Part of planning any trip

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Is planning what to wear while you’re away, right? Well, in less than two months, L and I will be on our honeymoon in Iceland, so it seemed only sensible that we have lopapeysur to wear while we’re there.

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Pattern: Stopover by Mary-Jane Mucklestone • Yarn: Istex Lett Lopi in # 86, #9412 and #1407, plus some of the leftovers from my Karusellen hat

I knit mine first, partly because I knew what I wanted, which made starting easy, but also because I have yet to knit L a sweater, and lopi isn’t exactly soft. It’s not unduly scratchy either, I don’t think, but it’s not merino, so I wanted to make sure he could get a real sense of the fabric before I knit him a sweater. (I see no sense in knitting him something he won’t wear, so this was a no-pressure, no-surprises knit. He chose the pattern and colours for his sweater, has been trying it on as I go — just sleeves so far — etc. Kicking off our marriage by knitting him a sweater he wouldn’t wear and that I’d be annoyed he didn’t wear seemed like a pretty bad idea.)

Anyway, this isn’t about L’s sweater (which I’ll write more about later), this is about mine, which is finished. Finishing a lopapeysa in mid-July is a bit strange, to be honest. This must be the first time I’ve finished a sweater and not been excited to put it on! I knit it through a wave of very hot and humid weather, and it took days to dry after blocking because their was so much moisture in the air. Needless to say, this was a quick little selfie photoshoot because, a) It was too hot for more than that, and b) There will be time during our trip to get proper photos of it in suitable weather.

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I knit Stopover, by Mary-Jane Mucklestone, and it really is as quick as you’ve heard. My gauge was a bit tighter than intended because they don’t make 7.5mm needles (really!), and even that didn’t slow me down. Time from start to finish, without any rush: less than a month. At that speed, there may well be another in my future, especially since the lopi softened up quite nicely. I’m just wearing it with a t-shirt in these photos, which probably isn’t how I’ll wear it usually, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. I most concerned about the neck, where I can be a bit sensitive, but it was fine!

So, that’s one down, most of one to go, and a little more than six weeks. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I am feeling pretty good about those odds. (Just don’t remind me that I also have socks on the needles for L, the colour of which that he says would go really well with his suit. No pressure at all.)

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Sloooowing down

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Well. I really didn’t mean to disappear like that, but I think I just needed to take a step back. One of the funny things about having an online space is the feeling that you need to maintain it, and I get a little overwhelmed sometimes trying to find a way to balance everything in my precious free time. For the last month or so, I’ve been in total making mode, which for me means a flurry of activity with no time for documentation.

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I finished these in April! It’s a Christmas colourway from Nomadic Yarns, but that chartreuse is bright enough for year-round wear, I think. (Details here.)

Sometimes, I take a break from blogging because I have nothing to show you, and now I have a ton of stuff finished and no photos! (I am going to work on that, though.) Actually, one of the nice things about this whole time has been not feeling any pressure to finish things just so I can post about them. Not that I really feel that pressure most of the time, but it has been really nice to just go entirely at my own pace. And, it turns out that my own pace is actually still pretty productive.

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Scout Tee made in May. I’ve sewn a few things since then, but I don’t have photos yet, and I don’t need more excuses not to blog.

In the nearly two months since I last blogged, I’ve knit two sweaters (one baby, one adult, both started and finished in that time)  and sewn a dress and a skirt (plus several muslins). That actually doesn’t sound like a lot I guess, but it feels like just the right amount. No rushing, no stress, and a good balance between the two, which is something I’ve been trying to achieve.

I’ve written before about sewing can feel like a bit undertaking, but the more I actually just do it — whether it’s tracing and modifying a pattern, cutting fabric, actually sewing, or whatever — the easier it becomes to do it again. I’ve been trying to set aside a few hours each week to sew, and it has made a big difference both in the quality of what I’m making and in my confidence. When I started knitting I knit constantly, and got that confidence quickly; it has taken longer with sewing, but I’m finally starting to feel it.

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Another long-finished project. These are socks for L, knit and tucked away for Christmas (which makes me feel so on the ball to say.) Details here.

But, I have missed writing here. So, just as I’m making time each week to sew, I’m going to try to carve out time to blog. The posts may be shorter that in the past, but hopefully they’ll be more frequent!

I made it!

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All images in these collages are pulled chronologically from my Instagram (which also details what the various patterns are). You can see how much better I got at selfies over the course of the month, though I clearly need to work on a more interesting pose!

Of the 31 days in May, I wore a me-made garment on 28 of them. That pretty much blew my stated goal out of the water, which is pretty exciting for me. That I managed to do it without also doing a constant cycle of laundry is even better, since it means the handmade part of my wardrobe is now at the point where, on any given day, I ought to have a handmade option clean and ready to go.

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Those baby-holding pictures weren’t posted on IG, but because I was busy hanging out with our nephew (and his wonderful parents) and friends, I didn’t take an “proper” photos that whole weekend.

The caveat to that, of course, is that it really only applies to tops. I am seriously lacking in dresses and skirts, something I become acutely aware of every time the weather warms up. I had an unofficial goal of wearing a skirt or dress at least once a week, and I didn’t quite make it. If we leave aside my New Girl skirt, which is knit in wool and short enough to require tights (for me, that is, everyone has a different comfort level), and my Endless Summer Tunic/Dress, which I also prefer to wear with tights, I really only have two handmade skirts! And, even including RTW options, I am sorely lacking in skirts and dresses that I would wear to work (and my office has a very relaxed dress code).

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Yes, I said 28 out of 31 days, and yet only 27 photos… That’s because 27 was easier, collage-wise, and because I wore my blue and white Endless Summer Tank (row two, photo 1, above) on the last day as well, and the photo is almost identical to the one above.

Luckily, that is something I can do something about! In my original post, I said I wanted to make two garments this month, and because a few things fell into place rather nicely, I actually managed to make four! All are shirts, but they represent three different patterns in four different fabrics (two Scout Tees, one in Nani Iro double gauze and the other in a Voile; one Endless Summer Tunic, sewn as a tank, in Liberty Tana Lawn; and a Southport Dress, also sewn as a tank, in rayon challis), which is pretty good, I think! And, it has just about filled in the holes in that part of my summer wardrobe, though another Endless Summer Tank or two wouldn’t go amiss (I’ve been wearing the two I have quite a lot!) I’d also like another knit summer top or two — I’ve been eyeing Vasa lately, and I could see myself knitting another Balta.

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The top fabric is Cotton + Steel Rayon in Zipline (purple) and the bottom one is a drapery-weight linen (or maybe a linen blend? I can’t remember)

Anyway, skirts! I am looking sewing up a couple of Zinnia skirts for the summer. I am thinking View A (with the button fronts) in the purple rayon, and View B in the floral linen, which I have a ton of and my well need to be lined. The two skirts I have sewn in the past are both ones I like, but I want to try another pattern, and I like how versatile Zinnia is. I also have a few summer dress patterns I’d like to try, but we’ll see how much time I have to sew.

MMM check-in

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I intend to do a proper debrief/round up post about Me Made May at the end of the month, but given how quickly our free time is getting booked up, that might not be as prompt as I’d like (or it might — schedules can be tricky to predict). Anyway, with three weeks down I think I’m far enough into this thing to check-in. I’ll do it in point-form, so I can keep myself organized.

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One of my most-worn garments: My chambray Scout Tee. (This, and the other photos in this post were taken with my phone and grabbed from Instagram, in case they look familiar.)

1. Taking selfies is time consuming. I’ve been pretty good about posting daily photos to my Instagram (my planned wrap post will include photos, like last year’s if you don’t want to click through), but they take way more time than I thought they would! I do think my photos have improved since the first few days, but because of lighting/mirror restrictions in our new place, I’ve had to get better at turning the camera around, which has led to lots of similar poses and attempts to take photos of what I’m wearing without appearing to strain at the effort. Usually, that requires a few attempts, and it has not been a smooth addition to my morning routine, which is otherwise very organized/well-timed. It’s getting easier, but that first week or so involved a lot of rushing out the door at the last minute.

2. I’m not as self conscious as I was. It might be a weird thing for a blogger to say, but I’m not actually very comfortable putting myself out there on social media. This blog has always felt a little removed from that — public, but private too — and even here I don’t actually feature in many photos. I’ve still kept my face out of most of the MMM photos I’ve posted (this being the exception), but that’s been mostly about logistics (my arms are not long enough to get my face and my outfit in a photo, and I refuse to buy a selfie stick). The first week was kind of uncomfortable, if I’m being honest, but I’m getting over it.

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I can’t believe it was cold enough to wear my Epistrophy this month, but I was happy to have an excuse to mix up my options a little.

3. Beyond the whole daily photo thing, which isn’t even a requirement of MMM, I feel really good about the handmade items in my wardrobe. I plan to write about this more another time, but one thing I’ve noticed over the last few weeks is how much I like the clothing I’ve made for myself. That sounds like a weird thing to say, I realize, since what’s the point of making things if you don’t like them, but there are no guarantees: lots of things can go wrong and while in knitting you have the option to rip everything out and start over, that doesn’t often work in sewing. When I first started to sew clothes for myself, I was prone (like a lot of beginners) to settle — this version is so much better than my last one — and end up with items that demonstrated a lot of learning but not much style. Improving my technique has meant letting go of those early garments in favour of ones whose construction and fit and overall appearance I’m really proud of.

4. Documenting what I wear every day has given me a different way to think about my wardrobe. Me Made May offers a funny constraint: What you want to wear meets the limitations of what’s available. I guess that’s an everyday constraint no matter what, but when I run up against the what I want to wear/what’s available, it has forced me to really think about what it is I want to be able to wear on a regular basis, handmade or not. But, especially where handmade is concerned, it’s been interesting to see which items I wish were always clean, versus which ones hang in my closet unworn until I’m desperate (ie: it’s laundry day). In a lot of cases, there’s nothing wrong with the things I’m not wearing, but for whatever reason, they don’t interest me. MMM has offered a reason to embrace some of these items anew, which is nice, but it’s also forced me to think about why my favourite items are my favourites — whether it’s cut or fabric or fit — which in turn as informed my to-make list. Obviously, I want to try new patterns and fabrics, but if there are a few that I reach for the minute they’re clean, that’s probably a sign that making another, similar item would be a good bet (hence why I have so many Scout Tees, I guess).

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And, speaking of Scout Tees, here’s the original! Not the first one I made, but the first one that fit the way I wanted it to. I wasn’t sure about the print, originally, but I kind of love it now.

5. I have more handmade clothes than I realized. Last year, MMM was kind of a struggle after the first week or so, but this year has been so much easier. I have enough items that I don’t feel like I’m wearing exactly the same rotation week after week, though to some degree the cooler weather helped with that, since it let me lean on my knitwear a bit. I could use a more varied colour palette, but otherwise I have a pretty respectable number of pieces to choose from. And thank goodness! I prefer not to do laundry every few days, so having a bigger selection has taken that pressure off this year.

I’ll stop there, lest I start getting repetitive, but the main thing I think is that I’m having so much fun this year. I love clicking through to the hashtags to see everyone else’s work, and instead of feeling burnt out, I’m just so inspired. If you’re taking part, let me know!

Sibella

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After years of planning, and a few weeks of knitting, I finished my Sibella cardigan a couple of weeks ago. It is almost perfect. Almost. And because of that, this isn’t a post about a perfect sweater, it’s a post about why I’m going to rip a bunch of this back and reknit it.

There. Now that I’ve written what I’ve been thinking for the last week (making it out-loud official), let me explain. I chose a size for this cardigan that would give me a little over three inches of positive ease. I wanted a good layering cardigan — something that would fit equally well over a sleeveless top, t-shirt, or button-down shirt without pulling at the bust or bunching in the sleeves. Basically, I wanted a second Grace-like cardigan, but with a bit of ease (I knit that one with no ease, and wouldn’t change a thing about it, but in an effort to add versatility to my wardrobe, I wanted Sibella to be a little different.)

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Just look at that sleeve bunching! And they’re not even pushed up very far.

In the end, the stitch gauge worked out exactly as I had hoped, and the cardigan has a comfortable amount of ease across the bust and hips, and through the arms. Loose, but not saggy, with the option to wear it buttoned up all day or open. But, the damn thing grew like crazy when I blocked it — we’re talking an additional two inches in length to the body and sleeves — and that, when combined with the ease in width, just makes this look and feel too big. Not in an intentionally oversized way, but just in a too big way, and that was not the look I was hoping for.

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I actually think I could live with the added length through the body, but the too-long sleeves are driving me nuts. I’ve worn this sweater a few times, just to make sure, and I know that those sleeves will keep me from wearing this. I typically prefer bracelet-length sleeves or, at the longest, stopping just below the heel of my hand, but these pull all the way up over my hand to the base of my thumb. Pushing them up (as I typically do anyway) results in a huge bulge of extra fabric above my elbows, which is a problem.

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I may also go down a needle size for the top two lace repeats, just to add a little more structure to the yoke.

But, the good news is that all of this is a relatively easy fix! I will pull out the buttonbands and yoke, and then take 1.5-2 inches off the body and the sleeves, and then join everything back up and reknit the yoke and buttonbands. Yes, it’s annoying, and this sweater is so close to perfect that it would be foolish not to just suck it up and rework it. Leaving it alone now would leave me with a sweater I sometimes wore, but was always a bit unhappy with, and what’s the use in that?

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This is definitely not the last you’ve seen of Sibella! I’ll be back in a few weeks to show you the re-knit version.

It’s May, let’s do this

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Since it’s already May 1, I’ll make this quick. (Technically, I already got started.)

Sibella! Full and proper post coming soon, but in the meantime, here's an shot of my handmade wardrobe in action.

Sibella! Full and proper post coming soon, but in the meantime, here’s an shot of my handmade wardrobe in action.

I, Angela of Pans & Needles, am signing up for Me Made May 2016 with the goal of wearing a me-made garment five days a week. I will endeavour to post a photo each day on Instagram.

A few caveats/details: When I say “garments” I don’t mean accessories, so socks and shawls don’t count. In addition to the clothing-specific part of my plans this month, I have a couple of other goals: First, I intend to blog every week! I know I’ve said that before, but in this case, I have a little backlog of finished items to write about, so if nothing else, those should see me through.

My other plan for the month is to actually make a couple of things. My knitting plans this month are all gift-related, but I do want to carve out some sewing time. I always get a little more drawn to sewing when the weather warms up, and this year is no exception. I have plans for a couple of tops, but since bottoms are a real hole in my hand-made wardrobe, I think I should probably plan to make a skirt too.

Are you participating this year?

I’m still finding sand

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We’ve been back for two weeks (two weeks!) and it feels both like we were just there and like our trip was months ago. In the first five days after we got back, it snowed three times (three times!). But, now that the weather as turned decidedly spring-like (plants outside during the day, the balcony door regularly left open, socks optional), I can look back at these bright, sunny, warm photos without quite as much wistfulness. And with that, here’s a quick spin through our holiday.

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Recognize this view? It had been three years since we were there, but it felt immediately familiar.

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I could post one of these for every night we were there, but I will restrain myself.

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Doesn’t it look like they’re all floating in six inches of water? The ocean is so, so clear — it doesn’t seem like it could be real.

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If you look closely, you can spot the edges of Balta, which was perfect for the warm, humid (perfect) weather.

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My parents have a 6 o’clock piña colada tradition when they’re there. My dad makes them and takes great care to garnish them with flowers each night. Lovely and delicious.

Last time we went to Eleuthra, I knit a lot and read just a little. This time, despite planning for more of the same, I ended up doing just the opposite! I did finish the second sleeve of Sibella (and I am so close to being finished the whole thing now), but that’s it. For whatever reason, I just wasn’t feeling the pull to my needles — less/no stress, is my bet — and instead I read two entire books and started a third. To all of you who recommended/endorsed All the Light We Cannot See, wow. I couldn’t put it down and have been thinking about it ever since. Absolutely stunning.

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I am not usually a pink person, but I would wear this colour.

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I have no idea what this is, but it grew all over the rocky landscape. Such a perfect yellow-green.

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We did a big walk through the Leon Levy Native Plant Reserve, which was fantastic (but breezeless and very hot) and the Epiphyte Trail was a definitely highlight. This one was easily taller than my hand.

Aside from reading, of course, we did lots of other things. We swam (a lot! I was very glad I invested in a new swimsuit — this one — before we went. It was well used), kayaked, walked along beaches, and played a lot cards — euchre and cribbage, mainly. Besides all the general fun of being on holiday, this was a great family trip. It’s rare for me to spend so much consecutive time with my parents, and rarer still to spend that much time with my grandparents (and rarer still for L to do so), and getting to that time together in such a gorgeous, relaxing place is a real treat.

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Really, though, Eleuthra is an island of beaches. We swam every day, sometimes on the Caribbean side (which our house faced) and sometimes on the Atlantic side (like here). For the most part, we had them all to ourselves.

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Yes, that is the actual colour of the water.

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The Blue Window. Perhaps not the easiest beach to find (on the Atlantic side), but well worth seeking out if you’re ever in the area. (I definitely recommend trying to be in the area.)

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