Stowe Bags for My Sisters

After I taught my youngest sisters to knit and crochet, I decided I wanted to give them each a crafty Christmas gift full of notions, needles, yarns, and patterns that would keep them making things. And as part of the gift, I wanted to make them each a Stowe bag to hold their projects as they worked on them.

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Unfortunately, with a non-napping baby on my hands, I wasn’t able to get enough time in the sewing room to finish the bags up as Christmas gifts. But I did finish them and gave them their bags this summer. My sister Sarah started using hers immediately.

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I used some quilting cotton from Joann’s—these prints are part of some of their newer, more modern quilt fabric lines. The bias binding is just the packaged stuff, which I find much easier to work with than any bias tape I’ve ever made myself.

I’ve made the Stowe Bag before and it’s a very satisfying pattern to sew up. Both of these bags are the smaller size, which actually holds an impressive amount of stuff. I’d say I can easily fit up to 3 or 4 skeins of yarn into the bag, which makes it a really versatile project bag size.

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I’ve made two Stowe bags for myself previously—one small and one large. My small bag is easily my favorite and most-used project bag. I’ve been using the large bag pretty consistently to hold whatever sweater project I have in progress, but I don’t find it nearly as useful as the small size. It might be because I used a fabric that doesn’t have a lot of body, but I find that my projects are more likely to spill out of the large bag, the pockets don’t seem as useful to me, and for a sweater-sized bag, I’d rather have a closure than handles. I know there are a ton of project bag makers on Etsy and I should just save my time and buy something. But I am stubborn and I’ve already bought some fabric so that I can improvise a zip-top, sweater-size project bag. Now I just have to find the time (and the desire) to actually sew it up.

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Make and Move On

It is teacher appreciation week, and they’re doing a bunch of different things for the teachers at Jude’s school but I also decided that it would be nice to make some Petal Pouches for the three teachers that work in his classroom on a daily basis. I’ve made this pattern before—it’s from Noodlehead and comes with really clear instructions, which makes it a breeze to put together.

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I wanted to go with something neutral, so I used a gray linen-rayon blend fabric I had in my stash and then picked up some more colorful quilting cotton prints from Joann’s to use as the lining. I liked the metal zip and leather cord combo on the pattern photos, so I aimed to replicate the look. The only metal zippers I could find were shorter than I needed, so these are all made with the pattern piece for the large size printed at 90%.

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I’m not particularly thrilled with these pouches. I had a very specific vision for them when I set out to make them and the final product just doesn’t live up to it. I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with them. I wish I had thought to order different zippers online when I still had the time to wait for shipping so that I didn’t have to use a jeans zipper. My sewing could be a bit neater. But there’s nothing here that could reasonably be classified as a problem or as a reason to toss the project in the trash.

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The project just didn’t cohere in the clean, perfect way that I had hoped. And that was enough for me to come very close to trashing the whole thing yesterday and coming up with a plan B. It’s irrational, I know. But it is also real. Perfectionism, as all of us who deal with it already know damn well, is not a cutesy way to talk about having high standards—it’s constantly staving off, and sometimes giving into, a need for things to be *just right* that is so intense it stops you from wanting to try at all.

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It is only rarely that I completely trash a project because it’s just not working out and I can’t find a way to either salvage it or live with the problems. Most of the time, my intense need to get things right manifests as a drive to learn as much as I can and to be careful with making. Even then, I get lots of projects like this where I just feel lukewarm about the end result. But I know if I cling to that feeling of dissatisfaction, everything falls apart. If I let myself dwell or act on the feeling that not quite right is not good enough, then I will never make anything and my creative drive—which is a huge part of who I am—will go unfed and I will just have a gnawing emptiness. I know that because it has happened before. And the only way out is to start making things again, giving myself permission to make them as imperfectly as they want to be.

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The permission to make things imperfectly isn’t comfortable or fun—it’s not like I suddenly find myself taking joy in a project that isn’t turning out the way I had hoped. It just means that I try to stay in the practice of walking away and disengaging when I start to hear the critical voice wondering why I bother at all.

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It just seems so easy to build up pressure around the process of making things. I want to make the perfect gift. I want to make clothes that are unique and practical and durable and beautifully finished. I need to define my personal style. I don’t want things to go to waste. I want to make things that I will get worn or used all the time. I want to make things that look professional. It is all trying to grasp at and hold onto something firm, and it’s all building in more ways to fail, more unrealistic expectations. I’m trying to hold things more lightly—to make a thing, let it be what it is, and move on.

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So I pushed past the strong urge to trash the project and I finished sewing the pouches. I shrugged at the feeling that they were a disappointment and took some quick pictures. I put them in a Target bag and dropped them off at Jude’s school without letting myself think too much about it. I’m still not happy with them, but I don’t feel mortified by the failure to manifest my original vision. It’s just a thing I made. And the more I keep pushing through and just making the next thing, the easier it is to avoid getting bogged down when things just refuse to cohere.

It doesn’t matter that much anyway. When we got to school, Jude immediately leaned out of my arms towards his teacher and gave her a big snuggle. She had been off for a few days and he had missed her. Apparently, he already had his teacher appreciation gift locked down. So sweet!

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Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016

I ended up making way more gifts this year than I have in a long time. It’s not because I have any desire to foist handmade stuff on everyone on my list or that I think a handmade gift is the best kind of gift. It’s really more that I hate Christmas shopping and I’m not particularly good at gift giving. Frankly, making gifts is kind of nice way to give someone something kind of generic like a hat or a scarf but in a way that feels highly personal. Yes, it’s just a hat, but it’s a hat I knit in my pajamas while I rewatched Battlestar Galactica and drank a beer. Also, that mark right there might be melted chocolate from the fistful of Reese’s Cups I was eating at the same time. How much more personal can we get? Anyway, here’s this year’s gift roundup:

Star Bellied Wallabies

Wonderful Wallaby with star pocket

Pattern: Wonderful Wallaby

Yarn: Plymouth Encore Worsted in Light Gray, Neon Orange, and Neon Blue

Recipients: Our twin toddler nephews

Notes: This is one of my favorite patterns–so cute and wearable. I made the size 2 but added an inch to the length of the body, sleeves, and hood. I also charted out a star to add to the kangaroo pouches, which I knit using intarsia. I love how they turned out!

Modern Classics Christmas Stockings #8 and #9

Modern Classics Stockings

Pattern: Modern Classics Christmas Stockings

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Cloud and Aurora Heather

Recipients: My in-laws

Notes: This is now the eighth and ninth time I’ve knit up this pattern. I mixed the charts from the “Modern” and “Classic” stockings like I’ve done every other time. This is, frankly, not one of my favorite patterns to make but they are at least quick to make. And that’s good, because I’m more or less locked into making these for all future family members on my husband’s side.

Ballydesmond Mitts

Ballydesmond Mitts

Pattern: Ballydesmond

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in Summer Sky Heather (for the blue pair) and Malabrigo Rios in Sandbank for the brown pair

Recipients: The blue pair went to one of Aidan’s co-workers and the Malabrigo mitts were for my sister, Kayla

Notes: This is a great pattern. It comes with instructions for making these in either a sport or a worsted weight yarn. I kind of prefer the way the sport version looks, but the worsted version knits up super fast. Either way–they’re easy and they look great.

Honey Cowl

Honey Cowl

Pattern: Honey Cowl

Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in Aguas

Recipient: My sister, Jenna

Notes: I’ve made this pattern once before for myself, and it’s a very soothing and meditative knit. Sadly, I got about 60% through the cowl before realizing that my skeins were noticeably different from one another so I ended up ripping back and alternating skeins. The final product is definitely worth the extra work, but it put me under a bit more time pressure than I would have liked.

Petal Pouches

petal-pouches

Pattern: Petal Pouch Pattern from Noodlehead

Fabric: various quilting cottons

Recipients: Three of my sisters–Sarah, Grace, and Kayla–and my dad’s girlfriend, Jess

Notes: I was inspired to make these after my youngest sisters visited us this summer. They are both big into sketching and drawing and carried all of their art supplies around in ziploc bags. Maybe that’s just their preference, but I thought these pouches were cute and practical. There are a thousand free zippered pouch patterns available online, but I’m glad I went ahead and bought this one. It’s not just the unique shape that makes it worth the purchase–as a novice bag maker, I feel like I learned some really useful techniques that will make any future pouch-making much easier and give me a nicer result. I really love how these pouches turned out. I even used some of the leftover skull print to make a small version of the pouch for myself.

So that’s Christmas 2016 wrapped and gifted. Now back to making things for me.

Plaza Tiles Stowe Bag

I’ve been interested in the Grainline Stowe Bag pattern since it was released–it’s got a nice minimalist aesthetic paired with great details like the interior pockets and the bound edges. I finally decided to give the pattern a try and make a knitting project bag as a birthday gift for my friend Abby.

Grainline Stowe Bag

The fabric is the Cotton + Steel Clover Canvas in the Plaza Tiles print. It’s a 6 oz canvas, which is a perfect weight for this project. I used some packaged off-white bias binding to finish the edges. I know some people like to make their own bias binding, but I’ve tried it before and found it enough of a pain in the ass that it’s become one of those “life is too short” activities for me.

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This is the small size bag, which is actually pretty roomy. In the first picture where the bag is filled, it’s holding my tailor’s ham and four skeins of yarn. The pockets can also hold a lot of stuff, which is a bonus for people like me who like to keep all kinds of crap like calculators and pens and post-its and extra needles with my projects.

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The bag is unlined, which I don’t mind, except that it leaves you with the question of how to finish your seams. If this bag were for me, I might have just serged the seams and called it good enough. But since it was a gift, I wanted a clean finish on all of the seams. I read a bunch of reviews looking for tips on how other people managed their seams and came across one review from Fancy Tiger Crafts where someone used flat-felled seams to finish the sides and a french seam for the bottom. I decided to try the same. The flat-felled seams on the sides look really nice and the french seam at the bottom is, of course, very bulky. I think there’s probably a better way to clean finish the bottom, and I’ll experiment with something different on my next version. I wasn’t a huge fan of the pattern’s recommendation for forming the gusset on the bag since it seemed to exacerbate the bulk at the bottom, so I just boxed the corners and finished those edges with some bias binding.

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The bag is easy to put together, although I was nervous about all of the bias binding. I’ve applied double-fold bias binding before, but not well. However, this time, I’m really pleased with the way the binding turned out. I think it’s partly a result of my increased sewing skill and partly a result of going slowly, but the pattern instructions were also helpful in getting a nice finish. The pattern suggests steaming the binding into the shape of the curve for the side of the handles before applying it, which really did make it easier to apply. To do this, I just laid the sides of the handles flat on my ironing board, sandwiched the binding around the fabric and pressed it flat before taking it to my sewing machine.

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I used some of the leftover fabric to make Abby a bonus zippered notions pouch, using this tutorial from Flossie Teacakes. All of the pockets on the Stowe bag are great, but sometimes you have those little things like stitch markers and tapestry needles that you don’t want rolling around loose in your bag.

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The zippered pouch isn’t quite as fancy as the Stowe bag but it does feature some cute kitten faces on the inside. I bought this Cotton + Steel quilting cotton print from their Cat Lady collection to make myself a Stowe bag, and I used a bit of it to line the pouch. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but the cats are all piled up with little balls of yarn, so the print is thematically on point.

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This was a really fun project and I’m so pleased with the way that it turned out. It’s a bit more work than the super minimalist, quick and dirty project bags I’ve made for myself before, but the extra work is definitely worth it–especially as a gift. I’ve already got fabric cut out to make one for myself, and I’m thinking this might be useful for my very crafty, artsy sisters who are always toting around sketch books and pencils and markers. I know when this pattern was released, there were people who balked at it’s apparent simplicity and it’s price. If the pattern doesn’t interest you, it doesn’t interest you. But I think it’s a thoughtfully put-together pattern with great details that results in a beautiful and very useful product.

Grainline Stowe Bag

My January Sewing, in a single post

I had a big burst of sewing activity before Christmas and spent my time away for the holiday plotting a huge list of things I wanted to make as soon as I got back. But once I was home, my motivation took a nose dive. All told, I managed to finish a single sewing project in January–another pair of Winter PJs for my godson’s birthday.

Jonas PJs

(Adorable PJ photos courtesy of my friend, Nicole)

J is currently very into what he calls “jungle” print, and I got the idea to make these when I saw a camo “jungle” cotton spandex jersey pop up on Girl Charlee. I cut the cuffs and neckband from some leftover black Kaufman Laguna jersey. I made these in a straight size 6. For reference, my friend says J usually wears a size 5 or boys XS.

The only other significant sewing thing that happened in January was that I finally got myself a serger. I’ve been wanting and then talking myself out of getting a serger since I started sewing. I just didn’t feel like I did enough sewing or had enough room to justify a second machine. But the three pairs of Winter PJs I made for our nephews for Christmas (or, more specifically, the tediousness of finishing every seam in triplicate) finally convinced me it was time.

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I went with the ever-popular Brother 1034D. I was a little hesitant to get this machine because I’ve had two lower-end mechanical Brother machines that were pretty crappy and difficult to use. But I’m really happy with this serger so far. It was really easy to get the tension adjusted and I was able to thread it right on the very first go. People have complained that this machine is loud. It’s definitely not quiet, but I don’t think it’s much louder than my regular machine is when I’m using my walking foot (which is most of the time).

I used my new serger to make J’s “jungle” PJs. I didn’t feel confident enough to just serge all of the seams, especially since they were a gift, so I sewed the seams on my regular machine first and then finished them on the serger. I’m feeling confident enough at this point to just use the serger for mostly straight seams but I’m going to need some serious practice before I feel good about serging curved seams. Anyway, I’m excited about my new machine. It’s fun to use.

I’ve got a new project in progress, so the sewing landscape for February is already looking brighter. Maybe I’ll actually finish two whole projects this month!

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2015

So here’s the run-down of everything I made for Christmas this year. I didn’t make much, which was the right choice given that this was The Year of Stress. I managed to finish everything up by mid-December without any rushed, late night speed-crafting sessions so I’m pleased.

Winterlong

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Recipient: My dad’s girlfriend, Jess

Pattern: Winterlong by Bristol Ivy

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool in Grey Mix

Notes: I still love this pattern as much as the first time I made it and would make it a third time in a heart beat. I decided to make this for Jess while we sat together in the waiting room during my dad’s bypass surgery in October. She is a wonderful person, and I was very grateful to have her there.

Family Stockings for the Newest Additions

Modern Classics Stockings

Recipients: Our twin nephews, Gus and Oliver

Pattern: Modern Classics Stocking

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Hollyberry and White

Notes: This is the sixth and seventh time I’ve made this pattern. I made stockings for me and Aidan about six years ago, and then another set for Aidan’s sister, her wife, and their son a couple of years ago. They had twins in August, and so the new boys needed stockings to match the rest of the family. As I’ve done every time before, I mixed the “classic” and “modern” charts from the pattern. It’s a good thing that these are quick to knit (I think I managed the second one in three days?), because I was not feeling this project, which made for rather joyless obligation knitting.

Ninja PJs

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Recipients: Our trio of nephews–Rowan, Gus, and Oliver

Pattern: Alex and Anna Winter PJsAlex and Anna Winter PJs

Fabric: Blue Riley Blake “Year of the Ninja” cotton-spandex jersey, plus some black cotton-spandex leftovers for the neckbands and cuffs

Notes: This project was driven entirely by the potential cuteness of getting all three boys in some kind of matching clothes. Rowan is almost five, so getting him on board with matching his baby brothers seemed like a window that could slam shut at any moment. I went with the Winter PJs pattern because it has a huge size range (3 months to a size 12), and because they are similar in style to the PJs Rowan usually wears.

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Figuring out sizing was a bit tricky. Rowan is such a skinny thing that his waist measurement puts him in the 6 months size. I ended up following the 3T for width (but cutting the elastic shorter than recommended for the 3T) and extending to the 4T for length. The twins’ measurements put them squarely in the 3 months size at Thanksgiving. They are growing fast (as babies do) so I was worried that the 6 mos size would fit them for about a minute, but the next size up was the 12 mos. I improvised a sort of 6-9 months size by using the 6 mos size as a base, adding a little bit of extra length, and then sewing them with a slightly smaller seam allowance.

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

When I was looking for reviews of this pattern, it was hard to find much discussion of the sizing, beyond that they are meant to be close fitting. I haven’t seen the babies in their PJs, but I was surprised at just how close-fitting Rowan’s were, especially since his width-wise measurements put him in the 6 mos size and I made him a 3T in width. It might have just been shocking since he is so skinny that all his clothes are baggy–my father-in-law even asked, “How did you get them to fit so close?”

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Rowan’s PJs fit him really well right now, but it makes me nervous about the fit on the baby PJs and makes me wish I had washed and dried the fabric twice before cutting. I would also say that the length on Rowan’s pair seems just right for his size. So, to sum it up, these are really cute but you definitely need a jersey with at least 50% stretch and you should just automatically cut one size up–it won’t give you baggy PJs; it will just give you some wiggle room.

So that was the gift scene this year. I don’t think I disappointed anyone terribly by giving them something handmade rather than, say, a Target gift card. The real risk was giving the 4-year-old clothes. But we also gave him a truck that shoots out Hot Wheels, so I think we managed to balance the scales.

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

Basic Socks and a Wee Liesl

After I finished my Grandpa cardigan (which I still haven’t photographed yet, but which has been blocked and now has buttons and has been on my back every couple of days since then), I was feeling the need for some quick and mindless knitting. I started by finishing up two small projects that I’d had laying around for awhile. The first finished project was another pair of socks for Aidan. There isn’t much to say about these since they are pretty much the same as every other pair of socks I make for him—top down in 2×2 rib worked over 72 sts on US size 1 needles. This yarn is Regia 4 Ply Terra in the Anthracite colorway. I think this is something like the 12th or 13th pair of socks I’ve made for Aidan over the last seven years, and only one pair has bit the dust so far.

Anthracite Socks

The second finished project was a little cardigan that I started making at some point last spring when I was in the middle of a knitting funk. I had just finished up my Blank Canvas sweater, and I didn’t have a project that I felt inspired to work on but my hands felt restless. When I saw the pattern pop up on Ravelry, I thought: that purple yarn that I never know what to do with would be perfect for this. And so , even though I didn’t have a recipient in mind and didn’t even know anyone with an infant- to toddler-sized girl, I cast on. I managed to get about 3/4 of the way through the body of the sweater before I finally thought, “What the hell am I going to do with this sweater?”, shoved it in the back of my knitting bin, forgot about it, and settled back into my knitting funk.

Wee Liesl Cardigan

The pattern is Ysolda Teague’s Wee Liesl and the yarn is Serenity Sock in violet. The pink buttons were the only appropriate button choice I had on hand, so I decided to just embrace the super-princess look. I knit the 18-24 months size to use up the maximum amount of yarn. This was a fun and frivolous knitting project and the result is pretty cute. If I were a toddler, I would probably style this cardigan with rainbow striped leggings and heart-shaped sunglasses. In the time between me setting this cardigan aside and then finally finishing it, a friend actually had a little girl, and so this cardigan will now be going to my new little friend Yusra (who was also the recipient of the Pomander cardigan). She probably won’t fit into it for another year, but I’m sure she will look very cute in it when she does.

After finishing up the socks and cardigan, I was on a roll and managed to knit up a cowl and two hats in the span of a week. Now I’m in the middle of a fingering-weight pullover that I’m knitting. For a mostly sweater knit almost entirely in stockinette at about 8 stitches per inch, it’s going surprisingly fast. I’m still trying to plug along with sewing, but honestly, I have a lot on my plate right now and knitting is my comfort craft. So if I post a lot more about knitting than I do about sewing, it’s just because my hands and my brain are going with what they know best!

Pomander Cardigan

Right now, I have several knitting projects in the works at once, which is unusual for me since I generally prefer to focus on one thing at a time. It also means that I’ve been doing a lot of knitting but haven’t managed to finish much. My most recent finish is this little baby sweater I made for a friend in my doctoral program last month.

Pomander Cardigan

This is the Pomander Cardigan pattern, which I knit up in Valley Yarns Huntington in the Sea Gull colorway (you can find all the knitterly details on Ravelry). This is a light-weight circular-yoke cardigan with a cabled yoke and an i-cord finish at the neckline, and the pattern comes in sizes 3 mos – 18 mos.  You work the body of the sweater from the bottom up, using a provisional cast-on for the sleeves at the start of the yoke shaping. Then, once the body is complete, you undo the provisional cast-on and knit the sleeves from the top-down. I’ve never made a sweater with this construction method before, so it was an interesting knit.

Pomander Cardigan yoke closeup

Overall, I really like this pattern—I’m not a huge fan of the wide button band, but I love the way the cable detail works at the neckline. I made the 9 mos size and am crossing my fingers that it will be just the right size to see a late-summer baby through most of Central New York’s lengthy sweater season.  I didn’t make any significant changes aside from working one-row buttonholes instead of the yarn-over buttonholes called for in the pattern. I seriously dislike yarn-over buttonholes. Yes, they are easy to make. But I think they can also look kind of sloppy and can be difficult to locate when you’re actually trying to button a sweater up—especially in a fingering-weight baby sweater.

Pomander Cardigan back view

All in all, it was a fun little knit and a well-received gift. I know some people balk at the idea of knitting sweaters for babies and toddlers since they grow so quickly, ooze various kinds of bodily fluids, and are generally sort of messy. But in my experience, a simple sweater in an easy-care yarn gets a lot of love, especially given how quick they are to make.

Regia 4 Ply Terra in Silver and Denim

Sock in Regia 4 Ply Terra Anthracite

As for my other in-progress knitting projects, my Grandpa cardigan is still on hold while I do the finishing for my Apres Surf Hoodie (and there is basically a metric crap ton of finishing for this pattern). Thanks to all of that tedious finishing work in front of my and a particularly stressful week, I ended up impulse buying 3 balls of discontinued Regia 4-Ply at 50% from Webs. I’ve already cast on for a simple pair of socks for Aidan in the Anthracite colorway. I’m glad to have some mindless knitting at the ready, and I’m also seriously doubting that I will manage to finish the Apres Surf Hoodie while it’s still seasonally appropriate to wear. So it goes. Knitting adheres to it’s own timetable!

Catching Up

I went on vacation, had a great time, and came back with absolutely no desire to blog. So now I’ve got a lot of projects, both finished and in progress, to catch you all up on.

Things Recently Finished:

Before we left for our vacation, I made up two more Birgitte tees, including this black and white striped one. I used rayon blend jerseys for both, and while the fabric is stretchy enough for the pattern, it’s less stretchy than the spandex-rayon blend I used for my long-sleeved gray tee. The less stretchy fabric has revealed some fit issues at the shoulder and armscye. I think I’ve figured out how to fix the problem, and I’m planning to post about it more detail once I’ve made up a modified version.

As part of our vacation preparations, I also stopped at JoAnn’s and picked up some sock yarn for some basically brainless leisure knitting. I haven’t really felt like knitting, but once I got going on these, the urge to knit came rushing back—and just in time for the summer humidity. The yarn is Patons Kroy FX in the Celestial colorway. I didn’t use a pattern. These days, 95% of the socks I make are improvised based on lots of sock-knitting experience and what I can remember from the basic top-down sock recipe in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s book Knitting Rules.

Horse Pajama Shorts

Post-vacation, I went on a little pajama bender, starting with two pairs of PJ shorts made for my youngest sisters, who are 12 and 14. The horse fabric was the inspiration for this project—when I saw it, I immediately thought of my 14 year old sister who is creative, artsy, goofy, and a die-hard horse lover. I knew I had to make her something with this fabric, and I decided that PJ shorts would be easy, economical in terms of fabric yardage, and easy to fit from afar (my sisters live in Wisconsin). The horse fabric is a light-weight cotton jersey I bought from Girl Charlee. This fabric would be fine for a t-shirt, but I thought it was too light for shorts so I sacrificed two of Aidan’s older undershirts to use as an underlining. With the underlining, they are a perfect weight and should be really comfortable.

Lightening Bolt Pajamas

For the 12 year old, I used a medium-weight cotton-lycra blend, also from Girl Charlee, with some hot pink lightening bolts that remind me of the new Ms. Marvel. For both pairs of shorts, I used this free pattern from Liesl Made. The pattern is intended for wovens (and includes a nice tutorial for making them up with french seams if that is of interest to you). But since some have complained that the sizes run a bit small, I figured it would probably work out all right with stretchy fabrics. Based purely on the size sweatpants they were wearing when I called my dad on Easter, I used the size L for the horse pjs and the size M for the lightening bolts. I added a fake drawstring to each, mostly so they can easily differentiate the front from the back.

I also made a pair of pajama shorts for Aidan, but I’ll probably write up a dedicated blog post on those. As a spoiler, I can tell you that they were made with this awesome fabric.

Chambray Izzy Top - Front View

Izzy Top - Back View

After making all those PJs, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to make next. When I saw the free pattern for the Izzy Top pop up on Pinterest, I decided on a complete dissertation-procrastinating whim to make one up in the fabric leftover from my failed chambray shirt project. The gathering is uneven, especially in the back—the pattern uses a 3/8” seam allowance, which wasn’t wide enough to sew two rows of gathering stitches, and it was hard to gather the fabric with a single line of gathering stitches given how light the fabric is. Regardless, it was a quick project that turned out to be really cute. I made up the 18 mos size, which is as small as the pattern goes. The only thing is that I don’t actually know any girl children who would fit into this little shirt. Luckily, kids have a way of continually appearing in the world, so I think it’s safe to that I’ll eventually find someone to gift this to.

Things Currently In Progress:

apres

When I read Amy Herzog’s blog post about the Custom Fit Summer Sweater Knit Along, I got inspired to knit up a lightweight sweater. So I ordered some Valley Yarns Charlemont in Dusk and started making up the Apres Surf Hoodie pattern from the 2008 Summer issue of Interweave Knits. I’m not actually participating in the CustomFit KAL—I thought about giving CustomFit a go, but instead decided to just do my own math. We’ll see how all of my modifications work out. So far I’ve finished the back and about 75% of the front.

McCalls 6035 and Soft White Cotton Couture Broadcloth

On the sewing front, I’m working on fitting McCall’s 6035. It’s going to be a multi-muslin affair, but I’m optimistic, and the time put into fitting makes sense to me given that this is a pattern I could see myself making several times. Once I’ve got the fitting worked out, I’m planning to sew up View C (with the rolled 3/4 sleeves) in some white Michael Miller Cotton Couture Broadcloth. Even though it’s the end of the month, I’m still claiming this as my June Make A Garment A Month project. I can’t imagine I’ll finish it by the end of the month, but I like to interpret the end of the month as more of a soft deadline.

So that’s my big project update. I hope your summer is off to a great start!