Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thrifty 2016

Several years ago I ran a personal project here called Thrifty365.  It's essential premise was to reuse/reinvent what I already owned and shop the secondary market as much as possible.  Over the last few years, I have migrated away from this mindset far more than I am comfortable.  I still thrift for most of our needs; however, I have leaned more towards buying new fabric and supplies than necessary.  This year, my focus is intention, and bringing back a intention-centred project is just what I need.

A quick Google search revealed that many others have adopted this idea and have started their own social forums to document their progress.  In order to not feel as though I were poaching their ideas, I have refreshed my thrifty project to reflect my 2016 goal.

Striped Dolores top and denim Ruby dress - two of my favourite makes of 2015

I have just placed what will be my last (hopefully, c'mon willpower!) orders for new fabrics for this year.  I am very fortunate to have a generous fabric and yarn stash and I would like to create from this almost exclusively this year.  I am allowing myself to thrift 'new' fabric should I come across something I like, but I am determined to resist the siren song of the bright and shiny.  Not only am I running out of space in  my sewing cupboard (a 2 door Ikea wardrobe), how much fabric do I really need?

My 4-pattern hack maxi dress in stripey jersey

My weight gain over the last year (thanks, Prednisone!) has meant that I have essentially been making myself a new wardrobe for the last several months.  Accommodating the needs of my psoriatic arthritis (itching and raw skin, painful joints, and sometimes limited dexterity), has meant putting my uniform of the past of dresses/tights/cardigans aside and reinventing my style to feel both comfortable and wearable.  Feeling uncomfortable in my clothing was a real knock to my self-confidence.  Feeling good in what I make and wear is instrumental in my mood and even my energy levels, which is primarily why I wore so much pink during the summer and early fall - it helped me fight my autoimmune battles.


I now primarily sew separates, many of them in knits.  Soft, forgiving fabrics are best, especially on my challenging days, and velveteen, brushed corduroy, and soft jersey fabrics now make up my cool weather wardrobe. I will continue to build my 3 Season Wardrobe throughout the year and I am feeling particularly inspired by Phryne  Fisher, so you can expect to see draped tops, flowing trousers, and decadent kimono jackets.  Lush!

I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks whilst I craft of late and have discovered the wonderful Maisie Dobbs series.  She reminds me of a mix of Phryne Fisher, Georgianna Rannoch, and Mary Russell Holmes.  I'm enjoying getting to know her and am delighted that I can download these for free from my local library using Overdrive.  You should try it!

Saturday, January 23, 2016


I have a new jumper!  Iris is a top-down, raglan sleeve jumper knit in a gorgeous French Blue cotton yarn from Knit Picks.  When I saw Roisin's beautiful blue Chuck, I knew I wanted something similar to add to my handmade wardrobe. 

All I've wanted to knit lately are short sleeve jumpers to wear with my high waist trousers.  It's a simple look that makes me feel polished and is kind to my sore joints and skin.  I have a standard 'formula' for knitting garments for myself. that I cobbled together from this handy sweater generator and this pattern.  I prefer to knit with worsted weight yarns as they are kindest to my hands.

I used the pretty lace design from the Genevieve pullover to make my lacy scalloped collar and the construction technique from the Camille sweater.  I added my increases in the sleeves and in between the lace pattern in the front and back using standard yo, k1 or k1, yo depending which side I was working. After separating the sleeves, I kept the same eyelet pattern by using k1, k2tog, yo or k1, ssk, yo as above.  I really like how the lace pattern pulls the eyelets into gentle curves.

While I was knitting this jumper, the panels of Japanese Feather lace reminded me of ripples on water and I wanted a suitably water-like name for this project.  In Greek mythology, Iris is one of the goddesses of the sea and sky. She travels with the speed of the wind from one end of the world to the other. That definitely felt appropriate.  I finished it with simple 1 x 1 ribbing.

It's a really comfortable jumper to wear and the cotton yarn means that I can wear it to work, too, where the heat is usually much higher than I'd like!  I do highly recommend Knit Picks' Comfy and Shine Worsted (not paid to share that, just passing it on) as they are a delight to knit with.  Nothing rope-like about them as they glide over my needles really nicely and they don't split easily.  The nicest thing is that I can throw them in the washer and dryer (on low heat) when I need.

This year, I'm taking a leaf from Tasha's book and building my 3 season wardrobe.  I live in Southern Ontario, where for three seasons out of the year it's either cool, cold, or freezing and it's just smart to make this my focus. After all, my mantra for this year is intention.  So far, I've added three pairs of wide leg trousers using Simplicity 3688 and two hand knit jumpers.  I'm currently knitting another top-down jumper (surprise!) that I plan to call Leticia, after one of my infusion nurses, as she picked the beautiful Tower of Song cable stitch. 

What's on your needles?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Knitting Therapy

My lovely Camille jumper.

I love sweaters with interesting details and this lovely jumper caught my eye with its unusual raglan sleeve design and technique.  The increases are worked within the body and sleeves of the sweater and not in the raglan 'seams' as is standard.  I find the simple chunky cable so striking and am always a sucker for leaf-inspired lace.  I chose Comfy Worsted in Creme Brulee for mine.  Wool has really been bothering my skin lately, so I'm using cotton or cotton blends instead. 
I have had two rather unsuccessful goes at the Chuck jumper, which is absolutely no reflection on Andi's excellent pattern writing skills, but rather, in retrospect, an indication of my PsA impacting my thinking and muscle memory.  I wanted more practice with cables and to refamiliarize myself with top-town, seamless knitting.  I chose Camille simply because it's a really pretty pattern and surprisingly easy knit.  The photos make it look quite complicated but Novel is a good pattern writer and spells it all out for you.  It's a written pattern, which I prefer, but interesting enough for you chart-lovers to enjoy.

Camille in progress.  I  love that leaf lace!

I restarted the project after binding off in order to get the length I wanted.  I'm short-waisted and Camille is very cropped (it hit me just under my bust) when knit according to the pattern.  When I came to the last row prior to the starting the ribbing, I went back to the start, after the sleeve separation, and knit the entire pattern again and then knit the ribbing.  In retrospect, I will go back and add another inch or so to the ribbing to make sure that it comfortably covers the waistband of my high-waist trousers and doesn't let in drafts!

Oops! Just a little too cropped.

I really struggled with my energy and pain levels over the holidays.  Most of my time was spent sleeping and I couldn't seem to recoup my energy.  Thank God for knitting.  I could actually do something.  When I could successfully negotiate the stairs (a personal victory), I could put myself in my chair, load up with pillows, a blanket, and a hot cup of tea and knit away.  I could participate with my family and enjoy their company without straining  my low resources.

Camille represents more than just a pretty new sweater to add to my handmade wardrobe.  It's an example of why I fight so damn hard to hold on to things that make me feel 'normal' and why every little victory adds up to a damn big deal.

I'm currently knitting another top-down jumper using the techniques I learned in Camille.  I swapped out the cables for pretty Japanese Feather lace panels and have knit the sleeves and body in stockinette.  The lovely scalloped neckline came from Cecily MacDonald's Genevieve Pullover.  The yarn is Shine Worsted (a personal favourite) in a stunning shade of French Blue.  It reminds me of Roisin's beautiful new blue Chuck.

What are you knitting?  Have you set out sewing and/or knitting plans for 2016?