slowfashion

My Fall 2017 Making List

If you missed the concept and explanation of my Making List, you can check out my first post for more details. Essentially, it's a way for me to focus my energies on the projects that are most important to me and feel less scattered/overwhelmed about my making.

The following items from my original Making List have been completed or cast on:

  1. Saturday Matinee Socks - finished
  2. Rainbow Leyburn Socks - finished, but as a different pair of socks that I started!
  3. Lopi Pullover - cast on
  4. Fen Dress - finished
  5. Watson Bra - finished
  6. Wiksten Tank 2 - failed, but attempted before throwing in the towel!

I also practiced my spinning with some fiber from my stash.

Since my priorities are shifting with the seasonal change, along with my current break from design work, I've updated my Making List to reflect my focus for fall. 

WIPS

  1. Lopi Pullover
  2. Fibre Co Stripey Raglan - this is a carryover WIP from the first list
  3. Charlemont Thermal - another carryover
Stripey Raglan vs Lopi Pullover

Stripey Raglan vs Lopi Pullover

I am hibernating my Miss Babs Cardigan design WIP for now, since it's not grabbing my attention. But it's there when I want it!

CAST ON

  1. Bonnie Banks Shawl for my mom, in Blue Moon BFL Sport
  2. Speckled Space Socks, using one of my stash sock yarns
  3. Impromptu - but only after finishing at least one garment from the WIP list!
Untitled design (10).png

SPIN

  1. White British Wool - I destashed the yarn I was planning on using for the Brookdale Vest, which was originally in my last CO list. I'm hoping to spin this into a Brookdale-suitable yarn!
  2. Spun Right Round Merino
  3. Malabrigo Nube

SEW

  1. 2nd Watson Bra
  2. Flannel shirt for Mark
  3. Serger projects, if I can get over my fears and teach myself how to use my serger!

In addition to my original Making List 'rules', I have added these two for fall:

  1. Cast on for new items after finishing the previous object in that category. IE, finish a garment before casting on a new one; finish a portable accessory before casting on a new one. Same principle for starting spinning and sewing projects. 
  2. Use stash for everything possible. In this case, I had to purchase a second skein of BFL Sport for my mom's shawl (to go with one from my stash), and I'll need to buy fabric for Mark's flannel shirt. But everything else I have stashed!

 

Summer of Basics FO #3

I put off writing this post for a bit, but at the beginning of July I whipped up my third Summer of Basics item!

This is the Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen in dress form, done in some railroad denim also from Fancy Tiger Crafts. Umm...this is perfect. It came out exactly how I imagined it--better, in fact!--and sewing this was an absolute DREAM. I love sewing with woven fabric, I have discovered.

I made my Fen top in a size 4, and thought about sizing down to a 2 for the dress...but then I realized that a size 4 in the top=size 6 in the dress in the bust region, so I did a 4 in the dress. I was mostly worried about having too much positive ease in the waist and having it look more sack-like than 'gloriously casual and comfy summer dress', and am pleased with how the fit turned out. Only issue is that my lats are clearly bigger than I realized and I have to wiggle myself delicately through the waist to get it on!

My plan from the beginning was to do some kind of directional play with the stripes and have them going in different directions for the top and bottom. Again, I can't believe it worked out so well. I hadn't thought about the pocket facings when I first planned my stripe idea, so on the fly I decided to make them stripe horizontally as well and I love the contrast. 

My only mod was to make the neck opening smaller, as the Fen top is a little big for my preferences--it tends to slide to one side for that Flashdance neckline look, which I don't hate but wouldn't work for this dress. I winged this one by moving the pattern piece over a few inches and using the same neckline curve from there. I did all French seams, which is my favorite seam technique so far. You know, out of the two or three I know how to do!

Another item crossed off my Making list successfully!

My Making List

I recently discovered The Craft Sessions and fell down the rabbit hole of her Stash Less blog post series. Ever since I stopped working at Webs, my yarn consumerism has been way down and even before I left there, I was starting to be more mindful about my stash. I've done several purges of yarn, leaving me with a full yarn cabinet (rather than an overflowing one!) of prized skeins that I'd like to work though over the next few years. Coupled with my new budget, my eye is on using what I have and working on projects I've been pondering for awhile rather than heading off into new directions.

Thus, I decided to follow her challenge of creating a Making List. I'm leaving myself free to remove items from this list if I decide it no longer appeals to me, but if I want to add new things to the making list, I need to have completed something or removed something in its place. Note that this isn't my dreaming, wishful thinking list, but rather projects that I am committed to making because I already own the materials and in the case of some, they're already in progress. Designs for self-publishing are included, but contracted third-party obligations are not.

WIPS

  1. Miss Babs cardigan (design in progress)
  2. Fibre Co Stripey Raglan
  3. Saturday Matinee Socks--a finished FO as of Sunday night! Currently blocking.
  4.  Rainbow Leyburn Socks
  5. Charlemont Thermal

The cardigan will be set aside shortly as I have a sweater design I need to start working on. #2 just needs sleeves! Items 3 through 5 are long-standing WIPs, and I'm excited to close those projects out. I am definitely going to finish the Leyburn Socks, but I might change my mind on the thermal and rip it instead--need to dig that one out and take a long, hard look at it!

CAST ON

  1. Brookdale Vest
  2. Lopi Pullover
  3. Anzula Ava Set (design idea)

I have the yarn for all three of these, and the patterns for 1 & 2 to boot!

SPIN

  1. Romney fleece
  2. White British wool
  3. Spun Right Round fiber
  4. Malabrigo Nube.

Spinning is the most long-term of the categories, and I do need to get back into my spinning groove with some practice before tackling these fibers, especially the fleece. I'll likely do some practice spins with stash fiber I have expressly set aside for that purpose. In all honest, I'm not anticipating getting to spinning until the fall, or at least until I finish my current sewing list as that is more important to me.

SEW

  1. Fen Dress
  2. Watson Bra
  3. Wiksten Tank 2
  4. Serger projects

'Serger projects' in this case refers to the stash of knit fabric I have and any possible projects I want to do with it. I've been thinking of some jogger-style pants, pajama shorts for lounging around the house, and a casual tee or two. But first I need to learn how to use my serger!

Here are my tentative rules for the near future:

  1. Projects in the Making List take priority over random flights of fancy. (Exceptions: Any design obligations, duh.)
  2. $50/month budget for craft supplies. For now, I see that going to patterns and notions rather than yarn or fabric since I have a good stash to work from. I can roll any unspent $ over from month-to-month if I want to save up for something bigger than $50.
  3. If I'm avoiding a Making List project or not enjoying it--frog mercilessly, give away to a friend to finish, whatever, but no wasting time on things I don't love.

It may seem weird to put this much effort and structure into my hobbies, but I feel SO MUCH better for having done this. Getting my ideas out of my head and onto paper has cleared up brain space and made me decide what is actually a priority to me. I love having a good plan and I'm excited to get more crafting done the rest of this year! If you made a Making List, what would be on yours?

Summer of Basics FO #2

I have been planning to make a Wiksten Tank for over a year now, and I finally finished it up!

I made the dress version as a muslin a year ago with some stash fabric I already had--another cotton, but a lighter, floatier cotton than this fabric (by Rae Ritchie from the Desert Bloom Collection.) I found there was too much fabric in the upper back with that muslin, so on this version I took about an inch out of the upper back simply by angling the placement of the back when cutting it out, as described here. I cut a size S, based on my muslin and my old bust size of 33". TMI: Since then I've switched birth control methods and my breasts have grown a little, so I'm more like a 34" now. I discovered this fact when I found the bust area too snug once I tried my tank on! I wound up unpicking the top third of the French seams and redoing them with smaller seam allowances so I would have enough room in my bust area.

I decided to lengthen and widen the armholes based on my favorite Madewell tank top, since I found them too tight for my liking. I just laid that tank top over this one, traced the new armhole lines and trimmed the excess fabric off. It wasn't a lot, maybe 1/2-3/4" at most at the bottom of the armhole, but it did change the curve slightly in a way that better accommodates my arms/shoulders, or at least my fit preferences for that area! I had to add some extra fabric to the bias facings for the armholes to accommodate the new dimensions, so I fudged it by adding a little piece onto my existing bias strip rather than cut a whole new one because I'm lazy, and it's going in my goddamn armpit anyway, who cares! I followed this Grainline Studio tutorial for the arms and neck since I was having a hard time understanding the Wiksten directions.

However, I have some issues with the overall finished product that I THINK is due to my material choice, but I'd love to hear advice from more experienced sewists on it. This cotton was listed as being fine for quilting and apparel, though after reading up on the 'can quilting cottons be used for garments' debate that I was unaware of, I suspect that this cotton would be better suited for more structured garments and not a floaty tank top. It's funny--I'm so comfortable with yarn choice that I don't question myself in that area, but now I'm realizing how unfamiliar I am with fabrics and that I need to be extra careful in buying online!

You can see below how the tank fits decently (I think...) in the upper back, but the extra fabric in the body due to the A-line shape just pools weirdly due to the stiff cotton rather than flowing away from my body. That's the fabric's fault, right? Right?!

If you look back at the top photo, the bottom center of the neckline tends to flip out a little. Not sure what causes that!

Another mystery to me is the below issue. When I'm moving around and not adjusting the garment, tugging it down, etc, it creeps up and I get the armhole gap and raised shoulder/back neck as seen on the left. On the right is how it fits when I adjust it back down.

I have to admit, I really loved this print so I'm bummed this isn't the tank of my dreams, but I've convinced myself (rightly or wrongly!) that it's simply a bad fabric choice for this garment and not due to my newb sewing skills, so I've accepted the flaws. It looks fabulous with a cardigan on though! I'm looking forward to trying the Wiksten Tank again with a more drapey fabric, and would love to hear from you all about your tank fitting wisdom.

Summer of Basics FO #1

I knocked out my first item for the Summer of Basics Make-Along on Day 1!

To test drive Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen before starting my dress version, I used stash crepe de chine to try to the top. I was ok with this turning out totally unwearable, since I'm not too attached to the fabric. Luckily, it worked beautifully and I really like this top!

My body measurements put me at a size 4, and since I wanted all the ease in the top I cut the size 4. For the dress version, I'm thinking about sizing down to a 2 to have less ease in the waist. Has anyone successful sized down in a Fen dress for a closer fit?

I did struggle a little with the slippery fabric, and cutting out the bias strip for the neckline in particular was a pain in the ass. I don't have a cutting table, chalk or a rotary cutter so my method is to pin the pattern pieces directly to my fabric and cut them out on my living room rug with my old scissors that probably need to be sharpened. If I don't lose interest in sewing again, I'll definitely be looking into upgrading that process with some shiny new tools!

I didn't finish the seam allowances. I intended to zig-zag stitch them, but the fabric hated that idea and I didn't have enough room to do a clean finish. I plan to handwash it at least, which I'm hoping will slow down any fraying.

Here's to my first sewn garment in about three years!

Handmade Summer Wardrobe Plans

Now that my wardrobe has been assessed (see previous post), I can talk about the projects I have planned for my summer wardrobe refresh/Summer of Basics Make-Along! My main priority is sewing, since I do have some knitted warm weather tops already, so let's jump into those first!

I am DETERMINED to finally make my planned Wiksten Tank! I purchased this Rae Richie Desert Bloom fabric from Drygoods Design OVER A YEAR AGO. I made the longer, dress version as a wearable muslin and I think I ran out of thread in the middle of it, plus hated the way the dress looked so I didn't finish the neckline. But the dress showed me that I will need to make an upper back adjustment and take out some extra fabric there. I've never altered a pattern like that before and I'm a little nervous!

I'm trying to use up some of my existing fabric stash to avoid waste and to get back into the sewing groove before treating myself to some fancy new fabric. I bought this crepe de chine from Girl Charlee Fabrics...I think in 2014?! I'm not sure what the hell I had planned for two yards of this monstrosity, and decided to make a Fen Top as practice for the next project. I don't love this print now, but I'm hoping it will be cute as a small dose in this drapey top.

And THIS is the project I'm most excited for--a Fen Dress in Railroad Denim from Fancy Tiger Crafts! I'm thinking about putting the stripes in opposite directions, like running vertically on the top and horizontally on the bottom. Or maybe the other way around! (Thoughts on that?)

I have other, more nebulous plans depending on how I feel, but these are the three definites. I own a serger that I don't know how to use, and a stash of knits I have ideas for. I'd really like to serge those projects though, I'm hoping I can learn to use my serger this summer. On the knitting front...nothing definite yet! I was thinking about making a Brookfield Vest or a Tegna, but I agreed to some design work due in September and now I'm not sure what my free knitting time will be looking like.

It's hard not getting a million ideas and chasing them all. I recently read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, and while I was already aware of most of the issues mentioned in the book, it really hammered home for me that slow fashion should be SLOW. I'm trying to get better about savoring the process, the planning and the slow making above the consumer-y glee of having another FO. The feelings when completing a handmade garment are of  course deeper and more meaningful than purchasing something from the store but in the end, I don't want my end goal to just be the acquisition of more stuff. I'm concentrating on:

  1. Using the stash I already have; ie that bright crepe de chine. My fabric stash is small, so I don't have a lot of fabric I dislike that I need to utilize before I can buy fabrics more suitable to my current needs. (I have vague plans for most of that fabric, actually!) On the yarn front, since leaving Webs I don't buy yarn quite the way I used to and I have a stash I'm very, very happy with!
  2. Repairing and wearing the clothes I already have. I have a tendency to channel my inner frustrations into my wardrobe sometimes and take it out on my clothes, accusing them of making me look too old/young/frumpy/sexy/etc. As I get older, I have more positive days than negative overall re: my body and body image, so I'm trying to get myself to chill out to get through the bad days instead of letting the frustration send me to buy new jeans. New jeans don't magically fix everything!
  3. Paying attention. That means paying attention to how I feel in my clothes, what I feel is missing from my wardrobe (and how much I actually would use it vs the fleeting urge of wants), and enjoying the process of making. I'm no longer interested in making things for the sake of the final thing if I find the process itself unbearable.

 

Handmade Summer Wardrobe Assessment

Getting dressed during warm weather is always a struggle for me. I feel underdressed and un-stylish if I'm not wearing multiple layers, making the classic summer uniform of a dress + sandals or shirt + shorts feel blah. I also feel like I have more fit issues in summer clothing--but it's more likely that fit issues become more apparent the less you have on! An ill-fitting shirt can be covered up by a bulky sweater come cooler temps, but no such luck in the summer.

These feelings, coupled with the fact that my handknit wardrobe leans towards cold-weather coverage, has led me to focus on planning some summer clothing projects. My hope is that by integrating more handmade pieces that I love into my warm-weather wardrobe, I'll be more excited to get dressed in the summer. I'll be playing along with the Summer of Basics Make-along, plus likely embracing a few extra projects. Those project ideas will be discussed in my next post. Up first: taking stock of what I already have and what's in progress!

From L to R:  Holla Back Tank , linen tee,  Sugar Maple ,  Nachfalter

From L to R: Holla Back Tank, linen tee, Sugar Maple, Nachfalter

Honesty time: I'm not sure how much I will actually wear these, but I'm going to make a strong attempt (a la EmSweWeMo) and take stock at the end of the season of what got loved and what didn't. I've started rotating a selection of my handknit garments into my dresser, since the bulk of them live under the bed in storage containers and thus are always out of sight. By choosing 3-5 pieces and keeping them close at hand, I've found myself wearing them more often. 

Interestingly, two of these pieces I didn't knit myself, proving my lack of attention to this seasonal category of knits! The linen tee was from a friend's handknit wardrobe (she didn't want it anymore), and I think is knit in Rowan Linen. It was a very timely acquisition, as I'd been planning to make a simple stockinette linen or linen blend tee at the time! And Nachfalter is the original sample from Holla Knits, Allyson was culling her handknit wardrobe and I asked for it.

Tellingly, the piece I'm most excited to wear is the linen tee since it's easily the most versatile. The length, fit, and/or color of the other three pieces dictates that I can only wear them with certain bottoms. (They're also all done in wool or wool blends.) I realized this last summer, which is why I started knitting a basic grey Choose Your Own Adventure Tee in Quince & Co Willet.

Finishing this languishing WIP with time to wear it this summer is my goal! It's also my only cotton knitting, so I think this will get much more usage than the three wool/wool-blend tops in my summer wardrobe.

Next week I'll share my Summer of Making plans and my future handmade summer wardrobe goals!

Ramblers Way Sustainable Wool Clothing Review

The clothing I review here was provided to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links.

Last month I was contacted by Ramblers Way asking if I wanted to review their ethical 100% wool clothing line. To date, the only non-yarn or knitting related item I've reviewed are Allbirds Merino Wool Sneakers because well, they're wool. While I occasionally get emails about reviewing random products, I've always held the policy that I will only put content on this blog that's potentially interesting to knitters. Ergo, more wool wearables.

As a Massachusetts girl who is perpetually cold, even indoors in a sweater with the heat on and a blanket over her lap (don't judge me), I was intrigued to see if wool clothing was the missing link for my body temperature issues. I chose three different pieces from Ramblers Way in order to get the best overview of their line and have the most woolly variety. All are made from 100% Rambouillet wool, woven into a jersey or ribbed fabric.

Karen Templer's numerous posts on ethical fashion as part of her Slow Fashion October movement do a far better job at engaging with the subject of ethical, sustainable, slow fashion than I ever could, so I recommend jumping down that rabbit hole if you want to learn more or need a refresher course. Ramblers Way chooses to focus their efforts on using organic wool and dedicating themselves to a 100% US manufacturing process. You can learn more of the specifics on their Our Company page which primarily talks about wool, though they have Pima Cotton garments as well. In regards to that, my contact at the company said, "90% of Rambler's Way Pima Cotton is grown in California's San Joaquin Valley using pesticide-free and low water growing methods."

Shown in Black, Size Small

I've looked at a good number of ethical, sustainable, US made/sourced clothing companies before and most stick to basic silhouettes. While it makes sense financially, it's a little disappointing for someone like me who wants some extra pizazz in their pieces. I was really excited about the Women's Cowl Neck Swing Dress for this reason! I'm 5'3", and I can get away wearing this as a mini-dress with tights as shown here, though for wearing it to work I'm sticking with leggings or skinny jeans for a tunic look. Their site calls it knee-length, which it's definitely not for me, so I'm not sure what they based that on.

I like that it doesn't gap at the armholes and that the armholes aren't so deep that my bra is exposed. I will note that it picks up and shows cat hair LIKE A MOFO. Also because of that, I probably shouldn't have worn it with a white sweater but I'm obsessed with my Tualatin and can't stop wearing it, sorry not sorry.

The fabric is thin and doesn't feel much different from traditional t-shirt cotton jersey fabric, though there's a little more texture to it. I think I expected 100% Wool jersey to feel, well, woolier! Combined with a sweater I felt warm and cozy, but due to the length and the open-ness of the silhouette, I don't feel like it's exceptionally warm on its own.

Tank shown in Charcoal, Size Small & Leggings shown in Grey Heather, Size Small

Tank shown in Charcoal, Size Small & Leggings shown in Grey Heather, Size Small

Let's start with the Women's Wool Leggings. I am not showing you modeled shots for two reasons: 1. You can see my underwear through them, and 2. Unflattering waistband/crotch area. I'm okay with that since based on the style of the waistband, it appears like these are meant to be long underwear or pajama style pants rather than leggings-worn-as-pants. They would be fine under a dress or skirt too, but these are not the leggings you let your butt peek out in.

I like these a lot for lounging around the house. They are comfortable and warmer than I expected since the fabric is thin, but they're not the warmest leggings I have ever worn. Occasionally I felt like they were prickling my legs a little, or maybe that was my leg hair stubble pricking the leggings. (It's winter. We all know leg shaving is low on the priority list.) I wore them under jeans to help Mark shovel out the car during Saturday's snowstorm, and that combination was really great. I don't do outdoor wintertime sports, but I'd hedge that these would be a good layer for those of you that do.

I like that there is only one leg seam (shown below right), and it's overstitched? Totally covered with thread? I don't know what this kind of seam is called and Google didn't help me.

Tank back seam, left, and legging seam, right

Tank back seam, left, and legging seam, right

The Women's Wool Tank with Center Back Seam is my favorite of the three. It's shown in the first photo lying face-down so you can see the center seam detail that runs up the back. It fits like a standard tank top, but oh man! The other two pieces are jersey fabric while this is ribbed and somehow the ribbing makes all the difference. This feels warmer, softer, and more luxe.

As a knitter, a wool tank top is the BEST IDEA EVER. If you're like me, you have a bunch of handknits that for whatever reason, look best with only a tank top underneath. But then it's cold and a tank top isn't enough to cut it under that sweater, so you wind up not wearing those sweaters and they lie fallow. A wool tank top + wool sweater is so stinking cozy. I want more of these!

This might be TMI, but I've worn the tank top and the leggings multiple times without washing and they have yet to be smelly or gross. Ramblers Way does list this as a benefit of wool on their website, and I definitely don't wash my sweaters often (or ever), but I also rotate those more frequently and they're not right next to the skin, so I was pleased at how well these are repelling odor so far.

The eternal question: Are they worth the money? I would give a resounding YES to the tank top. It's eternally useful and it just feels good on. I want to pick up some other colors when they have a sale (and when I have some free funds for clothes) because let's be honest, this stuff is pricey. It's not out of line from other sustainable/ethical clothing companies though. While I like the cut of the swing dress, the fabric doesn't feel special enough, doesn't scream "I'M MADE OF WOOL!", and isn't warm enough to justify that level of financial investment. I am really enjoying the leggings for lounging, though I wouldn't need more than one pair and it seems indulgent to spend $$ on another pair of leggings that I'll mostly wear at home. If you'd wear them as a layer for winter hikes, skiing, or snowshoeing, I can see these being a smart buy.

You can browse Ramblers Way on their website or at one of their retail stores if you're in Maine or New Hampshire.

Would you try 100% wool clothing?

EmSweWeMo Week4

The final installment of my November experiment to wear every sweater in my collection is here!

Day 14, 11/24/16

Day 14, 11/24/16

For Thanksgiving, I decided to rock my Dark Rainbow Sweater for a comfortable, food-baby-friendly look. I really like this sweater. It's cozy, the length of the body and sleeves is good for me, and it's not boring! The only downside is I'm a little nervous on how this single ply yarn will wear. I feel like I haven't worn this often, yet the elbows seem a little thin and it's got a lot of pills already. Fingers crossed it holds up okay!

Verdict: Keep.

Day 15, 11/28/16

Day 15, 11/28/16

EmSweWeMo made me realize how much I wear this tunic-y top, so much so that I bought a second one during Modcloth's Black Friday weekend sale in a berry color that will look great with this sweater if I want to go more matchy-matchy. This is Stripe Quartet, which is more suited to transitional temps and early fall, but it works this time of year with accessories on standby in case I get cold (a cowl and long fingerless mitts, primarily.) I really like this and need to remember to pull it out sooner in the season!

Verdict: Keep.

Day 16, 11/29/16

Day 16, 11/29/16

In case you couldn't tell, I was running out of weather-appropriate garments for this which is why there are some random tees and other pieces thrown in! I knit Watershed ages ago but don't wear it much because well, it's kind of useless for a New Englander. It's pretty, but it doesn't offer any warmth. Good thing it's really pretty, because that's why I'm keeping it, but I'd like to wear this more often!

Verdict: Keep. Make an effort to wear this damn thing though!

Day 17, 11/30/16

Day 17, 11/30/16

Why not end the month with a sparkly bang, eh? As my one and only Rhinebeck sweater (for 2012) I modified my Holla Back Tank pattern into a Holla Back Pullover.

I haven't decided how I feel about this yet and would love your thoughts! I'm undecided if this would be better if I continued to knit the sleeves so it would be long sleeved. To be honest, it looks cute here but I feel like this is one of the only ways to wear this piece (the other being with just a tank underneath, which doesn't work for winter.) I also don't know if I'm a sparkly yarn girl after all.

Verdict: Potentially on the chopping block!

Phew! So what's next? I'm going to stew a bit on the thoughts that came up during EmSweWeMo, but I'd like to have a final decision on my handknit wardrobe before the end of the year, so I can start 2017 fresh! 

EmSweWeMo Week 3

It's time to take a look back at the third week of my EmSweWeMo experiment! If you've been out of the loop, you can catch up on Week 1 & Week 2.

Day 9, 11/15/16

Day 9, 11/15/16

You probably recognize the Heliopath Vest. While Interweave styled this with a skirt for the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits photos, I tend to rock this in a more androgynous look when I wear it. I love how textural Imperial Yarn Columbia is, and the gold color goes with so many options in my wardrobe. I pretty much consider gold a neutral!

Verdict: Keep, duh!

Day 10, 11/16/16

Day 10, 11/16/16

I posed this question about the Eastbourne Sweater on my Instagram to mixed results, so I'll ask it again here: unravel the sleeves into cap sleeves, or keep it as is? Honestly, I can't decide! I don't wear this much because in my head the sleeves are weird, but in this photo I think I look pretty cute.

I did realize throughout this experiment that I need to pull my 3/4 length and shorter sleeved sweaters out of my wardrobe sooner! I wait until November-December to throw on real wool sweaters, and by then it's too cold for abbreviated sleeves. Meanwhile, the rest of fall I'm wearing the same boring storebought cardigan with 99% of my outfits.

Verdict: Keep. With or without sleeve alterations though?!

Day 11, 11/17/16

Day 11, 11/17/16

This is one of my favorites, if not THE FAVORITE outfit of this whole experiment. I love this vibe! It's comfortable, it's modern, it's still knitterly, and it's interesting. I am going to repeat this exact combination a whole bunch and just switch out different shoes.

It's an altered version of the Short Row Sweater from Purl Soho, and up until this photo I would have told you it was an impulse, dumb knit that I never wore because well, it's kind of odd. It was an excuse to knit something fast and find a use for Madelinetosh yarn in Spectrum. (Because: gorgeous.) But I super love this look!

Verdict: Keep, all because of EmSweWeMo!

Day 12, 11/18/16

Day 12, 11/18/16

Yay, crochet! I didn't make this sample of the Cirro Tee, I just happened to model it for Webs originally and then bought the sample later on when it was on sale because I liked it so much. 

Obviously this is a spring/summer garment, but I like to try and push myself to use those types of handmade garments out of season as well! This was a fun 'casual Friday' look (even though every day is casual at work) and I quite enjoyed it.

Verdict: Keep.

Day 13, 11/21/16

Day 13, 11/21/16

While I love my Praline Pullover, I feel like it doesn't fit into my wardrobe anymore. The super cropped length isn't flattering on me with pants, which is what I wear 99% of the time. I think it looks great with high waisted pencil skirts or fit and flare dresses with a high waist, but I almost never wear those.

Verdict: Storage. This is a design sample in great condition and I've used it in all the trunk shows I've done (...all two of them...) so I want to keep it around for that, but I don't think I'll wear this much.

We're almost at the home stretch, just one more week of outfits to finish musing over!

EmSweWeMo Week 2

Let's get on with the experiment!

Day 5, 11/8/16

Day 5, 11/8/16

I have mixed feelings on my Haubergeon Sweater, though the reaction at work was very positive. (Except when I got cold and put on a really big shawl on top my co-worked dubbed it very Stevie Nicks which is...not my jam, let's just say.) Anyways, I love this yarn and the general look, I just have some misgivings with the shoulder and underarm area. I am not sure if the shaping for the saddle shoulders is too far over to be flattering, it feels like there might be a bit too much fabric in the underarm area, and the sleeves are a tad tight on me. I don't think anyone notices this other than me, I'm being nitpicky!

Verdict: Keep on probation. If I wear it regularly it's a keeper, if not it's getting culled from the sweater herd.

Day 6, 11/10/16

Day 6, 11/10/16

I can't not love my Gilt Sweater. It's so cheery! This is a new way to style it for me and I'm happy with the combination. I've been trying to push myself this month, partly because I am taking selfies all the time and partly because I want to get out of the rut of jeans + tee/tank + sweater. I like a challenge!

I need more laceweight-held-double garments in my wardrobe because the fabric on this is amazing. So light and floaty but surprisingly warm!

Verdict: Keep.

Day 7, 11/11/16

Day 7, 11/11/16

The Cirriform Cardigan is another one that's tough to style. I like it with a longer tunic top, as shown here, but I think it would work with dresses as well. I'm ok with this piece not being super versatile because it's really just a great big yarn hug. It's a sweatshirt in disguise; if I'm having a blah day and don't feel like putting much effort into my outfit I can wear this instead of a sweatshirt and still feel...sweatshirt-y. You know, warm, comforted, enveloped. 

Verdict: Keep.

Day 8, 11/14/16

Day 8, 11/14/16

My Turners Falls Cardigan is another difficult piece to style. I designed it because I loved seeing cropped sweaters on other women, then realized once I had one of my very own that many people wear these with skirts or dresses and I'm more of a jeans/leggings person. Floaty tunic top to the rescue! (Sense a theme with this experiment?) It looks good buttoned as well, but I need to reinforce the button band with ribbon since it gaps and the buttons slip out. I made the buttonholes too large I think!

Verdict: Keep, but reinforce button band.

EmSweWeMo Week 1

As from my Knitted Wardrobe Assessment post:

Instead, this November will be my personal EmSweWeMo, Emma's Sweater Wearing Month. I'd like to wear every weather-appropriate handknit garment in my wardrobe at least once in November, and journal how I feel about wearing the item. I'm hoping that this will help me better assess how much of my knitted wardrobe I could actually use if I kept it more visible, and how many pieces I'm holding on to for the wrong reasons or a vague 'someday, maybe.'

Here are the results of Week 1!

Day 1, 11/1/16

Day 1, 11/1/16

I was home sick on Day 1, so I chose a cuddly, somewhat raggedy sweater. This is the Victoria Buttoned Raglan, a now-discontinued Valley Yarns design I bought at a Webs sample sale. I almost feel like it 'doesn't count' since I didn't make it!

While this sweater is close-fitting, there's enough room for me to comfortably wear long sleeves underneath as I am doing so here. I wish the body was a few inches longer and it would be nice if the split neckline was engineered as more of a cowl neckline so you could button it up when cold. It needs a good sweater shaving though!

Verdict: Keep, but attempt to shave the pills off. If unable to salvage from pilling, I'd keep this as a home-only lounging sweater.

Day 2, 11/2/16

Day 2, 11/2/16

Acute-ly Preppy was an ambitious statement piece, and for me, that's all it's going to be. I love the concept of this sweater but don't like it on my body. Something about where the ribbing ends on my body and where the hem hits, combined with the lack of waist shaping, really does me no favors. TMI: I also feel like it makes my boobs look weird. I don't know! All around, I don't feel confident or cute wearing this, and I have too many sweaters to waste time wearing one I don't feel right in.

Verdict: I haven't decided what I'm doing with the rejects. Either sealing them in one of those vacuum space saver bags just in case I ever need them for anything, or possibly auctioning them off and donating the proceeds. I'd love to hear ideas if you have them!

Day 3, 11/4/16

Day 3, 11/4/16

My notes on the Tea Leaves Cardigan say it all: "Got 3 compliments!"

I knit this gem 6 years ago and this outfit is a testament to holding onto pieces long enough for them to seem fresh to you again. I was really over this sweater and this type of silhouette, which blew up in the knitting world a few years back. I usually wore it with a regular t-shirt & jeans, so the sweater framed my stomach and it wasn't always flattering if I had a post-lunch food baby or what have you. I thought I wanted to get rid of my Tea Leaves, but I tried it with this flowy top on a whim and I love this look!

Also, Tosh DK is insane. This is barely pilly and only a tiny bit loose around the elbows, not bad enough to be called saggy. 

Verdict: Keep. Take time to make the effort pairing this with slightly dressy and/or more fashionable outfits.

Day 4, 11/7/16

Day 4, 11/7/16

My Idlewood is also 6 years old! Clearly, I had excellent taste in 2010...which was the year I started working at Webs so that explains it all.

Overall, I'm really happy with this. The pockets are sewn on a little poorly, it looks very handmade, but I'm okay with that. I do wish it was a little longer, I clearly remember getting impatient knitting this and binding off too soon because I just wanted it to be done. I really need to learn to curb that urge because it's haunted so many of my FOs. Either the body isn't long enough or I did short/three quarter sleeves instead of long sleeves. Learn some damn patience already Emma!

I would like to figure out how to make this more versatile, it's great for super casual looks but I'd like to work it into more polished outfits as well.

Verdict: Keep. Wash before wearing it again, something I meant to do last winter and never got around to...

I'll be back with Week 2!

Knitted Wardrobe Assessment: A Continuation

Check out my wardrobe analysis by the numbers here first.

When I was writing the last post, I had these two exact sweaters in mind as pieces I'm definitely not into anymore. They have several features in common, can you spot them?

L: Dreamer's Braided Pullover; R: Cables n Cats

L: Dreamer's Braided Pullover; R: Cables n Cats

They have more of a cropped, high hip length and they're super fitted. For a while I preferred clothing with negative ease but in the past few years, I've come to appreciate the ability to layer and the comfort of clothing that's not quite so skin tight. Both of these sweaters are so fitted, especially in the sleeves, that I can only wear tank tops under them. I've also discovered that no matter how well my pants fit, even if they're not going to give me plumber's butt when I bend over, I really prefer a longer sweater with more coverage. So while they look fine in the photos, they're really no fun to wear. Now that I've pinpointed I don't like this silhouette, I'm going to make sure to avoid it in the future no matter how cute it looks on someone else. I definitely still fall prey to that trap from time to time!

As I dug through my sweater stash, I was anticipating pulling out piece after piece I wanted to get rid of. Instead, I found myself rationalizing a lot of my handknit pieces despite the fact that I don't wear them very often. Not exactly the climactic triumph of me vs my sweater stash I was imagining!

I'm okay with having stuff as long as it doesn't become overwhelming, which is where the problem is starting to lie with me as a maker. I have three under-bed storage containers set aside to house my knitted goods and they're almost bursting. Arguably, I could just buy more storage but am I utilizing my knitwear to the best of my ability? Is that extra storage space going to be worth it?

I love this blog post from Tanis (of Tanis Fiber Arts) and this part in particular: 

Here is the thing, approaching this week's topic, I had mixed feelings. I thought that I was going to sit down and hash out my struggles with my need to make, both on a personal level - I can't not make! - but also on a professional level - it's my job to make! - and the reality of the realization that I currently have enough sweaters to last me an entire lifetime. I absolutely do not need any more sweaters.

I can't not make.

I can't not make.

I can't not make.

Therein lies the rub. I have an almost pathological need to make. Even if I was not a knitwear designer, I would still be producing knitted items at the same frantic pace, or at least regularly enough to amass a collection close in size to the one I have now. I wear a small fraction of what I've made on a regular basis. There's just not enough days in the year, and since I do still have a non-handmade wardrobe full of items I love, my pool of available clothing items to choose from is even more inflated. Often I choose store-bought items over handmade because I don't want to 'ruin' my hard work or spill something on it. But leaving my hard work in a plastic bin tucked under my bed is just as much of a disservice as loving it and wearing it until it gives up, perhaps even more of a disservice.

I think I'm going to set myself a challenge next month. November is NaKniSweMo, National Sweater Knitting Month. Instead, this November will be my personal EmSweWeMo, Emma's Sweater Wearing Month. I'd like to wear every weather-appropriate handknit garment in my wardrobe at least once in November, and journal how I feel about wearing the item. I'm hoping that this will help me better assess how much of my knitted wardrobe I could actually use if I kept it more visible, and how many pieces I'm holding on to for the wrong reasons or a vague 'someday, maybe.'

 

Slow Fashion October & Knitted Wardrobe Assessment

Not familiar with the concept of slow fashion or haven't heard of Slow Fashion October? You can get up to speed on Slow Fashion October over at Fringe Association (here's the overview post), on Instagram at the @slowfashionoctober account, or by browsing the IG hashtag #slowfashionoctober.

I haven't sorted out my thoughts on slow fashion. I'm all for it as a concept, but as an individual with a finite amount of time, money and resources I find it hard to put into practice 100%. I don't buy a ton of new clothes (though the ones I do are from problematic retailers most of the time, I can't quit you Gap/American Eagle!!), I thrift regularly and of course I'm always knitting. Sometimes I feel like this has resulted in a disjointed wardrobe, which is partially fueled by my disjointed fashion preferences. I don't have a neat, encapsulated style. I knit and enjoy knitting a lot of things I don't wind up wearing much, so I often find myself reaching for store-bought sweaters more than my handknits. Case in point: my most beloved cardigan is this number from Madewell.

Let's be honest: sometimes store-bought is pretty useful. While I'd love to eventually knit a me-made version, my desire to knit a fingering weight, extra-long black cardigan is smaller than zero. The recent shift to colder temperatures had me digging in my sweater wardrobe and I realized my lack of hand-knit long sleeve cardigans. That's right, my FAVORITE layering silhouette is practically absent from my handmade wardrobe. I have exactly 2, and neither is a classic, easy-wearing piece. Cirriform Cardigan has asymmetrical fronts and Turners Falls Cardigan is cropped, so they only work with certain outfits. Fortunately, my potato brain somehow subconsciously realized this wardrobe gap because I have two long-sleeve cardigan WIPs, my Tinder in go-with-everything grey and a cabled design number in natural Ashland Bay Dakota.

Part of my lack of long-sleeve, long-silhouette pieces is my laziness. I have designed a surprising number of sleeveless, short-sleeved and 3/4 sleeved sweaters because I get really bored knitting long sleeves. Of course, now that I use sample knitters I've started pitching more designs with long sleeves since I don't have to knit them myself! And knitting a body that's 17-19" long from the underarms? No fun either.

In order to ascertain just how unbalanced my knitted wardrobe is, I classified my FOs by type, leaving out the pieces I plan to trade or sell in the near future because I don't like how they fit or just don't plain wear them.

To no surprise, accessory categories take the top 3 spots (hats, cowls, shawls).  They're just so fun and bite sized! Then it starts to get weird. For someone who A) lives in New England, B) works in an overly-air conditioned office, and C) is always cold, I have more tanks/vests and tees than anything else. PAST KNITTING ME IS DELUSIONAL. Granted, I do like to argue that these pieces can be worn well into fall and winter if layered appropriately (which is a blog post for another day) but COME ON. 

In case you were thinking that maybe I sensibly had knitted a whole bunch of long sleeve pullovers...you would be wrong. I have 2 of those as well.

I have several sweater quantities in my stash that I'd like to use up, and armed with this data I'm going to spend October acknowledging some hard truths and making some long-term plans so I can knit sweaters I WILL wear, and not just sweaters I will enjoy knitting.

I'll check back next week with a catalog of what I'm purging and why to help me nail down what I need to be mindful of in my future knits. Unflattering photos and all!