Thursday, October 23, 2008

28 Thirty: Done

Thanks so much for all the comments on the Weekender Bag! My mom just received it yesterday and is really happy with it (or so she says!). The weekender isn't the only FO in these parts...

Over the past year or so, I’ve developed a bad habit of finishing a handknit, wearing it a bunch, but never managing time (or motivation) for a FO shoot. Even my ravelry project list is crowded with FOs that show only half finished project pictures. I’m going to blame it on the fact that my knitting picks up when it’s cold and dark out and I’m loathe to photograph a FO in bad lighting.

I swear, I used to be able to button it all the way!

Now that the temps are cooling off in New England, I’ve been pulling out my handknits, most notably one of my favorite knits from earlier in the year, 28 Thirty. I reach for this one not just because it’s cute and comfy, but because it (sort of) works with my belly. Who knew when I finished this project, the FO shoot would feature a pregnant me? Not me, that’s for sure!

Long Neck
Pattern: 28Thirty. Another top-down winner from the Zephyr Girls. This sweater really flew off the needles, despite a few project breaks. Comfortable and infinitely wearable, I would definitely consider making another. I could see going with the shorter version as written in the pattern or going in the opposite direction with a long sweater-coat.


Source: Zephyr Style
Yarn: Farmhouse Yarns, Andy’s Merino in Cranberry (1 skein), Mahogany (3 skeins), and Wine Berries (1 Skein). I bought this yarn during the Farmhouse Yarns bag sale (you pay $100 for all the yarn you can fit in a shopping bag. Pay $200 and you get to fill up one of those ginormous Rubbermaid bins!). I bought two different colors of the yarn convinced they were close enough to blend. I didn’t start to question this until I wound the yarn and found one was a bit more of a cool berry pink (Cranberry), the other a warmer rich pink (Mahogany). Because the yarn is more of a semi-solid and I only had one skein of the Cranberry, I just decided to roll with it. I didn’t introduce the third color (Wine Berries) until I finished the rest of the yarn and the sweater was a couple inches about my waistband. I always add a few inches to my sweaters (apparently, at 5’5/5’6, I’m an Amazon woman in the world of knitting patterns), so I decided to keep knitting with the Wine Berries, which I had leftover from a hat I made my mom over Christmas. The Wine Berries is significantly darker, more red than pink, but I think it creates kind of an ombre appearance (or so I’ve convinced myself). For a merino, the yarn isn’t super soft like a Malabrigo, but it’s certainly next-to-the-skin wearable. I still find veggie matter caked into the sweater, but that’s just a friendly reminder that at Farmhouse the sheep are raised and sheered, and the yarn spun and dyed, then sold all in one place. I’ll take a little VM over an over processed wool any day! While visiting the farm for the yarn sale, I even saw Andy, the merino who made this sweater a reality! Where else does that happen?

Needles: Size 9 Addis
Time to Knit: February to March 2008
Raveled: Here
Mods: Other than the obvious lengthening of the sweater, not much. I added some waist decreases and just kept knitting until I was happy with the length. I think it’s longer when I don’t have a huge belly, but it’s been so long I can’t remember!

Action Shot
I'm still plugging away at my dad's sweater - it's my only WIP, the first time that's happened in a LONG time! My fingers are already itching to cast on for another project - my baby's Christmas stocking!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FO: Weekender Bag, Version 3.0

When I finished my first weekender bag, I claimed it would be the last. When my sister requested one a few months later, I couldn’t help but give in, but swore this one would definitely be my last. Even then, I knew I would eventually make one for my mom. While the three of us have slightly different taste, there is definitely a common current within all of our style aesthetics. I credit my dad for this, the most opinionated and eager fashion critic in the family. (Seriously!) Anyway, I think his unique guy perspective taught all three of us to take a second look at various garments and bags and realize that some of our initial castoffs are actually fashion jewels in disguise. This phenomenon worked both ways. A sour facial expression of his could also soil what we originally found to be the “must-have” essential of the shopping trip. Now that I’m pushing 30, I don’t often bring my dad in tow when I go shopping, but I still find myself relying on his perspective, which invariably influences nearly every of my fashion purchases, and I’m sure those of my mother and sister.

Every once in a while, all three of us will stumble upon something that we all “need.” Most often, it’s my mom who discovers something so uniquely wonderful that she’ll buy one for each of us. My sister, who has the keenest eye for high fashion (while I was wearing homemade dresses and Birkenstocks in college, she was wearing Dior sunglasses and toting around Louis Vuitton bags), manages that arena. With the weekender, it’s my turn to give back.

A compilation of handmade goods - a handknit sweater and handknit bag. Oh, and a 8-month pregnant belly, but that's not really handmade, or is it?

Nearly two years after finishing the first, I completed my third weekender bag this past weekend. Lucky for my mom, version 3.0 is by far the best technically-executed of the three. I never even finished sewing the lining into my bag!

Pattern: Weekender Bag by Amy Butler
Exterior Fabric: Joel Dewberry, Ginseng Collection from Purl. 2 yards, Sand Spade Damask 1/2 yard Camel Modern Bud
Interior Fabric: Home Dec weight cotton in Mustard from
Other notions: Gunmetal Grey Zipper, Cotton Cording, Template Plastic, Interfacing, Timtex, etc. All from Joann.

I fell in love with Joel Dewberry fabrics while making this bag. I’ve been loving "grellow" lately and knew my mom would also love the colors, so choosing this palette was a no-brainer. I didn’t realize it until I started cutting, but the main fabric looks like little owls and the strap/cording fabric look like either little flowers or like the Family Circus cartoon characters (I flipped this fabric, so it looks more like flowers). Just a random observation :)

There’s really not more to say about this bag that I haven’t said before (or hasn't been said by others). Like the two other bags, I added a zipper pocket to one side of the interior and a wall of pockets on the other side. I would be lost without those pockets on my bag, they really are a must. I used a walking foot this time around in place of the standard foot, which helped a great deal. I still went through 3 or 4 needles while making this bag, one area I can’t seem to improve upon. Also, when the needle breaks, it usually bends my walking foot, which requires me to pry it back into shape with pliers. Fun.

Inside Zipper Pocket

I'm not a huge fan of hand-sewing, so sewing the lining to the exterior of the bag has been a problem area for me. I never finished it with my bag and my sister's is a little schlumpy. Rather than ultimately being disappointed with the final product, I sat down and watched Ironman and SNL and resigned myself to painstakingly finish the bag. I'm so glad I did. A few hours of work yielded a polished product, one of which I am proud. Now if I could just force myself to do that all the time...

Wall of Side Pockets

I’d say this one is definitely the last and that I will never make another weekender bag, but I’ve seen crazier things happen so I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

Zipper (duh)

In any case, Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you enjoy the bag (once I finally send it to you). Now we just have to worry about all three of us not using them at the same time!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

FO: Flore and Bounce

With the cooler temps settling in and my due date quickly approaching, my knitting pace has picked up. Amongst my recent pile of FOs, I finished a few hats in that past couple weeks.

First, Flore...

The details:

[Ravelry Link]
Pattern: Flore by Tina Whitmore
Yarn: Takhi Cotton Classic in deep pink, grass, pink, olive, and blue-greyNeedles: Size 5 Addi Circs. I only have one set, so I had rotate needles a bit.
Size: Infant, although I think it looks a bit big. We'll see when my baby gets here. I'd rather it be too big than too small.
Time to Knit: One week

I think it turned out super cute, but I don't know if I could knit another one. The construction of the hat itself is facscinating: you alternate between two sets of needles as you knit each color, then bind the two pieces together with a modified 3-needle bind off. It's the finishing that killed me. You have to tack down each petal and wind in a bazillion ends. I just veged out and watched some TV, so it went by relatively quickly. Still, it will be awhile before I cast on for a second one. It's too bad because a bunch of my friends have hinted around about getting similar hats for their daughters. Maybe if I were a nicer person, I would suck it up and knit a few more, but I just can't make myself. Not for a few more months at least:)

Oops, now I'm worried I'm talking you all out of knitting this hat, which is opposite my intent! The hat is adorable and well worth the time and effort - I just think one hat is enough! I can't wait for my little one to arrive so she can wear it!

Because I can't let the baby be the only one with a stylish hat, I cast on for Bounce...

From the moment I saw this pattern, I knew I needed to make it. It was just pure luck that I had a perfect skein of yarn languishing in my stash, just waiting to be knit into something fantastic.

The details: [ravelry link]
Pattern: Bounce by John Brinegar
Yarn: Sheep Shop Yarn Company, Sheep 1, 1 skein
Needles: Size 10.5 Bamboo Circs, Size 10 Addi Circs
Time to Knit: October 1 - October 4

I absolutely adore this hat, but I'm not sure how well I can pull it off. I don't know why I'm having such a complex about it when usually I'll wear whatever and not think twice. We'll see if I can boost my confidence with it over the fall. It's super cozy and warm, though, so I have a hunch it will eventually become a favorite.

Knitting this hat was not only humbling for me, but a true test of perseverance. It's been awhile since a knitting pattern really stumped me, but I was at a complete loss with the brioche stitch. I literally frogged this hat FOUR times. It was only self-preservation that got me through. I had to prove to myself that I could do it. Turns out, I never did master brioche rib as written in the pattern, but was able to grasp the stitch after flipping through my stitch dictionary. Hey, whatever got me there, right

I have a couple other FOs to blog, but those will wait for another time.

I have a WIP that can't wait, however. After scouring both my LYSs and the internet for a perfect yarn and then hemming and hawing about ordering, I finally received the yarn and cast on for my dad's birthday/Christmas sweater!

I'm knitting Joseph from Rowan's A Yorkshire Fable, which calls for Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky. I would have loved to find some, but alas it's gone extinct, like so many of my Rowan favorites. I waffled between the replacement Scottish Tweed, Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed, and Cascade 128 and 109 before eventually settling on the Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed Chunky. So far, so good, although I have a sneaky suspicion I'm going to run out of yarn. I'm already halfway through my second ball (I bought nine) and about 1/3 finished with the back (I've progressed significantly farther than shown in the progress shot). I'm going to knit the back, then one sleeve and make a judgment call on whether or not I need to start panicking.