I Knit a Bracelet

I bought Laura Nelkin’s Ribband pattern some time ago. I started a project following the pattern, but found the knitting to be quite fiddly, so I frogged it and set it aside.

As I looked through the Ribband projects on Ravelry I saw one that appeared to be done in Stockinette that I liked the look of. So I knit my bracelet in Stockinette, and I love how it came out.

Sometimes you need to work smarter, not harder.

Finishing the Two-Year Baby Blanket

Two years ago I started knitting a blanket for my niece. I fell in love with the Vivid blanket by Tin Can Knits, knit 9 of 20 squares, then got bored and wandered off to sew something instead. The thing about baby blankets is that if you wait too long they’re not baby blankets anymore. They’re just really small.

Earlier this year I decided I was going to finally learn to crochet properly. I watched a few classes on CreativeBug and learned a lot. One of the classes was on the classic granny square, and my passionate and unreasonable love for this simple square was rekindled. I say passionate and unreasonable because at an earlier time in my life when I disliked all crochet, I somehow still thought the classic granny was beautiful and interesting. Granny squares are my bridge into the world of crochet.

After completing a test square I didn’t want to stop, but I also didn’t want to start a whole new project, so I hatched a plan to knit half the squares for the blanket and crochet the other half. The knitted squares resemble flowers to my eyes, and I wanted the crochet squares to echo the floral design. Where the knitted design uses texture (lace) to create a flower, I needed to use colour the make flowers on the crochet squares. Each granny square consists of 8 rounds: the center in one colour, the following 5 rounds in another to make the petals of the flower, and 2 rounds of border in a third colour.

It only took me a few weeks to crochet my 10 squares. Then I knit the last square, and the quilt was ready for assembly!

Before sewing everything together I had to decide on a layout. This may have been the toughest part of the blanket, but I finally settled on a design I was happy with.

Once I had decided on a layout I sewed the squares together in strips, then sewed the strips together to form the blanket, using whip stitches throughout. The knit and crochet squares had very nearly the same number of stitches per side even though the granny squares appeared smaller. I clipped each pair of squares together in the middle and at the end, and sewed one stitch to one stitch as much as possible, skipping a stitch here and there as needed.

With the blanket in one piece I had to decide on a border. I swatched a few knit and crochet borders as you can see above. I was specifically looking for a chevron shape to echo the knitted lace. I decided on the crochet lace on the left. I liked it best, and I’m in a crochet mood right now, so it’s more likely to get done than knittted lace is at the moment.

I worked a round of single crochet around the blanket in preparation for the fancy border.

Then I worked the border in white. The border is worked in two steps: crochet shells, then single crochet over top of the shells to make them pointy rather than rounded. I used the border instructions from this blog post by Crochet 365, Knit too.

I love how the border and the blanket as a whole turned out! It took me much longer than I wanted, but the recipient is two, so she won’t know the difference.

Finally Finished: a Burgundy Linen Dress

Two years ago in the summer of 2019 I started a dress. The fabric was a linen/rayon blend in Burgundy from JoAnn’s. I hacked Very Easy Vogue V8926 to be a dress instead of a top by adding length and skirt gores (I had made a vest version of this pattern about a year earlier, and it is one of my favourite things to wear). This was before I had a sewing machine, so I sewed the main seams with a mix of running stitch, running back-stitch, and full back-stitch. By the time the seams were done, I couldn’t stand to look at the dress anymore. I put it away for a long time.

A blurry photo of the moment the seams were completed.

Since starting the dress I have gotten a sewing machine. But I wanted the outside of the dress to have no visible stitching, and the seams were already done, so a sewing machine was of little use to me in doing the finishing work. I felled the seams down by hand over the course of the last 2 years. I also worked on fitting the dress to myself. The back pieces are cut straight, and I have a swayback, so I ended up narrowing the back pieces as well as taking a dart along the waistline in back to minimize wrinkling. I had originally cut three gores: one for each side and one for the back. I ended up removing the back gore because it hung weirdly. The front collar is interfaced with fusible woven cotton interfacing. I extended the interfacing to the hem.

Once the fitting was done, it was time to finish the hem and sleeve cuffs. I sewed a coordinating ribbon to the hem, and then turned it up. While working on the sleeve cuffs I had another setback. My sleeve got too close to a candle I had burning and was scorched!!

I refused to let this defeat me when I was so close to finishing the dress. I cut out another sleeve and sewed it up, but realized quickly that I had sewn it backwards. Out came the seam ripper, and I sewed it again. I sewed the sleeve seams by machine, felled the seam allowances down, and finally sewed the second sleeve cuff. After two years in progress my dress was done.

Overall, I am very happy with this dress. It will be a great addition to my wardrobe throughout the summer months, and is very comfortable to wear. There is something about wrap bodices and big collars that I find irresistible. If I made a dress like this again I would make it as a bodice with circle skirt, as that would be a lot easier to sew and fit. In the photos above you can see a white linen underdress I made last year that I am wearing as a slip or petticoat. That little bit of white peeking out when I move makes me so happy!

Wild West Vest

I recently started wanting a few nice vests to wear to work both as a fashion layer and a warmth layer. You may remember my black vest and my Ruana that I finished earlier this year. This time I wanted something a little more tailored, so I chose view C of Butterick B5359.

B5359

As shown, the V-neckline is somewhat curved, but I wanted a straighter neckline, more like a men’s vest, so I modified the shape when I cut it out. I had 1 1/2 yards of brown woven 2-way stretch fabric as well as about the same amount of quilting cotton for a lining. The pattern has instructions for the vest to be fully lined, but I decided just to line the front. Originally I planned to sew the entire thing by hand, but after a while this started to suck the life out of me, so I took a friend up on her offer to use her sewing machine and serger. It is amazing how much more quickly you can make garments when using a machine!

I had a hard time with the fit of this vest. I generally find that home sewing patterns run large, even when I am careful to check the pattern measurements. Knowing this, I chose a pattern size smaller than the measurements suggested. Even so, I ended up taking the vest in 4-6 inches total to get a tailored fit. I know using a stretchy fabric (with the stretch going around the body) made a difference in the fit, but I also think part of the problem was with the pattern. Despite the fit issues I am interested in making this pattern again, possibly using View C again, but I’m also interested in the other views to get some different silhouettes.

There are 2 things that I am super proud of with this vest:

  1. Except for the 2-way stretch interfacing (which I didn’t know existed before this project), everything I used for this vest came from stash. I’ve been on a stash-using kick recently, and it is exhilarating to be able to make things from what I have already.
  2. My friend doesn’t have a buttonhole attachment for her machine, so I sewed the buttonholes by hand. I’ve never sewn buttonholes before, and I’m so pleased with how these turned out!

Vintage Damask

As a designer I always have too many ideas and not enough time to knit them. This also  applies to all the patterns that are already written – I want to knit them all, but I have limited time and yarn money. About a month ago as I was scrolling through Instagram I saw the most beautiful cowl. Annie Lupton of Boho Chic Fiber Co. was looking for test knitters for her new pattern, the Vintage Damask cowl. I immediately emailed her and felt so lucky to be chosen as a test knitter.

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My original colour combination didn’t work as well as I hoped it would. Medium grey and burgundy just looked like a sad rainy day, and this pattern deserved better than that (Pro tip: swatching is not just to check your gauge – it’s also a chance to make sure your colours/yarns work well together). I rummaged around in the stash a little more and unearthed this beautiful skein of hand-dyed yarn that looks like the sea. Perfection.

knitted cowl

I happily began knitting, making sure I left my floats loose so the cowl wouldn’t be too bunchy (this is only my 2nd time knitting colourwork). Halfway through the pattern I realized my gauge was off. Instead of going up a needle size from my swatch I had gone down. The cowl fit over my head, but it was not the intended 24″ that the pattern stated. I frantically emailed the designer to see if it was ok for my cowl to be a bit smaller (when you are test knitting a design it’s important to follow the directions to a T and not make alterations). Annie was so nice and said that as long as I was happy with the fit, there was no need to change it. Whew! I happily finished the cowl and was so glad that when I blocked it the cowl grew a little.

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All in all, the Vintage Damask cowl was a lovely knit. I can’t wait until it’s cold enough to wear it!

knitted cowl

Finished Object: The 5-Year Hat

5 years is a long time. 5 years ago I had just graduated from college and gone on a trip to Europe: I was broke. It wasn’t a great time for jobs, so I was working part time and sharing a 1-bedroom apartment with 2 other girls (my “bedroom” was actually the dining room and my “door” was a curtain).

I was a new knitter, so I barely knew what I was doing and had no idea what good yarn was. But I was passionate about knitting, so I made do with what I had and somehow not everything I knit during that period was crap. I had found Ravelry by this time and I adored Tin Can Knits (I still adore them. They’re fabulous!). It was Christmas time, so I bought their Sitka Spruce hat pattern and some KnitPicks yarn (Wool of the Andes Superwash) and began to knit (note that I did not swatch).

knit beret

I had trouble with the pattern – not because it wasn’t a good pattern (Tin Can Knits patterns are awesome), but because I was a new knitter and I was still figuring the whole knitting thing out. By hook or by crook I finished the hat and then realized it was too big. It probably would have fit a giant perfectly. I stuck it in the washer and dryer and hoped it would shrink some…no dice. So I threw it in the bottom of my stash and started something else. I was really sad though. I had spent so much time (and a decent amount of money to me at the time) on this hat, only to have it not fit. I knew it was my fault because I wouldn’t take the time to swatch…but it still hurt, and from time to time it niggled at my brain.

handknit beret

I did a few google searches and found out that I could sew elastic thread inside the brim to tighten it up, so I bought some elastic thread and set to with gusto. I got halfway through hat surgery and tried it on to see how I was doing, only to find that now my beautiful hat was too small. The Horror! The Irony! The knitting goddess was really trying to beat this lesson into me: For the love of wool, swatch before you start! (For the record, I swatch pretty religiously now. I still dislike it.) I threw the hat and elastic back in the stash and there it has stayed for the last 4 1/2 years.

sew elastic thread into knitted brim

Today I pulled the hat out and found the elastic, determined to fix the darn hat once and for all. First I loosened the elastic I had already sewn in, then I sewed elastic into the rest of the brim. 30 minutes was all it took. Why did it take me 5 years to do 30 minutes’ work? Next time I need to amend my knitting remind me of the 5 year hat.

handknit beret

Complete!

cowl

Will you just look at my finished cowl! It’s gorgeous! I used True Brit from Cathy Carron’s book Cowlgirls as a template, but really this cowl is nothing like the original pattern. Do you ever do that thing where you look at a pattern and you like it except for this, that, and the other thing, and by the time you’ve finished knitting it, it is a completely different object than the designer intended? I like my version much better. Unfortunately I can’t keep it. It is a gift for a friend.

The collar is just big enough to be worn flipped up or down for more or less warmth.

I realized right after I bound off that I picked up stitches for the cowl on the wrong side of the blue section, so my beautiful seaming that I was so proud of is stuck inside the cowl. Oh well. Maybe next time I will remember to look first!

oops

It’s still beautiful, though, and I love it. And no one but me (and you) will know it was a mistake. You will keep my secret, right?

The Beginning and the End

A few months ago I was lying in bed unable to sleep. I started thinking about yarn (as you do) and some beautiful silk hankies I had in my stash. As I lay there I came up with a plan to write a pattern and use my beautiful silk hankies. I consulted my stitch dictionary and selected my lace patterns, and then I cast on. The initial cowl turned out quite lovely, but I ran out of hankies before the cowl was done. So I pulled out another batch of hankies and knit a second cowl. It is done just in time to take pictures for the pattern.

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Did I mention that I’m publishing the pattern on Ravelry (Not that I’m super proud and excited or anything)? It will be called Raindrops and Wildflowers and I am releasing the pattern on Saturday, July 1. Eeeeeeee!!!

Watch this space. There will be a discount code.

Fastest Spin Ever!

Next time I’m in the middle of 5 large projects with no end in sight remind me of the week I finished ALL THE THINGS! Also, remind me to spin a few Rainbow Rolls because those things spin up FAST!

A month or two ago I bought two Rainbow Rolls because they were on sale and I was curious. A Rainbow Roll is a roll of predrafted, unspun fiber. It’s 2″ thick and about the size of a dinner plate.

noro

After I finished my Rumplestiltskin yarn I needed a palate cleanser, and this seemed like a quick spin. I had no idea how quick it would be though. Here’s what I had after an hour.

first

The next day I finished spinning my singles (2 1/2 bobbins worth).

bobbins

I plied the yarn (first time plying from 2 separate bobbins! Woohoo!), and now I have 3 beautiful skeins!

skeins

It’s like a magic trick! Tadah!