Week 25: Pattern alterations

Firstly: I once again did not entirely finish off the last bits of the peach bra. I think my problem is just that I haven’t been able to decide how to finish it. I haven’t decided if I want to trim away the fabric behind the lace on the cups, or leave it and tack it down. And then I can’t decide if I want to take in the extra amount as a dart, knowing that it could be an uncomfortable seam to be right up against my breast. I really need to make those decisions and do the work this week, because I want that bra to come with me to Japan and it’s coming up real quick now.

I did successfully get all but one last thing on the nightgown done, though:

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The neckline trim worked really well, and gives it a more polished look, even if it wants to turn out unpleasantly near the middle. I also hemmed it (by machine this time), so all I have left is to trim the back straps and then hand-stitch them under the back seam so they don’t fray.

I figure some night this week I’ll sit down with a movie and finish up all the hand sewing for both the bra and the nightgown.

What I did do for the bra, however, was move the needed alterations to the pattern. And I took a lot of process pics.

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Here’s the amount that needs to be pinched out. I followed recommendations from the Craftsy comments last time in order to make my dart, but this time I decided to take out fabric where I need it. There was a very obvious pleat while wearing this, so I just traced the edges of it on both sides with my fabric marker. You can see it forms sort of a fishtail dart.

I measured where it started and ended, and placed the two relevant cup pieces together at the seams so I could mark it on the pattern:

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I’m glad I did that bottom cup split last time, it makes for a very convenient ending point for my weird pleat.

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Left is the 2nd draft, with the split cup and the initial cross-cup pleat taken out. Right is my new version, with a more substantial cross-cup pleat.

You can see that  the new version is much narrower to the left of the strap. I actually made one further modification after this that isn’t worth picturing – I had to take a 1/4″ dart out of the bottom cup to true up the seam lines.

It’s not worth ordering materials so close to my trip, but I think after I’m back I’d like to try out my new pattern modification. I have enough fabric left from the two kits I’ve ordered that so long as I’m willing to have a two-tone bra (spoiler alert: I am), I should just need to order the elastics and hardware, which will make it a much cheaper experiment.

As far as button-down shirts go, I decided on the Cashmerette Harrison pattern, largely because I’ve heard such great things about the fit. I’m a size 18 on top and between a 20-22 on the bottom, so I graded the pattern to a 20 and am hoping that the design ease will make up for the extra inch. I’m also planning to leave one-inch seam allowances on the sides to allow for anything I need to take in/out.

You’ll also notice that I traced off and shortened the sleeve pattern, because no way do I want long sleeves in July. I haven’t decided if I want to try to mod the cuff to work on the short sleeve or not. Given my time constraints, I’ll probably just hem it up and call it good. (I should probably add an actual hem allowance – I just sort of held up the sleeve at the shoulder and eyeballed where I wanted it to end, which means I probably don’t want to just cut the fabric there.)

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Taping this together and cutting it out took way more time than I anticipated, and I think there are more pieces to this pattern than any pattern I’ve made before (with the possible exception of an ill-fated Halloween jacket I tried to make many years ago). I’ve also never sewn princess seams, and I haven’t sewn a collar in god knows how long. I’m pretty nervous about trying to get this done in a week (a week, that is all I have left, holy crap), and I don’t want to stress myself out too badly before the trip, so I may reach the end of the week and just say “You know… let’s not,” and call it good. WE’LL SEE.

The handsewing I have left really does need to get done by next week, though.

Goals for next week:

  • Bra: handsewing (around lace, dart) and closing up the underwire channels.
  • Nightgown: trim and hand-stitch the strap ends.
  • Harrison shirt: as much as possible! Hopefully the whole thing!
  • Pics of the wardrobe I’ll be packing

 

Week 24: Nightgown

The problem with cutting out fabric is that I usually want to start sewing immediately afterward.

Which is why the nightgown is almost entirely done, haha.

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This fabric is 100% rayon, and it’s amazing how fragile it felt while I was working on it compared to how it felt when I tried it on. I’m not really convinced I made a good choice in using it for a nightgown, but I guess time will tell. (It’s almost too pretty to sleep in; I’m having second thoughts all over the place. But I certainly can’t wear it outside.)

It was a nightmare to cut. I don’t have a large enough cutting surface to hold the entire front skirt piece, and it was cut on the bias in a single layer, so trying to get it on the bias grain without stretching was a feat I only sorta succeeded at. The front skirt in particular wound up about half an inch shorter than it should have been, due to having to move the fabric around while it was pinned to the pattern. I have heard that spray starch is useful for keeping fabric from slipping around too much, so I might try that when I make something with the remainder.

Unsurprisingly, given the grading I had to do, the fit isn’t quite right – the cup size is a bit small, and the underbust actually wound up a bit too large – I took in the side seams and graded out under the waist to help a little, but it’s never going to be my best-fitting garment. Thank goodness it’s for sleeping.

I ran into some pattern weirdness on the bodice because I opted not to add lace like the pattern calls for, so I have a long front binding piece that I didn’t need at all, and I had to take out a row of stitching when I realized it was sewn wrong sides together so that it could have the lace attached to it. I went back and did french seams on the yoke instead, then top stitched them down to prevent the seams from flopping around.

The other problem that arose from not having any lace is that the 1/4″ seam allowance that they had me turn over in the first step is a raw edge, and even though I did a 3-step zigzag over it to try to keep it from fraying out, it’s going to fray a little bit right at the neckline unless I do something to stop it. Fortunately, I have some peach neckline trim elastic leftover from my peach bra (that I still haven’t done the finishing touches on…) that I think will work perfectly.

As for my sloper skirt, I finished it off on Sunday night, and then almost wore it out to coffee on Wednesday before I remembered that it still has fabric marker all over it, hah. I’m excited to see how it wears over the course of a full day.

I catch-stitched the hem, and you can see my hand overcasting on the seam edges, too. I left the side seams at 1″ in case I need to make future alterations.

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The last thing I want to make before my trip is a short-sleeve button-down shirt. I have this blue and white seersucker that I think will be nice and cool for wandering around in humid weather (of which, I’m told, there will be plenty).

Goals for next week:

  • Find a button-down shirt pattern and make fitting adjustments
  • Hem and add neckline trim to nightgown
  • Peach bra finishing touches (this time for sure!)

Week 23 – Nightgown Pattern Alterations and Sloper Skirt

Well! This week was filled with time-consuming stuff that doesn’t look all that impressive. Also I sidetracked from my stated goals from last week, but no matter. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. 🙂

Firstly, it turns out that the pattern I ordered with the lingerie Craftsy class is a size bracket smaller than I needed – the largest size on the pattern was about seven inches too small in all three measurements, so I had to do some significant grading to get it up to the right size. I haven’t really done a tone of size grading, and this pattern had more pieces than I’ve had to alter for anything before, so it took quite a bit longer than I’d anticipated.

However! Results:

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Not shown: the front piece, which also had additional width added

Not the most visually appealing image in the world, and I probably should have pressed the tissue before working with it, but I was impatient. The basic width changes are probably fine, but I’m a little worried about the cup – I knew it needed more width at the bottom, but with a quick tissue-fitting before I made the cut, it didn’t seem like the cup needed to be substantially bigger, so I didn’t do a real FBA, just the width adjustment. Hopefully that works out all right for me.

I got the fabric washed and dried, too, so I’m ready to actually get this nightgown started this week.

Meanwhile, instead of putting the finishing touches on the bra, I got annoyed at all the skirt sloper pieces hanging around and decided I really wanted to finish that up, so I made some good progress on that.

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There is actually far more cat hair on it than you can see here, because that is what happens to things that sit around my house.

I fixed the dart positioning, although my darts are still a little puckery (I’m pretty sure it’s a sewing problem and not a pattern problem). It has a nice, snug-but-comfortable fit that I’m hoping will the skirt rotation issues I’ve had with my other pencil skirt.

I’m hand-overcasting the seams because I’m a masochist I need something to do while watching TV, and that is time-consuming enough that it probably won’t be done for a few days. Then I need to hem it up, and probably wash it to get rid of all the fabric marker I used trying to fit this thing. I’ve already made the pattern adjustments, so now theoretically I have a skirt sloper pattern that I can use to help fit my other patterns, which is very exciting!

 

Goals for next week:

My trip is coming up in just over three weeks, and I’d like to get this nightgown and a button-down shirt done before I go, so I’m going to have to be really on the ball.

  • Finish overcasting and hemming the sloper skirt
  • Finishing touches on bra
  • Cut out nightgown fabric and start assembly

Week 21 – Skirt Sloper Test Drive

Where did my motivation go? I didn’t feel like doing anything this week, which I’m sure is at least partially due to the unseasonably warm weather, but it does suck for trying to get stuff done.

The sloper is not working out as well as it had seemed in the muslin. I was despairing last night that I’d never get the stupid skirt sloper figured out and never have an actual, fitting skirt, but today is a new day and I’m almost ready to tackle it again.

The waist-to-hip ratio is still correct, and it actually sits in place where it is supposed to, which is wonderful, but the darts are… weird. I wound up lengthening the dart I’d had to shorten by almost the same amount I’d originally shortened it, and then the longer dart by the center back seam seems to be ending in excess fabric, which, now that I put it into words like that, means it is probably too long. Then there’s this:

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I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be a smooth line, and not a grand staircase.

You can see where I offset the zipper down a bit in the expectation that I’d have to chop those steps off. I’m sure this must have been a problem on the muslin that I just overlooked. The side seams are also doing some weird things, and look like they need to be raised a little to make the waistline sit evenly.

I think I’m going to wind up with like five pencil skirts before I have the fit down right, and I don’t even really like pencil skirts, haha. That said, this one actually fits comfortably, and if I can just fix the darts, the waistband will cover up most of the weirdness at the waist.

This is material leftover from the ill-fated pants project of last year. It’s kind of a heavy, almost denim fabric, which is great for showing where all my fitting flaws are. It was actually a really good choice for this, since it doesn’t stretch nearly as much as the muslin. While I was ironing it I figured out why it was at Goodwill, though – it has some weird color variations. I doubt anyone will notice it when it’s out in public, though, and if they do, that’s their problem.

 

I successfully printed out and graded up the pattern for the shaper shorts, as intended. I had to grade up by about one and a half sizes. Thankfully, Beverly’s sizes are all evenly graded up (meaning the difference between 6 and 8 at a given point is the same as the difference between 14 and 16, etc.), so it was easy enough to add, say, 3/8ths instead of a quarter inch. It should be pretty easy to assemble, being only two pattern pieces.

And then yesterday I went to Joann to pick up thread for the shorts, not realizing it was their Memorial Day sale? So instead of the quick in-and-out trip I was planning on, I wound up staying for an hour and a half looking through the Simplicity pattern book since Simplicity patterns were 5 for $5.

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I also picked up elastic for the shorts, and then I thought I’d buy fabric for the nightgown I’ve been planning to make since I watched the lingerie Craftsy class, and found this ridiculously cheerful spring floral rayon that I just love:

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As I was falling asleep I started thinking about it and I was like “Crap, do I want to use that excellent spring fabric for a nightgown? Maybe I really want to make a dress, or a top, or something that I can wear not just for sleeping?” So now I’m having a fabric crisis about that. I got four yards (didn’t have the pattern and figured I’d aim high), so I might be able to squeeze both a top and nightgown out of it, if I’m very careful with my cutting.

Goals for next week:

I feel like I have a lot of little things that aren’t quite done, so I want to see if I can knock some of those out.

  • York 2: add the blue bias binding, and see if turning the tucks into real darts helps the shoulder issue.
  • Akita: hand overcast the bits of the binding that didn’t get caught, and add the bar tacks to the waist
  • Minor alterations to a black knit shirt to help it hang better over my hips (also maybe do something about the facing, it’s annoyingly flippy)
  • Shorten green corduroy pants
  • Skirt sloper tweaks – would like to actually have a skirt next week
  • Cut out fabric for shorts
  • Cut out fabric for bra

Week 18: Manila

Sewing

My plan for last week was to just sew the first three seams on the Manila pants, right?

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Well, I sort of finished them. You can’t really tell because the pattern is so busy, but those babies are done. 

So I actually love this pattern. In particular, the first part works up super quickly and suddenly you have a pants-shaped item!

However. I feel like the instructions sort of can’t decide if they are aimed at an absolute beginner or at a more experienced sewer.

  • There are sidebars that tell me about the right vs. wrong side of the fabric and about the notches, but don’t tell me if I need to clip or finish my seams?
  • Similarly, the waistband was smaller than the waist, which did require easing the waist into the waistband. I assume this was intentional, and it turned out fine, but if I were really a new enough sewer that I needed to know right vs. wrong side of the fabric, I would have been very concerned that I’d messed something up.
  • Trying to keep the elastic in the waistband and catch all three edges with fabric that wanted to roll back on itself was not easy. (My gut told me to hand baste the waistband closed before trying to attach it, and I ignored my gut, and had to spend 6 episodes of Yuri on Ice picking that damn seam out.)
  • The instructions don’t tell you to change the overlap on the cuff on the second leg, and I didn’t notice that the cuff overlap was reversed in the line drawing, so my cuffs aren’t mirrored nicely. On this fabric it really doesn’t matter, but I’d probably be taking it out and redoing it if I’d used a solid fabric.
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Both my overlaps are facing the same direction, when they apparently should be mirrored. 😦

Like I said, I actually really like this pattern, and I’m looking forward to making my second one. But I feel like the instructions could use some additional notes for the brand new sewer they appear to be targeting.

My first attempt also made it clear that I need to raise the center back seam about two inches, so I adjusted the pattern to do that.

 

Knitting

OH BOY.

Do you ever find that when you just want something to be done, everything goes horribly wrong, and it takes way longer than it should? That is what happened with these socks.

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I mean, I made it. Finally. But first off, because I’m doing two socks at a time, I did 3/4s of the grafting I needed to before I could check if the sock cuff was big enough to make it around my heel. It was not. I left the “finished” sock alone for awhile and took out the grafting and double-knit section on the half grafted sock, and decided I had enough yarn left (because of course I had cut the yarn at this point) to knit one more row of ribbing before doing a new bind off. Halfway through the bind off, I realized I did not in fact have enough yarn, so I went back and took out the extra row I’d just added, and started the bind-off again. I was 3/4ths of the way through that when I realized I still didn’t have enough yarn, so I had to take out the bind-off row and then another ribbing row.

Basically, I attempted to bind that sock off three times before I finally succeeded. At least on the other sock I knew how far back I needed to rip.

Now that they are done, I like them – the toe-up construction was interesting, they fit really well, and I enjoyed the two-at-a-time sock thing. I just think I need some time away from knitting for a few weeks to get my groove back.

Goals for next week:

  • Manila version 2 – just the whole thing. The first one didn’t take that long.
  • Start into the next project, depending on how quickly that goes.
  • Two bullets feels like too few, so… um… watch more Craftsy videos?

 

Week 17 – Akita, Manila, honeycomb socks

Sewing

Guys, I found the best matching thread, the best.

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I love this thread so much. I’ve seen the variegated thread around and I’ve always wanted to try it, but I couldn’t ever really justify it.

After two attempts to sew that hem in a straight line, and then looking at it and going “You know, even if I sew the perfect hem, that black thread is going to stand out more than I like,” I took a trip down to the fabric store for some thread. Even though it obviously doesn’t match the repeat, it stands out a lot less than the black did.

About the wavy hem: I am pretty sure that I was pulling the fabric a bit too hard while sewing. I’ve been trying to make sure I’m pinching the fabric up when I don’t use pins as Janet Pray recommends in her Craftsy class on garment industry tips, but in this case I think I was a little overzealous.

I decided not to take in the side seams after all, although if I make this pattern again I will probably go down a few sizes and grade out for the hips instead of going with the rectangle. In this case, the checkered fabric actually matched up reasonably well (not perfectly, because I still can’t sew a straight line), and I didn’t want to mess with the lines. I can always belt it if I want more waist definition.

There are still a few places where the raw edge didn’t get caught, so I’d like to hand-tack those down before I wash the shirt, but for now I am calling this one done!

While I was at Joann, I found some bias tape for the York that is still waiting for me to redo its neckline:

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I was going to go with brown, but the brown in the pre-cut bias tape was very much not the right brown to match the leaves in this flower pattern. My hope is that the blue will bring out the blue-grey in the flowers, and still provide a nice contrast.

Lastly, I did indeed cut out the fabric for my Manila leggings:

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I did zero pattern matching, and I’m hoping that it’s a busy enough pattern that it won’t matter. The other fabric I have is a larger repeat and is probably more important to match, so hopefully I have enough extra that I can actually do that.

I did almost no alterations to this pattern, besides shortening it a half inch on the lengthen/shorten line. Based on the body measurements in the chart, it looks like my waist/hip measurements match the size I picked pretty exactly, so I’m hopeful that this will “just work” without having to do a lot. Also, it’s super stretchy fabric. As long as it doesn’t horribly distort those little pendant motifs, I’ll call it a victory.

Knitting

These socks, UGH.

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You will notice they are still on the needles. However, all I have left to do is graft the tubular bind off. I just ran out of time. You know motivation is bad when it takes a full week to get through less than 15 rows. It isn’t even anything about these socks in particular! I think I’m just sick of socks, and need to do something else for awhile.

I’ve never worried about matching socks with my handmade socks, because for the most part my sock yarn is dyed in blobs and there’s not a good way to match anyway. I can’t decide if the very obvious inverted stripe directions bothers me or not. It definitely doesn’t bother me enough to take them out and redo one of them, haha.

Goals for next week:

Looking at the Manila pattern, it looks like it should be a pretty quick sew. I’m going to assume I’m going to have to pick out at least one seam, and I can already assume I’m going to want to hand-baste the waistband closed before I stitch it to the legs of the pants. So assuming Manila is probably a two-week project at current motivation levels:

  • Sew inseam, side seam, and crotch seams on Manila
  • Unpick the bias tape from York
  • Finish the damn honeycomb socks already
  • Gauge swatch the yarn for the bolero

 

Week 16 – Akita and… spinning?!

Sewing

007This was a super busy sewing week! I picked up some knit cotton last weekend when I was buying material for my next project, in order to make more underwear. I don’t have pics of the final underwear, because I forgot to take pictures while I was making them and now I’m wearing them. SORRY. But it’s this awesome material, and I modified the pattern so it hits just above the hip and I made the gusset about two inches longer in the front, so you can use your imagination. They are awesome. I love my last pair too, but the material is swimsuit material and feels like it, haha.

I haven’t mastered installing elastic, so it’s still wavy. And it still looks fine when it’s on, so I still don’t really care – but it’s something to work on for the next pair, which will probably be sooner rather than later.

Next, I got the Akita pattern all taped up and did some measuring, and that’s where things started to get a little concerning. Because I did some pattern measuring and discovered that to fit over my hips I needed to make the size 22. My waist was closer to the 16-18. Normally I’d just grade the pattern down at the waist, but the whole point of the pattern is that it’s a rectangle?

Then I actually read through the rest of the instructions and realized that the whole thing was bound in bias tape. This, right after my fight with the bias-bound neckline on York last week. If it had been 1/4″ double fold I would probably have given up and bought some, but it was 1/2″ and I decided to give it a chance. I really want to be able to make and use my own bias tape for the sake of using up scraps that are too small for anything else, but damn learning to make/use it has been painful.

So three variables changed with this week’s bias tape:

  • I had to cut 2-inch strips instead of 1-inch (for 1/2″ double-fold tape)
  • I used the bias tape folder upside down, as per a tip from one of Beverly Johnson’s bra-making Craftsy classes (so the fold of the fabric is upside down and the flat side is up)
  • The fabric I’m using this week is a light cotton blend (I’m pretty sure – it’s Goodwill fabric and I didn’t burn test it), and it takes a crease really well

I’m not sure which one was ultimately the biggest help, but my bias tape turned out SO WELL:

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Look at that! It looks like real bias tape! More importantly, it works like real bias tape! I mean it took as long to make the bias tape as to do most of the rest of the shirt, but I am so pleased with it that the effort was worth it.

(That is all the bias tape I have left from this project. I made just over four yards, so I would have been cutting it pretty dang close with a four-yard pack from the store.)

Here’s the bias-bound neckline:

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As you can see from the wrinkles, this fabric creases really well.

I learned my lesson on the York, and stitched it down from the right side this time to make sure the part people will actually see doesn’t look like crap. (This bit me in the ass on the side seams, where I am going to need to do a little hand-stitching to secure some spots that didn’t quite get caught, but it’s much preferable to a wandering seam line being visible.) So my bias tape adventures on this project were pretty great. That was the good.

The bad is in the fit – the 22 is definitely too big. I moved the whole side seam up about an inch and a half to close up the armhole a little and to improve the slit for the hips (because OF COURSE it still barely passes my hips). The neck is overly wide on me, and there’s not really anything I can do about that now. I’m holding off on hemming the bottom until I decide if I want to take in the side seams around the waist. Normally I’d just say “DO IT” but because of this fabric I’m worried it will look funny. And of course the seams are already finished because of the bias binding, so it will just have enormous seam allowances left on the inside.

This is not to say that it isn’t comfortable, because it definitely is. The extra ease is nice. I just feel a little like I’m swimming in it. And actually the pattern itself has been super fun and quick to work up – I think it’s just not a great fit for my body type, which sucks. The fact that I noticed something was up while I was measuring the pattern is an indicator I should actually pay attention to in the future.

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The light shining through makes it look far more sheer than it is when it’s on. The pattern does a good job of keeping anything from showing through.

Also hey, there’s that York I said I was going to finish up! It is… I mean technically right now it is all sewn up. I could wear it like that. But while I was trying it on last week I realized that I really don’t like the way that color looks right against my skin – it’s sort of a cold off-white, and my skin is pretty much a warm off-white, and it just makes me look kind of sickly. I feel like I want a band of some other color between me and that fabric around the neck. So my plan is to buy 1/4″ bias tape in brown to match the little flowers, and use that instead of the self fabric binding. All that bias tape suffering for naught, haha.

Knitting

005I did not finish the socks like I’d wanted. I was planning on just going until I ran out of yarn, but to be honest I’m getting kind of bored of them – of socks in general, I think.

Also, I had to frog about 12 rows because I went to try on the sock and couldn’t get it over my heel! I was trying to keep those carries in the pattern loose, but apparently I didn’t succeed well enough. Since I wasn’t keen to repeat that again, I decided to add columns of 1×1 ribbing (4 stitches of it) on either side instead. This avoids the whole annoying carrying across the split problem that was going to annoy me for the rest of the sock, and makes it stretchier. I progressed enough to try it on again, and it fits gloriously well now. It’s snug and perfect. I’m just not sure how much further I want to continue with it. I feel like it’s in a weird in-between state right now, where it’s not really short enough to be an ankle sock, but not long enough to be a full height sock? So it’s been a little bit in limbo.

Meanwhile, I started daydreaming about a project that isn’t socks, which lead to this:

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Because I’ve never met a fiber craft I didn’t like.

I went through a phase where I was going to reclaim all my yarn from Goodwill sweaters, and bought two 100% cotton sweaters. I successfully picked one entirely apart and rolled it up into balls, but it was splitting terribly, and really needed to be re-plyed so it would be fun to knit with. Also it was kinked up from being a sweater for years.

My spinning experience is like a grand total of 2 oz of fiber, so obviously that means I should commit to plying a sweater’s worth of yarn on a drop spindle. Obviously.

No, this devolved into me searching for the perfect spinning wheel once I’d spent an hour and a half plying 112 yards of that cream cotton yarn. (Even worse, as you can see, it’s still kinked up from being a sweater for years. Washing and hanging it dry, even with a little weight in the form of an extra hanger, didn’t help that.)

Of course, plying that and watching spinning videos made me want to spin more fiber, so I got sucked into that a little, which is why there’s green and pink yarn now, too.

So clearly the cotton sweater isn’t going to happen anytime soon, because I’m trying to be good and not impulse buy a spinning wheel, and there’s no way I have the stamina to ply that much reclaimed yarn on a drop spindle.

I do have three skeins of this gorgeous yarn, which I’m dearly hoping is enough to make like a bolero or something, if I can just find a pattern I like.

Goals for next week:

Well I don’t think I can keep up the momentum I’ve had for very long, but I’m going to embrace it while I can!

  • Finish off Akita
  • Buy bias tape for York and pick out the existing neckline
  • Assemble pattern/cut out fabric for Manila, which is the next project!
  • Finish off the socks, one way or another.