Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It Only Took Three Years...

I've finally finished my Jane Richmond Gemini top and it only took me three years to get to this point.

I first cast on Gemini for the 2013 Tops Tanks and Tees Knit Along on Ravelry.  I even finished it during that KAL.  Unfortunately it was a disaster fit wise and I completely ripped it out the very next day.   I was ever so proud of myself that I not only ripped it out, but I cast on immediately again in a size smaller.  But then I made a mistake and ripped out again and restarted, then ripped and restarted and then eventually made a mistake, got confused where I even was in the pattern and tossed it into the deep dark recesses of my closet where it sat for a few years until this spring when I was trying to decide what to knit for the 2016 TTTKAL and found this languishing in a bag.

It wasn't even on needles any more, but the lace panel and a few rounds below were done, so I decided to put it back on the needles and figure it out once and for all.  Things were going swimmingly... or so I'd thought.  Until a few inches from the bottom I tried it on and realize that my gauge had gone to hell again and my top was getting larger and larger.  The bust fit well, but below that was a mess.

I just about threw in the towel then, but after investing so much effort already, I decided it had precisely one last chance.  I ripped back to almost the armholes and restarted again, immediately working a set of decreases along each side.  Then knit two more inches and worked another set of decreases.  Then noticed way back where I'd joined a ball of yarn I'd somehow twisted the stitch, dropped the one below it and goodness knows what else.  It was the ugliest stitch imaginable and stuck out like a sore thumb.  To give you an idea of how bad it was, my husband even noticed it from a distance and gently suggested something should be done about it.  He was right, so I painstakingly dropped down approximately 4" of knitting for two stitches and reworked them back up, which was no easy feat given that it was a stitch at the start of a new ball of yarn, but so worth it.  After that was done, I kept knitting, keeping close watch to make sure I didn't let my gauge go rogue on me again, and finally did a couple of sets of increases for the hips and finished up.

This was the original gemini in it's droopy tent like capacity:

Re-worked and much, much better :

I swear I thought I would never ever see the end of the tunnel with this one and I didn't finish it in time for the due date of the TTTKAL, which was a bit disappointing - I was two days late, but I am really glad that I did slog away at it and didn't give up.  It's exactly the fit was I was envisioning back in 2013 when I first set out to knit it.   Sometimes it pays to be a "responsible knitter" and re-work things until you get them the way you want them, even if it feels like an impossible task at times. To keep going and have something you'll wear, rather than something that languishes in a dark corner of the closet never to see the light of day again.  I suppose like anything in life.  Sometimes it's just good to persevere.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


I have a new addiction.  It's the latest release from Itch to Stitch* that I was fortunate enough to test.  Vienna is a fantastic little pattern.  Like Kennis Wong's Idyllwild tee that I couldn't stop making in the fall, this one has proved to be just as addictive.  No sooner had I finished my first one, I was cutting out a second one.  Fabric for version three is sitting on my table and version four is in the planning stages.  It's like potato chips.  You can't just stop at one.

I absolutely LOVE this top.  Cute, full of options, great size range, easy to whip up in a few hours max; the perfect warm weather sew.  Vienna is designed for a knit body and woven yoke, but I can tell you that lots of the ladies testing the pattern opted to do a completely woven version and they all turned out looking fantastic.  I can also tell you that almost all of us testing immediately jumped into making a second version as soon as the first one was done.

Another perk with this pattern is that you can use smaller cuts of fabric.  My friend sent me a parcel of fabric delights from Japan recently and one of the pieces was a sweet little cotton lawn print.  I adore the fabric.  From a distance it looks like just a floral print.   Pretty enough alright, but then hello!  Who's that peeking out from the flowers?  A polar bear!!!!  How much fun is that?!?! I only had half a metre of my precious polar bear in the flower garden fabric, and wondered what I could do with it.  With a print that fun I knew I wanted to have it in a garment somehow.  Then the testing call came out for Vienna and I knew exactly what I was going to do!  It was the perfect place to showcase it!

My first version used a cotton/spandex blend t-shirt knit for the main body and a cotton plaid for the yoke.

My second version used a drapey bamboo/spandex knit for the main body and cotton lawn for the yoke.

I highly recommend getting your hands on Vienna, which just so happens to be on sale right now for 20% off, and then run, don't walk to your sewing machine and get some fun new shirts in your wardrobe for summer!!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Me Made May Update

If you follow me on Instagram at all this is pretty much all going to be old news, but for those that don't I thought I'd give a bit of an update on how Me Made May went for me.

Here was my pledge for this year:

I, Sarah Jane, of Prairie Girl Knits, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2016' (not including my bras and handbags as that would be cheating since I only ever use handmade for them. LOL) I also endeavour to discover what "holes" are in in my wardrobe so that I can begin to fill them up.

Just like last year I looked at my Me Made May challenge as a great time to discover what was missing in my current hand made wardrobe.  I was surprised to find that there weren't really any in terms of what I wanted to wear day in and day out.  Something I counted as a big success compared to last year was that instead of repeating an outfit because I'd run out of hand mades to choose from it was a repeat because I just love it that much.  I didn't find it a struggle at all this year to reach for hand mades as I'm realizing the ready to wear is really being phased out in my wardrobe and the majority is in fact hand made at this point.

Other than a couple of pairs of jeans this past winter (that I used a gift card for) I can't remember buying any clothing for myself.  Lisa of Sew Over It often mentions her personal rule of not buying if she can make it and its a sentiment that I can relate to quite a bit.  It's not that I have a hard and fast rule for myself on the matter exactly, but more that I simply prefer to make my own clothes rather than buy ready to wear.

So here's a glimpse of what my month looked like mostly through the eyes of Little Man who was my designated Me Made May photographer.  He was occasionally assisted by Baby Boy and when both little guys were too busy (or fed up, because lets face it, taking Mommy's picture every day gets a bit boring after a while) a selfie did the trick for recording the me made of the day.  There is a photo for every day except for May 1st - I forgot to take a photo of my Me Made that day - off to a rollicking start wasn't I?  Ha ha! And in case you're thinking that I can't count there are a couple of extra photos just because I changed from one me made into another partway through the day because I was going out.

May 2 - 7
May 8 - 14
May 15 - 21

May 22 - 28

May 29 - 31

All in all it was a great month and I made a few happy discoveries along the way in terms of what I had available and what favourites were amongst those choices. I easily succeeded in achieving my goal of wearing at least one handmade item per day.  I really enjoyed keeping up with all the photos on Instagram too.  It was loads of fun seeing what others were making and wearing.  One thing I am kind of over is the whole daily photo thing.  I always feel pretty awkward in front of a camera and so I find the daily photo feels a bit weird and after awhile I start feeling a bit silly posting a "LOOK AT ME!!!!" photo every single day.

I'm continuing on with my own journey of utilizing and expanding my hand made wardrobe.  I just made a new top earlier this week, have a skirt on the sewing desk and top on the knitting needles as I type this, and have plans for several upcoming projects.  In the same vein as continuing on, it occurs to me that I didn't even think about it this morning when I grabbed a hand made to put on when I was getting dressed for the day.  I call that success on my personal challenge!

So that's pretty much it for my thoughts on the challenge this year.  Did you make a Me Made May pledge this year?  How did you feel it went for you?