Month: February 2017

Salt & Pepper

cuffI discovered a few years ago that salt and pepper is the (un)official uniform of Canada. I don’t know how I never noticed it before, but after I did I saw it everywhere. And then one day (years later) it happened… I realized I really, really liked salt & pepper, and I needed it. [Taking a moment aside, I just realized I don’t even know if salt and pepper is a “colour” outside of Canada, I’m assuming that it is, but I’ve ever seen it referred to as marl on the internet.] Of course I could buy salt and pepper clothing, but it’s mostly found in the sweatshirts and sweatpants, and I wanted a little more sophistication. And I found it when the Tongshan Sweater pattern came out. The Tongshan Sweater is in my opinion a very timeless, versatile piece. I could see myself wearing it with jeans a riding boots, or over a dress or a skirt, in my mind it integrated so seamlessly into my wardrobe! So I purchased it and I got to work, last year.

And I’m not done.

But I’m going to show you where I am in the process. And it’s not perfect… While I love showing full outfit pictures of my finished projects, making them look their very best, making your own clothes is about a lot more than the end result. It’s about a lot of different things to different people, and it’s about a lot of different things to me, but today I’m sharing one aspect of it, which is learning. Whenever I make something new I always learn at least one (but usually many) things. To me this makes it all worth it. Even if I had to restart, things didn’t go as planned, and I’m not happy with the result, at least I can walk away knowing I learned something (and it’s okay if the only thing you learned is that it’s easier to frog or rip up seams with a glass of wine, or that it’s not a good idea to rip seams or knitting up past 1 AM)!

So why am I saying all of this? Probably because things did not go as planned with this sweater. I’ll just give you a list of things that happened and save you a few minutes of reading:

  • I worked the ribbing back and forth – really bringing out unevenness in my gauge
  • I knit each sleeve not once, but three times (!!!)
  • I modified the sleeve pattern because it was too tight, and didn’t take notes, I’m still not convinced my two sleeves are the same
  • I confused the front and back and had to rip back quite far
  • I couldn’t do the shoulder seams and my tenth attempt still looks horrible
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Horrible Shoulder Seams

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Uneven Back Ribbing

And to top off the list, the sweater is currently blocking and based on the newest measurements, it looks like it will be about 3 inches too long. I would be lying if I said there weren’t any tears. But I learned a lot of things too, and I think that deserves a list as well:

  • I learned how to actually frog: taking the stitches of the needle and pulling back down to where you want to go and picking your work back up
  • I learned how to frog ribbing, increases and decreases
  • I learned how important accurate notes are, and to not assume I will understand something cryptic just because I’m the one who wrote it
  • I modified a sleeve pattern to fit my arm better, and I learned how I would improve my modification if I were to do it again

In a time where we are so used to seeing the very selected, highly edited version of everyone’s life and accomplishments, I love seeing peoples mistakes and how they have learned from them. Sometimes just knowing that other people have made mistakes, or that they consider their projects to be imperfect is nice.

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Don’t worry, I’m still going to finish this sweater, and if it doesn’t make the cut to my wardrobe, at least I will have learned a lot.

 

A Lesson in Carpentry

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Just kidding, I’m not a carpenter and I don’t think I ever will be! Although I would like to build my own boat someday, and there is one lesson I learned that I can share… This post is about an idea that I had one day, at least I think it’s an idea I had. I made the mistake of googling my idea after I came up with it and found that it was a pretty common thing. Does that ever happen to you? You think you have a good, innovative idea, and it turns out it’s already been done? I like to tell myself that just means it really was a good idea.

My idea was to find an old ladder on which I could hang my (ever expanding) collection of blanket scarves. Blanket scarves are one trend I have really gotten behind. I personally don’t think there will ever be a trend as phenomenal as carrying a blanket with you everywhere you go (until someone invents comforter scarves, and then pillow scarves… and then memory foam scarves)!

Unfortunately I found out quickly that “antique” and “vintage” ladders were outside of my budget, which was about $30. So I decided to make one, with the help of the boyfriend, and the boyfriend’s roommates’ power tools!

And here she is, a “genuine” antique vintage ladder (because who knows if the ladders those antique shops sell really are antique anyways):

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Making the ladder was really simple, requiring only a bit of math and some patience! If I make another one I will write up a tutorial! It cost about $15 for the wood and $15 for the hole saw (an attachment that fits most drills). I used: a wood saw (to cut the boards and dowels down to size), an electric drill with a hole saw attachment (for the rung holes), a sander and a hammer!

I originally wanted to stain the ladder, but when I saw how the wood looked with only the sanding I changed my mind. The weathered effect was achieved by using treated outdoor wood and sanding it down. The treatment applied penetrates differently across the wood so when you sand down you are left with a patchy finish, which I really like because it makes me think of old weathered barns. A hole saw was used to make the holes along each side, the hole saw we used was the same diameter as the dowels, but it ended up being a very tight fit so we sanded the dowels down to make them fit into the holes.

For the curious, from top to bottom the scarves are: tartan scarf from Jcrew factory store, thrifted wool scarf, and aritzia’s gasperin scarf. There is also a MacAuslands woolen mills scarf on the chair to the right of the ladder.

I am so excited about this project that I want to make another one for my blankets!

And for all of you who would like to try this, here is my lesson: try to pick straight boards. If you start out with warped, bowed boards there is nothing you can do (ask me how I know!)