Category Archives: Fashion

Knitting: Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

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Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

Once in awhile, in my creative endeavors, I have a vision for something, and IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS! Usually, things change as I go along, sometimes for the better, and sometimes just for the different, but once in awhile, I actually achieve what I am going for, and this is one of those projects! Today’s post is about the Huxley vest by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. It’s a “Norwegian Scoop-Neck Vest” involving stranded colorwork and a steeked neckhole and armholes.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

If you’re not familiar with these things, here’s a short introduction. Stranded colorwork is when you use two or more colors in a knitted garment, knitting with the colors you want at the time and stranding the others behind your knitting. Steeking involves stabilizing sections of your knitting with machine sewing or crochet so that you can cut it open. It’s one of those risky, adrenaline-rush sports of the crafting world. Who needs big wave surfing, base jumping, or hang gliding when you can steek your knits?! 😉

I saw and admired this pattern years ago, but finally decided to make it last year. I got the idea that if I used a plain main color and a super colorful hand-dyed yarn for the little dots, it might just make my sweater look like it had sprinkles or confetti all over.

And I love sprinkles.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

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Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

I ordered my main yarn for this project through Coveted Yarn in Gloucester, MA. It’s Berroco Ultra Wool, a 100% superwash wool, and is worsted weight. I used color 3301, cream.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

My contrast color is Hedgehog Fibres Merino Aran, also 100% superwash wool in the color “Sweet Pea”. I got this on my first trip to Webs (a.k.a. yarn.com) in Northampton, MA with my friend Jo-Alice last fall.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

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Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
It’s always interesting to me to see how different a skein a yarn looks after it has been wound into a ball or cake–you can see my colorful yarn a bit at the top of the frame.

I was determined that I would not spend as much on a vest as on a sweater, and the Berroco, which was on sale, was very economical. The Hedgehog Fibres yarn was not, and it really increased my costs, but it was so worth it.

I swatched initially with the recommended needle size, but I’m a pretty loose knitter, so when I didn’t get gauge, I went down two needle sizes and tried again. For my swatches, I used Ysolda Teague-Long’s method of swift swatching in the round, and I measured my swatch before washing, after handwashing, and then after throwing the swatch in the washer and dryer using the care directions on the Berroco wool. I also, after my first washing, hung the swatch up to see if there was any obvious stretching out, which can sometimes happen with superwash yarns. After all those tests, I’m happy to report that nothing stretched out, nothing bled, the swatch did great both handwashed and machine washed, and I learned a very important swatching lesson: DON’T JUDGE A SWATCH UNTIL IT HAS DRIED. It’s yet another lesson that is completely obvious once you learn it, but not always so obvious beforehand.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
My swatches, partway through my testing process. The top one has been machine washed and dried, but the bottom one hasn’t yet.

After all my testing, I still hadn’t quite gotten gauge, so I decided to recalculate. I liked the fabric I had gotten with the US 6 needles, which was two needle sizes smaller than recommended. My gauge was 17 stitches and 24 rounds = 4″ blocked, in pattern. It was supposed to be 19 stitches and 28 rounds = 4″ blocked, in pattern. For the non-knitters out there, you need to make sure your number of stitches per inch matches the pattern’s or your knitted item won’t come out the same size. If I had gotten the correct gauge, my body measurements would have put me in a size 4 or 5, but with my gauge, I figured a size 3 with the length of a size 4 would work out fine.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

This pattern is knit bottom up, and I had to start over once when I made some mistakes in the ribbing that I decided I couldn’t live with. After that, though, I knit along just fine through the body. I skipped the waist shaping since I currently like a more straight and loose fit around the waist. The rounds with color were every fourth round, and those kept me wanting to knit more. Those were the most fun rows because I couldn’t wait to see what color each little contrast stitch would be.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!

It was strange to do the shaping around the teeny tiny presteeked neck and armholes. My vest looked like a weird blob, but I just kept following the directions until it was time to steek.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
My knitted blob before steeking
Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
The marks show where I had to cut once I reinforced things

Once I got to the point of steeking, I used the article, “Machine-Sewn Steeks–Mary Ann’s Top Ten Tips” from maryannstephens.com. The pattern calls for crochet reinforcements, but I don’t crochet and I was using superwash yarn, and so needed a machine sewn steek to be extra sure everything would stay put.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
Do you see those little blue lines? Those are my machine sewing.

Once I cut my steeks open, by strange blob of knitting popped open into a very vest-like shape! It was magic!

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
My vest is looking like a vest!!!

That’s when I felt like I was so close to being finished–just armhole and neck ribbing and I could block it! I had plans to knit little facings over my cut open steeks like in I did in my Arrowhead Cardigan or maybe sew them down, but so far, they are staying in place just fine and they don’t look bad at all, so I just trimmed the cut yarn to a nice, neat length.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
Can you see my sewing over on the right? It just sort of folded into place once I knit the ribbing.

When I was finished with that, it was all about weaving in the ends and getting ready to block. I had carried the colorwork pattern up the shoulders even when I was knitting back and forth, so I had a number of ends in that area.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
Shoulder area, from the inside
Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
Huxley vest, inside front
Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
Huxley vest inside back

I was nervous about blocking because I had measured my gauge off a swatch that had been machine washed and dried. That meant I needed to do the same with my vest, but I decided to let it finish air drying at the end, at least the first time. I was nervous, but I knew I had tested this twice, with both swatches, so I did it…and it was fine. 🙂 No crisis ensued. I might hand wash from here on out, but I got the size and fluffiness I was after. Not too bad for two and a half months of knitting (for my pace, at least).

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
It’s funny to me that there is a little unpatterned stripe on each side of the vest.

I am so happy with the finished vest! It looks just how I wanted it to look! I love the colors, and it fits great. The crazy thing is, I actually don’t have a lot of plain button up shirts to wear with it, and I like that look much better than wearing it with a t-shirt. But this is a problem I can solve! I put a lilac colored vintage blouse on my spring sewing list. I hope to get a lot of wear out of this vest. I love it so much.

Knitting:  Huxley Vest in All the Bright Colors!
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Simplicity 9449 Skirt–A Reissued Vintage Pattern

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Simplicity 9449 Skirt–A Reissued Vintage Pattern

It is catch-up time around here! I have several things I have knit or sewn that have been waiting for their turn on the blog, and this is my oldest sewing project in that category. I made Simplicity 9449, View D, a full skirt, for my daughter to wear to church on Christmas Eve 2021. Yikes. My tardiness aside, I would like to say that I just love it when the Big 4 reissue some of their vintage patterns. These are our heritage brands, and they have an amazing catalogue of patterns. I love so many of the vintage ones, but finding one in your size, especially if you don’t fall into typically vintage sizing, can be tricky. The reissues are great because they come in modern size ranges with multiple sizes in one envelope–excellent if you fall into more than one size. One funny thing I noticed, however, was that although this pattern says it’s from the 1960’s on the pattern envelope, there are fashion facts from the 1950’s on the instructions inside. After looking up the original, Simplicity 1235, on the Vintage Pattern Wiki, I found that it was originally published in 1955, so I guess the outside date is a typo.

Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern

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Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern

Simplicity 9449 comes with four views: a dress, a jumper, a slim skirt, and a full skirt. My daughter wanted the full skirt, View D, so I went off to Joann’s and found a suitably Christmas-y fabric–a burgundy (AKA “Tawny Port”) polyester crepe. I think it was from their Casa collection, which has fancier fabrics.

Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern
Simplicity 9449 front view

Helpfully, Joann’s had coordinating zippers for this fabric line, so I grabbed a matching invisible zipper as well. What a beautiful thing to have perfectly matched fabric and zipper!

Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern

We made a few changes to the pattern. I moved the side zipper to the back and we added some in-seam pockets in a fun Rifle Paper Co. quilting cotton that I had left over in my stash.

Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern

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Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern
Simplicity 9449, inside front

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Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern
Simplicity 9449, inside back

We omitted the patch pockets that came with the pattern. The pocket pattern piece and directions we did use came from Simplicity 8689. I also added an extra bar to the waistband so that you could adjust the tightness of the waistband just a little bit depending on how you are feeling on a given day.

Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern

Overall, it wasn’t too hard to sew, which is great because I do not love sewing to a deadline, and this was definitely one of those deadline situations. I used a microtex 70/10 needle in my sewing machine, sewed everything with a straight stitch and finished seams with my serger. I used silk pins, and did a rolled hem using my sewing machine. That seemed faster than following the hemming directions and I wanted to practice rolled hems.

Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern
My rolled hem–not perfect, but improving!

Also, following the hemming directions would have involved a fair amount of pressing, and this fabric did not press well, which is unsurprising since it is made of polyester and is a bouncy crepe. While the pattern envelope calls for an invisible zipper, the directions inside for View D show a standard zipper, so I used the instructions on the zipper package to shorten and install it.

Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern
Simplicity 9449 back view (which looks pretty much like the front view)

After I finished, the side seams were weirdly puckered, which you can kind of see in the picture below.

Simplicity 9449 Skirt--A Reissued Vintage Pattern

I resewed them once in case I had caused it by tugging on them to match them up lengthwise, but it didn’t help. Was it because they were on the bias? Because I serged the seam allowances incorrectly somehow? I’m not sure. The front and back seams were just fine, but they’re also on the straight grain, so they’re more stable.

All told, I’m pretty happy with this project, and I think my daughter was, too. This is maybe a half circle skirt, and she loved the fullness, especially when worn with a petticoat. Unfortunately, the polyester fabric is a major static magnet, which is kind of a bummer. So, there were pros and cons. Typos aside, I would make this pattern again. I would rather not use that polyester crepe fabric a second time, however.

This is a good basic pattern that easily gives you a vintage or modern look, depending on how you tweak and style it. Even better, it was something I could make in a short amount of time in the midst of everything else I was working on.

Winter Sewing, Part Two: The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

Hi! I’m back with the same pattern I talked about last week, but a different view, in a different fabric. Yep, this is The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in a wonderfully soft Polartec fleece from Field’s Fabrics in Holland, Michigan. Last week was all about the vest view, and this week I’m coming back older and wiser, having had a much more enjoyable sewing experience because I learned from all those pinch points on the vest. Yay!

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Couldn’t pass up a photo op in front of this fun wall on my first day wearing my jacket out and about!

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

I’ve felt the need for a lightweight fleece zip-up jacket for awhile. I have one from Old Navy that I thrifted, but have you ever thrifted something and then realized you might now understand why it ended up at the thrift store? Yeah, this was one of those situations. It’s a nice jacket, but the fit in the shoulders is not my favorite. Luckily, I had found some Polartec “Micro Plush” fleece at Field’s Fabrics (often labelled as Malden Mills fleece) in Holland, MI this past summer. It was a pretty sky blue, and so very soft.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

Technically, I think this is a pile fabric rather than an actual fleece fabric, which is part of what makes it so soft, but either way, it is still produced by Malden Mills/Polartec, which means it has the quality that I love. Polartec produces many, many kinds of really interesting fabrics, and I love trying out different types when I get a chance. While I don’t always care about fabric brands, when it comes to fleece (and related fabrics), I tend to go for Polartec because I know the quality will be high, even in their seconds. And whenever I get a chance to go to Field’s I take a look to see what they have.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

I don’t typically do the same pattern back to back, but it was a great experience doing that this time because it really helped me improve my skills and figure a few things out! Along with my notes last week on the pattern and the importance of trusting it, one thing I was surprised by is that you don’t always use a zigzag stitch when making this pattern. Sometimes a straight stitch is what you need, and the directions always tell (and/or show) you when to use each stitch. You also don’t use any interfacing–but it works! I was wondering how that would go in the zipper area in particular, but it was fine. The final product is no more or less wavy than on any store-bought fleece jacket–so trust those directions! Along those lines, I had plans to put my sleeves in flat rather than setting them in, but that really doesn’t work for this pattern, because the armscye is shaped differently than what you find on most patterns, so you’ll have to trust the directions on that, too.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in Polartec Micro Plush, front

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in Polartec Micro Plush, back

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

One thing I did change was binding the sleeve hems as well as the jacket hem with nylon/Lycra, as I did for the vest hem in last week’s post. I cut 9″ x 2″ strips of nylon/Lycra for each sleeve hem and cut off the sleeve hem allowances. If I did it again, I would bind my sleeve hems flat before sewing the sleeve seam. I used the same nylon/Lycra swimwear fabric as on my vest and also used the same binding technique (“Lycra Wrapped Edges–The Cheater’s Way”) found in Adventures with Polarfleece: A Sewing Expedition by Nancy Cornwell. I had a few spots on the jacket hem where I didn’t catch quite enough of the fleece in my serging, so I just went back with a straight stitch and sewed a bit higher up on the jacket. It’s really important that you secure those bottom layers together because the hem is also the bottom of your pockets, and you don’t want your things falling out! This time, I also left a little nylon/Lycra hanging off the edges by the zipper, which I hand-tacked into place before doing the final sewing step.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Hem detail, view from the inside. There’s room for improvement, but overall my hem binding isn’t bad!

I did all the hand-basting of the zipper and collar/facing area that I did with my vest, and it was definitely worth the time investment to have a smooth experience sewing in my front zipper and sewing on the neckline facing. My results weren’t perfect, but they were good enough that I was happy with them.

Something I wish I had done with the jacket (and maybe the vest) was to round off the corners of my collar as Nancy Cornwell suggests in her book. I think it would have looked nice.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in Polartec Micro Plush, inside front

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in Polartec Micro Plush, inside back

Other than a different main fabric, I used all the same materials (with color changes for zippers and serger thread) and references for this that I did for my vest. You can find links for all those sources in last week’s post. It was great to have just made a version of this pattern so I could be smarter about when and where to serge–mainly just in the spots where I wanted an extra internal flash of color–and how to tackle all the parts I found tricky the first time around. Like last week, I wish I had some sort of little tag for the front, but otherwise, I’m really happy with this jacket. Since it’s still winter in these parts, I have worn it a lot around the house, and I really love it. I even had to fight off one of my kids who wants to steal it from me, which is a pretty high compliment in my book. 😉

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

I definitely recommend this pattern, but if you haven’t sewn it before, it probably wouldn’t hurt to read the two posts I have written plus any other reviews you can find on it to avoid the pitfalls I struggled with. Really, though, the sky is the limit as far as how you customize this. You can knock off your favorite Patagonia, L.L. Bean, or REI jacket, or make something no one has ever seen before! If you do, I would love to hear about it! 🙂

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

Winter Sewing: The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

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Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

Do you have a box of old clothes that maybe don’t fit or you don’t wear much any more? Perhaps they’re old favorites or sentimental pieces or just clothing that has stood the test of time and you still have them. I do. It’s filled with the first jeans I ever made, a dress from ninth grade that fit through multiple size changes, pieces of uniforms my Dad wore, and a fleece vest from high school. That fleece vest is from L.L.Bean, and my parents bought it for me when we first moved to Massachusetts. Everyone was wearing L.L.Bean and they didn’t want me to feel like any more of an outsider than I already did. I loved that vest. I felt good when I wore it.

I still have that vest packed away, even though it doesn’t quite fit any more. I love a good vest, and I have several, but none quite like that. I got one on sale a few years ago from a different store, but the fleece was inferior, and it soon pilled and looked…not great. I wanted a replacement in high-quality Polartec fleece.

My brother got me the Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket & Vest pattern in 2021, and my husband gave me the fleece this past Christmas. It was time to make a new vest, and I was really looking forward to it.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

Sadly, I didn’t really enjoy making this. Surprising, right? I love Green Pepper patterns because they allow me to make all the classic outdoor wear I find in places like L.L. Bean, Patagonia, and REI. I love sewing fleece, and I have done it most winters for the past several years. And yet, sewing this was Not Fun.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece
The Green Pepper Plush Polar Vest, front

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Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece
The Green Pepper Plush Polar Vest, back

Problem number one was that I second-guessed the directions. The Green Pepper writes really good directions, and I should have just followed them. That doesn’t mean they can never be improved upon or altered and that the patterns can never be hacked. It just means I should have known better and trusted what was there. Problem number two was that it’s not always easy to sew over bulky and sometimes uneven layers of fleece, even when you have all the right tools. Sometimes you have to try and learn, which means struggle.

This pattern is made to be sewn on your sewing machine, no serger necessary. I really wanted some extra secret colors on the inside, so I serged a few seams that would be visible inside.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece
The Green Pepper Plush Polar Vest, inside front. The neon yellow/green is my serging and secret extra bit of color.

Sometimes my choices to serge were good (extra colors!), and sometimes I thought I could be smarter than the directions and add in serging, which ended up causing problems later because I had cut off seam allowance I should have left on or something like that. I also had a lot of trouble topstitching over multiple layers, even with my walking foot, as things would slide around. While you usually don’t need wide seam allowances on knits, there were times when I wondered if a 5/8″ seam allowance would have been a good idea because you would have (maybe) had more even layers to sew over.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

Here are some things that did help me with this project:

*My walking foot was great. This is a foot you can put on your sewing machine that helps your top and bottom fabrics feed through your machine at the same rate so things aren’t sliding around.

*I used a 12/80 ballpoint needle in my sewing machine.

*I hand-basted my zipper, and I hand-basted my collar seamlines and facing in place before sewing down the facing that covers the neck seam. I sewed it down from the inside on both facing edges.

*I checked out the book Adventures with Polarfleece: A Sewing Expedition by Nancy Cornwell from the library (copyright 1997), which helped me change up the bottom of the vest from a hem/casing to a “Lycra Wrapped Edge” (I used “The Cheater’s Way”). I trimmed off one inch at the bottom of the vest where the hem would have been and used the recommendation in the book of a 2″ x 43″ strip of nylon/spandex for my size to finish the bottom edge. I should not have zigzagged the bottom of the vest before applying the nylon/spandex. It would have been better to skip that and just use the book instructions. After fixing that issue, the bottom looked kind of wavy, but once fully finished, it was fine, especially when wearing it. I hand-tacked the corners of the nylon/spandex to keep them perfectly in place. This book has lots of other great tips as well. I hope to pick up a used copy of it at some point. She also wrote two other books on sewing with polarfleece.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece
The Green Pepper Plush Polar Vest, inside back

*When I got really frustrated, I put this project in time out until I thought things through and had potential solutions to the problems I was having. Taking a break really helped me calm down and figure things out.

Here are a few more details on supplies and sources I used in case you are thinking of making this for yourself:

+fabric (main): Polartec Thermal Pro: Large Clump Shearling/Small Clump Shearling in “Whisper White” from Mill Yardage; 100% polyester, 68″ wide; could this be a Polartec 300 weight?

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

+fabric (accent): nylon/spandex tricot matte swimwear fabric in “Pink Lite” from my stash, originally from Spandex by Yard; 80% nylon/20% spandex, 200 GSM, 58″-60″ wide

+zippers: YKK #5 molded plastic zippers (jacket and pocket) from Wawak in “lavender”

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

+thread: 100% polyester thread for sewing machine and serger (I go back and forth between Gutermann and Coats & Clark, depending on who has the best color for what I’m sewing or what I have in my thread stash)

+hanging loop: grosgrain ribbon from my stash, probably made of polyester or nylon

+size: large; I chose based on my measurements; this fits with a fair amount of positive ease

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

+wish I had: a cute little tag to go on the outside; I’m trying to come up with a design I like and then maybe I’ll have some made.

After wrestling my way through this, here is what I think. This is a great pattern. There are a lot of possibilities for hacks if you want to change things up, copy high end vests or jackets you see in stores, or create things based on your own designs. If I needed 20 vests and jackets, I would have a lot of fun making different iterations of this with cool details and trying out different things. Since I don’t need 20 vests and jackets, I’ll leave the experiments up to you. Your first try may be a little challenging, but maybe not. Either way, it’s definitely a valuable pattern.

All this learning was not only to benefit this project. After this was done, I made the jacket version of this pattern, which I hope to share with you soon. You’ll be happy to know it went much better, thanks to my struggles here.

Knitting: Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

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Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

Time for another knitting post! Here are the main details:

Pattern: Moonwake Cowl

Designer: Drea Renee Knits/Andrea Mowry

Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

Yarn: Berroco Vintage

details: worsted weight; machine washable blend of 52% acrylic, 40% wool, and 8% nylon; colors are midnight blue (#5185), sky blue (#5170), goldenrod (#5127), and pale pink (#5110)

Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

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Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage
By putting a black and white filter over my picture, I can make sure I have a good range of tones–basically a bunch of different grays–that will help my colors stand out from one another.

Needle size: US 7, 16″ circular wooden interchangeable needles from Lykke

And now for the chatty details:

Today I want to share the Moonwake Cowl pattern that I knitted up in Berroco Vintage yarn. So far, stranded colorwork is my favorite type of knitting. I absolutely love it. You get to use different colors while creating what is essentially a print as you make your fabric/item, and it’s interesting to see the design emerging little by little as you follow the chart.

Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

The structure of this cowl is a tube that is twisted into a Moebius strip, so it always sort of has that twist that you might see in a long cowl that has been doubled up, but without the bulk. The tube construction means that you are always seeing the outside when you wear it, and you really don’t have to do much (or any) weaving in of yarn ends, because they’re hidden inside the cowl. Since I had never made a cowl like this, and I liked the colorwork pattern, I wanted to give it a try.

Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

I got my yarn this summer while in Michigan at Yarn on Front in Dowagiac, MI. I basically copied the colors in the pattern sample. I looked around the shop at different options for awhile before settling on Vintage. I’m finding that I choose Berroco yarns often for projects these days. They have a decent variety of yarn types of good quality at a fairly reasonable price. They don’t have every color in the rainbow, but they have a pretty good range of colors and, in this case, the exact colors that I wanted. I can get a little snobby about only using natural fibers, but I have to admit that this is a nice-feeling yarn that was great to knit with. So, I’m trying to be just a little more open-minded on that front.

I held my pink as my dominant color when I was knitting with it, and generally just tried to keep my lightest color dominant on any given row. If you’re wondering what in the world I am talking about, it’s this: when you are working with two colors of yarn, the position you hold each color in determines if it stands out or recedes, so I held my pink (or other lighter colors) in the position that would make them stand out more than my darker colors. It’s pretty cool how that works.

I didn’t bother with a gauge swatch before beginning since this isn’t a really fitted garment. The pattern starts with a provisional cast on, which Andrea has a YouTube video tutorial for. Then you knit in a tube until a specified length, twist one end 180 degrees, and join the two ends with the Kitchener stitch (she has a video for that, too). I tend to knit loosely, so I ended up not needing to repeat the colorwork chart more than twice to get the length I needed. Unfortunately, I didn’t measure my work and find that out until I was half way through the third repeat of the chart, so I had to rip back a bit, but I’m glad I did, because the length specified by the pattern is just right.

Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage
my cowl, in progress

I didn’t enjoy knitting this quite as much as I expected to, but I don’t think that had anything to do with the pattern, which is excellent. I had other projects I wanted to get to, and I think my excitement for them took away from my enjoyment of this project. One thing that was great, though, was that my husband got me a Cocoknits Maker’s Board at Pintuck & Purl’s Maker’s Day sale, and this was the first project I used it on. The Maker’s Board is really just some metal sheets inside washable kraft fabric, so it’s a simple design, but it’s really helpful for holding colorwork charts and keeping your place in them. It comes with several small, very strong magnets. I eventually also bought the magnetic ruler and gauge set to use to keep my place on wider charts and asked for the metal-backed row counter for Christmas, but for this project, I didn’t have those, and putting the two small rectangular magnets that came with the board together helped me keep my place since this chart isn’t all that wide. Prior to this, I kept my charts in a plastic sleeve and kept my place with washi tape and a row counter, just in case my pattern shifted inside the sleeve. That worked, but this works a bit better and it’s also such a pleasure to have nice tools. I’m very thankful for the gift.

Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

As for the finished cowl, I really like it. It is comfortable and warm, and I love that no matter how you wear it, the right side is always out. That is the saddest part of wearing the couple of other colorwork cowls I have–they always flip over so the inside shows instead of the patterned outside. I love that this solves that problem. Andrea Mowry has another cowl with this same construction called the Velvet Mirror Cowl that I wouldn’t mind trying one day. I think it’s a really smart design.

Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

The Mookwake Cowl took me from the beginning of September to the beginning of December to finish, but most people could fly right through this. I tend to have a few sewing and knitting projects going at a time, and usually only knit for a little while each evening, so things take me awhile.

Knitting:  Moonwake Cowl in Berroco Vintage

Final estimation: great pattern, great yarn, great tools (the Maker’s Board). Item needed: I should have focused more on enjoying this pattern while I was in the midst of it. I’m definitely enjoying the finished cowl now.

A Long Overdue Gift: Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

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A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

I have one more handmade Christmas gift to share with you today. This should have been a birthday gift long before it was a Christmas gift but, like so much of the sewing I aspire to, it got waylaid by life. This project is the Jutland Pants from Thread Theory, a menswear pattern for casual or cargo pants.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

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A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

I have used it many times before. These pants are for my husband.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

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A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

I used 100% ringspun cotton duck canvas from Big Duck Canvas in olive. The fabric is heavyweight, at 12 oz./square yard, and is a single fill weave (I’m still not fully clear on what that means, since I’m not a weaver, but they explain it on the site). This yardage is factory seconds, but I didn’t find any flaws in the fabric. It’s a nice, wide fabric at 67″.

My husband is definitely worth sewing for. While he is particular about what he likes, he is a very grateful and appreciative recipient, even if I don’t quite hit the mark. And these are definitely a little off, although they are close.

Like any good sewist, I took measurements beforehand. He told me that the pants I had made previously for him still fit, but as someone who has sewn for a long time now, I know that one of the most important commands of garment sewing is: DO NOT SKIP MEASURING. So I had to do it. The tape measure showed that he was a slightly different size than before, so that’s what I traced, with plans to transfer all our former tweaks to this version. I have made this pattern so many times that we have a dizzying number of notes on what to tweak where–it got a little confusing. However, I made myself a master list, and went to town.

Alterations and Tweaks

This time around, we planned to shorten the pants by an inch, as before, even though he is just over six feet tall. We wanted to add pocket reinforcements (see below) like I had seen on some Carhartt overalls I have, but once Christmas started approaching, that mod got tossed out. We would have had to change the pocket shape and redraft the interior of the pocket, which doesn’t look too hard, but would have taken more time.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas
Carhartt overalls with reinforced pocket edges that we originally wanted to incorporate into the Jutlands
A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas
A look inside the pocket of the Carhartt overalls we planned to take inspiration from

We wanted to raise the side cargo pockets by 5.5 inches if shortening the pants in the middle (something I should have done but forgot) or 6.5 inches if shortening from the bottom (which I ended up doing). He wanted the belt loops to be longer than on the original pattern to fit his favorite belt better, so we used the belt to measure the exact length + ease that we wanted. He also wanted one double belt loop on the front like a pair of pants he has from Duluth Trading Co.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas
Pants from Duluth Trading Co. with a belt loop detail we wanted to add to the Jutlands I was making
A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas
The belt loop I created on the Jutlands, inspired by the Duluth belt loop

Also, we decided to use self fabric for the pockets. One of my biggest mistakes on an earlier pair was using lawn for the pocket bags. Those pockets wore out long before the pants did and had to be continually fixed.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas
Inside front view of the Jutland pants with self fabric pockets–hopefully these won’t wear out!
A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas
Inside back view of Jutland pants

I worked steadily on these pants throughout December, and I was nearly finished on Christmas Eve, but with only two hours before church, and in desperate need of a shower, I had to put them on hold. Rushing tends to lead to mistakes, and I didn’t want to have to redo anything, so the finishing touches had to come a few days after Christmas.

As for the pattern itself, it is good overall, but pattern piece 17 (the hem reinforcement) is 1/8″ too wide, and the waistband is about 1 3/8″ too long in the size 39. I’m not sure if this has been fixed on the PDF or in reprints of the pattern. I think I have one of the earlier paper copies.

This size is also longer in the leg than the previous size I made for my husband, so in addition to the inch I usually take off, which I completely forgot to take off at the lengthen/shorten line, I had to take another inch and a half off the bottom.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas
The hem reinforcement at the back is usually taller, but I had already sewn mine in when I realized I needed to shorten the pants some more.

And that meant that my carefully planned cargo pocket placement wasn’t quite where I wanted it.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

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A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

Luckily I sewed my Velcro in much better than I have in the past!

The knee reinforcements were also slightly off, but not too bad.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas
Knee reinforcement

I still can’t believe that after all my planning, I forgot to shorten the pattern! Ugh.

I also meant to try to fit these as I went, but that’s not very easy to do with the order of construction, and I just plain forgot! Once I get into a pattern, I like to just follow the directions, which means I can forget extra things I plan to do if I don’t write myself notes. And in the end? The pants were slightly loose on him. Dang it! It turns out I should have listened to him in the first place and gone with his original size, even though his measurements put him in a slightly larger size. On the up side, he always wears a belt, and he is a very grateful gift recipient because he knows how much time and work go into anything I make for him.

A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

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A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

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A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

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A Long Overdue Gift:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Duck Canvas

Despite all these minor missteps, the pants actually fit pretty well, and he has worn them a ton. They are definitely sturdy. I was afraid they might be too stiff, but he really likes them and thinks the fabric is great, with the exception that some white marks have mysteriously appeared with wearing and washing. I think it adds to the weathered look, myself.

Personally, I find sewing for other people a bit nerve-wracking. When I make something for myself, I decide which mistakes I can live with and which I want to fix. When I sew for others, it feels like I need to take things up a notch, fix more of the mistakes, and aim a little closer to perfect. The truth is, I have the skills to make a garment look good even when it’s not perfect, but you know how it is–you want that gift to be extra special–your best work. While I still prefer to mostly sew (and knit) for myself, I am beginning to see the joy in making something that’s “just right” for someone you really care about. So, while these pants didn’t turn out as close to perfect as I would have liked, they are still really great pants, and my husband has already worn them a lot. All in all–worth it. 🙂

The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta

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The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta

It’s knitting time again, and these ones are some rare birds: gift knits!

Before Christmas, I told my girls I would knit them both hats in a super bulky yarn color of their choice. They could also pick the pattern, but I had the option to veto anything I wouldn’t enjoy knitting. That sounded good to both of them, and so began the project planning!

After looking around at yarn options a bit, I settled on Malabrigo Rasta. It’s a hand-dyed, single ply, nicely squishy Merino wool, and has a decent amount of yardage (90 yards) compared to other super bulky yarns. For a hand-dyed yarn, it’s also on the less expensive side at $23 a skein. It’s not cheap, but a lot of hand-dyed super bulkies have less yardage and higher prices. Each girl picked her favorite: 687 Aquamarine, a tonal mix of light blues for one, and 177 Blueberry Cream, a pink and purple speckle with an ivory base for the other. We ordered them both from Wool & Co. in Illinois, which has free shipping and lots of beautiful options.

The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta

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The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta

After that, it was on to the patterns. I have made a couple of Big Wool Basic Hats by Sara Heckman in super bulky yarn over the years, so one of my daughters went for that. This is a fun and easy free pattern, and a good first hat pattern if you’re a beginner knitter.

The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta

It’s basically a tube with ribbing at the bottom that you gather in at the top. Easy! Now that I have a little more experience under my belt, I decided to knit it 6.5″ long, put in a lifeline, knit 2 together all the way around, knit a round, knit 2 together all the way around again, knit the next round, and then follow the finishing instructions. I could try it on my daughter as I went to make sure it was a good fit for her, adjusting if necessary since it doesn’t take long to reknit in super bulky. With my additions, the hat was a little more shaped to her head rather than only gathered at the top.

My other daughter chose The Looking Glass Hat pattern by Jill DeMarco/Yarn It All by Jill. You can make The Looking Glass Hat in a single color or using two colors, and although it looks complicated, once you get the hang of it, it’s not hard. In fact, it’s really fun.

The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta

The method she describes for making the textural pattern is interesting, and while you have some long bits of yarn, they don’t ever feel floppy or unsecured.

The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta
The Looking Glass Hat, detail

I went down one needle size on both patterns because I’m a loose knitter, and that worked well. I did not knit gauge swatches. I’ll do that for larger projects, but not for hats.

I made each girl a pom pom with their leftover yarn, and I also bought each of them two different coordinating McPorter Farms faux rabbit fur pom poms from Coveted Yarn in Gloucester, MA that they could change out whenever they wanted. Since I had giant snaps that were the same size as the ones on the faux fur pom poms, I sewed one onto each yarn pom pom so those could also snap on, rather than having to be tied on. I love the option to snap a pom pom on because it makes it easy to take off when you want to wash your hat.

The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta
Big Wool Basic Hat
The Looking Glass Hat and Big Wool Basic Hat in Malabrigo Rasta
The Looking Glass Hat

Thanks to the magic that is super bulky yarn, I finished these with time to spare and, while they weren’t a surprise, it was nice to know that both girls had hats they really liked, made by me…and I loved the process of making them.

Field Trip: Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

Today I have a field trip to share with you, and if you’re local to Gloucester, MA, you can even check it out for yourself! In October, I visited the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester to see the exhibit, “Designed & Hand-Blocked by the Folly Cove Designers“.

Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

The Folly Cove Designers were a group that formed and created work in Gloucester throughout the 1940’s, ’50’s, and 60’s. They were led by the multi-talented Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios, whose children’s books, like The Little House, Katy and the Big Snow, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Calico the Wonder Horse, etc., you may have read.

Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

I learned about the Folly Cove Designers over a decade ago, when a coworker who had grown up in the Folly Cove neighborhood and known the Demetrioses told me about it. But over time, I nearly forgot. Then I listened to the episode “Strong Community Threads” from the Haptic & Hue: Tales of Textiles podcast all about this group and was reminded. It took a British podcast to remind me of what was in my own backyard. Ironic!

My local library had a museum pass I could check out, which gave me free admission to the museum and the exhibit. I’m so glad I went!

This group began with a neighbor asking Virginia for art classes. From there it grew into more classes with more students, and a curriculum that resulted in a diploma.

Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
Folly Cove Designers diploma

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
diploma top detail

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
linoleum block detail, diploma

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
diploma detail, bottom

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
linoleum block detail, diploma; you’ll find out what she is doing if you read on…

Eventually the students and their teacher formed a design group of accomplished artists who printed with linoleum blocks onto a number of surfaces like paper and fabric. They held exhibitions, showing and selling their work. They depicted what they saw around them in nuanced ways, and in addition to seeing many examples of the prints and finished goods that they created, you can also see the blocks and type of press that they eventually used. Before they got the press? Bodyweight! Because when you don’t have all the “right” tools, you get creative!

Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
Aino Clark jumps on her block to transfer the print in the top picture.

Here are some pictures of the display showing the homework students did in their art courses:

Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

To make a linoleum block print, you draw your design on your linoleum block, carve out the spaces you don’t want to print, roll ink onto the block, and press the block onto whatever you are printing on.

And here are the tools you use to carve linoleum blocks and make these types of prints:

Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
The top carved block is Seashell and Coral by Ida Corliss; the bottom block is Dandelion by Mary Maletskos

The Cape Ann Museum is a gem. Not only did I go to the exhibit, I also went on the docent-led tour, and learned so much about this beautiful area of Massachusetts. The Folly Cove exhibit really touched me, though. In the vast landscape of history, this group existed so recently, you can almost reach back and touch them. And their work is phenomenal. I studied printmaking in college, and it gives me such an appreciation for their high skill level–certainly a level I never achieved myself. It’s wonderful and exciting to see people who worked hard together and truly excelled at depicting what was all around them–in the most original and surprising ways. Here are some of my favorite parts:

Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
Wouldn’t it have been amazing to wear one of these skirts printed with scenes of Gloucester or other New England life?
Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
I believe this print is Baked Bean Supper by Peggy Norton, 1954

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
I think this print is Sugar Bush by Elizabeth Holloran, 1961
Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
check out this detail of the skirt above depicting maple sugaring; I love the red buckets

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
Virginia Lee Demetrios, Spring Lambs II–1951

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
fabric with print by Ruth Hendy: Seaside, 1964

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
Back left: Lazy Daisy by Louise Kenyon, 1950; back right: Geometric III by Aino Clarke; front: Narcissus by Eleanor Curtis, 1957

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
these linoleum blocks are works of art in and of themselves; top: Daisy by Mary Wallenius; bottom: Rubus also by Mary Wallenius

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Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
linoleum block: Queen Anne’s Lace by Mary Maletskos, 1967

If you are going to be in the area and want to check out this exhibit for yourself, you should! It runs until March 25, 2023. The museum will be closed from January 24th to February 6th for renovations, and it is always closed on Mondays. If you live locally, see if your library has a pass that will give you free or reduced admission. I also highly recommend buying the exhibition booklet. I bought mine soon after the exhibit opened.

Field Trip:  Folly Cove Designers Exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA
cover shows Gossips by Virginia Lee Demetrios

There may be more books on the Folly Cove Designers available at the gift shop now. This exhibit is excellent for those interested in printmaking, Cape Ann history, sewists, pattern lovers, those who like surface design, and anyone who loves Virginia Lee Burton’s children’s books. The museum is right in downtown Gloucester, which has lots of fun shops and a great waterfront to recommend it. One of my favorites? The little rainbow cookies at Caffe Sicilia.

Knitting: The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Hello, everyone! I hope you had a nice time over the holidays. I took a break from my day-to-day activities as much as possible, hung out with my family, ate lots of good food, and got in some nice walks, ice skating, and puzzle time! Now it’s back to it! I managed to get lots of good (and sorely needed) blog pictures with the help of my husband, so I can share some projects with you. And what better to share now that it’s fully winter than some knitting–and a sweater, no less?

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Here are the details:

Pattern: The Weekender Light by Drea Renee Knits/Andrea Mowry

Size: 4

Yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply Jumper Weight (fingering weight) in shade 095, Medium Pink

Needles: metal circular needles in sizes US 0, 1, 2, 3

Timeframe: April 14, 2022 (swatching!) to November 11, 2022

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Process

With my penchant for bright colorwork, this sweater pattern was a surprising choice for me…but it was directly influenced by the Wool & Honey sweater I made. That sweater, also a Drea Renee Knits (DRK) pattern, also knit in Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight, has to be my most worn sweater to date. There is something magical in that weird, boxy shape and slim sleeves with the cool texture on the yoke, knit up in this beautiful woolen-spun yarn. It’s lightweight and the perfect year-round sweater. In fact, I love it so much, I got nervous I was going to wear it out. I didn’t want to knit it again–it took me a long time and I wanted to make something a little bit different.

Enter, The Weekender Light sweater. In knitting it, I could use more of the Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply yarn, which I had fallen in love with. And this time I would try out one of their yarn cones rather than ordering balls of yarn, for added savings. I trusted in my desire for another sweater I could wear constantly to carry me through all the miles of stockinette stitch in fingering weight yarn that this pattern required.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Now that I knew I loved this yarn, I got smart and ordered a shade card (yarn color sample card) along with my cone of yarn. That way I could see the different colors in person and wouldn’t have to guess on future projects since it’s pretty likely I will order from J & S again. And then I threw a few balls of shade FC22, Bright Pink Mix, into my cart, in the hopes that it would coordinate with the cone of yarn I had ordered, since originally, I had planned to make all my ribbing a darker pink, (see this tutorial for how to do that at the neckline). Unfortunately, I didn’t love them together when they came, so I saved the Bright Pink Mix yarn for another project and decided to dive into a single-color knit.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

I tend to knit much more loosely than Andrea Mowry, so I ended up getting gauge on US 1 needles, rather than the suggested US 4’s. I knit a lot of DRK patterns, and this is typical for me. Actually, it’s not just DRK patterns. I usually have to size down with my needles to get gauge. I was between sizes, and since I know my tendency to knit loosely, I chose the smaller of the two, a size 4. I started out using a US 0 on the ribbing and a US 1 for the body. I didn’t enjoy the cast on, but it definitely looks nice. I also knit the ribbing pretty tightly, so that wasn’t the most fun, either, but that was all on me. After that, everything was going well!

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool
Split hem detail

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool
You actually knit the body inside out so the knitting is on the inside and the reverse stockinette/purl side is on the outside.

Then things took a little turn when we went on a road trip last summer.

I was a little way into knitting the body of the sweater when we started driving. Now, I love a good road trip…once we’re on the trip. Leading up to it, I always stress. Did I remember everything? Clothes? Food? Medicine? What if we get in an accident? What if one of us gets tired? And on and on. I’m actually better than I used to be, but regardless, I always get a bit spun up about things before we go. Well, it seems that I took that nervous energy with me on the trip, even though I felt fine once we were on the road, and suddenly, I was knitting too tightly. I had managed to get in a few inches as we drove (which took awhile). All I had to do was look at it to realize that my knitting had tightened up.

I put the sweater in time out.

Then I went to the yarn store with my Mom, got yarn for two new projects, ordered some needles and stitch markers, and started on something totally different. That sweater stayed in time out until we got home.

Once home, I could finally face up to the fact that I had to rip out my knitting and go up a needle size.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

I ripped my last few inches out, put in a lifeline just in case I reverted back to my original tension, and went on with the body, using US 2’s. On I went, seemingly forever. To be fair, I don’t knit a lot in a day. I sometimes put in a little time at night in front of the TV, but often that’s it. I also usually pair a longer or more complicated project like a sweater, with a faster or easier project like a hat or cowl. So, little by little this grew until I got to the sleeves. I went up a needle size to a US 3 for those. On Andrea’s recommendation, I usually go up a needle size for sleeves to keep my gauge consistent.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool
Detail of the sleeve join

At the end of October, I got a fairly mild case of COVID. After sleeping for a few days, I started to feel better, but was still confined to my room, so as not to get my family members sick. At that point, something lit a fire under me, and I decided to knit as much as I could and finish this thing! I watched a lot of TV on my laptop, and knit sitting down, standing up, in between organizing my sewing patterns, after stretching out my arms, etc., etc. Shortly after leaving quarantine, I finished my second sleeve! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Then it was on to blocking. This yarn really transforms with blocking. And I especially noticed that with the yarn on the cone. The cone yarn from J & S was “in oil” meaning it has some spinning oil on it. I never felt, noticed, or smelled any real difference from knitting with the balls, except that maybe the yarn looked less fluffy. During blocking the water was a little cloudy, so I rinsed a few times until it was clear, but other than that, it was the same as blocking yarn from the balls. The yarn on the sweater went from looking like it was knit from a rough string (it didn’t feel rough, just looked a bit rustic, I guess), to fluffing out and looking soft and beautiful. I use store brand CVS baby shampoo as my “wool wash” so it came out smelling of wool and baby shampoo, a lovely combination.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

So how does wearing this compare to the Wool & Honey? I don’t think it’s equivalent, to be honest. I like this sweater, and I have gotten a lot of compliments on it, but I don’t love it as much. It has the same kind of boxy fit, although I think mine is slightly smaller at the bottom, probably due to my early gauge issues and knitting the ribbing fairly tightly. I like the round neck of the Wool & Honey better as well as the yoke construction. This sweater has the same nice light weight, and I like it with close-fitting pants. It’s also a color I wear a lot, so I’m really glad I made it, but I need to wear it more to see if it will become the staple that my Wool & Honey has.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

I also own the original Weekender pattern, which is knit in a worsted weight, but I need to wear this one more to see if I would make that version or not. Now that I can compare aspects of both the Weekender Light and the Wool & Honey in the same yarn, I wonder if I would be happier with something like the DRK Everyday Sweater which has a construction more like the Wool & Honey. Who knows?

The great thing is that I am starting to get a bit of a hand knit sweater wardrobe, which I love. I remember when that happened with my sewing, and how great it was. I love wearing something I have made nearly every day.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool
label by Kylie and the Machine

Even though every single sweater feels like it takes forever, I like knitting them alongside the hats and cowls, which are my other favorite things to knit. I just need to stretch and strengthen my arms a bit so that I can knit more and longer without injuring myself. The pitfalls of crafting are real, people…but so are the rewards!

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Knitting: Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta

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Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta

Today, let’s talk knitting! After fits and starts over the years, I would now call myself a full-on Knitter. Sewing is still my main love, but I have fallen back down the knitting rabbit hole, much as I did with sewing. Now I always have a project or, more likely two projects, going, and my knitting pattern library is growing exponentially, just as my sewing pattern library has.

One of my favorite things to do is check out craft and cookbooks from the library, page through them, and see how many interesting projects there are. Such was the case when I stumbled upon Small Knits: Casual & Chic Japanese Accessories by Yoko Hatta (translated by Linda Lanz). I had never knitted from a Japanese pattern, although they have a very devoted following, and when I found the Aran Hat pattern in the book, I thought I would give it a try. It was nice that this book had been translated into English, so I didn’t have to try to figure things out through a language barrier.

I had a skein of Lamb’s Pride worsted in a tonal orange that I had found at the thrift store. Orange is a color that, up until recently, I rarely wore, but something about the color shifts and the way the yarn caught the light in this skein really mesmerized me. While I strongly believe that speckled and tonal yarns with a lot of variation look best in a plain stockinette stitch to show off their beauty, I just really wanted to make this hat in this yarn. So I did.

Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta

I’m new to reading cable charts, but since I know how to read colorwork charts, I applied my knowledge here. Read right to left, bottom to top. But something didn’t add up. The number of cast on stitches and the number of stitches in the chart sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. I couldn’t find any information online about this particular pattern and whether or not I just didn’t understand something about the chart or if the chart/instructions had an error in them.

What I decided in the end was that if you cast on two fewer stitches than instructed and skip the last decrease in the first round of decreases, everything would work out. Alternately, you could cast on the full number of stitches and add one stitch into the chart. I still have no idea if I’m missing something or if the chart is wrong, but I made it work!

Part way through my orange hat, I realized that one skein was not going to be enough. This color (Creamsicle or Dreamsicle) had been discontinued. I looked at various places online and found someone selling deadstock who had some. It wasn’t the same dye lot, but it was my best option, and I took it.

Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta

Upon receiving the skein I was amazed to find that although this was the same general color, it was not nearly as captivating to me as my original skein. Luckily, though, it would allow me to finish my hat, and the tonal nature of this yarn made it hard to distinguish where I changed skeins.

I should mention one cool feature of this pattern. It’s knitted so that when you fold the brim of the hat up, the cabling is on the right side on the brim as well as the main part of the hat. You do that by knitting the brim, and then changing directions, and turning the hat inside out to continue on. It’s pretty cool.

Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta
Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta

After making this hat and practicing my cabling, I was really excited. I had made a thing of beauty! I loved it! I would make more! I decided to make a hat for my grandfather.

Since this pattern actually calls for a bulky yarn, I went for Berroco Ultra Wool Chunky in a blue-gray (color 43154, “Denim”) that my mom thought he would like. It had to be superwash, unlike my orange hat, and Berroco didn’t fail me. I’m really coming to appreciate this brand. They have lots of options at a reasonable price point, and their yarn is soft and nice to knit with. I bought this yarn, along with some yarn for a future cowl from Yarn on Front in Dowagiac, MI.

Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta
Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta

I dove headlong into hat number two, but soon realized that a large part of what I had loved about hat number one was the colorful yarn I was using. This yarn was soft and beautiful, but didn’t hold the charm of the first one for me. Still, the cables were so much easier to see. A plain-colored yarn makes them stand out so much better. I knitted away, and finished the hat before it got cold out. Just after finishing, I noticed a mistake I had made (not pictured). Ugh. Oh well, it was done, and I wasn’t going to rip back. I sent it off with my parents when they visited. Luckily, my grandpa said he liked it! Yay!

Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta
Knitting:  Aran Hat by Yoko Hatta

Despite my huge initial enthusiasm for this pattern, by the end of hat number two, I was ready to move on. Maybe someday I’ll understand what was up with that chart.

I’m happy to have gotten some cable practice. I got used to my cable needle, and maybe someday I’ll be ready to cable without a cable needle, but one step at a time, there! I’m also happy that I got to try some new yarns and that now I have this gorgeous hat!