dog days of summer

pepperknit | purl soho pub

Earlier this summer, I had a series of garment sewing disasters (that serger came out of nowhere!), so I decided I needed a satisfying sewing win. Dogs are known for their healing properties, right?

pepperknit | purl soho pub

I’m lucky this came together decently well because it honestly wasn’t the easiest! Getting all the ares with three seams properly aligned was somewhat tricky, but in the end I have the cutest little pup! I used the Purl Soho Pup pattern (free if you subscribe to their newsletter—look at the top of the page), truncating the wiener dog’s length by arbitrarily taking out a few inches in the middle of the pattern pieces.

pepperknit | purl soho pub

For the main fabric I used a gray flannel that I once used as a baby quilt back, and for the accents a fun quilting cotton. She enjoys walks, feeling the breeze in her ears, and generally staying quiet!

pepperknit | purl soho pub

“beach ball” for Jack

Though I knit baby Jack a sweater, since I was getting to meet my first cousin once removed (I’m pretty sure that’s our relation—he’s my cousin’s son) at Beach Week, I had to make him something, right? The little stinker (on the verge of walking unassisted!) just turned one, and he took to the ball immediately. Success!

pepperknit | purl bee fabric beach ball

In fact, during a naptime session on the beach I watched him in the Pack-n-Play struggling with his FOMO but also distracted by his new best toy: he hugged, pet, and babbled to the ball. I dared not take a photo lest I distract him from napping, which was what he was supposed to be doing. But rest assured it was heart-burstingly cute.

pepperknit | purl bee fabric beach ball

The crab fabric was bought at Makers’ Mercantile when I visited in March. I knew I’d use it to make Jack-Jack something, but I wasn’t sure what until I spied the Purl Bee Fabric Ball pattern. I made the medium size, which was perfect for his little arms to wrap around. All the solids are Kona cotton, and I just used heat n bond to affix the red circles—I meant to stitch them down a little but didn’t, and that was probably a mistake. I’ll know for the future. Also I used the cardboard-and-foil trick for making the circles, with middling success. It’s still pretty hinky. But it works!

pepperknit | purl bee fabric ball

the spinster slouch

pepperknit | spinster slouch

Andy Goldsworthy’s art piece Wood Line inspired me to post a picture to Instagram with the caption “sinuous.” The Spinster Slouch┬áby my friend Val is also most aptly described with that word. I love the way the ribbing seems to dart this way and that on the hat—achieved by crossing 9 stitches at a time.

pepperknit | spinster slouch

I grabbed this yarn—Malabrigo Arroyo in Regatta Blue—and cast on for the hat when I was on my way to the movies one Saturday. I worked on the ribbing on the subway and before the movie started, and then it was my go-to project for the week. The following Saturday I cast off, a finished hat in hand. I worked the cable crossings 4 times because I didn’t read the pattern closely enough and worked the first crossing too soon, and then I wanted the ribbing to be back to normal before I decreased for the crown (this would make sense if you were knitting it). Also with this yarn and needle combo (size 5 needles), it needed that extra length. I wanted a toque more than a slouch in any case, and my yarn was not nearly as drapey as the luxury blend of silk and yak that Val used in the original.

pepperknit | spinster slouch

The hat proved quite useful on a trip to San Francisco, where despite the May date it was frigid at times (note my wool coat!), and particularly on this morning at the Presidio to visit Goldsworthy’s art pieces. (He has 3 others in the park; one was closed to the public because it was a weekday and we hadn’t called ahead, but the other two were easy to see.) Photos were taken by my old friend and professional photographer Andrea Ismert, who I got to spend the day with!

plantain tee

Maggie told me to make it, so I did. She’s never led me astray before, and I’m so pleased with the results of letting her boss me around!

pepperknit | plantain tee

She specifically said to make a Plantain Tee (free with newsletter sign up!) in a bamboo jersey. When I was at Mood shopping for fabric for a dress to wear to a wedding, I stumbled upon the bamboo jersey section. When I got a staff member to cut the dress fabric for me I spontaneously said, “and let’s add a yard of something from over here… how about that one,” picking a color somewhat blindly. Yes, it’s in the teal family—what else? I gravitate to that color when I’m looking for color, what can I say.

Turns out to make the Plantain in any sleeve length but short you actually need more than a yard, but I didn’t know that, so I’m glad I only wanted short sleeves anyway right now! I cut the pieces out using the pattern pieces for the size 40 in the bust and the 42 for the hips, just grading it out as smoothly and evenly as I could. The bamboo was kind of slippery and quite stretchy, so getting the fabric set for cutting was somewhat stressful, but it seems to have gone well enough.

I used my serger to sew all the seams, and that went very smoothly. I didn’t topstitch the collar because the seam sat flat, and I don’t really have the best tools for topstitching. That’s why I had major issues with the hemming: turns out I am kind of terrible at hemming. When I made my Union St. Tee, I did a zigzag for the hems, and it came out great with no effort at all. So I guess I thought it would always be that simple. I secured all the hems on this Plantain with the zigzag, and wow it looked like utter crap. I sent Maggie a photo and she suggested it might “block out,” to use a knitter’s parlance, but I really thought I just did a bad job. So I picked out all of the hems and redid them, using just a long straight stitch, my walking foot, and extra care to not stretch the fabric AT ALL. The extra time to pick out the stitching was frustrating but definitely worth it, because the hems are drastically improved.

pepperknit | plantain tee

In the end, it’s pretty successful! It’s amazingly comfy, I think the deep scoop is flattering but not too revealing, and I definitely will want ones in other sleeve lengths. (I’m not sure about the elbow patches—looks cute, yes, but I fear my skills in sewing them down will just make them look like I hurriedly covered actual holes or something.) I don’t exactly know what’s happening on the back in that photo—it looks like it’s pulling in odd ways? But then, we’d just gone up and down a ton of stairs and were sweaty and maybe that was affecting it. Jason says it looked pretty normal when not frozen in a photo.

I wore it today as we explored the Sutro Baths and Land’s End in San Francisco. I’m a loyal (obsessed?) listener of 99% Invisible, so I’d heard the episode about the Sutro Baths. I honestly thought, from the podcast, that they would be remote, requiring some effort to find, and you’d not really be able to walk all over them—but I was very wrong. They’re part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (“Sutro District”), so there’s an info center and free bathrooms, and paths all around. Sure, it’s on the far western edge of the city, but we just hopped on the 38 R bus down Geary and it took us right to them! The ruins are on the edge of Land’s End, which has paths leading to amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a fun place to visit on our first day of a trip to SF.

pepperknit | sutro baths

pepperknit | seal rocks

pepperknit | land's end

pepperknit | plantain tee

these shorts don’t fit

pepperknit | city gym shorts

—but that doesn’t mean I’m not wearing them as I type this.

I learned a lot from making these shorts, not least of which is that my current body measurements are not in proportion to what a pattern writer assumes. The finished shorts are too tight across my hips and yet kind of loose at the waist; since when did I become pear-shaped? Anyway, I know how I could tweak these for the future, I suppose, and they fit well enough for wearing around the house—which was their original intent anyway.

The pattern is Purl Soho’s free City Gym Shorts, and I used a quilting cotton that I bought a few yards of a long time ago because I just love it. I still have enough to use as the backing for a baby-size quilt in the future. The binding and waist are in two different shades of blue Kona cotton, actually—both from fat quarters in my stash. I didn’t have the called-for 1-inch elastic, but I have a bunch of 1/2-inch elastic, so the waistband is a little weird (I didn’t change its depth to match the elastic), but whatever.

pepperknit | city gym shorts

I also learned how annoying making double-fold bias binding without the little device is. I made a lot of length of it, and folding the sides over and ironing it down was so tedious. Next trip for sewing supplies will involve one of those bias tape makers.

The pattern doesn’t match across the fronts or the backs, because I paid no heed to making sure that would happen (cut each piece on doubled fabric, so who knew what the lower layer looked like)? Somehow I didn’t think about how that would end up looking when I started cutting. I would pay attention to that in the future for sure.

It was interesting to follow the steps of making a pair of shorts like this—each seam is so simple and obvious, but I feel as though I would not have figured it out on my own without the pattern’s guidance. I like the style, and if these fit I’d be quite pleased to wear them out of the house. I could use some actual gym shorts for when I finally recommit to going. Maybe in time my measurements will start to match patterns more if I do!

pepperknit | city gym shorts