First there was Lucine, a yoked skirt.
Simple Elegance Collection
Almost a year ago I had the idea to make a small collection of four elegant and refined designs that could mix and match, all worked in the same yarn. My design process always starts with a few scribbles and notes, half-processed ideas that need to ferment in my mind until they are fully developed. Then those scribbles turn into more coherent details, and a more clear and concise sketch. After lots of scribbling, erasing and thinking, these are the final sketches I created.
I decided to call it the Simple Elegance Collection, simple styles worked with elegant details. After receiving my yarns, and taking a deep breath, I jumped into the knitting process. Lots of calculations, knitting, ripping and re-knitting, and eventually these four designs came to life.
First there was Lucine, a yoked skirt.
Next came Janesse, a short sleeved cowl neck pullover perfect to pair with a blazer or leggings.
Going into the holiday season, Katrina made her debut. A fitted cropped pullover with elbow length sleeves, adorned with a vintage brooch.
Finally came Thara, a fitted round yoke cardigan. With all the details in the yoke, only simple jewelry and accessories are needed.
Patterns can be purchased separately, or save money and purchase as an ebook for $15.
I'm on a roll this month, please say hello to my new pattern Thara Cardigan.
I have only made a few round-yoke cardigans, but I find them to be a flattering style. A simple shape and body made interesting with rib and garter stripes.
Thara is worked in one piece from the top down, making the body shaping and length easy to customize. Want to learn more? Check out the pattern page.
Also, Thara is part of the Simple Elegance Collection. Four pieces to mix and match, all worked in the luscious Knit Picks Galileo yarn.
Roelle Hat and Gloves
I love knitting cables, and lately I've been having fun using honeycomb cables. After making my husband a cowl of honeycomb-filled diamonds, I ran with the idea and designed a hat and gloves for myself.
I am happy to introduce to you the Roelle Hat and Roelle Gloves. Simple two-stitch cables have a dramatic impact when they are used to fill triangle and diamond shapes.
The hat has a nice beret shape, encouraged during the blocking process, which doesn't smash down my hair. The crown shaping is cleverly hidden in special decrease cables, so the result looks seamless.
The gloves feature concentric diamonds on a background of honeycomb. The rib-filled diamonds on the palms of the gloves add extra elasticity.
Through February 18th, receive $2 off when you purchase both the hat and glove patterns.
One of the biggest difficulties I have in publishing patterns with third parties is the long wait. I hurriedly churn out a design and then wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, usually six or seven months later, I get to introduce my pattern to the world.
So once again, the long wait is over. I am happy to finally share with you the Dealla Cardigan.
The Dealla Cardigan is part of the Knit Picks collection Celtic Journey. Featuring a cabled medallion on the upper back and cabled bands, edgings and waist, the Dealla Cardigan is a rich and luxurious knit.
Make it in a jeweled color for an elegant look, or a bright color for an unexpected twist. Any way you make it, the Dealla Cardigan will be the pièce de résistance of your wardrobe.
Dealla is not for the faint of heart; it utilizes a sizeable chart and knitting in multiple directions. The end result is a masterpiece of cables in a classic style, which you will be able to enjoy for years to come.
It didn't take long before the snow and ice began to melt. But, it did make some very lovely icicles that my mother made sure to remind me to stay away from lest I "poke my eye out, kid!"
I was sidelined with the flu for a couple days, so the most productive thing I did was binge watch Lost. That show makes so much more sense when you watch the episodes back to back!
The most struggle I've had with making my own beauty products has been with hair styling aids. My hair, being very fine and very straight, needs some sort of product in it to give life and volume. I started using Wellness Mama's Sweet Salt Texturizing Spray, but it was making my scalp dry. Probably not the best choice during winter. My husband used to put plain aloe gel in his hair, so I gave it and try and POOF, magic! I rubbed in a marble-sized dollop into my hair while it was damp and blow-dried. I was left with lots of volume and soft shiny hair.
I finished the honeycomb cowl for my husband. It didn't turn out exactly how I wanted, but I still like it. The finished size ended up being rather awkward, too tall for it's circumference. I plunged it into hot water and agitated it a bit with my fingers to encourage a bit of felting. Now it will be extra cozy warm.
Fire, Ice & Silence
When I opened my back door this morning I was greeted by the blinding white of the snow covered ground. Being in the middle of North Carolina, I didn't feel the worst effects of Storm Jonas, but he sure made his presence known.
Yesterday, after a morning and afternoon of freezing rain, at about 4:00 my power flickered several times then went off completely. I was expecting a power outage, so I went from happily knitting on my sofa to survival mode. Start a fire, find a flashlight, fill up some pitchers with water.
My fireplace is very tiny, and during the past four years that I have rented this house, I have continually struggled to keep a fire going. I think the problem is that standard sized firewood is just too big, and I can't get enough oxygen around the logs. Thankfully, I had some Enviro-logs on hand, so I was able to get a decent fire going with those.
For about an hour I sat in front of my small fire and continued knitting. Soon enough the sun started to go down, and it was time to find my camping lantern in the garage. My lantern provided enough light that I was able to read throughout the evening.
When was the last time you sat still in complete silence? Even if there is no TV, no radio, no cell phone, you probably don't realize how much noise is still present in a house. Mid-sentence I suddenly realized just how quiet it was without the hum of the fridge, the heater, or the whir of the fan in my computer. I looked around me and I could feel the darkness pressing in around me. It was silent. I wasn't scared but felt a bit jittery, so a few times I picked up my lamp and walked around the house peeking out the windows to see if any other houses in my neighborhood had power. No lights; the street was filled with darkened windows.
My face was warm from the fire, but I could feel the coldness creeping in around me. My dog, who had retreated to bed, trotted out and plopped down next to me underneath the blanket. While it wasn't very cold outside, I didn't relish the thought of having to let the fire go out while I slept and waking up to a 30 degree house.
At about 8:00 I decided to let the fire burn down, and when the flames extinguished to just go to bed and pile on a few extra blankets. A few minutes after coals started to lose their red glow, I was suddenly blinded with light and I nearly jumped out of my skin. The light was back on! The hum of the fridge returned and the heater roared to life! My dog and I did a little happy dance, and went around the house fixing the clocks and resetting the thermostat.
This morning I awoke to another bright light, the sun reflecting off a light dusting of snow. In case there was another power outage, my mission of the day was to split my firewood into smaller pieces. Thanks to my favorite magazine, Mary Janes Farm, I had learned in a tutorial geared towards women how to split firewood. The article called for an axe and sledgehammer, but on hand I only had miniature versions in a hatchet and mallet.
I trudged out into the snow, and using a tree stump as my chopping block, I started to swing down the hatchet as hard as I could into log. It took a few attempts and re-positioning before I got into a rhythym. Pretty soon I was sweating profusely and had a wagon-load of split wood. I'm sure my neighbors were peeking out the window at me, wondering what the heck I was doing.
You never know what you can accomplish until it becomes necessary. I used to think, I'm not strong enough. I'm not coordinated enough. Well, if you know that you have to choose between splitting the wood or being cold, you'll find a way!
While I was outside swinging my hatchet, I noticed a bunch of little birds happily searching for worms in the semi-frozen ground. This one in particular, a bright blue little fellow, caught my eye.
I tried to get closer, but he flew off. Hopefully he is back in his nest, cheerfully sharing some worms with his family.
I hope you are all safe and warm too, knitting in front of the fireplace. Happy Knitting!
Oakridge Blouse: The Fit Disaster
I find myself in need of nice long-sleeved blouses, and I just fell in love with the Oakridge Blouse pattern when it was first published by Sewaholic. I'll begin by saying that I found the instructions of this pattern very clear, and the illustrations helpful. My problems are all due to fit.
I was very confused when I tried to determine which size I should cut. Through a bit of research, I found that Sewaholic patterns are designed for a pear-shaped figure. I'm definitely the opposite (broad shoulders and muscle due to weight lifting), so I had to alter the pattern a bit to incorporate a couple sizes. I looked more to the finished measurements than the body measurements for choosing the size, and decided on a size 6 through the shoulders and armhole and a size 4 for the body.
My 'muslin' was made from blue chambray I've had in my stash for years, and I was hoping that my pattern alterations would be good enough to make a wearable garment. I was wrong, oh so very wrong.
My dress form isn't exactly my size, but close enough to demonstrate the fit issues. I had some major armhole gaping and the sharp curves of the side seams made big wings over my hips. I even took in 1/2" over the hips after sewing the first time, and still they were winging out badly. Looking at other people's projects, I found that many people found the sleeves extremely long. I pinned in the sleeve, without the cuff, and realized that it would have been the correct length if I didn't attach the cuff.
So I continued on, making major alterations to the pattern pieces. To fix the armhole gaping, I followed the advice from this blog post by Sew Country Chick, and added to the existing bust dart.
I also smoothed out the curve in the waistline and hips by filling in 1/4" at the waist, beginning below the bust dart, I removed 1/2" from the hip at the hemline and made sure it was straight for about an 1" above the hem and blended up to the waist.
I didn't like all the fabric bunching up on the back, due to my having a rather round posterior, so I added in some back darts for a bit of shaping.
I decided to give myself an option of a sleeve with no cuff, so I just added 1" to the sleeve piece to make a hem.
The fit on the second muslin is much better. The armhole gaping is gone and the side seams fit more smoothly on my body. The back darts were a good idea, but I made them far to close to the side seams. I removed the shirttail, thinking a plain hem would be easier to sew, but I think it removes some of the beauty of this design.
I'm really terrible at setting in sleeves. I tried crimping them, which I know should technically work, but for some reason my sewing machine just doesn't crimp the fabric well. I was pressing hard with my finger, and it just didn't work. Not sure what I was doing wrong, any suggestions are welcome.
I used quilting fabric for the second muslin, which I know it a hotly debated topic. While this blouse fits, it doesn't hang very well and it seems to just scream homemade. I think the next one will be the winner, and I'll be sure to use some sort of soft and drapey fabric.
Homemade for Health
I have been working on this sweater since Thanksgiving, and it feels like it will never end. This project hasn't been riddled with problems or difficult to execute, life has just gotten in the way.
Since late summer I have been dealing with some new health issues, and a few other life things have made me put my knitting on the back burner for awhile. I've spent the last five years as a military spouse, and the experience has helped me embrace the unexpected with a positive attitude. I'm very much a plan-it-all-out kind of woman, so this has been a challenge.
My health stuff isn't major or life-threatening, but my doctor hasn't been terribly helpful. In my usual fashion, when I don't get the answers I want, I do my own research. Lots of reading online and at the library has shown me that it is in my best interest to start eating organic foods and avoid chemicals and plastics. This sounds easy enough, but on a budget it means that I have to start making even more things from scratch, like beauty and cleaning products, and have less time for knitting. I've written before about priorities and time, and taking care of my health and well-being is definitely at the top of my list.
I've been doing my all-from-scratch routine for a couple months now and already feel much better. During the summer I was spending almost half of every month curled up in pain and so tired that I couldn't do my job taking care of the house and meals. Now I'm down to just a couple days a month of more manageable pain, and I have much more energy.
So, while it isn't knitting, I figured I would start sharing my other handmade endeavors since they are important aspects of my life. Here is what I made this week:
Aloe face vera cream. Since I started doing the beauty-products-from-scratch thing, I've been using pure argan oil on my face. It was fine with warmer weather (and strangle smelled like lemon cake), but now my face feels like sandpaper and I need something more moisturizing. I happened to see this recipe on the Prairie Homestead blog and did a little happy dance. I whipped up a half-batch to try it out, and my skin is so much happier now.
Pads. Yeah... this is another topic nobody really wants to talk about. Well, I found this blog post on Little House Living, and these work great for my needs (mostly as a liner and not a pad). I'm a big fan of Merissa's blog and book, she has lots of great ideas that don't cost an arm and a leg.
Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality. I never thought I'd find a Catholic nun hysterically funny. As a recent convert, I'm still growing in my faith and trying to find my footing, and Mother Angelica never fails to have relevant advice and very funny stories. Just when I need it, I find little bits of wisdom and comfort. I am so grateful to have found this book!
So, what sort of from-scratch beauty and cleaning products do you make? What DIY recipes have helped you to embrace the homemade way of life?
2015 Project Review
It feels like I didn't get as much knitting done in 2015 as I usually do. I was busy with stuff at church, and at the request of my husband I decided to not knit in the evenings. At first it really bothered me to just sit and not work on anything, but I kept reminding myself that rest is important too. So here is what I completed:
September - Whoops, looks like life got in the way and I didn't finish anything!
November - I spend this month working on secret projects that you will see next summer. Shhh!!!
Cassie loves to knit, read and cook. She sometimes does all three at the same time.