Linen Fen dress, take one

Linen Fen dress, take one

My weekend was all about making that Fen dress idea from last week come to life and I am exceedingly pleased with this first pass at the concept! You may recall the only thing I wanted to change from the tunic version was to bring the neck width in considerably, as I don’t like wide necklines on me. But I also had two design details in mind for the dress-length version that wound up being relevant to the neck situation: A center-front seam in order to have a front slit, and center-back pleat to keep the back of this thing from just being one big flat sheet. In planning the execution of those two details, I realized they were actually the solution to the neck width.

Rather than moving the neckline inwards to make it narrower, the back pleat is sewn 1″ in from the center-back fold, which removes 2″ total from the back neck width but leaves the width of the lower body unchanged. The front pieces were cut along the selvage instead of on the fold, and the seam is likewise sewn 1″ from the edge. This removed a matching 2″ from the front neck width, but also makes the entire front of the dress 2″ narrower. Because it’s a sack, that has no real effect on the fit, and that all made the neckhole exactly right — it fits perfectly over my head. Not wanting to lose even a quarter of an inch in neck circumference, I attached the bias facing in visible fashion rather than folding the whole thing to the inside.

And I totally and utterly love this. I have plans to make assorted variations in other colors — more on that to come!

The only other thing I’ll note about this one for now is that it’s made from some Roma lightweight linen I bought from Fancy Tiger and, although it’s perhaps a teeny tiny bit sheer for a dress if you’re concerned about that, it was an absolute joy to sew with and is a dream to wear. And this shade of yellow is exquisite — it’s neither bright nor muddy, and shifts beautifully with the light. Thankfully, they tell me they’ll get more, because I want a little linen tee in the same color.

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Linen Fen tunic, take one

Linen Fen tunic, take one

Linen Fen tunic

It’s a funny paradox when your clothes are basically (or literally) pajamas and yet you feel overly dressy for your warehouse way of life. But that’s where I’m at!

The simple fact is I need more linen clothes for Nashville’s swamp season than the scant few I own. Everything else in my closet is unbearable in this humidity, and what I want is five or six linen sack dresses I can just wear on repeat, but what I have is the black linen pants I have worn nearly to tatters in only two years of nonstop hot-weather wear, and the natural linen-cotton Carolyn pants I sewed last September. So I’m trying to figure out how best to add more linen to my wardrobe and how to make any of it feel like me.

I had an idea for a slit-front sack dress with a kangaroo pocket (a mash-up of assorted other things I’ve seen and loved lately) and decided to test the top part of it using the Fen pattern I already own and some bright cyan linen that’s been in my stash for a few years to make a tunic that could be worn with pants and jeans. I’m quite happy with it comfort-wise — it’s probably as close as linen can get to that slouchy, cut-up sweatshirt vibe — but this particular outfit still feels like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes.

I’d made the Fen top in sizes 8 and 12 before, and for this one all I did is make the size 20, drawing out a straight hemline from the bottom edge of the original shirttail hem, and make a big kangaroo pocket for the front. This is the same neckline tweak I’d done before but somehow it seems bigger here, so on the next one (there will be a next one for sure), I’ll bring the whole neckline in and possibly shorten the sleeves a tiny bit, although I’m liking them rolled like I have them in the photo above.

But what I’m most eager to do is cut a dress-length version. So stand by for that.

SHOP NEWS: Speaking of linen, there’s a new Bento Bag in town: Eggplant! It’s stunning. We also have a new mini-scissor in the lineup, called Joji, and we’re retiring the Porter Bin in black — when our current stack is gone, that’s it for black. It will still be available in natural, army and butterscotch.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Smock vest with pocket

Queue Check — June 2019

Queue Check — June 2019

With my smock vest all done (and already worn repeatedly), my Summer of Basics trio is off to a speedy start! I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I had cast on my modified Grace pullover (in dreamy toffee-colored Our Yarn from the shop) and had made it to the body/sleeve separation within the space of a very short trip. I’ve been sick the past week and spent a few days stuck on my couch, one of which I spent knitting most of the first sleeve so I could block it so far and see how it’s fitting. Remember I’m doing my own measurements and math, since I’m knitting at a different gauge than the pattern, and so far I could not be happier with how it’s shaping up. Now that I’ve been able to try on the blocked WIP, it’ll be full steam ahead again! And at this pace, it’ll be done long before it’s wearable. (I’ll tell you about that bit between the pink lines when it’s done, but here’s the backstory on that.)

Stuck at home sick also turns out to be the perfect time to start a crochet project, i.e. my Joanne hat. The one thing that keeps me from doing more crochet is having to pay close attention and count all the time; I worry about getting interrupted (or my mind wandering) and losing my place. So what better use of staring-at-the-wall-in-a-congested-stupor time, right? Step one, watch a YouTube video and remember how to crochet; step two, commence counting.

I didn’t do a gauge swatch. Getting used to working with this raffia is a thing, and there’s no way I’d be able to catch it with a smaller hook (I do like this Lykke crochet hook), so I’m just doing what I can do. My gauge seems to be a bit looser than the pattern calls for — meaning a bigger hat — but I also have a big head. Ergo, I’m winging it. I worked on the top disc part until it seemed perilous to go any bigger, and then I started working downwards. I figure I’ll just try it on as I go and fudge my way through the shaping. I have low hopes for this entire project, so there’s a fair chance of being happily surprised!

So far I’m having fun, but if anyone has advice on how to manage that cone of raffia, I’m all ears! It basically exploded like one gigantic continuous party streamer, and I spent another chunk of a sick day making my confinement all the more miserable by winding the tangled mess into four big raffia nests, now nestled in that Field Bag. Never doing that again, thanks.

As for piece three, the dress, I am now in possession of the English edition of the Japanese pattern book. Just waiting for my fabric to arrive.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: May 2019

Smock vest, part 2: Pocket and glamour shots

Smock vest, part 2: Pocket and (lol) glamour shots

Ugh, I am so bad at selfies but I’m pretty good at sweaters! And here she is in all her glory: the smock vest I’d been dreaming of, now with the detail that makes her complete. When I was knitting this pocket, I was convinced I’d gotten carried away. I had only the bind-off to do (took it with me on my northern adventure) but convinced myself I needed to rip it out and make it smaller both directions. When I got it back out on Saturday, I decided I might as well bind off and block it and see. And as is often the case, I was worrying about nothing! My original calculations were spot on. Being a big fan of asymmetry, and as is often the case with me and sweater/vest pockets, I decided to stop at one. I’m totally thrilled with it.

Smock vest, part 2: Pocket and glamour shots

I knitted and grafted the pocket as described here. Pattern tbd, but previous notes on this vest are all here.

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Smock Vest, part 1

Smock Vest, part 1 (2019 FO-4)

Smock Vest, part 1 (2019 FO-4)

This might be technically more of a sneak peek than a true FO, but this “smock vest,” as I keep calling it, is whole and wearable. It just needs its pockets in order to be fully realized, but I couldn’t wait to show it to you even while I’m still knitting those, as I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out.

Going back to the original idea, I wanted a simple, funky, deep-armholed vest that would slip over absolutely anything and keep the back of my neck warm in cooler months. Without its pockets — and on this dress form, to be honest — it’s slightly more prissy than funky, but it will get there! That may be due in part to my decision to leave off the buttonholes and buttons. I debated with myself about that, but was liking the front edge on the narrow side and didn’t want to make it wide enough to accommodate buttons.

It does look a little funkier in person than it does in these photos, due largely to the slight slubbiness of the yarn — and let me say, I am very happy with my yarn choice here. It’s Mungo by my friend Rosa Pomar, a 50/50 blend of recycled cotton and wool. It could not be more different from the 50/50 Balance I use so often — the recycled fiber just has a totally different (much more cottony) texture and hand to it, and knits up into a lighter fabric. But just like Balance, it loves a trip through the washing machine and even a little time in the dryer if needed. And I straight up pressed the finished garment with my iron. Especially when it’s off-white, I love a garment that can take a washing (without being superwash).

So yes, happy on all fronts. Once I get the pockets on it, I’ll take proper modeled/outfit shots. And I know a lot of you are hoping I’ll write up the pattern — I promise to consider it!

Additional notes on this sweater here, and it’s on Ravelry here.

(Lykke needles and wooden gauge ruler from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Pretty bobble beret

Mini New England knitting adventure

Mini New England knitting adventure

I’m just back from a little unplanned adventure! As you may recall, I made the decision a couple of months ago to decline the Maker in Residence position at Squam Art Workshops and ask that it be offered to a maker of color instead — and was happy when Jewell of Our Maker Life accepted it. With Bob’s surgical near-future still in flux, I also had to back us out of vending at the Squam Art Fair. Which left me with no official role at Squam but still with a plane ticket to Boston and a significant need for the time off, not having taken any in six months. And while giving up the residency had been an easy decision to make, I regretted not getting to see Rosa Pomar while she was here (there) to teach — among other loved ones — and wanted to meet Jewell in person. So I decided to keep my flights.

Each time I’ve been to Squam — near Holderness NH — I’ve wished I had the time to wander into Maine, having never been there. It’s right there, but I never get to do it. So when my friend Mary Jane Mucklestone suggested I drive to Portland and crash on her couch, it sounded like the perfect chance. We looked at lighthouses, walked all over the place, ate lobster rolls, and of course, knitted. And then we drove over to Squam for the weekend. There are rooms in a big creaky old lodge building that are set aside for Taste of Squam (weekend-only attendees), and we shared one of them; spent time knitting on the dock and the porch and in front of the fire, and shopped the Art Fair before parting ways and heading home on Sunday.

It was great to see so many people, however briefly, and to say a quick hello-goodbye to those beloved woods — the sad part being that Jewell was unable to make it after all! Unforeseen circumstances forced her to cancel at the last minute. So I hope we’ll have another chance to meet sometime.

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But what about the knitting! The night before I left, I knitted and blocked a swatch for the Grace sweater I’ve included in my Summer of Basics trio, which I’m not knitting at pattern gauge. While the plane filled in on Wednesday, I measured the swatch (3.75 sts/inch as compared to 2.75 in the pattern), did my math, and cast on in-flight. By the time I got home Sunday night, I was already about 3″ past the divide for the body and sleeves! I know it’s not about speed, but there’s no denying how satisfying it is to knit a sweater that moves that quickly. Imagine if I were actually knitting at the original superbulky gauge — I’d likely have only a sleeve to go. And that’s not even the only thing I knitted. I also finished the shawl collar on my smock vest and wove in the ends. Can’t wait to show it to you!

All in all, five days well spent.

(Yarn and Town Bag from Fringe Supply Co.)

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My Summer of Basics plan

My Summer of Basics plan - #summerofbasics make- along

For anyone new here, Summer of Basics is a very simple concept: Spend the next three months making three pieces your wardrobe could really benefit from. The definition of “basic” is completely up to you — one person’s outlier is another person’s core wardrobe item. You be you! They can be knitted, sewn, crocheted, or any mix thereof. If you take this as an opportunity to stretch your skills, awesome! And everyone is invited and welcome, whatever your age, race, size, gender, ability, you name it — including those in places where we’re headed into winter, not summer. Please don’t let the word “summer” or “basics” deter you!

Remember, this year is Low-key SoB — no eligibility requirements or judging or prizes, just the joy of making good stuff for yourself. You can share your progress — or follow along and chime in — by using the #summerofbasics hashtag on Instagram and/or by posting on your own blog or wherever on the internet and leaving links in comments here for others to see.

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For my trio this time around, I’ve decided on 1 knit, 1 sew and 1 crochet project! (Life circumstances permitting.) Hilariously, they all come from the same color family, which is pure coincidence, albeit born of my obsession with this part of the color wheel at the moment:

1. KNIT: Grace pullover by Denise Bayron
Denise is a good friend but I knew nothing about this design until it was revealed a couple of weeks ago as part of the Laine issue that launches today. The instant I saw it, I knew I had to knit it — in the toffee-colored Our Yarn from Fringe — so it was a no-brainer to make it one of my SoB picks. I’ll be knitting at a little bit finer gauge than the pattern (chunky rather than superbulky), but it’s top-down so will be easy to adjust. This will be such a simple, versatile sweater — and in this abbreviated shape, hopefully well worn.

2. SEW: Dress N by Naomi Ito
I’ve been obsessed with this Nani Iro dress pattern, simply known as pattern N, since it first crossed my radar last year. I ordered the book at the time — Atelier to Nani Iro, in Japanese — and thought I would brave it. But I’d be lying if I said I weren’t thrilled that the English edition publishes in just a few weeks. I’m determined to form a dress habit this summer (more on that soon) and this one is the obvious place to start. Plus I’ll be using a fabric designed by my pal Alexia Abegg — part of the debut collection for the new Ruby Star Society line launching this summer — which is called She, in a gingery spice color they call Earth. (As it happens, she’s talking about all of this on this week’s episode of the Love to Sew podcast.) Everything about this is a little outside my comfort zone and I am SO excited about it.

3. CROCHET: Joanne hat by Wool and the Gang
I desperately need a crushable hat and have never found one that works for me. And I think I’m actually going to try two here — the first being the crocheted Joanne bucket hat from Wool and the Gang (from last summer’s New Favorites), in a tawny colored raffia (the natural was sold out!), and the second being a sewn hat pattern in the Nani Iro book (left image above), which I’m planning to make out of natural canvas, just to see! Hopefully one or the other will actually suit my head and solve my problem, if I can manage to tailor the fit.

There’s also a new Fancy Tiger pattern coming sometime this summer that scratches one my longest-running itches, and I’m considering it a bonus item. I decided to make the hat one of my official 3 instead, to help ensure I actually tackle it!

So that’s my plan, and it seems so doable! How about you — will you join me?

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PREVIOUSLY in Summer of Basics: Low-key Summer of Basics (2019 plan)