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.

img_2604

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).

img_2652

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.

 

Advertisements

In Progress: June Knitting

My summer of knitting has arrived.

img_0174

I’m very excited that I finished my #MeMadeMay18 featherweight cardigan. I’ll have a post about this soon. Though I’m sad I can no longer knit with this amazing yarn, this finished object has opened up space for a new cast on in my knitting queue!

img_0186

I have a tiny little hem worm of my Tegna sweater by Caitlin Hunter. I am so excited for this top – perfect for summer but suitable for cooler months as well. I am knitting my Tegna out of a silk/cotton blend I reclaimed last fall. I dyed this yarn at Alpacas of Troy with with Sumac berries and Indigo. The result was this lovely teal-blue with green undertones. I also experimented by dying this sweater in its machine knit form. The result was quite exciting, the dye is speckled evenly on the yarn which enhances the shimmer effect from the silk fiber content. This yarn looks like the waves of a lake on a summer day softly lapping the shore; not too much drama but just enough movement to capture my attention and lull me into relaxation.

img_0190

I had a little hiccup with my Tegna. I swatched three times to achieve the pattern gauge – starting with a US 5 and finally getting gauge on a US 7. I cast on for the medium, which would have given me about 9 inches of positive ease and knit half of the lace, I realized the bottom circumference of the sweater was far too large for my size. Even with the decreases in the lace, I would have been swimming in this top. Nine inches of positive ease on my petite frame is just a little too much. I also noticed that in my gauge on US 7 needles, the lace was already quite open. I thought this whole top could do with a downsize. I downsized my needles to a size 5 and, after some gauge math magic, cast on, again, for the medium size. This will give me a top with about two inches of positive ease which will probably be more my style. I’m hoping this all works out.

img_0175

I have two other projects that are probably going to travel with me the entire summer. The first is my Reyna shawl by Noora Backlund – which I’m knitting because my friend Kate in St Louis decided to cast this on as her first shawl project! After yarn shopping with her and guiding her through the first bits of the pattern, I realized that I really wanted one of these shawls for myself.

I had the perfect yarn – a gift from my friend Anna after her trip to Wyoming during the 2017 total eclipse. This yarn is the most amazing collection of purples. It’s Palouse Yarn Company Merino Fine in the Total Gravity colorway. This color is part of a special collection the dyer made especially for the eclipse and I think the dyer absolutely nailed it. The purples are so rich, but shift in tone from a lavender to an almost black. I’m really enjoying the color of this yarn.

img_0181

My second project is this little basic sock – made with a commercial Patons sock yarn I picked up from a reused craft store in Cincinnati. I have yet to find sweaters that I can unravel that are suitable for sock yarn, as I always prefer a tightly spun yarn for my socks. Most of the sweaters I come across in thrift stores end up loosely spun, if spun at all (especially if they’re blended fibers or have any sort of cotton content). Therefore, I keep my eyes out for any commercial sock yarn I can find at secondhand craft stores. One day, I would love to knit my socks without superwash or nylon content – but until that day I’m eagerly watching Mrs. M’s no-nylon sock experiment to glean from her research.

Usually, I knit my socks cuff down and use a heel flap and gusset, however, I started this sock toe up and will probably throw a short row heel on there just for ease. The short row heel doesn’t fit my foot quite as well as a flap and gusset – I have quite a high arch and instep – however, it’s been a while since I tried a short row heel and I want to double check the fit on my tighter sock gauge that’s developed over the last year since I’ve been regularly knitting socks.

I’m quite pleased with the projects I have on the go for June – my Tegna, Reyna, and my toe-up sock. The variety of these projects has kept me interested as I still mourn the absence of my sewing machine. Speaking of my wonderful sonata sewing machine, I’m beginning to miss it so much that I’m thinking about naming it! Naming is a skill that I seriously lack (if you only knew how long it took me to come up with a name for this blog – hint two+ years). However, I think my trusty machine deserves some attention while I’m away. Since my machine was originally owned by my mom, I’m thinking a name from her generation will suite it best. Something like Linda, Karen, Tammy or Denise. Or I might go super 80’s like Heather, Tiffany, or Stacy. As of now I’m leaning towards Stacy or Linda.

Summer Crafting Plans in Oregon

IMG_0030

I am thrilled to be writing this from central Oregon, where I plan to spend my three months of summer in absolute delight. This will be my first real time in the Pacific North West – an area of the U.S. that I’ve always wanted to visit. I also feel this strange affection towards the PNW, since most people I met imagine I grew up here, so I’m interested to see why this place appears to be my homeland (I have a theory about this and it has to do with Lutherans, individual sports, and Subarus…)

I love exploring new places – unknown adventures or scenes always ignite my curiosity. So, to get to know my new summer home I have one goal: get outside everyday. Compared to the sweaty humidity that St. Louis summer’s have to offer, central Oregon is paradise. I am going to capitalize on the arid, warm weather by forcing myself to spend time outside. I’ve been doing well so far – going on runs (which I used to hate) and brushing off my disc golf skills. I’m usually glued to my bike in the summers, but I couldn’t justify either bringing my bike to Oregon or buying a cheap one here, so I’ve made do with my old running shoes and the quiet trails of the Deschutes National Forest.

IMG_0024

My bike wasn’t the only think I had to leave in St Louis, my sewing machine was also booted from the packing list. My husband and I share a two bedroom apartment with his college roommate – there was just not enough physical space to justify the sewing machine plus the necessary sewing materials. This is one of the sadder packing decisions I had to make since I had already selected my summer projects, fabric, and patters. So my sweet and reliable sonata sewing machine is resting in the corner of my St Louis bedroom, eager for my return. I had a small session of mourning, but quickly diverted my grief into planning my other craft projects.

Despite no sewing projects, I managed to check an entire bag of craft materials on my flight. I brought two existing projects, and enough yarn to last me two years… as well as a few craft books and my embroidery materials. While I do tend to plan what I’m going to make, I want to give myself some creative freedom. I planned to take a few large projects, some small projects, and all the yarn I bought at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival. I would be surprised if I managed to make everything on my summer projects list in my three month time frame, but it’s there, just in case.

For my large projects I have four sweaters, one top, and one shawl on the list. I want to finish my #MMMay2018 perfect cardigan, and I’m hoping to knit a Ninilcihk Swoncho by Caitlin Hunter and a Portage Cardigan by Melissa Schaschwary. I brought enough yarn to make another featherweight cardi if I feel inspired; I already know I will want to have another in my wardrobe. I have some recycled cotton/silk yarn I overdyed with indigo and sumac that’s waiting to be a Tegna by Caitlin Hunter. I also want to cast on the Raina Shawl by Andrea Mowry in Making 4 Lines.

The sweaters I mentioned above are all items I will love to have next winter as I’m in desperate need of actual cardigans. After my last failed attempt at the Portage Cardigan, I am hopeful that round two will give me a lovely wearable cardigan. The Swoncho is just a lifetime goal – so I want to accomplish that as soon as possible. I love the Tegna, and I think my yarn choice will make a lovely summer-appropriate top with flow and ease. My guess is that this Tegna will be my next cast on, if I can keep my hands away from those larger sweater projects.

I have peppered these larger projects with a variety of small projects to choose from – just in case a sweater feels too overwhelming for the summer heat. I have a couple of mittens I can make for the #yearlongmittalong hosted by Skeindeer, a sock project, and a fun shawl project for a mini KAL with my St. Louis friends. There are some extra skeins in case I want to make a hat or something like that (probably this one…). Obviously, I brought too much yarn, but it was the only way I could soothe the wound of absent sewing in my life.

I’m positive that I will have enough yarn to keep me busy this summer, especially since my new home is an outdoor playground. My only hope is that my knitting mojo stays high and my desire to create keeps steadily on. My game plan is to set loose goals, like finish a sweater a month, to keep knitting but also leave room to try something new.

Happy making!

 

Jaime

 

 

Kalle Shirt Dress

fullsizeoutput_3eab

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.

fullsizeoutput_3ea9

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.

img_8664

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.

IMG_8666

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.

IMG_9656

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.

fullsizeoutput_3ea6

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

IMG_9654

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.

IMG_9615

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.

IMG_9625

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.

IMG_9614

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.

IMG_9632

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

img_8707

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.

img_9232

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.

img_8921

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

img_8830

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

img_9287

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.

img_8664

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!

Me Made May 2018 Plans

May 2018. My first Me Made May. It could not come at a worse time (final paper season, end of the semester, moving to Oregon for the summer, etc.), but I am psyched out of my mind to join in this year.

I had a few me mades in May 2017. My first t-shirt, a shift dress, a basic top and a couple of easy skirts, but for some reason I didn’t jump in – fear maybe? This year I’ve done all the things I’ve put off doing (like starting a blog), so of course I will fulfill my goal of wearing me mades for a whole month.

So what’s my challenge? I already wear at least one me made every day. It’s hard not to… my sewing and knitting plans are focused on what I will actually wear. So I’m challenging myself to wear, make, or mend a me made item each day for the month of May.

Mainly, I want to use this challenge to finish the everyday cardigan I have been trying to make since I first started knitting… I keep putting it off. I never found the right pattern, nor the right yarn color… but all this procrastination ends now: I’ve found my perfect basic cardigan.

It’s the featherweight cardigan pattern by Hannah Fettig… yep. That one cardigan pattern with over 9000 projects on Ravelry. Real original with this one, but it’s just. the. perfect. cardigan. I need this cardigan – did I mention that I HAVE JUST ONE BASIC CARDIGAN (one that I wear regularly). It’s my uniform cardigan, which is a heavier weight, more casual piece. I need a cardigan that can be dressed up or down, that will work in cool and warm weather, and that will mesh with my wardrobe. This pattern is it, the perfect everyday cardigan.

The perfect material came my way one day while I was out thrifting – a pink silk eileen fischer pullover. Light fingering weight yarn, beautiful silk feel, drape for days, and my favorite dusty pink. This thing will be perfection (have I used perfection too much, its just the only word that fits perfectly)

I’ve planned it, I’ve swatched, and I need to start knitting.

So May – bring it on, by the end I hope to have my perfect basic cardigan finished and ready for summer (most likely ready to be packed in a drawer to return in October… but still READY).