The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

As I noted last week, I started working on this post the day after we got back, yet before what turned out to be several days all-but-unconscious with a fever. I’m so glad I had written this through before that happened, because at this point it all seems like a figment of my fevered imagination …

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Under the heading of “blessings in disguise”: Our flight to Paris got postponed a day. We arrived at the airport that Monday afternoon just moments before the airline texted me to say that our flight to Atlanta was delayed several hours. Since we had a very brief layover, that meant we wouldn’t make our connecting flight. After an hour standing at the counter getting rebooked onto new flights the following day, we put our suitcases back in the car and went home. Dejected, sure, but that allowed me to do three things I hadn’t had time for: 1. sew pockets on my last-minute travel pants (see below), 2. sit down on my couch with a glass of wine and the guidebooks (most notably this priceless little gem) I had ordered with such good Type-A intentions yet hadn’t cracked open, and 3. run to Target for some Zyrtec D1, as it was becoming clear I was on a collision course with a sinus infection. And so, the next morning we headed back to the airport with me feeling much calmer and better prepared than I had the day before.

It was a dream of a trip and I’ve gotten a lot of requests for three things: Channel pics, Paris tips and a recap on how the ol’ slow-fashion/capsule travel wardrobe packing plans turned out. And of course I want at least a cursory record of the trip for myself. So I’m going to attempt to cover all of that here in the most manageable way I can think of, which is to break it down day by day, outfit by outfit, with most of the related tips and whatnot relegated to footnotes so you can further investigate whichever bits are of interest. Regardless, it’s a REALLY long post! Lots of photos. And I’m happy to answer any and all questions, so please ask away!

THE FINAL PACKING LIST

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

So in the end, I took 12 garments (3 on my person, 9 in my carry-on suitcase) and 3 pairs of shoes.

camel Channel cardigan
black cropped cardigan
– “secondhand” chambray shirt (rescued from Bob’s goodwill pile)
– black silk Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock (locally made)
– plaid top (me-made, never blogged)
black sleeveless top
– visually mended linen chambray Madewell popover (c.2013, fast fashion but I’m making it last!)
– black Imogene+Willie tee (made in LA, no longer available)
– best-friend/safety-blanket Part Wolf t-shirt (no slow cred, but I’ve had and will wear it for years)
natural Willie jeans from Imogene+Willie (made in LA)
rigid Willie jeans from Imogene+Willie (made in LA)
– black linen Elizabeth Suzann Florence Pant (made locally, personalized by me)
black Vayarta slip-ons (handmade in Mexico)
– faux snake J.Crew ballet flats (“made in Italy,” hopefully; no longer available)
– silver Solid State flats (handmade in LA for local purveyor Goodwin)

And I ultimately decided on my trench coat (J.Crew c.2009-10) over my hooded rain jacket, based on the forecast.

If you compare to the draft list, I pulled out the striped sweater (it was clearly going to be a warm week and even the two cardigans seemed a tad excessive), scored a pair of black linen, elastic-waist, photoshoot-sample Florence Pants from my friends over at Elizabeth Suzann, and added my favorite old t-shirt for sleeping/lounging. Also in the suitcase were two other things intended for the hotel room: a pair of thin black leggings and some flipflops I bought during a footwear emergency in DC last summer.

Most days (every day?) involved a wardrobe change, as we would come back to the hotel in the late afternoon, tired/hot/dusty, put our feet up for a bit, take a shower, then venture back out for dinner, and I never came close to exhausting all of the combinatory possibilities of these 12 garments. Here’s how it all played out …

. . .

TRAVEL DAY-AND-A-HALF (Tues into Weds)

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

On the plane, I wore the black linen linen pants (now with pockets!), the beloved t-shirt and the chambray shirt, along with my omnipresent grey scarf for scarf-slash-blanket usage, and the ballet flats. I had a pair of black footie socks in my backpack2 for in flight (and my trench was also wadded up in the backpack). Verdict: perfect 24-hour-travel clothes — thumbs up.

. . .

DAY 1 (Or half-day, Weds eve)
me to La Bien Aimee/L’Oisive Thé; Bob wandering the Rue du Montmartre

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

We wound up landing in Paris on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday morning as originally planned, and it took us several hours to get out of the airport and to the Hotel Panache3 via a series of trains. Which means we got to the hotel after lunchtime on Wednesday, and I was scheduled to visit our lovely Fringe Supply Co. stockist La Bien Aimée around 6pm and stay for dinner and knit night at L’Oisive Thé4. We tried and failed to nap (both of us ill at this point, Bob having beaten me there by about two weeks but me quickly catching up), and of course we were totally exhausted by the travel and also hadn’t eaten. By the time I sat up and had a little chat with myself about how I was ever going to stand up off the bed, much less get showered and dressed, into a cab, and enjoy the company of a roomful of knitters for four hours … I honestly didn’t know. And I honestly don’t know for sure if this is what I wore! That’s how messed up I was. But I’m pretty sure I pulled the comfy linen pants back on, and definitely the black sleeveless top and black cardigan, my trench coat and ballet flats. What I absolutely know for certain is I had a lovely time, and even perked up a bit once I got some food in me. I’m so thankful to everyone there for welcoming me, and only sorry I didn’t get to mingle more!

. . .

DAY 2 (Thurs – first full day in France)
walk from hotel down through 2nd and 1st arrondissements to and around Louvre courtyard (where we did what tourists apparently do: stand on the stone blocks for pictures) / crossed the Seine into the 6th and wandered down Rue de Seine to the Luxembourg Gardens / croques-madames for lunch at Angelina / westward, popping into the famed Bon Marché (Bob needed a scarf5 and Aimée had said the store is worth a visit) and the Conran Shop, to the Eiffel Tower

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Thursday was the coolest day of the forecast — likely my only chance to wear the Channel Cardigan I had finished knitting in time and imagined wearing throughout — so we knew it had to be sweater picture day. It turned out to be the only chance I got to wear it, but I’m so happy to have gotten to wear it that once (that place) before putting it away till Fall.

For photo purposes, I had planned to wear it with the sleeveless chambray top and the natural jeans, but wound up putting the black shell back on instead, plus my slip-ons that were meant to be my main walking shoes. These things are better than sneakers: soft-soled, SUPER cushy insoles, and no laces and flaps to potentially rough up your feet. I’d been wearing them to work nonstop for a couple weeks (where I stand for 8 hours a day and do a lot of moving around and manual labor and stuff) without any problem. And I had put blister guards on the backs of my feet for good measure. But a tiny catch in the seam at the back of the left one, imperceptible up till then, dug a hole right through the blister guard and into the back of my foot. So this was their only outing.

I don’t remember whether I changed for dinner that night, although I must have. (This was my worst sick day, before I started taking the drugs, so it’s foggy.) Certainly I did change shoes. After dinner, we took up a perch in the lobby with a view out onto the street and ordered champagne from the little hotel restaurant.

. . .

DAY 3 (Fri)
walked to and across the Ile de la Cité to legendary Shakespeare and Co / cabbed over to the Musée D’Orsay to see the Impressionists et al / walked across the Seine and through the Tuileries / did some shopping in the 1st: WHSmith for magazines, Colette (a longtime fixture on my wishlist that graciously scheduled a Christoph Niemann6 show for while we were in town!), Cos and A.P.C. / walked back toward hotel along Rue Richlieu and stumbled into this amazing exhibit at Drawing Lab

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Friday was a day for layers — fluctuating temperatures, but with a cool breeze. I wore the black shell and black cardigan again, with the dark Willies and the ballet flats, plus my trench coat — perfect for a day of art and shopping. It warmed up in the afternoon, so by then the sweater was in my backpack and I was happy in my little top and trench.

dinner at Ademi / drinks at Le Brébant / dessert at Floquifil 

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

For dinner that night, in a super casual mood, we ventured into a new little woodfired pizza place near the hotel called Ademi, which I liked both the look and smell of from having passed it a few times. Lovely people and good food, turns out. I think I went in my black tee, dark jeans, flats and trench.

. . .

DAY 4 (Sat)
cabbed to the flea market, or the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, a lifelong dream of mine / from there to Sacré Couer and did the wander-through / walked down through Montmartre and the upper 9th back to the hotel, stopping at KB for chai (me) and juice (Bob), and at Sebastien Gaudard for pastries / cabbed to Pont Neuf and hopped on one of the bateaux mouches7 tour boats, then walked back

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

We covered more far-flung ground on Saturday, as we wanted to go up into the 18th to the world-famous flea market8 — which was heaven even I couldn’t fit any of the beautiful things into my suitcase — and to Sacré Couer and Montmartre and to the bateau, so we sort of alternated between cabs and walks that beautiful, warm day. I wore the black shell AGAIN, with the linen pants, chambray shirt and ballet flats, which was my ideal outfit for all of the above and for the weather. The scarf definitely came out of the backpack while we were out on the river.

dinner at Floquifil

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Dinner that night was probably the most “dressed up” I got on this trip, for dinner in a rustic neighborhood hole-in-the-wall,  and I love this outfit so much: my Elizabeth Suzann silk top I’d been saving for the trip, black cardigan around my neck, dark Willies and silver flats. After dinner, we drank champagne in the lobby again and then went upstairs and ate the pastries9 we’d bought in the afternoon.

. . .

DAY 5 (Sun)
wandered around the 3rd and 4th / cappuccino for Bob at Boot Café and breakfast at Rachel’s / into the Picasso Museum / down through Marais to the Seine again and over to the Tuileries

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

It was SO HOT so of course we walked for miles and miles and miles again. I had saved my list of hotspots in the 3rd and 4th for Sunday, having heard the Marais is open while the rest of the city is closed10. Every single shop and restaurant on my list though (save the micro and adorable Boot Café coffee shop) was closed! But as we wandered from one locked door to another, we passed a sign for the Picasso Museum11 and took it as, well, a sign that we should have had it on our agenda. (I’ll never forget this tiny little kid who was sketching in one of the galleries.) I had it in my head that I wanted to get back to the Tuileries and actually sit down in the bois and hang out with knitting and magazines. So after the Picasso, and a brief rest in the little park down the block, we rattled a few more locked doors in the 4th and then did something of a death march along the full-sun river walkway in the heat, feet screaming to be liberated, and arrived at the Tuileries to find all of Paris already occupying every last chair and bench. Brutal day, really, and I was overdressed. I’d worn my dark Willies again with the plaid top, ballet flats, and the Channel slung over my shoulders in an act of extreme optimism. It wound up in the backpack all day, and the plaid shirt was unwearable again after the sweating that went on. But I looked cute!

dinner at Mersea

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

For dinner, we knew our options would be limited to the neighborhood brasseries (always open) and a few other random casual dining spots. We wound up at a fish-and-chips place called Mersea that we walked past multiple times a day on Rue du Montmartre going to and from the hotel, with me commenting every time that the place was adorable and the name amusing and who doesn’t love fish and chips. We had the best time and the *best* fish and chips. It’s a new place owned by two really charming young guys who worked with a 2-Michelin-star chef on their small menu, and I so hope they do well. If you’re near there, please eat there. I went in just my black tee, linen pants and the flip-flops, totally appropriate for the laid-back joint.

. . .

DAY 6 (Mon)
breakfast at Bob’s Kitchen / acquired assorted bread products at Huré / strolled down past the Centre Pompidou (even more of an eyeful than I ever imagined) to Notre Dame for a closer look, then over to and through Ile St Louis / cabbed back to hotel for the afternoon / one last walk up to KB for chai and juice before dinner

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue
The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

We weren’t meant to be in Paris on Monday — we were planning a daytrip to Reims — but we couldn’t sleep Sunday night and decided to turn off the alarm we had set. So instead, we had a super leisurely last day in the city, which was cool and breezy again after the brick oven of the previous day. For our morning wander, I wore my beloved t-shirt and natural Willies with my trench, my black cardigan as a scarf, and the unflappable flats. This is the outfit that’s probably the most purely me, and that pic of me alongside the Seine across from Notre Dame is also my favorite photo I’ve ever had the good luck to appear in, and a perfect memento of the trip. I loved this quiet day.

dinner at the Panache

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

Bob had dined alone in the hotel restaurant that first night while I was out with the knitters, and kept raving about his meal, so I was determined to eat there before we left. (We’d had breakfast there most mornings, and it was perfection, but we’re talking croissants, cheese, fruit, juice, etc., and I wanted the full dining experience.) I wore my silk Artist Smock again with the black pants — full Elizabeth Suzann — and the silver shoes. Hilariously, this hasty bathroom selfie is the only photo of any of my eveningwear. I felt great in this outfit, and enjoyed my favorite meal in Paris and maybe one of my favorite of all time, actually. If you have a chance to dine there, please have the asparagus and monkfish dish for me.

. . .

TRAVEL DAY (Tues)
one last breakfast at the Panache / cabbed to CDG and flew home

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

For the long flight home, I put on my most comfortable things: the linen pants, the black t-shirt, the black sweater (which spent most of the day around my neck and shoulders) and — feeling my feet could use a change of pace — the silver shoes. I had to laugh when we got to the AirFrance terminal, which is basically the fanciest mall I’ve ever set foot in (need a little Prada or Burberry before you go?), so I felt like my silver shoes were totally in order. Bedhead notwithstanding.

. . .

All told, only 1 garment went unworn — the chambray sleeveless popover — which is absolutely a record for me and packing. As is taking only 12 garments in the first place. (My usual MO is to throw at least 6-8 random tees/tops/tanks into any given suitcase as backups, on top of whatever I already packed.) The workhorses of the trip were clearly the black cardigan, shell and pants, and the ballet flats. It’s a shame the Vayartas didn’t work out for this particular purpose, but I’ll still get a ton of wear out of them, and I actually felt cuter in the ballerinas every day anyway. My feet would not have objected to more cushion, but Dr. Scholls got me through!

This tiny but extremely versatile wardrobe was a vivid reminder to me of how much happier I really am with a small assortment of hardworking clothes, the resulting reduced need to think about getting dressed, and knowing I’ll look good no matter which way I combine them. It’s motivation to keep my closet from ballooning again, for sure. And one of the most striking things about the trip was how different it would have been before my slow-fashion conversion. We went into a few of my longtime favorite shops (most notably A.P.C.) and I fingered things and admired the design and walked away empty-handed, with no regrets, because all of it was made in China/Tunisia/Romania. So I’ve become a contented window-shopper at this stage of my life.

It’s funny to give such a sketchy and clothing-centric outline of this trip that I’ve longed for since my 8th-grade French 1 class, but it also makes it very visual and memorable for me. I could write another 8000 words about how and why I loved it, but all that really matters is we were there, and we loved it.

The Paris review and wardrobe travelogue

. . .

THE FOOTNOTES

1. A few years ago, I had a sinus infection so bad — like someone had walled off my head, nothing getting in or out! — that one night Bob dragged me to the ER in search of help. A nurse gave me this tip: Zyrtec D. The key detail is the “D” — it’s a semi-controlled substance. You don’t need a prescription, but you do have to ask the pharmacist for it, and sign for it. (It kept me alive through the week in Paris, but apparently was no match for whatever I came home with.)

2. My trusty backpack is one I got from SF company Alite Designs at West Coast Craft in October 2013 — they were sewing them right there in their booth. It’s been everywhere with me the past four years.

3. We stayed at the pretty little Hotel Panache, in the lower 9th, and it was perfect for us — affordable, conveniently located between the arrondissements we wanted to visit, etc. Everyone was lovely and helpful, and the restaurant was terrific. It is a European hotel, not an American one, so if you book a room be prepared for small, and pay attention when booking as not all rooms have their own bathroom.

4. If you’re ever in Paris on a Wednesday night, definitely try to reserve a seat for dinner-and-knitting night at L’Oisive Thé.

5. We found the perfect thing and realized we were in the J.Crew dept, LOL.

6. Christoph Niemann is an illustrator-artist I admire tremendously. If you haven’t seen the first episode of the Netflix series Abstract, it’s a must-watch. And I was rendered speechless when I saw, just before I left, that his Colette show included this.

7. Several people told me the bateaux mouches — the tourist boats that run up and down the Seine — are worth doing, and they were totally right. It’s a good way to get the lay of the museum-and-monument land, especially at the start of your trip.

8. I never imagined quite how vast the flea market could be, and would have been lost were it not for Katariina Lambert’s note in her gorgeous guidebook that the best of the mid-century antique vendors are in the Marché Paul Bert section in the center of it all.

9. I know this is blasphemy, but I’ve now had macarons in Paris, from both Gaudard and Ladurée: both delicious but neither beats Miette in San Francisco.

10. Seriously, if you’re in Paris on Sunday and/or Monday plan to do the museums and monuments on those days, and save your shopping or smaller destinations for the other days of the week.

11. The Picasso museum had a show up that centered around his wife, Olga, and how she factored into his work as their marriage disintegrated over the years. I loved how biographical the show wound up being, which was more interesting to me than any particular period of his work or whatever. But what I really loved was the building! A work of art unto itself.

(Field Bag and Lykke needles from Fringe Supply Co.)

2017 FO-2 : Camel Channel cardigan

2017 FO-2 : Camel Channel cardigan

Being that this was nearing completion so close to takeoff, I thought I was going to refrain from doing an FO post about it until I had photos of myself wearing it on the trip, but as soon as I snipped the last woven-in end yesterday, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand the wait. So here it is in all its glory — albeit on a hanger and an armless dress form. I’m sure there will still be Paris photos to come. ;)

In short: LOVE.

Sooo it’s not the sweater I originally set out to knit — different proportions than expected and, as a result, not shawl-collar — but I couldn’t love it any more for what it turned out to be. When I slip it on, it feels utterly perfect: like it’s exactly as it was meant to be, and like it suits my frame perfectly.

It’s a modified version of Jared Flood’s incredible Channel Cardigan pattern, knitted in Jones & Vandermeer’s Clever Camel, and like my Gentian hat of yore, this was a magical combination of yarn and stitch pattern. Every minute I spent with it in my hands was heaven, even when I was ripping back and redoing, and I am sad that it’s over! The fabric is beyond words. (And I wound up using far less yarn than I thought, so it wasn’t even as expensive as I was prepared for it to be! Although still definitely an investment, and very definitely worth it.)

There was a moment early on when I got nervous about using this natural camel color for this particular project. Halfway into the first sleeve, I realized the combination of color and texture was going to feel very ’70s to me, and the question was whether it would be good ’70s or bad ’70s. In the end, it does feel like a really great thrift-store find (and just a tiny bit like I pinched it off Mr. Rogers). But I’m glad I went with it. My only regret is not making the pockets about two chevrons deeper, but they’ll serve their purpose just fine.

Most of all, I want to say that this sweater is, somehow, truly next level. It terms of how polished and professional it feels, it easily surpasses everything I’ve knitted to date. I couldn’t be prouder — or more excited to wear it. Thankfully we’re traveling somewhere it stands a chance, because it’s too late in Nashville!

2017 FO-2 : Camel Channel cardigan

Pattern: Channel Cardigan by Jared Flood
Yarn: Clever Camel by Jones & Vandermeer in Naked (undyed)
Cost: 10 skeins @ $19.80/ea (spent in 2016) + $7.50 buttons + $8 pattern (spent in 2014) = $213.50
Buttons: 20mm bleached horn narrow-rim buttons from Fringe Supply Co.

Modifications:
– knitted sleeves flat and seamed
– added side seams (via basting stitch at each side)
– added inset pockets
– omitted waist shaping
– omitted eyelets/belt
– omitted seamed shawl collar; worked a plain, picked-up, garter-stitch band instead (US5)

Size notes:
I knitted the size 38.75 size at a very slightly larger stitch gauge, so it’s a more like 40-41″ in circumference (about 5-6″ positive ease on me), but all vertical dimensions (sleeve length, V depth, total length, etc) match the pattern/schematic.

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater hereInstagram posts here, and favorite it at Ravelry if you’re so inclined!

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Black yoke sweater

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

Q for You: Are you a repeater?

Q for You: Are you a repeater?

A few days ago, I posted the above photo on Instagram with this caption: “I stopped an inch short of finishing the body last night because I’m not ready for my time with this stitch pattern to come to an end.” One of the comments was “Time to cast on another one!!’ and the immediate response in my head was Too many other fish in the sea! As if I would never knit the same sweater twice. And yet I say to myself all the time that I’m going to knit another Bellows one of these days, and maybe even another Amanda, which got me wondering why and when I’m willing to repeat. In both of those speculative cases, it’s because I want another of the same sweater but in a snugglier, woolier yarn. (A Spring/Fall version and a Winter version, basically.) But even so, I’ve made no moves to actually cast on again.

I have repeated smaller things in the past — I knitted Fetching mitts for two different friends (no different other than the yarn/color), and have knitted three versions of Orlane’s Textured Shawl (here, here and here; all pretty distinctly different in scale, gauge and fabric). Of course I’ve knitted multiple Stadium Hats and Super Simple Mitts. And oh yeah, Improv sweaters, obviously! And clearly I have no problem repeating sewing patterns — in fact, I prefer it, given all the prep work involved. Apparently the only things I’m willing to knit repeatedly are fairly simple, useful, adaptable basics, whereas the more unique or challenging things get knitted once and then it’s on the next one. But is that really it? I don’t know! I’m still pondering.

So that’s my Q for You today: Are you a repeat knitter of things, and if so what and when? Is it different for sewing than knitting?

I look forward to your responses, and also wish you a wonderful weekend. I, for one, am super excited about the arrival of Daylight Savings!

UNRELATED SHOP NEWS: I’m also super excited about the arrival this week of more Lykke fixed circular needles, the new issue of Taproot, Bookhou double-zip pouches (the beloved Pepita print is available again) and a massive restock of Bento Bags!

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How do you use Pinterest?

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

Queue Check — Year-end 2016

Queue Check — Year-end 2016

My Knitting Year in Review post makes it seem like 2016 was my Year of Stockinette — and it pretty much was. Of the FOs, the only thing that isn’t plain stockinette is my Anna Vest, which is the next closest thing to it. But apparently I was really just saving the best for last! I’m ending the year with the mesmerizing knits-and-purls of my Channel Cardigan (top, in Clever Camel) and the colorwork of my St. Brendan (bottom, in Arranmore), and loving every minute of it — so happy to squeeze in a spot of colorwork before the year is up. (Can you believe the only cables I knitted all year were on my abandoned first-version knitalong sweater?)

I’ve been on summer break this week — it was my first time off since the beginning of May, and we’ve been in 88-degree Florida, so it felt entirely like summer break. I finished the second Channel sleeve cap on the drive down, and literally made a mistake on almost every row, after having sailed through the rest of the sleeve without a one. Clearly my brain was wanting a holiday, so after finishing up the hem ribbing, I cast on St. Brendan and have been wallowing in … yep, stockinette! Apart from those 14 rows of colorwork, which make it seem like not a plain stockinette project at all.

But a thing happened — it was tiny. Like 38″ around instead of the 45″ it should be. I’d swatched like a good girl, and my blocked swatch (on US9) was spot on, so I had reason to hope it would block out correctly. But rather than plow ahead with worry, I transferred it onto waste yarn (at the point pictured above) and blocked it. It’s totally fine! So a day later, it was back on the needles and I was cruising through the body, which at this point is a good 14″ long or so. And good gravy I love this yarn and this fabric.

I had plans of doing a big, meaty forward-looking Queue Check for today, but decided I’d rather wallow in my holiday, so I’ll think about 2017 plans in January, yeah?

Thank you so much for everything this year, and for all the great comments this week — especially your feedback under Top posts of the year. I’ve been reading them all and will be going back through and responding now that I’m home. Happy New Year’s Eve to you (tomorrow), and I wish you all the best in the coming year—

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: November/December 2016