Sunday, November 25, 2018

Coming Into Port: The Starboard Sweater

I hadn't knit anything for Little Man in a while, so I decided a simple pullover sweater was in order -- preferably something gender neutral, so it can be used by all of his younger siblings! I picked the "Starboard" pattern by Alicia Plummer, and armed with my skeins of KnitPicks Cotlin (a 10% cotton, 30% linen blend) in Creme Brulee, I cast on.

I really thought I'd enjoy a simpler project -- This sweater is knit in the round, so it is primarily knit stitches. And while I certainly did enjoy the ease of being able to knit "mindlessly," I did miss the variety of having an interesting stitch pattern. 

I don't think the neckline gaps that much when Little Man is wearing it -- at least, I hope not!

In the end, I'm pleased with the result. I did forget to reduce my needle size at the body and sleeve hems! Fortunately it's not a big deal with the style of the sweater, and it's something I could undo and fix relatively easily. Not that I will... *wink*

My only change to the pattern was to omit the pockets as written, and add just one patch pocket at the end. I was a bit muddled by the pocket instructions, and I wasn't quite sure I liked the way they looked in the pattern photos. This was a simple alternative, and seemed to work even though I completely winged it.

I don't think CotLin "blocks" very well; it's supposed to be dryer safe, so I might give that a shot. But it's supposed to be a very casual style, and Little Man is quite pleased with it. I'm not elated about this project and doubt I'll try the pattern again, but I always learn something from each project and if I end up with a wearable garment at the end -- so much the better!

And best of all, when one project comes into port, it's time to start another...

Raveled here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Merryweather, Muted

When I made my "Merry and Bright" dress from Birch Organic's Merryweather fabric line, I also purchased the same print in the slate colorway. I wasn't kidding when I declared my love for that fabric!

I wasn't sure what pattern to use for this fabric -- I could make the same exact dress (Butterick 5242), but didn't want to be too redundant. I had seen out-of-print Simplicity 2369, and based on the rave reviews it got, I ordered an inexpensive copy from Ebay. 

In the end... I wish I had used a different pattern! While I was able to make this dress work, I wasn't entirely pleased with how it turned out. I had to make a number of changes -- taking in the top sleeve seams, changing both the height of the ties and which side one of the ties was on (mine ties in the back now), altering the bottom hem of the "wrap" bodice, adjusting the center back seam, and some other more minor tweaks. 

When I finished my other Merryweather dress, I was incredibly happy with the outcome. When I finished this dress, I felt much less enthusiastic (but very relieved to be done!). It may have been partly due to my fabric, which is perhaps a bit heavier than it should be for this pattern. It may have been partly due to the fabric print, which is admittedly busy and hides some of the pattern's details. I honestly think this pattern would work better on someone with a more hourglass figure -- a larger bust and smaller waist would definitely help.

Focusing on the positive, I did end up with a comfortable, wearable dress in a fabric that I love. I can even use the same "Mineral" colored demi cami that I made for my other Merryweather dress, which is one of the perks of using fabrics in the same family. And this dress does fit my requirements of being postpartum/nursing friendly, which will be useful after our fifth baby is born -- though the rather unforgiving fit means I'll probably need to wait a while until my "mummy tummy" has gone down before I wear it! Or maybe just until my vanity has gone down... *cough*

These pictures were obviously taken a while ago,
before my current pregnancy started "showing"

Not every project is destined to be a favorite, but I think by the time I pull this out next summer/fall (I've already had to put it away for this pregnancy -- again, unforgiving fit!) I'll be quite content with it. And there's nothing like a chubby photo bomber to make your day better...

My hair is Scout's "security blanket," as you can see in this photo!
He almost always has a grip on my hair.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Farewell to Summer

Yes, I do realize that Summer's been over for a while now. But while I missed the reasonable time frame for such a post, it's been such a lovely summer that I can't bear to let it go without one last hurrah. I honestly can't remember when I've enjoyed a summer more -- usually it's my least favorite season because of the unforgiving, relentless HEAT. This summer, though, seemed milder. Or perhaps I was more tolerant? Either way, it was really perfect. And while I'm typically wordy, I'll let a few end-of-summer snapshots do the talking:

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Only Constant

We're no strangers to change -- a growing family and military career will see to that! Change is almost always in the air for us, and next year will be no exception. We'll be heading out west (way out west, not to be trite) early in the year as my husband starts his next duty tour with the Navy. It was exactly the spot he wanted, and we're thrilled for that and for the new adventures we'll have -- neither of us have ever lived in that area of the country, and we're gloating over the plethora of state and national parks that will be available to us.

We recently explored a park on the banks of the James River -- finding a dead
fish carcass on the shore was a definite highlight for my children...

Once we've moved (almost) all the way across the country, we'll have a few months to settle in before we welcome a new member of our family, Lord willing in late spring! I'm on the brink of the second trimester, which has seemed to take an eternity. I'm not very patient when it comes to waiting for babies, though you'd think by now I'd have learned! Once again, I'm grateful to God for the way He works -- due to some "abnormalities" with my body's timing, I really didn't think I could get pregnant. But, of course, God loves to work past the limits we impose with our human reasoning. Our older children are so excited (about a week ago Little Man told me at bed time to "take care of the baby in your womb"), though they are hoping for a girl so that Rosa will have a sister.

I'm so grateful for good health thus far, and also the easiest pregnancy I've had to date. I've had virtually no nausea and my energy levels have been manageable -- both of which I'm attributing to a quality probiotic and more consistent use of spray-on magnesium oil (magnesium chloride flakes mixed equal parts with boiling distilled water is quite cost effective), since that's the only change I've made since my last pregnancy. Once in a while I'll feel a tinge of nausea, but it's usually short-lived and my stash of Glee gum seems to help. In fact, I often find myself forgetting that I'm pregnant at all. Although my already-visible baby bump quickly reminds me... *wink*

I'm trying to savor these last weeks in Virginia -- we've been exploring some places that we'd put off seeing. One such spot was Bacon's Castle, which is the oldest surviving brick house in the United States (the left side was built in 1665), among other notable things. Interestingly, the house is known as "Bacon's Castle" because it was overtaken by rebels led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676 -- even though it's likely he never even came to the house! I had no idea that he and his men were responsible for burning down Jamestown, which is why it's now really just a ruin/archaeological site. Bacon died from dysentery just over a month later, and the rebellion fizzled out. And that's your history lesson for today. It's a chapter in America's past that I'd never even heard of!

We were only slightly disappointed that Bacon's Castle is not really a
castle -- and not made out of bacon, either! We checked...

Of course, I'm now wringing my hands as I consider all the places we didn't go -- but I have to remind myself that we may very well end up here again, and in that case our children will be older and better able to enjoy and remember the places we visit. And we still have time for a few more adventures!

It's easy to become overwhelmed with all that has to be done before we move, and the uncertainty of our housing situation once we arrive. But I remind myself that God's mercies are new every morning, and that He will give us the strength to make this transition -- even if it's not as effortless and simple as I'd like it to be.

But until then, there's life to live -- schooling for the littles, sweaters that won't knit themselves, and all the ordinary day-to-day. These are the moments that won't change, regardless of our location on a map. We're holding on to the familiar, but looking forward to what next year has in store!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

November Yarn Along: Fast and Slow

Somehow, October is already over. Between a downed desktop computer, a much-anticipated visit from dear family, and as many outdoor adventures as we can fit in before winter arrives, the month has slipped away. 

But I was knitting! I cast on a Master Charles sweater early in October, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm knitting it up in a size four for Laddie (who really doesn't need another sweater this year, but I've had plans for this since last year), and it's lovely to make something in a smallish size. It knits up so quickly! The basketweave cables in the center front are such a beautiful feature, and so far the only real change I've made has been to omit the back details -- I don't think the sweater needs it. I love the tweedy yarn and the color. A perfect fall knit.

I love it when I have the perfect bookmark -- I got this one through Zazzle, and had it printed with my own design
(though obviously not my own words!)

I just have a few more rows of the second sleeve and the sleeve cap to finish, and then I can sew in the sleeves and block it! Of course, as soon as I finish I'll be casting on the same sweater in size 2 for Scout (matching sweaters!) -- but that will presumably knit up even faster, since it's smaller? I think I have enough momentum to get a second sweater done. Though this pattern requires more yarn joining (with weaving it to follow) than any pattern I've yet encountered.

I had to smile when I opened up Ginny's Yarn Along post for November -- I'm also reading The Fellowship of the Ring. It's been years since I read The Lord of the Rings, though I read it often as a teenager. I found beautiful editions of the books at Barnes and Noble for $21 (for all three!), but have never read them. While my sweater may be knitting up fast, this book is reading slow. Intentionally. I used to devour books as quickly as possible, partly because I had the time before marriage and children became part of my life! While I still go through reading spurts occasionally, I find myself savoring books more than I used to. I expect it to take quite a bit of time to get through The Lord of the Rings, and I'm quite content with that. I'm reading other books alongside, quicker reads (libraries have due dates!), but this is my comfort read. I always forget how much I love Tolkien's writing when I'm not actually reading it.

Fast and slow. Perhaps that's balance? In any case, both my knitting and Tolkien's words bring calm to my often flurried mind, and that's welcome, indeed. The close of the year is approaching, and next year will bring some significant changes for our family -- in a good way, but change always brings challenges and adjustment. Right now, I'm holding on to familiar.  

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Merry and Bright

No, it's not Christmas yet, despite my choice of title for this post -- but it has felt a little like Christmas in my closet lately, as I've finally gotten around to sewing up some new garments and cleared out a few tired pieces.

But "merry" is more than just the mood of my revamped wardrobe! Because as soon as I found Merryweather in Floral multi knit by Arleen Hillyer, I was in love. I'm not kidding, I immediately searched for the best price online and placed an order. That is really quite rare for me, as I usually hem and haw over a fabric for some time before (possibly) taking the plunge. I didn't even have a pattern picked out yet! I just knew I wanted a dress. The fabric pattern was so cheerful and bright without being gaudy; feminine without being girly. I didn't try to resist, but I'm pretty certain it would have been futile...

You've heard the story of my trial run for Butterick 5242. I loved the mock-up so much that I wasted no time in cutting out another in my Merryweather knit. 

The Merryweather line is produced by none other than Birch organic fabrics, which is probably my favorite fabric company (not a sponsor, just a fan!). Which was probably another reason for my impulsive purchase. Impulse paid off, though, because this is one of my favorite dresses I've ever made.

I happened to have some Birch solid knit in "Mineral," and it was the perfect accent for the waistband, ties, and the demi-camisole I made to wear underneath. I followed the same plan for my last version of this dress: cut out a size smaller, graded to my usual size at the hips, an inch added to the hem, ties added to the sides, sleeves omitted, armholes and neckline finished with a self-drafted facing. I didn't need to make a single change from my mock-up, so this dress went together even faster than the last one. It was quite gratifying to see it come together so quickly!

I've already worn this dress several times, and it's a fast favorite. Just like the last one, the style is perfect for transitional wear -- early maternity, postpartum, and nursing. And I'm glad that's the case, because I'd hate to have to stop wearing it for any reason, however good! Though I don't know that I can pass this off as a winter dress, even with layering... Still, I can wear it a bit longer now, and pull it out again in the spring.

As I was sewing this dress up, Rosa was observing. She finally asked, "Do you have any more of that fabric?" Why yes, I do. "Do you think you could make me a dress with it?" Why yes, I think I could. And that is precisely what I did -- when your daughter asks for a matching dress, you don't say "no," now do you? Hers is a bit different in style, but you can see that for yourself... as soon as I get any decent pictures of it!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

October Yarn Along: Finishing

It's time to join in Ginny's Yarn Along for October!

I can't actually show you what I'm currently knitting, because I've just finished both of my WIPs! I'm itching to get something new on my needles (which, of course, means buying new patterns...), and hope to cast on a project or two soon.

One of my recently finished projects was my "Bubble net cowl," made with Knit Picks Alpaca cloud lace in colorway "Emma" (purchased on clearance -- it's out of stock now). I do love the names of the Alpaca cloud colorways! They're all heroes and heroines from beloved stories. I kind of wanted to do a Jane Austen themed knit (how perfect would that be!), but Bubble net was calling to me, and the blue seemed a perfect fit for a "whale" cowl -- if you've never seen whales make a bubble net, look it up on YouTube! It's fascinating. 

My current read is A Passion for the Impossible: the Life of Lilias Trotter, by Miriam Huffman Rockness. It is a remarkable and inspiring read, detailing the life of a woman who ministered as a missionary to Algeria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If you've never heard of Lilias Trotter, I highly recommend looking her up! Her devotion to Christ, compassion for unreached peoples, and tenacity in the face of opposition is truly remarkable. She gave up so much -- including the promise of fame as a brilliant artist, studying under the famous John Ruskin. Her drawings and paintings are truly beautiful! My interlibrary loan due date is looming, but with a few other books complete, I'm now devouring this volume. 

And, a few more obligatory shots of my new cowl! I'd been working on it since March, as a "mindless" project to pull out during movies and such. Of course, now I'll need a new easy project to replace it with! But this is probably the perfect time of year to wear this cowl, so I'm pleased with the timing.

This was my first time knitting with lace yarn, and it was a bit tricky! It's like knitting with thread. But I love the delicate, cobwebby result.

Now that it's October, I'm in quite the mood to knit, and I'm hoping to make a dent in my yarn stash and project queue while that mood lasts! Happy yarning to you all, and I hope you're having a lovely Fall season so far!

Raveled here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

On Trial

Sometimes, a fabric is just too good to risk on an untried pattern. The fabric that was too good to risk (more on that later) was Merryweather knit, and the pattern is Butterick 5242, which looked promising -- but also had the potential to be decidedly maternity and too high-waisted.

Enter, the mock-up! I really don't like the idea of a mock-up that you can't wear afterwards, so I scoured my stash for something I'd want to wear if the pattern worked. Fortuitously, I had a small piece of a blue heathered knit -- I'd purchased it to make a maxi skirt, but realized when it arrived in the mail that I'd probably never have any tops that would match it. So there it was, waiting for me -- and it had been waiting quite a while. I was just, just able to fit my pieces on the fabric! 

As usual for me with "Big 4" knit patterns, I cut out a size smaller than my measurements (though I did grade it to the next size up in the skirt). I opted to omit the sleeves (I couldn't have fit them on my fabric, anyway!), which should give me more layering options for the fall and winter. Plus, I disliked both sleeve options in the pattern. I finished both the neck and armholes with facings, and added ties at the sides -- I thought I'd want to be able to cinch in the back, and I was right. I think I added maybe an inch to the length, and it's perfect for me. Long enough that I'm not worried about accidental "reveals," and short enough to be comfortable and easy to move in.

I'd added about an inch to the shoulders because I was so worried about the bodice length (even the pattern piece looked short!), but I think the weight and stretchiness of the knit helped. In fact, I had to unpick part of my topstitching and neckline facing so I could take that inch out of the shoulders! A bit annoying, but worth it to get a better fit.

Speaking of fit, I love it! It is one of the most comfortable dresses I own, and in a light-ish knit the pleats don't seem to be too "maternity." But, also a plus, the pleats in the skirt and the low-cut v neckline make this a perfect early maternity, post-partum, and nursing dress. Such versatility will be very useful, assuming I don't wear it out by frequent use before I need it for those purposes. *wink*

I'd planned to wear a demi-camisole with this dress, anyway, and it certainly needs one! And on the subject of demi-camisoles, this one's made with the bottom of a camisole; I'd cut off the bottom half ages ago so I could use the top half as a demi-cami, but it seemed a shame to waste the lace at the hem -- so here it is, "upside down." Waste not!

Fueled by my success, I was ready to cut into the fabric that started all of this in the first place -- but that's a story for next time! This is a story of second chances. Leftovers and rejects stuffed away, pulled out for such a time as this, and given a new lease on life. Wearable mock-ups are always a bonus, especially when they lead to greater things...