I finished grading earlier this week, and desperately needed something to do that wasn’t like being a professor. Also, it got HOT and I want more summer-friendly clothes without hard waistbands. So I cut out three more Cleo Skirts, and sewed two of them!
The pink one is the first one I sewed; it’s the same fabric as the first Cleo skirt I sewed, Andover’s Kaleidoscope Plaid, but this time in “Magenta” rather than “Lichen”.
I love how both of the skirts from the Kaleidoscope fabric just GLOW!
I made a totally dumb mistake sewing this one, and ended up sewing the back with the wrong-side out, and didn’t realize it until after I’d finished the side seams, so that was a LOT of unpicking, but lesson learned – I quadruple checked before I sewed together the next skirt!
The other skirt is from Nani Iro Double Gauze, which feels AMAZING but was a bit trickier to sew with (it just kind of…wiggled around more). I saw this print when I was browsing through Etsy and fell in love with it – when I tried it on yesterday, my daughter told me it looked like I was wearing stars!
I was really happy with the way I was able to achieve the “fadeout” look towards the bottom. That was the image I had in my mind when I got this fabric, and I’m just tickled that I was able to make it real!
The remaining skirt that I cut hasn’t been sewn yet, because I’m figuring out what to do. The fabric is Kaufman’s Dot Chambray, and it’s pretty thin – it kind of seems like it might be a little TOO thin to wear without some kind of lining, but I don’t actually know how to line a skirt. And maybe it would be fine without – I mean, I wouldn’t want to make it heavy, you know? So we’ll see when I end up sewing that one. I have a bunch of other sewing plans brewing: I want to make dresses, overalls, pants…so I’m going to be working on building up my sewing skills.
I haven’t forgotten about knitting, but I’ll let that be its own post sometime soon.
I’m almost to the end of the grading for this semester, and what I’ve needed more than anything is comfort knitting. For me, that’s typically plain stockinette in the round. Which is what led me to cast on for a project I got a kit for something like 2 years ago: Marie Wallin’s “Bressay” design in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.
This is my first time ever knitting with Shetland wool, and I’m finding it absolutely delightful to knit with! I’m pretty sure that this is the finest gauge sweater I’ve ever attempted (Ravelston’s gauge is just a tiny bit bigger), but that’s fine with me; it’s so lovely to just keep knitting round and round in this yarn. It feels good in my hands, and it creates such a beautiful, cohesive fabric. I’m really into this heathered plummy purple!
We traveled down to Naples, NY yesterday to visit Fruition Seeds and pick up some seedlings, and the drive gave me lots of time to knit. So far I’ve knit 2 full balls of Spindrift, and I’m excited about the prospect of reaching the colorwork section; hopefully by that point, I’ll be in a place where I can actually pay attention to colorwork patterning, which is definitely NOT where I am right now.
I haven’t completely forgotten about Elle Melle, though – it’s a pretty good “comfort knit”, too, because even though it’s not just plain stockinette in the round, the ridge pattern is really easy and enjoyable to knit, and I don’t have to pay TOO much attention because it’s really obvious just from looking at the knitting what I need to be doing. I do have to pay a BIT more attention now, though, because I’ve reached the point where I split for the fronts and backs.
It feels a little weird to have multiple projects in the works: my embroidered flower sweater just needs a bit more embroidery, I’ve got an almost-completed sock on a set of broken needles, I’ve got Elle Melle and now Bressay. And of course I still have several projects in various states of disarray from last summer and earlier this year: my messed-up Water Bearer Cardigan, the sleeves that need to be reknit on my kangaroo-pocket pullover, and Bleideag, which either needs to have the body ripped out and reknit from the top down, or to just be ripped out and reknit entirely. That’s plenty to keep me busy this summer, I think, though I make no promises that my squirrel brain won’t be drawn towards something else. Whatever it is, though, it needs to be from stash!
Last night, just as I was in the middle of binding off my sock, my needle SNAPPED. It’s a brand new needle! (A Knitter’s Pride Dreamz size 1, for the record.) I wasn’t even putting a lot of pressure on it; I’ve snapped size 1 dpns before trying to execute tight decreases and such, but this wasn’t like that! I’m very frustrated.
I’ll probably be able to finish binding off the sock because I do still have a couple size 1 dpns. But not a full set, because of…breakage, ha! I know a lot of knitters use metal needles for the smaller sizes because of how prone wood is to breaking when it’s that thin, but I’m VERY allergic to nickel, so finding metal needles I can safely knit with is not trivial and involves some risk that I’ll mess up and end up with welts on my hands (an experience I had with Addi Turbos way back in college, and which I don’t desire ever to repeat).
So far, the two types of non-wood needles that have been recommend to me are Chiaogoo’s Red Lace needles, which are medical-grade stainless steel, and Knitter’s Pride Karbonz, which are carbon-fiber with brass tips. Both of those metals are a crapshoot, in terms of nickel quantity and how “available” the nickel is to react with skin. I’ve had both bad and neutral reactions to stainless steel watch backs before, and everything I can find about brass says it is sometimes ok for nickel-allergic people and sometimes not. I’m impatient to replace these needles, because I really want to be able to make this sock’s partner, but I don’t want to waste money on needles that aren’t going to work for me. I’ve emailed Knitter’s Pride to see if they can tell me anything about the content in their brass tips, so hopefully I’ll get a response soon. I’m also open to input from you, dear readers, if there is some non-wood (I’m just deeply skeptical about trying another wooden size 1 needle) option I’m not aware of.
It’s extra frustrating to have broken my needle last night, because today I’m in a weird sort of lull where I can’t actually do any work – there’s nothing left to grade except for things that won’t be turned in until end of day today, or even later in the case of a few students who needed longer extensions. So it would be a perfect day to just knit knit knit. I do have other projects I can work on, at least!
What a year of mothering it has been. This time last year, I was marveling at how we’d managed to make it through 2 months of remote learning and remote working together. And now we’ve kept it going for 14 straight months. I’m not going to pretend it’s been easy. It hasn’t been. But it has been incredible to watch my daughter learn to navigate remote school, to see her figuring out how to use tools like Zoom and Google Calendar, to see her become an absolutely voracious reader, and to witness her growing and thriving in 3rd grade. And she’s grown literally, too – she now wears the same size shoes that I do, and she comes up to my chin! It won’t be long before she’ll be towering over me in our yearly Mother’s Day photo. She is so creative and so sweet and as hard as this year has been, I am forever grateful that I get to be her mother.
We lost so much this year; she’s never actually been in her new elementary school except to walk through the gym on picture day, and she didn’t get play in the school orchestra, and she’s only gotten to spend time with one friend, her bestie, as part of our pandemic pod. (But thank goodness we do have that connection with one other family!) She’s only gotten to see her teacher and classmates twice in person – once at the beginning of the year at a park, and then just a couple of days ago on a field trip to an alpaca farm. We haven’t seen my family since Summer 2019. And I’ve lost most of the opportunities for rest and recharge that were part of my life in the Before Times; I’ve been particularly devastated about losing the period of recharge after grades are submitted, those glorious 4 weeks in late May-mid June when I’m done with professoring and have the house to myself while my kid finishes school and my spouse is at work. Didn’t get that last year, and won’t get it this year either. I’ve been trying to be the parent my daughter needs for these past 14 months while also being the professor my students need, often at the exact same time, and it’s pushed me to point of extreme exhaustion. So even if I’m not going to have those glorious weeks with the house all to myself, once I submit my grades (which won’t be for at least another week), I do hope to figure out a way to get some rest soon. I’m not entirely sure how one recovers from 14 months of intensely draining work, especially when one hadn’t even recovered from a pretty nasty case of pneumonia when those 14 months began. I’ve been exhausted since at least November 2019, honestly.
I do find knitting to be restorative, so I’ll probably be doing quite a lot of that. I’m hoping to be able to get back to the embroidered flower sweater once my brain is a little less frazzled, but for now, I’m happy to keep knitting away at M’s new Elle Melle:
I love the Beaverslide Sport/Sock yarn I’m using for M’s Elle Melle so much; it just feels so good in my hands while I’m knitting, and the fabric it creates is so light and soft. (I’m actually wearing a sweater made from it today, too – my Vita de Vie!). I’m now just about to the point where I need to split to create the raglan shaping for the back and the fronts.
But I also have a second project to work on: a sock! I haven’t knit a sock since my daughter was a toddler, but after realizing (with the sleeves of the embroidered flower sweater) that I actually quite enjoy magic loop, I remembered having seen a video about doing Judy’s Magic Cast On to prepare for toe-up socks with magic loop, and figured I’d give it a go! I have a fair amount of sock yarn still in my stash from way back when, and while some of it would probably rather become another Musselburgh hat or something, I thought it might be fun to make myself some more socks. So I cast on for my first ever pair of toe-up socks, using a ball of Zauberball Crazy from deep stash.
The cast on worked out really well! I cast on 20 stitches on each needle, rather than the more typical 8 per needle that I saw in the video, because my feet are decidedly NOT pointy, so I thought I’d try a flatter/rounder toe.
I also went back to a tutorial I remembered (from the late great Cat Bordhi) for the “Padded Sweet Tomato Heel”; I used this on a pair of socks for my daughter back when she was a toddler, and thought they’d work nicely for toe-up socks. So far, so good!
The next couple of weeks are going to be pretty full as I work towards grading my students’ portfolios and wrapping up other work for the semester, so I’m glad I have a couple of pretty straightforward projects to keep my hands busy.