A Wee Bitty Sweater

How are you? I’m doing well, figuring out this new medication thing and still mostly staying home with my family. Lots of knitting has been done, but I really wanted to tell you about this sweater.

My sweet baby nephew, Ian, was born in August of this year. He and his family live 1,300 miles away, and we had plans to go visit them about 3 weeks after he was born. Of course, this meant I had to cast on a sweater for him. I have a thing about babies being cold, it gets my anxiety going and makes me sad. (Though, of course, he wouldn’t actually be cold because he has wonderful parents who take very good care of him. But, still…) 

I couldn’t just choose any sweater for him. I imagined a beautiful fair isle sweater that would allow me to use the techniques I learned from Franklin Habit’s Snips and Zips class. In other words, I wanted to steek the snot out of something. It just had to be something nice and small (so I wouldn’t lose focus on the knitting) and it had to be useful (see above comments about cold babies.) I chose the DROPS pattern B13-5, a lovely pattern that includes a cardigan, hat, mittens, pants, and booties. It’s incredibly adorable.

The cardigan pattern itself is written to knit back and forth instead of in the round. This sounded absolutely terrible, and I wouldn’t be able to steek, making it even more terrible. So, for the first time, I drastically changed a pattern. I figured out my stitch counts to include 5 steeks: 2 on the front (one for the button band, one for the collar), 1 on each side (sleeves), and 1 in the back (remainder of the collar). I had to call on many friends for help and suggestions, including the lovely and amazing Vicki from the Heartland Knits podcast. (She also informed me that this sweater is, in fact, a Norwegian sweater, not Fair Isle.) 

I also decided to use a zipper instead of buttons. There were two reasons for this: 1) buttons scream choking hazard to me (until I find another baby pattern that just HAS to have buttons) and 2) I know how much easier a zipper is to use instead of buttons on a baby. My mental image includes this sweater as an everyday jacket over what ever long sleeve shirt Ian is wearing. It is also knit out of Brown Sheep Company Nature Spun Fingering. It’s not the softest of yarns, nor superwash, so a jacket-type item would be a good use for this hard-wearing yarn.

It was so great to use that much of Franklin’s class! I cut all 5 steeks without so much as a bead of sweat, and I was even able to hand sew the zipper in relatively nicely. It’s definitely my first project like this, and I’m sure 10 years from now I will look back and cringe a little at my stitches. For now, though I know it went to a loving home and will be well used. I can’t wait to see my little man again 🙂

Project Information:

Ravelry Project Page

Original Pattern

Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Nature Spun Fingering

Franklin Habit’s Website

#becauseofknitting

**The hashtag #becauseofknitting was originally from Michelle of the Actually Knitting Podcast in her episode 16. Give her a listen, she is fabulous and a dear friend of mine!**

Do you ever have those moments of epiphany? Where everything just falls into place so magically and you had no idea it was set up that way? I had a moment like that recently.

The truth is, I crave human companionship. I think that’s the reason why I started listening (aka became obsessed) with podcasts and even started one of my own. Even though others aren’t necessarily in the room or talking directly to me, I feel like I am having a conversation over coffee about knitting and other parts of my favorite craft.

As I mentioned in the last blog post, I have met some of the most amazing people through the podcast. My epiphany moment was when I looked at all of my current projects and realized every single one had a story with someone who had touched my life. I am currently knitting three different projects using yarn and a project bag from Danie of One Twisted Tree and the Prairie Girls Podcast, who has become such a dear friend and business accountability partner. Patterns by Susie of the Prairie Girls Podcast and Sarah of the In a Sknit Podcast make me smile every time I look at them. A project bag by Boston Jen of the Down Cellar Studio podcast and a needle minder from Java Jennie of the Kitchen Counter Crafter Etsy shop make me so happy to remember Stitches Midwest this past summer. Oh! Loops Yarn and a pattern by Lydia Brown of the Fiber By Design podcast make me remember how generous and kind Sarah and Lydia have been to me this year. Sock blockers (gifted by Laurie) and a fireflies project bag (gifted by Kristen of the Happy Stitcher Designs Etsy Shop) make me feel so much joy at having listeners who have chosen to bless me with their thoughtfulness. 

It’s not just the generosity that makes me feel overjoyed; it’s the level of relationship I have discovered through knitting. I feel bad because there are so many other amazing friendships not pictured in this photo I have made through knitting, but I thought this might be a good start. I know I will meet many more of you at Stitches West and Zombie Knitpocalypse come 2016, and I am looking forward to building relationship with you too! Have a blessed day!

How has knitting led the way to relationships and friendships for you?

Sew Many Dresses – Collared Shirt Dress

I did it! I finished a dress for myself! I love the idea of this sewing challenge, and making garments  that fit my body is a blast. No more being angry in a dressing room, wondering why the shoulders fit but the waist doesn’t. Anyways, here is my new dress!

Sewn from Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time by Tanya Whelan. Top is Collared Shirt Dress, Bottom is A-line Skirt with button extension.

Sewn from Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time by Tanya Whelan. Top is Collared Shirt Dress, Bottom is A-line Skirt with button extension.

I sewed this using the book Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time*by Tanya Whelan. I used the “Collared Shirt Dress” for the top and the “A-Line Skirt” for the bottom, adding the button extension. The fabric is some slightly stretchy denim I picked up at JoAnn fabric. 

Adding colorful facings to a garment can be a fun pop of color. 

Adding colorful facings to a garment can be a fun pop of color. 

First, the good news about this dress. I love how it looks on me. I did make some alterations, such as adding 8 inches to the waist (yes, 8 inches!) but it wasn’t terribly difficult to alter. To do this, I used techniques I learned from the class Sew the Perfect Fit on Craftsy.* This dress is perfect for going to the store, hanging out with my family, going to church or school, or even just spending time at home like I am now. It’s easy to dress up or down and fairly comfortable. 

I also enjoyed putting the pattern together, including figuring out the facings. I used scraps of floral fabric I had saved for the facings, and I love the little pop of hidden color in the garment. It feels like a secret only I know about. I also had a mishap with the seam ripper while opening the button holes and ended up learning how to mend the giant gash I made in the middle of the garment. Needless to say, I will be using very sharp embroidery scissors in the future for that step.

Ripping and mending a buttonhole. The fix isn't perfect, but it's hardly noticeable when I wear the finished garment.

Ripping and mending a buttonhole. The fix isn’t perfect, but it’s hardly noticeable when I wear the finished garment.

Now, the bad news about this dress is that I had quite a bit of trouble with the pattern, and it wasn’t from my newbie lack of experience. This is the 2nd/3rd dress I have sewn for myself, so I’m not brand-new to the craft, but some errors in the pattern and overall execution directions had me scratching my head more than once. For instance:

  • The collar and collar band both said in the directions and pattern to only cut one of each, when you actually need two. It took several YouTube video watches and questions to my mom to verify the book is incorrect.
  • There is a vent on the back of the A-Line skirt to allow the wearer to walk without looking like a penguin. However, while there are directions for this part of the project, there are no photographs of what the back of the skirt looks like. It left me feeling confused and watching more YouTube, which led to a finish I liked better than what was described in the book.
  • The directions on attaching the top to the skirt are incredibly lacking, with only a little more than a blurb on page 32. There is also no visual for this step, and it is incomplete as (after a lot of research) the sewist should stitch two seams on this part of the dress, one slightly inside the original seam allowance to keep the dress from ripping from the weight of the skirt. 
  • This is not an error, more of a finishing technique that should have been accounted for: I would recommend not pressing and sewing your button extensions until the top and bottom have been sewn together. This would have made the corner where the top and bottom are attached much cleaner and more polished than I was able to achieve by sewing them both ahead of time before attaching.

There are still some other aspects of this book I am learning for myself, like how to make the darts and seam lines line up when altering the fit of the garment, but I think this knowledge will come with time of sewing. I also need to wash the dress again (yes, I did prewash it) and do a final press to get pieces like the collar to stay down perfectly, I just haven’t done it yet because I was too excited to wear it right away. Overall I did enjoy the concept of this book and will definitely use it again, but it left a lot to be desired in execution of directions and technical editing. I would consider it a good resource for a somewhat experienced sewist that is able to understand the instructions through past knowledge. I hope you enjoy my project!

*Indicated Affiliate Links*

Have you recently sewn a project you are very excited about? Tell me about it, and feel free to leave links to your own site in the comments below!

A Dress for Me… or Not?

I love wearing dresses. I love looking at dresses. I love styling dresses. It would only make sense that I would love to sew dresses, right? 

That’s what I thought when I started this project. I picked up the pattern McCall’s M6891 on sale at Joann with some beautiful gray fabric with cherries. I looked EVERYWHERE on the pattern package for sizing information and couldn’t find it, so I assumed I was a size 8 like I was in a previous Vogue pattern. 

First mistake.

I brought everything home and prepped it (did you know you can iron patterns? It makes them oh so much easier to use!) and got started. I cut everything out for the size 8 AND THEN I found the information on sizing.

Shoot.

Apparently a size 8 requires a 24 inch waist, which I don’t think I have had since my high school swimming days when a friend yelled “Hey! You have a six pack!” at me. Needless to say, 13 years and 4 kids later, my six pack and 24 inch waist are well… not 24 inches any more.

At this point I started weighing my options. I hated to waste the fabric, and I still wanted to learn how to sew this dress. I reached out to a couple of friends and asked if one of their daughters would like it. Now that I knew someone out there would use it, I decided to move forward.

Everything was going great. Nice, long seams make sewing seem so much more efficient than knitting sometimes. Until I ran into the collar.

Let me preface by saying I have read several blogs about the collar, and it left even experienced seamstresses confused. I decided to push forward. 

Then it was terrible. I tried to rip out my stitches, and THIS happened. A great big ugly hole, right in the middle of the collar where my seam ripper got away from me.

At this point I took a breath and decided to finish the collar as best as I could. That hole, though, is glaring at me, reminding me of my apparent incompetence at sewing. I sent this photo to my mom, and I’m going to take her advice: put it in time out and bring it to her house to fix it.

Moms are the best. We’ll see how this saga ends soon.

Lobster Claw

Have you ever made a project that made your friends take a minute and say, “Hmmmm……?” I recently half-finished one of those projects. 

First of all, I have to say that I totally have a knitting crush on Elizabeth Green Mussleman. She came up with a fabulous pattern called Hunting Gloves. These gloves, knit from yak down, are the perfect cold-weather hunting accessory. The thumb and pointer finger are free to move, while the other three fingers can sit together snugly, making it perfect for archery or rifle hunting in the cold.

I do shoot archery, but not terribly often because I don’t like the cold. The combination of it being an EGM pattern, useful in my actual life, knitting with some of the most fantastic yarn I have ever knit with, and a bit of rubbernecking when the pattern was released made it at the top of my list. (For the rubbernecking, you will have to watch EGM’s podcast, Dark Matter Knits. It’s quite comical.) 

Pattern: Hunting Gloves by Elizabeth Green Mussleman Yarn: Bijou Spun Sport Weight Ravelry Page

Pattern: Hunting Gloves by Elizabeth Green Mussleman Yarn: Bijou Spun Sport Weight Ravelry Page

I won’t give away too much of the pattern construction (this is a paid-for pattern that is worth every cent), I will say the grafting at the end almost gave me a bit of trouble. I was sitting at the Loopy Ewe for knit night with this limp thing on my lap, trying to graft the holes together. I decided to actually wear the glove on my left hand and graft it with my right, which created a lot of odd stares among the knitters in the group. What was that thing on my hand? Was it a knitted lobster claw?

As I began to graft the holes back together, there was a collective “Ahhhhhhh!” when it was finished! I explained how I wanted these gloves for archery, and everyone wanted to feel the luxurious yarn. I think this is the kind of project that is seen so rarely because it fits perfectly in a niche. But, when that niche is found, the project suddenly becomes the best thing ever. I can hardly wait for these to be done and take them camping!

Have you ever knit a strange-looking project that fit a very specific purpose? Tell me all about it in the comments!

A Gramps Unfinished

Sometimes I think I may be overdoing things. After all, I am a mom of four kids, which keeps me plenty busy. I have a business to run out of my home, and a podcast to maintain. This often makes me wonder why in the world do I push myself so hard to make all of the things? 

Gramps Cardigan, pattern by TinCan Knits, Cascade 220 superwash, Ravelry Page

Gramps Cardigan, pattern by TinCan Knits, Cascade 220 superwash, Ravelry Page

Case in point: the Gramps cardigan. I have been swooning over this pattern by TinCan Knits for months for my little man. There is just something too incredibly cute about little boys dressed in grownup clothing. Of course, even though I had been thinking and planning for a long time about this cardigan. I decided to give myself all of four days to knit it for Easter.

Because reasons.

After having a few friends talk me off of that crazy cliff, I decided to still cast it on and work really hard on it, but also gave myself the leeway that *if* I didn’t get it done on time, it was okay. I sized it up so it will fit him next year and used stash Cascade 220 superwash. The pattern was incredibly fun and fast (at least, the sweater part of it). I couldn’t believe I could have an entire sweater on my lap in just a few days! Kid knits are awesome.

Even though I worked really, really hard on this project at first, I lost steam when it came to knitting the second pocket and the elbow patches. For some reason, additional pieces just don’t come naturally to me. I have the hardest time knitting tiny little embellishments, even though they take 5 seconds. Okay, maybe longer, but you know what I mean. In other words, I didn’t even come close to getting this done for Easter. 

I did, however, finish the knitting. I have perfect white buttons that will look adorable. Why, then, can I not get up the guff to sew the darn things on? Have I mentioned how much I hate finishing work? No worries, I have it set aside in a “finishing” box, waiting for that moment when I need to finish all of the projects. Besides, I have until next fall, right?

Have you ever had a project you loved, but had a hard time finishing it? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Socks A La Awesome

I have to tell you about my new socks.

These socks are bright, colorful, and crazy. Oh, I love them so much.

My friend Danie of the Prairie Girls Podcast recently opened a yarn section of her Etsy shop, One Twisted Tree. She has been working really hard to create some new color combinations and yarn styles that aren’t really on the market right now. I was one of the luckiest people ever that got to test her Variegated Swirl sock base. This yarn is dyed in a way that swirls, zig zags, and pools magnificently, depending on your guage. As a thank you for testing, Danie sent me a gorgeous skein of the finished yarn in the colorway JEM’s Corporate Day Job. I also bought two more skeins when her shop opened, one in Late Night Lite Bright (also swirl) and one in Urban Hunter’s Arrow (variegated). 

I couldn’t help but cast on within a few days of receiving my yarn. I started with JEM and decided to use the ZigZagular sock pattern by Susie, the other half of the Prairie Girls Podcast. Of course, I had to keep it in my bag Danie made me (also from her Etsy shop), and I felt like I had reached level awesome in creating a real Prairie Girls project. 

Yarn: One Twisted Tree Variegated Twist in “JEM’s Corporate Day Job”, Pattern: ZigZagular Socks by Susie White. Ravelry Project Page

The yarn was such a blast to knit. I had no idea if it would zig or zag, spiral or twist. It was constantly changing, and I felt like I was painting with yarn. I used the Fish Lips Kiss heel and used the opposite side of the ball to not interrupt the swirling pattern. The first pair was finished in a week, as I was obsessively knitting on them everywhere.

After finishing that first pair, I immediately cast on the Late Night Lite Bright. Again, the same awesome swirl, and using the ZigZagular pattern with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel. I feel like this yarn and pattern are, in the words of the little girl in Sleepless In Seattle, MFEO. This pair took me a bit longer since I got my lace shawl groove on, but it was fantastic nonetheless. 

I have to say, these socks are the craziest thing yet to hit my sock drawer. Yet, I love every inch of them. I love the colors, the pattern, and the fit. It makes me smile when I wear them, knowing no one in the muggle world has any idea how awesome these socks are when they are covered by the leg of my jeans. Colorful socks like these are like a secret, only known to the knitter and those with sharp eyes and the right timing. They are very, very welcome addition to my Operation Sock Drawer.

What is the craziest, most colorful thing you have knit? What is your favorite item you have knit? Tell me all about it in the comments below!