Elevation…

…literally, in that I’ve traded the muggy swampland of D.C. for a house high in the mountains of Tennessee.  It’s (understatement) amazing up here, especially in the wake of two very difficult years, and I look forward to reclaiming some semblance of peace and happiness.



Suffice to say, most crafty doings have been sidelined in favor of BUYING A HOUSE! SELLING A HOUSE! PACKING A HOUSE! HOLIDAYS HOLIDAYS HOLIDAYS! ENDURING A TEN-HOUR DRIVE WITH TWO ANGRY CATS! RETURNING TO WORK AFTER A MULTI-WEEK ABSENCE!, and other crazy-stressful things warranting Caps-Lock.  I did manage to produce two sweaters that I am completely and totally over-the-moon about, both of which are courtesy of the lovely folks at Pom Pom Quarterly:

(Ravelry Links- Roquaine and Carlu)

Now that I’m settled into my new home-office-slash-craft-room, my fingers are jonesing to start making stuff – like, all of the stuff.  First up are two obligatory pussyhats for my sister and her friend, both of whom are participating in the Women’s March on Washington next week.  From there?  A little Make Nine synopsis, largely contingent on me becoming a better seamstress:

  • Willow (Tank):  The first one is in heavy rotation; I clearly need more.
  • A Better Fen:  Between the v-neck and the poor choice of fabric (i.e., quilting cotton), my first attempt at Fen resembles hospital scrubs.  I want a do-over.
  • One-Hour Top:  I’ve never sewn with knits before and this appears to be a good starting point.  Bonus: I’ve purchased Fancy Tiger’s video tutorial through Creative Bug, which should serve as a solid safety net.
  • Tee (Wanderlust or Lark):  Progressing from knits to set-in sleeves.  The beginner-friendly Wanderlust may be my best option, but I already own the printed Lark pattern, sooo…
  • Vitamin D Cardigan:  I need more lightweight and basic cardigans in my wardrobe, and this one has been in the queue for years.  Time to make it happen.
  • Loro Vest:   Hey, warm Tennessee climate.  Hey, layering pieces.  Hey.
  • Windlass:  See above re: warmer climate and love of all things Pom Pom.
  • Beatnik:  Cast on over a year ago and neglected.  I need to finish this before next Winter; it’s too lovely for the WIP pile.
  • Little Cabin:  I was stalking this pattern long before its release.  Bobbled perfection.

Slow Fashion October: Week One – Introduce

As prompted by the lovely Ms. Karen Templer at Fringe Association:

Hello!  I’m Rachel.

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Sad to report, this slow fashion origin story doesn’t involve a cute knitting Grandma or seamstress aunt. Instead, my journey began on February 10, 2005 – the day that E.B., my boyfriend of six-ish months, broke up with me.  Via email.  To my work email address.  In the midst of my workday.  Which is a tl;dr story** for another campfire, but life-changing in that, within a few hours of said email, my broken heart and I had a) adopted our first cat and b) signed up for a knitting class.

The Cat (aka Nathan Scott Phillips):  I looked into his adorable little face and, without warning, lost my ability to differentiate between “animals I love” and “animals I eat”.  Overnight, I (veg-phobe, diehard carnivore) adopted a vegan diet. Veganism can be a slippery slope of self-awareness; in the years since, I have dramatically reevaluated and revised my consumption in all facets of life, not just diet.

The Knitting Class:  Intended as a distraction, triggered an obsession.  Like many new knitters before me, I started with accessories before producing my first garment about a year into my knitting tenure.  It was a bright pink Orangina (Stephanie Japel), and I wore it to work the morning after binding off.  My bind-off turned out to be less-than-secure and the top started to unravel by midday – unraveling stalled by a bent paperclip, later salvaged – but no matter!  The resulting thrill of making my own clothes is still one that I experience today as a seasoned knitter.


Epilogue:  I dropped the vegan label a few years ago, as I found the non-dietary restrictions of that lifestyle a bit too rigid for my tastes.  My opinions are my own, and I see no harm in buying a secondhand pair of leather shoes over a new pair of plasticky imitation ones that won’t hold up as well.  I love knitting with hard-wearing wool and supplement my stash from eco-/animal-friendly sources or Ravelry destashes (secondhand).  Neither of these actions follow the vegan rulebook, ergo I am not a vegan, despite the fact that no animal product has passed through these lips in well over a decade.

So, yeah, I love critters and try to do right by them. Ditto my fellow humans – although they try my patience at times.  As part of that, the clothes I purchase are exclusively from labor-friendly sources or secondhand, a preference I’ve held since my thrift-shopping, 1990s-grunge-girl heyday.  In recent months, I’ve gravitated towards the idea of a largely handmade wardrobe and taken my first sewing class.  This newfound interest coincides with a major lifestyle change:  I’m leaving my corporate office(/conservative dress code) in DC for a home office in the hills of Tennessee come January.  Home office means that I can wear whatever I damn well please, emphasis on handmade ensembles of varying, um, competency.  What better time than now, I say.

Slotober Goals:  Aplenty, but likely overambitious given that we’re house-shopping and house-selling and holiday-nearing and move-move-moving.  Here’s the simplified list:

Closet Reduction:  Thank my work clothes for their years of service and give them to a new home.  Trim down the remainder to something neat and manageable (and moving-truck-friendly).

Mending:  I have an embarrassing queue of clothes waiting to be repaired, hemmed or otherwise brought back to a wearable state.

Making:  Balancing my selfish knitting/sewing against the rush of holiday gift-knitting, I would like to (at minimum) make the chambray Willow dress referenced in my last post and polish off the two sweaters (Carlu and Roquaine) presently on the needles.

Onwards, upwards!

(** The aforementioned breakup email received its fifteen-minutes of fame on the Jezebel blog a few years back.  Hashtag:  Vindicated.)

Wearable Thing the Second: Fen

…being a little less wearable than the first, owing to poor fabric/pattern pairing and general Sewing N00b noobie’ness, but hell.  A girl has to start somewhere.

You say “Halloween novelty print”, I say “Iron Maiden RULES”.

Luckily, 90% of wonkiness is concentrated around the neckline and therefore easily concealed by a knitted Thing – in this case, my third Arbutus to date – which automatically amps up my Me Made game.  Are her bias facings a mess, or is she just the craftiest of crafty mavens?  NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW.

Anyway, the quilting cotton I used for this top is a bit on the stiff side and did not handle the wash as well as I would have liked.  Slightly faded and pilled and paired with the v-neckline, my top looks a bit hospital-scrubby on its own.  But still:  Pride.  So much pride.

Next in the queue:  A second Willow, this time in dress form.  I have some well-aged chambray in the stash – received secondhand and hauled around for years and years, despite absence of sewing skills – that seems suitable.

Elsewhere on the needles:  Everything.  Holiday gifts.  Lots of stranded colorwork, which a) I loathe and b) is slow-going, as far as my clumsy li’l fingers are concerned.  With the start of football season, my knitty output is bound to increase (as it does every year), so fingers crossed that I’ll have an FO or two in short order…

A thing! A thing! A wearable thing!

Forgive the off-brand “blue steel” gaze – MODELLING, Y’ALL – which doesn’t do justice to the joy abounding in my budding little seamstress-heart.

Because hey – I sewed a top!


For comparison, here is the top (my first) (obviously) I made from a McCall’s pattern earlier this year:


Like Goofus and Gallant, these two.

But yes:  It fits!  It has darts!  And proper bias facings!  This little darling was whipped up over the span of two classes at my local sewing studio, and I’m incredibly pleased with it.  So pleased, in fact, that I celebrated my accomplishment with a new sewing machine, several yards of fabric and some proper sewing tools, because when I fall into a new hobby, I fall HARD.  (Also, my other sewing machine is about twenty years old and likes to eat fabric for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  An upgrade was long overdue.)


The pattern is Willow by Grainline, the fabric is Black Arbol by Cloud9’s Leah Duncan Yucca collection.  The end result is love, love, love.

 

I could use a nap.

It’s not for lack of WANT, this blog-that-isn’t – it’s life, chronically ill husbands and long work hours and other (seemingly endless) sources of stress and sadness and exhaustion.  But there is light at the end of this tunnel, the possibility of wellness for my long-suffering J. and more than a few Major Life Changes.  All in good time – four months, five – but if nothing else, the wheels are set in motion and knowing that helps with the rest.

/vaguepost

For now:  I’m working hard to regain some semblance of happy.  Last week, I walked away from a stressful work situation and into the salon next door, because It Was There.  One pedicure later, I returned to my cubicle a changed woman.  A seemingly insignificant thing, those fancified feet, but oh my God, had I forgotten about the importance of self-care.  With that first taste, I leapt into action – signing up for a sewing class and making dinner and sleepover plans, respectively, with two long-neglected friends.  I caught up on emails, I brought a new sewing machine and a tub of protein powder, and started taking the stairs again.  I put the takeout menus away and went to the grocery store.  Progress.

On the crafting front:  I knit the cutest damn sweater and my first and second pair of socks.  Socks!  Perfect for the everyday commuter and oh-so-cozy on the toesies.  Other knits have been short and satisfying, e.g. a cozy for a beer growler and a simple scarf for the aforementioned J., plus I started knitting my first Xmas-present-to-be of the year.  AND THEN – I did a vicious sweep of my Ravelry queue, knocking it down to <100 projects-to-be, cutting the fat and the novelty and really focusing on things that I’d like to wear.  A second sweep is inevitable, for I am merciless.

Lots of words, no pretty photos.  Maybe next time.

 

May, In A Nutshell

1. I upheld my tradition of being a crap blogger.

2. I sewed a fail-tank that outed itself as a fail-tank fairly early in the process; however, as it was my first sewn top, I powered through its curves and biases in the name of a learning experience. Two sizes too large (how, Rachel, how?) and in the Wrongest of Wrong Fabrics, but I remain proud.


3. In happier news, I sewed a Rae skirt that is legitimately WEARABLE.   (Ed. Note – My first sewn garment, a pair of boxers stitched together in Feb, also qualify as “legitimately wearable”, in that I wore them atop my leggings en route to the bar, post-sewing class, but that was a cold-weather-inspired decision and unlikely to repeat itself – in public, anyway.)  But yes, skirt: It’s the bottom half of my contribution to the 2016 Outfit-Along, the upper half being Chuck, as there is no better time to knit a woolen cabled sweater than late June.


4. Summer knitting! Specifically: A simple short-sleeved TCPT in gray; a nubby cotton-linen Aphelion; a linen Strathcona; and linen Waterlily, the latter of which found its way to a blocking mat nearly a year after casting on.

5. Currently: The aforementioned Chuck; a Windlass from the latest PPQ; and a Morning Mist, for I am 24-hours away from vacation and mindless stockinette is perfect for airports and picnics and people-watching.

6. More to come…question mark?

Consistent In My Inconsistency

I thought May would be an ideal time to dust off the ol’ blog(/millionth incarnation of), because the Me Made May frenzy is in full swing and ooh, how I wanted to join in the fun.  Bonus: My best girls and I took a sewing class in February, which prompted a number of pattern- and fabric-purchases and overconfident declarations re: making my handmade wardrobe a reality, because I WAS A SEAMSTRESS WHO COULD SEW ANYTHING Y’ALL.

That was three months ago.  We made a pair of boxer shorts in class and, as of May 1st, my hand-sewn stock consisted of said boxer shorts and a single skirt.  As for my knitted wardrobe:  Equal parts woolen Winter sweaters and tank tops, with nary a tee in between – not quite weather-appropriate for May.  Accessories aplenty, sure – but slapping a shawl over my largely manufactured outfits seemed like cheating.

So…not this year.  Which has resulted in a MMM pledge of its own, kinda:  Dedicate the month (and beyond) to preparing for MMM 2017.

Anyway, so I made this skirt.

Specifically, I made Sewaholic’s Rae Skirt in a Sarah Watts print that appeals to both my love of polka dots and cats.  It took me two days from start to finish, which is a statement on my weebabyseamstress skills and nothing more.  Fantastic pattern – very clear and beginner-friendly.  As a knitter, I routinely/lazily throw caution to the wind and forgo gauge swatches.  As a sewer, I am uncharacteristically By The Book – pre-wash the fabric!  Measure obsessively!  Press those seams!  Press them again!  Et cetera!


The awkward selfie is a placeholder, as I am knitting away on a short-sleeved Summer sweater destined to be the skirt’s mate, and one day I will wear them together and be all BOOM, I MADE THIS, ALL OF THIS and astound the masses.  Until then:  A fragment of a skirt, two legs, a cat, a hardwood floor, a tee-shirt from my favorite distillery.  Welcome to my blog, like, again.