B List

I am really bad at stitching in the ditch. Really bad. I have no idea how anybody successfully achieves an even, invisible stitching line that does not wander with all the fabric you cannot see caught in the back, but not too much such that your elastic casing becomes too narrow for the elastic. Or, as is often the case, both, in alternating sequence on the same waistband.

I’ve learned a thing or two about coping and even more about avoidance so when I realized I could hand-sew waistlines and bias edging with far better results in not much more time than it was taking me to fix my mistakes all the while skirting (har har) the horrible feelings of frustration and inadequacy, well, that’s how I do it, now. The slow way. The in-front-of-the-TV way. The gee-I-thought-this-would-be-super-annoying-and-should-be-avoided-and-I’m-surprised-to-find-I-rather-like-it way.

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I wrote all of that because I have not much to say otherwise about this skirt. It’s the same skirt and fabric as last time, different view and different color. View B-stands-for-Boring because it doesn’t have view A’s fabulous pockets in Boring Brown. We’re getting down to Basics here, folks.

Pattern: Gypsum Skirt by Sew Liberated, View B
Size: 8
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend in some brown shade I don’t remember
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Fear not. It still has pockets. Just the Boring inseam variety.

The waistband really elevates this pattern. Even as basic as it is Hubs was surprised that it was something I had made and that’s 100% because the waistband looks complicated. It’s not – it’s just a wide elastic waistband sewing over a couple times. Which is great! It never cups or rolls and I find I really prefer the wider elastic to the narrower stuff. Unfortunately when I pulled this on this morning I realized that I hadn’t cut the elastic quite short enough. It’s driving me crazy and not as flattering as if it sat at my proper waist and to fix it I’m going to have to pick out all that stitching. So much for my quick summer-into-fall basic. Wah.

Post Apocalyptic

My mother-in-law gave me this yarn years ago. I’m generally happy to accept yarn, even when it’s yarn I’ll be dropping off at Goodwill the next time I (eventually) go. You never know where your next skein of qiviut might come from. Probably not from the hamper of acrylic your co-worker thoughtfully procured from an estate sale, but let’s stoke the fires of optimistic treasure hunting.

My MIL, though, has good yarn taste and knows her stuff and has never given me anything I’m not interested in knitting up. This yarn is gorgeous in a very non-traditionally-yarny way which makes it both appealing and confusing. It’s heavy, dense, cool to the touch, ropey, and has absolutely no give at all. Its unusual qualities are what make it attractive and also make it it hard to know what in the world to do with it which is why, I’m guessing, MIL passed it on to me way  back when. It screams post-apocalyptic dystopia. That or chain mail, a knitting trend that based on a cursory google and ravelry search has not managed to catch on well at all.

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It knit up at a gauge that seemed to defy all ravelry pattern database records, which is not unusual in itself for the twilight zone experience of gauge, but the limitations of this yarn’s characteristics combined with a gauge heretofore unmeasured in our physical world meant that despite my best intentions and interest this yarn languished. I started and ripped out a project that was’t going to work and wasn’t something I would have worn anyways and proceeded to put the yarn away for , no exaggeration,  another 5 years after that failed attempt.

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I *finally* realized that one of the things holding me back from using this yarn was that there was just so much of it. I didn’t want to make anything with sleeves because the yarn was so heavy and inelastic, but I was unconsciously holding out for a pattern that would use it up. Using some is better than using none, and I finally settled on a simple, appropriately zombie-apocalyptic pattern that required nowhere near the yardage I had on hand.

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Me, looking to alien-infested skies. I don’t know what it is about my husband’s photography skills, but I am not this thin in real life.
Pattern: Slope by Shibui Knits
Size: Cast on smallest hoping for medium
Yarn: Blue Moon Fibert Arts Koi, Indigo Nights (discontinued)
Needle: 4

Gauge remained an issue, but the simpler your garment the more flexible a measurement gauge can be. I cast on the smallest size hoping for something in the middle. In this case it worked fine. It only needed to fit my shoulders and it does. The rest of it is a matter of personal preference.

I flubbed the length measurement. It’s longer than it should be because I was measuring from the wrong place. You can see how a measurement from the front v. side v. back would vary significantly. I also shorted the armholes some by starting the neckline decreases a smidge earlier than the size medium called for.

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And now I am ready for the technological singularity.

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I know it’s been point out a million times, but how can knitwear so prevalent in post-apocalyptic hellscapes and yet nobody has the skill to repair it? So many holes and running stitches. Get it together future-dwellers.

Good Company is Better than Knitting

I went on a vacation, gosh, more than 2 months ago already. I always pack more knitting than is reasonable or appropriate. I’ve finally learned that vacation leisure time is so packed and leaves me so exhausted that it leaves little time or energy for my usual leisure activities. I’ve also learned that my limited trunk space is better utilized by new fabric/yarn/souvenir purchases than lugging around yarn I already own so this vacation I tried to reign it in a bit. I didn’t cast on a new lace shawl, for example, or bring a second lace project in case I finished the first. I just brought along a hat that was already in progress. And a sleeveless top. And some socks. Plus an extra skein of sock yarn in case of emergency. See, very restrained!

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Charming mini skeins bundled together.

The hat was a Blue Sky Fibers kit I bought thinking it might make a good gift for a knitter I know. Then I decided that a hat requiring weaving in 42 ends felt more mean-spirited and burdensome than well intentioned or generous. Laboriously turning 21 mini skeins into teeny tiny little balls of yarn by hand confirmed that I had made the right call.

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So. Many. Ends. It was like a unicorn’s mane in there.

A long car ride is the perfect time to do tedious tasks and now I have a colorful, stripey, slouchy hat for me to keep for myself. I ran out of one color, but it was an easy thing to sub in one of the other 20.

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I don’t know if I’ve ever actually knit with the emergency skein of sock yarn I always bring on vacation. Even still, I never want to be in a position where I need it but don’t have it.

Hippy Hippie Lake Dippy

Well, that turned out better than I had imagined.

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Pattern: Gypsum Skirt by Sew Liberated, View A
Size: 8
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Washer Linen Blend in Sage

I’m hippy. I didn’t think big, wide pockets or a gathered elastic waist would work on me. I was seduced by the pockets on this pattern and decided I didn’t care and if I ended up with a loafing-around-the-house skirt then so be it. I’ve mostly eschewed elastic waistbands but it’s true what my mom has been saying all these years: they are comfy. And this pattern makes them cute, too! Unlike that pair of stretchy black old lady pants she gave me that one time.

The sage green fabric purchase was inspired by a pair of pants I adore but haven’t been able to wear since 2 kids and 10 pounds ago. Maybe just 1 kid and 5 pounds, I don’t know, suffice to say I held on to those pants that were making me feel bad long enough. Clearly I’m still psychologically holding on to them even after clearing them out of my closet.

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Look! A bird! Not really. I’m grimacing at nothing here. Hair styled by slumber + lake water.

Speaking of embracing elastic waistbands as a sign of aging, I see a lot of my aunts’ features in this photo of me. I see them in me more as I grow into the age I remember them as and the faces I remember them having from when I was young. Aging is a trip.

Back to the skirt: I LOVE IT. It’s fun to wear. It’s swishy. It’s comfortable. The pockets are the envy of any and all pocket-coveting skirt-wearer. A++. Now for some cropped shirts to wear with all these high elastic-waisted skirts and pants I’ve been making. Onward!

Voluminous

I finally made pants.

Actually this is my 2nd pair of pants.

I wrote a big ‘ol post months ago about the Ginger Jeans I made…

Side bar: I made jeans!

Side bar subheading: the Lander Pant disaster of a muslin I made doesn’t count and we’re Not Talking About It.

…but I can’t get decent photos of anything on my body, least of all light-sucking black-on-black denim. I’m really struggling to get photos. I had hoped this was a skill that would improve over time, but there’s no light when there’s time and no time when there’s light,  and there are no uncluttered rooms or pretty backgrounds.

Ah, well. Here’s my messy, cluttered front porch. And my not-jeans.

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Pattern: Mercury Collection by Marilla Walker, view C
Size: 3 waist graded to 4 everywhere else
Mods: I must have short legs. I chopped a lot off. I might shorten them even further to a couple inches above the ankle. Then again, I might not.

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It seems fitting (ha ha, pun intended) that after making jeans I would do a 180 in just about every pants-making respect possible. Linen instead of denim, an elastic waist instead of fly, clownishly wide legs instead of slim, a style whose only fit requirement is that the elastic is snug enough to stay at your waist while being wide enough to go over your tush. They feel ridiculous to wear, but they were super easy to make and I’m pleasantly surprised to find I can wear them without them wearing me. Good enough! One office-wear garment done.

Dolly Dolly Oxen Free

Toys are deceiving. I know from personal experience that beginning knitters misidentify toys as “small projects” that will be “quick” and underestimate the skills they require. Toys are actually really difficult projects to get right – there can be more techniques used in a seemingly simple toy than a simple sweater and when you scale down a project’s size you’re often leveling up its difficulty. I don’t say that to discourage anybody from knitting or sewing whatever they like – do it! Toys can be excellent learning tools for all the same reasons that they’re difficult! – I say it in case you don’t have me in your life to (loudly, probably) reassure you, “Toys are HARD!” if you’re embarrassed to find that, for example, the stuffed pig you made with ad-hoc fun fur wings turns out to have more of a sneer than a smile, crooked bum, asymmetrical snout, and 4 differently shaped and sized legs that collectively cannot support the creature’s weight.

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Pre-printed fabric for easy doll making!

Point is, it takes a little more time and practice to develop the chops to throw a toy off one’s needles that you feel proud to gift to anybody but the cat. The good news is that except in cases such as the crocheted hanging clown doll that lived in my childhood closet terrorizing me at night, the trade off to “perfection” is often “character”. And so even though I knew I didn’t have the sewing skills or attention to detail that would make these dolls keepsake-quality, when MJ picked cooed over, clung to, and generally delighted in the Goldilocks and the Three Bears samples at Craft South (well played, Craft South, well played) I thought, well, what the heck. Why not?

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Uneven, imperfect, and who cares? They’re cute and good enough and MJ won’t get them until her birthday, but I hope she loves them to literal bits after years of use and abuse. Aren’t keepsakes that retain their condition the ones never enjoyed? Or is that a lie I tell myself because we don’t take good care of our things?

I don’t see them available online, but I do see Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.

MJ wanted those, too, but one has to to draw the line somewhere. Right?

Temp Tempt Tank

I’d put off the Ogden Cami because I felt sure it wouldn’t work on me. All those pretty floral Ogdens during Me-Made-Made May coincided with a sharp rise in outdoor temperatures (in the Midwest you can go from snow to 90’s in the span of a week) and suddenly the temptation to take a chance on a loose-fitting tank was too great to resist.

I dutifully worked up a muslin and was pleasantly surprised: all I would have to do is shorten the straps. I’ve had a string of successful muslin-ing and superstitiously started to believe that whether I make a muslin or not directly impacts how well a pattern fits out of the figurative PDF envelope. The “logic” goes that if I make a muslin a pattern will fit better than if I don’t. My streak ended with a muslin of the Lander shorts, but that’s a story for another time if and when I go back to that pattern. Trust me, you don’t want to see a picture of my too–small muslin in white-on-white printed quilting cotton.img_9241.jpg

Pattern: Ogden Cami by True Bias
Size: 6? I think? I made this pre-vacation. Details are only faintly remembered.

Sewists go on about what a great pattern this is for using up odds and ends. To my surprise the only suitable remnant in my stash was the blue linen from my Forsythe Dress. Every other remnant was quilting cotton or too little which left me wondering *again* why I’m keeping it. I was excited to make a wearable version of this pattern and jumped the gun: not only am I tired of this fabric 3 projects later, but it’s a bit too heavy and remember how I was inspired by the light, airy, floral versions? This in no way resembles them so I find myself disappointed even though there is no possible way an Ogden made out of teal linen could resemble one made out of liberty lawn.

The benefit to having made this weeks ago is I’ve worn it and I can report that I need to shorten the straps another smidge. I might even size down; this tank seemed OK at first try-on, but has a mind of its own when I’m actually trying to live life and I can’t abide constantly adjusting, lifting, and tugging so my bra cups don’t show. I’m not sure if this is a sizing problem or a high/small-bust fitting problem, but it’s exactly the issue I had anticipated that made me so reluctant to try this pattern in the first place. Muslins, like swatches, can lie.