It's been a while since I knit for one of my little friends. I'm sure I owe several of them projects. I've been very distracted lately. This particular sweater was a special request. As you well know, I don't typically do requests, but this wasn't a tall order. In fact, it hopped on and off my needles quickly. (see what I did there ;-D)
The yarn and pattern were provided by the requester, so I'm not entirely sure where the pattern came from. I think it may be from Lion Brand?? It's a really simple stockinette sweater with a nice little button-up convertible neckline, perfect for accommodating oversized noggins.
The bunny face is duplicate stitched on after knitting. Nothing too tricky. I thought it was a great way to avoid having to do any sort of intarsia. Props to the pattern writer for keeping things simple!
The pattern indicates that this is the face of a rabbit. Hallie and Mike both immediately thought it was a cat and gave me some serious side-eye and raised eyebrows. I guess it could go either way. To clarify, no, I haven't reached the level of cat-sweater-knitting-person. And, even if it was a cat, which it is not, it's for a baby. And, I'm pretty sure babies get a free-pass on the whole wearing of cat-sweater thing.
That's about all I have to say about that.
Straight skirt number two.
Most of what I have to say about this skirt is repeat information from the first, leopard print, version. I'll spare the redundancy and jump directly to the things that set this skirt apart from the first.
I bought this piece of fabric from an interior decorator. She was having a warehouse sale and trying to clear out remnant fabrics she had accumulated during the course of working on customer projects. There were nearly three yards of this ikat-like print remaining on the bolt, and I bought the piece for $12. The fabric is a cotton upholstery weight and heavier than what I'm used to working with. It's noticeably thicker than the leopard skirt, so I lined it with muslin to keep it from becoming heavy. I think this fabric makes a great bottom weight and am excited to have enough remaining to make another garment from it.
Due to the weight of the fabric, I was concerned that a folded hem might look bulky. To avoid having to fuss with it, I encased the hemline in narrow, double fold bias tape. I decided to incorporate the bias tape into the waistband similar to the way I had used it previously.
I raised the hemline of this version by two inches; otherwise, I did not make any changes or modifications from the my first skirt during construction. I think this skirt is more casual than the leopard skirt, but I can see pairing it with a dressier blouse to turn it up.
I wore this skirt to meet some lovely Chicagoland sewers for a fabric shopping extravaganza at LZ followed by lunch. There was a lot of fabric envy at the cutting table, plenty of enabling, and also some really great conversation about patterns, trends, and sewing to suit our personal style and body type.
Getting to know people who share my same interests and hobbies is a really wonderful fringe benefit of blogging. We have a pretty fantastic community!
I surprised myself with the print I chose for my first spring version of Simplicity 9267. It's a little... outside my comfort zone. Perhaps the influence of Jungle January triggered my inner animal. Clearly, I've been suppressing my animal print instincts; I've been sending myself subliminal messages on Pinterest (1,2,3) in an apparent S.O.S.
I figured, why not? There was nothing to lose. I had this piece of cotton leopard print in my stash from an estate sale score last year. It was a sign, no?
I didn't do anything tricky on this version. No embellishment. No details. Just a good plain skirt. I did try to be aware of my pattern placement. There's a vertical stripe incorporated into the print. It likely wouldn't have mattered where it ended up, but I tried to center the stripe in the front and make sure that the stripes at the back were evenly spaced.
The true testament to the success of this skirt is that I put it work and wore it to my mom's Surprise 50th birthday party.
I was busy playing hostess, so I didn't get any shots of the skirt 'in the wild', but we did stop to take photos and play on the park equipment outside the venue. Scout's honor, it performed well all day long in terms of comfort and wearability.
The 'up the skirt' shot below is the only picture we managed to take showing the lining of the skirt. I used a solid black poplin to line. It's got a nice weight to it. Even though the outside fabric is opaque, I think the lining helps the skirt hold its shape and gives structures to an otherwise flimsy garment.
The darker colors incorporatd into this print make it very versatile. I would feel comfortable stretching it into three seasons, weather permitting. This skirt is ready to enter rotation in my closet, effective immediately!
There is a lot of chatter this year in the sewing community with regard to creating wearable wardrobe pieces and crafting a closet full of custom clothing. The ladies at the Coletterie have been running a wardrobe architect series to help focus on the concepts of building a solid wardrobe with a lot of good advice and direction if you're interested and looking for a good starting point. This is a subject I've spent a lot of time thinking about. It's the reason I started sewing in the first place. At the beginning of last year, I tried to make a list of the pieces I thought would constitute my ideal wardrobe. I really tried to take my day to day dress into consideration when I wrote the list. Five days a week, I'm in an office. When I'm at home, I like to be comfortable. When I venture out, I like to have outing specific attire. I prefer tailored clothes that fit well. I don't wear a lot of oversized or excessively drapey garments, and I'm not comfortable in tight, clingy clothes. I like clothing that helps to accentuate my waistline and take focus away from my hips. I like natural fabrics. I prefer lined garments. I like garments that look well made and high-end.
I made progress sewing garments that I wanted to wear during 2013. But, I still didn't feel I had found my style identity through sewing. Also, importantly, I didn't produce nearly enough garments to cover my daily, weekly, monthly or seasonal clothing needs.
The projects from my 2013 sewing I am most pleased with are the skirts I made. I like the way I look in skirts. Also, I feel really comfortable in them. In January, Gail conducted a little sewing experiment that completely resonated with me. She tweaked a skirt pattern to fit her body exactly the way she wanted, and she made three versions of that skirt. boom. boom. boom. A lot of sewers would refer to a pattern of this type as a TNT (tried and true) pattern. A pattern that fits. A pattern that you turn to repeatedly, because you know exactly what to expect from it. A pattern that produces a garment you love to wear.
I don't have any. I've only sewn the same pattern on one previous occasion to make skirts last year. I'm not sure what benefit I associated with using a different pattern for each project, but for some reason, that's exactly what I've done.
Comically, when I look through inspiration pictures I've collected, like the ones above, I find that I'm not drawn to a huge variety of different styles. My taste is very vanilla. All of the skirts I've pinned over the last two years fall into one of three categories: Straight, Skater, Maxi. The variety I'm seeking isn't in pattern variation, it's in fabric choice.
I am able to make the same sorts of groupings with pants, blouses, and jackets. The good news is, I know what I like. The bad new is, I haven't been sewing those things. I think it's time to try something new and do a little bit of production/assembly line sewing. Instead of looking at my wardrobe as a whole, I've got my sights set on spring. I've started by making a handful of straight skirts. If I can keep up the momentum, I would like to approach the other garments on my wishlist in the same way.
There's going to be a lot of the same around here while I work on this project. I'll do what I can to keep it interesting. I'm starting with Simplicity 9267, the same pattern I used to make the wool chevron skirt I sewed in March. I dove into my fabric stash and easily found half a dozen pieces of fabric to get me started.
When I was growing up, my mom bought all of my dad's clothes. I can't remember an occasion when he came to the store to pick-out his own attire. The man has never, in my lifetime expressed any opinions regarding his wardrobe or personal style. In fact, an inquiry last Christmas would suggest he's not familiar with his current clothing sizes. He very happily wears whatever we outfit we choose for him. It's great. Easy. Low maintenance.
When I married Mike, I knew that he had a little more to say with regard to his clothing. We mostly agree that he knows how to dress himself and choose clothes that suit him. He's receptive to suggestions, usually, unless he's able to customize his garment, as was the case with these shorts.
Suddenly, he's an expert. He knows exactly how the shorts ought to be constructed. He's got preferences with regard to the width of leg openings. He wants the shorts to respond specifically and accordingly with certain body movements. He's working to convince me he knows more about ease than I do. He's bargaining hem lengths and arguing about... everything.
Neither he nor I expected these shorts to meet his standards. But, somehow, I managed to surprise us both. I do believe his smile in these photos is genuine. He has been wearing his new shorts all evening, and I'm chuffed.
One of the biggest battles we had was over the length. He's tall, I get it, really, I do. Still, there is almost an extra inch of length folded into the hem, because Mike was certain I didn't understand how long his shorts needed to be in order to keep him from exposing too much thigh when he sits. Fortunately, he agrees that they are acceptable as are.
As we discussed his measurements vs. clothing size, I learned that Mike purposely buys his pants with a waist a size larger than he needs in order to make sure that he has enough room elsewhere. I accommodated his specification, but I think we could do better the next time. Ironically, Mike and I have the same fit issue when it comes to waist/hip discrepancy. We've both got a lot more booty than average. I think Mike could have a better fit with the addition of either a deeper dart or a second set of darts at the rear. Now that he understands I'm not trying to make him wear shorts that are too small, I think he might be alright with the tweak. In the meantime, those belt loops are a big help.
I struggled with my welt pocket. It's there. It's functional, but it's a little tortured. Thanks to some tutorials, I think I'm ready to tackle another. I'm pretty sure I was cutting too near the edge of the welt and not leaving enough triangle to fold over the edge. If you have insight, I'm happy to have help.
My front pockets compensate for the precision I lack on my welt. I'm incredibly pleased with how nicely they align from the front, over the pocket facing, and through the side seam. And, I'm thrilled with how beautifully all my horizontal lines match across seams and through the center line of the fly.
Does this fabric seem familiar? You might recall that I used this same fabric last year in my plaid dress and my Fall for Cotton Blouse. I cut these shorts around the same time I finished those garments and they made their way to the new house in the box of UFO projects I've been slowly. chipping. away at completing. Yes. There are sewing projects in there too. Mike helped motivate me to get this pair sewn by bribing me with more fabric. More shorts fabric, that is. Yes, there will be more shorts. Mike's a tough customer, but he's also a pretty cute and a very grateful one. How could I say no to a man who buys fabric (and yarn)?
As part of my continuing mission to complete the projects in the box of UFOs/WIPs I moved between residences, I was forced to face my longest outstanding project. The earliest record of this sweater I can find is just over two years old.
I was wallowing in self pity when my pal Doctor came over to console me. Doc and her mom Hallie, my sister, are our new housemates. They've helped us fill some of the empty space we have and keep us company now that we're living in the suburbs. Doc did more than cheer me up with nuzzles and puppy kisses. She helped me with the solution to my sweater situation. It was like a light switch flipping on. The raglan shape of the sweater made the pieces a great shape for a dog sweater. It would take a little tinkering, but all the difficult bits were already out of the way.
I undid the neckline ribbing at the top edge and picked-up the live stitches. Once I reached the end, I cast-on additional stitches using a backward loop cast-on and worked a collar in the round. Next, I picked-up stitches all the way around the body and knit a few rows of ribbing.
To secure the sweater, I knit a little chest strap and fastened it with a button. It worked pretty well. It almost looks like I planned it-if you look past the black dog/white sweater component.
As I mentioned, I had both the front and back of the sweater finished. So, Danger got a matching outfit. I did have to rip down to shorten Danger's, but I still used the majority of the panel.
I really still want this sweater for myself. I hope to revisit it someday. If you don't think I'm a crazy dog lady by now, just wait until the lot of us are parading around in matching garments.
It occurred to me, if I waited to sew until my new space is completely unpacked and perfect, I may never sew again. So, I cleared off my desk and found my power cord. I chose to wade back into the water with a simple and satisfying project. A skirt fit the bill.
I really love leather and wool together, and I used that concept as a starting point. I bought some faux leather trim and fussed around with the placement before settling on a double chevron-like hip detail, an exaggeration of the chevron/herringbone design in the fabric. Once I had the trim pinned where I wanted it, I applied it to my skirt pieces with a short zig-zag stitch. I attached the trim prior to assembly. It was surprisingly easy.
Then, I was stuck again. I liked it, but the skirt still needed something. Rather than wait to be inspired, I turned to my sewing friends for input. Sewing friends are THE BEST! They don't bat an eyelash when you send them awkward photos of you in a half finished project. It was Liz's genius to add a bit of trim to the waistband. So simple. So brilliant. It completely transformed and completed the skirt.
Things should have wrapped fairly easily from that point, but I found myself incapable of making any decisions regarding skirt length. I kinda liked it long. But, I'm fairly short (5ft2in). Did it look too long? Also, very importantly, would I be able to wear both boots and heels without looking legless?
This was far too important a decision to make on my own. I took to twitter, consulted my grandma, and texted my most fashion forward friend before whacking off a few inches. Everyone had roughly the same advice and suggested either an inch below or an inch above the knee. Definitely not at the knee. Probably above the knee for boots.
I'm not sure whether my indecision stemmed from being out of practice or not. I do know I wouldn't be as happy as I am with this skirt if it weren't for the help of my friends!
Mother Nature was kind enough to provide us with a snowy backdrop for our early morning photo shoot. Entertainingly, today is the first day of spring. And, as you can tell from our dead (dying?) tree, we're still waiting on signs of life. Turns out, making a cold weather skirt on the eve of the season change wasn't such a bad idea. If the weatherman is right, I'll likely have another opportunity, or two to wear this before next fall.
I did struggle getting my trimmed chevrons and the print to line-up perfectly. I got a little off in a few spots. But, it's not glaring. I avoided having to match any print at the waistband by changing fabric direction, which I really like and will do again in the future.
I hemmed and sewed down the waistband by hand, but I did everything else, including my lining hem, on the machine. I pinked my seam allowances, but I'm a little concerned it won't be enough to prevent the wool from unravelling. It's very loosely woven, and it doesn't need a lot of encouragement to come undone.
I moved the location of the zip to the back center seam. The pattern has the zipper located at the side seam. Putting the zipper there wouldn't have worked with my embellishments. Also, I think a side zip can look a bit bulky. I don't need any help adding heft to my bottom half, so I likely would move the zip to the rear on future projects.
It feels good to be back to sewing. I had forgotten how satisfying and fast sewing is compared to knitting. I'm dreaming of spring and summer projects already!
First, thank you for your kind words of encouragement and for sharing your stories about pets who have endured illness and disability. It means a lot to Mike and me. I am happy to report that Danger is adjusting to his medication schedule and vision loss very quickly. He's got a new ball with a bell inside that he is able to locate when we play fetch. And, he has chased his sister in circles around the bushes in the yard leaving us watching in amazement that he is already able to navigate around obstacles in his own environment. We've got a lot of follow-up care to juggle and things to learn, but we're getting on very well.
Progress on the Channel Cardigan is slow. If you had any trouble with your stitch counts during cast-on, it wasn't your fault. It was mine! Katie, was kind enough to point out that the equation I'd given you wasn't working out. It's correct now.
During our IRL knit along sessions, we've been experiencing some bumps and bruises. Mari was the first to realize, that her sleeve was MUCH larger than she expected. Fortunately, Mari was able to drop a needle size AND a pattern size to get a better fitting sleeve.
Liz had the same size issue. Unfortunately, Liz had already accounted for a difference in gauge between her swatch and the pattern by changing needle and pattern sizes, so her "FIX" is much more complicated. It involves a lot of math and spreadsheets. I wish I was kidding. I'm not. Wildly, Liz and Meg are using the same yarn for their sweaters, and Meg's gauge is smaller than the pattern by 1 stitch over four inches. It shouldn't make sense.
It's increasingly apparent that the Channel Cardigan is going to take longer to knit than we had hoped. Rather than rush through and become frustrated with knitting, we've decided to take a small pause before preparing to cast-on the body of the beast. We all need a little respite and a little mindless reprieve. We'll resume work shortly!
We adopted Danger when he was a puppy. We couldn't resist him. Mike, Dulce and I went to "just look" at him,and he came home with us that same afternoon. It was love at first sight.
He wasn't so sure about us in the beginning. He was unpredictable and a bit surly. He most definitely has a strong insubordinate streak. But, in time, he accepted us as his pack. We don't have any human children, but our dogs are our babies, and the four of us are very strongly bonded. We're inseparable.
Over the years, Danger has appeared to be the picture of health. He has always passed every test at his annual vet exams and he has never complained or shown signs of illness- which, in part, is why we are so devastated to learn that Danger has glaucoma.
Glaucoma is caused when there is an increase in pressure within the eye due to an impairment of aqueous humor outflow. In dogs, the effects of glaucoma are far more immediate and severe than they are in humans. Often, by the time the condition is discovered, irreversible vision loss has occurred.
Glaucoma is very painful. The buildup of pressure inside the eye causes persistent migraine-like symptoms which do no dissipate. In dogs, Glaucoma is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY that requires immediate attention.
We had never been told about the warning signs of glaucoma or any related diseases of the eye. We didn't notice the subtle changes that had started to happen. We didn't know to take him to the vet until my sister-in-law, who has had previous experience with a glautomatous dog, mentioned to us that she thought we should have Danger's eyes looked at. He had large pupils, and when the light hit his eyes, you could see a haze covering the surface of his eyeball.
Danger's ophthalmologist has diagnosed him with primary glaucoma, a congenital condition. She explained that Danger has probably had abnormal pressure in his eyes since he was born. And, because it was left untreated for the last five years, it has progressed. In what seems like a flash Danger went from having fully functional sight to having lost complete vision in his left eye and a high percentage of the vision in his right eye. It is a terrible feeling to know there is nothing we can do to reverse the damage that has been done, and we can never take back the pain that he shouldered while this disease progressed.
Please, please, if you have a pet who you hold dear to your heart, learn from Danger. Be better than us. If we had known then what we know now, we likely could have treated Danger's glaucoma years ago and delayed the onset of vision loss. Most certainly, we could have spared him suffering.
Please educate yourself. Please seek immediate attention for your furry friends if your companion starts to exhibit any signs including:
These symptoms may not be overtly obvious. So keep watch for anything unusual. Your furry friends cannot tell you when something is wrong, and they are counting on you to care for and do what's best for them. More information can be found online or by talking to your veterinarian. If you have any concern your pet may have glaucoma, ask your veterinarian to perform tests with a tonometer. This test should be readily available at your clinicians office and it is not invasive or expensive.
We have a lot of emotions about our experience with Danger's diagnostic process. We are angry that we didn't know better. We are sad that he has suffered a huge loss. We are heartbroken that we didn't stop the pain sooner. But, we are also hopeful that veterinary medicine will continue to progress toward reversing the damage this disease causes. We are happy to see him more relaxed and comfortable now that we have started managing his symptoms with medication. We are confident that Danger will learn to adjust and continue to be the happy and lovable pup we've come to adore. And I am certain that our bond will continue to grow as we work through this new challenge.
I'm two days late with this post, and I fear I'm disappointing as a KAL hostess. I do hope you'll forgive my delinquency. By now, we've gathered our supplies and swatched along with Mari. Now we're ready for the fun part- Casting-on! We'll start by knitting the sleeves of the Channel Cardigan.
Knitters, you are free to choose any method of casting-on you prefer. However, the pattern recommends a tubular cast-on. For those unfamiliar with this casting-on method, I've attempted a photo tutorial to help us along.
Before we begin, we will need to gather: waste yarn, working yarn, our size 'C' needles (suggested US 4), a stitch marker and a cable needle (optional). We will be knitting in the round, so choose your preferred method for small circumference knitting (dpn vs. circular).
To start, we will cast on half the total number of stitches we want for our cuff plus one additional stitch (50% + 1sts.). The total cuff stitch counts are already provided in the pattern: 48(52,5,52,56,60). To obtain the correct number of stitches using a tubular cast-on, you should cast-on 25(27,27,29,31) sts., accordingly. You can choose any casting-on method for this portion. I've used a long tail cast-on. Once you've completed your cast-on, you can cut your waste yarn and set it aside.
Now, using your working yarn, from the wrong side, purl to the end of the row. This row is our foundation.
Turn your work so that you are ready to work a row from the right side. We will now double the total number of stitches on our needle by increasing into the bar between each stitch. To start, knit the first stitch on your needle. As you move this stitch from your left needle to the right, you will see there is a bar between the two stitches. In the above photo, this is the straight, white (working yarn) between the stitch on my right needle and the stitch on the left needle.
To increase, pick-up the that bar between stitches by Inserting the tip of your left needle under the bar, from the front side of your work.
Now, bring your working yarn to the front of your work and purl the bar, moving this new stitch from the left needle to the right needle. One stitch increased.
Continuing in this manner, until you reach the last stitch of the row. Then, slip the last stitch purlwise, with the working yarn behind the stitch.
We will now prepare to knit in the round. Divide your stitches appropriately, and move the last stitch of the round (the stitch we slipped in the previous row) to the left needle. Place a marker to note the beginning of the round.
With your working yarn in back of your work, slip the first two stitches from the left needle to the right needle.
Bring your working yarn to the front of your work and purl the next stitch in the round.
Next, move your working yarn to the back of your work and slip the next stitch, purlwise.
Then, bring your yarn to the front of the work and purl the next stitch in the round. Continue in this manner, Slipping your knit stitches purlwise with the yarn behind them, and purling the purl stitches, until you reach the beginning of the round.
Begin by knitting the first two (previously slipped stitches) together.
Next, slip the purl stitch from your left needle purlwise, with the yarn in front of your work. Knit following stitch. Continue in this manner until you reach the beginning of the round.
Slip the knit stitch purlwise from your left needle to the right needle with the working yarn held behind the work.
Bring your working yarn to the front of the work and purl the next stitch. Continue these two steps until your reach the beginning of the round.
After you complete the fourth round of the pattern, you will have an established 1x1 slipped stitch rib pattern. Now, we will adjust the order of the stitched on our needles in order to set-up a 2x2 rib for the remainder of the cuff.
We will now reorder the stitches on our needle. We do this without using our working yarn. Begin by slipping the first 'knit' stitch from your left needle to your right needle.
Slip the next, 'purl' stitch onto a cable needle and hold it at the back of your work.
Slip the next, 'knit', stitch from your left needle to your right needle.
Now, slip the 'purl' stitch from the cable needle to your right needle.
Then, slip the next 'purl' stitch to your right needle. Continue to distribute your stitches until your reach the beginning of the round. Once you finish, the stitches on your needles will be arranged in a 2x2 manner.
Begin the round by knitting the first two stitches. Then bring your yarn to the front of the work.
With your yarn in front of the work, slip the next two purl stitches to the right needle. Continue to knit 2 and slip 2 in this manner until your reach the beginning of the round.
Begin the round by slipping the first two knit stitches to the right needle, purlwise, with your working yarn behind the work.
Bring your working yarn to the front of the work and purl the following two stitches. Repeat in this manner until you reach the beginning of the round.
You have now completed your tubular cast-on! From this point forward, you will knit the cuff in 2x2 rib. Before you do, however, remember to change to your Size B needles (suggested US 5).
After you knit several rounds of 2x2 ribbing, it is safe to remove your waste yarn cast-on. Being very careful to cut only your waste yarn. Make several cuts along the cast-on edge.
Once the waste yarn is cut, you will be able to easily remove the cast-on edge by tugging on the ends of those pieces.
As I mentioned early, the tubular cast-on isn't a requirement. However, it's a fantastic option for a ribbed cuff. You'll note two distinct differences between this cast-on and other knitted cast-on methods. First, there is no apparent cast-on at the edge of the cuff. Instead, you have a rounded, edge that flows almost seamlessly into the rest of the rib.
The second major difference you'll notice is the amount of stretch this cast-on allows. As a girl who likes to push-up her sleeves, this is my favorite part.
Alrighty then, Let's get busy! Now that we've cast-on our sleeve, we will continue to rib our cuff for two and three-quarter inches.