Summer knitting = shawls and lightweight tees, right? We want to work on the things we imagine ourselves using. Nobody’s thinking about cozy sweaters while sweltering in the heat of the sun and waving away mosquitoes.
Unless you’re me. I got an itch to cast on a fingering-weight colorwork yoke pullover in the middle of July. Maybe it was the rainy June. Maybe it was that this year’s summertime temps have been tolerable. Maybe I’m disinclined to knitting tanks and tops I rarely wear them, even when I make one I like quite a lot. Or maybe I won a Visa gift card in a raffle and decided to treat myself to a sweater’s quantity of yarn. OK, yes, it was definitely that last one, and who doesn’t immediately cast on a long-coveted project after procuring the material to make it?
If you can get over the idea of knitting a sweater during a season when you don’t want to think about wearing one, a lakeside midsummer mini vacation is actually the perfect time to be knitting it. I had the colorwork chart complete before we left and the mindless, continuous stockinette was ideal work while supervising the kiddo’s frequent swims. Between lifeguarding, fewer chores (why is it that chores take up so much of my time and yet my house looks the way it does?) and quiet interludes in the morning and evening, I knit the body of this sweater in THREE DAYS. This is not a thing that could have happened in any other circumstance. Magic.
Pattern: Darkwater by Jennifer Steingass
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Peerie
Colorways: Morel for the body & Cobbler for the yoke
I was so thrilled with my Anaashah that I sensibly decided to knit another pattern from the same designer with the same gauge in the same yarn brand. Why mess with a proven combination? Even so, you just never know with knitting. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then all knitters are insane because we know darn well doing the same thing almost never produces the same result.
As I knit this I thought: oh, no, this is a little too much like Anaashah. I should have made the body in a dark color, instead. Oh, well, there’s always next time. In the meantime I’m ready for fall. I’m waiting!
Is there a way to make a post about a dress that I’ve made so many times before interesting?
I’ve made Geraniums for MJ in wee baby size, toddler size, preschooler size, and now kinder size. It’s a fallback, a stand-by, a tried-and-true. I’ve made it for gifts with intended recipients and I’ve made it just because without anybody specific in mind and stuck it in a drawer until an appropriately-sized recipient presented herself. It’s a good pattern. More than any other pattern this is one has provided comfort and focus and intent when I was distraught and scattered and aimless. It’s a lot of emotional weight to put on a pattern, or any inanimate object, but this is one I started sewing emotionally weighty times and have continued to sew as emotions have stretched and calmed and escalated and mellowed. Sometimes the through lines are not the things you expect.
Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made by Rae
Options selected: faux cap sleeves, gathered skirt, scoop neck, inseam pocket
This came off the needles with no memorable mishaps. This not to say no mistakes were made. Experience does not preclude one from making mistakes. But all those mistakes give you practice in how to fix them which is the real prize. Letting stitches drop to fix a mistake in lacework 4 rows down is a much greater achievement than knitting it right in the first place.
I like to knit lace. I like to knit lace things for brides. Each time I tell them that I do not presume to dress them, and nobody should have any say in how a bride (or anybody else) dresses on her special day (or any other). It’s an object in honor of the day and not necessarily intended for use on the day. I don’t know why this makes sense in my head, it certainly doesn’t as I type it out. Oh, well, I guess it’s possible I’ve been giving weird unwelcome gifts to brides for the last 10 years. Sorry, bride-friends!
So hey, have you noticed I’ve been having a sockmoment? If it bores you, rest easy. These are the last pair I’ll have to show you for a while. I’m hearing the siren call of shawls and sweaters instead.
Once upon a time I amassed a whole lotta yarn. I was an intrepid young knitter with a bit of disposable income and still developing fiscal self-control. I was too cheap for a lot of things (lunches out, a home phone, cable television, Park Slope rent) but not yarn, no no! I accumulated it in big bites and small bites which amounted to bins of yarn that I’m *still* working on knitting through. These things can take a while, especially when you’re always more interested in knitting with the new yarn and not the old which, like myself, just keeps getting older. Tastes change, and I did get rid of some stuff I knew I was never going to use, but even still I have enough yarn on hand to knit through the next layoff, 66% single-year increase in real estate taxes, illness, baby (not that any of those are planned or in progress) or whatever blow to personal finance my future has in store. It’s an investment, you see.
This yarn, though, THIS YARN. These 2 skeins, with 4 friends (2 pink + 2 yellow), were the FIRST. We’re talking deep stash from way back when my heart trilled at the idea of knitting socks for the first time. Back when stash, if I had one, was contained in a single bag rather than a series of bins. I was on vacation in Chicago and souvenir yarn shopping for the first time when I laid eyes on the Koigu KKPM and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited before or since to buy yarn. It was my first extravagant yarn purchase. It was my first souvenir yarn purchase. It was the gateway yarn to Yarns of Superior Quality. It was yarn that I never regretted buying, even if it took more than 10 years to turn into something.
Pattern: Shur’tugal by Alice Yu
Yarn: Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM)
Colorway: I forgot to look and who’m I kidding – this yarn is more than 10 years old so what does it matter? Go check out Koigu’s other colorways, they’re all gorgeous.
I’m on a Socktopus bender. The patterns are beautiful, worth working your way through some janky charts and instructions. In the book’s defense, I’ve cast on 5 pairs of socks from this book (2 aren’t finished, don’t judge!) and Vorticity was the only pattern that gave me any trouble.
Thank goodness I have so much lovely yarn on hand for my renewed interest in complicated sock knitting. I knew I was keeping it for a reason.
I’ve been desperate for a good denim skirt for… ever, possibly. I can’t remember the last good denim skirt I had. There was the hideous one I made out of an old pair of jeans; the one that never fit quite right but I wore for 7 years anyways; the one that had a pair of shorts sewn in that made me feel so bulky and frumpy and old that I never wore it even though it was objectively far more flattering than the one I was trying to replace. I mean, I’ve come around to shorts (living in the Midwest wrangling children will do that to you), but not in my skirts. Just because I’m a middle-aged mother of children doesn’t mean I have to dress like one, right?*
This make fit the bill, but it has left me wondering if my denim skirt days are behind me. It feels like a throwback to my 20’s. That’s too far to throw back, folks. We’re talking turn of the century! Without realizing it I’ve been trying to fill a hole in my wardrobe that’s decades old and possibly irrelevant to me now. I may not want to dress like a middle-aged mom, but I don’t want to dress like I did in 2001, either. Let’s try to look grown up by wearing it with a blouse instead of a baby tee, shall we?
Pattern: Ginger Skirt by Colette Patterns
Fabric: Denim from Jo-Ann
I think it was the unconscious suspicion that this make was out of place and time that made me drag my feet every time I encountered a setback. First I had trouble with the zipper. The slider got hung up on the bulk of the lower waistband. It was months before I ripped it out to give it a little more wiggle room. Then I had trouble topstitching through all those layers of the waistband. This may seem like a single instance of a problem, but given how many times I sewed, ripped, and re-sewed I assure you it was numerous instances of the same problem with a broken needle and empty bobbin thrown in just to mix mishaps up a bit. I settled for imperfect. Good enough is good enough. By the time I was done I was d-o-n-e-DONE.
So, the fit. It’s an a-line skirt and I assumed fitting would be easy-peasy, but there’s something not quite right about the hip-to-waist ratio for me. In fact, tugging this supposed-to-be-high-waisted skirt down towards my hips so it lays better has made me realize that that’s exactly what I’ve done with every single a-line skirt I’ve ever owned. Note to future self: grading between sizes is a thing you need to do. Stop pretending you don’t.
*You don’t have to tell me that I already do; I know I do. It’s just built-in shorts under skirts is where I draw the line. Those and the elastic-waisted polyester pants Mom gave me. Those pants spent too long in my closet before I finally got rid of them whispering to me that someday I’ll be 60 and think they’re the bee’s knees. Shut up, elastic-waisted polyester pants! You’re not the boss of me.**
**I was wrong, I found those pants in my closet STILL. WHY.
You know how people interrupt their own story to think hard (and out loud) about how long ago the thing that they’re talking about happened? They get that faraway look in their eyes and completely derail their train of thought and the conversation you thought you were having?
Now that I’m become increasingly aged I understand why we do that.
Pattern: Undulating Rib Socks
Yarn: Claudia’s Handpainted (pretty sure)
Colorway: Who knows, and if I did it’s long discontinued
I had always been so bored by these conversations that I never expected the experience of how personally fascinating it is that, for example a yarn has been in my stash for +/- 13 years. I remember visiting Seattle, back when Seattle still felt like “home”, and going to Acorn Street Shop with Cindy and those intervening years disappear. Past experience butts with the present like the ends of a piece of string yarn forming a loop. I’m not thinking about all that’s happened since that occasion; I’m marveling at that the fact that for a beat it feels like none of it has.
And then my brain sorts itself out and I’m back and realizing I’ve lost my audience and the thread both because nobody’s interested except the speaker in how long ago things happened or the thing that happened before or after as you try to pinpoint the year and season.
This was supposed to be a slam dunk. I really enjoy plants and planting and playing in dirt. I’m proud of the food my neighbors and I grow together on our neighborhood farm, and I’m proud of the community we create and support.
Also, I really like prints. So much so that when I had to have my picture taken at work and the guidelines suggested no prints or sleeveless blouses I was rather at a loss what to wear.
Obviously a shirt featuring vegetables should be just the thing.
I think, though, that I might like it better when I’m retired and taking master gardening classes. Perhaps it will feel authentic, then, and not like I’m a 40-year-old trying to look like an ironic 20-something trying to look like a 70-year-old. Maybe by then my tired old eyes won’t feel so assaulted by the garish combination of green and red.
Or, maybe I’ll wear the shirt anyways.
Anyways, Willamette, great pattern, great camp shirt, easy to wear, satisfies my enjoyment of a collar and apparent distaste for button-downs (I don’t even know why, I just know I almost never reach for them). Bad for wedding, though, you could see down my shirt. Whoops!
This is not the dress I’d intended to make. But it is, to state the obvious, the dress that I made.
I taped the pattern together. There was a skirt front. There was a skirt back. I cut out a skirt front. I cut out a skirt back.
Reading the instructions much later I learned that if making view C you were to cut two rectangles so-big by such-big.
I had cut out the skirt for view B.
Good thing this pattern included instructions in English, unlike Evol which I totally winged, guessing at the construction based on experience and pictures. Now that I can cross-reference French words like “interface” I realize Evol would have benefited from some. Google translate has a long way to go, folks.
I mostly work with cottons and linens and did not not enjoy any part of dealing with this shifty, slippery fabric. I found it so difficult I was sure everything about this dress was going to be a disaster. I went on and on complaining about it, so much so that when I donned it to show my husband he said, “What’s so awful about it?” And I was like… well, nothing. It’s great. It feels great. It fits great. I can’t even explain how this can be. It’s objectively more flattering than my usual sack-dress shapeless makes. Drape must make up for all manner of ills.
Other random notes: I added a bit to the bodice length. by cutting it at the waistline for the next larger size; the way the elastic casing is made is neat-o; this fabric feels dreamy against the skin; I didn’t bother with button holes, the neck hole is big enough that I was able to sew the plackets together when sewing the buttons on. I wore it out on the town not quite finished and I still haven’t serged the seam allowances on the armhole because I have to change the thread out. Lazy me!
May! My favorite month. What child isn’t predisposed to prefer her birth month above all others? May’s so great weather-wise that I’ve continued to like it even in spite of my birthday. Or Mother’s Day. Or the 50,000,000 things that crowd the familial calendar leaving me to wonder when I’ll ever find the time or energy to keep things afloat. Still: May! Yay!
May! Me-Made-May! I didn’t have it in me to formally sign up this year. Buuuuut I got to wondering if I could wear a me-made every day without repeat, so I made that my loosey-goosey unofficial unadvertised goal. No selfies, just flat-lays to keep a log.
I can hear what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But all you have to do is go to your closet and count your me-mades to know if you have enough to wear a month without repeat!” Not so, my friends. Just because I have the thing doesn’t mean I wear it. Some me-mades I need a little reminding to wear; some I need a little cajoling; some I avoid entirely; and some I probably should avoid (threadbare gray bird-print blouse I’m looking at you).
Without further ado, here are the mostly terrible flat-lay photos I took of my me-mades either wrinkled from wear or wrinkled from the washer. I forgot a few. The weekend of June 1-2 was so so fine I wore a couple me-made dresses I hadn’t during May and threw them in the collage to make up for the photographic lapses.
This experiment made me think of my my-mades in a different way than I usually do. Typically I’m getting dressed to have clothes on; I’m not thinking about why I wear the things I do or, more illuminating, why I’ll wear some things I don’t feel great in and why I don’t wear the things I don’t: fit, color, style, lifestyle, weather, weird personal associations. I was reminded of how great a dress fits that I rarely wear because of the color; how much I love the style of a particular blouse but never wear because it’s a smidge too small; how much I absolutely love camp shirts and should really just make 5,000 of them and have a personal uniform; and, finally, how even though I bang on about needing to make more bottoms in my heart I really have no interest, at least not right now, and I’m giving myself permission to cross them off my to-make list and stop feeling guilty for making the things I like instead of the things I think I should.