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.
First things first:There’s a new Field Bag color launching at 9am CT, very exciting — I’ll update this spot and reveal the photo at that time!YES!, that is a photo of an olive-drab Field Bag alongside the matching olive w/waxed army Town Bag and army green Porter Bin! I would say “it’s back,” but it is the same fabric as the body of the new olive Town Bag, which is slightly different than the original army-green Field Bag we’ve all mourned for years. So it’s all new but every bit as wonderful as the late lamented version! And it’s available now atFringe Supply Co.and through ourstockists. We also have the brand new MDK Field Guide: Wanderlust, and are restocked on our sashiko tool kit and the natural Porter Bin!
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!
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.
. . .
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!
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.
What’s a knitter to do? There may be a mash-up in my future …
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.
— 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%.
— 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.)
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.
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!