Skip to content

Warm Vertebrae for Mama and Baby

November 29, 2015

UntitledI know I’m not the only one saying or thinking this, but where the heck has November gone?! It seems to have flown by, and all of the sudden it’s practically December. November was an exciting month around here, not least because that lovely lady in the picture above is no longer pregnant: she welcomed her sweet little girl into the world before Thanksgiving.

I finished her Mama Vertebrae cardigan and gave it to her just a few days before she delivered, and she seems to like it. If those sleeves look crazy long, that’s because they are. J had never had a handmade or customized garment before, so I tried my best to give her exactly what she wanted, extra-long sleeves and all.

Pattern: Mama Vertebrae by Kelly Brooker
Yarn: 6 skeins Berroco Vintage in 5154 Maroon
Needles: US 6 & 7 bamboo
Made for: J
Timeline: 1 October – 10 November 2015
Modifications: significantly lengthened torso and sleeves
Worst Part: the endless stockinette that sometimes refused to grow
Best Part: giving J something just for her
UntitledWhen I stopped by to visit four-day-old Baby C, I also dropped off a matching sweater for her. Since she was supposed to be a big baby, I knit the 3-6 month size, but I don’t think it will fit her for a while yet. I picked up this Hikoo Simplicity yarn on the recommendation of a friend who happens to work at my old LYS, and I just love it. This may be my new go-to baby yarn. It has a great hand, is very washable, and I like that it still has significant merino content.

Pattern: Baby Vertebrae by Kelly Brooker
Yarn: 2 skeins Hikoo Simplicity #042
Needles: US 4 & 5 bamboo
Made for: Baby C
Timeline: 12-16 November 2015
Modifications: shortened sleeves because I ran out of yarn
Worst Part: running out of yarn–I had hoped to make long sleeves for this one
Best Part: itty bitty baby knits. they’re always the best.

Last time I mentioned these two sweaters, I also talked about my Mom’s Dale of Norway sweater. I’m happy to report that I’m chugging away on it after a slight sleeve mishap earlier this month, and I think I’m on track to finish in time for Christmas.

Special thanks to J for agreeing to model her cardigan near the end of her pregnancy when she had a million other things to do.

Shirtmaking in Shades of Blue

November 7, 2015

Red Knits_ShirtmakingI have a couple more shirts to share today that were actually finished back in August. Since I’ve already talked about these patterns a few times, we decided to go light on the detailed photos this time and have some fun taking pictures with a nearby park’s fall colors as our backdrop.
Red Knits_ShirtmakingSteve’s shirt is yet another version of McCall’s 6613 with his customized fit using a shirting from JoAnn. The only difference from the last version is that we skipped the pockets all together.
Red Knits_ShirtmakingThis is the first time I’ve been brave enough to make him a plaid shirt even though the bulk of his RTW wardrobe is plaid. It certainly caused me some anxiety as I was working, and it did take a bit longer, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. For the most part I matched the plaids and only resorted to a bias cut on the sleeve plackets. See that front button band? It’s not cut on: I matched that shit!

I have to say a special thanks to my mom, who let me take over her sewing machine one afternoon to stitch all of these buttonholes. My much-loved machine has 3-step buttonholes that don’t produce a great result, while hers is fully automated and stitches a beautiful buttonhole. I was literally scrolling through Instagram while stitching these buttonholes: that’s how little work I had to do. I may have to save up some more nearly-finished shirts for my next visit…
Red Knits_ShirtmakingIs there such thing as too many chambray shirts? If there is, I haven’t found it yet. My latest is once again Vogue 8772, this time with long sleeves in a Robert Kaufman polka dot chambray from Unfortunately, the fit isn’t as good as it could be. I cut out this shirt last spring, thinking I could whip it up before the weather became too warm for long sleeves. Life got in the way, and in between cutting it out and stitching it up, I did some pattern alterations to improve the fit, which obviously didn’t make it into this version. All that being said, the fit is good enough, and the polka dot chambray makes up for any faults.
Red Knits_ShirtmakingIt’s just barely visible here, but you may be able to see that I’ve done a continuous lap sleeve placket on these sleeves. Never again. I’ve tried it at least three times in recent memory, and every time the corner pulls out before I’ve even finished making the shirt. Threads has a tower sleeve placket sized for women, so I will use that on future long-sleeved shirts. The origami of tower plackets is more fun anyway.

I hope you’re not growing tired of my many shirtmaking posts. Steve just got rid of a lot of RTW shirts that no longer fit him, and he wears collared shirts just about every day. I have some more fabric tucked away from him in my sewing area: it looks like I need to pull it out soon!

NaKniSweMo 2015

November 2, 2015

What is it about November that makes us want to take on personal challenges? There’s National Novel Writing Month (#nanowrimo), which I think started the trend, Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo), which I’m participating in this year, and, of course National Knit-a-Sweater-in-a-Month (#NaKniSweMo). I’ve participated in the past, and I’m sorely tempted by the beautiful swatches and sweaters cropping up on Instagram, but I’ve decided to do something a little different this month: I have a few sweaters underway, and I want to finish and/or make significant progress on them rather than starting something new.
UntitledThe most urgent of these is my Mama Vertebrae for J, who could deliver any day now. She’s got some big changes ahead, and I bet she could use a cozy new sweater for a bit of comfort. I’ve finished the body as well as the neckband, which I chose to knit before working the sleeves because I’m a little worried about yardage. Now it’s full speed ahead on those sleeves. J wanted both the torso and the sleeves pretty long, so I’m not sure how long these will take me to knit, but it’s nice, easy knitting for when I’m watching TV or chatting on the phone.
UntitledNext up is a Baby Vertebrae for Baby C. What? You didn’t think I’d leave it at a single baby sweater, did you? What if she gets cold?? This is a tiny version of the sweater J wanted to have, except we couldn’t find the right shade of yellow for her. It’s such a difficult color, but babies can pull of anything! I’d love to have this done in time for Baby C’s arrival, but she could show up any day now, and I haven’t cast on yet. We’ll see who wins.
UntitledLast, but certainly not least, is my long-term WIP: a Dale of Norway Whistler for Mom. And Mom, since I know you’re going to read this post: 1) it looks lumpy because it hasn’t been blocked yet–nothing to worry about once I beat it with a spoon, and 2) I promise that maple leaf isn’t going to be two-toned; I’m duplicate stitching the darker shade.
UntitledI actually had thought I was finished with the body of this sweater, but it turns out I had just set it aside to work on the more portable sleeve. Whoops! This one is destined to make it under the Christmas tree this year, so it’s time to get back to work now that the temperatures are a little cooler and my thoughts have turned to colorwork. The finishing work on ski sweaters is no joke, so I may not finish this one in November, but I’d like to make a solid dent.

Happy sweater season!


October 31, 2015

Red Knits_LayetteOne of my closest friends here in Pittsburgh is expecting her first baby, a little, girl, and I couldn’t be more excited! I worked together with another of her friends to throw a baby shower last weekend, so of course I had to make some handknits for the occasion. I tried to combine the adorable with the practical by knitting this layette and pairing it with some cotton long sleeved onesies and leggings.
Red Knits_LayetteI found myself a bit paralyzed with indecision when it came to choosing patterns for this layette. I knew I wanted to make a sweater, hat, and booties, but there are just so many cute baby patterns out there, and I’m so excited for my friend, that I wanted to knit all of them. Luckily, the planning stage of this project coincided with a trip to the LYS I used to work at, so I was able to get help from J, a current LYS worker and mom of three. She recommended In Threes, a short sleeved cardigan that won’t get gunked up quite so easily and should fit for a long time.
Red Knits_LayetteThis sweater was a quick and pleasant knit, especially since there were no sleeves to get bogged down in. The buttons were a bit problematic because the pattern doesn’t list a recommended size and I managed to forget to bring along the nearly-finished sweater to the store, but these silver 5/8″ buttons worked well.
Red Knits_LayetteBaby C will be born around the end of November, so I made the 0-6 month size with minimal modifications. I cast on an extra stitch on each side for a slipped stitch edging, and I worked an extra pattern repeat of garter stitch at the bottom for symmetry and so that this cardigan will fit longer. This pattern goes up to a size 5, so it’s a good buy if you have growing or multiple kiddos to knit for.
Red Knits_LayetteOnce I had settled on a cardigan pattern, the rest of the layette came together fairly easily. I love the look of the Amanda hat, and I had knit the adult size before, so I decided to work up the baby version.
Red Knits_LayetteUnfortunately, in the years since I knit the last one, I had forgotten that, while I love the look of the stitch pattern, I don’t really like knitting it. At least it was baby sized–I had it done in an evening!
Red Knits_LayetteThe last piece of the layette was the pair of baby booties. As I was choosing all of these patterns, it was really important to me that they were not only cute, but also very functional and easy for new, exhausted parents to use. I chose the Dreamy Baby Booties pattern because they look like they have a chance of staying on.
Red Knits_LayetteThe construction of these booties is interesting, and part of that is a double-thick cuff. I was a little worried I would run out of yarn, but I managed to finish them off.
Red Knits_LayetteThe entire layette was knit in two skeins of Plymouth Encore Colorspun #7767, using nearly all of it. Obviously, washability was the most important factor when I chose yarn, and Encore holds up beautifully in the washer and dryer. But when Mama-to-be J was at the LYS choosing her Mama Vertebrae yarn, she was interested in vareigated yarns, so I thought this would be a fun way to show her how they work.

Both Mama and Baby are doing well so far, though Mama can’t wait to consume some carbs after Baby C makes her arrival. I can’t wait to meet this little one!

M6884 ITY Wrap Dress

October 22, 2015

Red Knits_M6884Despite all of the time I spend at the ironing board when making garments and the fact that I don’t really mind ironing my clothes, I do get a certain sense of satisfaction when I can toss something on without having to iron it. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for nice ITY knits for just that kind of garment, and I was happy to find this black and gray one in the clearance section of JoAnn a while back.
Red Knits_M6884I made the ruched version of M6884 with short sleeves, and it seems I wasn’t thinking clearly when selecting a size. I always work off of finished garment measurements, but I think I completely spaced on the fact that I was using a knit which would stretch rather than a woven that would not. Next time, I’ll go down a size on this pattern, but the tie around the back sucks things in, and I did pull in the hips substantially, so it’s quite wearable.
Red Knits_M6884I didn’t make a muslin for this pattern, which would have revealed these fit issues, but I did take a preemptive 1″ swayback adjustment, which was probably a good idea. I also used some of my go-to knitwear products. I reinforced my shoulder seams with clear elastic and used it on the neckline to keep it from gaping, and I used Wonder Tape at the hem.
Red Knits_M6884This is one of those projects that’s an imperfect make but still a very welcome addition to my wardrobe. I wore it to work earlier this semester and got lots of compliments :)

Breeze Ankle Socks

October 21, 2015

Red Knits_Breeze socksA few years ago, my husband and I were invited to some secret-ish Smart Wool sale with limited selection and super low prices. We didn’t find a whole lot, but I did get several pairs of shortie wool ankle socks. At the time, I wasn’t sure how much wear I’d get out of them, but I’ve found that they’re perfect to wear with tights and boots when it’s cold but not freezing out and I just need an extra layer to keep my toes warm.
Red Knits_Breeze socksI also bought this Plymouth Happy Feet yarn several years ago on a yarn shopping spree, earmarking it for Breeze socks. I wanted a shiny new project to cast on when I visited Minnesota last spring, and these were the perfect small project to bring along.
Red Knits_Breeze socksAs long as you check the errata, these are a pretty straightforward and satisfying knit. However, I’m really not sure why the pattern calls for you to break the yarn and reattach before working the heel flap. It seems totally unnecessary to me, so I skipped it. I also cut it really close on yarn but managed to get the pair out of one skein.

I’m looking forward to getting lots of wear out of these this winter, and I think I’ll have to look around for some more ankle sock patterns.

Fehr Trade Workout Gear, Round 2

October 20, 2015

Red Knits_Fehr TradeMy last post was a detailed review of an involved project, and in this post I have a quick update on some patterns I’ve enjoyed and made up again. I liked my test versions of the Fehr Trade XYT top and Steeplechase leggings so much that I made some more of them to wear to my Zumba classes.

I made very few changes from my test version, but I did think of one. Since these clothes are meant to withstand lots of movement and washing rather than look super professional, I used a three step zig zag for my hems and waistband elastic. I’m sure that the twin needle works well on some machines, but on mine it just doesn’t stretch enough to work on tight fitting clothes like this.
Red Knits_Steeplechase LeggingsThe leggings are exactly the same as my first pair–same pattern with no adjustments and same fabric from–except that I added some gray flat piping. Adding this little accentuation of the design lines makes these capris feel even sportier, and it wasn’t all that difficult to do.
Red Knits_XYT topI thought I had purchased just enough fabric for two pairs of capris, but I had a fair amount left over (though not enough for a third pair of capris, or I totally would have done that). I was able to get another entire “Y” tank out of the leftovers as well as some pieces to mix and match. It’s not the most exciting top, but it will certainly come in handy.
Red Knits_XYT topI shook things up a bit by making some “X” tops, too. They would look sharper without my sports bra poking through the back, and there is an option to include a bra in the tank itself, but I’m not ready to give up the support and padding just yet! This top has a front and X made out of leftovers from a wrap dress that I’m hoping to photograph and share later this week, and the bottom back made from the leggings leftovers.
Red Knits_XYT topFinally, this one is made from leftovers from a top I made last fall. If you’re really eagle-eyed, you may even notice that I’ve used slightly different widths of elastic on the top above: I just couldn’t be bothered to go out and buy new elastic when what I had on hand was close enough. This whole set of workout gear–three tops and one bottom–didn’t require purchasing any materials at all, which makes me feel pretty good.


Concert Blacks: Itch to Stitch Marbella Dress

October 14, 2015

Red Knits_MarbellaHave you heard? Itch to Stitch is celebrating its first birthday and ten fabulous patterns! I was thrilled when Kennis invited me to join her birthday party blog tour. I had admired her Marbella dress pattern before but hadn’t yet tried it. I’m bringing up the tail end of the tour with my version of Marbella, but the fun isn’t over just yet–scroll to the bottom of this post for a very generous giveaway!
Red Knits_MarbellaIn addition to providing me with the Marbella pattern, Kennis also hooked me up with some retailer discounts. I wanted a medium weight wool for my dress, so I shopped around Michael Levine until I found this black Italian stretch wool. It’s not especially stretchy, but it does have a bit of give to it. I was originally attached to the idea of a navy Marbella, but this black wool was not only less expensive, but also made the dress perfect for an upcoming concert with the wind ensemble I’ve recently joined.
Red Knits_Marbella backIt’s always a bit challenging to deal with fitting a new-to-me indie designer, but this pattern was an exception. Based on the pattern measurements and instructions, I graded between a size 4 bust, 2 waist, and 8 hip, which was made all the easier by the PDF pattern’s layer feature that allows you to hide unused sizes when printing. This pattern also features four different cup sizes, so I didn’t need to do a FBA: although my bra size is bigger than a D cup, this sizing worked well for me.

In a future version, I could stand to take in the waist a bit, do a small swayback adjustment, and bring up the waist seam, but this pattern fits me very well straight out of the virtual envelope. Keep in mind when looking at fit in these photos that I’m standing on a pretty steep incline–our weird driveway was the only place where we could find nice enough light to photograph black.

Red Knits_Marbella innardsSo, shortly after Kennis invited me to the blog tour, I was totally on board for the Marbella dress. But when she told me she wanted each of us to “hack” a pattern, I paused to think for a few days. This pattern already had pretty much everything I could want: there are instructions for both lined and unlined versions, it includes side seam pockets, and I loved the design lines. I honestly wasn’t sure how to improve upon it, especially since I tend to sew patterns as designed.

Red Knits_Marbella scalloped hemThen I thought about one of my favorite, completely out of my financial reach designers, Kate Spade. She has many beautiful dresses and other garments featuring scalloped hems, as does J.Crew, another brand I can’t afford. I decided to bring this beautiful design element to my Marbella dress and use better quality materials–their dresses are poly blends! Once again, it’s my stance on the incline, rather than the hem itself, that’s lopsided in the photo above–sorry!

Red Knits_Marbella hem innardsI already owned a couple of patterns that incorporated scallops, but both of them used facings. I followed this tutorial to simplify the technique and perhaps also reduce bulk by using an extra hem allowance. The scallops featured on that tutorial are actually a bit uneven, which is partially because corduroy isn’t the best choice for the technique, but also possibly due to the manner of pressing. I cut my scallop out of cardstock to more easily trace a stitching line onto my fabric. Then, once I had stitched, trimmed, and turned out the scallops, I pushed the cardstock into each one before pressing it to make for a nice, smooth, and even curve. This scalloped hem certainly took more time than a standard hem would have, but I didn’t find it especially difficult or fiddly, and I think the result is absolutely worth the extra time I spent on it.
Red Knits_MarbellaI’m not one to jump on every indie pattern bandwagon that rolls past, but I think this pattern is actually worth your money. Kennis’s excellent and thorough instructions guide you to a professionally finished garment–I typically consult outside resources at some point in a decent sized project like this one, but for this dress I only needed the scalloped hem tutorial. Thanks to Kennis for including me on this blog tour, and congratulations on a successful first year of Itch to Stitch!

To be clear, I received this pattern for free, as well as a discount on my fabric, as part of my participation in this blog tour. All opinions are my own and as unbiased as they can be when free stuff is involved.

Be sure to join in the fun:

Itch to Stitch Birthday Fun

(scroll to the bottom to enter to win!)

Follow these blogs to see their awesome creations from Itch to Stitch patterns:

Scruffy Badger Time | Call Ajaire | Wally and Grace | Sew Wrong | Bella Sunshine Designs
Seaside Notions | Made by Jaime | Sweet Little Chickadee | Inspinration | Friends Stitched Together
Stoney Sews | Just Keep Sewing | My Little Sewing Dreams | Allie J. | Creative Counselor
Love, Lucie | Girls in the Garden | FABulous Home Sewn | Goddess of Sewing | Rebel & Malice
The Telltale Tasha | House of Estrela | Made by Sara | Sew Shelly Sew | Red Knits

Be sure to scroll to the bottom for your chance to win great prizes by these sponsors:

Itch to Stitch First Anniversary Sponsors

The Fabric Store – $100 Gift certificate

Elliott Berman Textiles – Fabric bundle from France & Italy

Craftsy – three online classes of your choice

Girl Charlee Fabrics – $25 Gift certificate

Indie Sew – $25 Gift certificate

UpCraft Club – $25 Gift certificate

Quarto Publishing Group USA – the SHIRTMAKING WORKBOOK by David Page Coffin

The featured designer of the day will give away 2 patterns to a lucky winner:

Baste + Gather

Straight Stitch Designs

Megan Nielsen Patterns

Jamie Christina

Hey June Handmade

Wardrobe by Me

Filles á Maman

Follow Itch to Stitch’s blog closely to win these patterns!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Accessory Sized Project Bags

October 13, 2015

Red Knits_Project BagsI’ve been listening to a lot of knitting podcasts and videocasts lately, and they have not only rejuvenated my knitting mojo, but also made me very interested in knitting project bags: every podcaster seems to have a large collection of WIPs and adorable projects in which to keep them. My friend K (the one who sent me her list of favorite podcasts in the first place) is no stranger to the world of handmade project bags, so she also sent me her favorite shops for research purposes. I had a nice little look around to see what other people were doing and what I liked best. I have to admit to some sticker shock–I’m happy that knitters will pay up for handmade products, but I’m sure glad that I can make my own!

I’ve also done a lot of adventuring in the past few weeks, and one of these adventures brought me back to Duluth for the first time in much too long to attend our friend’s wedding. I also got to see K in person–and knit with her, and check out the new LYS location with her, and eat artichoke dip with her–which was pretty darn awesome. K and I aren’t great at giving each other gifts on time but rather save things up for when we get to see each other, so my trip was the perfect deadline for her project bag.
Red Knits_Project BagLet me tell you, you know you’ve nailed a gift when the first words out of the recipient’s mouth are, “Bears are my spirit animal!! and then she stuffs her barely-cast-on hat into her new bag. I knew K would like this print because it’s her kind of color scheme and she loves spending time at her cabin. Add to that a good circles print for the lining, and it’s a guaranteed win.
Red Knits_Project BagOf course, I couldn’t let K’s projects have all the cute dwellings–I had to make a bag for my own project to live in. Steve found this sort of Scandinavian style fox and owl print, and it was just too perfect for me, especially when paired with a tulip print lining. This is only the second project bag I’ve owned–the first was a gift from K–so there are surely some more of these fun little projects ahead of me.
Red Knits_Project Bags DetailI used some new techniques and materials on these bags. The most exciting to me was actually the fusible fleece interfacing, which gives the perfect combination of rigidity and bounce back for a bag that will likely be shoved into another bag regularly. I took a look at a few different zipper pouch tutorials, and mostly used this one from Jedi Craft Girl with my own measurements for bags that are approximately 13″ x 9″ x 4″. Those ends tucking in the zipper still need some finessing to lie how I want them to, but I’m happy with the more professional finish I’m getting on these, especially with that finishing touch of a handle zipper pull.

Fabrics: quilting cottons, all from JoAnn
Interfacing: fusible fleece from JoAnn
Notions: YKK zippers from zipit and swivel clasps from twpmango on Etsy

Fall is in the Air

October 1, 2015

Red Knits_PSL FeverIt’s finally starting to feel like fall around here, and I’m thrilled.

I have been all about the knitting lately after few years of reduced mojo. That’s partially because of the changing seasons, but also because I’ve found a whole new knitting community through podcasts and videocasts. It used to be that my blog reader was full of inspirational knitting, but it seems like a lot of those bloggers aren’t posting anymore. My dear friend K, who I get to see in person this weekend, was nice enough to send me a list of her favorite podcasts, and I’m hooked!

I’ve also rediscovered the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup, and I’m playing along for my first time as a not-quite-first-year. It’s so much fun to gamify knitting and be part of another enthusiastic community of makers. I don’t typically make little projects, but I was inspired to make the pumpkin spice coffee cozy you see above and turn it in for a September class.

Speaking of coffee cozies, I wanted to thank you for knitting up my Twisted Coffee Cozy pattern over the years. I get lots of hits on that post, so I know people are checking it out, which feels good even though I have no higher design aspirations at this point. Red Knits_Mama VertebraeOctober promises to be an exciting knitting month. Just this afternoon, I cast on for a Mama Vertebrae for my friend J. I don’t typically knit full sweaters for friends, but I’m making a special exception here because J is a close friend, she’s expecting her first baby, and, get this, she has never had anything handmade. I have to fix this. She braved the LYS with me yesterday and picked out some Berroco Vintage in a lovely shade of red that will look great on her and mix well with her maternity wardrobe.

If there’s a baby on the way, you’d better believe I’m going to knit for it! We’re throwing J a baby shower at the end of the month, and I’d like to do a small layette with a cardigan, hat or bonnet, and booties. I haven’t chosen any of those patterns yet, and I’m hoping to pick out yarn this weekend at my former LYS, so suggestions are very much welcome!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 304 other followers