posts tagged: finished!

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 by 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

Union St Tee

I really ought to have just walked down to Union Street in Brooklyn to take these pictures; instead we’ll settle for a different street in Brooklyn just a few blocks away. (I’m guessing the pattern was not named for that street exactly, as I don’t think the designer lives here!)

pepperknit | union st tee

After truly YEARS of wanting to sew clothing but being terrified and unsure, Friday night I bit the bullet and cut into a knit fabric. I made the Union St Tee, and though it is a bit big on me, and it has its issues, I’m over the moon for it!

A few years ago I sewed a handful of things—a Tova top, which I wear from time to time despite how heavy the fabric is, a Washi Tunic that I wear once in a blue moon because I really don’t like how wingy the sleeves are, and a Washi Dress that I absolutely never wear because it is completely not my style. Then I wished I were sewing clothing but felt stumped on what to make. So many cute dresses abound online, but what do I wear on a daily basis? Tshirts with jeans. So I should sew those.

My mom and I found this fabric at Joann’s, and I figured a simple T shirt was the way to go. I wanted some ease, so I made the Large, and it’s definitely too long on me, but I can still alter that. The stripes on the fabric don’t align from sleeves to body because I just didn’t have enough fabric to make that happen—I barely eked out the sleeves as it is, and that they match each other was hard too. They also feel a bit too long to me, too, but no big deal.

I used my serger to sew all the seams with what I feel is great success. It really wasn’t nearly as tricky as it seemed before I did it. However, in a glaring misstep, I sewed the neckline to the WRONG SIDE the first time and then had pick out the serged seam—boy did that take forever. When I redid it, I ended up with two small puckers. How infuriating, after the first, incorrect attempt had had no errors at all! I decided I can live with the puckers, because I am not going through ripping it apart again. I don’t have a twin needle so I did a simple zigzag on my normal machine for the hems. Even with the time wasted fixing the neckline, it took me only about two hours to make.

The pattern was fantastic. Despite my limited experience with garment sewing, I’ve printed and taped my fair share of pdf patterns. This one has layers built into the pdf, so you can pick which size(s) to print! No navigating a mess of slightly different lines, or guessing a curve when it’s a solid eighth of an inch thick because so many sizes are overlapping. You could easily print out two sizes at once so that you can grade from one to the other where necessary. i don’t understand why other designers aren’t doing this. In the future, I would prioritize one of Hey June‘s patterns over another, for sure.

It’s exciting to think I can now start actually making clothing I’ll wear.

pepperknit | union st tee

put a bird on it!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group projectWhen we found out that one of our own was pregnant, the members of KBC started discussions of what kind of group gift to give. A quilt, sure, but not everyone sews. So we brainstormed an additional knit idea, and we eventually decided a mobile of knit birds would be cute and kind of funny—the parents, recently relocated to the East Coast after years in Portland, would be no strangers to the concept of putting a bird on it.

Finding a bird pattern led to much snickering when we settled on a free Blue Tit bird pattern from Lion Brand. Be warned: It is a finicky knit, and there was much swearing by all involved. The pattern is clear, it’s just a pain to knit. My bad; I am the one who found the pattern and decided it was the one! Ultimately one of us decided to knit the branches instead of wrestling the yarn into a bird (fine by me–finding random branches and ensuring they were bug-free was kind of stressing me out). Another took on the task of quilting and binding the group quilt (more on that separately), so in the end we had 7 unique birds!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile

Here’s my bird—knit using a random assortment of Cascade 220 from my stash. When I perched it on the branch I made it more “squished” than its natural state, so it got a little chubby. And maybe cuter than it originally was!

I set to perching them either in flight or on the branches so that they made a balanced mobile and oh boy was that a challenge. I used to make mobiles a lot in high school, so I thought it would be sooo easy. But hello, that was 20+ years ago, my skills were rusty, and most of those mobiles involved PAPER ORIGAMI. Not heavy, various-weighted knit birds! I did learn a fishing lure knot tying technique that I think is pretty sturdy and is good to use with filament thread (though I never really succeeded in making it look as taut and neat as in the video), and I feel really good about the finished mobile. I so badly wanted some birds to sit atop branches, but they were so heavy they’d flip right over; thinking to string the vertical supports through the birds was an inspired bit of genius, I thought!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group project

We finally gave the mobile to the family at Maryland Sheep & Wool yesterday. And cutiepie Hazel, knowing it was her flock of birds, set to claiming it immediately—nomming on one right away!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group project