My First Featherweight Cardigan

I finally have my basic lightweight cardigan that I have been longing for!

My #MeMadeMay18 goal was to complete the cardigan of my dreams. I had exactly one handmade cardigan in my wardrobe (my uniform) and was in desperate need of a warmer weather layer. The Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig is one of the most popular patterns out there, for good reason as it’s wonderfully basic and altogether simple. The Featherweight Cardigan was my perfect match.

The yarn I used was recycled from a pink 100% silk sweater originally from Eileen Fisher. I found this sweater at a thrift store for $6 – yarn this quality for a price I could fit into my $40 monthly craft budget. The color is a dusty rose pink that blends in well with my collection of pink handmade clothes. Unraveling this yarn was a little tricky, the silk caught regularly during the unraveling process. However, the best part was washing process – when the yarn magically released all it’s memory. Silk is basically magic in a fiber.

The silk did present a few challenges during the knitting process, but I chalk these troubles up to my lack of experience working with silk (or linen for that matter). It seems like a fiber like silk or linen, without a lot of fluff or squish, behaves totally differently than something like wool (duh Jaime…). I found that this difference is most obvious in ribbing and bind offs which I mention a little below, but also I found a big difference in gauge and transparency. I swatched according to the pattern gauge (22 sts and 36 rows = 4″ which I got on a US 6 needle), and found that my swatch was far too open to be a wearable sweater. I actually ignored this for a while and spent a week knitting up my cardigan until it smacked me in the face. My sweater would have been see-through, almost a mesh like fabric. I find that I prefer silk, as well as linen and cotton, in tight gauges (unless transparent is the goal of course). I chose to jump down to a US 3 needle where my new gauge was 32 sts and 40 rows in 4″. I did some magic gauge calculation to determine that, with my new gauge, I would need to cast on the 45.25″ size to fit my 35″ bust. These extra calculations took time, but it was worth it as now my featherweight cardigan is perfectly wearable.

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Another tricky aspect of working with silk was choosing the right bind off. This yarn reveals all, so I wanted a bind off that would both be elastic but also have a smooth finish. I chose to use Jenny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off for the sleeves, a k2tbl bind off for the hem, and a crochet bind off for the collar. Overall, the crochet bind off, though not elastic, looks the best, while the k2tbl looks quite bumpy and loose (though not enough for me to change it).

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Challenges aside, this sweater is going to be a staple in my warm weather wardrobe. I love the drape and the color; it elevates my casual wardrobe just a touch without putting it over the top. I have plans for another featherweight soon out of a more standard yarn choice – hopefully long with stripes – but I’m ready for some more engaging knitting at the moment so my second featherweight isn’t immediately on the horizon.

 

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Kalle Shirt Dress

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I started this dress in March, fully believing I would finish it in a week or less. Finally in May, this dress is wearable. March and April were crazy months for me. My husband took a job in Oregon, so during my spring break in March we drove across the country to drop him off. Then, I flew back, leaving the car with him, to finish my semester in St. Louis. April marked the beginning of final paper season, which was intense this year (more intense than past years), and I felt swamped.

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I had little energy left for creativity – and reclaimed crafting requires that little extra bit of energy to address things like stains, yarn substitution, or pattern adjustments.

But let’s rewind, before I couldn’t finish this dress, I did start it – and make it most of the way through the pattern. My kalle is made from an old bed sheet (from Ikea) that had a few very subtle bleach spots. The fabric was in good condition (besides the pervasive smell of bleach) and I knew it would make a reliable shirt dress. It also pressed very well and feels quite stable.

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I knew I wanted to make a change to the pattern. Instead of a box pleat at the back, I gathered the excess fabric. So I have a small section of gathers at the back of my dress (which I love).

This dress hung mostly finished on a hanger in my room for six weeks. The thing that kept me from adding the final touches was one small stain on the back, about the size of a pencil eraser. It looked like a spot of permanent marker. This dark little stain was a huge thorn in my crafting side.

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Finally, due to the pressure of leaving St Louis to spend my summer in Oregon, and the added pressure of not having room to take my sewing machine, I knew I had to finish this dress if it was to ever see the light of day. I sat down with The Geometry of Hand Sewing by Alabama Chanin (which I just realized is a signed copy… woah), and tried to identify simple decorative stitches that would cover the stain in the back.

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I settled on an Algerian Eye variation that looks like an art deco flower design. I tried it out on the pocket and then tackled the back. I had to play around with various layouts for a while, and finally reached this triangle idea with the Algerian eyes in crossing diagonal lines. I was very chill (uninterested) in making this super precise – so one side of the triangle is about an inch higher than the other… but I can’t see it because it’s in the back and anyone who notices it would be far too close to my backside for my comfort.

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This dress has blown my mind. The simple stitching (which maybe was about three hours of work) has transformed this dress from basic to heirloom. I’m shocked with how well it turned out. I imagine I’ll be adding many more hand stitched touches to my dresses in the future.

Pink Trapeze Dress

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I’m finding my stride with dress silhouettes. This trapeze dress hack of Simplicity 8335 is maximum flow.

I wanted to make a dress appropriate for a summer wedding, and I gave myself about three weeks to do it. While three weeks would be a generous amount of time for my typical sewing speed, final paper season cut my sewing speed in half, and then in half again.

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I changed two things about Simplicity 8335. First, I extended it into a wide a-line shape dress that would hit just above my knees. Second, I removed the sleeves and created a more appropriate (flattering) sleeveless cut around the armholes.

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The first change was easy, I laid the pattern on a piece of old fabric (on the fold) as if I were to cut out the pattern. I then drew a line from the arm hole edge to the selvedge edge. This line was long enough to extend the length of the pattern by about 20 inches.

I made the second change by tracing a ready to wear sleeveless shirtdress I have in my wardrobe on top of the new pattern.

I also took about 1 inch off the center of the front pattern piece – there was just a little too much volume and the neck wasn’t laying flat against my chest.

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The biggest element of this dress are the appliquéd flowers. After sewing most of the dress together, I noticed a stain on the back of the dress towards one of the side seams. I chose to cover this stain up by creating a cascade of flowers down the stained side of the dress. The flowers are cut from an vintage bedsheet and appliquéd with a various simple stitches. I used a running stitch, chain stitch, and blanket stitch in three different pinks to apply the flowers. Appliquéing was a lot of work. I spent about a week sewing these flowers on this dress. In the end, I’m very proud of it. It also moves like a dream – it just floats behind me when I walk.

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I would have loved to do some more complex hand stitching on this dress, however I had to be honest with my abilities and my time crunch. Basic stitches were the only way this dress would be completed in time for this wedding. I do, however, look forward to the slow advance of my embroidery skills.

I’m at the end of a crazy semester, and my imaginative language skills are lacking as a write this, but I did try to express the great joy that making this dress brought me over in this ig post.

What Happened to April – Finished Objects and WIPS

 

Hello Readers,

Before that MMMay18 post, I was pretty quiet (actually silent) in this space for the last month. All that radio silence is my first real period of blog-absence since Reclaimed Craft started in August 2017. I had a great streak of posting at least once a week since that first post appeared, however, April came in and just smacked me in the face.

So what happened to April? Where have I been? What have I been making? AM I STILL AROUND?

Answer: yes, I’m around. I’ve been pretty active over on instagram… I’ve been making a bit, not a lot, and definitely not according to my schedule anymore. I have been writing – final papers. Those thirty page gems that demonstrate my skill as an almost Doctor of Theology and Health Care Ethics (coming 2020 if all goes well). This writing takes WORK – and uses very similar skills to blog writing. All my writing abilities have been zapped up by these papers. But I’m not sorry for my blog absence because these papers will be amazing and all three people who read them better be impressed.

So, more to theme, what have I been MAKING? Well, April left me with a lot of work to do, so honestly my projects have been minimal.

Finished Objects

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This embroidery sampler has really kicked my slow sewing bug into shape. I want to add hand embroidered elements to all of my me-mades. Is it possible? I think so.

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I finished a pair of socks which are (subjectively) the ugliest socks in the world. Rainbow is just not my style. However, I will wear these socks with pride. Also you can just see the final paper fatigue written all over my face – I’m embracing it.

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I finished another GORT! for my friend Carly from scrap yarn. I wanted to celebrate her birthday and her upcoming graduation from seminary with a sweet toy that mixes her favorite color (forest green) and my favorite color (dusty pink). Incidentally, she has hated the color pink for our entire friendship (something about recovering from consumerism… and suburbs), so I have now made it my mission to reintroduce the color to her in a helpful and palatable way. I think it’s working… This Gort is stuffed in a similar way to my last Gort, but with more cut up fabric scraps than yarn pieces – which makes it a bit lumpier and heavier. Yarn scraps are definitely my stuffing of choice when it comes to toys.

WIPS

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I have some Selbu mittens on the needles. They need thumbs.

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I’m working on this wedding blanket for my good friend Veronica. I have not been able to find the right style for this blanket. It has to represent her well and be large enough to avoid the baby blanket look. I’ve knit three different versions, and have finally settled on a log cabin style Mexican blanket inspired look. I will 100% not finish this on time, so it’ll be a late wedding present.

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Finally, I have a Kalle shirt in progress. It’s been languishing for the last month, untouched, for some unknown reason. All I have to do is add the hem binding and the buttonholes. I think the thing stopping me is the stain on the back. I have so many ideas for how to cover it creatively to make it a design feature – but my creativity has really been funneled into those final papers, so crafting has taken a serious back seat.

I’ve also finished one of the most beautiful dresses I’ve ever made – but that deserves a whole post dedicated to its creative glory. Fear not, there is more making to come!

Finished Object: Pink Birkin

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I set my sights on a pink pullover long before this Pink Birkin ever materialized. In its materialized Birkin form, my pink pullover dream has been smashed to pieces and replaced with something divine.

I am simply thrilled, absolutely beaming, that I can call this colorwork yoke sweater mine.

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First I want to gush over what I love about this sweater: the colorwork yoke and the body shape. I have not attempted colorwork of this scale before, not to mention never tried my hand at holding three strands in one colorwork row. I think I could have managed my yarn with more grace (I wish I had seen this video by Dianna Walla on stranded colorwork!), but blocking truly worked miracles. Even with superwash yarns with nylon content, blocking still managed to fill in the gaps left by my inexperienced colorwork hands.

The shape of this sweater is loose and relaxed – my most essential life values. Thanks to the unique a-line shaping (increased needle size rather than increased stitch count) the body of the sweater did not feel monotonous or strenuous to knit. My initial gauge swatch was a bit small on the recommended needles, so I went up a needle size – swatched again, and felt comfortable with my results. After the surprising close fit of my Zweig, I decided to knit a size larger than I would typically knit for extra positive ease to ensure my Birkin had space to breathe.

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So I did fudge a few things. First, I used heavier weight fingering yarns for the colorwork while my main color yarn was lighter weight. What did this do? Well it threw off my row gauge in the yoke section and I created a much deeper yoke than I was expecting. Considering the whole sweater is a relaxed fit, this doesn’t actually affect the overall look or function one bit.

Second work around: I used superwash yarns instead of yarns better suited for colorwork like a more rustic wool. How did this affect my Birkin? Well, I was on the verge of a breakdown before I knew blocking would even out the colorwork section. I had no idea how superwash wools would behave in a colorwork yoke or of blocking would work the same kind of magic. Final assessment: the magic isn’t exactly the same, but it’s smooth – I’m happy. Superwash wools also have a tendency to grow (elongate) after blocking. Therefore, my Birkin is a little longer than I was expecting and the 3/4 length sleeves hit me at my wrist – but again this only adds to the relaxed feel I was going for.

Using superwash wools created a very fluid sweater while the heaver yarns in the colorwork section create a more stable shoulder section.

I used Manos del Uruguay Alegria in the Petal colorway for the body (2.66 skeins) and a variety of Bergere France Ideal for the colorwork yoke (check out my ravelry page for exact colors). I wouldn’t necessarily buy these two yarns on my own as I prefer to work with natural fibers without chemical treatments. These yarns were gifts from various parties excited to help me along on my knitting journey from I time before I was vocal about my ethical preferences (and I’m still not very vocal to be honest). Since they were in my possession, however, I decided it was best to use them up.

I feel committed to using what I have rather than purchasing new materials as a way to unwork some of my consumerist habits. Part of my approach to ethical making that keeps it affordable and accessible to all income levels is my commitment to materials that already exist – materials in my possession being the best to use first.

I hope my Pink Birkin will continually remind me of this commitment, even after the new sweater joy fades and it begins its regular rotation in my sweater collection.

Alex Shirt – 2018 Make Nine

The Sew Over Alex shirt as basic as it gets.

I can finally breathe easy now that I have a basic white button up in my closet. The last time I had something this basic was when I had to wear a school uniform in 2008. This shirt is much better than that uniform.

This shirt is relaxing. I mean, the Alex Shirt is a relaxed fit, but it genuinely calms my worries and soothes my anxieties. I feel like the missing piece has been found. With this basic white shirt, I can shine confidently. My wardrobe has entered a new realm of creativity. This basic has me feeling inspired.

The Alex Shirt is my perfect basic oversized tunic length shirt. Dressy enough for presentations and casual enough for chilling around the house. It has volume, it has sheen, it has drama, but mainly it is pure basic bitch button up.

The pattern was simple to follow. I did make a muslin. I was concerned that my size wouldn’t have enough room for my shoulders. However, I was pleasantly surprised and relieved when my first muslin fit well. I could move my arms back and forth and in circles without busting any seams. The oversized nature of this shirt made it a perfect fit for my unique shoulder situation.

The Alex Shirt is labeled as an intermediate pattern in the City Break Ebook. I’ve been sewing for a year now and label myself as highly adventurous. This pattern was my first shirt yoke, and it was 100% successful thanks to the Sew Over It YouTube tutorial.

The best part about this 100% cotton shirt is the fabric origin: a secondhand bedsheet. Though if you’ve been following my sewing journey it’s probably not surprising as most of my clothes used to be bedsheets. This one is a beautiful satin weave cotton with a high thread count. It’s absolutely luxurious to wear; smooth and silky, but still structured.

I made a couple of small changes. First, I chose to do a regular box pleat at the back, rather than an inverted pleat. I think this highlights the pleat as a central feature of the shirt. Second, I curved both the back and the front of the shirt hem. In the pattern, the back hem curve is exaggerated while the front has a straighter cut. As a petit person, I find shirts that land at tunic length feel more comfortable than those that stop at the hip, a curved front hem helped me accomplish this length without adding bulk to the sides.

I’m pleased to check another item off my 2018 Make Nine list. The Alex Shirt (along with my Mia Jeans) brings my current completed total to two. It’s only February, so I feel comfortable with my progress so far.

Happy Making!

Finished Object: Carbeth

This enjoyable and fast sweater knit has come to a end. My Carbeth sweater is bound off, blocked, and finally dry.

I used two mystery cones of yarn held double for this project. One a wooly, rustic black and the other a soft, smooth blue. These cones were purchased from Scrap It Up, the creative reuse store in Cincinnati. I would highly recommend a visit to this shop if you’re near the city – the diversity of supplies is incredible.

I used the Patty Lyons ssk decrease recommended on MDK: it’s mainly just slip one then pass it back to the left needle then knit through the back loops. Patty Lyons also has a one move version of this decrease, but I found that actually made my stitches looser rather than tighter.

Blocking was simple, I followed the plate method and used a 10″ plate. Surprisingly my sweater took three days to dry. Probably because it’s been raining in STL for the past four days and everywhere is quite humid.

This was a great basic and easy sweater. I think I’ll wear it often in the deepest part of winter as it’s toasty warm (I might even say boiling). Hopefully I can get a few more wears before Spring arrives.