Category Archives: Knitting

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in progress: first magazine submission!

Remember when I told you I had a new pattern in the works, my first submission for a magazine (the super adorable Knittin’ Little)?

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Here is the yarn – Sueno from Skacel. It’s extremely springy & soft, with a 20% bamboo viscose, and the rest superwash wool (perfect for Littles!). I enjoy knitting with it in the extreme. I have a hunch it would make beautiful cables, too.

There is a little problem with the colors as a group – have you spotted it yet?

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Yep, the blue and purple are actually pretty close in value. It’s a lot more obvious in grayscale.

bandwblue-yarn-1bandwpurple-yarn-1My design incorporates these two shades into a stranded colorwork band, and the two colors just aren’t different enough to look good. When you get yarn support from a company, you don’t always have full choice of what gets sent to you. This yarn, while a very pleasant surprise in terms of how it feels and knits, meant I had to do a bit of trouble-shooting in order to meet my submission deadline.

Turns out, I love that part, too. An excuse to sit on the couch and knit for six hours straight? And watch movies? And think about stranded colorwork variations the whole time? It’s my jam.

Oh, wait? Are you curious about the solutions I came up with? I hate (love) to leave you in suspense, but… I’ll tell you soon. Same time, same place.

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slow fashion: KNOWN

This week’s #slowfashionOctober prompt is the one I wish I knew the most about:

favorite sustainable resources / “local” / traceable fabric and yarn origins / traceable garment origins / reference books, films, videos

Let’s start with what I do know.  I’ve been pinning a few made-in-Americasingle-breed, and eco-friendly yarns. The knitting designs I’m working on next use some of these.

And I do a lot of sewing with thrifted fabric – including these two beauties that are destined to be the brightest work blouses you ever did see.

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But really, truly, fabric is hard. I’m heartened to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks so.  There are many options for organic fabric, but in order to tell if your fabric is made safely, or is fair trade (much more important to me, personally, than local or organic, but you may have different priorities), you have to figure out not only which country it was made in, but perhaps which specific factory, and then learn something about the manufacturing rules that govern each country and/or individual factory.

Compared to indie yarn suppliers, fabric is a few steps (a lightyear) behind on  transparency.

However, after creeping (i.e. reading) lots of great posts from other sewcialists this week, here are a few new things I’ve discovered (and am pretty excited about):

  • This Etsy shop sells Fair Trade fabric, and it’s not all cotton
  • Alabama Chanin is now producing organic cotton fabric you can  purchase
  • Organic Cotton Plus, Honey Be Good,  has a Made in USA section
  • This is crazy, but apparently a lady named Sally Fox is breeding colored cottons (and raising sheep now, too)
  • And last, but possibly the most exciting of all, Offset Warehouse contains lots of details about the manufacturers of their fabric. The link I included there takes you to info about their Cambodian-produced fabric. Cool.

There, some extra reading for you. Until you digest it all (it took me a few days!), if you have good ideas on how to dispose of worn-out clothing, I want to hear about it.

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slow fashion October: WORN

I just wrote the words waist-boob problem? in my sketchbook, which is newly full of sweater ideas, some of which may be suffering from bad proportions at the moment. So, yes, my friends, my experience designing a pullover for Knittin’ Little has energized me.

Also, my beautiful, wonderful, amazing toddler has decided to start sleeping through the night again (knock on wood). So, while I’m feeling like an energetic mother, let’s talk #slowfashionOctober for kids. Karen‘s prompt this week is basically my manifesto for my son’s wardrobe:

second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …) / heirlooms

As much as I hate a top 10 list, I really, really love handmade things in a little kids’ handmade wardrobe, and I have made a lot of terrible mistakes in taking care of those things. I hope a list saves you a little time and trouble. Here are the things that are dead simple, make my life easier, and enable my habit of #slowfashionbabies:

1. In the summertime, let your baby eat while wearing just a diaper. Or, at the very least, take off the handknit sweater before feeding.

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2. If your baby is prone to spit up, just keep a bib on him when he’s wearing a handknit sweater. A friend made some like these adorable ones for her kiddo, and they are, well, freaking adorable. And can be easily made from thrifted t-shirts or scraps or whatever fits your slow-fashion mandate.

3. If you suspect your baby has a blowout poopy diaper… take the handknit sweater off and place in a safe place before changing. Do not ask how I know this.

4. I don’t worry about superwash v. non-superwash when knitting for my Little. I look for yarns that don’t pill and will be long-lasting, regardless of fiber content. We just have a house rule: all sweaters for all ages are washed by me, because my superpower is remembering which things need to be hand washed. I have also started to make the effort to use these labels in every finished piece to prevent disasters. Or, you could order your own custom labels. I keep intending to do that, but, you know… toddlers/work/etc.

5. When do I handwash things? It sounds onerous, right? Actually, no. I have one designated day when I bake bread and do laundry and sweep, etc. I keep a pile of sweaters to be washed (usually quite small, because if you take care, you don’t have to wash wool very often), and each week plop one into a sink of Soak right before I mix up the bread. By the time the bread is ready to rise, I can pop back to the bathroom and spread the garment out to block/dry.

6. Lengthen things. When I’m knitting a baby sweater, I add 1″+ to the length of the sweater body and sleeves. I can always turn up the cuffs until he gets older. So far, that’s meant he can still wear most of the 6-month sweaters at 21 months – he’s growing taller a lot faster than he’s growing wider. And knitting stretches beautifully to accommodate all kinds of widths. (Full disclosure: my tiny one is at the very bottom of the growth charts, so I’m not sure how much the success of this strategy is dependent on having a slow-growing babe.)

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On second thought, let’s call this my top 6 list, OK? If slow fashion can be about bucking trends, surely my post structure can follow suit.

Any other good ideas you want to send my way? I welcome them all! Especially as I’m mapping out my Christmas/winter wardrobe making!

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slow fashion: LOVED

There’s one thing that I don’t understand about the knitting world: the concept of knitworthiness. Basically the concept is this: you don’t want to knit something for someone who doesn’t care two beans about hand-knit items, or won’t take care of them the same way you would. The implication is, even if you love someone dearly, the theory is, that doesn’t mean that person is inherently knitworthy.

I disagree.

I super love giving gifts to people. My first memory of my mother’s birthday (I must have been 3 or 4), was being given some money to walk next door to my grandmother’s book store and buy a gift.  I chose a t-shirt with a gigantic, sparkly pink flower (sorry, Mom).  It was so fun that I begged to do it again and again.  Pretty young, I started saving up my allowance to buy gifts on my own. Gifts and art supplies. Best of both worlds, I sometimes saved up to buy supplies for making gifts for people. We had a really fun Christmas one year, when the family budget was tight, and we all decided to either make or thrift things (or make with thrifted things, or thrift art supplies, double-espresso-shots of fun).

I can’t remember anyone ever being in the least unappreciative about what I made or gave. I never heard anyone say this is not what I wanted until well into adulthood – 23 or 24, I think (and in that case, it was truly helpful feedback, and easy to change, like I appreciate the shoes but these are not the right size). My childhood embroidery is framed and hanging in my parents’ bathroom, or was for many years. A painting I made in summer camp hangs in my grandparents’ house, even though of course it’s super childish. I don’t know if my brother has ever worn the stranded-colorwork-binary-coded scarf I made for him, but he was super sweet about the effort. People who love you? They’re going to understand that you make things out of love, and they’ll appreciate the gesture. And if you’re good, as you get older, you get better at identifying what giftees want, and giving better gifts (hand made or not).

So for this week, during #slowfashionoctober, let’s start thinking about Slow Gift-Giving.  The people you love are knitworthy. They are giftworthy, basically, and if you want to, you should just freaking make them something without worrying if they’ll dry clean it or not, or whether you’re wasting the many hours of making (although no pressure, man, you can’t spend 20 hours making a bespoke pair of jeans for everyone you love every birthday).

I’ve started thinking about this, and the people I want to make for this year, because there are, as I’m writing this, 83 days until Christmas, and I have a few special gifts planned for my Little and his BFF. Wish me luck with my time management, and good luck to you in any of your gift-making!

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He made my dream come true

I was brave today and tackled the refrigerator.  A frustrating, hit-my- limit-ready-to-explode week at work had ended.  So what better thing to do on Saturday morning? The fridge hadn’t been cleaned in months …yes months (I am not proud to admit this).

And oh my…. it was a true adventure: 4 containers of sour cream with small amounts of green goo, a small pitcher with what must have been some sort of sauce that boasted its own ecosystem…. I don’t need to go into great detail.

The upside was a lunch consisting of wonderful finds: 1 canned peach, a small sliver of almond paste, a small glass of homemade grape juice.  I think cleaning the fridge was my way of taking control over a small part of my life after feeling so out of kilter all week.

Another get-my-life-back-in-order task was organizing my yarn stash.  I had skeins of yarn hither and thither throughout the house in various drawers and closets.  My first year of knitting I was monogamous – 1 project and 1 yarn.

This soon deteriorated – kind of like my fridge.  I didn’t know what I had where and how much.  As I was walking through the grocery store one day, a wine bottle rack caught my attention and an idea struck me – this is exactly what I needed for organizing my yarn – only bigger.

I am blessed to be married to a handy man, woodworker, artist, photographer, birder, luthier, computer guy.  Upon returning home from shopping I chattered and chattered about this great idea.  Well, you know what he did?  Yup…. he made my dream come true.  All my yarn is now in one spot right by my chair where I knit at night, beckoning to me and whispering dreams of projects ahead.

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creative-hours

Slow Fashion: the way to avoid bad dreams?

Hello, my name is Mackenzie, and I’m kind of interested in Slow Fashion.

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I used to have stress dreams that consisted completely of clothes shopping. I would need to wear something awesome for something important, and I would spend hours shopping. Nothing, of course, would fit, or it would all be in black or pink (which I don’t wear), or I would find something great and then it would fall apart at the seams when I tried it on.

And do you know what? I realized that since I have been sewing more of my own clothes, I have not had those dreams.

Avoiding bad dreams may be small motivation to go through the hours and hours of sewing and knitting that it takes to make your own clothes, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

remember that time I made jeans? Me, too. They're my current favorite pair.
remember that time I made jeans? Me, too. They’re my current favorite pair.

I sew (a little) and knit (a lot). I’m a full-time working mom with a toddler, and a knitting-design deadline looming, so I don’t plan on any ambitious goals this month for Slow Fashion October. But I do plan to spend some time reflecting here on the blog, about what I’ve made and what I’m planning to make. I’ll be more or less following Karen’s prompts for the month. If you’re interested in the topic, head on over to her blog and read the comments for lots of link love.

There are a lot of factors that make slow fashion worthwhile for me – I enjoy the processes of knitting and sewing. I hate buying something amazing, and then not being able to find that same thing again a year later (shoes and jeans, I’m looking at you). Nothing makes me feel prettier than competence (i.e. wearing something I made well). I have concerns about the labor conditions in the garment industry. I like to avoid waste. You don’t get much more efficient than a capsule wardrobe you can literally design and coordinate to your exact specifications.

Why do you make hand-knitting part of your wardrobe? Do you create any other elements of it?

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older and wiser?

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You have to guess how old I am this year, but I’ll admit that this month, I turned a year older.

And to kick off that new year, I got to start on a new project! I submitted a pattern proposal to online magazine Knittin’ Little, and it was accepted. Last week the yarn for the sample arrived in the mail, and I am busy knittin’ away (that’s not it, above, actually, but stay tuned and I’ll update you when my new camera battery charger arrives).

In the meantime, until more sneak peeks come your way, head on over to Knittin’ Little and check out not only their fall collection (which is adorable), but their Book Club.  As a veteran book nerd, with a child who wants to read every book a million times in a row (I’m hanging on through Thomas the Tank Engine by the skin of my teeth in hopes of better Hobbit days), I’m super into the idea of extending the  fun into other realms with activities and crafts.

Variety is the spice of life, after all.

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when you knit a sweater all over again

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Life is full of repetition, isn’t it? The same old grocery shopping trips, laundry, sweeping, brushing your kids’ teeth for the 1,000 out of 1,000,000,000 times… you know what I’m talking about.

So when this sweater didn’t work out, and I knew I’d have to knit the same thing twice, I wasn’t that enthused. But look! There’s a smile!

blog_finisheddecoIt fits much better. I changed the sleeves, so now it fits a transitional-season niche in my wardrobe.

It’s such a lovely finished garment. Not too complicated, but it has good details.

And I’m still in love with the Silky Wool.

I did make substantial variations, though – including shortening the sleeves and changing the sleeve cap shaping (very easy to do because of the way Kate Davies wrote it).

Overall, super pleased. Probably won’t knit again for a number of years, but have already worn many times since completed.

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when i lost the buttons, then found the buttons, then my power went out, and then…

It’s done!

Actually, to be completely truthful (always advisable, right?) I finished it months ago.

And then I lost the buttons. And then I found the buttons, and I lost the backing buttons and grosgrain ribbon.

And then I found them all, but was busy with other things. Still am, in fact. The buttons are collected on my dresser and the sweater sits near the couch, and last night, my power went out for 4 hours, and I didn’t feel up to attaching buttons by the light of a flashlight.

Stuff like that keeps happening.

Also, it’s huge on Sylvan, so what’s the rush?

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Finished with the knitting but not the details

Check out this adorable ABC grosgrain ribbon.

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Icord bindoff (is it just me, or does it seem like it should be iCord? THANKS, APPLE!) is a nice detail for a heavier garter sweater like this. I’m happy with how that came out.

So much activity in my life that I can’t summon the will to buckle down and attach a few buttons.  I don’t even have a kid old enough to go back to school. You parents of older kids have my respect (and best wishes for your sanity right now).

Also, if you’re handling the seasonal transition well, what’s your secret?

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Finishing Fever

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Sorry, friends – as the summer winds to a close, I find myself with writer’s block and a bad case of Finishing Fever. There are about a million projects laying around my house 70-90% done, and I just need to put in the effort to bring them all to a close. A little gruntwork, clear the board, and then I can tackle fall and winter knitting projects with a clear conscience.

Speaking of which, leave me a recommendation for your favorite baby sweater. A few are scheduled to make their debut into my circles in the next 3-6 months, and I kind of hate repeating myself. I’d rather branch out and try some new designs!