May make No. 2: the Raglan Tunic

May make No. 2: the Raglan Tunic

I really debated whether to post this photo or not, but you guys tell me all the time you value my sharing my misses as well as my hits. And I do think it’s important, having learned so much from others that way, so even though this is making me a little queasy, let’s talk about this top — the second of my pledged makes for Me Made May, and another near-miss. In the sketches, you can see what I’m wanting (thank you, Fashionary) — a floaty, loose-fitting top for summer that can be layered over in fall. I don’t know of a pattern for the exact thing I’ve sketched, so as with pretty much all of my knitting and sewing, I’m picking a pattern that’s close and adapting it to my liking. In this case, I decided the first thing I would try was Purl Soho’s Sewn Raglan Tunic. The Purl top is cut a little more straight up and down than me or my sketches, but it’s pretty close, right? To make it a bit floatier, I cut the third size but graded it outward at the side seams to the fourth size. I also cut the front tunic length for back and front, rather than a dropped hem, and I drafted sleeves that were wider/poufier and elbow-length, rather than choosing between super-short sleeves or 3/4 length.

Apart from that, I made one significant modification: The pattern calls for an elasticized neck binding (and same with optional sleeve treatment). An elastic neckline is not what I had in mind, but it also seemed unnecessary to me, since there’s a slit at the back already for your head to go through. Instead, I gathered the fabric at the neckline and sewed the bias facing on flat, so the fabric is gathered but the binding is not. And same for the sleeves.

I’m super proud of the craftsmanship on this one — it’s a big step forward for me — and I also enjoyed every minute of making it, which is not typical of me and sewing. The pattern is very well written and I had fun tampering with it. So I have a lot of good feelings about this garment — I do! Here’s why it’s a near-miss for me instead of a win:

1) The fabric is all wrong. I knew I needed to make a muslin of this, given how much I would be changing, but didn’t have any actual muslin handy. What I did have was this Brussels Washer (same fabric as that skirt) in olive, which Rebekka had given me. There were a lot of flaws in this cut of it, but I worked around them as much as possible on the off-chance the shirt turned out to be a winner. Unfortunately, in this color and fabric, the finished top looked super drab on me (as you can see). It needed to be with someone who would accessorize it, so it’s gone to live with Meg, and it looks perfectly darling on her.

2) The critical difference between this shirt and the sketches is the neck. I want a smaller, higher neckline, and could have had it here — again, because of the slit at the back. But because I had gone with a larger size, it was a lot of fabric being gathered at the neck. Even having left the neck a bit wider than I wanted, it’s just too much fabric gathered up around my big shoulders; had I kept going, it would have been ridiculous. So if there’s a second attempt with this pattern, I’ll cut a smaller top but still grade it outward toward the hem, for the same basic silhouette as I achieved here, but with less fabric at the neckline.

3) Not sure about the sleeves. In my mind and the sketches, the sleeves are a little bit poufy, which means they are at least minimally gathered, not just hemmed. But maybe a hem would be better, or again, just less gathering. That’s one to play with once I sort out the fabric (next attempt will be heavy 100% linen) and neckline issues.

But I’m not sure if the next attempt will be with this same pattern as the starting point. The other key difference between it and my drawings is the gathered sleeve tops. I’m only envisioning the little gathers or pleats at the front of the shirt, not all the way around the neck. I think that’s just never going to work with my shoulders, nor look like the top in my head. So it might need to be a modified woven Linden instead, or some kind of hybrid of the two.

Regardless of the fact that I don’t have a finished top in my closet after the seven or eight hours I spent on this (did I mention I’m slow?), sewing this one was a great experience from start to finish. Technically and design-wise, I know it put me one step closer to being able to make the top I’m dreaming of. So it’s all good!

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p.s. I got in some more of the red vintage fiber mill spindles on Friday and managed to get a photo this time! And if you were here Friday morning before Knit Wit Issue 2 arrived, there are now photos in the shop of that as well. It’s a truly stunning issue — multiple fantastic studio visits, among other things — and I can’t wait to have a good sit-down with it. Go have a look!

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PREVIOUSLY in Me Made May: May make No. 1: the Gathered Skirt

 

Blog Crush: Voices of Industry

Blog Crush: Voices of Industry

It’s not at all uncommon for me to run across a blog that’s gone dormant — or is updated just once or twice a year — and feel sad that there isn’t more. It is uncommon, though, for me to be so moved by one that I would advise you to go swim around in what’s there and glean what you will from it, however much or little (past or future) there may be. But such is the case with Voices of Industry. Adele Stafford is someone I’m slightly familiar with: She is a weaver living in Oakland, and so we have mutual acquaintances. I’ve followed her off and on on Instagram, and am a huge admirer of her mission, the cloth she weaves and the garments it becomes. But it wasn’t until I clicked on a cryptic link from Heidi Swanson that I found myself at Adele’s blog, at which point my brain — which had been making me crazy bouncing off the sides off my skull all day — went silent and listened. Adele writes remarkably, with a voice similar to her weaving in some way — observant and poetic and intelligent without being precious. She also writes rarely. There are only two pages of posts going back a year and a half, but they deserve to be read slowly and savored. It’s the Friday of a long weekend today (in the US anyway), so perhaps you can pour yourself a nice drink, tune out the world for an hour or so, and read what she has to say. And yes, hope there will be more.

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SPEAKING OF GOOD READS [UPDATED!] Issue 2 of KnitWit Magazine has arrived and is available now in the shop. — and it is gorgeous! I also got a few more copies of Issue 1, in case you regret missing it. So you can go ahead and order either or both, and if you haven’t already grabbed the latest Pom Pom or Amirisu, you might want to add those too.

Have a fantastically laid-back weekend, please! I’m actually going to observe a holiday for a change and take Monday off for making (and of course it’s a mail holiday too), but all will resume on Tuesday morning! See you then—

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New Favorites: Market bags

New Favorites: Market bags

Every year around this time, I have the thought that perhaps it would be fun to knit a little market bag, and I go have a look at all the ones I’ve bookmarked over the past few years. Every year, I decide these two by Pam Allen are the cream of the crop: the Dejeuner Bag up top — my very favorite — and the Rue Mouffetard. This year I actually have a skein of linen in want of a purpose (left over from grandma’s shawl) but the bags are so pretty in that natural Sparrow I can’t imagine doing anything else.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Paloma

FO Sightings: Woollenflower’s Faroese dream

FO Sightings: Woollenflower's Faroese dream shawl

I know it’s only been two days since I publicly swore off shawl knitting, but there is one looming temptation. Remember a few months ago when I kicked off that #vitalknits hashtag? The lovely Julia Billings, aka @woollenflower (who you should totally follow if you don’t already), posted the shot above of her incredible Faroese-style shawl and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. (Here it is on Ravelry.) This is my idea of The Perfect Shawl: massive and enveloping, yet light; garter stitch interrupted by a spare, geometric lace design; and the perfect amount and length of fringe. Turns out it’s from a pattern quite straightforwardly called Faroese Lace Pattern Shawl, found in an out-of-print book. Jules tells me it was one of the first books she read when she was a new knitter and that the traditionally written pattern was beyond her skills at the time. She set it aside until she was ready, a few years ago now, and she wears this shawl more than anything else she’s made. Understandably. It may be out of print, but the good news is Jules is writing her own Faroese-style pattern inspired by this beauty — so watch for more news of that soon.

By the way, this reminds me quite a bit of Handepande’s incredible shawl that I blogged about forever ago and have longed for every day since. Apparently when it comes to shawls, I have a type.

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PREVIOUSLY in FO Sightings: Sumiko’s steeked Sundottir

 

How to store your WIPs

How to store your WIPs

Quick note today to let you know that the beloved, long-awaited Deluxe Boat Totes are finally available again! I’m sorry to keep you waiting so long, but the good news is I was able to get a larger batch this time, thankfully. So I hope those of you who’ve been waiting patiently (and not-so-patiently!) will be all be able to grab one this time around. I own both sizes, myself — love and use both — but I will add that I don’t know what I would do with my knitting if not for piling all my individually Bento Bagged projects and my tool pouch into the Jumbo Tote, with a notebook and pencil tucked into the pocket. It’s my favorite ever.

To grandmother’s house we go

To grandmother's house we go

I’m pants at taking modeled shawl photos, y’all. What is so hard about it? So here it is recumbent: grandma’s shawl for her 90th birthday, nearly six weeks late by the time it gets to Texas. It had been awhile since I knitted a shawl and I forgot how long it takes. Plus they trick you by being really quick at the beginning — filling you with false confidence — and then getting slower and sloowwer and slooowwwer. I started this a week before her birthday (obviously cutting it too close) and thought it might be a week or two late. Lesson learned: Never knit shawls!

Anyway, I feel pretty sure she’ll love it, and I hope that she does. For all my grousing, and despite the tardiness, I am very happy to have this to give to her, and hope it will warm her shoulders for many years to come. And that I can take a pic of her in it one of these days.

As previously noted, it’s Orlane’s Textured Shawl Recipe (my how-to notes here) in Shibui Staccato (70% merino, 30% silk) and Linen (100% linen) held together for all but the bind-off, which I worked in the Staccato alone. I was devoted to EZ’s sewn bind-off when I was a shawl knitter (right up through this, my last one) and the bind-off on this was the most pleasant part. You know how stressful it can be, wondering if your yards-long strand of yarn will hold up to being dragged back and forth through every one of those hundreds of stitches — how it can strain and stick and twist and try to knot up on you? The Staccato was a dream for this. And the finished, blocked fabric — the merino/silk and linen blend — is divine. Drapey and light and wonderful. Well worth the fussiness of working those two together.

Row counts and other factoids on Ravelry.

One, two, shuffle my queue (plus a public service plea!)

One, two, shuffle my queue

The shawl is off the needles and on the blocking board! Which means I get to cast on a you-know-what (or three). My mail has been particularly yarny this week, in conjunction with the shuffling of my knitting queue:

The army-green O-Wool Balance up top is not for any of the things I’ve proposed army green for before. Rather, it’s for something I can’t quite talk about. I have a really fun and intriguing pattern in mind for this September’s big Fringe and Friends Knitalong, but there’s one major modification I think a lot of people will want to make. So I’m testing that mod before settling on the knitalong pattern, and will therefore keep this preliminary version under wraps until I’m ready to say more about all of that!

The beautifully farmy silver-grey yarn in the middle is for a pattern I’ve agreed to write, with the knitted garment and graded pattern (eek!) due in six weeks, so that’s an urgent one. And that is the sum total of what I’m able to say about that little project. Also to be revealed this fall.

And then there’s the Hole & Sons. Don’t hate me, but I got lucky and scored some from the second batch — in the new figgy-charcoal color called Shale. Haven’t decided what it will be yet, but I fear whatever it is may jump in front of my long-planned Channel cardigan to become my Rhinebeck sweater. So I’ll need to figure it out in time to cast on this summer.

But meanwhile, I have a pressing need for a good lightweight, neutral cardigan for the aggressively air-conditioned indoors of summer. My friends at Shibui sent me a pile of yarns I’ve had my eye on, so I’ll be squeezing in a swatch for that wherever I can, and hoping to get time to knit it before too long!

NOW — SOMETHING EXTREMELY IMPORTANT I want to talk to you about, completely unrelated: As knitters and sewers of the attentive sort, you’re no doubt aware of the perilous demise of the textile and garment industries in this country in recent years. Mills have largely disappeared. Factories have closed or crawl along with aging staff and no younger generation to pass the knowledge on to. The gravity of the situation has been driven home to me over the past year as I’ve searched for a domestic factory to produce the Fringe Supply Project Bag — it’s a distressingly difficult proposition, and one that shouldn’t be difficult at all. Everyone wonders why I don’t just have it made in China. (All of which also contributed to my proposal for Slow Fashion October.)

You may also be aware that we moved to Nashville last year because of the thriving maker community here. In addition to other disciplines, there is a concentration of small-batch fashion designers, as well as weavers and fiber artists and, now, Fringe Supply Co. Recently, the Nashville Fashion Alliance was formed, with the goal of creating the infrastructure these small companies need to thrive right here. Networking, shared resources, and most important, job training to create a sizable work force of skilled sewers. And there’s a ready employer — a factory with plenty of work for those people. It’s due to a connection between a couple of key NFA players that the project bag will finally be going into production this summer, and not only will it not be made in China, it will be made right here in the city limits of Nashville. Can you hear my heart singing?! I’ll have more to say about that soon, but I want you to know right now that the NFA has a Kickstarter campaign going to fund their efforts, primarily the job training program. It ends today and they need your help, and I want you to understand it’s not just about Nashville. It’s about a movement toward bringing garment industry jobs back to the US. Regardless of where you live, if you care about these issues, I’m asking if you’ll help fund the NFA. Even a few dollars helps! Thank you for listening!

SPEAKING OF Fringe Supply Co, the summer issue of Pom Pom is here!

Have a great weekend, everyone!