I’m totally stunned that this worked. A) I’m not a frequent or experienced crocheter. B) I have never attempted to crochet something that had to fit. C) My gauge was totally different from the Wool and the Gang “Joanne” pattern I bought for this, so I had to wing it. But really the most amazing part isn’t that I crocheted a hat that fits — it’s that I made a hat that actually doesn’t look bad on me! Incredible.
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!
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?
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 —
With mysmock vest all done (and already worn repeatedly), my Summer of Basics trio is off to a speedy start! I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I had cast on my modified Grace pullover (in dreamy toffee-colored Our Yarn from the shop) and had made it to the body/sleeve separation within the space of a very short trip. I’ve been sick the past week and spent a few days stuck on my couch, one of which I spent knitting most of the first sleeve so I could block it so far and see how it’s fitting. Remember I’m doing my own measurements and math, since I’m knitting at a different gauge than the pattern, and so far I could not be happier with how it’s shaping up. Now that I’ve been able to try on the blocked WIP, it’ll be full steam ahead again! And at this pace, it’ll be done long before it’s wearable. (I’ll tell you about that bit between the pink lines when it’s done, but here’s the backstory on that.)
Stuck at home sick also turns out to be the perfect time to start a crochet project, i.e. my Joanne hat. The one thing that keeps me from doing more crochet is having to pay close attention and count all the time; I worry about getting interrupted (or my mind wandering) and losing my place. So what better use of staring-at-the-wall-in-a-congested-stupor time, right? Step one, watch a YouTube video and remember how to crochet; step two, commence counting.
I didn’t do a gauge swatch. Getting used to working with this raffia is a thing, and there’s no way I’d be able to catch it with a smaller hook (I do like this Lykke crochet hook), so I’m just doing what I can do. My gauge seems to be a bit looser than the pattern calls for — meaning a bigger hat — but I also have a big head. Ergo, I’m winging it. I worked on the top disc part until it seemed perilous to go any bigger, and then I started working downwards. I figure I’ll just try it on as I go and fudge my way through the shaping. I have low hopes for this entire project, so there’s a fair chance of being happily surprised!
So far I’m having fun, but if anyone has advice on how to manage that cone of raffia, I’m all ears! It basically exploded like one gigantic continuous party streamer, and I spent another chunk of a sick day making my confinement all the more miserable by winding the tangled mess into four big raffia nests, now nestled in that Field Bag. Never doing that again, thanks.
As for piece three, the dress, I am now in possession of the English edition of the Japanese pattern book. Just waiting for my fabric to arrive.
I’m just back from a little unplanned adventure! As you may recall, I made the decision a couple of months ago to decline the Maker in Residence position at Squam Art Workshops and ask that it be offered to a maker of color instead — and was happy when Jewell of Our Maker Life accepted it. With Bob’s surgical near-future still in flux, I also had to back us out of vending at the Squam Art Fair. Which left me with no official role at Squam but still with a plane ticket to Boston and a significant need for the time off, not having taken any in six months. And while giving up the residency had been an easy decision to make, I regretted not getting to see Rosa Pomar while she was here (there) to teach — among other loved ones — and wanted to meet Jewell in person. So I decided to keep my flights.
Each time I’ve been to Squam — near Holderness NH — I’ve wished I had the time to wander into Maine, having never been there. It’s right there, but I never get to do it. So when my friend Mary Jane Mucklestone suggested I drive to Portland and crash on her couch, it sounded like the perfect chance. We looked at lighthouses, walked all over the place, ate lobster rolls, and of course, knitted. And then we drove over to Squam for the weekend. There are rooms in a big creaky old lodge building that are set aside for Taste of Squam (weekend-only attendees), and we shared one of them; spent time knitting on the dock and the porch and in front of the fire, and shopped the Art Fair before parting ways and heading home on Sunday.
It was great to see so many people, however briefly, and to say a quick hello-goodbye to those beloved woods — the sad part being that Jewell was unable to make it after all! Unforeseen circumstances forced her to cancel at the last minute. So I hope we’ll have another chance to meet sometime.
. . .
But what about the knitting! The night before I left, I knitted and blocked a swatch for the Grace sweater I’ve included in my Summer of Basics trio, which I’m not knitting at pattern gauge. While the plane filled in on Wednesday, I measured the swatch (3.75 sts/inch as compared to 2.75 in the pattern), did my math, and cast on in-flight. By the time I got home Sunday night, I was already about 3″ past the divide for the body and sleeves! I know it’s not about speed, but there’s no denying how satisfying it is to knit a sweater that moves that quickly. Imagine if I were actually knitting at the original superbulky gauge — I’d likely have only a sleeve to go. And that’s not even the only thing I knitted. I also finished the shawl collar on my smock vest and wove in the ends. Can’t wait to show it to you!
For anyone new here, Summer of Basics is a very simple concept: Spend the next three months making three pieces your wardrobe could really benefit from. The definition of “basic” is completely up to you — one person’s outlier is another person’s core wardrobe item. You be you! They can be knitted, sewn, crocheted, or any mix thereof. If you take this as an opportunity to stretch your skills, awesome! And everyone is invited and welcome, whatever your age, race, size, gender, ability, you name it — including those in places where we’re headed into winter, not summer. Please don’t let the word “summer” or “basics” deter you!
Remember, this year is Low-key SoB — no eligibility requirements or judging or prizes, just the joy of making good stuff for yourself. You can share your progress — or follow along and chime in — by using the #summerofbasics hashtag on Instagram and/or by posting on your own blog or wherever on the internet and leaving links in comments here for others to see.
. . .
For my trio this time around, I’ve decided on 1 knit, 1 sew and 1 crochet project! (Life circumstances permitting.) Hilariously, they all come from the same color family, which is pure coincidence, albeit born of my obsession with this part of the color wheel at the moment:
1.KNIT: Grace pullover by Denise Bayron Denise is a good friend but I knew nothing about this design until it was revealed a couple of weeks ago as part of the Laine issue that launches today. The instant I saw it, I knew I had to knit it — in the toffee-colored Our Yarn from Fringe — so it was a no-brainer to make it one of my SoB picks. I’ll be knitting at a little bit finer gauge than the pattern (chunky rather than superbulky), but it’s top-down so will be easy to adjust. This will be such a simple, versatile sweater — and in this abbreviated shape, hopefully well worn.
2. SEW: Dress N by Naomi Ito I’ve been obsessed with this Nani Iro dress pattern, simply known as pattern N, since it first crossed my radar last year. I ordered the book at the time — Atelier to Nani Iro, in Japanese — and thought I would brave it. But I’d be lying if I said I weren’t thrilled that the English edition publishes in just a few weeks. I’m determined to form a dress habit this summer (more on that soon) and this one is the obvious place to start. Plus I’ll be using a fabric designed by my pal Alexia Abegg — part of the debut collection for the new Ruby Star Society line launching this summer — which is called She, in a gingery spice color they call Earth. (As it happens, she’s talking about all of this on this week’s episode of the Love to Sew podcast.) Everything about this is a little outside my comfort zone and I am SO excited about it.
3. CROCHET: Joanne hat by Wool and the Gang I desperately need a crushable hat and have never found one that works for me. And I think I’m actually going to try two here — the first being the crocheted Joanne bucket hat from Wool and the Gang (from last summer’s New Favorites), in a tawny colored raffia (the natural was sold out!), and the second being a sewn hat pattern in the Nani Iro book (left image above), which I’m planning to make out of natural canvas, just to see! Hopefully one or the other will actually suit my head and solve my problem, if I can manage to tailor the fit.
There’s also a new Fancy Tiger pattern coming sometime this summer that scratches one my longest-running itches, and I’m considering it a bonus item. I decided to make the hat one of my official 3 instead, to help ensure I actually tackle it!
So that’s my plan, and it seems so doable! How about you — will you join me?
Hi, friends. Sorry to leave you hanging on this all the way to mid-May, but there’s been a lot up in the air at my house lately, and it has implications for Summer of Basics, and for my summer in general. Bob has been having back issues again the past 6 weeks or so, and has been undergoing a lot of tests and such, and there’s a high probability he’ll be having more surgery in the coming weeks. (Although please keep your fingers crossed, if you would.) With the uncertainty around that, I’m leery of overcommitting myself, so I’m pulling back on my previously stated intention to reframe and actively host a summer make-along this year.
HOWEVER! For those wanting to proceed with the same outline and hashtag as in the past, please do! Pick three things you feel your closet will truly benefit from (knitted/sewn/crocheted/whatever), share your progress on your blogs and/or Instagram (with hashtag #summerofbasics) and have at it! I’m still following the hashtag and will set some optimistic making goals for myself as well (beyond finishing this vest). I’ll keep an eye on the hashtag and cheer you on as much as possible — and join in as life permits. If you’re posting progress on your blog, feel free to post links in the comments here so I and others can see. There won’t be any formal blog programming or prizes or anything tied to it — just the sheer joy of making good things in good company.
Have you thought about what you want to make this year? If so, I want to hear!
ALSO: I would love to support any other summer knitalong/make-alongs that might be happening. Please feel free to post below about any you know, and I’ll help spread the word!