Cocoknits Paulina ~ My Very First Sweater

I'm feeling rather giddy today. I've always admired those that can sit down with a ball of yarn, work their magic, and end up with a beautiful sweater to be cozied up into. Over the years I've daydreamed of nonchalantly knitting away whilst chatting with friends, never skipping a beat or dropping a stitch. For me, though, it is no small feat, really a mountainous task. I know I'll never be at ease like those knitting masters, but I'm very happy and satisfied with my first go. This project would have not been possible and successful without my ever present knitting guru girlfriends and our local yarn shop, Wool Town. Lovely comments and cheerings-on from my Instagram friends were also very heartening and kept me going. Thank you, one and all!

This sweater is from Cocoknits, the Paulina pattern. I used very soft, affordable yarn from Berroco Yarns, called Remix Light. "Delight in the making" is on the homepage of Cocoknits. There was much hemming and hawing and angst, but there was also "Delight in the making". I really like the way this garment fits. The sweet little uptick in the front is so flirty. Yes, I must wear a dress or t-shirt under it, but it's super cute! The yarn is very soft and bouncy. It floats like a feather on the body.

One tip from a friend was very useful. See the yellow highlighted place on the pattern in the photo above? That's highlighter tape, excellent for helping keep your place on the pattern.

Here's a photo of the back of the sweater. You can modify the pattern if you like to make the front without the lift, in which case it would look like the back. 

I made these cute little bags from a drop cloth. The small one is perfect for keeping the yarn corralled: and the large one is big enough to fit all of my knitting needs for one project.

It was a long, circuitous path, but I learned so much in making this sweater! I've already got two more projects lined up. It may be awhile, but I now have the confidence to look forward to "Delight in the making".

Nani Iro Self-drafted Dress

When my son gave up his chambray and Winnie the Pooh toddler room for his "big boy" bedroom, I lovingly passed along some of the cherished pieces, the glider, and stuffed animals to friends with newborns who needed and really could use nursery items. Because I have a wee bit of a hoarding tendency with all things fiber, I tucked the linens back into my closet. Yep, that's me. I particularly loved the chambray sheets, and thought I would make a really sweet something out of it one day. Fast forward a couple of decades, and finally I've found the perfect use for that sheet.

When I took the block printing class with Valerie Wells, I came across this gorgeous Japanese fabric, Nani IRO Textile, Encouter @Naomi Ito. I just could not leave the Stitchin' Post without a couple yards.

Isn't it dreamy? It's double gauze and practically floats off the bolt. I knew it would make the perfect summer dress.

I usually only hand stitch with jersey fabric, but this fabric was special enough to jog me out of my normal routine and forced me to step out of my comfort zone and attempt that summer dress that had been simmering around in my brain for years.

You think I could have found a pattern I liked? Of course not! I have a couple dresses that I love the look and fit of, so I bit the bullet and made a self-drafted pattern. I laid the dresses onto paper and traced out the shapes I needed. I folded the images in half to make sure both sides were even. I compared these to some other patterns I had, and they seemed to make sense. I added a seam allowance to my pattern. With baited breath, I cut my pattern out of that lovely chambray sheet for practice. Low and behold, it fit.

I frayed the hem, the waist casing, and the tie.

I contemplated making the skirt a little fuller, but I only had two yards of the Japanese fabric, minus a little I had taken off to use for my table runner, so I pretty much kept to my original pattern, just extending the skirt out as much as my yardage would allow. You can see how the sides dip down ever so slightly with the extra fabric in the image below.

When making my second dress, because the double gauze fabric tends to fray a lot, I used French seams to keep as many of those stray threads corralled as best as possible. I also used seam tape on the shoulder seams to keep them tidy.

I had a difficult time deciding which color trim to add.

I texted some friends these photos for their opinions. Lavender was the clear choice.

I added a casing over the waist seam and at first I tried this satin ribbon.

It's pretty, but wasn't quite what I wanted. So next I tried a piece I had crocheted with a tiny flower on each end.

I like this one best. I'm even wondering what it would look like to take off the lavender trim and add a simple crochet edging......but that will be another project for another time.

For now, I'll enjoy my two new summer dresses, of course after the snow melts and warm breezes begin.

Block Printing with Valerie Wells

My dream has been to learn block printing in some exotic locale like India or Bali. Unfortunately, that's not in the cards for me at the moment. Next best thing was travelling just up the road a bit to the quaint town of Sisters, and taking a block printing class at the Stitchin Post with Valerie Wells. Valerie has been block printing for decades. Her easy manner and masterful knowledge of all things block printing made for a fun, informative, and successful weekend of inky play.

Valerie has her own line of fabrics created mostly from her block printing. It was convenient having all the beautifully curated fabrics in the Stitchin Post available to choose from to put together our table runners. Valerie brought her personal collection of blocks for us to use in her class.

Just look at all these yummy designs! What an inspiration they all are.

Valerie lead us from the design, sketch phase of making the blocks, through the printing. Here is the sketch for one of her blocks.

And here is that same block, all carved out and printed.

So many possibilities!

You can see how different this lighter and slightly darker ink color looks on different colored fabrics.

I love these indigo fabrics as a base for block printing.

This is my first block I carved, printed up.

You can see it here in green on my project. The table runner was a gift for my parents, so I was stitching it in the airport on my way to visit them.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from Valerie, I highly recommend it. I wish I could go on her trip to Bali next month! A girl can dream; right?

Designing, carving, and printing blocks is really amazing, something I've wanted to learn for quite some time now. It's a great skill to add to my hand stitching creativity.