Friday, January 23, 2015

Cozy, cold weather knits

I've got another knitting project to share with you all today! I haven't been doing any sewing lately since it's super hard to keep the space I need clear of toys, and even harder to keep the kid from trying to run my machine while I'm not looking, so I've consoled my idle fingers with lots and lots of knitting (a decision for which I am now paying dearly; oh the knitting pains).

This project was a first for me. I've got so many different projects in my queue that sometimes it's hard to decide what I want to make next, but after seeing Michelle's GORGEOUS new socks I knew exactly what I wanted to pick up after I finished assembling that giant sweater. I've never made socks before (well besides the tiny pair of baby socks I made for the boy last year) so this was a fun new experience for me. I think it's safe to say I'm hooked. I will always be a sweater knitter at heart, but I see numerous pairs of socks in my future.

They are the Little Cable Knee Highs from The Purl Bee. I wear knee socks all of the time in the winter, over tights, under jeans, around the house. That is one habit from my Catholic high school days that I don't think I'll ever lose. When I saw Michelle's version in that gorgeous pale blue, such a simple sock design with that little bit of interest at the back of the leg (I'm a sucker for a cable) I knew I was going to need multiple pairs of these. Until now I've only had one pair of hand knit socks, a bright green pair that my mom made for me a few years ago, but they are the warmest most comfortable socks I own and I'm glad to finally have another pair. I promise they're actually the same length, but my leggings kept sliding and my slight contrapposto stance makes them look a tad off at the top as well.

alpaca cabled knee socks

After making the first sock I realized that the fit on the foot wasn't quite how I wanted, and the right sock is just a hair long, so the heel flap pulls up a bit on the back of my heel. I knitted the second sock a few rows shorter in the foot and it fixed that problem. You can see the slight difference in the height of the heel flap in the photo below.

Cabled alpaca knee socks

We just had a new local yarn shop open up in early December after a several year long fiber drought. The only other "local" option was a shop WAY the heck out (we're talking a minimum 30 minute drive and for someone who normally walks or bikes places that might as well be in another state). It's "technically" still in the metro area, but like I said, it's not really "in" the city proper. The only other yarn shop we had closed years ago and so there really haven't been any options besides JoAnn and those sorts of places (which never carry the sort of stuff I want), so I've generally ordered yarn online. I was so stoked about A Yarn Crossing opening I went on opening day specifically in search of yarn for this project. Incidentally, it's only about two blocks down from husband's restaurant/bar as well, making it a mere 3 miles from my house and FAR more convenient than driving way out in the east end. What's really great about it, in addition to being in an adorable little converted shotgun house painted lovely bright colors, is that they carry a fair amount of local fibers, too! They have yarn and roving from local farms/spinners/dyers, expanding their inventory while supporting more local businesses/artists and providing customers with really unique products. If I didn't have a toddler with me all of the time I'd seriously spend hours and hours and hours hanging out in their sitting area knitting and sipping tea. 

Anyhoo, the yarn I bought is an alpaca blend sock yarn that is really comfy and was pretty easy to work with. I wanted something in a neutral color to wear over my maternity leggings and with my skirts to keep myself warm this winter since most of my standard layering pieces won't accommodate the baby belly. 

These are actually not quite as long as the original pattern, although that was not intentional. I was reading the pattern on an iPad screen because my printer is currently down for the count, and since I can't really absorb things I've read on a screen instead of on paper I realized (after the fact of course) that I had accidentally skipped a total of 8 cable repeats between the increase rounds through the calf. They are still a totally functional height, but I'll definitely make sure to include that extra 3 inches or so of sock the next time around.

The cuff fold over should really be wider, but because I lost length in the calf I lost a little width in the cuff fold over. 

Shortening the foot on the second sock helped a lot, but I still wasn't getting quite as snug a fit on my narrow foot as I would like, so for the next pair (for which I have some butter soft, brown merino) I started the foot on size 1 needles and am switching to 2s for the calves. So far the fit is pretty spot on with those. I've had to put working on the second pair on hold for a while because I was knitting so obsessively on these I gave myself tendonitis in my right arm. It's much better, but I'm going to take it easy for a few more days before I attempt to pick them back up.

I did take a rather foolish few hours the other day to whip up some quick, scrap yarn mittens for the boy since he lost one of his, but I immediately regretted it and had to slap on a serious wrist brace afterwards. I've been trying very hard to be good since then.

fair isle toddler mitts
The yarn for these was left from the sweaters that I made him last year.
While I was very impatiently awaiting the opening of the yarn shop so I could get yarn for my socks, I went ahead and cast on for a sweater for myself as well. It's the pattern on the left, "Roll Neck", from a 1940 knitting magazine that a friend gave me a year or two ago. There are a few really cute sweaters in it, plus some seriously great knitted skirts that I'd love to make some day. But, back to the topic at hand. I figured I could start this now and maybe have it finished for next winter when I'd be able to wear it, but if not it would definitely be a good thing to finish for the following winter when I won't be nursing anymore. It's knitted top-down, and I'm maybe half way down the shoulders I think. I'll get back to that once I get my brown socks finished.

1940 knitting pattern

I'm hoping to be back to knitting by the end of the week, and should have some new socks before the month is over as long as I don't hurt myself again. It's been so hard not to be working on something.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 Vintage Pattern Pledge

I hardly ever get a chance to participate in all of the great sew-alongs and things that people are always hosting, but this is one that I'm definitely jumping on board with this time. Marie over at A Stitching Odyssey is hosting another Vintage Sewing Pattern pledge this year and I'm planning on taking part. The great thing about this pledge is that it's fairly easy to tailor the challenge to your individual abilities and ideas. Marie has outlined a number of possible ways to organize your sewing plans, and I am opting to choose a few of my original vintage patterns to make over the course of the next year.

I, Evie, pledge to sew up at least four of my original vintage patterns this year. This will include patterns from the late 1930s through the early 60s. If I'm able to, I'd like to extend that number to include more projects, but 2015 is shaping up to be a very busy year, so I think that four is a reasonable number for me to shoot for.  The specific patterns that I am planning on using are the following:

Simplicity 3345

The pattern is from 1960, and as you can see it's a maternity pattern. I've got baby #2 due in mid-June, which is partly why my projects/posts have been somewhat few and far between the last few months. I made this pattern up last time around in the fabric you see here. The print I have intended for version 2 is a fairly busy, retro novelty print. I'll get pictures of that for you when I get around to cutting the dress out. I'm considering making the collarless version this time. 

Simplicity 2475 or Simplicity 1174

2575 is the one I'm really leaning towards (the sleeveless top) but I'll need to see just how wide the neck actually sits on me, since I do need to be able to wear a regular bra and camisole with it. The fabric I'm planning on using is a fairly sheer floral lawn, so I won't be able to avoid the strap issue with whatever I have to wear under it. 
If I can't make the neckline work then I'll be making 1174 again, but in the sleeveless view this time around. I LOVE that top and I'd be totally happy with having another one if I can't make the first pattern work. 

Anne Adams 4811

This is another one that many of you may recognize. I have another couple of challis prints that I bought on sale and I've been itching to make another of these. It was such a great dress to have this past summer, it's nursing and cycling friendly, and it's super comfy to boot. 

For the fourth pattern I'm considering McCall 3610

This is a very late 30s pattern I've had in my stash for some time and have yet to make up. I may have to put this one on hold in favor of something that buttons down the front so I can nurse in it, but we'll see.

I've been toying with the idea of trying to whip up a pair of shorts from this 1950s maternity pattern:

Advance 8512

Since I'll be pregnant further into the hot weather this year it might be nice to have a pair of shorts to wear, plus I'd kind of just like to see how these go together construction-wise, and how they fit on the body. I think I've got a couple of things in my stash/scrap bin that might work for a wearable muslin at least. They'd be nice to have for chasing a 2 year old in as opposed to the pencil skirts I wore most of the spring last time around.

I plan on getting started on the first of the maternity patterns in the next month, so hopefully I won't have any problem getting at least two of them sewn up before April so I can get a couple of months of wear out of them at least. I'll have to take a little bit of time off over the summer while we're acclimating to the new schedule/living arrangement, but I hope to get back to sewing quickly enough to finish at least two more projects before the end of the year. I'm really looking forward to seeing what all of the other participants come up with this year!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mason: Just in time for the cold.

So, here's another post I started writing eons ago and have finally gotten around to finishing. It's taken me ages to get the pictures taken for it, during which time I've been busy with holidays, other projects and the start of the semester and the accompanying onslaught of student emails. I've got a couple more posts that I'm working on and should have up in the next couple of weeks as well. I hate to let this space languish for too long. Anyway, without a further ado, here we go.

I finally finished the sweater I've been working on for my husband! It took me just under a year (and by "just under" I really mean it. I think I was about 5 days short of the one year mark.) to finish this thing. Despite being knitted in bulky weight yarn and on #11 needles, it's about twice the size of anything I usually knit. Long arms and a 44" chest make for a large project, and one that's very difficult to block when you're used to pinning things out on your ironing board. I won't go into full details about yarn, etcetera on here, but if you're interested you can see the full project notes on my Ravelry project page.

I apologize for the harsh light in these photos, but it's been super overcast, freezing, and we didn't get around to taking pictures until this evening so the light was all around atrocious. I promised Mr. S I'd crop his face out, so these may not be the most compositionally elegant photos of all time, but you can see the sweater alright.

Despite it taking me nearly a year to finish, it was actually a pretty quick knit. The heavy yarn/large needle combo makes for a very different knitting experience than what I'm generally accustomed to, since my preferred projects are fingering weight yarn on small needles. It was nice to work on something so different though.

We had some debate about whether or not he wanted me to change the collar since he usually only wears crew-neck sweaters, but he finally decided to just go with the original design and while it took a wear or two to get used to, he's been glad for the extra warmth the roll collar has provided in the single digit temps we've had the last week. It's not an extremely tight knit, but he says it's super warm, and all of the guys at work have been admiring it lately, which has made him like it even more. I think he's proven himself worthy of another hand knitted sweater or two in the future ;)

 I've really been wanting to get some sew-in tags made for myself, but keep hemming and hawing over what I want them to say/look like, or whether or not I should spend the money on something fairly silly. For now I stuck with a little ribbon tag in the back since the front and back of this sweater are pretty hard to tell apart.

I hope everyone had enjoyable holidays, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone in the blogosphere produces in the upcoming year! Have a great week, and to those of you in the more northern climbs, stay warm!
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