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 РI 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!