Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sewing -- Cheyenne Tunic and Linden Sweatshirt

Sewing -- Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June blogged on

Last week I completed two very challenging and time consuming tasks. Both, once finally complete, were incredibly rewarding.

The first, was a week and a half long slog through paperwork, bookkeeping, and ultimately tax preparation, ugh. It's a good thing I love numbers :)

The second, was a reward for completing the first task. Once my books were signed, sealed, and delivered, I allowed myself some much needed and long awaited sewing time. I don't break out my machines often since I tend to fall into a deep, deep sewing trance, spending full days and late nights sewing, with reluctant breaks for food and sleep. Knowing this about myself, I schedule my sewing time around my work and Elsie's schedule so that I'm not neglecting any of my responsibilities.

This session I tackled Hey June's Cheyenne Tunic after admiring it on my friend Mandy. The pattern was way beyond my skill level, but Mandy told me it was easy to follow and encouraged me to jump in. Because it had been so long since my last sewing session I decided to whip up a Linden Sweatshirt as a warm up. I scored a whole pile of 100% cotton jersey bedding at the thrift store and made a wearable muslin (aka night shirt) to get a feel for the pattern. It was fast and easy and the shirt is super comfy! I can't wait to make another Linden once I finally get my hands on some proper sweatshirting.

Sewing -- Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline blogged by

Sewing -- Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline blogged by

For the Cheyenne I used a flannel bed sheet from my haul with the intention of making a wearable muslin. This pattern introduced me to so many new techniques and there were many finishing steps compared to what I'm used to (whipping up tanks and tees on my serger). I actually got to use my sewing machine for the majority of it which was a nice change of pace. Because of this, the project took me a long time to complete. I also made many mistakes that had to be ripped out and redone. In the end, I finished with a very nice looking shirt. And despite the worn out, pilled flannel bed sheet, it's very wearable. I absolutely love it and plan to make many more! Because it is so labor intensive, my only regret was not splurging on proper fabric for this one.

Sewing -- Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June blogged on

Sewing -- Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June blogged on

Sewing -- Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June blogged on

This was my first Hey June pattern and I loved every minute. The pattern layout is clear and easy to follow and nothing is overlooked. Considering the amount of new territory I crossed (making a button placket and sewing buttonholes, using interfacing, making a collar and buttoned cuffs), this pattern is perfectly suited to new-ish, non-techincal sewers like myself and I highly recommend it!

I had a few scraps left over which I decided to use to make a matching set of zippered pouches (another project I'd never done!). I perused tutorials online to get the general idea of size and construction. I made my pieces 9" x 5 1/2" for the large bag, 9" x 4 1/2" for the medium bag, and 5" x 4 1/2" for the small bag. There are so many tutorials and patterns out there but this one just made sense to me and was the least fussy. I used this tutorial to learn how to install the zipper (another first!).

Sewing zippered pouches

Sewing zippered pouches

They were fast and fun to make (and a little bit addictive—I wanted to make a more!).

I adore sewing. When I sew it takes over the house (...our house is very small). I set up my 6 foot folding table for cutting, leave my ironing board out, and set up my sewing machine and serger back to back on my breakfast table. I don't take any of it down until I'm completely through—Elsie always shakes her head at the mess. I love getting into it and letting myself get totally swept up in a project.

...but it sure feels good to reclaim my space when it's all done!

Do you sew? If so, what was your latest project? What's your sewing style—do you let it take over the house? Do you have a craft room with a permanent sewing station? 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Off the Needles /// Quarry Arika

Happy New Year!!!

I finished this little project before the Christmas holidays but didn't manage to blog about it. I know what you're thinking... another Arika Cowl? Really? I know. It's just that Arika is one of those projects (a bit like the Linden Mittens) where once you've completed it, you're just dying to try it out in other yarns. To date I've made two in Hikoo (one bright, one neutral), one in Cascade Eco, and this newly completed version in Quarry.

This was my first time knitting with Brooklyn Tweed's new bulky yarn Quarry. The plumpness of the yarn creates a squishy, stable fabric that provides fullness and structure to the finished cowl. Quarry also creates the best fringe! I wasn't able to complete the project with just one skein however I'd bought two skeins and wasn't really trying to. From the first skein I was able to eek out the entire cowl + 36 tassels with the last 10g. I dipped into the second skein to make the last of the tassels which required 26g. You could probably squeeze this project out of just one skein by either 1) omitting the fringe (gasp!); 2) slightly reducing the length; or 3) reducing the width by one repeat of the stitch pattern.

I used the Moonstone colourway to provide a closer comparison between the two other versions.

{ from left to right: Hikoo, Eco, Quarry }

. . .

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, food and lots of love. that gift knitting deadlines have officially passed, what's on your needles? 

Monday, November 30, 2015

WEEKEND: Simple, Modern Knits Giveaway!!!

Multi-talented designer Jen Geigley recently published her first book, a simple and modern collection of hand knits, titled WEEKEND. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy! You may know Jen for her uber famous GAP-tastic cowl that went viral a few years ago—with 54,018 likes and 16,478 projects on Ravelry, you know this lady has her finger on the pulse of what's hot!

The book is full of super bulky, incredibly fast, simple knits—perfect for gift knitting! It's very rare that I find a book I love and would make every single pattern from, but this book has accomplished just that. The knits are simple but striking—clean lines abound both in the knit pieces and the books layout.

 { Evenflow }

I wish I could show you every page because honestly they are all stunning! I love the photography and the use of black and white, it creates such visual impact.

I especially love how Jen embraces the word simple. Because I am a minimalist at heart, simple to me = good. As a designer however, I am constantly warned against using the word simple as a descriptor, as if to say simple means boring or plain. But not to me. To me simple is glorious! Simple is beautiful and striking—it's pieces that aren't fussy to knit or wear. Simple, to me, means clean, modern lines. Simple also means accessible—allowing a wide range of knitters to make and enjoy the patterns. WEEKEND encompasses all of this—the theory that less is more, and simple is best—so thank you Jen for publishing a book after my own heart. I thoroughly enjoyed every last page. 

This book is for everyone—knitters new and old, gift knitters and selfish knitters, minimalists and those who appreciate the finer details. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Find Jen and her gorgeous designs here:


Jen has so generously given me a print copy of her gorgeous book to giveaway to one of you!! Enter using the form below for a chance to win!

And don't forget that today is the last day to cash in on the Black Friday + Cyber Monday sale!!! Receive 25% off all patterns and eBooks in my Ravelry Store or Etsy Shop—simply use coupon code BF2015 during checkout!

Friday, November 27, 2015

SALE /// Black Friday + Cyber Monday

To all of my wonderful friends south of the border, I wish you a very merry Thanksgiving weekend! Here in Canada we've had our turkey (and our turkey coma's) and it's officially holiday season!

I love this time of year, it's always filled with so much joy and good will. I am thankful for my family and friends, both near and far and love how the holidays bring us all together. I hope you get to spend this Thanksgiving with your loved ones. 

In the spirit of giving I'm offering 25% off all patterns in my Ravelry Shop and Etsy Store. So go ahead and treat yourself to the pattern that you've had in your queue, or save on a gifted pattern for that special knitter in your life!

Promotion includes all eBooks!!!

Use coupon code BF2015 at check out between now and November 30th and receive 25% off your purchase!

Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Off the Needles /// Cowichan-Inspired Sampler

Cowichan-Inspired Sampler /// by Jane Richmond Designs

Have you been following the Fringe and  Friends Knit Along? This year Karen Templer chose a Cowichan Style Sweater Vest for the KAL and although all of her panelists are following some version of the same pattern, knitters were welcomed to chose any Cowichan-inspired knit their heart desired. This made for a broad and incredibly inspiring Instagram feed (#fringeandfriendskal2015). Not only are the photos fun to follow but the posts from Karen's hand picked panel of experts are immensely useful and very interesting!

The KAL is frankly so contagious, that you'll want to cast-on something Cowichan immediately! At least that's what happened to me! As soon as I'd stumbled across the projects on Instagram, I couldn't wait for yarn stores to open in the morning so I rummaged through my stash for anything remotely useful to practice colourwork bands with. I found some aran weight Lopi in brown which I held double and some DK weight Diamond Alpaca which I held triple using Karen's awesome cheat (SO clever!!).

Once I'd finished this rough swatch I was hooked! The next day I ran down to the Beehive and picked up one skein each of Briggs and Little Country Roving to do some real swatching. 

{ a snapshot of the inside of one of the yokes I knit }

Because I've never knit a Cowichan Sweater before, many techniques were entirely new to me, including stranded colourwork, inset pockets, adding a zipper closure, and knitting a cowichan-style shawl collar. And because I wasn't working from a pattern, all of these different techniques needed to be swatched before making the sweater. Because the yarn was so thick it made the knitting really speedy, which meant I could sample each technique proportionally (rather than making a smaller version or a partial section), this also meant that by the time I was finished with all of my trials I'd basically have an entire sweater! So instead of making seperate swatches to sample each new technique like I normally do, I decided to make a sampler sweater! 

I had to knit the yoke 3 times to get it just the way I wanted, and the same with the collar. My cardigan is FULL of big and little mistakes, but it's good enough to pass as wearable and fits me really well which is all I really hoped for. I figured at the very worst it could be a designated camping sweater.

Cowichan-Inspired Sampler /// by Jane Richmond Designs

Cowichan-Inspired Sampler /// by Jane Richmond Designs

After experimenting with the yoke bottom up I decided to knit from the top-down -- I preferred the way the increases looked. It's also my preferred method, so it felt the most natural to me.

Cowichan-Inspired Sampler /// by Jane Richmond Designs

I knew I wanted inset pockets that opened vertically. I experimented with weights for the lining -- knitting one side with 2 strands and the other with 3. I hadn't sewn the linings in yet when these photos were taken... Elsie got a kick out of my "fake" pockets, we'd take turns putting things in them only to have them fall to the floor... it's hilarious to an 8 year old!

I opted not to knit an edging on the pocket so that the colourwork pattern remained continuous. Now that it's finished,  I may experiment with edgings, just to see how it looks. 

Cowichan-Inspired Sampler /// by Jane Richmond Designs

I knew that I wanted a zipper closure like most traditional Cowichans I've seen, which really changed the way I needed to approach the colourwork patterning -- something I learned only after I'd charted, cast-on, and knit half of the body. If you're an experienced colourwork knitter, please ignore how the pattern repeats are broken where they meet at the zipper!! 

Cowichan-Inspired Sampler /// by Jane Richmond Designs

Sewing the zipper on (one of my big fears) was actually easy peasy! The trickiest part, and one that I'll perfect on my next sweater, is lining up the colourwork on the left and right fronts to maintain continuity (the same goes for the ribbing at the hem, and the top of the zipper where it meets the collar).

I wore my sweater out for the first time this weekend. The temperature has dropped this week and it was the perfect layer to keep me toasty warm! This knit was so much fun and I loved learning so many new techniques, I'm itching to cast-on more Cowhichan-insipred sweaters! There are endless possibilities!!

...Oh and thank you Ysolda for inspiring me to dye my old blue jeans and give them new life! Aren't they fun in Bordeaux!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Off the Needles /// An Eco Arika

Ever since binding off my brightly coloured Arika Cowl I've been wanting a neutral version for myself. My goal was to have it finished for Knit City so that I could wear it at the show and still have the original sample to display. I chose Cascade Eco to show the versatility of the pattern. My gauge was spot on but the Cascade yarn is woollier than the Kenzington and results in a fuller cowl and fringe. And because I used the undyed Ecological Wool, the cowl is actually surprisingly soft, especially after blocking! An added bonus -- you can make 2 Arika Cowls from one of these massive skeins!

I managed to finish in time for the show and wore it the entire weekend (and haven't really taken it off since -- I even wear it in the house!). I received SO many compliments on it and knitters were so excited about the unique construction and how quick and simple the knitting was.

The best part is -- Hikoo has a colour in the Kenzington that's almost identical called Pavalova. I've set to work knitting up a sample to show just how much colour can make a difference in the overall look and style of a pattern. I'll share it here when I'm done!

So, what's on your needles?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

NEW Pattern /// Clarke Pullover

Clarke Pullover // by Jane Richmond

Finally, I get to share my striped pullover pattern with you!

Clarke Pullover // by Jane Richmond

Meet Clarke!

I was originally inspired to knit this pullover because of my love for the comfortable fit of Palladio. Unlike the A-line shape of that pullover, I've designed the body of this garment to fit more like a boyfriend sweater. It's worn here with 4 inches of positive ease and no waist shaping. The neckline is slightly wider than a crew to give the pullover a more casual look and feel.

I chose YOTH yarns Big Sister for it's softness. If you haven't tried this yarn yet, you must! Because it's a DK weight it makes a perfect all season garment and the cashmere content means it can be worn against the skin as well as over layers.  I also chose a length that works well with both jeans and shorts, and finished the hemline with a flattering split hem.

When I was designing and knitting Clarke, I was obsessed with The 100 and spent many nights binge watching episodes on Netflix while I completed the sample. I like to think the overall feel of this pullover was inspired loosely by the comfortable, well-worn clothing and neutral colours found on set. I chose to name the pullover after my favourite female lead in the show, Clarke -- a strong, independent thinker, who isn't afraid of taking risks.   

This pullover would be equally wonderful in a solid colour. It's also a perfect introduction to stripes -- the colour combinations are endless! And the pattern includes two methods for creating jogless stripes!  

Clarke Pullover // by Jane Richmond

Happy Knitting!