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UFO Mondays: Lady Grey

February 10, 2015

As I mentioned in my new year’s post, I am getting really close to tackling my long-time UFO problem. I would love to have all of them finished by the end of the year, so the next big sewing project I’m pulling out is my bulkiest UFO: Lady Grey.
Lady GreyIt looks like I never blogged about this coat project, so I’m not sure exactly how long it’s been a UFO, just that it’s been a long time! I purchased the fabric at S.R. Harris in the Twin Cities and fit a muslin while spending a week with my parents. At some point, I cut out the outer fabric, lining, and flannel interlining, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

On a few occasions, I’ve pulled this coat out to get sewing, but I always stall out because the very first step is the bound buttonhole. I’ve done plenty of bound buttonholes in the past, but they are fiddly and demand perfection, so they don’t exactly build momentum as the first step of a project.

This time, though, I’m feeling pretty motivated. My Lady Grey project bag doesn’t fit into my sewing area storage, and I’m sick of looking at it. I also desperately need a professional looking winter coat for teaching so I can stop wearing my old ski jacket to class. I’m facing the next of my doctoral exams in a little over a month, and I’m hoping that the hand tailoring on this project will prove a relaxing break from all of the studying ahead.

A Minnesota Baby Gift and a Blogiversary

February 6, 2015

Red Knits_Baby GiftWhen we visited Duluth during the 2013 holiday season, we were so surprised and thrilled to find out that our dear friends, who swore when they got married that they were never going to have children, were expecting! They’re now well into their first year of parenting, and, even though I haven’t had a chance to meet their little guy yet, I sent along a package of cozy knits for the long winter.
Red Knits_ GrampsSince the new daddy is an outdoorsy literature scholar, I couldn’t resist the adorable Gramps Cardigan. I just love how this cabled smoking jacket will make baby K look wise beyond his years, and I hope I get to see him wearing it someday.
Red Knits_ GrampsThe shawl collar looks a little funny without anyone wearing it, but I’m such a sucker for this style on babies and grown-ups alike. I’m not so sure about the buttons because they seem awfully big for the design, but I was knitting to a deadline and didn’t want to fuss with changing the pattern.
Red Knits_ GrampsI was worried that this cardigan would take a long time to knit because of all that cabling, but I knew that I would be all right when I saw that the back is a very wide ribbing. It’s probably comfier for a baby spending lots of time on his back, too. Despite knitting it while I was nearing my first comprehensive exam, this sweater knit up quite quickly.
Red Knits_ MN HatSince baby K’s parents love spending time outdoors exploring northern Minnesota, we thought a warm hat was in order. I started with the Little Flap Cap from Cabin Fever, which I had used for some cute charity hats a few years ago. We chose some washable yarn from my stash of leftovers, and Steve got to work designing the colorwork pattern.
Red Knits_MN HatOf course, the state of Minnesota has the place of honor at the front. On either side are moose heads facing forward, and at the back, unfortunately straddling the jog, is a set of canoe paddles. I have yet to knit a version of this flap cap that I didn’t find adorable, but this one has got to be my favorite.

In my 2014 roundup, I neglected to mention that, as of the holidays, I’ve now been knitting for a full decade! I knit my first stitches on a lumpy, brown Wool-Ease scarf while I was home on break from my freshman year of college, and I haven’t put down my needles since.
Ravelry HeartsAfter ten years of knitting, I have 300 projects in my ravelry notebook, and I know that’s not even all of them! Knitting has been such an important part of my life, getting me through hard times, leading me to meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and, when I was working at the LYS, even paying the rent! I don’t churn out the knitted projects like I used to, but I still knit a few rows just about every day.

It was just a little over two years after I learned how to knit that I started this blog. I’ve been sharing my projects here for eight years now, and even though this blog is nothing big or fancy, I’ve really enjoyed chronicling my knitting and sewing adventures here and reading as many other blogs as I can to see what all of you are up to. As a sidenote–if you follow me on WordPress or Bloglovin’ and I don’t follow back, I hope you won’t be offended. I use Feedly and hardly touch the other readers even though I have accounts to claim my own blog.

Thanks for reading. Here’s to many more decades of knitting ahead!

Not-So-Activewear: McCall’s M7026

February 2, 2015

I don’t sew a lot of activewear, mainly because I’m not such an active person. When I do make an effort to move, I normally do so on the dance floor wearing normal clothes. So I’m not sure how this happened:
Red Knits_Activewear JacketThis is McCall’s M7026, a lightweight jacket I made for our Disney trip. I’m pretty sure that I got this idea into my head because I purchased a very similar jacket from a Gap Outlet several years back. It’s cobalt blue, though, so it doesn’t work so well with my typical blue jeans. When I found a pattern and fabric that gave me a nearly identical look in a more wearable color, I went for it.
Red Knits_Activewear JacketHaving that RTW jacket in my closet came in handy when it came to altering this pattern, as I ended up adding about 2″ to the body (that’s why my zipper doesn’t reach to the top of the collar). I didn’t think ahead quite so much about sewing a more complicated pattern with a slippery knit fabric. For the most part, it was fine, but the zipper was a pain!

This jacket got lots of use on our vacation because it was so chilly, but it was often layered underneath a sweatshirt for extra warmth. And I took these photos after being quite active at an all-day dance workshop with some great instructors. Maybe an activewear jacket isn’t such an odd addition to my wardrobe after all!

Polka Dot Shorts are the Best Shorts

January 31, 2015

I’ve been pondering shorts for a while, and I made a point of finishing a pair in time for our trip to Florida. The second half of our trip was much too cold for bare legs, but I did get a little use out of them:

Magic Kingdom
Unfortunately, that will be the only modeled shot of this project. I was hoping to take some photos in sunny Florida, but I was too busy having fun. Now that I’m back in Pittsburgh, my sunless tan has faded and there’s snow on the ground. Such a bummer.
Red Knits_Polka Dot Maritime ShortsFor the pattern, I used Grainline’s Martime Shorts, and they fit me straight out of the (digital) envelope! The pattern and instructions are well done, as I’ve come to expect from Jennifer, and I think the style is perfect for a casual, go anywhere kind of short.
Red Knits_Polka Dot Maritime ShortsI don’t know when I got it in my head that these shorts needed to be black with white polka dots, but once I had decided on that pattern, I couldn’t let it go! I had a hard time finding fabric that would work and ended up with a stretchy, denim-ish fabric from fabric.com. It wasn’t always the easiest fabric to work with, but it gave me exactly the look I was going for: these patterned shorts are fun but still quite versatile.
Red Knits_Polka Dot Maritime Shorts Fly DetailThanks to the black fabric, I can’t get very good detail shots, which is a shame because the fly front went pretty well. But here, at least you can see my pocket lining: a quilting cotton with even tinier white polka dots on a black background. I had just enough scrap fabric in my stash to pull these off, and I couldn’t help myself!

Happily, these shorts coincide with the Sewcialists’ Polka Dot January. If I had my way, my wardrobe would be made up entirely of polka dot garments, so I’m having fun seeing what everyone else makes for the theme.

My Disney Side

January 26, 2015

My goodness, it’s hard to re-enter reality after a glorious week in the happiest, most magical place on earth with one’s family!

EpcotWe had such an amazing time in DisneyWorld with my family, and I can hardly believe it’s over. Before our trip I made quite a few garments to bring along (and get a jump start on building my summer wardrobe), and I’m looking forward to sharing those in upcoming posts. Today, though, I thought I’d finally share my Halloween costume.
Red Knits_Anna CostumeI did indeed finish my Anna costume in time, albeit with a little less detail than I had originally hoped. It’s ridiculous, but I love it–how often do you get to be a Disney princess?
Red Knits_Anna CostumeFor the blouse, I used view E of V8747. Thank goodness this was only a costume blouse because it was definitely a lesson in using sub-par materials! I used some super-cheap solid fabric from the quilting section and pulled interfacing from my stash that was either old, crappy to begin with, or both. The result was not a whole lot of fun to work with.

The bodice is an altered version of S2851. Steve and I worked together to guess at a sweetheart neckline, and for these purposes, I think it came out okay. The embellishment is hand-appliqued felt, and I’m very grateful to the detail shots I found on cosplay for making the embellishment much easier to execute.
Red Knits_Anna CostumeThe skirt is another Linda, which made it nice and easy. If I had had a little more time to finish this costume, my next step would have been to add the skirt embellishment, but I just didn’t get there. Maybe I’ll add it for the next time I wear this costume.

A final shoutout needs to go to my mom, who not only provides constant sewing phone support and took us to DisneyWorld, but also gave me these boots and the official Anna crown!

Hope your day is magical! ;)

Happy 2015!

January 1, 2015

Red Knits_Gray Fluted SkirtHappy new year!

We didn’t go out to celebrate, preferring to stay in, drink fancy cocktails in comfy pants, and watch Anchors Aweigh! If I had gone out, though, I might have worn this fluted skirt, which I completed back in November before exam crunch time.
Red Knits_Gray Fluted SkirtThis pattern, McCall’s 6842, is nearly identical to the current version of my J.Crew inspiration skirt that’s in stores. However, that new version and this pattern have a lot more flare than the original iteration that I was trying to imitate. For the next version–and I do think there will be one–I would like to figure out how to bring in the full circle skirt to one with less body, and I’ll probably add some length to make this teaching appropriate.
Red Knits_Gray Fluted Skirt backI wanted to let this textured fabric shine, so I did more hand stitching than I typically would for a trial version of  a pattern. I hand picked the centered zipper and hand stitched the hem.

2014  wasn’t a bad year. We visited Minnesota, New York, and Louisville, and I presented my work at some international conferences and volunteered at another one. My husband finished his MFA and turned 30. I finished the coursework portion of my PhD, became Co-President of our grad org with my amazing friend J, and passed the first of my comprehensive exams. Most importantly, 2014 marked the end of two years living away from my husband and kitties. We’re so happy to be living together again, and we’d rather not repeat that time apart despite the challenges of the academic job market.

It was a great year for knitting and sewing, too. I participated in the Ravellenic Games (though I didn’t quite finish in time) and finally finished my Sock Innovation project. In total, I completed 54 projects. 22 of them were knit, and 2 of those were adult sweaters. 31 were sewn–some of them were quick projects, and some quite involved. I’ve certainly completed more total projects in past years, but this has to have been my best sewing year yet.

Now that I’m nearly finished sewing for my upcoming vacation, I’m thinking about what to work on this winter and spring. I don’t have many specific plans this season, but I’m sure that there will be plenty more shirtmaking and a new venture: bramaking! I’m also hoping to finally get around to finishing my Lady Gray coat, and I have some sweater WIPs that will be finished very soon. Finally, UFOs are not nearly the problem they once were, and I daresay I may well conquer them this year!

Here’s to a new year!

Testing 1-2!

December 29, 2014

Back when I was planning my fall sewing (Type A and proud!), I thought I’d work on some simple knit dresses for stress relief in the time leading up to my field exam. Not so–I was studying pretty much every waking moment, so I didn’t touch my sewing machine at all. Now that I’m finished with the exam and on break, I’ve had a chance to make up test versions of both patterns that interested me and move on to fancier versions in more exciting fabrics.
Red Knits_Gray M6886 necklineI started with McCall’s 6886, a semi-fitted straight line dress with short sleeves and a v neck. I’m afraid I don’t have any full-length photos to share–something about the way the dress was wrinkling when I snapped them looked horrendous, so you’ll have to settle for my upper half.

This was my first time sewing this style of v-neck, which is different from the one used in Renfrew, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. The pattern instructions were pretty much useless, but this tutorial from Cake patterns was a huge help.
Red Knits_Gray M6886 backI basted the body of the dress after cutting, and I’m glad I did. I ended up grading down a size from what I had initially chosen based on the finished measurements, and I shortened the bodice. As you can see, I’ve still got a lot of pooling at the small of my back, so I did a swayback adjustment for my next version.
Red Knits_Red Lady SkaterMy second knit dress is the infamous Lady Skater from Kitschy Coo. I had my doubts about this pattern since I’m now hesitant to try any new-to-me indie pattern lines, but I really do think this one lives up to the hype. The style lines are flattering–at least on my body type–and the instructions are excellent. I do, however, think I’ll change up the construction order on my next Lady Skater. I can see how the recommended order would be good for assembly-lining dresses, but I think I’ll be able to align my seams and bands better if I assemble the sleeves before setting them into the bodice.
Red Knits_Red Lady Skater backHere again, there’s some excess fabric in the lower back. I read that this pattern comes with a swayback adjustment, so my back must be extra swayed! Again, I’ve wedged out that excess for round 2.

I’m so happy to have two different styles of knit dresses on their way to becoming tried-and-true! They’re comfy, cute, and are sure to be in heavy wardrobe rotation.

 

A Merry Fishmas Was Had by All

December 27, 2014

Red Knits_Fishing Lure ShirtHappy holidays, everyone! We spent Christmas in Pittsburgh this year, so we didn’t get to take part in the usual family celebrations, but we still had a great time. Some of our friends came over for the afternoon, and we all watched dorky movies and ate Chinese food and Christmas cookies until Steve had to go to work (yes, on Christmas. ugh).

We also had time to open some presents, and one gift under the tree for Steve was this fishing lure shirt that I very stealthily made while he was at work. Steve loves fishing, but he hasn’t done much of it since we left our beloved Land of 10,000 Lakes. I know this shirt isn’t the same as fishing itself, but I hope it’ll make him smile when he wears it.
Red Knits_Fishing Lure ShirtI hardly changed a thing from the first shirt I made for him, so this is once again a customized version of McCall’s 6613. The quality of this fabric, a Robert Kaufman chambray from Fabric.com, made a huge difference in the ease of construction this time, though. This was my first time with both the fabric line and the online retailer, and I was very pleased with both. I was also pleased with glue basting, the one new technique I tried in this project, and these sleeve plackets are my best yet!

The only real hitch came when I went to attach buttons: I had thought that the fabric was black and purchased buttons accordingly, but it’s actually a dark navy–this is not nearly so obvious in real life as it is in these images. Unfortunately, since this realization came on Christmas Eve and Steve had the car all day, I had to wrap the nearly completed shirt and wait until this morning to finish it off.

Thanks for bearing with me during my blogging break even though it lasted a little longer than I expected. I’ve studied for, taken, and passed the first of my exams, and now I’m working towards the second one! I’ve also spent plenty time over my winter break knitting and sewing since I finished the exam and was quickly hit with the consequences of weeks of eye strain. I had to stay away from screens and even books for a while, but now I seem to be mostly back in business. I’m happy to be blogging again, and I can’t wait to show you what else I’ve been up to!

Pardon My Absence

November 28, 2014

Field Exam BooksIn less than two weeks, I’m taking the first of the three most important exams of my career. That’s right, it’s time for comps! Combine my final exam prep with the difficulty of scheduling photo shoots around my husband’s work schedule and the limited hours of daylight, and I’ve decided it’s best to take a little break from blogging. I’ll still be knitting and doing some nice, easy sewing, but I think I’ll put the blog on pause for the next two weeks.

I’m not posting this because I imagine all of you are on the edge of your seats waiting eagerly from my next post. Even though I know no one will mind or maybe even notice this break, I’ll feel less pressure knowing that this post is up.

Happy knitting, sewing, and, of course, reading!

Tiny Gramps

November 26, 2014

It’s been a while since I introduced a new knitting project, hasn’t it? I’ve been hitting the sewing pretty hard to both finish some UFOs and add some items I’d like to my wardrobe, and my knitting has mostly been focused on some long-term sweater projects. When a new baby comes along, though, it’s time to cast on something tiny and cute.
Gramps Cardigan WIPI’m casting on this stinkin’ cute Gramps Cardigan for our friends’ fairly new baby. He’s a little peanut, so I’m knitting up the smallest size in some ultra washable Berroco Vintage. I’m also planning to knit up one of my favorite little flap caps for a sort of woodsman theme because both of his parents love to explore the outdoors.

I’d love to get this gift in the mail in time for it to arrive by Christmas, but we’ll see how quickly it knits up. Even though it’s a small sweater in worsted weight yarn, those cables could add some knitting time.

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