Monday, October 31, 2016

August and September 2016 in Review

This August, I finished two things: a simple drawstring bag and my first knitted shawl. I also started four new projects. Progress was slow due to vacations and summer activities. 

In September, I didn't finish or start a single thing. At work, September is insanely busy, as everyone hits the ground running after returning from their summer vacations in July and August. At home, we were busy with all the trappings of a new school year, as my daughter started Kindergarten. Now that we've settled into our new routines, I'm hoping to find more time to create. I did manage to make progress on a few key projects. 


Cotton + Steel Drawstring Bag: I anticipated lots of knitting time during my vacations in August, so I whipped up a simple drawstring bag for my newest knitting project. It was a really satisfying project, as I used up a stashed Cotton + Steel fat quarter and some scraps. The ties are made from wax cording that I had purchased for jewelry making. I think they make a nice change. This bag is the perfect size for toting around my Rae scarf. 

Baltic Boneyard Shawl: While on vacation this past April, I picked up a few skins of Madeline Tosh "Tosh DK" yarn in the Baltic colorway to make Stephen West's Boneyard Shawl. I found the "make 1 right" and "make 1 left" stitches challenging, but overall I loved knitting this shawl. It has its share of mistakes, but I don't think they are obvious unless you look closely. I've been impatiently waiting for fall to start so that I can wear it. 


Basic Black Penny Raglan tee: This summer I was really excited to make Grainline Studio's newest pattern, the Penny Raglan Tee. My first attempt got off to a rocky start, as my archaic printer didn't want to cooperate while printing the pattern. Based on pictures I had seen of other people's Penny Raglan tees, I went down a size. The loose fit was really appealing for summer, but I didn't want it to fall off my shoulders. After sewing the front, back and sleeves together, I eagerly tried it on. The arm holes were so huge, you could easily see inside the shirt when I raised my arms. I was deeply disappointed. I wanted an easy flowy shirt that I could throw on and look cool in during a heat wave, not something that I would have wear a tank top under to be decent. Disheartened, I managed to sew the neckband on, but have not finished the sleeves or hem yet. That would required using a double-pointed needle and re-threading my machine, and this shirt isn't good enough to warrant that effort by itself. I plan to finish it the next time I make something that requires a twin needle. Next summer, I may try redrafting the sleeves for more coverage, but for now I'm moving on to fall garment sewing. 

Christmas gift bag: After whipping up my new knitting bag, I decided to get a head start on Christmas gift bags, but quickly set the first bag aside in favor of my more interesting projects. I really need to find a new gift bag pattern that excites me, because Christmas will be here before we know it! 

Rae Scarf: Until this project, I've only knitted with DK, bulky or super bulky yarn. There are so many cool patterns out there that call for fingering weight yarn (like socks!), so I knew I needed to bite the bullet and learn to knit with it eventually. For an easy first fingering project, I chose the Rae Scarf by Jane Richmond. The yarn is House of a La Mode Bangin Cash Sock in Cabana Boy. It's really nice to work with and I love how it is knitting up. For this project, I also tried metal needles for the first time. I think I may be a metal needle convert! Knitting with metal feels significantly faster, even though knitting with fingering still feels slower than knit with larger yarn. I'm still plugging along, though. I'm enjoying the kfb stitches better than the "make 1" stitches of the Boneyard Shawl. 

Vintage Kitsch Boneyard Shawl: I loved knitting my Baltic Boneyard Shawl so much that when I finished it, I immediately started another one. The yarn is House of a La Mode Dreamy DK in the Vintage Kitsch colorway. Seeing how the speckles knit up is super fun and I'm taking this one slower, enjoying the process and trying to make fewer mistakes. 

Existing WIPs 

Lizzy House Glam Clam quilt: At the end of August, I basted my beloved Lizzy House Glam Clam quilt. It took a little over a month to quilt it, but now I am at the binding stage. I'm confident that I can finish it up in October, which is perfect timing. This quilt will get a lot of love and use, I'm sure. 

In time out 

Skye Cowl: This is my first knitting failure. The yarn is Motion in the Ocean bulky yarn by Spun Right Round and the pattern is the Skye Cowl. I loved working with it as it is super soft and the play of colors reminds me of a Monet painting. I attempted a swatch for the first time, but obviously didn't get it right. The cowl ended up a weird in between size, too short to be doubled and too long. I also dislike how much the edges roll up. (Yes, I know stockinette stitch does that, but I didn't expect it to roll quite so much.) The project is currently in time out. I suspect I will end up frogging it eventually. 

Now that the cooler weather has arrived, I expect to spend more time inside, and thus, more time creating. Stay tuned. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Essex Linen Hayden Tee

It's probably obvious by now, but I am a big fan of Seamwork patterns. Still, rarely do I make both of the patterns from a single issue. In 2015, I made both patterns from the June Knits issue. In 2016, I made both patterns from the April Intentions issue. I've already written about the Seneca skirt, so today I will tell you about the Hayden tee.

Last April Carolyn Friedlander announced her Euclid line, which is printed on Essex Linen, and posted about a Hayden tee she made from one of the fabrics. I immediately wanted to make a Hayden tee out of Euclid fabric. Sadly, the fabric would not be available for purchase for months and months. Since I had never sewn a garment out of Essex Linen before, I decided to make a wearable muslin while I waited for Euclid's release. Cropped isn't my style, so I chose to make the longer versionThis shirt ended up being my favorite shirt of the summer.

I ordered a few yards of Essex Linen in Water, and I'll admit I was a little disappointed when it arrived. It felt rougher to the touch than I expected and I didn't see how it was an improvement over quilting cotton. Nevertheless, I continued on. It softened a bit with prewashing and its stiffness made it a joy to sew with. I used French seams everywhere I could and took my time. I took particular care when grading between two sizes and it really paid off. The end result fits me perfectly and I wore it frequently throughout the summer. Since I wore it so much, I can tell you that the Essex Linen does soften considerably with repeated washing.

The neckline gave me some trouble. Since the Essex Linen was so thick, I tried a couple different alternatives for the finishing bias strips. I had to rip out the quilting cotton I used the first time, and ended up using some leftover Triangle Tokens voile. Even so, I used a denim needle to sew the neckline, due to the thickness of the Essex Linen.

The only major change I made was to use elastic for the button loop instead of fabric, which was a detail I had seen on several of my daughter's dresses over the years. It works really well and I would do it again.

Interestingly enough, both the Seneca skirt and Hayden tee are supposed to be two hour projects. Personally, Hayden took me much longer to sew than Seneca, but was well worth the extra time. I could totally see myself making more of these next spring or summer.