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The Envy Scarf is now complete and wrapped deliciously around my Selfish neck twice, but you’re going to have to wait for pictures. In the meantime, apparently the idea of knitting an entire scarf in fingering weight yarn appeals to some of you (clearly bored loners, much like the Selfish Seamstress herself). So to relieve you of your scarf envy over the Envy Scarf, or perhaps to inflict upon you the same mind-numbing boredom that I have just endured in making it (oh sorry, knitters, I meant “relaxing” and “therapeutic” means of “unwinding,” geez.), here is the very classic feather and fan pattern:
Cast on 78 stitches:
Row 1: K
Row 2: P
Row 3: K3, * (K2tog) 3 times, (YO, K1) 6 times, (K2tog) 3 times. Repeat from * until 3 stitches remain. K3.
Row 4: K
Repeat all rows until desired length is reached. Bind off loosely.
For my scarf, I used a 4.5 mm circular needle and about 1 and 2/3 skeins of Lang Jawoll Magic in shade 99 (Greens), but you can use whatever you want, not only because gauge isn’t important, but also because… well, did you honestly think I would care?
Readers, please. You have to understand that the Selfish Seamstress is an extremely important and busy woman. And now that she has landed in Europe, she finds herself absolutely swamped with new responsibilities. Think about it. It’s been a long time since Europe has had to contend with the Selfish Seamstress for more than a few days at a time. She’s got a lot of ground to cover- new colleagues from whom to alienate herself, new students to frighten, new friends to avoid making, and countless waitstaff and service industry people to annoy. Gifted as Selfish may be at rubbing people the wrong way, it’s still quite a lot of work.
Now, you in comparison, dear readers, are easy. All it takes for me to frustrate and anger you is to simply stop blogging and ignore you for a few weeks. And judging from your recent comments, I can’t help but pat myself on the back and think, “Job freakin’ well done, Elaine. Go treat yourself to another croissant.” Oh, this continent is utterly teeming with croissants.
But as you know, the Selfish Seamstress has never been one to rest on her laurels (hence her need to find new parts of the world to abuse), and she therefore thinks that there may be more effective ways to get under your skin than simply ignoring you. So allow me to introduce you to my new friend Envy.
Yep, I’m still without my beloved sewing machine as it slowly makes its way across the oceans, but knitting continues in its usual plodding and mind-numbing fashion. A couple of chilly mornings sent me in a panic to a nearby department store for two skeins of Lang Jawoll Magic sock yarn with which to make my own knockoff Missoni scarf. (I’ve been rather fixated on Missoni knits lately. More on that later though.) The traditional fan and feather pattern is easy enough, though a scarf made from fingering weight yarn isn’t exactly an overnight project.
And while I’m bragging (which is pretty much always), allow me to point out that a similar-in-flavor actual Missoni scarf retails for about $270. (My yarn cost: approximately $22. Haha! Take that, Italy.)
Green with Envy yet? If not, perhaps you haven’t looked closely enough. Here’s the Missoni-licious money shot:
Mwahahaha, miss me much?
Yup. The Carlos Miele sweater is getting bigger. Nope it’s still not finished. Nope, it’s still not terribly interesting to look at.
The BurdaMag that needs to get packed soon is shown for scale, and because I was flipping through it wistfully, reminiscing about my glorious sewing days (i.e. last week.) It’s dark times like these, as the needles click stitch by stitch, when I start to wonder whether you’re sorry yet that you told me to keep blogging about “whatever,” and whether the “It looks great so far!” comments are coming from other sewers who pity me in my sad knitting state. This is what it has come to. Pity and knitting. Perhaps I will put on some sweatpants. They’re more comfortable than yesterday’s cargo pants.
In the meantime, you’re best going off and finding something more interesting to read. Maybe there’s some great stuff about sewing from Denise on The Blue Gardenia blog today. Oh wait, no, it’s just more about lame old me and my sad little sewing space which doesn’t even exist anymore. Definitely check out her fantastic blog for her previous posts about more awesome sewing spaces from more interesting bloggers though. Sigh. I think I’ll go mope more and bake some cakes for other people now.
It stands to reason that if knitting is slower than sewing, then blogging about knitting is going to be slower than blogging about sewing. Granted, I’m making zippy progress with my Giant Yarn for Dummies and Tree Trunk Needles, but it’s still teeny steps compared with the zooooooooom! of the feed dogs on my increasingly dusty Husqvarna. I’m getting back into the rhythm of knitting now and starting to enjoy it, but it doesn’t change the fact that showing knitting progress seems a lot less interesting than showing sewing progress. Case in point- a fair bit of progress was made yesterday during packing downtime on the Carlos Miele knockoff sweater.
As you can see, significant progress has been made, and yet it’s really no more interesting than it was yesterday.
To answer a couple of questions that came up before my mind starts to wander again, yes, the gauge is huge. I put my seam ripper on the work so you can get an idea of the scale. Here’s a close up with a quarter to show you just how big those stitches are:
To answer a few more questions, I’m knitting on straight needles because the circular size 17 needle cost about $22. I love a good quality bamboo circular needle as much as the next Selfish Knitter, but the likelihood of me making future projects this tremendously chunky is very low, so I opted to make a smaller investment in the needles. The purple needles in the picture are the size 17. The gold needle is a size 10 or 11 that I’m just using as a stitch holder. The interesting thing with working at this size is that you can grab just about anything in your vicinity to use as necessary. I actually used a teaspoon as a cable needle yesterday because it just happened to be lying on the table before me. It was nice – the bowl of the spoon kept the stitches from slipping off while I worked my cable.
So. Yup. I guess that’s about it. Is this what knitting blogging is like? Is there anything more I should be telling you?
And so it comes to this, readers. Your Selfish Seamstress stoops to knitting. For those of you unfamiliar with “knitting,” it’s kind of like sewing’s slower, ergonomically problematic, more tedious cousin. I’ve started on the Carlos Miele knockoff sweater and here’s last night’s progress (after I could pack and clean no more.) Looks tiny but the gauge is actually about 2 stitches per inch.
The backstory is that I went to the fancy yarn store and found that the super bulky yarn in wool or alpaca in the quantity required to make this sweater would have run in the vicinity of $150-200. I do occasionally splurge on yarn and much like with fabric and sewing, I don’t like to invest lots of careful hand labor and use poor quality materials. Generally I feel there’s not much point in doing beautiful blind hems by hand on off-grain prints or lovely lacework with fibers that feel nasty against the skin. But I certainly don’t want this sweater $200 worth. And beyond that, this is sort of a risky and crazy sweater, as you’ll recall:
It could clearly go either way (well, judging by the polarized responses to my last post about this sweater, some of you think it can only go one way and not well at that- believe me, I also harbor suspicions that this could turn out very very poorly!), and it’s by no means a safe bet. And I’m not so keen on spending a lot of money just to satisfy my curiosity. And super bulky yarn isn’t the easiest yarn for me to repurpose if I decide to frog this one, since there aren’t a lot of other chunky projects that interest me. Even if it does turn out well, I don’t expect that it will be a heavy rotation garment anyway. So off it was to Michael’s to buy some crappy Lion Brand Wool-Ease on sale for $6.99 a skein. I’ve knit with it before and it’s really not the worst stuff. They did have a chartreuse/apple green color much like the one pictured above and I was tempted, but lately I seem to have sewn and knit a lot of clothes in that leafy green family so I opted for a change with the heathered pumpkiny-rust shade, which will be nice for autumn with some of my wool pants:
Knitting with giant size 17 plastic needles and giant yarn makes me feel kind of stupid and clumsy, like trying to work out multivariable calculus problems with a big fat crayon. I’m really much more of a laceweight girl. But the pattern is quite interesting, knit in a single piece from cuff to cuff, sort of like a cross shape with a hole in the middle for the neck opening, and it gets folded in half to make it into a sweater.
Here you can see it folded to form what will eventually be the sleeve and one side.
Okay, blogging about knitting is boring me almost as much as knitting itself (just kidding, sensitive knitters. I’m one of you too.) But seriously. I’m also wearing cargo pants right now. This should give you an idea of just how low I’ve sunk.
Well, based on my recent query as to what to blog about while new sewing projects go on hiatus, the response seemed to be an overwhelming, “Blather on about whatever!” And so I shall, time permitting. You may be sorry later!
I’m thinking about what knitting project to take on (there are many long plane rides in my immediate future, and I will be separated from my beloved Husqvarna for weeks- agony!) I’ve decided that I’m going to try my hand at what is sure to be the controversial Carlos Miele sweater, pictured above, assuming I can find appropriate yarn for it that doesn’t break the bank. Love it or hate it? Let the debate begin!
Here’s what it looks like in context:
I’m already picturing it with my Vogue 1051 alice + olivia pants!
I’m not a great knitter. My skills are intermediate at best and they certainly haven’t improved since I realized how much faster sewing is in terms of time to a lovely completed garment. And I think I’ve learned that it’s best to stick with sleeveless sweater patterns, or at least patterns for which the sleeves are not knit separately, because once I knit the first sleeve, I’m often too bored to knit the second sleeve. This would explain why I have so many unfinished one-sleeve sweaters. (A corollary to this would explain the existence of single hand-knit socks lying around my house.) In truth I’m a much more skilled crocheter, having been at it for 27 years now, but I rarely find patterns for crocheted garments that I really like and my house is not in need of doilies at this time.
For those of you who do like the Carlos Miele sweater and are capable of deciphering German knitting patterns, you can find the pattern available for free download from Für Sie magazine.
And so I pick up my knitting needles for the first time in months and months. I don’t think I’ve knitted anything since finishing a Ticuna scarf for Dan last summer. I bought two hanks of Berrocco Ultra Alpaca Fine in a beautiful shade of rich peacock blue, which I’m going to knit up into a Swallowtail Shawl (design by Evelyn Clark) for my mother. I think she’s going to love this color. My camera phone does not do it justice:
Here’s the swatch from the Berrocco site, which is a smidge greener than the yarn I actually have in front of me:
As with sewing, my knitting skills are decidedly intermediate. But the Swallowtail is a relatively easy knit as far as lace shawls go. And it has added benefits for other members of the household as well. As you can see, Sasa was very much on board the last time I knit a Swallowtail for my sister. She especially enjoyed the blocking process:
I expect that things will go similarly this time. Fortunately, my mother is used to living with a certain amount of cat hair, and I do not think a little more will deter her from wearing it.
Hi everyone, thanks for your concerned messages, and for the gentle (and some not-so-gentle!) prompts for the Elan 510 bra pattern giveway. I’m doing okay here but will probably be sparse on both sewing and blogging for a bit.
I finally went through the comments, and my goodness! I learned so much more than I ever wanted to about everyone’s unique mammary situations, and also that people are generally not so good at following essay instructions :) Granted, a small number of you did actually manage to explain why you deserve the bra pattern and why no one else deserves it within a slim 100 words, but really, uh, not so many.
So because Selfish makes the rules here, Selfish can change them at her will, and she’s awarding the pattern to one of the many who didn’t follow instructions. After reading so many sad sob stories about “girls” too big or too small for department store offerings, figures ravaged by nursing and pregnancies, natural lopsidedness which render symmetrical bras useless, foundation garments worn down to decaying threads, I have to admit that my heart-of-ice thawed just a tiny bit. After all, the Selfish Seamstress knows too well the frustrations of the lingerie fitting room. And she had no idea that her blog was frequented by so many suffering women! But surely reader Amy had the most pathetic story of all, like a kitten with a missing leg wearing a big cone around its neck bumping into walls:
“I deserve it because I have the chest of a 12 year old boy. Victoria’s Secret laughs at me… the only bra they have that might fit is one that “enhances” me by 2 sizes, making me look like a schoolgirl that just overstuffed her bra with tissues. So, now I, a 37 yo woman, have resorted to wearing her 15 yo daughter’s outgrown training bras. What I wouldn’t give (or take!) to be able to make a lovely bra that made me feel like I could shop in the grown ups dept!”
I mean, Amy was not the only reader to admit to resorting to training bras as an adult, but HAND-ME-DOWN training bras?? From one’s teenage daughter?? Is there any mammary dignity left after you ask your offspring if you can have their castoff underwear??
Yes there is! When you win a free bra pattern. Congratulations, Amy! I hope we can put an end to this oh-so-wrong situation. And I hope you never again have to leave a comment on anyone’s blog about how you wear your kid’s outgrown undergarments. Drop me an email at selfishseamstress[at]gmail[dot]com with your mailing address :) The rest of you should wander on over to Sew Sassy and snag your own because it sounds like a lot of you have some real bra issues that you need to deal with.
In sadder news, my wonderful grandmother passed away last weekend at the age of 103, painlessly, and in her sleep at home. Growing up I did not have the opportunity to see her often, but she was a clever, spirited, and giving person whom I am fortunate to have known. Some of my fondest memories of her are of sitting on the living room floor with her at the age of 8 during one of her rare visits to the US, utterly enraptured as she taught me how to knit. It never occurred to me to ask her how someone who had spent almost her entire life in the sweltering tropics with no air conditioning and little time for leisure even knew how to knit. I guess it’s just a grandmother thing, and for that I’m grateful.
I’m going to take a short hiatus from sewing to revisit knitting. And in honor of my Ahma’s generous spirit, I will knit for someone else.
Has the Selfish Seamstress turned over a new leaf and learned to do things for others??
First of all, after leaving them dangling for months, I finally got around to weaving in the four little tiny yarn ends on Dan’s Ticuna scarf:
[The yarn is a local, random, heathered wine red, super soft merino worsted weight that I got at a farmer's market in Chicago.]
But Dan is not the only member of the less-fortunate who benefitted from my skills (where “less-fortunate” is defined by inferior needlecraft skills). I bit the bullet last night. I managed to refrain from finishing up my L’Wren Scott-inspired Simplicity 2374 and instead got started on my S.W.A.G. (Sewing With A Grudge) projects. This meant engaging in my least favorite part of sewing (cutting out the fabric pieces) for my least favorite people to sew for (anyone but me.) Fortunately I’m making gifts for my sisters, who are among my most favorite of my least favorite people to sew for.
It’s now a matter of battling against myself and maintaining momentum. I know if I put the projects down for too long, I will never be motivated to finish them before the holidays. If that happens, they will sit unfinished in a heap, holidays will approach and I will hurriedly go out and buy alternate presents for the sisters, and then perhaps eventually I will return to the tops after having decided I need a couple of new tops for myself. The Selfish Seamstress is nothing if not self-aware.
I forced myself to cut out both of the tops last night, knowing that if I cut and sewed one first, I would be too lazy to cut and sew the other. Fortunately my sisters and I are all relatively close in size and the knit is pretty stretchy so multiple sizes were not necessary. Multiple sizes of the same garment are a surefire way of ensuring that only one will ever get sewn. (I am sewing one with slightly less seam allowance just in case.)
And, knowing that this was probably the most momentum I’d have for S.W.A.G. for the rest of the season, I decided I’d get some of the sewing done too (again both sweaters in parallel.) Side and shoulder seams are done on both, as are sleeve and collar seams. All that’s left is to set in the collars and sleeves, and finish all the edges with my handy new twin stretch needle. You can see the progress that I’ve made in the photo above. (I don’t know why the collar edge of the green one looks all raggedy- it’s not in real life.) I have arranged the pieces into the heartfelt poses of eternal indebtedness (left) and undying worship (right) which I fully expect my sisters to assume upon receiving the tops if they don’t want to get cut.
What you can’t see here is that they are also on their knees in expression of their endless gratitude, but there’s NO WAY I’m going to make them pants too just so you can see that.