My OAL 2015 Outfit

Despite my dress issues, I’m so very happy with how this outfit turned out. It’s very comfortable and cute, and I’m looking forward to wearing it all of the time.

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I knit and sewed the official patterns as written. At first I thought I might have to modify Vianne because I couldn’t get row gauge with my yarn, Hazel Knits Lively DK in Poppy, but changing to a different brand of needles that run a little smaller did the trick. No modifications needed! I chose the buttons because they reminded me of the motifs on my dress. Unfortunately they’re a little too small and I might need to swap them out eventually, but don’t they tie everything together well?

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If you haven’t added your outfit to the OAL Finished Outfit thread on Ravelry, don’t forget to do so! Tomorrow is your last day to add an outfit and be eligible for prizes. This year we have four sets of prizes. Each of the four randomly selected winners will get two Untangling Knots patterns, one pattern from McCall’s, and one from Indie Stitches. Lauren will be drawing the winners on Monday, and the winners will get to pick their patterns. I want to say thank you to both McCall’s and Indie Stitches for donating patterns.

Choosing Yarn For Intarsia

When it comes to knitting intarsia, there’s nothing about the technique that requires you to use a specific type of yarn. Long before I even knew what intarsia was called, I knit an intarsia project using chenille yarn, and it didn’t explode in my face. That said, some yarns are easier to work with than others while using this colorwork technique, and some yarns will more easily create an attractive final object than others.

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Sticky, woolly wool is the best thing to use for intarsia, just like it’s the best thing to use for stranded colorwork. This stuff isn’t the softest yarn ever, and it’s the kind of yarn that you’d also be drawn to for a felting project. It’s sticky, grippy qualities make finishing work significantly easier because once you adjust a stitch or weave in an end, it more or less “sticks” in place, and finishing is the key element to good looking intarsia. Once you get into more smoother yarns like superwash wools, plant fibers, and synthetics, it becomes a lot harder to keep your stitches and ends from wiggling around, so I wouldn’t recommend those yarns for your first intarsia project.

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The next thing to keep in mind when choosing yarn is the color. The colors can make or break a project, as you can see in this early swatch of the flowers from Nosegay. When it comes to intarsia, you don’t need to worry about the values of your colors as much as you do with stranded colorwork, but the major exception is when you’re using two or more colors to create depth and shading like on this rose. These two shades of pink don’t have enough contrast so my pretty rose ends up just looking like a weird blob.

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The easiest way to check to see if you colors have enough contrast is to snap a picture in black and white. If it’s totally clear which is the lighter color and which is the darker color, you shouldn’t have any problems. This picture is of the two shades of pink recommended for Nosegay, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Blossom Heather and Papaya Heather. Plenty of contrast!

Announcing the Nosegay KAL

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The OAL is coming to an end soon which means it’s time to start picking out your yarn for our next KAL! We’ll be knitting Nosegay, a sweater vest from my new collection Quiet Days. The KAL starts on August 10th, and you’ll have until September 10th to knit your vest. A month might seem really short compared to the two-month long OAL, but it’s plenty of time to knit Nosegay. Because of its large intarsia flowers, the vest is knit in pieces and seamed, and the plain back will just fly off your needles. The intarsia on the front is a bit more challenging, but because the rest of the project is so quick and easy, this is a great opportunity to give intarsia a try.

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The pattern is currently only available through Knit Picks which makes things a little more complicated if you want to join in and live outside of the US, but don’t worry! I have a solution for you. You need to include an American shipping address for all orders, even if they’re for digital downloads that will be emailed to you, and you’re welcome to use the Untangling Knots PO Box address for this purpose. I just ask that you please be respectful with it so I don’t end up with piles of Knit Picks catalogs. Also be sure that you’re buying the digital version, not the print. I won’t be forwarding packages if you accidentally order the hard copy, but everything should be fine if you order the download. This should make it so everyone can join in on the fun that wants to. Are you in?

Untangling Knots · PO Box 31494 · Seattle, Washington 98103 · USA

McCall’s 6887 in Linen

I if I had to describe the process of making this dress in one word, that word would be “meh.” Cutting the fabric was a bit of a nightmare because it kept shifting around on me. I’ve never run across that with linen before, but this is only my third linen project, so I maybe I just got lucky prior to this. I thought I did an okay job cutting despite the shifting, but as I started to get things sewn together, I realized I didn’t. I had some weird puckering on one of the side pieces of the bodice front when I picked it up that was nonexistent when my bodice was laid flat on my ironing board. I kept trying to figure out if something went wrong easing it in, but I finally accepted that the piece was slightly off-grain. And as I sewed together some of my skirt panels, I began to notice that they were slightly off-grain, too. At that point I decided to just skip the sleeves and get the thing done the best I could.

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Overall, it’s an okay dress. I sewed the size 12 with the D cup pieces. The fit through the bust and waist is great, and linen outer fabric and lightweight cotton lining make the dress feel amazing when I’m wearing it. After I took these pictures, however, I noticed something was up with the neckline. I had been so fixated on the bust, I didn’t even notice until now. I needed to make the shoulders less sloped, which is a modification I’ve never needed to do before. In fact, I’ve had to do the opposite! Making the shoulder angle less dramatic would have made my neckline lay flatter as well as the shoulders and back. Oh, well! I’ll probably wear it as much as any other dress, despite its flaws. It just feels really good on.

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Since the dress wasn’t going that great, I decided that I might as well experiment a bit with the hem. I did a rolled hem using my rolled hem foot which I’ve previously only used on my linings. This fabric was too bulky at the seams to get a consistently rolled edge all the way around, so after I did my first pass, I switched the rolled hem foot for a basic foot, turned my rolled hem up once, and sewed that. It made a nice narrow hem and hid all of the oddities of my first pass. I’m really happy with the way that turned out and will likely do it again in the future.

Where I Work

When I put in the blog post request page, one of the first requests to pop up was to see my work space. I read that and thought, “Hahaha! No way.” I don’t have a pretty or inspiring craft space, even when it’s neat and tidy, and I didn’t want to share it because it’s not the sort of magical, creative space I think most people imagine professional crafters to have. But after going through that thought process, I realized that that’s exactly why I should share it! I suspect that a lot of crafters have a desk that looks like mine and very few have the lovely work spaces you see in staged, inspirational photo shoots.

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My desk is where I do most of my design work, and it’s cluttered with swatches and post-it notes for upcoming or old projects, balls of yarn, and mail. It also has designer-essentials like a bottle of Tums for the anxiety-induced stomach aches that come with running my own business, and a number of calendars and planners so I can keep track of deadlines, events, releases, and blog posts. Running my pattern business is fun, but it’s also a little stressful and very busy! I keep my laptop on a raised wire shelf so it doesn’t overheat from all of the wool it’s surrounded by, and I have it connected to a big monitor which makes doing charts and written text so much easier. To the left of my desk are my closet doors where I sometimes take blog post photos, and the wall above my desk is blank because nothing will stay up on the weird painted plaster of the interior walls of my apartment. To the right on the floor is a set of drawers where I store old ball bands, bills, and copies of receipts, and I keep my design notebooks stacked on top.

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My work area is in my bedroom, tucked into the large space at the foot of my bed. I’ve got a big set of drawers where I keep the yarn for upcoming projects and old swatches, and next to that, I have a comfortable chair to sit and knit. On the floor is a bulletin board that I originally planned on hanging on the wall and pinning up swatches, but it wouldn’t stay up, so now it sits there and features reminders, fun mail, and other notes. To be perfectly honest, I don’t need a pretty, inspired space to be inspired to make pretty things. I get most of my inspiration from fashion books, movies, and tv shows or out in the world, and once I get the idea and get it in my sketchbook, where I do the actual work doesn’t matter much to me.

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When I’m not holed up in my work area, I like to knit my projects in front of the TV in the living room. And there you have it! This is what my craft space looks like. Not the prettiest, but it gets the job done.