Saturday, January 11, 2020

Cable Collar Top, or Knowing When to Quit

There are a number of decisions that go into every creation.

In the beginning, those decisions revolve around one’s vision for the project and how to make it happen. In the end, it often becomes a matter of knowing when to stop and declare the project finished.

But the decisions in the middle can be the trickiest, in part because they typically go unacknowledged. Like a “choose your own adventure” book — and like life itself — each decision impacts what will happen next in ways that are often unforeseen.

And sometimes one project flows into the next, seemingly turning the process into one long middle with no beginning or end.

About ten years ago, I bought six skeins of Cascade Yarns Sierra in colorway 48 Apple Green. I knit the Bed Jacket pattern from Joan McGowan-Michael. I wore it occasionally over the years, but it never quite fit as well as I’d hoped. As my weight has changed, it reached the point of not fitting at all.

This summer I took apart the bed jacket; in late September, I used the yarn to start knitting the Cable Collar Top by Norah Gaughan. Progress was slow but steady until last week.

I had knit the back, taking notes along the way. I knit the front, which uses the same set of directions except for changes to the neckline. I knit the short sleeves, then seamed the shoulders.

And it became very clear that the armholes for the front are much shorter than the armholes for the back. If I align the bottoms of the armholes, the shoulder seams shift forward.

Knitting in progress of green Cable Collar Top with shifted shoulder seams on a white background

How did this happen? I have the same number of rows for the front and back armholes, and the gauge is measuring the same. Right now the overall armhole size is just right, so I would need to adjust both the front and the back. If one piece is hanging differently than the other, however, will it realign itself with time or blocking — creating more problems if I try to make corrections?

I’ve been in a holding pattern as I try to look ahead to the course of action that will yield the results I want. And because I can’t fully figure out what is throwing off the armholes, I can’t fully figure out how to correct them.

I’ve decided to start over. I have a different pattern in mind and new vision of what I want to achieve. But, at the moment, this feels like one long middle with no end in sight.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Welcome to 2020

This year went by so quickly, but I kept making throughout the whirlwind:

Sewing
  • 9 hand-stitched flower blocks for The Hexagon Project
  • 1 top
  • 1 throw pillow

Knitting
  • 5 tops
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 1 shawlette
  • 1 purse, knit and fulled
  • 12 sets of four chair socks

Crochet
  • 8 amigurumi
  • 5 doilies
  • 3 wash cloths
  • 1 bath mat

Spinning
  • 638 yards of two-ply alpaca/wool yarn

A grid of the nine most-liked photos from my Instagram feed in 2019.
My Instagram 2019 Top Nine features way too much pollen, followed by a mix of fiber projects.

I read eight art-related books, and knit more blocks onto my scrap blankets. I made-then-remade far too many knit tops, although I kept learning along the way and managed to come out ahead.

I gave myself permission to post less frequently than weekly if I didn’t have a worthwhile topic at the ready; play-by-plays of slow progress don’t make the most riveting reading.

And I started a new job, which is kicking my butt. I’m so mentally drained when I get home that slow progress is becoming downright snail-paced. I’ve been enjoying my shift toward knitting more complicated wearables — despite the frustration of the associated learning curve — but need to choose the moments when I tackle them.

The silver lining to my new routine is that I’m working on my English paper piecing blocks more regularly during my lunch breaks.

While I know I’ll be posting less frequently with fewer finished projects, my goal for 2020 is to focus on how I write about those projects. I want to better highlight the creative process, and share more technical tips.

I’m also considering writing some posts featuring projects from the past. Everything I make is built upon what I’ve made before. Why not include more of that journey?

The trick will be whether I’m able to wrangle enough brain cells to pull off that kind of writing change. I hope to keep you interested while I figure this out.

Best wishes to you and yours in 2020!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Hexagon Project: Blocks 27-29

Slow and steady. I’ve hand sewn three more English paper piecing hexagon flower blocks for my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

English paper piecing hexagon flower blocks 27, 28, and 29 lined up on a white background.

I’ve noticed that my most recent flower blocks aren’t as flat as my earlier blocks, even after being pressed. I’m not sure of the cause — it may be differences in how I cut the hexie templates, in where I’m sewing the stitches, in the tightness of the stitches, ... or in something else entirely.

It’s nothing that won’t quilt out later, but I’m paying closer attention to how I sew the stitches in my current block in hopes that I’m able to pick up on something.

EPP hexies in multiple colors overlapping on a white background.

Speaking of cutting templates, it’s almost that time again. I’m looking forward to laying out all of my blocks first; I may have enough to start sewing them into a quilt. I’d still need to cut more hexagon templates for the sashing blocks, but it would add an element of excitement to the chore of cutting the card stock if I knew I was about to move on to the next step in this process.

In the meantime, I’ll keep moving forward — slow and steady, stitch by stitch.