Intricate lacework is beautiful, complex colorwork can be impressive, but sometimes I just want to brainlessly knit and have a finished project by the end of a movie.
Call in the bulky yarn. We’re making a hat.
This beanie is basic, quick and completely satisfying. It doesn’t need to be fancy because the furry pom pom on the top is going to steal the show.
- 100 yards of bulky weight yarn
Shown in Legacy Bulky by O-Wool [100% certified organic merino; 106 yards per 100g skein], Alumroot
- 1 set dpn US #10/6 mm
- Stitch marker
- Tapestry needle
- Faux Fur Pom Pom
(I purchased mine here)
- Darning needle
- Stitch marker
10 sts/12 rows = 4 inches in seeded rib stitch
Seeded Rib Stitch
Row 1: Knit all sts.
Row 2: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end.
Repeat these two rows.
CO 56 sts. (or multiple of 4)
Join in rnd and place marker.
Rnd 1: Knit all sts.
Rnd 2: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end.
Repeat these 2 rnds until work measures 8″ or desired length, ending with Rnd 2.
Note: Increasing length will increase slochiness. For no slouch, work for 6.5″.
Next Rnd: *Ssk, repeat from * to end. (28 sts)
Next Rnd: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end.
Next Rnd: Knit all sts.
Next Rnd: Ssk, k2tog, repeat from * to end. (14 sts)
Next Rnd: Knit all sts.
Cut yarn and thread on darning needle. Weave through remaining sts and secure. Weave in loose ends. Sew on pom pom.
As knitters, we all have types of projects we prefer to make over others. We may even be bold and say, “I will never knit a __________.” I’m sure those words have come out of my mouth at some point.
How great is it when we must eat those words because we see something that changes our perspective? That was me this week. Here are the three patterns that did it.
I’ve never had an interest in shawls–knitting them, buying them or wearing them. (I may be the only knitter to have never knit a Clapotis.) I haven’t ever thought there was anything wrong with shawls, but I didn’t see how they fit into my wardrobe.
And then Sylvia released her pattern, Waiting for Rain.
The drape, the movement of the lace as it pushes through the garter stitch–so delicate and soft. I think it’s just lovely.
Although I would most likely wear this wrapped as a scarf, rather than across my shoulders as a shawl, changing perceptions has to start somewhere. Waiting for Rain has definitely made me reconsider this accessory.
After extensive research (you know, looking at pictures to find the cutest winter style), I determined my first winter purchase must be a pair of duck boots.
(Photo via Kelly in the City)
Although the boots are insulated, I quickly learned that my lightweight socks were not enough. My toes were freezing. A quick trip to the store revealed a pathetic wool sock selection.
The only solution is to make the socks myself.
I’ve knit a couple pairs of socks over the years, always gifts. Sock knitting never grabbed me though as it does for so many. I’ve really never had the need for them. Until this winter.
The need is real. I want some warm, thick, wool socks that hug me from calves to toes. None of those wimpy boot toppers. I’m not messing around.
My pick is Traveling on Baltic Waves by Donna Druchunas.
Extending the length so I can get a good slouch coming out of the boots, I think these will be a perfect starter pair of many more to come.
3. A Sweater for Me
This one is a bit of a cheat. I have knit myself a sweater before, I just can’t I can’t remember the last time. I’ve knit a lot of test sweaters, samples as I wrote patterns and gifts, but a sweater made because I wanted to make myself a sweater is rare.
Last summer I had good intentions to cast on knowing I’d be in a cold climate this winter. Too much was going on and I never even purchased yarn.
Perusing Ravelry my eye was caught by Melissa Schaschwary’s Balsam Ridge.
This is the type of sweater that’s easy to wear. It can be thrown on with a pair of jeans and still look stylish despite little effort. Its boxy shape will make you feel comfortable and relaxed meanwhile, the classy collar and beautiful lacework make it an interesting design.
Now the tough part. Next week I’m off to Stitches West. Which project should I purchase yarn for first?
Too soon? Yes, it is still summer. Even though the thought of yarn passing through my fingers and a pile of wool on my lap while it’s 90 degrees outside doesn’t appeal to me right now, I’m already thinking about my knits for autumn.
This is a big autumn/winter season for me. After 31 years of living in California, this is the first year I will actually NEED knitwear. This May I moved to Michigan. I’m enjoying the summer’s warm rain and sunshine now, but I know the cold, snowy months are approaching. It’s time to get to work!
I’d like to be able to wear my new knits this autumn, so for me, planning starts now. It’ll give me time to find the perfect patterns, score the best prices on yarn, set realistic finishing goals and make the entire process more enjoyable.
Where to start? Checking out the trend reports! Here are my three favorite trends for the upcoming season.
Breton stripes date back to 1858 when the French navy issued a white and navy striped shirt as the uniform for seamen. In 1917 Chanel included the striped design in her nautical collection. It’s been an icon of French fashion ever since.
Adding a breton stripe sweater to your wardrobe is easy peasy! Select a simple, Stockinette pullover pattern. Alternate white and black or navy yarn in a stripping pattern. Wear it for years. This one is a classic.
Seems there’s a bit of a nautical theme happening! Reefer jackets are similar to pea coats. Unlike pea coats which have dark buttons, reefer jackets are adorned with brass buttons, historically to distinguish naval officers from sailors.
Search for a double breasted jacket with a large collar knit in a bulky weight. Keep it classic with navy blue yarn. Also consider men’s coat patterns. You may find one that’s the perfect style and need only a bit of resizing.
Jennifer Lippman-Bruno’s felted jacket, Heroine
High Neck Sweaters
The pattern selection for high neck sweaters is endless! It’s so hard to pick a favorite. If you want to stay on trend with your choice, select a loose, long pullover with no waist shaping. Cables, ribbing or a knit and purl texture–take your pick!
Share in the comments: What project are you plannning for this autumn?
Which comment would you prefer to hear regarding a garment you made:
Said in a patronizing tone, “Aw, that’s so sweet. Did you make that yourself?”
Or said with sincerity, “Cute sweater! What?! You made it? Will you make me one?”
While you may not want to start taking orders for your handmade items, I’m going to guess you’d prefer the latter comment.
From start to finish, here are three ways you may be misstepping and what to do about them.
1. The Materials
It’s time to face it. Long gone are the days that making your own clothing saves money. Are you “whipping” something up from fabric you found in the dollar bin and calling it a “find” rather than seeing the fabric as it really is–in the dollar bin for a reason? Did you select the super soft yarn because it’s so soft you want to wrap your entire body in it, instead of selecting the recommended cotton yarn?
What to do about it: Selecting the right materials is crucial. Consider the following when selecting your materials.
Fiber and weight: Yield to the fabric and yarn types recommended in the pattern. The specific materials are recommended for a reason. All fibers and weights don’t drape and shape the same way. If you want a boxy knit sweater and select a sock weight silk, there will be a loosey-goosey disaster.
The colors and print: It seems there are two worlds that rarely cross in our minds; the craft world and the ready-to-wear world. What I mean is that if we saw a dress made in a not so attractive fabric in our favorite women’s shop, we’d scrunch our noses and say, “what were they thinking?” But if we saw that same fabric in a craft store, we’d gravitate to it, good taste being blinded by all the buttons, trims and bright colors that surround us. Clear your mind and visualize the finished garment you are making hanging in your favorite clothing shop. Still think it’s cute? That cotton fabric with the cute cats was intended for quilting, not a blouse.
Bonus tip: Variegated yarn screams “handmade.” I’ve been guilty myself. Just say “no” to variegated. Opt instead for solid, hand-dyed yarns with slight color variations within the skein. Work from two skeins, alternating every other row to prevent pooling and to blend the variations in the color.
Quality: Cheap materials look cheap. It’s that simple. You don’t need to spend a fortune on your materials, but to achieve a professional looking garment stay away from the bargain bin. Cheap fabric is often off grain. Think that’s no big deal? Wrong. Your garment will pull to the side when worn, your hemline will be crooked and that classy vertical stripe will become an awkward diagonal. Cheap yarn has it’s own faults of uneven coloring, knots, scratchiness and looking awful after the first wash.
2. The Fit
One of the best reasons for making your own clothing is to have a garment that fits like a glove. Just like ready-to-wear clothing wasn’t made to your exact measurements, neither was the pattern you’re using. If you tried a dress on in the store and it didn’t fit right, you wouldn’t buy it. When your handmade garment doesn’t fit right, it’s a sign you probably made it.
What to do about it: Slow down. Don’t simply measure yourself to select which pattern size you’re closest to and then follow that size exactly. Make note of where you are larger, smaller, longer or shorter than pattern’s measurements. Read through the pattern, note where those differences are and figure out where and how you need to adjust. This will take some practice if you’re not as experienced with the craft. If you’re sewing, you may want to redraft the pattern or make a practice garment. If you’re knitting, I recommend using a top down pattern. Add darts, shaping and adjust length as needed. Trying the garment on as you go is an absolute must!
3. The Execution
The placement of the print isn’t centered, so now you have a big flower directly on your left boob. You hate sewing zippers so you quickly stitch one in and move on. Maybe you’ll add five hook and eyes since the zipper doesn’t come all the way up to the waist of the skirt. Blocking? Who blocks sweaters? That’s unnecessary.
What to do about it: Once again, slow down. A beautifully made garment is in the details. If you want a new sweater instantly, purchase one from the store. Making your own clothing is enjoying the process. With practice and by paying attention to details, your garments will look more professional. Take the time to layout your pattern considering placement of the print on the fabric. If there’s a skill you have a hard time with, like sewing zippers, look up online tutorials and practice on scrap fabric. Take pride in your work by doing the best work you can do. And yes, blocking a sweater can make a huge difference.
Ever since plaid popped up as the craze of the season, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect plaid skirt. I scoured the internet, but could not find exactly what I wanted.
As any resourceful DIY gal would do, I headed off to the fabric store to make my own!
It took me only a couple hours to make and cost less than $30. Follow the links at the bottom to make your own.
What “must-have” garment are you working on this season? Share in the comments a link to the pattern and materials.
What’s an auntie to do when she has an adorable niece? Knit her up something special, of course!
This is a pattern I designed for a class I taught several years ago. Before today, I haven’t made it available online. I did some tweaking and changed the skirt from a gathered skirt to a circle skirt. That flounce and those chubby little thighs…too sweet!
The bodice is knit from the top down in one piece. The sleeves and trim are worked in seed stitch, the rest in Stockinette stitch. It’s a fairly quick project since you don’t have to knit the skirt. Sewing the bodice to the skirt can be a little tricky. Pin it well. You may even want to hand baste it together before using a machine. When using a machine place the fabric on the bottom and the knit bodice on top to prevent it from getting caught.
The skirt is cut in a circle, so it’s not suited for prints with an obvious up and down pattern. If you insist on using a fabric with an up and down you’ll want to cut two half circles going in the same direction and sew them together. Otherwise, the print on the back will be upside down.
Lastly, some notes about sizing. I’ve decided that it is impossible to accurately size babies and toddlers. They vary so much. My niece is 19 months, but she’s a tiny little peanut at 21 pounds, the size of a 12-month-old. The waist of the bodice is 18.25″ and the waist of the skirt is 20.5″. The bodice is 8.5″ long. The skirt in the picture is cut at 12.25″ long. After seeing the dress on her I thought it could use one more inch of length so I’ve added an inch to the pattern instructions.
Hope you enjoy this pattern! Add it to your Ravelry queue and please be sure to share a pic of your little one in her dress.
And remember to spread the love! Share this blog post with your creative friends.
Who doesn’t love a little black dress? So versatile, so flattering, so classy. Dolin O’Shea, author of Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress, agrees. In fact, she knows how very fabulous LBD’s are, she decided to write a pattern book all about them.
I met Dolin a few years ago when she was working at my favorite yarn and fabric shop, Bobbin’s Nest Studio. With a mind for precision and a love for fashion, Dolin has also worked as a patternmaker for Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. When I heard she had written a book featuring 10 famous LBD’s spanning the decades from Coco Chanel to Kate Moss, I knew it was going to be outstanding and I knew I had to interview her! Dolin did everything from researching to drafting to grading to making the samples. She even created a variation on each classic, rounding out the book with 20 patterns.
When I received my copy, I was so impressed with how thorough the instructions are and loved reading the history of each dress. Then I requested to receive three of the samples so I could play dress up, styling some of my favorites from the book. Dolin generously obliged. Trying the dresses on, I was blown away by how great the fit of each was. If you’ve ever sewn your own dress, you know that patterns often need altering to truly fit well. Not these! They are shaped beautifully. Read on to see how I styled them, learn more about the book and to find out how you could win your very own copy of Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress.
Pattern-making is a true skill. Tell us a bit about your background and your experience drafting patterns.
I have a degree in fashion design and discovered while I was in school that I loved the technical side of design (pattern drafting and garment construction). So that is what I focused on when I started out in the garment industry. For most of my career I have been a technical designer. A technical designer works very closely with the garment designer to help execute their vision. We evaluate the fit of each garment on a fit model and make the necessary adjustments to the pattern. Then you create the tech pack for each garment, this includes a line drawing, the graded measurements of the finished garment and garment construction details. We also work closely with oversea’s agents/factories to convey any changes to the fit, styling, pattern, grading and measurements of each garment.
What inspired you to write the book? What is it about LBDs that you love?
With a fashion design background I have always loved vintage garments and always look to see how things were made in a particular era, so I wanted the book to have dresses from many different eras over the last 90 years. Most LBD’s are so versatile and they can really make getting dressed easy, since they can be styled in so many different ways with accessories.
History is full fabulous LBDs. How did you choose which dresses to include in the book?
Now that was the hardest part in the beginning stages of writing this book, which dresses to choose! I tried to choose styles that defined a particular era and weren’t overly complicated. Then there were many hours of pouring over images, I wanted to make sure that icon image showed most of the dress and that the icon was relevant to that era. It was fun going back and forth with my editor on the many different icons and dresses, I am sure the book could have been twice as long.
Which dress is your favorite? Why?
I love them all for different reasons, but if I HAD to choose one it would be the Mary Quant dress.
What were some of the challenges you faced when writing the book?
The amount of work it takes to write a sewing book was a bit overwhelming and I don’t think most people know what goes into it. The actual writing was the easiest part for me and that was done first. Then came all the illustrations, patterns, grading, samples, choosing models, fitting the garments on the models, sewing of the final garments, photo shoot and the many rounds of edits. I could of and probably should have hired others for certain things, but I really wanted to prove that I could do it all myself.
The introduction is full of detailed instructions for sewing the dresses successfully. If you could only give sewers one tip for making beautiful garments, what would it be?
You must get real friendly with all of your pressing tools (ie: good steam iron, ironing board, pressing ham, pressing cloth). Proper pressing can really help take your garment to the next level.
What advice do you have for aspiring pattern makers?
Get a good understanding of the basics of pattern making, learn what a well fitting garment looks like and practice, practice, practice. I have been drafting patterns now for over 20 years and still learn new things all the time.
I enjoyed reading the history of dresses and the quotes from the actresses at the beginning of each pattern. What’s your one-liner quote that defines style for you?
I love that quote and I feel it holds true in many different ways, not just a person’s style.
What’s next for you and Lulu Bliss Patterns?
After writing this book I re-entered the technical design world (after 6 years) and discovered that I missed it. Right now, I am focusing on my freelance gig with Loud Mouth Golf, as their technical designer. As for Lulu Bliss Patterns, I am hoping to eventually offer some sewing patterns and add to the knit and crochet ones that are available now.
Win A Copy of Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress!
Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress by Dolin O’Shea features 20 patterns inspired by dresses worn by Coco Chanel, Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Mary Quant, Liza Minnelli, Anjelica Huston, Princess Diana and Kate Moss.
Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page, how you like to style your favorite little black dress. I’ll select a winner on Friday, September 12, 2014 at 4pm PST.
Happy National Creamsicle Day! You didn’t even know it was a thing, but indeed, it is and it’s today.
Nothing makes me feel more like a kid than eating a popsicle on a hot day. This weekend I watched my niece
eat experience her first creamsicle. Uncertain about it all and not liking the sticky dripping on her legs, most landed on the ground. But that’s the fun, right? Sticky fingers, lips painted orange and drips on your sandals.
So whip some up this morning and enjoy a kid-moment when you get home from work. The ingredients are in your fridge and they only take seconds to make. Aaaahh, summer!
8 oz Orange Juice
12 oz Vanilla Greek Yogurt
15 oz Orange Juice
5 oz Almond Milk
Makes four 5 oz popsicles.
Whisk together juice and yogurt (milk). Pour into popsicle molds. Insert tops and freeze for at least 5 hours. Enjoy!
Perk up your luggage with this jazzy little number–a pineapple luggage tag made from leather and personalized with your initials. Inside is a card for your name and contact information in case the dreaded loss-of-luggage occurs.
I am so excited to share this project with you. It’s simple, takes less than an hour to make and has a clean, polished look. I’m going to be gifting these every chance I get–birthdays, tied around a bottle of wine for a hostess gift and atop wedding presents.
• Pineapple and card pattern (laminate card)
• Two 4 x 6.5″ pieces of leather, 1.3-1.9mm thickness (Etsy has a great selection of leather scraps)
• 15″ of leather cord
• Sewing machine with leather needle
• Hole punch
• Leather paint (I used Angelus Leather Paint in Antique Gold)
• Darning needle
1. Print card, cut, fill in contact information and laminate. Cut laminating to about 1/8 inch from card edge.
2. Trace two pineapples onto wrong side of leather. Cut along tracing.
3. Place pineapples wrong sides together. Do not pin. Pins will leave holes in the leather.
4. Stitch pineapples together from A to B and C to D. Stitch as close to edge as possible. For most of the stitching (especially the leaves), I walked the needle rather than using the machine’s pedal. Take your time and go slow for best results.
5. Paint monogram.
6. Punch a hole in the laminated card.
7. Fold the leather cord in half, thread it through the punched hole and pull both ends of the leather cord through the loop. Pull tight.
8. Thread both ends of the leather cord through darning needle. Insert the needle from the bottom of the pineapple through the top of the pineapple.
9. Tie onto luggage and hit the road. Happy travels!
I have a little bit of a colleague-crush on Alex Capshaw-Taylor. Creator of Bryn Mawr, Eva’s Blouse, Manicouagan Pullover, and Pluie, when I realized that she was the same person behind several of my current favorite designs, I knew I had to talk to her. She granted me the pleasure of an interview back in January, but it’s only now that I’ve been able to write the interview up.
We spoke on a variety of subjects, but one of the ones we spent the most time on was discussing her wedding dress, which she designed and knit herself. I asked her about the process and the story of creating such a stunning piece. Just a note: Alex’s husband is also named Alex.
“We’d known for a while that we were going to get married. It was kinda funny because Alex had never asked me. Finally we were like, we just gotta do this; we have to get married. I figured I’m a knitwear designer, I think it would be really shameful if at this point in my career if I didn’t design my own dress. And… if I hadn’t knit my own my own dress I would have sewn my own dress. I couldn’t stomach spending 5 grand on a dress that I was going to wear once.
“We started talking in August about the wedding. We figured when we wanted to get married; Alex is a math major and numbers are important. Originally wanted on 11/12/13, but that was coming up too quickly. I wanted to have time to make my dress. We settled on 1/4/14, so we could remember it.
“I started the dress in late October – October 22nd. My husband said, ‘Look, if you’re going to make your dress, you have to make sure it is done before we go to China.’
“I said, ‘Okay, OKAY, I’ll get it done.’ I can get so stressed out with my deadlines and then they really stress him out. He actually gets more stressed out than I get stressed out, which is kinda funny.
“So I started [the dress]. You know how, as a designer, you always have to do gauge swatches and the mantra we teach our students is…’always do your gauge swatch, always do your gauge swatch.’ Well, I only did a gauge swatch for the measurement for around the waist.
“You see, the key measurements for the design was at the waist, because I didn’t want the design – those interlocking cables- to be disrupted at all. So I knew how many I needed at the waist, and I needed to figure out how I was going to manage the decrease from hem to waist, because I was knitting it from the hem up. So I decided, I’ll just do the math, and it’ll work out. But I did not do the gauge swatch for the larger part. So the first week I knit the dress I had to rip the entire thing out because it wasn’t working.”
How much had you done?
“I think I originally cast on maybe 450 or something stitches, maybe 490. I had done about 7”. So I had to take all of that out and restart. But when I did that though I did do the gauge swatch for everything.
“It ended up having 12 stitches between the cables at the bottom, six at the waist, and then working the bust.
“Aside from those measurements, I kinda just designed as I was going, as I was working. So I have notes from all of the design, but I don’t ever anticipate making this as a pattern.”
Alex was leaving for a trip to China with her husband right after Thanksgiving; which meant that she had to get her dress done before they left because Thanksgiving was so late in 2013. She wouldn’t have that much time to work on the dress once she got home.
“But I got the body of the dress done before I left for China; So when I came home all I had left were the sleeves, the collar, the lace at the bottom, and then the beading. (Alex ended up hand-sewing dozens of pearls to her dress.) That part I knew I could get done in a week or a week and a half. But when we were in China I ended up getting the flu, so when I came home I was working at about 25% of my normal manpower. So that ended up slowing me down a little. But it was finished before the wedding; so there was no stress the night before.”
This statement wasn’t entirely true: Alex was still waiting on the petticoat for the dress to arrive the night before the wedding.
“So I’d ordered the first petticoat from China, and it said it’d be here between 2 weeks to two days before the wedding. And I was like, ‘Okay, it’ll get here”. And then it wasn’t arriving and I got nervous, so I ordered a second one from Amazon. And then we had some weather just before the wedding, so I thought neither of them were going to get here on time. But it got here. Thankfully.
“The petticoat ended up arriving about 6 o’clock the night before the wedding. It was pretty crazy because the first time I tried the dress on with all the pieces was the night before the wedding. Thankfully everything fit.”
Take a look at the results of Alex’s hard work!
Alex Capshaw-Taylor’s designs can be found on Ravelry, or visit her website.
Did Alex’s handknit gown inspire you? Tell us how in the comments below and share this post with a friend.