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Thursday, February 25, 2016

handmade wardrobe progress

Since I mostly knit, I tend to forget how gratifying sewing is. You can finish a garment in a few hours! With that in mind, and considering I have quite a bit of time on my hands, I spent a day last week finishing some old projects and starting/finishing some new ones. In all, 4 Wiksten Tanks were made and 1 Linden Sweatshirt

One of these tanks (the one with the knit print) was originally cut long enough to be a dress, but because I don't know how to choose fabric it was way to clingy and impossible to wear to so I cut it into a top. The paisley tank was made from a vintage dress I bought for my 20th birthday. It hasn't gotten any wear (though I love the print!) since my style has changed so I figured, might as well turn it into something wearable again. 

One of the final two tanks was cut from a cute vintage sheet and the other from some tiny heart print fabric. The tiny heart tank is for Andy, as is the sweatshirt. I made her a Linden over the holidays and she loved it so much I couldn't resist making another for her. 

Almost as exciting as finishing a bunch of garments in one go is not having to have purchased anything to do so. Since we're now on a fixed budget I don't have any extra dollars to spend on supplies. All of these things were made with my fabric stash or repurposed from other garments. I guess I have past Jamie to thank for storing just enough of a stash to keep me occupied through these meager times. 

I love these patterns. They're quick, cute, and definitely staples in my/our wardrobes. Plus, I was able to whittle down my stash which is always a good thing. All in all, I'd say it was a day well spent. Now I just gotta keep this sewing mojo going. Maybe use all my scraps to learn how to sew quilt blocks?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I've been into online journal keeping since I was in high school. Back then I didn't seem to have a problem writing and sharing personal aspects of my life. But in this new era of my life, I feel pressure to keep those aspects to myself. They're not "cute" nor can I throw a filter on them to improve their presentation. In spite of these anxieties I feel about sharing, I have an ever present urge to connect with others and that is motivating me to write this post.

As of December I have been unemployed. Not by choice. Life is tough for adjunct faculty at institutions of higher education, and I'm no exception. While I have an amazing and supportive partner and I've been fortunate enough to be able to collect unemployment, it's been a hard time for me. The narrative we are told says that if you go to school and graduate you'll get a job, and the higher the degree you graduate with the better that job will be. Well this narrative has been proven false, and it's a hard pill to swallow. I graduated in May with an MA in English. I spent the summer teaching ESL & career planning at two separate institutions and was given 3 sections of English to teach in the fall at our local university. But after the semester ended I was not invited back to teach. I received no call either confirming or denying the reinstatement of my contract, but came to the conclusion that I would not be teaching when the first day of school came and went and I hadn't heard anything.

In case you didn't know, adjunct faculty are people who teach at colleges and universities but have no job security. We are non-contract persons who work hard and love our students but at the end of the day can be tossed aside to accommodate the cost of the ever inflating administrative machine. I am critical of the priorities of higher education to turn spaces of learning into corporations. But I am also critical of myself for believing their narrative and thinking that somehow I would be exempt from the reality of adjunct teaching. I've taken my unemployment personally, though I probably shouldn't. I did the things I needed to do to be successful and yet here I am.

In the end, I suppose, I'm hoping that sharing this will help me move on and begin to take things a little less personally. It's hard to not constantly question myself and my choices when I'm home alone all day with only my thoughts to keep me company. However, I still have my craft. Between job hunting, applying, and interviewing I've been able to spend a lot of my time knitting and honing my technique which I am grateful for. But as much as I love to make, I really do hope that I will be able to join the workforce again soon.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

socks and goals

Since my last post I've finished 2 projects and pretty much frogged the rest. I finally found a plain, vanilla sock pattern that I love and am newly inspired to knit socks! Since both of the cowl things I was working on don't really suit my style I'm going to use all of that glorious fingering weight yarn to fuel operation sock drawer 2016. Below is the first sock drawer entry of the year, frogged from the last post and re-knit with more love.

In addition to operation sock drawer 2016, I have a few other making goals in mind for the new year.

goal 1: spin and knit the 2 lbs. of roving Andy got me for Christmas into a sweater
goal 2: spend some time cultivating and recording my projects on this here blog
goal 3: sew more! (less vaguely: sew more tops for myself and Andy + keep a handle on the mending pile)

I'm looking forward to 2016 and excited to spend more time here with you! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

works in progress

The semester is over and I finally have some time to sift through the projects I've been collecting over the past few months. I've never been one for monogamous knitting but my WIP basket is becoming just a little overwhelming. It's not even a basket at this point, it's a basket and 4 bags. Which brings me to my intention in writing this post: 1. catalog all of the things I'm working on 2. hold myself accountable to actually finish them since they won't be out of sight out of mind anymore.
**apologies for the poor quality fotos, the lighting is terrible here**

So then...the list...

  • Kaye's Cardigan
  • Baby Guernsey
  • Starshower
  • Lila Light
  • Bracken
  • Picot Socks
  • Fino Circle Scarf

First there's Kaye's Cardigan. I'm so, so close to finishing this one. All that's left are the sleeves and sewing on the buttons. Next to that is Lila Light. Not much to say about that's still very much in progress. 

Now the little things: Picot Socks, Starshower cowl, and Fino Circle Scarf. The two projects on either end have been in progress for a while now, there hasn't been a rush to finish them (especially Fino, it's been hanging out in my office since August). That cowl is almost finished though! I've only got one more repeating lace band left to go. 

Finally the baby sweaters. On the right is Bracken and next to that is Baby Guernsey. I might have cast on that Bracken pattern yesterday...with Baby Guernsey almost finished it seemed okay. But regardless little ones need warm sweaters for the winter season! 

7 projects is a lot, but totally finish-able! I think I'm going to finish Baby Guernsey first to send off to it's new home. After that I'm not sure what'll be next but I promise that I won't cast on anything new until I finish these things first. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015


I've struggled with this weeks theme, known. And to be honest I've struggled a little with Slow Fashion October in general. While I've been given lots to mull over and think about as far as where my things are coming from, I've also been wrestling with the reality of my material limitations.

My sad truth is that as much as I wanted to sew myself some tops from sustainable material I couldn't. I cannot afford to spend $44 on two yards of fabric, no matter how "awesome" that fabric might be. There's a classism inherit in this Slow Fashion movement. There's an expectation that in order to participate or seem legitimate one must source materials that are costly, too costly for a person like me to afford. So what's a girl to do?

I almost threw in the towel on Slotober. I thought, "if I can't get that hemp jersey, I'm just not going to sew anything." I drafted and deleted 4 different posts for this week because I didn't feel that I could legitimate my participation in this movement by creating garments with some "unknown" fabric from a chain craft store.

Well, instead of giving up and being complicit through my silence I thought that I would take a chance in this post and acknowledge that Slow Fashion is complicated. Far more complicated that I think many makers realize. It's not just makers vs. the corporate machine, it's also makers vs. other folks who lack access to sustainable materials. Who is being left out of our conversations (or alienated by our conversations) on making because of a lack of material resources? What can we do to include these people who want to participate but cannot legitimate their standing in this movement through the purchasing of known or sustainable materials?

The bottom line is that sewing your own clothes is a radical act, always. And yeah, of course, knowing where your materials come from is really important but there are other ways to participate in Slow Fashion that don't require a ton of cash or self immolation. My breakthrough this week was when I realized that I could purchase second hand fabrics. Not only was I not consuming a bunch of new material and feeding into the capitalist apparatus but my wallet didn't cry.

I spent all of $4 on a total of 3 1/2 yards of vintage fabric at a local thrift store today. While I don't know where it came from originally, I do know that it was purchased secondhand locally, it will be sewn into a garment by me, on a sewing machine that was purchased secondhand on Craigslist.

No, I don't know everything about where my fabric came from. But I don't think that knowing everything is the end all be all of Slow Fashion. Just knowing where things will end up can be enough.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

learning to spin

I never considered spinning yarn until recently. It seemed fun and neat, but I never had the desire to learn how. Why bother making my own when there's plenty of mill spun yarn to be bought? Well that all changed a few months ago when I came across whit_knits on Instagram. At the time I first started following her she was knitting a sweater from her handspun yarn and it was so beautiful. My limited experience with handspun yarn had caused me to assume that all handspun was novelty yarn. I had no idea that it was possible to spin yarn with a similar consistency to what could be bought in a store. I knew in that moment that I needed to learn how to spin, a wanted a handspun sweater of my own.

For my birthday last month, I requested one present - a drop spindle kit. Of course my girlfriend got one for me (because she's the best) and even let me open it a few days early because I was just too excited to wait. Well, my excitement soon gave way to frustration as my first attempt to spin began going awry. The "yarn" turned out lumpy and inconsistent and it wouldn't stay spun. To be honest, I gave up a little. I wasn't expecting spinning to be so hard and I thought I just wasn't good at it, it seemed that the universe had decided that there would be no handspun sweater for me.

After a week or so I felt brave enough to try again and figure out what I was doing wrong. That's when I learned about drafting (not included in so many tutorials wtf!), and plying, and setting the twist. Now I think I finally got it! Pictured above are my first ever handspun skeins of yarn: very first try on the left, second attempt in the middle, and my most recent go is on the far right. I have A LOT to work on and practice before I can confidently call myself a spinner or even spin enough yarn to make a sweater with, but learning how to do this is super fun. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


The first big project I ever completed was the Boneyard Shawl. I knit it in some Lion Brand fisherman's wool and it took me a little over 2 years to finish. There was no swatching  or blocking involved when I made this thing, I didn't know how to do either and I didn't care to learn, which is why it's so small and lumpy.

At this point, my Boneyard Shawl is about 3 years old (5 if you consider the 2 years it took to make) and it's already moth eaten. Usually I mend my knits by quickly and lazily sewing up the hole with some embroidery floss, but in the spirit of slow fashion October I wanted to patch this shawl up with a little more mindfulness and care.

There are a variety of ways to mend knits, none of which I'm particularly well versed in. But after some poking around the internet I think I found a way to fix up ole' Boney in a way that I like. One of the tricky things for me when it comes to mending things is finding a method to mend that isn't too visible. I'm not a big fan of things like visible patches, contrasting repair stitch colors, etc. Clean and simple, that's what I like. The repair I make shouldn't draw attention to itself, it should blend in with the rest of the garment.

To mend my shawl in an inconspicuous way first sent me rifling through my old yarn stash where I found the remaining moth eaten skein of yarn that I originally used. Because the holes that needed repairing weren't too big I used the stocking darn method which only requires a darning needle and some yarn scraps to weave a little patch between non-moth eaten rows. While I was unsure of this method at first, as it can highlight the repair work instead of blending in, I found that by using the original yarn the new woven patch disappeared into the shawl quite nicely.

Since I'm new to the world of mindful mending, I'm curious to know: how do you repair your handmade treasures?