I’d never participated in a mystery knit along before, and with the added “choose your own adventure” element of Ysolda’s Follow Your Arrow, I quickly decided to join the masses. I opted to remain unspoiled about each clue after it was revealed, only looking at photos of Arrows-in-progress after I’d committed to a clue. A few of my coworkers also participated, and it was fun to check on their progress and debate each option at lunch. Between the three of us, we all were making completely different shawls—a two-color kite start, a one-color kite start, and a lace start!
My choices at each juncture were pretty consistent, I felt: I chose the one that would remain a surprise until I was done knitting it (if this was a choice). Bonus if it seemed like the “harder” of the two options. Why take the easy way out? So I did what turned out to be the “kite” for Clue 1, because there was no chart to show me what it would look like. For Clue 2, I of course opted for the short rows because that was definitely something you couldn’t visualize just from reading the pattern. Clues 3 and 4 each had two lace charts, so sadly I couldn’t remain in the dark on what they would be like. I chose relatively randomly (they were quite similar, after all). I’ll admit I broke with my “rule” by Clue 5—I chose the one that seemed simpler and easier to execute, because I was ready to have an FO. Also I peeked at some of the finished ones (I didn’t tackle Clue 5 until after several people had finished entirely) and I didn’t like the way the other choice looked.
In the end I’m not really sure I ended up with a cohesive piece. But just as I used the yarn despite its quickly-recurring patch that didn’t get hit by the dye, I told myself that when a scarf is scrunched up around my neck in the way that I always wear them, no one will notice or care. The yarn was of course lovely to work with, as all Periwinkle Sheep yarn is, but I bought a sweater’s worth of it at Rhinebeck a few years ago without realizing just how prominent that undyed patch was going to be. I don’t mind the effect so much in this shawl, but I’m not sure what to do with all the rest of it in my stash.
Anyway, I’ve thrown this shawl into my bag this spring a lot—the lightweight yarn and the more open gauge make it perfect as a little something extra around my neck during transitional weather. I really like it when it’s all wrapped up. So who cares that the kite and short rows don’t really “go” with the lace sections?
One really good thing about this project was it definitely got me back in the knitting groove. Will I ever join in a mystery knit along again? Unlikely. I realized that I often see finished MKAL pieces and know I would never have chosen the design if I’d know it would look like that from the start. By nature a piece that goes in chunks is not going to be as cohesive looking as one that’s designed as a single thing. But did I enjoy this experience? Immensely! How fun to all be working on the same thing at the same time. It fed into the same part of me that likes to watch TV shows when they air, so I can participate in online chatter.
Regarding the little photo shoot I had for this with Caro of Splityarn: Why are we always shooting on incredibly windy days!? For this we went out in front of the Indianapolis Convention Center before a day on the show floor at TNNA and battled a blustery change in the weather. Also the grass was full of sinking spots that I kept falling into, so it was a hilarious time, as well. I love having a professional photographer friend at my beck and call!
For Christmas last year (wow I’m late blogging this), I made my friend Beth a pillow in all her favorite colors: pink, more pink, and some purple too.
I did it as a quilt-as-you-go using narrow strips of some of my favorite fabrics. A QAYG log cabin is easy enough except if it gets slightly off kilter, there’s no squaring it up! So this spirals every so slightly. I just squared it at the end and called it a day.
I closed the backing (Kona Berry) up entirely and stuffed that sucker really full so that it would be a super comfy addition to her bedroom–perfect for propping yourself up to read a book or watch something on a tablet.
Cambie has been in my stash of patterns for ages. Actually, I think I bought the paper pattern at Fancy Tiger Crafts when I was in Colorado more than a year and a half ago. I bought fabric for it last summer (a lightweight cotton; got it at Joann’s). I bought a zipper in the fall. And no progress was made until a week before I intended to wear it, when I unfolded the tissue and set to. In general I had no real troubles; I didn’t make a muslin because I wanted it done fast and because you can’t truly assess the fit until the whole thing is done, and I really didn’t want to sew an entire muslin. But it was my first time doing a garment with a lining, and it was definitely my first time ever ever sewing a zipper. Oh, and it was an invisible zipper. As a result, I paused several times to Google for help and discovered that a lot of others who have made this dress are accomplished enough that they barely talk about some of the details that I wanted guidance for. So, I figured I’d write up everything I searched (though it reveals me as the complete novice I am), in the hopes that it’ll help someone else.
“tracing tissue pattern onto freezer paper”
So I’d heard of people doing this but hadn’t done it before. I set the tissue pattern down on my table and placed a piece of freezer paper over and I could NOT see through it to trace the lines, so I googled to see if people do something special. No result I found talked about how to do it because apparently it was so easy. And it was, duh: my table is dark so that obscured the lines; I put another piece of freezer paper underneath and it got much easier. I did not use the freezer paper to stick to the fabric; I used it just because it’s sturdy. Tracing was a breeze, but time consuming.
“understitch pocket openings”
OK this is super easy but it took a few results to find one that summarized it cleanly enough. All it is is sewing the “inside part” to the seam allowance in a stitch right against the original seam line. (They say this helps keep the inside part from rolling to the front. I’m unclear why the pattern doesn’t call for you to understitch the entire top edge, and I’m debating just doing it anyway, but this was for the pocket opening.) This video gets right to the point and shows it very clearly—it’s super straightforward, but I appreciated being able to see it.
“cambie dress interfacing waistband”
So my interfacing tells you to cut the interfacing piece 1/4 smaller than the piece all the way around. I wasn’t sure if it mattered if I did that or not. Ultimately I decided not to bother cutting it smaller because it was easier to just match it, and it gets cut off anyway in the serger. That, I suppose, is an argument for cutting the interfacing smaller so there’s less waste, but whatever.
“cambie dress waistband”
My next question was how come I cut 2 pieces of the waistband out of the main fabric when you only need one for main dress. But oh! I’m a smart cookie and I realized that it doesn’t tell you to cut a piece of waistband out of the lining fabric. So you must use the main fabric piece in the lining—logically, it’s a more sturdy fabric just like an interfaced piece of main fabric is sturdier than the dress. Then I found a lot of blog posts that showed the insides of their dresses and I could actually see that they used the main fabric for the lining’s waistband. Mystery solved.
“threading a brother 1034d serger”
This is not about the Cambie dress, but my serger’s threads got all out of wack while it was sitting on a shelf, so when I went to use it… I couldn’t. I had to re-thread it entirely, and I always forget the steps. I’ve used this video before and it continues to be the most helpful. I was cranky about having to re-thread it and I considered just finishing my seams with a zigzag stitch, but I’m really glad that I sucked it up and just got the serger working. I realized what was the point in having it if I didn’t use it!? Plus it gives me such comfort to know that the seams are well finished.
“sewing invisible zipper”
I had never sewn a zipper before—though I’ve read in several books and on blog posts the steps, so I had the gist—and I’m glad I searched “invisible” zipper, because I learned that there is a foot for invisible zippers! I don’t have one of those so this video was helpful but not exactly applicable; this video for using a normal zipper foot totally did the trick for me! I definitely could have pressed the zipper out flatter and gotten the needle closer to the teeth, but hey, there will be a next time.
“cambie dress lining”
I knew the creator of the Cambie had blogged about sewing the lining to the zipper, and I followed it closely. I find it so funny, though, how all mentions of the bottom of the zipper are kind of glossed over in that tutorial and other sites that talk about sewing a lining to a zipper. It’s an awkward area, and I wondered how to tackle it—the answer seems to be: just as best as you can. So I did that, and it’s not visible, so it seems to have worked!
Looking at all this, it is clear I was really clueless about sewing this dress, and I suppose I was, but look! It’s done! It fits okay!
The top of the bodice could probably benefit from a little taking in, but there is no way I was taking out the lining in order to make this adjustment. Also I think that I need to figure out how to cut different sizes for different parts of a pattern. I cut the size based on my bust measurements, and oddly the bust seems too big and the waistband slightly snug? I don’t really know how that works, but I guess I don’t want as much ease in the bust as the finished dress measurements give. I was suspicious of this when I picked a size but I went with it. I don’t really regret it.
When I sewed down the straps I deliberately pulled them down far and the bodice up high to keep it as flat as possible, but that made the armpits way too tight. I could wear it, but I knew I’d be uncomfortable, so I took that out and dropped the strap just a touch more. Not a lot—the sweetheart neckline would have gaped drastically if I’d dropped it to where it probably “should” sit—but this helped a lot.
I hemmed it to just above my knee, as I feel that with my short height (5 feet 4 inches) that just-below-my-knee length is awkward. This meant chopping 4 inches off the main fabric at the hem. I hemmed the lining so that it ends close to the seam on the main fabric, so that I could tack the lining to the seams if I wanted, but I did not blindstitch the lining to the waistband. I’m unclear why doing that would be useful, and I also think I might go back to understitch the top edge of the bodice. Still considering that. I didn’t take pictures of the dress turned inside out but I assure you it looks fantastic. The lining is a white cotton batiste.
I love the pockets, and I’m proud that it doesn’t look totally homemade. The zipper matching up gives me a secret thrill every time I pull it up. And it’s cute! I wore it to my cousin’s rehearsal dinner in Savannah last weekend, so we were able to get these shots with some live oaks in nearby Chippewa Square. At one point, a cousin of mine walked up and stuck her hand in my pocket and complimented the cuteness of my dress—and she didn’t know already that I had sewn it (though I’d told everyone else). SUCCESS.
Last summer when I gave my cousin Meg and her husband Josh their quilt, it was the same week that my cousin Patrick and his longtime girlfriend Katie solidified their venue and wedding date, so we got to talking about colors, personal preferences, etc., because I knew I’d make them a quilt, too. They both liked the colors in Meg’s quilt but definitely seemed to be leaning blue and green rather than the blues, greens, and purples I put in that one. I floated the idea of asymmetry and that was not met with enthusiasm, which is just fine, and helped greatly in narrowing down what kind of look I’d go for. I hit on plus signs and was sold—perfect for a wedding theme, and the bride works for the Red Cross! I mean it was meant to be. I kept the design a secret from them, though.
Several fabrics were left from Meg and Josh’s quilt, and I liked that I could use them here. I bought a few new ones to round it out, and then I set to cutting strips. I liked the pluses to have one long leg and then the cross-piece, rather than piecing the plus like a 9-patch. I even deliberately cut the strips so that the direction of prints would cross too.
This one came out pretty big, but with Patrick well over six feet tall, and Katie not far behind, it seemed good to go a little big. It’s about 65 x 80, I think. This meant quilting it was an enormous ordeal, and I’ve sworn off quilting on my dinky home machine any longer. As a result, the quilt got only straight doubled vertical lines because there was just no way I could curl it up crosswise and get it through the narrow throat. I like the simplicity, though.
This was shot in February on my knitting weekend away with friends, using the awesome stand that Caro brought for me to use, on a somewhat windy day. In fact it seems Caro took two of these photos for me, though we’d originally planned for me to just do the shooting myself. Anyway, we did this before I made the label. (I finished the quilt specifically for this weekend away knowing I could have a nice photo shoot there!) So this is what the back looked like before I added the label. Hilariously, now that I’m looking at this picture I see that I originally thought of the green polka dot on the back as the bottom! Oops, I totally forgot that and placed the label in the khaki in the lower right. There’s no real top or bottom to the quilt, of course, but as I was piecing it I oriented it this way, so I always thought of that as the top. Ha! Want a peek at the label? Check my most recent post, here.
As always I hope the blanket brings my cousin and new cousin-in-law comfort in times spent snuggling on the couch! We leave for the wedding tomorrow and the weather is due to be 85 degrees—a sharp contrast to what it felt like when I photographed their quilt!
A visit to two adorable babies requires an equally adorable gift, does it not?
On my Pacific Northwest tour, I got to stay a night with Julie, Andy, and their twins, Emmett and Malcolm. They’re nearly a year and a half old and walking around like gangbusters. They’re also into hugging things, so a pair of squishy, soft hedgehogs knit from a pattern by the Purl Bee blog were just the thing!
I used a silk blend from Brooks Farm (I think it’s “4 Play”?) in blue for the faces and bellies, and then Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (leftover from this YMN cover!) for the bodies. US 5 for the DK weight yarn, US 8 for the big stuff. These were such a cinch to make and completely satisfying, with their lack of seaming and thus instant gratification.
Plus the babies took to them immediately, hugging them and discovering that they bounce quite nicely when tossed to the floor! Julie and I tried to think up names for the hedgehogs and realized that our naming skills are of the most bland variety, leaving us with a set of “white hedgehog” and “brown hedgehog” or, perhaps, if we’re feeling saucy, “hedgie” and “hoggie.” The kids don’t seem to mind their namelessness, though. There’s really nothing better than giving someone a gift and watching them immediately incorporate it into their life, you know? The boys adopted the toys right away!