Author: Christina B

FO Friday: Little Beaver

Pattern: Wee Wonderland Wuzzies by Barbara Prime

Yarn: Cascade 220 in Cafe for the body, Jill Draper Makes Stuff Windham for the nose, Araucania Ranco Solid in 113 for the scarf

Needles: US7 (4.5mm) for the animal, US3 (3.25mm) for the scarf

Ravelry Link: here

Started: November 22, 2019

Completed: November 23, 2019

a knitted beaver in a blue scarf faces the camera

When the hostess of my knitting group announced she was pregnant, the rest of us immediately began thinking of what we would knit for her. One woman suggested we each make a small stuff animal to put together into a mobile and we all loved the idea. We picked out the Wee Wonderland Wuzzies pattern because it had so many animal options and we knew that our pregnant friend had chosen a woodland animals theme for her nursery. Strangely, the animal I knit is called an otter in the pattern, but I decided to add some details to make it obviously a beaver.

Close up on the head of a knitted beaver toy in a blue scarf

I chose to do all the detail work on my beaver in embroidery thread. I do not like to use safety eyes, so instead I sewed on eyes and a nose with black embroidery thread. My proudest part is that I used white embroidery thread in a woven picot stitch to make two extending beaver teeth. I love how they look. I also ended up knitting a tiny scarf for my animal because all the other animals on the mobile had one and I didn’t want my beaver to the the only cold one.

a hand holding a mobile of knitted animal toys and leaves against a white wall

Another woman in the knitting group put the mobile together and it came out great. I got this picture of the mobile the one time I was able to visit my friend and her new baby before COVID changed our lives. They both looked so happy and healthy it warmed my heart. I’m sad I can’t hold that sweet baby more, or knit in person with mom, but I am so glad we were able to provide this sweet gift to show our love.

Have you ever worked on a group baby gift? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below!

Becoming A Weaver

Last time I wrote I shared my first weaving project and promised to come back and share the resources I used to get started weaving. I like to learn concepts by reading and techniques by illustration or video so my list below includes a combination of both.

cover of the book inventive weaving on a little loom. shows a small loom with a yellow weaving project on it as well as inset photos of 5 different weaving patterns.

I began with the book Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell based on the recommendations of the rigid heddle weaving group on Ravelry and I am glad that I did. This book is a thorough explanation of how weaving works, the different parts of weaving structure, how to set up and use your loom for plain weave and various different patterns and how to troubleshoot issues. This is a reference that I will continue to refer back to when I try a new technique or need to refresh my memory on an old one. The book includes a number of projects at the end to introduce the techniques from the book and I have several dog-eared to come back to.

The second resource I used to get started and weave even my first swatches was Liz Gipson’s Yarnworker School. To be honest, I usually do not like to watch courses on crafting because I find they move too slowly for me – I want to see the 30 seconds of the video that demonstrate the technique and then move on with my life. But I truly enjoyed the Weaving 101 course from Liz and went on to view some of the older weave-a-long videos to learn some of the methods from those projects. The videos are to the point but not rushed and I appreciated seeing things done one way by Liz and another way by Syne in her book – it was healthy for me to see early on that there are multiple approaches and I can try them out and see what works best for me or the situation. I continue to get Liz’s newsletter and learn from her weaving geekery, and would happily enroll in future courses from her.

cover of the book weaving within reach. features a pair of hands tucking in strands of yarn on a project as well as a cup of tea, scissors, and a fluffy ball of yarn to create a cozy feel.

The second book I read was Weaving Within Reach by Anne Weil, which is written to include projects ranging from loomless to simple DIY looms to rigid heddle. It is photographed like a coffee table book, with cozy scenes around the woven objects you will create. This book covered some specific weaving structures I would like to try out on my rigid heddle loom, but on the whole is not designed to teach how to weave on that kind of loom. I bookmarked more projects in this book than the first, things like a bento bag made of twill tape or a sweet rabbit lovey made from fabric you weave and then sew into shape.

cover of intermediate SAORI clothing design. it shows a shirt made of handwoven fabric with green stripes put on a dressform in front of a fuzzy wooded background.

In looking at weaving projects on Ravelry for inspiration, I was quickly drawn to the handwoven clothing projects. I have not been able to find a ton of resources for these kind of projects, they seem to mostly come from the brains of the crafters. I did find the book Intermediate SAORI Clothing Design by Kenzo Jo helpful in learning the general principles I am after in tackling these projects on my own. The projects come sized for the 5’4″ 120lbs average Japanese woman so they won’t fit me as drafted, but they cover the geometry involved in each garment and how to plan to cut a neck hole or sew a hem, etc, so I can use the information. The garments are all simple shapes with minimal seaming so they are not hard to size up or down. I was incredibly inspired by the clothing in this book. It’s all sewn from Saori fabric, which I find incredibly beautiful. I am really hoping to make myself a handwoven tank this summer and am currently torn between going off an indie clothing pattern or designing my own based on the concepts in this book.

And that ends the recap of the resources I began my rigid heddle weaving journey with. Since then I was given a lovely little inkle loom and have begun playing with that, so there are definitely more weaving posts ahead this summer as I continue to learn this new craft. I would love to hear any resources I left out that you recommend – please share them in the comments below!

FO Friday: Plaid Scarf

a plaid scarf in white browns and pink hangs over a wooden railing

Draft: None, repeat worked out with plaidmaker.com

Yarn: The Green Line 3/8 by JaggerSpun in Alabaster, Caramel, Cinnamon, and Melon

EPI: 10

Size: 7″ x 76″

Ravelry Link: here

Started: April 18, 2020

Completed: May 1, 2020

a plaid scarf in white, browns and pink laying on weather wooden planks

I made cloth! I have wanted to weave for a long time, and even took a class on it a year ago at DFW Fiber Fest. As soon as I sat down to weave I felt a connection to the ancient art of making cloth and the generations who have done so before me, in a way that I don’t feel about spinning or knitting or sewing. When quarantine hit I decided to go for it and invest in a rigid heddle loom, something that fits into both my budget and my household. This plaid scarf is my first weaving project on my new loom and I am so very pleased with it.

a plaid scarf in white, browns and pink laying on weather wooden planks

One thing I struggled with on this project was keeping an even number of PPI aka picks her inch, or how close together my weft threads are. You can see it in the above picture and the first one – the color blocks are much longer at one end of the scarf than the other. I was trying to match visually, but learned that method can be unreliable when done under tension. For my next project I will try to match based on my untensioned work.

a plaid scarf in white browns and pink hangs over a wooden railing, billowing out in a breeze

Overall I am so pleased with how easy it was to make this project. I was able to get an idea in my mind and turn it into cloth in just a couple weeks. For my next project I am torn between dishcloths (truly, my long-term weaving dream) or fabric to sew a simple top for myself. I am currently leaning towards the latter, thinking I will raid my leftovers and make a Saori-style scrappy fabric.

Next week I’ll share a bit about the resources I used to become a weaver. I definitely could not have done it without help! Have you taken up a new quarantine craft? Tell me about it in the comments below!

FO Friday: Higher Rise Ginger Jeans

white woman stands with her back to the camera and face turned towards it. she is wearing a yellow and white striped sweater and has her hands in her back pockets.
photo credit: Chaitanya Muralidhara

Pattern:  Ginger High Rise Jeans by Closet Case Patterns

Fabric: Cone Mills lightweight denim in Indigo

Size: 14

Started: March 4, 2020

Completed: March 4, 2020

the bottom half of a woman. she is wearing jeans and you can just see the top of her sweater.
photo credit: Chaitanya Muralidhara

I made my first pair of Ginger Jeans last summer at a retreat at Fancy Tiger Crafts and it was an amazing experience that changed me as a sewist. I wear the resulting jeans all the time and they’re so comfortable. However, just as my instructor, the lovely Lauren Taylor, aka Lladybird, warned, with repeated washings they have shrunk a bit vertically. That was just fine for my hem, which I left long, but has been a problem at the rise. It has lowered it just enough that it no longer entirely covers the medical device on my stomach and I find myself tugging on them constantly to keep it covered. So, I decided to make myself a new, even higher-rise pair and I am thrilled with how they turned out.

shoulders down of a woman at a 3/4 angle with her back to the camera. she is wearing a striped sweater and jeans with a hand in the pocket.
photo credit: Chaitanya Muralidhara

I measured the different between where my current Gingers fit and a good clearance above my medical device (to account for future vertical shrinkage!) and came up with 1.5″ as the amount I wanted to add to the rise. On the front it was easy to add it at the point indicated on the pattern. On the back I knew I wanted to split it between the pants piece and the yoke and could not find much guidance on how to do so. I took a random guess and put 1″ in the pants where indicated and .5″ in the yoke where it would hit the most width and I am really pleased with the fit I got in that area. I plan on using the same split for future pairs.

The only other modification I made was to remove 2″ from the length where indicated in the pattern. After sewing them up I decided to cut off another 1″. That still leaves enough length for me to fold up the cuff after hemming. This meant I didn’t need to take in the legs around the calves like in my first pair. Looking at the fit in the legs now, I can see that I could have taken in a few places to remove wrinkles, but I just can’t get bothered about precisely fitting stretch jeans.

waist up of a smiling woman. she is wearing a yellow striped sweater and jeans with her hands in the pockets.
photo credit: Chaitanya Muralidhara

I could not believe I was able to sew these together in a day. It helped that I topstitched in the same thread I used to sew, so I didn’t need to switch machines or rethread. It still feels so powerful to be able to sew my own jeans. With two new pairs in my wardrobe I am set for a while, and I get to enjoy wearing them. To anyone on the fence about sewing their first pair, I really want to encourage you to go for it! Like most sewing, if you take your time and follow the instructions, you can 100% tackle jeans. You may need to do some basting and rip some seams, but luckily denim is a sturdy fabric that can take it. I’d love to hear about your first jeans in the comments below.

FO Friday: Denim Persephones

white woman stands in front of brown chest of drawers, lit from atop. she is wearing a green tank top and light wash high waist wide leg jeans and has her hands on her hips.
photo credit: Chaitanya Muralidhara

Pattern: Persephone Pants by Anna Allen

Fabric: Non-stretch denim from Joann’s

Size: 14

Started: March 2, 2020

Completed: March 5, 2019

a white woman stands at a bar, her body sideways to the camera. she is wearing a tank top and jeans.
photo credit: Chaitanya Muralidhara

Ever since I made my first pair of Persephone Pants in a twill I knew I wanted to make a pair in denim, too. I love the fit of these pants and wanted a jeans-like pair for everyday wear. I learned quickly that my first pair ended up roomier than I would prefer, especially with the stretch that happens with wear, so for these I went down a size. I think ultimately it was the right choice but I am not enjoying the breaking in phase at all.

a white woman stands at a bar, her body facing away from the camera and head turned to smile at it. she is wearing a tank top and jeans.
photo credit: Chaitanya Muralidhara

When I immediately finished the jeans I could just barely get them zipped up. They were definitely not the easy daily wardrobe staple I had been imagining. A friend recommended the old trick of taking a warm bath in the jeans to stretch them out, and then letting them air dry. It was not my favorite bath (and actually the fly facing ripped out of its stitching and had to be redone) but it worked wonders in getting the jeans to be comfortable enough to start wearing. As I have worn them I am finding they are stretching out where I need a bit of extra space (the hips) and are more and more comfy to wear.

a white woman stands at a table, her body facing away from the camera. she is wearing a cabled sweater and jeans.
photo credit: Chaitanya Muralidhara

Overall I do really love the whole these pants fill in my wardrobe. They are so perfect with my new Pamplemousse sweater and I can picture a ton of other tops they will be great with. The only modification I made was to remove 2″ from the length, and I am happy with the just cropped length I ended up with. If I made another pair I would grade out a bit at the hips. I think I have enough of this fabric left to make some shorts for this summer, so I will keep that in mind. These are well on their way to being tried and trues for me. Do you have any patterns that you can see sewing up and perfecting more and more? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

FO Friday: Pamplemousse Sweater

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, her body sideways and face turned to smile at the camera.

Pattern: Pamplemousse by Thea Colman

Yarn: De Rerum Natura Gilliatt in Forest

Needles: US10 (6.0mm)

Size: 48

Ravelry Link: here

Started: December 26, 2019

Completed: February 23, 2020

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, her body facing the camera and arm on hip, face turned to the side.

Is Pamplemousse my 5th cabled sweater with an oversized neck? Yes, it is. I know what I like and when this pattern from Thea Colman popped up it fell right into the Venn diagram of my favorite elements in a knitted garment. I was amazed to knock it out in under 2 months, as lately I have been finishing one sweater per year, but I just couldn’t put this project down! I am now treating it like my favorite sweatshirt and putting it on anytime I’m a little bit chilly.

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, her back to the camera and faced turned around to look at you.

I spent a lot of time trying to find a substitute for the recommended yarn, Taiga by Bleu Pousserie, which is a rustic yarn without a lot of elasticity. I am really thrilled at how it came out with the yarn I ended up with, Natura by De Rerum Natura. It is a squishy worsted weight that is 100% merino, but still has a more rustic hand. The cables look lovely in this yarn and while my slipped stitch pattern gauge was slightly different than the suggested, I did the math and realized it didn’t make a difference in my sweater circumference so I didn’t adjust for it at all.

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, facing the camera with her arms up and out in a tee position.

I love how you can see the arm shaping in this shot! I did end up making a few modifications to the sweater. I picked up 2 extra stitches for the sleeve and did the same number of decreases so mine would be slightly roomier. I tend to have problems with sleeves being too tight in the biceps so this accommodated that. I also made the sleeves 2″ shorter before starting the ribbing, because I have the arms of a 5’2″ lady. Finally, I worked my cowl slightly differently than the patten – as suggested I went up a needle size after knitting 1″, but after that I kept bumping up to a larger needle size every 4″ per advice I’ve heard in the past from Amy Herzog. It makes the fabric looser as the cowl grows and allows it to get a bit bigger and lay nicely.

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, holding the bottom hem of the sweater and looking down at it.

I am absolutely thrilled to have knit this sweater that fits in so well with many others in my closet. This one is different with the full cowl as well as the cropped length, and really, there is nothing wrong with having similar pieces if clothing you wear and love. Do you have any recurring features in the clothing you make? Tell me about it in the comments below!

FO Friday: Maypole Quilt

a quilt laying on concrete. the quilt has overlapping lines that look woven in white, browns, and greens.

Pattern: Maypole Quilt by Suzy Quilts

Fabric: Michael Miller Couture Cotton in Sage, Kona Cotton in Seafoam, Kona Cotton in White, Kona Cotton in Lingerie, Kona Cotton in Suede, and FIGO Desert Wilderness Circles

Size: Crib (40″ x 45″)

Started: January 18, 2020

Completed: February 8, 2020

close up of a corner of a quilt on concrete. the quilt is folded over so the front and back are both visible. front has strips that look overlapping and woven, back has dots right next to each other that look like water colors. both in green, brown, and white colors.

I love making baby quilts, and no matter how early I plan them, I have an uncanny knack for starting them while the mom is actually in labor. I have wanted to make this pattern, the Maypole Quilt, ever since it came out and was thrilled with the fabrics I picked out. But I still finished it after baby’s arrival . . . the good news is kids don’t outgrow quilts.

a quilt on concrete. back is visible with a fabric that looks like watercolor dots right next to each other in browns, greens, and black on a white background.

Before I get into making the quilt I need to give a shout-out to Fancy Tiger Crafts, where I got the fabric from. One of the colors I ordered online turned out to sell out in their store while I was checking out and so wasn’t available for my order. One of their staff members took pictures of similar fabrics they had in stock next to the rest of my fabrics to help me pick out a substitute, and they didn’t charge me the price difference between what I paid for and the substitute. It may not be local to me, but Fancy Tiger is a local fabric shop and it shows in details like this.

close up of a corner of a quilt on concrete. it shows the quilting on the front - straight lines across the strips of fabric that appear interwoven.

The Maypole Quilt pattern was really easy and came together incredibly quickly. I cut and pieced the top in an afternoon. As always, then I found out the baby had been born and without the pressure of getting it quilted before the baby arrived I procrastinated on quilting. I decided to follow the example in the pattern and do straight line quilting along the strips. This is my first time not doing free-motion quilting and gosh is this so much quicker. It took me a few attempts to figure out how to make reliable straight lines at thirds in the stripes. I tried at first with that attachment you can put in your foot that sticks out a set amount. I couldn’t figure out a way to screw it into place on my walking foot so it led me astray. I had much better success with my hera marker and a ruler (it makes a physical impression on the fabric that fades/washes out, rather than coloring on it).

another view of the whole quilt top on concrete.

I am totally in love with how this whole project came out. I am pleased with the colors I picked out for the top based on looking at pictures of the backing on my computer. The brown could be a little redder, but everything else feels great. And I like the texture from the quilting and from not pre-washing my fabrics and then washing the finished quilt. I hope the mom loves it as much as I do!

FO Friday: Breton Cowl

a white woman in an olive green and chartreuse striped cowl and a sky blue top stands facing the camera, seen from the waist up

Pattern: Breton Cowl by Antonia Shankland

Yarn: Shibui Knits Drift in Field and Shibui Knits Silk Cloud in Pollen

Needle: US9 (5.5mm)

Ravelry Link: here

Started: October 18, 2019

Completed: November 22, 2019

I am a stripes gal, they’re the pattern you see most in my wardrobe. When the lovely ladies at Mason-Dixon Knitting gave me a kit for the Breton Cowl and a copy of the Field Guide containing the pattern I was thrilled to knit some more stripes for my closet. They didn’t ask me to review the kit, this is just me proudly blogging my FOs 😌

white woman in an olive green and chartreuse striped cowl and a sky blue top stands with her head turned to the side

Not only does this pattern contain stripes, it contains my other knitting love – garter stitch. I really love the contrast of the squishy garter background and the stripes in a different fiber and texture. It gives a bit of visual interest to the cowl and makes it the perfect thing to throw on with a simple top.

Do you have go tos that are hard for you to resist in a pattern? I’d love to hear about them below!

FO Friday: Persephone Pants

a white woman in mustard pants and a white tshirt that says "just for fun" with flowers among the letters stands with legs crossed and a hand on her hip

Pattern: Persephone Pants by Anna Allen

Fabric: Stretch Twill in Mustard

Size: 16

Started: November 27, 2019

Completed: November 28, 2019

One of the patterns I have heard recommended nearly unanimously on the Sewing Internet has been the Anna Allen Persephone pants. They’re supposed to be incredibly comfortable and universally flattering. That is a lot of hype, and I was not sure these would live up to it for me – this is not a silhouette I can ever remember wearing and after a life of mostly RTW I generally assume most pants will not look good on me. I am so glad that sewing has pushed my outside of my comfort zone here, because I love my first pair of Persephones and plan to make many more!

a white woman in yellow pants and a white tshirt. she is standing sideways looking at the camera with her back hand in her hair.

The unusual thing about this pants pattern is that they don’t have an outside seam. You cut out the pieces and they look totally unlike pants. I found the instructions to be incredibly clear, though, and they came together really quickly. The pattern is drafted for a button-fly, but I hate those so I used the zipper expansion pack which made a scary step super easy. I made a sad zipper mistake – I trimmed it and then zipped my zipper pull right off! There’s no way to recover from that mistake, unfortunately, so I had to rip out my zipper and replace it with a new one. I truly thought I might lose the pants entirely and was shocked at how simple the process was. Sewing is pretty amazing in that way, you can recover from so many mistakes!

a white woman in mustard pants and a white tshirt with her back to the camera. her arms are above her head and her hip is cocked as is she was caught dancing.

One thing I was worried about in terms of these pants being flattering is that they have no back pockets. I do think a lot about the underwear I wear with these, but I think that may especially be an issue because this fabric is on the thinner side of bottom weight and is lighter colored. I plan to experiment with adding pack pockets to my next pair as I use them a lot in my clothing and the front pockets on these are cute but not super convenient to use. You can’t see the front pockets in any of my photos, I realize – they sit between the belt loops on each side and are just big enough to hold my phone.

a white woman in mustard pants and a white shirts stands at 3/4 to the camera holding and looking at a black cat.

A local stray cat joined us so we decided to include her in our photoshoot. One choice I made that I regret was not interfacing the waistband. The interfacing I had would not stick to the fabric and in a fit I just tore it off and sewed on the piece without it. The waistband crumples down a lot and would definitely look nicer if I had taken the time to try again rather than being so impatient. The other thing I would do differently if I were to redo this pair is I would go down one size. These pants are drafted for non-stretch fabric. I thought the 3% spandex in my fabric wouldn’t be a big deal, but I think it makes them look a bit stretched out and messy at times, and I think a slightly smaller size would have mitigated this.

a white woman in mustard pants and a white shirt stands on one leg with the other behind her and her hands out, open-mouthed smiling at the camera

My favorite thing about these pants is that they are truly high-waisted – they sit at my natural waist. One of the hardest things about dressing with an ostomy is getting waistbands to hit in a comfortable place. This is the first pair of pants I have found that are high enough to entirely cover my bag, rather than bisecting it, and one of the reason I plan to make them a staple of my wardrobe.

Do you have a pattern that works just right for your body that you make over and over? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

2020 Goals

I love the process of setting goals and assessing how I progressed towards accomplishing them. I have more uncertainty in my near future than average, thanks to my chronic colorectal cancer, but I find I can’t quit planning for the best case scenario. So, here is what I would love to accomplish this year.

Sewing

Top of my list are the 3 outstanding projects I have for other people. I started a quilt for my husband’s 40th birthday, which was back in 2015. I also promised my sister a dress for her birthday last January. And finally, I am making a baby quilt for a friend who is due next week. I need to get those finished before I make anything for myself. Once I do knock those out, I have a long queue of projects planned. I’m most excited about a pair of Persephone Pants in denim, and a Wilder Gown in ochre gauze. I also want to make a few new to me items – a jumpsuit and a bra.

Knitting

I am feeling really excited about knitting lately and have been tearing through my latest project, a Pamplemousse sweater. I have Arete in my queue as well as socks for my husband and some little crocheted bowls for the house. I set my goal for the Ravelry Project Challenge to 6 projects, which is what I aimed for and hit exactly last year. I would love to knit mostly from stash, though I am not going to make any vows not to buy new yarn, just to check first to see if I can use what I have.

Reading/Learning

I still have a large pile of unread crafting books – 30 according to Goodreads. I am going to get through as many of those as I can this year. Next on my list is to research color, finding my colors, and building my wardrobe using that info.

What are your goals for 2020? Learning something new? Improving a skill? Just enjoying the ride? I’d love to hear in the comments below!