Posted on | March 1, 2015 | 5 Comments
Hello, my lovelies! If you’re in the Northeast, I hope you’re surviving the frigid weather we’re having by knitting tons of warm woolens. I have to say, there is nothing like bitter cold to charge up the knitting mojo. I’ve been on a bit of a roll since January and between trying to knit like the wind and participating in the Year of Making, I haven’t been very good keeping up with writing about everything. Instagram is just too darn easy and I’ve been lazy.
Without further ado, I present my first finished sweater of 2015 (well, the first that I can show you anyway)!
Ondawa by Michele Wang
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Fossil
Needles: US size 8 & 7 (I used the 7’s to knit two rows at the start of the rib. I felt it would help keep the edge neat and tidy)
I actually started this sweater back in November, thinking that I could complete it for National Knit a Sweater Month. Well, I guess it wasn’t cold enough back then to motivate myself to knit faster. Once I picked it back up at the end of January, I pretty much flew through the rest of the knitting. The back had been completed previously. The front was knit in about a week and the sleeves over 2 days.
I decided to make the sweater about 1 1/2″ longer than what the pattern called for. It’s still on the shorter side, measuring 19″ long, but when you have a boxier body like this, personally I think making it too long makes it look frumpy. Also, when the neck is wider, the body can be a little shorter without looking too short. That’s a tough one to explain, you’ll just have to trust me on that one!
The body and sleeve are knit in the smallest size. What’s great about this pattern though, is that it’s a big box that the sleeves are inserted to. If your muscle is a little larger or smaller than your bust size, not a problem, just choose whichever size works for you. I was a little worried that the smallest sleeves would be too small. They were SO TINY before blocking! But in my experience with Shelter, the piece will grow and bloom once washed and blocked. Also, the twisted rib and cables will relax making the fabric a little wider.
Ondawa was really fun to knit, the cable patterns weren’t that complicated, and I was able to memorize them after the first repeat or two. It’s rated a 4 out of 5, but I think if you are an adventurous knitter who has done a little cabling along the way, it shouldn’t be too hard for you. Plus, the front and back panels are straight. No worrying about shaping in pattern. The sleeves are shaped, but the twisted rib is worked up both sides. It’s not to hard to keep in pattern when it’s essentially 1×1 rib.
Final verdict? I love, love, love this sweater. It’s really comfortable to wear and it goes great with my high waisted Ginger Jeans (which I’m wearing in these photos). I probably should have gotten some better photos of the jeans while I had the hubby around, but I was in a bit of a rush. I promise one of these days I’ll show them off better in all their jeany glory. Maybe when we finally get some warmer weather.
What have you been knitting for yourself (or loved ones) to keep warm for the winter? Did the weather bring your knitting mojo back as well?
Posted on | January 27, 2015 | No Comments
New York City doesn’t slow down very often, or for that matter, come to a complete standstill. A travel ban has been imposed and subway service has been suspended due to winter storm Juno, although as I write, things are slowly coming back to a slow trickle.
As a crafter, I’ll take it! Being stuck in my apartment for a day or two fills me with excitement. There is so much I want to work on and the biggest issue is always what to work on first. Having a unexpected day off from work must be used to its full potential. You won’t find any Netflix marathons going on here.
The office closed early yesterday and I used the extra time to start on my Watson bra. I managed to get most of it constructed in only a few hours, it went together pretty smoothly. Sadly, I won’t be able to finish it today since I wasn’t able to purchase a back hook closure last Friday. The only thing I was able to find in the garment center was a hook tape that I could cut to size. It just seemed unprofessional to me, so I passed. After doing some searching, it looks like that might be my only choice. How can that be garment center? I am disappointed in you!
Besides bra making, there has been a bunch of other stuff going on this month. I decided to participate in the year of making and have been documenting it with a photo a day on Instagram. I also finished my Ginger Jeans. I’ve had the post written up for a few weeks, but it’s been so cold, it’s hard getting motivated to take photos. I will show them off here as soon as I get some photos, promise.
And then there was Vogue Knitting Live, which I missed most of. I collapsed in a feverish stupor on Saturday and didn’t make it outside again until the following Tuesday. I did managed to make my class on Friday morning and make it to the marketplace that night to buy vintage buttons. I took a darning class with John Brinegar so I could finally learn how to repair my knits. One day, I would love to take a class with Tom of Holland, the king of visible mending. Man, that would be awesome.
So what are you doing on your snow day, if you were lucky enough to have one?
Posted on | December 22, 2014 | 1 Comment
I did it! I’m down to the last few days of 2014 and I have not purchased one new piece of clothing this year. To be fair, I’m not much of a clotheshorse, even though I work in fashion. Shopping doesn’t really excite me, so this project was a bit easier for me.
Even though it wasn’t much of a challenge to keep out of the stores, that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything from my journey. I learned that I can make due with much less than I thought. Not once did I mutter the words, “I have nothing to wear.” This project also taught me that I can’t replace fast fashion with fast sewing/knitting. I had so many plans! I was going to make a ton of new things for myself!
Well, that didn’t happen. The reason why it didn’t happen had to do with more than just running out of time. With each make, I found myself taking the time to really analyze my fabric choice and fit. Knitting took a bit of a back seat in the whole process. One reason was I had a fairly large selection to pull from already. The second was I was still on a bit of a knitting hiatus.
Fit is a big one for me. I think the number one reason I can’t bring myself to shop in stores is because I am VERY critical when it comes to fit. I have a petite build and clothes don’t always fit me properly. I don’t care how amazing the garment looks on the hanger, if there is strange pulling or wrinkles happening, it’s not coming home with me. One of my biggest goals this year was to finally learn how to fit garments properly. Funny enough, this wasn’t really something that was taught in fashion school.
I spent my year pouring over Craftsy classes and books, making personal slopers, and starting at myself for 8,956 hours in the mirror. I’m finally starting to learn what all of the pulls, wrinkles, and gathers mean and how to fit them. It’s a process and I hope to build on my fit education in the coming year (woohoo! bras!)
As of right now, I don’t have any expectations, restrictions or goals for 2015. I might relax my shopping ban just in case I see a quality piece I really, really love. From here on out, it’s about quality, not quantity. For the moment, I’m just enjoying building a wardrobe that is unique to me all while enjoying the process. Isn’t that what’s important in the end?
Thank you so much for following along with me this year! I especially thank everyone who comes to my corner of the world looking for knitting progress and stuck with me throughout the sewing process! Thank you for all for each and every one of your comments and lovely notes throughout the year, they really mean a lot to me!
I wish all of you happy holiday and a prosperous New Year! See you in 2015!
Posted on | November 18, 2014 | 6 Comments
Wool people is a semi-annual collection of knitwear designs by guest designers curated by Brooklyn Tweed. I could probably wax poetic about BT for days, but I’m sure you already understand what I mean. The photographs! The styling! The designs! Not to mention the yarns. Today I write not only to tell you that Wool People 8 is now available, but that I have a design included in the collection. You guys have no idea how hard it’s been to keep this under my hat!
Eaves from Wool People 8
Eaves may seem like a simple sweater to the casual observer. However, it is composed of some carefully placed details that not only make for a classic, highly wearable sweater, but a interesting knitting experience as well.
One of my favorite things about designing with Brooklyn Tweed yarns is the shared color pallet between Shelter and Loft. It opens up so many design possibilities with regard to mixing gauges. For this design, I kept it simple. I love the way the skinnier Loft looks with the chunkier Shelter ribbed trims.
The slanted stripe detail at the shoulder adds a nice little twist to an otherwise simple pencil stripe. The short rows also simultaneously help shape the armhole curve and shoulder slope. I love a detail that not only looks interesting, but is functional as well.
For more info about Wool People 8 and to see the other designs, make sure you check out the beautifully photographed lookbook. If you would like to knit your very own Eaves, the pattern can be purchased directly from Brooklyn Tweed or on Ravelry.
Posted on | November 9, 2014 | 8 Comments
For years, I have resisted the siren call of spinning. I had too much on my plate with designing and just couldn’t afford to give any of my time away to one more hobby. I used every excuse in the book. It takes too long to spin yarn. Why spin it when you can buy it. I can’t afford a wheel and I HATE spindles. I live in a NYC apartment, I can’t possibly fit a fleece in here!
Well, it seems that I have succumbed to the wheel. Hard.
It all started when I got this great idea on the drive up to Rhinebeck. My friend and I had taken a spinning class together at Brooklyn General about 3 years ago. She stuck with it and I did not. While I was trying to ignore the wheel, she was busy taking classes, buying up a closet full of fleeces, and just might have had an extra wheel I could work on. I thought it would be a great idea to buy a fleece and she could walk me through the steps required to process it and help me a little with my spinning. I think she was secretly waiting patiently for this day to come.
So I bought a fleece! I purchased a 5 pound natural grey Border Leicester/Corriedale cross. What does 5 pounds of fleece look like? Like this. It took up just about all of the available floor space in my living room.
If you follow me on instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen some of my progress already. So far, I’ve managed to wash a bit of fiber (In my bathtub! With a kitty litter pan!), learned how to card, made a huge pile of rolags, and have spun up two very uneven, but tolerable skeins of yarn.
I have to say, it’s quite a process to turn a greasy sheep into some beautiful yarn! My goal is to turn this fleece into a sweater quantity or two of yarn. I say go big or go home! This means that I need to practice up on my consistency skills, and most importantly, not get discouraged in the process. It’s hard learning something new and the frustration of it not being perfect is a hard hurdle to overcome. I have to accept this and just enjoy the process, especially the experimentation side. I’ve found over time that I don’t allow myself enough time to experiment – whether it be with my sewing or knitting or selecting a new book to read. Since my time is precious, I just want to get right to it. I don’t want to waste time on a project that might fail, try a technique that might not work out, or pick up a book that might not be good. Honestly, this can be absolutely paralyzing! I end up not starting at all, the yarn sits instead of becoming a sweater, there are piles of fabric everywhere, and good books to read that I’m missing out on.
Maybe spinning will help me to let go of this irrational fear I have of failure. Some of our worst mistakes can also be our most important learning experiences! Is this something you have experienced with your crafting as well? If so, how have you overcome it?
Posted on | October 26, 2014 | 7 Comments
Bedford was a nice, easy project to bring me back into the world of knitting. After analyzing my wardrobe over the past few months, I realized I was in serious need of some comfy, cozy pullovers in my wardrobe and this pullover fit the bill.
I knit Bedford up in the suggested yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Snowbound. All of Jared’s colors are beautiful, but I can’t seem to get past his fantastic heather grey pallet! My friend Kathryn will tell you that when shopping for yarn, heather grey is my downfall every. single. time.
I only made a few fit modifications to the pattern. The body is knit 1″ longer and I cast-on fewer stitches for the sleeves. Since I’m on the petite side, the cuff and muscle proportions need to be just right so I don’t look overwhelmed by the sweater. I did make a silly mistake though that ended up with me re-knitting the yoke. When I modified the cuff CO numbers, I looked at the wrong set of final numbers for the muscle, therefore I ended up with 10 less stitches than I wanted. I didn’t notice until I had BO for the neck and tried it on for the first time. It fit, but the upper raglan sleeve area was a little tight. Rip, rip, rip! I kept the smaller muscle (I have my limits) and reworked the decreases for the raglan. Perfect!
When knitting the sleeves, I also worked them inside out up to the join so I could knit in the round instead. I’m not a fan of working purl stitches in the round, especially since my purl stitches tend to be a little looser than my knits. Also, it’s much faster! When I got to the yoke join, I just flipped each sleeve right side out and continued with purl stitches. Easy.
My gauge was a little off from the pattern, but when I tried a smaller needle, the resulting stitch did not look nice and my gauge was too tight. A nice looking stitch was more important than getting gauge, so I went with it. I knit a large gauge swatch and wet blocked, but of course I forgot to take my pre-block gauge (shame on me!). I knit up the 34 1/2″ size and ended up blocking it out to 36″, which is about 3″ of positive ease. In this case, I wanted the body of the sweater to grow a bit, so all ended well.
I absolutely love my new sweater! It’s been finished for a week and I think I’ve worn it three times already. Plus, heather grey goes with everything. Total win!
Posted on | October 22, 2014 | No Comments
What can I say that hasn’t been said before? The weekend was awesome. It was even more awesome that I didn’t have any commitments this year. I could wander at will without a schedule to follow and actually got to sleep in on Sunday morning for the first time in a few years!
This year started off like the last few, in line first thing for a Jennie the Potter mug. This years theme? Dinosaurs in sweaters. Awesome.
The next task involved the fleece sale. With the help and knowledge of my friend Kathryn, I secured a nice Border Leicester/Corriedale cross in a pretty grey. Rolling this five pound fleece out in my small living room is going to be comical! I should have enough for a sweater or two along with room for error. I haven’t spun much in the last year and am not quite as consistent as I would like. It’s going to be quite a journey, but I’m really excited!
The rest of the weekend was spent securing necessities (more Soak anyone?), visiting with adorable sheep, and eating more than my share of lamb sandwiches and apple cider donuts. The line for the donuts was a little insane this year, did the secret finally get out how awesome they are?
And finally, it was nice to catch up with old friends and meet a few new ones as well. There really is nothing quite like Rhinebeck weekend and I love my knitting community! 2015 can’t come soon enough.
Posted on | October 14, 2014 | 1 Comment
Today I have a special guest on the blog, Alexis Winslow, author of Graphic Knits: 20 Designs in Bold Beautiful Color. Alexis’ book demonstrates not only her superb knitting and design skills, but also her love of color and graphics. I first discovered Alexis when she published the Delancey Cardigan, which not only had strong graphic elements, but also was very cleverly constructed. It’s been interesting watching her come into her own as a knitwear designer these last few years and getting to know her as a friend. Welcome Alexis!
MW: Can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself and how you learned how to knit?
AW: I’m originally from Norman, Oklahoma and moved to New York City in 2007. Now I live in Brooklyn and have a wonderful day-job working as a printed textile designer. When I’m not at work I spend every possible spare moment designing knitting patterns and writing about it on my blog, KnitDarling.com
I taught myself to knit from some very crude directions I found on the Internet when I was about 16. I began creating my own knitwear designs about 10 seconds after that! At that point, I was already very into sewing, and created a lot of my own clothing, so knitting was just another interesting tool for expressing myself through fashion.
MW: Many of your previous designs have a bold graphic element to them. At the beginning of the book planning process, did you know this would be your focus?
AW: Well, no. I actually had no idea what the book’s focus would be until after my proposal was accepted! Basically, my idea was to create a well rounded book that any knitter could pick up and find something they were excited to make. So I tried to stay true to my own knitting desires and only included things I really wanted to knit– things that represented my own personal style. I worked with an acquisitions editor at Interweave who looked everything over, and came up with the working title “Graphic Knits,” which ended up sticking.
MW: I’m always interested in how other designers organize their design ideas in the book planning process. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like to plan 20 designs for Graphic Knits? (For example, did yarn or sketches come first? How did you decide on a color pallet and yarns? Were all designs set from the beginning or did you add and change as you went? Were there any designs that were dropped because they just didn’t work?)
AW: I always begin with a sketch. Sketching new ideas is one of my very favorite parts of the process. I bet I did a hundred or more little quick sketches of design ideas for this book. After doing a few rough sketches of an idea, I’d make a nice drawing of a person wearing the garment to put into a proposal plate. The plates were basically a collage of info with supporting images of yarn, swatches, or possible colorways. I made at least 40 plates for the book, and picked the strongest 30 for my proposal.
Sketching is one of my strongest skills and I really rely on it to inform my design choices later in the process. I get a pretty good idea about how I want the fabric to behave from my sketches, which helps me decide about yarn. Though of course color is very important, it almost always comes last for me. I usually pick yarn first, then see what the best colors are in that line. Of course I also wanted variety in the book, so I thought about that too. I actually tried to start the book with a palette, but that quickly went out the window!
After I signed my contract, I had a year to write the patterns and knit all the samples. I didn’t order all my yarn at the beginning. Instead, I tried to think ahead a few designs, and ordered yarn along the way. This kept me excited about the book project as a whole, and also left room to add a few new designs along the way. My proposal had 30 designs, and I could pick 20 for the book. Somewhere in the middle, I had a few new ideas that I just had to include, the Danae mittens, the Trilogy Cardigan, and the Germander Shrug.
MW: Do you have a favorite project from the book?
AW: Maybe Laszlo or Trilogy. I also really love the Woodstar Hat and Mitts set. It’s too hard to pick!
MW: Color work can be rather intimidating to someone who has never tried it before. Are there any projects from the book that you could recommend to a color work newbie?
AW: I’m glad you asked about this, because it gives me the chance to talk about the design you knitted the sample for, the Sweetness Pullover. This pullover features a cute polka dot Fair Isle pattern around the shoulders. I think stranded color-work is easiest when it’s worked in large rounds, in memorizable repeating patterns. Sweetness has all those attributes.
I have a hard time relinquishing control of my sample knitting, but this pattern was straightforward enough that I had no worries. Of course you did a beautiful job, and also saved my butt, so I am eternally grateful!
MW: If you could spend one hour with a well known knitter (past or present), who would it be and why?
AW: Elizabeth Zimmerman, because duh?! She’s the first famous designer I ever knew. For the first 10 years of my knitting life, her book, Knitting Without Tears, was like my bible. She was so innovative for her time. I’d be curious to know what she’d think about we modern knitters. Also, she seems like a fun lady to share a drink with!
For those of you going to Rhinebeck this upcoming weekend, Alexis will be signing copies of her book in Building B from 9-5 Saturday and 10-5 Sunday. Make sure you check out her book and say hi!
By Alexis Winslow
Posted on | October 6, 2014 | 1 Comment
On Saturday night, I went to the opening party for Gauge x Tension, a fine yarn pop-up in Greenpoint. I had such a good time!
GxT is run by Michele and Melissa and will only be open on Saturday and Sunday right up until the week before Christmas. Except for the weekend of Rhinebeck. because well, Rhinebeck!
The shop was cozy and well curated with unusual yarns that I haven’t seen on my usual travels. Some of the yarns include Tanis Fiber Arts, Western Sky Knits, Sleep Season Goods, and Jones and Vandermeer. Brooklyn Tweed and Quince were also well represented. It was nice to see Quince Owl in person, it’s not what I thought a wool/alpaca blend would look like at all. And was lovely, of course.
GxT is also carrying a bit of roving and Catherine Lowe notions, of which I picked up a box of knitting pins. I am a knitting pin convert ever since taking Catherine’s class at VK Live last year.
I found 7 skeins of BT Shelter in Fossil that wanted to come home with me to make Michele’s Ondawa. I can’t wait to get started, but have to finish Bedford first. Perhaps I will start swatching on my commute since Bedford is in that awkward, too big to carry around stage. It also happens to be in the “I’m Mad at It” stage. It’s my own stupid fault. I was too lazy to get up out of bed and grab two more stitch markers and ended up decreasing on the wrong stitch. It was on the back and I’m sure no one would ever notice, but I would know. That’s enough reason to rip for me. So rip, rip, rip back to the join it went and markers were added. Anywho.
If you’re in the NYC area, I highly recommend checking Gauge + Tension out while it’s around. Unfortunately it won’t be around for long!
Gauge x Tension
110 Meserole Ave
Sat 11am – 7pm / Sun 11am – 6pm
Posted on | October 2, 2014 | 2 Comments
I’ve been knitting! Aren’t you proud of me?
It really has been forever since I’ve posted a sweater project here. I think the last one I finished was…….I can’t even remember the name! I think it was back in January.
I started working on Hane while I was in Florida and when I returned I immediately cast on for Bedford. Not only am I back to knitting, but I have TWO projects on the needles! Although I will admit that Hane has taken the back seat to the wonders that is Bedford in BT Shelter.
When Jared created this yarn, the man certainly knew what he was doing. I think I could happily knit with nothing else for the rest of my knitting days. Watch out cashmere.
Bedford is going by just quick enough to enjoy, but just slow enough to savor. While my fingers sometimes pine for something a little more advanced, I’m enjoying the ride here. I’m also enjoying knitting for myself without deadlines hanging over my head. It’s taken a long time to get to the point of even wanting to knit, it’s been a bit of a rough haul.
But enough about that! Fall is here and Rhinebeck is on the horizon. It’s a good time to be a knitter.
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