What's Up: A Making Update

Flexibility . . . is good. I write to you today NOT from our cabin in the woods up north, but from home. Sometimes plans change, even when you're on the verge of packing up to head out. We still need to go. It's just not gonna be this week.


How about a quick update on what I'm making and how things are going instead?

First, I finished the dress I was sewing for Erin to wear in a Halloween wedding. You'll have to be satisfied with a back-view shot of me doing a try-on of the dress OVER my sweatpants. Because that's what I've got . . . 


It turned out to be One Of Those Projects that took a lot longer than I expected/wanted it to take. Fussy fabric. Fully lined. Circle skirt. (Actually TWO circle skirts. Because fully lined.) Invisible zipper. And I was working from measurements, but didn't have the actual wear-er (that would be Erin) around for fittings. The dress turned out nicely, in the end. And it arrived safely in California yesterday.  (So check that one off my list.)

Next, I'm nearing the end on my test knit for this sweater . . .


Just a bit more to knit on the back. And then the "sleeve" edgings. It won't take me long. (The pattern release is scheduled for November 5. I've got plenty of time.) It's a very nice little sweater, and I'm eager to have it in my clothing-rotation for the cooler months. I'm also eager to have it finished, so I can move on to something else. What? I haven't decided yet. But probably this. (Although I'm also smitten with this.) (And I want to knit this, too.) (So . . . who knows.)

Finally, remember my adorable pumpkin kit? I stuck it back in it's drawer yesterday . . . 

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Giving up for another year. BUT. I am following a comment-suggestion from Valerie, and I've set up a reminder on my phone to dig it out next July and start working on it earlier. (Brilliant, non?)

How about YOU?
What are you making this week?




This is a Test!

I'm knitting like it's my job right now.
Or . . . I'm trying to! 


Because I'm doing a test knit for Elizabeth Smith.
And I have a deadline!

I've knit a few of Elizabeth's designs in the past (like this one and this one), and they are among my favorites -- to knit and to wear. I tend to like the basic simplicity of Eliabeth's designs, and I really appreciate her attention to detail. (She writes a great pattern, too. Clear, easy to follow, lots of photos and technique tips/tricks.) So when she showed a new design on her blog last month and put out a call for test knitters, I was All Over It. Because her new design is one I'd be wanting to knit - and wear - anyway!

I'm doing the no-sleeves version in the DK/sport weight "division" . . . in this yarn. (And I did check in with Elizabeth writing this post. I do have her OK to show my progress here, although I won't be revealing any modeled shots until she releases the pattern later this fall.) 


I really like the way it's coming together so far. I love the texture! It looks kinda like Brioche. But it's not. And it looks kinda like ribbing. But it's not. (Surprise - it's all just knit and slipped stitches.) The stitch pattern has a nice, easy rhythm, and the knitting clips along pretty quickly. (And it's glaringly obvious when you've miscounted, so when fixes are necessary, they're easy to manage.) (Ask me how I know. . . ).

This is one test I'm happy to take!


How about you? What are you making this week?

(And be sure to stop by Kat's today for more Unraveled Wednesday fun.)




Tortoise-ing Along


How's that sideways-sweater knitting coming along?
(This pattern.)


S - L - O - W - L - Y.

That's how!


I'm knitting at tortoise-speed this summer.
And that's okay.


I've knit one sleeve, the back and the front.
The rows are about to get a lot shorter again, so . . . Home Stretch.

And . . . I've reached the Most Exciting Part: dropping the stitches for the fringe!


Slow and steady wins the race, right?


How about you? Are you a tortoise. . . or a hare . . . when it comes to your "making?"


Be sure to visit Kat for more Unraveled updates today.

Finding Some Whimsy

Well. First I've just got to thank you all for your kind words and support . . . after I spilled the beans about my RA flare yesterday. I got a little teary more than once, reading your comments and emails. I should know by now to trust in the support and comfort of this crafty, book-loving, bloggy community, but . . . wow. When you feel the love here, well. It really does just kind of knock you over a little bit. So thank you. Thank you so very much.

Let's get back to "pretty" though now, shall we?


Way back in January, as I was setting my "intentions" and what-not for the year ahead, I claimed that I wanted "more whimsy" and "less stodginess" in my life this year. What did I mean by that? What was I going for there? I don't exactly know. But I think it probably had to do with the darkness and slogginess of 2020, and wanting to break free in this new year.

Besides. It's kind of fun to seek out whimsy in the world. (And to write off anything that smacks of stodginess.)

Anyway. I have been following Rebecca Ringquist, the artist behind Dropcloth Samplers, for a while on Instagram. I'm always charmed by her embroidery samplers! She creates designs that resemble very artsy doodles that are engaging and accessible, but she doesn't assign colors or stitches (except, of course, in her stitch-teaching kind of samplers). It's kind of like . . . she's created "coloring books" for embroiderers! And let's just say they most certainly fall in the Whimsical Camp.

I've spent many a moment dreaming about which of Rebecca's samplers I might order for myself . . . someday. Embroidery is really my "first craft." You may remember my story when, as a 5-year-old, my Great Grandma Strom patiently taught me the outline stitch by writing my name on a piece of scrap fabric and allowing me to practice the stitches while she sat nearby. (Which I stitched right to the little skirt I was wearing. Ah, the lessons we learn.)

I never did decide on a sampler to order from Rebecca, though . . . until this summer when she introduced her new Picnic Sampler. I was hooked from the first time I saw it fly across my Instagram feed! It lit up every part of my stitching brain: Color! Flowers! Gingham! Summer! And . . . it just drips charm and whimsy . . . with not even a slight hint of stodginess. 

It was an immediate "add to cart" moment.

And now I look forward to grabbing my little sampler for "patio time" with Tom in the evenings before dinner. It's a lovely way to end the day. (And except for my worst RA days, I usually can manage at least some limited stitching time.) (Thank goodness.)

I love being able to just . . . "color" my sampler with embroidery thread and stitches . . . in my totally free-form, fill-in-the-blanks way. (I'll bet this brings an eye-twitch to those of you who prefer carefully charted designs and floss suggestions. Each to her own, I say! Embrace your preferences!)

It's a lot of fun. I love picking it up and stitching a bit each day.

DEFINITE whimsy, here.
(And so far, I've avoided stitching the sampler to anything I'm wearing, so BONUS . . . )


How about you? What are you making this week?


Do check out other Unraveled posts today over at Kat's!


Taking Shape

So I've been doing a little knitting.

Not a lot.
But some.

I'm making this . . . out of this . . . and it's got a rather interesting construction.

First, it's knit sideways.

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And second, it promises future excitement (!) with Dropped-Stitches-To-Make-Fringe.
(I can't wait for that part.)

This is one of those projects that is super simple - in design and in construction.
The yarn does ALL the work and heavy lifting.


But it has taken more than a little thinking and even some algebra to get it into shape so far. Because with a sideways construction? Row gauge matters!
And I never get row gauge. 
(So I had to knit that first sleeve twice. I got over it.)

But that's not where the thinking ends with this project.
Because as I'm knitting, I'm pondering a design thing . . .
and at this point, I'd love to get your opinion.

The pattern is designed to have the smooth side of the stockinette showing as the right side.
Like this . . . 


But I'm actually loving the way the reverse side of the stockinette looks.
Like this . . . 


Reversing things is simple. I just need to decide before I seam.
(And I have plenty of time to decide, as you can see.)


Fairy Tale Knitting

Sometimes, when we finish a knitting project, it's like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Sometimes, we are granted at least one (and maybe all) of our three wishes. (That it fits, that we don't run out of yarn, that our gauge swatch was true, for example.)

Sometimes, we really can spin gold out of straw.

And sometimes?
Not so much.


My face . . . says it all.

Fee. Fi. Fo. Fum.
This disaster was supposed to be this

But my gauge swatch lied.
I hate the yarn. (It's thick and twists a lot.)
I don't think a good-soak-and-a-toss-in-the-dryer would help at all.

No pot of gold at the end of this rainbow!
(Sometimes Rumpelstilskin wins . . . and you really can't spin gold from straw.)

Some knitting fairy tales . . . are just Grimm.


I hope your knitting this week is full of fairy tale magic and that all your wishes that come true!
(And don't feel bad for me. I'm on to a new story already . . . )


Be sure to visit Kat today for more Unraveled tales!

July is Dressed Up and Playing Her Tune

There is nothing like an old song to bring the memories flooding back, is there?

Today's post really needs a soundtrack . . . but you'll have to click here to listen because I couldn't embed the video (any video). That is . . . if the title of this post didn't already conjure that song in your brain. Remember that song? Summer Breeze. Seals & Croft. It is just a major, major nostalgia tune for me . . . bringing back one of my best junior high school memories. C'mon back to 8th grade with me for just a minute, okay?

There I was. . . gawky in my Olive Oyl body, with braces on my teeth, and hair that was trying hard to be like Marcia Brady's (but not cutting it) (at all), quiet and concerned all.the.time about saying/doing/wearing something stupid . . . and wishing for so much more (like a teenage sitcom life). And then, one day after band class, Nick Mizell asked me to stop by one of the band practice rooms after school. What could he want with me? I mean . . . Nick was suuuuper cute. Very cool. A drummer with dreamy hair. So very far out of my league. But I went to meet him anyway, hoping it wasn't going to be some embarrassing prank. I played it really cool - just in case - and tried my best to look like I was just casually down by the band room, y'know . . . looking for some sheet music, after school (like one might do in a teenage sitcom life).

But, no. He did actually want me to meet him. He and a couple of other band guys (Steve and Jay) were all set up in this practice room with Nick's drum set. (Steve played an electric guitar, and Jay had his trumpet). They were practicing for the school talent show, and they wanted me to listen while they played (you guessed itSummer Breeze. And it was so awesome! I'd never seen a drum set up close. Or an electric guitar. And it sounded so good, so . . . exotic! (Not to mention how exotic these boys were to me.) And you know what they wanted? They wanted ME to play my flute in their group for the talent show. Seriously. I thought I had absolutely DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN. Like I was freaking Grace Slick or something! This was one of the highlights of 8th grade for me. (Right up there with the night Alan Richardson asked me to couple skate at the skating rink . . . and then skated with me the whole night long.)

Anyway. Big nostalgia for me . . . that song.
(Oh. We didn't win the talent show, but we did get far enough along that we got to play in the school assembly.) (And, unsurprisingly, Nick was only interested in my flute playing and ignored me for the rest of time after that.)

That's a long story. . . and not really what I was planning to blog about today at all.
But I've always loved that song!
And I heard it on the radio just as I started to knit this summer tank top.


Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and wearing a tune

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Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' through the jasmine in my mind

It's kind of nice . . . when your summer knitting project brings a welcome song and fun memories for each stitch!

I can't play it on my flute anymore, but . . . 
Eat your heart out, Nick.


For details and more photos, click here for my Ravelry project page.


And don't forget to visit Kat to check out more Unraveled posts today.

A Different Kind of Canvas

Here in blogland, Wednesdays are typically a day we share what we're making. Usually with yarn. But sometimes we share other kinds of making . . . sewing, quilting, painting, embroidery. 

For me, in the summer, I don't always have so many of those more "traditional" making kinds of projects to share. Because my time gets eaten up in different ways during the summer months, and I don't find as much time to sit and knit or stitch -- or paint. In fact, just last night I canceled out of my weekly watercolor class. I explained to my instructor that . . . I just didn't have anything to share. I hadn't done my homework. And I didn't think I could sit still long enough for 3 hours to engage with the lesson for the week. (I really shouldn't have signed up for the summer session in the first place. I usually don't. I know better. Oh, well. . . )

I used to feel bad about walking away from my regular pastimes during the summer (holding on to those expectations and arbitrary rules much?), but I don't really anymore.

I've come to accept that I'm just . . . working with another type of fiber.
A different kind of canvas, you might say.


This is my wild-and-woolly, volunteers welcome, follow-no-rules pollinator garden. (It's a certified Monarch Waystation.) It's a great example of a different kind of making -- and it really does tick off all of my "making" boxes. I've got . . . 

Playing with color.


And texture.


Moving my hands in a productive way.


And soothing my soul.


Plus, there is the added benefit of knowing I'm "doing good" by creating a welcoming space for the pollinators of the world!


(And dogs.)


I may not be able to wear it . . . or gift it . . . or hang it on my wall.
But it's a kind of canvas all the same!


How about you? What are you making this week?


Be sure to visit Kat today . . . for links to the more traditional (and inspiring!) Unraveled kinds of posts!

Leisurely Pursuits

In the summer, I get busy in my garden, and with the back-and-forth of going up north . . . and my "making" slows way down. And . . . I'm really just fine with that! Stitching, after all, is just one - of many - leisurely pursuits for me.

But I actually finished something recently. Way back in May, you might remember I showed you this photo . . . 

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I was going to stitch up this top.
Months ago, now.

Finally stitched it up last weekend!


Now . . . I don't always like to wear woven tops or shirts. (I prefer stretchy knits and t-shirts for comfort and easy movement.) But I'm gonna tell you, this Remy Raglan pattern has kinda changed my thinking. When I got finished sewing, I did a try-on . . . and ended up wearing the shirt all day long! In total comfort and ease. (See above.)

Now I'm plotting and scheming to make more!


(Still needs a button.)

This pattern is (fairly) quick to make (I always hesitate to make that statement, because I'm an experienced seamstress and your mileage may vary). The instructions are clear. And there are some nifty techniques that really finish this shirt off "professionally" (all the seams are French seams, for example). Also . . . the possibilities for "playing around" with this design are endless. (Just take a look at the #remyraglan hashtag on Instagram for some true inspiration.)

Anyway. Great outcome for this top! I'm glad I finally made the time to stitch it up.

In knitting news . . . well. I'm still plugging along with the same old thing


Slow Leisurely progress is progress all the same.


How about you? What are you making this summer?

Fit To Be . . . Tie-Dyed

I haven't been knitting much lately.
Or stitching.
Or sewing.
Or painting.

(Life is full.)
(Life is good.)

But that doesn't mean I haven't been making anything at all.

When Erin was visiting, we decided to try our hand at some tie-dye!


I've done some tie-dye before, but never as The Instigator. And Erin had never tried it before. So the first thing I did . . . was to contact Vicki, Auntie Camp Tie-Dye Expert, for some advice and pointers. Vicki . . . sent me to Dharma Trading for supplies . . . and we were off to the races!

Dharma Trading sells everything you need for all kinds of dying projects, including kits for home tie-dying (dyes need to be ordered separately). And there are instructions (not always the most clear, but pretty clear) and inspiration guides for various projects and styles of tying/dying. We followed the steps very carefully to assure good results. There was a lot of mixing and soaking before we could apply any of that "inspiration." (Just sayin.)

If you've never worked with fiber reactive dyes before, the mixing process can sound a little . . . technical. Complicated. Science-y. Maybe a little intimidating, even. (Or maybe that's just me . . . the wife of a chemist.) Anyway. Tom wasn't intimidated at all, and he jumped right in to help us mix up our dyes. (Thanks, Honey.)

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And then . . . we got to the fun parts.

The tying.


And the dying.


After 24 hours of "curing," we were so excited for our Big Reveals.


Erin went with a purples/blues/pinks palette for her tees. (And tank tops and sweatshirts and aprons.) (We did a lot of tying and dying.)


And I went with a more . . . citrus-y/tropical palette.

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Really . . . you can't go wrong with tie-dye! Everything turns out COOL. (Even the hooded sweatshirt I did at the end . . . using all the leftover dyes. I call it "fireworks" -- because it's kind of like the end of a fireworks show when they send everything up into the sky at once. It's pretty . . . busy. But even that worked!)

We had a lot of fun. We were pleased with our results. And I thank Vicki for her inspiration and advice.

Five stars!
Would do again!


How about you? What are you making these days?