Oh, HELLO! It's been a while, hasn't it? I took a little unexpected hiatus from blogging. I'm having difficulty managing my energy level. The combination of the changing season and a nasty sinus infection got the better of me. After a round of antibiotics and lots of rest I'm starting to feel more like myself. Still, there's something funky hanging on my immune system and I can't quite shake it. I'm currently trying to ignore it away. I'll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, I thought I'd better get back to blogging before summer descends and I miss my opportunity to clear my slate of some of the knitting I've been accumulating.
I'm a year-round knitter, and there really is no end to sweater season, as far as I'm concerned. I'll simply switch from wool to cotton, alpaca to linen, etc... Of course, there's always socks. They're small and manageable during scorching summer weather. The knitting never ceases. But, there's something silly about showing you a giant wool poncho in the middle of July, I think. Which means, I have a little bit of playing catch-up in front of me.
Fortunately (or not), May in the Midwest is pretty chilly. Not only do I get to bombard you with finished sweaters, I get to wear them for the duration of the month! This recent addition to my sweater collection is Praline by Gudrun Johnston knit in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (55%Merino, 33%Microfiber, 12%Cashmere).
This pattern was lovely to knit. The instructions are very comprehensive. The stitch pattern is effortless, without being stockinette, and very easy to memorize. The thing that really sells me, of course, is that there is actual design and technique incorporated into the pattern. The body of the cardigan is knit seamlessly from the bottom-up and the sleeves are set-in beginning at the underarm join- a nice alternative to raglan or seamed sleeves. The little pockets incorporated into the front of the sweater are a cute detail. They aren't overly functional; though, I could certainly hold a few doggy biscuits in them.
I knit my sweater per the instructions for the size 34 1/2, and I think that I might have been better off knitting the smallest size to get a fit more comparable to that of the modeled version. I'm tempted to toss this into the dryer with a damp towel to see if I can create a bit of negative ease, but that's probably a task left for a day when my head isn't so foggy. What are you up to? Have you already cleaned house of your winter projects in preparation for spring?
Maybe the best part of sewing is having the ability to make exactly the things you want to wear. Then, there's that thing where you sew the garment you think you want, only to put it on and find yourself uncertain as to whether or not you actually like it.
Allow me to digress momentarily... NEW YORK! I failed to mention it here on the blog, but Liz and I made a day trip to New York for a fabric shopping extravaganza last fall. It was quite actually the most extravagant thing I've ever done. I had expiring airline credit to use, and no plans to take any trips. So, I decided I would fly to New York, shop and come home... All in the same day. It felt like something Beyonce would do.
It didn't take a lot of persuading to convince Liz to be my partner in crazy. We left Chicago at 6am with empty suitcases in hand. The entire trip was very short notice, but we were lucky to have some delightful New York Hostesses while we were in town. Lisette, Amanda and Fleur sweetly and generously came to meet us and showed us around some of their favorite shops in the garment district.
Of course, the trip wouldn't have been complete without Meg, so we brought her along. Remarkably, she was able to fabric shop in two places (Korea & NewYork) at once. That Meg, she's multi-talented! The day was a whirlwind. We had an excellent time and both managed to fill our suit cases before we returned home that evening. I'm not sure I would recommend this manner of travel/shopping, since it is a very fast paced way to spend the day. But, I'm glad we did it!
Where was I? Ah, yes. The fabric. I didn't have enough to sew a Robson, but I did have enough to sew a duster. I grabbed my copy of Simplicity 5834 and made a quick muslin. I removed an inch of width from the sleeves, narrowed the shoulders by an inch, and reduced the length of the jacket by 5 1/2 inches before cutting into my wool.
The construction of this coat is very simple. It's a long line design, so there is no shaping through the body. My finished jacket provides approximately 4 inches of positive ease through the hips and is hemmed to fall just below my knee. There is a slight A-line shape to the jacket created through darts at the front and back shoulders.
I wore this jacket over a dress to dinner with my grandma recently, and she smiled as she recalled sewing and wearing this style jacket with companion dress back in the 60's. She said it was very stylish to have coordinating jackets/dress ensembles and she made them for special occasions. My grandma was the first person to ever sit me in front of a sewing machine, and it was really cool to share a full-circle moment with her.
I plan to wear this jacket primarily as outwear, so lining was a must. As I'm not particularly fond of facings, I decided to clean finish the front edges, neckline and cuffs. Then, I set the sleeves using French seams, so that everything on the inside of the jacket is nice and tidy.
My sleeves are lined with a silver colored bemberg rayon. The rest of the coat is lined with lightweight teal cotton. All and all, this is a sewing victory, right? Except, it didn't feel like one. I put the jacket on after I'd finished sewing and looked in the mirror. I didn't feel nearly as cool or glamorous as all the girls in the pictures I'd pinned.
I walked over to ask Mike what he thought of it. His response was that, "It looks like you put it together correctly". This confirmed my doubts. This jacket isn't intended to button in the front, but, I thought, maybe that's what was missing. It wasn't. The buttons are fine. But I still felt odd. Perhaps the (lack of) collar was the problem.
I happened to have some bulky teal CEY Duchess in the stash, so I quickly whipped up an Ovate to wear with my new coat. That didn't do the trick either. Still, I do like my little shawlette, and I have been throwing it on to wear with my jacket on cooler days.
I'm still not sure about this jacket. I have been wearing it- daily. And, I feel a little better about it each time I do. Mike has come to the conclusion that he now likes it. He just needed some time to warm-up to it. Maybe I just need time to adjust too.
Do you find yourself uncertain about any of the garments you've made yourself? Did you come-around to them in time?
Sometimes I start a project with the pattern I plan to make. Other times, I choose the materials first. It usually works out fine, especially with yarn. Ravelry has really wonderful filters, and I use them to my fullest advantage.
In this particular instance, I knew I wanted to knit Mike a cardigan. I had some really beautiful army green Debbie Bliss wool/cotton stashed, and I thought it would be perfect for the project. Since I already had yarn chosen, I began filtering my way through patterns on Ravelry looking for a suitable match to pair it with. I narrowed the field: Male, Sweater, Cardigan, Sport, and I honed-in on the Lewis sweater by DROPS. It seemed perfect. Oversized. Textured. Shawl Collared.... By now, (especially if you didn't link to the Lewis pattern), you realize that this isn't the sweater I knit. Well, except I did. Mostly.
I knit the entire body and half way through the second sleeve of the Lewis before I admitted that I did not have enough yarn to make it to the end. The additional length I factored into the body and sleeves to cater to Mike's height ate-up my yardage, and I wasn't going to make it. I could/should have figured it out sooner. But, yarn chicken is a strange game of denial.
When I finally conceded defeat, I decided the best course of action was to immediately start knitting a contingency sweater. I might have lost the battle, but I intended to win the war. I went back to the stash and came up with two contrast colors. My solution, stripes. I also eliminated the textured stitch pattern.... and the shawl collar.... made it raglan.... and V-neck... and, well, it's altogether a different sweater.
There's no pattern for this sweater. It was all very "by the seat of my pants". I used what I know about sweater knitting to improvise along the way; it worked out. Except, I hadn't used all the yarn I knit into the first attempt by the time I finished. There were still a dozen rows of rib remaining in addition to a partial skein. I was determined to disallow reentry to the stash. Those little balls add up over time and begin to take-up as much space as the stash itself. Truth be told, most of my leftovers don't make it out of the stash or into a new project.
I borrowed a play from Steph's book and decided to knit the stragglers immediately. Lucky Michael ended up with a new sweater and a new hat in the same motion. It's probably a fair deal considering the number of projects I've knit and sewn for myself since the last time I made him something. He's been wearing them both constantly; the ultimate demonstration of gratitude and surest way to secure future goods.