Tag Archives: knitting

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

Let’s start with the pants! These pants, made using Simplicity 8841, are a repeat pattern for me–not something I always do. Each sewist/craftsman/artist has a way they like to dive into projects, and for me, it usually involves trying something new, often a new pattern, so I rarely circle back to previous patterns unless I really liked them and want more versions in my closet or they are just right for the fabric I want to use. I really liked the style of these pants, and I wear my first version a lot. However, I kind of overfit that version, and I thought I could do better…plus I really did want more of these in my closet!

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
My husband took these pictures for me when it was still summer, but these pants will work in multiple seasons.

The other thing that drove this repeat performance was some great denim I found at Joann’s. It was 100% cotton, and pink from being vegetable-dyed. The vegetable dye made me curious about how the color would hold…and I really like this shade of pink. Simplicity 8841 seemed like a good match for the denim. I got what I needed when it was on sale. Yay!

According to my measurements, I was a size 24 in this pattern. It only went up to a 22, so I did some very inexpert, cheater-style grading. I looked at the distance between the last few pattern sizes, and sized up the largest size by that amount, by just tracing around it, and trying to make things look like they would have if there had been one more size. I wanted to make View D, but with the longer length of View C. This was pretty easy to do.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

Using the book, Sewing Pants that Fit from The Singer Sewing Reference Library, I added 1.5″ to the back crotch length by making a wedge adjustment for a protruding seat. This entailed cutting into my back pattern piece from the crotch seam to the hip, without cutting all the way through. I then tipped the top of the pattern up 1.5″ making the back crotch seam of the pattern longer. After doing that, you have to smooth out the hip/outseam because making that wedge creates a little divot at the side seam.

Then I lengthened the back crotch point by 1.5″ and lowered it 0.25″ to true the pattern. This can help with full thighs or a protruding seat. I have found that it works for me, whatever the reason may be. I tend to need more length in the back with Big 4 patterns. Somehow it always feels a little bit like trial and error, but I usually end up making the maximum crotch seam length adjustments on the back pattern piece and find those really comfortable.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
This may not be the most helpful picture, but here is the top of the back pattern piece. The crotch seam I have mentions is that curved left edge, and the hip/outseam is the right edge. You can kind of see the wedge shape running horizontally through the pattern piece.

These pants are pretty straightforward to put together with good directions.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, front

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, back

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, patch pocket detail; I have traced this patch pocket onto tag board and use it whenever I want to add patch pockets with this shape to clothes.

I changed up how I inserted the elastic into the waistband a little bit, but otherwise followed the directions as written. Since these pants have no fly, and only front patch pockets, I pushed myself to finish them before meeting up with a friend who was visiting. It’s always really fun to have something new to wear for something like that, and it’s good for me to occasionally give myself artificial deadlines to speed a project on.

Once I started wearing the pants, I had a few thoughts about them. They are definitely a style I like, and they’re very comfortable. The dye in the fabric seems to be holding well, too.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I’m not sure I love how they look, even though I love how they feel. They look a little too big to me. I’m all about preserving design ease and not making the smallest size you can squeeze your body into, but maybe I could have made these a little smaller, especially since the size 22 pants that I made do still fit. The other iffy part is that the waistband doesn’t feel as strong as I want it to. The pants stay up just fine, but it feels like if I load up my pockets, things could get saggy. Yikes.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I have toyed with the idea of taking off the waistband and cutting a new one that would allow for 2″ wide elastic, like the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants pattern, but I cannot tell you how much I really don’t like going back into patterns once I have finished them. I know they would be more wearable if I altered them, but the joy of alterations is not the reason I sew. The fact that they do fit and are comfortable will probably be enough for me to wear them and not bother to alter them. The good news is that the paper pattern adjustments I made were good. I don’t feel like the back of the pants are too short or tight (i.e. no wedgies or “plumber’s butt”–yay!). They feel just right.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

The real kicker, though, is that while writing this, I looked back at the blog post I wrote for the first pair of pants I made, and those had the same problems! Yes, if I had carefully read my own post before starting on these, I wouldn’t have graded up, and I probably would have tapered the legs of the pants. I still would have made the flat pattern adjustments I made this time–I did remember the need for those–but I could have made an even better pair of pants if I had listened to my past self and reminded myself of all the changes that would have been helpful. Oops.

So, I guess this project is a little bit of a mixed bag, but overall good. I do recommend the pattern if you are looking for a simple pair of elastic-waist pants. These could definitely work, construction-wise, for a beginner, and they are loose enough that you wouldn’t have to think about fitting to the level you would with a pair of skinny jeans or something like that. I would potentially make these again, with some slight tweaks (after actually reading this post and my last one; haha).

News from the Fair!

And now for something unrelated, but awesome! If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that I submitted some garments to the Topsfield (Massachusetts) Fair for the first time. Well, the cardigan I knitted got a first place ribbon, and the reversible vest I sewed got both a first place ribbon and Best in Show! I was so excited!!! I knew that I had worked up to my skill level at the time and pushed myself beyond on those projects, but it’s really, really nice to occasionally have some outside validation for your work, from people who also make things.

Topsfield Fair 2022
My Arrowhead Cardigan at the Topsfield Fair

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Topsfield Fair 2022
Me at the knitting exhibit. You can sort of see my cardigan by my left hand. There were so many great projects!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
My vest and both its ribbons at the Topsfield Fair!!!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
This exhibit had multiple types of crafts. You can see my vest by my right hand.

Making clothes is my art practice. My work will probably never be in a gallery, and I don’t want to turn it into a business, so I don’t get that kind of positive professional critique on a normal basis, so it means a lot. That being said, I do very much appreciate all the cheerleading and support I get from my family and friends. That is what has really kept me going all these years.

My parents and kids were with me when I went to see all the entries, and they can tell you that I had a pretty big smile on my face. What a great experience!!!

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Sweater Knitting: Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Oh, boy, this was a big one! Today’s project is the Arrowhead Cardigan by Anna Cohen for Imperial Stock Ranch, and it took me a long time and a lot of head scratching to figure it out, but I did it!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

This cardigan was definitely above my skill level, but I’m happy to say that perseverance paid off, I learned a ton, I conquered some fears (steeking!), and made it to the finish line. And it fits, which I have struggled with in the past.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Now for the details!

The Yarn

Sweaters are a big undertaking when it comes to finding and choosing yarn, especially if you want to watch your costs. Plainly put, it’s expensive to knit a sweater. Yarn cost is always a factor for me, especially on larger projects. Thankfully, there is a wide range of yarn and price points, if you are willing to dig a bit. And I love the digging–it’s like a treasure hunt.

I found what I was after online at WEBS (yarn.com) in the closeout section. Univeral Yarn Deluxe Worsted offered some bright colors in a 100% wool yarn (non-superwash, worsted spun) at a great price. Reviews were a bit mixed, but I decided to take the risk. My skin isn’t super sensitive to wool and I planned to wear this over a shirt.

I ordered three skeins of “Blushing Bride” (pink) and seven skeins of “Strip Light Yellow”. With shipping, my cost was around $50. That’s more than I like to spend on fabric for a sewing project, but for a sweater, that’s really economical. When the yarn came, it looked and felt great. Before ordering, I had done my best to determine if the colors were far enough apart in value (gray scale) that they would stand out distinctly, and they were. In person, they were just as good.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lisapoblenz/52050721550/in/dateposted/

The Pattern + Knitting

I was really struck by this pattern when I saw it. The design was beautiful and it looked oversized and cozy in all the best ways. I looked at others’ projects on Ravelry and really liked the sweater in different colors as well. Also, I have to admit the original styling for the pattern was right up my alley, and it didn’t hurt that I knit most of this while watching the first 13 seasons of Heartland (a Canadian show set on a horse and cattle ranch) with my daughter. Sometimes I think of this as my “Heartland Cardigan”. All I need is a horse and a farm to go with it! Oh, and a lifetime supply of farming knowledge. You know, the little things. 😉

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

My gauge came out pretty close to correct at about 17 stitches and 16/16.5 rounds over 4″ x 4″ (the pattern calls for 17.5 stitches and 21 rounds over 4″ x 4″ (10 cm x 10 cm)). I never worry too much about row gauge since I can change the length of the sweater as I knit. I had already gone down from the suggested needle size of US 8 to a US 6, and since I am typically a loose knitter and this sweater has plenty of positive ease, I went down one size as well from the large to the medium. For my body ribbing, I used US 4’s. Since knitting smaller circumferences can tighten your knitting, for my sleeves I went up to US 7’s with US 5’s for the sleeve ribbing. And then I just hoped and prayed it would all work out.

I decided I wanted the pink to be my dominant color (the one that would stand out the most), and after looking through some notes on Ravelry, I decided to catch my floats every 7 stitches. I recolored all my charts so I wouldn’t get confused and knit the wrong color (like I did in one of my Sparks socks), and I made full, colored charts of the sleeves so that I wouldn’t make mistakes there. Those charts took me a long time to color and create, but it was so worth it!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can see one of my sleeve charts in the background of this picture.

When I tell you this pattern was above my skill level, I’m not kidding. I’ll admit that I am used to using patterns that hold my hand, and I love that. It gives me the confidence to dive into things I have never tried, knowing the help is there for me to figure it all out in the course of the project. There was a lot more assumed knowledge with this pattern, and occasionally I would have to think about a direction or next step for a few days or dig into some knitting books or the internet to figure out how I was supposed to proceed. It meant I made pretty slow progress, but the breaks to puzzle things out ended up paying off each time. I’ll skip the blow by blow description of what I did on each step, but if you could see my copy of this pattern, you would see margins filled with notes.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

I have a theory that really, really wanting to make something can carry you through a big project, even if it’s beyond what you have done before. This sweater further solidified that idea in my mind.

An Error

If you take on this sweater, which is a good one, despite the complexity, you should note that there is an error in the medium size instructions. When you begin the body and have to join in the round, the part that says to knit 105 stitches should say 106 stitches. If you don’t change that, you will be short of the 220 stitches you are supposed to have after joining in the round. This will also impact your stitch counts as you go through the pattern. Sometimes you will have to add a stitch, sometimes two, at various points, so keep an eye on that. The charts were fine, by the way, it was just the written directions that were off.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Eek! A Steek!

This sweater is knit from the bottom up as one big tube, with panels of stitches in the areas you will have to open up for the front opening and the armholes.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can see the steek panels here in the center front and on the tops of the sides.

You open these areas by sewing within that panel (I used my sewing machine) and then cutting down the middle.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
The burgundy lines are the zigzag stitches I sewed in the central steek panel. This stitching anchored my knit stitches so the sweater wouldn’t fray when I cut it.

Seems scary, right? And it was, but also exciting. I practiced on my swatch after doing lots of steek research on the internet, and that worked out well.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
My gauge swatch/practice swatch
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
I protected the back side of my sweater with a piece of cardboard between the layers.

It’s such a crazy idea to cut your knitting, but it really works!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

After doing that, whether at the front or sleeves, you pick up stitches to knit the sleeves and the ribbing around the front opening, and then later you knit facings to cover the raw edges and the sewing machine stitches. I worried that sewing down my facings would show from the outside, but it didn’t.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
The facings are the vertical pink lines at the opening

Since my row gauge was off, I decided to steek the front opening after finishing the body a little before the directions told me to. That way I could try the sweater on and see if my sleeves were at a length I liked before adding the final patterning and ribbing at the wrists and finishing them. Once I had steeked the front, I also blocked what I had to get a better sense of that sleeve length. And I was nervous, because I was not knitting quite as loosely as I had expected, so I just needed to see how things were going.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Doing all of this gave me a lot of helpful information, and I’m so glad I did it.

This is the project where the idea of using lifelines really solidified in my brain as well. I found the shoulder area especially confusing to knit, so before starting, I added some blue pearl cotton to my live stitches in case I messed up and had to rip back. Luckily, I didn’t have to rip back, but it was nice having that security. You can see a bunch of these blue lifelines three pictures up where I had just cut my front steek.

Finishing

I began knitting in August of 2021 and I finally finished my sweater in March of 2022. Seven months! I didn’t work on this non-stop, and usually only put in time while watching TV on a lot of evenings. I’m really happy with how it came out and that it actually fits.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can change the fit a little depending on how tightly you wrap the front
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

It’s very interesting, now that I have knit several sweaters that actually fit, to see what I reach for and what fits best in my current wardrobe. I don’t wear this quite as much as I thought I would since it can be a little hard to find pants and shirts to go under it, and I tend to reach for pullover styles more (my purple Wool & Honey sweater is my most-worn sweater by far). It’s very comfortable, though, and I like wearing it. It has pilled somewhat, but the pills are very easy to remove. It is not scratchy unless I am wearing a bag on my shoulder that presses it down, and then it is a little scratchy in that area. I feel like my yarn choice has paid off, however. I love how bright the sweater is, and the amazing designs in it. If you don’t look too closely, it sometimes looks like the sleeves match up with the pattern of the body. They don’t, of course, but it’s easy to think they do initially.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

This sweater really stretched me, and taught me a lot. It helped me conquer the fear of steeking, and helped me realize that if I think long enough, and search hard enough, I can find the answers to a lot of knitting questions. This project made me feel like I levelled up, specifically in stranded colorwork, which is my current favorite area of knitting.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Update:

I entered this cardigan in the 2022 Topsfield Fair (in Topsfield, MA) and it won a first place ribbon!

Sock Knitting: Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

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Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

I like the idea of being able to make an entire outfit. Do I want to make all of my own clothes? Not really. But do I want to be able to make all the types of clothes I might wear on a given day? Yes!

I have ventured into most areas of clothes making. Socks are one area I don’t visit a lot. I made a few pairs back in my first knitting phase, and I have sewn socks, but since picking knitting back up, I have more or less avoided socks. Rather than making one thing, I would have to make a pair. I wasn’t too sure I wanted to or that I would have the will to make both socks.

After I got a few sweaters under my belt, though, I realized that if I can knit two sleeves, I can definitely knit two socks. They are typically even smaller than sleeves! I was also inspired by my Mom, who is one of my knitting buddies, and who has gotten really good at socks. I needed to give this a try.

Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks

Last year my Mom and I decided to knit the Drea Renee Knits Sparks socks pattern at the same time.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

This is a stranded colorwork sock pattern with two colors. We’re both big fans of Drea Renee Knits patterns, and stranded colorwork is my favorite type of knitting so far. I had some Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn from when I first discovered their yarn (and speckled, hand-dyed yarn in general) that I wanted to use. There was a white mini skein with speckles of green, blue, pink, and purple in it that I used at the top of my socks, and a larger white skein with pink, purple, and black speckles that I used for the rest of the sock. That skein was actually reclaimed from a cowl that I frogged (ripped out). I can’t find the colorway name of the mini skein, but the larger skein was called “Cheeky”. I paired these with some Cascade Heritage yarn (colorway: “Real Black“) from Wool & Co. because I love that high contrast. All yarn was superwash wool combined with nylon for strength. The Hedgehog Fibres Yarn originally came from Pintuck & Purl.

Making the socks was fun, and I learned a lot. The design is cool and interesting, and the heels and toes look pretty. I really like all the tips and support designer Andrea Mowry puts into her patterns because there are a lot of things to know in knitting, and those tips and YouTube videos make it easy to learn as you go, no matter your level.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

In making these particular socks, I made a few…mistakes? Accidental design choices? I don’t know. I’m a loose knitter, so I sized down to some tiny needles (US 1 and US 0), but nevertheless, my socks came out a little too large…definitely too large to wear out and about every day. No matter. They could be sleep socks. I usually wear socks when I go to bed and then, as my feet warm up, I kick them off. Their looseness made them perfect for this.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks
These are much looser than they look here

The other thing I did was accidentally reverse the colors on the second sock. It’s hard to remember what I was thinking because it looks like I redrew the color chart like I usually do so that I wouldn’t get mixed up, but somewhere along the line, I spaced out, and they are opposites. When I realized what I had done, I had to laugh. There are definitely socks out there that are made this way on purpose, and they look cool, but this was 100% a mistake on my part. Haha.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks
Hm…Something seems different between these two
Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks
Sock opposites!

Since they are superwash and already too big, I have thrown them in the washer and laid them out to dry, and they have done great. I think they may have even accidentally gone through the dryer once or twice. They are pretty pilly at this point, but that’s easy to fix. They’re holding up great.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

DRK Everyday Socks

My second pair of socks were the DRK Everyday Socks.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

I used these as a sort of slow-and-steady, easy project since a lot of the pattern is knit 2, purl 2 ribbing. They were the project I brought along when I was listening to a speaker or knitting in front of the TV or in the car, and I worked on them slowly little by little over several months.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

Come to think of it, I have done a lot of knit 2, purl 2 ribbing over the last year across three different projects and I discovered a few things.

1. I like doing this kind of repetitive ribbing best when knitting Continental rather than English style.

2. I also find it a lot more fun if I am using an interesting (rather than a plain) yarn.

Two of my three ribbing-filled projects have used a plain yarn, but these socks were more fun because I was using this great speckled sock yarn (colorway: “Pixie on a Bender“) from Birch Dyeworks for most of it. For the rest, I used a mini skein that I had which was also from Birch Dyeworks (colorway: “Mom’s Hot Pants“). The speckled skein, which is a white and pink base filled with pink, green, black, purple, yellow, blue, and even the occasional trace of orange was a gift from Maggie at Pintuck & Purl. Back when I used to work there we made plans to knit socks together so I could learn two-at-a-time Magic Loop*, where you knit two socks at once. Well…we didn’t get beyond about an inch and a half and the two-at-a-time technique never cemented itself in my brain. Even though those socks never materialized, I got to keep the yarn, and have always wanted to put it to good use. And those speckles really kept it fun.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

My knitting was tighter on these socks, which I was happy about, so they are only slightly loose, and work great as everyday socks in general. I have worn them a few times, and I’m not sure yet if I like them as much as store-bought socks or not. When I first put them on, I can feel the texture of the sock under the front part of my foot, and I don’t love it. As I go along, I stop noticing it, but the jury is still out on whether or not I love handmade socks for everyday wear. I do love them on cold days with slippers, though!

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks
Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

This pattern was fun, I learned some interesting new things, and while I like the look of the Afterthought Heel in the Sparks socks better, both were great to knit. I like being able to have contrasting toes, heels, and cuffs, and both patterns allow for that in different ways.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks

It was also interesting to see what a dramatic difference blocking made in the look of the finished socks. Even though they are not at all necessary, I bought some Bryspun sock blockers by Bryson from Pintuck & Purl before finishing these. You can get a sense of how the socks looked before blocking in this picture of them soaking.

Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks
The socks look longer and skinnier before blocking. I soak them in lukewarm water with a small amount of store brand baby shampoo before rinsing and drying them.
Sock Knitting:  Drea Renee Knits Sparks Socks and DRK Everyday Socks
Now they look more like socks!

After knitting both of these, I feel like I have a good handle on using Magic Loop to knit one sock at a time. *If you haven’t heard of it, Magic Loop is a technique wherein you use a long circular knitting needle to knit smaller-circumference things in the round rather than using double pointed needles (DPNs). I’m fine with double pointed needles, but I am really glad I learned to knit this way too. I never really thought I would like it better than using DPNs, but I think I may be starting to.

Now that my DRK Everyday Socks are done, I’m trying to finish up a cowl I started in a class I took as well as a sweater. After that? Probably some Speedy Selbu mittens…just time time for Spring! Haha.

Craft Goals for 2022

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Craft Goals for 2022

Hi, everyone! I’m back with some craft goals for 2022. I look forward to sharing the projects I was working on in December with you soon, but it seems appropriate to start off the year with a post about goals.

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not for or against them, I just don’t usually make them. I did like the idea of setting some goals in my creative practice for this year, though. Maybe they won’t all happen, but I’m going to see what I can do.

While sewing my own clothing is my main hobby, I enjoy knitting, sewing non-clothing items once in awhile, and dipping my toe into other crafts as well. Because of that, I wanted to set craft goals, rather than just sewing goals for the year. So, here’s what I’ve got!

#1: Make shoes

Yes, shoes. No, I’m not kidding.

Over the last few years, I have seen more and more people in the sewing community try this out, and I really want to make some shoes of my own. I own a lot of sewing and knitting tools, and I’m not looking for a new hobby with a thousand new tools, but I want to at least dip my toe in. I would love to try leather sandals, tennis shoes from a kit, or clog sandals at some point, because they all sound doable without investing in too many new tools or materials. To help me on my quest, my in-laws got me the book The Sandalmaking Workshop by Rachel Corry.

Craft Goals for 2022

I think I would like to try combining a few of the styles unless I see or imagine a style I like even more.

Alternatively, the Chicago School of Shoemaking and Leather Arts has tennis shoe/sneaker kits, and I have seen wooden clog bases on various websites like Etsy. Just think–if I could make my own shoes, I would have the power to create an entire outfit if I wanted to! I love the idea that I could make an entire outfit.

#2: Knit colorwork mittens

Since coming back to knitting, I have discovered that colorwork/stranded knitting is my (current) favorite kind of knitting. I LOVE color! And I love having multiple colors in a given piece of clothing. While I have some excellent lined mittens, I really want to make some colorwork mittens, at least once. When hunting around for patterns, I found the Northman Mittens by David Schulz, which are lined, and look super warm. Once it gets cold out, I either need two pairs of handknit mittens to wear one on top of the other, or a pair of lined mittens. These should fit the bill. However, my impatience being what it is, I thought it best to start with something faster. That’s why I would like to begin with the Speedy Selbu Mittens by Skeindeer Knits, which should work when it’s not bitterly cold.

Craft Goals for 2022

Since these mittens are knit from a worsted weight yarn, which is thicker and quicker to knit than thinner yarns, these seemed like a good way to try this style of mitten out and see if I like it enough to go on to the Northman Mittens or something else that will take a bit longer. Once I finish the socks I’m working on, I hope to start…if I don’t get distracted by something else. Haha–the lure of the new and shiny is real!

#3: Make a Western style shirt

I have had this on my to-make list for so long! I just need to do it! Whenever I want to make a pattern that I think will be complicated, or that I will have to change a lot, I tend to procrastinate. The pattern I have chosen, McCall’s 6262 from 1992 looks great, but has normal cuffs.

Craft Goals for 2022

I really wanted those decorative shotgun cuffs, but knew I would have to change the pattern up in order to get them. I found a great article called “Updating the Cowboy Shirt” by David Page Coffin in Threads magazine #67 (October/November 1996) that details how to do this, but the extra time and energy required to figure it all out put me off.

At this point, I think it’s more important to try the general style than it is to have every bell and whistle, so my current thought is that I should make the pattern as is, and if I like it, expand from there with future shirts.

#4: Make a leather bag of some sort

This is yet another project I have wanted to do for some time, but haven’t gotten around to. It’s not that I haven’t ever made anything with leather. I made my friends some clutches several years ago. It’s more that I would like to sew with leather a little bit more often, and it’s been long enough that I need to break the ice again. I made this goal vague enough that I can make something super basic like a little envelope clutch or zipper pouch, or slightly larger, like a cross-body bag. I have had the book containing these projects for a little while now, and just need to dive in.

Craft Goals for 2022

I don’t know much about leather types and thicknesses, but doing a project will help me learn.

#5: Sew a humpback whale stuffed animal

Haha–this is oddly specific, right? I know. I got this cute Humbpack Whale pattern by Crafty Kooka from one of my kids for Christmas, and I put it on this list because I want to make sure I make it!

Craft Goals for 2022

We got our first ever new couch this past year, and I think it needs a cute whale to live on it! OK, the truth is, I just want an excuse to make a whale. I don’t know if it will really live on the couch or not. I just want to make one. While I have made simple stuffed animals in the past, this pattern has some new-to-me techniques, and I’m excited to try using safety eyes for the first time.

Now we get to the “maybes” on my list of goals. I haven’t decided if I am committed to these last two, mainly because they don’t sound like quite as much fun to me as the previous ones, but here they are, nonetheless.

Possible goal #6: Make more undergarments

Because I don’t share these on the blog or really anywhere, and because some bras can require more precise fitting, I don’t find these quite as much fun to make. The undergarments I have made for myself have been, for the most part, superior to those I buy in the store, even when I don’t get the fit perfect, but I have a harder time motivating myself to sew them. That being said, it would make a big difference to my wardrobe if I could really get the fit down on a few patterns. I’m close, but like I said, motivation is a little lacking… Do I try to push through, or stick to the things that are more fun? I’m still trying to decide.

Possible goal #7: Learn one or more new serger techniques

I have had my Juki MO-654DE serger for over a year now, and I absolutely love it. Have I learned to do anything other than thread it and push the power pedal? Nope! This potential goal is much like the one above in that it’s not a “fun” goal in my mind. It means I need to slow down on a project and learn something that will take more time, and I’m sorry to admit that I don’t always like to do that. Once I have prepped and traced my pattern and cut out my project, I want to follow the directions and finish the project as quickly as possible so I can GET IT ON MY BODY! Despite this, I know that learning even a few more aspects of my machine would give me more options. Luckily, I also got Serger 101 by Katrina Walker as a Christmas gift. This book looks like it has a lot of great information laid out in a clear, easy-to-follow format. Now I just need to use it!

Craft Goals for 2022

So that’s what I’m thinking! In order to actually remember and accomplish these goals, I’ll have to make sure I put them where I can see them and check them off when I finish each one. If I don’t, that lure of the new and shiny I mentioned will go into effect, and I’ll forget them as new seasons and project ideas roll in. If I focus on completing them, though, I’ll learn new things and push forward into areas I have been wanting to explore. Making something new that maybe five years ago you had no idea you even could make at home brings with it a feeling like no other. Being able to say, “I MADE this!” is amazing. And we can make a lot of things! It’s so cool!

What about you? Do you have craft goals for this year? Share below! I love to hear about what other people are planning.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats: Successes and Failures

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A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

Hi, everyone! My blogging has certainly slowed down a bit, but I’m back today with a whole bunch of knitted hats I made over the last year or two that have yet to make an appearance on the blog. So uncharacteristic! Luckily, this means I have a good-sized group to share, some of which were real successes, and some of which missed the mark. Since my knitting skills are not as advanced as my sewing skills, this is pretty much par for the course. I love knitting hats, though, because I like wearing hats, and they are a smaller project, so they don’t take as long to knit as a sweater or something larger might. If you’re a knitter, maybe you’ll discover a new pattern here. Let’s dive in! First up, successes.

Hats that Worked!

Pattern: High Cliff

Pattern source/designer: the book Plum Dandi Knits by Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary; this pattern is by Melissa Schaschwary

Yarn: bulky; I used a really beautiful hand-dyed 85% wool/15% mohair yarn that I got from Pindrop Shop on Etsy during last year’s Black Friday sale.

New technique: I tried cabling without a cable needle a few times, using Andrea Mowry’s video

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

Of all the hats here, this is my most successful and most recently made hat. I checked this book out from the library, and chose this pattern because I have been wanting to try cables again, and this just has one big one. It turned out to be really fun, interesting, and fast. I made this hat in three days of very occasional knitting. It probably helped that I made it an inch and a half shorter than the pattern calls for.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures
A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

As for the yarn, it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to use it for, but it was perfect for this hat. To my delight, the yarn sort of faded from one color to the other, reminding me of decorative corn where each kernel is a different color.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I still have to decide if it needs a pompom.

This hat fits great, and I have already worn it a lot. I love it!

Pattern: Ribbed Watchman’s Hat

Pattern source/designer: Channah Koppel

Yarn: worsted; Encore by Plymouth yarn, which is 75% acrylic/25% wool and is machine washable; I got this at Yarn on Front in Dowagiac, MI

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

This hat is actually a gift (shhh!), but I think I’m safe. I don’t think the intended recipient reads my blog. This was knit to said intended recipient’s requirements: a ribbed hat that is machine washable in yellow with a fold-up brim.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I’ve been really into the Twisted German Cast On lately, so I used that to cast on, and I knit to 11 inches before decreasing, rather than the 9.5 inches in the pattern, so that the brim could be turned up. This took me awhile, but not forever, and I think it turned out pretty well. Hopefully it’s well-received!

Pattern: Vintage Prim

Pattern source/designer: Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits

Yarn: fingering; Sock Yarn by Birch Dyeworks in colorway Pixie on a Bender, which is 80% superwash merino wool/20% nylon

Perennial by Kelbourne Woolens in Purple, which is 60% superwash merino wool/25% suri alpaca/15% nylon

Both yarns came from Pintuck & Purl; the Birch Dyeworks yarn was actually given to me by Maggie, the owner, for some socks we were going to knit together that we…uh…never really completed. I think we knit about half an inch before calling it quits. Haha.

New Technique: BRIOCHE KNITTING!

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I am so proud of this hat. I had never successfully knit brioche before trying this hat, so I was barely hanging on through this whole pattern. There are a ton of mistakes in it, but due to my inexperience with brioche, I wasn’t sure how to fix them, and sometimes I’m sure I didn’t even notice them! Somehow, though, I made it through, and I love this hat. I think it is probably a little slouchier than it should be, but I don’t even care.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

It’s really a testament to Andrea Mowry’s great patterns and YouTube video support that I even completed this. Someday I will have to try another brioche project to really get the technique down. One of my favorite things about this kind of knitting? It’s reversible!

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures
A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

As for the yarn, I love, love, love both of these yarns. Mary, the owner of Birch Dyeworks is a real artist who has an amazing eye for color, and is excellent in several crafting arenas. There are a lot of beautiful hand-dyed yarns out there, but Mary’s are some of my favorites. And the Perennial is soft and lovely. I have it in a few colors and definitely need to use it more. If I were to do this pattern again, I don’t know that I would use this exact color combination, but I would definitely look for colors that contrast like these do to really make the design stand out.

The Hat that Worked Some of the Time

Pattern: Eva

Pattern source/designer: Wild Honey Design on Etsy; no longer available

Yarn: the blue and light pink hats are made from Comfort DK by Berroco in colors 2705 (light pink) and 2753 (indigo blue); this yarn is 50% super fine nylon/50% super fine acrylic; I got this at Coveted Yarn in Gloucester, MA

the purple, gray, and white hat is in worsted weight 100% Shetland wool yarn from Yates Farm in Vermont many years ago

This wasn’t a well-written pattern, but the color chart was a lot of fun. The pattern says to use Alafosslopi yarn, which is a bulky weight, but I have tried it in various yarns with various needle sizes to adjust the sizing. It looks like I didn’t take as many notes as I should have, but my first try in DK yarn gave me about a toddler or teddy bear sized hat. I often (though not exclusively) like natural materials, and before buying this Berroco Comfort DK, I confess to being a little bit snobby in my heart about yarn, only wanting to use wool or alpaca or something. This yarn really changed my mind. It is a delight to knit with and washes and wears great!

For my second try, I used larger needles and came up with a larger child’s size.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

After that, I tried some of my worsted Shetland yarn that, for me, with my looser knitting, typically knits up to a bulky gauge. It worked, but the brim let the wind blow through while the colorwork section was pretty warm.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

If I were to do this again with the same Shetland yarn, I would double the length of the brim so I could fold it up, and go up one needle size for a better fit in the colorwork area. I absolutely loved the look of this purple and gray hat, but in the end, I gave it away because I could tell I wouldn’t wear it if the wind blew through the part over my ears, and I was too lazy to alter it! I don’t like to go back into old projects. I’m still coming around to the idea that I can unravel knitwear that didn’t work out the way I wanted.

Despite the sparse directions, I have made enough of my own notes that I would definitely make this again. I love knitting hats and I love stranded colorwork, so this is a good project for me.

Hats that Did Not Work

Before we get to these, I’ll admit that these failed due to user error. I’m definitely still learning!

Pattern: Chunky Walnut

Pattern source/designer: Katrin Schubert

Yarn: worsted weight 100% Shetland yarn from Yates Farm in Vermont; this pattern calls for chunky weight yarn and this yarn knits to a bulky weight, plus I am a loose knitter, so that probably adds up to chunky, right?

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

This pattern looks so cool, and I dove in with some of my worsted weight Shetland yarn (I seriously have so much), but somewhere around Round 15, I messed something up, and I could never figure out what I had done. The hat fit fine, but it bugged me. Whatever mistake I had made obscured the design, so I gave the hat away.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I would love to try this again at some point. It’s a really cool design.

Pattern: Urban Jungle Hat

Pattern source/designer: Rachel Illsley of Unwind Knitwear

Yarn: white mystery cone yarn given to me by Maggie of Pintuck & Purl; I did a bleach test and it is a natural fiber–I’m guessing wool, maybe superwash; it’s fingering weight

Perennial by Kelbourne Woolens in Neon Coral, which is 60% superwash merino wool/25% suri alpaca/15% nylon; fingering weight; this also came from Pindrop Shop on Etsy during last year’s Black Friday sale

hand dyed lace weight yarn in Lilac Dreams from YouKnitIDye on Etsy; this is 72% ultrafine mohair/28% mulberry silk

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

So…you’re supposed to use DK weight yarn and lace weight mohair in this pattern. I didn’t have DK that I wanted to use, but I was excited about the colors I had in fingering weight with the mohair, so I held my two fingering yarns double to equal DK. That should have worked, in theory, but the Neon Coral yarn is definitely thinner than the white yarn. Also, I’m a loose knitter who doesn’t do gauge swatches for hats.

My hat came out huge. HUGE! It sort of looked like a toadstool hat when I was done with it. I probably should have only doubled the coral and not the white or just used fingering with the mohair. Oh. And I shouldn’t have made the large slouchy version.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures
A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I did eventually (after putting the hat in a long time out) unravel this one. The yarns were a little too special to just get rid of a hat that maybe no one would even want to wear. It was a beast to unravel, though, since I was unravelling five strands of yarn at once. Ugh.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

You know, I usually never like leopard print, but I do like it in this hat. The colorwork chart is very interesting. It’s possible that I will revisit it someday. It’s definitely a cool pattern, even if I didn’t make it very well.

Whew! Now I’m all caught up on blogging my knit hats! Hopefully you will find a hat or two you might want to knit, or maybe you can laugh at my mistakes.

On the sewing front, I was actually starting to lose my sewjo, which has never happened to me before. I could never understand how people just stopped wanting to sew, but it began to happen to me. You know what I think it was? My work space was buried under piles and I had a million ideas, but hadn’t committed to a single one.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures
My work table, filled with piles of projects, materials, and ideas!

So, I cleaned up my space, and chose and committed to my next few projects. Then I made a plan to work on them a little bit most days. Now I’m back up and running, so I hope to have some projects to share with you soon. 🙂

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

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Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

It’s the first week of official summer and my Spring Outfit is finished! Hahaha. Let’s just pretend this outfit is still seasonally appropriate where I live, shall we? Let it be noted that I did actually finish the last of it a few days before the end of spring, but it was sadly too late to photograph and write up last week, plus I wasn’t feeling great, so I just didn’t get it to the blog. That means this week, instead of ‘outside in June’ photos, it’s time to wrap up this challenge and move on to some summer sewing! Woohoo!

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants
Just wearing my warm hat and long sleeves in the warm weather…totally normal.

If you have followed this challenge of mine to create a spring outfit (first laid out here), you may be surprised to see a different pants pattern in the title of this post. My initial plan was to make the Folkwear Sailor Pants. However, when the time came to work on the muslin, I read through the directions and realized that these were going to take more than a little time. They are different than normal jeans, and they would benefit from a really detailed muslin where I tried out all the techniques in my test fabric as well as looking at fit. At that point, the weather was warming up, summer sewing was galloping full-speed through my mind, and I just did not want to make these. So I put them on hold. My pattern is traced and my muslin cut out, but they can wait until fall. Maybe I will make them up then.

I have really wanted to make the Seaforth Pants by Hey June Handmade ever since they were released last year, so I bought that pattern and cut them out of some denim-y looking chambray that has been languishing in my stash for the last few years. My goal was to make them fast and hope they would fit. Not only would these complete my spring outfit, they would also be great pants to wear in the summer…more on that in a bit.

First, though, check out my spring outfit! I made it all but the shoes!

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants
Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

Maybe someday I’ll make shoes too, but for now, it was Keds to the rescue. In a perfect world, I would have sought out some oceanside wharf or something to take my pictures at since this outfit is nautical-ish in my mind, but instead you get some occasionally silly pictures closer to home.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants
One of the aforementioned silly pictures. I think we were joking about Funny Face or something at that point.

Here are the patterns, yarn, and fabric I used from top to bottom. You can find more details on notions and small odds and ends in previous blog posts where I talk about each pattern in greater detail.

+ The Oslo Hat – Mohair Edition by Petite Knit

-mystery yarn that I think is wool plus Farmer’s Daughter Mighty Mo mohair in the color “Stagecoach Mary” from Wool & Co.

+ McCall’s 5303 Sweatshirt circa 1991

Taslan in yellow and Supplex in “Candy” (pink) from The Rain Shed

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants
Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

+ Coco top by Tilly and the Buttons

-Parchment/Black 100% cotton horizontal stripe jersey knit from Fabric Mart Fabrics (sold out)

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

+ Seaforth Pants (modified) by Hey June Handmade

-old Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Dark Indigo from Pintuck & Purl (sold out)

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

+ Undergarments

+ Sew It Forward Socks by Ellie & Mac

-old Cotton + Steel cotton/spandex knit from Pintuck & Purl (sold out)

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

I really like how this outfit turned out, and I think I will get a lot of wear out of most pieces. If I had to guess, I would say that the Oslo Hat and Seaforth Pants will get the most wear, possibly followed by McCall’s 5303. I’m guessing the socks will get the least wear. They are comfortable, but I think I should make them in a slightly stretchier fabric next time or modify the top of the socks since they are somewhat tight on my lower legs. That being said, this is a cool sock pattern and is a thousand times faster than knitting socks.

As far as what I enjoyed making the most, that would have to be the McCall’s 5303 sweatshirt (windbreaker). It was really fun and interesting to make. I loved it. The thing I had the least fun making was The Oslo Hat. It wasn’t hard–just boring to knit. If you’re looking for a pattern with lots of stockinette, so you can just knit without too much thought, though, this might be the pattern for you.

I really enjoyed doing a big coordinated project, and it definitely got me inspired and excited to get sewing. I don’t plan on doing this every season, but it was really fun to do at least once.

The Seaforth Pants by Hey June Handmade

Let’s talk in a little more detail about these pants since this is the first time they are making it to the blog.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants
Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

Like I said, I have been wanting to make these pants for awhile.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

When I saw the post on the Hey June blog where Adrianna, the designer, modified the pattern and made a pair of straight leg pants, I was sold.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

It was an easy modification, I already had fabric I could use, and I thought I could finish these much faster than the Sailor Pants I had first planned to make. Added benefits were that I could skip the muslin, I could use these pants in the summer, and they would help me get an idea about how the crotch curve from this company fits me, since I also plan to make the Vero Beach shorts in the near future.

I have challenged myself this month to sew at least thirty minutes a day, six days a week, so I used one day to prep my pattern, another to cut it out, and then it was on to sewing. All of these things took longer than the thirty minutes (and sewing took several days), but that goal really helped me get moving.

I followed Adrianna’s instructions for the modified pants and also swapped the front pockets out for some patch pockets from Simplicity 8841, which I have traced onto stiff cardboard with directions glued on the back.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants
Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

My goal was speed. I’m not the fastest sewer, but I was ready to be done with this project, as fun as it’s been. I used my serger to construct and finish seams and my sewing machine for whatever I couldn’t serge.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants
Inside view
Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants
Back pocket

I added grommets and a drawstring, and I love how they came out.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

I did not add the cool bias binding Adrianna mentions in the blog post at the bottom of the pant legs. I might do that another time, though.

One thing worth noting is that when I compared my measurements to the size chart, the size 18 looked just right, and it is what I chose. When you look at the finished measurements, however, the finished hip measurement is an inch smaller than the hip measurement for the size. This made me really nervous and I almost sized up. Adrianna does talk about this and how to pick your size in the directions. After reading through that, I ended up making the 18, and it worked out great. I don’t have any problems pulling the pants over my hips–I never even think about it–but do read that part carefully (and don’t worry too much) if you make these for yourself.

I managed to finish hemming just in time to wear these to an outdoor ceremony we were attending as a family, and they were perfect. The one thing I will do when I make these again, though, is use the front pockets that are part of the pattern. I love the look of the patch pockets I chose, but if you are sitting on the ground, things do tend to fall out.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

Something I have learned from the couple of patterns I have sewn from Hey June is that when Adrianna recommends something, whether it’s a certain type of fabric or a certain type of pocket, it’s there for a good reason. I’ve gone off-book here and there and it’s been fine, but I can tell it would have been better if I had followed the recommendations more closely.

Regardless of all that, though, the pants turned out great, the crotch curve works for me, and I am so happy this fabric didn’t become a shirt dress as I had originally intended. I think it will get so much more wear in the form of these pants.

Spring Outfit Challenge Finale and the Hey June Handmade Seaforth Pants

And that’s it! Spring outfit complete! On to summer!

McCall’s 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update

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McCall’s 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update

How’s spring treating you? I’m still chugging along on my spring outfit challenge over here. Today I want to highlight the windbreaker I made! I’ll show pictures of the garments on once I have finished everything, but until then, I’m planning to talk about various patterns as they are finished.

The Pattern

McCall’s 5303 is a pattern from 1991 that is a “Learn to Sew for Fun” pattern.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge
McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update

I made the “sweatshirt”, which I’m calling a windbreaker since I made it out of nylon woven fabrics rather than sweatshirting. I really enjoyed sewing this pattern. I made a large–I am right between the large and extra large in sizing, but I remember the ’90’s and all the positive ease, so after consulting the finished measurements, I found a used copy of the large size and went with that.

The Fabric

The fabric I chose is a woven 7 oz. Taslan (the yellow) and 7 oz. Supplex (the pink). What are these fabrics and what’s the difference between them? Supplex like this is created out of texturized nylon woven together to make a fabric that looks and feels quite a bit like cotton. It’s a popular fabric for outdoor wear because it is breathable, wicking, sun protective, has a durable water repellant (DWR) finish, is quick-drying, etc. Supplex is a brand name and Taslan is the generic version of the same type of fabric. Supplex comes in knits as well, so all those qualities I mentioned apply to this specific type of woven nylon Supplex. This was a fabric that I really wanted to try (I find outdoor technical fabrics really interesting), so I placed a big order from The Rain Shed in January for this fabric in multiple colors with several projects in mind. I do think that the pink fabric has more body and the yellow has more drape. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s interesting to note.

Sewing the Windbreaker

I wondered if Taslan/Supplex would be hard to sew, but it wasn’t. I used a 90/14 microtex needle in my sewing machine and whatever my serger came with (I’m still new at the whole serger thing). It went great. One thing to note about the fabric is that it frays, so you’ll want to finish your seems somehow or other. I was even able to press the fabric on the synthetic setting without a press cloth, but test on scraps first! I’m sure it’s not the same with every iron. Also, this doesn’t press well–you get about the press you would get from finger pressing on cotton, maybe less. Still, it was just enough to help as I was making this.

The pattern instructions were excellent. I would consider myself more of a product sewer than a process sewer, i.e., I want the thing at the end more than wanting to just enjoy every little bit of the making, however I really loved sewing this windbreaker. It was just the right combination of helpful, clear instructions and problem-solving to figure out what I thought the optimal seam finish for each part was. I used several internal flat-felled seams and some serging for the most part. I deviated from the instructions on a few points. For instance, I stitched my pink facings down because I hate having facings that flap around and can catch lint in the washer and dryer, plus I like how it looks on this windbreaker.

McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update
McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update

I should note that the instructions tell you to hand baste at multiple points, but don’t let that put you off. I did this for the zipper (always a good idea, I promise) and skipped it in a number of other areas.

McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update

By the way, basting is a great chance to use more brittle, old thread! I always save my old thread that isn’t strong enough for regular sewing and use it for basting. Also, it looks pretty in a nice jar. 🙂

McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update

There is one error in the instructions, however. It relates to putting the drawstring in at the waist. Here’s how to fix it: do not put buttonholes in the front pocket before sewing it on. Sew the pocket on completely and then add the buttonholes through the pocket and the front fabric (treat the two layers as one for the buttonholes). Buttonholes should still be positioned as marked, but they must go through both layers; otherwise, when the bottom edge is folded up to form the casing, you won’t be able to thread the drawstring beyond the pocket area. I didn’t realize this until too late and had to open up my casing and just cut through the front fabric behind the buttonholes, and then drown them in Fray Check. Then I reclosed the casing and called it good enough. It does bug me that there are unfinished cuts that could fray, but they are contained in the casing, so what are you gonna do?

Thoughts on the finished windbreaker?

Well, I have yet to put it to the test in drizzly or rainy weather. I’m expecting it to be water-resistant, not to act as an actual raincoat, but I haven’t tried that out yet.

McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update
McCall’s 5303 windbreaker (sweatshirt)
McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update
McCall’s 5303 windbreaker (sweatshirt)

It’s great for slightly cool and windy days, and I love the colors I chose (yellow windbreaker, pink facings and hood lining, and purple zipper).

McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update

I may replace the white drawstrings with purple paracord to match the zipper at some point…or maybe purple shoelaces. The yellow is quite see-through, so I’m really glad this is meant to go over a shirt or sweater, rather than be a pair of pants or something. I will also have to decide after wearing it more if I would grade the hips out slightly or shorten it overall if I were to make it again. It is a unisex design, so make sure to check the finished measurements on the back of the envelope before sewing this. I found them very helpful, and I would say this fits really well–any tweaking I’m considering is just trying to finesse things rather than solve an actual problem. Overall, I really like this, and I loved sewing it.

Update on my Spring Outfit Challenge

So, now that the windbreaker is done, where does that leave the spring outfit I’m making? Well, as I mentioned previously, I finished my Coco Top

McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update
Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top, front
McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update
Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top, back

and my Oslo Hat–Mohair Edition (which I’m currently blocking).

McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update
Oslo Hat–Mohair Edition, before blocking

More recently, I finished the windbreaker and the Sew It Forward Socks.

McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update
Sew It Forward Socks
McCall's 5303 Taslan/Supplex Windbreaker and Spring Outfit Challenge Update
Look! I’m a foot model!

I’m currently working on my undergarments (which I won’t be blogging), and then I plan to tackle the Folkwear Sailor Pants! I’m a little nervous about the pants because I know they may need some changes, but I have challenged myself to sew at least 30 minutes every day except Sundays in June, so hopefully that will ward off procrastination. I can feel the pull of summer sewing, so I really want to wrap this up. So far, though, it’s been super fun and has been great for my sewjo.

More next time!

Spring Sewing Plans: My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

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Spring Sewing Plans:  My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

*I’m reposting this because the pictures were only showing as links when viewed on a phone. I’m sorry for any confusion! Hopefully you can see all my pictures now, no matter what type of device you are reading on.*

Hi, everyone! I have something a little different for you today. Normally, I do a photography post the last Friday of every month, but I never made the time to get out and take those photos in March. So instead, I want to share a little challenge I have set myself for the spring.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

Now, I love planning sewing projects–and knitting projects, actually, but especially sewing projects. I wanted to try something new for the spring–a personal challenge of some kind. I know there are a million sewing challenges floating around the internet, but I usually have so many ideas of my own that I find it hard to take time away from my never-ending list of fun possibilities to follow the guidelines of a challenge. So, I decided to create my own! I want to try to make myself a spring outfit that all goes together. My plan is to make as many of the pieces as I can. While this isn’t an especially novel idea in and of itself, it’s distinctly different from how I usually work, which makes it fun and refreshing for me.

Here’s a broad outline of what I want to make: a long-sleeved t-shirt, some pants, and a windbreaker for my main pieces. In addition, I plan to make undergarments (which won’t show up here, as I don’t feel comfortable blogging those, but which I will still make), socks, and a hat. I haven’t learned to make shoes, so I’ll exclude those.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

All right! That seems like a pretty good list. Now let’s break it down.

Where I live, spring starts off quite cool and takes awhile to warm up. Every year, I wish I had some Breton-striped long-sleeved shirts in bright colors for spring time, so that or something similar is what I want to make for my shirt. (Never heard of Breton stripes? Check out this article on the history of Breton Stripes.)I decided that I would pick my pattern based on what fabric I found. I could use the Union St. Tee from Hey June Handmade if my fabric was pretty stretchy or Vogue 8950 if I found two coordinating stretchy fabrics. If the fabric was low-stretch, I could make the Coco Top from Tilly and the Buttons.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

After lots of deliberation, I ordered this coral pink and white striped sweater knit from Fashion Fabrics Club. It’s low stretch, so I’ll make the Coco top with long sleeves and boat neckline.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

Since a Breton-striped shirt has nautical roots, I thought it would be fun to make the Sailor Pants, Pattern 229, from Folkwear, which I got for Christmas.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge
My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

I found some non-stretch, medium/heavy weight denim also at Fashion Fabrics Club. I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous about this, but I plan to compare the pattern to jeans patterns that fit me as well as some genuine sailor pants that I own. The pants I have are the same 13-button style, but are made in a wool gabardine (I think). They are truly high-rise and don’t have quite the bell-bottom shape of the Folkwear pattern. I plan to use them as a guide. I may even make a muslin. All the extra steps and double checking are, admittedly, the kinds of things that usually lead me to procrastinate, so fingers crossed on these.

For my windbreaker, I want to use the sweatshirt pattern in vintage McCall’s 5303.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

I have had this pattern for a long time. It’s one I got from my Mom’s pattern stash, although she gave me the medium instead of the large. After looking at the finished measurements, I decided to hunt down a large online, even though anything from the medium through the extra large would fit. I think the windbreaker/sweatshirt will be great to throw on when the wind whips up on the beach, and in a Supplex/Taslan, which is water resistant, it will even keep sprinkles off. It doesn’t hurt that Supplex/Taslan also blocks a good amount of UV rays. Woven Supplex is something I have wanted to try more of for awhile now. Previously I used a tiny bit for the neckline placket and pocket of my Patagonia-inspired sweatshirt, but that wasn’t enough to get a real feel for the fabric. I ordered a bunch from the Rainshed so I can make this and hopefully some hiking pants and board shorts later this year. My original plan was to make the main part in yellow with magenta facings on the hood.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

After looking at the various colors I ordered, however, I think I would rather make the main part in yellow with this “Candy” pink for the hood facings. I do need the Candy pink for another project as well, but I’m hoping that with some careful cutting, I’ll be able to make it work for both.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

For the socks, I found the free Sew It Forward Socks from Ellie & Mac, a sewing company that is new to me.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

Free patterns are such a great way to try out a new company, and a sock pattern I could sew was right up my alley. I’m not quite sure what fabric I want to use for these, but I’m hoping to use up some of my t-shirt scraps.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

Because it is often cool here during a lot of the spring, I thought a hat might be a good idea as well. I plan to make The Oslo Hat–Mohair Edition from Petite Knit. It will be nice to throw a little knitting into the mix.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

Maggie at Pintuck & Purl gave me some mystery yarn on a cone and after doing some tests, I’d guess it’s a wool fingering weight yarn. I plan to pair it with some silk mohair from The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers to make this hat. I picked out the color “Stagecoach Mary” from their Mighty Mo line over on the Wool & Co. website.

My Personal Spring Outfit Challenge

If the season gets ahead of me and warms up before I finish with this, I still plan to make it, but I’ll consider substituting a bag pattern or just taking this off my spring outfit list without substituting something else for it.

And that’s it! I’m really excited about this! Even when I work in larger batches of several projects at once, I don’t usually try to coordinate my projects, so it’s fun to do something a little different. We’ll see how I get on as the season progresses. I have a few things to finish up, and then I plan to get started tracing all my patterns. As I get going, I’ll post some projects that I finished recently, and by the time I’m done showing you those, I bet I’ll have some of this challenge finished! If this sounds fun, feel free to join me and make your own spring outfit using whatever parameters sound good to you, then leave me a link in my comments so I can check out what you’re up to!

Winter Knitting: Wool and Honey Sweater in Jamieson and Smith 2 Ply Jumper Weight

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Winter Knitting:  Wool and Honey Sweater in Jamieson and Smith 2 Ply Jumper Weight

If you are reading this post, then it means I have actually succeeded!  Last week, I had some family things to take care of that took the time I would normally be blogging, and this week our computer sort of…exploded?  There were no pieces of metal or plastic flying through the air, but there was a loud bang and lots of sparks.  Thanks to my in-laws, I have a laptop I can use to get everything sorted and out on the blog, although for awhile there, I couldn’t upload pictures or get WordPress to save my post. However, it seems I have finally prevailed (with help from my husband and the internet)! In the grand scheme of things, this is minor, but it feels like an accomplishment nonetheless.  While I’m not bad at technology, it’s far from my first love.  What I really love is fibers I can sew and knit.  Today’s project is of the knitting variety–I made a Wool & Honey sweater!

My Wool & Honey Sweater
My Wool and Honey sweater in Jamieson and Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight yarn

The Wool & Honey sweater is a pattern from Drea Renee Knits (Andrea Mowry).  The first time I saw someone wearing this sweater, I thought it was really cool, but had a very strange shape.  The shoulders and sleeves are fitted, while the body is wide and boxy.  There’s a really cool honeycomb pattern that sits on top of the stitches at the neck, chest, and upper arms.

My Wool & Honey Sweater
Wool and Honey sweater front view
My Wool & Honey Sweater
Wool and Honey sweater back view

I initially wrote the design off as something with interesting details that wasn’t quite for me.  But somehow, as often happens, the design got into my head.  Then I accidentally made a sweater with a similar shape in the fall…and I liked it!

I bought the paper pattern at Pintuck & Purl and decided that I would join in their Winter Sweater Make-Along on Zoom. 

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After researching yarn, I decided to go with Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight, which was both less expensive, even after having it shipped from the UK, and less prone to breakage than the recommended yarn.

My Wool & Honey Sweater
My Wool & Honey Sweater

Once I got all my supplies, I knit up a few “swift swatches in the round” and realized that I was, as usual, knitting very loosely. 

My Wool & Honey Sweater
My swatch from the right side after blocking
My Wool & Honey Sweater
Here is the back of my swatch after blocking–it looks messy, but it helps you swatch quickly in the round.

I recalculated my gauge so that I could knit at the gauge that I got, and found that I would need to make the smallest size, rather than the size I would normally fit into, which would have been the medium or large.  I really had to make it work since I was already using very tiny US size 0 and 1 knitting needles.  Here is where I have to give a huge shoutout to Meaghan over at the Drea Renee Knits (DRK) team.  While I could knit the XS to get a bust size that would work for me, it looked like the arms would be too tight.  I e-mailed the DRK pattern help address and explained my problem.  Meaghan took time to talk through all the details with me, help me with my math, explain that Andrea Mowry drafted these sleeves so they would fit well with anywhere from -2″ up to +3″ of ease, AND she offered to check over all my math once I made my calcuations since her formula was slightly different than the one I had first used.  She really went above and beyond, and I am so grateful.  It made a huge difference in my confidence and in the finished sweater to have someone that knowledgeable to talk things over with.  And as it turned out, the XS was going to be fine with the gauge I got, sleeves and all.

My Wool & Honey Sweater

Knitting this pattern was fascinating.  I had no idea how the honeycombs would be formed.  They are really ingenious. I love that they look like they are randomly scattered over the surface of the sweater and that they grow in size as they go from the neck down toward the waist. 

My Wool & Honey Sweater
My Wool & Honey Sweater
My Wool & Honey Sweater

This is my second DRK pattern, and I am a convert.  Any special techniques I might not understand are explained in the pattern or on Andrea’s YouTube channel.  Knowing I could e-mail someone for pattern help is really the icing on the cake.  This pattern was challenging, but not too hard thanks to the help provided, and it was interesting.  The only part I didn’t love was how long it takes to knit a sweater with fingering weight yarn on tiny needles.  Needless to say, the Winter Sweater Make-Along finished long before I was done with my own sweater, but it gave me the push I needed to get started, and it was fun to connect with other knitters over Zoom.  Just as I really began to think I would never finish, I got going on my sleeves.  Even making them a little bit longer, by the time I got to the sleeves, the end really was imminent (even if it didn’t always feel like it).  I began this in mid-October and finished in early to mid-February.

My Wool & Honey Sweater

I absolutely love this sweater.  In the first two weeks after I finished it, I wore it almost every day.  My family started to laugh at me, I wore it so much.  It’s warmer than I expected for the weight of the yarn, but not bulky or too warm.  

My Wool & Honey Sweater

Here are my takeaways from this project: 

  • I am a total fan of DRK patterns.  They are interesting, fun, and there is great support to help you through the parts you don’t understand.  I have since signed up for her newsletter, which I’m really enjoying.  I even got my mom hooked as we’re knitting Andrea’s Sparks socks pattern together over Zoom. 
  • I love this Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight yarn.  It’s beautiful in color and texture and great to knit with.  It blooms nicely with blocking and it has given me a whole new appreciation for the Shetland yarn I have in my stash from my first knitting phase years ago.  This yarn comes from Shetland sheep which are an old and very cool breed.  I love its rustic look.  It’s softer than you would expect, and while it blooms when blocked, it doesn’t jump right to getting felted.  I would definitely knit more projects with this yarn. 
  • That being said, I don’t love how long it took to knit a sweater out of fingering weight yarn.  I know four months isn’t forever, but it often felt like it took forever to complete even a single round of stitches.  I absolutely love the lightness and drape of the sweater, so I understand why people love fingering weight sweaters.  I won’t say I’ll never knit one again, but I definitely need a break. 

And the boxy body plus close-fitting arm style?  I love it!  I don’t like how it looks with every pair of pants I own, but with closer-fitting bottoms, I do like it, and it’s a dream to wear.  The stretchy sleeves and forgiving fit of the body are also great for weight fluctuations, making this a sweater that should last a long time. 

My Wool & Honey Sweater

I’m so glad I tried this.  While sewing is my biggest love, I have done less of it than I would have expected over the last year, moving at a slow-but-steady pace, while I have done more knitting than I would have expected.  Knitting is easy to pick up and put down, and I have two new knitting buddies in my mom, who has come back to knitting after a long absence, and one of my kids, who is really getting into it. 

I love, love, love being able to make my own clothes.  Knitting gives me one more tool in that box. 

My Wool & Honey Sweater

If I could add any other tool?  Shoe-making!  Maybe one day.  🙂

My Wool & Honey Sweater

Sweater Knitting: The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

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Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

Looking back over the past two or three fall/winter seasons, I noticed something: I have knit a lot of sweaters! I went from someone who had sworn off knitting because I just could not size larger projects correctly back to someone who almost always has at least one project on my needles. I’m still not awesome at sizing. I’m a loose knitter and sometimes my gauge changes as I go along. And I definitely don’t love knitting as much as sewing, but I do like its portability and how easy it is to knit for just a few minutes here and there. Finding affordable yarn in a fiber I like is a struggle, but I’m getting better at that, too.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

All of these things came into play with the Engle sweater by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

I love the colorwork designs incorporated in the different patterns from this designer–they stand out in a way that is really pleasing to me.

The Engle is knit from the top down in a thin but fluffy yarn on larger needles, and incorporates colorwork.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

While looking for an affordable yarn for this project, I discovered the brand DROPS Design, which is based in Norway. They have a lot of different yarns in various fibers (plus lots of free patterns) for an affordable price. The US distributors that carry the full range of their yarns are actually based in the UK. One of DROPS’ offerings is Brushed Alpaca Silk, which has a very similar percentage of alpaca and silk to the yarn recommended by the pattern. I loved the colors, and the yarn was very affordable.

There was a great little line drawing included with this pattern that you could use as a coloring page to try out color combinations.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

I was so happy to see this! On my Soldotna Sweater, I had made my own coloring page, but here was one made for me! After some coloring, I ordered cerise, black, off white, and curry from Purple Sheep Yarns. Shipping was reasonable, and the yarn arrived quickly.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

After swatching, I ended up using size US 8 needles for my colorwork, US 7’s for the stockinette portion, and US 6’s for my ribbing (except on the sleeves, where I forgot). Optional techniques used: Twisted German Cast On (nice and stretchy for the neck edge), Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

I began knitting my sweater in the summer, I think (maybe July?), but it was clearly coming out too large (my loose knitting was wreaking havoc). I unraveled it and cast on again on August 23, 2020 after taking a break and redoing my calculations. My measurements had put me in a size 4, but with the gauge I was knitting at, I could knit a size 2 and achieve a size 4 (in theory). Unfortunately, with my loose knitting and the lack of elasticity in alpaca and silk, which don’t have the bounce-back that wool does, my sweater was large and grew a bit. It was so beautiful, though, that I kept going, and hoped for the best.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

Now that I knew I was knitting a bit loose and now that I remembered alpaca’s tendency to grow and relax, I got into my groove and decided that I wouldn’t knit the sleeves quite as long as the pattern directed, since I expected them to grow a bit with wear. For that reason, I opted not to do the sleeve color chart, even though I really liked it. It seemed like the colorwork would be a little too close to my yoke.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Inside of the sweater, front
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Inside of the sweater, back; you can see where I carried my yarn down as I went along

By the end of September/beginning of October, the sweater was finished. My loose knitting and the relaxed sweater meant that I didn’t actually have to knit quite as long as expected before it was long enough. The shape turned out a little boxier than I had expected, but I love it! It’s so soft and warmer than you would think. The drape is nice, too, and it hasn’t really grown or stretched beyond what you see here.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

So, while I won’t say I sized this just right, I do love this sweater and have worn it a lot over the fall and winter. Knitting loosely with this yarn creates a very interesting, light, and soft fabric and a beautiful sweater.