Linen pants! Plus Fen tunic, take two

Linen pants! Plus Fen tunic, take two

This weekend I sewed myself a pair of linen pants, and I was so excited Monday morning to have two whole pairs of seasonally appropriate pants to choose from that I was asking myself why on earth it took me so long to make such a thing?! They’re the same modified Robbie pants I’ve made several times before (always in heavy canvas or denim), and then I remembered, oh right, that was the hold-up. I’ve made several pairs of pants, and I have this shirt shortage, so I forbade myself to make any more pants till I solved the other problem. Meanwhile, I’ve suffered through jeans and canvas pants all summer for several years running! While somehow not even solving the shirt problem.

Well. Now I have linen pants (bonus: that aren’t black!) and will be making a couple more as quickly as possible.

I also finished off another variation on the Fen mods I’ve been working on, another top, and this one is black. It’s a test run for the follow-up to my yellow Fen dress — I wanted to try out a few tweaks first and have quite a lot of black linen in my stash, bought at Elizabeth Suzann’s garage sale a couple years ago for $2/lb. While it’s a test for a dress, I didn’t want a black dress, plus, y’know, the aforementioned shirt problem, so now I have another linen top as well! And it cost me under a dollar to make. For this one, I sized down to an 18 in the shoulders and sleeve, blending that into the size 20 body and hemming it at hip length. You’ll have to take my word for all this since it’s impossible to see, but in addition to a single breast pocket, it has the same 5″ center-back pleat as ol’ yella, along with an 11″ center-front pleat, and I think this combo is going to make a most excellent dress. I have fabric washed and ready.

My goal is to sew one garment per week for the next few weeks, catching my closet up with my seasonal needs while I’ve got this burst of sewing mojo working for me and a solid plan to follow. So it’s full speed ahead at the moment!

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Linen Fen dress, take one

Linen Fen dress, take one

Linen Fen dress, take one

My weekend was all about making that Fen dress idea from last week come to life and I am exceedingly pleased with this first pass at the concept! You may recall the only thing I wanted to change from the tunic version was to bring the neck width in considerably, as I don’t like wide necklines on me. But I also had two design details in mind for the dress-length version that wound up being relevant to the neck situation: A center-front seam in order to have a front slit, and center-back pleat to keep the back of this thing from just being one big flat sheet. In planning the execution of those two details, I realized they were actually the solution to the neck width.

Rather than moving the neckline inwards to make it narrower, the back pleat is sewn 1″ in from the center-back fold, which removes 2″ total from the back neck width but leaves the width of the lower body unchanged. The front pieces were cut along the selvage instead of on the fold, and the seam is likewise sewn 1″ from the edge. This removed a matching 2″ from the front neck width, but also makes the entire front of the dress 2″ narrower. Because it’s a sack, that has no real effect on the fit, and that all made the neckhole exactly right — it fits perfectly over my head. Not wanting to lose even a quarter of an inch in neck circumference, I attached the bias facing in visible fashion rather than folding the whole thing to the inside.

And I totally and utterly love this. I have plans to make assorted variations in other colors — more on that to come!

The only other thing I’ll note about this one for now is that it’s made from some Roma lightweight linen I bought from Fancy Tiger and, although it’s perhaps a teeny tiny bit sheer for a dress if you’re concerned about that, it was an absolute joy to sew with and is a dream to wear. And this shade of yellow is exquisite — it’s neither bright nor muddy, and shifts beautifully with the light. Thankfully, they tell me they’ll get more, because I want a little linen tee in the same color.

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Linen Fen tunic, take one

Linen Fen tunic, take one

Linen Fen tunic

It’s a funny paradox when your clothes are basically (or literally) pajamas and yet you feel overly dressy for your warehouse way of life. But that’s where I’m at!

The simple fact is I need more linen clothes for Nashville’s swamp season than the scant few I own. Everything else in my closet is unbearable in this humidity, and what I want is five or six linen sack dresses I can just wear on repeat, but what I have is the black linen pants I have worn nearly to tatters in only two years of nonstop hot-weather wear, and the natural linen-cotton Carolyn pants I sewed last September. So I’m trying to figure out how best to add more linen to my wardrobe and how to make any of it feel like me.

I had an idea for a slit-front sack dress with a kangaroo pocket (a mash-up of assorted other things I’ve seen and loved lately) and decided to test the top part of it using the Fen pattern I already own and some bright cyan linen that’s been in my stash for a few years to make a tunic that could be worn with pants and jeans. I’m quite happy with it comfort-wise — it’s probably as close as linen can get to that slouchy, cut-up sweatshirt vibe — but this particular outfit still feels like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes.

I’d made the Fen top in sizes 8 and 12 before, and for this one all I did is make the size 20, drawing out a straight hemline from the bottom edge of the original shirttail hem, and make a big kangaroo pocket for the front. This is the same neckline tweak I’d done before but somehow it seems bigger here, so on the next one (there will be a next one for sure), I’ll bring the whole neckline in and possibly shorten the sleeves a tiny bit, although I’m liking them rolled like I have them in the photo above.

But what I’m most eager to do is cut a dress-length version. So stand by for that.

SHOP NEWS: Speaking of linen, there’s a new Bento Bag in town: Eggplant! It’s stunning. We also have a new mini-scissor in the lineup, called Joji, and we’re retiring the Porter Bin in black — when our current stack is gone, that’s it for black. It will still be available in natural, army and butterscotch.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Smock vest with pocket

Smock vest, part 2: Pocket and glamour shots

Smock vest, part 2: Pocket and (lol) glamour shots

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.

Smock vest, part 2: Pocket and glamour shots

I knitted and grafted the pocket as described here. Pattern tbd, but previous notes on this vest are all here.

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Smock Vest, part 1

Smock Vest, part 1 (2019 FO-4)

Smock Vest, part 1 (2019 FO-4)

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!

Additional notes on this sweater here, and it’s on Ravelry here.

(Lykke needles and wooden gauge ruler from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Pretty bobble beret

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

Cabled husband hat (2019 FO-2)

Cabled Dad Hat knitting in progress with cat

While I debate with myself about which yarn I want to use for the shawl-collar vest idea and which pattern (and stash yarn) for a wrap, I’ve knitted a hat for my beloved. On Christmas day, we had turkey enchiladas with our close family-friends, the elder of which was wearing a hat Bob took one look at and flashed me a face that said “please!” After some investigation, it was established that my pal Jo had knitted it from Alexis Winslow’s pattern called Cabled Dad Hat. And it seemed like a perfect use for some of the leftover yarn from Bob’s sweater vest, so that’s what’s kept my hands busy on recent nights.

If you’ve seen previous years’ posts about hats for Bob, you may recall he likes a skullcap — won’t wear a beanie that comes down over his ears — but we’d agreed he needed one that could at least fold down over them when needed. To arrive at this outcome, and following Jo’s lead, I began the decreases at 6″ instead of 7″, which for me meant 5 repeats of the chart. (If I make it again, I might stop at 5″.) And then I also shortened the crown portion by speeding up the increases and knitting fewer total rows, which I did simply by decreasing on every round starting with crown row 13.

As usual with hats, I didn’t swatch, and it’s a tiny bit big so we’ll make an effort to shrink it just a touch. But overall, we’re both very happy with it — it’s a great pattern that was obviously more fun to knit than his usual stockinette-everything requests, and it’s nice to see some texture on him.

Cabled Dad Hat free knitting pattern by Alexis Winslow

I realized while finishing this up the other night that, as much as I’ve enjoyed knitting for him and my as-yet unspecified niece, it’s officially been too long since I knitted anything for myself. Time to solve for one or the other of those aforementioned cast-ons!

(Drawstring project bag and Lykke needles from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Sunny little Sólbein cardigan