Tag Archives: knitting

Completed: Sea Wall Socks (Also, dad update ♥)

15 Sep

As much as sewing is my very first love, I’m really glad that I learned how to knit. The repetition is extremely therapeutic when I’m stressed and need to calm down – on me, it has almost the same effect as doing an hour of yoga. It’s very meditative, giving me something to focus on with my hands while allowing my mind to quiet down. Even just sneaking in a couple of rounds at opportune times – before I’m rushing out the door, while I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot trying to work up some nerve to go inside (tbh, usually because I’m about to walk into a first date, ughh), at the end of the night after a class when I’m having trouble turning my brain off. I’m not a crazy enough knitter to where I can manage it during a walk (yet!), but I do drag my little Field Bag with me everywhere, because you never know when you need to bust out those needles for a moment of zen. Really, the only place I’ve found so far that you can’t take your needles is in a courthouse (that was a sad moment for me – literally, I shed a tear when they told me I had to put my project + needles back in my car… at least they didn’t make me throw it away!).

Seawall Socks

Socks are my #1 project of choice for de-stress knitting, as they are small enough to carry around and work on somewhat discreetly. I love knitting sweaters, but they get large and unwieldy quite quickly and they tend to require multiple balls of yarn to complete. Socks are a lot easier when it comes to portability. I’ve mentioned this before, but I try find the local yarn store with each new city that I visit, and pick up a skein of sock yarn as my souvenir. Sometimes it’s from a local yarn dyer (the best!), sometimes it’s something I can’t find here in Nashville, and sometimes it’s just something pretty that reminds me of the city I’m in.

My latest sock project is the Sea Wall Socks pattern from Tin Can Knits, which was offered for free last year as their 12 Days of Christmas celebration. I actually don’t mind paying for knitting patterns – seriously, people who complain about a $5 pattern drive me mad – but I extra extra don’t mind free patterns😉 I love the interesting cables on this pattern and I think it looks especially nice with a variegated yarn. I knit a size 6 using size 0 needles with sock weight yarn.

Seawall Socks

Speaking of sock yarn, isn’t this one super pretty? I bought at Gather Here last year, while I was visiting Jenny in Boston after my retreat at A Gathering of Stitches in Portland (which I just realized was almost exactly a year ago from this posting, wow!). This is my Boston yarn (ok, Cambridge – whatever.). The yarn is Knittink, which I can’t seem to find any info about online but they had a ton of it in the store! The colorway is actually called “Unicorn Snuggles,” which is admittedly a big part of the reason why I chose it🙂 There are sparkly silver threads running throughout, and the yarn is extremely soft and easy to work with. I had such a wonderful week up in New England last year, and I think about it every time I look at this yarn. I love that.

Seawall Socks

Seawall Socks

Seawall Socks

I knit these socks as instructed by the pattern, however, I did not block them after knitting as you can probably tell. In the past, I have dutifully blocked all my socks after they were finished (using sock blockers and everything)- but I really don’t like the way the yarn feels after blocking. The fibers tend to relax, the stitches flatten and spread, and then the socks just feel loose on my feet and don’t stay up. So now, I don’t block them at all. To wash, they get a cold wash in the machine (along with the rest of my clothes) and thrown right in the dryer. I’m sure some people hand wash their socks, but not me. Not anymore. Yolo, etc.

Seawall Socks

Anyway, this post isn’t really about the socks. I’ve been absent the past couple weeks for a few reasons – first, I was in Rhode Island for work (which was WONDERFUL – seriously, I could not have asked for a better week). I came home on Labor Day, and then on Wednesday, my dad had to go to the ER with a bout of pneumonia. Long story short, he was admitted to the ICU that night due to several problems, and he’s been on a ventilator since Saturday morning. For those who don’t know, my dad was diagnosed with cancer almost exactly 3 years ago, and so while this shouldn’t be a surprise – it’s still a big, huge shock. My entire family is basically living at the hospital at this point, and while I’m so grateful for their support, it’s been really scary and just downright shitty. I don’t know what is going to happen, as we are just stuck in this awful limbo state of waiting.

I wasn’t planning to write about any of this – I felt like it was too personal and sad for an otherwise pretty fluffy blog. And posting finished projects seems downright silly and trite when you’re dealing with much bigger issues at hand. However, I’ve started getting emails from people wondering why I haven’t posted in 2 weeks, and while I don’t think I owe anyone any sort of explanation about my personal life – it doesn’t seem right to just ignore this, since it’s impacting me pretty hard. Also, I really need this escape. My entire week has revolved about a hospital at this point, and it’s downright depressing.

Anyway, I’m not trying to turn this into a sob story/woe is me sort of post – yes, everything is real shitty right now, I won’t deny that – this is just currently what we are dealing with at the moment. My dad is fighting the fight of his life right now, but I know that he lived his life exactly the way he wanted to, and he has 0 regrets for anything. After his first bout of chemo, he swore it off completely and has been treating himself holistically, which has really made him feel incredible this past year. He actually ran 55 miles the weekend before he went to the hospital, right after tearing up a bunch of carpet and laying new hardwood floors. I look up to him in so many ways, and could not have asked for a better role model – he’s taught me so much about life and love, and this year especially has really strengthened the bond we have. I have a lot to be thankful for, which is what I am choosing to focus on right now.

Positive thoughts and prayers for all of us are appreciated. Much love to all of you ♥

Completed: Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater

26 Aug

I am SO happy to be finished with this sweater!

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - front

Clocking in at nearly 6 months to knit, seam and finish – this sweater was definitely a labor of love to complete.

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - front

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - side

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - back

Both the pattern and the yarn are from Wool and the Gang, which is pretty much the coolest yarn company I’ve ever heard of. WATG sells yarn, patterns, needles, and complete kits for their patterns (as well as RTW knit pieces, if you want to be completely lazy😉 no judgement over here from me!). The company reached out to me earlier this year – well, 6 months ago – and asked if I’d like to try one of their kits for a review. Being the cheeky piece of shit I am, I choose the Teen Spirit Sweater, in the classic red/grey colorway.

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - kit

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - kit

The kit came beautifully packaged, and included 21 balls of their Wooly Bully alpaca yarn, the Teen Spirit Sweater pattern, at set of size 10.5 Rosewood needles, and a giant needle for weaving in all the ends.

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - front

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - back

The pattern is One Size, which I knew immediately off the bat was gonna be WAY too big for me – it has a 44″ chest measurement (compared to my measly 32″ – that’s a LOTTA ease!). So the first thing I did was knit a gauge swatch to figure how many stitches I knit per inch, and recalculate the pattern so it would work with my specific measurements. Since the pattern is basically 4 giant rectangles (the sleeves have very gradual increases but nothing crazy), this was not at all difficult to do. All I needed to change was the amount of stitches I cast on, and then just follow the pattern henceforth. I also shortened the body of the sweater, because I wanted mine to be slightly cropped to offset the boxiness.

All the pieces are knit separately – front, back, and two sleeves . The front and back are identical, and are literally just two big rectangles – there is no shaping for the neckline, arm holes or waist. As I mentioned, the sleeves have very gradual increases to make them slightly shaped, but they are still primarily just big ol’ rectangles. To make the tartan, you knit in stripes following the pattern, and then weave the vertical stripes in afterward using this technique from WATG. It looks a lot more complicated than it actually is – it’s just time-consuming! I spent MANY nights sitting on the couch, binge-watching Mad Men, with a tiny blanket o’ sweater in my lap, weaving tartan stripes. In fact, this was the main project I worked on in the last week before my move – as it was the only thing I hadn’t packed!

After I wove in all the tartan stripes, I then blocked the pieces (which seriously took like 2 days to dry completely) before seaming. You seam the shoulders first, then attach the sleeves at the sleeve cap, then seam up the side and sleeve seam in one go (same as you’d do when sewing a knit tshirt). Finally, you knit the neckline ribbing (the sleeve and hem ribbing are knit while you are knitting the pieces). The resulting sweater is MASSIVELY heavy – I wish I owned a scale, because I’d love to know how much it actually weighs! Honestly, I love throwing it at people and watching how surprised they are when they feel it’s heft hahaha. It’s surprisingly not that itchy – it’s a little bit itchy, but I think another wash with some lanolin will clear that right now – but it is super duper warm. Way too warm to wear right now, obviously, but I’m sure I’ll really appreciate it come winter😉

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - flat

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - flat

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - flat

As complicated at this sweater looks and as long as I spent working on it – it honestly was not difficult to knit at all. Even with rewriting the pattern to work with my measurements, the overall construction was very simple and straightforward. It was definitely time-consuming, but not hard – seriously, this is a great pattern for a beginner. Lots of knitting and purling, simple color changes for the stripes, and then seaming everything together (my seaming definitely needs some work, btw. Woof.).

Part of what took me so long to finish was simple mistakes I made on my end. I wasn’t happy with my first batch of tartan stripes – which I decided after I’d finished weaving the tartan for the entire front. I ripped everything out, recalculated, and wove it all in again. I could have stood to do a neater job with my weaving – all the other examples I see are much more even and precise and mine looks a bit sloppy in comparison – but I’m pretty happy with it regardless because I AM SO NOT RIPPING THAT SHIT OUT AGAIN. I also had some trouble with the neckline ribbing – I picked up too few stitches the first time, and wasn’t able to get the sweater over my head! So I got PISSED, ripped out the ripping, and put that fucker in time out for a solid month. Ha! Eventually, I got some liquid courage (aka wine) and tried again – this time picking up stitches at a 1:1 ratio and making sure it pulled over my head before binding off. It worked! Go me!

Check out my Ravelry page for the full low-down on this project – my stitch counts, measurements for the tartan weaving, etc. Didn’t want to clog up this post with all that, but it’s on the ‘Rav! BTW, I should mention – you can also buy this pattern individually, if you don’t need the yarn and needles. Teen Spirit sweaters for everyone!😀

Smells Like Teen Spirit Sweater - front

When I started this sweater, I naively thought that I would have it finished before the weather started warming up – ha! Not even! On the flip side, it’s definitely ready and waiting for the next season! I’m actually pretty glad that I had an entire summer to fuss with this, because it made me not be in a hurry to finish it – I knew I’d have to wait months before that was even an option. Instead, I took my time and ripped out when needed, and I think the end result was worth it. Man, I cannot WAIT to wear this bad boy! I think it’ll look especially ace with my Elizabeth Suzann Cecilia Pants. Which, btw – if you are looking for the magic pants that look amazing on EVERYONE, that’s those. You’re welcome.

**Note: The kit for my Teen Spirit Sweater (which included the yarn, pattern and needles) was VERY generously given to me by Wool and the Gang, in exchange for a blog review. Thank you, WATG!

OAL2016: My Finished Outfit!

29 Jul

What up, everyone! It’s practically the end of the July – two days left to go! – which means one thing ’round these parts… The Outfit-Along is nearly over!

OAL_Banner

I’ve had a lot of fun with the pieces this year – both making and wearing them! – and I’m excited to finally show you guys my finished sweater + skirt!

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater + Hollyburn Skirt

Here is the complete outfit!

The sweater is Zinone by Andi Satterlund, and the skirt is a Hollyburn from Sewaholic Patterns.

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater + Hollyburn Skirt

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater + Hollyburn Skirt

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater + Hollyburn Skirt

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

Zinone was made using the suggested yarn, Quince + Co Sparrow (the color is Moon), which is a fingering weight linen yarn. This was my first time working with linen and OMG TRUE LOVE Y’ALL. Very easy to work with and felt so good on my hands! My gauge swatch put me at size 2 needles, and I knitted the size XS (which is my usual size for Andi’s patterns and corresponds with my bust measurement). I chose to knit the version with the partial lace back, and slightly cropped. I was originally going to do the full lace version, but I guess I’m way out of lace-knittin’ practice because I had a helluva time working this one out. Fortunately, the directions for the partial and full lace back at the same for a bit at the beginning of the pattern, which gave me plenty of time to change my mind😛 I also completely frogged the entire thing and started over after finishing the lace section, because I realized way too late that I had read the pattern wrong (which is why I was having issues in the first place). I was trying to be clever and separate my repeats with stitch markers – you can’t do that with this pattern, as some of the stitches borrow from previous repeats. Whoops. Once I realized I’d done goofed, let me tell you… it was hard to rip everything out and start over. But I’m glad I did, because my second attempt at the lace looks pretty bomb-ass, if I do say so myself😉

I made some slight sizing and length modifications to the sweater as well – I knitted the correct number of rows for the cropped version, but somehow it ended up really short (I am thinking I read the pattern wrong). I just continued knitting until I got to the length that I wanted, and did a couple more rounds of decreases as well. Speaking of length, this sweater is only about an inch shorter than the schematics – it’s 16.5″ long from the shoulder, which hits me right about at the belly button. The cropped version on Andi appears to be a lot shorter than mine, even though it says it’s an inch longer.

Anyway, this was a very easy and satisfying knit. I did nearly run out of yarn at the end – I bought enough for the cropped version, and ended up frogging about 3 rows of my gauge swatch. Actually, I had an extra skein but I was trying really hard not to use it so I could be cheap and return it to the store😉

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

I LOVE how this linen feels in the summer heat – finally, an excuse to wear my handknits even in July!😀 And it’s pretty awesome that it’s machine washable. I haven’t done the recommend 3 washing cycles yet, though – I did one Soak wash (this is how I wash all my knits… and my lingerie for that matter. Soak is AMAZING, cannot recommend enough) and then one wash in the washing machine. My new place has me doing laundry at the ‘mat, so running 3 loads back to back to back isn’t exactly doable for me! (well, it is. But I’m not about to pay for that haha) So far, though, it has softened up considerably after even 2 washes. Can’t wait to see how it softens even more with additional wear and washing😀

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

Sorry, loads of photos!

OAL2016: Hollyburn Skirt

OAL2016: Hollyburn Skirt

Now for the Hollyburn!

I already wrote a couple posts about the modifications to make this particular skirt (see: Choosing Your Fabric, Flat Piping, and Installing an Exposed Zipper), so I’ll just brief over the key details here.

The navy rayon crepe is from StyleMaker Fabrics (who is one of our sponsors for this year’s OAL!). I added flat piping at the waistband (sewn with silk crepe – from my stash) and an exposed metal zipper to the back. I also shortened the length considerably, omitted the pockets, and used stretch interfacing on the waistband.

I sewed the entire skirt on my Spiegel 60609, and it did pretty well overall! While I don’t want to say I was concerned to see how it would handle that shifty fabric (I have sewn straight-up silk and a bra on the 60609, and it hasn’t given me any problems thus far with my fabric choices), I was still pleasantly surprised at the entire experience. I didn’t use any special stitches, and only feet that came with the machine. The zipper foot in particular was great for both applying the piping and the invisible zipper, as well as making sure the topstitching was nice and straight and close to the edge. I did find that I needed to increase the stitch length just a smidge for this fabric, as it wanted to bunch a little bit otherwise, but overall I’m pretty happy with it! I am glad that moving the needle over is an option with this machine (you just increase the zigzag width while on a straight stitch), however, I’d love to see some new feet released to use with this machine. Maybe a 1/4″ foot or an edgestitching foot?😉 HINT HINT.

OAL2016: Hollyburn Skirt

OAL2016: Hollyburn Skirt

OAL2016: Hollyburn Skirt

For me, the most fun part about this challenge is ending up with TWO pieces that I can mix with other garments in my wardrobe. I love this top + skirt together… but honestly, I like them even more with different things from my closet! They are definitely wearable with a bunch of what I already have (which is part of the reason why I got a little boring with the colors😉 I wanted the versatility!); here are a couple of examples:

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater

Zinone top + Ginger jean shorts
I don’t know about y’all, but I am LOVING the cropped trend! Slightly cropped with a slightly high-waisted bottom is my new favorite thing right now (not your cup of tea? This is the beauty of knitting your own – you get to decide the length!). I love the way this top looks tucked into a skirt, but the combination with my high-waisted Ginger shorts really makes my heart sing the most.

OAL2016: Hollyburn Skirt

Hollyburn skirt + sleeveless coral B5526 button up
I did not realize when I made this shirt that it was going to be one of my top 10 handmade garments of all time, but it is. It goes with everything. The sleeveless option + lightweight cotton fabric make it a great option for summer, and it layers beautifully under sweaters in the winter. The color is perfection and looks especially great with navy (my go-to summer dark neutral). It’s as easy to wear as a knit tshirt, but looks a helluva lot more refined and classy.

OAL2016: Zinone Sweater + Hollyburn Skirt

Anyway, I guess that’s it for this post! Those of you still scrambling to finish your outfits – you have 2 days before the deadline! Make sure you upload your finished outfit to the Official OAL2016 Finished Outfit Thread on Ravelry before 7/31/16 Midnight PDT if you wanna win one of those sweet prizes! Andi and I will be drawing 3 winners at random, who will win fabric, sewing pattern, and knitting pattern vouchers! Even if you’re not participating, do take a look at that thread! There are some amazing outfits to drool over🙂

Completed: Skyp Socks

29 Jan

Mmmm handkit wool socks. I don’t want to say there’s nothing better, but… handknit wool socks are pretty dang good.

Skyp socks

This is my most recent sock project, and I really mean recent – I just finished these a couple of days ago! Fresh off the needles and all that!

I’ve mentioned numerous times that I love sock knitting because it’s SO good for traveling – the project itself is super portable, relatively mindless (well, depending on the pattern I suppose haha), and you can always squeeze a little ball of sock yarn in your bag as a souvenir! This is my latest sock-travel project, and the first of my sock-yarn souvenirs.

Skyp socks

Is this not the coolest yarn? It’s a Crazy Zauberball, which I picked up at Knitwit Yarn Shop in Portland, Maine, when I was there for my sewing retreat in September. I was looking for a unique yarn and this is definitely unique. I’ve never seen anything like it – the colors gradually fade into a new color at random intervals, and the color combinations themselves are a bit of a surprise. I almost left with a grey/black/white gradient, but my shopping buddies convinced me to get the orange/blue combo because it was a lot more unexpected. I’m glad I did, because it was pretty fun to watch the colors change as I knit each round!

Skyp socks

The pattern is the Skyp Rib socks, which I’ve seen get rave reviews on Ravelry. I like that the socks look like they have a bunch of tiny cables, but there’s actually no cabling in this pattern – it’s just a series of passed-over stitches. The name of the pattern is the name of the stitch – a “skyp” stitch is slip 1, knit 1, yarn over, pass slipped stitch over. You do these in alternating rows of 3 and it looks like cables🙂 It’s also fairly mindless – except if you are unlucky enough to drop a stitch. That shit was a nightmare and I can’t even tell you how many times I unknit these things to try to correct my stitch counts. The rest of the pattern is relatively easy – top down, knit in the round on DPNs (I used circulars via Magic Loop cos that’s how I roll) with a size 0 needle. Honestly, the Skyp pattern probably wasn’t the best for this yarn as it gets a little lost in the color gradients, but that’s ok!

I don’t have a lot of pictures because it’s surprisingly hard to get good photos of your feet when you’re flying solo! Especially if you don’t want them to look like giant paddles (which is an accomplishment in itself, because I actually have pretty small feet – like, I can wear kid’s shoes. They looked HUGE in some of those photos, though, ha!). So here’s some detail shots. How many photos of socks do you really want to see, anyway? Right? Right. Don’t answer that if you err on the side of a foot fetish. Let me keep my innocence.

Skyp socks

Skyp socks

Skyp socks

Skyp socks

That’s all! Short and sweet🙂 I would absolutely consider knitting this pattern again, because it was just interesting enough to not be boring and the Skyp stitch is so pretty, but I have a few more patterns in my arsenal that I want to try first🙂 And I DEFINITELY want to knit with more Zauberballs! Every single one of the colorways is just fantastic.

I think I’ve asked this question before – but it bears repeating. What you’re favorite sock pattern? What’s your favorite crazy sock yarn? What you’re favorite ~normal~ sock yarn? What is a horse shoe? What does a horse shoe do? Are there any horse socks? Is anybody listening to me?

Completed: Little Cable Knee Highs

13 Nov

Ugh. I know, I know – two sock posts in a row. I hate to do this to y’all because I know it’s boring AF for the non-knitters (and to be honest, I’m almost borderline boring myself at this point haha), but this is what I got as far as photos! I’ve been back for a couple of days, but shit’s been hectic and I haven’t had time to fix my hair and stand in front of a camera. So, you get socks! Merry Christmas!

Grey Little Cable Knee Highs

Anyway, the truth is – even though they are socks, these totally aren’t boring because I made them and I endlessly entertain myself. So there’s that!🙂

Grey Little Cable Knee Highs

Grey Little Cable Knee Highs

The pattern here is Little Cable Knee Highs, which is a free pattern from Purl Soho. Hey, yo, my knitters – who else looooves the Purl Bee? Favorite online knitting tutorials, hands-down. When I’m looking up a new technique – not just for knitting, but with anything, really – I find that I can’t really follow a video. I prefer a well-photographed tutorial with lots of words! In my experience, Purl Soho has some of the best – I especially love (and revisit, and revisit, and revisit) the ones for Kitchener Stitch and short rows. I find the new layout of the website really hard to navigate, btw, but that ain’t nothing Dr. Google can’t work around.

Anyway, Purl Soho has lots of beautiful, *free* patterns, and these Little Cable Knee Highs are pretty cute! I first saw the pattern when Michelle made a pair, and I decided that I needed a pair as well. Never mind that we are talking TALL-ASS socks knit in FINGERING WEIGHT yarn. Spoiler alert: these things took foreeeeever to finish.

Grey Little Cable Knee Highs

I started these waaay back when I left for Peru in June, 6/4/15 to be exact. I cast on the first sock while waiting at the airport. I knew I wanted to bring a knitting project with me while we were traveling, but since I was just packing a carry-on (a backpack carry-on, nonetheless – for two weeks of travel! Whyyy), I didn’t have a lot of room for a big project. Socks seemed like a great idea because they are so tiny, and knee-high socks would keep me entertained for a really, really long time. So I took my sock project to Peru, where they were knitted all over Lima and Iquitos – even in the rainforest! These socks are so cultured now.

Still, two weeks later – I’d finished about half a foot. Then I put the entire project on hold in order to finish my Vianne project, since that one had a deadline. Once I picked them back up again, it was an endless circle of knitting and tiny cables until I finally finished back in September – just in time to wear them while I was in Portland, Maine! So, again – traveling socks!

Grey Little Cable Knee Highs

Length of time aside, the project itself was fairly easy and mindless. These socks are knit toe-up, and the pattern is written for DPNs. I followed the DPN instructions for the foot, but once I got to the leg I switched to circulars for Magic Loop, which made things soooo much easier and faster. The little cable is really fun to knit and breaks up the monotony of knitting endless circles. Knitting 5″ of ribbing was not very fun, but I managed. I used a Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off for the BO, which ended up being a little too stretchy and I think doesn’t look as good. It doesn’t bother me enough to rip out and re-knit, though, but I did keep that in mind for the second sock. I also did a poor job with knitting the heel on the first sock, so it’s kind of sloppy – but again, I was able to do a better job on the second sock. That’s one good thing about having two socks to knit; it gives you a chance to improve the second go!

This was my first toe-up sock project, and I don’t think I like it very much – joining 8 stitches in the round is really, really hard! Those stitches are left live and grafted together after you finish the sock, which I somehow managed to mess up on my first sock – and as a result, there’s a strange little bump at the toe (I don’t even remember how I messed it up. I think I dropped a couple stitches and then tried to pick them up and just created a disaster. My knitting group meets at a bar, and while I probably should not drink and knit – I do, and drinking makes dropped stitches ok. Right?!). I was able to mostly block it out, though, so it’s no thing! For the second top, I grafted the toe closed as soon as I had enough knitted yardage to grab onto, which worked out quite well and meant that I was finished when it came time to bind off.

Grey Little Cable Knee Highs

I bought the yarn at my local yarn store, Ewe & Company, in Kingston Springs TN. It’s Dream in Color Everlasting Sock Yarn and it was soooo nice to knit. I think the color is a bit too variegated for cables, so they don’t show up that great, but I’m ok with that because I think the socks turned out lovely regardless! This yarn was a major splurge for me – I needed 2 skeins, and they were $25/skein. So yeah, a pretty expensive pair of socks! It was part birthday gift to myself (don’t you buy yourself birthday gifts? Because you should, it’s the best), but I don’t think I’ll spend $50 on another pair of socks anytime soon hahaha.

That being said – the amount of money I dropped on these socks did make me more inclined to actually finish them, rather than let them sit in UFO purgatory once I started to get bored with how long they were taking, especially when I got to the second sock. I always consider my entertainment part of the price of anything I make as well (since I’m not spending that money going to, say, a movie or the bar. Bars other than knitting night, I mean :B), which I think is important. For me, sewing and knitting is just as much as entertaining/relaxing hobby as it is a way to clothe myself, so that is part of my consideration when it comes to my budget.

Grey Little Cable Knee Highs

When it comes to buying the materials for these sorts of projects, I try not to cheap out too much. For ME (and I’m only speaking for myself – I know that budgets and the like can be a very sensitive subject for people, so I’m not trying to preach at anyone here!), I value quality over quantity. Rather than buy a bunch of cheap yarn and fabric for a dozen projects, I’d rather spend that whole wad on ONE really nice project. I know I’m going to value the time I spend working on the project, and I’m going to really put my best effort in with fit and ripping out mistakes. With cheaper materials, it’s easy for me to give up and get sloppy since shit was so inexpensive to begin with. But you better believe – if I’m spending $30 a yard on a nice piece of fabric or $80+ on a single sweater, I’m going to really do my best work so that I get my money’s worth out of it. Not to mention, the enjoyment I get from working with really nice materials! I’ve noticed that a lot of people who start with really cheap yarn or fabric are more likely to abandon a project (or leave mistakes because they don’t want to take the time to fix it) before it’s finished, because they didn’t invest a lot of money into it. Even if the materials were super cheap to begin with, that can add up over time!

This is not to say that the most expensive projects are always destined to be the best ones, or that it’s impossible to make something nice with cheaper materials. I know that budgets differ wildly, and while $20 might seem inexpensive to me, that might be a lot for someone else! But I do think there’s some value in spending as much as your budget can comfortably afford (whether it’s $10, $20, or $100 – enough that you have to really think about what you’re spending that money on, enough to make you sweat just a little bit) for a single project, and then giving that project your best effort so that you really get your money’s worth out of the end result. It makes you more conscious of what you’re buying, which means spending less in the long run. Especially at the rate that I plow through my projects – this makes me slow down and appreciate what I’m doing. All good things, in my book!

Grey Little Cable Knee Highs

Anyway, I know everyone has a different perspective when it comes to budgeting for your crafts, and that’s just mine! I’d love to hear yours! Do you choose quality or quantity when you’re shopping for yarn or fabric? Does a more expensive material make you super careful with what you’re making, or do you get paralyzed at the thought of using it? Do you value inexpensive materials or not? You know my thoughts, now tell me yours!

Completed: Vanilla Latte Socks // +My sewing retreat at AGOS

2 Nov

I am on a sock ROLL these days, you guys! Trying to up my sock drawer game before the cold weather really sets in – there’s nothing like a cozy pair of hand-knit socks to keep your feet warm! Not to mention, socks are THE BEST travel knitting project. I love that the project is small enough to fit in a Bento Bag (my Bento Bag is actually homemade and pretty terrible looking, but this is the one I want and HINT HINT MOM CHRISTMAS GIFT HINT HINT ::ahem::) so I can carry it around in my purse for whenever the maker’s urge strikes. Plus, I don’t need to carry several skeins of yarn to complete the project – or lug around a huge half-finished piece (as is with the case of a sweater). AND, sock yarn makes a great travel souvenir. Done and done.

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

I’m going to skip out of order and share my most recent sock project first (oh yes, there’s an unblogged sock project before this one hahaha) because I also want to talk about the trip I took while I was working on sock #1 from this pair! Oh yes, these are totally my travel socks.

But first, I will talk about these socks a little bit more! The pattern is Vanilla Latte Socks, which is a free pattern on Ravelry and makes for a simple top-down sock, knit in sock weight yarn. This is one of those projects that has thousands of makes, and for good reason – it’s easy, it’s straight forward, and it makes a really nice pair of socks. I like that the pattern includes different options for knitting the heel flap and finishing the toe. It was a GREAT travel project, as it didn’t require a lot of my attention, but it was interesting enough to knit so that it didn’t get boring.

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

For my socks, I knit the size small (I wear a 6.5 shoe) and followed the instructions for the Eye of Partridge heel flap and the rounded wedge toe. I knit the pattern via Magic Loop on circular needles, as I reeeeeally don’t like to travel with DPNS because my stitches always fall off!(even with the little rubber stoppers. Or they poke through the stoppers and stab me through my bag! This happened in Peru with the aforementioned Previous Pair of Socks haha) Changing the pattern to incorporate Magic Loop was as easy as just switching the needles. Seriously. Really easy. Although I would recommend if this is your first pair of socks, follow the instructions exactly as written before you start changing needle type, as patterns written for DPNs will have you put a certain number of stitches on each needle, which can get confusing if you’re a n00b. Once you figure out the anatomy of the sock, though, changing things up is a breeze.

I wanted to try self-striping yarn for this pair, and HOLY SHIT I AM INFATUATED. For those of y’all who don’t know what the deal with self-striping yarn is – those stripes are all the result of the way the yarn was dyed. I didn’t have to switch yarn colors or weave in ends or anything. Self-striping yarn is AWESOME, you guys!! Instant striped socks, wheee!!😀 And this particular yarn is pretty cool, too – this is Jawool Color Superwash by Lang Yarns, which I’ve never heard of, but my local yarn store totally sold me on it. It comes with a little spool of reinforcement yarn, which you can hold double with your regular yarn to reinforce the toes and heels (or darn future holes with). I reinforced the toes, but not the heels – only because I forgot to when I was knitting the heels🙂 There are tons of color options for the stripes, but I really loved the unusual color combination of this one. Since it’s fingering weight yarn, I knit the socks with size 0 needles.

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

I found the pattern really enjoyable to knit, and waiting for the next stripe color to appear was way more entertaining than I could have imagined. I started this pair en route to Portland, Maine, where I had a sewing retreat a little over a month ago. I finished the first sock exactly one week later, while I was waiting in the airport to fly home. The second sock took a couple of weeks to finish – mostly during weekly knitting group meetings, or watching TV with Landon. Not a lot of memories attached to that second sock, ha!

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

I did want to talk a little bit about that trip, because it was a really wonderful week! As I mentioned, I had a Sewing Retreat held at A Gathering of Stitches (or AGOS, as we call it🙂 ), which is located in beautiful Portland, Maine. Y’all. I was warned by some people that I’d really like Portland, but I had NO IDEA how much I was going to fall in love with that city! Portland is absolutely amazing – it’s a beautiful town with cool little shops (like an entire shop dedicated to SOCKS, ahh!) and places to eat, there’s a big emphasis on local food and culture, and the place is so small that you can really just walk to anywhere you need. So many cool old New England houses, so many cool businesses, so much amazing coffee (my very favorite was from Tandem Coffee, which of course I brought a bag home and I’ve been trying to drink it as slooowly as possible. It’s the weirdest, yet most amazing coffee I’ve ever tasted. Trust.). If it wasn’t for the awful winters, I would move to Portland in a heartbeat. I won’t even pretend that I didn’t dream about it while I was there. I had my house picked out and everything hahaha.

agos2

So, the retreat was a pretty loose, relaxing 4 day weekend of sewing. I had 11 awesome women who showed up at the studio every morning, and each had their own individual project to work on. AGOS Studios was the perfect spot to have this – it’s a large space, with plenty of room for everyone to spread out. There were cutting tables, multiple irons (including, of course, a gravity feed iron – which I think most everyone was planning on buying one after the week was over haha! Gravity feed irons are AWESOME!), sergers and sewing machines (everyone had their own machine, whether they brought one or borrowed from the studio). Each student was given a little goody bag of small sewing supplies and notions – stuff like seam gauges and tape measures and my favorite Chaco Liner and candy. It was a really good goody bag haha. Samantha (the owner of AGOS) also had a selection of additional notions and fabric and supplies (such as thread and interfacing) on hand in case anyone needed to buy last-minute for their project.

We were provided lunch every day – and it was always something amazing and local, with dessert included. The food was REALLY REALLY good!! We had a “get to know each other and eat pizza” night the evening before the weekend officially started, which was a great way to get to know all the people who showed up, and learn a bit about each other. And we had a multiple-course, incredible farm-to-table dinner at The Well at Jordan’s Farm on the last night. I still have dreams about that meal, tbh.

agos3

All the students who signed up for the retreat were just amazing. There was a huge variety of projects and skill levels – from beginners to people who have been sewing for 40+ years, learning basic construction, tailoring, fitting, and even making jeans (I had 2 students who made Ginger jeans! And another who made some awesome red pants). I wasn’t sure how exactly the weekend would work out, since there was only 1 of me to help 11 people, but it ended up working really well! Everyone was fairly self-sufficient, and while I certainly stayed busy, there was never really a long wait if anyone had a question. People were also keen to help each other out, which is my favorite part because I love eavesdropping in on that shit and learning a thing or two myself! We had one woman at the retreat who wasn’t a student, but just there to check things out the first couple of days – her name is Adele, and she rents studio space at AGOS and is a master at bridal alterations (or, rather, a master at every sewing project she puts her hands on. Adele is amazing!). Adele actually made me a custom sloper; she wants to teach a class on this technique that she perfected and she needed a body model. The accuracy of that sloper was incredible – I think the only fitting we did needed a small change to the shoulder, and that was it. Plus, she drafted it up in about 20 minutes, on less than a dozen measurements (it’s my understanding that body slopers usually need something like 40 measurements). Pretty neat stuff! Plus, I have a sloper to play around with now, yay!😀

I had such an amazing time at the retreat – hanging out with and getting to know all the awesome people who signed up, and falling in love with Portland! Samantha was really great to work with, we got along right off the bat and she was so helpful with any Portland-related questions I had. Plus, she put together this entire retreat on her own – from the space, to the catering, to booking my AirBNB for me (which was ADORABLE, btw!). I just had to show up on time haha. I’m a shitty planner, so this was perfect for me. While I like doing project-based classes, I really thought the loose layout of this retreat worked out really well, since everyone got to work on projects that they were actually excited about. Plus, it was really fun to go from talking about finishing knits, to hammering in jeans rivets, to figuring out the kinks in a FBA. That might sound stressful to some teachers, but I was in heaven!

agos1

Post-retreat, I took a Megabus up to Boston and spent a couple of days there before flying home (at that airport was where I finished my first sock haha). That was more of a personal trip than anything, so I’m not going to go into detail about everything I did there. I did, however, spend my days with Jenny, where I saw the Appleton Dress pattern right before it was released! And I had Shabu Shabu with a bunch of awesome Boston sewing bloggers! And I had drinks with Norma and we talked about bras! And I got to go shopping at Grey’s Fabric and Gather Here! And I saw robots at the MIT Museum! So yeah, Boston was great!

So yeah, good times in September! Like I said, I reallllly loved Portland, and I am dying to go back! Samantha and I have talked about doing another retreat for 2016, and hopefully we’ll be able to work something out. I really loved doing the bring-your-own-project style that we had going on, and I’m certainly keen to do more. If you’d like to read more about the retreat and see more photos, Sam has a post up on the AGOS Blog about her experience. And if you know of any other places where I should be stretching my feelers about one of these sorts of retreats in 2016 – holler! I’d love to travel more for this sort of class next year, I’m just not sure where to start asking!

Self-Striped Vanilla Latte Socks

I’m actually headed back out this week for another sewing class – the Pants Making Intensive at Workroom Social! YAY!! I am really excited to see the new space that Jennifer has, and super excited to get to making some pants! Speaking of which, I think we have one more space open in that class – so if you’re a last-minute kinda person and were thinking about signing up, go check it out🙂 In the meantime, I will see y’all next week!

Completed: White Graphite Sweater

20 Oct

I started this sweater back in Feburary, which gives it the title of Longest WIP Ever (for me, anyway). Not because it was complicated to knit, but rather because I put it on the backburner several times in order to work on new and shiny projects. Yep, I totally broke my own personal rule about UFOs! But I did finally complete this unfinished object, so I’d reckon that it’s all good🙂

White Graphite Sweater - front

For this sweater, I used the Graphite pattern, and knitted up a size XS. Based on my gauge swatch (can you believe I’m still faithfully knitting these before starting a project?! Mostly because I told myself I would turn all those swatches into a blanket eventually. Despite all my swatches, it’s still a pretty tiny blanket haha), I went down a couple of needle sizes to an 8. The pattern has you knit the ribbing with an even smaller needle – in my case, that would be a 6 – but I didn’t do that with this sweater because I totally forgot. Oh well!

White Graphite Sweater - front

Oh, by the way – Kevin Pancho piggy is back in some of these pictures. Everyone say hi to Kevin! She’s currently in the process of invisible fence training, hence her collar. Kevin loooves rooting around in the woods a little too much (like, she disappeared for over 2 hours more than once!), so we had to take some measures to keep her safely in the yard. Training is going a lot more smoothly than it was at the beginning, but man, is that pig stubborn!

White Graphite Sweater - side

White Graphite Sweater - side

Anyway, enough about that pig! Back to my sweater!

I used Plymouth Yarn Homestead for this, purchased from my local yarn store, Haus of Yarn (actually, since I moved, I have a new local yarn store! More on that when I get around to posting projects from the stuff I’ve bought from there, though!). This yarn is 100% wool, Aran weight, and Haus of Yarn only had the natural colors. I don’t know why I gravitated to this off-white – it’s beaaaaautiful on the skein, but not really so much against my face. Ugh. Me and my visions of white sweaters, the endless mistake.

White Graphite Sweater - back

This sweater also gave me the stark realization that I need to pay more attention to suggested yarns for my patterns. I know this is a VERY obvious thing for me to admit, but I have never really given much thought to the suggested yarn, other than weight and ply. I just always stick with 100% wool, regardless of what the pattern tells me to use. Since I don’t really knit patterns that require a different fiber (for drape, or stitch definition, or what have you), this hasn’t posed a huge problem, but it does limit me. I think this sweater would look a lot better if I had used a yarn with a little more drape, like the suggested Debbie Bliss merino. Just something to keep in mind for my next sweater!

White Graphite Sweater - back

As for the pattern, I knit it exactly according to the instructions, with no further fitting adjustments. It has a nice fit, I think – form-fitting without being snug, and it skims over the body. I do think it’s a bit too long, though! It does not look bad in these pictures, but I prefer a little more of a crop with my sweaters, since I wear my pants so high-waisted (I think it looks weird to have high-waisted pants and a long sweater! Or maybe it doesn’t look weird, but it certainly feels weird!). But, the almost butt-skimming length will work in my wardrobe. I can totally wear it with leggings and pants with a lower rise.

White Graphite Sweater - front

Like I said, the pattern was super super easy. This would be an easy first sweater project – lots of endless stockinette in the round. It’s knit top-down, and you make increases for the raglan sleeves and then separate those stitches from the body. From there, you knit in an endless tube to make the cool broken rib knit pattern (which, again, SUPER easy. Just knits and purls!). After you knit the ribbing and bind off the bottom, you knit the sleeves (putting the live stitches on the needles, rather than picking up bound-off stitches as with traditional set-in sleeves). Since they are raglan, there’s no sleeve cap to knit – you just knit an endless circle. Finally, the neckline is picked up and knit with a rib pattern. Easy!

White Graphite Sweater

White Graphite Sweater

Blocking the thing (where you wash it and lay it flat to dry, pulling it into the desired shape and size) really made a difference in the finished sweater! Not only did it set the stitches and make them nice and flat/even, but it relaxed the yarn and gave it a nice drape. Where the raglan sleeve “seam” (really just a series of increases) ends, there was a poof right over my armpit when I put the sweater on. Totally not a good look. After blocking, though, that relaxed into a soft little fold, which I can live with.

Doesn’t that yarn look so delicious and swishy!? YAY.

Ok, I don’t have anything else to say about this project, so here are some pictures of me trying to make friends with Kevin. Whatever, I know y’all are just here for the pig.

KEVIN PANCHO

Holy shit, I look like I’m balding in these pictures hahahahah. I swear that’s just the flat spot I get from sleeping haha. Oh lord!

KEVIN PANCHO

I’m glad I finished this project and can finally put it to rest! While I’m not crazy about the color on me, I think I’ll like it with a colorful collared shirt underneath it🙂 (I did consider dyeing it, but then decided… nah. Haha!). What’s on your knitting needles these days? What’s your favorite wool sweater yarn? I’m about to cast on for my next sweater, but I’m always looking for new projects to add to the queue!