The spring was a tough time for my knitting. I’ve always claimed to be an all-seasons knitter but sewing projects have increased exponentially for me over the last two months. But it’s such a good sign. When the seasons change, I can’t help but want to build my wardrobe. Who doesn’t want to add a summer top or dress when the weather warms up? But I’ve spent so much time here talking about my goals of making more instead of buying, I really wanted to stay true to that. So the more I wanted new clothes, the more I’ve set about making them!
After finishing my first two tops, I thought that I was ready for a challenge. I think I dove in a little too deep, trying a Wiksten Tova top with some fabric that I wasn’t so attached to. I’m not sure if it was my lack of patience or my novice skills but it started getting ugly pretty quickly. I decided to scrap it and go back to basics.
While I urge new knitters to go immediately out of their comfort zones, I couldn’t follow my own advice on sewing. I know knitting is something I could do blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back (try me) so it’s easy for me to say, “Just try a sweater if that interests you! It’s easy!” but there’s just two stitches. You don’t have to know much to get started knitting your heart out. Sewing, I’ve found, has a lot more specifics. There are many secrets I’ve yet to uncover. So I really wanted to get comfortable with the things that I’d already tried before I started adding on.
I’d bought this yellow and white fabric a while ago in an online sale. It’s some kind of cotton blend that has this dimple texture all over it. Luckily, both fabrics are the same just different colors. So it seemed right to pair them together. I’ve seen so many cute variations on simple pieces that are just a contrasting sleeve or bias tape. Little details really make something different so this shirt doesn’t really resemble my first Scout too heavily.
One of the things that I was really trying to master here was the set in sleeve. I won’t say it was done perfectly but it seemed to go much easier and I built so much confidence. The first sleeve was set in excellently and I was so excited. I was wearing my one-sleeved shirt all over the apartment, just feeling proud and admiring my work in the mirror. That’s when I realized I’d done it inside out. Got some more practice, so there’s a silver lining.
I also wanted to up the challenge since the top is relatively simple so I did French seams everywhere but where I set in the sleeve. I do not have the mojo for that just yet. And I really made myself do things right. If it wasn’t perfect, I unpicked and re-stitched. I started this top right after finishing the first season of The Great British Sewing Bee so I was kind of imagining May and Patrick going over my work. I would hate to disappoint them.
I like this top. I’m definitely going to be one of those crazy sewists with 500 Scout tees in her wardrobe. It’s just so breezy to make and it’s great to wear. I know my wardrobe and, while I’d love to make hundreds of different sundresses, my uniform (for work especially) is jeans with a cute tee.
I’m really hoping to make another scout in a knit. I find the shape of the shirt a little boxy and I think a nice medium or light weight knit would be more flattering. I’ve never worked with knits before but I’m told it’s not as challenging as everyone makes it sound. So I’m sure that will go terribly.
Don’t worry, I’m still knitting up a storm! But I’m so pleased to be building my own wardrobe! (I actually stopped myself from buying a cheap shirt the other day. I took a photo so I can try to reproduce it on my own. It felt great to have that power and to say no to something that wasn’t sustainable.)
Do you get bit the sewing bug sometimes? How many Scout tees have you sewn?
It’s summer so it’s more than officially CSA season, guys! I’m obsessed with my CSA and I love hearing about new people joining up with ones in their neighborhoods so I just want to preach about it today. I like to relate everything back to knitting but I think that people who make things care about where things come from and in this case, we’re talking about food. Everybody cares about where food comes from. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a Food Network.
CSA means community supported agriculture. It’s a form of a food co-op (that’s how I present it to people without getting into the long explanation) but it’s not like a grocery store. Members of the CSA buy a share in a local farm before the season, an investment that allows the farmer to have some capital before there is produce to sell. Once the food is harvested it’s divided amongst the members evenly (or however the division is agreed upon) and you get a great return on your investment. There are CSAs for everything you might want to eat: vegetables, fruits, meat, milk, eggs, yogurt, maple syrup, honey. (There’s even a yarn CSA!)
Long story short, it’s a great and impressively cheap way to get huge amounts local, fresh, organic produce to your home. I’ll be completely transparent: Jon and I pay about $40/week from May to Thanksgiving for pick ups every two weeks of veggies, fruit, and a whole chicken. And it’s a LOT of food. (Imagine spending $40/week in a New York City Whole Foods. You’d starve.)
I’m always bragging about my membership to anyone that will listen. Eating local and organic are trendy and I think a lot of people think I’m snobby or elitist or whatever (I live in Brooklyn so, surprise! those stereotypes are true and I’m ok with it) because I want to put things into my body that aren’t poison. I hate thinking of it in terms of what’s en vogue and what’s not. We should all want those things and we should all want them for as little money as possible. Foodies come in all shapes and sizes, you’d be surprised!
It’s important to me that I’m doing something good for my body and the environment and my community (my required volunteer work is baking a dessert from leftover fruits for a soup kitchen). I love the trust that I have in a farmer that is willing to put food directly into my hands instead of putting a big corporate label on it. I love that I can have fresh produce although I live in a huge city. I also love that I don’t have to make trips to the farmers’ market (we pick up all of the goods at a bar two blocks from our apartment) and that I am saving money because there is no middle man. Why should I not want to brag about that? And how could I stop myself from recruiting friends?
While I happen to think that it’s all too good to be true, lots of people I talk to have hang ups about joining CSAs. (Being honest again: I took a year off after the first season I did. My lifestyle wasn’t ready yet. I had roommates and a kitchen I didn’t like spending time in.) You get a lot of food so you either have to do a lot of cooking and canning or split your share with someone (this year we’re doing a half share, hence our every-other-week pick ups and it’s taken a lot of the burden off). It’s intimidating, yes. The first CSA we participated in left us drowning in plums and kale. The refrigerator we shared with a roommate was packed to the gils with leafy greens and purple beans. But I’ve learned that sometimes you have to pick around the moldy cherries and keep the good ones. Don’t worry, Mom, I’m not saying that I’m a freegan eating out of dented cans (sorry, freegans! I know that’s a harsh stereotype that isn’t true at all). I just know how to produce less garbage.
Some people don’t like that you have to take home beets and radishes even if you don’t eat beets and radishes. But I’ve learned to eat weird vegetables that I’ve never heard of before. That’s valuable, too! I pride myself in the variety of foods that I now crave when I grew up eating hot dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, and Twizzlers. And, when all else fails, I’m more than happy to share with my family and friends. Besides, it gets them talking about the whole thing!
And, lastly, some people just don’t want to cook. This is something that I care about deeply because just a few years ago the only thing I knew how to cook were Totinos pizza rolls. I ate gummy bears for dinner with cups of coffee made light with artificially flavored creamers (and I didn’t even know how to make coffee until I was 20). I was broke and I was lucky enough to have roommates that knew how to take care of me and gigs that at least provided a disappointing pizza lunch. I hardly slept during college so I was lucky enough to not gain weight but I’m surprised I’m still alive. I wanted to eat food that was good for me but I didn’t know how to make any of it taste good nor did I take the time to do so. Fast forward a few years and I won’t say I’m Julia Child but I know how to put together a meal. I’ve taken a couple of classes to learn very basic things (knife skills, how to butcher a chicken, and how to mix cocktails because that’s important, too) and knowing those things has given me confidence. (It also doesn’t hurt to have a food documentarian boyfriend who is obsessed with molecular gastronomy but I think that I have more staple dinner recipes than he does.) That’s something that delights me. Just like making a sweater, I can make something that is good to eat.
And I feel about cooking much the way that I do about knitting: it can secretly be super simple. You don’t have to know cables or colorwork to put together a sweater that is warm and fashionable. People are still impressed that you made something that is, at it’s heart, just knit and purl stitches. It’s the same with cooking. It might look impressive because it’s wrapped in a parchment bag or roasted with herbs but the simplest techniques make delicious meals. I don’t need a fancy Michelin-starred plate. It isn’t always beautiful or complex (any vegetable roasted with olive oil is so delicious it feels like cheating) but it’s a home cooked meal.
So I say more of us should give this a try. It takes some getting used to but the amount of awesome you’ll feel when you’re sitting down to a meal you made yourself with produce that’s sustainable and organic, that didn’t break the bank, will make the craziness of offloading three pounds of peaches into a pie totally worth it.
To find a CSA near you, check out Just Food!
Have you participated in a CSA? Did you love it?
How was your long weekend? I basically did nothing but knit and switch between Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica while drinking beer and eating bacon jam. I actually feel guilty about how awesome it was. But I can’t show you much of what I’m working on because (!!!) it’s a design for Holla Knits’ Fall/Winter collection! Isn’t that awesome? You’re all going to love it.
Between long stretches of knitting, I gave myself a break to check instgram (I have an addiction) and play a game that I’ve become totally obsessed with called Tiny Sheep. I decided to just come out and write about it here because I like to remind you that I am still a 15-year-old girl on the inside and I’m especially shameless when knitting is involved even in the slightest.
Tiny Sheep is an iPhone game (also available for Android) in which players run a sheep farm. It’s time-based so things grow and work while you’re away from the game. It’s a lot like those other annoying games that I was crazy about for a week and then completely abandoned. (I’m looking at you, Farmville. Guys, I played Farmville for a while. It was not the coolest thing I’ve ever done.)
But this time I can be a shepherd on my phone with pink sheep. Pink sheep!
I’m fertilizing grass and sheering sheep and spinning their wool into sweaters and Ugg boots (yeah, I don’t know). It’s pretty addictive. I’m pretty sure that this free app was developed entirely for my own amusement. Like a game of my dream life if my dream life were a game. I’ve never been interested in playing a game where I virtually knit things. I’m not really big into gaming in general because it takes my hands away from knitting. (I do love to watch other people play while I knit, though. Seriously. And when I do game, I get carried away.) But I like that this is a game of management and a lot of patience instead of marathon playing. And I like to dream about being a shepherd even if I have to be one on my coffee breaks at work.
Did I mention there are pink sheep?
ps. The final set of instructions for the Michelle Collar are up on Kollabora! If you were waiting for the whole thing, feel free to cast on now! What are you waiting for?
What will we do when the weather warms up? That’s what we ask ourselves when spring starts to shine out from behind a harsh winter.
I am not a seasonal knitter. I knit all damn year. I’d knit on the beach if I went to beaches. I am certainly guilty of knitting poolside. A lot of non-knitters laugh when I buy yarn in July. It seems like prime time to cast on a cardigan to me. In fact, I feel the need to rush when I have an opportunity to wear what I’m making so there’s a little less pressure on summer knitting. But if a sweater is finished early, I can wear it to the office to fight off overzealous air conditioning. Of course, there’s nothing like the first cool breeze in October to really make my heart ache for wool socks on my needles. But I certainly don’t slow down when the mercury rises.
Now, when it comes to my other crafts, those are certainly seasonal. In colder months, I can’t bring myself to embroider when there are sweaters to be knit.
I picked up sewing last summer but once the weather turned, I began to neglect my sewing machine. I plan on doing more sewing this summer and I’d like to continue teaching myself into the fall but first I have to learn how to sew sleeves. I don’t see myself making tank tops in December.
What about you? Are you a seasonal crafter?
It’s Fashion Week here in New York. Or it was? I’m not sure, I don’t keep up with these things. (Oh, I just checked. It’s still happening. Cool.) I don’t like to think that I follow trends (unless they’re neon. Or knitwear. Or NEON KNITWEAR!) but I do like to take a peek at what’s going down the runway because I was obsessed with season one of Project Runway. (Austin Scarlett is designing wedding dresses. Yes. But does anybody know what Jay McCarroll is up to these days?)
Now, it’s Spring/Summer time so that’s not the easiest for us knitters. Some of us (I won’t name names) like to put down our needles when then weather gets warm, abandoning our wool work for a bit of sewing. I understand. But I’ll make a goddamn sweater by the pool if I want to!
Luckily, there are a lot of spring trends going on that translate perfectly into knits and here are a few:
First is a clean-cut top with a color I really love. Carolina Herrera’s ready to wear line has some great summery looks. I love this coral-colored knit. It reminds me of the adorable Abuelita crocheted top from Pom Pom Quarterly.
Marc Jacobs has a really cool black and white thing going on in the Spring/Summer collection. I love the mod feeling. Vogue Knitting has a great selection of dramatic, 60’s-inspired black and white tops in their Spring/Summer issue for a similar look.
I’m a huge fan of Kate Spade. I am really just obsessed. And this season’s collection keeps with the “Live Colorfully” motto. There are a lot of brights and sparkles and it looks like bows are going to be big. A few of the Kate Spade pieces have great little collars. I’m really glad this is happening right now. I’m a big fan of this adorable Peter Pan collar by Rachele the Nearsighted Owl. Perfect for adding a little something extra to any outfit.
Which collections have caught your eye? Are you inspired by any of the summer trends?
Tags: carolina herrera, collar, fashion week, inspiration, kate spade, knit, knit tank top, knitsperation, marc jacobs, peter pan, pom pom, rachele the nearsighted owl, spring, summer, tank top, vogue knitting
Dear Knitting, I have not forsaken you. I still love you! I’m still here.
Let me back up a little. Remember that time that I said that I was terrible at sewing and ironing was really turning me off of the whole process? Well, I finished the skirt that was such a challenge. And, I must admit, the finished piece doesn’t look like a mess. In fact, it doesn’t really concede much of the struggle I was going through. And I could twirl in it.
I showed it to my grandma for inspection and she said that my seams weren’t too crazy and that it looked nice for a beginner. I take her word for it! She’s a pro. (She also gave me a resource book and some good tips for getting more comfortable behind the machine.)
Anyway, as promised, here are some photos of my first sewing project!
I paired the skirt that I made with this amazingly adorable Kate Spade shirt (it was a splurge but on sale so I went for it!) for my friend Katie’s bridal shower (everyone had to wear something white). It’s really fun pairing something I made as a newbie with a piece of designer clothing.
As I said before, sewing a skirt was a great jumping off point for me because it was quite uncomplicated (although I managed to screw it up, of course) but resulted in something that I could wear and show off. It wasn’t a tote bag or a pillow. It was something that I could add to my wardrobe which was very motivational for me.
The fabric is La Femme by Melissa Crowley that I bought at Purl Soho. I love the pattern. I don’t love that it feels so stiff. I think a few washes with some fabric softener will do the trick and if that doesn’t work, it’s time to put a lining in. (Adventures!)
I’ve been working on two other projects since the skirt. (More on that soon!) I’m really enjoying it, more than I thought I would. And I like the idea that I’ll be able to manipulate a sewing pattern perhaps with less trepidation than I would a knitting pattern. I’m pretty excited to say that, while I have not in any way, shape, or form given up knitting, I am embracing my new hobby.
As far as ironing goes, though, the jury is still out.
What’s the first sewing project you made? Were you scared? How did it turn out?!
It’s already August which means that the summer is almost over. I haven’t posted much about what I’ve been up to. I feel like I focus so much on the work I’m doing here and I would like to inject a little more personal fun stuff because why not! I’ve been looking back over my photos of all of the fun I’ve had and I sometimes have to wonder is this my life I’m living? Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of work, heavy lifting, and anxiety (I’ve learned that going to sleep early is a necessity. Even when it means skipping out on some fun) that goes on in the day to day but I somehow manage to pack a lot of adventures in to a little bidget and less free time.
Jon’s parents threw a big July 4th bar-b-que and my family got to join us for a day of drinking and swimming. And I made a tart. It was
really wonderful having so many people that I love celebrating together.
After seeing War Horse and getting a special backstage tour from our friend Holly, we dined at Strip House and joined Ashley and Andrew to
watch the fireworks in a special private party that we threw for ourselves atop Hearst Tower. What a view!
We picked cherries. Which was delicious and adorable. We picked vegetables which was hot but so rewarding especially as city folk. We ate at Googa Mooga and we went to a lot of brunches (but not enough, never enough).
We saw a movie in the park with Andrew and Holly. I’d never done that before and I can tell you it was because of the heat and the crowds but it was so much fun!
Jon and I joined Ashley in seeing OK Go. Ashley and I have seen them about once a year since we were 14. It’s still magical. We still sing every lyric and dance like crazy. It’s amazing that we are still who we are and they are still who they are after all of this time.
This past weekend was my friend’s bachelorette party which meant lounging and drinking on the beach with my closest girl friends from way back. It’s so wonderful to see that we are all living it up and I’m so proud of us for all being successful ladies!
As our friend Alex said, quoting White Knuckles, “Nothing ever doesn’t change, but nothing changes much.” It’s been a wonderful summer.
What have you done this summer? Are you still packing in memories before it’s over?
Is it too hot to think about socks? Do some of us ever stop thinking about socks? How about remembering a colder time when I started these socks?
Well, I had really terrible second sock syndrome. I just feel awful about it because I love this yarn and the cable pattern is really fun. I don’t know exactly what distracted me after I made the first sock (which I was working on at VKL!) But I was obviously distracted.
I finally had a chance to finish them before Memorial Day. I’m so pleased with how they turned out. I think they look even cooler than the ones I wanted from Toast.
Standing on my fire escape over the weekend, modeling these socks, I was sweating bullets. What warm cozies! I can’t wait to wear them in the snow!
Have you recently overcome second sock syndrome? How do you get through it?
I’ve been so busy over the past month yet I’ve done so much knitting! But I haven’t had any time to write about it. Really strange! I really need to do some catching up, though. So let’s start with what I’m working on right now.
As soon as I saw the pattern for the Cap Sleeve Lattice Top on the Purl Bee, I was obsessed. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was right in the middle of a pair of socks but I decided that I’d put them aside and run down to Purl Soho and buy some Madeline Tosh. I mean, there are only so many months that I can wear this thing and summer’s halfway over! And the pattern was written for MadTosh. How could I say no? I was leaving for a weekend trip to western Maryland so it would be easy road trip knitting. (Jon and I had never gone one a road trip before! It was very exciting and we saw a lot of cows and also a lot of signs about Jesus. Also, there are NO PARKING signs on the shoulders of I-78 in Pennsylvania. Who is parking there that they needed to go through so much trouble?)
Also, I generally hate summer knitwear. I like so few designs with short sleeves. I just think that they look awkward or I think, “Oh that would be really cute with long sleeves like a normal sweater!” Listen, I need cardigans and sweaters in the summer. It’s cold in restaurants and offices. And I don’t feel ashamed that I like having these things all year round and I don’t feel obligated to cast on tee shirts and the like just because the temperature is up. (Wow, am I a grouchy knitter or what?) This one, though, I think it’s really elegant and beautiful. Maybe I’m about to be converted!
Here’s what happened. I knit about five inches of the first side over the eight hours we were in the car. And I was pretty pleased with it although I would have liked something a little more challenging than stockinette. Then I got home and I started looking on Ravelry and I found diannabolical’s project page. I really like her style and I loved how her lattice top turned out. I really appreciate that it seems to fit her well. I think that some of the ones I’ve seen are sitting a little low and I’d like the lattice to start above where my bra ends. I also like shirts that are long so I don’t feel like they’re riding up all of the time. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. But diannabolical knit hers in the round and then put half on waste yarn and worked the top one half at a time, adjusting amount of bound off stitches.
Well, why didn’t I think to knit it in the round! I remembered thinking to myself how I wished it was knit in the round when I cast on but I was rushing around about the trip and didn’t bother putting my mind into the math. So I had that dilemma that I’m so often faced with: frog eight hours of work or finish the top and deal with the unsatisfactory construction forever. I agonized over it for about five minutes and then was reminded that I’ve been known to rip things out no matter how far along they are. So I did.
I cast on again, this time with 215 stitches (size medium calls for 109 stitches per side so I figured 218 total and subtracted 2 stitches which would be lost in seaming the two sides together. I went with 3 stitches in the end to keep the ribbing pattern consistent) and began again in the round. Of course, now I’m only about maybe eight inches into the body but I’m going to have something I’m very happy with. I often cut corners and deal with imperfections so I’m giving myself a big pat on the back for going back and doing things the right way.
Like I said, it’s not terribly exciting right now since it’s about a million rows of stockinette. But I push forward.
I am using Madeline Tosh Sport in Calligraphy for the body. The top lattice will be in Espadrilles because I’m really into this neon trend that’s going on this summer. Not that I’ll ever stop wearing neon when it goes out of fashion and not that I wasn’t wearing it in high school before it was cool (Disclaimer: I’m not cool nor was I ever).
Honestly, I’m really second-guessing my color choices. I feel like the pale pink of the Calligraphy is really nice but I’m not sure how it’s going to play with the neon pink up top. I keep trusting my gut, though, because it seemed like a really good choice when I bought it and I’d thought a lot about putting the neon up top and a neutral in the body for a while. I think I just get nervous especially when I have nothing else to focus on since I’m just doing rows and rows and rows of stockinette stitch.
I’ve got more WIPs on my needles right now and I’ll show them off soon! How do you feel about summer knitting? Or have you given it up for the sewing machine?
Tags: adjust pattern, calligraphy, cap sleeve lattice top, dianabolical, espadrilles, knit in round, knit shirt, knit tank top, madeline tosh, Madtosh, merino, Purl Bee, purl soho, Sport, summer knitting, tank top, yarn
Sunday Jon’s parents threw a big 4th of July party (although, technically it was Canada Day). They have a huge BBQ every summer and there’s lots of drinks and swimming.
This year I made two berry tarts which are currently my favorite things to bake because they’re simple and easy but they taste delicious and look impressive. And I’d like to share the recipe with you!
yield 8″ pie
Graham cracker crust adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe
10 graham crackers
1/4 c sugar
1/4 t salt
6 T butter, melted
In a food processor, pulse together graham crackers with sugar and salt. Mix in melted butter and press into a pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Allow to cool completely.
8oz mascarpone cream
1/4 c sugar
1c heavy cream
Stir together mascarpone with sugar and heavy cream. Pour into cooled crust. Top with berries and allow to set in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.
Next time I plan to use a rectangular tart pan. I’d love to make big berry stripes! I was so serious about the circles of raspberries and blueberries that I almost had my tweezers out! I hope I made Martha proud!