Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

I have so many thoughts and developments crashing into each other as I try to write this post! The big news, if you didn’t see it on Instagram, is it’s no longer just a fantasy — I am officially going to Paris. (Woohoo, gonna make it to Europe before I’m fifty!) We leave a week from Monday, so obviously I’m racing to finish my Channel cardigan (please pray that I have my pick-up rate right on that button band — there isn’t time to knit it twice) and narrowing down my packing list.

As I mentioned before, this mini travel wardrobe is something of a pre-Spring wardrobe planning exercise for me, and I’ve also made a few choice ready-to-wear purchases lately, a couple of which factor into my packing scheme. Those are just noted here for the moment and I’ll have more to say about them when I get to proper spring wardrobe planning.

I’ve also acquired three pairs of shoes lately (pictured up top), all of which are going with me. The amusing silver pair (handmade in LA by Solid State for Nashville brand Goodwin) were my birthday/Christmas/holiday-bonus gift to myself, perfect for dress up but they instantly brighten up any day; the cushy black Vayarta slip-ons (scored on sale by happenstance) are handmade in Mexico and will be my main walking-around shoes on the trip; and the faux-snake ballet flats (no longer available) are from J.Crew, alleged to be made in Italy, and I hope that’s strictly true.

Ok, so what am I taking to PARIS! The current plan is just that little stack of stuff up top, minus the linen garment second from top in the pile (cut for not being versatile enough), plus the camel cardigan not included in the stack because it’s still on the needles. Here’s the full suitcase inventory:

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

SWEATERS
camel Channel cardigan (pardon my drawing)
black wool-linen cropped cardigan
black-and-ivory striped pullover

TOPS
– Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock (new, made in Nashville)
– plaid top (me-made but never blogged)
– black Imogene+Willie pocket tee (new, made in LA, no longer available)
– linen-cotton Madewell chambray popover (c.2013, fast fashion but I’m making it last!)
black silk gauze sleeveless top

JEANS
natural Willie jeans from Imogene+Willie (2016)
rigid Willie jeans from I+W (2017)

PLUS
– grey scarf from Churchmouse (2015)
– still debating between trench coat and hooded rain jacket (not pictured)
– underwear, knitting project, etc. (not pictured)

I should note that one of my weird neurotic tics is that whatever clothes I wear on a plane are generally dead to me upon arrival. I’ll be wearing my thick black ponte stretch pants (from J.Crew circa 2009/10) and probably my big chambray shirt (rescued from Bob’s Goodwill pile) in flight — along with the grey scarf and black slip-ons — but that’s why neither one of those garments factors into my outfit planning. So in my suitcase, as it currently stands, will be just the 10 garments above, from which I can make at least 20 outfits, with plenty of room to spare. (We’ll be on the ground in France for 8 days!) Here are 15 of them:

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

These are all good for me — definitely enough outfits, enough variety, enough layering options (with the jacket especially), and options for an assortment of temperatures and weather conditions. So it’s pretty golden, as is. Comfort-wise, though, I’m wishing (perpetually!) that I had a nice tidy presentable grey sweatshirt and a comfy but attractive pair of drawstring pants, both of which I had hoped to make by now, but that’s not happening. So unless I break down and buy one or the other — or there’s some drastic change in the forecast between now and takeoff — what you see here is what I’ll be taking. To Paris.

Eep!

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part 1)

Changing the Channel

Changing the Channel

Life is funny sometimes. Or closets? Maybe closets are funny sometimes. Not ten days ago, I was a person with a trusty charcoal shawl-collar cardigan nearly always by her side, and another (lighter, woolier) shawl-collar cardigan in progress. Then in the space of a few days, I went from two shawl collars to none — and somehow all of this is ultimately a happy tale.

My parents came to visit toward the end of the week before last. My mom wanted to see the sweaters I’d finished since she’d last been here, so we got into my little closet. As I was pulling things out, I was reminded that I’ve wanted to have her try on my Bellows. She’d had it on pretty much exactly two years ago, right after I finished it, and I’ve never gotten over how perfect it was on her — like I’d made it just for her. Some part of my brain is always wanting her to put it on again so I could confirm that, and then I would know that the Bellows dimensions were perfect should I ever knit her a sweater. I didn’t say any of this to her — only that I wanted to see it on her again — and sure enough, it slipped onto her just like Cinderella’s slipper. She started beaming, turning back and forth in front of the mirror, and joke asking “How much …?” and I had a hard time folding it up and putting it away.

That evening, we went our for dinner on the screened porch at our favorite restaurant and I loaned her the sweater, knowing it would be more comfortable to eat in than her jacket. Again that happiness on her face. As we were sitting there eating, I knew I couldn’t take it back from her — it was hers. As much as I minded that it was not brand-new or made specifically with her in mind, she apparently couldn’t have cared less. The next morning when she put it on to leave, my heart melted again — I was sad to see it go of course (my companion!), but so happy it was going with her and that she was so happy.

And then it hit me: What on earth am I going to wear now?!

But there was still my Channel in my near future, right? No worries. Once they were gone, I blocked the Channel pieces I had finished a few days earlier, and left them to dry over that weekend. For me, seaming is a daylight (and thus weekend) task, so I knew I’d have to let the pieces lay there on my table untouched through last week, and I dutifully set about swatching for the bands and collar (by which I mean starting one, measuring, starting over … with three different needles). By Tuesday evening, impatient to see how it would come together, I clipped the pieces to my shirt, and I knew almost instantaneously that it was a good thing I hadn’t gotten any farther with the bands. This would no longer be a shawl collar.

The sweater I’ve had in my sketches and my head all this time has been based on the photos and the sample I tried on three years ago, when I first decided to knit it. It hit me mid-hip, the sleeves were a tiny bit short, and the V of the neckline hit just below my bust. I made a mental note that the only thing I’d tinker with was the sleeve length and that I would move the top button placement up a bit — I like a shawl collar to be high and snug. As I started knitting, I made the decision to stick to the pattern dimensions so as not to require any tweaks to the length or shaping of the collar itself, since it’s a bit of a job. So rather than scrutinizing the schematic, as I usually do, I just followed the pattern as written. When it said to knit the body to 17″, I thought that seemed longer than the one I’d tried on, but longer wouldn’t be bad, so ok. What I failed to notice in my non-scrutiny is the depth of the V. So what I have on my worktable is gorgeous and useful … just a different sweater than the one I thought I was making. This sweater has a very deep V that hits right at my belly button, and the hemline falls below my crotch. In other words, it looks exactly like my modified-Vidje sketch, only with a different surface texture:

Changing the Channel

For me, these proportions call for a plain button band, not an elongated shawl collar, which feels like a disservice to Jared’s stunning pattern, but also the right thing to do for my garment. So all of a sudden, instead of filling the (now larger than anticipated) shawl-collar gap in my closet, this one is filling the gap Vidje was going to be meant for! And now that there are no shawl collars in my closet, the landscape of my queue is taking a completely different shape. Suddenly I have all kinds of options and considerations I had ruled out, some exciting rethinking to do, and a gorgeous-albeit-unintended sweater almost finished.

• Channel Cardigan pattern by Jared Flood in Clever Camel

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PREVIOUSLY: All Channel posts

Queue Check — February 2017

Queue Check — February 2017

With my St. Brendan completed and the whole April in Paris plan looming on the horizon (albeit still a misty mirage), I am sworn not to cast on anything new until my Channel cardigan is completed. As you can see up top, I’m making good progress. I knitted the sleeves flat, added inset pockets, omitted the eyelets (and waist tie) and waist shaping. I’m ready to begin the neck shaping — and continuing to love every minute I spend with this yarn and stitch pattern — but I still have a very long ways to go. Which is giving me lots of time to think ahead about what I want to knit this year, and in what order.

Like a lot of you, I try to always have something mindless on the needles that I can reach for when circumstances demand it. But I’ve been thinking about literally dividing my sweater plans into two parallel queues: the challenging and the non-challening. I still need and want some simple stockinette sweaters, but they always threaten my will to knit. Meanwhile, there are several more interesting sweaters on my list — the ones that keep both my closet and my knitting life from becoming too boring — but like I said, you gotta have an alternative handy sometimes. So it makes sense to me to make two separate lists, and to have one sweater from each list going at all times — like dance partners. When the challenging sweater is completed, cast on the next one from that list. When the boring sweater is completed, cast on the next one from that list. Do-si-do and around you go.

I’m 99% certain that when Channel is done, the next thing I cast on from the challenging list will be Vidje. And I’m debating about what will follow St. Brendan in the stockinette lineup. I have two very simple, bulky sweaters in my head, and I expect a quickie will be in order. One is an exaggerated cardigan in the beautiful bronze merino from TN Textile Mill. The other is a big slouchy pullover in the cheery green Balance Bulky I bought on closeout. Even though it’s bulky, the wool-cotton Balance blend means greenie might actually have some utility this spring (cool evenings?) whereas the cardigan is a planning-ahead-for-next-year sort of thing. I want the bronze cardigan more, but the hope of being able to wear the green one, however briefly, may bump it to the front of the line. Plus I’m overdue for a spot of color! But I’m a little torn over both, and really want both of those sweaters in the bronze! Whatever winds up going next, it will most likely be followed by the desperately needed (before next Fall) grey pullover.

But like I said, I’m casting on nothing until Channel is done. I know there would be late nights where I reach for the stockinette thing, putting Channel at risk of not getting done in time. So for now the alternative, should I need it, is to cast on the Channel button bands/collar, which is a whole project unto itself.

Also, it’s time to start thinking about my sewing queue. I’ve got some spring wardrobe planning to do …

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

• Channel Cardigan pattern by Jared Flood in Clever Camel | all Channel posts
Porter Bin project bag and Lykke interchangeable needles from Fringe Supply Co.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: January 2017

Idea Log: Indigo kimono jacket

Idea Log: Indigo kimono jacket

Two years ago, at the late-lamented Stitches South, I bought a piece of African indigo cloth from Veronika of YOTH. I posted a pic of it on Instagram, and got an incredible range of suggestions for what to do with it (including making a window shade, which would be amazing), but I’ve always pictured it as a kimono. A few weeks earlier, I had seen this photo of Ariele Alasko in an indigo kimono, followed shortly by a reference to this older tutorial for a quickie kimono, and the universe seemed to be trying to tell me something. I studied the dimensions in the tutorial and my fabric, did some diagramming and adjusting, and came within inches of cutting it … but my scissors literally hung in the air above the fabric, my brain unable to convince my hand to clamp the blades down on it. That “pattern” is the sort of thing where you just sew two pieces of fabric together halfway up the back, and the slit becomes the back of neck. It would be a fun and defensible thing to do with a less precious piece of fabric, but I knew I’d regret doing it with this. I wanted a proper garment. And was pondering pockets, of course. Always with the pockets. So I decided to wait, and think on it, and see if the desire would fade.

Meanwhile, it’s mostly been draped over the daybed in my living room, where Darla has enjoyed shedding on it liberally. Thankfully, it washes up beautifully!

The whole plan sprung back into my head in the past few days due to encountering two images on the web, again in close proximity: One being Liesl Gibson’s new Butterick B6464 kimono pattern; the second being this quilted linen kimono jacket by 7115 that is really just too good for words. (I mean: Quilted. Linen. With those pockets? Must have.) So now I’m fantasizing about tinkering with Liesl’s pattern a tiny bit, drafting some big pockets, and finally turning this bit of cloth into the kimono I’ve been dreaming of. Just need to figure out if there’s enough of it … and if I remember how to sew.

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PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: Cowichan-style cardigan, take two

St. Brendan: Outfits!

St. Brendan: The outfits!

Yesterday’s post about my finished yoke sweater got a wee bit long! I am determined to compile outfit ideas for every FO this year, so in this case I decided to save them for today.

One of the reasons I shy away from (buying or knitting) really distinctive clothing is it’s really distinctive — if I run into you somewhere in a standout garment, you’re gonna remember if I had the same thing on the last time you saw me. Also, really distinctive garments tend not to be combinable in a lot of different ways for a lot of different looks. The point being only that I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing the same outfit all the time — to me, the fun is in mixing things up — thus all the solids and neutrals in my closet. But this particular sweater is an example of how none of that is automatically true. The key is that this beauty goes with literally every “bottom” in my closet. It’s possible to get mildly creative with it, as seen in the two sketches up top—

Dressed down = layered over my favorite b/w flannel shirt with jeans and ankle boots
Dressed up = paired with my black-on-black embroidered skirt and tall boots

But the joyous part is even if all I do is reach for the next pair of pants on the pile and a pair of black shoes, they add up to decidedly different looks, sparing me from monotony …

St. Brendan: The outfits!

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part 1)

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

I had a realization about yarn and seamless sweaters while knitting this gorgeous thing: The more a knitting project feels like playing with Play-Doh, the more fun I find it. The joy in being able to mold and remold a thing until it’s exactly what I want …

Let’s recap: When I first set out to knit this sweater — which began from Courtney Kelley’s St. Brendan pattern — it was going to be my least improvisational act of knitting. I loved the black-and-tan sample sweater so much that my plan was simply to copy it, straight from the pattern. Same yarn, same colors, same bottom-up construction. I was knitting on US9s instead of suggested 8s, to match gauge; I planned to make the size 45 lower body and decrease to the size 38 counts by the time I joined the sleeves; I used my favorite tubular cast-on; and I knew I was going to shrink and shape the neckhole when I got there. Minor stuff.

Instead, I knitted the body and yoke as intended except with phantom sleeves, had (my own) fit issues with the yoke depth, and severed the yoke from the body, at which point I also realized it might suit me better without the colowork on the lower body and sleeves. I put the yoke back on the needles and reknitted the body and sleeves downward to my own fit specifications, omitting the colorwork. Then for the upper few rows of the yoke and neck, I did the following:

– Modified the last three rows of Chart E — the one that takes us from the colorwork to the neckband — since I no longer had a CC1 (tan) to transition to, and instead was transitioning back to my MC (black). I basically created a grey diamond but with a decrease in Row 4, so it’s more of a diamond-blob than a true diamond. Or a sawtooth — let’s go with that. This additional decrease round brought the stitch count from 108 to 81 sts, and I made it 80 on the following round.

– On Row 6, I worked a set of short rows (with 6 turns) to raise the back neck a bit, which created the wedge of black you see between the colorwork and the neckband in the back. I also worked my last pass around that short-row round as my bind-off round, closing the short-row gaps as I encountered them. So Row 6 was the last row, the short rows and the bind-off all in the same round. (For the short rows, I placed the first 4 turns at the equivalent of each “raglan” position, then the last 2 in the back, slightly closer together than the raglans. I have no idea if that’s how anyone who actually knew what they were doing would do it!) It’s a pretty slight drop between the back and front neck, but just enough to make a difference. If I were to do it again, I’d put a set of short rows just below the colorwork yoke.

– And I then picked up 72 stitches (at a rate of 7 out of 8) and worked a folded neckband. This sweater, with this yarn and my changes, feels very vintage ski-sweater to me, and I wanted to play that up by giving it a sort of retro neckline — high and round and with the folded ribbing. It’s already stretched out a bit (as neckbands will do, which is why I insist on working them from picked-up stitches, and even then try to make them smaller than I ultimately want them, knowing they’ll grow) and I’m tempted to pull it out and pick up 68 sts instead.

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

I’m head over heels in love with this sweater. Visually, the most obvious changes I made are that it’s 3 colors instead of 4, and there’s no colorwork on the lower half of it, which definitely makes it a very different sweater from the original. But for me the more meaningful change is in the fit. If you look at the left sleeve cap in the two photos below, you can see the difference in the yoke depth. The pattern has only 4 or 5 rounds of MC knitting between the underarm (sleeve join) round and the start of the colorwork. I wound up putting more like 18 or 20 rounds in there — bringing the total yoke depth to 9″, which is much more comfortable for me. No longer being beholden to the stitch counts for the lower colorwork charts, I was also able to simply knit to all of my own desired measurements (most notably a 42″ bust measurement for 8-ish inches of ease).

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

Oh, and of course I also knitted the sleeves flat (with 5″ fold-up cuffs and tubular bind-off) and added a basting stitch for side seams.

Now can we talk about the yarn for a minute? This is the new Arranmore and I would like six or seven sweaters in it, please! It reminds me a lot of the first yarn I ever fell in love with — the discontinued Kathmandu Bulky — but in aran weight. I adore it. Between the yarn and how good a circular-yoke sweater feels sitting on my shoulders, I would love nothing more than to wear this sweater every single day.

I’m calling it my Tennessee Lopapeysa, since I can get away with wearing it as outerwear here, the way Icelanders wear their lopi sweaters — although this winter, it’s not even that. Our upper-60s January has given way to mid-70s February, so I’m afraid I may not get to wear it until next year. Maybe it will be my Rhinebeck sweater! Finished well in advance.

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

Pattern: St. Brendan by Courtney Kelley
Yarn: Arranmore by The Fibre Co., in Malin Head (black), Glenveagh Castle (grey) and St. Claire (ivory)
Cost: $7 pattern + $168 yarn = $175*

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater hereInstagram posts here, and put a heart on it at Ravelry if you like!

*Given the frogging and extra skeins purchased and there being no way to know what percentage of the sweater’s finished weight is the MC yarn, I’m guessing at how many skeins of black actually got used, but then I also used less than a skein each of the ivory and grey. So this is a rough estimate that probably slightly overstates the true cost.

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Queue Check — January 2017

Queue Check — January 2017

So where am I on that Channel Cardigan I want to take to Paris? Well, the sleeves are still done! And I’ve added a whopping inch or two to the body.

All my late-night nervous knitting energy has been poured into the second coming of my St. Brendan sweater. It’s been two weeks since I ripped it back to its yoke, and it already has two full sleeves (knitted flat) and about half of the body. That cake of black yarn you see in the pic is my last skein before I have to get into the kinky frog pile, so I’m considering it a good stopping point. When this skein runs out, I plan to knit the neckband from the frog pile, then block the whole thing (also soaking the rewound skeins) and seam the sleeves. I haven’t decided exactly how long I want it to be yet — I want to see how it looks with the upper half and sleeves all done and blocked, which will tell me what the rest wants to be. And I also have the cuffs on waste yarn — thinking about knitting them long enough to fold up.

You may notice there’s no colorwork on those sleeves. I’ve decided the way it is now, with just the yoke, it really is exactly the sweater I’ve been wanting. I expect to be done with it in another week or so — hopefully there will be at least a few days in February cold enough to wear it! (She says from balmy Nashville.)

Then it’s full speed ahead on Channel. The anticipation of that camel yarn and melodious stitch pattern is what’s getting me through all this stockinette …

Channel Cardigan pattern by Jared Flood in Clever Camel | all Channel posts
St. Brendan pattern by Courtney Kelley in Arranmoreall St. Brendan posts

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