Pattern: Herringbone Mittens with Poms (PDF link) by Bloomington knitting friend Elliphantom
Yarn Used: Outer shell: Briggs and Little Heritage in 75 Mulberry; Briggs and Little Regal in 23 Forest Brown
Lining: Fonty Coeur d’Angora in 207 Royal; Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush in 1000 Vanilla
Needles used: US 6 (4.0 mm) for most of mitten, and US 4 (3.5 mm) for ribbing. Knit Picks Options metal, magic loop
Date started: December 18, 2011 for outer shell; January 12, 2012 for linings
Date completed: December 26, 2011 for outer shell; January 21, 2012 for linings
Mods/Notes: I made a pair of these a couple of years ago for a mitten swap, during my short-lived membership in the Madison Knitters’ Guild (I just never found myself inclined to go to the meetings, so why pay the dues?) I liked the results a lot and bought this yarn in 2009 as well, at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool, with the intention of making a pair for myself, but somehow never got around to doing it until this year.

I picked out the skeins of rough, rustic Briggs and Little from a big basket after comparing all the color combos, and was so involved in the color selection process that I somehow didn’t notice they were two different yarns, of two different weights, until after I got home. They seemed to work just fine together regardless.

I made the mittens one at a time, on Magic Loop, without much of a break between finishing one and starting the other, but my gauge varied hugely on the two mittens, so the first one hugged my hand pretty snugly, and the second was far roomier. I tried to fix this by blocking mitten #1 as severely as I could, but unfortunately, they’re still noticeably different in size. Oh well.

We had a very warm winter here; it was 50 degrees and snowless well into January, so I wore the mittens as-is for a while. On January 12, we had a first snowfall and I decided I might need to make them a little warmer. The cashmere-lined Bodhi mittens I made last year made me a firm believer in the power of a good mitten lining, so I dug out a couple of skeins of yarn that have been sitting around for ages and ages: a fluffy royal blue angora (I thought it was 100%, but it’s only 80%) and some scraps of a somewhat thicker brushed baby alpaca in white.

I was hoping the angora would last through both linings, but I ended up having to finish the second lining (cuff and thumb) with the alpaca.

I made the linings top-down for kicks:
CO 18 sts on 6s with the Turkish cast-on. Since I was using Magic Loop, I divided the stitches evenly between the two needles, 9 sts per needle.
Knitting in the round, increase at each end of both needles every round until there are 50 sts on the needles.
Continue in the round until the mitten reaches the thumb crotch.
CO 21 sts with waste yarn and backwards loop cast-on; knit onto these with the main yarn and continue working in the round, decreasing 2 sts at the center of the thumb every other row for the thumb gusset until all 21 thumb sts are gone and you’ve reached the base of the wrist.
Switch to size 4 needles and work one round as *k3, k2tog* around.
Work in 1×1 rib until cuff length matches outer cuff. BO loosely.
Unpick the waste yarn and put the thumb sts onto your needles. Join yarn, leaving a long tail, and knit in the round until about 1/4 inch from the tip of the thumb. K2tog around. Knit one more round, then cut yarn and pull through remaining sts.

Weave in ends, turn lining inside out (so the wrong sides of lining and mitten face each other), and stuff the lining inside the mitten shell. I joined the two by threading a needle with the purple yarn and sewing along the edge of the cuff with loose running stitch.

Forgive the pilliness of the mittens in these photos–they’ve been worn and dragged around in my purse for several weeks.

Things I’d change: if I’d planned for the linings, I’d probably have knit these on 7s for a roomier fit (they are very tight with the linings inside) and knit them two at a time for a consistent gauge. I’d also ideally have one consistent yarn for the linings; the Baby Alpaca Brush felt similar in the skein, but creates a much thicker fabric than the angora yarn. Classic Elite Fresco has a nice gentle halo, both alpaca and angora, and might make a nice alternative. Or, if they’re not too rich for your blood, Filatura di Crosa Superior brushed cashmere for a lightweight lining or Great Northern Yarns Mink Cashmere for a fuller-bodied alternative.

I had been saving that angora for “something special”, feeling like I shouldn’t waste it on something invisible like mitten linings, but decided “what’s more special than something functional that I’ll enjoy next to my skin every day for months?” It feels so lovely to slip on a pair of toasty warm, kitteny-soft mittens when it’s freezing outside.

You know, though, angora may be wonderful and fluffy and warm, but Jesus, it’s like the asbestos of knitting*. The fluff floats up EVERYWHERE. Up your nose, in your eyes, all over your clothes, and it’s near-impossible to get it all off. I wish there was some kind of knitting equivalent of those containment gloveboxes they use for handling radioactive materials, but for angora.

*Glitter is the angora of papercrafts.

The folks from The Shabby Apple contacted me about doing a giveaway of one of their dresses–they have a lot of adorable vintage-inspired dresses, and I love free stuff, so I figured why not? Perfect timing to give away a girly sundress, too, since around here it recently went from apocalyptic snow-free 50-degree weather to the current 4 degrees below zero that “feels like -12” according to my weather app. It will give you something to look forward to. Or possibly to wear, if you live in a more reasonable climate like the Pacific Northwest uh, Florida?

The dress I picked out for the giveaway was Mariposa Grove, a kelly green cotton A-line dress with layers of raw-edged ruffle or petal detailing around the neck. (Different colors of the same style have different names–I find that a little unintuitive, but I will point out that you can get this same dress in golden orange, as “Cider,” or royal blue, as “Trevi Fountain“.) It reminds me a bit of the Coffee Date Dress.

mariposa grove dress

I think it kind of needs a belt, contrary to how they’ve styled it, and it would look pretty adorable with a neutral-colored cardi fastened below the bust, like Broderie or the Leitmotif Cardigan.

Go check them out! The Up and Away collection is probably my favorite, but I also kind of adore the Bon Voyage dress–flouncy yet tailored–and the Manhattan Collection. Look at those buttony dresses! LOVE.

To enter, go “Like” Shabby Apple on Facebook, then come back here and leave me a comment that you’d like to enter and letting me know what your favorite dress from the website is. It’s not going to change which dress you receive, but I’m curious. Or send me a link to any patterns you think would be cute with this dress. No exchanges, US-only. Since it’s been such a ghost town around here lately, you probably have a very good chance of winning.

Also! Even if you don’t win, you can use this code for 10% off: featherandfan10off. It expires in 30 days, or possibly 30 days from when I received the code, which was a week ago. Commence shamefaced foot-shuffling, apologetic language. I notice there is also currently a code for 20% off, so if they can’t be stacked, you may want to use that one instead. (I am a PRO SHOPPER! When am I going to get invited on that extreme couponing show?) Bloggy disclosure thing: I signed up for their affiliate thingy, so if you buy something, I will get 5% of the purchase total.

I’ll pick a winner on January 29. (Make sure you leave some kind of contact information.) Go forth and window shop!

I picked up Teva Durham’s Loop-d-Loop Lace at the library the other day and I’ve been drooling over it. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Loop-d-Loop series has the greatest reputation for being well-edited, there haven’t been that many guinea pigs on Ravelry yet for most of the patterns, and I don’t feel like risking casting on for a large project only to find some major error or to discover it’s insane-looking or unflattering in a real-world setting. Just look at these, though:

Bell Sleeve Blouse
bell sleeve blouse (gorgeous, but knit on size 3 needles; I don’t have the patience!)

Rose Trellis Blouse
rose trellis blouse
Knit on a size 2 needle. Even worse!

Thistle Bodice
thistle bodice
This one may be knit on size 2s, but it’s at least tons of open lace and sleeveless, and seems interesting to knit. A gorgeous doily adaptation! And there are a few FOs on Ravelry that look good, but unfortunately, they all have comments about the confusing or incorrect directions, e.g. “I’ve ripped this 3 times and reknit all the way to the Arrowhead chart where, once again, the confusing directions stymied me. This is going into Time Out until the goobledy gook directions get sorted out. As many times as I’ve knit and reknit, I could have had another camisole knit by now.”

Butterfly Lace Tunic Dress

I have the feeling this probably works best if you have the same figure as the model in the book, but there are no FOs on Ravelry, so it’s hard to tell.

The one pattern I’m most likely to make is the Lace Leaf Cravat, which is small and bulky-weight (a quick knit) and has been available for ages as a single pattern, so probably any editing issues have been worked out by now. But I’ve made so many of those little ascot things and I almost never wear them, which perhaps is a message from the universe that I should stop knitting them? I dunno.

Anyway, if you haven’t looked through this book, check it out–it’s awesome knitting eye candy. Beautifully styled and photographed, and the patterns are inventive and gorgeous.

It’s the New Year! So here’s where I poke my head up and go “Oh, I still have a blog?” I haven’t posted in the last half a year, but I have been knitting, albeit slowly. I lost or misplaced my camera, which still hasn’t turned up, so I kept putting off updates since I couldn’t take any photos… it still hasn’t turned up, but I finally got on the smartphone bandwagon with an iPhone 4S, so I can take photos again. Aside from the iPhone, which is obviously the biggest news, I did a couple of other exciting things in the meantime:

Got engaged. Check this out.

Got a cat. Her name is Lily.

She likes climbing in bags. Sometimes she gets picked up while she’s in a bag. She’s not really crazy about that.

Anyway, yeah. I will try to get back to posting more regularly this year! For now, I’m blaming all flakiness and distraction from the last half a year on one of the following: a) fancy phone, b) new cat, or c) wedding planning (which I actually haven’t really started, to be honest, but it’s a great excuse). Mostly (a), and of that, mostly Words with Friends, but I’ve had it long enough now that I may get better at tearing myself away from plotting triple word scores in every free moment.

Anyway, just a note to say I’m still around and will hopefully post a bit more until that “new year, new start” stuff wears off. Happy 2012!

A few people were interested in hearing what I thought of my first Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab order (a 6-sample order) so I thought I’d post a followup for the folks who are interested! If you are not interested in perfume, stop reading right here because there’s a lot of frivolous rambling coming.

General notes first:

  • Shipping was very slow, which in all fairness they do warn you about. I think it took about 2 weeks for them to get the samples sent out to me.
  • Wish I’d known that if you log into the forums on, a swap forum appears in the list where you can buy or trade for perfumes and/or samples. For any future samples, I’m going to check there first, since the samples are typically going to be cheaper and faster to ship.
  • I wasn’t sure what the imp’s ears samples would actually look like. They are tiny 1/32 oz bottles similar to this: the lid pulls off and has a little stick attached to it that you can use to dab on the perfume. There’s a white printer label label wrapped around each with the name of the fragrance printed on it. They are resealable, and I’m guessing you could get quite a few applications out of each– one might last a month, if you were wearing it every day, but that’s just a wild guess.
  • These oils are strong! My neck got a little red and irritated when I put on too much.
  • This is old news, but I hadn’t ever given it too much thought before: perfume branding is really something! There were several scents in this order that I wouldn’t have given a second thought to if they were fragrances pushed by Justin Bieber or J. Lo, but I’m finding myself wanting to give them more of a chance due to the vivid descriptions on the site (not only the official ones but the ones written by fans! The kind of cultish product loyalty companies would kill for). The site is kind of ugly, ridiculously hard to navigate, the shipping super slow, they sell mail-order perfume, which is such a difficult item to buy online–and you pay a few dollars apiece for the size of samples you could get for free by walking into Sephora, but the narrative and cultural allusions are like catnip to a certain breed of nerd or goth. In point of fact, I went to Sephora the other day and was thinking of getting some Fresh perfumes (my hands-down favorite scent is Fresh’s Brown Sugar,and I could bathe in that stuff–it smells amazing!) but somehow it seems like it would be more interesting to get a BPAL fragrance. Even if nobody around you knows, you’re not just dabbing on a smell, you’re dabbing on a subculture! And my little sheeple pea brain tells me I’d much rather be a “BPAL person” than a “Sephora person,” even though I’m perfectly aware on a conscious level that this is stupid.
  • I’ve read the Patrick Suskind book but not too much else about perfume, so I think at some point I might also check out: The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell, The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York, Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume, and/or The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession. Maybe even The Scent Trail: How One Woman’s Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World, although just from the title, I think this is probably insufferable, narcissistic privilege-lit in the vein of Eat, Pray, Love. (Which, to be fair, I didn’t read all of, but the little bit I did read rubbed me the wrong way in so many ways I couldn’t continue.)

The samples I ordered (the first five from the Mad Tea Party collection, the last one from A Picnic in Arkham):

  • The Dormouse: “A dizzying eddy of four teas brushed with light herbs and a breath of peony.” My hands-down favorite out of everything that arrived! This smells ridiculously good to me–fresh and green-appley and tea-leafy, with light floral notes that come out more in the drydown. I might order a full bottle of this when my sample runs out. The green tea smell is the strongest and purest in this one out of all the tea blends I tried–just wonderful.
  • White Rabbit: “Strong black tea and milk with white pepper, ginger, honey and vanilla, spilled over the crisp scent of clean linen.” Based on the description and my love of all the component smells, I thought this would be my favorite out of the batch. Unfortunately, I thought it smelled just terrible out of the bottle, with an overpowering baby powder aroma that I guess is probably the “clean linen.” It gets more interesting as it dries, with the black tea, ginger, and vanilla smells emerging, so I’m on the fence about it–will have to wear it all day and see what I think. I haven’t had the chance to wear all of these all day (the first day they arrived, I put dots of each one on my wrists, inner elbows, and knees and walked around smelling them all day until I got a headache and had to take a shower.)
  • Tweedledee: “Ridiculous! Kumquat, white pepper, white tea and orange blossom.” This has a nice, slightly bitter citrus scent, and the orange blossom gives it an interesting soft note, but it doesn’t have the immediate pure, sharp grab of, for instance, the Fresh citrus fragrances. I like it, but it’s lower down on my list of something I would buy.
  • Bread-and-Butter-fly: “Bread, lightly buttered, with weak tea, cream, and a lump of white sugar.” I thought I’d like this because I expected it to be more of a toasty, nutty smell, but it smelled just vile to me: a weird, sickly sweet, strong mixture of baby powder and fake buttered popcorn. Just awful. Hours later, it dries down to something nicer, with gentle vanilla and sugar notes, but I don’t think I could handle going through the earlier stages of reeking like an accident at the movie theater concession stand just to get to that softer base note.  I don’t smell bread in this at all, which I think would have made the butter smell more acceptable.
  • Eat Me: “Three white cakes, vanilla, and red and black currants.” Very sweet, as you would expect from the description. Not awful, but not my favorite. Initially, the sugary cake smell overpowers the fruity currants, but the blackcurrant becomes more noticeable once the cake fades a bit more. I’m still looking for a perfect vanilla perfume–I tried a few samples of Lavanila on Julie’s recommendation, but they were all too heavy for me, even the grapefruit vanilla one.
  • Night-Gaunt: “Their scent of their slick, rubbery hides is bittersweet, ticklish, and skin-creeping: something akin to yuzu, white grapefruit, and kumquat mixed with the snow-dusted flowers of Mount Ngranek.” I hated this initially, really thought it smelled disappointingly strong, bitter, and disgusting, but I just put a tiny drop on my arm to think about what to write about it now, and now I can’t stop huffing the crook of my arm. Maybe I over-applied it before? It currently smells just delicious, like a mixture of grapefruit and white gardenias–brings back memories of family vacations to Hawaii.

Plus they threw in two additional free samples:

  • Fae (from Bewitching Brews): “A brilliant, ethereal scent: white musk, bergamot, heliotrope, peach and oakmoss.” This is not anything I would have picked out for myself, since I don’t like musky scents much, but it’s not bad. The peach and musk are pretty evident to me, but I don’t smell the bergamot, heliotrope, and oakmoss at all. Because of the musk, it reminds me of either teenage drugstore perfumes or very expensive old-lady perfumes… nothing I would pick out for a signature fragrance, but maybe appropriate for certain occasions?
  • Deadly Nightshade Honey: (from Rappaccini’s Garden–there’s no detailed description of each of the honey scents) A wonderful surprise–I absolutely loved this one. It was my second favorite after Dormouse. It starts out with a somewhat spicy, green layer over a strong honey smell, and eventually dries down to just plain honey, but not too cloyingly sweet for my tastes. Actually, the entire time I tried it, I would have said it just smelled like plain honey, nothing more complicated than that, but comparing the dried version of the perfume to the freshly applied version made the green notes much more evident, and I think whatever the “deadly nightshade” smell is helps tone down the honey a little.

Some other BPAL fragrances I’m interested in trying at some point:

  • Dorian, from Sin and Salvation: “A Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.” Possibly something I’d hate because of the  musks, but I’m curious.
  • Aizen-Myoo, from Excolo: “Yuzu, kaki, and mikan with cherry blossom and black tea.” Katinka’s recommendation, and one that people keep comparing to Night-Gaunt. Mikan didn’t register as a citrus fruit to me when I was browsing the descriptions, but after looking it up, it sounds really appealing.
  • O, from Ars Amatoria: “Amber and honey with a touch of vanilla.”
  • Carnal, also from Ars Amatoria: “Bold, bright mandarin paired with the sweet, sensual earthiness of fig.”
  • Snake Oil, also from Ars Amatoria: “By far, our most popular scent! Magnetic, mysterious, and exceedingly sexual in nature. A blend of exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla.” It’s described as “spicy” and “incensey”, which I’m not sure I like, but apparently the vanilla smell is strong too. There are a lot of glowing reviews in the forum about people being stopped on the street and asked about their perfume.
  • Akuma, from Diabolus: “Devilish temptation, as sweet as sin: blood orange, neroli, and raspberry.”
  • Kumiho, also from Diabolus: “A sharp, biting blend of crisp white tea and ginger.”

Are you a BPAL devotee? What’s your favorite?

Hey! From now till August 13, if you’ve never used Kiva before, you can click here to get a free $25 microfinance credit that you can lend to an entrepreneur in a developing nation to help alleviate poverty. (Teach a man to fish and all that.) I’m part of Team Ravelry; members of the team keep an eye out for relevant fiber arts-related borrowers, and will send messages to the group like “Knitter in Peru seeking funding to buy wool” so that the team can chip in to help fund the loan.

If you lend out your own money, once the loan is paid back by the borrower, the money becomes available to you again to lend to someone else or withdraw. (In this case, if you use the free $25 trial, the repaid money goes back to Kiva since they put up the money originally; but you can at least see how the system works.) I’ve made 13 loans to date, and enjoyed lending to knitters, seamstresses, or just random people around the world–after a trip to Cambodia a couple of years ago, for example, I lent to a Cambodian woman who owns a soup store and was struggling to expand the business on her income of $7 a day.

Today I lent $25 to Samvel Arakelyan, an Armenian veterinarian trying to buy a horse and a sheep shaver with his loan so that his family can sell their sheep’s wool at market. He’s 11% of the way to his $3000 goal.

If you’ve thought about lending via Kiva but never gotten around to signing up, please go use that $25 credit, join Team Rav, and continue to lend if you enjoy the experience!

(Edited to add: oops–I’ve been told they’ve run out of free trials, but I’ll publish this post anyway since it’s still something worth setting aside 25 bucks for.)

Make your own solid perfume locket!

Curly i-cord!

Doe Hare intarsia sweater!

It’s very hot here, which makes me not want to do anything except take cold showers and eat frozen grapes. When I can actually bear to hold a big pile of yarn in my lap, I am slowly working on a Liesl in Golden Siam–opting for the low neckline, cap sleeves, and probably a ribbon tie at the neck to close it–although what I think I really need as for my wardrobe is a plain, reasonably fine-gauge white cardigan and one in plain black too. Ideas: Manu, Favorite Cardigan, Leitmotif Cardigan.

So, instead of showing you anything I’ve made, here are a bunch of other things you can look at instead. (I’ve been girlin’ it up like crazy lately for some reason. OMG CLOTHESHAIRMAKEUPLOLOLOL)

Yarn as drugs metaphor, expanded. Surprisingly, Cracksilk Haze is not even mentioned.

Giant flower pillow tutorial. I would like a gray leather handbag with an enormous flower like this on the front.

New Look 6000. Retro sheath dress with starburst gathering on one side and an option for a big foldover collar. There was a Vogue pattern with similar lines (can’t remember the pattern number) that I wanted to make about a year ago, but it got such terrible reviews for being poorly drafted, with the pieces not fitting together, that I thought it wouldn’t be worth the trouble. This, on the other hand, might be worth picking up and sewing for fall.

I love this no-heat vintage curls tutorial. My hair is hopeless at holding a curl, but I’ve been trying to get this to work anyway since I haven’t cut it in about a year and it’s actually long enough to do interesting things with again (and putting it up keeps it off my neck). I can’t get my elastic band updo nearly as neat and pretty as these examples, but the dental hygienist did compliment me on it when she was cleaning my teeth the other day.

Neon friendship bracelets.

Free Spotify invitations.

Adorable one-yard skirt patterns from Spoonflower designers. I wish they gave more details on the pages, like if the $18/yd 45-inch quilting cotton will do, or if you need to order it on one of the more expensive bases like cotton sateen or linen-cotton.

Clothkits skirt kits. So pretty, so expensive.

Alice in Wonderland-themed perfumes from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. It seems nuts to buy perfume online, but the scents sound amazing and the forums offer extensive, very descriptive reviews that tempted me into ordering a sampler. We’ll see if I like it once it arrives–I’m not much of a perfume wearer, but the ones I like are generally citrus, vanilla, or tea-based, all of which appear in spades (ha ha) in the Mad Tea Party collection.

Knot shorts. Can’t remember if I posted about this before but I really want to make a pair before summer’s out. Not sure how the ties should scale up. 6″ long on a 5-year-old = ?? on a 31-year-old?

Yo! I can’t believe it’s been more than 2 months since I posted anything here. But I’m alive and well. I’ve just been traveling a lot (was gone two weeks in May, and pretty much the entire month of June… will hopefully find some time to blog about that later).

I tried to get back into the crafting groove this weekend by sewing myself a new dress, one I’ve had in the queue for a long time. I always totally covet Wikstenmade’s clothes (though probably more because of the ethereally beautiful photography than any particularly strong fit with my own personal style) and she posted this cutout sleeve ikat top a while ago that set me foolishly yearning for a “cold shoulder” garment. (Side note: I found this other cutout sleeve dress just now… does it not totally scream “My biological clock is ticking!” in the voice of Marisa Tomei?)

Here it is: I’m calling it That 70’s Dress mainly for the shag-carpet-tastic orange hue, but these belted sack dresses were big in the days of disco too, weren’t they? Please excuse the wrinkled fabric across the skirt in all these photos–I had sat in chairs in this dress all day and didn’t feel like taking it off to iron it.


Pattern: Simplicity 2406, a Cynthia Rowley pattern (see here for original), view B (knee-length, cutout shoulders, open back)

Size: a straight 12, although I probably should have tapered it out to 14 for the hips–it’s more snug in the hips than I would like when I sit down. I have to hike it up pretty high to get on my bike, there’s not a lot of ease.

Fabric used: Orange cotton/poly shirting blend–very thin fabric. I would recommend using a very fine, drapey fabric; even though this one was pretty lightweight, the sleeves still wound up very stiff because of all the facing seams.

I had a few close calls while sewing because I only barely had enough yardage. I thought I had more than enough, but forgot I would have to cut out not 2 but 4 copies of the sleeves, one pair for the sleeve and also one pair for the facings; also, I accidentally set my iron too hot at first, so I melted the interfacing and a few corners of the sleeve facings. I can’t remember how much of this fabric I had to start with, unfortunately, so I can’t tell you how accurate the pattern’s yardage requirements are.

Pattern notes/mods:

I sewed this without any closures and omitted the back slit so I could wear a bra (and sew fewer seams)–I didn’t alter the back at all, just cut it on the fold and did not cut out the back slit facing piece. I can slip it on over my head. I forgot to cut the back neck facing on the fold, so I just finished the vertical edges with a zigzag and tacked it down in two pieces. This would have definitely wound up too tight for comfort in the hips if I had added the back seam or slit as instructed, since I essentially added 1 1/4″ additional ease by cutting the back on the fold without modifying the pattern.

I think I also hemmed it a little less than the pattern calls for, but I didn’t measure exactly, just did it by eye.
The instructions were a little puzzling. I didn’t understand the directions for the pockets, and didn’t have the patience to figure them out, so I just ignored them and put in in-seam pockets the normal way (sew them to the dress front and back, side seam goes around the pocket edges). I also thought at first that I was following the confusing sleeve directions pretty well, but once I set in the sleeves, I realized that I had wound up with sleeves with a neatly finished slit-like opening at the bottom instead of the normal tube-shaped sleeves.

If you sew this, note that you’ll probably need a loop turner to turn the sleeves inside out after the first set of facing seams; you have to get a lot of fabric through a very, very tight space.

Also, note that the front gathers are between the dots, in the middle of the dress, while the back gathers are OUTSIDE the dots, in the shoulder area. I accidentally sewed the gathering stitches in the middle of the back at first and couldn’t figure out how my pieces were supposed to fit together.

The sleeve sizing seems pretty generous; they’re loose on me, and I have pretty meaty shoulders and biceps. I think women with thin arms would probably want to take the sleeves in a bit. Also, the sleeves are quite stiff because there are a lot of seams in not a lot of space–the pattern photo shows this but I was still a little surprised at how much the sleeves stuck out from the body of the dress.

The sash is a little short for my taste. It’s long enough to wrap around once and tie in a short bow, or to wrap in a double loop and tie in a double knot, as shown in my photos. If I were making this again, I might want a longer sash so I could tie a more lavish bow.

Verdict: I like it! Cool. Comfy. Orange. I might consider sewing this again in a different fabric, maybe a different view, like View C with the 3/4 length balloon sleeves.

P.S. I know you can’t really see it in the photos, but I love all the jewelry I’m wearing. Gold necklace made from a real oak leaf, a hand-me-down from my mom; gold ring set with a teardrop-shaped, cloudy chartreuse prehnite; Monarch butterfly wing earrings. I got the ring cheap with a Heartsy voucher–do you know about Heartsy? It’s like Groupon but for handmade items from stores like Etsy and Artfire.

I demonstrated drop spindling with my Turkish spindles at the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival this weekend for the third year running. Many adorable alpacas to look at, as usual–even a few that submitted to light cuddling–but the crowd seemed decidedly sparser than in past years. It was nice that I got a lot more time this year to talk to and teach each individual person who came by, but it was surprising. Maybe the great alpaca pyramid scheme is finally starting to crumble.

Best quotes of the weekend:
“Oh, the lady who made it isn’t here? Well, can’t you sell it to me while she’s gone? I’d pay, like, $25 for it.” –young blonde fashionista who wanted to buy a white pure alpaca handknit lace cowl being displayed in the fiber demo area–the Flared Lace Smoke Ring pattern, if I’m not mistaken, worked in a heavier yarn

“I don’t know if I can do this drop spindling thing. It looks fun, but my cats would go crazy for it. (Pause.) I have eight of them.” –a nice lady keeping those crazy crafter lady stereotypes alive and well

“But the wood just feels so good!” “That’s what she said!” –an exchange between fiber demonstrators following the most (inadvertently) suggestive nøstepinde-fondling I have ever seen in my life or ever hope to see

And here are a few photos:
Well-dressed man leading cranky alpaca:

Ooh, topical!



Me in action! Note I’m wearing a goofy novelty t-shirt from the neighboring stall. It says “Suri.” I want my entire wardrobe to consist of novelty alpaca gear someday. A few other items I liked: a baseball cap that said “SPIT DEFLECTION UNIT,” another that said “No spitting below the red line” (with red line drawn just above the brim of the cap), a t-shirt saying “Beans there, dung that!” with a picture of alpaca poop and a smiling alpaca, thong underwear saying “ORGLE ORGLE ORGLE.” Oh, and a shirt that was basically Three Wolf Moon except with a trio of alpacas.

There was also a breeder called Green Bay Alpacas!!!! I can’t tell you how badly I wanted a green and yellow t-shirt with their logo.

And I didn’t see this at the show, but found it online just now. Look out, Sartorialist, I’m coming to getcha.

You may have gotten to the end of this post and wondered what the “grass mud horse” bit was all about. Here you go. I found out the other day that alpacas are apparently a symbol of resistance to Chinese internet censorship! Love it. My Suri shirt is now a protest shirt.

Also, I’ll be in Boston and New York for the next two weeks or so. Is there any exciting crafty stuff I should check out while I’m here?