Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

This year had a recurring theme: I've never felt so old in my life.  Obviously, I've also never been this old in my life, as is true for all of us.  But what I mean is, for the first time, I've started to feel old, tired and like not everything is open and possible the way it was 10 years ago.  For some reason, being 32 was more of a mental hurdle for me than turning 30 was.  So even though 2012 did bring me some great experiences--good family vacations, time with my beautiful daughter, good time with family--I'm ready for a new year and a new outlook.  I turn 33 in 11 days, and I'm going to work on feeling younger, lighter, happier and more hopeful this year.  It will take work, and I will do it. 

One thing that will make 2013 a great year is my current project: another baby! 

I'm nervous about how this will change my personal time, but I know it will eventually all balance out and our family will find the new normal.  We're expecting around the first of April, and I'm getting more and more excited to see who that new little person is. 

We found out we were expecting at the end of last summer, and that sort of killed my knitting and sewing mojo for a couple months.  I worked on small things like socks and cowls, but not with any kind of plan.  I started to get back into sewing in mid-October when my regular clothes no longer fit, and I discovered that I hated all my maternity clothes from my last pregnancy.  I've made some things I love, but more on that later. 

With all this retrospective on my emotional and mental state during 2012, I thought I'd like to add up my knitting and sewing projects in 2012, and show myself it wasn't a total wash.  Yeah, it wasn't an ideal year, but I did find a lot of space to be creative.  So here goes. 


Accessories: 25 total
  •  5 cowls (4 for me, 1 as a gift)
  • 4 shawls, 2 of which were very lacy in laceweight 
  • 2 scarves (made of scraps, total stash-buster)
  • 10 hats or headbands
  • 1 pair mittens
  • 3 pair socks (only 1 pair made it to Ravelry)
  • 2 home dec placemats (1 for me, 1 set of 3 items as a gift)

Sweaters: 8 total
  • 1 pullover
  • 1 vest
  • 3 long cardigans
  • 1 cropped cardigan
  • 1 toddler cardigan
  • 1 tee
Home dec:
  • 1 huge couch blanket (crochet)
  • 4 place mats (1 for me, 3 as a gift set; crochet)

Types of knitting:
  • 3 very lacy projects in lace weight
  • 3 crochet projects
  • 6 fair isle/stranded knitting projects
  • 4 projects with cables (although 2 of them were the same pattern)
Men left on base (hibernating WIPs): 5

Things I was really not happy with: 5 (3 of which I left unfinished)

Things I loved completely: 14


  • Dresses: 3
  • tops: 2
  • tees: 1
  • skirts: 2
  • maternity shirts: 4
  • maternity dresses: 4


  • Total posts: 27
  • Months without posts: 6

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FO: Simplicity 2215

Okay, everyone.  I'm not sure about this one.  This is the skirt pattern from Simplicity 2215.

Do you need to have a defined waist to make this skirt work?  I'm not sure it's doing much for me.

I like it pretty well when I'm wearing it, but I'm not twirl-around-thrilled with it.  Now that I see the pictures, I'm even less convinced.

I removed the pockets, because in my experience, extra floppy fabric around my hips is not a great look for me.  I added five inches to the skirt and then took a deep 4 inch hem just for fun. 

Any thoughts?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ravellenic FO: Wood Hollow Vest

So while some of the world's best athletes were finishing up a leisurely 26.2 mile run this morning, I was binding off my Wood Hollow Vest!

I wouldn't have reknit this from the bottom up if it weren't for the challenge of the Ravellenic Games.  There was one night of knitting where I thought I would n e v e r reach the armhole shaping decreases, but every Olympic event has that moment where you hit the wall and just have to keep going.

And I'm so glad I did, because I love this vest and I will sport it proudly!

The specs:

Pattern: Wood Hollow Vest by Kirsten Kapur, of Through The Loops
Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes
Started: July 27, Opening Ceremonies
Finished: August 12, 9:00 am
Ravelry page here!

Congrats to all the Ravellenic athletes, and, of course, to the real Olympic athletes who inspired us and united us for two amazing weeks!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

FO: Simplicity 2219

I finished my last maxi dress of the summer, and it's my favorite by far.

The pattern is Simplicity 2219.  I made View D.

I used a knit from Gorgeous Fabrics that I bought during one of their sales at the beginning of summer.  I love it.  It's a dark eggplant background with large line-drawing flowers in pink, orange and grey.

I made a size 14, a size smaller than the measurements called for.  But the pattern allows for half an inch of positive ease in the bust, which I do not understand.  Why would you want positive ease in a garment made out of stretchy knit?  I would guess that as I made it, the bust has about .5 to 1 inch of negative ease, and I think it fits well.

I added 3.5" to the bottom of the skirt.  The only other change I made was to take a 1/4" seam allowance on the side bodice front pieces, since I was nervous about it being to low and showing too much skin in the underarm area.  I still think it could be a bit higher, but it's not too uncomfortable. 

I would highly recommend this pattern.  I think it looks very polished for a fun dress.  

Okay, that's all for now!  I have to get back to my Olympic knitting!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

FO: Euphrosyne shawl

I finished this beautiful shawl last week. 

Pattern: Euphrosyne by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops.  It's all-over lace with a lovely knit on border.

Process:  Very straightforward and enjoyable.  Although I am just noticing now as I'm looking at the photos that I've not done a very good blocking job!  See how all the little points on the edging are, well, pointy?  If you look at the photos on the pattern page, each little yarn over all along the edge has been blocked out completely, giving it a slightly more scalloped, consistent look.  I, however, used blocking wires, threading the wire through each point only.  Darn it.  I really should re-block it. 

Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool Silk.  I bought this during my first visit to Kanawah City Yarn Co., a really awesome LYS in Charleston, WV.  I love the color of this yarn.  It's very raspberry.  The yarn is light and airy, but not skimpy.  I just loved it and would absolutely use it again.  Plus, I think ti was about $13, and you can't beat that.  Well, I mean, you can, but why would you?

What I learned:  That I should double check my blocking process.  

Product: I love it!

Ravelry page here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

FO: Sorbetto #2

 When it comes to knitting, I very rarely repeat patterns.  There are so many things I want to make, and once I'm finished with something, I want a new experience. 

With sewing, though, I can see myself repeating patterns over and over again.  Why is that?  Is it because it's harder for me to get the fit right with sewing, so there's a lot of value in working on something several times to get it right?  Is it because sewn garments are more common in my wardrobe than knitwear, which are usually unique pieces?  Who knows.  Don't over think it, Meredith. 

Anyway, I made another Sorbetto! 

My first was too tight through the bust, so I cut one size larger there, but kept the waist and hip the same.  So I did a 12 at the bust, grading out to a 14 at the waist and a 16 at the hip.  Do you think it fits better?  There are some faint wrinkles on the straps.  What's up with that?

I used a London Calling floral cotton lawn from which I love love love.  From far away, it reads very light and pink, but up close, it's a little more vibrant. 

I think this will be a great summer and fall top.  I have some MerLin in that aqua color to make a Goodale cardigan.  I think I'll start that as soon as the Ravellenic Games are over.  I can't wait!

I wore this yesterday with a skirt I made but didn't blog, McCalls 5523

I'm sure I'll make another Sorbetto.  Next time, I'll work on fitting the back just a bit better.  Bra straps anyone?  Oh well. 

Next up: one last maxi dress for the summer!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Good as new!

After a very simple and enjoyable ripping, winding, washing and hanging, here is the yarn from my Wood Hollow Vest, all ready to be wound into cakes and cast on!

Just a few hands on minutes, plus two days of drying time took this:

to this:

Isn't wool amazing?  I love it.

I'm all ready to cast on!  Bring on the opening ceremonies!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reclaiming yarn: Easier than it looks!

Have you ever put something off because you thought it would (a) take forever, or (b) be really difficult, or (c) both?  And then finally talked yourself into finishing the task and found that it was (d) no big deal at all?  That was me and frogging this vest.  I've been thinking about that thing for two years.  Two years, people!  And the whole thing took about half an hour, and was really pretty fun.  Two years of thinking about something that took 30 minutes.  Why do we do that to ourselves?

Here's what I did.

I used a yarn swift to hold the yarn and wind it into a hank.  I pulled about 3 yards off the sweater, then wound it on to the hank.  Trying to wind it directly from the sweater would make the yarn too taut, and would also be very fiddly. 

If you don't have a yarn swift, you can use the back of a chair.  Just make sure that the sides of the back of the chair are parallel, or angled in towards each other.  If the sides are angled away from each other, if the chair back gets wider as it goes up, it will be nearly impossible to remove the yarn after you've wound hundreds of yards.  I know of which I speak. 

When I'd wound about 100 grams (about two balls of the Wool of the Andes), I tied it up in four places using some scrap cotton yarn.  I'd just started a fifth ball of this yarn, so I wound the sweater into two hanks.  

You sort of make a figure 8 with the cotton through the yarn.  Well, a figure 8 with another loop on top.  So really, more of a figure snowman. 

Look how crinkly the yarn is!  You can't knit with that!  Not without driving yourself mad. 

It does look sort of awesome though, doesn't it?


To get all the crinkle out, you have to wash it.  Washing unknit yarn sounded like a scary prospect to me--oh! the tangles!--but since I'd tied it well, it was not a crisis.  It was as easy as washing a sweater.

After squeezing--not wringing!-- the yarn and wrapping it up in a towel and stepping on it, I hung it to dry, using a couple of skirts on hangers as weights to pull out the crimping.  I think I'll wear the vest with this khaki skirt this fall!  Ooh, with boots and tights.  And the sky will be blue and the leaves will be beautiful and it will be a delicious 55 degrees and not 194 and sticky and terrible like it is now. 

I let it hang about 24 hours, rotating the hank so it dried evenly and didn't get re-crimped from the two hangers.  Then I let the hank rest on my ironing board for another day or so to rest.  The yarn really plumped up again, and looks like no one ever even thought about knitting a gigantic sweater with it. 

I'll show you the finished hanks tomorrow! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Revving up for the Ravellenic Games

The world's biggest Knit-a-long is less than two weeks away!  It's time to get ready. 

My challenge for the Ravellenic Games is to reknit a UFO that I put aside because it was miserably huge.  Like, would have had 8 inches of positive ease huge!  The pattern is the Wood Hollow Vest by Kirsten Kapur, one of my favorite designers. 

I started this about six months after my daughter was born, so I hadn't quite returned to pre-baby measurements yet.  That was problem number one.  Problem number two is that the pattern runs large to begin with.  You might expect me to say that problem number three is that I wasn't getting gauge, but here's the crazy thing.  My gauge was spot on.  I was making the size 40, and the front of my vest was exactly 20 inches.  With all the cabling, though, that 20 inches stretches to about 26 inches.  

Based on the portion that I've already knit, I'm thinking that I'll reknit it in a 32.  A 32!  I usually make between a 37 and 39.  This thing is so stretchy that I don't think a 32 will be a problem.  Other Ravelers have had problems with the vest coming out too big, and Kirsten does say that she intended the vest to be worn with positive ease.  I just like my vests to be a bit snug. 

The first step is to frog!  I should really wash the yarn, too, and hang it to get rid of the crimp.  After that, it will need a few days to rest and get some of the sproingyness back.  I better get busy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FO: Vermont shawl

Pattern: Vermont Shawl by Hanna Breetz.  It's a semi-circular shawl with three leaf patterns, increasing in size and scale.  The increase in stitch count is magically worked over a few rows between patterns, providing a very graceful transition between the different motifs.  It's really excellently crafted. 

Process: This was fun to knit and actually not very complicated.  The pattern calls for you to repeat the last chart twice, and even though it was about a 40 stitch pattern, I was able to memorize it.  It did feel like I might still be knitting it at my retirement dinner, because those last rows were really, really l o n g. 

Product: I just think this shawl is beautiful.  I love how the leaves grow larger as they drift down the shawl.  I'm not exactly sure how to wear it, though, because it's so big.  I usually wear my smaller shawls around my neck almost like scarves.  Can I do that with this one?  And do I wear this in the summer or winter?  Or spring or fall, more like?  I really knit this for the challenge of knitting it, but it's so beautiful that I do want to wear it.  I just don't want to look like a 1950s granny. 

Yarn: Juniper Moon Farm Findley  This yarn is amazing, one of the most wonderful yarns I've worked with.  The colors are very rich and saturated, it has a smooth hand and the drape is somehow heavy and light at the same time.  It has substance to it, but it's also graceful.  I look forward to using it again. 

What I learned: Hmm, I used a new bind off, actually.  My mom just bought me the new Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor, so I tried several of the bind offs recommended for lace.  I ended up using the Icelandic Bind Off, and it worked perfectly.  It's very stretchy, but still has some structure to it. 

Ravelry page here

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

FO: McCalls 4769 shirtdress

I don't know what's going on with me lately, but the FOs are flying off the needles!  I started this McCalls 4769 shirtdress about a month ago, but stalled out after I finished the collar.  I was afraid of putting the buttons on and ruining the dress with sloppy finish work.  I finally overcame my fear, and now I have a new dress!

My husband took these pictures about 4:00 pm, during the three minutes we were both home at the same time.  It was very bright and sunny! 

I used a blue and lavendar seersucker from Harts Fabric, and instead of buttons, I used lavendar snaps!  This was not my unique idea; I shamelessly used mystitchnbitch's version as inspiration.  At the last minute, I almost decided to scrap the snap idea and go with buttons.  I had the snaps, so I tested them on a swatch to help me make my decision, and I instantly loved them.  So snaps it was. 

Let's see.  It was so long since I started this dress, I can't remember any of the details.  Did I cut a 16 at the bust and a 20 at the waist?  I think so.  And I added at least 2 inches, but maybe 3.  Or 4. 

A lot of people on pattern review had trouble with the collar and the instructions.  I goofed one side of it, but figured it out by the time I got to the other side, so I only had to rip one side one time.  It was quite a bit fiddly, but it wasn't super complicated.  I think it came out really well, and I'm pretty excited that I made a collar!  I want to hang a sign around my neck that says, "I made this collar!"

This is a great dress for summer.  It's comfortable and very wearable, but also looks a bit dressy and pulled together.  Now I need some accessory help.  I think it needs a bigger necklace maybe? 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quelle queue!*

I thought I'd revisit the knitting and sewing plan I made for myself two weeks ago to see where I am.

The Plan

July 1 -- Buy fabric for skirt. 
     It arrived today and ohmygoodness I can't wait to start this skirt!

July 1 -- Buy yarn for Cinnie cardi 
     It came on Saturday, and I'll start it this week sometime.

July 1 -- Make a commitment to a lace project with the purple alpaca
     Hmm.  This I didn't really do.  I'm not feeling the alpaca lace at the moment.  But I did recommit to the Eyphrosyne by Kirsten Kapur.  I should be finishing up the border this week!  I'm using the most gorgeous yarn in the perfect raspberry shade. 

Before July 1 -- Finish shirtdress
     Just hemmed it this evening!  Pictures tomorrow!

Before July 1 -- Finish Caeles top
     Finished!  I wore it today. 

Before July 1 -- Renfrew Top?
     Yep!  Finished it also! 

It wasn't on my list, but I also managed to toss together a Sorbetto.  

So what's the new plan? 

1.  Finish Eyphrosyne by July 11
2.  Finish Cinnie before the Ravellenic Games
3.  Start Simplicity 2215 skirt before July 13
4.  Make another Sorbetto or another dress (I have the pattern but can't remember the number)
5.  Blog the two lace shawls that I blocked last week.

That will definitely fill my time between now and the opening ceremonies in London.  I love having a plan.  I feel so focused and productive!

* I took French in high school, but I can't remember: is queue masculine or feminine?  If it's actually masculine, then please read as "Quel queue!" 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

FO: Sorbetto

It's hot.  Really hot.  And that calls for a new summer shirt.  I thought I'd try out the Sorbetto, Colette's free pattern, with some fabric I already had.  My mom gave me this beautiful fabric along with a pattern a year or two ago, but I thought it might make a nice Sorbetto instead. 

I like this top a lot, and a lot more than I thought I would.  It's perfect for steamy summer days.  I've only worn it casually, but I think it might be nice with a skirt for work days, too.  I will definitely be making more, especially since the fit on this one is not quite right. 

I cut a 10 at the bust, grading to a 14 at the waist and a 16 at the hip.  I think next time I'll cut a 12 at the bust, since there is no ease and it's pulling a bit.  It's not so bad that I won't wear it, though.  I'll also shorten the dart length by about 1.5 inches. 

See the wrinkles at the bust?  Too tight!
I made bias tape for the bindings.  The bias tape bindings was a new technique for me, and I love how it turned out.  This top took far longer than the hour many people say it took them, but that's okay.  I'll be making more for sure!  It's a great top for looking pulled together in a very casual, cool way. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

FO: Caeles top

PatternCaeles by Hilary Smith Callis, published in Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2012.  It's a basic top down tank made special by the dramatic Snow White's Evil Stepmother collar.  The collar and sleeve caps make use of short rows.  There's no seaming, but there is a lot of finishing work, as the collar, sleeves and hems all require sewing live stitches to the fabric.

Process: I love short rows!  So fun.  This was a breeze to knit, since it's mostly stockinette in the round. I knit it as part of a KAL hosted by Webs yarn store.  I also love finishing work, so that was fun. 

Product: I'm really happy with this FO.  I was a little dubious about a worsted weight top for summer, but I think it will be okay.  It will definitely be great for spring.  And I love love love this color. 

Yarn: Valley Yarns Goshen.  I am not a fan of cotton and I always swear I'm never going to use it.  But when May comes around, I lose motivation to knit wool things that I won't wear for 5 months, and I start wondering about knitting some summer patterns.  Goshen was on sale, so I took a chance.  I think I might have had a change of heart about cotton!  I think this yarn looks a little sophisticated, and it didn't hurt my hands at all.  It was very pleasant to knit with--I didn't have any splitting issues.  I'd use it again. 

What I learned: I learned how to do a turned hem and sew live stitches to the back of the knitted fabric.  The videos on the Webs blog helped a ton and made it easy peasy. 

Ravelry page: here