Posted in Machine Knitting

A Winter White Corvid

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I quite like my first Corvid Coat from Brooklyn Tweed. So much so that I decided to knit it up again in a cream. And, I can pick an undyed winter white for a coat because as someone said to me, “You must not have children.”

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A few things I did differently this time. The pattern calls for a cartridge rib collar. A close approximation on my machine is to knit fisherman’s rib.

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On my first version I knit the upper collar  5 inches wide because I don’t read knitting and that’s what I thought it said. But, mine wasn’t wide enough. Going back and reading the instructions again (with slightly better understanding of knitting) I see that it should actually be about nine inches in width. So, now it turns back.

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I also got the hang of short rowing my shoulders so those seams should look smoother and prettier (except where I forgot to ‘wrap’ my stitches resulting in some holes. But, what’s really nice about short rowing is how much less bulky the seams are!

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Because my yarn is a heavy Aran weight, (undyed wool from Colourmart) I was able to knit the back all in one section on my bulky machine. Last time I had to split it in two sections.

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I know this sweater is going to show all. the. dirt. So, I washed my gauge swatch in warm water — preparing this for a lifetime of abuse. I took this sweater up to New York last week for a wedding.

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Jordan was kind enough to wait until we got back home to tell me the back of the sweater hit every single stair on every subway we took.  Popped this in the washing machine as soon as he let me know and it was sparkling cream in no time.

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Due to the weight of the yarn (almost four pounds in this coat!) the coat also hangs/pulls longer than drafted. If I were to make it in this weight again I would shorten the overall length. But, more likely I will make it in a worsted wool as called for in the design. I am planning two more of these. One in a red and another in a nice steely grey.

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Posted in sewing

Jalie Isabelle Leggings

I seem to make my workout gear in multiples. Last fall I made three pairs of Cora tights and this year I’m back with four of the Isabelle leggings (capris) from Jalie. I actually really like making work out pants. The cost of materials is low and the rate of return on the amount of wear I get from them can’t be beat! It’s part of the reason I stopped sewing my formal dresses. I’d spend weeks sewing up something that gets worn once or twice a year. But, with gym clothes — you just wear them over and over and over.

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I love my Coras (Jalie 3462). But, I definitely prefer a capri length for summer. For the Isabelle’s (Jalie 3674) I cut the same size for the Cora – a X at the waist and Y through the thighs. I do cut the elastic at the waistband for one size smaller — otherwise I find it slides down.  A little on picking my sizing:  I measure at the the lower thigh into a BB ( 46 inches).  My actual hips are at 43 inches though. For my Jalie jeans I do cut a BB for my jeans because I like my denim fabric with a lot less stretch than the recommended.

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I’ve always really like a red, white and blue color combo. I bought this gold lycra from a local warehouse sale a few years ago with the idea I’d make a gold lame bikini. Well, my gold lame bikini days are behind me. But, I thought I could incorporate them into a Wonder Woman style swim suit or gym outfit.

I love this pair the most because it touches all my geeked out dreams of being Wonder Woman’s black twin sister, Nubia.

I made the Wonder Woman pair from swimwear fabric. I am not really a fan :-/ I don’t love the way the fabric feels and the stretch seems more restrictive than the athletic wicking material I’m used to. That said, it doesn’t show crotch sweat. And, as you’ll see below that can’t be said for all my athletic fabric.

The ones below are made up from my stash from Suzie’s Supplex in Montreal. They have long stopped stocking this material as the warehouse burned down. But, it’s my absolute favorite fabric. Because this fabric were ends of the best stuff I’ve personally found for making activewear the colors are a bit odd. In retrospect, they all kind of work together because they were likely from the same collection.

Air squatsssss! Isabelle leggings by @jalie_patterns 📸 by @mcjenamin #memademay #mmmay17 #mmm17 #crossfit

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I skipped the pockets on all my Isabelle’s as I don’t need them. I’m not running so I don’t need keys or a phone at the gym. Minus the pocket they sew up SO FAST! I can easily make one pair in under two hours. Maybe even one if I focused.

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The rise in these are excellent. The back comes up well over my butt and the front is above my belly button. There is no peep show doing squats and the pants stay put during  lunges and sprints. Also, the pattern has a gusset so the pants fit nice and flush in the crotch. The seams have a clever design at the inside so no chaffing from seams either.

And, if I’m being honest. I love how my butt looks in this cut. The material helps too. I noticed on the swimwear fabric leggings my butt’s more squishy looking and I have some cottage cheese show through. This material has NO show through of skin texture.

Okay, I’m asked all the time how Isabelle and Coras compare. I don’t know that they do. They both fit the same IMHO, have good rise and require no tweaking from me. It’s the style lines that really set them apart. I think I prefer the Isabelle’s ONLY because they make up faster. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with either.

For a while I was working out five days a week. But, the repetitive motion from weight lifting wreaked havoc on my tendonitis afflicted right hand. Now after a few months of physical therapy, turmeric, acupuncture and daily hand exercises my grip is generally back and I’m no longer in daily pain. That said, I have to be extremely careful with my hand — particularly my thumb :-/ So, I do still work out at the gym. But, down to a few times a week and I always wear my thumb isolating wrist brace to work out and type and ice my hand on the drive home.

Posted in sewing

You Say Tallis. I say Tallit. We say Talliot.

Every fall at the Jewish high holidays I think, “I should sew Jordan a prayer shawl.” Then, it quickly leaves my head and I move on to something else more fun.

#goingtothetemple #ubudorbust #ubud #indonesia #batuantemple #wanderlust #travelgram #instatravel

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In Bali w. Stephanie

So, last year when my friend Stephanie (who I traveled to Bali with) said her son was going to be a bar mitzvah in 2017, I volunteered to sew him a tallit as a test run for Jordan’s eventual prayer shawl.

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I suggested Stephanie ask her dad for an old necktie that we could use for the neckband (attarah). We thought it would be a nice way to represent and connect the generations for years to come.

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Using that tie Jeannie and I picked out silk dupioni for the color blocking at the prayer shawl while we were in New York before Christmas. Due to my extremely bum hand at the time, Stephanie and her daughter came over and did all the fabric cutting with my guidance. So, all I really had to do was sew!

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I’m sorry I don’t have any construction photos. I swore I took a slew of them and even posted on Instagram while in progress. But, I can’t find any of them now. So, this post is more for posterity than instruction!

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I used this link for ideas about sizing — bearing in mind he would need to use this as as adult too. And, they are reform so not super observant / religious so it didn’t need to be very long or wide. The main fabric came from my stash. A nice beefy off white wool with a faint plaid pattern. The tie was an all bias, massive PITA to deconstruct and work with. But, the sheen is beautiful and goes well with the silk.

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For anyone attempting this project, I used the eyelet template from my Singer buttonholer in the corners. Make interfacing and a walking foot your friend.

Stephanie ordered and tied the corner strings (tzizit) using a YouTube video.

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Overall it was a satisfying project. And, I’m glad it helped me be part of such a big occasion for their family.  Stephanie and I hope this becomes an heirloom that he will wear on his wedding day and perhaps even pass on to his son.

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At the bar mitzvah party with Stephanie wearing Burdastyle 12-2010 #102 I made back in 2013.

I wish I had sewn one for Jordan for our wedding! But, it didn’t even occur to me that I could sew one. He borrowed his dad’s for our wedding and isn’t sure where his is from his bar mitzvah. When he goes to services he uses the loaners at the synagogue. We actually have his great-grandather’s prayer shawl framed in our guest room.  So, I figure I have another five months before sewing one up for him too.

Posted in Machine Knitting

Ravello Sweater

My goal in 2017 is to knit all year round. I was a bit knitted out after all the pink hats for the Women’s March on Washington and Jordan’s letterman sweater. When I returned to my machine in March I found myself making a lot of rookie mistakes. The best way to avoid skill slide I suspect is to knit all year.

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Organic Cotton Plus reached out to me in January about possibly partnering on a blog post. The fact is I don’t partner on posts, test patterns or sew for other people because I don’t like deadlines. So, I immediately wrote back to say thank you for asking but I have enough fabric and I hate sewing under deadline. Except my email bounced back to me. So, I went on their website to get a correct email address. While poking around I saw they had yarn. And, I thought, “Oh! Do you now?”

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Needless to say, my new email to them said I’d be delighted to partner if I could use one of the naturally dyed wools from their website,  if it was possible to get enough for a sweater and if I could wait until March before posting anything  (I was in the middle of Jordan’s letterman sweater, I desperately needed to sew jeans, I promised to sew a prayer shawl for a bar mitzvah and I was wrapping up an on-site consulting gig so I knew I just didn’t have a bunch of extra time). This timeline and the yarn worked for them, so GAME ON.

I selected the worsted weight wool in Natural, Deep Black and Indigo to knit the Ravello Sweater from Isabelle Kramer.  The yarn comes in hanks with a “Sustainable Stitches” label.

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Organic Cotton Plus uses waste material from plants to dye their yarns. The leftover waste from the dyeing process is biodegradable. Compost and irrigation water is used to grow dye, medicinal plants and food crops for the Indian families in India involved in the dye group. Now, as an all-electric car driving, home composting, and soon to be urban gardener (#GrowFoodNotGrass) this warmed my liberal snowflake heart.

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I wash and wet block all the pieces of my garments before I seam them up. Sometimes it’s because the yarn comes oiled (glides through the machine easier). But, mostly I find a nice block makes seaming a million times easier as the yarn has relaxed and it’s in the right shape. The yarn has beautiful stitch definition. And, when made up on my Brother 270 (a bulky gauge machine) it really looks like a hand knit!  Also, the natural dye process is ever so slightly uneven in the way that hand-dyed yarns are. So, it didn’t look commercially made which I also really like.

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So, I was hopeful that when I did my first wet block I’d be able to get rid of some of the dye transfer I’d noticed in the garment. The Deep Black  in particular gives off a light dust when wound in to cakes and run through the machine. I also noticed there was color transfer to my hands from working with yarn. I reached out to Organic Cotton Plus about the amount of dust and dye transfer. They let me know that I received a first run of the product and have enacted better quality control to eliminate this problem.

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The second issue I had with the yarn were my blacks are two different dye lots. Now, I only noticed this after the first wash. Organic Cotton Plus does say that their vegetable dyed yarn may not be as colorfast as traditional chemical dyes and can fade ‘over time’. So, I think I have two dye batches vs the quality of the color.  But, like the dye transfer/ crocking  I see, no one else seems to notice.

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After washing, I could see that the smudgy coloring I’d noticed was still there. And, overall the natural cream was a bit dingier and I could see that the blue also bled a bit. Now, this could all be chalked up to using such extremely different colors in one garment, something I will probably be hesitant to try again. But, I would definitely NOT recommend it with a black or a non-chemical dye that has a higher chance of running.

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Would you like to talk about the elephant in the room otherwise known as my neckline? So, I wanted to try an i-cord trim for the neckline. I found two helpful videos from

Susan Guagliumi

and Diana Sullivan

and got to work. Unfortunately, the i-cord bindoff didn’t work perfectly for me. And, you know what? That’s ok. It’s my first time trying it. It’s not perfect. Heck, it’s not even acceptable. But, I did it. And, I’ll do it better next time. This is a casual sweater that I won’t be wearing to business meetings and I’m okay with how it looks.

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Now, the conclusion to this long tale. I attempted to use some dye color remover. The dinginess of the yarn really bothered me. And, as Jeanne pointed out it made it look like there were mistake where there weren’t. So, I used some dye remover, with hot water in the hand wash cycle of my machine and the entire sweater shrank to a size unwearable by me. While I’m a little sad to not have it in my wardrobe, I have a friend who I think will love it. And, the excess *did* come out. But, lesson learned. Even if the directions say start with hot water, maybe start with cold and wash it by hand. And, I did love this sweater on me so I’ll be reattempting it soon.

Posted in sewing

Red Wool Trench Skirt: Burdastyle 8-2009-107

If you know my preferred clothing style even a little bit, you know that throwing some trench / military details is the way to my heart.

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So, when this sweet trench skirt came out in 2009 I immediately knew I was going to make it someday. I cut this out back in late summer 2015 from a  beautiful gifted red wool left over from my Parisenne dress. It has a teeny bit of stretch and a nice flowy hand.

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I am admittedly out of Burdastyle practice because the directions left me confounded. Oh how I hate when people complain about Burda directions. Yet here I was not making hide nor tail of the instructions in front of me. Luckily, YouSewGirl had photo details of her pockets and Handmade By Carolyn provided an interior shot of her skirt so I was able to muddle though.

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It feels like I haven’t sewn a woven in AGES. It felt really good to work with a nice fabric and get those incredible sharp seams from a good pressing.

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Sizing: I sewed a 42 grading out to a 46 at the lower thigh.

Pattern Changes:

I extended the front facing and waistline facing by 2.5 inches based on reviews.

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I made my pockets way, way too big. I read a complaint on PR that the pockets were too small. So, I drew a new pocket based on my hand size. Well, that same pocket is now sewn into the front of the skirt due to the top stitching and extended facing. So, I have NO pocket.

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Sewing randomness:

I utilized my blind hemmer rather than a visible hem with top stitching

I did use top stitching thread when topstitching called for — setting up my Singer Featherweight for main sewing and my Bernina 830 for topstitching because my edge stitching foot is the bomb. But, I’ll be the first to admit that this tone on tone red top stitching isn’t really popping.

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I paired this skirt with a turtleneck I sewed up in 2013. Thank goodness for knits, eh?  Buttonholes sewn with my Singer buttonholer. I have got to stop hoarding these. I made a step towards letting go by giving one to a friend last year. Baby steps. Buttons were sewn on using my buttonhole foot from Bernina. Built in shank, baby!

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The pattern calls for sewing a belt and belt loops. I ended up leaving them off which takes away some of the trenchiness of said trench skirt. When I make this again in a nice khaki I’ll definitely add it back in.

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Thanks to Liz for taking photos (she’s wearing an old RTW silk dress of mine I gave her). This mural is “Welcome to Baltimore” and shows different neighborhoods and attractions in the City. We illegally parked and whipped these out in 10 mins.

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And since we were so rushed we totally forgot to take photos of the back 😂.

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