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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Holla Knits Fall 2014 Blog Tour!

Have you seen the new Holla Knits for Fall?


I am totally in love with Cape Vertigo by Leah Coccari-Swift. How gorgeous would this be in a monochromatic color scheme like two greys or two browns? I have a feeling it could double as a winter coat here in LA. 


What about Axial by Kirsten Singer? It's an oversized boyfriend-like sweater with a unique construction. Look at that back panel! Gorgeous! 


And Velma by Allyson Dkyhuizen. What a textured, classic beauty! The perfect Fall sweater (and I love that garter stitch neckline).

There's a lot more textured, sweater-y goodness in the Fall 2014 collection, so hop over to Holla Knits to check it out. Then come back and leave me a comment for your chance to win the pattern of your choice! I'll randomly draw a winner on Wednesday, October 1st. 

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for giveaway fun:

Sept 10: Klever Knits
Sept 11: Berroco
Sept 12: Canary Knits

Sept 16: Life on Laffer
Sept 17: Knits in Class
Sept 18: Makewise Designs
Sept 19: Anzula

Sept 22: Ruby Submarine
Sept 23: BoKnits
Sept 25: DoogKnits

Monday, September 1, 2014

Finished Ikat Alder Shirtdress

Happy Labor Day, I finished my Alder Shirtdress

Ikat Alder Shirtdress

I love love love this pattern. I love love love the way this dress turned out. I hate hate hated sewing this fabric.

I knew when I picked this slippery rayon, I'd have troubles. But the drape! So soft! I just kept imagining the dress it could be, and I decided to go ahead with it anyway. And it's definitely a wearable dress, but it was a bitch to work with. 

What a lovely yolk!
(look at my road rash! it's so healed!)

The way the yolk is hanging, the mis-matchy ikat on the front, the slightly rumpled button band - these are all symptoms of working with this fabric. But it hangs nicely on the body so I can ignore most of those problems, and it's light and breezy. I already wore it to work this week and it is the perfect work uniform.

I would definitely categorize this under "wearable muslin." As you can see below - I skipped doing the full bust adjustment and that was a mistake. I cut a size 16, and I should have cut a 14 and done the FBA. I'll never wear this without a tank top underneath, so it's not a huge deal, but I'll go for a better fit with my next Alder. 

Ugh, low armscye!

I also skipped my planned side seam pockets because the drape-y fabric would not have held up well. I cut the chest pockets, and then ended up skipping them as well because the ikat fabric was already so busy. Like I need to give people another reason to examine my chest...

I did shorten this by about 2" (and I'm 5'8"), because if I am going to wear what looks like a large shirt, it better show off those legs! This makes it the perfect length for wearing with boots and feeling sassy, but it did, however, make it a bit too short to belt. Meh, I guess one cannot show off both legs and waist. 

Alder Shirtdress Back

All in all, I love it and I can't wait to make more. And check out Allyson's version and Laura's version - both turned out so rad! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chambray Skirt from eShakti - including crop top.

Having a blog is fun when companies want to send you stuff to try out, right? Well, eShakti contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to try out one of their garments, so I chose this chambray skirt:

Chambray Skirt


It's actually no longer available on the site, but is very similar to this belted poplin skirt

The fun thing about eShakti is that you can modify any of their products to specifically fit your body. Originally, this skirt was supposed to be just-below-the-knee, and I requested it be lengthened. I first heard of eShakti when I was looking for bridesmaids dresses for weddings - how fun would it be to have bridesmaids in slightly altered versions of the same dress?

Twirly Skirt!

So they sent me this pretty skirt, and I love it. I've been wanting a longer, light skirt like this, and it pairs perfectly with this crop top I bought on a whim. Trends!
The fit is great - I should have gone down a size, because of the elastic waist on the back, but the belt helps cinch it. I love that you can customize down to the exact waist measurement. The fabric is thin, but that's not a bad thing in LA, right? 

If you want to try outeShakti for yourself, you can use the code "redumbrella" to get 10% off your order (until 9/16/14) and check them out on Facebook and Pinterest!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Alder Dress Sew-Along: W.I.P.

Our little Alder Shirtdress Sew-along is going strong! Allyson and Laura both posted fun pictures of their WIP dresses last week. They're a bit ahead of me, since my bike accident held me back from starting this as soon as I laid eyes on the pattern. 

Alder Dress, ready for cutting

This past weekend I was finally able to cut into my fabric. It's a slippery rayon, so I had some trouble cutting it perfectly on the grain. I've been straightening it up as I sew, though, and thus far that's worked out. 

Do you like my cutting table? Yeah... it's the floor. 

How about my scenic sewing room: 

My Sewing Room

I moved into a tiny, 420 sq ft studio last January, so this "sewing room" is also the kitchen, and the dining room, and sometimes bike storage. It's a challenge to fit everything into such a tiny space, but now that I have all my sewing stuff out of the closet, I'll be knocking out a few projects in one go. You can see my pile on the ottoman in the corner! 

Ok, check with Allyson on Wednesday for her finished Alder, and Laura on Friday! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Alder Shirtdress Sew-Along Extravaganza

Have you seen the Alder Shirtdress pattern from Grainline Studio? I first saw it on Ginger Makes, where Sonja made two gorgeous versions, and I fell in love. I had to have this dress!

Then I found out that my bff's, Allyson and Laura, were also obsessed with this pattern, and it was official: we had to do a Sew-Along.

Luckily, our mini sew-along is just a week behind the official Grainline Studio Sew-Along, so I've been benefiting from their guidance.

Here are my plans, thus far:

Version 1: A straightforward take on View A. This will hopefully be a wearable muslin, where I work out any fitting issues within the pattern. Since it's designed for a B-cup, I will definitely be doing a Full-Bust Adjustment (following the instructions here). I will also be adding pockets, and possibly tweaking the collar to a Peter Pan style, depending on the fabric.

Version 2: View B, made out of something drape-y, like silk charmeuse. Also adding pockets. Always with the pockets.

Version 3: A v-neck shirt version, a la this post. I think this would be amazing in a chambray.

My plans are ambitious, but after my bike accident last week, they have stalled. Thus far I have....

Alder Shirtdress Pattern

Just an assembled pattern. But hey! That took a really long time. I really wish I had seen this tutorial from Colette or this one from Sewaholic before I started. But I'll be cutting that fabric in no time, I just know it.

You can catch up with Allyson's progress on Wednesday and Laura's on Friday for all the Alder-goodness you can handle!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cycling and the Distorted Reality of Instagram

I've always been into bikes. I rode to school when I was a kid (dragging my Converse sneakers on the sidewalk while rolling down hills, making the toes completely flat). I rode my bike around campus in college. When I moved to Chicago, I discovered that biking is, hands down, the best way to get around. It really helped me feel at home in that little city, biking over each and every street and learning my way around.

I did get called a "fat ass" once while riding in Chicago. Meh.

New Bike

But after I moved to LA, I was completely intimidated by the hills. How does one bike up the side of a mountain!? We don't have anything like that in the Midwest, and I was used to super flat roads. I dabbled with riding my bike to work, but it wasn't until I got this shiny, new road bike that things started to get good. It's funny how having the right bike can make things click. 

So I shared some photos on Instagram of my new, joyous hobby. Don't I look carefree and fit? 

Katie on a bike!

My boyfriend, Sergio, is an avid cyclist (that's what serious biker-people call themselves), and with his encouragement, I've biked up a few mountains.

Here's us, looking super happy, at the top of Griffith Park in LA:

Griffith Climb

Let me tell you a little secret: Although I was proud that I had biked up the side of a mountain to get to the top of the park, I was not happy. It was really hard to do, and I actually cried on the side of the road while trying to push myself to finish the ride. I did finish, and it was wonderful coming back down, but it was not what this picture shows. 

That was going to be the end of this post, along with a line about how little we share of the true story on social media. Then last Sunday I took a spill on my bike, and ended up in the emergency room. I am totally fine - sore and some road rash, but nothing broken - and I thought it would be funny to post a picture of myself on Instagram. You can see it here

I'm not going to repost it here because I was told that it was "really graphic." If you look, you'll see some blood, but also a huge smile on my face. To be honest, that smile was much more real than the one in the picture above. Yes, I had gone down, and yes, I had gotten scraped up, but I was truly happy to have toughed it out and wanted to share that with the world. Did I look gross? Maybe a little, but it was real

I lost followers because of that picture. Yes, I mostly post pretty, happy knitting and hiking and food pictures. But one picture of a proud, albeit bloody, biker was not what people wanted to see. 

Have you ever hesitated to post something that wasn't pretty or nice because you were worried about what people would think? Is Instagram a place where people don't want to see the real world? Probably, and that makes me a little sad. I value the friends I've made through Instagram, and value every single "heal up!" comment I received.

So thank you, friends, for looking at a true picture of me in a difficult moment, and offering encouragement. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hodgepodge Mittens for Meghan

Here's a Christmas 2013 project that never got a blog post: Hodgepodge Mittens for my sister. 

Hodge Podge Mittens on Meg

This was my favorite pattern from Holla Knits Accessories last year, since I love colorwork mittens. So cozy and so entertaining to knit! I knew my sister would dig them, too, in a nice, neutral color palette. And look! They matched her post-Christmas outfit perfectly. 

I knit them pretty much as written, using Magic Loop. I stopped a few rows before the end of the chart because my sister (and I) have small hands. It worked well to try them on as I went and adjust accordingly. I loved the easy 4-stitch pattern repeat and simple color scheme. They look great finished, but weren't too crazy-making while knitting. 

Meg's Hodge Podge Mittens

My sister got married in June, and a few months before the wedding, I was sitting at my desk, thinking about how things were going to change within our family. Meghan and Jeff, her new husband, have been together for 10 years, so I wasn't really worried until I realized: Meghan and I would not be waking up together on Christmas morning, like we had since we were old enough to sleep in our own beds. It brought tears to my eyes to think about! Who knew, that at age 30, I'd still have some "growing up" to do?