Amazing “Grace” and the perfect pants

Amazing "Grace" and the perfect pants
Amazing "Grace" and the perfect pants

The instant I laid eyes on my friend Denise Bayron‘s Grace pullover in Laine magazine’s IG feed, as you know, I knew it would be one of my three Summer of Basics projects, and it didn’t take long for me to decide to knit it in OUR Yarn, in Toffee. A chunky wool sweater is not on the Approved Closet Additions list, but I’ve wanted a pullover in this single-batch yarn ever since acquiring it for Fringe, and this was the perfect sweater for it — simple yet interesting. My hope was that the somewhat abbreviated shape would make it more wearable in my climate than a more voluminous bulky sweater would be, but that remains to be seen. Meanwhile, I love it.

So this is the first of my three SoB picks to be finished. I’m still hoping to finish the hat before this week is out. And while I don’t yet have the fabric for the dress to complete my proposed trio, I have sewn myself three dresses this summer! So I’m feeling good about that.

But back to Grace: Knitting it in this yarn meant doing my own math, since the gauge is different — I’m at 3.75 sts/inch vs the pattern gauge of 2.75 — but that was easy to do since it’s top-down. (Of course, I bought the pattern — the magazine — to compensate the source, even though I knitted it my own way. If you can’t get ahold of this issue, I believe Denise will be releasing the pattern for individual download sometime in November.) The challenge was only in maintaining Denise’s design details and silhouette while making up my numbers, and the only real trick in that was the neck. I really love the little retro slight-funnel neck, and wanted to preserve it, but more than that I love the way the cable panel not only runs right up onto the funnel but actually spans the full width of the front neck between the two raglans. Since knitting at a finer gauge would automatically mean my cables would be narrower, I had to choose among a few options: widening the cables, increasing the number of cables, widening the reverse stockinette field, or not having it fully span the front neck like that — none of which I wanted to do, but I could live with the first one.

By just slightly widening the cables (from 3 stitches to 4, which does create a different look for the cables themselves, unfortunately) and by shifting more of the stitches into the shoulder tops than what Denise starts with, I was able to preserve that key design detail. I also did an extra set of short row turns for the back neck, and placed them a little differently, given the gauge difference. When it came to the sleeves, in addition to knitting them flat, like I do, I did a thing I’ve always wanted to try, which was to put short rows in at the edge of the sleeve caps. (I’ll post more about that in a separate Details post!) In making my sleeve tweaks, I forgot to look and see what clever thing Denise had done with the decreases, so that part got left out. But otherwise, it’s pretty much as designed!

Amazing "Grace" and the perfect pants

After finishing the sweater on Sunday afternoon, I was dying to wear it (for the length of a photo) with my striped linen pants … which were still just a stack of parts on my table. Thus motivated, three hours later I had these beauties. You’ll recall these (yet another pair of modified Robbie pants) were cut out of what was left of the Merchant and Mills stripe from my glorious caftan, and working out the stripe placement was tricky! I managed to use only the multi-stripe portion of the fabric and was able to place the pattern pieces in such a way that the adjacent black stripe disappeared into the seam allowances at the crotch and outer leg. The gaps left between the stripes at those seams are close enough to the original gap between them, as woven, that I don’t think you even notice! My big concern was how it would look where the stripes collide in the rear, but I figured worst-case scenario I’d have to always wear a long top with them. In the end, the butt is my favorite part! And how often can one say that in life?

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Double caftan magic

New Favorites: Lightly cabled

New Favorites: Lightly cabled pullovers

I’m on the brink of knitting myself a simple fall pullover (if I can find exactly the right yarn) and have been picturing it as stockinette and, ideally, a finer gauge than my norm. But the mere thought of actually knitting a sweater’s worth of fine-gauge stockinette sent me running to Ravelry to pore over cable sweaters. As much as I want to knit another fisherman, it’s not a closet priority. So I’m weighing the possibility of something lightly cabled:

TOP: Coastal Pullover by Hannah Fettig features allover cables so subtle they become textural white noise

BOTTOM: Hawley Pullover by Julie Hoover is a little more pronounced about its cables, but still.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Little hugs

Elsewhere

This has been a distressing week in the US (one of far too many of its kind), and you know I feel so strongly that every one of us needs to be informed and engaged and to work for peace. (Boy have my thoughts on how advanced these past three years.) But we also have to take care of ourselves and keep up our strength, which means being present with the people we love and also allowing ourselves to disappear into our knitting or sewing for a minute, to catch our breath and boldly face the world again.

I’ve got a mixed bag of links for you today, for your edification and/or enjoyment; I’ll see you back here on the other side of what I hope will be a comparatively peaceful weekend—

— Squam’s diversity-and-inclusion panel from last month has since been posted online. It’s long, so maybe watch it in chunks if you need to, but I hope you’ll watch

— I love every word of this interview with Oaxacan weaver and natural dyer Porfirio Gutiérrez: No one told us we were artists (via)

— Podcast eps I’m eager to listen to: The Dressed interview with Joy Bivins on the history of the Ebony Fashion Fair and the debut of Ceci Knits the World

— I’m in MDK’s debt for linking to Lorilee Beltman’s brilliant video about how to memorize the Kitchener Stitch — I always have to remind myself which way it goes and will never need to again!

— … and also for asking Jillian Moreno the question I’ve always wanted to ask someone: the difference between fingering-weight yarn and sock yarn

— Remember that wrapped hoop earring tutorial? Anne updated it on her own blog — and look at this lovely espadrille project

Why the American shoe disappeared, and why it’s so hard to bring it back

— and totally fascinating use of a sock blank

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On an unrelated note, I want to acknowledge the loss of Toni Morrison this week, which feels especially sharp within this particular news cycle. I don’t really even have the words for it, but I loved this passage by Tracy K. Smith from one of the many NYT tributes I’ve read in the past few days:

“… the living monument of Ms. Morrison’s body of work assures me that the language of peace, justice, safety and stability must enter our imagination as they always have — not through the language of policy, but via our willingness to regard one another as worthy of attention and love. Such ideas must be sat with, moved through, married to our vocabularies for love, desire, loss, resentment, remembering, healing and hope. And those vocabularies are the primary terrain of the artist.”

I’ve been saying lately it’s been too long since I’ve read any of her novels. Time to dig back in …

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New Favorites: Little hugs

New Favorites: Little sweaters

I don’t know whether it’s the back-to-school air or wanting to “hug” the ones I love, but I’m preoccupied with the notion of knitting more little sweaters to send off to small humans of various sizes. These two patterns (one new, the other a longstanding fave) top my list for being both timeless and gender-neutral, all the better for future hand-me-downs —

TOP: Willard Mini by Alicia Plummer is a sporty little drawstring funnel neck I’d love to have in my own closet

BOTTOM: Arlo by Michele Wang is the one I wanted in my size at the time (and then along came Bellows) but now want to make in miniature

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Puzzle wrap

Queue Check — Midsummer 2019

Queue Check — Midsummer 2019

I know some of you are thinking “midsummer?!” We’re moments away from kids going back to school; there was a football game last night; the stores are already putting out their pumpkin-flavored-everything displays. But I still have a good 2.5 months of heat to deal with and can’t afford to start dreaming of fall. Although — even as I tell myself it’s ok to make clothes that don’t work in every season, that that’s the only way to really address clothes for hot weather — I can’t help thinking about how the things I make now will both travel and transition. That’s what I’m loving so much about the color palette I shared yesterday, which is also reflected above: It’s a palette for all seasons. And with the focus on garments with sleeves, I’m dealing with those in-between times I truly am unequipped for.

The only thing that’s happened to my toffee cable sweater since late June is I finished the first sleeve and cuff. I hope to knit the other sleeve this weekend and get back to the body, wrapping it up soon, because I need to get serious about my fall travel project. You can see I’ve got that skein of green wool-mohair out again, and can’t stop petting it. I’ve decided the very simple everyday stockinette pullover I’ve been planning to knit in navy will be preempted by a cheerful green version, and this Andorra is the precise shade of green I want. Sadly, it’s a warmer blend than I should really knit it in, so I’m pondering that while I finish the toffee sweater.

Meanwhile, I’m all about Linen Quest 2019, as seen in the sketches above — dresses plus mix-and-match separates on the horizon. Sketches 1 and 7 are the Fen dress and tunic mods and I’ve posted in the past week, and sketch 2 is the next variation I’m after. Even more caftany. (Likely making that this weekend!) Sketches 3 and 6, shirtdress and shirt, are slight mods on Liesl Gibson’s Gallery tunic/dress that I’ve sewn and loved before. Sketch 4 is my Hemlock mod from a few years ago, the wool gauze that got away, and I don’t know why I never thought to make it in linen. Sketch 5 is a tweaked Scout tee — a pattern I’ve had for some time and have yet to sew. I want to shape it like the rust one on yesterday’s mood board. And the last two are my pleat-neck tee idea and my beloved modified Robbie pants I’ve made a handful of times but all in heavy fabrics. Time for some linen!

It feels good to have a plan, and to have dusted off my machine. We’ll see what I can accomplish before it wants to go back into hibernation again.

So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend! I’d love to hear what you’re up to —

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: June 2019

Wardrobe Planning: Latter 2019 (mood/palette)

Wardrobe Planning: Latter 2019 (mood/palette)

So how does a color-shy minimalist like me factor in significant color, as I’m itching to do? That’s what I’m trying to figure out as I pause for the first time this year to think about what I have and what I want/need to make between now and the year-end. As I alluded to before and will talk more about, I’m focused on the most potent needs right now: a Venn diagram of sleeves, dresses and linen, plus addressing the imbalance in my stack of pants, which are almost entirely heavy cotton/canvas and next to no linen or summer-weight anything.

The challenge of working with linen is it means mostly solids. It’s like a box of crayons. And whereas I have no problem combining solid neutrals (and the occasional stripe), it’s taken some thinking to figure out how to work with crayons in a way that still feels like me. I’ve determined that the secret lies in the specifics of the palette and in combining colors in offbeat ways. What got emphasized when I went to put this into a 2019 Mood board was that it also means tonal dressing, maybe even more than mix-and-mismatch, which again I totally get! I’m just used to doing it with neutrals. But now that I’m seeing it that way, it seems like a no-brainer.

What it comes down to in terms of the palette is augmenting my existing blues and camels and stripes with rusty-pinky-melon tones, yellow, and a hit of spearmint green.

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Me-Made May data

New Favorites: Puzzle wrap

New Favorites: Puzzle wrap

Can we talk about this beauty for a minute? It’s the new Easy Puzzle Blanket (free pattern) by Jake Canton for Purl Soho and it not only looks like it would be spectacularly fun to knit (log cabin forever, please) but would be a great stash buster and a perfect travel project. The sort of thing where a little bit of yarn would go a very long way and the project would grow relatively slowly while keeping your hands busy the whole time. (In other words, it’d take up time, not luggage space.) And I’m still so into the idea of a lightweight square that can function as a blanket or a shawl, folded or not. I’m that person who does not have a stash full of fingering weight yarn leftovers, so there’s that to consider. But I can’t stop picturing possible color combos …

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Fall warm-ups