Tag Archives: NYC

Completed: Static Sweater

11 Jan

This was my last finished knitted project of 2016, and my first *blogged* knitted project for 2017!

Static Sweater

I finished it just in time, too – Tennessee has finally decided that it is indeed winter, and dropped the temperatures to match!

Static Sweater

I haven’t knit as many sweaters this year (or, in 2016) as I did in the past – when I started knitting, I was on a huuuuuge cardigan kick. I knit SO MANY FUCKING CARDIGANS. I still love cardigans, but I rarely wear those OG knits from my first couple of years as a knitter. Most of them were great for my lifestyle at the time – I worked in an office and I needed to cover up my shoulders to make my dresses more appropriate for work. Now that I’m not stuck in a dress code, I rarely wear cardigans in the summer, unless I’m anticipating some crazy A/C abuse (Tennesseans looove their A/C). I have found that I prefer to knit and wear full-on sweaters – when I knit in the round, there’s no purling (woohoo), so it’s faster, and I find them more versatile and easier to wear than cardigans. Again, I don’t live in a climate that really needs a million sweaters – so I focus my knitting attention primarily on socks these days haha. But it’s fun to knit a sweater every once in a while!

Static Sweater

Static Sweater

Static Sweater

I have been loving these marled yarns that seemingly EVERYONE is knitting right now, and I wanted a nice cozy turtleneck to add to my (tiny) sweater collection. Something with minimal shaping – but not overly loose – and long enough to cover my butt (I feel like the older I get, the more my butt gets cold. What gives with that? Do I have a sensitive butt now?). Finding the yarn was really really easy. Finding the pattern was another challenge in itself.

First, the yarn. I was given an opportunity to review some yarn from We Are Knitters, which I totally agreed to do because 1. Yarn is really expensive; and 2. We sell some of these kits at Craft South, so I thought it would be nice to actually see what they were about. Of course, I’m super cheeky so I asked for an entire kit to make my sweater – specifically, I had my eye on the Kide Sweater. I love that loose, slouchy shape, the not-too-tight turtleneck, and I thought it would look great in that Petite Wool spotted black colorway.

Similar to Wool and the Gang kits, the We Are Knitters kit includes everything you need to make and finish the project – in this case, I got the pattern, 6 balls of the Petite Wool (which is basically a bulky yarn), a set of US 11 straight wooden needles, a WAK tag to sew inside my sweater, and a plastic needle to weave in the ends. It came in a recyclable paper bag. The pricing structure is similar to Wool and the Gang, maybe a little bit cheaper. I think the stuff that comes with WATG is a little bit nicer, though – for example, the WATG needle (for weaving in the ends) is metal, and the WAK needle is plastic. The WATG knitting needles are rosewood, and they are suuuper nice. I was not very impressed with the WAK knitting needles – they are also wood (beechwood), but they just feel a bit cheap. Very lightweight and the tips are not smooth. They were the wrong size for my gauge, so I did not use them for this project. I also preferred the WATG yarn over the WAK yarn, but they aren’t exactly the same thing so I don’t know if that’s really a fair comparison.

The WAK Petite Wool yarn is really pretty, but it’s not the easiest to knit with as it is spun very loosely. It’s almost like a thin roving – it’s twisted just enough to get the two colors together, but because it’s not twisted very tightly, it’s prone to pulling apart or getting split with your needle when you knit into it. It’s quite lofty, which makes it a HUGE PAIN IN THE BUTT to unknit, since it really just wants to cling to itself forever. That being said – it feels good in the hands, knits up gorgeously, and is incredibly warm to wear. I have worn this sweater several times – including a 20 degree day in NYC this past weekend – and the cold couldn’t penetrate that barrier. It’s not super itchy to begin with, but I washed it in a Wrapture (which is a no-rinse wool wash with lanolin) and it got even softer. Love love love wearing this yarn.

My real beef with this kit was the pattern itself. The images on the website are really nice, which is what initially drew me in. However… it’s a pretty terrible pattern. It’s definitely very beginner-based, but I don’t think you’d end up with a nice sweater if you followed these instructions. The sweater is essentially knit in two giant pieces that get connected at the side seams. This includes the sleeves. So you start out really small, gradually increase until the piece is torso-sized, and then gradually decrease to the wrist of the second sleeve… then you sew the two pieces together all the way up the side and sleeve seams. I am not crazy about batwing sleeves on a bulky sweater (which is basically what this will end up being), and I feel like something knit out of yarn this heavy needs more structure to keep it from getting weighed down. I also don’t like the way this yarn looks sideways – which is how the stitches will end up, based on the pattern shape. Had I known this, I would have only asked for yarn, not a full kit – but unfortunately you don’t get to see the pattern schematics until it’s in your hands. So I scrapped the pattern and picked a different one, because at the end of the day – I’m the one knitting and wearing this sweater, and I want it to be something I actually truly love.

Static Sweater

Sooo, looking for another pattern ended up taking me WAY too long. It is apparently quite difficult to find a semi-fitted, turtleneck sweater knit out of a bulky yarn that does not have cables or lacework. I started with Caribou Trails, bc it had everything I wanted and I figured I could omit the side cable without any problems – but after downloading, I realized the instructions don’t include any neckline shaping. You basically knit the tube for the turtleneck and just go straight down. My WATG Teen Spirit Sweater is shaped like this, and it’s not the worst, but I don’t want to knit any other sweaters like that. Actual neckline shaping means the front dips a little lower than the back, and it doesn’t push against your collarbone. Caribou Trails got scrapped (bummer that I had to pay for it to learn this, but I’m not going to argue with a knitwear designer over $5, I mean, come on haha) and I resumed my search until I found Eased, which was WAY more up my alley! Good fit, good length, and the turtleneck almost looks like a hoodie without a hood. And it had that neckline shaping I wanted, so, sold πŸ™‚ The pattern I used is the version for bulky yarn, but I may go back and knit the version in the lighter weight yarn as well.

Static Sweater

Static Sweater

The pattern was super easy to follow, so not a lot to report there. I knit and washed a couple of gauge swatches until I settled on size 10 needles, which gave me a lovely feeling knit fabric. After washing, I figured that the back (purl) side looked much nicer than the front (knit) side, so I just knit the sweater as instructed and then turned it inside out after I finished it haha. I love the effect – the sweater looks like old-school TV static πŸ˜‰ As a side note, this Misfits song was stuck in my head pretty much the entire time I was knitting it haha

I knit the size 33 and the only fitting adjustment I made was to add another round of decreases to the sleeve so they’d be more fitted at the wrist. Something went haywire with my row gauge, btw – I calculated it in my gauge swatch, and measured carefully to ensure that the sleeves would be long enough (after measuring some of my other sweaters and deciding that 19″ was a good sleeve length for a sweater like this), but they still ended up too short. I didn’t realize it until after I wore it for a day and moved around a bit. That was pretty easy to fix – I just undid my cast-off, put the stitches back on the needles, and knit another 16 rounds (4″ with my gauge) in rib knit. I need to re-block the sweater as you can see a slight difference between the original rib knit ending and the new rib knit beginning, but I did this right before I left for NYC and I wanted to take the sweater with me. These photos are the original shorter length sleeves, fyi.

The collar is my favorite part, but man, those instructions are weird! You knit in the round, add yarn-over button holes (so far, so normal)… then instead of binding off, you whipstitch all the live stitches to the inside of the collar. I am guessing that the bind-off would make the collar lay weird, or maybe not be as stretchy, so I followed the instructions with a blind trust, but I was definitely a little concerned about just sewing down live stitches. It did turn out nice, though! The only thing I don’t like is how thick the top of the collar is, so I am going to focus on flattening that more when I re-block the sweater. I may also try a steam iron, we’ll see. One last thing – instead of doing a crochet chain drawstring, I just used black twill tape. I think it looks nicer, that is all.

Static Sweater

I do NOT know why the left sleeve looks so much shorter, ignore that! I promise they are the same length HAHA

Static Sweater

Static Sweater

Overall, I do love the yarn and the finished sweater. Not especially impressed with the pattern itself, although I think it’s probably fine for a super beginner who just wants to finish a sweater and not necessarily fuss over fine details. I think it is the same for the supplies that were included in the kit – they aren’t terrible, but they’re not the best quality I’ve used. A beginner who’s working on their first project wouldn’t know the difference, and wouldn’t have a problem with using them. But the yarn itself is fabulous to wear and I definitely recommend that, whether or not you decide to get the kit as well (you can buy yarn in bulk lots of 5 or 10, and it’s a little more discounted than buying the balls individually).

Speaking of balls of yarn, I only used about 4.5 to knit this sweater… so I still have another ball and a half to knit something else with. Probably a hat! If you have a good/plain beanie pattern suggestion (bulky weight yarn, approx 250~ yards), holler!

Static Sweater

On an unrelated note – I just got back from a full-on tourist weekend in NYC and, omg you guys, so amazing. I stayed in the Kimberly Hotel, which is way different from my normal housing – it’s not the cheapest hotel (rates start around $150/night), but it is really well-priced for the area it is in. It’s very central, and an easy 10-15 minute walk to lots of cool things -including the Garment District (YEP!), Central Park, the Natural History Museum – not to mention there are tons of great restaurants just in the surrounding blocks. In addition, there’s a sweet rooftop lounge with really good food and drinks, the rooms are quite nice (I think I might have had a spiritual moment every morning in that WATERFALL SHOWER) and the people who work there are incredibly good at what they do and incredibly intent on not letting you open your own door or hail your own cab πŸ˜‰ Not an experience I’ve ever personally had before, but now I see why people opt for those fancy hotels!

Since this was a fun / non-work trip for me, I did a lot more touristy-type stuff – although I did nip in the Garment District to grab a couple things (really, I got out of there with the smallest bag ever haha). If you haven’t checked out the Tenement Museum, PUT THAT ON YOUR LIST. It’s not really sewing related (I guess the workers were in the garment industry, but that’s about it), but it’s an AMAZING museum. One of my top 10 for sure. Another thing I really enjoyed doing was walking to Bergdorf Goodman and creeping on all the designer clothes. I only had an hour before I had to catch my flight home, but OH MY GOD I could have stayed there all day. I have never ever understood the appeal of designer clothes – but that stuff is so impeccably made, and it’s fascinating to look at. Some of the pieces made me want to cry over how beautiful they were, as cheesy as that sounds haha. And while I have always found designer stuff to be really over-the-top and kind of goofy looking, seeing it in person really makes you appreciate the artistic side of it. I never thought I would say that I love Gucci, but, their 2017 Resort collection is killer. And the Valentino 2017 Resort collection literally brought a tear to my eye when I was oogling over it. I NEED TO FIND THAT TROPICAL SILK ASAP.

Static Sweater

In other news, I’m heading out again this Saturday for my trip to Egypt! I won’t be posting on this blog during that time, so expect some silence. If you want to keep up with me via social media, I will be posting on Instagram (assuming I can get some internet signal over there haha), so you can follow that if you feel so inclined! Otherwise, I’ll see y’all later! β™₯

*Note* The yarn was provided to me by We Are Knitters, in exchange for a post review. Although they also supplied a pattern and needles, I used ones that I purchased on my own. All opinions in this review are 100% mine!

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NYC Part 2: Touring the McCall Pattern Company

25 Aug

Ok, y’all, time for part 2 of my NYC journey – touring the offices of the McCall Pattern Company! Whoop whoop!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Before I get too far into this post, there are a couple of things I’d like to address, as I’ve had some emails and comments about this:
– The McCall Pattern Company did NOT fly me into NY to visit their offices. Umm… I wish? I paid for my plane ticket all by myself, sorry!
– I did not come to NY specifically to visit The McCall Pattern Company – I was here to teach a workshop at Workroom Social. As soon as I announced my impending visit, I was emailed by Meg from McCall’s and offered an invite to tour the offices while I was there.
– Meg is the new Social Media Pro at McCall’s. If you’ve talked to anyone from McCall via Twitter, Instagram, their blog, etc – you were likely talking to Meg. I personally have known Meg for a couple of years now – well before she went into working for McCall’s – which is why she reached out to me to visit while I was in the city. Much to some the butthurt anonymous commentary on my blog, McCall doesn’t have a grand scheme of shutting me down (I mean, let’s be real you guys – I’m not hurting their sales when I post commentaries. There are a WHOLE lot of other sewists out there who don’t read my blog/don’t read blogs/don’t care about my opinion on Koos Van Den Akker. They still buy the patterns – some of the traffic coming directly from my blog. So there’s that.). They simply wanted to reach out and let me see the company, so, (in their own words) that when I’m talking my shit, at least I’m getting the facts straight πŸ˜‰
– I’m sure there are people who are thinking about what a sellout I am right now. That’s totally fine. You do you! I got over that whole ~sooo underground anti-coporation~ shit when I was like 17. DGAF.

With all that being said – OMG! Longtime dream – accomplished! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to lurk around the offices of this pattern company (as much as I poke fun at them, it doesn’t excuse the fact that we are still talking about dream job territory here. Nevermind that I’m not a patternmaker in any sense of the imagination, nor do I plan to become one), so this was an absolute treat for me! Full disclosure – I went into the offices with every intention of taking lots of photos (hence my phone in my hand in, well, every picture haha. Wish that dress had some pockets!), but since I never end up doing what I planned, all the photos you see in this post were taking by Meg. Thanks, Meg!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

I got the grand tour, you guys – I saw every department, met sooo many people (except the CEO, who was unfortunately in a meeting when I arrived. Oh well! Next time!), and a few of them even knew who I was! So crazy!

One of the biggest things I learned was just how freakin’ small this company is! Sure, they had a hell of a lot more employees than any of the indie designers we know and love – but it’s not like there are thousands of them, scattered across the world in giant corporate offices, with a big fat CEO smoking a cigar in his silk bed jacket and laughing all the way to the bank (I mean, I know I just said I never actually met the CEO but I’m just gonna ASSUME here, you guys). Everything is done in-house in NYC – they produce the patterns for McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, Kwik Sew, and even do Vogue Pattern Magazine. Each individual department is very small – some only having a couple of employees at most. It’s also one of those companies where everyone is basically family, which I just think is really nice and feels good to be around. Everyone was extremely friendly and clearly very happy to be there.

There are a LOT of rooms and departments – the fabric library (where they keep zillions of swatches, plus buttons and trims and notions and, oh god, it was heaven in there), drafting, dressmaking, customer service, in-house photography (complete with racks of clothing and even more racks of shoes aieeee), etc etc. All in all, I think I was there for about 3 hours – flitting around, chatting everyone up, getting all grabby hands on the various fabrics (and apologizing every few minutes. Forreal, my mom hates shopping with me because I’m incapable of not touching things. This is why I hate museums and love flea markets, haha).

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour
Checking out the fabric room and perusing the samples was one of my favorite parts. Sooo much eye-candy!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

This look of wide-eyed wonderment was pretty much plastered to my face the entire time I was in there, ha!

Another highlight of my tour was getting to finally meet the famed Vogue Pattern Designer, Carlos Correa (I didn’t get a photo with him, but you can see him chatting about some of the designer pieces in this McCall blog post). The very first thing he said to me was, “I LOVE YOUR BLOG!” hahahahaa!! Apparently, he reads it and loves the pattern round-ups (and I reckon he’s reading it right now, so HI CARLOS!). I spent a long time in his office, talking about the pattern and their styling vs how they look in real life, and saw some of the new designs for next season as well. I can’t say much about those, but what I can say is I kept going, “Oooh! I want one of those!” haha!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

I also stopped in the Vogue Pattern Magazine offices, to chat with the Editor and LURK THOSE DESIGNER DRESSES.

Did you know that the outfits on the Vogue American Designer pattern envelopes are actual designer garments? That was news to me! Take Vogue 1409, the Saber-Toothed Tiger dress, for instance. This dress literally came from the Donna Karan Collection – and McCall’s based the pattern off it, then used the actual dress in the photoshoot. It wasn’t sewn by them, nor did they choose the fabric (since it’s from Donna Karan). If you look inside, you’ll see all the tags – including the original price tag. This is much better explained on the McCall Pattern Blog, but that’s the general gist.

McCall Pattern Company Tour

With that being said, the next order of business was to try on the $10,000 Ralph Rucci coat.

Me: If it fits, that means I get to keep it, right?
Everyone else: lolololololol

Damn, that thing was a work of ART! I know I hated on the arm holes at one point (that’s such a random thing to hate on, ha), but seeing it in person absolutely made me change my mind (and I still think it looks weird on the envelope photo, maybe it’s just the way the model is standing?). The inside is amazing – all bound seams and even some hand stitches! Apparently there’s a whole Pinterest board for lurking the inside of the designer garments, so we can all drool from far away.

After that, it was obviously time to play dress-up. Because, duh.

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour

In another Ralph Rucci original (pattern is Vogue 1404), featuring the wind machine πŸ˜‰ Also, those shoes are like 4 sizes too big.

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour

Obviously I had to try on the Guy Laroche purple nightmare (that is actually silk chaurmeuse) (pattern is Vogue 1416. The sleeves were cracking me up to no end.

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Hahaha!
(side note: holy shit I need to touch up my hair color)

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Ughhh WANT THIS COAT (pattern is Vogue 1419)

I had an amazing time visiting the offices and meeting all the wonderful people who work so hard to produce all these patterns (whether you personally love them or not, I think we can all agree that the sheer amount of patterns they put out every year is quite impressive!). I did bring up some personal beefs – the excessive ease, the styling situation – as I feel like these are areas that do need some improvement. My opinions were definitely heard, and some things were already in the process of being addressed before I even brought them up, thanks to customer feedback. The McCall Pattern Company is absolutely interested in what the consumer has to say, and they’re making a huge effort to reach out to the online sewing community and bridge that gap. I know it’s really easy to hate on the ~big guy~ for just being there (especially when it’s a faceless corporation), but at the end of the day – I want to support the sewing community and it’s future! I’m absolutely invested in doing whatever I can to bring home sewists more options, and that includes supporting the Big 4. It was such a treat to visit the offices and get to know the people who make things happen there.

If you have a question or a complaint about a pattern from the McCall Pattern Company – contact them! They don’t know there is a problem unless you tell them, and their customer service department is extremely dedicated when it comes to helping. Follow their blog to learn more about the company, Like their Facebook page, lurk their Pinterest. Don’t be afraid to reach out and chat them up if you have a comment or concern. I’d love to see the gap close between the Big 4 and Indie pattern companies – I mean, we’re all in this for the love of sewing, right?

McCall Pattern Company Tour
(me hanging in the styling room. I was told to pretend I was fixing my hair – I promise I don’t sit at every available mirror and preen, haha! Although my hair did look really good that day. Minus the whole I need-to-redye-it situation)

Now, I can’t stop thinking about that Ralph Rucci coat…
So, like, if I paint it... I have to sew it, right? ❀️
I am definitely going to sew the shit out of that pattern. Just need to find my perfect red wool.