Skip to content
April 13

A (non-Crafty) Update

So much seems to be happening in my life right now and it feels odd to not share it – even if it isn’t about sewing/knitting.

My last blog post was about my initial planning of my veggie garden – since then my little seedlings have been growing non-stop.

Seedlings

(Cilantro, Sun-Flowers, and Spaghetti Squash)

It’s so fun to watch them grow and know that they’re all doing good and are happy in my basement light set-up.  As a result, Felix and I had to get a move-on with building our raised planter boxes.

gardeBoxProjectDay2_13 gardeBoxProjectDay3_03

gardeBoxProjectDay5_11

Felix and I have been spending the last few weekends working on these boxes.  Boy are they huge!  They’re each roughly 6×4 feet and I love the way they’re turning out.

We’ve been talking about & thinking about these boxes and the construction almost non-stop for a solid 3 weeks now.

Raised Planter Boxes

I’ve been running errands to various garden stores – not an easy feat when you live in the city – and our supplies are busting at the seams.

Garden Box Supplies

I’m making a sub-irrigated type-system of planter bed.  It basically will always have a reservoir of water at the bottom and the soil has to be *just right* for the moisture to wick up to the plant roots.  I’m hoping they’ll work great for us and I’ll be able to water less over the summer and focus on other things while my veggies grow and feed us.

Other News:

My parents are moving.  My parents have been talking about moving out of the state for quite some time and all of a sudden it’s happening in less than a month from now.  This is my childhood home and I really haven’t taken the time to address my feelings about it yet.

frankfortPhotoshoot_15

applePieFrankfort2015_01

As happy as I am for my parents about this huge change, it’s going to be hard and I’m not looking forward to it.  We have a lot of memories together in this house – lots of growing has been done here and it’s hard not to associate the house with all of those good & bad times.

And one more thing:

I don’t think it comes as a shock to anyone, but I’ve gained a bit of weight; I’ve gotten a bit… shall we say… thick.  heh  My clothes do still fit – but I know once summer comes, those won’t be fitting.  Felix and I decided to bite the bullet and do something about it.

bangBangSoutBeach_2

We’ve done South Beach diet in the past and each time we see less dramatic results.  And that’s all right.  I’m just focusing on eating right and the S.B. diet really helps us on that path.  It’s a *reset* button for us/me to cut my addiction to all things sugar/chocolate and to re-train myself that protein & veggies are my friends.

And yes – we had one last indulgent meal at Bang Bang Pie Shop before S.B. day 1.

bangBangSoutBeach_1

Okay… a bit of Crafting talk:

I’m still sewing/knitting – but it just feels silly to sew something I’ll just have to possibly alter in a few weeks.  That being said – I’ve gotten creative while sewing up my garments.

I’ve been sewing my garments in a completely different way than pattern directions state.  I’ve been attaching a bodice FRONT to the skirt FRONT, bodice BACK to skirt BACK – THEN – sewing the side seams from skirt hem to the sleeve hem in one long pass.  I’m doing this so that I can super-easily alter any garments that may get too large (or small) at the side seams instead of having to unpick the whole waist seam to take out the side seams for more/less room.

Happy to share some images/how-to’s if you guys are interested.

Well… that’s about it for now.  It’s a lot to contend with and Felix and I are staying very busy.  Hopefully I’ll manage to get out this weekend and take a few photos of my recent makes – but if things go the way they’ve been going – I imagine I’ll be having garden box images to share instead.  :D

March 22

Spring Gardening Plans

I am so excited… I’m embarking on a new adventure – veggie gardening.

Veggie Garden Plans

For the first time ever, I’m now able to start a veggie garden since I now have a usable backyard (more on that later).  I’ve been waiting for this for over a year now…

I wasn’t able to get it started last year in time, so I had to wait a whole year since it just made more sense.  I’m doing a modest start – modest but huge.  heh

Veggie Garden Plans

My mom is moving and she wasn’t able to give me a lot of the herbs and flowers that she generally starts in her basement for the spring – so in addition to starting some vegetable plants inside, I’m also undertaking starting flowers for my yard.  What is a benefit of her move, is that she’s letting me use a bunch of her growing supplies: trays, cells, planter boxes, and even a grow light shelf thingie.

Veggie Garden Plans

This is my first time ever starting any kind of plants from seeds.  And to be completely honest, I’m kind of a black thumb – plants get hardy in my presence since I toughen them up with lack of water. lol  Plants generally do die in my presence, so this is all very new to me.  Complete newbie and having fun!

I’ve ordered the bulk of my vegetables from Baker Creek seed company – all non GMO and organic of course.  Thanks Michelle!  And a lot of the flower seeds come from Park Seed – thank you mom.  :D

Some of these seeds are so small!  I mean it makes sense, I just never really thought about it before.

This is a begonia seed – it comes in the mail in this capsule that you open:

Begonia Seed

The seed is then encased to make it larger:

Begonia Seed

I don’t exactly call that larger – but how small are they really is what I want to know!

I’ve already made my first rookie mistake – I didn’t pack the cells enough with seed starting mix.  In my attempts to keep things nice and loose, I didn’t add enough soil & lightly pack it down.  It’s not kept seedlings from starting (lucky me!) but I will be fixing that for next year.  Like I said – rookie mistake.  But now I know.  I imagine I’ll be making a lot of these types of mistakes – but it’s okay.

Cilantro seeds:

Veggie Garden Plans

I planted the first round of seedlings on Monday, March 14th (top shelf) & the the second round was planted on Thursday the 17th (bottom shelf).  I should have started these a couple weeks ago, but I just wasn’t ready yet.

Grow Light Shelf

And just one week later, look!

Veggie Garden Plans

The long greens is bunny-tail grass and right in front is my oh-so-happy Basil.

Yay – I didn’t kill anything, it’s actually growing!

Okay – it’s really small, but the cell in the upper section is my first little petunia coming through.

Veggie Garden Plans

Another petunia coming through in the middle cell below:

Veggie Garden Plans

Isn’t it so mini?!

As you can see I have quite the collection of plantings.

Veggie Garden Plans

What’s on the docket for Flowers:

  • Phlox (mix of colors)
  • Bunny Tails Grass
  • Begonias (reds mix)
  • Bells of Ireland (which I found out are not Irish but are from Indonesia)
  • Petunias (blue/purple mix)
  • Zinnias (pink)
  • Marigold (white)
  • Dianthus (B&W)
  • Chrysanthemum (golden ball yellow)

What’s on my veggie list:

  • Green Peas
  • Green Beans (bush variety)
  • Yellow Beans (bush variety)
  • Scallions (aka bunching onions)
  • Summer Squash & Zucchini
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Bell Pepper (red or yellow – can’t remember which off hand)
  • Herbs: Parsley, Basil, Cilantro
  • Lettuce: Butter lettuce, Beleah Rose lettuce, a romaine called Little Gem lettuce, and micro spring greens

Its a lot of stuff – but at the same time not exactly a ton of veggies.  I’m hoping that this will be my learning year – well of course it will be.  But I’m hoping to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and how to maximize space.  I’m also hoping to start supplementing my bunnies’ lettuces and herbs from what we get from the grocery store.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully feed them from my garden, but supplementing it at the least while eating some yummy greens myself is what I’m aiming for.

Since I’m a researcher by trade, I have a notebook going of all of my planting info for each vegetable/flower and a section for my notes.  It’s going well so far & I continue to find new information to add.  My mom just laughs at me but at the same time I think she’s excited for me that I’m doing this – as she is a mega gardener and is always happy to help me.

Where is all of this going??

Felix (and I will help) are going to make raised Sub-Irrigated Planter beds this coming weekend.

Raised Planter Bed

We settled on this design via the Family Handyman (Click on image for the source)- after extensive searching on my part.  This look and sub-irrigating design will hopefully work very nicely for us.

This is also very new for us – going to the store to build something on our very own without the assistance of Bob, my step-dad.  It will be a good challenge for us but hopefully a do-able challenge.

Yay gardening!  My new adventure is just beginning.

March 15

Warm, Winter Whites

It feels totally silly to post up my winter knits now that the weather is turning to spring here in Chicago.  But here we are, as I try to squeeze in as many of my winter garments from 2015/2016 onto the blog before it’s officially Spring.

Luckily the weather was still a bit chilly when we took these photos, as I still needed my down jacket.

Hat & Gloves Set

My hat is the Purl Knit Turban pattern and my gloves are made using All the Water pattern.

Both of these small projects, I knit during the winter of 2014/15.  Yes you’re reading that correctly.  2014/2015, as in last year; somehow I moved on to other projects before completing these two.

With the hat, I needed to finish that front gather section piece and the gloves were only waiting for me to weave in the ends.  Totally silly…

Sometimes I just drop the ball at the very end and start knitting something else and forget about the earlier projects.

Purl Knit Turban

In any case, I did finally finish these up in early 2016.  It put a little spring in my step to have a knit hat and gloves finished so quickly.  :D

The hat pattern was a pretty quick knit.  Yarn used??  I’m sorry to say have no idea.  I made this so long ago with a remnant of yarn I had in my stash that I don’t even recall it.  I know its a super wash worsted-weight wool, if that’s any help for you.  It feels very squishy soft and has lots of stretch.

Knit Purl Turban

When I make hats, I generally just keep trying them on to figure out how long to make them & figure out my decreases at the crown on the fly (referencing the pattern of course).  I often don’t even keep track of the changes as I generally only make one hat from a given pattern.

The one change I can tell you is that I knit a little band on the front instead of doing the yarn wraps that the pattern called for.  I just think mine is a bit cleaner of a look in this way – personal preference change.

Purl Knit Turban

For the cable-knit gloves, I know I used a Cascade 220, worsted-weight yarn – which was also a stash buster for me.  With my mini hands, I cast on fewer stitches than what was called for on the original Sm/Med sized glove.  I just had to do a bit of refiguring to keep the cable sections centered on the front of the gloves.

All the Water Gloves

All the Water Gloves

I made this hat and glove set in this winter white to match all of my other winter accessories.  I frequently knit a hat in say a bright purple and realize I have nothing else to match with it.  Needless to say, I have many winter accessory orphans in my closet.

In the winter I look like a crazy, color-blind gal wearing a purple hat, green & white scarf with brown gloves.  Not exactly the best look – especially from a maker of things.

All the Water Gloves

So this glove and hat set – while it can be worn together quite easily, I made them to coordinate with all of my other colored pieces. (So I don’t look too crazy…)

Hat & Gloves

Took these photos in front of an obliging fence on walk to Sunday brunch.  As such, I tried to keep these as relaxed and natural, as this is what I generally look like on a Sunday morning.  :D  I do feel like I missed an opportunity for some victory rolls in this knit turban… perhaps next time.

Happy Knitting!

March 10

A Sweater-Knit Wrap Dress

Hello.  I’m back today with a proper wrap dress – as in an actual wrap dress (not a faux wrap dress like my Wren).

I’m smitten with my classic, comfy wrap dress using Vogue 8784.

Wrap Dress

Technically this is a wrap dress for both woven & knit fabrics.  I know right?!  I have yet to make this (or a muslin) in a woven material, but you can bet its high on my spring sewing list.  I just made a muslin last night with a woven material – I was surprised that it fits very similarly to this knit version – I just need to add some wearing ease  at the waist and bust and then I think I’ll be in business.

It was a chilly, yet sunny day so I had to wear my (prescription) sunglasses throughout; hopefully its not too distracting.

Sweater Wrap Dress

I got this fabric from my local fabric store in the remnants section.  I knew I’d use it to make a dress & luckily I found two decent length pieces.  I think this dress costs a whopping $10.  It’s a mystery jersey, sweater knit fabric – probably a rayon-poly blend of some sort.

It’s not a jersey fabric per say – but has little tiny knit stitches on the face of the fabric.  Most would call it a sweater knit, but it really behaves & moves like a jersey.  I’m just trying to be as clear as possible here – as I learn more about knit fabrics myself I’m trying to help everyone else here understand what kind of fabric I’m talking about.  Think about your perfect mid weight, yet semi-drapey cardigan and that’s what this is like.

It has lovely bold flowers of cream, peach and fire-engine red on a charcoal grey background.  While the fabric already seems like its getting a worn look on the charcoal background, this thing doesn’t wrinkle!  I keep it folded on a shelf and every time I pull it out to wear it – zero wrinkles.  It’s amazing!

While I love florals – I am always very careful to avoid having the flower motifs fall on certain parts of my body.  I’ve made this mistake on prior garments – but it really only takes one ill-placed flower to learn your mistake.  I’m always pretty mindful that flowers/large motifs don’t fall on boobs/butts.

Sweater Wrap Dress

Pattern Modifications:

I made my usual alterations, but nothing crazy.  I left the shoulders a bit wider than I normally do on my garments; they’re not dropped shoulders but they do fall off the edge a bit for a more square/modern look.  I’ll just say this is my go-to dress for work now; I pair it with all colors of tights and shoes/boots for the winter.

This dress pattern called for a lining.  Being a sweater knit fabric, I really didn’t want to line this.  Instead I drafted my own neckline binding; one piece for the back neck and 2 pieces for each wrap front.  I made sure to leave the length around 2″-3″ shorter than what I needed as to help pull in the bodice wrap section to prevent gaping.

No Gape

No safety pins needed for this wrap dress!

The binding only goes as far down as the front wrap piece at the waist.  After that I just did a simple fold (twice over to encase the raw edge) and stitch on the skirt edges, utilizing my favorite knit sewing notion (steam a seam, lite), in 1/2″ width.

Hems

I love using steam-a-seam on my knit edges.  It keeps everything quite stable and even (no rolling edges) while I do the final stitching.  I accidentally bought the regular steam a seam (not lite) and I’m fighting my way through it.  The regular stuff is really too heavy for knit fabrics – it seems more for woven quilting purposes.  I used the 1/4″ width on my sleeve hems for a nice narrow finish & a zig zag stitch.

Knit Sweater Dress

I should mention… I’ve never used a dual needle top stitch finish before.  I have the needle, but I’ve found that no one ever really notices my stitching (except for me) and I’m happy living with the zig-zag stitch since it’s really so easy to do.

You can see a tiny bit of the zig-zag hem here too – along with my new, favorite shoes.

Booties

I’ve always loved the vintage snow booties, but they never come in my size.  I was totally stoked to find these calf-hair version in the kids section of Nordstrom’s this past winter.  Love them so much.  :D

Knit Sweater Dress

For this dress, I actually used the sleeves that came with the pattern.  Due to the square shoulders of the dress, the cap of the sleeve was a bit shallower than my Renfrew sleeves and they worked better for this bodice.  The sleeves on this one ended up a bit loose, but it works.  Will modify for next time, no big deal.

Back View:

Knit Sweater Dress

I love this skirt; nice and full & swingy when I walk.  The skirt is catching on my tights a bit; I have since lost my 1/2 slip to prevent the tights/dress cling.  Seriously… its like it walked out of my house, I can’t find it anywhere!  I have no idea where it would have gone…  If you see it around, please send it back home to me.

Knit Sweater Dress

That’s all I have for you guys on this.  An easy, effortless, and classic wrap dress.  I want a closet full of these, as they’re so great to pull on and go.  Hopefully my woven version will be just as effortless to make as this one has been.

March 8

A Date-Night Wren Dress

When the Wren dress was launched by Colette Patterns a couple of months ago – I couldn’t help myself and bought the paper pattern immediately.

Wren Dress

I love the shoulder gathers and the faux-wrap effect so much so, that I started in on it as soon as it arrived.  But I already knew from seeing a couple of other versions made up that I didn’t like the way the sleeves were hanging/fitting nor did I like the skirt.

Now I’m not going to sugar-coat anything – no ablogagizing here either today – just me telling my honest opinions.  Okay let’s do this thing!  :D

I’ve since learned that when I purchase a Colette pattern, they do need a lot of bodice modifications for them to fit me correctly.  I always have to raise the armscye and sometimes the bust area is off.  I already know this before I purchase any one of their patterns; that it will need some fitting & muslins to work.  I don’t think this is an issue, they’re just draft for a different body than mine – but everything I’ll state goes beyond this.

Wren Dress

Ugh- my photographer (and I) did not see that my bunny belt isn’t fully clasped.  :(

I’ve sewn enough patterns by now to know if its *me* or if it’s *the pattern*.

I’m generally happy to make modifications for design changes – like using a slim skirt from a different pattern instead of a full skirt as given.  But I dislike doing is using a different pattern’s sleeves because the original ones don’t hang/fit nicely.

Wren Dress

From the get go – I decided to ignore the Wren sleeve use a sleeve that works on me – Sewaholic’s Renfrew sleeve.  It’s a basic knit sleeve that just works on all of my knit bodices.

Wren Sleeve below in white, Renfrew Sleeve on top:

Wren vs. Renfrew Sleeve

I cut the size 8 Renfrew sleeve btw.  You can see how much narrower & fitted my Renfew sleeve is compared to the xs size of the wren.

I decided to use a different pattern’s sleeve for two reasons 1.) I didn’t want to bother fitting a different knit sleeve and 2.) The Wren sleeve has excess fabric at the armpit.  When I was first seeing this dress made, the sleeve just looked off.  There seemed to be a bit of fabric pooling near the underarm area – one of my pet peeves – and I just decided to use what already works for me.  I could have re-fit the Wren sleeve, but why waste my time?!

On to the bodice…

I made up my muslin in some light-weight rayon knit that I had laying around and you guys – it was bad!  So bad….

I quickly realized that the fit of the dress fully depends on the negative ease in the knit fabric – the bodice gets it shaping from the the stretch in the fabric.

The wrap of the bodice is where the majority of the ‘fit’ comes from – not really the side seams or darts (no darts in a knit generally).  On a knit dress – this may seem fine but you guys it wasn’t.  If you pull the bodice fronts (that cross over section) too tight the whole front of the bodice lifts up to your boobs – if you leave the bodice fronts too loose and you have a gaping mess.

On lots of the dresses I’ve seen, people are either sitting down or are wearing belts to hide the fact that the bodice is pulling up the waistline, the center part of the skirt.  All of this is due to the bodice fit.

Wren Dress

You can see my front waistline is slightly higher than the back.

This doesn’t seem as much of an issue on the fitted skirt version as it is on the gathered skirt version.  You see the tightness of the skirt (the negative ease) is what they’re using to get a good fit and when the skirt is also tight everything seems to balance out with the bodice.  Not so much for the gathered or full skirt.

I get that this is all a bit sticky – if you’re using a knit fabric, you sure can! use the stretchy nature of it to your advantage to create a nice fitted silhouette!  I love having negative ease in my own knitted jumpers.  But Wren…. the negative ease with that cross front on the bodice causes issues in the fit.

On top of all of this – did you notice that barely anyone’s dress ends at their true waist??  The bodice looks like a long empire or high waisted dress.  Perhaps this is design decision, but I like my dresses’ waistline to land on my actual waist.

The Pattern Pieces:

These are my bodice front pattern pieces.  The pink lines is what I used for my first muslin.

The pink lines/modifications should have worked, as I picked the size on the envelope that fits with my measurements.  Sizes which I’ve used in the past that work for me & their patterns.

The outside lines is the second alteration – what I had to do to get it to fit AFTER the horrible first muslin.

Wren Pattern Front

I always know that I have to raise the armscye on my bodices so that’s not a biggie.  And I frequently grade from one size to the other from waist to bust.  But look how much more I had to raise the armscye and shoulder!

This is what helped get the bodice longer but you see I added about 1/2″ to the bottom bodice in the front too.  And the neckline piece (piece on the right), I had to cut between the Large and XL size on the length and width.

The size Large corresponds to a 40-42″ bust.  LOL  In NO WAY do I have that large of a bust, I have more of a 35″ bust and 32″ under-bust measurement.

And do I even need to remind anyone that I’m short-waisted??  Mega-petite coming up on 4’11” in height.

What you all might be thinking – ‘Well, Liz if your fabric isn’t stretchy, of course you’d need to cut a larger size.”  My fabric was as stretchy and wonderful as could be.  If anything I had more stretch than need in the pattern, so that can’t be it.

Here is the back bodice piece:

Wren Bodice Back

Again the pink is the first cutting line that should have worked via my measurements & the pattern measurements on the envelope.

To be fair – I did raise the back neckline for my own personal preference.  But I had to add so much length to this back piece – less than the front.  But if you recall – my front bodice was still a bit short in comparison to the front of the bodice.

All of this is just-plain-off.

Construction:

Overall, construction on my dress was a breeze.  My skirt went in without a hitch – even though I used a skirt from a different pattern.  I sew in my knit skirts using a zig-zag stitch.  Since I had a full skirt, I applied some clear elastic to the seam allowance to keep it taught, but stretchy.  Then I serged it, catching the edge of the waist’s seam allowance together with the elastic.  (Sorry I forgot to add in that photo.)

For all of the hems, the instructions state to turn & press the seam allowance, then stitch it down – including the neckline.  Since I didn’t feel like fussing with drafting even more on this dress, I just followed the instructions.  And I regret it.

Knit necklines, I’ve found, almost NEED a separate neck band.  It helps keep everything in shape and for a wrap dress, it would help keep the neckline from gaping.

My knit fabric is lovely – one of my purchases I made in Paris last September.  It has great recovery and feels so soft to the touch.  So the fact that my neckline has gaped with wear – only highlights the fact that this needs a separate neck band.

Wren Dress

Again, I know it’s not my fabric since no other area has had an issue with gaping or stretching out without being able to recover.   I now have to pin my neckline closed so it doesn’t gape.

Wren Dress

Summary:

I’m disappointed by this pattern.  Even knowing I would have to make modifications for fit – I modified way too much on the Wren knit dress than on any other knit tees or dresses I’ve made in the past.  The sleeve has too much upper arm ease, the waistline is too high, the cross-fronts on the bodice raises the waistline higher, and there is no neckline band included in this pattern – causing me to draft my own for any future makes.

All that being said – I do love my Wren.  But it’s not a result of the pattern, but of my own modifications I’ve had to do on it.  I feel like I could have modified one of my own wrap dresses that I’ve made to include neckline gathers, which is the only design feature that I love about the Wren dress.

Wren Dress

It’s with very mixed feelings that I’ve even written up this blog post.  Colette patterns are the reason why I started sewing in the first place.  I wanted to make their dresses so I learned how to sew, just so I could make a Macaron.  But now… not so much.

It’s fine if you don’t agree with me.  I just couldn’t, in all honesty, post up this dress without stating my hardships with it.

February 19

The Ultra Cozy Sweater

When I saw the Riptide sweater pop up on Ravelry, I just knew I had to make it!

Riptide Sweater

After blogging about my 1940’s suit, I bet Riptide is not exactly the sweater you all think I would knit – and I admit, I’m right there with you.  I tend to fall on the side of ‘vintage modern’ and this sweater is totally ultra-modern, probably best worn with leggings.  I’ll never – ever wear leggings – they are just not made for someone like me.  lol  Fine on other people of course…  But I digress.

Riptide Sweater

After I accidentally felted/shrunk my Channel Cardigan so bad it couldn’t be saved, I was in the market to knit up a new, cozy cardigan.  Something to keep me warm on the coldest of days in my house – which can get down to a chilly 57 degrees on the worst of days.

Riptide Sweater

I started to knit this one, but the intricate cable pattern was taking too long and the days were quickly getting colder here in Chicago.  Timing couldn’t have been more perfect for the Brooklyn Tween Winter 2015 pattern launch – within two days I had gone to my LYS to buy yarn and I cast on that same day.

Just shy of two weeks later I had a wonderfully warm sweater knit up.

Riptide Sweater

I bought 7 skeins of Beroroco Ultra Alpaca Chunky in Indigo, a wonderful navy blue color.  My LYS only had 7 of the 10 skeins that I needed.  I bought the 7 thinking I could find the extra three on Ravelry or elsewhere online.

Lucky for me – I ended up not needing those 3 skeins after all.  I was perfectly on gauge with this sweater so it’s quite odd that I used far less yardage than was required.  It was a blessing in disguise that I was not able to get all the yarn, as it would have been a waste.  (I even have 3/4 of my last skein that is unused).

Riptide Sweater

Before I get ahead of myself, I should add: I hate chunky weight yarn.  I dislike it with a passion!  You see… the patterns I’ve always used with Chunky weight yarn were patterns that had negative ease.  Me, chunky weight yarn, and negative ease  = disaster.  I never, ever wear the projects I’ve made with that combination, not even for lounging around the house.  Case in point #1, and case #2.  Sure they’re great looking garments – I just don’t feel very good in them.  I feel like a sausage in a large casing.  Can’t say it any better than that.

But this sweater… is a horse of a different color!  I’m smitten with it.  I am a convert.  I’ll still never knit up anything with negative ease that uses a chunky weight yarn – but I’m no longer writing off this yarn like I had in years’ past.

Riptide Sweater

I was determined to keep this knit simple, with very little modifications, if any.  It’s such a generously sized sweater I didn’t see the point in making modifications…

What I did modify is as follows:

  • Cast-on in between the smallest and 2nd smallest size at the hem.  Decreased more frequently to arrive at the smallest size at the bust.
  • Shortened the yoke by 6 rows.

More details on my modifications can be found on my Ravelry Riptide project page.

Riptide Sweater

Being knit in a chunky yarn – it was a really quick knit.  I technically knit this up (twice) in 2 weeks.

Knowing I wanted an ultra large, layering sweater I knit it in the second smallest size giving me the recommended positive ease as stated in the pattern.  I knit all the way up to the armpits and realized it was too large.  It was so big it would have been roomy even on Felix.  I frogged the whole thing and cast on once again.

Once I got the to fancy yoke cable decreases & Brioche stitch I was confident I knew how to knit the Brioche stitch without any pattern directions.  Well… I was very wrong.

I know the Brioche stitch when knitting flat – not when knitting in the round.  So once again I had to frog all the way back to the yoke and re-knit the upper bodice & neckline once again.  I could have left it as it was, but I really liked the defined stitches so I chose to fix it.

So technically – I knit this one sweater twice in two weeks.

Riptide Sweater

Like I said a million times already, good thing it was a quick knit!

My favorite part of this sweater (besides how wonderfully comfy it is) is the cable decreases.  These kind of decreases were not only fun to knit but this method of yoke decreases really does fit my narrow shoulders much better than a raglan yoke decrease pattern.  You can bet I’ll be on the lookout for more sweater designs with this type of construction in the future.

Riptide Sweater

You’ll never guess what I did after this…. I found some languishing yarn in my stash and knit a second one.  :D  But I’ll save that for next time.

Happy Knitting!

February 17

My 1940’s Suit

I’ve long since wanted a vintage suit in my wardrobe, somehow stars aligned and I felt compelled to finally make one for my very own.

A 1940s Suit

This pattern I used is McCall’s 5094, a sweet little suit from 1943.

McCall5094

Looking back on my Etsy purchases, I bought this suit back in 2011 – if you can believe it!  I bought it because at the time I loved the spring suit look (view B) and knew it would look divine in a swingy rayon.

Instead, I made this up in view A, but I made my sleeves full-length.

A 1940s Suit

I knew that I would get much more wear out of this during the winter in long sleeves than I would in shorter ones.  I used a mid-weight wool crepe in a muted blue that I had in my stash.  I had intended this wool crepe to be used on a different dress, but oftentimes things get reallocated, and I had enough yardage in this one fabric to make both the top and the skirt.

A 1940s Suit

Besides my normal fitting adjustments on the bodice, one major modification I made was to the skirt.  The skirt is a very simple one, rectangles that are simply gathered at the waist – aka a dirndl skirt.  I cut out my fabric and basted in the waistband to check the fit with the bodice – it was awful!!  The skirt was so full at the waist with all of the gathers it looked like I was wearing a sac and the peplum stuck out at the oddest angle because of it.

I wish I had pictures to show you just how bad it was… Suffice it to say I took at least 6 inches (on the fold!) out of each skirt piece.  I nearly reduced the skirt fullness in half and it now looks much closer to the pattern envelope.  I could have gotten two skirts out of the original fabric pieces.

A 1940s Suit

It may have been an appropriate skirt if I was using a light weight fabric like a silk crepe de chine or a rayon – but in my wool crepe it was just too puffy-looking.

A 1940s Suit

This is one of my favorite makes of 2015, and really, it holds a place in my top 5 outfits I’ve made, of all time.  It’s not a garment that gets frequent use in my wardrobe, but I love it ohh soo much.  It’s one of those unique, chic pieces that I can now always turn to when I need something a cut above the rest or for work functions.

A 1940s Suit

I have a propensity to make all sewing projects more complicated than they need to be.  I purposefully wanted to keep this suit simple so that I could finish in time for a deadline (a presentation I was giving at work).  True to form, one thing led to another and I found myself adding lining to the bodice and making my own shoulder pads.

A 1940s Suit

Felix and I ventured out to the University of Chicago campus for these photos.  There’s wonderful architecture down there and I knew it would be a perfect backdrop to pair with this suit.

A 1940s Suit

While the University is extremely close, I haven’t made the time to walk around as much as I should – what with all of our house work and winter upon us.  So driving down to scout out cool locations for blog photos is a wonderful excuse for us to see more and more of campus.

A 1940s Suit

I don’t think I addressed it before but my hair – it’s now brown.  :D  I loved my pink hair and I kept it pink for a full 9 months.  But it was so much upkeep I couldn’t handle it anymore and I thought it was time for a change.  Do I miss my pink hair – Yes!  But I could only wash my hair ONCE a week in order to keep the pink from fading until my next 6 week refresh.  And I do love being blonde (my natural hair is an ash blonde) – but I wanted to try something different – and chestnut brown seemed like a nice change of pace.

A 1940s Suit

This is my first time setting my brown hair too.

A 1940s Suit

While nearly ever outfit I think “Gosh this would be even cuter with pink hair” I think the brown looks nice and rich.  Perhaps I’ll go blonde again in the summer months, but for now, the dark brown is continuing to grow on me.

A 1940s Suit

Happy Sewing you guys!

February 12

Everyone, Meet Daisy

As many of you know, we lost Quincy to (basically) old age last November.  He was such a sweet tempered, easy going bunny – his loss left a hole in our hearts.

quincyMeds_09

What got me through was giving Phineas all sorts of extra attention these past few months.  I luuuv my little Finn.

Phineas

He’s the perfect combination of sassy, fun, affectionate and it only helps that he’s adorably-Disney-cute.  Since Quincy passed, Phineas just hasn’t been himself.  He perked up again after a month or so, but there were still spots in the house he would no longer venture alone.  He needed his old pal, Quincy, to give him the courage to hop into the dark corners to explore – he needed that companionship.

Felix and I started to talk about adopting right around Christmas & New Year’s.  I was getting the itch to get a pal for Phineas and I admit – I love having two bunnies in the house.  Of course if it were up to me, I’d be living in a house with micro pigs, dogs, birds, lambs, alpacas and more.  But we finally agreed that we could handle a second bunny, once again.

We spent a long Saturday visiting 2+ shelters and met all manner of bunnies.  At the end of the day, I formed a top-5 list and at the top of the list was Janis Hoplin (aka Daisy).

bunnySaturday

Daisy, a former classroom bunny, was listed at the shelter as being cage-aggressive.  After (no doubt) getting poked for a year in a classroom, she was a bit skittish and protective of her space.  I really can’t blame her.

When I first met her, I stuck my hand in her cage to pet her in and boy did she she react!  She lunged at my hand to scare me off, like she was going to bite me (but didn’t).  Of course I pulled my hand out asap as I didn’t want to get bit.  But then I tried again.

I moved slow and she reacted in the same manner, but this time I didn’t flinch.  She puffed up her body and reluctantly let me pet her.  She slowly relaxed and seemed to like what I was doing.  I pulled my hand away to see what she would do and she followed it – begging for more.  She got to the point where her body was almost falling out of the second-story cage opening as she was leaning into my torso enjoying all the attention I was giving her.  I was smitten!

We waited until the following weekend to bring Phineas in to meet her and a couple of the other bunnies – but mainly her.  If Phineas didn’t like her – all bets were off.  Luckily Phineas seemed to be okay in her presence and it was a quick and easy decision to bring her home with us that very day.

Daisy & Shelter

I’ve purposefully waited to share our new addition since 1.) We didn’t decide on her name and 2.) We were waiting until her and Phineas were bonded together.

Since bringing Daisy home – I’ve been working with her a great deal on her manners.

It was pretty clear that she hasn’t lived in a home setting before.  She also wasn’t used to having a pen space, but was always living in a cage.  But most of all, I’ve been working with her on her cage-aggression.  After having 3 bunnies before Daisy, I knew that we could help her.  While I adopted her because I felt a connection with her, I also had a hunch that no other family was going to give her the best chance like we would/could.  She just needed some extra attention & patience and I knew she’d come around.

Daisy in her Box

The first week she was home with us, I didn’t do any bonding sessions with her and Phineas, but was just trying to get her settled and calm.  I frequently sat in with her, invading her space.  Of course she didn’t like it, but she was also terribly desperate for attention and pets.  She wanted me to pet her for over 30 mins straight and would grunt and stomp at me whenever I stopped or if I moved something in her pen, even an inch.  Not very lady-like manners if I say so myself.

Daisy with Romaine

The more I sit down with her and re-teach her the proper manners (ie grunts & lunging will get you no where) the better behaved she’s becoming.  She gets plenty of attention from me, but knows that if I stop, it’s okay; that more attention will come later.

Daisy and Phineas

She’s come such a long way in the last 3 weeks, but we still have a little ways to go.  She no longer stomps at me (much) and hasn’t lunged at my hands for a week now.  And after 5 bonding sessions with Phineas they’re now paired in the same space together – which is huge!

Bun Space

I can’t say they’re fully bonded, but they are co-living together which really is amazing!  She still acts a bit skittish – but still… she’s only been with us for 3 weeks and I know she’ll calm down with some more time.  She’s quickly turning into Phineas’ partner in crime.

She’s officially Phineas’ partner in crime!  Since last Friday, they’ve been housed together and they’ve become such great pals.  Phineas already has the confidence to hop into previously uncharted territory & Daisy is far less skittish than she previously was.  Her manners are improving exponentially, she’s such a dear.  It’s the most wonderful thing seeing these two buns binky around each other and chase each other for fun.

Phineas and Daisy

I met with some other very wonderful bunnies who could have also worked well for Phineas (thinking of you Charmin and Chase) – I wish I could adopt them all and give them all happy homes.  If Felix didn’t keep me rational, I would be be that crazy bunny lady with a house full of them.  For some inexplicable reason, I just felt that connection with Daisy and knew she needed to come home with us.  I hope she feels the same way.  :D

Welcome home, Daisy!

 

P.S.  If you click the bunny at the top of the page on the right, it will take you to all of my bunny-related blog posts.
February 10

My Nancy Jumper

Nancy, a stand-alone pattern from Susan Crawford has long been in my queue to knit up.  It is such a charming jumper, perfect for a chilly spring or fall.

Nancy Jumper

I had all sorts of bits of extra Excelana yarn after making Tasha’s Victory Beret (yet to be blogged), that I knew I wanted to try to use them up.  Since this jumper called for the same yarn in several of the colors I needed, I decided to stick with the original colors.

Nancy Jumper

I could have modified a couple of the colors to what I already had in my stash… I just couldn’t bring myself to alter it.  The color scheme is a major reason why I love it so much – I really can’t see it any other way.  After getting my yarn & pattern purchased, I was off to the races.

Nancy Jumper

I now have to admit: I completed this pretty little jumper last Spring.  I finished it just as it was getting warm out, so I was unable to wear it until the weather turned cold once again this past fall.  And….well… then I realized I had absolutely nothing to wear with it.  This pretty little jumper ended up an orphan in my closet.  :(

Nancy Jumper

My Nancy jumper was a smidgen too long for my full skirts.  I also don’t have any color-appropriate slim skirts in my winter wardrobe that would match this either.  Nothing that I had in my closet seemed to work with it.

As I was shopping for my Paris trip last September, I bought these cute little cranberry pants and I knew they would work with my top.  I know they’re not a 100% match, but after having this jumper languish for so long, I was fine with a 90% color match.

Nancy Jumper

Pattern Modifications:

When I was inspecting the pattern instructions, one thing that stuck out to me was how wide the sleeves were at the armscye/bicep.  I believe I cast on for the set amount of stitches & quickly realized it was just too large for me.

Even though I re-figured the entire sleeve and the fit is better than the original, I am still not completely satisfied with the fit.  The more I make raglan styles, the more I am dissatisfied with how they fit on my shoulders/upper body.  I just hate having that extra fabric at my armpit-fold area.

Additionally I decided to knit (just the sleeves) in the round.  This took a bit of refiguring as the pattern stitch was written to be knit flat & I had to modify the stitch pattern to be knit un the round.  Knitting a sleeve in the round gave me every opportunity to fit as I went along.  If I were to knit them flat, I wouldn’t really ‘see’ how they fit until I went to seam them to the bodice.

As much as I dislike the extra-fabric-at-my-armpit issue, I’ve worn this sweater all fall & winter long.  Since we’re having such a mild winter this year in Chicago, its given me the opportunity to wear this little jumper all season long.

Nancy Jumper

Other Updates:

As you know, I’ve haven’t been posting very regularly on my little ‘ole blog.  There have been so many distractions in my life lately that this is the last thing I had time to do.  Many of you have surmised that I’ve been too busy to sew or knit – which I have to say is NOT the case.  I am ohh soo backed on posting my projects, that its kinda crazy.  What I have been pretty decent about is posting quick pics on instagram.

As 2016 is now in full swing I’m recommitted to braving the cold, setting my hair, and getting outside to take some photos of my makes (also known as making Felix come outside to take my picture.)  Stay tuned for more as I get my act together to share with you everything that I’ve been up to.

Cheers & happy knitting.

January 7

Lumberjack Man Sweater

Happy 2016!

While I’ve been busy sewing for myself and doing all sorts of house work, here I am leading off the year with my very first project for Felix which I’ve been calling Man Sweater.

Lumberjack Sweater

Left to Right: Meg’s Josh, my Felix, and Michelle’s Mike

Update: My Ravelry Project Page with Detail Notes on Knit Alterations

Felix has actually never wanted me to sew or knit him anything.  I know right?!  He’s had this fear that if I took the time to make him something and he never wore it, that I’d be angry.  (This is probably correct. My Felix is a smartie.)  So he just wanted to stay out of the fray and buy his clothes instead.  He’s only wearing this now because I was the one who wanted to knit this up for him.

Of course Meg, Michelle & I saw this pattern (aka the Lumberjack Sweater) pop up on Ravelry and we mutually agreed this would be a great sweater to make for the men in our lives.  The pattern seems easy enough for a first-time man-sweater maker.  (Hint: this is an incorrect assumption & more on that later!)

Lumberjack Sweater

Felix and I picked out the yarn for this sweater when we were in Paris from a shop called Lil Weasel.  It was a charming shop and the price of yarn was quite reasonable to boot.  They have both a yarn shop and a fabric shop right across the way from one another (yarn is reasonable, fabric not so much).

Lil Weasel

I should add there’s a lovely little cafe/wine bar next door that I visited not once but twice, if you happen to be in the area yourself.

Since this was Felix’s first time actually looking at yarn in any serious kind of way, I picked out the type and he simply picked the color.  Felix overheats quite easily and rarely wears sweaters to work, even in the winter months.  But since our house does get quite cold, I knew he’d eventually wear the sweater.  Not wanting him to get too hot in it, I decided on a Rowan 50/50 mix of wool & cotton.

Rowan Yarn

Felix is a man of simple taste.  His wardrobe consists of various shades of grey, black, browns, and the occasional colors – in muted tones of course.  So it seemed to make the most sense for him to pick out a nice grey that he could layer easily & I knew he’d end up wearing it more comfortably than a brightly colored knit that I might have preferred.  But believe me, he’s slowly getting introduced to some new colors.

Michelle is experienced with knitting for her husband, Mike.  But for Meg and myself, this was our first hand-knit man sweater.  I can’t speak for Megan, but I felt like I was starting all over from scratch about how to ‘fit’ a garment.  I felt like quite the newbie knitter.

Lumberjack Sweater

Lumberjack is a top down, raglan style sweater.  The neckline stitches are picked up again later on and the collar is worked into the sweater (1×1 ribbing).

I measured Felix’s chest and waist and picked my size accordingly, with the correct gauge of course.  I cast on and started working on the sweater to the point where you divide the sleeves from the body & work the body in the round.  He tried it on and it was awful – a joke!

Lumberjack Trial Lumberjack Trial

It was waaay too large even though I was on gauge and picked the ‘correct’ size.  I ended up frogging the entire thing and sizing down two sizes.  I worked to the same point again – but the second time there were just too many stitches on the sleeves for his arms while the chest and back area were alright.

Frogging back once more a few inches, I slowed down my raglan increases (aka fewer increases) on the sleeves while keeping the increases on the front and back body the same as the pattern.

Third time is a charm I guess.  Kinda sorta.

Lumberjack Sweater

I still feel like there’s too much pooling at the armpits – but I continue to be told that’s just the way a raglan sweater fits.  It’s a personal preference thing.

We all met up last weekend to take photos at the Lincoln Park Conservatory.  It’s the perfect location for photo taking as its bright, just like being outside but warm enough inside in the winter weather.  I’m sure I’ll be going back here for photos of me in my stuff soon.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Coincidentally this is the same place Meg, Michelle, and I came for our first knit photo shoot in December of 2013.  How the time flies!

Ingenue Team

It seemed only fitting that we had the guys pose for us, now that we were on the other side of the camera.

They’re goofballs – look at the progression of Josh in the middle.  Laughed so hard I cried going back over these images.

Lumberjack Sweater Lumberjack Sweater Lumberjack Sweater

Lumberjack Sweater

They were good sports about all of this.  But we did pay them off in chocolate and hand knit sweaters.

Once the sweater body is joined in the round, there ceases to be any shaping to the body whatsoever.  Michelle advised me that there should be some decreases to create shape and was scoffing at the pattern pretty hard at this point.  I followed suit and decreased like she does for Mike.

Well… I ended up frogging the body back a great deal also.  I should have known better here though – Felix is shaped nothing like Mike or Josh and he really doesn’t need any decreases from chest to waist as he has a much shorter torso and is a bit thicker as well.  So this one was on me.

But back to the pattern instructions…

The instructions for the body of the sweater are just plain odd.  What I mean is that the length given is so loooong.  Yes, Felix does have a short torso and didn’t need as much yarn.  But Mike and Josh are tall with long bodies.  They didn’t even need the full length that the pattern suggested we knit.  I bought yarn according to the size and the shop was 1 ball shy of what I needed.  Yet I still have 3 left-over skeins!  It’s such a waste.  It’s not like I can fly back to Paris and return my extra skeins.  I know Michelle also has 2 extra balls of yarn from this sweater and her yarn was much more expensive than mine was and Meg had like 4 left over and her guy is the tallest of the three!  In short, it’s just not right.

Lumberjack Sweater

One alteration I made was to add in some short rows near the hem of the body of the sweater, in the front only.  I know Felix won’t like me saying it but he does have a bit of a tummy (it is post-holiday season after all) and needed a bit of extra length here.  Adding length to the whole body would only accentuate the difference between his front and back – the sweater would be too long over his butt yet alright over his stomach.  I decided to add around 6 extra rows to the front of the sweater – nothing too dramatic that you would even notice.  I could have added a couple more, but I didn’t want it to be dramatic that someone could tell there were short rows added.

Lumberjack Sweater

I would consider myself to be an Intermediate-to-Advanced knitter.  I know how to do color work, cables, and alter most of my patterns to suit my preferences.  I don’t really feel daunted by too many knits at this point and kinda feel a bit bad-ass even noting this.  :D

But this sweater is not for a first-time sweater maker as the designer would have you believe.  Sure it’s an easy knit.  But when you have to pick up stitches from the provisional cast-on and the stitch count is not the same – a newbie knitter wouldn’t have enough confidence to figure out why and how to fix it.  The designer has you lifting a bar to increase for the first raglan increases right off of the provisional cast on edge (which I blindly followed) and when you pull out the provisional edge to work the collar – these stitches basically disappear.  So you can’t ever get the stitch count.

A designer would have also added in some waist shaping to accommodate for an average-shaped guy and also wouldn’t have us purchase 2+ skeins of yarn needlessly.

As a now-seasoned knitter and sewer, I think I’ve come to expect a higher standard for my pattern purchases.  Which honestly I think is a good thing.  I expect patterns to be designed professionally and with little errors.  Of course there will be the random mistake here or there – I’m human after all and I get that this happens.  But I can’t honestly sit here and say this is a sweater you should all run out and make as your first man-sweater when I know better.

This leads into a whole different discussion and I know I’ve opened a can of worms on this one: Higher Standards & Honesty.

I can go on and on about this topic & probably will do so at some point in the near future.  But too often do we sit back and think “It’s probably just me” or praise something to the public while complaining in private.  I think this is a dangerous habit I’ve been seeing within the crafting community as of late and I think it’s dangerous and I know many of you are with me on this.  We just want to be positive and supportive and if we have nothing nice to say we don’t say it at all.

It’s great that we want to do this for each other – it’s what makes me love this community of creators.  But honesty doesn’t have to be mean and honesty doesn’t mean we don’t support one another.

Okay I’m placing a lid back on this one for the time being.  But feel free to comment if you like either about Felix’s first hand-knit sweater, how handsome these guys are, honesty in the crafting community, or anything really.  :)

Lumberjack Sweater

Cheers & happy knitting.