Cold weather clothes are, generally, not as fun as their warm weather counterparts. Warmth, for me, is a priority above all else during this season, and very often I find myself in a uniform of grey and black, blending into the monochromatic background that winter in a concrete kingdom brings with it.
Still, even on the grayest days winter has to offer, slivers of sunlight can be found peeking between buildings, a reminder that spring will be back. In very much the same way, little pops of color on top of the black and the grey help to brighten my mood and give me a little boost. It's still perpetually dark outside, but we've made it to other side of January, and the sun sticks around a while longer each day. How do you cope with winter?
Pattern: White Stuff by Juliana Frychel, modified to eliminate patterning across the back of the leg and include a longer cuff.
Yarn: Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Sockenwolle
If you knit a sweater in 2014, but fail to weave in the ends, sew on buttons, and block it until 2015, does it add to the tally this year or last? Sounds a bit like splitting hairs to me. I had every intention of getting this sweater posted prior to 2015, but I'm lazy. And, I didn't get around to it.
If you've been reading these rambling for any amount of time, you know that there are several other pieces of unfinished business, in the form of sweaters and socks, sitting on a chair in the corner of my bedroom. The pile never gets smaller. It seems like it's one-in, one-out right now. Someday, I will catch-up with myself. *DREAMS*
It's a really stupid system I have going. I can't wear any of those sweaters, socks, etc.. until they're finished. Wearing those garments is the whole point of knitting them, right? For me, I think the wearing is only a portion of the equation.
I've often heard knitters toss around the idea of 'PROCESS' vs. 'PRODUCT'. I think members of the sewing community can relate, to a degree. There are those who like to plan more than they actually sew, for example, and, I think a lot of us associate a meditative element or stress release with sewing. Still, there is a level of instant gratification with sewing that cannot be achieved with knitting. If you knit sweaters, you know you're going to spend 40+ hours working on a single garment. You create Every. Single. Stitch. It's far more laborious and requires a different type of commitment.
For a lot of people, this act of creating, or the process of knitting is enough to fuel them through endless blankets and sweaters, socks, etc... The counting, the intricacy, the charts, these things are why they knit. There's ultimately an endpoint, but it's not the focus or purpose of knitting. The act of knitting, in and of itself is the whole point.
Then, there's the product knitter with her eye on the prize. Just. Keep. Knitting. The "I will suffer through miles of stockinette, because I get a sweater if I do" knitter. For this knitter, the high comes at the end of a project. The ultimate goal is an FO (finished object, for non-knitters).
I think I'm divided between these two camps. I love to have finished knitted garments and accessories to wear. I also really love knitting just to knit, because it does strange things to my brain. I'm sure my balance between these two camps shifts occasionally. Mostly, I think I'm down the middle. Where do you fall?
Pattern: Looking Back by Joji Locatelli
Joji doesn't disappoint. This is my third sweater from one of her patterns. They all stand on their own with unusual construction and techniques, interesting shapes, and beautiful stitch patterns. This is exactly the type of project that feeds both sides of my knitter brain.
After the success of my first Archer, I immediately started working on a second version. I was feeling really confident, so I decided to get a little fancy and use a cut of 14mm silk crepe from Thai Silks. Like Archer #1, this fabric is a bolder print than I'm used to wearing, but the colors are more familiar and I really love it. It was also a very easy piece of fabric for me to cut, because I bought 3 yards of it at an estate sale for $1.
You may be wondering how I know such specific information about this estate sale fabric. At this particular sale, Mike found a box full of silks in their original packaging with the sales receipt. The box had barely been opened. Dear Iris, the owner of the estate, has an internet shopping addiction and exquisite taste (this is the same sale where I bought a sofa full of yarn). Friends, I love estate sales. I say it all the time, because I love to share the things I love in hope that maybe you'll try your first estate sale and fall in love too. They're full of treasures. Sometimes, it's difficult to put a value on those treasures. In this case, I had the original receipt of purchase, and I knew I was walking away with over $400 worth of silk for $7/$8. It's been my experience that the people who run estate sales have very little concept of the value of sewing and knitting supplies. I came home from this sale with wool, linen and silk all priced at $1-$2 a piece. I've been to sales where I've been given a Rubbermaid bin to fill for $10. You never know what you'll find; that's part of the thrill! There are some busts, but I've not found many. Additionally, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you're keeping these perfectly good materials out of a landfill. Alright, you get the picture...
At any rate, it's a much easier mental exercise for me cut into and risk ruining a piece of fabric that cost $1 than it is for me to muster the courage/confidence to cut into pieces of fabric I dug deep into my pocket to pay for. I know it's silly and nonsensical. I'm unable to convince myself otherwise. I have one piece of silk in particular I bought at The Silk Society in London (they still stock it) that I don't feel qualified to use yet. I actually get nervous when I think about cutting it. I consider projects like this shirt practice for the day I get brave.
Speaking of brave, I think that's going to be my word for 2015. I don't know how the idea of certain projects became so daunting and scary for me. I'm not a chicken when it comes to knitting. I go out of my way to encourage new knitters to try and learn from projects with new skills. It's time I take my own advice and apply it to my sewing projects! It's not all going to be easy, and I expect some wadders, but I also expect to surprise myself.
One item at the top of my list of feared projects is pants. I am constantly reading other people's accounts of difficulties with pants and fitting. A lot of people don't sew them. Many who do report a lot frustration with the process while they work-out their best fitting pants. After a while, I convinced myself that pants sewing was a horrifying endeavor. This seemed to make perfect sense, because, even in RTW settings, pants are a beast. But how scary is pants sewing, really? Turns out, not nearly as scary as I thought.
The pants you see here are my first attempt at Butterick B5682, view A. This pattern produces pants that have a fly, front pockets, and a yoked back- all of which are features I want in a pair of pants. This pair of pants is a wearable muslin. I cut these straight out the envelope, no modifications, in a mid-weight, wool-poly blend fabric. They're not the perfect fitting pants I dream of, but I've gained some really valuable information from them. First, most importantly, I can sew pants! It wasn't even hard. I invested more hours in the construction of my Archer than I did in the sewing of these pants. There are two fit changes I would like to make on my next attempt: 1. I need to shorten the front crotch-length a good 1.5 inches 2. I need to grade between sizes from the waist to the hip on the back pieces only. I have read cautionary tales about making more than one modification to the fit of a pair of pants, so I'm considering trying these changes individually to see how they effect the overall fit. Additionally, I plan to make more versions of these pants as trousers, not jeans as the pattern intends, so I will swap the rear patch pockets for welt pockets in the future.
It's impossible for me to hide how excited I am about my latest sewing adventures. I chose a great time to get over my fear of blouse sewing. Sewaholic has recently released a really nice looking fitted blouse that I'm tempted to buy and start sewing immediately. I feel like I have a new found freedom since I started sewing separates. I can make outfits now. Mix-and-match. It's neat. And, I love how things are starting to come together in unexpected ways. I have a finished cardigan that is going to look superb with this blouse. I had hoped to complete it in time for this post, but I got stuck when it came time to choose buttons. So, soon.
Are you a risk taker with your sewing/knitting? Does it work-out more often than not? Do you surprise yourself?
Bright, bold floral prints are not familiar territory for me. Still, when I pulled this cotton print off the stash shelves, it didn't occur to me that it would be visible from space. I think the cold and the grey are taking a toll. And/or I need some better lighting in my hobbit hole.
My Grace cardigan tames things a bit. I still feel a little like the co-chair of a garden committee, but the sweater helps. Self-consciousness aside, this shirt served its purpose in being a wearable muslin for the Archer blouse pattern by Grainline Studio.
If you knit, but don't sew, think of a muslin as swatching, however, you sew the whole garment together rather than making a gauge square. The whole thing seems a bit preposterous. Could you imagine knitting a whole sweater before casting-on with your 'real' yarn? Except, it's not. Because, with sewing, once you cut you're stuck. There's no RIP and re-knit option; if you need to tweak a pattern, it's good to know that in advance, you know, to avoid tears.
In my case, I was just as eager to practice assembling this blouse as I was to check the fit. I've been promising myself that I would sew a stack of Archers since the day the pattern was released. It's the quintessential basic button-up blouse. My closet could use a dozen. I geared-up to sew it several times, but I held myself back. I was too afraid of failing to even try. Of course, now I feel silly for being intimidated. Talk about making mountains out of molehills. Jen's instructions for this pattern make sewing this blouse a completely manageable task.
I'm really pleased with the construction of my finished blouse. The inside is done in French seams and my topstitching is even throughout. I did make one dopey mistake; I folded my box pleat to the wrong side. It's difficult for me to see it as I sit here staring at the photo. I assure you, I fudged-it-up. I have a strong feeling this blouse will always be worn under a sweater, so I'm not overly concerned. Now, I know better for next time! And, the time after that, etc...
All things considered, this is a milestone project for me. I truly feel that I've crossed over into intermediate territory for the first time. Which projects took you to the next level? Which ones are holding you back?
Hello and Happy New Year!
It's that time of year again. Reflections. Resolutions. Gym memberships. All that. Personally, I'm not having it. This time last year, I declared 2014 the year of anti-resolutions; for the first time in my life, I made a New Year resolution that I was able to stick with! And, it was a great year! I sewed more and more successfully than I have ever done before. I knit. A lot- 10 sweaters that made it to the blog (and several more sitting on that damn chair in the bedroom), a few pairs of socks, and some wooly accessories. Not having a plan didn't hinder my productivity. Actually, I think I was more productive, because I always felt able to do exactly what I wanted to be doing at a given moment.
This year I'm hoping for more of the same. No rules. Just fun. In the spirit of sameness, behold the exact same outfit I showed you a couple weeks ago, another Hollyburn/Renfrew. The skirt fabric is the sister fabric to the silk shantung I pulled out of my first estate sale. It's every bit as beautiful as the black piece.
It was FREEZING and windy the afternoon we took these photos. We tried to take some inside shots, without a lot of luck, but I think the poor lighting shows off how lustrous this silk is. Pink is not a color I normally wear. But, I was willing to make an exception in this case. Admittedly, I am surprised by how 'not five years old' or 'Disney princess' it actually looks. That's a relief, because I still have a few yards of this pink silk left, and I'd love to sew with it again soon.
My Renfrew this time around is sewn with a cotton/poly knit fabric I bought at Joann. I could tell by handling it that it was going to be different than the cotton knit I used last. Still, I was surprised to see how enormously different this top came out compared to my first attempt. Where the first version I sewed is snug through the chest and closer fitting; this version is BIG. Everywhere. Maybe it's the weight of the fibers and gravity or the additional elasticity this fabric contains. I don't have a clue. I have a lot to learn about knit fabric. However, I think it's safe to say that I'm no longer afraid of knits! That's exciting. I have a dozen patterns that I've been putting-off, and I feel ready to give them a try.
The above picture is a little silly. I'm mid-shudder and it's crazy windy. But I think it shows off the movement of the skirt better than any still shot is capable. Unfortunately, winter is just getting started. I foresee a lot of indoor photos in the near future. My crystal ball is also showing a couple more Hollyburn/Renfrews; I already have two wool versions cut and waiting. I see pants and vintage dresses. Cabled sweaters. Colorwork. And Socks...
It's going to be a busy year! I'm really excited to share it with you! Thank you for taking time to drop by and say hello, sharing your projects with me, and inspiring me! I don't say it enough. Cheers to 2015! Let's make it great!