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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!

Red Goes Vintage

July 20, 2014

Since all of this packing (over halfway there now!) is really messing with my sewing and knitting time, I’m here today with a top that’s been finished but unblogged for a while.
B4985Really, though, this story begins with the skirt. I’ve been swing dancing for nearly ten years now–mostly lindy hop, with some Charleston, East Coast, Balboa, and Blues thrown in–and part of modern swing culture for many dancers is getting dressed up in vintage styles for dances, particularly those with live bands. Because my mom knows this, loves me, and loves to sew, she made me this 1940s Arches Skirt from Decades of Style out of a beautiful wool a few years ago.

I loved and wore the skirt right away, but I didn’t feel that any of the tops I had in my closet really did it justice. Enter Butterick 4985, a fitted blouse with bow collar tie and gathered sleeves, out of a navy cotton.
B4985 with victory rollsThis blouse isn’t vintage accurate by any means, but it’s a great complement to the skirt. I think it works especially well with stacked heels, red lipstick, and victory rolls. That’s my first successful version of the hairstyle pictured above–previous attempts have ended in cursing and tears.

I was thrilled with this outfit when I headed to a dance earlier this summer, but I really knew I had hit the mark when the leader of the Boilermaker Jazz Band, one of the best hot jazz bands in the world today, thanked me for bringing my 40s and “prettying the place up.” Best. Compliment. Ever.

UFO Mondays: Bex

July 14, 2014

Welp, this is about how my week has been:
Bex UFOThat’s not even a complete cuff for Bex, last week’s UFO. Between reading for comps and packing all of my belongings, I’ve been a little short on crafting time lately. And I’ve also been stretching my limited crafting time in a few too many directions (Goodale cardigan – Steve’s shirt – muslin for my OAL bodice), so I haven’t made much of an effort to pull out this complex sock.

I did, however, bring it along on our trip to State College this week, so hopefully I’ll get a few rows in over the next several days. And if not, well, pretty much everything else is a priority over this project until we get settled into the new apartment.

The Bag That Nearly Did Me In

July 11, 2014

Weekender BagShe goes by many names. The official one is “Weekender,” of course. And mom not-so-fondly referred to her as “Lucifer.” Me, I tended to favor “f*cking piece of sh*t.” I do have those fancy English degrees, after all.
Weekender Bag liningNow that this construction ordeal is finally over after many months going in and out of time out, I’m learning to love her. She’s lined in one of my favorite shades of pink, and she has a bonus elasticized pocket so that my iPad can be, almost literally, attached to my hip. In defiance of Amy Butler’s instructions, she has a heavy duty separating zipper–we made it work.
Weekender BagOn the outside, she’s cute and just a little bit vintage, with pockets on all four sides to provide easy access to a cell phone, lipstick, or pair of sunglasses. There are small feet on the bottom to protect it from getting dirty. Those handles are sturdy, and the piping, though it was a b*tch to sew, looks oh so polished.
Weekender BagYes, I think I like this bag now. But friends, if you ever hear me chattering about whipping up another of these bags, please remind me of the blood, sweat, tears, and panic attacks (yes, I mean all of these quite seriously and literally) that went into this bag. Remind me that even my patient seamstress mother was tempted to toss the nearly completed bag in the garbage. Remind me that this bag made me question my motivations for sewing anything ever.

And then slap me in the face and take the pattern away from me. Because this one is the last one.

Project Organization with Plastic Bags

July 9, 2014

I recently shared how I organize my projects with notecards to avoid digging through all of my WIPs, UFOs, and planned projects to pick out the next one to work on. Today, I thought I’d share how I organize the projects themselves to make digging through them a little easier.
Plastic Bag Project OrganizationFor me, it’s all about the plastic bags. They’re not pretty, but they keep everything neat, clean, and together. I’m able to grab one of these bags and know that just about everything I need for the project–or at least everything I’ve already obtained–is inside.

Most of my sewing projects are just the right size for a standard plastic shopping bag. Since those aren’t typically transparent, I label them with a white shipping label and a sharpie to avoid opening the bag to see what’s inside. My knitting projects often fit in quart or gallon size zip top Hefty bags, and since they’re transparent, I don’t tend to label them. I also tend to ditch these plastic bags when I’m actually working on the projects, preferring a sturdier bag like this amazing Big Bang Theory bag that KG just gave me (thanks so much!!).

I might go with something a little prettier in the future, like the tidy little boxes I see some other bloggers using, when I have a permanent living situation, but this baggie system works really well as I venture between apartments.

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