Today's project is another palate cleanser. I'm really loving sneaking a smaller project in between lengthy endeavors. I'm building my collection of woolen accessories in the process and completing projects that have been sitting in my queue and/or favorites for ages. AGES.
I have a confession to make. I, Michelle, am a chronic Ravelry favoriter. Not a week passes without my perusing the latest pattern additions. Every time I see something I like, my mouse hovers over that little love button. Currently, I have a couple thousand patterns curated in my favorites (only 125 in my queue, which, mind you provides no actual order to the manner I approach my projects). To be honest, I have no idea what I'm going to do with them. Is it possible to knit them all? Maybe, but it's not likely. According to Ravelry, I have created 139 projects since I started knitting in 2008...an average of 23 per year... so 92.4 years to knock-out my favorites list, so long as I don't add to it...
Oh, but doesn't it make searching for a pattern easier? I can use the filters to indicate I only want to see options from the things I've pre-selected. Having a favorites list and queue narrows things down quickly! But, there are the times when I can't seem to find what I'm looking for, and I wander down the rabbit hole choosing shiny new patterns that didn't catch my eye the first time around.
I've tried to edit my lists. I feel very much like a person featured on Hoarders while I'm trying to determine what stays and what goes. Thank goodness favorites lists are virtual and unable to destroy lives. Tell me I'm not alone. Do you collect favorites or create epic queues? At the very least, we can enable... I mean, support one another through our struggle.
I love it when an outfit comes together the way I imagine it. Lately, I feel like I've been able to hit the mark more with more accuracy than ever before. This is probably to be expected since I've been sewing for four years now, but I'm truly surprised each time it happens.
I get an incredible amount of satisfaction out of sewing my own garments. I love the level of customization I can put into things: fabric type, patterns, size. And, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having access to types of garments that would, otherwise, be out of my reach.
I'm not the type of seamstress aiming to recreate fast fashion garments from Mod Cloth or H&M. I like fancy fabrics and quality construction. My dad has always teased that I have champagne taste and a beer budget; think Holly Golightly standing outside Tiffany's or Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo Blahnik addiction. Fortunately for my bank account, I've never been the sort to spend my mortgage payment or forego food for the sake of a purchase, but it doesn't stop me from looking. wishing. wanting. Sewing makes the things of dreams possible.
I sewed this skirt using a piece of black silk that I'd purchased from my very first estate sale. The estate was the home of two unmarried sister seamstresses. They lived in their Chicago 2-flat brownstone from birth; two generations occupied the space before them. They sewed their entire wardrobes through the 50s, 60s and 70s collecting fabrics, patterns and notions along the way. The home was filled with treasures. To be honest, I was too overwhelmed by my inaugural expedition to fully appreciate the fabrics they'd left behind. I left with an armful of fabrics purchased for a grand total of $3.
To test the content of this fabric, I did a burn test. I'm not an expert, but based on the burn pattern and the slight sheerness of this particular fabric, I think it's a shantung. It's got a gorgeous lustrous quality and it drapes really beautifully. It's been sitting in my stash for a couple years now waiting for me to improve my skills and decide what I wanted to make.
Right now, midi-skirts are at the top of my list for fall/winter wardrobe staples. And, that piece of silk I'd stashed was a perfect fabric for a staple skirt. I considered a few different skirt pattern options, but at the moment, I'm having a serious love affair with my Sewaholic Hollyburn and Renfrew patterns. Soon, I will have a little capsule wardrobe of Hollyburns and Revfrews (MUAHAhahaha). It's really easy to get caught-up sewing these, because both of these patterns are incredibly easy and fast to sew, and the end results are swell.
The fabric I used to sew my Renfrew is estate sale fabric too (<$1.00). It's from a different sale and a different decade, probably the 80s. I'm really uncertain about knits. I'm still in the early stages of sewing with them. I think this is a cotton blend. I also think it's what might be considered a stable knit. It doesn't have a lot of stretch. From my first experiment making the Renfrew, I knew that it wouldn't be a good candidate for the crew neck version of the pattern; I used a fabric with similar stretch on my first version and went MAD trying to get the neckband to lay flat against my body. So I chose the cowl option. And, the final result is pretty fantastic. I would love some pointers on the fit of the Renfrew, particularly through the chest and front shoulder area; otherwise I'm happy with the result. It pairs beautifully with my black Hollyburn, but it's got enough gusto to stand on it's own with a pair of jeans. Both these garments are versatile separates with lots of potential for outfit building.
I did a little looking around the internet. Turns out, silk midi skirts are difficult to come by. Burberry sells this one for $1,003, this Piazza Sempione skirt is $890, and this Honor skirt is still $600 at 50% clearance. I'm certainly not comparing my own sewing abilities with these professional, luxury design houses, but I do have a completely custom silk skirt for a couple dollars and I wouldn't if I didn't know how to sew. That's pretty cool.
I almost didn't make time to post this week. I've been in such a rhythm lately, it seemed a shame to allow the mayhem that comes along with the holiday season ruin my groove. The aforementioned mayhem has proved an easy scapegoat for many other things I ought to be doing, like blocking sweaters. But, if I know myself, which I like to think I do, I know, for me, that breaking any sort of established rhythm is a slippery slope towards inactivity. And, before I realize what's happened, I have a mountain of projects piled on the chair in the bedroom, unworn, waiting to be blogged. So. Since I haven't blocked any more sweaters or found enough daylight to photograph my most recent sewing projects, I thought I'd share my holiday knitting.
I almost never knit for other people. I'm very selfish that way. Historically, when I do knit for other people, I don't do it on a deadline. Deadlines=Stress, and sewing and knitting are the things I do to relax or unwind. Sometimes, though, a girl has to choose between the lesser of two evils. When the choices are deadline knitting or shopping retail... during holiday season, it's pretty clear cut.
There are additional obstacles to gift knitting when the persons you plan to knit for are, themselves, knitters. The challenge becomes finding projects that are 1. time effective and 2. something they haven't already knit.
A couple years ago, I bought a jewelry knitting kit at a fiber festival. It was my only flirtation with wire knitting, but the memory of it was my inspiration for holiday gifts. Surprisingly, or maybe not, there are VERY few wire knitting patterns and even less instruction on wire knitting techniques. I toyed around with a few different patterns, wire gauges, and needle sizes before I hit my sweet spot.
Ultimately, I used a modified version of Jana Huck's Platelets pattern. I typically prefer jewelry that is delicate, so I opted to cast-on 4 stitches instead of 6, I used 34 gauge wire on U.S. 1, and I added Swarovski crystals for a little bit of sparkle. The finished earring is approximately the size of a U.S. quarter. The 34 gauge wire is very, very delicate and not overly willing to hold its final form, so I weaved my tails around the perimeter of the discs to give them extra stability and structure. I played around with some larger wires, up to a 26 gauge, but I found that the thicker wire hurt my hands to work with. The best part of these earrings is that they are light. Very, very light! Once I overcame the experimentation process, I was able to knit each pair in roughly 45 minutes. If you've still got a few people on your holiday knit list, you have plenty of time to knit them some earrings!
Knitted socks. A favorite indulgence and true treat for the feet; they would have to be, or nobody would ever knit them. If you're not a sock knitter, you likely consider the entire endeavor absurd. You could buy a drawer-full of socks for a fraction of the cost and time it takes to knit a single pair by hand. You wear them inside shoes and under clothing, for crying out loud. Sock knitting (knitting in general, really) is not the sort of activity that can be explained with logic. You do it because it makes you stupidly happy.
If you blog about the things that you knit, you have the added pleasure of grinning ear to ear each time you see pictures of the things you've made. Seriously. Not long ago, those socks were a couple hanks of yarn hanging on a shelf in a shop downtown. String. Wound into a ball. Knit. I'll never get over it. Knitting is JUST. THAT. COOL. Each project has the exact same starting point, but there are hundreds, no, thousands of shapes a project could take (330,879 patterns (and counting) on Ravelry).
If there's a more forgiving craft than knitting, I'd be shocked. Made a mistake?-RIP it back and re-knit. Dropped a stitch?-Pick-it-up and work it back in. Sleeves a smidge short?-Block them out. Completely hate what you made?- Salvage the yarn and make something different. No project is a lost cause.