So this FO is basically one big inside joke—forgive me! But it’s a great example of how you can take a pattern and personalize it for your intended recipient. I’ve actually done so twice with this lion by Penguin & Fish, who normally only says “ROAR.”
One of my favorite coworkers, Emily (who I used to be in the same knitting group as!), is prone to some, shall we say, theatrics. If frustrations are reaching a tipping point, she will relatively calmly say “ROAR!” to express her anger. Sometimes she is so annoyed about a person she’ll call them “a dumb dummy.” And for some inexplicable reason, she’s always saying “honk” or “hello honk” when answering the phone. And sometimes she gets this urge to spill water on the floor. Perhaps I have painted a picture of a mentally unstable person? No, it’s just Emily, one of the funniest, kindest people I know. For her last day at the office, Beth and I cooked up a customized lion embroidery. He’s saying all her favorite phrases—and even he couldn’t resist tipping that glass of water out. But look, he’s just as sweet and calm as you’d expect.
I stitched it onto Kona Snow and used a cheap embroidery hoop and found various flosses in my stash, so this guy came together really quickly and easily. When I made this pattern once before, from the kit, it was for a friend I met in yoga class. We eventually joined a studio together, then started seeing Iyengar senior instructor Joan White together. So when she was expecting, I embroidered this little guy with a modification: I stuck out his tongue and wrote “simhasana” below; that’s the Sanskrit for Lion Pose. I have only a photo I took with my phone of this and I can’t even find it now! (I did this years ago.)
Now that I’ve started sewing my own clothing (ha, look at me, talking like I’m making a whole new wardrobe already) I’ve been thinking a lot about fit. When I shop for clothing in retail stores, I try items on to see how they look, but I don’t think about how they fit. I realized, in making a Washi Dress, that I don’t know how to really assess how something fits yet. But I like to think this one looks pretty good on! (All photos by Caro Sheridan; the last photo by our host, Phil!)
I didn’t make a muslin of the Washi—my bust measurement went fine with one of the existing sizes, and I knew the skirt was forgiving enough to not matter. It came together fast once I got the shirring to work (which, upon further reading, I’ve learned I did not do correctly, but it functions fine, so I’ll just be improving my technique for the future. In case you are wondering, the problem is that the elastic is wobbly on the back, which means I didn’t have it properly under tension. I’ll be playing with that once I get more elastic.). I went with a tank instead of sleeves and made white bias binding out of Kona Snow for the armholes. (Now I wonder if I should’ve used that for the neckline too, but I’m not doing it now.) I tried it on once it was all assembled, modeled it for my boyfriend and a friend, and asked if I needed to change anything. They said it looked fine.
But does it FIT fine? I’m not convinced it does. The bodice should probably come lower. The bust darts don’t make the bodice shape to me in any real way. The neckline gaps just a bit (maybe partly because my “featherweight” interfacing was too heavy in combination with the cotton, lightweight though it is, or maybe because I forgot to clip the curves). I know there’s room for improvement if I take this one on again.
Wearing it while tromping around Star Valley Flowers‘ farm in Wisconsin, however, I discovered it is a great garment for wearing. It’s comfortable, breezy, and the fullness of the skirt means it requires absolutely zero effort at all. If I add a white cardigan, I’ll happily wear this to work and show off my handiwork. But I won’t make this dress again without significant revisions. This field of sunflowers are actually part of Driftless Organics‘ farm, across the street—we couldn’t resist them!
I knew I was coming to a glorious location here in western Wisconsin (that’s the Mississippi River in the background—I had never seen the Mississippi before!), so I wanted an FO that I could rope my favorite photographer, Caro, into shooting for me. But I wasn’t going to be able to knit anything in time, and I wasn’t going to drag a quilt halfway across the country, so it was time to actually sew some clothing! I think the tight deadline plus the almost insane panic I felt that I would be missing out on gorgeous photo shoot locations were what I needed to finally get over my fear and start cutting into fabric for garments.
It was super steep on that bluff, you guys, and I was wearing flip-flops. (I stopped about halfway down to a stone ledge that friends were exploring.) So excuse any weirdness in these photos. But about this shirt, the Tova Top. I used a quilting cotton, which I knew would probably be too heavy; it hangs pretty well in spite of that. It does feel slightly stiff, though, and I’d be interested in trying this out in a more appropriate fabric—plus running it through the wash a few times.
The inset probably gave me the biggest trouble, because working around its corners was tricksy. I actually picked it out once; it came out much better the second time. The collar was also somewhat mysterious to me (fold over what?) until I actually did it, and then it was pretty clear—it came together without too much hassle. Confession time: Practically every seam in this garment had to be sewn twice! A combination of always forgetting to change a setting (lengthen stitch length for basting, but forget to switch it back!), being slightly confused by the black and white step-by-step photographs in the tutorial, and being almost a complete novice (those garment sewing classes I took 10 years ago are in my brain somewhere, but not at the front of my brain). In all, though, this top wasn’t hard to make at all and it came together in a 2-day intensive.
One major delay in the process was learning how to thread my serger and get the hang of using that. Illana gave me the serger years ago (she had a new one) but it had literally never come out of the box upon being transferred to my possession. And of course I got it threaded and ran out of thread soon after, so I am now an expert on threading that machine! But I figured if I was going to start sewing garments I ought to get them finished as well as I could. Caro, a professional, told me she peeked inside my garments and approved of the job I did, so: PHEW!
I’m looking forward to the weather turning so that I can wear this more! The flap at the front really is very revealing if you’re not standing still, so I’ll need to wear a camisole underneath, and if I were to sew this pattern again I think I’d add a button or somehow cause that to be more closed.
A long weekend away with my knitting besties? Just what the doctor ordered. We made our way to a cabin in West Virginia for three days of 80s movies (on VHS no less), bacon, birthdays, knitting, cross stitch, and nature.
I didn’t knit a single stitch, giving my thumb a nice long rest; instead I cross-stitched and embroidered. At night I slept in the top bunk over Caro and listened to the rain fall on the roof in a darkness that I cannot find here in Brooklyn without an eye mask. Mornings, I made lemon-ricotta pancakes. One day we went blackberry picking, which JulieFrick later made into a cobbler. Pam devoted 11 avocados to her amazing guacamole. Nova finished a shawl, while Specs finished a legwarmer and a cross stitch project (that’s for me!). Heather spoke to us in French and kept us stocked with wine. We celebrated Christy and Julie’s birthdays (and Diana and Ashley’s, in absentia). Caro made us her famous Mephistopheritas (Margaritas with habanero-infused tequila). We went out at midnight in the 50-degree night and craned our necks to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We laughed until it hurt.
Yesterday I finally—finally, as this blanket was begun 2 years ago!—debuted a picnic blanket that was made for me by friends, using materials bought with friends, and that will probably always be used in the company of friends!
Two summers ago, Andréa and a few others of us got to talking on Twitter about having our own bee. There’d been a handful of bees amongst knitbloggers already, but this one brought together a new group of crafty folk—some experienced quilters and some novices. My month was right in the middle, and I chose the disappearing 9-patch. On a trip to the burbs with fellow city friends (periodic visits to big box stores are crucial for city survival! And the Santa Fe Salad at the Cheesecake Factory, about the only thing that I truly love about the suburbs), we hit a Joann’s during a 99-cent fat quarters sale, so I stocked up on yellows and oranges with this project in mind. I invited my bee-mates to add their own fabrics (in oranges/reds/yellows, of course) but one rule had to be followed: The center square in the 9-patch had to be in the provided Kona Snow. This way every block would end up with four small white squares. But I wasn’t picky about how the patches were rotated and sewn together (however, any ones that came in with the same fabric next to itself were picked apart and tacked onto another square).
When I distributed the blocks I worked to keep the red squares scattered around. I sewed lots more squares to fill out the blanket—it can seat 2–3 people comfortably. I finished the top about 8 months after my bee month, but there it sat while I figured out the backing. I wanted waterproof, or something like it, and wasn’t sure how best to accomplish it. Then while in Boulder for a dear friend’s wedding, in line at a hardware store for sunscreen, I turned and saw large bolts of oilcloth for some amazingly low price (I think less than $2 a yard?). A yellow with green plaid lines seemed to be the right choice, so I bought several yards and smashed it into my suitcase. But I only finally got around to putting it all together a few weeks ago.
I didn’t put any batting between the top and backing—I figured, whatever padding I’d put in wouldn’t be any match against a rock, and I certainly wasn’t seeking warmth. But I did quilt the two together, just to be sure there wouldn’t be any shifting. I went on the diagonal in each direction. Stitching on the oilcloth was so easy! It moved through the machine just fine, and I had it all quilted in no time. I used another orange fabric as the binding, and machine sewed it down. This was my first time using the machine, and while it wasn’t a perfect job, it definitely did the trick; I was pleased with how successful it was!
While sewing down the binding I added two ties so that I could roll the blanket up and tie it shut. Ingenious, I think! This weekend I got to use the blanket at the Big Apple BBQ. Five friends and I sampled some amazing meats on the lawn at Madison Square Park and relaxed on our blankets—it was perfect! This was my fourth visit to the BABBQ but my first with a truly wonderful blanket to sit on. So big thanks to Sara, Nova, Sarah, Chawne, Kate, Stacey, Danielle, Carrie, Andréa, JulieFrick, and Caro for your contributions to my summer of fun with friends! I love that I can have my friends with me in so many ways. Just do not spill anything on my quilt, or I’m never hanging out with you again. You’ve been warned!