Top posts and highlights of 2018

Top posts and highlights of 2018

The single most popular thing published on the blog this year was the Log Cabin Mitts pattern, which made me grin from ear to ear, while the Improv top-down sweater tutorial is still the most visited page overall. Other big winners were the Fringe and Friends Logalong kickoff and Summer of Basics kickoff, the Steekalong announcement and color palette suggestions, and Slow Fashion October. But beyond patterns and big events, the most popular single posts were a fun little mix:

Top 5 posts published in 2018:

1. Daniel-Day Lewis’s gansey (and the ensuing pattern suggestions and historical background
2. “World’s softest helmet” — the Pinterest hit of the year 
3. My tutorial on how I sew elastic waistbands 
4. Q for You: Do you keep a knitting journal? 
5. And a post I’d completely forgotten about the Olympic beanie knockoff patterns

Top 5 posts from the archive: (same as last year, in slightly different order!)

1. Improv: Basic pattern/tutorial for a top-down seamless sweater
2. Joining sweater parts at the underarms: Here comes the fun!
3. Pullovers for first-timers: Or, an introduction to sweater construction
4.Fringe Hatalong No. 1: Audrey by Jessie Roselyn
5. Mitts for Miss Casey aka Super Simple Mitts

My personal favorites/highlights:

I enjoyed every single thing about the Logalong, getting to see so many of your faces at Stitches West, my first 10×10 Challenge, seeing Jane Adams holding a Field Bag, teaching (and more) at Squam, committing to my mini Bullet Journal, talking breed-specific yarns with my friend Brooke Sinnes, and I am incredibly proud of this year’s Slow Fashion October. To mention but a few.

But clearly the highlight of 2018, for me personally, was my trip to Portugalmeeting Rosa and her hand-spinner, touring the wool mill, attending the sheep blessing, and every other precious minute of that remarkable, horizon-expanding trip.

And it’s also been an incredible year for Fringe Supply Co. Thanks to you and your support, there are — by my calculations — 146 families around the world receiving life-improving fiber animals through Heifer International, due to our (yours and my) donations and Heifer’s matching campaigns. That is truly incredible, and I’m so eternally grateful for the opportunity to be the conduit.

So that’s 2018 in a nutshell. I’d love to hear from you what your favorite posts or moments were! Thank you so much for the time you’ve spent here in 2018, and I’m looking forward to more great debates, challenging knitalongs and so much more in the new year!

(Speaking of Heifer, these are tough times for a non-profit, with so many disasters and crises diverting charitable giving this way and then that. I’m assuming that’s the reason why Heifer is facing a funding shortfall at the moment. If you believe in the work they’re doing to fight poverty and hunger around the globe, and can spare even a few dollars, please do take a moment to make a donation!)

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PREVIOUSLY in Year-end: Favorite New Favorites, Sewing Year in Review, Knitting Year in Review

2018: My knitting year in review

2018: My knitting year in review

By the time the calendar blows over to January, I’ll have completed 19 knitting projects, which is a lot for me, but almost half of them were Log Cabin Mitts! When I came up with this pattern back in January — my contribution to last winter’s Fringe and Friends Logalong — it was one of those magical manifestations where you wonder where on earth it came from. I said at the time that they felt like the only truly creative thing I’d ever done, and I’m still so amazed at how beautifully the pattern worked out — and how fun it is to play with — that I have no intention of ceasing to knit them, even having finished 7 pairs this year: the originals (free pattern here), grey, black-and-white, toffee, black-and-blue, verb kit and indigo. (Grey and black-and-blue have been given to friends but will likely be replicated for the collection, which still feels like an art project in process.) The toffee pair live in my jacket pocket and are worn on the regular, but the black-and-white ones are my favorite rendition so far.

2018: My knitting year in review

Overall, it was a year of accessories knitting for me. In addition to the mitts, I made four hats for my sister’s family, for their spring break ski trip: grey Lancet, blue 1898 Hat, ivory Første, yellow ScandinAndean Earflap.

2018: My knitting year in review

Then there’s another hat that’s never been blogged because it’s a pattern I’m supposed to be writing, plus my Hozkwoz hat from the Fringe Marlisle Knitalong. So a total of 6 hats. And of course the cable dickey I haven’t been able to shut up about either before or since knitting it.

2018: My knitting year in review

And then there are the sweaters. Four ostensibly for me: the Sweatshirt vest, ivory aran-gansey, plum Anna Vest and blue Bellows Cardigan, which I don’t think I’m keeping. And the fifth, the final BO of the year, will be Bob’s vest. I’m just finishing up the bands and will write it up as soon as I’m done!

2018: My knitting year in review

The dickey and matching toffee mitts are easily my most-worn, best-loved wardrobe additions this year, and the ivory Første hat is one of the most stunning things I’ve ever knitted. And in addition to the Log Cabin Mitts, I also designed a second mitts pattern this year: Cascara Mitts for Tolt’s anniversary collection. I can’t add them to my tally because I have only knitted 1 mitt for the sake of writing the pattern (plus two more partials for teaching purposes), but I love those mitts and will be making myself a completed pair in the future.

Log cabin and marlisle were both new techniques for me this year, as were the clever construction on the 1898 Hat and mosaic knitting, which was used for the unseen pattern-to-come hat. (Oh wait, there’s one more secret hat — a sample for someone else’s pattern that also involved a way-new technique!! Tell you more about that when I can. So that’s 7 hats, and 20 finished projects in total.) I also got to knit quite a few cables and did some experimenting with the earflap hat and the sweatshirt vest. And published two patterns I’m proud of. Not to mention finally getting the Anna Vest published as an individual download. Phew!

All in all, a pretty good knitting year!

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PREVIOUSLY: 2017 Knitting year in review

2018: My sewing year in review

2018: My sewing year in review

Last year (2017) was a year in which I really pushed myself into new territory as a sewer — sewing my first button-up shirt and even a pair of jeans. It was a thrilling, horizon-expanding sort of year. By contrast, 2018 was … well, the opposite.

My big adventure was supposed to be my navy-and-black linen Carolyn Pajamas for Summer of Basics — a challenging sew for the top, and the fun of piping on both top and bottoms. When the shorts were looking absolutely stunning (but way too small), I realized I really wanted to do full-length pants instead, and wound up off on a tangent that resulted in pants, modified shorts and a Wiksten Kimono (now known as the Wiksten Haori) in three different striped shirtings from my stash — a hodgepodge of coordinating pj parts. In the end, I’m happy enough with them, and wear them all, but still really eager to do the fancy navy-and-black duo.

For the rest, the results overall are mixed. On the one hand, I made the most-worn garment in my closet: the natural canvas pants I wear literally 3 or 4 times a week and have taken on all but one trip this year (that one being Squam Lake, where they didn’t go for obvious reasons). The recycled denim pair are worn pretty regularly, but I somehow don’t have the same level of adoration for them. On the other hand, I made the puffy short-sleeved Linden that’s already been given to a niece, followed by the long-sleeved Linden that I inexplicably cut on the cross-grain, so it stretches top to bottom instead of side to side. It doesn’t stop me from wearing it, but it does make me feel like an idiot every time! The jury is still out on the linen-cotton Carolyn pants — we’ll see if they make it into rotation this spring.

The most fun I had sewing this year was (once again) a refashion: the unfinished Clyde Jacket I had scored at last December’s Elizabeth Suzann sample sale (abandoned before its sleeves were attached) and converted into a vest. I LOVE this thing, and really enjoyed solving the puzzle of how to work with the existing style lines and seams to get the garment I wanted:

2018: My sewing year in review

But the bottom line is that I want to have a lot more fun sewing in 2019 — both in terms of using/pushing my skills and in what I use them to create. More on that to come—

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PREVIOUSLY: 2017 Sewing year in review

2017: My sewing year in review

2017: My sewing year in review

It was late May — mid-year already — when I sewed my first garment of the year, and it had been 10 months at that point since I’d sewn anything. The latter half of the year is the exact opposite story. Whereas this year’s knitting was about settling into a groove I’d been building toward for six years, my sewing practice has been about taking leaps and bounds forward. Up until that white linen shell that got me restarted, my sewn garments these past few years have been almost entirely of the “a front, a back and some binding” variety, but I vowed that this would be the year I’d test out of the lifelong beginner class, commit to sewing some things that couldn’t be done in a single sitting, and change my view of which parts of my wardrobe I’m capable of making myself. I feel like I owe it all the Summer of Basics challenge and the jeans-making workshop that followed. And my serger. Now that was a good decision.

There were definitely still simple little tops: the white linen shell, the grey wool sweatshirt-y thing, and my favorite sleeveless tee in striped hemp and grey wool knit. The jaw-dropping garment of the year was my first pair of jeans. The garments that really changed my closet and my outlook are the four pairs of “toddler pants”: olive (ruined in the wash but still in service on manual-labor days), denim, camo and natural wool. And the most involved thing I sewed this year (or possibly ever) was not the jeans but my Archer button-up. I’ll never forget pulling out the jeans pattern, seeing that it was fewer pieces and steps than the Archer I had recently completed, and thinking “I got this!” Not that Archer is hard, per se — it isn’t — but there is more to it.

And that’s not all I sewed. There were the baby harem pants for Allison plus two refashions: the slipdress and the army shirtjacket. Remaking the latter was one of the funnest days of my year — I had a blast in my sewing room that day, and am thrilled to now have that little jacket in my closet.

2017: My sewing year in review

Altogether, what these clothes mean is I no longer think of myself as capable of sewing simple tops and dresses while still dependent on ready-to-wear for shirts, pants and jeans (the bulk of my wardrobe, in other words). In fact, I no longer feel dependent for anything! But the other half of the giant impact of all of this is that I’ve learned to actually love sewing, rather than tolerate it. It turns out sewing more satisfying garments makes it that much more satisfying. Lesson learned!

Who knows what I might get up to in 2018.

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PREVIOUSLY: 2017 Knitting year in review

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2017: My knitting year in review

2017: My knitting year in review
2017: My knitting year in review

This has been a banner year for me on the knitting front. One of the lowest years in terms of quantity (which is 100% ok with me, regardless) but the best ever for quality. I mean, look at the four sweaters I added to my closet this year: the black modified-St. Brendan yoke sweater, the camel modified-Channel cardigan, the vintage Bernat fisherman and the plain vanilla Improv cardigan — heirloom quality sweaters that I expect to wear and wear and wear. And really there’s a fifth for this list, as I fully intend to have the last ends woven in on my grey Cline sweater before the ball drops. To me, these are hardworking “basics” that are anything but boring. I find them heartmeltingly beautiful. And to be able to say that these are the best garments I’ve ever owned and I made them myself is just a tremendous source of pride and accomplishment. Not gonna lie.

And then there are the three other things I finished this year:

2017: My knitting year in review

The sample hats for my Debutant teaching pattern (which I’m teaching again at Squam next June); the chunky linen Sloper experiment, which has gone to my sister; and the last bits of the purple lopi pullover from the Improv top-down tutorial, the fate of which is yet to be determined. Actually, it’s determined: I’m excited about the idea of cutting it into a V-neck cardigan; I just haven’t gotten the time or nerve to do it yet. So that’ll be one of 2018’s refashion projects — something truly new to look forward to!

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PREVIOUSLY: 2016 knitting year in review

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2016: My sewing year in review

2016: My sewing year in review

So this is a different sort of surprise for me: I sewed 12 garments this year, which is definitely more garments than I sewed in the previous 20 years combined! Granted, they are extremely simple little clothes, averaging maybe a yard and a quarter apiece. But I also haven’t sewn since sometime around mid-August — so really I sewed 12 garments in 7-ish months. And combined with the knitting, I made 21 things this year. No wonder my closet is feeling so much better.

More important, though, I like all of these clothes:

– The wool gauze pullover was worn a lot before it met an unfortunate fate in a dryer. It now lives with an 8-year-old friend, but a pal just sent me a length of the exact same fabric in case I want to make it again!

– The blue striped dress was in regular rotation for awhile and no doubt will be again this spring/summer

– The muumuu doesn’t get a lot of wear, of course, but it makes me smile every time I open my closet door

– The two sleeveless tops — black and blue striped — both factor heavily into my winter wardrobe, and I can’t wait to make another version

– The striped skirt was a test, but it’s gotten a little bit of wear and I’m eager to iterate on it

– The black muscle tee is a total favorite, my first time sewing a knit, and will be repeated soon!

– One reason to look forward to warm weather again is the chance to wear the two little box tops

– And the three camisoles are multi-functional and well-loved

If I have a resolution for 2017, it’s to advance my sewing skills and also figure out how to be more efficient about it. For one thing, I bought a serger back in October, which has yet to emerge from the box, but learning how to use it is my number one priority going into January. As I mentioned yesterday, I feel like I’ve reached a place where I know what I want in my closet. Now to bring my skills up to speed!

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PREVIOUSLY: My 2016 knitting year in review

 

2016: My knitting year in review

2016: My knitting year in review

This little exercise can be such a shock sometimes: I knitted a grand total of 8 things this year — 7 sweaters and a pair of slippers. Can that even be right? But let’s look at it another way:

2016: My knitting year in review

– I made a pullover for my husband (the first sweater I’ve made him) and a linen tee for my sister (the first sweater I’ve made her). Both are well-loved and well-worn. And yes, I did wind up changing the neck on Bob’s to a basic crewneck.

– I made one ill-advised impulse sweater that will very likely never be worn and I’m very close to frogging, as soon as I figure out a better use for the yarn.

– I made these slippers, which are darling and useful. As I noted at the time, Shelter was not a good choice of yarn for slippers — it was just handy at that moment — but I’ve since thrown them in the wash and they felted up quite nicely.

– Oh wait — 9 things! I also knitted the sample for my Camellia Tank pattern that’s featured in the second issue of Making magazine, my great honor of the year. (File under: Top-secret knitting that never made it onto the blog.)

2016: My knitting year in review

And that leaves the four sweaters at the top of the post, which I made for myself, and which you can see amount to a set of fantastic basics: a black pullover, a black vest, a black cardigan, and a black-and-ivory pullover. Total wardrobe building blocks my closet was sorely lacking, and that have either already gotten or will get a ton of wear for years to come.

But the bigger reflection is that I feel like I really reached a great place this year in my knitting. In the past, if I was “working on” anything about my knitting, it was building up skills, or stretching them in whatever ways. More recently, my focus has really shifted to making good choices about what to spend my scant knitting time on — this was even my New Year’s resolution the last two years. Between the knitting (and the sewing) and the blogging about it, I’ve learned a lot about myself in terms of what I’m making, why I’m making my clothes, how much they cost, and how it is adding up to a functional wardrobe. I’ve genuinely reached a place where I’m more interested in quality (in the sense of materials/construction but also how valuable the garment will be to my ability to get dressed) than quantity. So ok, I made myself four great sweaters this year, and that feels like a whopping success.

I’ll forgive myself for the blue thing. ;)

(For more details: see all of my FO posts for 2016 and/or my projects on Ravelry.)

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PREVIOUSLY: 2015 Year in Review

Camellia Tank photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge for Making