Unraveled

No Stopping Me Now

So after the overalls . . . I've kinda gotten back into the sewing thing. (I lost all my sewing mojo last year after sewing all those masks.)

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This week, I stitched up something that's been on my radar for a couple of year now . . . Meg McElwee's Hinterland Dress. I think it would be a great casual dress for summer (especially the sleeveless version), and I have a very nice piece of gingham linen that might work really well sewn up in this pattern. But . . . I didn't want to chance it with that nice linen right off the bat.

So . . . I sewed a "gauge swatch." In Sewing World, this is called a "muslin." (Or a "toile" if you want to sound European . . . or a little bougie.) Basically, sewing a muslin means you sew something up (or a part of something) in a fabric you don't care much about in order to see if you like the fit or need to make some adjustments. The goal - just like with gauge swatching in knitting - is that you end up with a well-fitting garment that you actually like and can wear when you're finished. If you're lucky, and things all turn out, you might end up with a "wearable muslin" . . . meaning you can actually wear your test-garment, too. (Unlike knitting . . . if you're not happy with the finished result you've sewn, you don't have the option of ripping out the yarn and re-using it for another project. Once you've cut it out and sewn it up? It's hard to repurpose.)

Anyway. I'm never really sure about what size to make when I'm sewing. I have broad shoulders . . . and no boobs . . . so a lot of times the fit is off and the darts end up in the wrong place. So I cut out just the bodice pieces of the Hinterland Dress to see how it would come together. It worked, so I cut out the facing and the sleeves and added those. Still good. So I cut out the front bands and tried them. Still good. So I cut out the pockets and the skirt. I also added the optional ties, because things were looking pretty . . . roomy.

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Checking the fit . . . 

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I could've gotten away with making this at least one size smaller, maybe two. Let's just say . . . I'm happy I added the ties. I definitely got a "wearable muslin" out of the process. And I think it'll look a lot better once it's had a chance to loosen up a bit after a few rounds in the washer and dryer. (Also when I'm not wearing it on top of workout clothes.)

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(And, yep. There's a wonky buttonhole in there. I got an eye twitch for a minute there, thinking about ripping it out and re-doing. But then I reminded myself . . . muslin! . . . and just let it go.)

Anyway. I think I'm ready to cut into that nice piece of linen now, and make another. Smaller size. Sleeveless.

But, first . . . this!

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There's no stopping me now.

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How about you? What are you making these days?


You're My Blue Sky

[Click here for accompanying soundtrack.]
(As if the song hasn't already started playing in your head. . . )

This time, I managed to hit the sweater/weather match right on the nose!

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I actually knit a wool sweater I can wear for the next couple of weeks (given the current local forecast). This is a looser gauge, kinda swing-y sweater that screams "spring" to me -- especially in this particular yarn colorway. (It's called "Mother Earth" and it's from Miss Babs.) It's perfect for cool, spring weather -- when you still want to ward off the chill, but want to feel breezy and . . . not like "winter carnival." (Y'know?)

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You're my blue sky,
you're my sunny day.
Lord, you know it makes me high
when you turn your love my way.
Turn your love my way . . .

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You can find all the details here on Ravelry if you're interested.

And . . . here a little treat. You can watch the Allman Brothers perform Blue Sky (my favorite Allman Brothers song, by the way) for a little lift in your day!

 


The Big Hang Up

Let's get back to my green overalls, shall we?

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Because they've been essentially finished for a couple of weeks now.
But not technically finished.
And certainly not wearable yet.

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What's the Big Hang Up, you ask?

Well. I can tell you it wasn't attempting a complicated, British pattern (written in English, sure, but I'm just gonna say that British-English and American-English are not the same, and there are slight - but key - differences in phrasing and nomenclature when it comes to sewing instructions).

And the instructions using only metric measurements didn't throw me at all (because I just used my metric measuring tools).

It wasn't the level of detail in the making. And it wasn't the topstitching (I secretly love topstitching).

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It wasn't the fact that I slipped up with my seam ripper and made a little slice in the bibs. (After running them through 4 or 5 wash/dry cycles to soften up the canvas, I actually like the "weathered" look that little slice gives the bib. Not even gonna mend it.)

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It wasn't the fit. (They do.)

It wasn't the buttonholes. (I did have to rip one, because it was wonky. But I'm fine with ripping/re-doing buttonholes.)

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So.

What WAS the big hang up in getting these things finished?

It was the hardware. The damn jeans buttons!

You know . . . the ones with the rivets on the back? The ones you need to hammer into place? 

I've never installed jeans buttons before . . .  and they freaked me (the hell) out. I almost chickened out and just used sew-on buttons. But, shoot. I'd gone full-on authentic with this particular pair of overalls, and damnit . . . I wanted the authentic buttons!

So I watched YouTube video after YouTube video about installing jeans buttons. It looked easy. But. . . each of them talked about the importance of using some sort of heavy iron base to do the pounding. A cast iron skillet would be fine, they all said. But I don't have one. So I stewed and hemmed and hawed . . . and finally broke down and purchased a little mini-anvil (about $10 from Amazon).

It arrived yesterday! 

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(It looks like it belongs in the scene from The Grand Budapest Hotel . . . where they use tiny tools to dig themselves out of prison!)

Let the pounding begin!

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Success!

And right out of the gates, too. It really is as simple as the YouTube videos make out . . . to install those damn jeans buttons. Especially when you can pound away - safely and securely - on an iron base. (Satisfying, too. There's just something very cathartic about hammering the shit out of something, y'know?)

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In no time at all, I had installed all six jeans buttons, and figured out the slide/fastener for the straps!

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They're finished!

They fit!

They're Just What I Wanted!

And . . .  I have tackled my Big Hang Up!

And when Tom gets home (he's up north, opening our cabin and discovering that we need a new water heater), I'll have him take some pictures of me and I'll show you the full glory of these overalls soon.

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How about you? What are you making this week?

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Note: My overalls are actually the shade of green in the last photo. They are a perfect Mr. Green Jeans shade of green. Kind of spring-y, but not super bright.


When Spring Gives You Snowflakes . . .

There has been some knitting happening here . . . 

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Nice and springy. (Just ignore the fact that as I took this photo out on my back patio, snow was falling.) (Spring is so very fickle.)

The pattern is Sun Dog by Laura Aylor. (Here's a Ravelry link.) It's a great spring sweater, and by the time I finish, the weather should be Just Right. (That's my story and I'm sticking with it.)

What are you making these days?


Playing Those Mind Games

[Click here for a soundtrack to accompany today's post.]

Sometimes, with knitting, it's really a . . . mind games . . . kind of thing.

Will these colors work for this design?
Do I have enough yarn?
Will it fit?
Will I wear it?
Do I have the skills?
Can I persevere through the hard parts?
 . . .  and the boring parts?
And, of course, there is that whole gauge thing.

It's always nice when it works out in the end.

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We all been playing those mind games forever
Some kinda druid dude lifting the veil
Doing the mind guerrilla
Some call it magic the search for the grail

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Yep. This time, I found THE GRAIL!

Of course, now that I've finished, spring has arrived in my corner of the world (it was in the upper 70s yesterday!), so I will be packing this sweater away until fall. 

Mind games, I tell 'ya!

(You can find all the details on Ravelry, here.)

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A few of you asked me last week how I divide up the "progress bars" for my projects. I'm here to tell you . . . it ain't rocket science! With some projects, there are a clear number of steps (or zones or whatever), and it is easy to divide a progress bar into those steps. With other projects? It's a bit trickier. Knitting projects, for example. I mean, I know you could go through the trouble and the maths to figure out how many stitches you'd be knitting in any given project and create a bar that reflects that. But, for me, in a project, I divide it into chunks of work that make sense for me. For a top-down sweater, the project chunks generally look like this:

  • Get ready: gather materials/needles, wind yarn, mark up pattern, do a gauge swatch, etc.
  • Cast on and get yourself "situated" with the start
  • Divide for sleeves
  • Body
  • Sleeve 1
  • Sleeve 2
  • Cast off, weave in ends, block

Of course, those project chunks are not equal in terms of time and effort, but . . . they work to move the project forward anyway.
(So, basically, I fudge it.)
Hope that helps.

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Be sure to hop on over to Kat's for more Unraveled posts today.


Progress: A Visual Representation

I talk a lot about the "stuff" I'm working on.
Projects, mostly.
Chores, sometimes.
I thought it might be fun . . . to create some sort of visual representation to show you how I'm progressing. Y'know . . . in kind of an Old School way.

Like . . . this.

Here's the sweater I've been working on for a while now.

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It's almost finished, as you can see by my "progress bar." (Maybe also because it's just missing a cuff.)

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It was so much fun (well, "fun" may be a stretch here) - let's say . . . satisfying . . . to color in that progress bar that I decided to try it with more projects!

Like . . . my spring garden bed clean up.

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My garden is . . . a lot. (I've identified - and named - 17 "zones" in my garden.) (Maybe I'll blog about that someday.)  Anyway, I am thrilled to be able to start cleaning up my beds so early in the spring this year. It doesn't usually happen this way. (Often, at the end of March there is still snow covering my garden beds.) So. Even though my "progress bar" indicates I've barely gotten started, the fact that I HAVE already started is huge progress. (And now, even if it does snow again, at least I've begun.)

I also made a "progress bar" for my green overalls project.

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This was really heartening for me, because it feels like I've been sewing and sewing and not getting very far. But . . . the "progress bar" shows that I'm almost to the half-way point. (There are 47 steps in the pattern. Each "square" in my "progress bar" represents roughly 3 steps.) So far, I've spent a lot of time on pockets (there are 5 of them), and they are rather particular. I suspect smoother sailing from now on. (Although the way the straps join in a VERY particular way in the back could slow me down a bit. . . )

And then . . . there's my last "progress bar."

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I'm chipping away! I (almost) finished a major chunk of the work yesterday (closing the books for Tom's consulting business), so I should make quicker progress now. (And, yeah. I know the filing deadline was extended. But we still have a meeting with our financial folks next week, so . . . not extended for me.) Expect that "progress bar" to be completely filled in by the weekend, though.

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You'll perhaps notice that I don't have a "progress bar" for my spring cleaning.
(Hmmmmmmm. . .)

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How about you? What projects (and chores) are you working on?

 

 


That Was Quick!

Last week, I introduced you all to Ferda (my "grand-pup") and explained that I was knitting her a little sweater.

Well. I finished . . . just in time for a visit last Saturday.

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The weather was perfect for an outside, pandemic-friendly visit from Brian and Lauren -- and "The Ferds," of course. We were able to sit comfortably (with blankets) out on our patio while we watched the snow melt. Ferda loves to romp in our fenced back yard. She is agile and fast and full of energy!

I'm sorry to report that after 2 hours of romping in the wet snow, that sweater had stretched out to Flashdance proportions! (I think - hope - it'll spring back into shape in the washer and dryer.) Kind of disappointing to me, but Ferda didn't seem to mind a bit!

For a minute, though . . . it fit like a dream!

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I'll make her another for next winter. But I'll make the collar longer and snugger!

(Ravelry details here.)

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How about you? What are you making these days?

 


Fer da Pup

So . . . I have a little "grand-pup" . . . and she is about the cutest thing ever.

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Her name is Ferda (after an oft-used phrase in the TV series "Letterkenny" . . . "fer da boys" . . . hockey humor). (Also, I am not recommending this show to y'all. Unless you like your humor rather obscure and of the hockey locker room variety. Then go for it.) Brian and Lauren adopted her as a little pup a couple of months before the pandemic arrived. I've not seen Ferda nearly enough . . . sigh. Anyway. Ferda has . . . a personality to match her cuteness! She is full of energy and curiosity and eagerness. She is a bounding, joy-filled pup.

She also . . . likes clothes! (And comfort.)

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When Brian and Lauren first brought her home, it was winter and very cold. And she was a skinny, sick little pup. They put her in little dog sweatshirts to keep her warm in their drafty old house. She likes wearing clothes now -- and has a growing wardrobe.

But she doesn't have a handknit sweater from her "grandma."

Yet!

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She will by the weekend, though! 

I'm knitting Ferda the Lucky Dog sweater (Ravelry link here). I did a lot of researching dog sweaters before I landed on this one, because dogs? They're kinda hard to fit, y'know? What I like about the Lucky Dog design is . . . ribbing in the "undercarriage" area, where dog sweaters tend to pull. And short rows through the chest to accomodate that chesty "dog shape." I'm knitting Ferda's sweater in Teflon-coated (not really) Encore Tweed (mostly acrylic, but also some nylon and a touch of actual wool) because you need something sturdy and washable for an active pup.

I'm nearing the end (quite a bit farther along than the photo I took yesterday), and I may even get a chance to try it on her this weekend.

That Ferda. She's one lucky dog!

(And if you want to see more Ferda, you can check out her Instagram account @the.ferds here.) (Because of course she has her own IG account.)

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How about you? What'cha making?

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If you want to read more Unraveled blog posts today, hop on over to Kat's for a link-up.

 


Turn It Around

(For a soundtrack to accompany today's post, click here.)

So one sad day last October . . . probably around Rhinebeck time . . . when I was tired of the pandemic and dragged down by the upcoming election and totally worn out by the news and missing my kids and my friends and just generally feeling bad about All The Things, I was poking around on my computer and stumbled onto this yarn on the Modern Daily Knitting website.

It was like . . . the clouds parted and the sun shone and the birds started singing for a minute.

That yarn!*

I had to have it.

So I ordered enough to make . . . something.
(In true player-to-be-named-later fashion.)
Enough to make . . . a sweater, even.

I've gotta say that . . . I can't remember a time I've bought enough (pricey) yarn to make a sweater . . . with no concept of a sweater in mind first. 

I've also gotta say . . . that yarn? Totally not what I'd usually go for. Because . . . it just looks like a pool(ing) party waiting to happen. And pooling makes my eyes twitch.

But the yarn arrived. And it was as gorgeous as I'd figured it might be. It definitely turned my mood around for a minute or two. But then . . .  I had to figure out what to do with it!

After a lot of thought (a wonderful diversion), I decided that I definitely wanted to make a sweater with it -- but that the shape would be key if I wanted to avoid a total pooling disaster. So . . . I was looking for, basically, a box-with-sleeves. Preferably . . . a box-with-sleeves that also might have a bit of texture in it to bring out the highlights of that yarn.

I ended up deciding on . . . The Weekender (by Andrea Mowry).

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And it turned out to be the most perfect choice for this absolutely lovely - but totally pool-y - yarn! I mean, The Weekender has all the elements I was looking for:

  • Reverse stockinette body.
  • Stockinette sleeves.
  • Faux seams down the front and back.
  • Ribby neckline.

And BONUS . . . it's like a comfy sweatshirt! (A FANCY, comfy sweatshirt.)
WINNER!

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The whole thing (from purchase to finished sweater) is kinda . . . inside out and a little backward! But the yarn brought me joy. The knitting made me happy. And wearing it?

Totally turned the beat around!

Turn the beat around
Love to hear the percussion
Turn it upside down
Love to hear the percussion
Love to hear it

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You can find all my project details here, on Ravelry.

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*The colorway that caught my eye is called Dusk. It is no longer offered on the MDK site. (Which is a pity.) (But totally justifies my purchase back in October, y'know?)

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Hop on over to Kat's today to see other Unraveled posts.

 

 


Mess O' Hats, Part 2: Auld Lang Syne Edition

Remember last week when I told you I went on a hat-knitting binge that continued on . . . even after I completed my Christmas gift knitting? Well, today you get the rest of them! Welcome to . . . 

A Whole Mess O' Hats, Part 2: Auld Lang Syne Edition.

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I made one for Tom. (Ravelry link.)

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And one for me. (Ravelry link.)

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One for my sister. (Ravelry link.)

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And another of these quick-and-easy headbands for myself. (Ravelry link.) (And, yeah. It's made from the leftovers of Erin's hat from last week.)

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And even though I've moved on from hats . . . and I'm currently busy knitting away at a sweater (this one) . . . I'm still dreaming of hats.
(Like . . . this one.) 
(And this one.)
(And another headband.)
(Or two.)

(Oh, help.)