Posted on | February 17, 2014 | 1 Comment
I feel so accomplished this weekend! I finally started my Ravellenics project (more on that later) and I finished up my Stasis Pullover. With all of my updates about sewing lately, I hope you didn’t think I forgot about my knitting completely!
I can’t tell you enough how very, very happy I am with this project. It had been in my queue for awhile and when I was down at Loop in Philadelphia for a booksigning last September, I was more than happy to take some of this gorgeous Brooklyn Tweed Loft home with me.
The yarn was slightly delicate, but knit up into such a nice, stable fabric with a beautiful drape and hand. Sometimes when you block a yarn that has a nice drape, it gets away from you a bit when it is wet. Not this yarn. The sweater behaved very well, going right into place like a good little girl.
The knitting was simple, yet engaging. The fairisle pattern was simple to memorize, although I tended to get ahead of myself and miss the last row of a few sections for some reason. Thank goodness for duplicate stitch!
I only made a few minor modifications to the pattern. I changed the bottom rib trim to 2″ instead of 1″ and made the body about 2″ longer. I also made the sleeves about 1 1/2″ longer. I probably would have been fine adding a little less to the sleeve length, but I like cozy sweaters with long sleeves. With these mods, I did end up needing an extra skein of yarn (or at least part of one), thankfully Purl Soho carries it here in NYC and saved the day!
Posted on | February 15, 2014 | No Comments
Eureka! I have finally managed to perfect the fit of the sleeve! My muslin is finally complete after three weeks of fussing and I couldn’t be happier.
Other than the sleeve, there weren’t too many other adjustments that needed to be made. I let out the hips slightly, nipped in the shoulders, and added some waist shaping. Easy peasy compared to the sleeve ordeal.
On Friday, I headed over to Mood and Beckenstein Fabrics to purchase my wool and lining. For the main body of the coat, I purchased a heavier weight wool coating from Marc Jacobs in a pretty purple/burgundy color. The color looked a little brighter in the store, so I’m glad I got a swatch on my first trip and brought it out into the daylight to see the true color.
Even though I am sewing the shorter version of the coat, I decided I still wanted a lining. The pattern called for a cotton flannel and I wanted a nice, interesting colored plaid. Do you know how hard it is to find good options for cotton flannel? Surprisingly difficult! If I didn’t work and live near some fabulous fabric stores, I probably would have had to settle for a black coat with red buffalo plaid lining. Not that anything is wrong with such a classic combination, I just wanted something a little more off beat. Technically, I didn’t even end up with a flannel, but it’s still a really gorgeous plaid that matches well with the main fabric.
Next up I will need to preshrink my fabric and finish up my lining pattern. From there, it should be pretty easy sailing!
Posted on | February 5, 2014 | No Comments
After almost giving up on my coat project two days ago, I think I’m close to solving my sleeve problem. Last night I did a victory round on my Stasis Pullover after I drafted my third attempt at a well fitting sleeve. I may be writing about nothing but sewing lately, but of course I haven’t given up my knitting!
I’ve been pouring over all of my sewing reference books, Craftsy fitting videos, and the internet for any and all solutions. When you start off with a pattern drafted for a man and try to put a petite woman in it, there are bound to be a few challenges to overcome. When I was in school, these fitting problems didn’t exist. There were slopers and draped muslins on dress forms with the tiniest waists you have ever seen. Everything always fit perfect and the forms didn’t move! I however, need to move and I’m not about to spend a fortune on good wool until this muslin is perfect.
Tonight I took out my old notebooks from my draping and pattern making classes at FIT. I used to be so organized, and I’m glad I was! There is so much information in this book that is invaluable, two years worth of pinning, drafting, cutting, and sewing. My life was so much easier then, I just didn’t know it! It’s amazing how much I’ve forgotten, and I’m really excited to be picking pattern drafting and sewing up again.
So it’s onward and upward. Hopefully I’ll have a very nice fitting muslin to show you in my next update.
Posted on | February 3, 2014 | 1 Comment
I finally had some free time this weekend, sans husband, to spread all of my muslin and pattern paper all over the floor and make a mess of the place. I vaguely remember now, that one of the reasons I don’t sew too much anymore, is how hard it is crawling along on the floor in your small living room cutting out pattern pieces.
Now that reality has set in, I’m going to have to work doubly hard on this goal of mine for 2014. Attempting to sew a wardrobe with space constraints is not exactly motivating. This is another reason why I love knitting so much, it’s portable and doesn’t take up much space (unless you have a huge stash, but who’s counting.)
My progress was a bit slow this weekend. I managed to cut out my muslin for the main body and sew it together. Since this coat is cut for a man, I made a few adjustments to the shoulders and added a little bit of waist shaping. Nothing major. The next step was to fit the sleeve. I knew that it would be too big for my little arms, so I modified the pattern before cutting out the muslin. The adjustment I worked keeps the length of the sleeve cap seam the same, so no adjustments would be needed on the armhole. (Photo of adjustment is at the top of the post.)
After manipulating several layers of paper that did not want to lay flat, I cut out the muslin for the modified sleeve and sewed it onto the coat. By this point I was a little tired, so I probably should have stopped while I was ahead. I will admit, my sewing was a little sloppy, but the sleeve did not look good at all. There were new drag lines in the front of the sleeve and the cuff was too tight. So much for being proactive and making pattern adjustments ahead of time!
I quickly ripped out the seam (thank goodness for basting stitches), made length adjustments to the original sleeve pattern and will attempt sleeve two tonight. The thing that I need to remember most during this project is sewing takes a lot more patience than knitting and I need to be kind to myself for being a little out of practice.
Posted on | January 29, 2014 | No Comments
One of my goals this year is to make more of my own clothing. While I’m quite covered in the sweater area, my sewing has taken the back seat for the last 12 years. While attending FIT, I loved sewing. I made all sorts of things from leggings to tailored jackets complete with leopard lining.
This year, I am going to try and get back to my sewing roots by following along with The Coletterie to put together a wardrobe that suits me and hopefully will be partially handmade. It’s funny, even though I work in the fashion industry, I hate going shopping for myself. I guess part of it is due to the fact that I know what things cost. I know all the little secrets behind the scenes. I also know that not all companies are interested in a workers welfare. Unfortunately, because of the way the supply chain works, not even the retailers actually know where their clothing comes from all of the time. Fast fashion is all about price and the more we buy, the less they care.
I have been known to walk into a store, grab a big handful of clothes, and then walk out empty handed. Sometimes it’s because the fit is dreadful. But more often than not, I can’t bring myself to pay for things that are so poorly made. And with designer clothing being well out of my budget, this doesn’t leave me with too many options.
For me, this journey will be about perfecting my style in a conscious way, only purchasing things I really need. If I can’t make as much as I would like (which will most likely be the case), Buffalo Exchange will fill in the gaps. Buying second hand reduces the guilt factor for me, and while it doesn’t solve the problem 100%, it allows me to at least purchase higher quality designer clothing for a much more affordable price.
The first project I will be tackling for the year is Albion, a unisex duffle coat. Coats are a particularly sore subject for me. They are never warm enough, cost too much considering the quality, and I usually swim in them. I hope to hit up Mood at lunch over the next day or two for some fabric shopping. My plan is to find a nice teal colored wool and a fun contrasting lining fabric.
If you’d like to know more about the Wardrobe Architect, you can check it out on the Colette blog. Even if you don’t sew, the questionnaires may help lead you to pare down your wardrobe, eliminate impulse purchases, and help build a style of your very own, irregardless of trends.
Posted on | January 19, 2014 | No Comments
Last weekend I spent most of my time in the most amazing class at Vogue Knitting Live, The Basic Techniques of Couture Knitting with Catherine Lowe. It’s not a secret that I am a very technical minded knitter, so for me, this class was truly a mind blowing experience.
Catherine has developed a special set of techniques that solve and perfect many knitting dilemmas. No detail is too small to her expert eye, even the humble slip knot has been reworked to her exact specifications.
We learned a tremendous amount about blocking, swatching, selvages, buttonholes, joining seams, picking up stitches, and two cast-ons; tubular and a modified long-tail. These may sound like simple topics, but when you dig deeper and really examine knitting structure, these techniques sometimes verge on the academic.
While some of the techniques we learned are not necessarily for every day use, Catherine explained why she felt it was necessary for them to exist. In garment construction, the dressmaker has many techniques to choose from. For example, a seam can be finished with pinking shears, a ser ger, A French seam, or binding. However, for knitting, there aren’t many finishing choices available. Creating these special techniques has now given knitters finishing options that can elevate your knitted garments to a whole other level.
The technique pictured in this post is a binding technique of sorts. In the machine knitting world, we would call this tubular jersey, but I’m not really sure what it would be called in the hand knit world. Obviously, if this were to be worked on a project, it would continue all the way around the piece edge that needed to be bound. Also pictured in this swatch (tiny contrast line in upper left hand corner) demonstrated Catherine’s joinery technique. Instead of working seams with a mattress stitch, she actually joins the two edges together with knitting.
I have owned Catherine’s journals for many years now, but until I had taken this class, I never fully realized each technique’s full potential. I am excited to start incorporating these techniques into my personal knitting projects, and enjoying the results applying this knowledge will bring to my craft.
If you’d like to know more about Catherine and her yarns, check out her website: catherine-lowe.com. At the time of writing this post, her website seemed to be down. It’s certainly worth coming back at a later time to check it out.
Posted on | January 14, 2014 | No Comments
It’s been awhile, but I’m back! Sometimes keeping this little old blog going is more than I can handle in my busy schedule. There is so much I want to say, but there never seems to be enough time to say it. I haven’t even had the time to say it in 140 characters either. Such a sad state of affairs over here!
My full time job has been keeping me rather busy over the last few months. By the time I get home, I’m too exhausted to do much else except to prepare dinner. My creative endeavors have been suffering quite a bit and it’s starting to really affect me. Creating is what I do, and if I’m not making things, I get a little down.
So this year, I am making a concerted effort to create something every day. No matter how busy or crazy the day has been, I will strive to carve out at least a few minutes of my day, everyday, to enjoy what I love. It’s not so much a resolution, but a solution to brighten up a busy day spent in front of a computer screen and under fluorescent lights.
I’ve started off the year on a good foot and it seems that my knitting mojo has finally returned. I picked up some Brooklyn Tweed Loft when I visited Loop in Philadelphia last September for the Stasis Pullover. It’s a meditative project that has reminded me once again why I love knitting so much.
There hasn’t been much designing in the works however. I completed a small project for Knitscene, but haven’t had large enough chunks in my schedule to commit to much else. I know it’s about making time, but I think I’ll settle for creating for myself for a little while. Right now, it just seems like designing would add too much to my already full plate, and I can accept that. If I’m not enjoying it, then there isn’t much of a point.
So this year I vow to knit, sew, craft, and cook more. Here’s to a year of making!
Posted on | October 15, 2013 | No Comments
I’m busy making last minute preparations, charging up the camera, and packing way too many knitting projects! This year, I’m taking my first Rhinebeck class on natural dyeing. I’ve always been interested in learning more about natural dyeing and having the chance to take a full day intensive class is pretty awesome!
I will also be signing copies of Metropolitan Knits in the Merritt Bookstore area in Building B on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am – 11:30am. If you’ll be at the festival, come by, check out the book, and say hi! And if you happen to be wearing a project you made from the book, or from any of my patterns, please come by to show it off! I love seeing your beautiful finished projects.
Posted on | September 29, 2013 | No Comments
I just finished up the first leg of my book tour this past weekend in Chatham, NJ at The Stitching Bee. What a wonderful group of ladies! In fact, everywhere I have been on tour has been a pleasure. The tour has given me a reason to go to new places and explore yarn shops that wouldn’t normally be on my beaten path. It has been so nice getting to know the employees and owners at each shop a little better. Meeting their loyal, yarn loving customers has also been wonderful. Over the next few months, I hope to meet even more of you! I hope you will stop by to see me at one of the events below! (Rhinebeck anyone?)
My next signing won’t be until November 2nd, but my samples will be on display at Knitty City for most of October. I just dropped the samples off on my way home and they should be out for display over the next few days. This also means they will be available for the 5th Annual NYC Yarn Crawl happening on October 5th and 6th. If you missed me at Knitty City last week, I hope you will pop by to see the samples in person! In November, I’ll be visiting Pins and Needles in Princeton, NJ and then my samples will be on view for a trunk show at Webs (!) a few weeks before I head up to Massachusetts for a signing.
Trunk Show: October 1 – 31Knitty City 208 West 79th Street NY, NY 10024
Saturday October 19th and Sunday October 20th 10:30 am – 11:30am both daysNew York State Sheep and Wool Festival Building B (Merritt Bookstore Author’s area) The Duchess County Fairgrounds 6550 Spring Brook Ave Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Saturday, November 2nd 1pmPins and Needles 8 Chambers Street Princeton, NJ
Sunday, December 1st 2:00pm – 4pmWEBS 75 Service Center Rd
Northampton, MA 01060
Posted on | September 25, 2013 | 1 Comment
This project has been a tough one to keep under wraps, but I’m so excited to be able to finally share this with you!
I was honored to be contacted by Ysolda to design a sweater for her newest project, The Rhinebeck Sweater almost 2 years ago. Even though I was in full book knitting mode, I knew this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.
Preparing for and attending the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck is one of those special trips that I look forward to all year long. It’s a time to take a trip upstate, get lost in the beautiful scenery and changing leaves, pet some sheep, and purchase some fantastic yarn and goodies. It’s also a time to relax and catch up with good friends. Rhinebeck is also the perfect time to show off a new sweater.
Mulberry Street started off as a little textured swatch. Just a simple knit and purl texture pattern that reminds me of a waffle stitch or less involved shaker rib. I was experimenting with combining two yarns together, a worsted weight wool and a hand dyed lace weight yarn. When worked together, they made an interesting marled fabric that complimented the texture stitch well.
For the actual sweater, I wanted it to be unfussy, interesting to knit, and be fun to wear. I also wanted it to be warm. There is nothing that spoils the triumph of finishing your Rhinebeck sweater the night before the festival than having to wear a jacket because your sweater isn’t quite warm enough (I like fine hand knits, what can I say!)
The warmth was provided with a mix of yarns from The Verdant Gryphon. The main yarn is Mondegreen, a luxurious mix of Blue Faced Leicester wool, baby camel, and silk. The contrasting lace weight yarn is Mithril, a superfine merino. Both of these yarns combine beautifully and were a pleasure to work with.
For the design of the sweater, I took a break from my obsession with seams and went with a seamless construction. With the thicker, textured fabric, I felt seaming would be unnecessary and working in the round for most of the way would speed up the process slightly. I also love working a decorative raglan “seam” at the armholes whenever the pattern allows.
While the texture stitch, yarn, and raglan details all come together to create a nice sweater design, I wanted a little more from my perfect Rhinebeck sweater. Enter the back cut out detail.
I really love a nicely placed back detail! I found a special dress with a cut out back for the photoshoot, which provided a little bit of air conditioning for the cool crisp morning. However, on a normal day, I would wear my nice collared button down shirt underneath (which just happens to match the lace yarn color perfectly). I could also layer with a comfy t-shirt as well.
For more details about The Rhinebeck Sweater, Mulberry Street size and yarn info, and how to place a pre-order, check out the look book on Ysolda’s site here.Previous Entries »