Tag Archives: knitting

Quick and Easy Knitting: Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

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Quick and Easy Knitting:  Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

For Christmas this year, I got a skein of soft BAAH Sequoia yarn in the Dragontail colorway, a beautiful hand-dyed super bulky merino yarn.  After seeing a sample of Sequoia knit into a Big Wool Basic Hat, a free pattern by Sara Heckman, I knew I wanted to make (at least) one too.

By the time Christmas rolled around, I was ready for some quick and easy knitting and sewing projects.  This pattern was perfect.  Knowing that I am a loose knitter, I took a chance and went down a needle size to US 13’s.  I chose to use double pointed needles instead of circulars because I already had them.  Using the size 13 needles, I got the right gauge.

Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

This pattern is basically a tube with ribbing at one end.  Once you knit to the appropriate length, you run some yarn through the live stitches and draw them tight and tie the yarn off.  It’s nice and easy and quick.  The length the pattern suggests knitting to is 10.5 inches, which I did on my first hat (on the right, above).  It makes for a hat long enough to wear slouchy or to fold up the brim.

Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

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Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

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Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

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Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

I was on the fence about this, so when I decided to knit a second hat by unravelling a previously made cowl, I made it shorter–only 9 inches long.  This was the perfect length for me to wear the hat with the brim unfolded, which I like better.

Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

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Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

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Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

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Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

I wore both hats for a while and in the end decided to un-knit my first hat by an inch and a half so that it would also be 9 inches long.  I’m really happy about that decision.

Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

I bought a faux fur pom pom at Pintuck & Purl for my pink hat (also where the yarn and my other pom pom are from).  It attaches with a big snap, which makes it easy to detach if you need to wash your hat.  (You sew half of the snap to your hat–the other half is already attached to the pom pom.)  On the multi-colored hat, I had a rabbit fur pom pom that had a little elastic loop, kind of like a hair tie, so you can tie it into your hat.  I liked the snap better, after trying both, so I bought some big snaps at Walmart and sewed one onto my multi-colored hat and turquoise pom pom, covering up the elastic loop.  This makes for a much more secure attachment, and it’s easier to detach the pom pom now that it has a snap.

Big Wool Basic Hats in BAAH Sequoia

I’ve been wearing these hats almost every day.  I love their bright colors and that this hat was so fast and easy to knit.  I would definitely make this pattern with this yarn again.

 

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

It’s time for a knitting post!  I don’t know what happened this winter, but I went crazy for knitting, and then I discovered how much fun stranded colorwork was.  What this mostly means is that I waste a lot of time looking at pictures of colorwork sweaters I will never knit on Ravelry.  I swore off sweaters after the mammoth beast I made for my husband (filed under “Craft Fails“), and never looked back…except that now I’m looking back.  😉

Anyway, after knitting my first Glacier Park Cowl last year and loving it, I decided to make the pattern one more time.  I  thought I could improve on my first version, and I just found the pattern so enjoyable to knit.  Things that don’t need precise sizing (and that are small) are really my sweet spot.  I had a cowl that I wasn’t very happy with (the white speckled one below) in some hand-dyed sock yarn plus a good amount of leftover black sock yarn from my last Glacier Park Cowl, so I could unravel the unsuccessful cowl and use the leftover black sock yarn.  Perfect!

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

The two most helpful things I learned before starting this second Glacier Park Cowl were the importance of color value and yarn dominance.  For colorwork designs to be really clear and easy to visually understand, you want your colors to be different in value.  An easy way to check is to take a picture with your phone and turn the color picture to black and white.  If the colors you have chosen are very different in value (say one shows up a light gray and the other is nearly black), your colorwork design will really pop.  Brooklyn Tweed has an in-depth explanation of how this all works on their blog.

Yarn dominance has to do with which part of your design you want to stand out the most.  I wanted the black elements of my cowl to stand out more than the white speckled parts.  Since I was knitting Continental, holding both yarns in my left hand, I always held my background color (the white, speckled yarn) in the back (or to the left) of the color I wanted to be dominant (the black).  You can find a really clear explanation of all of this (including how to hold your yarn) in Andrea Rangel’s book Alterknit Stitch Dictionary (in fact, here are some of her quick tips for colorwork–number 4 talks about yarn dominance).  For a more in-depth explanation of color dominance in a blog post, see this one from Paper Tiger.

OK, so on to the project!

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

The Glacier Park Cowl is a pattern by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks.  I bought it on Ravelry through my local shop (Pintuck & Purl).  This time around, I used Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Cheeky (also from Pintuck & Purl) and Malabrigo Sock in black.  I knit fairly loosely once I get going, and so I used a US 1, 24″ circular needle for the ribbing and a US 2, 24″ circular needle for the colorwork.  On my first version of this cowl, the colorwork section is smaller than the ribbing (it pulls in), and I was trying to prevent that this time around by going up a needle size for that part.  I knit the full recommended length of the middle section of the project, making my second cowl much longer than my first.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

I was determined to get this project done before everyone in my house finished their Christmas Break.  It’s hard to resist doing one more row when you can see the project taking shape and each row of the chart feels like progress.  I also love knitting with a speckled hand-dyed yarn because you never know when another little bit of color will show up.  This particular yarn is mostly white with little black and pink speckles throughout.  It does split a bit from time to time if you aren’t careful, but you get used to that.  I loved knitting this pattern.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

The surprise was in finding that as I went along, my knitting got looser!  After doing more reading, I found that I’m not the only one this happens to, but it was funny when I finished and the end was wider than the beginning!  A lot of it has evened out with blocking, so it’s not a big deal, but it’s very useful to know.  You can see it a little more clearly in the picture below.  The bottom was where I began and the top was where I finished.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

Interestingly, because my white yarn was so wavy from its former life in the unsuccessful cowl, I ended up blocking this twice before it started to relax.  The above picture is after blocking once (or before blocking?  I can’t remember.).  The other pictures are after blocking twice.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

I’m really happy with this knit, and I have been wearing it and my first Glacier Park Cowl all the time.  Even though I was initially horrified at the thought of knitting such skinny yarn on such tiny needles, I loved this project, and would totally make it again in other fun colors.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

If you are a knitter, do you have any favorite colorwork patterns to share?  I have some slightly scratchy bulky yarn in several colors I would love to use at some point, but I just can’t find the right pattern.  It’s listed as a worsted, but it knits up like a bulky (plus I’m a loose knitter).  I would love recommendations.

Adventures in Colorwork: Glacier Park Cowl

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Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

This summer, I decided to knit the Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks. 

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I was going on a road trip and I wanted something interesting (but not too hard) that I could take with me.  I had some black Malabrigo yarn left over from a hat I had made, and I knew I wanted to use it with a hand-dyed speckled yarn from Pintuck & Purl.  I found the perfect (irresistable!) yarn by Birch Dyeworks: a beautiful turquoise and white speckled yarn with surprising flecks of colors here and there.  This was going to be good.

I bought my pattern via Ravelry at Pintuck & Purl.  Then I freaked out.  The pattern had a chart.  I didn’t remember how to knit from a chart!  My colorwork experiences were too long ago!  What was I going to do?!  Before I could work myself up too much, Mary from Birch Dyeworks, who happened to be in the store, talked me down and explained how to use a color chart.  It was just a stitch for every square.  I could totally do this.  OK.  Deep breath.  Back to EXCITEMENT LEVEL 100.  😉

I cast on my project in July (I think) and worked on it a little bit here and there for about four months, finishing last month.  Sometimes I didn’t work on it for days.  Sometimes I only did one round.  I was practicing my Continental knitting skills and my color skills.  I learned to knit with two colors Continental style by watching this video from Voolenvine and this video from Garnstudio repeatedly until I got the idea.

Here are the details of this project:

Pattern:  Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks (purchased from the designer’s Ravelry page in-store at Pintuck & Purl, which benefits both the designer and the store–super cool!)

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

Yarn:  black Malabrigo fingering (or sock?) yarn (bought some time ago) and Birch Dyeworks Nymph on a Bender fingering/sock yarn (the latter purchased from Pintuck & Purl);  I didn’t use a full skein of either, but I also made my cowl smaller than it was meant to be according to the pattern.

Needles:  I used a US 1, 24″ circular needle from Pintuck & Purl.  I started off with a longer circular needle, since I that is what I had, but it was a pain to stretch my knitting around, so I finally broke down and bought a better size for the project.  No regrets.

My gauge after blocking:  31 stitches and 50 rows over 4″ in colorwork.  My ribbing sections are significantly looser.  The gauge for the pattern is supposed to be 28 stitches and 34 rows over 4″ in the colorwork pattern.  I bet you can guess if I made a test swatch or not.  Nope!  Part of why I like cowls is that they are easy-fitting and I can dive right in.  Looks like I need to go up in needle size for the colorwork section if I ever make this again.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

Size after blocking: 8.5″ tall by 20″ in circumference.  The pattern was meant to have a height of 12″ with a circumference of 24″.  I noticed that my cowl was going to have a smaller circumference, so I decided to make it shorter as well to keep it proportional.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

This project, though it took me awhile, was a joy to make.  I loved the simplicity of the easy ribbing and continual knit stitch with the complexity of following the color chart.  I REALLY loved seeing the pattern emerge and discovering what color would show up next in the hand-dyed yarn.  It was always an exciting surprise when a little fleck of pink or yellow made an appearance.  Looking for that next bit of color really helped me get excited to keep knitting.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I was disappointed that my ribbing was looser than the rest of my knitting (and it tends to flip to the outside when I wear it, which is annoying), but I blocked it and then brought it in to Pintuck & Purl to show Maggie and Mary, and it turns out that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s beautiful.  They looked at the inside and Mary turned to me and said, “You’re good at this!”  I was so surprised! And it was a huge compliment to see them admire it.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m good at this!

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

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Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

And you know, I have this crazy idea that I might want to make it again.  I have a simple white and pink cowl that I made a year or two ago that isn’t quite as great to wear as I want it to be, so I might just unravel it and try this pattern again with the leftover black yarn I have.  I could change the needle size for the colorwork section and see what happens.  I love this pattern and I now understand why people like to knit with fingering/sock yarn–it makes a drapey, comfortable fabric that is really nice to wear.  I wear this cowl all the time!

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I think I’m getting drawn in by colorwork.  I love, love, love color and if I can just find that sweet spot of simple + interesting, then maybe I’ll keep knitting.  I still love sewing more, but it is nice to have a knitting project in the background for when you want a little change or want something to work on while watching a movie or going on a road trip.  I dove into another colorwork project after this one, but got so frustrated I quit, so coming back to this and trying to do better on my second attempt sounds kind of nice right now…even if it takes me until next summer.  😉

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

Why Do You Make Things? (Or: The Knitting Project That Didn’t Work Out)

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Why Do You Make Things? (Or:  The Knitting Project That Didn’t Work Out)

Today I have a knitting project that I finished earlier this year, but have waited to post until the weather turned cool.  This isn’t so much about my failed and salvaged hat project, though.  It’s about what that failed and salvaged hat made me consider.

Why do you make things?

Last winter, I decided I would knit the Traveling Cable Hat, a free pattern from Purl Soho in some beautiful yarn from Romney Ridge.  I’ve knit cables before, so I thought I could do it, even though it might be challenging.  I’m not a perfectionist, and I don’t like to go back and fix every single mistake.  I prefer to finish.  This project, however, was one I tried to be precise in.  There were parts I didn’t understand, so I looked things up and asked other knitters.  I ripped back when I made a mistake and read and reread the directions to try to get things right.  I got frustrated and persevered, and to say I wasn’t enjoying myself is putting it lightly.  My husband kept asking, “Why do you keep knitting?”  The question surprised me at first, because he’s always one of my biggest supporters.  He always encourages me to push through, knowing I can finish the project.  But he could see that this one was one long, downhill slide.

Why do you make things?

When I sew, I certainly don’t enjoy every moment of every project.  There are times I get frustrated and have to put my project aside for a while until I can figure out how to solve a problem or until I’m not so annoyed, but overall I enjoy it.  I enjoy knitting, too, although I’m not nearly as successful with knitting as I am with sewing.  In fact, my last few knitting projects have ended up…OK, but not amazing.

Why do you make things?

His question made me think, though.  Why do I sew?  Why do I knit?  What am I looking for in my photography?  What do I want to get out of each and is it the same for every one?

It’s important to think about what we do.  After all, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)  I don’t mean you have to give great weight to every activity in your life, but it’s worth it to figure out what you want to get out of your creative endeavors and why.

So, here’s what I came up with, for me, at this point in my life.

Knitting is for enjoyment.  I like knitting.  I like its tactile nature and I like the act of knitting.  I want to knit things that are simple enough that I can work on them while talking to a friend or watching a movie, but still interesting enough that I’m not completely bored.  However, this is not the craft I currently want to challenge myself in.  I don’t want to dive deep and learn every knitting technique and method out there.  I don’t want to do a ton of problem solving with my knitting.  I want a project that’s not too taxing, but is still enjoyable.

Photography is for seeking out and capturing beauty.  I’ve also been thinking about photography in this vein.  Even with this medium, which I’ve loved since I was quite young, I don’t want to get into the technical aspects.  I’m interested in composition and accurately recording what I see that I find beautiful, but I’m not interested in doing that deep dive right now.

Sewing is my creative practice.  Sewing, on the other hand, is exactly the place I want to dive deep.  I want to try new things, read all the blog posts, magazines, and books, and add skill to skill.  I want to see what it will be like to make certain kinds of things.  I love the planning and the finishing in sewing.  I love to wear what I’ve made, and I love discovering that I can learn new things and get good at something!  I don’t get into the process in the same way that I do with knitting–I’m heading for that end goal–but I do like the problem-solving involved with sewing.  It makes me smarter and it teaches me about how to handle other hurdles in life.  This is where I want to spend my mental energy and challenge myself.  This is where I want to work hard and grow.  This is my medium, my craft, and my art.  At this time in my life, sewing is my creative practice, and through it, I have learned so much, and I have gained so much.  I’m really thankful for it.

So after struggling with that pattern through the ribbing and the cable set-up, and after thinking all this over and coming to these conclusions, I gave up on it and stitched the rest in stockinette stitch, using another pattern to figure out the decreases for the top.  And I enjoyed it.  I can’t tell you if the Traveling Cable Hat pattern is good or not.  I gave up on it.  But I’m glad I started it because it (and my husband’s question) made me evaluate why I’m creating in the ways I’m creating and what I want to get out of each medium, where I want to spend my mental energy, and what I should call success in each area.

Why do you make things?

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Why do you make things?

What do you want to get out of your creative pursuits?  They don’t have to be sewing or knitting or photography.  They might be your hobby or they might be your job, but why do you love them?  What is the end goal for you?  Even if you can’t yet figure out the full and complete answer, taking the time to think through these questions will be worth the effort.

I Knit a Hat That Actually Fits! Meraki in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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I Knit a Hat That Actually Fits!  Meraki in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

Ever since I discovered my love of sewing (and my proclivity to knit things that were WAY too big, even after making a gauge), knitting has really taken a backseat in my creative life.  However, you hang out at a shop that sells gorgeous yarn long enough and you just might get tempted.  So, thanks to Sip & Stitch and hanging around Pintuck & Purl, I started knitting again.  One thing I am learning is that, at this point in my creative life, I’m more interested in making a finished object than the textile the object is going to be made from.  This is interesting because in the time between knitting and sewing, I had dreams of being a fabric designer.  I’m not ruling that out, but I think that my love of making a finished object over making my creative materials holds a clue as to why I may do more sewing than knitting.  The truth is, though, that I’ve missed knitting.  While I want to put most of my mental energy into improving my sewing skills, I miss having a simple, small knitting project going that I can work on while talking to friends or watching TV.  So maybe for now I’ll knit hats and cowls.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

This project was yarn-led.  I had a mini skein of Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn in Boombox.  Someone like me who isn’t great at sizing and wants results quickly, has little business buying sock yarn, but the colors were so great that I couldn’t resist!  The hand-dyed yarn these days is amazing!  I stumbled upon this free hat pattern on the Hedgehog Fibres site after rejecting my first few ideas of how to use the yarn.  This pattern was perfect for me.  It would allow me to try out the super-cool fade technique that’s popular right now, but on a really small scale.  You get to hold the yarn double for this hat, which makes things go faster (or at least seem like they are going faster), and it’s mostly stockinette, so it’s perfect to work on while you talk to people.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

So, let’s talk about the hat.  I took the time to make a gauge swatch (actually, several) because I tend to knit very loosely.  I used this helpful blog post for swatching in the round to make sure my knitting would be accurate.  In the end, I used size 1 (US) double-pointed needles for the main body of the hat, which meant using size 0 (US) double-pointed needles for the ribbing.

This was my first time trying a fade, and if I were to do it again, I would choose my colors differently.  This looks more like messy stripes rather than a hat that fades from one color to another, but thanks to this project, I feel like I understand the technique a lot better, and could choose colors that would fade better next time.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

For yarn, I used black Malabrigo sock yarn for the ribbing at the bottom of the hat (Color A).  Following the black yarn I used Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn from Pintuck & Purl in North Hampton, NH.  The purple (Color B) is called Spell, and then the white with flecks (Color C) is a combination of Cheeky (white with black and pink flecks, left over from the light colored cowl in this post) and Boombox (white with many bright colored flecks).  I ran out of the purple about a half-inch before I was supposed to change, so I just started the change earlier.  I did make some mistakes at the very bottom of the ribbing, but I decided I could live with it and I moved on. (I like to ignore my mistakes when possible.)  The Hedgehog yarn does like to split a little bit, but it wasn’t too hard to watch for that, and it didn’t become much of an issue.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

I’m really happy with my hat.  This is probably the best fitting hat that I have made to date, and I would both recommend it and make it again.  It’s a good way to use up odds and ends or mini skeins, and the fade is really fun.  I love the knit fabric the sock yarn creates.  It also doesn’t hurt that the pattern is free.  And finally, if you are a Hedgehog Fibres fan and plan to use that yarn, the pattern gives you suggested colorways to help you create successful gradients, which is a nice touch.  I’m so glad I tried this.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

Recommendations

  • I can’t remember where I saw this recommendation (maybe Sew News Magazine?), but I just checked out Closet Essentials by Amber McNaught from the library, and it’s really fun!  It’s a fashion book that shows different clothing items and gives you various ideas about how to wear and style them.  I find it very inspiring for sewing ideas, even if I do already have a mental sewing list a million miles long!
  • Have you looked at Making Magazine?  I have to say, I’m getting intrigued.  I had just started listening to the Woolful podcast so I could learn more about the knitting world when it merged with Making magazine and broadened its scope.  Then I managed to flip through a few issues, and found the magazine very beautiful and interesting.  It is quarterly and is priced and laid out more like a soft-cover book than a typical magazine.  It’s also not specific to only one type of craft, and each issue has a guiding theme.  I plan on keeping my eye on future issues in case there is one I can’t live without.  😉

Three Knitted Cowls

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Three Knitted Cowls

It’s time for a little knitting…only a very little, because these days I’m primarily a garment sewer, but before I got serious about sewing, I was serious about knitting.  Lest that give you any false impression of my skillz, let me set you straight.  I’m no expert.  I thought I had progressed pretty far, but I took about a three-year break once I really got into sewing, and in that time, not only did my skills atrophy, I started to realize how much more there was to learn.  I discovered that if I really wanted to, I could become an excellent knitter…but that’s not my goal right now.  Yes.  I just told you I am choosing mediocrity.  😉

So what do I really want out of knitting?  I want fun, small, easy- to moderately-challenging projects that I can do while talking with friends or watching a movie.  I really enjoy knitting, but I don’t want to have to pay too much attention to it or fix mistakes.  I want projects that don’t require perfect sizing, because that’s an area where I struggle, and I’m not ready to give knitting enough attention to fix that.  I want my mental energy to go toward sewing, because right now, that’s where I want to be excellent.

So!  We come to the point where I keep seeing truly gorgeous skeins of yarn.  How can I use them in a project that fits with my requirements?  Looks like it’s time to knit cowls!  Cowls are the perfect project for someone like me.  A cowl, as I’m using the word here, refers to a scarf that is a loop rather than a rectangle.  I can choose a simple cowl and I immediately have a project that is portable, fun, and doesn’t require precise sizing.  Once I figured this out, I made three cowls!  Want to see?

Cowl #1:  The Very Gifted Cowl

This pattern is from Churchmouse Yarns and was free.  It’s very simple, with a cast on, an edging row, a body in basic stockinette stitch, and a bind off.  The pattern also comes with a nice calculator so you can figure out how deep you can make the cowl with one skein of yarn depending on the weight you choose.

The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn Cheeky

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The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

I used sock yarn from Hedgehog Fibres held double in a color called Cheeky.  I just need to tell you that this yarn company is largely responsible for bringing me back to knitting again.  I used to follow the owner, Beata, on Instagram because I just loved her beautiful yarn, but  I had to stop because she was making me want to knit, and I wanted to focus on sewing!  In the end, though, my enabler friend Maggie at Pintuck & Purl, ordered some Hedgehog Fibres yarn for the shop, and that was it.  I had to give it a try.  I really enjoyed knitting with it, even though I normally shy away from such thin yarn.  I still have a tiny bit plus a mini skein left for some future project.

The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

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The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

Cowl #2:  Portillo Cowl

This one is by Gale Zucker and is from the book Drop-Dead Easy Knits.  It ticked all the boxes for me because it’s a cowl, it uses big yarn (which means it’s fast), and it’s also easy but still kind of interesting.  You’re just using the garter stitch, but you change color a bit, which gives the cowl a cool look.

Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

I used yarn from Yates Farm in Windsor, Vermont.  This yarn dates back more than a decade to my initial yarn phase.  I love it and wanted to use some of my partial skeins up.  This was just the right project, but because it’s so chunky, it knits up pretty huge.  This cowl’s going to keep me nice and warm!  I still have a ton of needles from when I started knitting, but I didn’t have circular needles long enough for this project.  In case you find yourself in the same boat, check out this economical option from Amazon.  Score!

Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

This cowl is not perfect.  It’s not hard to see where I wove the yarn in or ignored a mistake, but I was going for a pleasant experience over perfection, so it is what it is.  It bugs me a little, but not enough to go back and fix it.  My friend’s and my motto for knitting is:  “Don’t be a stressed-out knitter.”  In other words, feel free to ignore your mistakes if you want to.  So I did.

Cowl #3:  Spidey’s Spiral Cowl

I’ve made this cowl before and given this pattern + yarn to knitting friends as gifts.  You can find it on Ravelry for purchase or you can buy it through your local yarn store (I got mine at Pintuck & Purl).  I really like how interesting it is, and because it uses such nice, chunky yarn, I actually don’t mind going back and fixing mistakes (once in a while).  My attempt last year in Yates Farm chunky yarn didn’t turn out the way I hoped.  It was more like a stiff neck tube, and I think it eventually made its way to the thrift store.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Yarn Sequoia Yearling

This time I made it in Baah Yarns Sequoia in a color called Yearling.  I had plans to use a different colorway, but this pink was like cotton candy or a fluffy cloud, and when I saw it at Pintuck & Purl, I knew it had to be mine (See?  Enablers!!!).  I do think the final shape looks a little funny, but I don’t care!  This is the softest, most luscious yarn ever, and I needed to make something with it.  I even saved my tiny scraps, so I could just touch them.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Sequoia Yearning

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Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Sequoia Yearning

One thing I will say about this yarn and the Hedgehog is that they smell sort of like a perm.  Have you ever smelled that smell at a salon before?  It’s sort of weird, but I think it’s because of the dyes they have to use.  You really don’t notice it unless you are keeping your project in a plastic bag, so maybe use a cloth bag (or just don’t be surprised)?

So that’s it!  I now have all the cowls!  What on earth am I going to knit now?  Maybe another try on last year’s hat?  I would love to have a version that’s a little longer.

All the cowls and scarves!!!

Thanks to my photographers for making me laugh so much.  Now back to sewing!

Recommendations

  • I updated my blog post on McCall’s 6751 (the cross-back top).  It felt too exposed and unrealistic for my daily life, so I switched out the back piece and it’s so much better now!  You can check out the new look by scrolling to the bottom of the post.
  • Can someone make me this Color Dipped Hat from Purl Soho in these colors so I don’t have to make it for myself?  It’s a free pattern!  If you want to make it for yourself instead, that’s cool too.  😉
  • If you’ve ever wanted to make a popover shirt (I know I do, even though I haven’t done it yet), Liesl has a free popover placket and tutorial on the Oliver + S blog.  Check it out here.

Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

Hi, sewing friends, and welcome back to the 2017 Summer Sewing roundup.  I have two more summer sewing projects to share after this one and then it’s time for fall sewing on the blog!  I think next year I might wrap up my summer sewing a little earlier, especially since it feels weird to post summer projects in October.  Maybe it will give those in the southern hemisphere some warm weather inspiration now that it’s spring by you.  🙂

Today’s project is the Thurlow Trousers from Sewaholic Patterns.  I made these shorts in Tinted Denim from Cloud9 Fabrics and I LOVE them.  They are just what I was hoping for.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

They are also just the pattern I’ve been searching for.  It’s oddly hard to find a trouser pattern with angled front pockets and back welt pockets (as opposed to no back pockets or faux welt pockets which were the options with these pants).  Luckily this pattern has staying power.  Even though it came out several years ago and the leg shape is a little different from what you often see today, it’s not impossible to change that if you want to.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I really wanted some chino-type shorts in a cotton twill, and since denim is a type of twill, I decided to use the Cloud9 tinted denim in Maize.  Colored denim is not my favorite in general, but (1) I actually LOVE the look of this denim and (2) I have had a strangely hard time finding cotton twill bottomweight fabric in a color that I like and at a price I can afford.  While this denim isn’t the cheapest, it’s also not a crazy price, and you need less of it for shorts than you do for pants, so it was a good pick.  It also helped that I was able to pick up both pattern and main fabric (and sparkly zipper!) at Pintuck & Purl when I was up there, so: problem solved.  I bought Bemberg rayon from Jo-Ann Fabrics for the pockets and waistband lining.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I prewashed and dried the denim on hot several times to get any excess dye and shrinkage out.  The fabric did bleed and fade a bit, but in a way that I really like.  (I use Color Grabber sheets to check how much my fabric is bleeding when I prewash.)  I’d also love to try the aqua and pink Tinted Denim at the shop, but there’s only so much time and money, you know?  Maybe next summer.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I had read that this pattern had a lot of pieces, and that was no joke.  It does, including a different right and left front.  As I was tracing my pattern, I could see how much thought and precision went into it, which made me feel hopeful about my final outcome.  Because I’m not a pear shape (which is what Sewaholic patterns are drafted for), my waist was a larger size than my hip measurement.  I decided to go with the waist size and try to fit as I went.  This worked well for me.  I ended up using a larger seam allowance on the sides than the pattern called for.  Other fitting things that were necessary for me were making the shorts tighter over the behind area and looser at the waist, which you can accomplish at the back seam.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

One other issue I had was that when fitting the pointed end of the waistband over the fly shield, the fly shield seemed too wide.  I simply folded it in a bit, ironed and stitched it down, but I wonder if maybe I made it extend too far in the first place.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I wanted shorts that were a bit more straight legged than this pattern is, so I took an inch off the outside of each leg, tapering to nothing at the pocket, and a half-inch off each inseam, tapering to nothing at the crotch.  This does throw the hem off slightly, but I decided to ignore that this time and deal with it if I make these again.  Rather than cuffing these shorts, I turned under 1 1/2″ at the hem and then folded in the same amount again for a 1 1/2″ double-turned hem.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

The instructions were really clear, and even the welt pockets weren’t too hard.  Mine did fray a bit at the corners after I washed the shorts, but I will chalk that up to inexperience and trust that I’ll improve in my technique over time.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

This pattern is obviously very well done, and I really like that it incorporates an alterable center back seam, which is often seen on men’s pants (and really should be seen on women’s as well, if you ask me).  This helps with fitting while sewing, and also allows you to change it up if you gain or lose inches in the future.  I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to a beginner, but if you have some experience under your belt, this is a real winner.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I’m so happy to have some longer shorts that are comfortable and durable, have pockets, and feel great to wear.  I hope to make more of these in the future.  I also recognize that because fitting pants is an area I’m nervous about, I need to keep making pants and shorts so I can gain confidence.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

Recommendations

  • If you, too, are looking for trousers with welt pockets and whatnot, there is another recent pattern release along those lines.  Check out the North Point Trousers (PDF only) from Itch to Stitch.  They have single welt back pockets instead of the Thurlow’s double welt back pockets and a leg shape that is more current.  I’ve never tried an Itch to Stitch pattern, but I’ve heard good things.
  • I just tried this Baah yarn for the first time, and it was so amazing!  I don’t think the website does it justice.  Mine was a fluffy pink skein.  It looks like cotton candy without the stickiness!
  • My sister-in-law sent me the Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook, and I’m having a lot of fun trying out the smoothie section.

Knitted: Spidey’s Spiral Cowl in Yates Farm Yarn

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Knitted:  Spidey’s Spiral Cowl in Yates Farm Yarn

Today’s project is the second and final installation in my short bout of knitting.  This is Spidey’s Spiral Cowl by Abi Gregorio of SpiderWomanKnits.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

I discovered this pattern after seeing the amazing sample my coworker Jenny made for the shop.  She’s a really accomplished knitter and her sample was beautiful.  I was completely enamored with it and bought the pattern.  It didn’t hurt that I still have a huge stash of yarn from Yates Farm in Windsor, Vermont from over a decade ago when I first fell in love with knitting.  I culled a lot of things from my yarn stash recently, but all the Yates Farm yarn survived the purge.  And luckily, I had some of my favorite chunky yarn in a beautiful cream color.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

It took me a little while to get the pattern down, and I contemplated my preferred working method of ignoring my mistakes, but this knits up so quickly that I decided to rip out my mistakes a few times until I really got it down.  Because this was so fast to knit, it was a very pleasant experience.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

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Spidey's Spiral Cowl

And the final product?  Good.  Not the most awesome thing ever, but good and warm.  I think this, like the hat I wrote about a little while ago is good, but just a bit off.  This yarn is so thick that the cowl could probably stand up on its own, which means it takes a little bit of finagling to get it just right.  I’ve worn it several times and it’s really warm and cozy, which is a necessity in New England in the winter, but it does take a little work to get it looking right.  I definitely recommend the pattern, however.  It’s quick, fun, and not too hard, but is challenging enough to keep your interest.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

And now?  Back to sewing!

Recommendations

  • Christmas!  Merry Christmas, everyone!  I’m thankful that God cared about us enough to be born as a baby so we could have a relationship with Him.  Sounds crazy, but what miracle doesn’t?
  • Filson.  A friend told me about this site.  Now, I don’t have the budget to actually shop here, but shopping for inspiration is free, and this is a really inspiring site if you like to sew menswear or if you favor a rugged style in womenswear.  There are a lot of interesting details and materials that go into these garments.
  • Zipper Ease.  This was one of my recent buys from Wawak Sewing and it saved a beloved jacket of my husband’s whose heavy-duty zipper had stopped zipping smoothly.
  • Hand and Foot.  I think this is my all-time favorite card game, and probably the only one that I can remember the rules to!  You play with four people (two sets of partners) and four standard decks of cards through four different rounds to see which team can get the most points.  I looked for a good link to the rules, but they were all different from the rules I learned, so I guess you have to account for regional differences and house rules.

 

 

Fall Wardrobe–A Knitted Hat

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Fall Wardrobe–A Knitted Hat

As the weather turns cooler, like so many crafty people, I get the urge to knit.  You might not know it, but after college and before sewing became my near-daily practice, I was really into knitting.  I teamed up with a friend who was more accomplished than I was, and learned all I could.  I loved knitting.  But after a few sweaters that didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped (see one example here), and realizing that I was a really slow knitter, I started to knit less.

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

And then I discovered sewing.  I had known how to sew a little, but after finally stumbling out of the fog of motherhood in the baby years, I really discovered sewing, and I never looked back.

Since then I’ve struggled to find just the right knitting projects when I get the urge to dip my toe back in.  I want something where my propensity to knit large won’t ruin the project and where I can still talk or watch TV while knitting.

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

This fall, I had a realization:  I don’t want to challenge myself in the knitting arena like I do with sewing.

I want a project I can do without too much thought so I can expend my mental energy on improving my sewing skills, while my knitting, like a good cup of coffee, can be the background pleasure in a shared conversation or a night spent watching something fun on TV.

Add to this that I seem to always want but never find the perfect winter hat and you have this project.  I still have quite a lot of yarn from a Yates Farm Yarn sale when knitting was my obsession, and I still really love it.  I decided to dig into that stash, find a yarn I wanted to use, and make another attempt at the perfect basic hat.  I found that opportunity in the aptly named Basic Hat Pattern by Nerdy Girl Knits.  It had the ribbing I wanted at the bottom and the uncomplicated top that would allow me to knit while paying attention to other things.

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

I decided, since I’ve named myself an ‘elephant knitter’ (by which I mean someone who always knits things that are too large), that I was actually going to do a swatch for this hat.  It’s a good thing I did because I had to try smaller and smaller needles to get the required gauge.  I finally got the right gauge (‘gauge’ means that by stitching a certain number of stitches in a certain number of rows I had a 4″ x 4″ square, supposedly ensuring that I’ll knit the hat to the right size), and then I was off.  I made the ribbing a little bit longer, and then subtracted those rows from the stockinette stitch of the body.  It didn’t take me long to finish, despite my slow pace.  When I finished, it was good, but just a little bit…off.  It was a little longer and wider around than I wanted, but oh well.  Large knitting seems to be my fate.  😉

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

It is a cozy hat, and I love the yarn knit up, even though I wish I had made it slightly smaller.  I’ve already been wearing it, and I may wet it just a bit and throw it in the dryer to see what happens, per a more experienced friend’s directions.  Maybe that will help it to shrink down just enough.

I recommend this pattern if you are looking for a basic hat with ribbing.  It’s a nice pattern and comes in three adult sizes (and it’s free!).  I think a beginner could do it, and an expert could easily make several.

Fall Wardrobe--A Knitted Hat

Recommendations

  • Um…these weird finger hands?I don't know what to say about this photo...

    I got them at The White Elephant Antique Shop in Essex, MA.  They are weird and way more fun than they should be.

  • Toby Mac’s newest album, This is Not a Test,  is pretty cool.  It’s fun and upbeat, and features a lot of different artists and styles.  It’s been getting a lot of play in our house.
  • The Maker Style Podcast.  This podcast is still pretty new.  I’ve really been enjoying it as it focuses on garment sewing, a topic I don’t tend to find a ton of podcasts on.
  • And yet another reason to love Project Runway’s Tim Gunn:

Adventures in Shorts Fitting: McCall’s 6930

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We’ve been talking a lot about shorts lately, haven’t we?  I’ve noticed that in my sewing, I tend to make tops.  I have a lot of me-made tops in my closet, but not a lot of shorts and pants.  Why is that?  Fear.  That’s it.  Silly as it sounds, I have been afraid of making shorts and pants because I don’t know how to fit them.  But this was the year of sewing first jeans and then, this summer, shorts.  I’m so glad I finally plunged in because now I have a better grasp of some of the fitting issues I might face and how to fix them.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

So let’s talk about this particular pattern, McCall’s 6930 (View A).  There are a couple of shorts options in this one, as well as capris.  They have a flat front, shaped waistband, back zipper, and pockets, with optional belt carriers.  It actually took me three tries to get this right, and I took pictures of each of them, so you could see some of the things I had to fix and the mistakes I made.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Last summer, I began my first version of this pattern.  I could tell that something was wrong with it, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I put it away until this summer.  I nearly threw these shorts out when I was cleaning up one day, but I tried them on first and realized that they weren’t as terrible as I remembered.  So, I finished them, and came up with ideas on what I wanted to improve.  The front was baggy and went up too high, and the back felt like it needed more length in the crotch seam.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The baggy front was no good.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

I looked in my trusty book, Sewing Pants that Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library, and decided to try taking a wedge out of the front and add a wedge into the back.  After I had done this, I saw that the book said not to take wedges out of the front, but there was no explanation as to why, so I decided to try it anyway.  I took out the wedge and redrew the top of the front crotch seam, making sure it was straight like before.  When I asked a friend who used to work as a pattern drafter what was up with the book’s advice, she asked if I had redrawn the center front line and, when I told her I had, she said it ought to work.  Her other suggestion was to take some of the length out of the top of the front, thereby leaving that front seam intact.  She also told me that the new grainline should be more or less perpendicular to the top of the shorts so that they would hang straight down.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The front pattern piece, above.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The back pattern piece.

Version two came out much improved.  There was one main problem, however.  I had made these out of a stretch denim…but the pattern didn’t call for a fabric with stretch.  So, as you may imagine, these shorts tend to “grow” throughout the day until they are a bit large by the end of the day.  Another minor thing that I noted was that using a lighter weight fabric for the back of the pocket is not as good as using a fabric of the same weight.  I did this in versions one and two.  It creates wrinkles and doesn’t hang as well–not super critical, but important to note.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

This picture makes me look excited about the hugeness of these shorts, but I’m really just making funny faces for my photographer.  This photo shoot got a little silly by the end…

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Fabric the same weight as my denim would have worked better than the lightweight denim scrap I used.

I cut into some of my precious fabric from Pintuck & Purl for my third version…and it came out great!  When I put these on, they just feel right.  The one thing I will probably tweak if I make this pattern again (which I’ll probably do) is to lengthen the back crotch point just a bit as the front of the legs feel closer to the body than I think they should.  The leg openings aren’t too small, it’s more like they are tilted toward the back when they should be more balanced.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Front view.  There’s a little yellow on the darts from my chalk markings, but that washed out easily.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Back view.

Each of the adjustments I made were the same as those I made on McCall’s 6848, the pajama-turned-everyday shorts I recently blogged about.  It feels good to know I am on the right track.  Now the question is, will these be standard adjustments for me, or will they be limited to McCall’s patterns?  Either way, I feel like I’m making progress in learning to fit pants and shorts, and a lot of the scariness is dissipating.  It’s such a pleasure to occasionally wear an outfit that I’ve made–not only the top, but both the top and the bottom.  I’m really happy that I tried despite my fear.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

And…..guess what?  Today is this blog’s third birthday!  That’s pretty cool!  I thought about doing a round-up of past posts, but I wanted to talk shorts one more time instead.  I’m so thankful for this blog, which has helped me grow in confidence as a writer, seamstress, and photographer.  I think I have a good groove, have seen some improvements in those areas, and I hope for more improvements in the future in both sewing and blogging.  I’m also thankful for you, my readers, some of whom have been with me from the very beginning.  Thank you for encouraging and supporting me in this.  Learning these skills goes far beyond sewing–the confidence and happiness that comes from sewing has expanded into other areas of my life as well.  So, I’m thankful for the blog, for you, and to God for the skills, time, resources, and frame of mind to grow.  Thank you.

And last but not least, let’s have some Recommendations!

  • Another fun post in the Cotton + Steel substrate series is the one all about rayon, which is new to me.  I’m looking forward to trying it out in the near future.
  • Have you ever wanted to turn your favorite button up shirt pattern into a popover top (a top with a button placket that only goes partway down the shirt)?  I have!  I just wasn’t looking forward to figuring it out on my own.  Luckily, Craftsy did it for me.  You can read all about it here.
  • Did you know it’s National Sewing Month?  It is!  To celebrate, Pintuck & Purl is doing a fun Q & A with various bloggers and pattern designers over on their blog, and I’m one of the bloggers!  You can read their blog here.
  • When knitting takes over…