Look at me, already done with a Christmas gift! It’s for my grandma.
Except I love it and I want to keep it for myself.
Except I already gave it to my mother for finishing. The idea was that it would be a joint gift from the both of us. I neglected to mention this to my mother. She was surprised.
I got to work on this after a bit of a sewing spree in the early part of the year, a spree you wouldn’t know about since between snow and snow and more snow and then rain and technology woes, picture taking has been a chore I just can’t deal with.
My sewing hobby was starting to get expensive, like that time 10 years ago when I was going through a Brooklyn Tweed Noro Scarf thing and could knit a scarf with $$$ worth of yarn in it in 4 days. You gotta put the brakes on sometimes if you don’t want to break the bank. Enter slow, steady, economical cross-stitch.
Those scarves are still gorgeous. Makes you want to buy some Noro Silk Garden, doesn’t it? No? Just me?
Back when I was making those Santa sweaters I had to order more yarn. Have you ever run short on yarn and needed to order more? Of course you have. So you know that it just doesn’t make sense to pay for shipping for only the few balls needed to complete your current project. The obvious, practical, and economical thing to do is to order a sweater’s quantity worth of something else at the same time, which was how this really delightful HiKoo Sueno came into my possession.
Pattern: Papillon by Svetlana Volkova
Size: Cast on medium with a gauge that produced something a bit smaller
Yarn: HiKoo Sueno in Rust
Confession time: I had assumed papillon was sort of botanical term and it wasn’t until googling the word while writing this post that I learned it’s a dog breed. I have to tell you, I am deflated. I have met many fine dogs and my family had dogs growing up, but I am not a dog person. Sorry/not sorry.*
Anyways, name aside, it’s a perfectly good pattern. I love the yarn. Good stitch definition, not itchy, orange without being ORANGE. Everything came up roses in this make. I didn’t even make careless mistake after careless mistake! Boring for blogging, eh?
The project I cast on next was a bust, though. I ran out of yarn almost before I started. You win some, you lose some.
*It has since been brought to my attention that papillon is the French word for butterfly. Who knew? Approximately 275 million French-speakers, but I’m not among them!
My continuing troubles sewing with knits… continue. Let me enumerate my mistakes and grievances. After failing to cut a single pattern piece on the grain I:
Broke a serger needle and since I
Couldn’t find the allen wrench to replace the needle I
Decided that I would just go ahead with the one needle and call it a 3 Thread Narrow stitch
Resulting in holes at the end of seams when sewing in a continuous circle which I
Realized were recurring and not one-offs only after multiple passes (because Hello! You can’t just leave a broken needle in your serger and call it a 3 thread narrow stitch)
Meanwhile losing maybe an inch of length in the sleeve/cuff before
Deciding I didn’t give a damn and zig zagged those damn holes closed, and not even with matching thread because I was GOING TO FINISH MY DAMN TOASTER SWEATER DAMMIT whereupon I
Donned my finished top and realized I had sewn the bottom band on backwards with the seam in front.
It was not a good sewing night, folks. Now, in the clear light of day I can see that and I can’t really explain the fogginess, stupidity, and/or stubbornness that kept me going on down the wrong path blatantly ignoring the voice of common sense and reason that I definitely heard yet willfully ignored. I mean, really, a broken needle =/= a 3 thread narrow stitch, and I knew that. I just really wanted my damn sweater and it seemed to be holding the pieces of fabric together just fine which is as much as you want when you’re too desperate to give it a proper thought. It was supposed to be an easy, quick, one-night sewing project, and I was going to fight the thing into submission.
Knits can be challenging, at least for me, but they make up for that by being forgiving. In spite of all that I ended up with a passable top, passable here meaning I can wear it without embarrassment and nobody will assume it’s handmade because of its defects.
I even like it! Everyone and her sister has already made a toaster sweater, and with good reason: you get the comfort of a sweatshirt but a style that’s fancy enough to wear to work. Fabulous. I can’t stand the high funnel neck (I hate turtle necks, too, it’s a personal preference, not a pattern problem), so I fold it over and my neck can breath and move without touching fabric.
Next day I found an allen wrench, not the one that came with my machine which is gone, gone, gone, and fixed my machine up. All is well with serger until the next time…
I’ve made Matcha twice before. I get the most use out of my sleeved version and had had in mind to make another like it, but didn’t check yardage requirements and there was just no way.
Mods-wise, I skipped the shoulder detail and sewed the center front to halfway between the lower and upper neckline notches. Construction-wise, I flat-felled the center front seam, french seamed the shoulders and sides, and hand-sewed the inside of the collar down. It’s easier to find satisfaction in fine finishing if you’re pretty sure your project is going to work out.
The woman who helped me at Sarah’s Fabrics was so kind and persistently lovely that she wore down my antisocial attitude and got me to confess to all kinds of indie pattern makes and intentions. She also told me she’d used this fabric to back a baby quilt for friends who live in a Mid-Century Modern home. I live in a 1908 hulking box of a cube of a battleship of a house. but I like to fantasize about having Mid-Century house, or maybe about being the kind of person who can live in one fabulously, minimally, uncluttered surfaces gleaming. I don’t, and I’m not, but I have a pretty blouse that’s a call out to that fantasy.
I’m late to the stranded yoke colorwork knitting fad that’s been bursting for the last few years. I always admired them, but if you’ve never priced out the cost of purchasing 3 or 4 or more different colorways of fingering- or dk-weight yarn, your virtual shopping cart’s total may give you a shock. I can usually justify a yarn or fabric purchase, but I could already feel before completing the purchase the guilt of an unfinished sweater I had sunk so much cash into and I dreaded having so many barely used skeins of yarn left over. I imagined them haunting my dreams, taunting me every time I dove into the stash, reminding me of that sweater that cost $$$$ but only used half that $$$$ in term of yardage. It would be yet more leftover yarn that I can’t get rid of yet never seems to serve a purpose beyond “maybe mittens, someday”. Buying yarn, you see, has a psychological cost as well.
The parade of fantastic patterns and makes kept coming. It was only a matter of time before I found the perfect gateway into stranded yoke colorwork sweaters.
It feels contrary to knitterly consensus to admit that apart from its obvious gorgeousness, I started with this pattern because it uses only two colors. What knitter worth her or his salt is trying to limit the amount of yarn on hand? The leftovers from this sweater, I rationalized, could be used in my next, and the leftovers from that one into the one thereafter, and so on. It would be a sort of step-up plan into the really colorful yokes.
I guess I’m OK with stash creep if it’s gradual.
Also in the forecast: maybe some mittens? Someday?
I went on a job interview this one time and my interviewer asked me what drove me. What got me out of bed in the morning?
“Habit?” I responded, nailing the lid on the coffin of that job opportunity.
I spent that afternoon obsessing over analyzing my response. It was an honest answer. I’m not filled with passion for accounting standards when my alarm goes off. If I hadn’t been flummoxed by my waaaay too literal brain’s complete inability to come up with a more appropriate response I may have been able to save myself by explaining that I’m really very philosophical about habits. I think about them. I actively try to make them good ones. I ask myself if my habits are helping. I use use them as a tool to try to make life’s necessary tasks as pleasant and brainless as possible.
As someone who bangs on about making clothes you might might be surprised that I hate deciding what wear each morning. I do like sewing . I do not like dressing.
Enter the work uniform. Or: the habitual wardrobe.
I’ll blather on some other time about how a vision for my ideal work wardrobe coalesced. Suffice for now to say that I have a vision and one of my goals for 2019 is to create it. If successful, instead of feeling vexed or vaguely annoyed by having to decide again what to wear to work I’ll open my closet and mindlessly pick from a variety of similar-but-different dresses that strike the right balance between comfort and business casual.
Later, as I continued to let my idea of habit marinate over a few weeks, I realized that I had developed a habit of thinking of myself as “habitual” and it really bringing me down. Boring. Uncreative. It lacked agency. I decided to re-frame how I talk and think about myself. I am not habitual. I am disciplined.
I had a friend in high school who told me he didn’t like my name. It was “too biting”. My “biting” name suits me, or maybe I’ve grown to suit it since I never gave it any thought until this person offered his rude, insulting, irrelevant, unsolicited opinion.
My name is biting, my nose is sharp, my chin is pointy. As I age I see my aunts’ angular features emerge. I would be pretty if I wore makeup. Or smiled. I used to be cute before I cut my hair. If you’re a woman you know the drill.
My name, my features, my bare face, my expression all subvert traditional notions of femininity, or so I’ve been told explicitly and subliminally all my life. I’m an invisible middle-aged woman, now, and the drop off in scrutiny emboldens me to try clothing styles I never would have when I was younger.
Pattern: Tacara by Seamwork
Size: 4? 3? Does it matter?
Fabric: Plain black knit remnant I bought at a fabric scraps store
This dress is unmistakably femme, but subversively so. The unusual shape and loose drape are the opposite of feminine. I had expected those features to hide my figure, but it emphasizes my curves more than closer-fitting styles. Surprising!
And it is Oh. So. COMFORTABLE. It’s a dress I think I’ll like and possibly grow to love, but it’s also a dress that will take some practice wearing just because it’s so different from anything I’ve worn in the past. I forget that I like wearing this dress until after I already have it on – I just have to remember to take it out of the closet.