Planning Ahead

Dear Lara,

Exciting news! K and I are going to Poland in the spring! I can’t quite believe it myself, but it’s true: the plane tickets have been paid for, the accommodations reserved, and I’ve spent too many hours to count researching the local cuisine and culture. I’m practically vibrating with excitement. Poland! It’s really happening!!!

Why Poland, you might be asking yourself. Certainly, as my twin sister, you probably feel entitled to know where this sudden passion for Eastern Europe has come from. But surely you know me well enough to understand that I’m in it for the food. The sausage, the beer and vodka, the cabbage, beets, and pickles. The PIEROGIES!!!! Needless to say, I anticipate that we’ll have a swell time eating our way through the country.

While I’m well acquainted with fall travel and know how to pack and dress for it, I’m much less well prepared for spring travel. I have a few good lightweight cardigans that can help the transition from the warmer daytime to the cooler evening temperatures, but my collection of casual outfits to wear them with leaves something to be desired. In other words, it’s time for me to get down to work. Here’s what I have planned for my trip wardrobe so far:

1. Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

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Bearing in mind that I plan to stuff myself silly with as much of the local cuisine as possible, having something to wear that won’t be too tight over my stomach is of paramount importance. Enter the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress, a lovely and feminine take on a style that I’ve long been obsessed with but have never been able to wear because of a lack of suitable RTW options. This pattern has some beautiful details, like soft gathers at the shoulders, some simple yet effective darts that draw in the waist, and a curved collar. And with an extra 4 inches of ease around the waist, I’m sure I’ll be glad to have this dress in my vacation wardrobe.

This is by far the most complex garment I’ve ever sewn and I’m a little nervous about how the finished product will end up looking. Based on my first test garment, I think this dress will be good and, dare I say, flattering fit, but it feels prudent to make any construction mistakes using a fabric that will leave me with less heartache if I accidentally destroy it. So, pictured above is (what I hope will be) my wearable muslin, which I’m making with an inexpensive polyester fabric that features a bold floral print and has a really nice drape. If I don’t screw up too badly or at all (note: I expect to see at least a few mistakes), I’ll have something I can actually wear now, AND I’ll have the confidence to make two or three more using the fancy Japanese cotton I’ve been squirreling away for just this purpose.

2. Jaunty Skirt

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As with the Vintage Shirt Dress,  a knitted skirt with an elasticated waistband is a no-brainer addition to my vacation wardrobe, and it’s also something I’ve wanted to wear for a long while. The best part about this project is that it’s given me the opportunity to use up some stashed yarn! The main colour, pictured above, is The Plucky Knitter’s Plucky Feet base in the Narragansett Gray colourway, and this will be followed by  wide bands of Plucky Feet in the Manderly (black) and Pack Your Bags (blue) colourways. If I’m being totally honest, though, this project may not be finished in time to take to Poland. Miles of stockinette knit at a tight gauge on small needles is not exactly conducive to speedy production, after all. But despite my anticipation of future boredom with this project, I think there’s a chance I’ll finish in time if I can make myself chip away at it a little every day. My fingers are crossed and I remain hopeful.

3. Linum Tee

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Okay, this one is a very big maybe, but I’m adding my half finished Linum Tee to the list of potential new travel garments. I started knitting this top last summer with visions of wearing it with my red wool and dark denim skirts, and I set it aside after coming to the realization that even small amounts of linen fiber in yarn is really, really hard on my hands and wrists. But I feel quite strongly that this tee will be among my most worn spring/summer wardrobe items if I ever get around to finishing it. So I should, you know, just finish it.

Anyway, those are my early plans. They’re somewhat ambitious to be sure, and I can see the gaps in what I’ve proposed (no woven tops or t-shirts, for a start… I need those as well!). But I have to start somewhere, and it might as well be here. Stay tuned for some exciting additions to my closet in the near future!

Talk soon,

Sheena

P.S. I forgot to ask about how you make wardrobe plans for travel. How rude of me!

 

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Dieting Sucks

 

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Dear Sheena,

So, remember how I was talking about going on a yarn diet a few weeks ago? Well….. I can’t say that I have been as successful as I’d hoped. You see, I have fallen down the rabbit hole of knitting podcasts in the last few weeks. I know that these aren’t totally your thing, but I have to say that I am finding them more enjoyable than I thought I would. Some are definitely more entertaining and polished than others; but the thing I most enjoy is seeing and listening to others talk about what they are working on, as I don’t really have anyone in my life (besides you, of course) to geek out with when it comes to knitting. The downside of this, of course, is that these people are TOTAL YARN ENABLERS!!!! I have since discovered many new yarn dyers that I reeeeeeally want to try out (like, desperately!), but I am holding off for the time being. Barely. I want to buy all the yarn.

As I’m sure you can guess, I have added to my stash. It was in the form of a gift from Mom, so it wasn’t at my expense, but it was totally not in the spirit of the stash busting pledge I made a few weeks ago. I guess I haven’t reached my saturation point yet.

My stash grew by 5 skeins, 2 skeins for socks, and 3 that were part of a kit for the ‘Sail Shawl’ by Liisa Nieminen. As you can see, I finished the project.

Isn’t it beautiful? The yarn is Sweetgeorgia in Tough Love Sock and Glitterati sock, my first time using both of those bases. The pattern itself was super easy, with only simple increases, decreases and a few short row wedges to spice up the miles of garter stitch. I really thought this pattern would take me weeks to complete, but it only took me 6 days. I love it so much, it is soft and squishy and just lovely to wear. I took it out for a spin last night at a friends birthday party and got quite a few compliments, so I imagine that this will get quite a lot of wear.

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The only action shot of the night.

Now that I’ve completed that shawl, I’d really like to make some more. I love shawls so much, a stylish scarf that turns into a wearable blanket – what’s not to love? I’ve already started working on my next one which is a definite stash buster. It is some KnitPicks Gloss Fingering that I’ve had in my stash for ages and it is really nice to work with so far. The pattern calls for 3 colours, and I am having trouble deciding which colours to use, so maybe you can help me choose from the pictures below.

I am not sure what to go with, the blue and grey are really masculine looking, so do I add the purple to make it more feminine, or do I stick with my original plan and add in the green? This project will not be as quick as the Sail Shawl because of the way it is constructed, so if I can finish it by the end of next month I’ll be happy with that.

I have a few other projects on my needles, but I think I’ll save them for another day. What are you working on these days?

Lara

P.S. Your ham of a nephew says hi!

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Making the Most of It

Dear Lara,

First things first: I am super jealous of your stash. 15 whole sweaters worth of yarn! Countless pairs of socks! My mind reels at the possibilities presented by your stash. And the quality of yarn you’ve curated is nothing short of enviable. While I have to take the credit for introducing you to the Plucky Knitter,  I can’t take credit for any of the other stuff you’ve got in there. Your camel/cashmere/qiviut/silk collection makes me green with envy. As a knitter, you truly know how to treat yourself in a way that I can’t wait to experience for myself in the near future, when my student loans are paid in full.

When it comes to diving in and working exclusively from stash for as long as it takes to make a sizable dent, I am totally game. I’ve been a knitter longer than you have (maybe not by much, though), and my stash has grown to such an impressive size that I’ve been feeling uneasy lately about adding to it before using what’s already there. So a few months ago  I resolved to chip away at my yarn collection before adding anything new, and I’m doing a mostly good job of sticking to my guns. The last two sweaters I made came directly from the stash, ridding me of yarn purchased in the early days of my knitting that had languished so long, I thought it would never be used. I’m glad that I kept and, finally, used this yarn, because they’ve become beloved sweaters that have been in steady rotation for the last few weeks. And the best part is that stash diving has made me hungry to see what other gems I can pull out of the bounty in my living room.

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This leads to my ultimate point, which is that, upon reviewing my yarn situation, I can say with confidence that the diet is working. I have two new stash-sourced sweaters under my belt plus a third more than halfway done, and the only new yarn I’ve purchased since the start of the year was used to make a new pair of socks for the K-Man. (Frankly, the sock yarn in my stash is for me. I’m selfish that way.) My stash is beginning to shrink, and I’m breathing a little easier.

That’s not to say that I didn’t spot any problems. The big issue that most people (myself included) like to ignore is that, whether using newly purchased or stash-sourced yarn, knitting any project almost always results in the re-stashing of yarn remnants. And after 3 years and dozens of pairs of socks, I’ve got quite the collection of leftover yarn to contend with.

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So, here’s the truth: this is not the first time I’ve thought about taking action and dealing with this colourful mess (and this isn’t even all of it!). A few years ago, I was excited enough about the idea of knitting a sock yarn blanket that I got started knitting squares. I didn’t join them together at the time, reasoning that I could do it later and really be artful about combining the colours. But my collection of remnants wasn’t that big back then and I wasn’t all that into seaming things together either, so I quickly got bored and stopped working on the project. I stuffed my baker’s dozen of finished squares into a Ziploc sandwich bag, tossed them in one of the plastic tubs that holds my surfeit yarn, and set my Ravelry status to “hibernate”.

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But this weekend, I decided that it’s time to revisit and get serious about my sock yarn blanket. The real difference between then and now is that, now, I have enough leftovers to make an actual, honest-to-goodness, adult-human-sized blanket. And the yarn choice available to me for squares has improved a lot since I abandoned my project, so I’m sure this blanket will keep me entertained long after I run out of leftovers (whenever that will be) and have bound off the last square.

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On Saturday morning, I resumed work on my blanket, seaming the original squares together and knitting new ones onto the block. Now that it’s starting to look like a blanket, I’m very motivated to keep going and get this thing growing as quickly as I can. Don’t get me wrong: I know it’s going to look like something best described as “clown barf”, which I agree won’t be to everyone’s taste. But to be quite honest, I love how crazy this block looks so far and I can’t wait to have this blanket dressing up my couch and warming my lap. One of the best things about this pattern is how easy it is, so I think  many evenings will be spent chilling out with this project for at least as long at there’s still a nip in the air.

Have you made any plans for your stash yet? What have you got on the go right now?

Talk soon,

Sheena

P.S. Happy Galentine’s Day!

Digg friday the 13th galentines day

 

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The Stash of Shame

Dear Sheena,

Well, I guess it’s time for a confession. As much as I want to talk about the projects I’m working on, I am going to save it for another time. I need to get something out in the open, the size of my stash.

Now I know that it is not the largest stash of yarn in the world, but as I was going through it, I thought 2 things:

  1. Dude, you have great taste! (I do, I really really do)
  2. Holy crap…. This is A LOT of yarn!

Don’t believe me? Here are a few pictures.

The sweater quantities (from here on out known as SQ’s)

Have you counted them? That is 15 (!) SQ’s worth of yarn. Almost 100 individual skeins….

Then, there is the sock yarn pile.

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You can’t see all of them, but this is 12 pairs of socks at least.

Of course, this doesn’t include all the single skeins of worsted, dk and fingering yarns that are too nice for socks and destined to be amazing hats and shawls. I stopped taking pictures at this point because I was getting a bit bummed at how greedy I’d become in cultivating my stash.

So with all this said, I am making a pledge to not buy any more yarn this year. Of course, there will be some exceptions, like gifts (craft gifts are always awesome and welcomed), one of a kind yarns from places I’ve travelled to (hopefully when I visit you in the summer… and maybe a trip to the UK some time this year), and my Yarnbox Luxe subscription (which only comes 4 times a year).

So, what do you think? Are you in on the yarn diet? I am also curious to see what your stash looks like. And before you tell me it isn’t that bad, the true extent of the damage can be found on my Ravelry stash page.

Later dude!

Lara

 

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