Nani Iro Atelier Dress K and more

Three examples of Dress K. I made all three too large, and I am going to undo all of them.

The first, made from unbleached muslin. This is when I learned that, rather than tracing the lines for all the gathers, it would be far easier to simply measure where to put them on the fabric. I highly recommend this course of action if you’re making the dress. I spilled tea on it, don’t look.

Next, from one of my favorite Nani Iro prints, in cotton double-gauze.

A final version, which I’m in the process of picking apart. I’m excited to reuse the fabric. I appreciate how the pattern for the dress was created to use as much fabric without cutting as possible. This gives me more to work with when I reuse, and preserves the beautiful prints in the dresses. This is also cotton double-gauze.

Here’s the dress in the pattern book:

And, it’s from this book:

This ring came into my life yesterday. It was love at first sight.

It’s impossible to take a non-weird picture of your own hand! If you’re me! Anyway, here, have a leg as well!

When I went to pay for it, it was on sale, THEN the woman at the register gave me sweet compliments and discounted it FURTHER, which means now the ring is so full of good vibes it almost glows. I feel so happy whenever I look at it.

Cheese update! Four additional cheeses were eaten this week. Cheeses 29-32 are:

A honeyed, hard, goats milk cheese which was fine. Good. I’ll finish it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it again.

Cheddar bathed in Chartreuse. Yes. Yes. Would absolutely go out of my way for this.

Also, I ate Cotija, which is delicious, and Jarlsberg, reliably good.

Here in summer

Some dresses I made years ago.

Nani Iro fabric
An older print on Yuwa lawn
I made this one in Liberty Tana Lawn

I used pattern number one from this book to make the dresses:

I have several duplicates I made of another pattern, and decided to disassemble them and cut some Wiksten tank tops from them.

I botched the very first one. We have been going at one another for a week and a half and are currently at an impasse.

My nemesis

Janssen’s Market has been nestled in its cozy corner of a Wilmington, DE shopping center for quite some time, but I’ve never managed to make it in. I finally went yesterday. It’s perfect.

Here’s my tiny haul from yesterday which is pleasing me to no end as I plan what to do with everything.

  • Nielsen-Massey orange flower water
  • Rose petal preserves
  • Bonne Maman do a chestnut spread, how exciting!
  • Boston Harbor tea, which boasts having been tossed into the harbor. Was it truly a loss, or should they have taken a hint? We will find out. (Update: I think it has a really nice flavor, and it’s not too weak. Medium-strength, I’d say. It’s good, and I’m enjoying it.)
  • Bonne Maman lemon tartlet cookies (Update: these were cute and nice with coffee, good to keep on hand for friends who drop by.)
  • Brianna’s, my favorite brand of salad dressing (so far), in varieties I haven’t seen: Lemon-Tarragon and Blueberry Balsamic vinaigrettes. (Update: Lemon-Tarragon is now among my top 3 favorite salad dressings and will enjoy Staple Item status)
  • Better than Bullion soup base in a mushroom variety I am freaking out about. I hope it’s good!

Christmas in July: Cookie One, Tipsy Date Squares

Christmas 2020 was weird and horrible, let’s get that out of the way. We all have our own reasons, it was the same for everyone, but also different for everyone, ugh, let’s never do that again, etc.

Moving right along.

I made these to take to a sad little handoff to family which occurred late on a gloomy afternoon in the parking lot of an Applebee’s, an entire sentence I want to throw in the trash.

There’s even more to hate, but I’m leaving it out because [string of profanity ending in “hospital”]. Things weren’t going super well just then, you see, but thankfully, they got better*.

My cookies were amazing at all times, however, and had no need for a hospital or for improvement. Well, they’re Martha’s cookies, and that’s why they’re amazing. I couldn’t have come up with this recipe. Thanks, Martha! I will always love you.

This is an accurate representation of the cookies’ appearance.
Ancient Martha holiday issue from 2010. If you have this, you have the recipe in your house.

The cookies are: heavy, boozy, a meal in themselves, and exactly great to have around at holiday time. I highly recommend them, and the recipients enjoyed them very much.

I am not a cookie person. I don’t like making cookies, and I don’t like eating them outside of a very specific set of circumstances. A cookie must be different in a good way to make a blip on my radar, and this qualifies. Basically it’s a hefty, chunked-up fruitcake, which means it’s not really a cookie, and it is really cake, which I like, and fruitcake has a very special place in my heart. I love it so. Oh my.

PAUSE FOR BREATH. In conclusion, if you don’t like fruitcake, you probably won’t like this, but if you do? Make it. It’s very nice.

*only kidding, they didn’t, but we won’t dwell.

Another Old Project

A small cushion made of silk dupioni, embroidery done in cotton. The earrings are made of vintage glass beads and brass. I think I wore them once before realizing I was allergic to the metal. Whoops.

I pinned the earrings in place in order to ascertain where I should embroider loops which would hold earrings. I later gave the cushion away with a different pair of earrings attached.

The embroidery pattern is from the book Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts, Wooly Embroidery, a Chronicle Book, pictured below. The designer’s credit goes to Tae Sasao.

Cedar Shake Mitts

Continuing with my effort to catalog my older projects…

I made mine from Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light wool in the shade Fig. Perhaps you can tell my skeins didn’t match exactly. That’s part of using hand-dyed yarn: sometimes they match well, sometimes you spend a few days or weeks figuring out how to blend the different color variations together as seamlessly as possible, or figuring out what effect you want to make. This is what happens when you spend zero time on that because you didn’t expect to use the second skein for some reason. It’s not so bad, but it’s definitely visible.

I enjoyed these so much! I couldn’t find them at all this winter. Where in the world could they be? I was so careful with them. That’s my downfall, though. I put things in such a special place I can’t find them again. I’m sure they’ll turn up when I’m least expecting it.

The pattern is from the book Juju’s Loops, by Juju Vail and Susan Cropper, pictured below.

Summer Blouse

I made this years ago, from linen. The fabric is almost tissue-thin, ideal for muggy summer days.

I made a couple of them, actually. Okay, a few. More than a few, although at least two of them I adapted to be dresses, and the truth is I don’t know how many I made.

I don’t really like the ones that are dresses. I plan to unmake those.

In general, I really like this pattern a lot. It’s actually somewhat flattering, and easy to wear.

It’s from a book by Heather Ross called Weekend Sewing.

Anyway, this is a very easy sewing pattern I’d recommend trying. The book has other cute stuff in it, too, although I seem to recall mistakes in some of the patterns and instructions, so be sure to seek out errata.

Elk in the Woods

It’s a funny sort of thing, part snuggly collar, part scarf. I use a pretty pin to hold it closed. A shawl stick should work, too.

I knitted my version in Madelinetosh Pashmina. The shade is called Antler. I found the pattern in Juju Vail and Susan Cropper’s book Juju’s Loops, pictured below.

Still happy, still birthday

Birthday present show and tell!

This book, released just last week. It’s a treasure trove of patterns, plus it’s a beautiful object in itself.

A bottle of perfume, which I chose because it’s soft, and it tickles around the edges of my memory, in a good way. I’m choosing tell, not show, for that.

A necklace, from Midwinter. It’s a moonstone, and I love it.

Pimlico Shrug

One of my earliest projects. It’s from a book by Tracy Ullman and Mel Clark, pictured here:

This is a book for beginning knitters. It’s not a new book, but even though some of the projects are not current fashions, others are timeless. It has good advice peppered throughout. Also, while the patterns are suitable for beginners, there are several that jump out at me, still, as attractive, interesting projects I’d like to make.

This cardigan is a cozy, slouchy thing made from a glorified rectangle. As a new knitter, it took me forever. Cardigans made of rectangles are simple in construction, but there is more knitting in total than something which is shaped to the body. Both types of design are great for different reasons, but when I was less familiar with shaping, and with garment construction in general, I took comfort in rectangles.

Okay, I still do. The simplicity appeals to me.

Here is a photo of the cardigan from the book:

The concept is a comfortable, slouchy, just-throw-it-on kind of sweater, and it’s great for that. Also, it is extremely warm.

Here’s mine:

I have a terrible time photographing this garment. I’m never sure how to lay it out, and the color of the yarn shows up weirdly.

I knitted it in Cascade 220. The shade is called Galaxy. It’s a dark purple with subtle flecks of other colors in it. That all sounds weirder than it actually is. It reads as very dark purple, and has worked well for me as a less-boring neutral. I didn’t even try to capture the color accurately on camera.

I wouldn’t recommend Cascade 220 for this project. It doesn’t lend itself to creating a garment with the same glorious drape as the cardigan in the photo. However, the finished project is serviceable, and I still really like it.

As an aside, when I was learning to knit, I didn’t feel I deserved nice yarn because I didn’t know if my projects were going to be successful, so I’d buy the cheapest ‘practice’ yarn I could, and experiment with that. When I think back, I don’t know what to say about that strategy. I guess some of my very earliest stuff really was too simple and nothing I’d really want to wear, but I wish I had switched to nice yarn much sooner. Cascade 220 is fine for projects which are designed for such a yarn, but I shouldn’t have used it (or similar yarn) when it wasn’t the yarn for the job. You invest so many hours in cardigans, and if you care for them well, they last a nice, long time (this one is, I think, maybe 12 years old so far). I’d have enjoyed this sweater even more if I had used a more appropriate yarn.

It’s a difficult balance, because you have to do lots of knitting in order to increase skill level, but it can get expensive. And, if you don’t use a suitable yarn for the project, the project isn’t very successful. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to maintain that balance, thinking about how I could get materials for the projects I wanted to do. There are people who have interesting methods like purchasing sweaters at the thrift store to unravel and use as yarn (although you have to check how the sweater was constructed to see if that will work or not), but my strategy was mostly to use cheap yarn or patterns which used the least yardage. I still habitually shy away from high-yardage projects, even though circumstances are different now. Other times, I have completed projects, then unraveled them to reuse the yarn on another, new project. You really have to be careful the yarn won’t look too tattered, though, or that you can unravel it. Not every yarn will tolerate unraveling.

There are other ways to address the issue: choosing projects with a more open stitch pattern, knitting fewer but more challenging projects, or, rather than making an entire garment, instead add edgings to sewing projects or to items you already own. You may know people who will commission projects, and you can get practice while getting paid (although, good luck getting paid adequately for your time). Sometimes people or businesses will donate yarn for knitters to make into items for those in need.

Back to this project: Can you see the stitch pattern? The open triangles? Those caused me anxiety! They were new to me, and, working from written instructions I wasn’t quite sure I had completed a maneuver which wouldn’t come undone at the first opportunity. I felt very triumphant when the triangles stayed in, and they were a fun technique to learn.

Maybe I should make it again, better? I have so many projects on my to-do list, though…

Prairie Shawl

Continuing with older projects, here is my Prairie shawl. It’s a pattern by Juju Vail and Susan Cropper, and it’s from here:

I love this book. I’ve done eight of the eleven projects in it, a lot for me.

The shawl was fun to knit, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve made. I really want a snuggly, chunky version, so I need to get on that.

I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light yarn in the shade Candlewick. It’s still available! How did that happen? Ha.