Sewing Journal 4: Outfit No. 1 + Evolve Cowl

Hello, hello! How have you been? It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to pop in here (a slight understatement), but nevermind that! I’m coming to you today full of the joy that comes from finishing a project and being so happy with it! Can I show you?

That’s right, it’s a whole outfit! That I started. And finished. This month! A happy accident, and one that I plan to wear pretty much without taking off as soon as it gets just a tad bit warmer.

Shall I tell you a bit more about each piece? Let’s start with the sewing. The top is Sonya Philip’s Shirt No. 1, from her 100 Acts of Sewing series. It’s my third one. I made a straight XS with no modifications, using this fabric I picked up from Cool Crafting last year. I really like the geometric pattern and weight of this 100% cotton fabric. I’d had some grand plans to turn it into a modified Scout Tee and got as far as making all the modified pattern pieces before I realized I didn’t have nearly enough yardage. And in the end I think that was for the best. I think the big geometric pattern really suits the simple shape of Shirt No. 1!

The pattern is so easy and straightforward, especially for a beginner like me. It was the confidence boost I needed after the last tee I made didn’t quite turn out as planned. There’s definitely room for improvement in my application of bias binding — the neck doesn’t sit as nicely as it could. I think I need to just keep practicing! Overall, I know I’ll wear this top loads and am really happy to have made it up!

The trousers are from the same series, Pants No. 1 (so, obviously this is my Outfit No. 1), and I’m going to be honest, I’m having a hard time containing JUST how excited I am about these. I made a toile for this pattern last summer, which I loved a lot. Then I made a black pair near the end of the summer, which I … loved not at all. (I made silly mistakes, and the black linen I used ended up being a dust magnet and quite see through, and they just didn’t bring me joy.) But now, now I have my perfect pair of Pants No. 1!

I made a size small with a few modifications. I added in-line pockets, because pockets are the best, and added a bit of length to the leg to make them ankle-ish length. I also added an inch to the waistband because I had Elastic Waistband Plans that, by and large, worked out!

You see that? I’m not exaggerating when I say this is possibly my favourite bit of sewing I’ve ever done in my (admittedly short) sewing life. Not that I felt that when I was actually doing the sewing … I think trying to run the elastics through each of those three channels took me longer than all the rest of the pants making combined! But something about the gentle gathers of those three channels of elastics makes me SO happy. I not only find it aesthetically very pleasing, but I find the resulting wider band way more comfy than my previous attempts at elastic waistbands. Overall, I’m a big fan of elastic waistbands, so I’m excited I learned how to make a multi channel one for this project (I used this tutorial, but decided to sew each channel before trying to insert any elastic).

The gorgeous forest green linen is from With This Cloth and I am in love with the color. I’ve had a shop bought pair of olive green trousers for years, but they’ve never fit quite right (too tight out of the wash, too loose after one wear), and they definitely feel too small these days, so I’m really happy to have a me-made version to swap in for them! And because I initially ordered too little fabric to make these and had to order more, I now have lots of this beautiful linen. I’ve already cut out a Willow Tank from some of the remnants that I’ll hopefully make a start on sewing this weekend!

When I cut my shirt and trousers out at the beginning of the month, it didn’t take much imagination to know they’d work together really well. But during one of my snatched thirty minute sewing sessions, it occurred to me that the Evolve Cowl I was working on might actually also pair really well with the outfit. I really love mixing earthy and more neutral colors with really bright pops, and I am loving the vibrant pink with the earthy green and navy. The pattern is the April project from the Confident Knitting programmme (a year’s worth of patterns, each month focuses on a new technique — this month was all about blocking 3D lace) and I’ve knit it up in Dusty Dimples yarn from the Confident Knitting Spring Kit. I loved knitting the pattern … the simple lace kept things just interesting enough, so it really flew off th needles! I made the size small and stopped at round 80, aiming for a small cowl that I’d mostly wear around my neck, rather than pulled over the shoulders as in the pattern photo. But I actually really like the look and feel of it over the shoulders now that I’ve put it on that way. (And full disclosure, I work at A-C Knitwear so I was lucky enough to get the pattern + yarn through my work, but obviously this is my personal blog and own thoughts about the cowl!)

Anyway, I’m really enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling of having (somewhat accidentally) focused on a few projects this month and seen them through from beginning to end. And definitely basking in the empowering glow of making clothes for myself that I want to wear. So I’m feeling really revved up for Me Made May, which I’ve never really taken part in. I’m definitely not at a place to wear all me-made for a month, but I’m going to trying to wear something me-made each day and identifying gaps in my wardrobe that I might be able to fill — I’ve got Sonya Philip’s new Act of Sewing book (I’ve been reading it at bedtime, it’s great!), which will come in handy on that front! And I’m hoping to channel these good finishing feelings into staying focused on the knitting projects I already have on the needles … maybe I’ll even manage to share a bit about those projects here!

Will you be taking part in Me Made May this year? If so, I’d love to hear what your plans + goals are!

Casting Off and Looking Back

There’s a lot to be said for the idea that January 1 is just another day. Too many resolutions can mean unnecessary pressure … and who needs that, especially coming off the back of 2020? That being said, I have definitely felt a different energy the past couple of days that’s manifested in a few ways … doing some reorganizing, tentatively talking about repainting some walls, baking cakes for no reason and, most importantly, thinking about and prioritizing crafting projects for the year. My head’s been full of plans for starting new projects and possible tricks for convincing myself to tackle long-unfinished ones. Maybe it’s the new year, maybe it’s the nice chunk of time off Mr. N and I have had, or maybe (most likely) it’s down to my nearly-fifteen-month-old tot finally (she whispers, hesitantly, hopefully) sleeping through the night. Whatever the reason, I’m embracing this momentum for as long as it sticks around, especially when it brings me something as cheery as my first cast off of 2021!

Continue reading “Casting Off and Looking Back”

Sewing Journal 1: Shirt No. 1

Hello friends! It’s been awhile and all that! How have you been? I’m still knitting whenever I get the chance, but over the past few months I’ve also been playing around with a new hobby: sewing! I’ve really enjoyed the focus and concentration that comes with learning something new, and I thought doing some short sewing journals might be a nice way to document that process and (maybe) revive this space a bit.

Continue reading “Sewing Journal 1: Shirt No. 1”

Five things I learned knitting Bressay (and the finished article)

My Bressay is done. I thought I might never write that sentence! I began this sweater in … April 2019 as a knitalong with my pal Jenni. By the time Willa arrived on the scene in October, the plain portions of the body and sleeves were long done, but the colorwork (which starts before the sleeves and body are joined for the yoke) was nonexistent. And I figured it’d remain that way for quite some time. But I slowly chipped away at it and now, five months after Willa joined the family, the jumper is done. I’m calling that a win! Continue reading “Five things I learned knitting Bressay (and the finished article)”

Continuing Threads

Our little one is four months old (how has that happened?!) and suffice it to say lots about our daily life has changed! Rare is the day, though, that I don’t manage at least a teeny bit of knitting, and even if my progress is much slower, I am really happy that there’s time for a few stitches (what will you think if I tell you that not being able to knit was one of my big anxieties prior to Miss W’s arrival?) Continue reading “Continuing Threads”

Yarnalong: Felix, The Familiars, and This Golden Fleece

Ahoy! I’m hoping to sweep out the cobwebs here (more on that in a later post) and get back to writing at least semi-regularly — and what better way to reenter than with a Yarnalong post!

Knitting: The Felix Cardigan by Amy Christoffers. My mom and I cast these on when she was visiting us and our new arrival a few weeks ago. Progress hasn’t been the fastest (see: new arrival + still working on other projects) but I divided for the sleeves last night and am looking forward to the shorter rows that will bring. I’m not used to using such big needles (knitting on a US 10/ 6 mm) and they’ve been a bit hard on my hands. But, left hand willing, I’m hoping to make enough progress to give this a quick try on today and make sure the fit in the shoulders is good!

I’m knitting this in the called for yarn, Green Mountain Spinnery’s Mountain Mohair, in shade Raven. I really like the deep charcoal and know it’ll be a great wardrobe staple. The single ply 75% wool 25% mohair blend makes a fabric that seems lofty but sturdy. I think it will make for a cardigan that’s warm but not as heavy as you might expect from a garment knit in worsted weight yarn.

Reading: I’ve got two books on the go at the moment. The first is This Golden Fleece, a really interesting combination of personal knitting memoir and Britain’s knitting and woolly history. I’m nearly halfway through, but with it being a hardback, I’m finding it easiest to read when I’m not holding or feeding a little babe — so progress is a bit slow. When I can catch time for a quick soak in the tub, reading a few more pages of this is a real treat!

The second book is The Familiars, historical fiction set in 17th-century Lancaster during the Pendle witch trials. Commemorations of the Pendle witches are everywhere around Lancaster, and I’m really enjoying reading something set where I live! I’m enjoying spending time with the first person narrator, even though the world she inhabits is a bit lonely and sad. Once I start reading it, it’s hard to put down … luckily, Mr N got me a Kindle for my birthday which makes it ever so much easier to read while breastfeeding!

Head on over the original Yarnalong to see what other knitters are working on and reading this week!

Finished Object: Southwell Cardigan

Hi friends, and happy weekend!  Today, I’m really happy to be sharing a finished object that’s been a long time in the making …. it’s my finished Southwell Cardigan!

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The Southwell Cardigan made it’s first appearance on the blog … let’s see … over 2 years ago! I was living in Philadelphia and had flown home to my parents for a little visit, and my mom and I cast these on together!

On and off progress continued on Southwell the following summer when I was in LA (including a bit of cardigan surgery), but by the time I arrived in Lancaster in late August, with temperatures already cool, I put the lightweight cardigan aside, thinking it wouldn’t be needed before the following spring.  And thus it was consigned to my heap of unfinished objects.

Then, spring did in fact come, and the cardi sat no nearer completion, I fished it out again, thinking what a great wardrobe staple it’d be through the British summer. I picked up collar stitches, I started a sleeve, I made plans to get the buttonband finished.  But once again, autumn came, the cardigan wasn’t done, and back to to the UFO bin it went.

Fast forward to this spring, a day or two before EYF.  My Threipmuir was fresh off the needles (yay!), and I found myself without a simple project to take for social knitting at EYF and remembered I was part way through a sleeve of my Southwell! So the cardigan came with me to the festival, and one sleeve got done. Then I packed it for my trip to the US and returned with only button bands to be done. By that point, not even my dislike of picking up stitches (or sewing on buttons) could stand in the way of finishing.

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And I have to say, I’m so glad I did.  I’ve worn this cardigan nearly every day since I finished it. The pattern is Southwell Cardigan by Marie Green, knit in Sherwood Yarns Bluefaced Leicester Sock in shade Holly Blue.  I think it was easy to keep shoving this aside as I’d started to wonder whether I liked this color, and the knitting wasn’t particularly exciting.  But now that it’s done, I’m really enjoying having a simple lightweight cardigan in my handmade wardrobe and have also been pleasantly surprised with how well the color, which is a bit out of my normal palette, fits in with the rest of my wardrobe.

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The cardigan is a great fit around the shoulders, but the knot in my overalls is making a funny bulge in this picture! 

I knit size 36 of this cardigan, and ended up using less than three skeins of yarn.  I knit this top down, raglan cardigan pattern (from what I can remember) pretty much as written.  Since I picked it up and put it down over, ahem, two years, there was a certain amount of guesswork getting things like sleeves to match up. I did alter the button band slightly. Following advice from Jen Arnall-Culliford, I picked up every stitch of the button band on the first row, then decreased down as needed.  I found that the suggested pick up rate of 9 out of 10 stitches gave me a button band that flared out, so decreased to something between 3 out of every 4 or 4 out of every 5.

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Before I sign off, I just want to take a final moment to celebrate the little buttons that grace this cardigan. Before we left Los Angeles, Mr. N and I took a trip over to West Hollywood to The Button Store, without a doubt the most impressive button shop I’ve ever been in.  I had several projects that would need buttons in what I thought was the near future, including this cardi, and the formidable woman who ran the place came out with drawer upon drawer of buttons to fit the bill.  I chose these little milled Italian buttons, and while I had a bit of a shock when we rang up my button purchases (I’ve never before or since paid so much for buttons — and I hadn’t thought to ask the price!), I have to say I am so pleased with how they look on the cardigan.  If you find yourself in Los Angeles and on the hunt for very nice buttons, I definitely recommend a visit (just please don’t tell the owner I used yarn to sew these on — she categorically forbade me from doing it, but I lost the spool of coordinating thread I got on the same visit!)

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Thanks, as always, for stopping by, and I hope you have a lovely weekend with a bit of knitting planned!

xo K