Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin

Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin

You know how sometimes the thing you’re dreading turns out to be BIG FUN? Such was the case yesterday, when I finally started on the Archer button-down shirt that drove me to propose the Summer of Basics Make-along. A shirt like this is the hardest thing for me to fit — any woven, set-in-sleeve shirt that suits my big shoulders will inevitably be too big in the body and in the upper sleeves as a result. Which is why I want to make my own, and also why I’ve been dreading it. This is also a garment that involves cutting out and assembling 19 pattern pieces. (My average is more like 3.) So never have I been more committed to the traditional muslin process. Meaning, after tracing them off onto my beloved Swedish tracing paper, I cut the five key pieces (left front, right front, back, yoke and sleeve x2) out of muslin so I could assess and adjust the fit. As a starting point, I cut a straight size 14 after comparing the shoulder measurements to my favorite flannel shirt.

Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin

Upon stitching together the yoke/back and front pieces, and setting in the right sleeve, I was thrilled that — ta da! — it actually fits, with very little fiddling. I’m ok with the ease through the body; my only issues were that the sleeve was a little big (not terribly, but why not tweak while I can?) and too long: It hit perfectly at my wrist before a cuff was factored in. So I laid the left sleeve back on the pattern, sloped the sides down from a 14 at the underarm to a 10 at the cuff, and shortened it by 2.5″, then sewed it on. The difference in the upper arm is subtle but meaningful, but it’s a much better width at the cuff than the 14 was. To make sure I’ve got the length just right, I cut out the cuff and pinned it on, and I’m officially good to go.

That was surprisingly painless. So now it’s time to cut all 19 pieces out of my beautiful blue cotton-linen chambray. The thing is, I’m so excited about this shirt now, and know I’ll want to make several, so I almost want to cut them all at once and have them waiting in the wings for gradual future production.

Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin




Summer of Basics: A feed full of well-laid plans

Summer of Basics: A feed full of well-laid plans

We’re already a month into the Summer of Basics Make-along and the #summerofbasics feed is beyond amazing. You all are beyond amazing. All I have to show for myself so far is half of a sleeve (and a damn fine half-sleeve it is) whereas some people have already finished a couple of garments and others are still mulling their plans. All of which is perfectly dandy! This is meant to be casual — jump in any time. Before we get any further from the official start line, though, I had the urge to highlight a few standout planning posts and the people behind them—

Clockwise from top left; click through for the full images and to read all about them: @rachelbeckman, @shedabbles, @jennaashburn, @thestoryclubpdx, @valishungry, @a.klat, @kirsten_weis, @cutikula.

I particularly love the sentiment behind this remark from Jenna Ashburn: “Less than a year ago I would have said [making jeans] is something I could never do, but no one ever got a perfect pair of low rise skinny jeans with that attitude.” Perfect of not, I’m saying amen! to everyone who’s doing something they once thought unthinkable, whether that’s sewing a straight line or knitting a first garment or whatever the case may be.

PLEASE NOTE: None of the above has anything to do with any of the prize selection at the end — each of the sponsors will be making their own prize selections and mine is a random drawing. (Prize details are here.) As I said, these are just some of the many plans that jumped off the screen at me and that I wanted to share, especially for those who might not be following every post to the feed.

What are some of your favorites? And how are you own plans going so far?


PREVIOUSLY in Summer of Basics: Charting a course for my fisherman sweater




Queue Check — June 2017

Queue Check — June 2017

I’m in Kansas right now — I came for a family reunion and have stayed for a funeral.* My eldest aunt, who had been ill for a very long time, succumbed just at the moment when eighty-something of us had already come from near and far to be together, which was characteristically polite and organized of her. May she rest in peace. So I’m about one-third of the way into the first sleeve of my Bernat fisherman sweater (in Arranmore) for the Summer of Basics and already there’s Squam dock time and this precious family visit knitted into it. And if that weren’t enough, this is the most joy I’ve ever gotten from two sticks and a ball of string. I crave it when it’s not in my hands and love working every stitch. (My top three Joy of Knitting projects — pure pleasure in the stitch patterns and the yarn in my hands — are this, Gentian and Channel.) Having charted out the vintage written-instructions pattern and seen what is happening, which is quite straightforward, I have no need to look at either the pattern or the chart and can just knit away at this happily, with just the right amount of brain detachment and engagement, watching the textures develop. It’s true love in every way.

I even made a tiny mistake in the very first cable cross, and left it, so that’s out of the way!

I did make some more progress on my so-called Summer Cardigan (in Balance) before casting on for the fisherman, but at this point it’s going to be impossible for it to get my attention. Hopefully the same won’t be true of my Archer shirt for #summerofbasics, which I plan to cut the muslin of this coming weekend.

*Hence the lack of response from me on Friday’s Q for You answers, but I have read them all and hope to respond when I have a chance — great conversation as usual.


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: May 2017

Charting a course for my fisherman sweater

Charting a course for my fisherman sweater

I began the first of my Summer of Basics garments on the plane last Tuesday — in this case, not with a ball of yarn and knitting needles but with a Knitters Graph Paper Journal and a freshly sharpened Blackwing pencil. This is for the 1967 Bernat fisherman sweater — my choice for the sweater I’ve wanted for decades — and Step 1 was/is to convert the written instructions to a chart, so I can actually see what’s happening and make any necessary adjustments thereto. After an hour or two of converting words and abbreviations to marks on graph paper, I could see that the sleeve is just panels of raspberry stitch, one repeating cable motif, and what I believe will become broken rib with the underarm increases. What I haven’t puzzled out yet is why they took what became clear is a 12-row repeat and wrote it out as 36 rows, but I’m guessing it’s because the front/back center panel will prove to be a 36-row repeat and perhaps they meant to make sure you kept them aligned in some way that the pattern never ultimately specifies? I may never know. But anyway, I began with the simpler sleeve chart so I could have it to swatch with.

I’ve been thinking Arranmore might be the perfect yarn for me and this sweater. I do want it to be a classic ivory fisherman, but feel like the slight tweediness of the Arranmore (it has little flecks of tan and light blue) might be my friend in terms of long-term spots or discoloration. Plus I just really love this yarn, which I previously used for my black yoke sweater. So one morning, chart in hand, I sat on the dock at Squam and began to swatch.

The first swatch was on US8/5mm and the fabric was too loose for my liking, so I began again on US7/4.5mm, which is the swatch pictured above. As I knitted it, I thought the yarn might not be right for these stitches, as the fabric felt stiff and the cables looked underwhelming. (It’s such a weird cable.) I took it to class to show my students and we talked about how I plan to take my time, swatching with as many yarns and needles as it takes to find the right thing, given all I’ll be putting into this sweater and how long I’ve wanted it. Then I decided I might as well take the time to dunk the swatch and make sure I didn’t like it any better after blocking, and guess what: it’s pretty dreamy. This photo was taken while it was still damp, and I really should have taken a dry one to show you, but you’ll have to take my word for it — I can’t stop draping it around my arm.

That meant trying to sort out size and gauge as compared to the vintage pattern, which is rather short on the sort of details we’re used to these days. There’s no schematic, and the gauge is simply given as “11 stitches = 2 inches.” Eleven stitches of which of the many stitch patterns, we can’t know. Is it an average across the whole sweater? If anyone out there is an expert on the way things used to be done, I’d love to hear from you, but meanwhile that will have to be my assumption. If true, my gauge is slightly more compact at 6 stitches per inch, which means I’ll need to knit the XL and still come out with a sweater slightly smaller than intended — or figure out some tweaks to the patterning to compensate.

[UPDATE: A couple of commenters have said it would have been implied in those days that the stated gauge was for stockinette stitch — which tells a very different story than cables! But looking at the pattern’s stitch counts and finished circumference, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. For example, the XL (44-46″) calls for a 122-st CO for the back, which divided by 22″ is 5.5. (I.e., their “11 sts = 2 inches.”) Same for the other sizes. So it does seem to be the average gauge of the finished fabric and not taken from stockinette.]

On the flight home, I was too brain dead to do anything but stare at the swatch, my chart, and the photos I’d snapped of the pattern photo so that I could zoom in on them and try to sort out the details that aren’t present in the pattern itself. The swatch had me thinking even the smallest sleeve would be too big, and I was toying with the idea of eliminating two of the cables from the sleeve, leaving just one down the center of the arm. But as usual, it’s a good thing I was prevented from rushing in, since while staring at it all, I realized that would necessitate the same change along the sides of the body — a change I don’t want to make — AND the fully dry swatch is actually totally fine. Patience does pay off, even if it’s imposed.

So all that’s left is to commit to the investment it will be to do a yarn-eater like this in this particular yarn, but I feel like it will be more than worth it.

Charting a course for my fisherman sweater

ARMY PORTER NOTE: What remains from our starter batch of the army green Porter Bin, launched at the Squam Art Fair, will go into the webshop this Friday morning, June 16, at 9am Central Time — set your alarms!


PREVIOUSLY  in Summer of Basics: My plan













My Summer of Basics plan

My Summer of Basics plan

Ok, so I’ve thought and rethought (and rethought!) what my 3 garments will be for the Summer of Basics Make-along. This whole event grew out of my desire to push myself to sew an Archer button-down shirt, and wanting company in taking that leap, but it’s not the only thing my closet is lacking that I never get around to. (Hence, let’s all make 3 basics over the next 3 months!) So I really want to choose wisely. Let’s face it, I’ll almost certainly make more than 3 things in the next 3 months, but I want my publicly-declared SoB-3 to really challenge me and hold me accountable. Of course, I also want to make things that will be truly useful in my closet. So here’s where I’m at:

BUTTON-UP SHIRT: I’ve been saying for awhile that my beloved pale denim workshirt (which I wear for some part of almost every day — and look, I’m even wearing it in my avatar pic to the right!) was headed for a breakdown. That has now officially happened: both sleeve caps are in shreds. So that’s what I’m replacing with my first Archer, and that one was already a replacement for a nearly identical shirt before it. Between the two, I’ve had some version of that shirt for at least a dozen years. For the next generation, though, not only will it be handmade, but I’m planning on light blue chambray instead of the denim. (Gettin’ crazy over here!) But I still want it to have some of the character of the denim workshirts so, inspired by this J.Crew photo, I’m planning on slightly darker stitching (as happens to denim shirts as they fade and the thread doesn’t) and bone buttons (a nod to the pearl snaps on my old friends). I’m scared and excited.

SWEATER: I’ve been saying my SoB sweater would be the grey pullover I really truly need. But A) I’m a little leery of the idea of casting on a grey mostly-stockinette US6 sweater when I already have a grey mostly-stockinette US6 sweater on the needles. Plus why would I not use this opportunity to focus on the one sweater I want most in all the world — the whole reason I learned to knit in the first place — the fisherman sweater of my dreams. So I’m doing it. Since I plan to chart out the written directions from the vintage pattern, and likely do some tweaking, I’ll start with the swatching and charting right away and hope (hope hope hope) to be able to finish the whole thing by the end of August. I am elated over this decision.

PANTS???: I’ve got pants on the brain. As in, I’ve never made pants and I’m signed up for a jeans workshop in September, and it seems like maybe I should have made some semblance of a pants-like thing before that. Right? My very favorite old pajama pants have also passed the point of no return, and while I was taking them apart this weekend and trying to trace off a pattern to replace them, I was also thinking how much I love my simple elastic-waist Florence Pants (I seriously wear them at least 4 times a week) and about this Idea Log and that striped fabric on my shelf, a pair of striped Ace & Jig pants I almost bought last year … you get the picture. However, part of me also wants to reserve the third slot and not commit right this minute. So as much as I want and hope to do this, it’s currently ever-so-slightly tentative.

I’ve got a lot to do still in preparation for Squam next week, but am eager to get started on some part of this over the weekend! What will you be starting?

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

Big news from Fringe Supply Co!

SPEAKING OF SQUAM: There’s some really big Porter Bin news over on the @fringesupplyco IG feed. Hint: army green is coming! If you’ll be at the Squam Art Fair on the 10th, don’t miss your chance to snag one — check the Instagram post for details.

AND IN CURRENT SHOP NEWS: We’re temporarily out of the wildly popular Lykke interchangeable sets (more coming mid-month) BUT! we finally have spare tips and cords for sale! EDIT: And now the new Pom Pom is here!


PREVIOUSLY: Summer of Basic Make-along starts now!

Summer of Basics Make-along starts now!

Summer of Basics Make-along starts now!

Happy June 1st, also known as Summer of Basics day! I’ve been really impatient for it to get here and know from the #summerofbasics hashtag that many of you have too! It’s been fun seeing all of the assorted knitting and sewing plans that have cropped up so far.


• The idea is to simply spend the next 3 months making 3 basic items for your wardrobe — putting those extra daylight hours to good use!

• Your 3 can be all knitted/crocheted, all sewn, or any combination thereof. Totally up to you! It’s an excellent chance to tackle the projects you’ve been wanting to but maybe haven’t had the nerve. We’re all in it together!

• It’s also up to you whether you do literally one garment per month, or 3 over the course of 3 months. (For instance, my sweater will likely span the whole season.) All that matters is that you finish 3 by August 31.

• They don’t need to be summer clothes — whatever you consider to be basic items that your closet would benefit from, whatever season(s) they might be for.

• Apologies to our friends in the Southern Hemisphere: I realize June/July/August are not summer for you, but I hope you won’t let the name stop you from joining in!

• If you’re blogging, feel free to leave links to your post(s) in the comments here. On Instagram, use the hashtag #summerofbasics for everyone to see.


I’ve teamed up with my friends at Kelbourne Woolens, Grainline Studio and Fancy Tiger Crafts, who’ve offered up some great prizes (see below) as well as being excellent resources. If you’re looking for ideas and/or patterns, see my Make Your Own Basics series (or the Pinterest board for the at-a-glance view). Also Kelbourne Woolens has put together a list of sweater patterns to consider, and of course Grainline Studio and Fancy Tiger are both awesome pattern sources. And I would also suggest Improv and Sloper as excellent, highly adaptable sweater patterns. See also: Pullovers for first-timers and Cardigans for first-timers.

Check out the kickoff posts on everyone’s blogs today/tomorrow to see what they’re planning: Kelbourne, Fancy, Grainline.

And see what the whole community is up to by following (and posting to) the #summerofbasics feed at Instagram for the next three months.


To be eligible for any prize, you need to have completed 3 garments within the June 1-August 31 time frame. (Please do not enter garments you’ve previously finished.) To enter any of the categories below, use the appropriate pair of hashtags when posting your finished garments. Please only use the prize tags that your garments qualify for:

Best Modification/Alteration
PRIZE: 4 skeins of Fibre Co’s new yarn for Fall from Kelbourne Woolens
The winning garment might be either knitted or sewn, but the prize is yarn so only enter if you’re into that! Be sure to tell us what changes you made from the pattern(s) you started with.
HASHTAGS: #summerofbasics + #sob17bestmod

Best First-Timer
PRIZE: 4 sewing patterns + $50 gift certificate from Fancy Tiger Crafts
It’s cool if you’re a knitter entering your first sewn garment or sewer entering your first knitted garment, or it can be the first garment of any kind you’ve ever made!
HASHTAGS: #summerofbasics + #sob17bestfirst

Best Combination of Garments
PRIZE: $100 gift card from Grainline Studio
We’ll be looking for 2-3 pieces that work exceptionally well together. They might be sewn, knitted or a combination, but the prize is sewing patterns, so only enter if you’re into that!
HASHTAGS: #summerofbasics + #sob17bestcombo

Random drawing
PRIZE: $100 gift certificate from Fringe Supply Co.
I’ll draw a name at random from all qualifying posts!
HASHTAGS: #summerofbasics + #sob17finisher

All prizes will be announced at the beginning of September, so make sure to post by August 31. We’re all very excited to see what you make!


MY THREE: My plans have evolved since I initially proposed this. (Or even since my Queue Check on Monday!) But since this post is already quite long, I’ll post all about that tomorrow!

Patterns pictured, clockwise from top left: Archer Button-up from Grainline Studio, Adventure Tank from Fancy Tiger Crafts, Sloper from Fringe Association, Echo Lake from Kelbourne Woolens


PREVIOUSLY in -alongs: Sloper knitalong

And then a “Summer of Basics” make-along?

And then how about a #summerofbasics?

On the heels of the Sloper mini-knitalong I proposed for May yesterday, I have a make-along idea for the summer I’m hoping to get you excited about. There are serious basics my closet is lacking, both knitted and sewn, at least one of which is a bit of mental hurdle and skill stretcher for me (see below). I made a pact with myself to devote my summer to filling some of these key gaps and naturally thought I’d rope you in, too! So what I’m proposing today is the #summerofbasics — wherein we each make three basics in three months! Starting June 1st and running through the end of August.

They can be whatever garments you want or need, and by whatever your definition of a “basic” is. My Make Your Own Basics series makes a great jumping-off point (you can also see the whole thing at a glance on Pinterest), and you might find all the patterns you need there. Or you might be inspired to pick your archetypes from there but pick totally different patterns. Or go entirely your own way — whatever works for you! Your three can be all knitting, all sewing, or a combination of the two.

The only parameter is three basics in three months.

I’ve got a few of my favorite friend-brands on board — including Kelbourne Woolens, Grainline Studio and Fancy Tiger Crafts — so I’ll have some prizes to talk about as the date draws near. And I know there are other sewalongs and knitalongs that tend to happen in summer than you can very likely double-dip into. But the point, as always, is the camaraderie and support — and winding up with three great garments that you can be proud of and that will make your closet work harder than it currently does!

I’m not locking myself into this yet, but I think my three will be the following:

TOP: the grey half-textured pullover from my Queue Check the other day

BOTTOM LEFT: an Archer Button-Up shirt! This is the mental hurdle/skill stretcher one

BOTTOM RIGHT: a simple black linen dress of some kind, possibly a modified Fen

I have till June 1 to rethink that a hundred times! What will yours be?

Happy weekend, everyone! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on all this—


PREVIOUSLYHow about a mini sleeveless turtleneck knitalong?