Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MAKE MY WARDROBE: Phinney Ridge Cardigan

Me and Shannon Cook show off our newly-made Phinney Ridge Cardigans

My friend Shannon Cook and I are getting each other motivated to build our handmade wardrobes by having a casual sew along/knit along. The plan is to examine our wardrobes and figure out what’s missing, then make those pieces. Our focus will be on pieces that can complement the clothes we’ve already got (particularly our handmade stuff like those special hand knit sweaters!) so we can make some great outfits. We figure that the two of us will probably make the same sorts of things, though not always the same patterns and not always at the same pace. You all are welcome to join us! Just post on social media using the tags #makemywardrobe and #makemywardrobe2017! We’ll be blogging and sharing lots more in the coming weeks. 

With spring approaching, we’re going to start with some layering basics that can go with our hand knits. First up is Phinney Ridge by Straight Stitch Designs. It’s a basic buttoned cardigan with deep cuffs and a nice wide hem band. I’ll wear this under my hand knit wool cardigans on chilly days and evenings and as a light sweater on warmer spring days. I’ve been using long sleeved Merino tee shirts for this purpose, but I want a piece that’s more of a mid-layer that I can easily shed in the middle of the day. I like that it isn’t so tight that I’ll get it sweaty immediately while biking (tmi, sorry!), but that it’s fitted enough to work under a bigger sweater. I made mine out of some gray Merino jersey that was a gift from a friend. (Thanks, Jessie!) 

I sewed the smallest size (I've got a 31" bust, 26" waist, and 36" hip) without any alterations. (Shannon was smart & did a FBA for hers - read about her Phinney Ridge here.) I think it fits pretty well as a casual mid-layer, which is what I was going for, and I've been wearing it a whole lot since I made it. As you can see, the upper arms are pretty baggy, and the shoulder fit could be better. It's also much more snug around the hips than the rest of it, which is okay, but it does pull a bit when closed. I'm a complete baby beginner when it comes to fitting sewn projects, but I think I may try a small bust adjustment out the next time I sew a top. Phinney Ridge was designed for a B cup (such helpful info!) and I'm an A cup, so that could account for the less-than perfect shoulder fit. I'd love any tips on what could be done to improve the fit of the sleeves as well. I'm thinking they're a bit too long for me (though I completely love the deep doubled cuff, which you can see a bit better in other photos), there's too much fabric in the upper arm, and I think the armhole may be a bit deeper than I want. I wouldn't want it much smaller though because I don't want a completely fitted cardigan. Thoughts?

This will definitely go with a lot of outfits for me. I dress in layers because I'm often cold, but if I get excited, I get hot really quickly, so I need to have a lot of options for warmth in one outfit. I like that this can be worn over a tank (the Merino jersey is so smooth and comfortable), and that it also fits really well under a knit cardigan, vest, or just a big shawl. I definitely like it better unbuttoned. Here are a few outfits I'll wear it with:

Top Left: Halyard Cardigan with RTW jeans & self-drafted tank
Top Right: Camber Vest & Ume Shawl with RTW jeans & self-drafted tank
Bottom Left: self-drafted tank & Colette Mabel skirt
Bottom Right: Squam Confidential Shawl with self-drafted tank & Colette Mabel skirt

This was a really easy and fun project for me with a lot of great details like interfaced bands and deep cuffs and hem. The fit isn't perfect, but I know it's going to be a staple in my wardrobe anyway. Thanks to Shannon for taking all these photos and to Kimberly at Straight Stitch for sharing a Phinney Ridge coupon code! If you want to sew a Phinney Ridge, you can still get 20% off with the code WARDROBE20. Shannon and I would love to see your makes, so be sure to tag your photos #makemywardrobe and #makemywardrobe2017! And be sure to check out Shannon's post about her Phinney Ridge here.

Happy making!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Swatch a Week Roundup: 2

Have you been following my Swatch a Week project on Instagram? It's been great fun making all these swatches and I think it's time for another round-up. For a refresher about what the project is all about check out my first swatch round-up. I'm not going to be listing all of the swatches since I feel like that would be a bit of overload, but here are a few.


Yarn: Blue Sky Fibers Woolstok Worsted
Where I got it: Picked it up from a free yarn bin at Squam Art Retreat last year
Needles I used: US 6/4 mm
Blocked Gauge I got: 20 sts/30 rows = 4"/10 cm
What it's like: 100% worsted weight wool yarn that got two gently-twisted worsted spun plies. The color I got (Golden Meadow) is so vibrant and one of my favourite types of yellow/green. It's wooly, light, heathered, and soft, though not gooey soft like Merino. It seems like it would be hard-wearing and one that wooly wool lovers will adore.
What I might design with it: This swatch screams sweater to me. I think I'd love a relaxed-fitting pullover without much texture to let the heathered color do the talking.
Where you can get some: Check this list to see if your LYS stocks it or grab some online at Webs.


Yarn: A Verb for Keeping Warm Pioneer
Where I got it: Bought it at Verb while traveling in the States over Christmas
Needles I used: US 5/3.75 mm
Blocked Gauge I got: 19 sts/32 rows = 4"/10 cm
What it's like: 100% worsted weight organic wool yarn grown and milled in California. It's got a rustic, woolen spun feel and I encountered wonderful little bits of vegetable material as I was knitting, reminding me of the sheep this wool came from! (It was grown by Sally Fox and if you're not familiar with her, I encourage you to learn more about her farm!) It's buttery and lanolin-rich making a spongy, squishy, delightful wooly fabric. It definitely pills, but I just shave those right off, so it doesn't bother me.
What I might design with it: I knit a pair of Wild Feather Mitts out of this skein (from issue 2 of Making, an incredible little zine!), and I could really go for a cardigan from this stuff. I think it would be perfect for winter hikes. Quick note on my Wild Feather Mitts - they pilled a lot after a few weeks of wearing them. However, after I shaved them, they haven't been pilling since, so it seems like they got all their pilling done at once.
Where you can get some: The Verb for Keeping Warm website and brick & mortar shop both carry the yarn. It's a very magical place and I'm so delighted that I got to visit in person!


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Yarn: Amano Ayni
Where I got it: Sent to me by Amano to try out for possible future designs
Needles I used: US 3/3.25 mm
Blocked Gauge I got: 24 sts/37 rows = 4"/10 cm
What it's like: 3-ply sport weight baby alpaca (80%)/silk (20%) blend. This is one of those exceptionally soft yarns that drapes beautifully. It's loftier than I expected, and my stitches were clean and even though alpaca and silk don't have much bounce. It's got the slightest bit of a halo.
What I might design with it: After making this swatch, I designed a cowl and a hat with it. They're both coming through Amano yarns, so keep an eye out for them! I think I'll stick with accessories for this one because the drape really shines in lace and Stockinette, though knit up in garter stitch (particularly with the yarn held double), it's got an incredible level of soft squishiness.
Where you can get some: There are a bunch of online sources listed for this one on Ravelry, but check your LYS too. Amano is distributed by Berroco, so if your LYS carries Berroco, they may carry Amano yarns too.

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Yarn: Bumblebirch Vernacular 2016
Where I got it: Bought it at Knit Fit Seattle last year
Needles I used: US 3/3.25 mm
Blocked Gauge I got: 26 sts/42 rows = 4"/10 cm
What it's like: 3-ply fingering weigh Cormo/Merino blend wool. It's got a rustic tweedy thing going on and the fabric is so spongy and bouncy. As expected with that blend, it's super soft, though it seems like garments and accessories in this fabric would be right at home on the farm or on a hike.
What I might design with it: I just have the one skein and it's a very limited yarn, so I think I'll probably knit up a pair of Blueberry Paws Mitts to make the most of this precious skein.
Where you can get some: Since this was such a special, limited edition yarn, it's almost all sold out. You can still get the natural white color on the Bumblebirch website.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Cowichan Themed Sweater

I've been thinking about and planning this Cowichan-themed sweater for years. In 2013 I did some sample knitting for Sylvia Olsen (author of Working with Wool and Knitting Stories among many other books), and in return, she spun me a sweater quantity of yarn. It was so special, though, that I was too nervous to knit with it! I tried a sweater out and had gauge problems, so I set it aside. But last fall, my friend Kirsten suggested we do a little Cowichan-themed KAL so she could knit herself a Jane Richmond West Coast Cardigan and I could finally knit a sweater with this yarn.

I knew that I wanted to stick with geometric rather than organic forms (like animals), but I wanted to think about silhouette again to be sure I was making something that would fit into my wardrobe. So I did a few sketches and got some really great feedback on Instagram (thanks!) and decided to go with cropped oversized and drop shoulders, sort of a mix of the ones shown on the left and right below.

Sketching is a big challenge for me, so I often use my Fashionary notebook for garment design.

I did a spreadsheet and had a solid plan before casting on, but I also made a few changes during knitting. The first was because my initial idea of how much ease I'd need for my sleeve was a bit off. The fabric is pretty bulky, so with the slender sleeves I originally envisioned, I had a hard time bending at the elbow. I'm a big proponent of clothes a person can move in, so that wouldn't work for me. Adding a bit more ease solved the problem, though. 

The second thing that didn't initially work out was the collar. The first one was just too tiny. I didn't want a huge collar, but I did want one that would actually fold over, so I ripped and re-knit it.

Lots of zippers to choose from

I finished the knitting a couple months ago, but I had some trouble sourcing the right zipper. The first one I bought didn't actually separate at the bottom - important for a cardigan! And my usual online stores either didn't have quite what I was looking for, or charged $25 for shipping to Canada. In the end, Caitlin French over in Vancouver offered to grab a couple options from her neighbourhood fancy fabric store & send them to me! (The knitting community is really the best.) I got the perfect zipper - black with big silver teeth and sewed it in by hand. And my sweater is finally finished!

My hand-sewn zipper was basted, then sewn down with smaller stitches, then whip stitched to the inside selvedge stitch.

I'm so thrilled with the result! It's cozy and warm and fits exactly as I'd hoped. The short row shoulder shaping and relatively slender sleeves make it flattering even though it's oversized and it's a great top layer for the middle of winter.

I have to admit, I've found myself wishing it had pockets. Like most humans, I love pockets, but I left them off because the sweater is so cropped. In order to put my hands in pockets on this sweater I'd have to bend my elbows at a 90 degree angle. But now that I've worn it for a while, it may just be fine to have bent elbows and warm hands. That's the bomber jacket look anyway, right?

I do plan to publish this as a pattern eventually. It's important that I find a yarn that's commercially available, and maybe I'll put pockets in the finished pattern. I also expect that I'll make a few more Cowichan-inspired designs in different silhouettes because I love this one, but I want all the other shapes too!

Here's to 2017 as the year of finishing old works in progress. I hope you get some finishing done too!

P.S. Karen over at Fringe Association is talking about working up another Cowichan-inspired sweater. Check it out!

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