Moving and Knitting

We’re finally moved into our new place, unpacked, and mostly settled. Everything went about as smooth as it could and, of course, it was still incredibly stressful. I’m so glad it’s over. There were about 10 days between when our stuff got picked up by the movers and when it got dropped off, and since Aidan was working, most of those days were me spending some quality time with Netflix and my knitting.

TV-wise, I watched Rectify, Inside Amy Schumer, and the new season of Orange is the New Black, all of which I recommend. (I mean, the newest season of OITNB took awhile to find its footing and some of the story lines were kind of heavy handed and Piper continues to be THE WORST but it was still a pretty good watch overall.) Knitting-wise, I finished my Winterlong cowl before I left New York, and I’m planning to write a separate post about it. Since then, I’ve had three different sweater projects on rotation, and I’ve been picking one at random each day to work on. So here’s the big update on my sweater knitting:

Jet Pullover

Jet Pullover

I started this sweater back in September when I decided to improvise a fitted pullover after this yarn (Cascade 220 Fingering in Jet) refused to work for anything else. I got the body knitted up pretty quickly but got completely bogged down by the sleeves. My initial plan was for long sleeves with a very deep ribbed cuff. The ribbing took forever and was seriously tedious knitting, and then by the time I finished that first sleeve, it turned out it was way too long and the cuff was creating a weird below-elbow billow in the fabric. Plus, it became clear that I wasn’t going to have enough yarn to knit two full-length sleeves. So this project got shoved in a bag and put in time-out for a few months (which is now evident in all of the wrinkles) until I figured out a new plan. The revised plan is now to make a pullover with 3/4 sleeves that will be very similar in style to my Blank Canvas, except with set-in sleeves. I’ve finished the first sleeve and the second sleeve is moving along quickly. I’m hoping I can get this one finished up before it’s a year old.

Little Wave

LIttle Wave in progress

I started this sweater–Little Wave in Valley Yarns Northampton Dark Teal–back in March and knit about 10″ of the body before putting it away during all of my sock knitting. When I started this project, I was going to omit the pockets and the garter stitch elbow patches but realized I wanted both when I came back to this pattern a couple of weeks ago. So that meant ripping out everything but the ribbing so that I could work the set-up row for the pockets. The upside of re-knitting almost all of the body is that it allowed me to make some adjustments to the shaping at the sides. I just finished knitting up to the armholes this morning, so I’ll be moving onto the sleeves next.

Slanted Sleeven

Slanted Sleeven in progress

This is my newest project, which I started right after I got to Ohio. The pattern is Slanted Sleeven, which is a pretty basic cardigan that uses a “slanted contiguous sleeve” method that basically allows you to knit what looks relatively similar to a seamed, fitted sleeve cap while knitting seamlessly from the top-down. I started this pattern, using some Valley Yarns Charlemont in Dusk leftover from my failed Apres Surf Hoodie, mostly because I was curious about the construction method. Between the unusual construction method and the fact that the pattern is written in a unique way, what seems like a simple or boring cardigan is turning out to be a pleasing knitting challenge. I’ve had to adjust the pattern numbers a bit because I’m using a fingering weight yarn (the pattern is written for sport weight yarns), and I’m clearly not far enough to be able to try it on yet, but I think the sizing is looking good so far. But I probably just jinxed myself with that comment so we’ll see what happens.

knitting corner

We still have stuff to arrange around our new place, but my crafting stuff is pretty much in order at this point. I’ve marked out my little knitting nook in our living room and I’ve got my sewing stuff all organized in the second bedroom upstairs. After having to take about a three week break from sewing because of the move, I’m very much looking forward to spending some time with my machine this week.

sewing space

I’m hoping this means I’ll have a few sewing projects to share soon. Although, most of the projects at the top of my list are shorts or pants, so they could very well all wind up in the trash. Regardless, I’m glad to have access to my machine again!

The Dissertation Socks

Over the past ten or so weeks, I’ve been busting tail to finish up my dissertation. For six of those weeks, Aidan was already in Cincinnati starting his new job, which left me alone in our apartment with nothing but our cats and my writing-related guilt and anxiety. It sucked about as much as you’d imagine. One day when our landlord stopped by to take some pictures of our place, she asked me, “So what do you do to let off steam and relax while you’re doing all this writing? Just drink a lot of beer?” Yes. But also, re-watch all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and knit socks.

Stack of Handknit Socks

Socks are like my knitting homeplace–they are how I developed so many of my knitting skills early on and they are the thing I come back to when I need an easy, feel-good project. (I have similarly romantic thoughts about Buffy. Season Five is an amazing piece of television, even though I can’t stand Dawn–it’s just beautifully written. And that musical episode in Season 6! Anyway…) I felt myself drawn back to sock knitting when the pressure to finish the diss hit hardest, and then I just kept on knitting tubes and turning heels until the writing was done. All in all, I finished six pairs.

Pair #1: Denim Socks

Denim Ribbed Socks

  • Made for: Me
  • Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock from Glenna C.
  • Yarn: Regia 4-ply Terra in Denim (discontinued)

Pair #2: Blue Yonder Socks

Blue Yonder Tonal Socks

  • Made for: Me
  • Pattern: Top-down, boring stockinette
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in the Blue Yonder Colorway
  • Notes: I salvaged this yarn from a scarf I made a few years ago but rarely wore. I didn’t really like wearing this bright blue near my face–it suits me better as a cheery pair of socks.

Pair #3: Ringwood Socks

Plum Ringwood Socks

  • Made For: Me
  • Pattern: Gentleman’s Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks
  • Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Lost in Plum
  • Notes: This yarn was also salvaged from a scarf I never wore. I didn’t strictly follow Nancy Bush’s pattern–I really just drew on the 2×2 ribbed cuff and ringwood stitch pattern, but substituted my own cast on numbers and heel and toe shaping.

Pair #4: TMNT Socks

Socks in Stroll Tonal Canopy

  • Made for: Aidan
  • Pattern: Improvised top-down socks in 2×2 ribbing worked over 72 stitches
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Canopy

Pair #5: Spike Socks

Ribbed Socks in Stroll Tonal Train Station

  • Made for: Aidan
  • Pattern: Improvised top-down socks in 2×2 ribbing worked over 72 stitches
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Train Station
  • Notes: I love this yarn! I want to order another skein to make myself a pair of socks with. And maybe a second skein for a scarf or cowl?

Pair #6: Drusilla Socks 

Zigzagular Socks in Stroll Tonal Gypsy

  • Made for: Me
  • Pattern: Zigzagular socks
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Gypsy
  • Notes: It’s nice that this pattern has a few different sizing options, but if you knit these at the recommended pattern gauge it seems like you would end up with sock that has zero ease, which just makes for a baggy sock. My foot circumference is 9″ and I cast on per the instructions for the 9″ size with smaller needles that were giving me 8.5 stitches an inch (pattern gauge is 8 stitches per inch) and it was clear about 4″ in that these were going to be way too wide despite my tighter gauge. I ripped back and cast on again for 68 stitches, which required adjusting the numbers for the rest of the pattern but resulted in a much better fit. I was also pleasantly surprised at how colorfast this yarn was. I was expecting a bowl of pink water when I blocked them, but the yarn didn’t bleed at all.

I’m honestly surprised to say this, but I don’t even feel burnt out on sock knitting at this point. If I had more sock yarn in my stash, I’d probably just keep chugging along. But I’m out of sock yarn and have once again witnessed the final destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, so I’ve switched gears and am now watching Grace and Frankie while I knit up Bristol Ivy’s Winterlong cowl.

Our movers are coming today and it will be almost two weeks before our stuff arrives at our new place. Naturally, I’m bringing about three months’ worth of knitting with me when I drive down with the cats. I’m looking forward to lots of knitting and no writing.

Jalie 2568, Again

I don’t have anything particularly exciting to show off today. I was thwarted, once again, in an attempt to sew a woven garment. I tried making McCall’s 6711, view B, which is a loose fitting tank top with a gathered shoulder detail and back yoke. I did an FBA, but it wasn’t large enough, so the shirt wanted to ride up in the front, which, in combination with the gathering detail at the shoulder, resulted in tons of fabric weirdly pooling on top of my chest. Not attractive. Before I gave up the ghost, I did manage several new-to-me techniques, including French seams, narrow hems, and finishing edges with a bias facing, so at least it was a productive learning experience. I’m also thinking about salvaging some of the fabric from this failed project and using it as a contrast yoke for a Camas Blouse so all is not lost.

Failed McCall's 6711

After a brief period of disappointment, I’m also ready to rally my energies and move forward with trying to make a well-fitting woven garment. I like sewing and wearing knits, but I would also like to make pants and jackets and shirts that in no way resemble a swuit. I kept telling myself that I needed to slowly build up my skills using more simple styles, but now I’m thinking I’d be better off spending more time working to fit one style I know I’ll wear and then developing my construction skills by making it multiple times. With that in mind, I think I’m going to start working on McCall’s 6436 since I have some drapey fabrics on hand that will work nicely in this style. And thanks to the review of this pattern on Cashmerette, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of where to start with my pattern adjustments.

Jalie 2568

As a palette cleanser after my failed tank, I finished up a few pairs of underwear. This is the same pattern I’ve been using for awhile now, Jalie 2568, adjusted to include a fully enclosed gusset and finished with fold-over-elastic. I have now completely replaced all of my underwear with handmade stuff, and that feels pretty awesome. They are not the most exciting things I’ve made, but I wear them everyday and they fit exactly the way I want without costing $14 a pair or being made from super flimsy fabrics. (Also, the blue fabric with the black elastic reminds me of Star Trek Science Officer uniforms so I now think of them as my Beverly Crusher undies.)

Jalie 2568, front and back

These pairs are all made with cotton-spandex blends, which is my preferred fabric for underwear. The black and gray stripes were leftover from one of my Tonic Tees and the teal fabric was a half-yard cut from Girl Charlee. The half-yard cuts, which usually run around $3, always get me at least two, but sometimes three, pairs of underwear. I use 5/8” FOE to finish the waistband and legs, and I’ve been buying my elastic from an Etsy seller called Elastic By the Yard. I usually buy the 5 or 10 yard spools—5 yards is enough for two pairs and 10 yards is usually enough to finish five pairs.

Jalie 2568

I keep telling myself that I’m going to cool it on underwear making since I have enough to get me through a laundry cycle, but I have a remnant of charcoal jersey that I think would look awesome finished with some neon green FOE. Perhaps that can be my first project if I end up getting a serger this summer.

Normcore Tonic Tees

A little while ago, I decided to give up on trying to make basic t-shirts. I had tried two different patterns—the Maria of Denmark Birgitte Basic Tee and McCall’s 6658—but after making both up multiple times and making lots of adjustments, I couldn’t get either pattern to fit the way I needed through the chest and shoulder. It didn’t seem like it should be such a struggle to find a basic pattern that fit well where it matters most, so I decided to just give up the ghost and start buying t-shirts from Old Navy again.

SBCC Tonic Tee

And then I actually bought some T-shirts from Old Navy and remembered what a shitty solution that was. Such is the plight of bodies that span 3-4 sizes on a standard sizing chart. So I went back to the drawing board to find yet another t-shirt pattern to try. I’ve come very close to buying Sewaholic’s Renfrew pattern several times, but even as a pdf download, it’s a bit more money than I want to spend for a pattern that only goes up to a 41” bust. In my searches, I was reminded of the SBCC Tonic Tee, which is not only available in plus sizes (albeit as petite sizing) but is also free. And lo and behold, I’ve finally hit on a t-shirt pattern that I’m really pleased with.

SBCC Tonic Tee

Honestly, the only reason I tried this pattern was because of its lack of price, which, combined with a length of stashed fabric that I had no plans for, meant that I had nothing to lose with this experiment but a bit of time. But I am really impressed with some of the drafting details on the Tonic Tee. It’s drafted with a slight forward shoulder, a high and scooped armscye, a sleeve head that is shaped differently for the front and back of the body, and a slightly dipped front hem to account for the stretch of the fabric over the bust. I also really like the shape and depth of the neckline.

SBCC Tonic Tee Back

As far as sizing, I started by tracing off a straight 1X. My high-bust measurement actually matches the XL size, but my fabric had less than the 75% stretch called for by the pattern, so I sized up per the pattern instructions. Since the pattern is drafted for petites and I am not (especially in the torso), I added an inch of length at the pattern’s shorten/lengthen line just above the waist and an additional inch around the hip. I also added ½” of width to the back at the hip and did a 3/8” narrow shoulder adjustment. Finally, I did a 1” FBA, rotating part of the dart out to the hem and easing the rest of the dart in to the side seam at bust level. It seems like a lot of adjustments, but they didn’t take long and, more importantly, they gave me a really good fit with this pattern right out of the gate. All told, I’m wearing these shirts with 1” of negative ease at the bust, ~2” of negative ease at the hip, and zero ease at the sleeve hem.

SBCC Tonic Tee Neckline

All of these shirts are made with lightweight cotton-spandex blends. The charcoal, black, and olive fabrics are all from Girl Charlee and the black and gray stripes are a Riley Blake print I ordered from Fabric.com as a reward for finishing a long dissertation chapter on a film that goes to great lengths to make fat bodies seem disgusting and pathetic from the inside out. So, you know, self-care all that jazz. Sadly for the filmmakers, I feel neither disgusting nor pathetic and will continue flaunting my fat in these horizontal stripes. I give their film two hearty middle fingers.

SBCC Tonic Tee

Anyway. I had kind of discounted SBCC patterns because of their petite sizing, but now that I know I can make a couple of easy adjustments to make them work for my non-petite body, I’m planning to try out the Cabernet Cardigan this fall. Hopefully I won’t bore you too much with all of my normcore fashion decisions.

Jalie 2921

I finished this project a few months ago—either at the end of February or the beginning of March—but it’s clearly taken me a long time to actually get pictures of it. I think part of the reason it took me so long to take photos was because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the style. Honestly, I’m still not completely convinced that this is a style I like on me.

Jalie 2921

(Clearly I have given up on smiling in blog pictures. It’s awkward enough to take modeled shots of the stuff I make. I’m not going to make things more complicated by fighting my resting bitch face.)

The pattern is Jalie 2921, which was very easy to make. I like working with Jalie patterns because so far I’ve found that they are relatively simple to fit to my body. I made this up using some Dakota Stretch Rayon Jersey from Fabric.com that is very soft and drapey, but that has nice recovery so it doesn’t bag out like some rayon jerseys. It’s actually the same base as the fabric I used for my Faded Stripes top, and I just ordered another length of this fabric in a different color.

Jalie 2921 As far as size goes, I started with the size appropriate for my high bust—AA—then blended out two sizes at the armscye to size CC and then blended out to size DD for the hip. I also experimented with doing a length-only FBA, where you add length just to the front piece and then ease the excess length into the back at bust level. It worked okay for this top, and definitely gave me the extra fabric that I need at the front, but I don’t know that I would do it again. I found the easing a bit tricky and I feel like I have to sort of “arrange” the shirt when I first put it on or I end up with weird wrinkles from the bust up.

Jalie 2921

Like I said, I’m still not completely sold on this style. It’s a style that I like in general and like when I see it on other people, but I’m just not sure how I feel about it on me. I know that I definitely will not be tying the scarf part into a bow—I hated the way that it looked on me. I guess I feel like maybe the scarf front is a bit girly or a bit too retro for me? When I first finished it, I thought: okay, maybe this will grow on me. And overtime, that feeling transformed into: ugh, what was I thinking? Why did I make this? But then I tried it on for Aidan and he liked it, and that’s brought me back to feeling like it might grow on me. To be fair, I haven’t really worn this out and about since I finished teaching in April and I default to ultra-casual in my day-to-day. So this won’t get the full test run until I start teaching again in the fall, when I’ll actually need to wear it because my professional wardrobe is shamefully small.

feminist scholar

Maybe if I just try to channel Kathleen Hanna as feminist scholar, then I’ll really start to love it. We’ll see.

Ottobre Faded Stripes/Foxes Shirt

It turns out I was just kidding when I suggested that I wouldn’t sew again until my dissertation was done. I had thought about having Aidan take my sewing machine with him when he left for Cincinnati, but I decided against it at the last minute. And then as soon as he was gone and I had no one around to entertain me, I started sewing in little bits of time while taking a break from work. This is first thing I managed to finish—the Faded Stripes Top from Ottobre Woman 02/2015. The main fabric is a rayon/Spandex jersey from Fabric.com and the bindings are a rayon/Spandex ribbing from Girl Charlee. I rarely find prints that that I’m interested in wearing–I don’t want anything that is too bright, too busy, or too feminine. So even though this fox print is verging on hipster nonsense, I liked it enough to spring for a yard’s worth. I think this shirt is now the coolest piece of clothing I own. (Although, to be fair, I am extremely thin on clothing at the moment, so the bar isn’t very high.)

Ottobre Faded Stripes Top

I started subscribing to Ottobre Woman last summer and have three issues, but this is the first Ottobre project I’ve actually made. The two things people always note as a word of caution about Ottobre patterns is that 1) they come with the crazy, color-coded pull-out sheets that you have trace your pattern pieces from and 2) the instructions are on the spare side. I didn’t find either of these things a problem, but this is also a really simple pattern with only 3 pattern pieces plus bindings. I mean, you could easily figure out how to put this shirt together just by looking at the line drawing.

Ottobre Faded Stripes Top

My one quibble with the instructions has to do with the binding around the sleeves and neckline. The instructions tell you that for binding fabric with 40-50% stretch, you should cut the binding strips at 70% of the length of the opening you are binding. Now, when I read that, I thought it seemed way too short for binding. But my ribbing has ~60% stretch, so I followed the instructions anyway and sewed the first strip of binding to the first sleeve and it was, indeed, way too short—the entire sleeve opening was gathered. I went back and recut binding strips at 85% of the length of the opening (Ottobre’s recommended length for binding fabrics with 20-30% stretch) and that worked much better. But it also makes me think that if you had a fabric with significantly less stretch, you’d probably want to cut the bindings just a tiny bit smaller than the opening. Anyway. Lesson learned.

Ottobre Faded Stripes Top

My high bust measurement puts me in a size 46 on the Ottobre chart, but since the style of this shirt is more relaxed through the shoulders, I just traced a straight 48 to give me a bit more room at the bust to start with. I did a 1” FBA, and rotated most of the dart to the hem to give me a bit more room at the hips. I eased the rest of the dart into the side seam at the bust level. I’m relatively happy with the fit, although I did have an issue with the back neckline drooping and collapsing on itself. I remember seeing a tip from Debbie at Stitches and Seams for dealing with drooping knit necklines by running some elastic thread through the stitching line at the back of the neck to tighten it up. It took me about 5 minutes to do, and it worked out perfectly. When the shirt is laid flat, you can see some rippling at the back of the neck from where the elastic is, but it lays flat when I wear it.

Ottobre Faded Stripes Top

And finally, not to belabor a post about a very simple t-shirt, but I did end up using a twin needle to top-stitch the binding and sew the hem. It’s the first time I pulled out the twin needle since I swore them off a few months ago, and it wasn’t so painful this time, primarily because I saw this post from Pandora Sews Plus Size Clothes. I was already doing most of what she recommended, but she had one tip in particular about threading a twin needle where she explained that you aren’t supposed to hook the thread going into the right needle over the bar in front of the needle. This one little trick—not catching the second thread through the bar above the needle—made a huge difference and resolved almost all of the problems I was having with thread tension and skipped stitches. So, I have tentatively invited the twin needle back into my life, although I still maintain that people tend to oversell its virtues and ease of use. The twin needling around the binding worked out much better than the twin needling at the hem—it’s almost like the twin needle responded better to sewing through a more substantial thickness of fabric? I’m going to see how it wears, but I might actually end up redoing the hem using a narrower twin needle. We’ll see. At the very least, I’m glad to have stumbled across the first tip that has made a serious difference for using a twin needle on my current machine.

Baby Gift x3: Snugglers and Maddie Hoodies

I was already in the process of planning a baby gift for a friend when we found out that we’re going to have twin nieces or nephews (or some combination of the two—why is there not a gender-neutral word to express that relationship in English?) coming into our family at the end of the summer. For some reason, the idea of picking a couple of patterns and making them in triplicate seemed like great fun to me. And, indeed, it was a lot of fun to see all three items lined up at the end and feel like I was the master of the pattern, which I think is mostly a reflection of the way the meaning of “fun” shifts when it’s deep winter in central New York and you’re at the height of a job search. Anyway…

Lotta Jansdotter Snuggler

First up, I made some baby swaddlers. The pattern I used is originally from Lotta Jansdotter’s book Simple Sewing for Baby, but it’s also available for free on MAKE. I used quilting cotton for the outside layer and flannel for the lining. These are generally pretty easy to make, except for two little hiccups. First, if you use the free pdf version of the pattern, there aren’t any reference points for assembling the pages and there is a substantial amount of (unmarked) overlap between the pages, making this the least intuitive/most unnecessarily frustrating pdf pattern I’ve encountered. I didn’t come across it until after I had managed to put the pattern together, but there is a picture of the assembled pattern on Zaaberry, which would definitely would have been helpful.

Lotta Jansdotter Snuggler

The other tricky bit is the step where you have to sew the lining to the outer shell. At that point, you have to find a way to sew around both the inner part of the pouch and the swaddle flaps (for lack of a better term), and if you’re not careful as you pivot around that corner, the fabric can easily get twisted up at the seam where the two connect. Rather than trying to sew the seam in one pass, I started at the top of the inner part of the pouch and sewed to the side seam, repeated for the other side, and then sewed from side seam to side seam (leaving an opening to turn the swaddler inside out) around the swaddler flaps. Does that make any sense?

Blood Orange Maddie Hoodie

The hooded cardigans are Carrie Bostick Hodge’s Maddie Hoodie pattern. I knit up the 12 mos size and followed the pattern almost to the letter, except that my row gauge was off just enough to require some minor adjustments to the sleeve increases and to the row counts for the hood. I used Berroco Weekend DK in Blood Orange, Seedling, and Swimming Hole for the main colors and Daisy for the stripes. I really liked this yarn and would definitely use it again for kid stuff.

Maddie Hoodie pocket

This pattern is very easy to follow, but there is a fair bit of finishing work for such a small cardigan—seaming the pockets, seaming the sleeves, extra ends to weave in from the stripes, and a bunch of buttons to sew on. If you aren’t knitting three of these cardigans in a row, I suspect the finishing is less of an ordeal. The little green sweater sat around for two months before I could stomach another round of buttons. Anyway, I like that it’s a basic style with some more distinct details. Like those little pockets! So useless, but so cute. They will be great for storing things like runaway Cheerios and partially smashed blueberries.

Maddie Hoodie in Berroco Weekend DK

My own style tends enough toward “somber” and “boring” that the best part of making things for small people is using color and bright prints. Now that we’re moving closer to our families, I’m going to make a habit of regularly measuring our smaller family members so I can make fun, bright things when the mood strikes. I’m sure it won’t be weird at all when I try to wrangle them with a measuring tape.

Lotta Snugglers and Maddie Hoodies

Sweater Knitting: Bust Dart and Waist Shaping Placement

I had a request for images that show more clearly where I actually place darts in my sweaters. My sweater knitting posts get a fair bit of attention, so I’ve been meaning to write a couple of posts explaining my process for altering sweaters to fit and for calculating bust darts and waist shaping. Since those posts will probably be a bit more involved, they are on my list of post-dissertation projects. However, creating images that show the dart placement I use only took about 15 minutes with a free photo editor, so here they are. Please excuse the shaky lines–my digital drawing skills haven’t progressed much since my days of playing around with MS Paint as a kid. All of the images are of my Blank Canvas sweater, although the lines I’ve drawn in reflect the dart location I generally use on fitted sweaters.

Vertical Bust Darts/Front Waist Shaping

Vertical Bust Dart and Waist Shaping Placement

This line of shaping is just where I do a series of decreases and increases to add shape for my waist and bust. I use the bust dart and waist shaping placement recommended by Amy Herzog in her book Fit to Flatter, so I do my shaping about a quarter of the way in on the front. In other words, if I was working the front of the sweater over 100 stitches, I would knit 25 stitches, place a marker for the increase/decrease line, knit 50 stitches, place a market for the second increase/decrease line, and then knit the remaining 25 stitches. Because there is more than a 2″ difference between my full bust and my high bust measurement, I work a series of decreases after the bust apex in order to get to the appropriate stitch count for my shoulders and neckline.

Horizontal Bust Dart

Horizontal Bust Dart Placement

In addition to the vertical bust darts and waist shaping, I add a horizontal bust dart, which is basically a series of short rows that add length to the front to accommodate the depth of a larger bust. (I’ve written more about horizontal bust darts and how they work in this post.) I typically do ~3″ worth of short rows and insert the short rows an inch below my bust apex, or the highest/fullest part of my bust. My bust apex is about 3″ below the point where my armscye begins, so I work the short rows ~4″ below the armscye. When I work the short row wraps, I make sure that they don’t go past the vertical shaping lines I indicated in the first image.

Back Waist Shaping

Back Waist Sweater Shaping

For back waist shaping, I again follow Amy Herzog’s recommendation for shaping placement, which is ~1/3 of the way in on either side of the sweater. So for a sweater back worked over 100 stitches, I would knit 33 stitches, place a marker for the shaping line, knit 34 stitches, place a second marker for the shaping line, and then knit the remaining 33 stitches. The two longer lines in the picture indicate these primary shaping lines which are worked about of a third of the way in on either side of the sweater.

The two smaller lines indicate an additional set of waist darts that I started using because the typical pair of decreases weren’t sufficient. I have a serious back curve and to do all of the shaping I would need to do in a single set of darts would mean decreasing so frequently that the fabric would start to bias and distort. So I work decreases on the primary shaping lines (the longer lines) every 4 rows and incorporate any additional decreases I need beyond that into the two smaller darts. I place the smaller darts halfway between the primary shaping lines and the edge of the sweater.

So that’s the low-down on where I’m placing the darts and waist shaping in my fitted sweaters. I hope this is relatively clear and helpful. Feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!

New Pattern Thoughts

There have been a lot of summer pattern releases recently, both sewing- and knitting-related. Neither the Vogue nor McCall’s summer patterns are of any interest to me. It’s not entirely surprising since summer sewing patterns tend to be dress-heavy, and I don’t wear dresses. (Nor do I wear culottes, which are apparently a thing right now. And I especially do not wear culotte jumpsuits, of which there are not one, but two, patterns included in the McCall’s release. But I’m not the person anyone should be consulting about fashion so, you know, follow your culotte bliss.) The McCall’s release has a number of kid’s patterns that would be useful if I had a 5-year-old daughter with a moderate interest in ruffles but, alas, I just have three crabby old cats.

The one new pattern that I’ll definitely be buying is the Grainline Morris blazer. I’ve wanted to wear more jackets, so I’ve bought a couple of jacket patterns but they all seem out of my depth right now. The Morris Blazer looks like something I could reasonably manage at my current skill level.

The new Twist Collective is a bunch of patterns that make me think, “nice, but not for me.” This issue also had a significant number of kid’s patterns, although none that really grabbed me. I like the color work pattern on Elephanteau, but I don’t particularly like the neckline.

I do, however, really like the Minthe cardigan. I love all of the details on this pattern—the fit, the neckline, the pockets, the zippered front, the textured bands. But it also seems like the pattern uses some interesting construction methods, which will make it more fun to knit. Minthe has already line-jumped a couple of other sweater patterns in my queue.

BT Men's Collection

By far, my favorite recent pattern release is the new Brooklyn Tweed Men’s Collection. There isn’t a piece that I dislike, but I do have a few favorites. The two cabled hats (Crag and Snare) are great, and I can see myself making Sawyer for Aidan.

 The stand out for me is Carbon, which I want to alter to fit (curvy, narrow-shouldered, not-a-man) me. I love the monochrome color work, and there’s a very good chance I’d buy the exact yarn used for the sample. I’ve wanted to make a stranded sweater for myself for a long time but have never found a pattern that I liked enough to commit to. Apparently, they all just weren’t gray or masculine enough for me.

So those are my new pattern picks. It’s probably better not to have a ton of new patterns that I want to make, especially since if I actually made Morris, Minthe, and Carbon before the year was up, it would be a crafting miracle.

Cincinnati-Bound

In March, I was offered a position as an Assistant Professor at a 2-year college just north of Cincinnati. When I started my job search in October (because academic job searches take forever), my goal was to get a tenure-track job at a small, teaching-focused college in or very near a Midwestern city, and that’s exactly what I ended up with. It’s a great job, and I’m excited for the all of the professor perks like finally having my own office.

I was actually born in southwestern Ohio and lived there until my family moved to Wisconsin when I was ten. Graduate school took me back to southwestern Ohio for two years before we moved to New York, and now we’re headed back to southwestern Ohio once again. It’s starting to feel like the universe is sending me a very pointed message about where I’m supposed to be.

Aidan managed to get a job in Cincinnati pretty quickly, which is great but also means he’s going to be moving down there in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, I’ll be staying behind to finish up the semester and pack our stuff up. Oh, and I have to actually finish my dissertation so that I can graduate. NBD.

So my life right now revolves around writing and moving logistics. It is all equal parts exciting and terrifying. There have been good parts about being in New York, but I am so done with living in Syracuse and even more done with grad school. I think there are good things on the horizon for us in Ohio, but I can’t think too long about all the work I have to do over the next two months in order to get there or I start to feel a little ill.

Anyway, I had been keeping my sewing machine on my desk and would just push it to the side when I needed to work. But I decided to pack all of my sewing stuff away a few weeks ago to clear my workspace and my head. (No regrets–it worked.) I’ve even asked Aidan to take my sewing machine down to Ohio with him when he goes rather than risk it to the not-so-gentle hands of movers. That means that I probably won’t be doing any sewing until July. In my non-writing time, I’ve reverted back to my early grad school knitting habits and have been exclusively knitting socks for the last five weeks. I’ve finished one full pair, have two pairs in progress, and just got another three skeins of sock yarn in the mail today.

At this point in my knitting life, socks require next to no mental exertion on my part, so I’ve basically cut out as many crafty distractions as possible without totally giving it up. I just keep reminding myself that this state of affairs is temporary. Plus, Aidan promised to buy me a serger once I defend my diss. I think that should be enough motivation to keep me limping along. Back to work!