Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lemon Roberts Dungarees

Oh, have I got a whopper for you today!  These may be the craziest things I've ever made and I am unabashedly in love with them.  It all started with Roisin's 'Good God, Lemon' dress.

Roisin is a pretty inspiring Sewcialist, isn't she?  Her handmade dresses are beautiful and I love how she uses a variety of prints that really show off her personality.  When I saw the Good God, Lemon dress on Instagram, I was smitten with the amazing lemon print fabric that she had used.  The shop she used was out of stock, but Blackbird Fabrics had just restocked their version and I bought myself 3 metres.

Originally, I thought I would make a dress or pinafore from this fabric; either a Painted Portrait Dress or a Ruby Dress.  However, when the fabric arrived, I knew it would be perfect for overalls.  It's a stretch poplin with amazing stretch and recovery; however, it's quite a bit beefier than other stretch poplins I've used.  This isn't a criticism by any means, but it does go to show that sewing can be quite serendipitious.

Once the fabric was washed and dried, it hung out in my fall/winter capsule pile while I finished up some summer stragglers and cracked on with really narrowing down my capsule makes.  It wasn't until I saw Tasha's pinapple palazzo pants that my ideas for this fabric really solidified.

I've waxed poetical about my love of Marilla Walker's patterns before and I'm happily doing so again.  She really is a brilliant pattern drafter and her construction methods yield beautiful garments that let the fabric shine.  Marilla's patterns tend to fit me straight out of the package, but just to be sure, I wanted to make a muslin before cutting into the lemons.  I used a charcoal twill that I've had in my stash for a while. I cut a straight size 4 and the only change I made was to sew the inseam at a 3/8" instead of the recommend 5/8" seam allowance.  The twill I used has no stretch, so I do get a closer fit at the waistline than you see here.  That really doesn't bother me though, as one of the reasons I wanted to make lemon dungarees was to have other options besides pajamas available for high pain days.  On those days, even fabric hurts when it touches my skin and the oversized fit of these would be perfect.

To make the palazzo style legs on the lemon version, I slashed and spread the leg pieces by 2", narrowing to 1/4" at the thighs, and redrew the outer side seam to fall straight from the hips.  The slight pooling of the fabric at the back is from my swayback.  I elected not to do a swayback adjustment because, in this instance, the pooling really doesn't bother me. 

I love how this crazy print makes me look like I belong in a Florida retirement home!  Maybe I should change my name to Magic Madge?  I had planned to make a hot pink stretch denim version of these dungarees, but in an effort to make a wearable wardrobe, I know a pair of hot pink pants will get worn more often.  I ordered some dark indigo stretch denim from Fabricville for another version of this lovely pattern.  The hot pink stretch denim will be made into Style Arc's Barb pants.

What are your fall/winter creative plans?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mist Jumper

I knit this jumper late last year (I finished it just after Christmas) and wore it constantly until the weather warmed up.  I finally managed to block it just a few weeks ago and now that it's 'presentable,' I'd like to share it with you.

Mist is a self-drafted, top-down, seamless, raglan sleeve jumper, which is my very favourite to knit and wear.  This was definitely a therapeutic knit as I was flaring during  this time and my pain level was high.  I needed to knit SOMETHING to distract myself.  My amazing husband, Chris, took me to my local yarn store, where I saw this yarn winking at me from their Cascade wall.  I think all the best yarn stores have a Cascade wall, don't you? 

This particular yarn is Indigo Heather and is really a yarn chameleon.  Up on the wall, the yarn looked like a very pale periwinkle, but when Tracy brought the skeins down for me, it seems to change to silver grey. When we took the photographs, it looked icy blue. It's gorgeous no matter what colour it decides to show off. I really love Cascade 220 in both the solids and heathers.  It's such a lovely yarn to knit with, has great stitch definition, blocks up to a soft fabric, and has a veritable rainbow of colours available.

As I said, it's a self-drafted knit and it's pretty rare that I follow a sweater or cardigan worsted weight pattern anymore, as I've come up with a formula that works for my personal knits.  I do love to experiment with my knits (see my Morag jumper) and I end up with a garment I love...most times.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes the design fights me, or vice versa, and there is a lot of ripping back, but it's really worth it.  I find free wheeling my knits really engages my mind; from calculating the increases to determining the optimal stitch pattern, to pulling bits and pieces from my favourite patterns.

Mist is an amalgamation of all of that.  The pretty scalloped neckline is from the Genevieve Pullover, the front and cuff lace pattern is from the Meret beret, and the hem pattern is from my Vogue Knitting Stitchionary knit & purl volume.  It's the sugar cube stitch, which I converted to be knit in the round and used again on my Harriet pullover.

I worked simple yarn overs as the increases in the raglan seams and changed it to either ssk, yo or k2tog, yo for the rest of the body.  It was engrossing enough to keep my interest peaked but not so difficult that I couldn't watch Netflix while knitting.  That's an essential for me - gotta have the Netflix. 

I am really pleased with the end result and, as I said above, I wore it constantly last winter and early spring.  Now that the fall weather seems to have finally arrived (I am so sick of heat and humidity), I know that this will be in heavy rotation again.

I've just finished the Ophelia Vest using Rowan Pure Wool Superwash in a fantastic bright yellow and have another self-drafted vest on the needles using Cascade 220 in magenta.  Plus, I've always got a sock on the needles.  What have you been knitting lately?  Any dream knitting patterns you've come across?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dottie Angel Tunics

Dottie Angel tunic worn with a Briar Top in ribbed knit

I've got another pink make to share with you today!  Pink really is my happy colour and when I'm well enough to sew, I'm darn well going to work with something that makes me feel good :)

This is my most recent Simplicity 1080; otherwise, known as the Dottie Angel Dress.  I started working on these late last fall and slowly plugged away at them over the ensuing months.  I sewed them tunic length as that is the most versatile for me.  In the warmer months, I wore these layered over my favourite linen cropped pants and now that it's *finally* cooler, I'll layer them up with jeans, long sleeved tees, and sweaters/cardigans.

This poor pink version was really a labour of love. Originally, it has a contrast hem panel with contrasting pockets.  I wore it and hated it.  I ripped off the pockets and sewed new ones that matched the contrast panel and hated that, too.  Finally, after sitting in my sewing cupboard for a few months, I realized that I don't like contrast hem panels but I do love a good contrast pocket!  Off came the hated hem panel and coordinating pockets.  Fortunately, I had enough of the pink fabric left to sew a matching panel and I'm especially pleased that I was able to get the pockets out of scraps left over from my Fen top.  With some creative cutting, I was able to have enough matching bias tape to cover the raw edges.

My favourite pockets! I put them on everything!

I sewed a size medium and made a few modifications.  I raised the neckline slightly and brought in the shoulders a bit.  I found that the neckline was quite wide and tended to slip off my shoulders - definitely not the look I was going for.  I also changed the sleeves from cap to kimono using the Christine Haynes' Lottie pattern.  While I do like cap sleeves, I don't like the way they're constructed on this tunic.  The side seam is sewn and then stopped just short of the underarm and then the sleeves' raw edges are turned under.  I find that this puts a lot of stress on the underarm seam and it inevitably rips.  Maybe I just have Hulk shoulders?

I also lengthened the side ties to be able to wrap right around my waist and tie in the front.  It's easier for me to tie them like this rather than contorting myself to tie them in the back. LOL!  Please excuse the wrinkles but I had been wearing this one for a while when we took the photos.

I really like this pattern for a lot of reasons.  It's simple to sew; a basic A-line shape with bias tape used instead of facings.  It's easily hacked to create new looks and it flatters many different body types. It's also incredibly versatile as it layers easily and can be worn all year round.  I really like the big pockets as they hold a lot of things, including my phone and a ball of yarn!

L-R: black brushed cotton, red quilting cotton, navy brushed cotton
Just to prove that I do sew with other colours (ha ha), here is a snippet of the three other tunics I've made.  Each gets a lot of wear and are very comfortable.  I fell in love with brushed cotton this year, and now have several tunics and tops in my wardrobe.  The black tunic (on the left) was inspired by this one made by Tif, aka, Dottie Angel, herself. 

That lovely red one in the middle has a tone-on-tone brocade pattern with gold accents.  It sparkles in the light! The pockets are made using a pretty rose print cotton remnant that I've had in my stash for at least 10 years.  I livened up the navy one with giant red rick rack trim around the pockets. 

What do you think of the Dottie Angel dress?  Have you made it?  What about her other patterns?  I love Wrong Doll's and Laura Mae's quilted coats.  Aren't they amazing??

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pink Polka Dot Maya Top

Long time readers will know that hot pink is a neutral in my wardrobe, so it's no surprise that today I'm sharing another pink themed garment.

Over the last few months, I have been slowly sewing a small collection of Marilla Walker's Maya Tops.  As Katie said in a recent Love to Sew podcast, if Marilla Walker became my personal pattern designer, I would love it! The Maya top is a beautiful example of simplicity in both design and construction.  It has lovely design details like kimono sleeves and a curved hem.  

I sewed up my small collection in a mix of quilting cottons and brushed cottons.  The brushed cottons are heavenly soft (insert heart eye emoji here) and were perfect during my flare times this summer.  I like how polished the top looks with a smart pair of linen pants (my summer uniform) but it looks equally nice with a pair of my favourite Hudson Pants.  The overall fit is easy and comfortable to wear and never felt constricting, which is a must for me.  I would love to sew a version in a drapey rayon.

From L to R: second wearable muslin, rose print quilting cotton, rose print brushed cotton
As with all my makes, I made a  muslin first.  Initially, I overestimated my measurements and made a size 7 and I was swimming in it.  I traced a size 6 and made a second muslin out of remnants of a beautiful Michael Miller print and the sizing was spot on!

I took my time making each one.  Cutting out the fabric one day and sewing it over the course of a few days, with a lot of breaks in between.  Marilla's instructions are easy to follow and yields a beautiful finish both inside and out.  This truly has become a TNT pattern for me and I am seriously considering making one out of French Terry as a layering piece for the cooler months.

Worn with my M2375 cropped linen trousers
I really do need to make a pair of her Roberts dungarees.  Wouldn't they be perfect in linen for spring and summer or a hot pink denim for fall and winter? Have you sewn with Marilla's patterns?  Which are your favourite(s)?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Social Climber Fen Top

I made a thing!  Hallelujah, I can still make things! It takes me about 2 weeks to sew a garment nowadays.  While that does make me feel frustrated sometimes, I am trying to be positive and embrace the slow.  That being said, I chose to sew this top with French seams and it was so satisfying. This is the first garment I've finished for my fall/winter capsule.  

I'm coming out of a period of really only wearing blues and greys, which was probably indicative of my mood over the last year, and I'm definitely feeling ready to bring back bold colour.  As hot pink is a neutral in my wardrobe, I knew that this beautiful fabric would match well.  It's called Social Climber and it's part of Anna Maria Horner's Floral Retrospectives collection.  I fell in love with this fabric several years ago when I came across this beautiful dress.  Isn't it stunning?  I've had it pinned on Pinterest and when I saw the same fabric pop up at my local fabric store, Needlework, I knew it was the perfect time to add it to my wardrobe.  

I had originally planned to make a Scout Tee from this fabric but I went with the Fen Top as I knew I would get more wear from it with longer sleeves.  Frankly, I'm too lazy to draft long sleeves for the Scout and I like the slightly boxier fit of the Fen.  I sprung for the printed version and I'm so glad I did as it was a dream to trace!  I made a size 12, flaring out to a size 14 at the hips.  I chose the shirttail hem as it reminds me of my beloved Marilla Walker Maya tops which have become a summer staple.  My wearable muslin stitched up like a dream and I'm happy to say it required to fit alterations!  Can I get a hell, yeah?

I love how the rich mustard gold compliments the hot pink roses.  I'm wearing it here with my favourite pink crops - McCalls 2735 in a lightweight cotton twill - another wardrobe staple.  I liked this combination so much that I ordered some hot pink stretch denim to make a pair of pants for fall/winter so that I have have a pair for every season. 

Next up are Renfrew Tops in yummy stripes.  If you're interested in seeing more of my sewing plans for fall/winter, I've listed them in my Textillia queue

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Blogging and Chronic Illness

Wristbands from Stickman Communications

Chronic illness sucks.  Autoimmune diseases suck.  They drain the life out of everything that you value and take over your life like a plague.  They skew your thinking and impair your mobility.  You become a full-time patient; the exact opposite of who you are as a person.  I am one of those people.

In trying to find balance between illness and creativity I made a lot of changes.  Some have been good but most were not.  I've shared bits and pieces here but it's mostly by what I did than what I wrote that you can tell what happened.  I jumped from new blog to new blog and from new platform to new platform.  I imagine that this made it quite confusing for readers who wanted to follow along with my creative adventures.  Chronic illness, especially chronic pain, skews your thinking and huge thoughts of guilt and worthlessness worm their way into your consciousness. The good days come and go and the bad days are endured, often with clenched teeth.

I'm three and a half years in this New Normal, I have a better sense of the reality of living with chronic illness and have become slightly more adept at balancing the good with the challenging.  I had a new body to get used to, a new shape to accept, and pacing myself became my mantra. In doing so, I realized that it's ok to abandon your blog while you tend to your health.  It's ok to not feel comfortable with being photographed.  It's ok to admit it's been really hard to adjust.

My creative hobbies have saved my sanity time and again. Sharing my makes just became too challenging over the past while as I dealt with my new self.  I have a new specialist now who seems to be invested in helping me feel better and this gave my mental health a much needed boost.  As I finally began to feel validated as a patient, I found that my joy of making and sharing was gradually returning.

For those of you who stuck around through this rollercoaster, I thank you.  I often felt that I was shouting into an abyss but Gillian's recent post made me realize that that wasn't true.  Pain and frustration come through in writing and that can be off putting.  I finally gave myself permission to let go of blogging guilt (it's real, let me tell you) and wait for the joy to return.

I've put together a small capsule-style wardrobe for my fall and winter making, which I've briefly shared on Instagram and have queued up in my Textillia studio. Each fabric I've chosen makes me feel happy and I'm looking forward to slowly making each piece and sharing them here. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Simple is Best


Over the last several months, I've made a conscious choice to embrace simplicity on a deeper level than I have previously.  I have always lived simply - smaller home, smaller car, buying second hand instead of new - but taking a more mindful approach has had a tremendously positive effect on my health.  Choosing to worry less means less anxiety.  Choosing to be 'unbusy' means less guilt and physical pain.  Choosing to accept myself as I am means less depression.  Honouring my core priorities means I spend my energy on people and hobbies that are important to me.   I am happier and more content than I have been in a long time.

Have you read Fringe Association's article on Sonya Philip?  I highly recommend taking the time to read it - it's excellent.  Sonya discusses her famous 100 Acts of Sewing project and how it has impacted her both personally and professionally.  When pattern drafting, she states that she really "distill[s] a garment to its most basic form. I do this very purposefully, making a pattern appropriate for a complete beginner, but then someone with a little more experience can modify it to make it their own."  That statement really resonated with me and is one of the many reasons Sonya is one of my handmade heroines. There is much beauty in simplicity.

My personal pattern workbook contains simple garments with minimal closures, elastic waists, and minimal tailoring.  As my energy reserves are limited, when I am able to sew,  I want to set myself up for success.  This can be seen by my new practices of tracing patterns (I recommend this tracing paper), making muslins, shopping locally for supplies (often second hand), and really enjoying the slow process of garment making.

This dress is a perfect case in point.  I thrifted the fabric a few weeks ago for around $5 for almost 2 metres.  It's a lovely lightweight embroidered chambray that feels butter soft and drapes beautifully.  I originally thought that I may make a pair of cropped pants with it but I needed a simple sundress more.

I didn't use a pattern - you really don't need to with a dress this simple.  I cut a rectangle that was 1.5 times larger than my hips and sewed French seam up the centre back to make a giant fabric tube.  I added elastic at the bust and waist for shaping and used my bias tape maker to make ties.  The pockets are from Simplicity 1080, otherwise known as the Dottie Angel Frock, and my favourite pocket pattern.  Adding the contrast bias tape is one of the things I love about it - a small but simple detail that doesn't distract from the overall garment. 

I wore the dress to my brother and sister-in-laws' home for a Canada Day party and felt wonderful!  Looking at these photos, my first thought was to lament at how much weight I have gained.  Then I reminded myself to be gentle and accepting.  Extra weight doesn't detract from me as a person.  I'm still fun, creative, loving, and loyal.  My health has been very challenging over the last 3 years and I've changed because of that, physically and mentally, and that's OK.  Yoga will make its way back into my life when my body is ready.

In knitting news, I'm making great progress on my So Faded sweater (I love it!) and my daughter has asked me to knit her one in pinks with some glorious hand dyed gradient and speckled yarns from my stash.  Did you notice my new bag?  It's the Portable Yarn Bowl from the Home Row Fibre Co. and it's fantastic! Rochelle makes such beautiful things and I love the bear print - it reminds me of my husband.

 If you're thinking about simplifying your life, I really enjoyed this article about why it's OK to want a small, slow, simple life.  For me, it's the ultimate bliss.

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Now, how about you satisfy my nosiness and let me know what you're working on right now?  What have you finished lately?  Any projects you're really excited about?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer of Basics: Harriet

I have finished my first item from my Summer of Basics plans!  Right off the top, I have to say that I am delighted with how it turned out.  I do realize that Harriet looks nothing like my originally planned item, Clio, and I'll chalk that one up to the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men.  I did cast on Clio and soon realized that this lovely sweater needed the bounce and stretch of wool and not the cotton/linen blend I was using.  So, I put it away for another day.  After a deep dive into my knitting patterns binder,  I realized that I had nothing to hand that would match the idea in my head, so I went with a self-drafted design.

Harriet is a bottom up, in the round top with lots of texture.  The yarn I used, Cascade Hampton, is a delight to knit with and the French Blue colour coordinates so well with my existing handmade wardrobe.  The fabric is light and breathable and drapes beautifully and, paired with my favourite McCalls 2735 cropped linen pants, it brings to reality a favourite outfit of mine from the early 2000s.

As you know, I bought the yarn from my LYS, Handknit Yarn Studio, who are hosting a summer KAL. It's really easy to join as all you need to do is knit a garment in a summer weight yarn that uses at least 600 yards.  For Harriet, I used 3 skeins of Cascade Hampton, clocking in at 819 yards!

I wanted a lot of texture in this knit with minimal lace, as I wanted to be able to wear it on its own without having to worry about a 'modesty' layer.  I borrowed bits and pieces from favourite patterns and I'm quite pleased with the end result.  Starting from the bottom, the 'ribbing' is a scalloped ribbed stitched from the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Edgings book, followed by one repeat of the lace pattern in Sarah Vaughn's Jumper.  The body is knit in sugar cube stitch from Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Knit and Purl book.  All stitches were converted to knit in the round.  The Sugar Cube stitch is especially relaxing as it is an 8 row repeat and becomes intuitive quickly.

The cowl neck is knit by using the instructions from Francis, Revisited; although, I made my cowl less deep than the pattern states as this is meant to be a lightweight piece.  I can see myself using this as a layering piece in the cooler weather.  Versatility - the workhorse of my handmade wardrobe!

Are you participating in the Summer of Basics Make Along?  What are you making?  I'm nosy and I love to see what other people have on their needles and cutting tables!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Summer of Basics Make Along

My sewing practice has switched over the last 18 months to 75% planning and 25% sewing as my energy still depletes quickly.  While initially frustrating, this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise and I have slowed down my sewing process.  I now sew French seams in the bulk of my makes and I am making much more thoughtful decisions about what I add to my handmade wardrobe.  I need to ensure that when I sit down at the machine, I'm making something that will be worn frequently and is something I love wearing.

I have been eagerly following Jen's (of Fringe Association) progress on her summer wardrobe planning.  I really enjoy her thorough process and care that goes on behind it.  In a recent post, she linked to Karen's post on the Fringe Association about the Summer Basics Make Along.  This is such an achievable make along for me as the simple premise is to make three wardrobe basics in three months.  Even if I have a flare during that time, I can still finish my makes in time to be enjoyed during summer!  As someone with a chronic illness, this feels like a victory even before I get started!

My local yarn store, Handknit Yarn Studio, has a knit night the first Thursday of every month.  Happily, I was well enough to go this month and I enjoyed myself immensely.  Kate and Tracey, the lovely owners, are experienced knitters and a pure joy to talk with as they are happy to share their wealth of knowledge.  I'm the newest member (I think) but everyone there makes you feel instantly welcome.  I brought my second Fade shawl to work on and received so many compliments.  It made me feel terrific!

Of course, knit night wouldn't be complete without a yarn purchase.  Ever the Cascade lover, I saw that there was a fresh stock of their Hampton yarn, a delectable blend of 70% pima cotton and 30% linen and is a DK weight; perfect for summer!  I chose this fantastic shade of French blue (colour #13).  Isn't it pretty?  Kate even caked it up for me as she knows I don't have a ball winder.  Any suggestions on that front would be much appreciated.  Winding up 450+ yards of fingering weight yarn is rapidly losing it's appeal!

Getting back to the Summer of Basics, I knew I needed a lightweight summer pullover.  I find that now that I'm no longer working, I prefer the comfort of a sweater over a cardigan.  No one is carrying on an extended battle with the thermostat anymore and having a consistent temperature is just lovely. LOL! I knew I wanted to knit something textured with an oversized/boxy fit.  I tend to dress in layers and need a garment will perform well in all seasons.

After a lengthy Ravelry search and falling in love with three new patterns, I chose Clio. Clio is a top-down, seamless knit (my favourite) with dropped shoulders and a wide neckline.  I love all of the texture happening in the pattern!  I plan to knit this with elbow length sleeves to make it more versatile for the warmer months.

For this make a long, I wanted to make an outfit comprised of pieces that look pretty together but also coordinate with all the separates in my summer wardrobe.  To that end, I chose an old favourite pattern for the top: Salme Pattern's Kimono Top.  I love this pattern.  It is so easy to sew and I feel great wearing it.  I'm going to rejig the pattern so that I can sew it with French seams - the preferred making method of sewing turtles like me (ha ha!).

For the fabric, I chose a gorgeous viscose poplin from Blackbird Fabrics which I bought earlier this year.  Following their Instagram feed in an exercise in restraint as every fabric posted is delectable!  It will be lovely and cool to wear during the summer and it works with absolutely every bottom I have. 

The last item on my basics list is a little gem of a skirt from Marilla Walker.  It's also a free pattern!  The Ilsley skirt is a simple elastic waist skirt with hip pockets and a neat curved hem.  Easy for me to wear and easy on my skin and joints as I will inevitably feel the heat and humidity there over the summer.  I love Marilla's patterns and have amassed a perfect collection for my personal sewing workbook.

I'm using one of my most favourite warm weather fabrics for the skirt: linen/rayon blend.  I normally order Robert Kaufman's Brussels Washer Linen (the only fabric I buy outside of Canada) but I found this in my local fabric store 2 years ago.  It's been sitting in my stash ostensibly earmarked for another pair of Vogue 2128 trousers but, on recent perusal, between Vogue 2128 and McCall's 2735, I have 5 pairs of linen trousers already and really don't need more. Linen skirts, however, are in short supply! Like my shirt fabric, this gorgeous teal goes with absolutely every top in my wardrobe.
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So those are my chosen basics!  I essentially live in linen and rayon during the summer so it makes a lot of sense to add these pieces to my wardrobe. I know I will enjoy making them (such a key component in crafting, isn't it) and I will love wearing them.

Are you joining in the Summer of Basics Make Along?  What basics are you planning on making?  I do love to read about what you're all making.  I find you all so inspiring :)

Now, I'm off to put up my swollen feet and work a few more rows on my Eugenie sweater.  I want to finish that, as well as my rose print New Look 6340 before starting these new projects.  Until next time, friends!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Queen of Tides

Today I'd like to share one of my recent makes, which is, quite frankly, a personal knitting triumph.  Like many others, I was captivated by the Find Your Fade shawls as soon as yarn combinations and WIP photos began popping up on Instagram. It took me a little while to cast on my own as I was quite a bit intimidated by the sheer size of the shawl and the fact that it was knit with fingering weight yarn; over 1000 yards of it! I needn't have worried though, as this has been one of the most satisfying knits I've ever done.

The pattern is by Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits and is beautifully written.  There's no getting around the fact that this is a big project but Andrea keeps it interesting and fun by breaking the pattern up into manageable pieces.  Even knitting just a few rows feels and looks like progress.  The garter stitch sections are squishy and bouncy and the mesh lace is simple enough that I knit much of this watching Netflix in bed!

Half the fun is deciding on which yarns to use for your project.  It makes a good stash buster for those of us with large fingering weight stashes - mine is still modest and consists of mostly self-striping sock yarn.  I did; however, use a blend of high end and budget yarns in my shawl.  I had a couple of false starts before deciding on my colour scheme. 

Being relatively new to the sock yarn / fingering weigh yarn world, I wanted to try something nice to knit with but not too expensive, just in case I didn't like the experience.  I chose a beautiful Knit Picks yarn called Hawthorne Speckle Hand Paint in Aquatic Speckle.  The soft mint colour reminded me of sea glass (a favourite of mine) and it was the starting point for the whole shawl.

For Christmas, I was so lucky to receive a large bag of yarny goodies from my lovely friend, Theresa.  She filled it with such love and thoughtfulness that I was moved to tears and I wanted to be sure to choose projects that did justice to both the beautiful yarn and her kindness.  This shawl was ideal. In the end, I used a blend of Knit Picks Hawthorne yarns and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock.  The high twist and lush colours of the Hawthorne yarns (I used yarn from the Hand Paint, Kettle Dye, and Multi lines) really played well with the Sweet Georgia.  Believe me, their reputation for excellence is well-deserved!

It took me approximately 7 weeks to knit the entire shawl and then blocking it was an adventure in itself.  It was so big that I had to block it in my bathtub - a first for me - and it was larger than my entire worktable, which is over 5 feet wide  I'm a loosey-goosey blocker but I think I did end up with the suggested wingspan of 100 inches from tip to tip.

I love wearing this shawl.  The fact that it is essentially a socially acceptable blanket is a definite point in its favour.  The merino wool is butter soft and it is breezy light to wear but still warm and cozy.  Every time it gets an outing, I receive compliments.  Even my family doctor loved it and after all the years she has cared for us, I finally found out that she is a knitter, too!  Who knew?

This is by far the largest and most ambitious project I have ever completed.  I worked on it at a nice steady pace and enjoyed every minute.  I liked this project so much that I have cast on a second Fade shawl and I'm approximately half way though. I tend to post WIP photos on my Instagram, in case you're interested.

If you've been curious about knitting shawls or are looking for an interesting pattern, I highly recommend Find Your Fade.  It's knit asymmetrically so you're not left with 4 million stitches on the needles; something that feels like a slog to me.  Don't be put off by the light weight of the yarn, either.  I am normally a worsted weight knitter but I felt comfortable with the 3 mm circular needle and yarn quite quickly.  It felt natural and satisfying as I was working with it.

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What's on your needles?  Do you have a pattern to recommend?  I'm still working away on my socks (10 pairs since January 2017) and I think I may try cables or lace soon.  I do find knitting with self-striping yarn to be enormously satisfying!
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