Monthly Archives: February 2019

The Cabernet All Day Sweater

I like my clothing to match my life, the events of my days, the trips that I take, the events that I celebrate. Who doesn’t? Surely that is part and parcel of conscious consumption, a topic close to many of our minds. Thoughtful understanding of our objects fit into our lives, and how new objects ought to meet needs, right?

And part of the joy of making is that we makers have the ability to integrate our creations into our lives, or for them to serve our lives, as directly as possible. We can craft for weddings and beach vacations and divorce parties and hiking trips, theme parties and themed lives. We can even make to match our beverages, and that’s exactly what I have done with my most recent knitted project. After all, sweater weather means red wine, does it not? And now I can look the way my glass does in the cold, ready for some red.

Ah, knitting, you saucy minx. You seduce me with your tactility and infuriate me with your pace. Sewing is a puzzle, and knitting is a labyrinth, and I get lost sometimes. You keep me warm with your fuzzy fibers, but in the sticky heat of Mumbai, what need have I of such warmth? And yet I enjoy you, I do. I bring you to movie theaters and on planes, to places beyond the reach of my sewing machine (for Heaven forbid I not be crafting; if I am not making, what am I?). You are a mobile art, if an expensive one (I maintain this thought: sewing can be thrifty, knitting cannot). You challenge me, you force patience, and I cannot quit you, although we do take breaks. You take forever, and yet I keep taking on projects with thinner yarn, which must mean I like your challenge. For example, this Brooklyn Tweed Arabella which I finished right in time for my lightening round trip to Vienna, and then threw into my suitcase to take to Philadelphia, where it kept me very warm, and I had a chance to force my mother to take these photos.

I realized looking at these photos that the nature of the yarn, a glorious variegated Tosh Merino Light in Tart, completely obscures the Quaker Ridging of this project in images. SIGHHHHHHHH.

See, the sweater looks like this:

But of course you can’t see any of those painstakingly worked ridges in my photos because the changing color of the yarn subtly moving from lighter to darker and back again is much more visible than the texture of the ridges. OH well. You will just have to trust me, I ridged them all.

Let me tell you something that knitters already know and people who don’t knit have no context for/way to understand: A fingering weight sweater takes FOREVER. This represents at least 9 months of my time. Of course, I wasn’t working on it constantly, but, like, STILL. That’s a lot of months.

This was my first Brooklyn Tweed sweater experience and based on this, I think I need to go down a size or two. I am still not great with negative ease in knitting, I realize, and I tend to knit big. This sweater turned out huge, and really long, and while I love it, I sort of also resent it because…it took so much time! It could have taken ever so slightly less time!

The sleeves are long, so I tend to cuff them, and the hem is long, but I enjoy that. I love the swingy feel of this design. I made many mistakes (which I can live with), but no, shall we say, deliberate changes, because…I would have no idea how to do that. And I really admire people who do! But I don’t, not with knitting, not yet. Maybe not ever? I don’t know, as I said, we share a deep but problematic love.

Fun side not, those pants which you can barely see are my first round of Palisade Pants from Papercut patterns, discussed in my last post!

I enjoyed the pattern, and might try it again (someday, I’m back to a worsted weight wool, a Malabrigo, for my new sweater, the Rowan Land Girl’s sweater, and feeling fine)¬†in a solid wool next time so the pattern detailing is clearer. It was fun to knit, gripes aside, and I made it over many a glass of wine, red and otherwise. But now that it’s in the world as a whole thing, I’m guessing it’s going to be a red wine kind of garment, which is wonderful, as I said, who doesn’t want their makes to match their life?

This selfie was the best image I could get that showed the true color of the sweater, which has been rendered brighter in these photos by the gorgeous afternoon light my parents’ green roof receives (as a fun bonus, it really captures the frizz of my hair!). It also has the clearest image of the ridges, so forgive the selfie, it has a use!

Do you like your creations to match your bodily consumption, or anything else in your life? Do you find knitting to be a fling, a casual date, a committed partnership, a toxic ex? Do tell!


1 Comment

Filed under Brooklyn Tweed, Knitting

The I Stole it from a Sofa Shorts

Fabric is, to my mind, a subject of much debate in the sewing community. In the same way that there are those who do and do NOT quilt, there are those that are religious about garment fabrics versus, well, anything else, and those that aren’t. I understand this ethos, to a point. Fabric makes a garment. Just ask my friend Liz, whose amazing show, Fabric in Fashion, is currently up at FIT from now until May 4th, and always free to view!

For example, these are wool:


And each of these garments is made with silk faille, at a different thread thickness:

Fabric. It’s amazing! But using a different fabric than intended by the pattern designer can mean it looks different from your own intentions. The thing is, ultimately, that’s okay. In fact, that’s a good thing, it might be exactly what you are going for. Perhaps the issue arises when it doesn’t work out the way you want, perhaps early in your sewing journey, when all that hard work and time and money spent on a garment yields a less than desired result, that it scares you, or warns you, not to mess around with stiff quilting cotton when what you want is slinky rayon. In the beginning, especially if you were a total beginner like me who came to sewing without a family history or past of doing it, everything was indeed a mystery, and learning rules for what to use when made sense, because the purpose was about replicating results.

But as time goes by, maybe those rules no longer serve, or maybe sewing has once again for me become the kind of experiment it was when I first started, because I’m decent enough at it that a mistake or a ruined garment is a bummer, but not a deal breaker, and I have learned to love the process enough not to be distraught by a result that is less than ideal.

So for me, I think I’m ready to break all those rules about what to use when, only this time, I’m doing it with a lot more knowledge under my belt, because I know the rule, and why it exists, which means breaking it is a deliberate act, not a mistake. And that, I believe, is a real difference.

Scarcity can also lead to rule bending and shattering, as we all know. And one of the things I’m scarce on here in India are good bottom weight fabrics. I’m not really sure why this is the case, maybe because people don’t incorporate them much into Indian traditional wear, so they don’t sell well? Most people here buy fabric to take to a tailor to have it sewn up into something for them, and that something is often Indian ethnic wear, which doesn’t really have a call for bottom weights, I suppose, so it makes sense, but then what’s a girl to do when she’s trying to make some shorts?

Think outside the box. In fact, think all the way to the sofa.

Recently, while shopping at a home goods store called Freedom Tree, I was perusing their line of upholstery/home fabrics and though, damn, some of these would make some cute shorts.

And sure enough, they did. And I wore them, in Singapore!

AM I RIGHT? Now, I know there are those out there who wouldn’t be into wearing a sofa on their bodies, but first of all, I’ve done it before, and second of all, as I said, scarcity can inform one’s choices! But even without that, this is awfully cute, and not really that off from say, duck cloth, so….why, why not? It’s a mid-weight upholstery fabric, which means it’s not rough, or too heavy, but it’s heavy enough to feel like a substantial bottom weight, which is great, because I want shorts that don’t feel like they are about to fall off my body at any given moment…I mean, who among us wouldn’t say that?

The pattern is the Papercut Patterns Palisade Pants, which I really liked, although it is interesting to think about it in light of the conversations about sizing in pattern companies I have been observing on social media in recent weeks. Papercut Patterns has some wonderful patterns, but it’s sizing range is pretty limited, and my body, or specifically my hips and bust, fall at the top of it, whereas it usually falls in the middle of, say, a Big Four pattern or a pattern company like Colette. This is a really cool company, design wise, but it seems like it might be eliminating a lot of talented and enthusiastic patrons with its sizing.

Wary as ever about the junk in my trunk, I made this in an XL, scaling the waist down to an L because I wanted it to stay loose and comfortable. I had actually made this once before, in a navy brushed cotton in the pants version, which was a life saver over a recent lighting quick trip to Vienna, and then again even more recently during my time in the United States last week, but I didn’t get a chance to document the pants, and that’s okay, these shorts are a lot more fun.

I don’t know how but I don’t have any photos of said junk aka the rear view of these, so sorry! This print is busy and the very cool element of the shorts, the pocket design, sort of gets lost in photos, but the pockets are deeply cool, and make me want to make these again and again.

Even Rubens thinks so.

You can kind of see them here. I was able to make this pair out of less than a meter (about 3/4ths) of 60 inch wide fabric, which is also a win.

I love the elastic waist with the flat front. I frenched all possible seams, zig-zagging any that weren’t possible to french, and the construction is really pretty easy. Papercut gives great very clear instructions, which I appreciate, because otherwise this looks like origami, but it’s far simpler than I would have thought.

Would you make garments out of non-garment fabric? Do you care about sizing inclusion in patterns? Did you celebrate Lunar New Year?

Well, Singapore did! Happy Year of the Pig, people!

Leave a comment

Filed under Papercut Patterns, Sewing

The Charming in Chittorgarh Shirt

This shirt and its fit are a direct product of my computer printing this pattern at the wrong scale and me straight up not noticing because I trust machines and how are we in a reality in which it is possible to TRUST machines? The fears we have long dismissed are true! The robots are talking over, and it starts with blowing up the scale of my sewing patterns!

Or maybe not.

But as you know from this post, I really enjoyed the Seamwork patterns Rachel Shirt, although I found it curiously big (WELL NOW I KNOW WHY, you know what, maybe it’s not the robots, maybe I was just being totally out to lunch…) Of course, I cut two things from the pattern without testing the fit so that tells you something about how being in a land of endless fabric has really spoiled me. I stitched this shirt up in a hurry so I could take it with me on a trip to Udaipur, with visiting friends, because I knew that pairing this light pseudo-Japanese fabric (I have no idea if it is from Japan or just copied to give out that vibe, ah, India, you are a delight), with long sleeves, would make it perfect for Rajasthan in the winter, whose days are sunny and bright but quickly turn chilly.

And indeed I did! I was able to complete it on time and bring it with me to Udaipur, where I took it even further out to Chittorgarh, a gorgeous Medieval Indian fort with a mixed (aka grim) history. It’s withstood many a siege, and seen many a suicide, and it was the setting for a recent movie with a lot of controversy around it called Padmaavat, which is based on this epic poem but which some people think is real, which is all part of the whole damn thing. It’s complicated. If you are curious, you can read about the mythical figure of Rani Padmini, and here are some interesting (very feminist) takes on the movie.

At any rate, it’s a gorgeous place, and I hope my shirt did it justice!

It really turned out as more of a tunic, but that’s big in India, so no matter! The construction was simple and the size is meaningless because the scale is so off, but it’s light and comfortable and I’m into it! Sometimes accidents make for good garments.

It has sleeves! See, I proved it.

I just did a pleat in the back instead of the full longer tuck, which frankly, this garment could have used. Ah, well.

It’s very blousy and billowy, but I’m okay with that. It feels a little hip art teacher, which I always enjoy.

Here I am by one of the old fort entrances.

It’s it beautiful? But what was even more amazing was that I saw Tiya Sircar, aka Vicky from The Good Place, and told her how talented she is. So it was a pretty good day, I gotta say.

That’s about it on this shirt! It was easy, useful, and I’m into it. Regardless of the robots.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sewing, Colette Patterns, Travel, seamwork