Maxi Skirt to the MAX

Have you ever spent time browsing Pinterest and all of a sudden someone’s pin catches your attention so fiercely that you are inspired to act on it immediately? That is precisely what happened to me last week. One of my friends posted this and I just had to make it.

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Simply, bold and billowy, a fabulous combination!

I’m taking a little trip to the Virgin Islands and thought this would be fantastic piece to pack.

First things first, the pattern. Although the skirt is very simple, I decided to use a pre printed pattern, I didn’t rely have time to figure things out, I wanted to hit the ground running. The skirt in the inspiration photo doesn’t have a drop waist, but I think the drop waist will flatter my body shape more and won’t add bulk around my tummy.

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So let the fabric search begin. There are few fabric shops near me and the choices they offer are a limited. I googled large black and white polka dots and began scrolling. I found several fabrics that were almost an exact match, but the weren’t cotton. I wanted cotton because it’s easy to sew with, easy to wash and cool, it’ll be hot under all those yards of fabric.  This is what I decided to go with.

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The fabric is, Art Gallery Avantgarde Tentative Dot Ink, $9.95 per yard

The pattern required a little over 4 yards of 60 inch wide fabric, the fabric I chose was only 43 inches. After looking at how the pattern is laid out on the fabric, it looked like there would be wasted fabric. I went with my first choice, but ordered 5 yards, and thought I’d fudge it if need be.

So, wash and dry fabric, iron fabric, cut out pieces, check, check, check.

After, I’d cut out all the mandatory pieces, I still had a full yard of fabric left. I pinned the front pieces to the top I was wearing so I could gauge the fullness, and after a few photos and texts with Marie, we decided that I should add a half panel to the front and back.

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To make  the front panel I folded the folded the patten piece in half along the centre, and then in half again, inverted the fold and smoothed it out. The important thing is to maintain the angels of the sides and the curve along the hem. The back was a little trickier because of the zip. Each back panel had to be a quarter of the original. The folding followed the same principle as the front. I was a little tight, but I managed to get all three pieces from the extra yard.

The pleated, shorter versions of the pattern are designed with pockets, but the maxi isn’t. I love love love pockets and they were a must for me, so I cut those from the fabric scraps left over. I also had to get a little creative when cutting out the front waist band, it wasn’t cut along the grain as suggested.

The sewing part was really easy, and fairly quick, nothing tricky. I did it all within a day. Roll on holiday because I cannot wait the wear it.

-F

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Postcards from Rhinebeck ’14

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IMG_6516.JPGIt was so good to get out of the city this weekend and head upstate to Rhinebeck for the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival. The weather was the most perfect October weather you could ask for, by turns dramatic, steel grey skies with the woods all orange and red and gold and the clearest blue sky and sunshine with cold air and chilly breeze. It was perfectly cold and that meant that the hand knits could be worn comfortably, but not so cold that you needed a jacket over them. Florrie finished her Aunt Fred and it looked so great on her, I would have lost my marbles knitting a whole sweater in that fiddly sport weight wool. Kudos to her. I wore my Astoria cowl, it was snug and perfectly warm.

Florrie had much more shopping restraint than I did, I bought two skeins of Miss Babs Yowza in a really pretty green/blue/grey colorway (Shaken Not Stirred), the line for Miss Babs wool was predictably long, a giant bag of Maple Cotton Candy, some Hot Maple Mustard (it’s seriously the best thing ever), a gorgeous cherry wood stirrer/spatula from Chester B. Basil’s stall, some beautiful grey/green ceramic buttons from Melissa Jean and on the way home when we stopped off in Tivoli at Fabulous Yarns I got a squishy red skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Extra.  I’m not sure if it was because it’s the third or fourth year that we have gone, or if it was in fact smaller this year. Not sure, but it was fun and we got to scratch a few goats and sheep under their chins, and see so much beautiful wool.

Until next year Rhinebeck, maybe I’ll get my act together in 2015 and have my own sweater to wear. 😀

-Marie

 

 

Postcards from Vogue Knitting Live Part II

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Our apologies for this post coming so late to you. Vogue Knitting Live was over two weeks ago, though that hardly seems possible.  Florrie has been chasing her tiny terrors around and I’ve been slogging away at the day job and we have both been knitting feverishly for impending deadlines.  So, here it is, better late than never.

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Florrie, Mary Jane and Marie

Our first class was Friday morning. Color work  with Mary Jane Mucklestone, who is nothing short of charming and nice, and funny, and TALENTED!  Man, this woman can knit.  She had a giant suitcase filled with color work swatches. I mean FILLED.  They were fascinating and even though this class didn’t have much actual knitting, I really learned a lot.  Now I’m not scared to wander down the fair isle path at all.

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We’re ready to do color work! Coffee is an important supply to have on hand.

I suspect that we will become color work junkies… its inevitable, I fear.

After our first class we had time to wander around the art gallery section of the convention.  There was everything from the weird to the wonderful. One of our favorites was the needle felted Gnome Chess Set by sisters Jennifer and Melissa VanSant. So cute and funny. I’ve always loved gnomes.They are such silly creatures.

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Another wonderful bit of woolly art was the hilarious crochet of Nicole Gastonbury. Super creative and so funny! Aren’t the expressions she creates just so spot on? Don’t even get me started on those giant french fries. The little plaid thermos was my favorite I think. I wanted to take him camping. burger

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Clara speaks!

Later that afternoon went to Clara Parkes lecture ‘Journey into the Great White Bale’.  Check out her blog for more on this crazy adventure.   Florrie had gotten me Clara’s book The Yarn Whisperer as a Christmas gift and Clara graciously signed my copy.  Its truly fascinating.

She was another one that is charming and funny and we didn’t want the lecture to end.  I knew it was going to be fun to meet knitting women that we have admired, but what I think was the most unexpected was how accessible they were.  Friendly and helpful and even handing out phone numbers and email addresses with promises to answer further questions.   After the lecture we asked Clara if she thought it was worth it to get into wool processing to produce yarns for hand knitting, fully expecting a lukewarm, maybe. What we got instead was a whole hearted YES!  Such enthusiasm is contagious and we left bolstered and more excited than ever.    She was pretty awesome.

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Clara shows us how different each of the yarns were.

Day two began bright and early with, you guessed it. Coffee.

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After fueling up on caffeine we headed down to the hotel to Rhonda Faginoli’s natural dying class. We used indigo, cochineal, madder root, and other botanicals to dye two skeins of wool each.  It was fun, the wool was sock weight and each skein was a decent size.  I would have preferred DK or Worsted, but it was till fun.  We started out painting with the dye using foam brushes to get a base color going.

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I’m not going to lie, there were quite a few nervous faces at this stage in the dying game. The base colors were bright and frankly a bit alarming. But we soldiered on until we were ready for the final stage, the dip dye.

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The final dip.

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Not so scary after all!

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Drying in the window.

After drying and winding the wool. The color has mellowed a bit after drying, as color is going to do. But the blend is very pretty.

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Indigo and Cochineal

Florrie wanted her red wool to go even darker, so she kept it damp until she got home and over dyed it with beets to bring out the red. The before picture is on top, the bottom is after.

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Isn’t that lovely? She may do a post about the process in the near future. I want to read that!

We had a few hours to kill before the next and last class of the day, so we wandered through the Marketplace. I had to laugh because Florrie didn’t make it 100 feet into the first room before finding this gorgeous gem of a skein from the Sanguine Gryphon.

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I KNOW!! I can’t even stand how pretty this is. The marketplace was packed, as usual, but we squeezed our way through.  I ran into a friend of mine, Helga and chatted for a bit. I think I may have even seen my down the block neighbor, random!

Florrie also scored big time with this bag of Koigu skeinettes.

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Ahhhhhh! that’s a bag full of KPPPM magic.

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All that for $20!  I’m kicking myself that I didn’t buy one too. Love love love.

Our last class of the day was Sweater Design with Leslye Solomon of Woolstock Yarn shop in Baltimore.  I realized that we were so into our graph paper that we didn’t snap any pictures!  Leslye was funny and quirky and we really enjoyed her class. I felt like it really could have been a two segment 6 hour class, but we were happy with what we learned. We bought this very clever graph paper that she designed specifically for sweater design.  Its very cool! Keep an eye out for sweater design from Florrie and Marie!

Whew!  What a great weekend! Vogue Knitting Live is a bit pricey, and we were worried that it wouldn’t live up to our expectations, but it was so much fun. I want to take even more classes next year.  You should see if there’s one happening near you!

Vogue Knitting Live 2014

VKL2I know I should be concentrating on Thanksgiving but I am starting to get excited for Vogue Knitting Live NYC! Its still nearly two months out, but you all know how time flies. Florrie and I have signed up for classes, a lecture and we have our marketplace passes ready to go.

Our Schedule looks like this:

01/17/2014
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Adding and Inventing Colorwork Patterns – NEW!
01/17/2014
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Lecture: Journey Inside the Great White Bale with Clara Parkes
01/18/2014
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Hand-Painted Yarn: Customizing a Palette with Natural, Botanical Dyes – NEW!
01/18/2014
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Secrets to Writing Your Own Sweater Patterns  

So excited! The color work class is with the Color Work Queen, Mary Jane Mucklestone. (I have just dubbed her this… I’m fairly certain that she doesn’t go around introducing herself this way) the class is about incorporating color work into design.The class notes said to bring 3-8 colors of wool to work with.  Florrie and I promptly bought 8 shades of Cascade 220,  you know we don’t do things by halves.

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I can’t wait to see what we come up with. I have always loved color work, but find it a bit daunting. The few times I have tried it it didn’t work out so great (getting the tension of the travelling strands was trickier than I thought!).  So my hopes for this class are that it will demystify the process for me and help with my design work.

We’re also taking a foray into hand dying yarn. That is something that Florrie and I have been chomping at the bit to try for years now. This class will focus on natural dyes, its pretty incredible what you can do with plants and minerals. Our last class is all about sweater design. I have been sketching sweaters for ages and I can knit one for myself but the idea of grading sizes to fit a multitude of body shapes scares the pants off me so I have my fingers crossed that I will get the courage to plunge in after taking this class. Bring it on, sweaters! If your classes don’t scare you at least a little bit, they aren’t the right classes, in my opinion.

Our lecture is the Yarn Whisperer herself Clara Parkes. We are especially excited about this lecture because its something that we have been thinking, planning and dreaming about for a couple of years now.  Wool. More specifically production of wool into gorgeous, squashy, lovely skeins for hand knitting. I’m just saying… its a very exciting prospect.  Don’t you think so?

Hurry up January! I can barely wait. Will we see you there?

-Marie

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The Fiber Festival of New England

A couple of weekends back I took a roadtrip to Springfield Mass.  They were hosting the 4th annual Fiber Festival of New England. There were plenty of vendors selling their gorgeous yarns and some even had their livestock with them. It was lovely meeting the source of the yarn I was about the purchase.

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The yarn on the left is Reflections at Roclans, a 100% superwash merino from Roclans. It’s soft and cosy and will probably be turned into something for Cobra Commander. The yarn on the right is soooo deliously squishy and in person the colours are so stunning. The photograph doesn’t do justice to the subtle colour twists.

This is from Long Island Livestock Company, they offer limited quantities of their yarn. The one I bought is number 5 of just 18. Needless to say say this will be knitted up into something I’ll be keeping for myself. I’d eyed this at Rhinebeck but didn’t purchase it, so jumped on it in Springfield.

What I’m possibly the most excited about is this;

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A 4 1/2 pound bag of Lincoln fleece. The natural colour variations remind me of the sky just before a thunderstorm.

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It’s so soft, and the variations are just beautiful. This is the beginning of a new and hopefully exciting, no doubt stressful journey into Yarn Making. I’ll keep you up to date on Lincoln’s progress.

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Postcards from Amherst

I went on a weekend jaunt and had a visit with my good friend and old roommate Gwen in Massachusetts.  This post is a bit heavy on the pictures, I hope you don’t mind.

We walked throught the Amethyst Brook conservation area which is home to part of the Robert Frost Trail, drove through historic Deerfiled, hiked up a great hill and saw the Peace Pagoda and temple. We visited her local organic co-op farm and Muffins, where they seriously have THE BEST MUFFINS. EVER.  I’m not even kidding.

We walked through Amherst itself and saw Emily Dickinson’s house, and grave. Of course we ended the trip by hiking some more around a beautiful lake.  Fall in New England is something you can’t really explain in words and pictures. You get can a fleeting impression, kind of like when you feel moments of November sun on your back.  A bit of warmth in the chill air, but nothing really like the sun feels in, say, July.  But I present you with these few words, and images hoping that you feel a tenth of the beauty that I saw.

I had a great time with Gwen and her little black pug, Muscles (whom I affectionatly call Monkey).  Gwen was a terrific roommate and I’m so happy that we remain friends. Its a tricky thing to accomplish, remaining friends, with time and distance between you. I took so many great pictures that I may end up posting postcards from Amherst Part II.  I hope you’re OK with that. I’ll make it up to you with a knitting pattern.

-Marie