Reviving the blog . . . again

I can’t remember the last time I made a post, but I appreciate that this little blogging space is available for me whenever I’m ready to write again. I got very burned out with blogging when I was struggling to find time and light and space to take photos of me wearing the things I’ve made. And I think it didn’t help that I felt like every post needed to be about a new finished project. Stepping away from the blog for a bit has helped me re-envision what I can use my blog for and how I can make blogging work for my life now. So I’m hoping that I can post more regularly about whatever I have in progress and that I can get over my fear of inconveniencing Aidan and just ask him to take pictures of me when I’ve finished a garment.

Although, I am not actually sewing or knitting any garments for myself at the moment. This is mostly because I am 21 weeks pregnant with our second child, and I have no desire to make new maternity garments. But it’s also because the idea of making clothes feels very pointless to me right now given that I have no where to go. I don’t even feel motivated to sew clothes for Jude. In general, the stress of the pandemic and all the news, and the difficulty of working from home while taking care of a  2.5 year old has sort of shifted and tilted my interests. I was reading a ton, but I haven’t read anything since they announced that our classes would be moving online for the rest of the semester. Jude and I have been baking together at least a couple of times a week. I don’t care that much about tv, but I’ve been enjoying playing Animal Crossing. I only want to knit with bright colors. And I’ve been spending my sewing time working on a quilt.

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We did a lot of camping last summer and realized that we needed a picnic/beach quilt that we could take with us on our trips. Early this year, I saw a quilt that Anna Graham made with fabrics from her new Driftless collection and I absolutely loved it. And then she shared a post on Instagram about a shop selling kits for the same quilt and I bought it right away. The quilt pattern is the Geese in Flight pattern by Jeni Baker, which uses a really interesting (and probably easier) no-waste method for creating the flying geese blocks.

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The pattern is rated as “beginner friendly,” which I think is accurate, but that does not mean that it hasn’t been challenging. I have made precisely one quilt prior to this–a crib-sized quilt for Jude that simply involved sewing pre-cut jelly roll strips together. It was basically the tote bag of the quilting world. So I’ve never had to cut blocks before or had to do any serious piecing, and this pattern requires both. When it comes to garment sewing, I am pro-shears all the way. So I had to buy myself my first rotary cutter, which came with it’s own learning curve (although I’ve only given myself two minor cuts, so that’s something). Cutting squares from 15 fat quarters and the background fabric took me at least two and a half weeks–largely because I have had to work every weekend since classes went online, which means my only sewing time has been brief nightly sessions after Jude goes to bed.

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I thought that once I had the blocks cut out, piecing would go much faster, but that was a patently stupid assumption. I thought I was using a 1/4″ foot, but it was not, and I ended up having to rip out my first set of blocks and re-sew them, which took forever. So frustrating! But they have been salvaged, and the subsequent sets of blocks have been much more successful. Each fat quarter ends up yielding 4 of the larger triangle blocks and 4 of the multi-triangle blocks. I have been really taking my time and trying to be precise after my first big screw up, so while I’ve gotten into a rhythm and things are starting to move a bit faster, the piecing is still going very slowly. At this point, I have four and half sets of blocks (out of fifteen total) done.

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Since I don’t have a bunch of other projects that are calling my name, this slow pace doesn’t bother me, and I’m actually finding it kind of soothing to keep working through the same set of steps over and over. It’s also nice to be able to see my piecing getting a little bit more precise with each set of blocks. My plan is to keep chipping away at this through the rest of the month. I’m hoping I can piece the whole top together in that time, but we’ll see what happens.

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Where ever I’m at when June begins, this project will go on hold so I can start yet another quilt–this time, a baby quilt (using the Clava Quilt pattern) for baby #2. I want to make sure that it will get done before he gets here.

 

In Progress: Carbeth Cardigan

When Kate Davies released the Carbeth pattern, I immediately added it to my favorites on Ravelry. I was completely sucked in to the boxy shape and the exaggerated raglan lines. I seriously considered scrapping all my other sweater plans to cast on the Carbeth pattern, but held back because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the neckline and wasn’t sure how I would deal with the body of the sweater–I knew I would want to lengthen it, but I wasn’t sure by how much or how much, if any, shaping I might want to add. While I was mulling all of these details over, Davies released the Carbeth Cardigan and all my hang-ups were resolved. I felt more confident about a completely boxy cardigan and I loved the doubled collar on the cardigan pattern. And so the Carbeth Cardigan officially jumped the queue.

Carbeth Cardigan Pattern Photo

Carbeth Cardigan Pattern Photo from Kate Davies

The pattern is knit holding a DK-weight yarn double to get a bulky-weight gauge. My original plan was to use Cascade Eco+, but I struggled with color choices. I saw a lovely Carbeth knit in Charcoal Eco+ and settled on using the same color, but something kept me from actually committing to the yarn. The idea of knitting the pattern in gray yarn seemed practical/wearable but left me feeling a bit flat, and I realized that what I really wanted  was a Carbeth Cardigan in olive green. The only problem was that I couldn’t find the right shade of olive in any bulky weight yarn.

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Cascade 220 Sport in Olive Heather

So I gave up the idea of an olive cardigan and instead started scanning through projects made with Eco+ on Ravelry to see if I could find a color that felt more inspiring than gray. In the process, I actually came across a few projects made up in an olive heather that seems like it’s been discontinued from the Eco+ line. The same color way is, however, still available in Cascade 220 Sport. I decided I would hold two strands of 220 Sport together and immediately purchased all 15 skeins of olive heather Webs had in stock.

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Since I’m holding the yarn double, I’m winding two skeins together into a single cake.

The pattern calls for at least 4” of ease at the bust. My current bust measurement is 44,” so my initial plan was to make the 49” size. I knit up a swatch over spring break and did a quick gauge check before washing the swatch and things seemed on track, so I cast on. Obviously, this was stupid. I knit nearly 4” into the body before I finally got around to blocking my swatch, which was when I discovered that my gauge was off and the body of my sweater was only knitting up to be about 45”. So I ripped it out, did some math, realized I could cast on for the next size up (53”) to get the same basic dimensions for the 49” size, and cast on all over again. I like the fabric I’m getting even though my gauge is off, so I’d rather cast on for the next size up than re-swatch with a larger needle.

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My swatch, post-blocking

I’m planning to lengthen the body, although I’m not sure by how much. It’s going to depend on how much yarn I have. I was confident I would have enough yarn to add 7 or 8 inches to the body of the sweater when I first cast on, but I’m going to need more yarn now that I’m knitting a larger size, so we’ll see what I end up with. I think I may also need to lengthen the sleeves by an inch or two, but I’ll make that decision once I start knitting them and am able to try them on.

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Before ripping it all out.

Mason-Dixon Knitting hosted a Knit-Along for the Carbeth pullover in February called Bang Out a Carbeth where everyone was trying to finish the sweater in three weeks. I’m still seeing people use the #bangoutacarbeth hashtag since this cropped, bulky-weight sweater is ostensibly a super=quick knit. Except, I seem to be knitting at a snail’s pace and am still only a couple of inches into the body. So I won’t be banging out this Carbeth Cardigan in a few of weeks but maybe I’ll manage to get it done in a few months? We’ll see.

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And after. It will get finished eventually, right?

Another Faded Stripes Tee

My sewing has been extremely slow going lately. Life just keeps getting in the way. Between being totally overwhelmed by this semester and my dad having heart surgery a couple of weeks ago (he is thankfully doing well), I’ve only found very rare and brief bits of time to sew. And given how busy the end of the semester is, that is likely going to continue to be the case. Such a drag!

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So despite the extensive fall sewing plans I made awhile back, the only thing I’ve managed to finish so far is this one very simple shirt–a second version of the Faded Stripes Tee from the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of Ottobre Woman. This is exactly the same as my first version, except that it features a self-fabric binding rather than using ribbing.

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The striped fabric is another rayon-spandex blend from Fabric.com. It’s incredibly soft and nice to wear, but the stripes are hard on the eyes. It actually made me nauseous when I was cutting the shirt out. Luckily, when I pair it with a cardigan and a scarf (which is how I’ve been wearing it to work), it tones down some of the psychedelic effects of the pattern.

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Aside from this easy tee, I’ve been very slowly making progress on the Get Moving Hoodie from the fall issue of Ottobre Woman. After squeezing in a decent sewing session last night, I’ve got everything but the hood finished, and it’s looking good. I’m hoping to share a finished hoodie soon.

I’ve also finally started work on the Style Arc Misty Jeans, although I’m only as far as having the pattern assembled and cut out. The good news is that the crotch curve on the pattern matches the jeans I normally wear almost exactly–I just need to shorten the front rise a bit. Given the similarity in the crotch curve, I’m thinking about playing things fast and loose, forgoing a muslin, and just fitting as I sew. I might end up regretting that decision, but I don’t have the patience for the muslin process right now. We’ll see what happens.

While I haven’t been getting in much sewing, I’ve managed quite a bit of knitting. I think that since I’ve been knitting so much longer than I’ve been sewing, it’s just easier for me to manage knitting projects when I’m stressed out or pressed for time. Over the last month or two, I managed to finish both the Featherweight Cardigan and the Little Wave cardigan that were part of my Fall Essentials Sew-Along plans. I’m working on posts for both of those right now and will hopefully have them up soon-ish. (A preview: I hate one and love the other.)

Madigan Pullover

I’m also about halfway through knitting up Madigan, which I’m making up in Valley Yarns Northampton in Medium Gray. I’m through the cowl neck, yoke, and bust shaping, so that project should be pretty smooth sailing from this point on. But I’m going to need to start some Christmas knitting soon so it’s hard to say when I might finish that sweater. How is it already the middle of November!?

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.

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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.

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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!