Monday, June 29, 2020

Icelandic Dreyma - A Souvenir Sweater

Here is is, the ultimate vacation souvenir: one you have to make yourself.
(This is gonna be a long one with lots of pictures, so buckle up.)

(Also warning: links to all patterns are Ravelry links.)

In 2018, my online knitting friend, Michelle, and I went to Iceland. You may know Michelle from her blog or podcast or Ravelry group, and we met years ago on Ravelry when she knit most of my knitting pattern designs within a year or so. We both love hiking and at some point, started talking about taking an epic hiking and knitting trip to Iceland. And then... we did. The internet is a magical place that brought two women together to road trip and leisurely walk (not as much hiking as we planned) around Iceland. True, her family was worried that I might be a man, but I am NOT a man and everything went fine. Here's a video breakdown of our trip that Michelle made and it makes me cry, so enjoy:

One of our Must-See stops was the Álafoss Mill Store in Mosfellsbær, where we both planned our knits and bought a sweaters' worth of Léttilopi wool. We spent a *long* time there, and it was well-spent.

Michelle chose colors that reflected the Icelandic landscape, but... I couldn't resist this gold color. I had already earmarked a few traditional-looking yolk patterns and while I was in the store, I decided to go with Dreyma by Jennifer Steingass and chose a grey to compliment the gold color. 

There's my gold in the wild, and the gorgeous colors Michelle chose.

We went to Iceland in April and I started my Dreyma in October of 2018... and then it languished for almost a year. I made a TON of changes to this pattern. I knew I wanted it to be a more cropped and vintage silhouette and I started knitting the pattern as written and then... went off the rails. After I separated the sleeves and continued to the body, I started making a slimmer and cropped look. Although I like the final form, I kinda love that in-progress picture where it's just a little cropped vest. Very cute.

Side note: Pickle LOVES this sweater and continually made biscuits on it while I was knitting it and has continued to love on it since it's been finished.


I finally finished this beauty in October of 2019 (shameful.) I looked forward to a winter of wearing it and reliving my glorious time in Iceland.

But... I just didn't. I think I wore this one time last winter. The neckline was *way* too wide. Since it's a rougher wool, I have to wear a tank top under it and the neckline was shifty. The vibe was way more 80's than I like and it just wasn't working for me. I finally accepted that I would have to pull it out and completely re-knit the sweater in a smaller size for it to get wear. Which really sucked, because Lopi is incredibly sticky and since it's not plied, I was worried I would lose a lot of the fiber while ripping it out, if not completely tear through the yarn. But an unworn sweater is a waste of space, so I accepted my fate.

UNTIL. One night during quarantine, I was scrolling through the ole Instagram and I came across Morgan's IGTV video about adding a tighter neckband to an existing yolk. LIFE. SAVER. Since I still had a bit of yarn leftover, I was able to follow Morgan's advice and carefully remove the rolled neckline and replace it with a 1x1 neckband that looks and fits much better. I am thrilled and very excited to wear this sweater in winter 2020/2021!

Also, side note: please let these photos be a teaching moment about how to fold your sweaters - not down the middle. Do y'all see that line? I'm cringing. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Seamwork Joss Pants and Purl Soho City Gym Shorts: These are a Few of My Favorite Things!

The world has turned, hasn't it? To make myself perfectly clear, before I jump into the sewing: I believe that Black Lives Matter, and I am committed to doing the daily anti-racist work that I believe will move our society forward to greater freedom for all. I am incredibly humbled by the public, consistent dialogue and action that the last few weeks have brought, and I am committed to being involved.

Sewing and knitting and crafting doesn't happen in a vacuum. Outside events trigger changes within our internal worlds, and that effects how we express our selves. Crafting can be an activism all by itself, depending on your intentions and the mindful way you attack it. It can also be a way to center yourself and calm your anxiety, and that's ok, too. 

So here I am in a pair of shorts made from an old sheet. I've been spending much more time at home since March. Like, entire days in my apartment. Really unbelievable when you consider that my life used to take place almost entirely outside of my apartment. But come March 2020, I went behind closed doors to snuggle with my cat and work from home and flatten ye olde curve, as they say. 

I didn't have much to wear. I had one pair of comfy sweat pants and some pajamas but I didn't have a ton of options to putter around in. A few house dresses - I think this summer is really going to see the resurgence of the house dress!

But I did have time to deep clean my closets. That was when I discovered this pair of City Gym Shorts that I had cut out of an old sheet about two years ago. They were just missing a waistband and bias tape edging. I still had the sheet (which I found when I ruthlessly cleaned out my fabric stash), so cut out the missing pieces and I vowed to put together these shorts ASAP. Because I needed to wear them, like, now. 

This is actually my second pair of these shorts but I cut a smaller size for the first pair and they are tragically too small. I recently cut those tiny shorts apart and made them into a pair of face masks. But it's a delightfully easy little pattern, once you get past the inconvenience of making your own bias tape, and there are a million inspiring versions on Instagram, so this might not be the last pair of these shorts you see. 

It's certainly not the last garment made from an old sheet you'll see. Seamwork is clearly run by a coven of witches, because they released the Joss pants pattern just as we went into lockdown. Spooooky how they knew I would need a very comfy pair of pants for my days at home. This is a pattern intended for a woven fabric, and that would probably be awesome, but once again - I made them out of an old (jersey) sheet. 

I had this fitted sheet in the linen closet, which is also the fabric closet, and it just yelled at me that it wanted to be a pair of pants. And I have no regrets - I have worn these a minimum three times a week since I finished them in March. I used the pocket hack Seamwork lays out here, and they are truly a size too big. Which is totally fine in terms of lounge-y comfort, but because they are a knit cotton jersey, the fabric is heavy and I couldn't walk without them falling down.

So I added a waist tie! I actually really dig the look of the tie and I think it would be cute on a regular, not-made-of-an-old-sheet, pair of Joss pants, too. 

So there we have it: two old sheets, two new garments. And no fabric item in my house is safe from the sewing machine. I'm eyeing the curtains. 

PS: My cat, Pickle, LOVES crashing photo shoots, so please enjoy the two Pickle Bombs in this post, and if you need more of that, I made him his own IG hashtag.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

All the Ripples: An Ode to Jessie Maed

Oh, hello. Welcome back to the blogging, Katie. 

My Little Secret Crop Top 1

I know a lot of us never left, and more power to you, but it's been a year and some months since I last blogged, and the world has been through a loop. (Future Katie: this means we've been in lockdown for over two months because there's a global pandemic and you are living alone with your cat, Pickle.) I'm definitely returning out of a need to write and share and reach out in more-wordy-ways. As with most types of blogging: I've got feelings and I gotta share 'em.

The feelings are mostly about crafts but I can't make any promises other stuff won't sneak in here.

I'm not going to do a recap of the last year and a half for you in any concise way. I'm taking a page from Jenny & Aaron's book and getting on with it (but please go look at their new post about making over a doll house, because it's adorable and I wish we ALL had tiny doll houses to make over). Let's focus on the here and now! 

My Little Secret Crop Top 2

So here's to two of my most recently completed knitting projects: My Little Secret Crop and the Ripple Bralette DK, both by the queen of knitting design simplicity, Jessie Maed

Jessie released MLSC as a free *mystery* knit-along just as most places in the US went into lockdown. I was finishing up a Lengthy Secret Project, as well as a few commissions, so I missed participating the revelation of the mystery, but I benefitted by watching the amazing finished tops rolling in. As soon as the Lengthy Secret Project was finished, I cast on for MLSC with the most ubiquitous of stash yarn, Paton's Wool Worsted, in a gorgeous blue-green-teal color. Really not the choice for a very small tank top, and yet, I LOVE the way it turned out. Is it thick? Yes. Is it warm? Yes. Is it just the thing for those weird overcast mornings in LA in May/June? Also a yes. 

My Little Secret Crop Top 3

It works, and the fit is beautiful. Honestly, the fit is beautiful for everyone. I've never seen garments that fit so well on literally everyone as these ripples. And yes, ripples are just thick ribbing but I like that Jessie calls them ripples - makes me think of chips. And I also love chips!

My Little Secret Crop Top 4

I knit the size Large and I knit it an inch or so longer than called for because I'm a DD cup and I needed that extra inch. Also my gorgeous repro jewelry is from Bow & Crossbones and they deserve a linky because they make beautiful vintage reproduction things that you might also want to put on your body.

Now, on to the second course. I have been filled with anxiety and knitting these little ripple fantasies has been a soothing balm. For a good 8-9", you don't have to really think. You just knit knit knit on those ribs until you're getting *really* tired of knitting ribbing and then it's time for some shaping and it's done! So I needed more. 

Ripple Bralette DK 1

On to the Ripple Bralette in "DK." That gets quotes because this is knit in a really strange non-wool tweed yarn that has been in my stash for probably 10 years without a tag so I have no clue what it actually is. Here's another super appealing thing about these tops: they only take a few hundred yards of yarn (instead of a few thousand), so you can knit up all those weirdo yarns that you didn't buy *quite* enough of. In my defense, I think this one was gifted to me, but still. So I had this strange yarn, and I thought it should be a bralette and it started weird but it turned out GREAT.

Ripple Bralette DK 2

Mostly because I knit this one a size bigger than the last one. Jessie gives a ton of recommendations for sizing and she is smart so you should listen to her first, but secondly, you should listen to your yarn. If your yarn has no stretch, knit the size up. And if you start knitting the smaller size that you knit when you were knitting with wool, and then you go to try it on and realize you cannot pull it over your boobs.... rip it out and cast on again for the larger size. It's worth it and knitting these ripples (like chips) is meditative and that's not a bad thing. 

The size I settled on was the 5th size, however you want to call it, and yes, I once again added an inch or two to the body, since I wanted it to be more of a top and less of a bra. But FYI - the bottom ribbing is tight, as it's meant to be supportive. This works on my body because it hits on the smallest point of my waist, but could be uncomf for others. 

Ripple Bralette DK 3

So here she is. Weird stash (maybe cotton blend?) yarn into a comfy delightful summer top with a little bit of personality because who makes a non-wool tweed yarn? I sewed this skirt last year, it's just a gathered dirndl skirt, and although I didn't wear this ensemble for longer than it took to take some photos, I wish I had somewhere to wear this right now! I'm feeling the monochromatic look.

And... Jessie just released a new *mystery* pattern today, the Summer Secret Crop. No ripples, but I might have to give it a go after I finish my Beauty School Top. Ok, I'm off to eat some chips!