Queue Check — June 2017

Queue Check — June 2017

I’m in Kansas right now — I came for a family reunion and have stayed for a funeral.* My eldest aunt, who had been ill for a very long time, succumbed just at the moment when eighty-something of us had already come from near and far to be together, which was characteristically polite and organized of her. May she rest in peace. So I’m about one-third of the way into the first sleeve of my Bernat fisherman sweater (in Arranmore) for the Summer of Basics and already there’s Squam dock time and this precious family visit knitted into it. And if that weren’t enough, this is the most joy I’ve ever gotten from two sticks and a ball of string. I crave it when it’s not in my hands and love working every stitch. (My top three Joy of Knitting projects — pure pleasure in the stitch patterns and the yarn in my hands — are this, Gentian and Channel.) Having charted out the vintage written-instructions pattern and seen what is happening, which is quite straightforward, I have no need to look at either the pattern or the chart and can just knit away at this happily, with just the right amount of brain detachment and engagement, watching the textures develop. It’s true love in every way.

I even made a tiny mistake in the very first cable cross, and left it, so that’s out of the way!

I did make some more progress on my so-called Summer Cardigan (in Balance) before casting on for the fisherman, but at this point it’s going to be impossible for it to get my attention. Hopefully the same won’t be true of my Archer shirt for #summerofbasics, which I plan to cut the muslin of this coming weekend.

*Hence the lack of response from me on Friday’s Q for You answers, but I have read them all and hope to respond when I have a chance — great conversation as usual.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: May 2017

2017 Remake-1 : Black linen slip dress + more camo mending

2017 Remake-1 : Black linen slip dress + more camo mending

Despite my careful planning and copious outfit projections, I’ve actually been struggling a little bit to get dressed so far this summer. For a few reasons: A) I haven’t replaced my ankle boots yet, which dampens my enthusiasm for all the dress-based outfits I want to be wearing. My poor old boots are just way too shabby. B) Many of the outfits in the rundown hinge on garments that are either still WIPs or that need to be mended, refashioned, lengthened or shortened, and thus aren’t actually available to be worn. And C) I really just want to wear my black linen pull-on pants every day, and I do! Yesterday, blessed with a few hours to spend in my sewing room, I decided the best thing I could do with the time was tackle the fix-it pile and get a couple of existing garments back to usefulness. So instead of cutting out the muslin of my Archer for Summer of Basics, as I had planned:

  1. I shortened my black linen slip dress to knee length and added patch pockets (which you can’t actually see in the photo, but I swear they’re there!), and
  2. I mended the 3″ tear in the side of my precious old camo pants.

Which means all of the above and below are now actual wearable outfits:

2017 Remake-1 : Black linen slip dress + more camo mending

2017 Remake-1 : Black linen slip dress + more camo mending

Please excuse the lack of a better (or modeled) dress photo — it was a seriously dark and stormy day. I’ll be sure to include it in a future FO post!

For details on the garments pictured, see my Summer closet inventory. And the more recently added black linen Sloper sweater and white linen shell.

Also, while at Squam I had the pleasure of chatting with Renee of the new-ish East London Knit podcast. Man am I fidgety when you point a camera at me! But if you’re interested, you can watch it here. Thanks again to Renee for inviting me on!

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The white linen shell

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Charting a course for my fisherman sweater

Charting a course for my fisherman sweater

I began the first of my Summer of Basics garments on the plane last Tuesday — in this case, not with a ball of yarn and knitting needles but with a Knitters Graph Paper Journal and a freshly sharpened Blackwing pencil. This is for the 1967 Bernat fisherman sweater — my choice for the sweater I’ve wanted for decades — and Step 1 was/is to convert the written instructions to a chart, so I can actually see what’s happening and make any necessary adjustments thereto. After an hour or two of converting words and abbreviations to marks on graph paper, I could see that the sleeve is just panels of raspberry stitch, one repeating cable motif, and what I believe will become broken rib with the underarm increases. What I haven’t puzzled out yet is why they took what became clear is a 12-row repeat and wrote it out as 36 rows, but I’m guessing it’s because the front/back center panel will prove to be a 36-row repeat and perhaps they meant to make sure you kept them aligned in some way that the pattern never ultimately specifies? I may never know. But anyway, I began with the simpler sleeve chart so I could have it to swatch with.

I’ve been thinking Arranmore might be the perfect yarn for me and this sweater. I do want it to be a classic ivory fisherman, but feel like the slight tweediness of the Arranmore (it has little flecks of tan and light blue) might be my friend in terms of long-term spots or discoloration. Plus I just really love this yarn, which I previously used for my black yoke sweater. So one morning, chart in hand, I sat on the dock at Squam and began to swatch.

The first swatch was on US8/5mm and the fabric was too loose for my liking, so I began again on US7/4.5mm, which is the swatch pictured above. As I knitted it, I thought the yarn might not be right for these stitches, as the fabric felt stiff and the cables looked underwhelming. (It’s such a weird cable.) I took it to class to show my students and we talked about how I plan to take my time, swatching with as many yarns and needles as it takes to find the right thing, given all I’ll be putting into this sweater and how long I’ve wanted it. Then I decided I might as well take the time to dunk the swatch and make sure I didn’t like it any better after blocking, and guess what: it’s pretty dreamy. This photo was taken while it was still damp, and I really should have taken a dry one to show you, but you’ll have to take my word for it — I can’t stop draping it around my arm.

That meant trying to sort out size and gauge as compared to the vintage pattern, which is rather short on the sort of details we’re used to these days. There’s no schematic, and the gauge is simply given as “11 stitches = 2 inches.” Eleven stitches of which of the many stitch patterns, we can’t know. Is it an average across the whole sweater? If anyone out there is an expert on the way things used to be done, I’d love to hear from you, but meanwhile that will have to be my assumption. If true, my gauge is slightly more compact at 6 stitches per inch, which means I’ll need to knit the XL and still come out with a sweater slightly smaller than intended — or figure out some tweaks to the patterning to compensate.

[UPDATE: A couple of commenters have said it would have been implied in those days that the stated gauge was for stockinette stitch — which tells a very different story than cables! But looking at the pattern’s stitch counts and finished circumference, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. For example, the XL (44-46″) calls for a 122-st CO for the back, which divided by 22″ is 5.5. (I.e., their “11 sts = 2 inches.”) Same for the other sizes. So it does seem to be the average gauge of the finished fabric and not taken from stockinette.]

On the flight home, I was too brain dead to do anything but stare at the swatch, my chart, and the photos I’d snapped of the pattern photo so that I could zoom in on them and try to sort out the details that aren’t present in the pattern itself. The swatch had me thinking even the smallest sleeve would be too big, and I was toying with the idea of eliminating two of the cables from the sleeve, leaving just one down the center of the arm. But as usual, it’s a good thing I was prevented from rushing in, since while staring at it all, I realized that would necessitate the same change along the sides of the body — a change I don’t want to make — AND the fully dry swatch is actually totally fine. Patience does pay off, even if it’s imposed.

So all that’s left is to commit to the investment it will be to do a yarn-eater like this in this particular yarn, but I feel like it will be more than worth it.

Charting a course for my fisherman sweater

ARMY PORTER NOTE: What remains from our starter batch of the army green Porter Bin, launched at the Squam Art Fair, will go into the webshop this Friday morning, June 16, at 9am Central Time — set your alarms!

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PREVIOUSLY  in Summer of Basics: My plan

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2017 FO-5 : The white linen shell

2017 FO-5 : The white linen shell

I want to tell you about the incredible week I had, being and teaching at Squam, but I’m gonna need a minute to collect my thoughts. For the moment, here’s the little linen top from my to-make list, which I cranked out the Sunday before I left, believing it would be useful on the trip. Lori took this photo on my third day wearing it, so that seems to have been a good hunch.

This is the same as the two I made last year — the black silk gauze and the blue striped cotton — with a few tiny differences:

– the neck and armholes are finished with bias instead of bands
– the front is as long as the back (no high/low)
– there’s a center front seam
– the pockets are bigger than on the striped one
– the neck bias is attached with the seam slightly off-center in the front

The latter three of those things are the result of mistakes on my part, from working too fast. (Didn’t add enough fabric at the front for the intended gathers, seamed the excess back out; grabbed the pocket I had drafted for my black pants instead of the one from the blue stripe top; thought I was attaching an arm band and realized too late it was the neck hole I was working on.) And all are happy accidents — I even like the little bit of patchwork effect at the neck. I might add a few sashiko stitches or something.

I’m not sure why — guess it’s just the extra length in front — but this one seems roomier than the others … which I’m also ok with. This was the perfect layering piece for the unpredictable and wildly fluctuating New Hampshire spring weather, the perfect warm-up to get me back to sewing after 10 months away from the machine, and is guaranteed to be worn incessantly. I’ll try the gathered neck idea on the next one.

Pattern: my own
Fabric:  off-white pure linen via Fancy Tiger, $12/yard
Cost: free pattern + about $18 fabric = $18

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The Squam hats

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2017 FO-4 : the Squam hats

2017 FO-4 : the Squam hats

My latest finished object is actually a pair of them: the sample hats for my class at Squam this week. (Modeled by the lovely Silbia Ro.) I’m teaching (for the first time!) a beginner class in knitting cables and wanted to design a hat that met several criteria for that. 1) I want everyone to have a fair chance of leaving with a finished hat. 2) I want it to function as a good cable teaching tool while also being knittable in the social setting of a class, where there is all sorts of discussion going on the whole time. And of course, 3) I want it to be cute. I’m really happy with it on the third count, and will have to let you know how the other two work out! I’m calling it Debutant because it’s inspired by some vintage patterns in my old booklets, and because “debutant” is French for “beginner.” I hope my students will love it!

I haven’t decided yet whether or when I’ll be publishing the pattern — another thing I’ll have to let you know about. But for the moment, I’m at the lake, in the woods, in the classroom (and I’ll also be on Instagram) and taking the next two days off from the blog. If you’ve never seen my post about attending Squam in 2014, it’s full of lots of pretty pictures and might make a good stand-in if you need one. I’ll see a bunch of you at Squam — and at the Squam Art Fair; don’t forget about this little treat! — and will see the rest of you back here on Monday. Have a great weekend!

2017 FO-4 : the Squam hats

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Sloper as a linen V-neck

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My Summer of Basics plan

My Summer of Basics plan

Ok, so I’ve thought and rethought (and rethought!) what my 3 garments will be for the Summer of Basics Make-along. This whole event grew out of my desire to push myself to sew an Archer button-down shirt, and wanting company in taking that leap, but it’s not the only thing my closet is lacking that I never get around to. (Hence, let’s all make 3 basics over the next 3 months!) So I really want to choose wisely. Let’s face it, I’ll almost certainly make more than 3 things in the next 3 months, but I want my publicly-declared SoB-3 to really challenge me and hold me accountable. Of course, I also want to make things that will be truly useful in my closet. So here’s where I’m at:

BUTTON-UP SHIRT: I’ve been saying for awhile that my beloved pale denim workshirt (which I wear for some part of almost every day — and look, I’m even wearing it in my avatar pic to the right!) was headed for a breakdown. That has now officially happened: both sleeve caps are in shreds. So that’s what I’m replacing with my first Archer, and that one was already a replacement for a nearly identical shirt before it. Between the two, I’ve had some version of that shirt for at least a dozen years. For the next generation, though, not only will it be handmade, but I’m planning on light blue chambray instead of the denim. (Gettin’ crazy over here!) But I still want it to have some of the character of the denim workshirts so, inspired by this J.Crew photo, I’m planning on slightly darker stitching (as happens to denim shirts as they fade and the thread doesn’t) and bone buttons (a nod to the pearl snaps on my old friends). I’m scared and excited.

SWEATER: I’ve been saying my SoB sweater would be the grey pullover I really truly need. But A) I’m a little leery of the idea of casting on a grey mostly-stockinette US6 sweater when I already have a grey mostly-stockinette US6 sweater on the needles. Plus why would I not use this opportunity to focus on the one sweater I want most in all the world — the whole reason I learned to knit in the first place — the fisherman sweater of my dreams. So I’m doing it. Since I plan to chart out the written directions from the vintage pattern, and likely do some tweaking, I’ll start with the swatching and charting right away and hope (hope hope hope) to be able to finish the whole thing by the end of August. I am elated over this decision.

PANTS???: I’ve got pants on the brain. As in, I’ve never made pants and I’m signed up for a jeans workshop in September, and it seems like maybe I should have made some semblance of a pants-like thing before that. Right? My very favorite old pajama pants have also passed the point of no return, and while I was taking them apart this weekend and trying to trace off a pattern to replace them, I was also thinking how much I love my simple elastic-waist Florence Pants (I seriously wear them at least 4 times a week) and about this Idea Log and that striped fabric on my shelf, a pair of striped Ace & Jig pants I almost bought last year … you get the picture. However, part of me also wants to reserve the third slot and not commit right this minute. So as much as I want and hope to do this, it’s currently ever-so-slightly tentative.

I’ve got a lot to do still in preparation for Squam next week, but am eager to get started on some part of this over the weekend! What will you be starting?

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

Big news from Fringe Supply Co!

SPEAKING OF SQUAM: There’s some really big Porter Bin news over on the @fringesupplyco IG feed. Hint: army green is coming! If you’ll be at the Squam Art Fair on the 10th, don’t miss your chance to snag one — check the Instagram post for details.

AND IN CURRENT SHOP NEWS: We’re temporarily out of the wildly popular Lykke interchangeable sets (more coming mid-month) BUT! we finally have spare tips and cords for sale! EDIT: And now the new Pom Pom is here!

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PREVIOUSLY: Summer of Basic Make-along starts now!

Queue Check — May 2017

Queue Check — May 2017

With my linen Sloper finished, I’m back to this allegedly-for-summer grey cardigan, the lone WIP at the moment. (Actually, that’s not entirely true — I’m also finishing up the hat samples for my Squam class. More on that to come.) I had the idea that I would knit the Sloper during my 10 days in Florida and then finish this cardigan by the end of May, but forgot I was working from my sister’s house and not actually on vacation! So apart from the drive home, there wasn’t much more knitting than usual … and thus here we are, the cardigan still very much a WIP. In addition to really needing this sweater right now, we’ve got Summer of Basics starting Thursday and I haven’t finalized my plan for that yet, although it will include the grey half-texture pullover. Plus there’s the make and mend list I just put together a couple of weeks ago. Plus I’m dying to swatch for the vintage fisherman sweater. It’s like I’m on the brink of starting so many (great, useful) things! So for the moment, I’m just taking a deep breath, concentrating energy on this cardigan, and seeing what I can do with it before the deluge.

Queue Check — May 2017

PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: April 2017