The ivory aran-gansey (2018 FO-19)

The ivory aran-gansey (2018 FO-19)

Hey look, I knitted a sweater! Crazy how long that took me. Inspired by Daniel Day-Lewis’s perfect gansey but bearing in mind what works best for me and my frame, I sketched out this little aran-gansey mashup as part of my Summer of Basics plan, and cast on in the middle-row bench seat of a van lurching its way through the winding roads of rural Portugal. I hadn’t done any actual math or planning. All I had was my inexact-texture-but-gauge-ly predictive swatch plus the little sketch taped into my notebook. So in that van seat on that steamy late June day, I did just enough math to calculate a good-enough cast on, and in I went.

Because it was a slapdash start and I didn’t expect it to work, I also didn’t put any basting stitches in the raglans, or take many useful notes. I thought I almost certainly was just knitting a bigger, more texturally accurate swatch, which I’d eventually rip out. But I never did! And I just kept winging it the whole way. (Albeit with lots of intermittent blocking to make sure everything would work out ok.) So while I normally share all my stitch counts and measurements for any Improv sweater I knit, I’m sorry, I don’t have that for you today. Plus if I were to do this again, I’d make a thousand tiny tweaks. So perhaps at some point I will do this again (in navy!), make those tweaks, and take proper notes for sharing. But the short version is that it’s just a standard top-down raglan with a stitch pattern thrown in for the first 9.5″ or so — double moss stitch broken up every 3″ with two bands of garter stitch. And I put garter along the top of the waist ribbing as well. And used my favorite folded neckband technique.

Natural sweater inventory

You may recall the overarching aim of this one was to make myself a much-needed, easygoing, 3-season-ish pullover, and I couldn’t be happier with it in all those respects. I’ve knitted quite a few sweaters with O-Wool Balance at this point — organic, machine washable, 50/50 cotton-wool blend — and am thrilled to have a mostly stockinette one for myself, as I covet Bob’s every time he puts it on. This fabric is so incredibly cozy. (I like it best after a machine wash and a few minutes in the dryer, but do mind your gauge if that’s your intention! Don’t wet-block your swatch and then machine-wash your FO.) And if you’re thinking back to my recent sweater inventory, you’ll note this rounds out my collection of natural sweaters quite nicely: There’s the shrunken cotton fisherman (L.L. Bean 2010), this new cotton-wool gansey, the heavy-duty wool fisherman and the wool cardigan.

I also made those pants I’m wearing above, which I wouldn’t actually intentionally wear with this sweater — that’s a bit of a blah combo even for me! But it was convenient to take the sweater photos while I happened to be wearing the pants, so I’ll tell you about those tomorrow.

Speaking of the wool fisherman, I also sent it through the washer and dryer last week — being incredibly vigilant the whole way — and it finally fits the way I always wanted it to! (Assuming it doesn’t grow back to its former size when worn.) Officially all set in the ivory department!

Pattern: Improv
Yarn: O-Wool Balance in Natural

You can browse all the posts about this sweater and save/fave it at Ravelry.

.

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Wiksten Kimono, pajama-style

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Wiksten Kimono, pajama style (2018 FO-17/18)

Wiksten Kimono, pajama style (2018 FO-17)

Friday afternoon, depressed at seeing “sew kimono” stuck in a long, dreary list of weekend chores, I gave myself permission to skip out of work and let a couple hours of stolen sewing time be an indulgence rather than just another to-do. (Thank you, Felicia.) So by midday Saturday, I had finished the Wiksten Kimono I’d laid out as part of my alternate pajama plan for Summer of Basics, and I actually enjoyed every minute of sewing it.

I followed Jenny’s notes for the unlined version of the kimono jacket, leaving out the interfacing on the collar so it would be soft and bunchy. And again in the interest of yardage preservation, I cut the under collar on the cross-grain. Otherwise, it’s straight from the pattern, and I’m quite pleased with my little housecoat — although I like it best with the collar up and bunched and the sleeves pushed up, super ’80s all the way, so wish I hadn’t done that with the cross-grain. But still! I like it, and will probably even wear it out of the house. It’s the mid-length medium, by the way, and thanks again to Jenny for sending me the pattern.

It seemed appropriate (or at least justifiable) to take Sunday morning photos of it with my Carolyn pj pants, complete with bedhead so you get the full effect:

Wiksten Kimono, pajama style (2018 FO-17)

And then there are these, uh, boxer shorts? When I was done with the kimono, I still really wanted a pair of pj shorts to go with it, so I pulled out another remnant of remnants and the pajama pants pieces I had traced off before, and made the quickest possible version of them: no pockets, no cuffs, not even the actual shorts pattern, just the pants lopped off and teeny hemmed. Of all the lovely design details of the Carolyn Pajamas pattern, the only one I kept intact was the faux fly, which — combined with the fabric — wound up looking like a somewhat sad pair of boxer shorts. But eh, I’m happy to have them. And more committed than ever to making a proper pair of the shorts, cuffs and pockets and all (in the blue stripe fabric of the kimono, if I can squeak it all out of what’s left), as well as getting back to the navy linen pants plan, as soon as possible.

Who knew pajamas were so fun to make? And talk about an indulgence — I’ve never had such nice pajamas before. (Although I have worn plenty of boxer shorts with my tank tops.)

It occurs to me I’ve now technically completed three garments for #summerofbasics, as pictured here, although none are exactly what I initially set out to make.

In case anyone missed it, here’s how to submit your final SoB finishes for a chance at the grand prize! I’m not eligible for prizes, but I’m still trying to finish my sweater in time!

.

PREVIOUSLY in SoB PJ’s: Carolyn pajama pants

SaveSave

SaveSave

Pajama pant perfection (2018 FO-16)

Pajama pant perfection (2018 FO-16)

You guys, I haven’t finished anything since the beginning of June, and it’s been even longer since I had had a major jolt of that “wow, I made that” feeling. These pajama pants are pure love. But wait: pants? That was neither the plan nor the revised plan.

To recap: As part of my Summer of Basics plan, I was making Carolyn pajama shorts in navy linen with black piping, but they were a little too fitted for comfort. They were also so gorgeous in the navy-black combo that I decided I wanted to do them as the pants instead of the shorts, with the intention of wearing them out of the house. So I resolved to make another, simplified pair of the shorts to work out the size, and then would go back to the navy pants.

So. Saturday morning I went into my sewing room and began tracing off the bigger shorts, then realized it would be easier to trace the pants and just make them shorts length, and then I’d have the pants pieces all ready to go (assuming the size was right). My plan to “simplify” things by doing them hemmed instead of with the cuffs was counterintuitive: As I was giving myself a migraine trying to figure out how to rework the side seams and inseam (in matching ways from front to back) to accommodate the wide hem I wanted, I realized that would be so substantially different from the pants that it wouldn’t tell me anything at all about the fit of the pants! So if I wanted this next pair to function as a fit muslin for the navy pants, I would have to make the pants.

Pajama pant perfection (2018 FO-16)

The bad news is: I still don’t have the pajama shorts I really do need right now. The good news is: I do also need pajama pants, and these are fantastic. If I hadn’t sewn them in such pajama-y fabric — translucent, no less — I would 100% wear them out of the house. So now I’m more excited than ever about the navy linen pair.

These are View A, no cuffs, but I like them enough that I might actually go back and add cuffs at some point. Meanwhile, I just turned the hem 3″ and 3″ and sewed it with a medium stitch in case I decide to take it out and do that. And sewed the waistband my usual way. No other mods — the cut and fit is spot on. For the record, these are a straight size 12, just with a wider hem.

And yes, I’m counting these as my first finish for #summerofbasics.

(Worn here with my omnipresent black Adventure tank)

.

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Linden sweatshirt

SaveSave

SaveSave

Almost-perfect sweatshirt + Squam packing list

Almost-perfect sweatshirt + Squam packing list

This past weekend, I packed two totally different sets of clothes for two very different trips: Squam Art Workshops and Portugal. Pretty much all of my current favorite garments went into the Portugal pile (show you later), which left me combing through my remaining clothes looking for just the right few things that are A) reasonably presentable enough to teach in, B) appropriate for tromping around in the New Hampshire woods, and C) suitable for the cool, changeable, early-spring weather (as I sweat here in Nashville). And also, I seem to have entered some phase where each time I pack I’m in some kind of competition with myself to see how few things I can get away with! So, y’know, just a few complications there. But thankfully I left myself some very helpful notes after last year.

The Squam trip is just five days: travel there, teach, teach, playtime/art fair, travel home. (Although it feels so long and peaceful in those woods.) Having just watched On Golden Pond, which was filmed on Squam Lake, what I really wanted was to dress exactly like Katharine Hepburn in the movie — i.e., a daily diet of big button-down shirts over a jersey turtleneck and trousers.

In reality, there are two things going in both suitcases — my trusty old denim vest and my recently finished grey sweatshirt, above. It is perfect in every way but one: I cut the fabric the wrong direction. But it’s fine! And I’m looking forward to having it along for sleeping in, for knitting on the screened porch at night, and of course for those chilly mornings on the dock before class. It’s Grainline’s Linden Sweatshirt, and all I did was raise the neckline about an inch all the way around. The fit is utterly perfect, and I’ll definitely make it many more times over the course of my life.

So I’m takig 7 primary garments (outfit clothes) in my Squam suitcase:

Squam Art Workshops packing list

Black cardigan
– Denim vest (J.Crew, ancient)
– Chambray shirt (hand-me-down)
Black shell
Striped shell
– Clay wide-legs (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Culotte, made in Nashville, sample sale 2017)
– Jeans (Imogene+Willie Willie, made in US, 2017)

(Lots of overlap with last year.) Plus for around the cabin: the sweatshirt, a tee, old cutoffs and my thick black leggings. And since apparently my good ol’ Chucks were the only shoes I wore last year, they’re the only shoes I’m taking this year — hopefully no rain. I’m tempted to throw in my black turtleneck, just in case.

Funny to think I’ll be seeing some of you in the dining hall tonight!

.

PREVIOUSLY: Squam 2017 reflections and outfits and Knitting in paradise

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

The Clyde jacket-to-vest rescue mission: accomplished!

The Clyde jacket-to-vest rescue mission: accomplished!

I finished two more things from my spring make list this weekend and technically this is the latter of them, but I’m telling you about it first because I am so over-the-moon in LOVE that I need to shout about it immediately. This, you may recall, began life as the Clyde Jacket that fell into my hands at the Elizabeth Suzann sample sale back in early December for $35, mysteriously unfinished (as in: it had never gotten its sleeves). Upon close inspection, the stitching around the hem looks as if the machine was acting up, and it even chewed a hole in the fabric in one spot, at which point there clearly was a decision made not to bother attaching the sleeves. Thankfully, instead of being tossed on the fire, so to speak, it was tossed onto the sample-sale pile — and I’m SO glad, because rescuing it has given me some serious joy, and I also might never leave home without it.

To convert it from an unfinished jacket to a finished vest, all I did was put it on my dress form, put one of my State Smocks on over the top of it, and trace the big armhole of the smock onto the canvas of the jacket with a chalk pen. When I took away the smock and looked at the line I had drawn, it perfectly echoed the shape of the pockets, as if fate had intended it all along. The Clyde jacket has front and back panels flanking the wide side panels into which the crescent pockets are set, so all I did is adjust the markings a tiny bit so I had just enough fabric running alongside those vertical seams to be able to attach bias binding. As it happens, I also had a bunch of navy linen fabric from last summer’s ES garage sale, which matched the navy canvas perfectly. So I cut long strips of bias, attached them all the way around the armhole, then turned it all under and top-stitched, so in the end the vertical panels form the tops of the armholes, with nothing visibly added. It makes for a really nice detail!

I don’t even mind the aforementioned hole in the fabric. You can barely see it, the jacket is so dark, but it’s also a good excuse to try out the darning function on my machine at some point.

So in the end, what I have is a shorter version of the Clyde Vest, and it feels completely indispensable to me — like the garment I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without. In fact, I have a Clyde Jacket in Clay that I paid full price for last year (and adore), and I’m considering making the same alteration to it! I may even have some matching canvas for that from the garage sale …

The Clyde jacket-to-vest rescue mission: accomplished!

Worn here with my canvas pants. And the other thing I finished this weekend is over on Instagram.

.

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Recycled denim pants

Recycled pants (2018 FO-14)

Recycled pants (2018 FO-14)

On Saturday, while our beloved contractor was tearing an ever larger hole in the middle of our house,* I was on the other side of the wall from him, in my little workroom, keeping myself occupied by sewing up the other pair of pants I had cut out a few weeks ago. These are the same as all my other modified Robbie pants — my “toddlers” — with the caveat that each pair varies slightly in the rise and/or the thigh. (That’s in addition to the more major modifications shared by them all: my own pockets, longer legs, wider hems, totally different waistband.) Between the fabric and the particular tweaks I made when cutting this one, this is basically the pair I’ve been wanting the whole time; what I’ve always wished the denim pair to be. The fabric here is 100% recycled cotton — denim industry waste, woven into a heavy canvas. The light-denim color combined with this silhouette makes them feel a little bit 1970s, in a good way. And despite a hilarious number of thread issues along the way,** I’m extremely pleased with them.

These and the natural canvas pair are sure to be the cornerstones of my summer wardrobe this year, which I’ll be getting into the planning for tomorrow! I promise photos of them on me in the course of all that. These never look like much on the hanger …

Pattern: Robbie Pant by Tessuti (reuse No. 6, whoa)
Modifications: self-drafted pockets, assorted tweaks, modified 2″ waistband
Fabric: 100% recycled cotton canvas, not commercially available anywhere that I know of

*If you haven’t seen it in my Instagram Stories, we’re remodeling our bathroom, which — as they do — keeps turning into a bigger and bigger job than expected.

**Thread 1 was garbage, so I switched to thread 2, which ran out an inch shy of my finishing the waistband top-stitching, so then came thread 3, followed by the bobbin (still thread 1) running out just short of the second hem being complete (finished with thread 3). And since I only use natural thread in my serger, there are a total of four different threads used here! lol

.

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The sweatshirt vest

SaveSave

The sweatshirt vest (2018 FO-13)

The sweatshirt vest (2018 FO-13)

This little sweater vest — or sweatshirt vest, as I’ve been calling it — turned out so incredibly cute. It bored me to tears while I was knitting it, but I’m completely in love with the finished garment and will be wearing it to death. And best of all, it was a clever use of great yarn sitting idly in my stash: the grey Balance from my abandoned cardigan, held together with ivory Pebble left over from my striped raglan. I actually still have enough of both yarns to make another one just like it. And you know what? I might!

I knitted it on US8s, at 4.25 sts/in, and the fabric is an absolute dream. The Balance is 50/50 organic cotton/wool, and the Pebble is recycled silk, merino and cashmere — just a whisper of that blend wrapped around the cotton/wool. I highly recommend you try it sometime!

I did not take good notes while doing this, I think due to the apathy at the time, so don’t expect there to be a pattern. But you really don’t need one! You could take any plain sweater vest pattern — like this one, for instance — and simply leave off the waistband, work three or four inches at each side in reverse stockinette, and add the little V detail at the neck. I’ll post The Details tomorrow about that bit.

I’m actually not 100% sure I’m done. I’ve tested assorted waistband/hem treatment possibilities, but I like it like this — the slight roll of the stockinette reminds me of a cutoff sweatshirt, which is a common feature of my closet — and I love the length, especially when worn over a camisole as seen here. (This is the spring equivalent of my favorite winter outfit this past season.) So for now, at least, I’m leaving it. And as noted, there’s ample yarn if I ever want to add on!

• Pattern: No pattern / Like it at Ravelry
Yarn: Balance in Talc and Pebble in Ivory, held together throughout
Worn with: Natural canvas pants and ikat camisole

.

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Hipster painter pants

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave