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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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

Days like these deserve knitting like this

Days like these deserve knitting like this

Yesterday was what’s commonly known as “a shitshow” so all I have for you today is a picture of the current state of my Channel Cardigan. But it’s pretty great, right? The photo on Monday’s post was taken back in August when I knitted the first sleeve; the second one and that bit of waist ribbing have been knitted over the past week and a half. What a difference 4.75/in makes! This is truly one of the most pleasant knitting experiences I’ve had so far. The stitch pattern, the yarn … the whole thing just hums. It’s days like these make me that much more grateful that I have knitting waiting for me at the end of them — especially when it’s this.

Channel Cardigan by Jared Flood being knitted in Clever Camel

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Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

When I first started doing these Queue Check posts a couple of years ago, it was at least partly to try to get myself to focus, but in the earlier posts I was still ping-ponging around between projects, with new ideas about what to cast on every month. Lately, I’ve been so disciplined and, well let’s face it, so slooow that the posts have been more WIP status than queue planning. Honestly, I’ve been scared to distract myself from the sweaters at hand because I want them so badly. But after this week of Winter ’16 Wardrobe Planning posts, I feel like I can safely start projecting into the future again.

DECEMBER PLANS: I swore to myself I would have my striped sweater finished before it came around to Queue Check again. I was convinced I’d be finishing it last weekend, but I wound up (happily) with houseguests, so that didn’t happen. But after the Oct-Nov slow spell while I had so much else going on, I’ve been making headway on the sleeves lately. It’s amazing how quickly things can go when you actually work on them! So I’m hoping ol’ stripey will be done by the end of this weekend, and the next time you see it will be a FO post. (That’s Shibui Pebble, and an improvised top-down raglan.)

After that, all attention and energy will be in seeing how quickly I can move my Channel Cardigan along (yarn is Clever Camel, undyed). Even though the first sleeve went very quickly, I know this sweater is a lot of knitting — the collar alone with take some serious time. But I want to see how far I can get with it before Christmas, because …

Then I have a road trip, and I’m thinking of seeing if I can knit a Carrowkeel within the space of that trip. I’m pondering using Arranmore in Cronan but haven’t seen the color in person yet, so can’t be sure.

And then it’s a question of next priorities heading into January. These three of the six sweaters I proposed on Monday are what’s elbowing their way to the front of my brain:

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

ABOVE LEFT: I am really stuck on this idea of a big cardigan-coat. I’m haunted by Jenny Gordy’s, and also obsessing over this Lauren Manoogian number. I’m considering the possibility of using my Sawkill Farm trove for it, held double, and will swatch soon and see what I think about that. It could actually be a really quick project at bulky gauge, and extremely useful.

ABOVE MIDDLE: I’ve never been anything but serious about St. Brendan, but last night I went so far as to order the yarn.

ABOVE RIGHT: is the simple pullover I’m needing and dreaming of, and there’s nothing I want more than to have Junegrass on my needles. But as I said Monday (and so many of you have said in the meantime!) I can solve the pullover problem more quickly by sewing a Linden or two. So that’s high priority and this Junegrass pullover will likely be in line right behind St. Brendan. And then I also eventually want the same sweater in a nice rich camel.

This week has been amazing for me in terms of really getting my head around what’s in my closet, how to wear it, and what I need and want to do next. In fact, it’s opened my eyes to the fact that I have what I’ve always wanted: a small collection of highly combinable pieces. (I.e., Garanimals for grown-ups.) So my challenge now is to keep adding very thoughtfully, keeping it reined in while still indulging in and enjoying the process of making clothes and augmenting a wardrobe.

In addition to the above adjustments/additions to my knitting queue, here are the other to-do’s that came out of it all—

SEW:
– nice “sweatshirt” or two
– denim shirt?? or light-blue shirting (or buy?)
– black/ivory striped sleeveless tee
– white underlayer top of some kind

FIX:
– re-sew buttons on grey vest
– block black sleeveless turtleneck out a bit larger
– mend the mended jeans
– mend light-blue sleeveless chambray top

BUY:
– new jeans
– black silk band-collar top?
– tan/cognac shoes, clogs or ankle boots

Also: Do another clean-out of the things that aren’t getting worn and find them happy new homes.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: October 2016