Cashmere Cocoon

Cashmere Cocoon

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Meet my new go-to hat.  I finished it over the holiday break while visiting my family in California (oh glorious CA weather, how I miss thee!), but it was started at least a year ago, maybe two.  While doing a spirited clean-up of my knitting basket, which is essentially a messy pile of yarn, abandoned projects and random objects, I came across two inches of ribbing on a circular needle and remembered starting this hat in the long-forgotten past.  

*Also, I really have hyphens on the brain, since I just used them three times in the last paragraph.  Mr. A has been doing a lot of work-related writing (hyphen alert!!) and has been obsessing about proper use of hyphens recently.*

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The pattern is Cocoon, provided free on Ravelry by the designer, who has many other wonderful patterns here.  It’s an absolutely perfect pattern, just the right amount of slouch, knit with chunky yarn, very cool and clever decreases, and excellent for gifts.  Sometimes it’s a struggle for me to find knits that toe the line between being stylish in a simple enough way that you aren’t screaming “this is handknit!” but is still enjoyable to make.  Not that I’m against screaming “handknit” at everyone who walks down the street, but I think you get my point.

Unsurprisingly, the yarn is quite glorious. I used a skein of handspun 100% cashmere from Lotus Yarns – someday the label will probably resurface, but until it does, I’m pretty sure it’s this one.  It’s buttery soft, incredibly warm, and the black/white marl is on point.  It was a total beast to do a tubular cast-on with, since the marl and the thick/thin nature of the yarn makes it difficult to see, but it was worth the hassle.  I also had quite a bit of trouble getting it to knit densely enough for my taste (again, the thick/thin aspect was to blame, in addition to my reputation as a loose knitter) and I have a smallish head and I like my hats to fit firmly at the brim, so I went down to US 6 and 7 (the pattern calls for US 8 and 9).  

I realize now that I have no shots of the hat in detail, but honestly, with the marl it’s pretty impossible to see the cleverness of the pattern.  

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These photos are all pre-work selfies on my iPhone, and I although I figured the light was good enough to warrant skipping the fancy camera, the quality is definitely not the same.  I’m not entirely sure, but I assume that the selfie side of the camera is lower quality than the other side, but I wasn’t about to set up a tripod to take pictures of myself while students were walking to campus.  I mean, I’m ok being a weirdo in general, but that crosses the the line.  I’ll be back with higher quality photos next time.  

 

Yellow Tambourine

Yellow Tambourine

We all live in a yellow tambourine, a yellow tambourine, a yellow tambourine…

Despite the fact that I haven’t been around much on this blog (or on the podcast – eek, I’ll address that another time), I have actually been knitting, sewing, and doing all manner of crafty things.  So, behold, a finished cardigan!

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This is the Tambourine cardigan by Julie Farwell-Clay, published in the Spring 2015 edition of PomPom Quarterly.  Typically I have a policy of avoiding magazine subscriptions since I hate building up clutter (I do that without any help, thank you very much), but after realizing that I was just buying each edition as it came out, I caved and purchased a subscription earlier this year.  If memory serves, I actually purchased this edition at the Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria, BC, while on a somewhat ill-fated vacation (a story for another time, but suffice it to say that we had no idea how long the ferry trips would take – oops, live and learn). Lovely, lovely shop.  I’m about to dig into some yarn that I purchased there as well.

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This is the first time I’ve attached a grosgrain ribbon to the buttonband, and although in a perfect world I would have preferred an actual color match, I think the contrast looks ok.  I did find some better color matches, but they were polyester, and I much prefer this 100% rayon.  Most likely there are better approaches to this, but all I did was run a line of basting stitches down the center of each one – after matching up the tambourines on the front and making sure the bands were the same length – and then stitched as close to each edge as possible.  I considered handstitching, and then decided I wasn’t in the mood.

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Since the yarn I used, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, is really more of a sport weight, I had to make some adjustments to the pattern to account for the different gauge, but nothing too major.  I did add some overall length since cropped cardigans tend to make my shoulders look enormous, and shortened the amount of twisted rib at the bottom and cuffs, only because it’s somewhat hard on my hands, and this yarn wasn’t particularly elastic.

Despite being a little concerned with the yarn when I first started knitting, I eventually found a tension that worked for me and the finished sweater is light, with nice structure, plus I love the slightly nubby, heathery look.  It could be a new favorite.

And, here’s a lovely shot, minus the top of my head. It’s pretty hard to take photos of yourself when you don’t have your remote, so I’m cool with how these turned out, but the running back and forth made most of my poses slightly hilarious (nope, you don’t get to see those photos), but this awkward shrugging position actually looks ok!  Except I’m missing a large chunk of my head.  You can’t have it all.

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Next up on my project list: Jujuy by Joji Locatelli, Beach Tank by Jess Schreibstein or Eldora by Marie Wallin.

Link to my Ravelry Project Page: Yellow Tamourine

Scout Tee

Scout Tee

Despite tackling three different versions of the Alder Shirtdress, and being mildly obsessed with Grainline Studio patterns in general, I have somehow never made a Scout Tee.  When I jumped back into sewing last summer, I was mostly motivated by my desire to have a collared shirtdress (the Alder), and skipped over a bunch of perfectly lovely patterns that would have been far simpler and significantly less frustrating.  One of these was the minimalist Scout Tee, which is quite ubiquitous in the sewing blogosphere.

I used a double gauze from Cotton + Steel, bought last summer in Portland, OR at Bolt, in a color that seems either coral or reddish-orange depending on the light.  It’s actually a bit brighter than I anticipated, but since we hit 70 degrees today, I think it’s appropriate.  I also managed to eek this top out of about a yard of fabric (maybe less!) because I knew I could be more efficient than the printed cutting diagram (often the case when I’m making a small size).

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The pattern really is simple to put together (just four 4 pieces to cut, woohoo!), and it produces a nice breezy top that still manages to be flattering.  I did end up with a bit of a gaping neckline (see below), and have a feeling this is a fit issue, or just that I need to cut a shorter bias piece, or something, since this happens with a lot of my tops.  Experienced sewists, please inform me if you know what I’m doing wrong!

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Since the pattern is only fitted at the shoulders, I cut a 2 to accommodate my broad back/shoulders, and then graded down to a 0 (which is the right size according to my bust measurement).  It may not have been necessary to even make that adjustment, but I just remember that my Tiny Pocket Tank from last summer was a straight 0, and although it fits, I have to shimmy a little to get it on my body.

And just because I’m nerding out here, I’ve finally figured out how to use the overcast stitch! I stumbled across a great deal on Craigslist for my serger about a year ago, so I’ve never made the effort to figure out how to overcast, but my new sewing machine (more on that another time) makes things so easy to understand that I finally went for it.  It’s obviously much slower than the serger, but the ease of getting that perfectly coordinating thread without having to rethread my serger is kind of cool.

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Also, I’m still working on getting good photos of my makes, so bear with me as I learn to use my camera remote without looking like there is something very odd happening with my arms.  :-/

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