Groovy Silk Scarf

I’m emerging from such a winter. And that’s all I’ll say about that. Grabbing some golden-hour light after a long walk with the dogs, I got to model my first non-wool knitted thing since I don’t know when.

groovy silk3

I will only gaze heavenward.

groovy silk 4

The pattern I followed is Groovy by Annie Baker of Jumper Cables Knitting. And, of course more details on my Ravelry project page for those of you who care.

groovy silk5

The yarn was given to me by my dear friend and Knitter Extraordinaire, Kanitta. She’s always sending me yarn, and I’ve tried *so hard* to make her stop. It’s such a trial for me. This is Dance Rustic Silk from Dragonfly Fibers. Appropriately, the colorway is “Red Bud.”

groovy silk2

I love the simple geometry of this pattern, with the notched edges and alternating smooth and rough textures. The Rustic Silk suits me like a dream. It looks rough and textured, but it’s actually soft and drapey to the touch. Scarves are handy accessories for between the seasons, and the silk just takes the chill off without insulating the way wool might.

groovy silk1

I do have more projects up my sleeve; just haven’t been in the blogging zone of late. Hey, maybe Groovy will help me get my groove on. Groan.


ruby dress testing

Well, I’ve been sewing a lot these days.  Last week was a whirlwind of pattern testing for the Made By Rae Ruby Top & Dress (pattern coming VERY SOON).  I got to be in touch with over a dozen pattern testers as they got the first go at this pattern.  Of course, I was lucky enough to give it a couple of tries too.

First, I made this one out of cotton/linen sheeting from Kokka Fabrics by Etsuko Furuya.  I ordered it online at Pink Chalk Fabrics.  I really loved the “Arrow Dress” that Rae made, and this has the same feel and drape as the fabric she used.

Just one yard is all it took of the main fabric, as this stuff is 61″ wide.  I just picked up a half-yard of quilting cotton for the yoke fabric at Satin Stitches here in CoMo, and made my own bias tape for the armhole and neck trims.

Ruby 1

As you can see, the first version turned out a little, well, voluminous.  It’s totally comfy and fun, but it looks a little frump-a-dump unless I belt it (more photos with a belt, below).  I did try taking in the side seams a bit, but ended up just leaving this one as-is, because it just looked lumpy and weird with every modification.  Lesson learned: when I’m first making a pattern without practicing on muslin first, don’t do French Seams.  Way too hard to modify for fit!

Almost all of the other testers indicated that their dresses were also too big, so we got to try a modified version on the next go-around.  This time the yoke stayed the same, but the side seams and front gathers were minimized. Much better!  I got the fabric for this one at Joann’s of all places! I can’t find it online, or I’d link to it. It’s a lovely soft cotton/linen blend again, but this one is really light and airy (without being transparent, *phew*). The yoke fabric is a very simple white eyelet, again from Satin Stitches.

Ruby 2

This one fits much better, wouldn’t you say?  Definitely a keeper….except that this particular little number has already slipped out of my closet and into my sister’s!

Over Labor Day weekend, we drove up to Western Michigan and stayed with my big (“big”) sister Erika.  I showed her the dresses one evening, and later I came home from walking the dog to find her wearing it.

I keep telling people that she refused to take it off, so I had to leave it with her, but that’s a lie.  It just looks so cute on her, how I could not let her keep it?  And besides, not only do I have my own dress, I can make more. I just hope I can find this crazy floral fabric again.

Ruby Dresses

Here you can see that we’re both working on the wattle that we’ve inherited from our father.

Isn’t it perfect that I just happened to have a polkadot and striped belt, in the very hues that match the fabric? Serendipity, I tell you.

Ruby Dresses

We have the same middle name: Glamour

Ruby Dresses

I have to admit that there are reasons other than selflessness and generosity that I left the dress in Erika’s possession. First, she and her husband have graciously let us store a lot of boxes and furniture in their attic for the last few years while we’ve lived in small spaces.  Now that we have our own big ol’ house, we’ve made pretty good progress in emptying out their attic.  Talk about remote storage, eh? Giving Erika the dress is just a tiny token of my gratitude.  Think I should make her hubby a dress too?

The other reason? Well, there’s this sweater that I’ve been working on for 2 years.  Yes, TWO years. I gave Erika her choice of pattern and yarn two years ago, and promised to make her a sweater.  In my defense, she chose lace-weight mohair and a beaded lace pattern, but  it’s still not done. So I’m thinking this dress is like a stop-gap, or interest paid, or … fill in your favourite analogy here.

I know our middle sister has put me on her black list by now, so I best hie me back to my sewing lair to produce a little something for her.  Stay tuned.


finally a washi dress

Here’s something that comes as a bit of a surprise: I sewed a dress! And it fits.  This is truly an event, as I sporadically spent hours during adolescence sewing things that no one could wear. As for the things that actually did fit? Maybe we shouldn’t talk about it because it was the 90′s (sunflower print elastic waist shorts? but we aren’t going to talk about it).  Somehow the consistent disappointment with sewing clothes didn’t ruin my relationship with sewing machines by any means.  I just kept pluggin, making bags and pillow cases and other easy square things.  In recent years I’ve made countless totes and little drawstring bags for folks to carry their knitting projects around in.

But last year when we moved away from our Busy Capital City Life, I suddenly had more time on my hands, I acquired a powerful sewing machine, and most importantly, I started working for my cousin, Rae Hoekstra, who has a sewing empire.  I work remotely for her (my official titles: Director of Print Operations and Sponsorship Coordinator) a couple of days per week, and over the past year I’ve gleaned a ton of valuable sewing knowledge. I kept right on sewing squares, however, until a couple of months ago when I tried my hand at the Lickety Split Bag (come to think of it, that’s mostly a square) and gave one to each of our friends on our Memorial Day trip to Colorado. I’m holding my Lickety Split in this picture, but clearly the dress is the focal point:

Washi Dress in AMH Field Study

The pattern, of course, is The Washi Dress, in Anna Maria Horner Field Study Quilting Cotton (the colorway is ‘coordinates kelly’) that I picked up at Fabrications in Ottawa while I was visiting my sister there in June.

Just one of the reasons the pattern is oh! so great is that there are instructions for making a muslin (that’s a practice-run in sewspeak) of just the bodice to make sure you’re about to cut out the right size and/or to see if there are any alterations you should make to get the best fit. The muslin in size Small fit me just fine, so I didn’t make any alterations.

Washi Dress in AMH Field Study

As I get a little more experience with making things fit, I might try to lengthen the bodice a bit on this, and lower the shirring (that’s the scrunched section in the back, which you can learn about here) just a bit.

The fabric is lovely, lovely to look at.  Also a breeze to sew, but not the softest or flowiest option for dresses. I’m fortunate to have 3 quilt shops within a 3 mile radius here at the homestead, but there’s a dearth of apparel fabric in Mid-MO. I’m getting to know a bunch of online fabric stores, though, so I don’t think I’ll have any trouble buying up way more than I could ever sew into garments.

Washi Dress in AMH Field Study

Big thanks to Kanitta for taking these photos and editing them so beauteously for me!

OK, I’m going to walk away now.

Washi Dress in AMH Field Study


lilac spring mitts

You probably thought I’d never post again.  Well, I’m still kickin!  Things have been a little crazy for us over here in CoMo.  You see, we got all grown up while you weren’t looking, and bought a house!  All this responsibility has caused crafty endeavours to plummet on the priority list, but that needs to stop right about now.

I’ve been unpacking, nesting, rearranging, and generally loving all the space and all the ownership.  But I recently realized that I’ve really been missing my sewing machine, my knitting needles, my yarn yarn yarn and fabric!  I am certainly excited about painting and decorating the vast expanses of our new home, but interior design is not my strong point and it’s frankly making me feel kind of inadequate.  So it’s time to just get my sewing room (yeyyah, people, that’s an entire HUGE room in the partially-finished basement, wahoo!) in order and put some yarn on deck for knitting projects.

Meanwhile, I’ll try to do a little catch-up on the past weeks (ahem, months…?) of making stuff chez Jessica.  First on the docket is a cute little pattern for fingerless mitts that I made for Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe here in Columbia.  Karen, the shop owner, wanted to make up some kits for a craft show where she had a booth, so I came up with a simple lace design for the transitional spring season.  We’re waaay behind on spring now, but if you’re feeling organized, you could start knitting for fall.  And hey, while we’re getting ahead of ourselves, why not get started on stocking stuffers?

The Lilac Spring Mitts pattern is available as a PDF download on Ravelry HERE, and you can always peruse my other patterns in my Ravelry Shop.




knitting tutorials

metro blues shawlette — and a blocking crash course

I’m so happy to present my latest pattern!
metro blues shawlette

When Janie & Susan at my beloved Looped Yarn Works asked if I would design a shawl for the third annual Metro Yarn Crawl, I jumped at the chance.  Joelle over at Wandering Wool dyed a special batch of the exclusive-to-Looped colour “Metro Blues” in her single ply merino, Saranac Fingering.  This colourway is gorgeous: a perfect “semi-solid” with tints and shades contributing to the texture without detracting from the design.
metro blues shawlette

This shawl has a simple modular construction.  The vertical lines come from garter stitch ridges in a modified triangle knit from one side to the other.  I added a little ‘V’ in the middle to reduce bulk and fit around the neck.  The ‘V’ is hardly visible when worn, but I think it works as a design element (maybe it works because you can’t see it, hmmm.  that’s deep).

Once the triangle is done, stitches are picked up along the bottom of the triangle, and a simple lace and garter stitch border completes the shawl.

metro blues shawlette

This pattern is available exclusively at Looped Yarn Works in Washington, DC.  It is free in print format with the purchase of a skein of Wandering Wool Saranac Fingering yarn!

As you can see from the blocking photos below, the scalloped edge needs some encouragement to express itself.  The points soften quite a bit after the pins are removed.

metro blues shawlette - blocking

A Quick Blocking Tutorial:

1. Soak the whole thing in warm water and Soak (or some other rinse-free delicates wash.  NOT WOOLITE, people) for 15-20 min.

2.  Gently squeeze out excess water and roll up in a towel.

3. Thread 4 blocking wires painstakingly along the long straight edges of the triangle: (a) the top two through every other garter ridge on the edges flanking the ‘V,’ and (b) the bottom two through the eyelets between the triangle and the lace edge.

4. Start pinning the triangle into place, working from the centre out, measuring to make sure sides are symmetrical.

5. Pin each lace point along the edge to give it a scalloped effect.

6. The ‘V’ in the middle at the top probably doesn’t even need a pin, as it is stretched out by external forces.  But to make a more pronounced point, a couple of pins can encourage that.

7. Allow to dry completely.  Put a fan on it if need be.  When it’s dry dry dry, you may remove the pins and wear it!