Plans A-Brewin’

It’s a foggy November day, the sky whited out with cloud cover and the leaves beginning to come off the trees in earnest. The perfect kind of afternoon to stay home and work on some sewing, now that our studio is in some semblance of working order. I’d been working on this Truffle dress pattern by Colette in this cotton lawn from Liberty of London.

The project had been had been put on hold for a couple of months after the move, because it took awhile to get all my supplies unpacked and clear out the floor space I needed to cut fabric. But now I’m back in action and hope to get this dress finished soon — I’m planning on wearing it a lot this holiday season. Art Nouveau is one of my favorite design movements, so I’m pretty in love with this print.

My knitting needles have been clicking up a storm too, of course, as the holidays approach. Most of the things I’ve been working on are supersecret gift-type things, but here are a few shots of a cowl I (sort of) recently finished.

For those who are interested, that’s the Chicken and Waffles Cowl pattern by Verdigris Knits, knit up using Schachenmayr SMC’s Silenzio yarn in white and the same company’s Juvel yarn in lime. Silenzio is an acrylic-wool-alpaca blend, but though I’ve been iffy about acrylic since learning it’s made from petroleum (ew), this yarn at least doesn’t feel like it’s made of acrylic, which is a plus. The alpaca makes it nice and soft and fuzzy. And it’s a bulky-weight single, which adds to the soft-factor. The Juvel, on the other hand, is 100% wool, and it’s plied, which makes it a bit more of a workhorse yarn. Not the softest yarn in the world, but I think it’d do for some nice Shetland or Nordic colorwork.

The cowl was done using a technique called brioche, which is way easier than it looks. You only use one color per row, with the effect created by wrapping stitches using yarnovers, then eventually knitting the stitches together with their yarnovers. The Italian cast-on method I used was way more difficult than the actual colorwork — wish I’d thought to get a picture of it before gifting the cowl.

And here is a pair of mitts I finished even more recently:

I really love this yarn, Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool, as the skeins are quite large and reasonably priced, and the wool comes undyed, in a range of natural colors. (Although I will warn that that the colorway I used, Birch Tweed, does have a small bit of acrylic and rayon content, for the tweedy effect.) Lanolin oil is added back to the wool during the spinning process to mimic the yarn that would have been used for the traditional Guernsey or Aran fisherman’s jumper. This adds a bit of water repellency, which makes it perfect for a tea cozy, like this one I knit last spring:

Tea cozy 12

And last but certainly not least, work on Bat Boy is beginning to gain steam again. The stress of the move put it on the shelf for a little while too, as I focused on getting the apartment in shape. But I think the break was just what I needed, because I find myself able to approach it again with more discipline, actually working in terms of chapters and overall narrative arc, figuring out how to fit together all the bits and scraps I’d been jotting down as errant bolts of inspiration struck, and filling out the connective webbing that I hope is going to hold this thing together.

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

willy-wonka-button

I recently found out S.M. has never seen this movie. Isn’t that terrible? So I guess he just won’t get the title of this post.

But the buttons I’m talking about are these ones:

Buttons 2

I haven’t found a project yet for the anchor buttons, but I’m going to be using the silver-colored ones to transform the lace scarf I showed in the previous post into a two-tone cowl. If it turns out well, I may knit some more to sell in my Etsy shop, which — fanfare, please — I’m planning to launch in January!

To stretch the theme a little further, here’s a dress I recently finished. The pattern called for a bow at the collar, but I way prefer these little, cream-colored buttons.

Colette Pastille dress 24

The pattern is the Pastille Dress from The Colette Sewing Handbook, which I’ve found to be a tremendous resource as I’ve learned my way around the sewing machine … and the fabric shears, rotary cutter, tailor’s chalk, fusible interfacing and hundred and one other things you need to know about to put a garment together.

So those are some of the more fun things that have been going on in my life lately. Less fun: apartment hunting. But we’ve finally found a place, and S.M. and I will be moving to Jersey City on Sept. 1! I’m excited to get out of the city. We’d been hoping to flee to the Hudson Valley, but anyplace affordable is just too long a commute. Jersey City will be a nice compromise. It’s a little quieter and seems to be more bikeable, so hopefully I’ll be able to get Descartes back into shape — and myself too. It’s been awhile! (Descartes is my red 1970s Schwinn, so named because he carts my butt around. He’s a little rusty, and his back wheel is out of whack, so I need to get us to a bike shop.)

Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down

I’ve finally figured out Gimp, the image editing freeware, well enough to make my header look more or less the way I want it to. (Though the color balance still needs some work.) The background is some strawberry ice cream I made last weekend … mmm. I’d share the recipe, but it could still use some fine-tuning. Or some rough-tuning, for that matter.

Spent the sunny afternoon in Soho, picking up some mint-colored cotton fabric for a dress I plan to sew this week. And OK, I caved and bought a couple of books, despite my resolution to hold off until I’ve finished the huge backlog on my shelves. But look, I needed an iced coffee, and the nearest cafe was inside McNally Jackson. What was I supposed to do?

And speaking of books, S.M.’s (brilliant, awesome, gorgeous) graphic novel Iron was featured on NPR Books!

Okay, time to finish another amazing graphic novel, Jeff Smith’s Bone, so I can get cracking on these guys. I’ll post a review as soon as I’m done … or three weeks after I’m done. We’ll see how things go. In the meantime, check out the reviews and author interviews I’ve just posted on my “Stuff I’ve Published” page. Fancy schmancy!