Mini New England knitting adventure

Mini New England knitting adventure

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!

All in all, five days well spent.

(Yarn and Town Bag from Fringe Supply Co.)


My Summer of Basics plan

My Summer of Basics plan - #summerofbasics make- along

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?


PREVIOUSLY in Summer of Basics: Low-key Summer of Basics (2019 plan)

Low-key Summer of Basics

Low-key Summer of Basics

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!


The talented and the brave: Summer of Basics Grand Prize winners

The chic, the talented, the brave: Summer of Basics Grand Prize winners
The chic, the talented, the brave: Summer of Basics Grand Prize winners

LAST SUMMER, I was smart enough to invite other people to do the final-round judging for Summer of Basics, and I’ll be sure to do that again next year because choosing winners from the 140-ish submissions on the #sob18finisher feed was beyond difficult. (Y’all, in two Summers, we’ve racked up over 5000 posts on #summerofbasics!) In the end, I could only narrow it down to 6 Grand Prize winners (instead of 5) of a $100 Fringe Supply Co. gift certificate*, pictured above and listed below in order of appearance, top to bottom. Make sure you click through and check out each one’s reflections, pattern details and additional photos —

@lana_and_lino Such gorgeous pieces, and the way that she has styled them all into a micro-capsule speaks to just how effective they’re sure to be in her closet. If you only read one caption out of any of this, please make it this one! I’m applauding every word. “I bought my sewing machine in January and I could only sew straight lines …”

@the_german_edge was a front-runner and crowd favorite from the word go, with her ambitious and stylish plans, and following along with her has been pure delight. And yes, she made her clogs.

@francespaki contributing from down under, challenging herself to make some more tailored garments and hitting all three pieces out of the park. “I really feel they are true basics that reflect my style and will be worn winter after winter for years.” If you don’t wear them, Frances, I will!

@nomadiccharacter made six things for herself and three for her daughter, all of which demonstrate that basic doesn’t mean boring. And come on with that toddler lopi!

@teamajwarren Her whole recap is just pure joy, which is how I would love for us all to feel about the clothes we’ve made ourselves.

@aunthoneysestate I feel like she manages to convey so much about herself and her personal style with these three lovely garments, which she describes thusly: “Each fills a specific gap in my summer wardrobe. 1) A pretty embroidered top that goes with everything. 2) A dress that I can “put on and go.” 3) The camisole that I need at least two times a week but never made!” This is also one of many instances like this throughout the feed, which melts my heart every time: “The embroidered center panel is a vintage piece that I’ve been saving for a long time.”

Also, the 5 entrants drawn at random for a $25 Fringe Supply Co. gift certificate* are @tania.ho @hellomister @larosemarymakes @fieldwonderful @emilywools — all of whom also did a magnificent job!

Congratulations to all of you! Job amazingly well done. Please email me at <> to collect your prizes!

If you missed the round one and round two winners, do go take a look at those, too, and click through to see how their plans shook out!

. . .

Through it all, I was blown away by @ninaninawhy’s attention to detail; @blakandblanca’s jet-fueled output, tremendous style and willingness to just go for it (and omg that personalized Field Bag to match her tote); and just how many people made SHOES this year! I loved @hobbsfunk’s striking mirror selfies; melted at @clairemadeit’s mini-capsule for her baby on the way; and cheered @reddamzel’s attitude about her white-for-now sweatshirt. Then there’s @notaprimarycolor who is in a league of her own. And I want to give a special shoutout to @thestoryclubpdx, one of our first-round winners, just to say that I so enjoyed following along with her efforts all summer in such depth, and appreciated how generously she shared both her struggles and her victories.

If I could borrow garments, there’d be a lot of them: @sv_azimuth’s Twigs sweater, @malinerogne’s slip dress, @jessandhen’s back-pleat box top, @mwmmpls’s little yellow top, @megthegrand’s cheerful yellow pullover (I know: I keep saying I’m craving some yellow!), @rachelbeckman’s cardigan, @maloriehall’s … well, everything, but especially the knee-length kimono jacket, and so many other killer clothes!

As I was methodically combing through the finishers, I also made a folder for posts I wanted to refer to or quote from — so many incredible remarks and insights!. When I was done and went to see how many there were, though, I’d saved 35 posts! Which is a bit much to try to cull and link. So what I really want to encourage you to do is go read through the #sob18finisher feed — it’s truly so remarkable and inspirational, and I think every single one is a winner! Along with everyone who finished even one garment. As I’m always saying, it really is the clothes you make, the friends you meet, the skills you build that are the real prize in all of this.

Thank you all so much for making this another exceptional event! I can’t wait for 2019.

*Shipping fees will apply. Non-US winners will be responsible for any duties or taxes on their shipments. Packages cannot be marked as gifts. No substitutions, and prizes cannot be redeemed for cash value.


PREVIOUSLY: Round 1 winners (the planners) and Round 2 winners (the WIPs)

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



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



Revising my Summer of Basics strategy

Revising my Summer of Basics strategy

This is really more of a detour than a pivot or full-on rewrite, but after our discussion about my pj shorts last week — and after going ahead with the first cuff and inserting the elastic — I’m modifying my Summer of Basics plan. (I thought I’d be showing you my finished shorts today, but NOPE!) I’m still making a sweater plus pj top and bottoms, and I’m still making fancy Carolyn pajamas, just in a little bit different order.

The thing about the navy linen pj shorts — especially with that black flat piping in there — is that they are really lovely. And they are also just really too small, even if the linen does give a bit with wear. Because they’re fitted, rather than loose-fitting, the cuff doesn’t lay nicely and it’s quite unflattering. Plus the cuff itself, with the piping involved and the very nice finish it all gets, is a project unto itself. So rather than spend that much more time on the second cuff right now, I’m setting them aside, and following this course of action:

1) As I’m really kicking myself for not having made a muslin of the shorts (I do know better!) (especially for something with this level of construction), I’m going to cut a second pair in the natural/blue stripe fabric above — one of my Imogene+Willie remnants from a few summers ago — which has always struck me as pajama-perfect fabric. I’m going up two sizes, giving it an extra inch or so in the rise (I’m long-waisted and these are a bit low-waisted, which on me winds up being super low-waisted), and also elongating the inseam for a slightly longer hemmed leg as opposed to the cuff and piping. That’ll make it a much quicker sew. (I might also do the waistband my way.) And those will be my SoB pj shorts, which will still be cute and cozy with my sweater when the weather starts to break.

2) I’ve been desperately trying to resist the siren song of the Wiksten Kimono, to concentrate on my pajama plan, but after seeing so many in the #summerofbasics feed I’ve gotten it into my head that an unlined one in another of the I+W fabrics in my stash — the blue/white stripe — would make an excellent little housecoat sort of thing, which might also prove street-worthy. My strategy for resisting this was simply to not buy the pattern, but then Jenny kindly sent it to me, and since this is a very right-now sort of usefulness, and since it will be cute with the striped Carolyn shorts, I’m making this my SoB pj top. I think I have just enough of this fabric left to squeak one out, and I even have a pair of pockets I cut for something else and didn’t use, so I can resort to those for the pockets if need be.

3) Once I know I’ve got the size right on the Carolyn bottoms, I’m going to return to the navy-and-black idea, but do it in pants instead of shorts, and with the addition of back pockets. In this fabric (in my world) these are basically a tuxedo, so there’s a very good chance those will be pants I wear out of the house this fall, and not just pj’s.

4) And then I’ll make the matching Carolyn top to go with them. So the Carolyn combo basically becomes a fall project for me.

5) Somewhere along the way, I’ll put the second cuff on the navy shorts and find them a nice home …


PREVIOUSLY in Summer of Basics: July WIP winners