Tag Archives: winter

Spring Sweatshirt: Brunswick + Josie

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Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

Hey! We’re finally into the spring sewing! Granted, I have lots of smaller crafts and knitted items that remain unblogged, but that’s ok. On to spring! This is actually the only garment I have sewn for spring because I’m hard at work on my Spring Outfit! More on that in a future post.

This sweatshirt is made of the softest Tencel sweatshirt fleece EVER.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

I found it at Pintuck & Purl last year, and I bought the last of it. Kali, who works there, even let me buy the little bit she had been saving for herself so I would have enough for my project (thanks, Kali!). I’ve been curious about Tencel, which is a semi-synthetic (like modal, rayon, or lyocell), but which is made with an earth-friendly process by the company Lenzing. I have a thrifted shirt in Tencel, which is drapey like any rayon challis might be, but this sweatshirt knit was a different ballgame. It is drapey, substantial, not overly heavy, so soft, and stretchy.

I got the idea in my head that I wanted to make this fabric into a Brunswick Pullover, a pattern by Hey June Handmade, with a curved hem like that of the Style Arc Josie Hoody.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

I have made both of these patterns before (Brunswick and Josie), and they are two of my very favorite sweatshirts. I’m actually wearing my Josie Hoody as I type this. After checking, I had just barely enough fabric if I chose View A with the hood rather than the cowl neck. The only issue is that the Brunswick is made for heavier weight, lower stretch knits–actually for two-way stretch knits. None of these things describe this black sweatshirt knit. However, Adrianna, the pattern designer, helpfully included fitting notes for anyone who, like me, veered off-script.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

Per her instructions, I sized down from my measurements (which put me at a 20 bust and 22 hip) to the 16 bust and 18 hip I had used previously. It was so helpful that I could try on the Brunswick I already had, which is still a good fit at those sizes. I also took 1/2″ off the bottom sides of the sleeves and 1″ off the width of the cuffs as suggested. Then I added the Josie Hoody hem shape at the bottom of front and back, knowing I might have to work out some issues when I got to the plackets and hem facings.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

For my arm pocket, I cut into one of the two precious fat quarters of Liberty lawn that I own and underlined it by fusing some black silk crepe de chine to it. Fancy! The fusing made things a little on the stiff side, but it was fine in the end, especially after a few wears. I’ve used lawn for pocket bags in pants before and, let me tell you, it is not a good idea. It’s just not durable enough for that kind of wear and tear. This pocket wouldn’t have as much stress on it, but I didn’t like even the smallest possibility of it wearing through in the future, so underlining it was! I didn’t worry about the lawn on the plackets. They’re interfaced where necessary and don’t come under much strain.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie
Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie
Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

Things went along pretty well, even at the spot where the plackets joined my modified hems and when I installed grommets for my hood strings.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie
Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie
Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

The one part I wish I had done differently/better is where the sides of the hood meet in the front. The instructions tell you not to overlap the pieces, but I wonder if I understood it incorrectly. I think they should overlap in the seam allowance and just *kiss* at the seam line (at least in this lighter weight knit). Mine have a gap, so there was probably some user error in there, since Hey June’s instructions have so far proved impeccable.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

I love how this sweatshirt came out. It was worth the crazy hassle to find notions that were color coordinated (why is this so hard?!) and the extra steps to modify the pattern. There is, however, one thing I should have thought about before, but completely missed. It’s not a deal breaker, but here it is. Using a shaped hem with facings actually shortens the sweatshirt from its intended length. The original pattern has you cut the front and back and add a separate piece for the bottom cuff, which adds some length. I didn’t think about that one bit until I put it on at the end. I’m cool with the length it ended up, but if I could travel back in my time machine, I would add the extra length into the body of the sweatshirt.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie
Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

Otherwise, I like it. It has a different feel from a low-stretch sweatshirt. It is drapey, stretchy, and has a pleasant weight that isn’t overpowering. I’ve been wearing it a lot, and it’s only increased my love for these patterns and fabric.

Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie
Spring Sweatshirt:  Brunswick + Josie

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

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Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

What seems like a story about a pattern, is actually a story about fabric. The wool/polyester waffle knit I chose to sew into a Visby Henley surprised me and caused the project to take an unexpected turn.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

I love henley shirts for fall and winter. These long-sleeved knits with a short placket at the neck, epitomize rugged yet comfortable cool-weather style in my mind. Although I have hacked the Thread Theory men’s Strathcona Henley in the past to create such a top for myself, I was excited to try the Itch to Stitch Visby Henley & Top when it came out. Not only is it drafted for women, it has a raglan sleeve and a number of other options that could be fun to explore in the future.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit
Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

After searching and considering different fabric options, I decided to try a wool/polyester waffle knit I found on e-bay. It was 80% New Zealand wool blended with 20% polyester at an affordable price, and the seller promised that although they didn’t cut straight, they cut long yards. And they weren’t kidding! When I got my fabric, I measured and found that they had given me an extra 2/3-3/4 of a yard!

The fabric felt like your typical, fairly thin waffle knit. It had just enough stretch for the pattern (barely!).

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

I like to wash my wool and, if it seems warranted, shrink it down as much as possible before sewing it up so that I can machine wash and dry the finished garment. Believe it or not, this usually works for me. I wasn’t sure what would happen with this fabric, so I cut a little test swatch and threw it in the washer. It showed some shrinkage, and it did change the hand slightly, but in a really nice way, making the fabric a bit fluffier and beefier.

After two test swatches, I threw in my yardage. I washed it a few times so it would shrink as much as it was going to. That’s when I started to feel some surprise. That extra yardage? It shrunk right out. What I mean is that the fabric shrunk down to the amount I had originally ordered, which was three yards. Maybe I had gone too far, but I LOVED the feel of the fulled (felted), shrunken fabric. It was so soft and nice!

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

Now it was too thick to make the henley, however, so I changed course and opted to try the basic top option. The pattern was easy and clear–no problems with the small exception of a slightly wavy neckline, which I figured would be fine after washing. I had sized up so the finished garment would be on the looser side.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit
The neckline has mostly settled and straightened since washing.

When I was finished, the fit was great. So was the feel! Rather than a shirt, this felt like a light, cozy sweater! I wore it once to test it out, and threw it in the wash, figuring I would just plan to wash it on cold and air dry it from here on out.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

When I wore it next, it seemed…well…a little smaller. Was it still shrinking?! Even with a cold wash and no dryer? Yikes!

The next time I wore it, it fit perfectly–no longer oversized, but just right. However…if it shrinks any more, I’ll have to give it to one of my kids. I love my kids, but I want this shirt-sweater for me! Now the shirt has been relegated to the hand-wash pile (I don’t hand wash anything if I can help it, so it’s the only thing in the pile.).

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

The future of the shirt is unknown! I’ve just hand washed it, and it looks good, but now that it’s warming up, I’m going to put it away until cooler weather. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t shrink any further!

Takeaways? The Itch to Stitch Visby Henley & Top is a great pattern that I would happily make again. This fabric is wonderful, but if you try it, proceed with caution and don’t be as tough on it as I was. Happy sewing!

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

Time to post my last few winter sewing projects! Today I want to talk about the Émilie (formerly Yoko) Square Roll-Neck Top from Jalie in a wool/Lycra jersey (plus a kid-sized top in cotton/Lycra!).

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

This is a free pattern for women and girls that comes with 28 sizes–pretty impressive! That is typical of Jalie’s patterns, making them a great value for money. I haven’t worn turtlenecks/roll-neck shirts in a few years, so I thought I would use this pattern to do a little scrap-busting and try the style out.

Like my last two sweaters (Engle and Wool & Honey), this pattern has a boxy/square body and fitted sleeves. Unlike those sweaters, however, this pattern has a drop-sleeve. I guess this is the year of that fun but odd silhouette for me! It’s not my favorite silhouette, but it’s interesting and comfortable. I used a green wool/Lycra jersey that I got from Fabric Mart Fabrics a number of years ago for my top and some navy and flower print cotton/Lycra jersey for a kid-sized top. I can’t remember where I got the navy, but the flower knit is an old Cotton + Steel fabric that I got from Pintuck & Purl some time ago.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

For my top, my measurements put me in size Z for the bust and BB for the waist and hip. Because this is a boxy style, I opted to make a straight size Z. For the kid shirt, I made a straight size N. I used my serger for the main seams and my sewing machine for the hems.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops
Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

The tops were pretty easy to sew. There weren’t any points where the instructions were unclear or where things got tricky, making this a nice, quick project.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

Jalie’s instructions come in French and English and are not extensive, but are clear. This free and simple pattern would be a great way to get a feel for the company if you are interested in trying their patterns. While I haven’t tried many of their patterns, I know I can turn to them when I want a reasonable cost for a LOT of sizes and professional results, especially if I want to make activewear.

Let’s get back to the tops! The hems came out much better in the cotton/Lycra than in my thin wool/Lycra jersey where I ended up with some tunneling and scrunching.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops
Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

Still, you only really see that up close, and it doesn’t affect the fit at all. The neck is a double layer of fabric, which both looks and feels good.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

These tops turned out to be nice and comfy, and while I’m sort of over the whole extreme dropped sleeve look, I’m happy I made them and tried this pattern out.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

I like how they look in the cotton better than in the wool, as this thin jersey, while comfortable, attracts lots of fuzzies, and is slightly on the pukey side of spring green. Still, it’s a great layering piece that will work in any sort of cool weather, and I do love having a few wool jersey tops in my wardrobe. I’ve made one other shirt in this fabric, which you can see here.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops
Look! It’s blue sky! (The photo shoots get silly more often than not.)

If I were to make this again, I would consider cotton/Lycra or a slightly heavier weight wool/Lycra . That’s not a “rule” of any sort, just my feelings after making this in these two different substrates.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

Interestingly enough, Tessuti has a very similar free pattern, the Monroe Turtleneck, which you could also try if you are thinking of making a top like this, although it doesn’t have the extensive size range Jalie does. It would be fun to make both and compare them. If this is a style you are into, this is a great pattern. I like it, but don’t absolutely love it, although I do really like Jalie as a pattern company, and hope to make many more of their patterns in the future.

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

Ullvi Slouchy Hats from The Last Stitch in Polartec Fleece

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Ullvi Slouchy Hats from The Last Stitch in Polartec Fleece

Sometimes it takes a little while for a project to make it to the ol’ blog, and this is one of those projects. I tried out the Ullvi Slouchy Hat Sewing Pattern from The Last Stitch in January.

Last Stitch Ullvi Slouchy Hats in Polartec Fleece
Ullvi Slouchy Hat Sewing Pattern from The Last Stitch
Last Stitch Ullvi Slouchy Hats in Polartec Fleece
Line drawing of the Ullvi Slouchy Hat Sewing Pattern from The Last Stitch

If you have read this blog for a long time, you might notice that every winter for the past few years, I make a couple of projects with Polartec fleece. Because of that, I have a lot of scraps and odd pieces left over. I’m not great at using scraps, but I try when I can. This year, I decided to take any of my Power Stretch and Curly Fleece odds and ends that were big enough and make hats out of them.

I bought a bundle of patterns a few years ago from The Last Stitch that included the Tova Mittens, Brisa Beanie, and Ullvi Slouchy Hat and haven’t tried them all yet. After looking at both hat patterns, I went with the Ullvi for this project, even though the fleece I wanted to use wasn’t exactly right. This pattern is designed to have double layers, however my fabrics all had distinct right and wrong sides that wouldn’t quite work with the way the hat is meant to be constructed. There are some great suggestions in the instructions for adapting the pattern, however, and those got me thinking. I knew I could make it work.

Last Stitch Ullvi Slouchy Hats in Polartec Fleece

The best plan seemed to be to cut my hats in a single layer and either cover the bottom edge with foldover elastic or extend the bottom edge by 1/2 inch for a hem allowance. I decided on the hem allowance. The pattern calls for a 5mm or 1/5 inch seam allowance, but I chose to use a 1/4 inch seam allowance, since that’s standard with the tools that I use. It’s a slightly larger seam allowance, but with stretchy fabrics, it’s not a big deal.

For such a relatively simple garment, the designer put a lot of thought into this hat. She provides two different methods of assembly. The first gives you a hat where the seam allowance is visible inside, and the second gives you a hat with no visible seam allowances inside. For my single-layer hats, the first method seemed best. After initially using only my sewing machine and getting wavy seam allowances, I decided I would serge the top and side seams of the hats and use my sewing machine to hem them with a zigzag stitch.

Last Stitch Ullvi Slouchy Hats in Polartec Fleece
Look at those wavy edges! More testing needed!

In fact, I hemmed each hat before doing any of the other seams. For this, I used a walking foot, standard presser foot pressure, a 75/11 stretch needle, polyester thread in my needle, and bulky/wooly nylon in my bobbin. My stitch height was 6 and my stitch length was 1.5. I tested all this on scraps before committing to it. Using a zigzag and wooly nylon in my bobbin are just personal preferences–you could also use a twin needle and polyester thread in the bobbin instead.

Last Stitch Ullvi Slouchy Hats in Polartec Fleece

Because I am still new to using my serger, I had to adjust the settings of the differential feed a few times before I could get smooth, rather than wavy, edges. I ended up setting it at 1.5. This was a great project to practice my serger skills on. Every little bit helps!

The only step of the instructions where I had questions was step 5. I couldn’t tell if the side seam was supposed to be on the side or in the back middle during this step, as the illustration wasn’t clear on that. The notches were also not labeled at this step, so after looking things over, I labeled them for myself. The “A” notches are at the top, the “B” notches are on the side, and the “C” notch/mark is in the middle. All of this means, I think, that the side seam is not pictured because it should be lying at the back in the middle. I know this is really getting into the minute details, but if you have questions at this point, hopefully you can benefit from my experience. Other than that, I didn’t have any problems, and I found the instructions very clear.

While I didn’t try every assembly option, I did try out all the sizes. I made a small for a family member and used up the rest of my scraps trying out the different sizes for a few other people.

Last Stitch Ullvi Slouchy Hats in Polartec Fleece

Everything turned out really well, but I definitely liked the finished product in the Power Stretch best (the gray, ivory, and pink hats) and the Curly Fleece least (the yellow and green), although all of them are wearable.

Last Stitch Ullvi Slouchy Hats in Polartec Fleece
Ullvi Slouchy Hat in Polartec Power Stretch
Last Stitch Ullvi Slouchy Hats in Polartec Fleece
While the Curly Fleece didn’t make my favorite hat, it does match my sweatshirt!

The Power Stretch has much better recovery, so it works better overall. So far, that is my favorite Polartec fleece substrate. I just love it for leggings, sweatshirts, and now hats.

I found this pattern really interesting and would definitely try it again. I hope to try out the Brisa Beanie at some point as well. You can see my first attempt at the Tova mittens here. Hopefully I can give those another try in the future, too. All of these patterns are great for stash busting.

Now I had better go and take pictures of some of my other finished projects so I can share them with you! Have a great weekend!

Outside in February

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Outside in February

It’s been a winter wonderland out there this month! I got out a few times and captured some of the gorgeous snow and even a few pictures of birds eating out of my hand! It was amazing! Have a look.

Outside in February
Outside in February
Outside in February
Outside in February
Outside in February
Outside in February
Outside in February
Outside in February
Look at this little Black Capped Chickadee! Isn’t it cute?
Outside in February
Here’s a Red-Breasted Nuthatch. Feel free to correct me in the comments if I have my bird names wrong. 🙂

We fed a Tufted Titmouse as well, but it was so shy, that I never got any pictures. That’s a bird, by the way, and not a mouse, although we did see a mouse.

Outside in February
Outside in February
Outside in February
Outside in February
Look at the ice patterns on our windshield after we had a freeze one night!
Outside in February

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.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

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Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

I’m back with a few more Twig + Tale leaf blankets from the Tropical Leaf Collection–this time Monstera Leaf blankets!

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets
Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

Previously, I made the large: Fan Leaf, Elephant Ear Leaf, and Banana Leaf child size blankets for other people from this collection, but I have had my eye on the large Monstera Leaf blanket for me!

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

Instead of making just one for myself, I made one for me and one for a friend. Since I now have a beloved monstera plant of my own adorning my sewing space, I thought I needed a similarly cool blanket.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

I looked through my stash for likely fabric candidates and came up with some good finds! For me, I chose a heavyweight golden twill, originally from Fabric Mart, that I used in this duffle bag project and, to go with it, an olive green blanket remnant given to me long before I started sewing seriously.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

For my friend’s blanket, I chose a lighter weight ivory twill (also from Fabric Mart), originally destined for the aforementioned duffle bag, but not used, and a lightweight olive twill first used for these pants.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

Maybe the ivory isn’t so practical if this blanket gets spread on the ground, but it looked so good with the olive twill, that I had to go for it. And it felt great to put those awesome fabrics that had been languishing in my stash to good use. I was also able to use the rest of the package of cotton batting I had gotten for those first three leaves. I just had to piece it a little on my friend’s leaf. To do that, I simply overlapped my scraps and sewed with a zigzag stitch. Then I trimmed the pieces to the sewing lines. I think I did this before cutting the leaf out so I wouldn’t accidentally make it smaller when I sewed my scraps together.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

Five large leaf blankets from one full size package of batting is pretty good! In case you’re curious, this is the batting I have been using, bought on sale at Joann Fabric.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

I made my blanket first. I like to layer my fabrics just as I want to sew them (two main fabrics right sides together and the batting on top or underneath) and then cut out everything at once. This can be a little tricky if you have barely enough fabric, so it’s best to go slow and double check yourself. It was definitely harder to maneuver the thicker fabrics I chose than it is to sew these blankets in thinner fabrics, but I tried to be patient and I got the job done. There were a few points where I didn’t have my layers quite perfect and I think I sewed a bit too close to the edge and got some fraying when I turned the blanket to the right side, but I can live with that.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

I think this blanket shape is slightly harder to sew than the other three I have done, although it’s still definitely something you can do, even if you don’t have much experience–just don’t rush it, and make sure you follow the directions on clipping your seams and whatnot. The instructions that come with this collection are excellent.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets
Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

The second blanket (olive and ivory) with thinner fabric was much easier to manipulate, and since I was back in the groove, it went faster.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets
Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

This is one of those addictive projects where you tell yourself you’ll do just one step more, and then one more, and one more until you find you are finished. It’s so hard to stop once you start! And there’s no fitting, unlike clothing! 😀 I was not as careful with clipping my internal curves on this blanket, so I got a few puckers when I turned it out to the right side, but oh well.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

Lesson learned for next time (hopefully, haha).

On both blankets, I drew my quilting lines freehand with chalk by looking at the pattern. That has worked well for me–it’s nice to know the drawing classes I took in college are being put to good use. 😉 Once the blankets have been quilted, I throw them in the wash to remove the chalk marks, and they are done! No matter what little areas I feel I haven’t done quite right, when these blankets come out of the wash, they always look so great! And these monsteras were no exception. I LOVE how they turned out! The shape is so cool and the quilting looks amazing and really brings the blankets to life. I am SO happy with them.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

So, what do you use one of these blankets for if you, like me, want to make one but are not child size yourself? Since I usually sleep with a fan on, I have used mine to cover my shoulders as that is a part of me that gets cold sometimes; plus, the blanket looks awesome on our bed. I suspect my friend may occasionally use hers to sit on outside as she is a huge nature-lover and spends lots of time outdoors. I noticed that this shape, without batting, would make a pretty cool tablecloth, although it doesn’t fully cover our table, so it would be more decorative. These also make nice baby blankets, floor coverings, and towel substitutes (for sitting on rather than drying off, although I guess your fabric choice would dictate that).

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

Even though there is a part of me that also wants to make the Paw Paw leaf and the Lily Pad blanket so I can say I’ve made them all in at least one size, I did get the North American Leaf Blanket Collection (both child and doll sizes) for Christmas, so it’s more likely that I’ll make one of those into a baby blanket for a friend. That Maple Leaf blanket would be perfect. And someday I’d like to make some of the doll size blankets for home decor or gifts. I’m so glad I tried this pattern. I can’t say enough good things about it–it’s just so much fun. I hope you try it if you are looking for something like this.

Twig + Tale Monstera Leaf Blankets

Outside Discoveries, January

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Outside Discoveries, January

This month, I have not gotten outside quite as much. However, while today’s pictures aren’t necessarily my favorites aesthetically, they show some of the fun discoveries I made when I did get outside.

Outside in January
Weathered stripes on an old tree
Outside in January
Footprints of birds
Outside in January
Racoon prints (I think)
Outside in January
Deer prints

And look what I found while walking along a wooded path…

Outside in January
Outside in January

A Christmas tree in the woods! And not just one…

Outside in January

Two! This little one made me think of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. 🙂

And lastly, this soft and beautiful moss with snow on it.

Outside in January

I hope you get a chance to get outside and look for little surprises and bits of beauty too!

Sailor-Inspired Pants! Simplicity 8391 in Denim

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Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

I’ve met some serious secret pajama goals with this pair of pants. In making these wide-legged, comfortable, sailor-inspired jeans, I’m revisiting a pattern I tried for the first time last summer: Simplicity 8391, view C.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Simplicity 8391
Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

Only this time I added seven inches to the length of the cropped pants in the pattern to make full-length pants/trousers, and I made them in denim because after several years of skinny jeans, I’m ready to let my legs out of prison, at least some of the time. Plus, these feel about as great as a nice pair of pajama pants.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Family help with pictures means things get silly.

I made these from a lighter midweight denim from Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA. Fabric Place Basement is turning out to be a good source of denim for me. This denim was nicely drapey rather than stiff, perfect for wide leg pants.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

I cut a 22. Really, I just altered the pattern I used this summer by adding length. My hem is 1.25 inches, but next time, I think I would make it an inch deeper, so I’d add one more inch to the length, allowing me 2.25 inches for my hem.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Pants, inside front
Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Pants, inside back

I changed the invisible zipper the pattern calls for to a lapped zipper with the help of Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch (the machine-sewn lapped zipper directions). I wanted to use a larger, more heavy duty jeans zipper.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

That went pretty well, but I didn’t think about the best way to attach everything, so I sewed the zip to the pants and waistband, and then had some trouble figuring out how to secure the waistband facing without it interfering with the zipper. I got it in the end, but there’s probably a better way to do it. I also had some trouble closing the rest of the seam below the zip, so I used a combination of hand and machine sewing.

I covered the bottom edge of the waistband facing with a cute, striped vintage bias tape. I should have used double fold bias tape rather than single, or just done a Hong Kong seam finish rather than binding the edge, but I really wanted those stripes.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

Normally, with jeans, I use a zigzag stitch to finish the seams, but now that I have a serger, I serged all my seam allowances, which looks a lot neater. I’m really happy with that.

I love the large pockets and the comfortable straight leg in this pattern. The denim I used also seems to have a good amount of mechanical stretch, which adds to the comfort, and the jeans zipper feels much more secure than the invisible zipper in my last pair.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

I really love looser pants in the winter so I can fit a pair of long underwear underneath whenever necessary, but I think these will actually work year-round.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

While I’m starting to think that, overall, I like a straight leg pant better than a wide leg style, as a straight leg is slightly narrower, this pattern is so cute and comfy that I would definitely make it again.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

It’s also really nice to have more than one style of jean in your closet, you know? So, I’ll keep a pair or two of skinny jeans around while adding all the other fun cuts and styles I feel like making, too. 🙂

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim