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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New Favorites: The one(s) I’ve been waiting for

New Favorites: Pasvik knitting pattern by Julie Knits in Paris

In the absence of a big wrap that I’m really wild about, there’s a thing I routinely do — especially on airplanes. I take the two corners at each end of the thin wool scarf I always have in my bag and tie them together, leaving enough room for my wrists to slip through. That way my arms stay covered as I work or knit or whatever, without the scarf sliding off my forearms. I’ve always wanted the knitted version of this — and have twice been on the brink of casting on Flying Squirrel — but none of the shrug patterns out there ever feels quite right. Until I saw Pasvik, above, a design by Julie Knits in Paris for the new issue of Laine. (Which also contains the Denise Bayron Grace pullover that’s part of my Summer of Basics trio.) I had the pleasure of meeting Julie in Paris, and love the shape and textures on this, and the versatility of how it can be worn. L-o-v-e.

But then at exactly the same time, along comes Dyyni from Sari Nordlund, below, which I’ve been holding my breath for since it first appeared on her IG feed in recent months. It is literally the big wrap of my dreams. Simple (to knit and wear) yet with enough interest (in the knitting and the wearing) that I might actually complete it.

New Favorites: Dyyni knitting pattern by Sari Nordlund

What’s a knitter to do? There may be a mash-up in my future …

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Me Made May: What the data shows

Me Made May bullet journal habit tracker spread

In case anyone ever wondered whether I’m more into selfies or data, it’s absolutely no contest. I only took one proper #ootd photo for the month, and despite my dread of selfies I had probably about a 60% success rate of snapping a quick mirror pic in the morning, as backup. But I was 100% successful at keeping up the tracker I set up in my mini bullet journal for the month, and it was really interesting to me to see how it developed. In case it’s interesting to you, here are the results:

— I wore something me-made on 21 of the 31 days.

— The percentages of me-made for each day’s outfit averaged out to 46%. Data-fan Julia rightly commented on my earlier post that there’s a logical flaw in this column, as 1 me-made in a 2-part outfit would be valued at 50% while 1 me-made in a 3-part outfit would only be valued at 33%. I was curious to calculate it anyway. And I also gave myself small percentages of credit for garments that were modified by me in some way, such as 5% for the pockets added to a pair of RTW pants. So the me-modifieds factor into this particular calculation.

Me Made May bullet journal habit tracker - #ootd outfits list

— There were a total of 69 garment instances in the daily outfit listing, not counting shoes, and they broke down as 31 Me-Made, 13 Hybrid, 25 Ready-to-Wear. This is a more accurate tally of what percentage is me-made, and that’s 45% MM / 20% H / 35% RTW. Pretty sure it’s a statistical coincidence that these two ways of calculating the MM percentage came in at 46% and 45%. But regardless, it’s mighty close to my original estimate of 50%.

Me Made May bullet journal habit tracker wear counts

— I wore a total of 27 unique garments during the month, 9 of which were me-made (mostly pants) and 4 of which I had some hand in: the army shirtjacket refashion, the State Smock I dyed, a tee I screenprinted and the black linen pants I added pockets to. That’s 13. The other 14 were purchased — so again, just under 50%. (Note that on weekend days where I only wore exercise clothes or all-day pajamas, I did list the pajamas in the outfit rundown, in parentheses, and indicated which were me-made, but I did not include any purely pj garments in the wear count.)

— Most worn garments were my jeans (which gave way by mid-month), my ivory canvas wide-leg pants (2018) and my black muscle tee (2016) — the latter two being my hardest working me-mades, so … no surprises there.

But what was really interesting was being conscious as I was getting dressed of what parts of my spring-into-summer clothes are homemade and … not. If I were to do this in winter, I’d have on a handknit sweater pretty much every day, so it’d be a question of whether the bottom half was also me-made or RTW. I still have a pronounced dearth of tops for this time of year, and what I do have is largely RTW, so if I wasn’t wearing me-made pants, I was likely not wearing any me-made at all. That tops issue is one I’m really working to address, and this strengthened my resolve to focus my sewing energy on that particular gap in my closet.

Me Made May bullet journal habit tracker

As always, I loved designing and maintaining this tracker, and I learned enough doing this little exercise that I think I will do it again in different seasons to see how the results compare!

(Notebook 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)

The Details: How to make a pompom

The Details: How to make a pompom

It occurred to me as I was shooting my beret the other day that I’ve never posted about how I make pompoms, although I’ve taught it in my classes. Here’s the tried-and-true method for making pompoms that I’ve been using since childhood, no special tools required:

1.) Wrap yarn around the fingers of one hand (or piece of cardboard, a spatula, anything that’s a bit bigger than you want your finished circumference to be). It takes more yarn than you might think. For a loose, shaggy pompom, use less yarn. For a denser, fuller pom, use more. Experiment!

2.) Carefully slide the bundle off your hand and lay it across a separate strand, then use that strand to tie a knot around the belly of the bundle. Pull it tight, but don’t break the yarn. If you need your pompom to have tails for attaching to something else, leave them long and keep them out of the way as you proceed.

3.) Insert your scissors into the clump of loops on each side of the belly band and cut through them, being careful not to cut the strand holding them together. You now have a limp, shapeless pre-pom.

4.) Start pruning! Trim the ends just like you would a hedge, shaping it into an orb. The more you trim, the denser the pompom will be. (Especially if you use a loosely plied yarn that unplies as you work.) Again, experiment to see what suits you! 

The Details: How to make a pompom (free tutorial)

That’s it! For a hat, run the tails down through the top of the hat, secure on the underside and weave in the ends. (Pictured above is my version of Courtney Kelley’s April Hat, a free pattern.)

If it’s going to be attached to any surface, I like to leave the bottom a bit flat. For any other purpose, you’ll want to make it fully round. Pompoms are a great use of yarn leftovers, and you never know what you might find to use them for!

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PREVIOUSLY in The Details: That sweatshirt V-patch look

Pretty bobble beret (2019 FO-3)

April Hat bobble beret (free pattern)

Right after I posted about that pair of bobble berets to which I found myself unexpectedly drawn, I realized I had the yarn for one of them right under my nose. The April Hat (a free pattern) is designed by my friend Courtney Kelley for their Germantown worsted, and I had an almost full skein of it left over, in natural, after my mini Sólbein used so little. So I cast on immediately. And quickly understood that while a good useful stockinette project like my vest-in-progress is the equivalent of a good long walk (with hopefully some scenery along the way), and I love a good long walk, I was desperately in need of an experience more like a gymnastics floor routine — lots of action and fluttery doodads. And this hat nailed it.

The brim is an easily memorized lace pattern that was fun right out of the gate. The floral bits on the body of the hat are a combination of puff stitch and bobbles. I’ve knitted bobbles before but had no idea what I was in for with puff stitch — the puff-stitch rounds were almost comically slow for me, although I did get faster each time. Like anything new in life, it’s awkward until you get used to it, but it’s one of those fabrics where you just can’t wait to get to the next repeat because it’s so fun watching it develop.

April Hat bobble beret (free pattern)

I’m rarely one to swatch for hats, especially one I don’t expect to wear myself. Having knitted Courtney’s patterns before, I know that she’s a looser knitter than me, plus the dimensions are a little on the small side and I didn’t want it to come out even smaller. So I threw caution to the wind and went up from the recommended needles to a size US8 for the whole thing (same as I had used on the Sólbein), brim included. After blocking, it clocks in at pretty much exactly the pattern dimensions. And I’m excited to send it off to another of my little nieces, who I feel certain will love it.

The only point of debate for me is the pompom. I imagine she’ll like it, and it is definitely a cake topper to go with all this icing, but I love the way the crown comes together and regret that the pompom covers that up. So as I’m wont to do, I’ve tied it to the inside with a bow, so it can be easily removed by the recipient.

April Hat bobble beret (free pattern)

Here it is on Ravelry if you’re inclined to fave it! ;)

It’s the end of May and this is the third thing I’ve finished this year, all three knitted for others. But my vest is SO CLOSE — coming soon.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Cabled husband hat

Elsewhere + Holiday weekend project idea

Elsewhere + Holiday weekend knitting project idea

I woke up to such exciting news yesterday: Kay finished her Logalong sweater! And it’s a beauty. (Back story here.) Which is likely what reminded me that my Log Cabin Mitts pattern is a great holiday-weekend project, whether you need something portable for travel or an addictive little something to get into (and scrounge leftovers for) on a quiet weekend at home.

Here’s a longish Elsewhere for the long weekend—

— Never have so many people sent me the same link: ‘Knitting is coding’ and yarn is programmable in this physics lab (NYT link) (thx, everyone!)

— Makers of color: Have you responded to Jen Hewett’s survey for her upcoming book? Just a few days left …

— Settle in for this one: Anni Albers on How to Be an Artist

I always love reading about the birth of a new yarn

— Obsessed with these scrappy quilted jackets here and here

Great question

Canadian councilwoman calls out gender disparity at city council, one stitch at a time — you can see the disparity better here (thx, DG)

— “So, while it’s #memademay and I cheer at the handmade garments in my feed, I also cheer for the mended, darned, repaired, re-dyed, redesigned, or simply beloved clothes we’ve been tending for years. I celebrate the intention, the mindfulness, the awareness. And remember that we all have different resources in time, money, skill, equipment, and craftsmanship for our clothing. And hope that beauty can be the ecology we tend and support in Slow Fashion.

— “The question is no longer whether it is necessary to improve sustainable business practices, but rather how long it will take before consumers stop buying from brands that do not act responsibly.”⁣

Dream sweater

— And yes to baby animals in sweaters (but they are planning to pay for photos, right?) (thx, Jen)

On a totally different front, I’ll be reading the Wikipedia short history of Memorial Day, which — as with just about everything — is more rich and complicated than I recall knowing. And we’re planning to dust off Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary this weekend, which I’ve only ever seen bits of.

However you’re passing the weekend, wherever you are, I wish you the best — and I’ll see you back here next week!

IN SHOP NEWS: The butterscotch Porter Bin is back in stock, along with the new olive/army Town Bag I’m so thrilled you’re all loving! And all the other lovely goodies, of course.

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere