Some actual knitting makes an appearance on the blog, for the first time in ages!

Pattern: Herringbone Mittens with Poms from

Size made: Women’s Small

Yarn used: Patons Classic Wool in 00231 Chestnut Brown and 166488 Dark Natural Mix; less than 1 skein of each (weighing my leftovers, it looks like it took 30 grams of the brown and 25 grams of the tan, or about 67 yards and 56 yards, respectively, if I’m doing my math right–seems like an unreasonably tiny amount of yarn, doesn’t it?)

Needles used: US 4/3.5 mm, US 2½/3.0 mm, US 6/4.0 mm. I started the ribbing on size 4 needles, realized the wrists were coming out too big, and switched to the size 2.5 needles for the remainder of the ribbing. I used the size 6 needles for all the colorwork. I knit these two at a time, Magic Loop.

Date started: March 25, 2009

Date completed: April 26, 2009

Mods: Elli, I’m so sorry, but I did not Respect The Pom. I meant to, but I accidentally left out the eyelet row and by the time I realized, there was no going back. I also accidentally left off the cute CC starting row.

Notes: These mittens are gorgeous, but they have been the bane of my existence for the past month, because I felt like when I picked them up, I entered some kind of weird time warp in which all my knitting proceeded at a quarter of its normal speed, and my pattern recognition skills devolved to the level of a chimpanzee’s. It seems entirely unreasonable to me that I should knit monogamously on a tiny project like mittens and take more than a month to complete it.

Things started off swimmingly. I used a tubular cast-on for the ribbing, divided the stitches and got going with the magic loop, got pretty much all the ribbing done in one knitting night plus another evening, and then everything went to hell when I got to the colorwork. It was a two-row repeat and every other row was easy to remember–just K2 MC, K2 CC, the entire way around. For some reason, I just could not get the rhythm of the second row until I was more than halfway done with the mittens (3 weeks after starting them).

The second row goes a little something like this: K2 MC, K1 CC, K1 MC, K2 CC, K1 MC, K1 CC. Not that hard, right? But for some reason I couldn’t memorize it and kept screwing it up, losing my place when trying to follow the chart cell by cell, and frogging every other row as I realized I had messed up the pattern. When the pattern finally stuck in my head, I felt so dumb, as though I had been staring at this logic problem and gotten it wrong every day for the previous 3 weeks:
Q: 1, 2, 3, 4…: what is next in this series?
a) 5
b) 2
c) K1 MC, K2 CC, K2 MC, and… oh, crap.

Anyway, I finally finished them up. Finally. And they look gorgeous! And fit beautifully! I’d been admiring them since Elli brought the prototypes to our knitting group in Bloomington to show off ages and ages ago.

The sad part about this all is that I’m not even going to keep them. I knit them for a swap for the Madison Knitters’ Guild–“Cold hands, warm feet”: we traced our hands and feet on a piece of paper and brought this and some yarn in a brown paper bag, swapped it for another bag, and knit some kind of hand or foot covering to fit the recipient. At next month’s meeting, we’ll bring the bags with FOs back to their rightful owners and swap back. My contribution was Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport in Jeans, from the same enticing giant basket ‘o’ blue Lorna’s Laces at Yarns Unlimited that drew in chemgrrl. I am hoping to get a pair of nice blue socks back.

Anyway. Sadly, this neverending, stupid-making, beautiful pair of mittens will find a new home soon. But like Rahul said when I lost my Bird in Hand mittens, “luckily, you can always make another pair.”

I love the bias knit striped thumbs–I’ve never knit a pair of mittens with a thumb designed like these before.

Wool mittens: the fashionable accessory for spring!

“But what,” you might ask, “is that fabulous blouse the mittens are accessorizing?”

Pattern: Simplicity 4077, View D
Size made: 12, blended to a 14 at the waist and hips
Fabric used: Amy Butler Daisy Chain Clematis in Gray, 2 yards, from As an aside, they were really fabulous to deal with–I had bought some other fabric from them, and my order arrived n disappointing condition–stained and with multiple yard orders in multiple pieces–so I wrote to complain. They immediately offered to send me a replacement. Unfortunately, they were out of the original fabric I’d wanted. I asked if I could sub this one, which was slightly more expensive, so I said they could just send me 1 3/4 yards or whatever the equivalent amount was, but instead they sent me the full 2 yards in this fabric. Anyway. I think it’s a lovely fabric, the quilting cotton works well in this blouse, and am pondering the idea of an entire wardrobe made of Amy Butler fabrics.

Date started: Tuesday, April 28
Date completed: Thursday, April 30 (I cut out the pieces Tuesday night and sewed it together Wednesday night, and spent about 5 minutes today hammering in the remaining snaps. Rahul came home around 10:45 and found me sitting on the floor, hammering snaps, and said even if our downstairs neighbors are undergrads and probably stay up until 3 AM, it would still be polite not to hammer things on the floor at 11 PM, and I grudgingly admitted he had a point.)

Mods: I made a slapdash muslin of this shirt and felt like the waist was too tight, so decided to cut a larger size around the bottom of the bodice. When I put the pieces together for this shirt, though, I felt like the darts were completely wrong. I’m sure this was partly my fault–I accidentally marked the front darts incorrectly–but I had to sew them another inch or so longer and I think the placement is still a little bit too far out from center. I am also wondering if I could actually have gotten away with a smaller size on the bottom–it’s comfy but maybe a little loose compared to my favorite RTW shirts.

I didn’t cut out the front darts as the pattern calls for, just pressed them to the side. Why bother creating all those extra raw edges by cutting the dart? The fabric isn’t very sheer or thick, so I don’t feel like it’s significantly more visible to have the full dart thickness there instead of trimming it.

I used hammer-on pearl snaps rather than buttons. Easy, pretty, and avoids the issue of the janky buttonhole feature on my sewing machine. “Oh, buttonhole? Sorry, I thought you said you wanted a giant, snarled mat of thread.”

I left the interfacing out of the sleeve cuffs to give them a softer look (although I left it on the facings and collar).

Notes: Sewing is slowly getting easier! I remember when I bought this pattern a couple of years ago, it seemed incredibly complicated and difficult; but when I finally sat down to put it all together, expecting it to take at least a couple of evenings, it went together in just a few hours and with very little fuss. I guess I’m starting to get the hang of how sewn clothing is constructed.

Further notes from my review on (my first one!):
The style is cute overall.

The sleeve cuff and pleats are really cute and easy to sew. Other people commented that they were too tight, but I found them very comfortable. I left the interfacing out of the cuffs so they would be sort of soft and floppy, not stiff. One thing I’ve noticed is that when you put your arms into the sleeves, it’s easy to push the seam allowances for the cuffs downwards so they’re visible from the outside. I might stitch them into place inside the sleeve–I think the pattern just calls for pressing them in place.

I don’t quite like how puffy the sleeve caps came out–my shoulders are already sort of broad, and I feel like they have an embiggening effect, and I also think they look puffier than the picture on the envelope. I am a little confused about the sizing, too. I made a size 12 muslin first and it felt a bit too tight in the waist, so I sized it up… now it seems like it may be too loose. However, I’m a beginning sewer, so I’m not sure whether this is just typical for Simplicity patterns.

I like the style of the collar, but it seemed fiddly to put together neatly, and lumpy even after trimming the seams. I couldn’t get the ends sewn on neatly and ended up hand-sewing the ends down with a slip stitch. (This could all be just user error.)

Close up view of embiggening sleeve caps and lumpy collar:

It seems like a great pattern for using pretty quilting cotton prints. I think I’ll make it again, with one of the shorter sleeve views and maybe a front ruffle, and try to adjust the pattern a little further. One of my favorite store-bought tops is very similar in style to the cap sleeve/front ruffle view, in an embroidered olive green eyelet fabric.

Next time I might try cutting the front facings as a single piece with the shirt fronts, like in the shirt dress from Heather Ross’s Weekend Sewing. I don’t see a reason they need to be cut separately and sewn to the shirt fronts as opposed to cut as one piece and then sewn and turned. Maybe it’s necessary for the views with the front ruffles.

I was surprised at how quickly this went together, and loved the cuff detail. It’s a simple, stylish, and comfortable casual blouse pattern, and I’m sure I’ll be making it again. (I first saw it on Flintknits’ blog and have been desperately coveting that Nani Iro double gauze blouse and the Amy Butler yellow polka dot blouse since they were first posted.)

Anyway, in closing, I will say that it’s kind of funny that I’m posting these two things together, since the Herringbone Mittens were designed by Elli of Elliphantom, and just as I finished the mittens, I was actually prompted to sew the blouse by Elli’s sister Rae. I noticed the Spring Top Week Sewalong she’s hosting on her blog, Made by Rae, and decided to bite the bullet and sew a spring top. She wrote a tutorial for a really cute little ruffle sleeved top on Sew, Mama, Sew! and I’d like to try that sometime soon, too.