In the mountains

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I really thought I’d have time to post before now, but there’s something about going on vacation in the middle of the week that makes life crazy. I am in no way complaining though, because now we’re here, and it’s wonderful. L and I have been planning this trip to Switzerland for months, and it almost doesn’t feel real, but then we think about what we’re going to do tomorrow and it involves hiking to 2,000 metres in the alps and well, there’s no denying the reality of that (or the reality of how stiff my legs will be afterwards!)

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Anyway, there will be a more exciting, detail- and photo-filled post later, but I couldn’t resist posting these evening shots L took last night. This is the view across the valley (amplified with some zoom) and even though the clouds have been hiding the tops of most of the mountains, they work in our favour at sunset.

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Ah. So lovely. And more to come, I promise.

The Lovely Fika

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I am a big fan of treating myself on my birthday, and today I think I started a new little tradition along those lines: a new pair of hand-knit socks. I love fresh-off-the-needles socks, when they’re still all firm and unstretched, so when I finished these on Monday I decided to save them until today. It was such an easy, nice little thing to do for myself, and I’m glad I thought of it.

These are Fika, from the spring issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, which I finally subscribed to. Every new issue of Pom Pom has at least one pattern in it that I love, and every time I wish to myself that I was a subscriber, so I finally just went for it and I’m so glad I did. Besides being the source of lovely patterns and other writing, it’s beautiful to look at, and the paper stock and printing make it feel almost like a little book. Anyway, the spring issue was the first one I got as part of my subscription, and it just made sense that Fika would be the first thing I cast on.

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I’ve had this Koigu in my stash for ages (years, maybe even) and I although was originally thinking it would work well for a pair of Smokestack Socks, I’m really glad I used it for Fika. The twisted rib is a great way to both show off and break up the fun speckled colourway, and all the colours in the yarn made choosing the contrast stripe really fun (originally, I had planned to use red, but then I saw this picture and changed my mind.)

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I knit these at my usual gauge, which was a bit of a miscalculation on my part, since the largest size has you cast on 64 stitches — four fewer than I’d usual go with. I thought to myself: What’s four stitches? And knit along quite merrily, making up for the deficit by decreasing fewer stitches at the gussets. As you can see, the socks fit quite nicely, but they are hard to pull on! The upside, of course, is that they don’t sag! The next time I knit these, I’ll just go up a needle size, which will give me the wiggle room I need. And there will certainly be a next time, because as I knit blissfully away on these I went into a kind of autopilot and, after casting on, didn’t refer to the pattern until the toe, which means the missed the novel heel shaping! I’m intrigued, though, so another pair is certainly in my future.

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Details
Pattern: Fika by Maribeth White
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM in P336 (the contrast is Koigu needlepoint yarn in #3332 — this is sold in 10-yard mini-mini skeins, which is perfect for this sort of detail)
Needles: 2.25mm
Notes: Just what I mentioned above about ignoring the heel shaping and doing fewer gusset decreases. I actually also knit the heel in a different yarn, because although I really love Koigu for socks, I’m hard on my heels, and it wears through a bit more quickly than a yarn with nylon reinforcement. I chose a low-contrast colour though, so it didn’t compete with the rest of the design and I’m quite pleased with the overall look (you can see just a hint of grey heel in the photo above). Ravelled here.

Me Made May

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For the last two years I’ve watched other bloggers take the Me Made May pledge, and followed through the month as they’ve rocked their handmade wardrobe in a really public way (so many people post daily outfit pictures during the month, which feels like a more public way to dress than just to wear your clothes and go about your day). Last year I really wanted to join in, but I knew I didn’t have the wardrobe to do so; this year I think I’m right on the cusp. I have a few skirts, a few tops, one lightweight cardigan, a dress, and some accessories. I’m not sure it’s really enough to get my through the whole month, but I’m going to try (and I plan to add to the tally as I go along).

Technically, I think I’m too late to make the official pledge, but I don’t care. Having a largely handmade wardrobe is a slow process, so maybe deciding to pledge can also be slow. I want to make this month as thoughtful and useful as possible, so I took my time thinking about what I wanted to get out of it, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

First, I want to really assess my handmade wardrobe. It’s small, so there are lots of holes, but I want to get a real sense of what works and what doesn’t, so I know what to add going forward. I also want to be really aware of what I’ve made so far, how those garments fit, and how they make me feel, because I don’t want to spend time making things unless those things are going to make me feel great later.

Second, I’ve been slowing thinking about my wardrobe in a more holistic sense (hence all those links last week), and I think this will help. I’m not sure how to explain it exactly, but I want to be less haphazard about how I dress. It’s not that I think I dress badly, but I think I can definitely be more thoughtful, and the idea of putting each outfit out into the world will force me to dress in a way that I’m proud of every day. This isn’t about dressing up, but it’s more about being more precise in my choices, and even if my actual outfits don’t change much in the end (I will probably always gravitate toward jeans + t-shirt + cardigan, and I’m okay with that), I at least want to know that I’m dressing a certain way by choice and not out of habit. (Does that make sense?)

So, here we go:

I, Angela, am signing up for Me Made May 2015 with the goal of building an outfit around something Me-Made 5 days a week (this means a pair of socks won’t cut it, but a great shawl might). I will endeavour to post a photo each day on Instagram.

Left to right: My one and only successful Wiksten Tank, with Grace; and my Shaelyn shawl with New Girl.

Left to right: My one and only successful Wiksten Tank, with Grace; and my Shaelyn shawl with New Girl.

I am surprisingly excited about this challenge, especially since L and I are going away for 10 days and I have no idea how a me-made wardrobe will work for our trip (about which, more later). I’m not going to do weekly roundups, but I will do a sum-up post at the end of the month. Is anyone else doing Me Made May this year? What do you think of this whole thing? (Honestly, as a knitter, I think Me Made March would be way easier to commit to).

Here and There

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Fika! (Nearly) half-done a pair.

Fika! (Nearly) half-done a pair.

One of my favourite things on other blogs is when the writer posts a list of thoughtful links, with little details about each. I read a lot, but I also miss a lot, and it’s nice to get a chance to catch up. It’s also a little window into what that person finds interesting enough to remember days later, so it offers another way to know them, in addition to whatever it is they make/do. So, I thought I’d try my hand at it. I’m not sure if I’ll make this a regular-regular feature, since I think the best of these lists are sporadic and written only when there’s a collection of really good things, but we’ll see.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been meaning to share:

  • First, an on-the-needles update, since I’ve been bad at that. Above, the first Fika sock. I subscribed to PomPom last month after years of thinking about it (should have just done it ages ago, there are always at least two patterns I want to make) and cast these on almost as soon as the issue arrived. At the bottom of this post you can see the start of a swatch for Balta. I realized I don’t really have many warm-weather knits, and I want to change that. I bought Gudrun’s book when it came out, and though I didn’t anticipate this would be the first thing I made from it, it’s nice to be surprised.
  • I am very interested in the idea of capsule wardrobes, and this GGC post pointed me over to this new-to-me blog, where I entered a capsule rabbit hole. I’m not sure I could do it (or want to do it), but it turns out I can read a lot about it.
  • Further to that, Karen’s wardrobe planning posts inspired me to not only go out and purchase myself a Fashionary (from her shop, of course), but to actually sketch in it! This is a magic book, because I am not very good at drawing and all my sketches look good (to me, anyway). I’m not sure yet how I plan to use this book, but for now it’s quite fun, so no plan is necessary.
  • Okay, last fashion-y one: This Into Mind post on why dressing for your “body type” is bullshit was awesome. It hits so many important points, and for me, made me rethink the way I think about shopping and clothes in general: Am I wearing what I want to wear or am I wearing what I’ve been told I should? Who decides what’s flattering? Etc. Anyway, it’s a great (not too long) read, and I found it empowering.
  • I had to go over to my Twitter to find the link for that last one and I was reminded about this amazing looking salad that I now want to make this weekend. Perhaps my favourite thing about this recipe, though, is the write-up that introduces it, and in particular this bit, about our tendency to search out all the good parts amid the filler: “We’re all a little hard-wired to eat like slightly deranged miners, pioneers panning for gold and the lone, lingering pine nut. We’re selfish, eyes-on-the-prize creatures—especially when we eat, when we are at our most creature-like.” YES.
  • Also food-related, this is what I’m going to make for dinner tonight (provided L picks up some pearl barley, which I foolishly forgot earlier, even though it was on my list.) I work weird hours and don’t cook much during the week, which makes me very recipe conscious on the weekend. (I’m going to make this salad to go with it — I make it all the time for lunch and it’s delicious.) (**Edited to add: The mushroom-barley porridge was delicious, but use more mushrooms than the recipe says. I used a whole bad of shiitakes and was very glad I did so.)
  • Let’s end on an adorable note. Sam posted some new pictures of baby Amber and she is so cute I can hardly stand it. (Also, check her out in her little sweater! Such a good fit right now.)
  • **Late-breaking addition: Six years ago my sister and I went to Nepal to volunteer in a daycare. The daycare allowed mothers to work outside the home (and taught the children both English and Nepalese, as well as giving them a big healthy meal) which meant greater financial independence for women, thereby allowing them to contribute to their families and/or leave abusive situations. We went there with The Mountain Fund, an organization whose progress I’ve followed ever since. There are lots of ways to help victims of the recent earthquakes in Nepal, all of them good, but if you’re wondering how to ensure your money goes directly to help, this is a safe bet. They’re on the ground and already working to rebuild. You can follow their progress and challenges here on Twitter.**
Swatching for Balta. (And yes, that is a personalized yarn bowl. My LYS is the best!)

Swatching for Balta in Quince & Co. Sparrow. (Yes! that is a personalized yarn bowl. My LYS is the best!)

Spring Scouting

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When it comes to writing about sewing, I am terrible. Part of it is definitely a practice issue — I am definitely a seasonal sewist — but part of it is also that sewing is so much quicker than knitting, which means I have less time process time during which to think about what I’ll eventually say. The result, of course, is a back log of projects, which I find weirdly intimidating to write about (as if, since they’ve been kicking around, I should have more to say). ANYWAY, this preamble is just more procrastination, so I will just jump in.

This was meant to be a test shot, but I actually kind of like the angle. Anyway: I'm not sad, is what I'm trying to say.

This was meant to be a test shot, but I actually kind of like the angle. Anyway: I’m not sad, is what I’m trying to say.

As I said, I am a seasonal sewist, so when the warm(ish) weather arrived about a month ago, coinciding with Felicia’s simple sewing series, I was inspired (inspired!) to revisit Grainline Studio’s Scout Tee, which I had tried before but never quite gotten right. I read lots of sewing blogs over the winter, so I was feeling vicariously confident in my skills. I pulled out the pattern pieces, made some alterations, and whipped up this pink floral top. (Would I have said this fabric was my style before this shirt? Maybe not. Why did I have it in my stash? In a fit of spring fever a year ago, I bought four metres of it! Thank goodness I like it so much now).

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This spring fever Scout is a very, very wearable muslin. It does billow a little in back, so I made a few tweaks before making a second one.

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I love this fabric. Love it. And it’s even better for being navy — my go-to neutral — since that makes an otherwise whimsical print very easy to wear. I am a big fan of elbow-length sleeves (I often roll my regular sleeves up this high), and it’s a great length for spring. These sleeves are slim enough to fit comfortable under a cardigan, but still have enough room to move around in. I suspect I’ll make a couple more tops in this style for the fall, though its probably safe to switch over to t-shirts for now.

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Another test shot that worked out pretty well!

So, what do you think? I have two more of these to blog about (I don’t have photos, or I’d have lumped them all in here together), so I hope it isn’t deadly boring. Is anyone else feeling the urge to sew as the weather warms up?

Edited to add: I completely left off the usual Details part of this post. Maybe if I treat sewing FOs the way I treat knitting ones, the blogging will be a little easier? Hmm. Anyway, here it is:

Details
Pattern: Scout Tee by Grainline Studio
Fabric: Anna Maria Horner Voile in Cell Structure in Americana (from Field Study) and Cotton + Steel Lawn in Window Vine (from Homebodies)
Notes: I honestly can’t remember what size I started out with, so I’m not sure helpful these modification notes will be (I think I may have started with a size 8, based on the finished garment measurements). Anyway: Initially I did an FBA and graded the side seams in two sizes at the waist. I noticed that I had a lot of extra fabric at the centre front (a lot), so in a move that worked for me (but might not for you!) I cut an inch off the pattern piece (thus taking two inches out of the centre front; as I said, there was a lot of extra fabric just sitting there, yet the top didn’t fit properly at the sides without the FBA). I then re-drew the neckline and did a slight broad-back adjustment to make up the difference. I also added an inch to the length and did French seams where I could.

I should note that because I started all these alterations months ago (there was another muslin somewhere around the holidays) that part of the reason everything is in a jumble is because I didn’t really know what I was doing. Undoubtedly choosing a more appropriate size from the get go would have lessened the alterations. This really is a simple and straight-forward pattern if you don’t go crazy overthinking it (as I sort of did). In the end, though, I’m happy with the pattern pieces I have, which is the main thing.

Light it up

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It never fails to amaze me how quickly I can get something finished if I just focus on it. A few days after I posted about my current socks, I noticed a hole in the heel of one of my favourite pairs. The next day, I found a hole in the heel of another pair. Despite those holes being entirely unrelated to the pair on my needles, finding them lit something of a fire under me, and barely more than a week later I finished that pair.

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I actually would have been done sooner, but I made a very foolish yarn calculation when going away for Easter weekend and ran out of yarn (I know better than this, and yet…) Oh well. They’re finished now and they are as fun as I hoped they would be.

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Originally, I’d only been planning contrast heels, but then a couple of you suggested contrast toes too, and I’m so glad you did. They are the perfect touch. For more fun, I alternated the stripe sequence between socks. It’s subtle, and a nice little twist on perfectly matched stripes. (I’d already planned to do this, but it came in extra handy over Easter since it meant I didn’t have to waste any of the yarn I had with me.)

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There’s not much to say about these. They’re my standard 68-stitch, top-down sock. The stripes ended up being a perfect width to base measurements on, which doesn’t always happen, but definitely makes lining things up from one sock to the other much easier.

Details
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Lighthouse (with leftover Sweet Fiber Super Sweet Sock in Spanish Coin for the contrast)
Pattern: Old faithful
Notes: No change from the usual, though I will say the choice of contrast colour was inspired by lighthouse lights. That subsequently led to my project name, which meant every time I picked these up this song would pop into my head, making for quite an enjoyable project. Ravelled here.

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Clothes for a sheep

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Six weeks ago, two of our best friends had a baby. I already knew I was going to love this kid (her parents are the best — how could she not be!?) but when she held on ten extra days just so she could be born on Chinese New Year, I knew she was a kindred spirit. This is the year of the sheep (or goat), and any baby who wants to be a sheep that badly is clearly going to be showered with knitting. (Also, be warned, there are a lot of photos in this post. Between her inherent cuteness and her dad’s fantastic photos, I couldn’t resist.)

Two days old, already hamming it up.

Two days old, already hamming it up.

We met little Amber the day she came home from the hospital, and as soon as I knew we were going I decided that whip up a little something to bring with us (besides, of course dinner and treats for her parents). I decided to go with a hat, for both speed and immediate practicality. It was friggin’ cold the week she was born (down around -40C with windchill some days), and as most Canadians learn early in life, a hat is indispensable in the winter.

About a week old.

About a week old.

I thought about going with a hat I’ve already made, but where’s the fun in that? I did a quick search through my Ravelry favourites and decided to go with the Garter Ear-Flap Hat from Purl Soho. It’s ridiculously cute with the little ear flaps, and the funny tassel on top was a huge hit. I knit the smallest size, in lighter weight yarn, and it still came out pretty big for a newborn. It will get her through her first winter though, so I consider that a success.

Details
Pattern: Garter Ear-Flap Hat by Purl Soho
Yarn: Tosh Merino DK in Candlewick
Notes: I sped up the decreases to get a (slightly) smaller hat. You can see my notes (such as they are — I knit this quickly and a little on auto-pilot) here.

She loves it.

She loves it. (Also, maybe I should whip her up some tiny mittens?)

These days Amber is also rocking the Wee Envelop sweater that I knit her months before she was born. I was worried at the time that it might be too small, but it turns out it’s the perfect one-month size, and a big hit.

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She’s just over a month old here. 

I wrote about this little sweater in the fall when I was knitting it, but I never got proper photos of it before I gifted it, so it didn’t really get its due here. Seriously, though, what a fun knit. I’ve still only knit the one, but it will definitely become a go-to pattern for future babies (and perhaps for Amber, since there’s a generous size range in the pattern).

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I love a good top-down raglan as much as anyone (and my love of Sunnyside has not yet abated), but it’s fun to knit something a little different, and the construction of this sweater is clever in the best way — that is, it’s fun to knit without being needlessly complicated. I also love that, because you knit the sleeves and yoke first, you can knit the body until you run out of yarn (if you want). That, plus the potential for fun buttons, makes this such a winner for me.

Details
Pattern: Wee Envelop by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Indigodragonfly Superwash DK in My World is All Askew
Notes: I knit this so long ago I don’t really remember if I changed anything. I knit it at a slightly smaller gauge, so I did make some modifications to accommodate that, but nothing that changed the overall look or construction. Ravelled here.

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