Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Bluestocking Podcast: Episode 6: Slow Fashion October: WORN

Show Notes

Slow Fashion October-Week 4

Jordanville Public Library
Stash Swap: October 30th from 5-7 PM
Candle Making Workshop: November 10th at 9:30 AM $10

Works in Progress
Sebastian's Gramps Cardigan


Jeremy Poldark
Dragonfly in Amber
Mend it Better

Lucy's tunic and leggings
My own shirts can be seen here, here, and here
Yellow striped shirt (size 5-6)
Green Polkadot dress size 100 cm ( size 3-5)
Pendleton Wool Skirt Adjustment: remove waistband and expand by opening up a pleat or two symmetrically, then use grosgrain ribbon to make a new waistband.
Sashiko needles/thread
Peter's vest
orange socks
red socks

Purl Bee's Gathered Skirt for All Ages
Nightgown: Easy Stitch 'n Save by McCall's M9231

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Episode 2: 31 lbs of YARN

Thank you all so much for indulging me in this new podcasting thing.  I had a free moment and decided to show you the enormous box of yarn that a friend mailed to me the other day.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Slow Fashion October: Week 2

This week I wanted to put down a few thoughts I've had about the practicality of dressing myself and my family in handmade clothing.  I especially want to dispel the myth that making clothes for kids is not worth the time and effort because they grow so quickly.  Since becoming a mother, I have been especially interested in exploring how handmade clothing can accommodate my own unique set of needs when store-bought clothing cannot.

With a little forethought, I've been able to choose styles for my kids that seem to grow with them.  My knits have an especially long lifespan, stretching with the babies they keep warm.  And finally, once the beloved garment simply won't fit anymore, there never seems to be a shortage of younger siblings, cousins, or friends to wear it next.  
I've found yoked sweaters to be especially forgiving.  Here you can see 18 month old Lucy wearing this freshly-made owls sweater at Rhinebeck 2013:

 Here she is just a few weeks ago, at 3.5 years, wearing the same sweater.  I had actually relegated it to her younger brother by this time, but in a desperate moment reached for it again because of how neutral it is.

Not to belabor the point, but I have one more bit of photographic proof that yokes are worth your time.  In this collage, the same sweater fits Lucy at 3 with very little ease, but still works on a 6 month old Sebastian with the sleeves cuffed.  It doesn't get better than that.  
I've also been really pleased with the top-down cardigans I have made for Lucy.  They wind up fitting for years.  In fact, at one point I had to force myself to stop making them for her, since the three I had already made continued to fit for so long.  Observe:
Long lived sweaters are just the beginning.  When I realized that both kids could wear tube socks indefinitely, it suddenly seemed worth my time to crank them out.  If I focus exclusively on them, I can make a pair of tube socks in about 2 weeks.   They are knee highs on Sebastian and Lucy will still fit in them for ages to come.  
Have I convinced you yet?  I find that my kids can make do with only a couple of sweaters and pairs of socks, which they wear with a wide variety of thrifted items that I've purchased specifically because they coordinate.  I remove the hand knits before meals and very rarely wash them, which definitely prolongs their lifespan.  
All this talk about accommodating my kids' growth leads me to a subject I'd love to see more people address.  My body has changed so much over the last four years, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  At first I got away with adjusting what I already had, like these corduroy pants I altered with a stretchy waistband.  Eventually I decided to come up with a basic handmade wardrobe that could take me through these changes in a way that store-bought garments simply can't.  
I require a lot from my garments.  They need to either accommodate a growing (or shrinking!) belly or provide easy access for nursing--and sometimes both.  While I love my Alabama Chanin tank dresses, which I've been able to wear both before and throughout my pregnancies, they aren't great for breastfeeding.  I tend to save them for special occasions now.
My jersey separates have proven to be a better use of my time.  I pretty much live in Alabama skirts of all different lengths. 
 I love to make basic ones quickly, but have begun seeing the wisdom in slowing down and embellishing them.  
It's especially exciting when I can make these additions to an already finished garment, so it can jump right into the rotation.
I'd love to hear about your own tricks for prolonging the usefulness of your own handmade garments.  Do you take your unique set of needs into account when designing and making clothing?  Have you come across any tips to insure they fit in spite of growth spurts or other fluxuations?  How about patterns that take pregnancy or nursing into account?  Jump in!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Yarn Along: Operation Sock Drawer

A few days ago I had a crazy thought just as I woke up.  What if I took the one pair of hand knitted socks in my drawer, socks that were much too tight for me to wear comfortably, and converted them into socks for Lucy?  I jumped out of bed and snatched them up to study them.  Inevitably, duty called and the project went to the back burner, where it stayed all day until after bedtime.
I was completely exhausted by this time, but stubbornly refused to go to bed on principle.  Usually this kind of overtired zealousness is a recipe for disaster, but in this case it gave me the courage I needed to try something most would baulk at.  
I cut my knitting.  This was not the careful snip of a single stitch that I intended--which would have worked had the sock in question not been a bit felted from an errant trip through the washer and dryer.  This was full on sock butchery, a heel-ectomy.  I cut through hours of careful knitting, never quite certain it would really work.  It made me feel reckless and powerful--and nauseated.  
In the end, the cuffs and toes came back together with some unevenly executed kitchener, and the resulting pair of tube socks will get so much more use than they ever could in their previous incarnation.
After a false start, I'm back to knitting Sebastian a coordinating handspun hooded jacket out of the leftovers from Lucy's, which I did indeed finish.
I've been hoping to block the button bands before documenting it, but she has been wearing it every day.  A good problem to have.
In another evening stupor, I turned the heel on these exciting socks, and keep meaning to double-check my work in the clear light of day.
Out of desperation, I stumbled upon a great method for yarn management when knitting stripes in the round and carrying the yarns up instead of cutting them with each color change.  Now I tuck the ball that isn't in use inside the work in progress so that I can zip around quickly without pausing to detangle every minute.
This adorable hat is on the docket as well.  I want to make two for the kids so I've been fiddling with the chart and numbers for the cast on.  I forgot to take the decreases into account so I've been stalled out until I can give it a second look.

The kids keep pulling out the bookmark in Demelza.  I need to read faster.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Slow Fashion October: Week 1

I'm so excited to participate in the first Slow Fashion October.  If you're new here, introductions might be helpful.  I'm Kate.  I knit,  spin, sew, and crochet.  This is my blog, of course, which, until Me Made May 2015 was essentially a record of what I read and knitted with the odd birth story thrown in.  Then I found myself documenting more of our lives, through the lens of what I make and what we wear.  You can see more over at Instagram, where I am @willfulmina.
I live in upstate NY with my husband Peter and our two kids, Lucy, 3, and Sebastian, 1.  
All four of us wear handmade items nearly every day.  
Since moving to this rural area, I've gotten more into thrifting, especially for my kids' clothing.  New clothing for children is either well-made or cheap.  Buying second-hand seems to be the only affordable answer.  I've taken it a step further and have begun salvaging fabric from thrifted items to make garments for them.
As for clothing myself, it's been a process.  At some point, shopping for clothing that actually fit was becoming increasingly frustrating.  I'm 5'10" and curvy.  There are very few options for tall women as it is, but when I moved out here to the wilderness, the options became downright frustrating.  When I could find something that fit, the quality left something to be desired.  Enter Natalie Chanin.  Her books sparked something in me a few years ago.  I had crocheted and knitted for some time already and even made some attempts at sewing garments for myself, which weren't terribly successful.  
Then I found her guide to making garments by hand, an utterly relaxing process for me, out of cotton jersey, which I loved but had been intimidated by the prospect of machine sewing it.  I began by making the basic garments, and in the past year have finally begun delving into the embellishments that elevate her simple garments to works of art.
I love how much power making my own clothes gives me.  Raising a neckline, lowering a hem, and adding sleeves are all within my skill set now.  I learn as I go and am not afraid to fudge it.  Clothing my family gives me a huge charge as well.  This month I hope to work on everyone's winter wardrobe and to share my process here.