Outfit Along, Part 2: Une Vianne Verte

And now for the knitted portion of the Outfit Along! For my pattern, I chose Andi Satterlund’s Vianne cardigan, which was the “official” knit garment of the OAL. I usually make a size S in her patterns, but I’ve been noticing lately that the armholes and bust have seemed a little baggy, so I sized down and made an XS. I’m so glad I made the change – the fit is much better, and I think this might be my new favorite cardigan!

For my yarn, I used Cascade 220, and I have to say, using this higher quality yarn made all the difference in the world. In the past, I’ve used either Knit Picks or Lion Brand yarn to save money, and while both do the job just fine, the Cascade feels sooooo much more luxurious. It also blocked like a dream, and my stitches really evened out nicely. I guess I just have to invest more in my knitting projects… It’s worth it, though, since knitting takes so much longer than sewing, so you really want your final product to turn out well!

A quick note on tension – you may be wondering why I used the Cascade 220, a worsted weight yarn, when the pattern calls for DK. I’ve discovered that, since I tend to knit with a fairly tight tension (I think this is due to my personality….oops…), I need to go up a yarn size to get the correct gauge for the needle size. I know you’re supposed to change needle sizes to attain the correct gauge, but I’ve had a lot of trouble with that in the past, and have discovered that I get the best results when I size up the yarn. So there you go.

And now, pictures!

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I just love the back mesh detail in this pattern! Since I carry a lot of music books around in a backpack during my commute to work, my back tends to get reaaaaaally grossly sweaty (tmi, I know, sorry), so the extra ventilation is really nice. I added petersham ribbon to reinforce the button bands, which really helps everything stay in place. The buttons were on sale at Britex – as soon as I saw them, I knew they were the ones! (of course, in spite of that, I made the guy at the button counter take out a ton of other choices just to be sure…)

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And a few more shots, for good measure:

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So, that’s my contribution to the OAL! A big thank you to Lauren and Andi for hosting it – it’s a great tradition, and I look forward to next year!

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Preppy Pink Chuck

I finally did it, y’all – I finally broke free from the Perfectionist’s Curse! And I made stuff! Woohoo!!

Today’s make, however, is actually something I made over New Year’s while visiting my in-laws. I have really been enjoying knitting, and decided to take part in Andi Satterlund’s Selfish Swearer Knit-Along. I chose to knit her Chuck sweater pattern, which I’d been eyeing for a while since I looove knitting cables. It came together in no time at all – I started it the day after Christmas and finished exactly a week later!

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Not to shabby! I knitted a size small, but I’m thinking I may need to size down when making her patterns in the future – it’s a bit big through the armholes and bust.

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It’s still totally wearable, though, and I’ve enjoyed wearing it out several times since finishing it! I especially love the button-up shirt/sweater combo – it gives it a slightly preppy edge, which I enjoy :). I’ve been wanting to dress more professionally to work these days, and thought this ensemble had an especially polished, put-together look.

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Check out those cables! I really do enjoy cable work. In fact, I’m trying to whip out another Chuck before the KAL ends. However, I’m using a different yarn – I used Lion Brand worsted weight for this one, and now I’m trying out Cascade 220, which is what the pattern calls for. For some reason, I’m have a terrible time with wonky cables and loose traveling stitches – any advice?? I’ve literally ripped it out three times, and am wondering if it’s even worth it to try at this point.

Anyhow, I’m quite pleased with this make – my very first finished project of 2015!

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Christmas Crafting: The Rest of the Gifts

Do you ever get in a weird sewing funk where nothing feels right, and you end up undoing more than you actually do? Ugh, I am completely bogged down in just such a funk, and I haven’t finished one single sewing project yet this year! Between yesterday and today, I think I unraveled the sweater I’m knitting at least three times, and am having to hold myself back from undoing it a fourth time. Last week, I literally hemmed the same sleeve about half a dozen times before I finally let it go. Seriously, what is going on????

So, good thing I have a ton of back-logged projects to blog about :P. Of course, having utterly lost my sew-jo, I’ve also mostly lost the desire to write about sewing, hence my lack of posts this week. So much for blogging twice a week in 2015! Hopefully it’ll get better…

Anyhow, today I’m just gonna dump the rest of my handmade Christmas gifts on y’all, and hope you’ll forgive me for the information overload. As I mentioned before, I decided to make most of my Christmas gifts this year, since I wanted to save money and I happened to have a lot of time on my hands. I managed to start early enough (before Thanksgiving!) that I actually didn’t get very stressed about it, and really enjoyed the process. So, here it goes!

Tea Wallets

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a tea wallet as a gift, and it dawned on me this year that that would be the perfect gift to make, as I have a huge quilting cotton stash and lots of tea-loving friends! I used this tutorial to sew up a whole bunch, and gave them to friends, sisters, and my mom!

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(Recognize the fabric? ;))

Knitted Hats

This was the Christmas of knitted hats. I discovered that they’re the perfect yarn stash buster for all those single balls I had left from various sweater projects, and just went to town! First, I made a baby hat for one of my sisters-in-law, who is expecting her first child soon. I used this pattern, and knitted up the whole thing on Thanksgiving day while visiting family! And yes, I was the gal at Walmart who knitted while waiting in the pre-Black-Friday sales line while the boys shopped for electronics :P.

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When I was home in November, my sister had strongly suggested that she might like a hat for Christmas, so of course I got right on that! I used this fantastic free pattern to create a fun cabled hat that I thought would match her winter coat nicely. Since she is quite petite, I left off a full pattern repeat in addition to shortening each cable to mine rows instead of ten. It fits her great!

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I had a hard time figuring out what to give my dad, but I finally settled on a hat for him as well. Since I was in a cabling state of mind, I went with this pattern (also free!), knitted up in a reasonably masculine brown wool/acrylic blend.

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Lacey Mitts

For my other sister and my mom, I wanted to make them something fun and elegant (initially, I was going to do this for the above mentioned sister, but since she specifically requested a hat, I changed my plans!). I have a thing for fingerless gloves, so when Andi Satterlund’s Piperita pattern came out, I gobbled it right up! I love knitting lace, and they were a very satisfying make.

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Niece/Nephew Sewing

This year, I decided to go all out and make niece and nephew gifts! I inherited several little ‘uns thanks to my husband’s highly productive family, all of which actually live in CA, so I’ve had the chance to get to know them a bit these past few months! For my niece who is seven months old (now more like eight), I made baby leggings. I forgot to get a picture, but they turned out pretty cute, and got a lot of wear over New Years!

For my older niece and nephew, I made raglan tees. This was my first foray into sewing for kids, and it was a blast! I love how I was able to use scraps too small for adult clothes, which just serves to encourage my hoarding tendencies. Oops. 😛 Anyhow, the pattern I used was the Recess Raglan Tee by See Kate Sew. I appreciated the different styling options, and tried to personalize each tee so the kids didn’t feel like they each got the “same thing.” My nephew was wearing his last time I saw them, so I think it was a success!

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Stocking Ornaments

Last one, I promise! While staying with my family over Christmas, I realized I wanted to take some kind of small, token gift to my in-laws when we visited for New Years. They’re not big gift people, but I felt strange at the thought of showing up empty-handed. So a day or two after Christmas, I borrowed my mom’s machine and stole some of her quilting stash to make some crazy quilt ornaments! I just winged the design based on some Pinterest finds – it was super easy! In a nutshell, I strip-pieced several crazy quilt panels, used a template to cut two mirror-image stockings from each, and layered some batting in between. Now I kind of want to get back into quilting….uh-oh!

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If you made it this far, congratulations! And thanks for reading :). I’m sure I won’t make nearly this much every Christmas, but this year it was fun!

How about you – did you make gifts, or reserve your precious holiday free time for personal projects?

Audrey in Awesome

This morning I am off to the east coast for some holiday-with-family goodness! Huzzah! I’ve actually got quite a backlog of projects to share at this point, due to poor photography weather and a great deal of travel-induced stress sewing. I’m hoping to get some nice pics when I’m home in PA – my dad is quite an avid photographer and does a great job with his fancy camera! (Hint hint…:) )

Anyhow, my make for today is from several weeks back. It’s the fabulous Audrey in Unst knitting pattern. After seeing fantastic versions by both Tasia and Lauren, I knew I needed to make one. The process took me a while – I started in June and finished knitting it in September, though it took me until November to sew the button bands and buttons on! But I’m quite pleased with the outcome. It has been the perfect weight for our extremely mild fall weather, and I was able to wear it a lot in lieu of a coat.

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My particular cardigan actually has a rather interesting story. It started life as a different sweater many years ago, which I cast on, knitted a bit, and then put aside. Several months ago I tried revisiting that project, and after looking at my gauge, I realized the yarn was too thick and would result in a sweater that was way too big. Somehow I missed this even though I made a gauge swatch! Ah, well, we all make mistakes :P.

So anyhow, I realized that the yarn would be perfect for the Audrey, and went from there. About halfway through, however, I discovered that I didn’t have enough yarn to finish, and the yarn was no longer being manufactured. Agh! I was resigned to the fact that it might have to have short sleeves instead of 3/4 length, but in a last-ditch effort, I decided to do a little search on Ravelry. Did you know that you can search other people’s yarn stashes and inquire about buying a few skeins? This totally blew my mind, and saved my butt!

I wrote to several folks who had the yarn in the right color in their stash, and Sarah (aka SarahStockinette) replied, saying she would be happy to send me the rest of her skeins for just the price of shipping. How awesome is that?? I’m totally indebted to her kindness, and the dye lots matched perfectly (which was kind of magic, since purple can be a tricky dye!), so I was able to finish the project without a hitch. Just another example of how generous this community can be!

Anyhow, more pics:

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Here you can see the “faux side seam,” created by knitting a purl stitch at each side. It helps the sides stay in place while wearing without the hassle of seaming.

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Lace yoke detail – my favorite part of the knitting, since it went super fast!

It’s probably too cold back east to take it with me for the holidays, sadly, but I know it’ll get lots more wear over in SF when I return!

Blast from the Past

I probably should have saved this post for tomorrow since apparently “throwback Thursday” is a thing, but I couldn’t think of anything else to wear, so here we are. I made one of the pieces of this outfit while I was in grad school several years ago – can you guess which??

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Dress: Banana Republic, Sweater: handmade “Autumn Rose Pullover” by Eunny Jang, Tights: Savers, Boots: Clark’s

If you guessed the sweater, you were right! I still kind of can’t believe I was crazy enough to make this. It was knitted on size 0, 1, and 2 needles – so, basically, toothpicks – and I was changing colors literally every few stitches. When I described the process to my husband this morning, his response was, “oh, so that’s why you didn’t date in grad school!” Ha, very funny, sweetie :P.

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It took me about a year to make, but I’m super proud of it. And, of course, now that I’ve been remembering the process of making it, I want to do another crazy colorwork project. It was a ton of fun!

One other comment about today’s outfit: my tights are lined with fleece. This is pretty much a dream come true for me, since I love wearing skirts and dresses but HATE having cold legs. I found these while on a discount shopping spree with my mother-in-law in NH. They’re made by a company called “Leg Impressions.” I want one in every color…

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Winter is Coming!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist a little Game of Thrones reference, since today’s post is about preparing for the cold. One thing I realized when I moved to Boston was that I really needed to find a proper scarf! Since I’m a knitter, though, I felt guilty just buying one when I could make it, which inspired my latest knitting creations – two cowl-neck “scarves”. I chose cowl necks because they will keep my neck and chest warm without adding extra bulk under a jacket or coat. Also, my mom got me the patterns as a gift, so I had to try them out! Here they are:

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Pattern: Shawl Collared Cowl by Alana Dakos, Yarn: “Homespun” by Lion Brand (color is “Edwardian”), Buttons: from Bead + Fiber, my local yarn and bead shop

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Pattern: Zuzu’s Petals by Carina Spencer, Yarn: merino wool from Dirty Water Dye Works, a local yarn maker, also purchased at Bead + Fiber

I love both of them, and usually end up wearing one of them pretty much every day. In fact, yesterday was warm enough that I just wore the cowl without a coat!

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I know that colder days are coming, but I think I’m ready!