Wednesday, March 25, 2015

There Ain't No Cure for the Wintertime Blues...

...except to knit! Knit all the things! 

Friends, I've been knitting like a fiend the last few months, making pretties for all the people that I owed Christmas presents to. In between those gifts, I managed to eek out a sweater. 

Behold the Beekman Tavern Sweater, from the Rhinebeck Sweater book. This is my version, in the lovely Cascade 220 shade of Aporto (closest to actual color above). This yarn has the most divine bits of green thrown in here and there, so knitting it up was a dream. 

The best part of knitting this sweater, though, was definitely the company I knit it with:


While we all started out with the Beekman Tavern as our base pattern, all of our versions are wildly different. That is one of my favorite thing about knitting with Michelle and Liz - the variations at the end are always a wonderful discovery!

Liz's version is such a fabulous blue, and her modifications allowed her to have a sweater that fits her perfectly. She has mastered raglan arms, and the evidence of her hard work can easily be seen here. Also, that color totally flatters her rocking pink hair. She's like a gorgeous sea sprite in these photos.

Michelle's version is the perfect fisherman style sweater. Also, it's uber comfortable in the yarn she used. Her version is the truest to the original design, even with some modifications to the center panels. She rocks it with some fabulous shoes (that both Liz and I lusted over).

While these pictures were a ton of fun to take, this was the fastest photo shoot we have ever done. We were worried that the weather wouldn't be cold enough to take photos in wool sweaters, but we shouldn't have worried. 

This is Chicago (or actually Evanston in these photos), and it was cold and windy as we played around on the rocks. Our hands were FREEZING, but our torsos were quite snuggly.

(Many thanks to our photographers Mike and Felix, who were not so snuggly, but were real troopers!!)

I was especially glad that I threw thick leggings under my Beekman mini dress. Originally, I was just targeting tunic length, but Cascade 220 tends to grow a little bit for me, so this ended up more dress like after blocking. Do I mind? Not a bit. I only worry about it growing outwards, which may end up happening the more I wear it.

The decision to make a longer version of the sweater was made when I tried on the size 36 after knitting for five inches, only to find that the ribbing was so stretchy that the sweater went over my bottom without any issues at all. Rather than re-cast on for a smaller size, I threw caution to the wind and decided to make it long enough to cover my bootylicious bottom. 

I threw in some waist shaping, but I could have easily done more, as it's still pretty roomy in the waist. It gently skims my figure, which I like, and I wore it out belted last night, just to further emphasize the shape.

One of my favorite things about knitting is challenging myself with new techniques. This is my first cabled sweater, and only my second project with cables ever. I feel rather accomplished, considering the length and the amount of time I spent on it. I also love that I took a pattern and adapted it to suit me (with waist shaping and adding a few extra rows for the collar). My confidence in my knitting is increasing, and I love that.

While it feels like winter will never end, I think my time of making only blue items is coming to a close. After working on a Granville muslin for myself, two Negronis for the boyfriend, as well as this fabulous sweater, I'm ready for a new color. Pink, anyone? :)

One sweater down, only six more to go before I reach my goal of seven in 2015. Fingers (and knitting needles) crossed!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Dress Fit For Vegas

Friends, January has been a crazy month so far, and the highlight was definitely KITTY GRAND GETTING MARRIED. It was a big deal. And it was in Vegas. 

 Kitty's dress was very old Hollywood/Vegas, and she looked amazing. She also gave us bridesmaids the leeway to wear any style of black knee length cocktail dress we wanted. Well, of course I wanted to make a dress for the occasion!

After making several wearable muslins of different styles, I decided to go with Butterick 6129. It was classy, off the shoulder, and definitely would go with the jewelry that Kitty had picked out for us.

I chose to make it in a black cotton gabardine, and while it probably wasn't the best fabric for the pattern, I was SUPER comfortable the whole night. Crepe or taffeta (as the pattern calls for) would have worked best, especially in regards to the pleats running the full length of the skirt. I pleated at the waistline, and the eliminated the full skirt pleats as the fabric did not hold a crease well enough.

That said, I was surprised how well the pleats on the arm bands stayed in place. Because the fabric did not hold creases, I was worried the fabric would just fall or go all wonky during the day, but it wasn't an issue! The best part about the arms was the added bit of elastic casing in side. Those arm bands weren't going anywhere.

My only concern about the dress was I ended up cutting 4 inches of fabric out of the center back. My back darts are an inch away from the zipper, and at that point, should I have even bothered putting them in? The rest of the seams hit the mark beautifully, but the muslin (in cotton) and the final (in cotton gabardine), both had this issue. Thoughts, sewists?

Overall, the dress worked perfectly and wore well for many hours on end. Though it was comfortable, I wasn't sorry to take it off at the end of the night before hitting the bars (because strapless bras really are the worst). (Also, I totally wore this tee to the bar. It's my new favorite.)

A fabulous wedding, a gorgeous bride, and many hours of laughter that left me giggling for days. Here's to Kitty and Scooter, and their many years together!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's 2015!

Friends, Me Made 2014 is OVER. And I realize that I did not post photos for oh... 7 or 8 months really. Which is awkward. But I did it (even though I didn't post about it).  I began the challenge wearing Me Made only, with 5 pieces as exceptions (undergoodies not included in challenge). By the end, I was wearing about ten more pieces that were RTW (mostly tights and sweatpants - my apartment was VERY cold until Josh bought me a space heater that looks like a fireplace. It's very fancy.). 

For the most part, 2014 was very light in the sewing area. I spent most of my time knitting, as I found it to be easier to take with me as I traveled around town and the country. Some of the items I did sew never even got worn, as it turned colder so quickly that my summer items went into a drawer and were forgotten immediately. 

While I didn't do much sewing, I have some sewing projects that I am exceptionally proud of:

Catwoman! (Also for C2E2)

The By Hand London Anna dress, which has been on the shelf awhile as the hem needs to be re-examined.

The Amazing Technicolor Capelet, which looks awesome with jeans, btw, but does not hold up well against extreme cold.

And finally, my comic book Macaron for C2E2. C2E2 was the highlight of my sewing year.

I was super lucky to have some great visitors this year, including the wonderful Lisette. We lived together for almost two months and became quite close. I miss our late night chats over tea.

I was also lucky in that I got to travel to visit other friends, specifically in South Korea. I took a 14 hour direct flight and touched down in one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I posted quite a bit on Instagram, so I won't rehash it all here for you, but there is definitely a fabric shopping post coming, as well as some creations from those pieces I bought there.

Overall, from a creativity standpoint, knitting was really where my focus was in 2014. I wanted to knit everything. My queue on Ravelry, while accurate, is daunting. I feel confident that I can handle more projects this year and my realistic goal in 2015 is seven sweaters, but ideally, I want to knit all of them in queue (hahahahaha ridiculous, I know). 

Here are my five sweaters from 2014 (and you may recognize Liz and Michelle here!)

Vitamin D-idn't Turn Out So Bad (this was worn so much in 2014 that it needed to be washed and blocked again mid-year. Note: do not wash your Ultra Alpaca sweater with Oxy Clean. The color will be OK, but your heart will suffer damage)

The Channel Cardigan: I wore this sweater a lot more than I would have anticipated. It has been a wardrobe staple for me so far this Fall and Winter. The only issue is that it just keeps stretching out. Hopefully reblocking will fix that problem.

The Burdock Cardigan: This was part of the Cardis and Cambies Adventure with Liz and Michelle, and I am still quite in love with this cardigan. It adds a great splash of color into my wardrobe, and I wore it constantly when traveling in Korea. 

A Wonder Woman Sweater for Stephy: I didn't post about this, but it is listed in my projects on Ravely. I AM SO PROUD OF THIS. It fits my best friend great, and I managed to eek it out with enough yarn. It was close, you guys. It was really close. 

Finally, finished two days before the New Year, my $5 in Paris sweater (more photos on Ravelry): 

This sweater came about because I wanted stripes and I wanted to use up the extra yarn from my Burdock cardigan. I added some brown, and voila! The colors of my alma mater. The sleeves are super baggy since I didn't decrease at the end, but they fall over the tops of my hands perfectly, so they'll stay as is for now. 

Reflections on 2014:
  • yay Me Made 2014! I did it, I learned a lot, and I am glad to be reunited with my leggings.
  • The Me Made items that did not get worn are gone in 2015. I'm hosting a clothing swap on March 8 to give them away.
  • Some items didn't make it to 2015, specifically my comfy plaid pants. I wore them almost every cold day, and they disintegrated. 
  • Knitting is awesome. 
Goals for 2015:
  • Knit and sew each for 30 minutes a day. So far, I've been exceeding this goal, and projects are getting done. I'm looking forward to having new items in my wardrobe soon!
  • No buying yarn. I've bought all the yarn for all the sweaters I plan on making this year, and that's enough.
  • No more fabric, unless I am on vacation (I like fabric as a souvenir) or if it's for C2E2 (because it's going to be epic Doctor Who themed and I need supplies).
  • No buying sewing patterns. I spent way too much money on Hobbies last year, and I need that money for traveling this year. Knitting patterns can be bought if I already have the yarn for that project.
  • Seven sweaters. Let's make this happen.

Friends! Are you ready for 2015?! Let's do this. High fives all around!!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cardis and Cambies!

Friends, it was a great summer! I turned 30 (WOOO DIRTY THIRTY), got a new job at my current employer (where I'll be working from home full time), and booked an international trip for myself halfway around the globe. Kitty Grand got engaged, so I've been helping with planning, and the next few months will be busy with Maid of Honor duties. I created a beautiful blouse for my dear friend Pippi's wedding, and I'll be sure to post pictures of that masterpiece once I get all of my photos back. Also, I've had great visitors and made some amazing sandals for myself :) These past few months have flown by!

In between all of those fabulous events, I've been spending time with Michelle and Liz. Despite our crazy summer schedules, we still managed to eke out a few nights to knit together, and eventually we stumbled upon the idea of all sewing the same project to cap off the glorious season of warmth. Once they expressed interest in making Cambies (my favorite dress pattern EVER) for the "challenge", we then threw in the added spice of having a coordinating cardigan.

Well, I tossed around the idea of making a shrug for a looooong time because I thought that would be good for summer. I bought yarn for one pattern, and then changed the pattern. And then changed the yarn. And then finally tossed all of that out the window and chose a new yarn (worsted) and a cardigan pattern I've been eyeing from before I could even knit (The Burdock Cardigan from November Knits).

The reason for the final change may or may not have been the release of the Farmer's Almanac predictions for this winter (it's going to be even more awful than last year), so I was inspired to knit more wool sweaters ASAP.

After having knit the Channel Cardigan in grey, I knew I wanted a color. My original shrug was due to be the loveliest sky blue, but once I threw the shrug idea out the window, I decided to either use something from my stash or be very economical in my yarn choices. Helloooo, Wool-Ease!

I chose Paprika because 1) I love orange, 2) orange totally means autumn, and 3) it matched perfectly with this fabric I bought.

While I had bought this yarn to pair with this fabric to make this Cambie, I did not check to see if I actually HAD enough fabric to make a Cambie until the day before this photo shoot. Hahaha whoops!

Thankfully, I had just enough fabric (do not look at the waistband too closely), and every bit was used. I had bought it for $2 at a roadside antique store a year ago, and after asking Michelle and Liz about the uber slick backside, realized it was a curtain. So it slipped around quite a bit while I was sewing. And it wrinkles like a finger in the bathtub.

But I still love it.

I can still move freely in it, and with the cardigan added, it's a perfect outfit for a very classy outing.

Speaking of classy, did you know that Michelle knows all the words to Baby Got Back? It's true, and I know it because I made her sing along with me. New Yorkers, please have a sing a long while she and Liz are there this coming weekend!

Truly, I love hanging out with these ladies. Not only are they fabulous sewists and knitters, but great conversationalists (and friends), too.

Michelle's Cambie will definitely be the inspiration for my next version!

Her wool fabric and straight neckline were perfect. I adored her shoes instantly, and loved the story behind them even more :) The whole outfit is smashing, and so polished. I need a wool Cambie now, you guys, and I need it to be fabulously patterned wool. Let the search begin.

Michelle made a lovely mint cardigan to pair with her dress, and the colors together are wonderful. If you ever get the opportunity to see this color combination up close, I encourage you to do so, as the pictures just don't do it justice. SO PRETTY.

The stitch pattern on Michelle's reminded me of my own stitch pattern. Knitting is the best, isn't it? So many glorious details.

Liz's Cambie is plaid. PLAID. And a colorful plaid! How is it possible that with my extreme love of plaid, I have not yet made a colorful plaid Cambie?! This must be remedied.

Her fabric was on grain with the plaid printed on the bias, so it made for some awesome twirling effects:

Liz is magnificent in purple. The fact that she found the yarn she was looking for, in the color she wanted, was amazing, and it knit up beautifully. She even let me try it on! It was like heaven. A lavender colored heaven. I was tempted to trade my cardigan for hers, even. Maybe I can bribe her with cookies.

Though she had some issues knitting it up, the cardigan came out beautifully. Fingers crossed that the nice weather holds out so she can wear it before winter arrives!

Both Liz and Michelle lined their skirts and took pictures of it, but as you can see here, Liz went the extra mile and threw in some horsehair braid for good measure. It works perfectly with the full skirt!

For my lining, I ended up using a table skirt from an old tablecloth. My Mom had given it to me at some point, so I cut off the circular tabletop portion, took out the single side seam, undid the gathers, and had about nine yards of 30 inch fabric to work with. Perfect.

Michelle and I both went the A-line skirt route. I like both skirt versions, but the A-line definitely worked with the amount of fabric I had.

As you can see from the photos above and below, we went down to the wire on this challenge. Michelle was sewing on buttons before brunch, Liz was finishing a bit on her sweater, and I was knitting/seaming until 2:30am, and then had to get up early and fix my Cambie zipper and hem. The slippery fabric was not going to get the best of me! (The only reason there are no photos of me working into the wee hours is that Josh was already sleeping. Lucky him!)

Once we finished our cardigans, we did brunch. We had coffee and laughs, and embarked on shooting some epic photos...because that's what we do best.

What I love most about our "challenges" is that we may make the same thing, but our end results are always so fabulously different. We are different sizes/heights/measurements, and the same dress pattern came out great on all of us. I honestly love all of our versions, and would definitely be open to doing another summer dress challenge in 2015. (Yes, facing the winter of doom and gloom has caused my brain to skip ahead an entire year. This is normal, right?)

We figured out that we covered three of the four seasons with our creations here. 

We also figured out that we still love doing the roller coaster pose.

These ladies are the best, and knitting with them is the highlight of my week :)

Friends, I hope you all had great summers, and I look forward to chatting with you again soon!