Looks like these outside posts are getting few and far between! Haha. Well, I’m still taking pictures, but I try to keep the blogging somewhere in between “regular schedule” and “not too strict about keeping that regular schedule”, so I guess this is how things shake out. Let’s see what I found in these months. You’ll definitely notice the shift from winter to spring!
The artwork in this museum was amazing, but I think we all really fell in love with the central courtyard.
I saw this beaver sleeping. Then, I noticed this large snake approaching. I held my breath as the snake went up to the beaver, smelled it (I think), and then kept going. Even though the snake was so close he was barely touching some of the beaver’s fur, the beaver never woke up, and the snake went on his way. Nature drama!!!! (or potential nature drama)
Time for flowering trees!
Even one of my succulents is flowering.
It just keeps getting taller. The flowers bloom for a day or so and then are done, but new ones keep coming.
One of my friends has baby goats, and she let me come over and hold them. This little guy was so snuggly. It completely made my day.
I hope you are having a good spring and that you get a chance to get out and look for the beauty that’s around you.
Once in awhile, in my creative endeavors, I have a vision for something, and IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS! Usually, things change as I go along, sometimes for the better, and sometimes just for the different, but once in awhile, I actually achieve what I am going for, and this is one of those projects! Today’s post is about the Huxley vest by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. It’s a “Norwegian Scoop-Neck Vest” involving stranded colorwork and a steeked neckhole and armholes.
If you’re not familiar with these things, here’s a short introduction. Stranded colorwork is when you use two or more colors in a knitted garment, knitting with the colors you want at the time and stranding the others behind your knitting. Steeking involves stabilizing sections of your knitting with machine sewing or crochet so that you can cut it open. It’s one of those risky, adrenaline-rush sports of the crafting world. Who needs big wave surfing, base jumping, or hang gliding when you can steek your knits?! 😉
I saw and admired this pattern years ago, but finally decided to make it last year. I got the idea that if I used a plain main color and a super colorful hand-dyed yarn for the little dots, it might just make my sweater look like it had sprinkles or confetti all over.
And I love sprinkles.
I ordered my main yarn for this project through Coveted Yarn in Gloucester, MA. It’s Berroco Ultra Wool, a 100% superwash wool, and is worsted weight. I used color 3301, cream.
My contrast color is Hedgehog Fibres Merino Aran, also 100% superwash wool in the color “Sweet Pea”. I got this on my first trip to Webs (a.k.a. yarn.com) in Northampton, MA with my friend Jo-Alice last fall.
I was determined that I would not spend as much on a vest as on a sweater, and the Berroco, which was on sale, was very economical. The Hedgehog Fibres yarn was not, and it really increased my costs, but it was so worth it.
I swatched initially with the recommended needle size, but I’m a pretty loose knitter, so when I didn’t get gauge, I went down two needle sizes and tried again. For my swatches, I used Ysolda Teague-Long’s method of swift swatching in the round, and I measured my swatch before washing, after handwashing, and then after throwing the swatch in the washer and dryer using the care directions on the Berroco wool. I also, after my first washing, hung the swatch up to see if there was any obvious stretching out, which can sometimes happen with superwash yarns. After all those tests, I’m happy to report that nothing stretched out, nothing bled, the swatch did great both handwashed and machine washed, and I learned a very important swatching lesson: DON’T JUDGE A SWATCH UNTIL IT HAS DRIED. It’s yet another lesson that is completely obvious once you learn it, but not always so obvious beforehand.
After all my testing, I still hadn’t quite gotten gauge, so I decided to recalculate. I liked the fabric I had gotten with the US 6 needles, which was two needle sizes smaller than recommended. My gauge was 17 stitches and 24 rounds = 4″ blocked, in pattern. It was supposed to be 19 stitches and 28 rounds = 4″ blocked, in pattern. For the non-knitters out there, you need to make sure your number of stitches per inch matches the pattern’s or your knitted item won’t come out the same size. If I had gotten the correct gauge, my body measurements would have put me in a size 4 or 5, but with my gauge, I figured a size 3 with the length of a size 4 would work out fine.
This pattern is knit bottom up, and I had to start over once when I made some mistakes in the ribbing that I decided I couldn’t live with. After that, though, I knit along just fine through the body. I skipped the waist shaping since I currently like a more straight and loose fit around the waist. The rounds with color were every fourth round, and those kept me wanting to knit more. Those were the most fun rows because I couldn’t wait to see what color each little contrast stitch would be.
It was strange to do the shaping around the teeny tiny presteeked neck and armholes. My vest looked like a weird blob, but I just kept following the directions until it was time to steek.
Once I cut my steeks open, by strange blob of knitting popped open into a very vest-like shape! It was magic!
That’s when I felt like I was so close to being finished–just armhole and neck ribbing and I could block it! I had plans to knit little facings over my cut open steeks like in I did in my Arrowhead Cardigan or maybe sew them down, but so far, they are staying in place just fine and they don’t look bad at all, so I just trimmed the cut yarn to a nice, neat length.
When I was finished with that, it was all about weaving in the ends and getting ready to block. I had carried the colorwork pattern up the shoulders even when I was knitting back and forth, so I had a number of ends in that area.
I was nervous about blocking because I had measured my gauge off a swatch that had been machine washed and dried. That meant I needed to do the same with my vest, but I decided to let it finish air drying at the end, at least the first time. I was nervous, but I knew I had tested this twice, with both swatches, so I did it…and it was fine. 🙂 No crisis ensued. I might hand wash from here on out, but I got the size and fluffiness I was after. Not too bad for two and a half months of knitting (for my pace, at least).
I am so happy with the finished vest! It looks just how I wanted it to look! I love the colors, and it fits great. The crazy thing is, I actually don’t have a lot of plain button up shirts to wear with it, and I like that look much better than wearing it with a t-shirt. But this is a problem I can solve! I put a lilac colored vintage blouse on my spring sewing list. I hope to get a lot of wear out of this vest. I love it so much.
It is catch-up time around here! I have several things I have knit or sewn that have been waiting for their turn on the blog, and this is my oldest sewing project in that category. I made Simplicity 9449, View D, a full skirt, for my daughter to wear to church on Christmas Eve 2021. Yikes. My tardiness aside, I would like to say that I just love it when the Big 4 reissue some of their vintage patterns. These are our heritage brands, and they have an amazing catalogue of patterns. I love so many of the vintage ones, but finding one in your size, especially if you don’t fall into typically vintage sizing, can be tricky. The reissues are great because they come in modern size ranges with multiple sizes in one envelope–excellent if you fall into more than one size. One funny thing I noticed, however, was that although this pattern says it’s from the 1960’s on the pattern envelope, there are fashion facts from the 1950’s on the instructions inside. After looking up the original, Simplicity 1235, on the Vintage Pattern Wiki, I found that it was originally published in 1955, so I guess the outside date is a typo.
Simplicity 9449 comes with four views: a dress, a jumper, a slim skirt, and a full skirt. My daughter wanted the full skirt, View D, so I went off to Joann’s and found a suitably Christmas-y fabric–a burgundy (AKA “Tawny Port”) polyester crepe. I think it was from their Casa collection, which has fancier fabrics.
Helpfully, Joann’s had coordinating zippers for this fabric line, so I grabbed a matching invisible zipper as well. What a beautiful thing to have perfectly matched fabric and zipper!
We made a few changes to the pattern. I moved the side zipper to the back and we added some in-seam pockets in a fun Rifle Paper Co. quilting cotton that I had left over in my stash.
We omitted the patch pockets that came with the pattern. The pocket pattern piece and directions we did use came from Simplicity 8689. I also added an extra bar to the waistband so that you could adjust the tightness of the waistband just a little bit depending on how you are feeling on a given day.
Overall, it wasn’t too hard to sew, which is great because I do not love sewing to a deadline, and this was definitely one of those deadline situations. I used a microtex 70/10 needle in my sewing machine, sewed everything with a straight stitch and finished seams with my serger. I used silk pins, and did a rolled hem using my sewing machine. That seemed faster than following the hemming directions and I wanted to practice rolled hems.
Also, following the hemming directions would have involved a fair amount of pressing, and this fabric did not press well, which is unsurprising since it is made of polyester and is a bouncy crepe. While the pattern envelope calls for an invisible zipper, the directions inside for View D show a standard zipper, so I used the instructions on the zipper package to shorten and install it.
After I finished, the side seams were weirdly puckered, which you can kind of see in the picture below.
I resewed them once in case I had caused it by tugging on them to match them up lengthwise, but it didn’t help. Was it because they were on the bias? Because I serged the seam allowances incorrectly somehow? I’m not sure. The front and back seams were just fine, but they’re also on the straight grain, so they’re more stable.
All told, I’m pretty happy with this project, and I think my daughter was, too. This is maybe a half circle skirt, and she loved the fullness, especially when worn with a petticoat. Unfortunately, the polyester fabric is a major static magnet, which is kind of a bummer. So, there were pros and cons. Typos aside, I would make this pattern again. I would rather not use that polyester crepe fabric a second time, however.
This is a good basic pattern that easily gives you a vintage or modern look, depending on how you tweak and style it. Even better, it was something I could make in a short amount of time in the midst of everything else I was working on.
Hi! I’m back with the same pattern I talked about last week, but a different view, in a different fabric. Yep, this is The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in a wonderfully soft Polartec fleece from Field’s Fabrics in Holland, Michigan. Last week was all about the vest view, and this week I’m coming back older and wiser, having had a much more enjoyable sewing experience because I learned from all those pinch points on the vest. Yay!
I’ve felt the need for a lightweight fleece zip-up jacket for awhile. I have one from Old Navy that I thrifted, but have you ever thrifted something and then realized you might now understand why it ended up at the thrift store? Yeah, this was one of those situations. It’s a nice jacket, but the fit in the shoulders is not my favorite. Luckily, I had found some Polartec “Micro Plush” fleece at Field’s Fabrics (often labelled as Malden Mills fleece) in Holland, MI this past summer. It was a pretty sky blue, and so very soft.
Technically, I think this is a pile fabric rather than an actual fleece fabric, which is part of what makes it so soft, but either way, it is still produced by Malden Mills/Polartec, which means it has the quality that I love. Polartec produces many, many kinds of really interesting fabrics, and I love trying out different types when I get a chance. While I don’t always care about fabric brands, when it comes to fleece (and related fabrics), I tend to go for Polartec because I know the quality will be high, even in their seconds. And whenever I get a chance to go to Field’s I take a look to see what they have.
I don’t typically do the same pattern back to back, but it was a great experience doing that this time because it really helped me improve my skills and figure a few things out! Along with my notes last week on the pattern and the importance of trusting it, one thing I was surprised by is that you don’t always use a zigzag stitch when making this pattern. Sometimes a straight stitch is what you need, and the directions always tell (and/or show) you when to use each stitch. You also don’t use any interfacing–but it works! I was wondering how that would go in the zipper area in particular, but it was fine. The final product is no more or less wavy than on any store-bought fleece jacket–so trust those directions! Along those lines, I had plans to put my sleeves in flat rather than setting them in, but that really doesn’t work for this pattern, because the armscye is shaped differently than what you find on most patterns, so you’ll have to trust the directions on that, too.
One thing I did change was binding the sleeve hems as well as the jacket hem with nylon/Lycra, as I did for the vest hem in last week’s post. I cut 9″ x 2″ strips of nylon/Lycra for each sleeve hem and cut off the sleeve hem allowances. If I did it again, I would bind my sleeve hems flat before sewing the sleeve seam. I used the same nylon/Lycra swimwear fabric as on my vest and also used the same binding technique (“Lycra Wrapped Edges–The Cheater’s Way”) found in Adventures with Polarfleece: A Sewing Expedition by Nancy Cornwell. I had a few spots on the jacket hem where I didn’t catch quite enough of the fleece in my serging, so I just went back with a straight stitch and sewed a bit higher up on the jacket. It’s really important that you secure those bottom layers together because the hem is also the bottom of your pockets, and you don’t want your things falling out! This time, I also left a little nylon/Lycra hanging off the edges by the zipper, which I hand-tacked into place before doing the final sewing step.
I did all the hand-basting of the zipper and collar/facing area that I did with my vest, and it was definitely worth the time investment to have a smooth experience sewing in my front zipper and sewing on the neckline facing. My results weren’t perfect, but they were good enough that I was happy with them.
Something I wish I had done with the jacket (and maybe the vest) was to round off the corners of my collar as Nancy Cornwell suggests in her book. I think it would have looked nice.
Other than a different main fabric, I used all the same materials (with color changes for zippers and serger thread) and references for this that I did for my vest. You can find links for all those sources in last week’s post. It was great to have just made a version of this pattern so I could be smarter about when and where to serge–mainly just in the spots where I wanted an extra internal flash of color–and how to tackle all the parts I found tricky the first time around. Like last week, I wish I had some sort of little tag for the front, but otherwise, I’m really happy with this jacket. Since it’s still winter in these parts, I have worn it a lot around the house, and I really love it. I even had to fight off one of my kids who wants to steal it from me, which is a pretty high compliment in my book. 😉
I definitely recommend this pattern, but if you haven’t sewn it before, it probably wouldn’t hurt to read the two posts I have written plus any other reviews you can find on it to avoid the pitfalls I struggled with. Really, though, the sky is the limit as far as how you customize this. You can knock off your favorite Patagonia, L.L. Bean, or REI jacket, or make something no one has ever seen before! If you do, I would love to hear about it! 🙂
Do you have a box of old clothes that maybe don’t fit or you don’t wear much any more? Perhaps they’re old favorites or sentimental pieces or just clothing that has stood the test of time and you still have them. I do. It’s filled with the first jeans I ever made, a dress from ninth grade that fit through multiple size changes, pieces of uniforms my Dad wore, and a fleece vest from high school. That fleece vest is from L.L.Bean, and my parents bought it for me when we first moved to Massachusetts. Everyone was wearing L.L.Bean and they didn’t want me to feel like any more of an outsider than I already did. I loved that vest. I felt good when I wore it.
I still have that vest packed away, even though it doesn’t quite fit any more. I love a good vest, and I have several, but none quite like that. I got one on sale a few years ago from a different store, but the fleece was inferior, and it soon pilled and looked…not great. I wanted a replacement in high-quality Polartec fleece.
Sadly, I didn’t really enjoy making this. Surprising, right? I love Green Pepper patterns because they allow me to make all the classic outdoor wear I find in places like L.L. Bean, Patagonia, and REI. I love sewing fleece, and I have done it most winters for the past several years. And yet, sewing this was Not Fun.
Problem number one was that I second-guessed the directions. The Green Pepper writes really good directions, and I should have just followed them. That doesn’t mean they can never be improved upon or altered and that the patterns can never be hacked. It just means I should have known better and trusted what was there. Problem number two was that it’s not always easy to sew over bulky and sometimes uneven layers of fleece, even when you have all the right tools. Sometimes you have to try and learn, which means struggle.
This pattern is made to be sewn on your sewing machine, no serger necessary. I really wanted some extra secret colors on the inside, so I serged a few seams that would be visible inside.
Sometimes my choices to serge were good (extra colors!), and sometimes I thought I could be smarter than the directions and add in serging, which ended up causing problems later because I had cut off seam allowance I should have left on or something like that. I also had a lot of trouble topstitching over multiple layers, even with my walking foot, as things would slide around. While you usually don’t need wide seam allowances on knits, there were times when I wondered if a 5/8″ seam allowance would have been a good idea because you would have (maybe) had more even layers to sew over.
Here are some things that did help me with this project:
*My walking foot was great. This is a foot you can put on your sewing machine that helps your top and bottom fabrics feed through your machine at the same rate so things aren’t sliding around.
*I used a 12/80 ballpoint needle in my sewing machine.
*I hand-basted my zipper, and I hand-basted my collar seamlines and facing in place before sewing down the facing that covers the neck seam. I sewed it down from the inside on both facing edges.
*I checked out the book Adventures with Polarfleece: A Sewing Expedition by Nancy Cornwell from the library (copyright 1997), which helped me change up the bottom of the vest from a hem/casing to a “Lycra Wrapped Edge” (I used “The Cheater’s Way”). I trimmed off one inch at the bottom of the vest where the hem would have been and used the recommendation in the book of a 2″ x 43″ strip of nylon/spandex for my size to finish the bottom edge. I should not have zigzagged the bottom of the vest before applying the nylon/spandex. It would have been better to skip that and just use the book instructions. After fixing that issue, the bottom looked kind of wavy, but once fully finished, it was fine, especially when wearing it. I hand-tacked the corners of the nylon/spandex to keep them perfectly in place. This book has lots of other great tips as well. I hope to pick up a used copy of it at some point. She also wrote two other books on sewing with polarfleece.
*When I got really frustrated, I put this project in time out until I thought things through and had potential solutions to the problems I was having. Taking a break really helped me calm down and figure things out.
Here are a few more details on supplies and sources I used in case you are thinking of making this for yourself:
+zippers: YKK #5 molded plastic zippers (jacket and pocket) from Wawak in “lavender”
+thread: 100% polyester thread for sewing machine and serger (I go back and forth between Gutermann and Coats & Clark, depending on who has the best color for what I’m sewing or what I have in my thread stash)
+hanging loop: grosgrain ribbon from my stash, probably made of polyester or nylon
+size: large; I chose based on my measurements; this fits with a fair amount of positive ease
+wish I had: a cute little tag to go on the outside; I’m trying to come up with a design I like and then maybe I’ll have some made.
After wrestling my way through this, here is what I think. This is a great pattern. There are a lot of possibilities for hacks if you want to change things up, copy high end vests or jackets you see in stores, or create things based on your own designs. If I needed 20 vests and jackets, I would have a lot of fun making different iterations of this with cool details and trying out different things. Since I don’t need 20 vests and jackets, I’ll leave the experiments up to you. Your first try may be a little challenging, but maybe not. Either way, it’s definitely a valuable pattern.
All this learning was not only to benefit this project. After this was done, I made the jacket version of this pattern, which I hope to share with you soon. You’ll be happy to know it went much better, thanks to my struggles here.
details: worsted weight; machine washable blend of 52% acrylic, 40% wool, and 8% nylon; colors are midnight blue (#5185), sky blue (#5170), goldenrod (#5127), and pale pink (#5110)
Needle size: US 7, 16″ circular wooden interchangeable needles from Lykke
And now for the chatty details:
Today I want to share the Moonwake Cowl pattern that I knitted up in Berroco Vintage yarn. So far, stranded colorwork is my favorite type of knitting. I absolutely love it. You get to use different colors while creating what is essentially a print as you make your fabric/item, and it’s interesting to see the design emerging little by little as you follow the chart.
The structure of this cowl is a tube that is twisted into a Moebius strip, so it always sort of has that twist that you might see in a long cowl that has been doubled up, but without the bulk. The tube construction means that you are always seeing the outside when you wear it, and you really don’t have to do much (or any) weaving in of yarn ends, because they’re hidden inside the cowl. Since I had never made a cowl like this, and I liked the colorwork pattern, I wanted to give it a try.
I got my yarn this summer while in Michigan at Yarn on Front in Dowagiac, MI. I basically copied the colors in the pattern sample. I looked around the shop at different options for awhile before settling on Vintage. I’m finding that I choose Berroco yarns often for projects these days. They have a decent variety of yarn types of good quality at a fairly reasonable price. They don’t have every color in the rainbow, but they have a pretty good range of colors and, in this case, the exact colors that I wanted. I can get a little snobby about only using natural fibers, but I have to admit that this is a nice-feeling yarn that was great to knit with. So, I’m trying to be just a little more open-minded on that front.
I held my pink as my dominant color when I was knitting with it, and generally just tried to keep my lightest color dominant on any given row. If you’re wondering what in the world I am talking about, it’s this: when you are working with two colors of yarn, the position you hold each color in determines if it stands out or recedes, so I held my pink (or other lighter colors) in the position that would make them stand out more than my darker colors. It’s pretty cool how that works.
I didn’t bother with a gauge swatch before beginning since this isn’t a really fitted garment. The pattern starts with a provisional cast on, which Andrea has a YouTube video tutorial for. Then you knit in a tube until a specified length, twist one end 180 degrees, and join the two ends with the Kitchener stitch (she has a video for that, too). I tend to knit loosely, so I ended up not needing to repeat the colorwork chart more than twice to get the length I needed. Unfortunately, I didn’t measure my work and find that out until I was half way through the third repeat of the chart, so I had to rip back a bit, but I’m glad I did, because the length specified by the pattern is just right.
I didn’t enjoy knitting this quite as much as I expected to, but I don’t think that had anything to do with the pattern, which is excellent. I had other projects I wanted to get to, and I think my excitement for them took away from my enjoyment of this project. One thing that was great, though, was that my husband got me a Cocoknits Maker’s Board at Pintuck & Purl’s Maker’s Day sale, and this was the first project I used it on. The Maker’s Board is really just some metal sheets inside washable kraft fabric, so it’s a simple design, but it’s really helpful for holding colorwork charts and keeping your place in them. It comes with several small, very strong magnets. I eventually also bought the magnetic ruler and gauge set to use to keep my place on wider charts and asked for the metal-backed row counter for Christmas, but for this project, I didn’t have those, and putting the two small rectangular magnets that came with the board together helped me keep my place since this chart isn’t all that wide. Prior to this, I kept my charts in a plastic sleeve and kept my place with washi tape and a row counter, just in case my pattern shifted inside the sleeve. That worked, but this works a bit better and it’s also such a pleasure to have nice tools. I’m very thankful for the gift.
As for the finished cowl, I really like it. It is comfortable and warm, and I love that no matter how you wear it, the right side is always out. That is the saddest part of wearing the couple of other colorwork cowls I have–they always flip over so the inside shows instead of the patterned outside. I love that this solves that problem. Andrea Mowry has another cowl with this same construction called the Velvet Mirror Cowl that I wouldn’t mind trying one day. I think it’s a really smart design.
The Mookwake Cowl took me from the beginning of September to the beginning of December to finish, but most people could fly right through this. I tend to have a few sewing and knitting projects going at a time, and usually only knit for a little while each evening, so things take me awhile.
Final estimation: great pattern, great yarn, great tools (the Maker’s Board). Item needed: I should have focused more on enjoying this pattern while I was in the midst of it. I’m definitely enjoying the finished cowl now.
I have one more handmade Christmas gift to share with you today. This should have been a birthday gift long before it was a Christmas gift but, like so much of the sewing I aspire to, it got waylaid by life. This project is the Jutland Pants from Thread Theory, a menswear pattern for casual or cargo pants.
I have used it many times before. These pants are for my husband.
I used 100% ringspun cotton duck canvas from Big Duck Canvas in olive. The fabric is heavyweight, at 12 oz./square yard, and is a single fill weave (I’m still not fully clear on what that means, since I’m not a weaver, but they explain it on the site). This yardage is factory seconds, but I didn’t find any flaws in the fabric. It’s a nice, wide fabric at 67″.
My husband is definitely worth sewing for. While he is particular about what he likes, he is a very grateful and appreciative recipient, even if I don’t quite hit the mark. And these are definitely a little off, although they are close.
Like any good sewist, I took measurements beforehand. He told me that the pants I had made previously for him still fit, but as someone who has sewn for a long time now, I know that one of the most important commands of garment sewing is: DO NOT SKIP MEASURING. So I had to do it. The tape measure showed that he was a slightly different size than before, so that’s what I traced, with plans to transfer all our former tweaks to this version. I have made this pattern so many times that we have a dizzying number of notes on what to tweak where–it got a little confusing. However, I made myself a master list, and went to town.
Alterations and Tweaks
This time around, we planned to shorten the pants by an inch, as before, even though he is just over six feet tall. We wanted to add pocket reinforcements (see below) like I had seen on some Carhartt overalls I have, but once Christmas started approaching, that mod got tossed out. We would have had to change the pocket shape and redraft the interior of the pocket, which doesn’t look too hard, but would have taken more time.
We wanted to raise the side cargo pockets by 5.5 inches if shortening the pants in the middle (something I should have done but forgot) or 6.5 inches if shortening from the bottom (which I ended up doing). He wanted the belt loops to be longer than on the original pattern to fit his favorite belt better, so we used the belt to measure the exact length + ease that we wanted. He also wanted one double belt loop on the front like a pair of pants he has from Duluth Trading Co.
Also, we decided to use self fabric for the pockets. One of my biggest mistakes on an earlier pair was using lawn for the pocket bags. Those pockets wore out long before the pants did and had to be continually fixed.
I worked steadily on these pants throughout December, and I was nearly finished on Christmas Eve, but with only two hours before church, and in desperate need of a shower, I had to put them on hold. Rushing tends to lead to mistakes, and I didn’t want to have to redo anything, so the finishing touches had to come a few days after Christmas.
As for the pattern itself, it is good overall, but pattern piece 17 (the hem reinforcement) is 1/8″ too wide, and the waistband is about 1 3/8″ too long in the size 39. I’m not sure if this has been fixed on the PDF or in reprints of the pattern. I think I have one of the earlier paper copies.
This size is also longer in the leg than the previous size I made for my husband, so in addition to the inch I usually take off, which I completely forgot to take off at the lengthen/shorten line, I had to take another inch and a half off the bottom.
And that meant that my carefully planned cargo pocket placement wasn’t quite where I wanted it.
Luckily I sewed my Velcro in much better than I have in the past!
The knee reinforcements were also slightly off, but not too bad.
I still can’t believe that after all my planning, I forgot to shorten the pattern! Ugh.
I also meant to try to fit these as I went, but that’s not very easy to do with the order of construction, and I just plain forgot! Once I get into a pattern, I like to just follow the directions, which means I can forget extra things I plan to do if I don’t write myself notes. And in the end? The pants were slightly loose on him. Dang it! It turns out I should have listened to him in the first place and gone with his original size, even though his measurements put him in a slightly larger size. On the up side, he always wears a belt, and he is a very grateful gift recipient because he knows how much time and work go into anything I make for him.
Despite all these minor missteps, the pants actually fit pretty well, and he has worn them a ton. They are definitely sturdy. I was afraid they might be too stiff, but he really likes them and thinks the fabric is great, with the exception that some white marks have mysteriously appeared with wearing and washing. I think it adds to the weathered look, myself.
Personally, I find sewing for other people a bit nerve-wracking. When I make something for myself, I decide which mistakes I can live with and which I want to fix. When I sew for others, it feels like I need to take things up a notch, fix more of the mistakes, and aim a little closer to perfect. The truth is, I have the skills to make a garment look good even when it’s not perfect, but you know how it is–you want that gift to be extra special–your best work. While I still prefer to mostly sew (and knit) for myself, I am beginning to see the joy in making something that’s “just right” for someone you really care about. So, while these pants didn’t turn out as close to perfect as I would have liked, they are still really great pants, and my husband has already worn them a lot. All in all–worth it. 🙂
It’s knitting time again, and these ones are some rare birds: gift knits!
Before Christmas, I told my girls I would knit them both hats in a super bulky yarn color of their choice. They could also pick the pattern, but I had the option to veto anything I wouldn’t enjoy knitting. That sounded good to both of them, and so began the project planning!
After looking around at yarn options a bit, I settled on Malabrigo Rasta. It’s a hand-dyed, single ply, nicely squishy Merino wool, and has a decent amount of yardage (90 yards) compared to other super bulky yarns. For a hand-dyed yarn, it’s also on the less expensive side at $23 a skein. It’s not cheap, but a lot of hand-dyed super bulkies have less yardage and higher prices. Each girl picked her favorite: 687 Aquamarine, a tonal mix of light blues for one, and 177 Blueberry Cream, a pink and purple speckle with an ivory base for the other. We ordered them both from Wool & Co. in Illinois, which has free shipping and lots of beautiful options.
It’s basically a tube with ribbing at the bottom that you gather in at the top. Easy! Now that I have a little more experience under my belt, I decided to knit it 6.5″ long, put in a lifeline, knit 2 together all the way around, knit a round, knit 2 together all the way around again, knit the next round, and then follow the finishing instructions. I could try it on my daughter as I went to make sure it was a good fit for her, adjusting if necessary since it doesn’t take long to reknit in super bulky. With my additions, the hat was a little more shaped to her head rather than only gathered at the top.
My other daughter chose The Looking Glass Hat pattern by Jill DeMarco/Yarn It All by Jill. You can make The Looking Glass Hat in a single color or using two colors, and although it looks complicated, once you get the hang of it, it’s not hard. In fact, it’s really fun.
The method she describes for making the textural pattern is interesting, and while you have some long bits of yarn, they don’t ever feel floppy or unsecured.
I went down one needle size on both patterns because I’m a loose knitter, and that worked well. I did not knit gauge swatches. I’ll do that for larger projects, but not for hats.
I made each girl a pom pom with their leftover yarn, and I also bought each of them two different coordinating McPorter Farms faux rabbit fur pom poms from Coveted Yarn in Gloucester, MA that they could change out whenever they wanted. Since I had giant snaps that were the same size as the ones on the faux fur pom poms, I sewed one onto each yarn pom pom so those could also snap on, rather than having to be tied on. I love the option to snap a pom pom on because it makes it easy to take off when you want to wash your hat.
Thanks to the magic that is super bulky yarn, I finished these with time to spare and, while they weren’t a surprise, it was nice to know that both girls had hats they really liked, made by me…and I loved the process of making them.
I learned about the Folly Cove Designers over a decade ago, when a coworker who had grown up in the Folly Cove neighborhood and known the Demetrioses told me about it. But over time, I nearly forgot. Then I listened to the episode “Strong Community Threads” from the Haptic & Hue: Tales of Textiles podcast all about this group and was reminded. It took a British podcast to remind me of what was in my own backyard. Ironic!
My local library had a museum pass I could check out, which gave me free admission to the museum and the exhibit. I’m so glad I went!
This group began with a neighbor asking Virginia for art classes. From there it grew into more classes with more students, and a curriculum that resulted in a diploma.
Eventually the students and their teacher formed a design group of accomplished artists who printed with linoleum blocks onto a number of surfaces like paper and fabric. They held exhibitions, showing and selling their work. They depicted what they saw around them in nuanced ways, and in addition to seeing many examples of the prints and finished goods that they created, you can also see the blocks and type of press that they eventually used. Before they got the press? Bodyweight! Because when you don’t have all the “right” tools, you get creative!
Here are some pictures of the display showing the homework students did in their art courses:
To make a linoleum block print, you draw your design on your linoleum block, carve out the spaces you don’t want to print, roll ink onto the block, and press the block onto whatever you are printing on.
And here are the tools you use to carve linoleum blocks and make these types of prints:
The Cape Ann Museum is a gem. Not only did I go to the exhibit, I also went on the docent-led tour, and learned so much about this beautiful area of Massachusetts. The Folly Cove exhibit really touched me, though. In the vast landscape of history, this group existed so recently, you can almost reach back and touch them. And their work is phenomenal. I studied printmaking in college, and it gives me such an appreciation for their high skill level–certainly a level I never achieved myself. It’s wonderful and exciting to see people who worked hard together and truly excelled at depicting what was all around them–in the most original and surprising ways. Here are some of my favorite parts:
If you are going to be in the area and want to check out this exhibit for yourself, you should! It runs until March 25, 2023. The museum will be closed from January 24th to February 6th for renovations, and it is always closed on Mondays. If you live locally, see if your library has a pass that will give you free or reduced admission. I also highly recommend buying the exhibition booklet. I bought mine soon after the exhibit opened.
There may be more books on the Folly Cove Designers available at the gift shop now. This exhibit is excellent for those interested in printmaking, Cape Ann history, sewists, pattern lovers, those who like surface design, and anyone who loves Virginia Lee Burton’s children’s books. The museum is right in downtown Gloucester, which has lots of fun shops and a great waterfront to recommend it. One of my favorites? The little rainbow cookies at Caffe Sicilia.