So you know I had this funny fabric from Ikea and the even funnier idea that I wanted to make something caftan-ish out of it for our Florida trip(s). (And for swanning about on my screened porch when it’s finished.) What I didn’t have was the time. It came down to the Tuesday and Wednesday nights before our Thursday crack-of-dawn departure. I knew Wednesday night would be a maelstrom of packing and other prep, and Tuesday was my once-a-month knit night at Craft South. In the past few years, I’ve been learning to sew “the right way,” the patient and meticulous way — tracing off a pattern (with whatever tweaks I might be making), sewing a muslin to make sure it was going to work before cutting into my real fabric, and so on. By the time that Monday rolled around and I hadn’t gotten to it over the weekend, I knew it was too late — there just weren’t enough hours for all of that. Especially since I didn’t even know what I was making! Then I got home from knit night that Tuesday night and I said to myself, “You’ve got two hours, a nice cold beer, and zero attachment to this fabric. How ’bout you just get out your scissors and see what happens.” If it didn’t work out: porch pillows.
So I did, and not only did it work out, I had more fun sewing this thing than I have ever had sewing. And yes, there’s a lesson in that.
As previously discussed, the fabric doesn’t have a lot of drape, so I had been thinking it would be best to do something with a little more structure than a straight caftan — more of a muumuu, with a shoulder slope modeled after my beloved Harper Tunic. So what I did that night was lay the fabric out on my cutting table, folded in half. Then I folded my Harper in half and laid in along the fold. And, eyeballing about a 1/2″ seam allowance, I cut roughly along the shoulder/sleeve line. Then I also eyeballed the curve of the back neck and a deep V for the front neck. I estimated that 60″ might make a nice muumuu-ish circumference (I’m about 38″ in the hips, my widest part) so I just cut the sides perfectly straight up and down at 15″ from the fold, and I think I cut it to about 52″ or 54″ long — something like that — which wound up being determined by the length of the fabric.
Because this had to be quick, I just folded the sleeve edge in twice and stitched it down, then sewed along the shoulder and side seams, stopping somewhere north of my knees, and pinked those seam allowances. At that point I could pull it on and see that it was kind of hilarious and wonderful, and I desperately hoped I’d have time the next night to finish the side slits and hem, as well as the neckline. Of course, I wound up staying up super late to do it the night before leaving, because by that point I couldn’t bear the idea of not having it.
The next day we drove to Florida, slept, hopped out of bed, and spent three solid days (and two nights) on my brother-in-law’s boat in Bahamian waters, which are the most incredible, bright turquoise blue imaginable. You’re bouncing along on the dark blue Gulf Stream waters and suddenly, bam!, turquoise. I’m completely fascinated by the sea and sky — a scene that can change every five minutes — and love nothing more than being out there in the middle of the ocean, in my favorite knitting seat on earth (pictured above), with not another boat or human or building or land mass in sight as far as the eye can see. This time I participated in the fishing and stared at the changing bluescape for hours on end. Because it turns out linen is the exact wrong thing for deep-sea knitting. I’ve always taken wool on the boat before and never had any issues. There’s no such thing as humidity out there, and with the constant breeze and my penchant for sticking to the shade, it’s never been too warm to knit with wool. But I decided to take the Kestrel for my Flex tee on this particular boat trip, thinking maybe I could even start and finish it before our return. But what I never imagined was how the linen (plant fiber) would leach salt out of the air, making it literally impossible to slide along the needles. So instead of knitting, I mostly took a lot of photos that looked like this:
On the second day, we dropped anchor near a pretty little sand bar/reef to do some swimming and snorkling. I swam over to the tiny beach and immediately began lamenting to everyone that it was the absolute perfect spot for taking muumuu photos, except there was no way to get it or a camera out to the sand bar. CURSES! A short while later, as I was surveying the array of shells and sea fans with my niece, I glanced back toward the boat and saw my husband and sister swimming toward me. Bob was pulling himself through the water with one hand while holding a ziploc bag aloft with the other (“is that my muumuu?!?!”) and my sister also paddled along with one hand while holding her phone up out of the water. And that’s how those photos up top came to exist — because I have the best loved ones a girl could ever hope for.
So after all that talk of how much knitting I could get done on this trip, in the end what I came home with was a stockinette rectangle, a cooler of fish, and a bunch of great sky photos. Not bad at all.
PREVIOUSLY in FOs: black Anna Vest