Dude Knitting: Brooklyn Tweed Bradbury!

Hi, guys! Ever have an unfinished project that just haunts you? Every time you get the itch to start something new, you feel a twinge of guilt? Well, this sweater was one of those, so I’m really excited to finally be done with it!

Now, I love to knit, but I haven’t done much of it for Blake. He has very particular taste and if something doesn’t meet his specifications, he just won’t wear it (see: the scarf I crocheted for him right after college… I don’t think he wore it even once!). But when I saw the Bradbury pullover in the Brooklyn Tweed Men’s Volume 2 collection, I knew that he would like it. No cables, no collars, no textures- just plain stripes! That’s his jam.πŸ™‚

Brooklyn Tweed Bradbury Pullover | Ginger Makes

Bradbury is designed by Julie Hoover, and the suggested yarn is Brooklyn Tweed LOFT. I had never used a Brooklyn Tweed yarn before, but I decided to splurge on it for Blake’s sweater since I’d heard that it was very light and airy. I saved up my pennies and got Man Friend approval for a colorway combo of Almanac/Sweatshirt.

The thing that I like most about Brooklyn Tweed patterns is that I always feel like I’ve learned something new by the time I’ve finished. In this case, I learned the tubular cast-on and bind-off, the sloped bind-off, and a different way to knit stripes in the flat. I have to admit, though, that when I first downloaded the PDF, it took me a few weeks to dive into the pattern because it seemed like a much more complicated project than I’d originally thought and I just didn’t want to get started!

Brooklyn Tweed Bradbury Pullover | Ginger Makes

This raglan pullover is knit flat from the bottom up and seamed, with visible raglan seams. It took me 5 months to knit it, although I didn’t knit very aggressively, just here and there as I felt like it (I cast on last May and I’ve never been much of a summer knitter, but I’d hoped to finish in time for cold weather). Then I spent a month procrastinating on seaming things up, tried a few times, failed a few times, then let it sit on my work table for, ohhhh, six months. I felt terrible every time I laid eyes on it, but I just didn’t want to try seaming it again! For some reason I couldn’t get things to line up right (I think I was picking up the wrong bar between the stitches on one side, so I kept having a different number of bars on one side than the other, if that makes sense) and that was really visible in a striped garment. Finally I decided that I HAD to finish it for Blake’s birthday at the end of May, so I gritted my teeth and just stuck with it until I was done.

Here’s where I should mention, like other knitters have, that it’s just not possible to seam with LOFT. It broke over and over, even when I twisted it to add tensile strength, so I had to buy different yarn in as close of a color match as I could (I ended up using Cascade 220 Fingering because it was the cheapest thing I could find). Honestly, this annoyed me, because I’d already spent so much on LOFT that the last thing I wanted to do was buy MORE yarn, plus, now I have an entire skein (minus a couple of yards) each of two different colors taking up room in my stash, neither of which I’m particularly excited to use for another project. Ugh!

Brooklyn Tweed Bradbury Pullover | Ginger Makes

Because I was making this for Blake and he is really picky about fit, I was really careful about checking the finished chest and sleeve measurements, and about both swatching and blocking accurately. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to check the finished garment length (from neck to hem), and it was really too short for Blake. I shouldn’t have assumed that the designer’s hem length would be what we wanted… ugh! When he tried it on, it looked really stupid (actually, the length was great for me!). So, I reblocked the entire sweater aggressively and was able to gain about an inch of extra length, which isn’t perfect, but at least it’s wearable now. It annoys me a bit, though, after spending a small mint and countless hours of my life knitting a men’s sweater in flat stockinette in a fingering-weight yarn!! But I’m not about to frog the whole sweater just to make it longer so it’s going to stay as it is (that’s the downside to knitting bottom-up… trying it on as you go just isn’t an option). I also feel like I see some pulling at the armscyes in these photos, but I didn’t notice it when he was wearing it so maybe I’m just being paranoid!

At the end of the day, Blake is really happy with the sweater and not miserable and sad as these photos might suggest (at one point in the photo session I asked him if he thought he was smiling, ha!). Frankly, I’m just happy to have this project off my work table and in his closet!

Brooklyn Tweed Bradbury Pullover | Ginger Makes

So tell me, have you ever knit something for any of the men in your lives? How did it go? Any success stories or project recommendations?

Finally, one last order of business- the winner of the Wool and the Gang giveaway, as chosen by random.org, is… Lee! Give me a shout and I’ll get the kit off to you!

Wool and the Gang Giveaway!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all well! Fellow knitters, I’m sure you feel me when I say that it’s tough to resist making “just one more” hat. I have tons of hats, have made tons of them for friends and family, and just generally love hats. So when Charlotte (who I’d met through By Hand London) asked if I wanted to try out a Wool and the Gang kit, I settled on a hat!

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

I decided to offer the hat to my sister, who’s a bit of an alpaca junkie, and because I was feeling a little mischievous, I demanded that she model it for the blog. I make things for family members pretty often, but seldom request photos because they’re busy, they’re far away, and I don’t want them to feel like gifts come with strings attached. But honestly, I get sick of seeing my own face in blog photos, plus Brenna was in town and in a sassy mood, so she agreed to model.πŸ™‚

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

As you can see, she clearly loves a camera pointed her direction!πŸ˜€

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

OK, so back to the hat! I chose the Jacques hat kit, which included the pattern, a seaming needle, one skein of Sugar Baby alpaca yarn, and a pair of knitting needles. The pattern booklet tells you how to knit the pattern, and then includes illustrated instructions for the long-tail cast-on as well as diagrams that illustrate the difference between rib stitch and stockinette. They also direct you to video tutorials on all these techniques, as well as adding a new ball of yarn, invisible seaming, and weaving in ends. It’s a really basic pattern, and you could probably find something similar for free, but it’s nice that all the information you need to make it can be found in the booklet (which is small enough to carry around in your bag, something I appreciate as I always have letter-size knitting patterns folded up in my purse where they always seem to get bent or torn).

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

I really liked the baby alpaca yarn. It’s super soft and squishy, but it didn’t shed like crazy like an alpaca yarn that I used in the past. I chose the colorway Shacklewell Grey, a two-tone yarn. I had my doubts that there was enough yarn provided to actually finish the hat, but I was proven wrong and had enough to do it without stressing out at the end. One different thing about it was that it was knitted flat on straight needles, with instructions to seam it at the end. I’ve never done a hat like this, but it’s probably easier for a beginner to master that than to sort out how to cast on and join in the round.

The kit retails for 19USD, which feels reasonable to me. I just checked, and I bought a kit from Brooklyn Tweed for the Rosebud hat as a gift for my sister four years ago, and it cost 25USD. Wait a minute… I’ve never seen that hat on her… did you not even knit it, Brenna? Naughty!

Wool and the Gang Jacques hat | Ginger Makes

This is my first experience using a Wool and the Gang yarn or pattern, but I have fond memories of their old Soho store. I used to poke around in it when I was in the neighborhood, maybe ten years ago, and was really interested in knitting, but scared to try it myself. It’s fun to see how their business has changed since then! I was just checking out their website and saw that they’ve developed a yarn made from denim remnants that come from the jeans manufacturing process. What a great idea! The yarn is out of stock, but hopefully I’ll be able to grab some when it’s back so I can give you guys a full report!

OK, last but not least, I have a Jacques hat kit to give away to one lucky reader! Please leave a comment below if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway telling me your favorite colorway, and make sure to leave an email address if you can’t be contacted through your comment profile. I’ll close the giveaway next Saturday, June 25th, at noon EST. Good luck!!!

Papercut Patterns Bowline Sweater

Hi, guys! Hope you all had a great weekend!

Papercut Patterns Bowline Sweater | Ginger Makes

Do you guys struggle to wear your handmades? How easy or important is it for you to make things that work for your Monday-to-Friday life? Personally, I’ve found recently that the clothes that are appropriate for my verrrrry casual (and messy!) jobs make me feel a bit like a slob. I feel happy and confident in my fun blazers or knitted sweaters, but there’s just no point wearing them to strip furniture or glue foam! But I’ve been finding lately that my buttondowns and raglan pullovers get lots of wear in the workshop. In fact, my hood-less Undercover Hoods get worn so much, especially the striped one, that I sometimes get worried that my boss thinks I only own like two or three garments! So adding a easy-wearing tops to my wardrobe felt like a good idea.

Papercut Patterns Bowline Sweater | Ginger Makes

So, when I saw the newest Papercut Patterns collection, I immediately ordered the Bowline Sweater. It seemed like just the thing to punch up my casual wardrobe, and I also just really wanted to know how it was constructed! Not gonna lie- when I opened up the pattern and saw what the front pattern piece looked like, my mind was kinda blown. I wasn’t really sure how it would come together, but I just trusted the instructions and crossed my fingers that it would come out alright in the end! It was super fun to make because of this… it felt a bit like an experiment!

Papercut Patterns Bowline Sweater | Ginger Makes

I’d been wanting to make a garment with this fabric from my shop for a while. I was catching up on my blogroll last weekend when I saw Rachel’s version of the pattern, then Fiona’s, and I immediately started working on my own! I’m so glad I did because I really love this pattern and fabric combo. The fabric is a lightweight French terry, 66% rayon/27% cotton/7% nylon. The rayon content makes it super drapey, as you can see, which is really nice for this design. I wouldn’t recommend using something terribly thick or heavy for this as you have quite a few layers going on when you sew up the pleat/dart combo and it could get lumpy.

Papercut Patterns Bowline Sweater | Ginger Makes

I’m really happy with the final product! I loooove this color and have been looking forward to wearing this fabric, and I also really like that this looks a bit nicer than a plain sweatshirt. It’s an easy way to dress up a bit more without sacrificing comfort, mobility, or time getting ready in the morning! I’d like to try a striped version one day, too, because the striped sample on the Papercut website just looks so cool! And maybe then I won’t have to wear my striped sweatshirt every third day, heeheehee!πŸ™‚ Now, what are you guys sewing right now??

Book Report: Sewing Happiness!

Hi, guys! Hope you are having a lovely weekend! Today I’m pleased to introduce you to a really lovely book by a blogger that I’ve recently gotten to know and admire, Sanae Ishida. I took part in a super fun Secret Valentine’s Exchange hosted by Sanae and by Ute, a really sweet Instagram-based swap where I made a gift for Sanae and received one from Betsy. (I seriously lucked out… my gifts from Betsy were AMAZING). I did lots of snooping on Sanae’s feed to see what sort of gift she might like, and was really smitten with her clean, modern crafting aesthetic and her beautiful drawings. So when I was contacted by her publisher to take part in a blog tour for her book, I was pumped!

Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well (Amazon affiliate link here and Indiebound link here) is a book of sewing projects organized by season and mood- summer (health), fall (creativity), winter (relationships), and spring (letting go). I never would have thought of my life and seasons being organized around themes, but there’s something very resonant about this idea and I can definitely see these threads woven through my sewing output each season, for sure.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The projects are simple and straightforward, with no PDFs to download or patterns to trace. They are geared towards beginners, but there’s a fun twist on the projects that make them enjoyable for people who have been sewing longer. They’re frequently inspired by Japanese design and and traditional crafts- origami and sashiko influences are particularly pretty. I am really attracted to this aesthetic and loved the sample projects and photos in the book.

What I really love about the book, though, are Sanae’s essays about her journey from an unhealthy workaholic to a balanced, healthy woman. She writes beautifully about how sewing helped her regain confidence after losing her job, and how crafting, alongside exercise and diet changes, helped her feel much better both physically and emotionally. I often try to explain to others how much joy and health I receive from handmaking, but Sanae is much more eloquent on the topic than I am! So I think this would make a great and inspiring book for the people in our lives who are curious about why we devote so much time and attention to handcrafts. I think this could inspire them to join our cult community!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

I decided to make a project from the book for this post, and chose to make the cross-back apron. Oddly enough, I actually need an apron for both my jobs (dealing with dusty old furniture and gross decades-old foam at one, wrestling fake fur/fleece/glue at the other) and recently dug through my apartment trying to find my old painting smock without any luck. So I was glad for an excuse to carve out some personal sewing time to whip one up!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

I was offered fabric from Miss Matatabi for my project, and you’d better believe that I angsted for ages before finally choosing one! Her whole inventory is amazing, and I really struggled to narrow down my choices to just one. In the end, I picked this Kokka Echino linen/cotton canvas… it’s geometric, it’s got animals, AND it’s metallic? Yep! I’ll take it! (UK readers, I saw it pop up on the M is for Make IG feed the other day… here it is!).

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The apron is a piece of cake to make, but it’s also really clever- the way the straps are attached make it simple to slip over your head, and it stays in place without any annoying ties, something that I’m cautious about since I work with power tools and dangly bits on your clothes aren’t a great idea. I was suspicious that the apron would shuffle around on my body while I worked, but it’s quite comfortable and I don’t notice it at all while I’m working.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

There are dimensions given for three adult sizes, as well as four kids’ sizes (with a variation included to make the kids’ straps adjustable… smart!). I used the pocket size suggested for my size, but I split it into two pockets, which works well for holding my frequently-used tools. I took the time to match the pattern across the pocket, which always makes me smile. It’s one of those things that sets a homemade project apart from cheap RTW and I do it whenever I can.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The only thing I’m unhappy about with this apron is… I don’t want it to get dirty! It’s too cute to wear in the workshop!! I almost want to wear it as a dress! It makes me feel like I’m living my secret fantasy, being an art teacherπŸ™‚

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

Last but not least, I have good news! I have a copy of Sewing Happiness to give away to a reader in the US! To enter, please fill out the form here. Also, I have a Miss Matatabi gift card to give to another reader- international readers welcome! For a chance to win a $45 gift card, leave a comment below telling me your favorite fabric from Miss Matatabi (and make sure there’s a way to contact you, either through your commenting profile or in the comment itself). Contests are open until Saturday 4/30/16 at 12P EST. Good luck!!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

Bonus pug spam.πŸ™‚

Sock Obsession!

Hello, friends! I hope everyone had a great weekend!

I’m sure I’m not alone in struggling with finding the time to blog regularly. One result of this is that small projects generally don’t get blogged, or boring, “regular” garments. But only blogging more complicated projects doesn’t paint a very complete picture of what I’ve been making! So, today, I wanted to talk a little bit about my big obsession of the last several months- sock knitting!

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It all started with my Ondawa sweater. The instructions suggest that you seam the sweater with a strong, round yarn, a sock yarn, because Shelter is prone to breakage (plus it makes the seams less bulky to use a thinner yarn). So, I begrudgingly bought a skein of matching grey yarn, Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk (the cheapest sock yarn I could find in a matching color), and used a few yards for seaming. Now, I had a nearly-complete skein of sock yarn in my stash, and I couldn’t stand to let it go to waste, so I remembered the gorgeous socks I’d seen made from the Hermione’s Everyday Sock pattern and cast on. I’ve never really understood the point of handmade socks- they seem like they would be scratchy, saggy, and sweaty. And why put so much work into something that goes on your FEET? Feet are gross! So I was a little grumpy when I cast on! But I was going to use up that yarn before it got trapped in my stash forever!

I owe much of my success at my first attempt to Sarah. Her “sock-a-long” posts held my hand while I worked through all the tricky bits, and gave me the confidence to keep going. Plus her finished socks looked so pretty that I was inspired to power through the scary heel turn and get to the end! But I still wasn’t convinced that handmade socks were for me (I decided to make this pair as a gift for my mother-in-law… her house has particularly cold floors in the winter, so I thought she might like them).

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I changed my mind about socks when I found out how magical sock yarn is! I occasionally meet up with a group of knitters based in Queens, and when I saw Melissa and Kathryn working on socks in an amazing speckled yarn, I needed to know more! They directed me to Gauge x Tension (which, sadly, is closing, which is a bummer because I’ve bought my yarn from there almost exclusively since I found out about it) where I picked up a skein of Spun Right Round sock (colorway: “Don’t Go Away Mad”). Readers, I fell in love! I had just started my new job, which increased my commute time dramatically, and it turned out that sock knitting was just the thing to keep me from biting my nails when the train was delayed. Plus, socks are small enough that I can keep a project bag stashed in my purse at all times, so whenever I’m stuck waiting for someone, I can just pull it out and knock out a few rows!

I made a second pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks, this time for myself, and I absolutely love them! The textured pattern is really simple, so you don’t need to have a pile of instruction pages on your lap, but it’s fun and satisfying to knit. The pattern is really easy to understand and follow, so it’s not too challenging for a subway knit. And the yarn is just so beautiful, and makes a sock so incredibly warm that my feet feel good, even when I’m standing on the cold concrete floor at work. I was totally sold on this sock knitting business!

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My third pair of socks was another gift, this time for my aunt. I bought a second skein of Spun Right Round, this time in the colorway “Graffiti Overlay”. I decided to try out another free pattern, the Simple Skyp Socks, which are reviewed really positively on Ravelry. I found this pattern to be slightly more difficult to follow- the beginning of the round seemed to change frequently, and I didn’t understand why (newbie problems!). But in the end, the socks looked really nice, and it was fun to try out a different stitch pattern.

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If you can’t tell, I’ve gotten super passionate about knitting socks! I’ve made five pairs as gifts, and am working on a second pair for myself right now. While I don’t know if the recipients appreciate them, I really enjoy thinking about the person that I’m making them for while I’m knitting away. And it’s done wonders for my commute- I’m naturally impatient, restless, and twitchy, and while I haven’t changed into a new person overnight, it’s gotten easier for me to be patient when I have something to keep my hands occupied, without having to drag around a huge project bag. Also, sock yarn is just so fun! It’s a great way to use colors that you might not wear all over your whole body, and to try out independent dyers. It can be expensive, but I’m a slow knitter, so spending $25 on a skein that gives me a project to work on for a couple of months isn’t too hard on my budget. If you’re on the fence, please give it a try! I definitely recommend the two free patterns that I reference in this post… they’re great introductions to sock knitting.πŸ™‚ And if you haven’t checked out the Spun Right Round shop, do it! I’m not being paid to advertise for her or anything– I just love her yarn and want everyone to try it.πŸ™‚

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Fun fact: I realized just a few weeks ago that I totally didn’t have to buy sock yarn for my Ondawa sweater because I DIDN’T USE SHELTER. Did I remember this at the time? Nope. Definitely not. But I’m so glad I forgot, or I’d never have fallen down the sock rabbithole!πŸ˜€ So thank you, bad memory, for giving me another hobby!πŸ™‚

Anyone else as sock-obsessed as me??? What are your favorite patterns?

Cascades Pullover!

Hi guys! How the heck are you? I’m pretty pumped to show you my new sweater today, yay! I know that if you follow me on Instagram, it seems like I only knit hats, but, after resolving to finish up some projects in February, now I have a sweater!

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This is the Cascades pattern, by Michele Wang. It’s a bottom-up raglan that’s knit in one piece to the armholes, then the sleeves are knit separately and joined to the yoke. I find that I always learn something new when I knit up a Brooklyn Tweed pattern. For example, I learned the rib cable cast-on for this, which was complicated at first, but really looks nicer than my typical long-tail cast-on.

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I really love the stitch patterns in this sweater. It feels like the perfect mix of modern and classic, something that I’ll have in my closet for years to come, hopefully. And, after spending months working on a seamed sweater for Blake in fingering-weight yarn, this came together so much quicker by comparison! It was a fun and straightforward project.

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This was my first time using Shelter, the Brooklyn Tweed worsted-weight yarn. I’d been thinking and dreaming about it for ages, but it’s pretty expensive, so I had to weight until I’d saved up some pennies. I read the color stories for all the different colorways and had finally settled on “Truffle Hunt”, a soft grey-brown, but when I went to pick it up at Gauge x Tension, “Cinnabar” grabbed my attention and I had to have it! So this isn’t the goes-with-everything basic that I’d planned, but I really, really love the color, so I’ll wear it all the time anyway.

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Shelter is kind of a magical yarn… it’s warm, but lofty and light, and the flecks of other colors really make it feel special. It’s also completely impossible to seam with. The only seaming I needed to do was at the underarms, and while I was doing that, the yarn broke about 7 times. There’s just no way you could use it to seam a whole garment!

I really love this sweater, although it’s definitely not “flattering”. I could go down a size in the sleeves, and I should have checked the finished length against a favorite sweater because this is a tad bit longer than I would like. But that’s my fault, not the fault of the pattern- everything turned out the way the pattern intended. Lesson learned about making sure that the finished measurements are what I actually want them to be! D’oh!

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I’m also wearing a new handmade hat here! This is Fidra by Gudrun Johnston. This is actually my second version of this pattern. The pattern was released shortly before Christmas, and I thought it would be really cute on my mom, so I knit one up for her in just a couple of days. When I saw the BT Winter 2016 collection, I was desperate to knit Snoqualmie, but I can’t afford that much yarn right now. I still wanted to try out Quarry, so I bought a single skein, enough to make another Fidra. I don’t usually like bulkier yarns, but it looks really attractive in this pattern. This was super fun to knit and only took a couple of days. I should probably trim the pompom down a bit as it’s reallllly huge, but I kinda like it.πŸ™‚

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The color I used for the hat is “Lazulite”, a navy flecked with purple and blue. It’s super pretty! I chose this colorway to match my duffle coat, which has been cut out for a while but needs to be sewn, once I finish up some upholstery projects and have room in my workspace to actually sew again!πŸ™‚ In the meantime, I’ll just be over here knitting.πŸ™‚

Have you guys been knitting lately? Any new patterns or yarns that you’re digging? I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

Finish It February!

Hello, friends! Hope you are all well! I’ve been struggling lately with a surplus of unfinished projects. My sewing room is super unorganized right now, mainly because I have nowhere to put my works-in-progress. I’m not enjoying spending time there, because it’s a disaster, but I can’t mitigate the disaster because I’m not sewing! So the other day when I stumbled across the hashtag #finishitfebruary on Instagram, I was motivated to spend this month getting through some of the UFOs that are plaguing me!

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I’m the ghost of quilts past (and long abandoned)!

I’m certain I won’t get through all of these things, but here’s what I have going on right now:

  • a simple quilt, in the Fantasia line by Sara Lawson (needs backing fabric… and has for, oh, 6 months?)
  • a Kittens quilt (I’m swapping blocks with partners, and for the first time in my life, I’ve worked ahead of the group so it’s hibernating for a while. THIS HAS LITERALLY NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE… I’m always late to every party!)
  • a Cascade duffle coat (got put on hold when I realized I didn’t have interfacing. I love Fashion Sewing Supply and their interfacing but their orders aren’t cut or processed quickly at all in my experience, so if you don’t plan ahead you’re stuck waiting).
  • a robe Madeleine (my wearable muslin is in time out because the cheap, crappy fabric I used frayed like crazy, like, disintegrating while I tried to gather the skirt… so I may be chucking this).
  • a dress for my mom using French terry from my shop
  • a costume for a friend (more on this later)
  • a Cascades sweater for me (managed to weave in the ends yesterday so it’s blocking and just needs the neckband picked up after that)
  • a Bradbury sweater for Blake (needs to be seamed… which I’m super dreading because when I attempted it twice before, it looked terrible. I just don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to seaming!)
  • a Fidra hat for me… I loved the one I made for my mom so much that I decided to make one for myself
  • a pair of socks for Blake in super cool faux fair isle Regia
  • a repair to Blake’s buttondown
  • an alteration to a Mandy Boat Tee for my mother-in-law (I used this beautiful raspberry sweater knit from O! Jolly!, and when I looked up the link, I noticed that it’s on sale right now!)
  • my chair upholstery project (needs basically everything done to it)
  • a bench upholstery project for a friend (needs everything done to it)

Sheesh! We’re not even going to talk about the bag of realllllly old UFOs that I’m scared to look at. At least I managed to get a pair of socks for my sister on the sock blockers last night, so they’re drying now, and I finished up my Diode hat yesterday, so I’m making small amounts of progress, but I need to keep cranking away! And, now that I’ve got these written down, I’ll be shamed forever if I fail to get ANY progress done!

How about your guys? Overwhelmed by UFOs? Are you inspired to pick up any long-abandoned projects? Who wants to join me in finishing up some stuff in February?

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