Indigo tamarack: part IV

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All the while making this jacket, I thought to myself: this will either look crazy, or crazy good.

As I rounded the home stretch of binding the jacket edges, I knew that the latter was confirmed. Introducing my indigo Tamarack jacket: hand-dyed, patchwork-pieced, hand-quilted, lined in upcycled flannel, filled with locally made wool batting, bound by hand, a supremely cozy feat of skill-building slow fashion.

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It just feels so good —¬†crazy good —¬†to finally wear something that has been growing and evolving, stretching and reflecting over a year of creativity. In a way, this jacket charts my trajectory in style and skill, explorations and impulses. In a way, it’s less a statement jacket and more a summary.

In nearly any incarnation, the Tamarack Jacket pattern by Grainline Studio seems like the perfect transition-season outerwear. For mine, I lengthened the body by 1″ and the sleeves by 2″, my standard adjustments, and the fit is perfect for lightweight layering. It’s a little crowded with my Exeter cardigan underneath, but just right over a fingering-weight sweater or simple sweatshirt (may I suggest: Liv light or Linden). It doesn’t yet have any form of closure, though I plan to add a few hooks & eyes, which I’m waiting to see if I can find at a textile recycling event later this month, and the updated version of the pattern includes a delightful looking snap option.

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Should you choose to make a Tamarack Jacket in pre-quilted fabric, or perhaps a vintage quilt (yes, please do that!), you could probably have one in a day. Should you go for custom machine-quilting, you can probably still finish it in a weekend. Should you wish to make an indigo vat, cut apart and patchwork together your pieces, source your¬†batting locally, quilt it together with sashiko thread, bind all the interior seams, finish the exterior binding by hand, and embroider your heart into painstaking welt pockets — well, it might just take you a year and a half.

And it might be a crazy-neverending WIP, but the payoff might just match the persistence.

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Worn with: vintage silk tee & jeans, handmade shawl, favorite necklace & clogs.

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Project planning for fall

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Back to my point about project planning: whether or not you actually want to make/use/live with a capsule wardrobe, the free¬†Capsule planner can be a helpful tool to plan wardrobe addition. I’m going with a fall capsule wardrobe, but I think the foundation of taking stock of what I have, identifying what’s working & what’s not, thinking about weather and lifestyle and any needs for the upcoming season allows me¬†to easily identify and prioritize pieces I want to add to my wardrobe, capsuled or not.

From my wardrobe planning process, I have a clear color palette, an idea of my favorite silhouettes, and an inventory of what I have and what gaps exist in my wardrobe. I have a good number of boxy tops that I love, but am pretty low on pants and skirts to pair them with (especially pieces that are in good condition and can be dressed up a bit).

The Capsule planner also offered a nice time to reflect on my goals: moving slowly, keeping my closet pared down, and working with my stash. So now, the part I daydream about the most! What to make? How will the things I make pair with what I already have and love?

Since I generally¬†enjoy making most of my wardrobe, I use the shopping list part of the Un-fancy Capsule planner to think about what projects to prioritize. But, considering my current need for pants and the learning curve to make a pair (which I don’t have time for just yet), I decided to invest in a pair of Clyde pants after many many months of contemplation and budgeting. I also need another pair of shoes, ideally boots, which is a bigger budget item, so I’m¬†trying to keep my project budget lean and finish up a few WIPs.

Roughly in order of priority:

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Loose inspirations & interpretations: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I wouldn’t say this planning method is totally foolproof — I could still end up with clothing that doesn’t quite fit or isn’t durable, or doesn’t ultimately move into regular wardrobe rotation. But I have a natural tendency (ok, borderline obsession) toward planning and I think laying it all out ahead of time is¬†really helpful.

I also know that this fall — really, the rest of 2016 — will be very busy for me, and there’s a chance that I won’t get through even half of the items on my list. Through my summer capsule wardrobe experience, I learned that making one full garment per month is a reasonable pace, so with my fall planning I’m trying not to set my expectations too high, and by prioritizing, I can focus on each item in due course. Still, if I don’t get to making or finishing the items on my list, I know that I have plenty to wear and lots of great options in my fall capsule.

This is my current practice of balancing excitement, inspiration, and desire, with gratitude, responsibility, and time management.¬†Do you have a fall list? I love learning about how others plan (or don’t!) their projects, and welcome your thoughts in the comments!

Summer capsule reflection

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What I wore

Looking back, I had a few clear summer silhouettes:

  1. Sleeveless, boxy cropped shirt + high waist + sandals. In heavy rotation were my self-drafted crop top, my blue striped t-shirt, my knit beach tank, mixed and matched with my cut-off jean shorts, vintage linen wide-leg pants, thrifted high-waist non-stretch jeans, and paired with my Birkenstock sandals or Zuzii sandals (which I bought for a wedding and have proved quite versatile).
  2. Breezy dress with pockets + sandals or sneakers. For me, dresses are the easiest thing to wear in the summer, and can be styled a little differently (more casual or a more refined) depending on shoes or jewelry. My most-reached for this summer were my wabi-sabi Dress No. 1, my hacked V1482, and my Charlotte Kan tie dress (see below). I love me-made dresses because I can make sure the length is in my comfort zone, and I can always add pockets.
  3. Wide-legged jumpsuit (sometimes layered under a top) + sandals. For hot and sticky weather, and bike riding all over town, my two jumpsuits were perfect and fun: one is a vintage linen style that I bought on ebay and dyed in indigo, and the other is a black organic cotton Sallie jumpsuit that I made last summer.

And a quick shout-out to a couple of me-made favorites that were in heavy rotation but never got a full blog post: tops and dresses made from Charlotte Kan Pocket-T and Tie Dress patterns:

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From left:¬†I first made the Tie Dress in a linen-cotton blend last summer as a birthday present to myself, and then I volunteered to pattern test the Pocket-T (so I received the pattern in exchange for my review; I used deadstock Cupro from Feral Childe) last July. Last fall I made a cropped version (with split side seams) of the pocket tee in Merchant & Mills Irish linen, and in the spring I used the sleeve shape and waistline¬†to create a heavily modified V1482 (a.k.a. Rachel Comey sack dress). If you’re interested in more details on any of those, feel free to ask in the comments, or let me know if a full post would be helpful.

What I didn’t wear

This summer was non-stop heat and humidity at home, and really didn’t cool down in the evenings at all, as it does in other places I’ve lived. This meant that I rarely/never wore any of my warm layers (light sweaters or jackets) except for travel. I also hardly wore my stretch denim jeans or my Prism dress¬†because long sleeves and pants just never seemed like something I wanted on my body.¬†Since my summer capsule extended into early September, I was able (and excited!) to bring these items into the rotation¬†at the very end of the time span.

I didn’t wear my¬†black high-waisted shorts often, but I still love them so much. They’re just a little too short for riding my bike or workwear but they’re great for going out with friends or dates.¬†I also pretty much never wore my wrap skirt! I need to make it a faux-wrap skirt because it always feels too fussy so I don’t reach for it.

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What I made (and what I didn’t)

  1. Just before I officially committed to my summer capsule, I made a self-drafted crop top and it was easily a summer fave (also made one for a friend), worn alone or layered over a jumpsuit or dress.
  2. At the start of June I also finished knitting¬†a lightweight shawl, which I intended to wear for my brother’s wedding but didn’t really end up needing. I think it will be great for fall and spring layering though.
  3. In June I made a rather wabi-sabi Dress No. 1, which exceeded my plans and expectations in how fun it was to make and wear (dressed up for a friend’s wedding, as well as my brother’s wedding rehearsal party, and dressed down for daily wear).
  4. In July I braved the unending humidity to draft and stitch my “Best Woman Dress” (full post coming soon! Inspiration post here)
  5. For a quick travel project and stash-buster, I knit a bright red Diode hat
  6. In August, I cast on a new sweater for my partner as part of the Fringe & Friends Knitalong.
  7. In the very first days of September I finished a set of silk Lakeside Pajamas

I had hoped and planned to draft and sew a¬†tunic that I had envisioned when I received¬†a beautiful piece of khadi¬†from A Verb for Keeping Warm as a Me-Made-May contest prize (which I didn’t even realize I had entered!). I can see how the tunic would have fit into my capsule and silhouettes, but I didn’t necessarily feel that it was glaringly missing. I just didn’t have time, and I’m sure it will still be inspiring next spring/summer.

I also didn’t finish the¬†Penny Raglan¬†I had planned. I actually¬†started making it, and it’s not too far from being finished, but I just don’t think I’ll wear it. I love the penny raglan shape but I made it¬†out of a linen-cotton blend curtain I found at Goodwill, and it’s too sheer for my comfort level. I’m debating between tossing the unfinished garment in the scrap bin, or finishing it and giving it away.

Looking at this list, I essentially made one garment¬†per month, with one smaller project added in or wrapped up. It’s really helpful for me to better understand my pace so I can be realistic with planning my projects and purchasing supplies, and it’s also nice to realize that I posted about nearly all the finished garments here.

This feels good as in the past I’ve been somewhat on the fence with blogging, but I’ve really been enjoying it as a writing outlet and a place to record notes (like this post, which has been a running draft for several weeks now) and inspiration. Sometimes¬†I just don’t want to spend any of my free¬†time on a computer¬†(since my work involves a lot of screen time — that’s why my tactile hobbies are so nourishing for¬†me), and other times I’d rather move into the next project instead of re-hashing what I finished, but I value the opportunity to appreciate each project and learning process.

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What I learned, and notes for next year

My biggest takeaway is that I actually didn’t feel limited by my capsule wardrobe — I had plenty to wear, and even felt a bit more adventurous¬†trying to experiment with new ways to wear what I already love.

Toward that end, I played with styling by trying a 10 x 10 challenge while on a 10 day trip, and it was really fun! I love layering and that can get tricky in the summer. Honestly, I have no issues with repeating outfits, but the 10 x 10 challenge to make 10 items¬†feel like 10 different styles was really interesting and showed me that my clothes have greater versatility than the way I typically¬†wear them. It also allowed me to pack a light carry-on and still dress appropriately¬†for a few days at the beach, a wedding weekend, and a few days in New York City. I thought about doing a full post on it but then I fell behind (and subsequently gave up) photographing the 10 outfits. The items from my 10×10 experiment are featured in the collage at the top of this post, and the first two looks are shown above (travel day and beach day).

Part of what draws me to the capsule wardrobe exercise and using capsule planning to pare down my project list a bit, is that I get stressed out when I’m growing my stash by buying things I don’t have time to use or make. My summer capsule was successful in helping me hone in on a projects I really wanted/needed to make, and stick to working through my stash!

To be completely transparent, I did buy a few things during this capsule stretch, like the Lakeside Pajamas and Penny Raglan patterns. And when I visited Fancy Tiger Crafts I bought lots of underwear elastic, and two cuts of hemp knit for shirts for Jenn. But I didn’t buy any new fabric for my own wardrobe. And I fought a very intense urge to throw my plans (and budget) out the window to make a stripey Fen dress — that was a fascinating rollercoaster of desire to witness within myself, and might become its own post soon.

My summer capsule wardrobe also affirmed my love for jumpsuits: if I had to live with only one item of clothing, it would probably have been my indigo linen jumpsuit this summer (it’s a vintage Flax jumpsuit that I bought on Ebay and overdyed at home). I recently read an interesting post¬†on the question of whether a love of styling is at odds with a minimalist approach to fashion,¬†and the author brought up how¬†garments that are versatile don’t have to be basic. For me, jumpsuits are a prime example. You know all those “wardrobe essentials” lists on Pinterest and in fashion magazines? They often include items I don’t own or rarely wear, like a classic blazer or pencil skirt, whereas because I love the jumpsuits I have, they’ve become essentials.

A few notes for next year’s warm season:

  • My Nisolo sandals are really a half-size too big, and wearing them in very wet grass for an¬†evening didn’t help that. It might be wise to replace them.
  • I’m pretty good on lightweight sweaters — I have three that I love, which cover different shapes, and meet my needs for this climate.
  • I love my Zady linen tee but it shows wear more quickly than other items, so it would be a good item to duplicate. Either with another of the same – maybe in black or stripes so I don’t need to worry about staining so much, or I could knit a similar shape¬†in Quince & Co. sparrow¬†(I’m looking at you, Moon Tee).
  • ¬†I think another shift dress in place of my Prism dress would be good, and especially one with pockets — I’m head over heels for Lily Schlosser’s Fen dress in stripes, so that might jump to the top of my spring/summer list for next year.

So there you have it – my first official capsule wardrobe and wrap-up. I¬†plan to keep going with this pattern for a while because I’m enjoying it and I think it’s a valuable tool for my goal of a maintaining a small closet.¬†What do you think — are you interested in a capsule wardrobe, would you try one? Do you plan your wardrobe and/or projects in other ways? Do you love having an expansive stash?

Upcycled silk lakeside pajamas

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A slinky, breezy pajama set – or – a slice of humble pie.

What do I mean?

That I am both grateful to have these lakeside pajamas to wear on muggy nights and perhaps more grateful to no longer have them on my sewing table.

That even though I’ve been sewing most of my wardrobe for nearly 3 years and was starting to think my topstitching and bias binding skills were halfway decent, there is still so much to learn and practice.

Ok, what I really mean is that these pj’s are what my dad would call a “ten footer” project — they look great from 10 ft. away, but upon closer inspection the stitching is what I would call a hot mess.

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No matter, they’re still wearable. And at some point after wrestling with approximately twenty-six feet of bias binding to complete the tank top and first step of the shorts construction (an exaggeration, but still), I gave in to the struggle and decided that thread matching isn’t always necessary. Which, maybe, is a lesson in going easy on yourself, especially when it’s 9 pm on a holiday spent working the same as any other day.

Also when the color blocking would have made thread-matching a particularly time-consuming challenge. But the color blocking itself is a fun detail that was surprisingly easy since I was working with an already color-blocked silk skirt and shirt combo, picked up from a tag sale several years ago. I’m not the best at identifying silk fabric types, but I think this would be classified as a lightweight china silk — plain woven, no backing, some sheen.

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Whatever it is, remind me not to attempt to work with it anytime soon. Whereas my upcycled Alamada robe is a fluid, drapey silk, and my best woman dress is a mid- to heavy-weight stretch silk (which I only discovered while testing my stitches Рmore on that another day), this was a flimsy, slippery little devil that seemed to prefer to skew to the bias, and did not want to stay in a straight line under my needle.

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But the pattern itself, even with all the bias binding, is a gem. I love the overall look, with the slightly retro gym shorts and flattering a-line tank. The clever layered back pieces of the tank offer a breezy vent for hot nights without being too revealing, which I love; the shorts, however, are super revealing and would definitely not make it outside the house even if the stitching were better. But then, I knew when I was cutting that I would probably want to lengthen the inseam, but I chose not to because I was fussy-cutting to arrange the pieces on the various color-blocked portions available.

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Fitwise, I find both the upper-bust of the tank and the low hip of the shorts to be a little tight on me. I cut my usual Grainline size 10, although my hip measurement actually matches an 8 — I think the slight tautness might be due to the fabric, which doesn’t have much give. It could also be due to the french seams I was determined to use but not so dedicated to measuring properly. But after one night wearing them, they loosened a bit and are perfectly comfortable. Next time, I would lengthen the inseam of the shorts, remove the length I added (on a total whim) to the straps, and add a little room to the upper bust.

Just as having a fancy, handmade silk robe feels like a treat, having a stylish, matching pajama set feels surprisingly delightful. I can already imagine that next summer I might want to make an alternate set, this time in a light linen or organic cotton voile, with more precise stitching and a few fitting tweaks.

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Indigo Tamarack: Part III

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Fear not, my tamarack jacket is alive!

Remember when I bought the pattern as soon as it came out, dyed the fabric with indigo, sourced locally made wool batting, and even tested my quilting methods, then tabled it for six months and then wrote about how I really ought to prioritize it my queue?

Well it’s been the slowest of slow fashion,¬†but the thing is, I didn’t really like how the quilting was looking. I went so far as to start machine quilting the back piece of the jacket, and though the stitches were even and I basted it and used a walking foot, the batting was so lofty and my quilting so amateur that the edges of the piece no longer aligned. I knew that if I continued I would hardly have a jacket the same size as the one I cut out.

I put my tamarack jacket in time out.

In the intervening months I had so many ideas for how to shift directions — minimalist sashiko hand quilting that would match the color of the jacket for a subtle tone-on-tone look; maximalist sashiko hand quilting that would celebrate the dashing white stitches in geometric patterns; machine quilting¬†with¬†narrow stripes to tamp down the loftiness; hand quilting with wide stripes to embrace the puffiness, etc. etc. as the Pin-spiration grew.

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I settled on a plan to make the quilting easier by reducing the loft of the batting by carefully “peeling” half of each piece off. To compensate for the lost insulation, I decided to switch from the lining I had cut from scraps to a lining cut from a thrifted flannel sheet.¬†But still, I was uncertain of how to quilt the jacket.

And then, the Secret Catalog arrived and Maria’s OKONION x Secret Catalog quilts gave me ALL the heart eyes. (I know, emoji-speak, but seriously, check the quilts):

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Suddenly, all I wanted to do was quilt and all those months of Tamarack indecision evaporated as I decided I would jump into some quilt piecing. Since I had decided to remove the indigo-dyed scrap lining, I now had a set of coordinating fabric I could cut up and piece together. The last time I tried to quilt was in middle school and I chose turquoise and bright purple fat quarter sets from the local big box fabric store, and I think it was just a simple square repeat but the process lasted longer than my love for the color palette so I never finished it. (sorry mom, I still so appreciate your help).

I’m a big fan of Purl Soho’s blog, so I figured their classic aesthetic and generous tutorials wouldn’t lead me astray. The denim pinwheels pattern caught my eye quickly and seemed like a perfect match, so I trusted my gut and started cutting some test squares.

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I followed the Purl Soho instructions but decided on 4″ pinwheels and adjusted the math accordingly (with 1/4″ seam allowances for the pinwheel piecing). Quilting the whole jacket seemed overly ambitious, and less wearable for my style, so I decided on quilted panels and calculated how many pinwheels I would need to fill the panels.

I think it took me about 2 evenings of chain piecing, cutting, pressing, and more piecing to assemble all the pinwheel blocks, and then another evening to arrange them into panels. I didn’t get too fussy with the arrangement, I want it to be random but avoid repeats next to one another (there are 4 fabric types and 6¬†pinwheel combinations).

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Attaching the panels to the (already cut out) Tamarack pieces was still a little nerve wracking since it felt like the point of no return, but I finally did that and am moving ahead with quilting! While sashiko quilting will make the jacket even more eclectic, I’ve decided I’d rather do that than¬†stress about the misalignment misadventures with my novice machine quilting. Sometimes, hand stitching is just so much more soothing.

My partner has been out of town for the week and I’ve been filling my time with late nights of sewing and other creative entropy. It’s been really fun to satisfy my quilting lust and resuscitate this WIP, too. Hopefully, Part IV will be the finished jacket soon!

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Last of the winter layers

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When I felt the first chills of fall last year, I panicked just a little bit. I’ve lived in cold climates before, but had adapted my wardrobe to California’s temperate weather, and faced a serious lack of winter layers.

Specifically, I needed long sleeve¬†shirts with¬†long¬†enough sleeves because covering your wrists is important for retaining body heat, and also because I’m very tired of hems coming up short. When Grainline Studio released the Lark Tee, visions of cozy, custom-fit base layers danced in my head.

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If I wasn’t focused¬†warmth, I think the Lark Tee would make an excellent wardrobe staple in some organic cotton knit fabric, grown and milled in the USA, either from Alabama Chanin or Organic Cotton Plus. I tried to find a wool fabric of comparable domestic origins, but came up short. I found the greatest transparency with a little digging into some Pickering International blended knits from Fancy Tiger Crafts. I chose modal/wool in “seaweed” (no longer available) and heather gray organic cotton/yak down¬†and was happy to support the lovely Denver shop I admire so much.

Waylaid by holiday projects, work, and I dunno, a general lack of enthusiasm¬†for sewing knits, I actually didn’t get around to sewing a Lark until the tail end of winter. But back in January, when temperatures dropped below zero, I instinctively reached for the cozy gray knit and whipped up a Papercut Patterns Rise/Fall Turtleneck. After studying some instagram shots of the completed pattern, I went with the “Rise” body and the “Fall” neck for a slimmer fit with a full turtleneck. I lengthened the sleeves by 2.5″ and the body by 1″, which was a little bit cropped but all I could squeeze onto the yardage. Without even hemming the edges, I ended up wearing this top several days a week during the coldest spells.

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In January, I had the opportunity to help a local organization on a project launch, and ended up visiting their office once per week. The dress code was a pretty big step up from my work from home attire (and even my former SF office outfits), so I was really glad to have this turtleneck in the rotation. I especially enjoyed wearing it as seen here, with a vintage silk skirt, tights, and boots. My occasional commute was also much improved by an incredible wool cape that I found at a local vintage shop — it’s essentially a wearable blanket, which is both fun to wear and seriously practical, and also a little more stylish than the bulky sweaters I favor for casual wear. It made my wool coat (also thrifted) practically impenetrable to the icy winds on my walk to the bus stop.

As for the Lark tee, I was a little worried that the drapey tissue-knit wool/modal blend would be tricky to sew.¬†But I found it very easy to cut with a rotary cutter, and my machine handled it smoothly with a narrow zig zag stitch and a light ball point needle. I finished the edges with a twin needle which did create a bit of a bump, I think because the fabric didn’t have enough structure to resist bunching between the two rows of stitching, but it doesn’t bother me.

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If you’ve read other Lark reviews, many people have commented about the body length, and it’s true – the torso is long. I ended up cutting about 1″ off the length, but I also¬†lengthened the sleeves by a total of 2″ for a really long, thumb-grazing cuff (when the elbows aren’t scrunched up, at least). I’m not really a fitted T-shirt person, my favorites tend to be a bit boxier and loose, but I like how the Lark is more “figure skimming” than close fitting,¬†and I know I’ll make a few more variations. For this one, I found the armscye fit was much too droopy in the drapey and light fabric, so I just took in the underarm and sleeve curve until I was satisfied — about 3/4″ of an inch total¬†where the sleeve meets the body. The photo below (albeit grainy) shows how I adjusted the armscye incrementally (I stopped when I liked the fit, and copied that shape and distance on the second side).

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In terms of materials, these two fabrics are exotic to me. I’ve seen this organic cotton/yak down blend used in a few indie fashion collections, and I think it’s a pretty good option for a “luxury” knit akin to cashmere blends. Despite it’s high-end reputation (which sort of connotes limited supply, in my mind), high demand for cashmere is turning “grasslands into a dustbowl” due to overgrazing, whereas Yaks are better suited to the landscape. I¬†learned about¬†the benefits of Yak down¬†from the British knitwear brand Tengri, and I also like how Zady is positioning Alpaca as an alternative to cashmere, though I would love to see them support domestic Alpaca farmers. I’ve found local alpaca and alpaca/blend yarn pretty accessible, and a treat to knit with and wear.

Modal is another new one for me, and a fiber which I was hesitant about at first because it’s in the “semi-synthetic” family of fibers, like rayon. That means that although it’s derived from natural materials (wood pulp), the process of creating a yarn is more like a synthetic fiber (think Polyester or Nylon), which can be more harm than good. I¬†can¬†easily to go down an internet rabbit hole reading about wood pulp fibers (i.e. most rayons, including lyocell, Tencel, and Modal), which by many accounts are causing deforestation, and by other accounts are chemical-intensive and hardly worth the “natural”/eco-friendliness we associate with materials like bamboo.

But I’ve learned that there’s an important distinction: name brand wood pulp fibers, like Modal and Tencel, from the company Lenzing are lower impact because the company has 95-100% closed-loop production systems which reduces the chemical input and the effluent. And the inputs are more traceable because Lenzing only uses Austrian-grown¬†Beechwood (for Modal) ¬†which is not directly leading to deforestation. I appreciate this accountability and I think this technology offers¬†better¬†options than standard rayon or bamboo rayon, though the carbon footprint is probably still pretty high from the material use (trees) and transportation, so I aim to use them sparingly.

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Funnily enough, after ordering the fabrics I came across US grown and made wool knitwear from Ramblers Way, and it was on sale to boot! A set of long underwear, a henley, and a wool slip ¬†(worn beneath my Lark tee in these photos) all proved critical for my winter wardrobe. If you’re looking warm, temperature-regulating layers, I’d definitely recommend them, and they’re vertically integrated with fair wages and low-impact dyes, all the good stuff. I wore the henley for winter running and enjoyed it so much more than plastic-y “tech” fabrics.

I love making clothes, and especially the ability to customize them (like lengthening the sleeves!) but increasingly it seems like there are¬†ready-to-wear brands in the U.S. making more conscious decisions than fabric manufacturers, or perhaps it’s that they have more resources to devote to setting up a supply chain directly from the raw material. I like to support these clothing brands when I can, but then I miss the satisfaction and experience of making it myself. Do other makers feel this dilemma?

For next winter, I’m already dreaming of up-cycled wool leggings inspired by Tasha’s designs. I could see this working really well with a color-blocked design like the Aires legging, and maybe it would even work for athletic endeavors!

What are your cold-climate staples?

 

 

Cue the queue check

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I went on a long weekend/short vacation trip this past weekend, and leading up to it I had every intention to create a new garment in time for the trip. I made a muslin, made some tweaks, and then… took an honest look at everything that I needed to do before traveling and realized that sewing would have to wait.

I’m giving myself a pat on the back for listening to that voice instead of slap-dash sewing, which stresses me out and leaves me unsatisfied with the quality, and you know what? I was perfectly happy with the clothes I already had in my closet to pack up and jet off.

But another funny thing happened when I started packing: I realized that I didn’t¬†really have any knitting to bring. Knitting helps me relax, passes time while traveling, and is usually a big part of my time off activities — but it becomes sort of a Goldilocks process. My current project is too close to being finished and I couldn’t block all the pieces on the road, and my next projects are patiently waiting in my stash but not yet swatched.

So I went without anything to knit or sew. Shocking! And still quite relaxing. I read a lot; I watched political debates with my Dad; I went jogging in the sunshine. And I finally slowed down and thought through my project queue!

I’m usually a rather “monogamous” maker — one knitting and one sewing project at a time, please. Otherwise my creative time starts to feel daunting rather than exciting. But a few false sewing starts, and my goldilocks-esque knitting indecision, and it seems a queue check is in order.

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Knitting:

  1. Sawyer sweater for Jenn: I’ve been knitting a Brooklyn Tweed sweater for Jenn for what feels like forever. I know that’s dramatic, and I know I’ve taken many breaks to knit other small gifts and accessories, but I’m tired of dragging the project out (see above, back to monogamy) and so very close to finishing the second sleeve! Then it needs blocking, seaming, and a neckband – but I’m determined!
  2. Handspun mitts: I took a spinning class in January and made some bulky, quirky handspun yarn, then promptly started knitting some mittens to prepare for an impending snowstorm. The snow fell, and has since melted, and the mittens are on hold because I tried to adjust the pattern and they look really, oddly narrow.
  3. Lilian beanie: I test-knit the Lilian Beanie pattern for my insta-friend Ani (@Close_Knit). I love it! I’ve been wearing it lots… but still haven’t woven in the ends, and I want to add a little pom pom before calling it finished.

Sewing:

  1. Tamarack Jacket: I hit a road bump when it came to quilting my hand-dyed fabric and locally-sourced batting. The batting is really lofty, and just wasn’t looking great with my machine quilting skills. So in the depths of winter, when I knew it was too cold to wear a light jacket anyway, I tucked it all away until further notice. Now that spring is on the horizon, I’m itching to wear this jacket and inspired all over again to try some new quilting techniques.
  2. Almada Robe: I look forward to reading Seamwork Magazine¬†every month, but I had a hard time picturing most of the patterns working with my stash or wardrobe. Until Alamada, the kimono-inspired robe from the February issue. I started making it right away, and am piecing it together out of some up-cycled washed silk crepe de chine. It’s slow going, but I know it will be so luxurious to wear.
  3. Long sleeve layers: my winter wardrobe was very much lacking in the long sleeves department, so I made plans for a Rise/Fall Turtleneck and a long-sleeved Lark tee. I made the turtleneck and am slightly embarrassed to admit how much I’ve worn it without actually finishing the sleeves or hem! The Lark tee is heading to the cutting table soon too.
  4. Jumpsuit: this was my plan for my getaway garment — an effortlessly chic, double gauze jumpsuit. As mentioned above, this got tabled due to limited time, and I think I will keep it on the back burner until the weather warms up more in the next few months.

SO, where does that leave me? Well, the knitting list is more straightforward to me, and I’m basically moving along in order. The sewing list is a bit trickier, but I’m starting with the winter tees since they can be finished and worn right away. After that, I’m looking forward to continuing with the robe and Tamarack, perhaps simultaneously. But of course, with the early spring weather around here, I’m day dreaming of warm weather wardrobe planning and new pieces with some of my favorite old (long stashed) fabrics.

Are you “monogamous” with your makes, or do you keep lots of looks in progress?