Thursday, January 26, 2023

When the Mood Strikes ...

For a long time I've been thinking about sewing a quilted jacket. Grainline Studio's Tamarack Jacket epitomizes this style. NOT A PRIMARY COLOR's Tamarack, described here and made from a thrifted sheet, is delightful,

 as is the heavily hacked version shown in this post from Grainline.

You can see that this is not a quick project. You need to cut out three of everything (outer fabric, batting, and lining), quilt each piece, then sew and bind the whole thing (after making approximately sixteen yards of bias binding). So, this has been a sort of fantasy project, not one I've been in a rush to make a move on.

Then, just this month Closet Core came out with its Parchment Jacket.

Its raglan sleeves (more comfortable than Tamarack's set-in ones) called my name. Although it's part of Closet Core's new subscription service, "Crew", I realized that I could take out a monthly subscription and then cancel down the road. The pattern was included in the cost of the first month, which was less than the cost of most patterns. 

I'm finally in the mood to do this. The fabric has been bought and cut, the walking foot on my machine has been tested, and I'm so excited to have completed the back!

The navy print is the exterior. I wanted my coat to have a definite quilt vibe. This is a quilting cotton from Moda (A New Page - Stone Path). The lining is Kona cotton in Everglade. I'm keeping the quilting lines simple. Remember, once the finished coat is washed, the quilted fabric will develop the characteristic crinkles around the quilting lines and look quite different. 

If you ever decide to make a quilted jacket/coat, I highly recommend Grainline Studio's fifteen-part YouTube series taking you step-by-step through the process. I'm referring to it more than to Closet Core's somewhat cursory instructions and videos. 

Wish me luck.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Random Winter Friday

It's been a messy weather week with temps hovering either side of the freezing point. A good time to spend time indoors,

contemplating the outdoors.

I'm trying to learn how to paint with watercolours. I'm pretty bad, but it's fun anyway, and an opportunity to dream of nature in the warmer months. I think these practice pieces will make nice birthday cards.

I cut my hair this morning (only an inch off so no need to visit a pro), and here's a pic of my silvering locks along with Hedgewood and Pembroke in better light.

 Now off to make vegetable soup. Recipe here

P.S. BIG project in the offing...

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Relief and Relaxation

Do you experience January letdown? The holiday festivities and socializing are over, the long, dark, and very cold winter lies ahead, there seems to be no fun left in sight, etc. I used to feel this way. But this year, I'm experiencing relief. The need for that extra level of housekeeping because of visiting family members, the extra cooking, the post-Xmas decoration cleanup? It's all in the past. Now it's time to have fun!

I seem to be having a burst of creative energy. I don't think it has to do with the lack of snow, although being able to walk outside without winter boots is amazingly liberating. Odd that after that once-in-a-generation blizzard on Xmas Eve, our weather has been more like March than January. Look at the green grass. In January!

View of house on nearby Beverley Street.

I know my creative push isn't because of a lack of household duties. Our dishwasher broke just after Isabel left, and I've decided to forgo replacing it for now. Like most of my generation, I grew up without a dishwasher, and it feels strangely comforting to don rubber gloves and do the washing up by hand. No rush. Just me, the soap and hot water, and CBC radio. I think my current mood has to do with the lack of family responsibilities. It's one of those rare moments in life to savour.

So, I've gone back to a design I sketched and swatched last winter, the idea based loosely on Emily Foden's beautiful Soiree, first published in Pom Pom magazine and then again in her inspiring book "Knits About Winter".  My yarn is Cascade Eco+ knitted on 6.5 mm needles at 3.5 sts per inch for a nice, light drapey fabric. There are things I wanted to do differently, including a band of seed stitch above the rolled hem to deter excessive rolling, seed stitch and horseshoe cable panels instead of honeycomb and rope cabled ones, and short-rowed shoulders joined by 3-needle BO to prevent stretching of the dropped shoulders. My yarn is a lightly spun chunky instead of the fingering + mohair combo in Soiree. I do wish there were a gorgeous hand-dyed chunky wool out there. Maybe that's a future project...


No, you're not seeing the same yarn in different light. The swatch from last winter is in a pale grey while the actual sweater on the needles is in charcoal. It's not the colour I want to be working with at this time of year, but it's what's in my stash and I'm determined to use what I have. Yesterday I wet blocked the first five inches to make sure the size was accurate and that I really loved the drape and feel, so now I'm proceeding confidently up toward the underarms. See you in a bit.

Monday, December 19, 2022

About Red

This is not the first post on this blog about red. It must be this early winter time of year, with months of cold, dark, and snow lying ahead that makes me think of the cheeriness of red. Mostly, I love when it appears in small doses, as an accent to everything around it. But this post is about all the shades and moods of red.  Like the brick red house across the street,

the red in the Virginia creeper on our garage roof, and the lower portion of our neighbours' deck,

the red in our hall carpet surrounded by a sea of neutrals,

the neon red choke cherries on a nearby front lawn, and

the attention-getting red of this burning bush in the median of the street behind our house,

And look at my watercolour chart to see all the hues, shades, and tints that can be mixed from red.

Finally, here's what just fell off my needles. Yes, another Pembroke Scarf. 

 Christmas is coming after all, and doesn't everyone want/need a red scarf?

Friday, December 2, 2022

Your Secret Superpower

What is a maker's secret superpower? It's the ability to ALTER patterns, of course. I call it "secret" because it's so underrated. Frequently, knitters write to me on Ravelry to complain that a finished design doesn't fit --it's too deep in the armholes, or the back neck is too wide, or ... Understandably, they are frustrated after putting in so many hours of work. How to avoid disappointment? 

1. Always begin by checking out the FINISHED measurements. Hopefully, there's a schematic because it will usually have more information than the short list of measurements at the start of the instructions. Look over the finished measurements VERY CAREFULLY. Also check out the amount of "ease" that is recommended. An oversized design like Audrey will have a lot more ease than the Perth Cardi

2. Be especially careful with length measurements. When a designer publishes a pattern with a magazine, they are required to design to an industry standard which is usually for someone who is around 5'6". For all you sewists, go here for a list of heights used by popular sewing pattern companies; notice the wide range, from 5'1-5'10". If you're in doubt about how long to make your garment body and sleeves, including armscye depth, use a piece of clothing from your closet as a template. Be aware that many knitting pattern stitches grow in length after blocking. A good example is the Modern Gansey. I always suggest wet blocking work in progress. You'll save time and be much happier in the end.

3. Don't be afraid to make changes. Start small, preferably with simple top-down knitting patterns. If you're changing sleeve length, you'll need to re-calculate the rate of increase or decrease. I usually just start decreasing a couple of inches from the underarm and stop when the sleeve is the right width for me. Over time you'll gain confidence and find yourself ready to tackle more dramatic changes. Need extra length in the back to prevent your cardigan from riding up? Add some short rows. Short rows can also solve bust fitting issues. Many a knitting designer got their start when they realized that they had, over time, acquired the tools to invent and execute their own creations.

4. If you're a sewist, use old bed sheets as "muslins" to check for fit and make alterations. Sometimes it takes me several tries to get a new pattern to fit just right. Just half an inch change in length or width can make all the difference.

Recently, I tackled a forward shoulder adjustment on Dress #2 from 100 Acts of Sewing, and removed darts from the bodice of Tessuti's Felicia dress. I used this excellent tutorial for guidance with the latter. After removing 1 1/4" from the lower bodice and 1/2" from the armscye, the pattern piece was quite a cut and paste job!

That French curve grading ruler has become my best friend. Prior to acquiring it I had to rely on the curved edges of plates and once my roasting pan!

The dartless result of this effort was so worthwhile.

Other mods included another 1 1/4" off the skirt, and the addition of large semi-patch pockets (the sides are sewn into the side seams). I wanted the look of Merchant & Mills' "Hattie" without the over-engineering of multiple bodice darts and a bodice lining.
Worn here with the Perth Cardi. Note that these are "fake" buttons, merely sewn on with black snaps underneath. No buttonholes involved. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

A More Discreet Raglan Increase

This is a photo of the alternative to the Yarn Over increase that I used in Mr Greenjeans. I don't think there's an agreed upon name (or abbreviation) for it, but Emily Wessel of Tin Can Knits refers to it as a "knit under the bar" increase.

When you come to the point where you would otherwise make a Yarn Over, you simply make a knit stitch under the thread connecting the stitches before and after. Instead of a great honking buttonhole you get this nice, tidy decorative opening. Bonus: like the YO increase, it's fast and easy, especially compared to the more common Make 1 increase.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

A Winter Uniform

I have a new favourite dress. It's my latest modification of the Carson Dress, this time with 3/4 length sleeves.

The fabric is Robert Kaufman's Brussels Washer, a linen/rayon blend that's perfect for all seasons, but especially winter. It drapes beautifully and resists wrinkles. It can be a little difficult to source in Canada, although if you hunt around the internet you can find sources.

Mods: 1. Neck raised 1 1/2 inches. I might even raise it by another 1/2 inch in the next iteration. The original has a whopping huge opening.

2. The bodice and skirt widths have been reduced by 1/2 inch at each side on the pattern pieces for a total width reduction of 2 inches. As originally drafted, I would have been swimming even in the size Small.

3. I took one inch off the bottom hem, then did a doubled 1/4 inch hem. 

4. I "perfected" the cut of the pocket pieces. The pocket and pocket lining pieces were not perfectly aligned with each other or with the dress front, but that was easily solved. I find this sort of thing is a bit more common with indie patterns.

What I love about this dress:

1. The slanted pocket openings.

2. The 3/4 length sleeves. Perfect for winter when worn under a sweater.

3. The extraordinarily comfortable high waist.

4. There are no darts. With a T-shirt underneath, no bra is necessary. A win, for sure.

5. The whole thing, from cutting to wearing took only three half days of effort.

As Bill was quick to point out, this dress wouldn't make it on the streets of Paris. My response, "It would, however, be perfect in a Merchant & Mills photo shoot." It's rather like a cross between M&M's "Ellis" and "Florence" dresses.

FYI, the cardigan is my now very old Wakefield Redux in Galway wool, no longer available in Canada. Is it still being sold by Plymouth in the US? Such a lively green. The elbows are about to go, so I need to take care of that asap. The outfit is pulled together with my Pembroke Scarf in Regia sock yarn.  Worn with leggings and ankle boots, it's perfect.

I love this outfit so much that the first thing I did when we got home was to order more Brussels Washer to make a second dress. This is definitely my new uniform.