Finished Objects: Kilmorey Cowls in Moss and Grey

Readers, let me tell you... when you sew a new garment practically every week for six months and then can't finish a single one for another six months, it reaps havoc on one's creative juices!  By the end of the year I was desperate to make something.  Anything.  So, did I hand-sew a dress?  Haha, no.  But, I did decide to take up a new creative hobby!

Lucky for me, my mom is brilliant with yarn and thread and is also a very patient teacher.  So, during my Christmas visit, I asked her to teach me the basics of knitting.  She showed me how to cast-on, knit, and purl and recommended I try a scarf first.  (I think she knew that if I couldn't wear it, I wasn't going to make it... no potholders for me haha.)

In part for practice and in part for near-instant gratification, I chose a cowl pattern using super-bulky wool and rather large circular needles (so large actually, the first two stores I tried didn't carry them).  This worked and after two short evenings of knit two, purl two, I had my first knit accessory.  Mind you, it's knit loosely and would probably look a bit sloppy to someone with yards of yarn experience but, I love it anyway.  In fact, I loved it so much, I immediately made it again, this time trying a little harder to focus on my stitches and tension.

Kilmorey #1, rambling Ravelry notes here
Scarf: handmade, Sweater: Brooks Brothers, Fox ring: Ebay

Kilmorey #2, Ravelry notes here
Scarf: handmade, Sweater: Ann Taylor, Shirt: Ralph Lauren, Skirt: Gap (thrifted)

Here are the deets Sew Weekly style:

Yarn:  ~117 yards Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Grey Marble, $10.60 for two skeins and ~117 yards Loops & Threads Cozy Wool  in Moss Green, $7 for two skeins (funny that I used about the same amount of yarn, yet the grey version is 7 rows smaller!)
Pattern:  Kilmorey by Mrs Moon
Year:  Contemporary
Notions:  Nada. Wait, needles:  Size 19 circulars, ~$4
Time to complete:  if I'm being honest, about 5 or 6 hours for the grey version and probably 3 or 4 for the green
First worn:  January 2012
Wear again?  Both of them, absolutely!
Total cost:  $10.60 for the grey + $7 for the green = $17.60 ($21.60 if you count the needles)

The green one ended up shorter than the grey but, also has seven extra rows so, it's significantly warmer.  Now I have options for cool days when I want a looser scarf and for freezing days when I need the wool wrapped tightly around me (or if it's really, really freezing cold day, I could always layer them... I hope it doesn't come to that though.)  They're so cute and practical, I had to fight a small urge to just keep knitting cowls!  Can a girl ever have to many?  Not really.  Truthfully, scarves are probably my most-worn items when the cold sets in.  I've always had a thing against hats.  Which brings me to my next project: a red hat. Ha!  I can't wait to finish it to see if I actually wear it.  Then again, with Mother Nature being a frigid as she has been lately, I don't think I'll have much choice!

Have you taken up any new hobbies for the new year?  What are you working on to keep out the cold or to stay cool in the summer heat?

Happy stitching! x

A Belated Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

By belated, I obviously mean veeery belated!  A year-end post when February is knocking at the door?  Ridiculous.  And yet, here I am writing just that.  Why?  Honestly, not so much for the round-up part (though I couldn't resist a little collage). Rather, I need help developing and maintaining focus when away from my machine so, I figured it would be smart to evaluate my achievements and goals and compile the sewing resolutions I've made thus far, in order to hold myself more accountable.

Ok, now that I've written that, isn't that exactly why each of you did it? In December?

Anyway, first things first.  Last year was off to a great start.  I had a tremendous amount of fun participating as a Sew Weekly contributor and it really helped me see just how much I could really accomplish when I stuck with a garment and held myself to a relative timetable.

By the time Brandon accepted his new job at the beginning of August (wherein chaos ensued), I had finished 19 20 items (including the petticoat under my houndstooth skirt and a grey lounge t-shirt not photographed) and made a few odds and ends (hair clips, bracelets, not shown).  Not too shabby, if I may say so.

Then, there are those that I started but, never finished for one reason or another:
  • The "Come Back to Me" Dress for the Oscar Challenge/That's Sew Cinematic - sooo much hand sewing but, I'm planning to work on it again this year.
  • The "Trudy" Dress for the Mad Men Challenges - horrible, beyond horrible fit. As I recall, I danced around actually saying this but, we used clothespins to grab several inches of fabric in the back to look ok for photos :/  I don't see this one getting fixed.  It left a bad taste.
  • The "Lilly" Dress for the City Challenge - this one took quite a few tweaks to get the fit right (straight shifts just don't work on my pear shape) and then I got distracted by other projects. I'll come back to this one.
  • A 1940s Spring Floral Top - I loooved where this one was going but, I had done quite a bit of grading and apparently screwed up the collar piece so, I need to go back and fix it.
  • The "Sheerly Jane" Dress for the Literature Challenge.  I was so excited about this one too but, by the time I dyed the fabric and got everything together, the in-laws came to visit and it went out the window. Maybe this year.
  • A white button-front shirt for Brandon's interview - I didn't finish it in time for his interview so, he bought one from Brooks Brothers and the stitching on that one was so smooth, I couldn't bring myself to finish the one I started (My machine, great as it is, doesn't have full adjustability so my stitches really sink into thick layers of fabric.)
  • A Gatsby-inspired grey lace sheath - again, by the time I dyed the fabric (twice!), other things got in the way.  This time it was the selling the house.
  • A J-crew inspired colorblock wool pleated skirt - another one I loooved but, I had sewn the pleats down inside-out and at 3am, I didn't fancy grabbing the seam-ripper.  Then, we left for GA to look for houses...
  • A simple gathered wool boucle skirt - a last-ditch effort to sew something quick and easy while managing the move.  Alas, the movers showed up before I could sew on the waistband and hem.  I expect I'll finish this one this year though.
Hmm, 9 UFOs (plus 2 for crochet) in one year... could be worse, right?

I learned a lot from my year's sewing efforts.  One thing I'm going to put into practice is my preferred pace.  One garment a week was fun but also very stressful.  This year, I plan to give myself two weeks per item.  Since I don't expect to sew until mid-February, that would give me a goal of about 23 garments this year.

Which brings me to my two (so far) resolutions:
To Karen, I pledged I would tackle items I find challenging to include one jacket/coat and one trouser/jean with zip-fly-front.
To Cindy, I pledged to use at least 8 of my stashed fabrics, including at least one which was bought for Brandon (after all, he does buy it so, it seems only fair, right?).

I'm going to expect the jacket/coat to take at least 3 times as long as a normal project and that green dress UFO is likely going to account for two so, my official, writing in stone (ha!) goal for 2013 is 20 garments.  Is it possible?  Absolutely!  Will it happen?  Only the year will tell!

How have your goals changed since last year?  Are you planning to tackle any larger/intimidating projects?  Please share!

Happy sewing! x

Hey there, sewing world!

...Oh, how I've missed you!!

These last months have been so, so hectic!  I'll try not to bore you with too many details but, let's just say moving is stressful.  Moving 560 miles (901 km) away is very stressful.  Moving during the holiday season... is oh.my.goodness.