Kismet Cowl

My knitting mojo seems to have come back just in time for a warm and dry Southern California winter. My sweaters have been largely sitting unloved and my new umbrella hasn’t been used a single time. Woe! Since October we’ve only had 22 day with a high under 70F and not a single day with a high below 60F. But the biggest challenge has been the lack of rain, only 2 rain days so far and none appearing in the forecast. I like living in a warm and dry climate, but this is a little extreme even for me!

However I’m really enjoying knitting again and I hate to waste motivation. So this year I’ve been mostly making smaller projects like shawls and cowls. I’ve never been an accessory knitter, but only a few weeks into 2018 I’v already finished one shawl, one cowl, and have cast on second shawl. These little bits of warmth have been perfect for those slightly cool mornings when I just want a little something to keep my neck and chest covered while I escort my kids to school.

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I’ve named this project the Kismet Cowl mostly because the combination of yarn and pattern seemed meant to be. I bought a mini skein set from Wonderland Dyeworks at Stitches West in 2015 and then I didn’t know what to do with it.

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As you can see the set was made of 3 solid colors and one variegated skein. Each mini skein is about 195 yards. There was quite a bit of yardage, but in odd amounts for a lot of shawl patterns. Plus I didn’t know how to incorporate the variegated skein. I suppose I could have used it to stripe a sweater, but the yarn kept saying it wanted to be a shawl. Hopefully it is feeling okay about its fate as a cowl.

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When Mary from Lyrical Knits mentioned she was hosting a MKAL (Mystery Knit-a-Long) for a cowl with 4 colors my ears perked up. Then she showed her color choices and she had picked 3 solids and one variegated skein. I was sold. At last I’d found something for my much loved but neglected mini skein set!!!

 

The construction was interesting. The pattern was written with 3 parts, two were essentially triangle shawls and the middle piece was a sort of a parallelogram shape where you don’t increase or decrease yet maintain the slanted shaping of the first triangle. The clues started coming out right before my trip visiting a friend in Portland making this cowl a perfect travel knitting project. It’s also been a perfect purse project to keep on hand for church, lunch breaks, and general downtime in my days. I’m actually sad to have finished it!

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This cowl also maybe gained me some cool points with my coworkers. I was as a going away party and someone asked me what I knit. I was able to pull out this nearly completed cowl and boom! The combination of fingering weight yarn, even stitches, and color combination was a serious win. I’m thrilled to add it to my collection of accessories to help me along through this drought winter.

I finally got around to photographing several sewing projects so next week is back to sewing. Probably with my newest project, The Colette Myrna.

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Silverleaf Shawl

Finally all caught up on 2017 projects with this one last thing, a shawl.

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This shawl is so full of love for me.

Every year a huge percentage of my knitting friends make the pilgrimage to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival aka Rhinebeck. Rhinebeck is the biggest fiber event in the US, but since it is in New York I’ve never been able to attend. I can’t lie, I am super jealous of those that live close enough to attend annually. The topic of Rhinebeck is brought up in forums all year round, so great is its impact on attendees.

Last fall when the festival came around again I kept myself busy with the event I host each year…Whinebeck. Sob. Sad is the life of those who cannot attend Rhinebeck as we scroll though our Instagram feeds watching our friend spend time together frolicking in the crisp autumn air.

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And then in late October I received a surprise in the mail. It contained a single skein of Duck Duck Wool Merino Silk yarn in the color Cover Up. Oh my stars, I thought it might burst from happiness. My friend Stacey conspired with my local friend Erica to purchase a little something from Rhinebeck. I understand many opinions were given in making sure just the right shade was selected and they picked the perfect color.

I immediately started looking for pattern that would be a good fit to both the fiber content and yardage. I settled on Silverleaf by Lisa Hannes. It is a simple pattern that alternates garter stitch with eyelet ridges, then towards the end a lovely section of leaves. After the lace I continued the garter/eyelet combination until I didn’t have enough yarn to complete another repeat.

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The finished shawl is a slip of a thing, long and thin in shape, but it is perfect to cover my chest on cool mornings. Plus it makes me feel loved by my knitting friends. It was the perfect project to finish out the year.

I have a couple sewing projects to share soon, but I’ve also finished a lot of knitting recently, so consider yourself warned. More knitting ahead!

Wrap Dress Duo

I have a love/hate relationship with Art Gallery knit fabrics. I really love some of the prints. In the world of quilting cotton companies AGF has done a pretty good job at producing apparel fabrics and designs that are great for adults that don’t have weird repeats and are nice and crisp. So many companies seem to focus heavily on baby or childish prints, so I applaud AGF for their taste. The jersey knit is also easy to work with and feels wonderful to wear, BUT all designs are printed on white fabric. What’s the problem with printing on white fabric? Well the problem comes when you wash your garment and the white fuzz from the wrong side of your dress lands all over your dark clothes.

However, sometimes a fabric design is so pretty I buy it even though I know I probably shouldn’t.

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I first saw this plum floral at Michael Levine’s months and months ago. Maybe last summer? I almost bought yardage back then, but I refrained when I saw it was printed on white. Then as the months passed by I kept thinking about this design. Of course by late fall it had disappeared from the shelves of Michael Levine’s and I had to go seek it out! Thankfully I found yardage available at Harts Fabric (and on sale too)!

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I’ve been in desperate need of new winter clothing. A lot of my old favorites look really old from weekly wear and washing, so it was definitely time to spruce up my clothing options. I used my pretty new fabric to whip up a hybrid dress that would be suitable for the office. This is a combination of the Cashmerette Dartmouth Top with a half circle skirt.

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I’ve come to really love wrap dresses and this mock wrap was really simple and extremely wearable. I find the neckline on the Dartmouth to be reasonably modest for work, no flashing of my bra (yay!). Though I do think it runs large, I’ve made 4 Dartmouth tops prior to this dress and they all had something odd in the sizing. This version is a 12G/H for the bust and a 14 for the waist. When I compared the pattern pieces to my much loved Washington Dress bodice I saw the Dartmouth has more ease.

I think I mostly avoided the dreaded boob flower with the print placement, but I am a little sad the print isn’t more balanced on the front. I had 3 yards which was just barely enough if I wanted long sleeves. I also tried to make sure I didn’t have a big flower right over my um…feminine area, though I did end up with a butt flower. I think it isn’t too noticeable unless you go looking for it.

My biggest issue now is not owning a sweater that matches. Too bad knitting is slower than sewing!

And even though I get a little annoyed with how AGF fabric washes up, it is super easy to sew! When I purchased the plum floral I also tossed in this small scale floral on dark green so I could truly test out both fabric and pattern.

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The green dress is made just the exact same way as the plum dress. I even remembered to sew the wrap to disguise the fact that my breasts are two different sizes. I think the prints are different enough that more people wouldn’t notice that style is the same.

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Oh and both dresses were made with my long neglected serger. When I cleaned the house over the holidays I made a decision to put my serger next to my sewing machine on the kitchen table. It looks ridiculous having so much sewing machine taking up half the space, but it’s been working well. It is so much easier to just move back and forth as needed and the serged seams look so great. One of my friend declared my clothes looked professionally made!

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While the color might not look perfect for long, I am thrilled to have two new dresses to keep my warm on chilly mornings and looking chic in the office.