Praise for the mental benefits of knitting

the mental benefits of knitting

Imagine me laying in a coffin-sized bunk in the crowded crew quarters of a 90-year-old schooner, curled up around needles and yarn. It’s the evening, and I’m off after a long day of sailing and sun. There’s only a curtain for privacy between me and the 6 people I share this room with, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I decided to go sailing, I knew I needed something to mark the place between chapters in my life. So I packed a bag, making sure to include my knitting, and headed to the sea.  Those down hours on the boat, the quiet between the busy, mostly spent knitting, helped me process leaving Virginia and ready myself mentally to start anew in Pittsburgh. It made the time without internet or TV for 10 days not only bearable, but enjoyable. Thank you knitting for being there for me.

the mental benefits of knitting

Time passes so quickly. It has already been a month since my last post and two months since I made the decision to upend my life and leave Virginia. Since my last post I’ve moved to Pittsburgh, gone sailing, took a mini road trip, started a new job and moved into an apartment that needed some work to update. My sewing machines are still packed away. But other things are coming along. I knit when I itch to sew. Carpet has been pulled up and functional internet lines installed.

I am finally knitting a project that is NOT SOCKS!! It’s a shawl thing from Brooklyn Tweed, the Guernsey Triangle. Scarves are a different beast than socks, a different emotional experience. The closer I get to finishing this scarf, the longer the rows get, and the less I feel like I am approaching the finish line. When I knit socks, I can easily see their progression. With this scarf, I have to trust it will work out.  I trust that I will have enough yarn. I trust that when I finally cast off and block it, that it will be big enough for me to wear wrapped around my neck at least once. It’s a reminder to trust myself. To trust that in this new city, with my new job, quiet apartment, and (hopefully soon) new friends, I can make it work and that things will get better.

the mental benefits of knitting

the mental benefits of knitting

Knit // Emerald Moth Socks

Emerald Moth Socks

Just ’cause it’s hot out doesn’t mean I can’t dream about/plan for cold weather! The day we took these pictures it was 103 degrees Farenheit outside. I braved the heat so you could all see the glorious color of this yarn! I’m already so in love with these socks.

This is the Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern- I knitted this pattern last winter and the socks I made are by far my favorite to wear. The moss stitch pattern (name for a combination of knits and purls on different rows) is the perfect balance of stretchy and snug. I used sportweight yarn to make a slightly more plush and cozy version- Bugga! in Common Emerald Moth from the Verdant Gryphon. The pink and purple stripes are leftovers from other projects. I adjusted the number of stitches around my foot to 56 stitches and used a size 1 circular needle (my last version had 64 sts on a size 0 needle and was made from fingering weight yarn; click here for the pattern)

Emerald Moth Socks

Remember the striped socks I made in March? I finally figured out why they were too tight around the ankle. I added stitches to the gusset just before I turned the heel. This made the heel flap taller, and reduced the amount of stretch in that section of the sock. I tried this technique again on these Emerald Moth socks, but ripped it out and re-knitted a shorter heel flap when I realized my mistake. Looks like I’ll be knitting shorter gussets and heel flaps from now on.

Not much else to say about these socks, so I’ll leave you with lots of pictures.

Emerald Moth Socks

Emerald Moth Socks

Emerald Moth Socks

Emerald Moth Socks

Sew Loft Patterns – Download Here

Download Sew Loft Patterns for free here

It’s a sad thing when an indie pattern company shuts down. We sewists and bloggers root for indie pattern companies that open up the sewing pattern market and cater to more modern tastes. Sew Loft patterns (formerly Spit-up and Stilettos) was one such pattern company.  It offered many popular patterns for free, including the Diana Cami, which I’ve linked to in a past post.

A while back I started writing a post about the sad disappearance of Sew Loft, but I never finished it. While I was working on the post, I thought, “what if I could get copies of all Sew Loft’s patterns? And then share them with sewists everywhere!?” So I tracked down Sew Loft’s creator, Lauren Elbert. She created both websites and graciously gave me permission to share copies of her patterns on Hoopes Park Studios. I’m happy to announce that from now on, Hoopes Park Studios will be hosting the Sew Loft womenswear pattern library. All patterns are available for free on dropbox. Click on the image above, below, or in the side bar to access them. Or click here!

Download Sew Loft Patterns for free here

I hope you enjoy sewing these patterns as much as I did. If you want to find Lauren Elbert now, she is designing children’s clothing at Sadi and Sam Patterns. Please email me with any questions or concerns. Here’s to the #SewLoftRevival !

 

 

Sewn // Sister’s Swimsuit

jill bikini

It’s bikini time again! As promised, here are pictures of the bikini I made for my sister. I used the same pattern for the bottoms as I did for mine (mine are size medium, hers are small). For the top, she and I made some drawings and then I drafted the pattern from her measurements.  I made this while we were living about 6 hours apart, so I’m happy to say that it fit her on the first try!  It is princess seamed and I used fold-over-elastic to finish the arms and back. The neckline has 1/4″ elastic sewn into it and the straps are from an old bra. She is graciously allowing me to post pictures of her on my blog (thanks sis).

And in other news, it looks like I may be moving to Pittsburgh for a job. Unemployment and tons of free sewing time was fun, but I’m ready to get back to work. Props to all you ladies who make sewing a full-time thing.

Sewn // Weston shorts

Weston Shorts

Shorts- a staple of summer wardrobes all across the western world. Pair them with a t-shirt and sandals in the summer and a sweatshirt and boots in the fall. High waisted, low-riders, with and without pockets, I love shorts. When Seamwork released Weston with an estimated sewing time of 2 hours, I was sold. I picked up some stretch denim while buying interfacing and backing for my sister’s graduation gift (click here to see the tshirt quilt I made) and happily got to work.

Weston Shorts

Seamwork says that Weston takes 2 hours. Yeah no. This is my second Seamwork project (and not the last), and both have taken me much longer than the instructions said. It’s like I’m playing mini golf with my family- par is 3 shots, but it takes me 8 to get that tiny ball in the hole. Maybe I’m a slow sewer, maybe I’m more meticulous about fit, or maybe Colette’s pattern blocks don’t mimic my body well. Whatever the reason, I’m well over par. Par for this pattern was 2 hours. Instead, it took me 3 afternoons, 2 muslins, and many fittings.

Modifications:

  • narrowed waistband by 1″ (to 1.5″)
  • shortened inseam to 2″and reshaped hem
  • lengthened darts in front
  • lengthened and widened darts in back
  • 1.5″ swayback adjustment at center back seam
  • thin thigh adjustment/pivot crotch down
  • added back pockets
  • lotsa pretty topstitching with gold-orange thread

Detail shots!

Weston Shorts

Weston Shorts

Weston Shorts

There are still some things I’d change about these shorts. I’d like to make another version with a lower waistband, and I’d like to try to fix some of the fit issues around the inner thigh/crotch area (it’s all at once baggy and riding up in my crotch a little (but if they don’t ride up a little, then they’re not high-waisted shorts, right?)). Also mini wedgie? If you have any ideas on how to fix these issues, please share.  This pattern has potential to become overall shorts…

Weston Shorts

Yay yay yay shorts. I have been shaking my shorts-clad butt everywhere. My family is sick of hearing me sing the shorts song. Which goes something like, “shorts shorts shorts. I made shorts.” When I was putting the back pockets on I asked my mom to take a picture of my butt so I could see it. She was like, “umm why?” (understandably), but was of course happy to do it once I explained it was in the name of pocket placement.

And I think this is my first pair of shorts I’ve ever made that wasn’t PJs or for someone else. Success. Being unemployed has its perks. #freetime

Oh yeah I’m unemployed right now. I left Virginia and moved back to Philly! So if you’re in the area, feel free to hit me up for coffee/tea/fabric shopping (once I get a job)/thrifting/knitting or sewing dates.

Weston Shorts

 

Knit // Colorful Skylar Socks

Skylar Socks

Skylar Socks

Skylar Socks

A while ago a massage therapist friend and I decided to trade massages for knitting. 1 hour of massage for 1 hour of knitting. At a 1.5 hour massage a couple times a month, these are the longest running sock project I’ve undertaken yet.  Did I mention she’s a really good friend? Opposites attract- I’m science-minded and find humor in irony, but she loves all things woo and is one of the most genuine and caring people I’ve ever met. We also have opposite color sensibilities. As I have gotten away from brighter colors, she has fallen more in love with them- blue raspberry, red-orange, and neon yellow light up her wardrobe, bedroom, and everything she owns.

I wanted to knit her some socks using her favorite colors that were as special and unique as her kind and enthusiastic spirit. I used Stroll Brights in Razzleberry, Hot Tamale, and Highlighter Yellow for the contrasting colors, and Skinny Bugga for the main color (in an old colorway). I used a pattern (listed below) for the entrelac/triangle sections; the rest of the sock is self drafted. Scroll to the bottom for instructions, and email me if you want the more detailed pattern.

Skylar Socks

Skylar Socks

Quick pattern instructions: Cast on with JMCO at the toe, increase to circumference of foot, knit in stockinette to length of foot-0.5″, turn a short row heel, knit around, break main color yarn to start stripes. Alternate 3 rows of contrasting color with 5 rows of main color three times. I followed the instructions for L/R leaning triangles and R/L leaning rectangles in Kathryn Alexander’s Up-Down Entrelac socks in Sock Knitting Master Class book. Knit the stripe above the entrelac pattern with 2 rows knitted, 1 row purled, followed by 1 row knitted. Knit 5 rows of main color, then repeat the entrelac pattern. Finish the design with 2 main color and 2 coordinating color stripes. Knit ribbing (K2, P2) for 2 inches, then cast off with a stretchy cast off.

Sewn // Seneca skirt

Seneca skirt

After seeing the Seneca pattern, I bought myself a Seamwork subscription a few months ago. I made a promise to myself that as long as I was making at least one of the patterns every month, I would keep the subscription. But this skirt is as far as I got. So no more subscription. For better or worse, I think I’m ready to move on to more complicated projects. Two items- jeans and a coat- are not only lacking from my wardrobe but calling  me to make them. I’m going to try to focus my creative efforts on them for the rest of this year. Maybe I’ll even take a jeans or coat-making class. Once I’m done with all my current projects, of course. I did just finish my sister’s bikini which I’ll have pictures of shortly.

Seneca skirt

I altered the pockets so they would attach at the waistband. I didn’t want pockets that hung down when I put things in them. This made the waistband slightly more bulky, but it was worth it for functionality’s sake. I drafted the pocket piece by placing the original pocket pattern piece on top of the skirt pattern, matching them at the circles and side seams. Then I added a piece to the pocket by drawing a curved line to the top of the skirt piece to extend the pocket to the waistline. I traced the original side seam and waistline. I sewed the pocket to the skirt following all directions. I also made sure to catch the top of the pocket in the front waistband seam. That’s it.

Seneca skirt extended pocket

Seneca skirt

Unaltered, the Seneca skirt is a little long and heavy for my petite frame. If I make it again, I’ll shorten it and use a lighter fabric. I made this version from a grey ponte knit, which is heavier than recommended. Still, it’s sporty and casual and very loungey-comfortable. It will be worn more this fall. Especially once I figure out what warmer shirts to wear with it. And probably with sneakers instead of rain boots.

Seneca skirt

“Don’t be afraid of the yarn- just start knitting” – Kollabora Meet The Maker Feature

workspace

I was very pleased to be invited to talk about creativity, sleeping, and web comics on Kollabora’s Meet the Maker blog. I think this is the first time I’ve been straight-up featured on another blog *ooh I feel so special*. Hop on over to read the rest of the interview and learn why I want to visit Denmark, why “dyspnea” is my favorite word, and how DIY= empowerment! Also included is an anecdote about my dislike of carrot cake. In case you were wondering.

Sewn // Black High-Waisted DIY Bikini

high-waisted DIY bikini

I’d like to pause the sock deluge to say: I made another DIY bikini! It’s been 2 years (almost exactly) since I last dipped my toe into swimsuit sewing. I lost the bottoms to the first bikini 🙁 so I am making a couple more matching sister bikinis (if you’re making one why not make two? sister pictures later). I made mine first since *lapsed years=forgetfulness* and I didn’t want to mess hers up. The bottoms are the same pattern as last time (this pattern– pages 5 to 8- with a few inches added to the top), plus an elastic band around the top. The top is self drafted. I traced a stretchy halter top for the front, and used the back piece (page 4) I had drafted for my last bikini top.

high-waisted DIY bikini

The top is lined with self-fabric for more  support, since I wanted more of a sports-bra type top. I sewed 1″ elastic into the bottom band (all the way around this time, not just in front) and used fold-over elastic to finish the top seams. All fabric and elastic is from fabric.com. Their fold over elastic is a much better price than JoAnn’s.

high-waisted DIY bikini

I also attached the elastic differently for this swimsuit. On the last bikini, I was afraid of stitching the elastic directly to the fabric. Instead, I made channels for the elastic and then inserted it.  It kept twisting in its channels, especially around my legs, which was hella annoying. So I took the plunge and stitched the elastic directly to the fabric on this bikini. I was nervous but it WORKED! I used a regular zig-zag stitch for the 1/4″ elastic on the bottom and the widest 3-step zig zag that my machine would do on the 1″ and fold over elastic. Always remember to sew along the bottom edge of the elastic, never down the middle. I had to rip out some stitches once I realized the edge of the elastic was curling up. But it’s nice now. Observe:

high-waisted DIY bikini

This bikini was ocean-tested on a trip to VA Beach and it held up! IMO, that’s the true test of any swimsuit.

There are a couple things I would change about the fit of the top, like angling the side seams toward the bottom of the bust and maybe putting some princess seam lines in to eliminate the unintentional gathers, but I’ll apply those to my sister’s bikini. I also used my walking foot for the first time I can remember. It is awesome. New favorite foot (besides the two I walk on).

high-waisted DIY bikini

Knit // Chevron Socks

Chevron Socks

I’m back from the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival with another round of selfless knitting for man feet! I was un-lazy enough to swatch the yarn, so they actually fit the recipient (I like to think I learn from my mistakes).

I drafted the sock until the chevron detail. That pattern is from Lacey Volk– she might be my new favorite knitwear designer. She hasn’t been very active online in the past couple of years, but her patterns are still available. I used the Flying Geese pattern (available for free on Knitty) to create the chevrons at the top of each sock. The triangles are worked in short-rows; for being such a tricky pattern, the designer’s descriptions are thorough and easy to follow (as long as you actually read the instructions and don’t just forge ahead like I did the first time around).

Chevron Socks

Yarn: Brown yarn is Stroll Tweed Sock Yarn from Knit Picks- I used less than one skein. This yarn was thinner than I expected when it arrived in the mail but worked fine with the thicker blue yarn (Verdant Gryphon Bugga). The white yarn is some undyed yarn from my stash.

Pattern: Self drafted (below) and Flying Geese

Needle size: US 1.5 circular needle, gauge 7 sts per inch

Chevron Socks

Quick pattern instructions (more in depth instructions can be found here):

CO 28 sts with JMCO. Knit around. Alternate rows of increasing and knitting until you have increased the toe to 64 sts around.

Toe stripes: Knit 16 sts, break yarn (so the color breaks are on the bottom of the foot. Pick up and knit:

  1. 1 row with the white yarn
  2. 2 rows with the brown yarn
  3. 1 white row
  4. 2 brown rows
  5. 1 white row

Knit the foot: Break yarn and pick up the blue yarn again. Knit around until the sock measures 3″ less than the foot.

Gusset: Begin gusset increases on the first side of the needle, increase the gusset until you have increased 22 sts (86 sts around)

Turn the heel: knit and purl across the first side of the needle in short rows, wrapping and turning at the end of each row until you have a trapezoid with 10 wrapped sts on each side of the heel.

Knit the heel flap: Knit across the heel and down the wrapped sts, then pick up one gusset st and knit it together with the last wrapped st. Turn and purl across the heel to the other side, pick up the gusset st and purl it together with the last wrapped st. Continue like this until all of the gusset sts have been used up and the heel flap is formed. Alternate every two rows between brown and blue yarn to make stripes.

Knit the ankle: Knit around until the sock is 3.5 inches shorter than the desired height.

Increases for the chevrons: increase to 68 sts around so you have 34 sts on each side of the needle.

Chevrons: Consult the Flying Geese pattern to make the chevrons. Begin under the heading: First Main Color Triangle. Knit the first two main color triangles in blue and the first two contrasting triangles in brown. Then knit another two main color triangles in brown and the second two contrasting triangles in blue.

diagram

Form the cuff: Knit 1 row around in blue. Then K2tbl, P2 around until  you have 1.5 inches of ribbing at the top of the sock. Cast off with a stretchy cast-off method.

Chevron Socks

Chevron Socks

 

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