Monday, March 6, 2023

Arboreal Sweater

Knitting season is lingering here on the central coast. We've been having a cold snap, along with more rain than we've seen in many a year. I've even been seeing headlines saying that most of the state is out of drought territory, at least for this year.

Anyway, lots of quality time on the couch with yarn and needles. My most recent FO is the Arboreal sweater. There are more than 2,500 versions of this sweater on Ravelry, so it's a pretty popular pattern. I can see why. It's well written and pretty straight-forward to knit, and there is some short row shaping in the upper back, so that the neck sits nicely. 

I used some Louet Gems sport weight yarn that I found in the sale bin at The Swift Stitch here in Santa Cruz. The ball band called the color Pewter, but to me it's kind of a khaki/caffe au lait. I used part of one ball of Cascade super wash in a faded green for the leaves.

I was aiming to make the sleeves about three quarter length, partly to get the sleeves over with and partly because I usually push my sleeves up to the elbow anyway. I think I overshot my mark a bit, but when they're pushed up you can't tell.

I've been really enjoying the knitting lately. I'm not sure why, but it feels like running into an old friend you haven't seen for a few years.

I've been dipping my toe into color work, which may be why I've got the wind beneath my wings a bit. This is a good pattern for a first or second color work project. You don't have many long floats to deal with and the scary part is right up in the beginning, so if you have to back track you don't have too much to undo. 

My Ravelry notes are here.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Moss Jacket

 I've been doing more knitting than sewing lately, probably because the weather has been so wet and chilly here on the central coast. I often watch YouTube while I knit. One afternoon I was catching up on Lifting Pins and Needles and Karina was reviewing the Moss jacket, from Helen's Closet. I thought, "Hey, that's a cute pattern!" and even though I probably have 50 jacket patterns, I decided I wanted to try this one. And I'm glad I did, because I like it a lot.

I do not like my hair in this photo, but you're here for the jacket, right?

It's a loose-fitting, drop shoulder jacket with a wide, fold-over collar and cute yet functional pockets. Ticks all my boxes for an easy layer to wear while walking the dog or hitting the town. 

I used one of the mid-weight linens from the in a color called Asphalt. The website says: 

"ASPHALT linen mimics the tone of Vicken Parson's cool, mid-grey shadows, a color suggesting the concrete pavements, rain soaked bricks and hardened metal of the urban jungle."

To my eye, it's a soft, bluish-grey that fits right in with my wardrobe.

I had two yards, which was juuuust enough to cut out the wide-collar, cropped, 3/4 sleeve version. That collar eats up a lot of yardage. It's worth it though.

If I'd had enough fabric I probably would have lengthened the jacket a few inches and moved the pockets down a tad. I'm happy with this iteration though. Even in linen, which I think of as a hot weather fabric, the collar feels nice and cozy at the back of my neck. 

The jacket is unlined and comes together very easily. The only slightly tricky part is curving the collar piece around the neckline in the back, but if you clip and trim it works just fine. I could easily see making another. Maybe the longer version in a warmer fabric. Might have to toss the stash to see what I have in waiting.

My pattern review is on here.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Soldotna Sweater

 Now that the winter has set in (or as much as it ever does in Coastal California) my thoughts have turned to knitting. This is the Soldotna sweater, designed by Kaitlin Hunter.

I'm pretty much a color work newbie, but this pattern seemed very straightforward. The charts were easy to follow and, with no sleeves to bother with, I feel like I finished it in no time. By which I mean, in about 6 weeks. 

The trickiest part for me was choosing the colors. The charcoal was a given because I had 4 skeins of Louet gems in that shade that had been lounging in my yarn stash for probably at least 20 years. I thought it might be enough for this sweater, and it was, easily. 

So I just needed to find 3 colors of similar weight yarn that had enough contrast to show up. I ended up with cream, light grey and what looked in the yarn store like a new leaf green. Once the knitting commenced, though, that green read more as yellow. Which isn't one of my colors, but it's not right up against my face so I'm trying to think of it as my pop of color. It often seems like the pop of color in my projects ends up being a color I'm not too fond of. I guess because the ones I like are always the ones I choose for the main colors.

I made a couple easy changes to the pattern. For one, I lengthened the body quite a bit. Like by about 7 inches. When the designer says "cropped," she means cropped. I also fiddled with the charts a bit so that I didn't have any long floats on the backside. I'm not good at tacking those puppies down so they tend to catch on everything.

My goal is to watch some YouTube videos and learn about float management by the time I do my next color work sweater. I actually had enough fun knitting this sweater that I've already scrounged up yarn for my second version.

My Ravelry notes are here.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Quick and Easy Burdastyle Blouse

 I was quite pleased with the December issue of Burdastyle. There's a nice pair of high-waisted trousers, a cute skirt and a few nice dresses. And also this loose, boat necked blouse.

Here's the line drawing. Simple shape, loose fit. I like the neckline, and also the little pleats at the the cuffs. They give it a little something extra. The sleeves are kind of dropped, which may or may not be your jam. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the shaped hemline, but I think I kind of like it.

Here's a look at how loose that fit really is. You want a drapey fabric, that's for sure. I used a polyester something that I bought at Hart's some time ago. I loved the print and the colors. I had a hard time finding the right pattern for it though. I wanted something with no darts to break up those chrysanthemums. The fabric was very light, with a crepe texture and just a bit of stretch, so I didn't want to have to mess with buttonholes. This pattern was just the ticket.

Here's a side view. I like where the hem sits.

I especially like the length in the back. I just covers my butt, which is always a plus.

I finished it just in time to pack for our weekend in San Francisco. I wore it out to dinner with some navy StyleArc Barb pants and I tucked in just the front. Is that what they call a french tuck? It felt comfortable but just fancy enough for dinner in SF.

I'd be happy to make another of these if I find the right fabric. I might even be brave enough to try it in something fancy, like silk. The sewing is simple enough that I could focus all my anxiety on fabric handling. 

My pattern review is on here.

More Kid Sewing

My niece, Isabella, came out for her first post-Covid visit at the end of October. We planned a bunch of fun activities: Monterey Bay Aquarium, dog walking, dinners out. And, Isabella wanted to sew another dress. Last time she visited she made this little number, and we had a blast doing it. 

This time we did some emailing back and forth ahead of time to zero in on a pattern and fabric. That way we could spend maximum time at the machine. 

Isabella is a young teen (a.k.a. tween). I pawed through my back issues of Burdastyle and  I was a bit surprised how few of the patterns are aimed at tweens. There are tons for babies, girls, and boys, but only a few for the young teen. We settled on dress 133 from the June, 2015 issue.

It was recommended as a good pattern for the beginning sewist, so right up our alley. Just a couple of pattern pieces, and with a loose enough fit that I thought we could make it work in the short time we had available. Isabella found a couple of fabrics she liked by perusing the Hart's website. I picked up a few yards, got the pattern traced out in what I hoped would be her size and we were ready to hit the ground running.

There were just a few bumps in the road. For one thing, the pattern was drafted for a woven but we would be working with a knit. I figured the design would adapt pretty well, but we decided to beef up the straps by inserting some elastic before attaching them. 

The second issue was my bad. I bought the recommended yardage and pre-washed it, but I didn't try laying out the pattern pieces ahead of time. Wouldn't you know it, the fabric had shrunk enough that we couldn't quite make things fit without doing some creative jiggering. I told her parents we were doing sewing with some bonus math. By shortening both the overlay and the skirt, we were able to make it work and still keep that maxi-dress spirit going.

Once we came up with the pattern layout, Isabella took over and did the whole shebang herself: cutting out, pinning and sewing. Here she is, working away at the machine. Even working with knit fabric and seams on the bias, she kept everything accurate and tidy.

And here she is, wearing the finished dress. Beautiful, am I right? 

Isabella is a dancer, so she really knows how to rock a swishy maxi-dress.

I bet by next visit she'll be into the lady sizes and then the sky will be the limit.

My pattern review is on here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

1980's Simplicity Blouse

 My friend Lisa scooped me up a bag of vintage patterns at a quilt show a couple of months ago, bless her soul. Most of them were close to my size and some are very cute. This is the first one I took for a ride. It's Simplicity 9434 and, according to the pattern envelope, it was printed in 1980.

Here is the pattern envelope in question. They describe it as a button front blouse with split cap sleeves, front shoulder tucks and optional tie belt. View 1, which I made, has a "narrow shawl collar." I do love me a shawl collar and this one is very nice. It feels like a good width and it rolls gently and stays in place.

Here's a close-up of the collar, and the front shoulder tucks. 

And here's a close up of the split cap sleeves, of which I am not a fan. They involve weirdly shaped little facings that were a pain to wrangle into place, and they want to fold themselves up funny if I wear a sweater. Or even if I move my arms the wrong way. Though now that I'm looking at the photo they do  look kind of cute.

I used a cotton sateen intended for quilt backing, the remnants of my Lacey dress. Or that was the plan. 

I only had about a yard of oddly shaped bits of fabric left over. I spent quite a while moving pattern pieces around and cussing, and I finally determined I could fit all the pieces if I shortened the top a bunch and cut everything out in a single layer. Woo hoo! I ran downstairs and told The Man, "I am a genius!"

Then when I got to sewing I realized I had forgotten to flip one of the upper collar pieces over, and there absolutely was not enough fabric left to recut. So then I had to go back to The Man and admit, "I am an idiot." After which I sloped off to Hart's to buy another 1/4 yard.

OK, fine. I'm sewing along. I have the under collar pieces interfaced and I start trimming the seam so I can turn it outside and press. That's when I realize that I've trimmed off the wrong side of the under collar. Good thing that extra quarter yard was 120 inches wide!

So, one of those projects that was more complicated than it had any right to be.

I do like the finished blouse, and I'd love to figure out how to redraft the sleeves to get rid of that split. It seems like it shouldn't be too hard, right?

If I can made that modification this will be a quick and easy top to sew up, and I could see having a few more. Maybe one in linen. 

My pattern review is on here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Mermaid Lacey Dress

 My granddaughter's 4th birthday is just around the corner. I know she'd probably rather have something to play with, but I made her a dress anyway, with matching shorts. 

I did choose mermaid fabric though. She's very into mermaids at the moment. Well, mermaids and Disney princesses, but mermaids are easier to source.

There were actually 4 different mermaid prints at Hart's to choose from. I went for a Dear Stella quilting cotton in a print called Shell Yeah Navy. 

The sewing pattern is from StyleArc. It's the kid version of the Lacey Dress, which I made myself in grown-up size as part of my resort wear wardrobe.

This was an easy pattern to put together, especially since I'd just sewn the adult view a couple weeks ago. 

For Margot's version I used the gathers as the pattern suggested, rather than changing it up for pleats like I did for mine. I also slid some flat piping into the seams that attach the sleeves to the bodice. Otherwise it might look like I cut those mermaids into pieces just for the shell of it (ha ha ha)

I made a couple of small changes to the pattern. The instructions have you cut the back bodice on the fold, then cut a slit at the top to give room for a kid head to fit through the neckline. It would have been nice to have the print uninterrupted, but I cut the back in two pieces and seamed up to the slit. This meant I didn't have to apply a finicky bias binding to finish the slit's edges. 

I also opted to extend the bias binding at the neck into a tie closure, instead of the button and loop the pattern called for. Margot probably won't be able to tie it, but at least she'll be able to get it off all by herself.

I was able to squeeze the shorts out of the remnants of the dress fabric. Margot always wears shorts under her dresses. I hear that's the style in pre-school. I used the Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts pattern, which has to be the simplest shorts pattern ever. I'd forgotten how quick these are to make up. 

I added a label in the back so that Margot won't end up dressed backwards in the morning. She's pretty good at dressing herself, but those labels are useful markers. I kind of wish I'd use them more often in my clothes. It would make mornings easier to manage.

I hope she likes the outfit. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she said "All the toys." I told her she already has all the toys, but I don't think she believed me.

My pattern review is on here.