Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Everyone is writing these great "here's what I did in 2013! here's what I plan to do in 2014!" blog posts, and I want to, but I got sick over Christmas (like, sleeping 12 hours a night, popping Sudafed like candy, can't swallow because it hurts too much sick) and I just can't bring myself to do it. So:

Happy Holidays!
See you in 2014!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A very loud raincoat.

I have been working on this raincoat for longer than I care to admit, only to finish it in the most ironic way possible- the day before our first giant snowstorm. Then I procrastinated taking the photos of it for long enough that there is no more snow. You'll just have to take my word for it- we had snow. Lots of it.

 I'm not sure why I was seized with the desire to sew myself a raincoat, but I imagine it had something to do with the fabric. I bought this laminated fabric at a fabric outlet store in Sioux Falls, South Dakota when I was visiting my mother either one or two summers ago. Not sure. It sat in my stash, making me happy, until about two months ago, when it said to me, "Sew me." Normally I would be alarmed that my fabric was speaking to me, but in this case, I said, "Yes. Yes I will." Luckily I had a trench coat pattern in my collection (McCalls 5525), but unluckily, I didn't have quite enough fabric. I managed to get all the pieces out of my yardage except the front facings. I thought about trying to find more matching fabric, but the print is so incredibly loud that I thought a contrast print might be better.. easier on the eyes. Less searing.

So I bought a half yard of this Michael Miller polka dot print, only to realize that a half yard was about half of what I actually needed. There's some creative seaming happening with the lining and the polka dot print in the front facings, but it's a raincoat, and as such, will always be worn closed, so no will know but me. And now you.


I had everything done but the buttonholes for about a week, but having never actually made buttonholes before (I have no idea how I've avoided that, and ironically, I've made bound buttonholes, which are about eight million times harder), I procrastinated like a big baby. When I finally sat down to make them, it took about 4 seconds and required no work on my part, so I have no idea why I waited. Oh well.

For any sewing nerds out there, here's how I dealt with the laminated fabric:
- use small binder clips instead of pins during the construction. I did pin the pattern pieces to the fabric when I was cutting, but within the seam allowance only.
- I don't have a Teflon presser foot, so I just put Scotch tape on the bottom of my normal foot, and it worked just fine.
- when hand-sewing the bottom of the lining to the laminated fabric, I quickly realized that there was no way I was going to shove the needle through that fabric more than once. So I sewed the lining to the stitching only- like actually through each thread loop, then through the lining. I'm not sure how durable it will be, but at least it was easy on my hands.

The pattern is fine- it's not the easiest pattern I've used, but it's not the worst. The fit is good- the only change I made was to slope the shoulder seams down about 1/2" because I didn't want to use shoulder pads. Oh, and I didn't make buttonholes in the epaulets, because that just seemed goofy to me. I sewed the button on through all the fabric layers and called it good.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Like I didn't already have enough to do.

We're going to South Dakota for Christmas.
South Dakota is cold.
Cold can only be thwarted with mittens.
New mittens are much better than old mittens at thwarting the cold.
If I don't make new mittens, I'm going to freeze to death in South Dakota.
I don't want to die.
I must make new mittens now.

Yeah... sound logic. Despite the fact that I have eleventy million other things to do... I spent the entire last weekend making one mitten. Well, really, I made like 2.6 mittens, if you ignore the fact that I ripped them all out. I have no idea why it was a good idea to a) cast on something new when it's nearly Christmas and I'm swamped, and b) if  I really had to make the dang mittens, why on earth did I decide to learn a new thing to do it? I don't get me, sometimes.

I'm making mittens from silk hankies, or mawata, as I'm told it's supposed to be called. I bought this silk at Stitches West last March because pretty. I always figured it would be mittens, because like every other knitter out there, I read the Yarn Harlot's post on silk hankie mittens and I wanted some. Disclaimer: it's actually way harder than it looks. First I made the "yarn" way too thin, then I made the mittens way too big, then I had trouble with even-ness, but. I made a mitten. It looks like a child knitted it, but I like the color, and in theory, it will be warm. I think the second mitten will be much easier and (I seriously hope) not look quite so much like a child made it. There's a steep learning curve here. I watched this Knit Picks video on how to turn the silk layers into yarn, which helped a ton. And luckily, the yarn frogs well- and not just well, it's like actual yarn when you rip it out instead of the fluff you were knitting with.

In case you're interested, I did indeed finish the moto jacket (blog post on that later), I'm one foot (not the unit of measure, the body part) away from finishing the socks, I haven't even touched the box of blue yarn, and I did maybe 2 more rows on the sample sweater. I did, however, make all of the Christmas cards, write an ebook I hadn't planned on writing, get half way through an Archer, make that one dang mitten, and finish my Christmas gifting. Go, me.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wearing my crazy pants again.

I have a disease. It's alternately known by "Martha Stewart-itis", "Overachiever Syndrome", or just "The Crazy Pants." It's caused me, over the years, to sew 18 linen napkins the night before Thanksgiving, make my own butter (because if one is having homemade biscuits, one MUST have homemade butter), recreate this cake (seriously.), and make approximately 4 times the amount of food needed for every get-together I've ever hosted.

I'm in the midst of a terrible flare up that has me convinced I can finish (below, from left to right) this pair of socks (1.25 done), this sample sweater (which yes, I've barely started, but both sleeves are done already!), this still in-theory sweater for my husband, and this moto jacket (mostly just needs the sleeves attached)...

along with an Archer shirt, 60 handmade Christmas cards, new Christmas stockings, a tree skirt, 5 new ornaments (hand embroidered ones), and a 3 to 5 knitting pattern collection for babies, because we're going to see my nephew at Christmas, and I can use him as a model. Seriously. In my head, this is all totally doable, with time left over to maybe even make myself new mittens. And possibly a hat. Because in my head, it's mid-November.

I think I need help.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Pattern: The Clarette Blouse

This one has been on my plate forever. FOR-E-VER. But it's done! Hooray! 

I sketched and made swatches for this sweater in, I think, May. I got yarn support from Cascade (thank you!) in July, and thought it would be a quick project, and that I'd have it released before we moved on September 16th. Ha. More proof that I had no idea how hard moving was, and how much time it would take. But... DONE. I release you, Clarette, into the wild. 

The Clarette Blouse:
This boat-neck blouse is worked seamlessly from the top down with a circular yoke. The asymmetrical bottom of the sweater is shaped with short rows and features welts, meant to look like gathers. A button tab “holds” the gathers in place. A pretty lace panel, knitted in a lighter-weight yarn and an easy, one-row pattern, peaks out from under the sweater body’s gathers. The three-quarter sleeves end in garter stitch trim.

If you'd like to check it out on Ravelry, here's the link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/clarette-blouse

The Details:

To fit full bust sizes: 28-32[31-35, 34-38, 38-42, 40-44, 42-46]
Finished full bust measurement: 28.5[31.25, 34.5, 38.5, 40, 41.5]

Cascade Ultra Pima in Deep Coral; 3[3, 4, 4, 5, 5] skeins
Cascade Ultra Pima Fine in White Peach; 1[1, 1, 2, 2, 2] skeins

Recommended Needles: 
1 set 4 or 5 US 6 double-pointed needles OR 1 40 inch or longer US 6 circular needle for magic loop (for sleeves)
1 set 4 or 5 US 5 double-pointed needles OR 1 40 inch or longer US 5 circular needle for magic loop (for garter stitch trim on sleeves)
1 24 inch US 6 circular needle (for sweater body)
1 16 inch US 5 circular needle (for neckline)
1 set of US 4 straight needles OR 1 24 inch US 4 circular needle for lace panel

20 sts/28 rows over 4” in stockinette stitch
24 sts/32 rows over 4” in lace

Get the pattern on Ravelry (no account required):

And gratuitous pictures, because dang it, I was freezing cold when we took these, so you will enjoy them. 

(See my cold face here?)