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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?

Monday, August 4, 2014

New Embroidery Pattern - Well Stocked Pencil Box

I have a new pattern up on Red Letter Day Stitches today - Well Stocked Pencil Box

It's technically our "Labor Day" design, but Labor Day always meant Back-to-School time for me, and that meant fresh, new school supplies! I'll admit - I still get excited to go into Staples and stock up on office supplies. I just love it!

You can buy it here for $4 today!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Summer Knitting - Harnett Tank

Hey, check it out: it's my Harnett Tank.

Harnett Back

I cast on this baby on New Year's Eve, and finished in early June. (Rav page here, if you're interested.) I knit size 38 with almost no mods, except following Michelle's directions for jog-less stripes. She's so helpful!

I used the recommended yarn - Knit Pick's Stroll - and found it... lacking. After I finished my Fire Opal Tee, knit in a cotton blend, I was totally in love. Putting on a wool blend, at the beach, for these photos, was torture. The sweater fares much better when worn in my air-conditioned office, but I still wish I had used cotton. 

Harnett Front

But it sure looks beautiful, doesn't it? I was a little worried about the length and width while knitting, but the nice thing about wool is that it's so darn flexible, and I was able to wet block it into a nice shape. 

And hey! I'm a lucky lady, because Allyson came to visit and work on Red Letter Day Stitches stuff, and took these photos of me. This was pretty much the most perfect day at the beach because:
  • We saw a whale, and it spouted water! 
  • We saw dolphins, doing flips! Seeing dolphins is not unusual on the SoCal coast, but I had never seen so many, being so acrobatic. 
  • The water was very warm and swim-able. Rare for the Pacific, and probably why we saw so many animals.
  • We mastered the technique necessary for anchoring a beach umbrella in the sand. 
  • We were seated next to a group of very beautiful European people, and spent a good amount of time eavesdropping on their conversations and speculating on who was dating whom. Maybe that's a thing I shouldn't admit on the internet...
Harnett Flat

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A finished summer sweater: Fire Opal Tee

Lookit what happened: I finished a thing.

Fire Opal Tee 4

This is my Fire Opal Tee, and I finished it a few weeks ago as part of Allyson's KAL. Oh, what a satisfying knit!

Allyson designed the tee to be knit with wool yarn, but I live in California, so I subbed Knit Picks Comfy Fingering in Parchment, and had to make few modifications. This yarn knits up so soft and drape-y, I know I will wear this all summer (and let's be honest, winter) long. 

Fire Opal Tee 1

Although the pattern was designed to be knit with positive ease, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I cast on the 38" size (my actual bust measurement is around 40"), and a few inches in, I realized it was going to be far too loose for my liking. So I painstakingly ripped out a good 6" of knitting and cast on the 36" size. I lengthened it by about an inch before separating at the sleeves, but otherwise knit as written. It's perfect. 

Fire Opal Tee 2

And yes, I'm modeling it without a tank top underneath. Once I had finished it, I knew it would lend itself nicely to being sauced-up a bit in this way. I'm not sure if it's because I'm smack-dab in the middle of LA, or if it's just the way fashion trends have turned, but I would have never worn it this way a few years ago. 

Fire Opal Tee 3

Is it the reasonable color? The sophisticated cables? Whatever it is - I'm a-ok being a bit scandalous with just a bra underneath. Maybe it's the short hair. I'm a risk-taker now! 

Fire Opal Tee 5