my modifications here, but I did list them all on Ravelry.

I’m obviously getting a much better fit than my first attempt despite using the same pattern and Araucania Ruca yarn. This is because I worked on smaller needles than before and achieved a gauge that’s a bit smaller than the pattern calls for but is more stable in this yarn. Of course, this also meant it took longer to knit the second time around, but with a smooth yarn like this, that’s no problem.
S1803CMy dress is the “official” pattern, Simplicity 1803 view C with cap sleeves. I had to make some minor fit alterations in the bodice, although the finished dress has a little more room than I expected–maybe I lost some weight while hauling boxes and cleaning apartments! I also moved the pockets to the side seams per Lauren’s recommendation and fully lined the dress for opacity. Although my photographic evidence was eaten by my iPhone (curses!), both the sweater and the dress in this outfit have pockets! Talk about practical!
S1803C bodiceThis neckline is quite flattering, although I’m not sure why the pattern envelope shows curved corners when the pattern pieces are clearly sharp angles. I could definitely see myself trying this pattern again with different bodices and different fabrics.
S1803C sleeveI was worried these cap sleeves would be too tiny, but I think they’re just right, and I love the little pleat at the top of each sleeve. It didn’t show up very well in this photo, but it’s there and it’s cute! I have to say, I really lucked out on fabric selection this time. This fabric came from JoAnn’s several years back, and I’ve been waiting to find a pattern that will do this dogwood print justice.

I have one last confession to make: The whole point of this Outfit Along was to have two pieces, one knit and one sewn, that you could wear together as an outfit. These two pieces are nice together, but I think the overall effect is a little too saccharine for my everyday style. I’ll likely pair each piece with a neutral to tone it down a bit.

Covet Wednesdays: Fall Knitting 2014, Online Edition

August 13, 2014

There was definitely a hint of fall in the air here in Pittsburgh today. Combine that with the impending beginning of the academic year (so much to do before then!), and I can’t help but think ahead to fall knitting.

Fall tends to be the season when I add the most new patterns to my ravelry queue, and this year doesn’t look to be any different. Here’s what’s caught my eye so far:

F14 Twist Collective I’m really loving the colorwork in this issue of Twist Collective. Kate Gilbert’s Akebia pullover has a beautiful, fluid pattern that I loved immediately. However, if I do actually get around to knitting this one, I think I’ll have to make a neckline adjustment. On my frame, I’d worry that the slight funnel neck would look sloppy and unfinished.

This issue also has a ton of beautiful mitten designs, most of them colorwork, and I’ve only included my favorites here. I could see making Petersham and Candlesmoke for myself, and I bet my Northwoods loving husband would love the pattern on Vasalisa.
F14 KnittyI’ve been a little underwhelmed with Knitty in the past couple years, and this issue was much the same. A lot of the designs looked familiar rather than fresh, but there were two that caught my attention for the right reasons. The Change of Heart cowl is both delicate and rustic, and I don’t have anything like it yet. In fact, this looks like a good project to knit on during fall meetings and workshops.

If you can look past the crazy color choice in the Carry on Solefully socks, this is an interesting pattern concept. Salpekar has you knit the entire sole of the sock before moving onto the foot and cuff, allowing you to carry along reinforcement thread or easily re-sole when they’re worn out. I immediately thought of my dad, who doesn’t need new socks at the moment but is concerned about wearing through his soles.

The Fall patterns haven’t stopped coming yet–I still need to check out some of my favorite print magazines, including Interweave Knits–so I’m sure I’ll add a few more projects to my queue then. Which patterns are you excited about this season?

Still Here

August 11, 2014
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Family PhotoI am so pleased to report that, after two years of long distance marriage while Sweetie was in grad school, our little family is back under one roof.

I thought I could be SuperWoman, keeping the blog going during our move and having the new apartment set up shortly after move in. As it turns out, moving two apartments, one sculptor’s studio, and two cats into a single dwelling takes a long time (and some creativity when it comes to storage). I’ve managed to get a little knitting done and have finally unearthed my sewing machine, but it may be a bit before my blogging is back up to speed. Until then, happy making!

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