Wednesday, November 7, 2018


My friend, Janet, gifted me with a beautiful skein of Shalimar DK yarn in a color called Sea Glass. For some months I kept it stashed with my other single skeins of fingering weight yarn, periodically taking it out to pet and admire.

I just loved the color, but what to do with it? Socks were a possibility with that yardage, but I hated to hide that sea blue inside a pair of shoes.

Then, while trolling around Ravelry late one night, I fell into the rabbit hole which is westknits. That guy! He has more fun with color than practically anyone. And so many of his patterns are just perfect for mixing a bunch of lovely one-skein fingering weight yarns. Of which I have a pretty hefty collection, on account of I can't resist them.

His Daybreak pattern looked like a good bet for someone who is dipping a toe into playing with colors. You can go crazy, as have many of the 6986 knitters who have posted their Daybreaks on Ravelry. Or you can timidly use just two colors and see where it takes you. Like me.

I used a skein of Madeline Tosh Sock in the color Whiskey Barrel for my contrast. It's hard to see from the photos but this brown has flashes of blue winking in and out.

I thought I'd be able to knock out a size Large, but I didn't have quite enough of the Whiskey Barrel. But the size Medium is plenty big enough for me.

I'm new to shawl knitting. This one starts small at the back of the neck and grows exponentially as you knit your way out. Gee, those last rows seem to go on forever. Maybe a bit boring, but also soothing. This is a great project for social knitting, or TV watching.

I'm also new to shawl wearing. I think this is a nice shape and size. Those long corners keep the thing put when you drape them over your shoulders, and the fingering weight means the shawl is light enough to scrunch up at the collar of your jacket if you're wearing it out on a blustery day.

I might need to rest up a bit before I dive into another shawl, but it will be fun to review my sock yarn stash and play with some colors for another Daybreak. Or, if I'm brave enough, maybe a Rockefeller.

My Ravelry project notes are here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Burdastyle Summer Jacket

I must be on a kimono sleeve kick. Or maybe these are really batwing sleeves, because they get narrower at the cuff? Anyway, there have been several patterns in my last few Burdastyle magazines that I mean to try, and this is the one I chose to do first. Burda describes it as a sweatshirt fabric jacket and that's just what it is.

I think it came out pretty well, though if we were having a "who wore it best" contest, the Burdastyle model would beat me by a furlong.

Here's the line drawing. It's pattern #119 in the the August, 2018 issue

This is one of the quickest, easiest patterns I've ever had the pleasure to sew. It's a 3-seams-and-you're-done kind of pattern. The edges are all finished by turning and stitching. Burda suggested a twin needle, but I used one of the decorative stitches on my machine. My Babylock has a billion decorative stitches that I almost never use, so when I see a chance to play around with them, I like to take it.

Side view
There are pleats in front and in back, which moves the shoulders close to Gloria Swanson territory. They give it a little more swagger than your garden variety sweatshirt.

Back view
You can see how batwing-ed those sleeves are from this back view. I have a small collection of light layers to pull on when I'm chilly in the house of an evening. OK, maybe it's a fairly large collection, but many of them have snugger sleeves. This baby is loose enough to fit pretty much anything as an underlayer, so I think it will have it's place in my winter evening wardrobe.

I used a cotton sweatshirt fabric with a snuggly inside layer. It feels light but toasty and I hope it will stand up to spaghetti sauce and frequent washing. If not, I won't feel too bad because I can zip up another one in no time flat. This is truly a quick and easy sew.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Vintage Vogue

I cut into one of my vintage patterns. This is a Vogue American Designer pattern from 1987. The designer in question was Calvin Klein. I found this puppy in an antique/junk store in White Salmon, Washington while on vacation a few years ago.

Here's the pattern envelope. It's kind of cute that the little hand-written note on the front reads "Blue cotton blouse," and I actually went ahead and sewed it up in some blue cotton with woven dotted stripes. Other than the penciled note on the front, it looks like this pattern was never opened.

Here's the line drawing. I made view B, with the long, cut-on kimono sleeves and the standing collar.

I fiddled around with the cutting layout for quite a while. I had two yards of 45 inch cotton to play around with and those cut-on sleeves took up quite a lot of space. I got there in the end by shortening the sleeves about 2 inches. Luckily, my arms are about 2 inches shorter than Calvin designed for, so I'm good. If you look at that envelope photo there was definitely some slouchy sleeve action going on.

This is one of those old school patterns that just includes one size. That size was an 8, which expects me to have a 30.5 inch bust, a 23 inch waist and 32.5 inch hips. None of which I have had since I was myself 8. It looked like the pattern included a bunch of ease, though, so I forged ahead.

Side slits on view
I ended up adding some slits in the hem to keep the blouse from hanging up on my not-32.5 inch hips. Things still want to bunch up in back a bit anyway. Next time I'll add some extra around the bottom.

Back view
I was tempted to add some waist shaping to the center back and side seams. Otherwise this top is very much straight-up-and down. But for a first go, I'm happy enough with the fit as is.

Calvin finished the sleeves with a slit and facing. I'm supposed to have made a lovely thread loop, but I used a piece of elastic. I might lose the elastic and just tack the cuff together, since I can't see myself turning the cuffs back, but I'll test-wear the top a few times before I make any changes.

I love this cuff because it didn't require me to sew a sleeve placket. Sleeve plackets are my most problematic construction task.

Here's a parting photo with the collar raised around the neck, as it is on the pattern envelope. I'll probably wear the collar turned back to make a small shawl collar. Though I kind of like the standing collar too, now that I look at it. That might be the ticket if I make this up in something a bit more glam and drapey.

My pattern review is on here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Brindille & Twig Onesie

My granddaughter's due date just got bumped 10 days closer, which means I might meet her in two days (gulp!). Still enough time to make a little something to take down south with me, right?

I fell hard for this pattern when I saw it in an email from Brindillle & Twig. That little skirt was just so cute! Guess I'm still all in on the girly sewing.

Brindille & Twig Bodysuit Dress
The Grandson's theme was cactus. I've made him cactus quilts and cactus hats and cactus shorts and cactus shirts. I've also knitted him a barrel cactus and a saguaro. I guess I went a little overboard. Maybe that's why the kids told me they don't really have a theme for Baby #2.

But it just so happened that I came across this cactus print knit in a pink colorway. And it also just so happened that I had used the same print in green to make the Grandson a shirt and a pair of sweatpants.

I just couldn't stop myself.

Skirt seam finishes to the outside, rather than against the kid's skin
I like Brindille & Twig patterns. The styles are cute but practical and they include finishing techniques that are quite nice. This pattern, for example, has you attach the skirt in such a way that the seam is on the outside, hidden away under the gathering, rather than inside against the baby's skin.

I also liked the way they tell you to apply the binding for the edges. It was pretty easy to do and came out nice and neat. The instructions were good, though I had to read through them a few times to grok some of the sewing origami.

The kids live in Southern California, so they have no need for warm clothes. No knitting of little hats or sweaters for me. They do put The Grandson in a lot of onesies, so I hope they'll get some use out of this little number.

This is a fun pattern with a pretty cute result. If you're not into the skirt action, you could easily leave it off and make a nice, basic onesie. Seems like a lot of my friends are graduating to Grandma these days, so I'm sure I'll be using this pattern again.

My pattern review is on here.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Shirtmaker's Express, Version 2.0

 Another birthday, another flannel shirt. The Man ended up wearing last year's model quite a bit. He uses it like a light jacket over a tee shirt. Just enough warmth for those chilly evenings when the fog comes in. I went through the details in this post, so I won't repeat myself here. Only just to say, this is a nice pattern for a fitted men's shirt. If you're worried about taking on a project like this, I highly recommend Janet Pray's Craftsy class, Sew Better, Sew Faster. She uses this pattern and walks you through everything.

Front view
One thing I learned about men's shirts from watching the class is that a guy does not like the wrong side of the fabric to look different from the right side. The wrong side will show when a guy leaves the collar unbuttoned, as most right thinking men do when they aren't wearing a tie. My first version of this shirt did use a flannel with a visually distinct wrong side.

Side view
I think The Man is happier with this fabric, which is the same on both sides. The downside is that I did have to pay some attention while sewing, so as not to put anything together backwards.

I used 4 yards of flannel that I got some time ago at Joann's. I did my best to match the plaid, so I used up every scrap.

Back view
Here's the back view. The pattern includes optional back darts to give a bit of shaping. I consider them mandatory, because The Man likes a slim fit.

Here's a close up of the pocket, which has been enlarged slightly to accommodate a Mont Blanc number 8 safety pen.

And here's how my guy likes to wear it; unbuttoned over a tee shirt with the cuffs turned up.

I'm thinking I have the annual birthday present sorted with this pattern. Next time, maybe a corduroy.

My pattern review is on here.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Palazzo Pants

My friend, Sharon, has this pair of pants. They're not some fancy designer label, but she's carried them with her for years. Decades, even. She likes them, although they're navy blue instead of black, which makes them tricky for her to integrate into an outfit.

She thought it would be nice to recreate them before they crumble into dust, so she asked me if we could come up with a pattern to duplicate them.

Sharon's favorite pants

And we did!

Son of Sharon's favorite pants
Luckily for me, precise fit is not an issue with a pair of palazzo pants. I had her try on a pair of Loes Hines Oxford Pants that I'd made years ago, just to see if the crotch curve was in the right ballpark. It was, so I traced the inseam and crotch curve from that pattern. I added about 4 inches width in the legs and about 5 inches height in the rise and we were pretty much there.

Sharon's original pants have two box pleats in the front. They do a good job of controlling the fullness over the stomach so the fit is a bit sleeker than elastic waist pants can tend to be.

Close up of box pleats. Almost impossible to see with this crazy print.
We used a rayon print from Hart's. You want something pretty drapey if you're playing around with this much volume. We took our time going through the fabric options. Sharon wanted a print with some black in it. She wears a lot of black tops; hence the issues she had working with her navy pants.

We fondled a lot of nice prints, but the flowery ones veered too far into either "jammie" or "beach resort" territory. We decided this print looked a little more "night club."

Sharon also wanted pockets, so we added some in the side seams.

Hand in pocket
Here they are on me. High waisted pants look a lot better on someone with a waist. Can you see those box pleats doing their thing?

Here's a back view, so you can see how I parked most of the gathering at the rear.

And a side view so you can have the whole 360 degree experience.

The pants are pretty fun to wear. Those legs are 29 inches around, so you have all the swish factor of a maxi skirt.

Here's a parting shot of the pants on Sharon, taken while we were pinning the hems. Gorgeous, isn't she?

Sharon, stylin'
It was a blast putting these together with Sharon. It was interesting to play around with drafting the pattern, if you can call my combo of tracing and fiddling around "drafting."I also enjoyed thinking through the construction process.

I might just make myself a pair of these bad boys! They'd be fun to swan around in on our upcoming weekend in the wine country.

I wrote up a little something for here.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Souvenir Knitting

While on our train trip to Chicago I found myself needing a soothing knitting project. Something that didn't have any complicated stitch patterns or confusing structural details. Something that would let me space out while the yarn slipped gently through my fingers. Something that wouldn't inspire the kind of language that would make a sailor blush.

And voila. This is Picovoli, by Grumperina. Top down, one piece, cap sleeved and straightforward.

I used a little bit more than two skeins of sport weight cotton (Berroco Pima 100) that I got at String Theory, a very cute yarn shop in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Picovoli is a free pattern, and it really does knit up quickly. Especially when you're chugging along on the train with lots of prime knitting time.

Hmm. Better concentrate on holding my shoulders back or that dowager's hump will take over.
The pattern includes instructions for a picot edging, but that felt too stressful for me at the time, so I made the un-hemmed version. Even though I knew that that cursed stockinette was going to roll up like a garden hose.

Back view, just the same as the front view on account of back and front are identical
Marina, one of my super-sweet LYS ladies, suggested I try doing an i-cord edging to flatten things out, and that worked a treat. It's my new favorite knitting thing. It's got a tidy, understated look and it tamed those edges nicely. At least they're tamed just now, right after blocking. We'll see how long it lasts.

i-cord edging
Now I'm just itching to knit something with a contrasting i-cord edge.

My project notes are on Revelry here. I'm becoming a big fan of keeping project notes on Revelry. I'm one of those sporadic knitters who will put a project down for months. OK, maybe years. Those notes are a godsend when I'm trying to remember what size I was making, or any little changes (intentional or unintentional) I might have made along the way.