Friday, August 17, 2012


It must be moving towards fall (if slowly) because my impulse to sew has returned. The question is "what to make"? Seriously, I have a zillion patterns and tons of fabric, but I haven't so much as looked at either in a couple of months. Why not? Well, I've been living the summer of perfect weather coupled with the summer of child-freeness. (M comes back tomorrow after six weeks away, fyi.) 

Then there's the small matter of the renovation, which continues. I am grateful to be able to tell you that a very stressful element of the project (that's code for "potential big problem") has been resolved. But unknowns are par for the course with this kind of project. The latest is: Will this job be done by Labour Day?  

Finally, there's my seemingly natural urge to knit when the weather gets warm.  It's not like I've been craft-free all summer. I mean, I made this and this. (I also knit a baby gift set.) And I'm about 60 per cent through the sweater that time forgot

This week, I reworked a paragraph of vintage "instructions" into 10 pages of typed up notes, including every row by number and specific stitches required. That took hours but now all I have to do, and I say that with some irony, is to follow these (painstakingly achieved) directions. I debated the merit of investing this kind of extra time on a garment which, as we know, may not fit. (It's somewhat like a bra. Given the construction methodology, there's no way to tell how it's going to work until it's seamed up.) It's not like I haven't also kept pages of hand-written notes.

Thing is, I do intend to make it again. (Stay tuned for more about this.) Even if version 1 isn't a perfect fit, I believe that it will give me the information I require to vastly improve version 2. Right now, I sense version 1 might be too short. That's because I ended up having to cut 2 inches off the bottom in order to ensure I'd have enough yarn to complete the project. (There are times when having a short waist is merciful, for what it's worth, but this thing is true-waist vintage-short to begin with...)

Note (And This Doesn't Make Me Seem Like The Sharpest Tack in the Box): When buying my yarn I neglected to consider that, when one changes one's gauge intentionally to achieve a sweater having a larger circumference, one will require MORE FREAKING YARN to accommodate the increased size. By the time this occurred to me, the LYS had no more of my yarn in stock. The brand is one that hand-dyes lots for individual stores so apparently there is little likelihood of procuring another skein. 

My work-around was to weigh my yarn every other row as I neared the end of the sweater's left half. I knew I had to finish with 160 grams of yarn left over, though how to ensure that would happen (all of the rows increase and decrease and the sweater changes shape radically towards the end) was beyond me. My hack was part math and part intuition and, as it happens, I was left with 160g,  EXACTLY half of my remaining yarn to complete the remaining half of the sweater.  One thing's for sure, I will never know how to alter this sweater for better fit on the next go-around, if I can't produce a finished version 1. So this was a necessary (potential) evil.

Knitting is so "live and learn". While I despise having left over lots of yarn that are too small to do anything with and too large to dispose of, I am starting to see the merit of starting a project with more yarn than I will reasonably need. It seems I often complain about the very real potential that my project is in peril because I a) don't have enough yarn and b) there's no more to be had. It's much less compelling to write about how I have left-over yarn that's just sitting there gathering dust. And, all things considered, it's much less stressful.

But back to sewing. What to make?

For starters, I intend to compare my trove of patterns (many of them new or unconsidered as yet) against my stash of fabric (not inconsiderable) to see what clicks. I suspect a quick win is in order - something that doesn't require too much fitting or more than a weekend in the sewga room to complete. Between the math lesson that is the McCardell Convertible and my last couple of projects (the labour-intensive Tailored Suit and the Fitted Bodice, still in process), I would simply like to enjoy the hand and drape of a (stretchy?) fabric and a garment shape that's known to flatter. I'm itching to sew: to cut and press and stitch. I don't know how much I feel like making a muslin. I guess, the garment will call me and, depending on what it needs, I'll proceed accordingly.

Many people have been very happy with the Renfrew pattern, which I do own. I am also thinking about trying something with buttonholes (?!) because my Singer really does them very nicely and, generally, without incident. I've got some beautiful modal and a sweater knit. And there are lots of garments I've made before, with some success, that I'd be happy to recreate in a new fabric.

What do you suggest? Have you made a pattern recently that fits the bill (good instructions, great finished product, reasonably quick)? I totally want to hear about it!


  1. I was at a loss of what to sew the other day too! So I got my fabric out and made an inventory of it and tried matching it up with patterns (here: I then also went through my patterns and got out the ones I thought I could sew in the near future. And it turns out it worked! I made a Jenny skirt last night, which was a great low investment project as i've made it heaps of times before, and even though the instructions are shocking, it's a pencil skirt, you don't need them!

    1. I know! That's one of the posts that's got me thinking about sewing again :-) I loved your use of the word "sewjo"!

  2. "My work-around was to weigh my yarn every other row as I neared the end of the sweater's left half. " Smart! I have a cone of gorgeous nubby rayon and silk from eBay, and I've knit the back twice now (2nd run shorter so as to use less yarn) and weighed the backs to make sure I have enough yarn to knit an entire cardigan. Two sleeves to go and we seem to be ok. (I use my Weight Watchers scale that zero's out - much more fun that weighing my food!

    (There's also the trick on knitting faster and holding your breath as you run out of yarn so it just might go farther :) )


    1. Gail: One of the cool things about reading the blogs of great knitters is that I hear about their tricks and then I copy them (as necessary). My scale is in constant use because I like to bake AND knit :-) BTW, it's a really old-school Cuisinart manual scale with a bowl. I would never want a digital scale. Not as much fun.

  3. I'm so glad that I'm not the only one to make a mountain of notes. I have to learn to stop doing it so excessively.. I turn the simplest of projects into a nightmare of over-thinking lol!
    Hmm, I don't have a garment to suggest for you! I am making a Renfrew soon though (that's the plan anyway...) so we could end up Renfrew twins, lol :P

    1. J: We should have a note-off and see who'd win! :-) I suspect you might give me a run for my money - but I am nothing if not compulsive. Mind you, how many times have you gone back to those notes and figured something out that saves your ass (or that of your project). Time well spent, I think.