Tag Archives: New Girl

New Girl!

20

I am so, so happy with this skirt.

If it works with a t-shirt and a cardigan, it is basically a lock in my wardrobe.

If it works with a t-shirt and a cardigan, it is basically a lock in my wardrobe.

I’ll admit that I was a little worried. Not that it wouldn’t fit, but that I would finish it and put it on and just feel meh. There is nothing worse that working really hard on something with an image of how it will look when you’re done, only to discover that it looks great on the hangar, but maybe isn’t quite your style. I have been admiring this skirt since it was first published, but I was never quite sure if I could pull it off.

I’m getting better at listening to that little voice in my head that points out things about a pattern that might be a problem, or cause regrets, and this time I listened. I didn’t want quite such a full skirt, so I did some math and decided I could get away with half as many increases as the pattern calls for. I also added 1.5 inches to the length (after the pockets) and left off the pocket cuffs. I also thought a lot about colour. Cassy and I talked a lot about colour before we cast-on, and although I was draw to both a dark, forest green and cranberry as possible main colours, I went with blue because that’s a colour I’m used to wearing. I’m not always good at integrating new styles into my wardrobe — especially if they’re different from what I usually wear — so I wanted to make this something I wouldn’t overthink.

I added stripes to the insides of the pockets, just for fun.

I added stripes to the insides of the pockets, just for fun. (L suggests I not make a habit of posing like this in public.)

At risk of repeating myself, I am thrilled with how this turned out. I put it on yesterday for our little photo shoot (we got double-digit temperature yesterday! It was incredible) and it was the first time I’d really worn it apart from fitting the waistband. L thought it looked great, so when we went out last night to trivia night with friends, I didn’t change, and I got compliments right off the bat. One of our friends actually said she thought it was vintage (high praise indeed).

Way back when I was casting on, Audry asked about my yarn choice. I went with Zitron Unisono, which I’ve previously used for socks, and so far I’m really happy with it. Unisono is 100% merino, but infused with aloe and jojoba, which sounds weird but feels amazing. It has five plies, so it’s very round and very springy, so it keeps its shape well but also stretches, which is necessary for this pattern because of the elastic waist. It also made doing the daisy stitch edge much easier. Based on the socks I’ve knit, this is a yarn that wears really, really well. Those are knit at a much tighter gauge, though, so I’ll have to see how this skirt holds up — I foresee it seeing a lot of action this spring.

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Details
Pattern: New Girl by Allyson Dykhuizen
Yarn: Zitron Unisono in #1155 (blue) and #1163 (grey)
Needles: 4.5 mm
Notes: My gauge was slightly tighter than called for in the pattern (25 instead of 24 stitches per four inches) but since there’s a lot of positive ease it was fine. As I said above, I did half as many increases for the skirt (k1, kfb, all the way around) which worked out really well, as did adding the extra length (1.5 inches, below the pockets). I also left off the pocket cuffs, though I considered knitting them but leaving out the daisy stitch. If I knit this again, I think I’ll use a smaller needle for the waistband. This one is fine, but I ended up needing to use a black elastic band because I was worried a white one might show through the stitches. I think I’d also make the waist band just a little bit taller — 1.25 inches or so. Ravelled here.

I actually finished something else this weekend, so our sunny photo shoot was a double-whammy. I’m saving that for another post, but here’s a preview. (I cannot believe I was outside in a t-shirt! There was still snow across the park, but in the sun and out of the wind, it really felt warm.)

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In tandem

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Earlier this week, I finished New Girl. I don’t have proper photos yet, so that post will have to wait, but it is finished, and I am very excited to wear it.

Sneak peek.

Sneak peek.

Part of what I liked so much about New Girl was that I was knitting it along with Cassy. It wasn’t a formal KAL, but we both liked the pattern and when I said I was planning to knit it she decided to cast on too. Without any real plans of itinerary, we knit kept pretty good pace and I’m pretty sure she’s finished (or just about finished) now too. It was great! I’d never knit a skirt before, so it was fun to talk with back and forth as we progressed — talking over colours, fit, style, etc.

Because of my work hours, I’ve never been able to really be part of a knit night. There is an amazing knitting community in Toronto, but I’m kind of on the edge of it — I blog/do web things for my LYS, but don’t really get a chance to meet the regulars, for example. I really like my job, so I’m mostly okay with the way it shapes my social time, but sometimes I get a little pang when there’s a great event or author coming to town and I know I won’t make it.

All of which is to say that that’s one of the reasons blogging is so much fun. It’s such a great way to interact with all of you — people who share an interest in making (whether knitting, sewing, or whatever). Knitting New Girl alongside Cassy was fun because it was communal. I would have knit the skirt anyway, but I really enjoyed being able to talk about it with someone besides L (who will listen, but can’t make a lot of suggestions). I also think knitting together motivated me to keep going. For a project I thought would be relatively quick, this felt like it took a while, and I might have been tempted to put it down in favour of something else if I didn’t know she was knitting it too.

Considering it was shoved in a bag for nearly a year, it doesn't look so bad.

Considering Grace was shoved in a bag for nearly a year, it doesn’t look so bad.

So, it was perfect timing when Andrea pinged me on Instagram earlier this week. She is knitting Grace, and ages ago I mentioned that if she let me know when she separated the arms, I’d pick up my Grace and knit along with her. It took me a few days (I wanted all my ends woven in and the waistband done before I moved on from New Girl) but last night I picked up Grace, worked out where I was in the pattern, and started up again. It’s a casual knitting-at-the-same-time kind of thing, with no plans or deadlines, but if my last FO is any indication, knitting with Andrea may just mean Grace gets finished sooner rather than later.

Learning curve

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Still no finished New Girl to show you (maybe this time next week?). I noticed at the end of last week that my hands were starting to hurt. Specifically, my left thumb (which braces my left needle) and my right forefinger (which throws the yarn, since I knit English). Cassy and I were talking about it, and she says she’s having pain in the same places. There are probably a few reasons for this, but I’m sure one of them is how heavy this knitting is. The skirt is well over 300 stitches around, and even when it’s in my lap, my hands are supporting a fair bit of that weight, which is a whole lot more than a sock, or even (for me) an average sweater. So I’ve been taking it slow. I’m getting close to finishing the skirt (two more rows and then I get to the daisy stitch pattern!) and after that I think the pockets will feel very quick.

Anyway, since I wasn’t knitting much this weekend, I turned my attention to sewing. I am definitely, definitely, a beginning sewist. Ahem. I fooled around on mum’s beautiful old Singer when I was in high school, I’ve made a few project bags and last year I made my first garment, the super basic Wiksten Tank. I really want to sew more, so I decided to start early this year in the hopes of building up a somewhat me-made summer wardrobe.

I am so, so desperate for green! This fabric is Vintage Floral, Vine, from Rowan's Victoria & Albert Museum collection.

I am so, so desperate for green! This fabric is Vintage Floral, Vine, from Rowan’s Victoria & Albert Museum collection.

I decided to make the Wiksten Tank again, since I already had the pattern cut and felt like I had learned some things making the last one. For example: Last time I cut the largest size, but after trying it on decided it was huge (despite being correct for my measurements) and took it in. This tim, I cut the next size down, thinking that would be a good compromise, since I liked the idea of having a sort of over-sized, floaty tank for the very hot summer days I’m sure are coming (I say this, but it’s -8C today before windchill and yeah, it may be cold forever).

On the right, the piece of the tank; on the left, leftovers.

On the right, the piece of the tank; on the left, leftovers. Clearly there’s a bit of a green theme with my sewing tools.

I cut the fabric on Saturday and then sewed it up on Sunday. It’s actually a pretty quick sew until you get to the binding and hemming. The pattern is written for people without sergers (just as well, since I don’t have one) and to keep the seams neat there’s a lot of folding and ironing and pinning, and it’s finicky and time consuming. I got tired and annoyed by all the finishing last time and skimped on it, which I regret now. This time, I took my time and I’m really proud of my seams and bias binding. I also inserted a long box pleat in the back, because when I tried it on, I realized the neckline was sort of puffing out at the back of my neck (there’s probably a technical term for this, but suffice to say, it did not lay flat).

Ta da! There are no pictures of me wearing it (yet) because it is too friggin' cold to pose outside and I don't have the patience to pose indoors. I'll take a picture of me wearing it later.

Ta da! There are no pictures of me wearing it (yet) because it is too friggin’ cold to pose outside and I don’t have the patience to pose indoors. I’ll take a picture of me wearing it later.

Probably, that should have been the point when I assessed the fit of the rest of the tank. Turns out, I could probably have cut two sizes smaller than the one I did. I know it’s meant to have positive ease (and perhaps in a lighter fabric it would drape differently) but it is quite huge. I’m not even sure what happened, since I looked at the direction, chose a size, cut that size, sewed the seams as written, and it’s still enormous – in sewing you can’t blame wonky gauge, and deciding on the fly to change the fitting is not nearly as easy, especially since if you don’t like it there is no ripping back.

I’m not discouraged though. There’s always a learning curve, and I’m not afraid of that. Next time I think I’ll try a lighter fabric in a smaller size and see how that goes. I also plan to try making a Washi Dress this summer, but will definitely make a muslin before cutting into anything nice.

Do you sew? Do you have any tips? Are there any good sewing blogs I should be reading? When I started knitting, the world of knit blogs opened up so much possibility for me, and I feel like finding a community of sewing bloggers would help. You can learn so much just by reading about other people’s approaches or pattern modifications or fabric choices. As I said, I’m a beginner, so any advice is most appreciated!

There will be pockets

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As planned, I cast on for New Girl last Friday. Cassy and I have been updating each other on Ravelry about our progress, but I realized I hadn’t blogged about it yet. I think I got into those weird loops where I felt like I didn’t have enough done to take blog photos, and then when I did get into it, I just wanted to keep going.

The way the top edge is rolling (it will be seamed down) is making me think I should probably add a hem to the bottom.

The way the top edge is rolling (it will be seamed down) is making me think I should probably add a hem to the bottom.

I’ve never knit a skirt before, so I’m not sure how much this construction differs from what’s normal, but basically you knit in the round for a while and then split the stitches and work back and forth for a while, leaving space for where you’ll insert the pockets. After you’ve got the pockets to the depth you want, you rejoin everything in the round and carry on. While this does interrupt the autopilot of straight stockinette in the round, it does give each section clear boundaries, which means you’re always working towards something besides just finishing.

Pocket split. The red is there to give me a clear place to measure from (for some reason, I'm terrible at counting rows as I go.)

Pocket split. The red is there to give me a clear place to measure from (for some reason, I’m terrible at counting rows as I go.)

I had a decent amount of knitting time on the weekend (though L and I spend most of Saturday curling, which was so, so much fun), but as usual, that time dropped right off on Monday. I’m a little over half way through the front panel, and if I can get that finished during the week I should be able to get a fair bit of the bottom part finished next weekend. We’ve had a few days of spring-ish weather, but it’s supposed to snow tomorrow and Saturday, so if this takes me another week it’s hardly a disaster. Up until now it’s really been too cold for me to think about wearing a skirt or dress, and since I usually end up wearing tights with dresses and skirts right into May most years, I’ll have lots of wearing time left. (This also means there’s probably time to catch up if you were on the fence about joining us!)

Colour therapy

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I finished my rainbow socks on Tuesday and they are awesome! Which is to say, the colours are awesome (thank you Three Irish Girls!) and they make these otherwise plain socks sing.

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I’m not sure good lighting even exists at this time of year, so I’ll refrain from posting any shadowy pictures of my feet. These were just plain 64-stitch socks, with my usual heel and toe. I was pretty sure I’d need contrast toes to stretch the yarn, but when I got to the toe of my first sock, the skein still weighed almost 60g, so I just chugged right along with same colours all the way through. I actually have a bit leftover, which is a nice surprise. It’s not really enough to do anything with on its own, but it would be perfect for adding a bright stripe to another pair of socks, or (heaven forbid) darning these ones in the future.

For scale, it's already 14 inches deep, with another six or seven garter ridges to go, plus the border. This is going to be a big shawl.

For scale, it’s already 14 inches deep, with another six or seven garter ridges to go, plus the border. This is going to be a big shawl.

Socks finished, I turned to my neglected shawl (so neglected I haven’t even mentioned it here). I originally bought this yarn for Ysolda’s Follow Your Arrow KAL, but partway through Clue 1 I lost my nerve. I like the idea of an MKAL, but I realized that, in practice, I prefer to know how all the pieces will fit together before I start knitting them. So I followed my arrow to another pattern. I’m knitting Flukra by Gudrun Johnson. I’ve been coveting this shawl for quite some time now (even more so when I saw these examples of the shawl knit with garter stitch edging). I was originally going to knit it up in this, but it’s winter, and there’s enough white/grey around.

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I’m knitting it in Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Luxe and wow. This is a blend of merino/cashmere/silk and it is so, so soft. It’s like the downy fur on a kitten’s tummy. I can’t wait to wrap myself up in it. The colourway is Mystery (which would have been perfect for Ysolda’s KAL) and the colour of slate: mostly blue/grey, but with hints of rust running throughout. It’s not a bright colour, but it is a warm one, and I’m really enjoying the way it’s presenting in garter stitch. I’m almost done the body and I am pretty excited to get to the lace, which is all-action all the time, with no rest rows, which makes me think it’ll speed right along.

As if that wasn’t enough, I got home after a long day of work to find a very fun package on my doorstep. A few weeks ago Tanis Fiber Arts did an Etsy update, but instead of it being the usual grab-and-go madness they decided to dye to order, offering six colourways in three different bases. I don’t normally enter the fray of the Etsy update, but this was a really nice way to do it – not nearly as overwhelming or frustrating.

Clockwise from the top: Fjord, Rock, and Aurora

Clockwise from the top: Fjord, Rock, and Aurora

Anyway, I thought long and hard and picked up three skeins: Two skeins of the Purple Label Cashmere Sock, one in Rock and one in Aurora, and a Green Label Aran Weight in Fjord. I didn’t have any particular plans when I bought them, but when I saw them in person the wheels started turning. Rock, especially grabbed me. It looked much more grey-green in the photos Tanis posted, so I was surprised and delighted to see that, in person, it was the most delicate and subtle green, with just a hint of grey and gold in the background. I’m not locked in yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to become a Bakau shawl, which is another pattern I’ve been crushing on for a while.

AND, as if that wasn’t enough, let’s talk about knitted skirts. Remember the other day when I said I got the New Girl pattern for finishing my mittens? Well, Cassy commented that she thought was should do an informal KAL, since she loved the skirt too. We got to talking, and it’s official: in mid-March we’re going to cast on for New Girl. The pattern is half price at the moment, so if you’d like to join us, this is a good time to buy. There’s no pressure (and no prizes), but it’s nice to knit the same pattern at the same time as others: it’s good for encouragement, helpful if you run into problems, and an excellent way to narrow down your colour choices.