Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wearing Handmade: Week 5 {Slow Fashion October}


I've really been enjoying following along with everyone's posts for Slow Fashion October. It's been a really inspiring month, and I'm not ready for it to be over! Though I am more than ready to be done with taking daily pictures. :) SFO made me realize that while there are still a few things that I need to sew to fill gaps, I'm in a good place with my handmade wardrobe. It wasn't difficult for me to wear something handmade each day (counting knitted items helped, too).

Day 26: On Monday, we took our yearly drive to the mountains. We go to the same places every year, but I always look forward to it. My parents have been taking pictures at these rocks at Rocky Knob since I was a toddler, ha! It was cold, so I wore my Lady Marple cardigan (which feels huge and ill-fitting now compared to my new sweater). I also wore my black polka dot Renfrew and this cowl.

Day 27: I wore my antler cardigan, my handspun cowl (the first thing I ever knitted from my handspun), knitted mitts from my friend Carolynn, and this Renfrew is under the sweater, though you can't see it. :)

Day 28: This shirt and my second knitted socks (much darned and rather ugly, but still warm and wearable!).

Day 29: My first Renfrew shirt. (I feel like I've taken this exact same picture at least three times this month.)

Day 30: This shirt again...I'd forgotten that I just wore it on Wednesday!

Day 31: I guess I subconsciously decided to dress as a pumpkin for Halloween. :) The only handmade item I wore was my green Nurmilintu shawl...the orange sweater-ish shirt came from Target at least four years ago.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Slow Fashion October, Week 5: Known


Week 5, October 26-31: KNOWN
favorite sustainable resources / “local” / traceable fabric and yarn origins / traceable garment origins / reference books, films, videos

I haven't purchased a lot of yarn or fabric this year, but one of my goals was to focus on buying American-made supplies whenever possible. As Karen mentioned, yarn is the easiest. Things are really improving in the fiber world right now, in regards to being able to know where your yarn comes from. Having said that, most of the yarn I own is from KnitPicks and other not-very-traceable sources. I'm knitting through my stash (which is currently the smallest it's been in a couple of years, and I'm really happy about that!), but when I do buy yarn, I'm trying to be more selective.

Shown above are the yarns in my stash that are the most traceable. In the top picture, I have some Finn/Jacob handspun made from incredibly local fiber (less than an hour away). There are also two skeins of Quince & Co. Lark (US wool), and a skein of Esopus from Jill Draper Makes Stuff (100% American grown and spun). In the second picture, there's a skein from Tale Spun Yarns that I bought on our weekend trip to Tennessee in the spring...I am so excited to make socks with this yarn! It's a blend of Corriedale and Rambouillet wool and nylon: the wool was raised in Tennessee, the yarn was spun in an American mill, and it was hand dyed in TN. And finally, there's the pink yarn. It's from some raw Cheviot fleece (raised in the US) that I scoured, hand carded, spun, and dyed naturally with pokeberries.

In the third picture are my only knitted items so far made from traceable yarn: my Irish Oats socks (made from Quince & Co. Chickadee), an alpaca hat (Rooted yarn- the alpacas were raised here in Virginia and the yarn was spun in North Carolina), and my recently finished FreshMint hat (knitted from organic Merino, naturally dyed by Liesl).

There's a really good list of yarn sources on this week's post at Fringe Association (check the comments, too). There's also another list here. Two American companies that I'm planning on purchasing my next sweaters' quantities worth of yarn from are Bartlett Yarns and Beaverslide.

But fabric? That's another story. It seems almost impossible to find out where fabric is made, and under what conditions. So far the only luck I've had is with Girl Charlee. Almost all of my t-shirts are made from jersey fabric that I've bought from them, and they carry some fabric that's made in America. (There doesn't seem to be any way to search for that...you just have to look at the listing for the fabric you're interested in to see if it has the American made emblem.) If you're making jeans, you can find fabric from Cone Denim Mills online (here and here, for example), and it's made in North Carolina. Other than that, I haven't been able to find any fabric in my price range that clearly states where it's made. You can find some organic cotton online, but it's usually made in India, so you have to decide what's more important: organic or American made. If anyone has any more fabric recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

As for reference books, films, and videos, I feel like most people who are interested in slow fashion already know about the ones I'm going to mention, but I'm going to recommend them anyway. :) Elizabeth L. Cline's book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion is a great starting point. I've also heard amazing things about the documentary The True Cost, though I personally haven't been able to see it yet. There are a few videos online that are definitely worth watching: Unravel (a look at just how much we waste, and how some of our castoff clothing is being recycled into thread in India), The High Cost of Cheap Clothes (how women in Cambodia are choosing prostitution rather than working in garment factories), and Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion (a subtitled five-part series where Norwegian teenagers who love fashion visit garment factories in Cambodia).

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wearing Handmade: Week 4 {Slow Fashion October}


Day 19: I wore a teal Renfrew and my Downton Cowl.

Day 20: I mentioned in my Loved post that I wear this cowl all the time, and here's the proof. It matches with everything. :) I also wore a long-sleeved striped Renfrew.

Day 21: And yet another Renfrew appearance. I wore my first one again.

Day 22: I wore this red shirt, and I finally mended the knee of those jeans.

Day 23: My niece turned two, and I wore a striped Renfrew to her birthday party. (The stripes are thinner, but the colors are almost identical to the one I wore on Tuesday.)

Day 24: I had a craft fair and spinning demonstration on Saturday, and it was the first day this month I forgot to get a picture of what I wore! My mom took a few pictures with her camera, but I have no way of getting them on my computer. Anyway, I wore a purple Renfrew under my antler cardigan and my handspun shawl.

Day 25: I wore my second swing dress to church. I prefer the fabric of this one to my first one, but for some reason I still tend to wear the first one more.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Slow Fashion October, Week 4: Worn


Week 4, October 19-25: WORN
second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …) / heirlooms

This week's topic is the one that I don't have much to say about. It's not that it isn't important, it's just that I don't have a ton of experience with these things. While I love the idea of shopping secondhand, I've never had much luck with finding clothes at the thrift store. Books? Yes. But not clothes. I don't know whether it's because I'm an odd size or that I just can't find clothing that I like in our area stores.

And as for mending...well, I'm trying to get better at that. I have a few things (mine and my parents') that have been sitting in my sewing room, waiting to be mended, for over a year now. Again, I'm not sure why this is a problem for me! I love the idea of mending, but I'm not very good at hand sewing so I seem to put it off.

I took some time this week to patch a hole at the knee of my oldest jeans. They're definitely my most-patched item of clothing, as you can see, and I don't leave the house in them anymore, ha. I used to try mending them in a more subtle way, but it was always visible anyway, so that's when I embraced the idea of "visible mending." :) It turns out that it's a lot more fun to use different colored thread and fabric to mend instead of trying to make the patches as inconspicuous as possible. (Though when it comes to patching clothes that I do still wear in public, I'll make more of an effort to be a bit neater.) I also added a little fox face patch to cover a hole in a cotton button up shirt...because why not?

I want to learn more about caring for my clothes to make them last longer, but as it is now, I definitely wear things until they're completely worn out. When I was little, we had two categories of clothing: good clothes and everyday clothes. We wore our good clothes to town or school or church, and our "everyday clothes" were basically play clothes. I still use that system. When I make or buy something new, it's "good." When those get a little too ragged to be worn in public, I wear them at my babysitting job. (I keep my cousins' kids, and as we're outside a lot, dressing nicely doesn't make a lot of sense.) And when it gets to the point where I'm embarrassed to wear them while babysitting, then they become everyday clothes and get worn around the house, outside, etc. Because I'm at home a lot, my good clothes don't get as much wear and last for a long time, but my everyday clothes are the ones that need mending.

You can read this week's post at Fringe Association here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sewing: modern maples quilt.


My fall quilt is finally finished! If you've been around here a while, you might remember that last October, I randomly decided that I needed a fall quilt. So I went to Joann's and picked out all of my favorite autumn prints, even the ones that I would normally shy away from because they were too over-the-top. Lots of oranges and browns and foxes and even a bit of squash (?). By November, I started hand quilting it, but then I put it aside for almost a year. It's really hard for me to work on blatantly seasonal stuff when it's not that season, so I couldn't get motivated to work on a fall quilt during Christmas, and as for this spring and summer? Much too hot. So it was just in the last couple of weeks that I started working on the quilt again. Once I got started, it didn't take too long to finish. :)

The pattern is called the Modern Maples Throw Quilt, and it's from this adorable little holiday patchwork book. (But it's also available to download for free here, if you're interested.) It's designed by Amanda, who was one of my favorite bloggers and the reason I got obsessed with knitting socks, though she doesn't blog much anymore. The pattern was easy enough to follow...this was my first time doing any sort of piecing other than just plain squares, but it was still fairly easy. And it turned out to be a good size (I didn't measure it, sorry!). It's a throw quilt, and it covers most of the top of my queen sized bed, so it's plenty big enough to curl up under.

I think all of the fabrics on the front are quilting cotton from Joann's. I was originally planning on doing a gray background, but with the prints I chose for the leaves, this natural cream/white Kona cotton was a better match. The fabric on the back (which I had to piece together) is a white and gray woodgrain print from Hobby Lobby, if I'm remembering correctly. I used the warm and natural quilt batting.

Even though I'm really bad at hand sewing, I've come to realize that the only part of making a quilt that I enjoy doing on the sewing machine is the actual piecing and making the quilt top. I hate machine quilting! Between my ornery walking foot and trying to wrestle a huge quilt around my little machine, I'd much rather just hand quilt it, though it obviously takes longer. I used perle cotton to quilt this one...I just went around the inside of the leaves, about 1/4 inch from the edges. In the plain white squares, I ended up quilting one small leaf in each square, positioned randomly. It's pretty subtle, which is what I wanted.

I have this bizarre fear that if I have kids and grandkids, they won't appreciate handmade for some reason, and all of the things I've made over the years will eventually end up in Goodwill. I always add a little label to my quilts with my name on it, so if my fears do come true, at least the kid or grandkid will feel a twinge of guilt at the awful thing they're doing, right? :) It's been a long time since I've done any embroidery, so my skills were a little rusty on this one.

P.S. Am I the only one who gets a weird sense of enjoyment from binding a quilt? I don't know why, especially given my dislike for hand sewing, but sewing the binding to the back is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt! Second only to that feeling when you pull a quilt out of the dryer for the first time and it's all warm and wrinkly. That's magic.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October Films: Part 1

In the fall, I tend to gravitate towards certain movies. Not necessarily Halloween movies or "scary" movies, but ones that are sort of atmospheric. This month I've watched some that I'd never seen before, and while I didn't have enough to say about them to write full reviews, I thought it might be fun to mention them here.

(I say part 1 because I'm definitely planning on watching more Hitchcock movies later this month, so there might be a part 2 by November.)


Hotel Transylvania. This one was just okay. I liked seeing the spoofs of classic monsters, but honestly, Pixar makes such amazing films that they've ruined most other animated films for me. They just never measure up!


Dracula. I love old movies, but I feel like I'm lacking in the area of classic horror films. I watched the 1931 Frankenstein (and the Bride of Frankenstein) a couple of years ago and I caught The Blob last year on TCM, but that's about it. So a couple of weeks ago I watched the 1931 Dracula, and wow. It was entertaining and hilarious, but not the least bit creepy. (I guess I shouldn't have expected it to be. I'm a scaredy cat and don't watch truly scary movies. But I can't see how anyone could ever watch this, even back in the 30s, and be scared by it.) Bela Lugosi was so dramatic and over-the-top that it cracked me up. My favorite part was how they shined light on his face to give the appearance of his eyes glowing when he was mind-controlling people. At least I think that's what they were going for.


The Addams Family. This one probably isn't very good, but I love it because I grew up watching it and it makes me feel nostalgic. And honestly, I much prefer it to the TV show. The humor and kookiness of it always makes me smile.


The 39 Steps. I watched the newer Persuasion again recently (it didn't make this list because I'm rereading the book and planning a post about both), which stars Rupert Penry-Jones. That reminded me that I wanted to see him again in The 39 Steps, which reminded me that I wanted to watch the Alfred Hitchcock film before watching the remake. The 1935 version was pretty good. It was intriguing and I wasn't sure what was happening (I haven't seen the remake since it came on PBS, so I couldn't really remember the plot). But as far as Hitchcock films go, it wasn't particularly memorable or one of my favorites.


The Age of Adaline. This movie doesn't really fit in with the fall or Halloween theme, but I was reminded recently (by Rissi) that I had wanted to see it when it released on DVD. I enjoyed it more than I expected to! It was a very quiet film, and much sadder than I expected. (Particularly the whole aspect of Adaline being "younger" than her elderly daughter. And the dog part, because why is it impossible to even have a dog in a movie without it ending in heartbreak??) The whole basis of the plot was interesting (definitely reminiscent of Tuck Everlasting, one of my favorite books), and despite the annoying narrator, I really liked it.

What are your favorite films to watch this time of year?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Knitting: handspun boneyard shawl.


This shawl was one big surprise. When I spun the yarn, I was surprised by how much yardage (292 yards) of incredibly soft, squishy yarn I got from four ounces of Merino fiber. I was surprised that I found myself casting on for a shawl within a couple days of finishing the yarn. I really should have been knitting other things, but working on the shawl was so addicting. I was surprised when, less than a week after casting on, it was finished. And when I blocked it, I was surprised by how large it turned out (about 20 inches deep and 51 inches from end to end).

So I probably shouldn't be surprised that this is one of my favorite things I've knit from my handspun. I just really love how it turned out...soft and warm and striped and larger than I expected. It doesn't even bother me that the purple-ish shades almost veer into pink (and as I've mentioned before, I'm not a fan of pink).

I used the Boneyard Shawl pattern, though I didn't count rows between each garter ridge. They sort of disappear in the stripes of this yarn, anyway, so I just added one every so often. Also, the garter section at the bottom isn't as wide as the pattern says. I knitted until I ran out of yarn...actually I ran out too soon, with about 20 stitches left to bind off (another surprise, ha!), so I had to rip back a row and then bind off. Despite that, this was such an enjoyable project.

Ravelry project page.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wearing Handmade: Week 3 {Slow Fashion October}


I feel like I didn't make as much effort getting pictures this week. I dislike being in pictures anyway, and by this point I'm getting a little tired of it, ha. Plus this week was a unusual...I had my first craft fair of the fall this weekend, so I spent several days feeling like a nervous wreck and trying to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything. The festival was fun and I sold a few things, but all-day events like that are so exhausting. (And now I have another festival/spinning demonstration this coming Saturday! But that one is even more local and it's one I always love going to.)

Day 12: I wore a Renfrew shirt that I made earlier this year. The fabric is just some teal jersey with little white arrow designs (bought at Hobby Lobby). There's also a brooch that says "Read More Books" (from this shop, but I think they've been discontinued).

Day 13: A short sleeved Renfrew sewn from the same fabric as this one.

Day 14: My red Doctor Who inspired socks. (DW inspired in a very subtle way, because bowties are cool.)

Day 15: I wore my red socks again, plus this shirt, which got worn around the house a couple more times this week.

Day 16: So my spinning wheel is basically all you can see, but I'm wearing my mint chocolate chip socks. :)

Day 17: Saturday was the festival...not a very flattering photo, but my parents took a few pictures throughout the day, so I just used one of them. It was a chilly day, and I got to wear my Antler cardigan for the first time! I really do love that sweater (though I think I need to sew some ribbon to stabilize the back of the button band, since those buttons are heavy and the top one has a tendency to flop over, as you can see). Underneath I wore my deer print, long sleeved Renfrew shirt (seen here, sewn from US-made fabric). I also wore hand knitted socks inside my Frye boots. And when it got a little too warm for the sweater, I wore my new handspun shawl around my neck. (A post about that shawl should be up tomorrow.)

Day 18: I didn't make the dress that I wore to church (though I've had it for years and it's one of my favorites). But I did wear my Miette sweater and my red Multnomah shawl.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Yarn Along


Reading: Summer and Bird, by Katherine Catmull. This was a book that I wanted to read solely because of the cover. :) I don't even like birds (except owls...they're beautiful), but this cover was so pretty that I was drawn to it, and the story sounded interesting, too. It's a middle grade fantasy about two young sisters who are searching for their parents, and end up falling into this magical bird kingdom along the way (that there parents are entwined in, too). So far it's good: the writing is beautiful and the story feels a bit eerie and atmospheric, so it feels nice for fall.

Knitting: A shawl from my most recent handspun. I'm using the Boneyard Shawl pattern, except mine will be quite small and I'm not counting rows in between garter ridges...I'm just adding them randomly. I'm nearly out of yarn, and since I'm knitting until I run out, I must be almost finished. {After writing up this post, I did finish!}

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Monday, October 12, 2015

Slow Fashion, Week 3: Loved


Week 3, October 12-18: LOVED
proudest accomplishment / most loved item / most frequently worn item / thing you saved up for / investment pieces / thing you worked a long time on / oldest thing that’s still in rotation

I'm so excited for this week's theme! I've really been enjoying Slow Fashion October. It has been inspiring and motivating, but at the same time this whole topic can be overwhelming and frustrating. (Why is it so hard to find out where fabric is made and under what conditions??) This week, though...I think this is going to be a really positive week, with everyone discussing their favorite things. :)

Pictured above are some of my favorites. In the top left corner is my first swing dress. I made it in 2011, and it's definitely one of my favorite and most worn dresses. At the time, it was also my proudest accomplishment...the first time I made a muslin and made an effort to get the perfect fit, and my first time altering a pattern. In the upper right corner is the second skirt I ever made, so it's at least six years old...maybe seven? I love this skirt and still wear it to church at least once a month. :) The hem is coming loose in spots, I didn't finish the seams (I didn't really know what I was doing) and there's a small stain on the teal band, but I love wearing this skirt with black tights and a black sweater. Below it is one of my first few Renfrew t-shirts, and my first experience with matching stripes. I wore that one so often that I bought more of the fabric and made a short-sleeved version, too.

In the bottom left corner are some of my favorite knits. The handknit that I wear the most often is definitely my first shawl, which I was inspired to make because of my love for the BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford. Honestly, that shawl gets worn around the house almost every day during the fall and winter. (I'm wearing it now as I'm typing this post!) I wrap it around me like a blanket if I'm cold or I wear it around my shoulders when my long hair is air drying (and the wool conveniently absorbs the drips, keeping my shirt from getting soaking wet and cold). The poor thing is getting pretty pilled and ragged looking, but it's still as warm and useful as ever. :)

There's also my Downton Cowl, made from tosh DK in the oak colorway. I bought that yarn because I thought that it was a pretty color, but after finishing the cowl, I remember thinking, what am I going to wear with this? Thankfully, for such an unusual shade of yellowish-greenish-brown, it matches with everything. Black, brown, purple, gray, blue...I wore it twice last week. Another favorite knit is this turquoise one. I love that color and the fact that the linen stitch looks different from all of my other knitted items. (It's been too warm to wear it yet, but I think my Antler Cardigan will be a new favorite, too. It's the best fitting sweater I've knitted so far.)

(Technically, if I'm talking about my oldest clothes still in rotation, I'd have to mention two items that I still wear at home, but not in public...they're both from middle school! Which was about twelve years ago. One is a t-shirt from the Hard Rock CafĂ© in Memphis, a souvenir from when my parents took Elvis-obsessed-preteen-Kristin there on vacation. We toured Graceland and did all of the tacky tourist stuff and it was glorious. My shirt is falling apart but still wearable. Also, most embarrassing of all, is a bright red sweatshirt with "Brosville Middle School Band" embroidered on it, courtesy of my one year of playing the flute in band. I wear it a lot during the winter, and I should just sew a little patch or something over the embroidery because other than that, it's not too bad. And it's held up incredibly well...only in the past year or so did a tiny hole develop at the cuff.)

On sewing blogs, you hear a lot of talk about "TNT patterns," or tried and true patterns. I'd like to have a handful of those, but so far I only have two patterns that I've made multiple times and really love. The first is the Renfrew t-shirt from Sewaholic Patterns. Since my first Renfrew almost three years ago, I've made 15 of them in total...short sleeved, long sleeved, mid-length sleeved, pajama shirts, etc. I wear a lot of t-shirts, and it's been great to be able to sew my own as they need replacing rather than buying them! And as someone who hates transferring a lot of markings to fabric while sewing, the Renfrew pattern has spoiled me to an easy and quick (no markings!) sewing experience. It's the only thing I can sew in just several hours. My other favorite pattern is McCall's M5431. It's exactly what I want in a skirt: knee length and really full without having pleats or gathers. I've made 4 or 5 of them, including the black and teal skirt shown above.


When I started thinking about investment pieces, I realize that I only have one so far. I recently bought my first pair of real shoes. My dad has been preaching quality shoes to me and Mom for years, and I'm finally getting it. :) Up until this point, I had never paid more than $25 for shoes...I bought cheap shoes at Payless, wore them until they fell apart, and then repeated the process. In the past year or so, I realized that having an ethically sourced wardrobe included shoes, too, and I started doing some research for shoes made in America. Talk about sticker shock, and a lack of options! Even though I've never been a shoe person, I fell in love with a pair of Frye boots and decided to start saving up for them. (A lot of their shoes aren't made in America anymore, but some are.) Then, over Labor Day weekend, Frye was having a sale, and I got these boots for about $120 less than what I was planning on spending. (They're identical to the ones I picked out originally except the leather is a bit lighter and they have a rubber outer sole instead of just leather. You can see them worn here.) They only had one pair left in my size...I couldn't pass them up. I've only been able to wear them twice so far, but I love them.

Over the next couple of years, I'm hoping to gradually replace my worn, cheap shoes with a few pairs of good quality ones. I love the idea of having leather shoes that will last for years and years, that can be resoled and repaired when necessary instead of being thrown away. I'm thinking about saving up for a pair of these next to replace my flats...I waver between thinking that they're pretty cute and that they're rather ugly, ha. Either way, I love the idea of them.

You can read this week's post by Karen at the Fringe Association, or follow along on Instagram here.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Wearing Handmade: Week 2 {Slow Fashion October}


Day 5: I wore my new favorite Renfrew t-shirt, which I made a couple of weeks ago. The fabric is a knit from Girl Charlee, and it was made in America. I really love that little deer print! I've been taking in a little at the side seams on my Renfrews lately, but it wouldn't have been necessary with this one, since the fabric has less stretch. It's a bit snug across the shoulders now.

Day 6: Another Renfrew. (This is definitely going to be a trend this month...I've sewn a lot of them and I wear them all the time.) This one is another favorite, because I love purple. The fabric also came from Girl Charlee (I can't find it on there now, but I think it was made in the US, too?). I also wore a knitted cowl and a little bookworm brooch (handmade, but not by me).

Day 7: On Wednesday, I wore this red shirt that I made back in 2012. The shirt was cute enough, but the fabric was a really bad choice. It was 100% polyester and it stained everything red (my white cami underneath, my tote bag, etc.), and the fabric was so thin that the seams are weak. Anyway, I still wear it around the house sometimes.

Day 8: Really bad photo, sorry! This was the first Renfrew shirt that I ever made, back at the beginning of 2013. It's a bit stretched out now, so I only wear it while babysitting or around the house.

Day 9: On Friday night, I wore these flannel pajama bottoms (owl flannel bought at Joann's last year, made in China, I'm sure...vintage white rickrack) and my most recent pair of knitted socks.

Day 10: I wore my black polka dot Renfrew and my knitted Downton Cowl. Also, my new Frye boots! They're 100% leather (besides the rubber outer sole) and made in America, but more on those next week. :) And that's my most favorite tote bag ever. It's the Pride and Prejudice one from Out of Print Clothing (bonus: made in America). I've basically been carrying that bag for the last three years...this is my second one, because the first got so worn out and stained. I do occasionally switch it out with this tote bag, which is also made here in the US.

Day 11: To church, I wore this skirt that I made at least five years ago (McCall's pattern M5431). I also wore my first Hitchhiker, which was knitted with yarn from a local dyer. You can't really see it, but there's also a handmade brooch, one of my favorites...this Pride and Prejudice one from House of Ismay. (Apparently I have a thing for P&P accessories, ha!)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Works in progress.


I'm a monogamous knitter...having too many projects going at once stresses me out. I usually have two works in progress at any time: a pair of socks and something else. But for some reason, over the past week or so I've just been wanting to cast on everything. I'll have to start Christmas knitting soon (should have already started, honestly), but somehow all of my new projects are for myself. Oops.

Since I finished my wizard stripes socks, I went ahead and started a new pair. This yarn feels so fall-ish to me...it's a speckled yarn from Spun Right Round. I'm doing another pair of Hermione's Everyday Socks. I love how just a few purl stitches can add so much texture!

As I've mentioned, I also started a hat, FreshMint, using some marigold-dyed yarn from Liesl at Buckaloo View that I won in a giveaway earlier this year. The hat was turning out too large (I have a big head, so I don't know why this has been happening to me lately!), so I decided to rip it out and start over. Well, I haven't cast on again yet, because I got distracted by my new handspun yarn. It's always frustrating to have to rip out a knitting project, so I convinced myself that it would be okay to step away from the hat for a while and cast on a shawl from my handspun.

And as you can see, that got out of hand really quickly. I haven't started the hat over because I can't stop knitting on the shawl. It's the Boneyard Shawl, though mine will be a fairly small version. Instead of doing the garter ridges every 12 rows, I'm just adding one whenever I feel like it. (I'll call that a design element but mostly I'm lazy and didn't feel like counting rows.)

On a non-knitting related note, I've finally picked up my fall quilt again. I couldn't work on it any this summer because it was just too hot to have it on my lap. I'm very slow at hand quilting. I'm going around the edges of each leaf block, and I can only get two blocks done while watching a movie. I still have 8 or 10 blocks to go, and then the plain white blocks (I'm going to do some sort of small leaf design in those, just so I don't have huge un-quilted spaces). I love the quilt so I know it's worth all of the time it has taken, but I really hope it's finished in enough time to use this year. :)

What have you been working on lately?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Knitting: wizard stripes socks.


Another pair of socks finished! I've been knitting these off and on since July...no hurry, just a few rows here and there amongst all of the craft fair knitting. I actually finished most of the second sock in the past week.

There's not much to say about them. They're plain vanilla socks made a bit more exciting because of the stripes. :) The yarn is Felici by KnitPicks, in the Wizard colorway, and even though the colors are a bit more pastel than I normally go for, they've grown on me. Felici is really affordable as far as self-striping yarn goes...I did notice that with this batch there were a lot of splotches, especially purple on the yellow-ish green sections. It's not a big deal (you can barely see it in the photos), but it does make the socks look a little dirty even though they haven't been worn yet.

Ravelry project page.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Yarn Along


Reading: I haven't done a lot of reading over the past week, so I'm still working through Lizzy & Jane, by Katherine Reay. I'm really enjoying it!

Knitting: I was knitting on a new hat, but as you can see, I've taken it off the needles to start over. The pattern is FreshMint, and I'm using some lovely naturally dyed yarn from Liesl at Buckaloo View. The hat was turning out too big, so I'm going to try again with smaller needles. I love this yarn and pattern combination, though, so it's definitely worth taking the time to get it right. :)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Slow Fashion October, Week 2: Small

{Wearing a Renfrew t-shirt and handknitted Downton Cowl.}

Week 2, October 5-11: SMALL Handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

There's been a lot of discussion on sewing blogs over the past couple of years about having a "uniform." At first that idea sounded really restricting, but when I thought about what I wear on a regular basis, I do have a uniform. All summer long, I wear a t-shirt, jeans, and flats. (I don't wear shorts or sandals. Have I mentioned that summer is not my favorite?) During the winter, I wear a t-shirt layered under a sweater, jeans, and boots (plus whatever knitted items I can get away with). I do wear dresses and skirts to church, but even then I have a silhouette that I'm drawn to: a more fitted top with a flared skirt.

I don't wear the same colors all the time (though most of my wardrobe is brown, blue, or black...those are just colors I gravitate towards), and sometimes I mix things up a little, but basically, that's my uniform. Either black or brown matches with everything I wear, so I have flats, boots, and church shoes in those two colors. (Ideally, though, I'd like to narrow down my shoes to about 4 or 5 pairs. And since I'm trying to gradually replace mine with American made, high quality shoes, that will likely be all I can afford, ha!)

When I write it out like that, it makes my wardrobe sound pretty boring. And maybe it is, but it doesn't feel that way to me. In general, I'm happy with what I wear. I'm finally at the point where most of the clothing in my closet is handmade, and I love that. I like having a smaller amount of clothes to choose from. I've never been one of those people who loves to put together new outfits and such. I want to look nice, of course, but I just don't want to spend much time getting there. (Yet another reason why I don't wear makeup and why I let my hair do its own thing.)

It's even better if all of my clothes are well made from ethically sourced materials...I'm always trying to improve on that, of course. I'm a bargain shopper by nature, so I'm constantly reminding myself that it's better to spend more on materials for a few quality items rather than to make lots of things from cheap materials. Quality over quantity.

Having said all of that, I've been looking through my clothes and thinking about what I need to replace or make to fill in some gaps:

- Jeans. I'm actually okay with jeans right now...I have two good pairs of them, plus a couple more pairs that I can wear around the house. But the fact is that I wear jeans all the time, and I can't bring myself to buy any more from Old Navy and I can't afford ethically made jeans. So even though I never thought I would do it, I'm going to try to sew jeans. I bought the Ginger Jeans pattern a while back when it was on sale, so now all I have to do is get some supplies and print/assemble the pattern (to make things a bit more interesting, our printer isn't working). Oh, and gather my courage because the thought of sewing jeans is so intimidating to me.

- The perfect dress. I still haven't found the perfect dress pattern. I love my swing dresses, but I don't want to wear that style all the time. I like my Hawthorn, but the neckline is too big and I'm not too sure about the collar. I want a fitted bodice (comfortable but not frumpy), a full skirt (but no pleats or gathers), and short sleeves (so I can wear it during the summer and under a sweater in the winter).

- Lightweight cardigans. I have two cheap ones (brown and black, ha) that I bought at Target years ago, and they're getting stretched out and faded. I wear them all the time over dresses and with skirts and jeans, so I'd really love to replace them with handknitted versions. (Probably using fingering weight yarn, so this is more of a long-term goal.)

- Shoes. I'm going to write more about this later on in the month, but all of my shoes are cheap (think $20 or less) and I've been wearing most of them for at least five years...needless to say, they all started looking ragged around the same time. Replacing my shoes is definitely going to be a slow process, though, because of the cost of quality ones.

I'd love to hear any of your thoughts on this subject! And of course you can follow along with all of the Slow Fashion October happenings over at Fringe Association.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Spinning: merino handspun.


I'm a little obsessed with this yarn. :) I bought 4 ounces of Merino top last year, in the Rewind colorway, dyed by Renee at Spun Right Round. As I was spinning through a lot of my fiber stash earlier this year (most of it spun into yarn for the shop), I held on to this one because I knew I wanted to spin it for myself.

This was my first time spinning pure Merino...my handspun sock yarn was a superwash Merino and nylon blend. I know that a lot of knitters absolutely love Merino yarn, but most of it that I've used was superwash. And while it was very soft, it also had a weird stiffness to it, almost like cotton. But this yarn? Oh my goodness. It's tied with this yarn as the softest and squishiest and bounciest yarn that I've ever spun. I can't even explain it. I was planning on using it for a hat, but I think it's going to be another one of these shawls. This yarn needs to be as close to my neck and face as possible. :)

It's approx. DK weight and about 292 yards. I spun it as a 2 ply fractal yarn. I love the greens, whites, and purples together. (I know it looks pinkish in the photos, but it's more of a purple in real life.)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wearing Handmade: Week 1 {Slow Fashion October}


It almost feels like a joke to post these pictures in any connection with the word "fashion." I've always been fashion challenged, so you won't find any cute, put-together outfits here. It's been a wet, dreary week and I just want to be cozy and wrapped in wool all the time. Combine that with the darkness making it really difficult to get pictures of what I'm wearing...I'll try to do better next week! :)

Day 1: I wore this floral button up shirt that I made a few years ago. The fit isn't as great as I thought back then, plus it has a stain on the front, so now it's an around-the-house sort of shirt. I also wore my summer socks and some old, much-mended jeans. (That have now developed a hole at the knee. Guess that should be on my list to fix for this month, huh?)

Day 2: Not going to lie...I basically spent all day in my pajamas on Friday. I thought I would be rushing around that day, getting ready for my first craft fair of the season on Saturday, but it was postponed until later in the month because of this crazy rain and wind. Thank goodness, because it would have been miserable yesterday! (Though I now have festivals two Saturdays in a row.) So I spent the day spinning and knitting in my pajamas. Those are my New Year's socks and I made the pajama pants made out of cute crafty-themed flannel.

Day 3: On Saturday, I worked on a wearable muslin for a new shirt. Slow Fashion October has already motivated me to start sewing again! It was chilly in the house so I wore my first sweater. (In just two years, it has become so pilled and somehow even larger than it was then...I don't really wear it out in public anymore, ha.) I apologize for being really bad at taking pictures of myself. (In the background you can see a remnant of the many years I spent being obsessed with Elvis.)

Day 4: Wow, I'm finally wearing real clothes! :) Today to church I wore my first swing dress, which I made back in 2011. That's one of my sewn garments that has held up really well and that I still love to wear. I also wore my red Multnomah shawl that I finished earlier this year. I really need to knit a lightweight cardigan to replace this one...I bought it at Target about four years ago and it's pretty faded.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Operation sock drawer. {Slow Fashion October}


Socks are the one thing I never feel guilty about knitting. It's possible to have too many scarves or shawls or fingerless gloves or even sweaters (unless you live in an incredibly cold environment, which I don't), but socks? They get more wear than any other handknits, so it makes sense to have a decent supply of them on hand.

I've knitted a lot of socks this year (seven pairs so far, with another nearly done), and it's been so satisfying watching my drawer fill up. I have thirteen pairs at the moment, with plans for more. These are still my favorites, closely followed by these. My least favorite pair is my first pair, because wow...that yarn was ugly. So far those are the only ones I've had to darn, probably because I knitted them on larger needles and I guess the fabric isn't as dense.

I already caked up two autumn-ish yarns from my stash to hopefully knit into socks this fall. I think the speckled yarn will be Hermione's Everyday Socks, and I haven't decided on the tweed, though I'm thinking something with cables?

Handknit socks are a perfect example of slow fashion...especially considering it takes me nearly two weeks on average to knit a pair. :)

*While writing this post, I noticed that these pictures didn't include my handspun socks. I may have had a tiny freak-out because I couldn't find them in my drawer, either. I don't lose things, and those socks represent hours and hours of my life! I finally found them stuffed down in a pocket of my knitting bag, left there from when I'd worn them to my grandparents' house sometime in the spring.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Slow Fashion October, Week 1: You

It's the first day of Slow Fashion October, you guys! I'm so excited about this. :) There's going to be a lot of talk around here about handmade wardrobes and knitting and sewing and such over the next few weeks. I know I don't usually write about clothes and fashion, but I hope you'll bear with me. It's time for the first theme!

“Week” 1,  October 1-4: YOU First, let’s introduce ourselves: Where are you at with all this / What first got you interested in Slow Fashion / What are your skills / What do you hope to get out of Slow Fashion October / What are your personal goals for the month / Do you have a special project you plan to tackle this month?

{A pile of unblogged Renfrew shirts that I've made this year.}

I started sewing when I was about 17. I've been making at least some of my clothes since then, but it was really just a fun hobby rather than something I felt strongly about. A couple of years ago, after a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh, I started feeling uncomfortable with buying cheap clothes. I've never been one of those people who bought a lot of clothes, so it was pretty easy for me to cut back purchases. (In the last three years, I've bought five t-shirts, two pairs of jeans, and a winter coat. Only one of those, a t-shirt, was made in the US, from organic cotton. I know that isn't a lot of clothing, but it's still more than I'd like.) I read Elizabeth Cline's book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, earlier this year and it really cemented my desire for a handmade wardrobe made from materials that are sourced and created ethically.

I can sew and knit, and I think I should be able to make the majority of my clothes with those two skills if I'm determined enough. (Except things like shoes. But I'm hoping to start investing in quality shoes made in America.) The only problem is that I've lost a lot of my motivation to sew. I used to sew for fun, but now knitting, spinning, and other fibery things are what I really get excited about. Sewing has become something that I do out of necessity. My old t-shirts are starting to look ratty? Okay...I sew up a couple of Renfrew tops. I love how quickly and easily I can sew that pattern now, but honestly I need more than just t-shirts in my wardrobe. I've become lazy with my sewing and I need to get back into it.

I'm really excited about Slow Fashion October. While I do wear handmade clothes often, I'm hoping that this month will inspire me to wear them even more. I want to find new ways to wear the items that don't get a lot of use. I also want to look through my clothes and notice what's missing. I want to fix closet orphans, like the skirt that I sewed earlier this year but have never worn because I don't have a top that matches with it. (Dumb decision, but the fabric was really cute.) So basically I'm hoping that Slow Fashion October will inspire and motivate me personally, but I hope it'll do the same for everyone else, too!

My main personal goal for October is to wear (at least) one handmade item each day, whether it's a shirt, dress, pajamas, handknitted socks or a shawl, etc. I'm planning on documenting this with pictures, though not in the traditional outfit style. I also want to use this time to evaluate my wardrobe and my stash (yarn and fabric), and to plan some new projects going from there. This month is going to be busy, so I'm not planning any special projects, but I'm hoping to possibly get a few things made...we'll see. I also want to write a couple of posts each week about this topic in general.

You can follow along with Slow Fashion October on the Fringe Association blog here, on the official Instagram here, or browse through the inspiring tagged photos on Instagram here. (I don't do the smartphone thing, so I don't have Instagram, though I do keep up with a few favorite accounts.)

{I was originally going to include each week's photos of my handmade items in the weekly posts. But that would mean waiting until the last day of the week to do a post, so I'll probably just do separate ones. I don't know...I'll have to figure out things as we go!}