Sunday, August 28, 2016

And Three More...

I remember, one time, when I was in my early twenties, being in a yoga class with my then-teacher - she whom I've mentioned was a formative, if somewhat complicated influence. She was joking about how, when she was becoming a teacher, she attended Iyengar training with a like-minded friend and they'd often kick around the principles of practice and discuss their progress. My teacher spoke about her challenge with a certain series of poses they were committed to study (I don't remember which) and her friend concurred that the practice was rather strenuous. When my teacher asked her friend for more info about what she struggled with most, the friend blithely responded that it wasn't so much the poses, but more the zeitgeist of the series. You see, she wasn't actually doing the practice (which seemed onerous to her), instead she undertook it in her mind.

That was the punchline. My teacher, inasmuch as she found her friend charming, also found her somewhat absurd. The lesson, in my class that day, was that you have to struggle to achieve. And while I laughed at this anecdote, along with everyone else, even then I wondered whether that might work on occasion. I mean, I ruminate about everything - including whether or not rumination could produce an inkling of benefit.

Fast forward to 20-minutes ago. I found myself surfing a post from a paleo-nutrition website I subscribe to. Don't misunderstand. This is not the diet I follow. The diet I follow is one I like to call the European Vacation Plan. While it lacks all properties of anti-inflammation, I can attest to the fact that it's infinitely more sustainable. After all, I've been on it - more often than not - for nearly 47 years.

That post somehow took me to Kathy Smith's website - you know, founding pioneer of the Aerobics Movement. I did her prenatal video (produced @1988) when I was pregnant in 1999. It was hilarious, but oddly effective for keeping back pain at bay. (Little did I know then what I'd come to learn of back pain...) At any rate, somehow I found myself watching a 10 minute free video. Note to reader: I hate aerobics. I only intended to watch a minute or so, to see how Ms. Smith looks now that she's well into her 60s and still kicking it cardio-style. (Yeah, I know that makes me shallow. Whatevs.)

I assure you, the woman does not look a year older than she did in 1988. In fact, maybe she looks better (cuz let's face it, pregnancy is often not one's most gorgeous phase). And she was dancing around like a 20 year old. In fact, she was practically dancing better than the numerous 20 year olds by whom she was surrounded. Plus she was freakin' shouting instructions every 4 seconds in the most enthusiastic way.

I was transfixed.

So, how does this pertain to my yoga teacher 25 years ago? Well, since then I've learned some interesting things about the brain. In fairness, since then, so has everyone else - 25 years ago is like the neuroscience dark-ages. What we know now is that my teacher's friend probably did benefit physiologically - in a statistical sense - from the practice she conducted mentally. Sure, it was likely not as notable as the benefit gained by someone who actually physically undertook it (i.e. my most type A of teachers), but still... If I remember correctly, this friend eventually opted to physically encounter her challenging poses and became a noteworthy Iyengar teacher...

On this topic, as I watched Kathy Smith (who now provides low intensity options for her baby-boomer viewers), I realized that I was feeling the freakin' class?! Out of the blue, in my mind I followed the choreography. (Note: I got into yoga cuz choreography is not my scene. I crave unlinked postures or repetitive vinyasa because that dance memorization shit is hard. Not to mention jumping sucks.) I observed the various "co-exercisers" and their unique, crazy-bouncy ways. I got a bit flushed when Kathy raised her voice to say "and 3 more!". It was actually quite enjoyable.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not inclined to take up aerobics. But I may just look up a couple of her online offerings (presuming she has them), in the event that she does something "cardio-based for ladies under the age of 50, recently diagnosed with arthritis of the spine and hips". Of course, there's also Ms. Fonda to consider - the high-priestess of this genre (and aptly senior). Perhaps I'll just watch and learn for a while. Maybe while eating cheese and crackers. It is a lifestyle, after all.

OMG update: You have got to check out Jane Fonda's videos from the 80s. I remember doing the original workout with my mum (admittedly, she only did it once, as far as I remember). I did not recall how utterly, insanely campy it all was. I just spent 20 minutes LMAO. I believe that counts as abdominal crunches.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wherein I Disclose that I'm Too Tired to Come Up With a Name for this Post

With the move of a few boxes, I've gone from the person who knows everything to the person who knows fairly little. I can't say I prefer the latter :-) Mind you, to feel this way is usefully humbling. It's challenging. It's exciting. It's novel. Sure, I can tell you that I've had some moments over the past couple of transition weeks, bridging former job and new, when my has brain said, "Isn't it time to sit quietly yet?", but I haven't been bored. Some people love that exhilarated tired-high that comes of intense physical exertion, I'm one of those who loves the sparky tired-high of intense mental exertion. Lord, I love learning. It gives me a literal buzz.

But, on some level, I'm holding it together with tape and paper clips. It seems that everything is converging (maybe it always is). I just go from one show to the next, invoking the part of myself that comprehends the subject matter at hand. So, in the interests of preserving very necessary slow burn, I won't be posting here often for the next month or so. I'm going to aim for once a week, but if I need non-work time to allow my brain to simply tick in the background, it may be less frequently still.

I have so many things to say - my life is incredibly rich with experiences right now - but I'll have to save the conversation for moments when I have vitality to spare. While I do miss posting often - posts are a conversation I have with myself, as much as with others - it's time to sublimate my writer energy into work projects for a while. If you've gotta be the person who knows everything - start as you mean to go on, I say. :-)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gaining Some Traction

What's this?



That, my friends, is a yoga wall. You know, one of these (except mine is being constructed rather differently):

Photo courtesy of Winnipeg Fitness Explorer
You can do EVERYTHING fun with this prop. It's really like multiple props... As you may know, there are entire classes devoted to hanging yoga or traction yoga, as it's sometimes called. As you may also know, I loathe the crowded studio scene but I might need to attend a couple of classes to remind myself about the most creative ways to use the wall and ropes for traction.

Scott is constructing the wall as we speak. (Don't worry. He's very carpenterish when it comes to building things. He's made houses.) It's a fairly low-risk proposition because, even if we don't like what we come up with, they're tearing down this room in 6 months. So we can learn from this proof-of-concept go-round and apply any lessons learned to the new set up, once the reno is complete. I know I'm sounding so chill. In truth, one of the eyelets just missed the centre of the stud, which likely split, and now there's a hole in the wall and I can barely stand it. No way am I repainting something I'm about to tear down. But how will I look at glaring imperfection for months?? I hang out in that room constantly (and soon literally!) I know. First-world problem. But I do wish I had people to fix everything at my whim and I'm not confident that my husband falls into that category :-) The fact is that my life is too full for me to prioritize fixing holes in walls without wanting to hurl myself from a bridge. I need to find a way to truly accept that I am unwilling to do certain things and that this doesn't require me - or behoove me - to ruminate on them with every fiber of my being. My compulsiveness is a lesson I may finally be ready to learn. I must put this side of myself behind me because it's destructive. Everything is on a trajectory of decay but it cannot be the only thing I observe.

On notification of early onset of spinal arthritis, I knew immediately that I would be wise - and happy - to hang daily to allow gravity to reset compression. I also want to ensure that my discs are enabled to replump with compression-free inversion. They are, after all, the skeleton's shock absorption system. (A headstander - though wonderful for many - doesn't accomplish this, fyi. To gain traction when inverting, you need support from above the hang, not from below.) Not to mention that I've wanted one of these walls for years - pretty well ever since I stopped venturing to my Iyengar studio. For a couple of years now, often at night, I feel a desperate need to lengthen, which I do using various props and strange methods, but nothing quite does the trick. And, if my pain is being caused by nerve compression, I've got to give those nerves a fighting chance to release as the musculature and skeleton around them extend completely.

So that's where I'm at today. Note: I cannot recommend that anyone install a hanging rope wall unless she is a) capable with construction or able to find a qualified installer and b) knowledgeable about how these ropes work in the yogic context. You do NOT want to try this at home without having had a lot of instruction in a classroom setting first or you may put yourself in danger.

For those who have emailed or commented with health-oriented suggestions - thank you so much. I have been taking highly bio-available curcumin capsules - and I drink turmeric shots as often as I can find them. I'm also starting up with the fish oil again. I did stop all supplements a while ago, in a moment of apathy, but I'm back to taking these two. Furthermore, while cutting out all potentially inflammatory foods (gluten, sugar and dairy) is really not in the cards right this minute - as I work 2 jobs for 2 weeks (1 week down!) and then segue into a, frankly, serious new role in a totally new ministry having much new responsibility and a steep learning curve - I have cut way back on foods from all 3 of these groups. I do use food and drink to manage my stress (as most people do) and I think it would be placing ridiculous additional pressure on me to instigate binary change in yet another major aspect of my life, while I settle. But I'm easing my way in. Note: I will not give up booze or dairy unless they're observably problematic, and I'm not convinced they are. Wine and cheese are too beautiful to forego without utter necessity.

PS: I've been working on some very prelim neuroplastic techniques to manage pain (actually, I use many neuroplastic techniques already - I just didn't realize that's what they are). My latest method is to tell the pain that it's an illusion, a perception, and to ignore it by doing other things which use the parts of my brain that are generally associated with processing that sort of pain. It's actually somewhat effective. So far, I haven't stopped feeling the pain but now I can separate the sensation from my consciousness' interpretation of it. BTW - what's an awesome way to occupy the brain (specifically the implicated visual cortex)? KNITTING. Who knew?

I cannot recommend Norman Doidge's book enough: The Brain that Changes Itself. Honestly, peeps. If regular people can recover from pervasive strokes and catastrophic mental or physical injury by utilizing parts of the brain that generally have nothing to do with those damaged areas, there is hope for everyone.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Little Bit About A Lot

Yo, Peeps. Much to say, not much time in which to say it. I've got a full day of yoga-doing, naturopath-visiting, window-shopping, friend-meeting, dinner-having and movie-with-subtitles-viewing. This'll be my second in-theatre film in 2 weeks. After 5 years of not seeing one. I average about 1 every 5 years so this is unprecedented. (Mind you, it is a Rohmer film from the 80s.) It's playing at the TIFF Lighthouse (the headquarters of the Film Festival which needs no introduction). I'm feeling rather urban-lady.

Lord, have you ever seen more hyphens than in the paragraph above?

I'm going through a phase of much self-reflection and, frankly, I don't have time to be all existential and bloggy simultaneously. Furthermore, I wonder if my "who am I?" posts freak people out. I mean, I'm eternally freaked out by the vast cavern of my own humanity. Must I inflict that on others? (Answer: Likely yes. But not till I can alchemize the depths of feeling into words.)

Just a few check-in things to say - which are totally disparate in nature - but hopefully include something for everyone:
  • For those of you who follow me on Instagram (@kristinm100), you may be pleased to learn I got the job for which I interviewed a couple of weeks ago! It's a promotion and it's going to provide me with new experience and learning opportunities that I'm very excited about. I'm also nervous (but who isn't when she takes a new job??). FWIW, I highly recommend the Kielo Wrap Dress for interviewing.
  • Right now, I'm making this sweater and the patter is SO well-written. I love the construction, which is short-row heavy (everywhere), to put it mildly. And yet, while I'm no fan of the short-row, I find myself loving them in this context. I do hope my crazy work-arounds produce a well-fitted end result. I got neither gauge, nor do I fit into 1 specific size (according to the pattern schematic). So I'm going rogue. Mind you, I did so many gauge-swatches for this thing and that should count for something.
  • I've been meaning to write about this for years, but honestly, if you experience chronic pain (particularly in the back, for any reasons - but myofascial pain is a good one) you'd really do well to buy an acupressure mat and pillow. This also saved my ass when I was getting those 10-day migraines a couple of years ago. (Thank you God for their abatement). Sometimes this, and sleep, were my only recourse during that time. I affectionately call these gizmos my bed of nails and head of nails. Effectively, they work like a low-fi TENS machine. I have many modalities to manage pain, when it hits, but there is none more useful than this mat and pillow - which are so affordable that you can have one in every room (and in the workplace). They are also very durable in my experience. Those little plastic pokey things do just what you'd imagine - they stick into your back/neck/head (with a pretty good amount of force, esp. if you're not wearing anything between them and you) and they re-route the pain loop. Of course, they also cause pain - pain which you create voluntarily, knowingly - and this rather miraculously re-circuits the neurological response.* I've got a lot to say about this - and neuroplasticity, my latest fascination (and what I imagine is the future for me and pain management). I've recently been referred to a fantastic pain clinic wherein I hope to be able to apply certain neuroplastic techniques to reroute my pain response permanently. I've got new info about what may be reinforcing the pain - arthritic spondylosis, which appears to be throughout my spine and might explain why that pain moves around as it does, and then just as readily disappears. It also explains some other symptoms I've been having. Mind you, I question that the pain is being caused by this, though it certainly may be aggravating it. Many people have spondylosis (although not generally so young) and they do not experience pain. Much has to do with compression of nerves and how degeneration presents itself, but still, I'm not convinced...
  • Of course, this has given me much pause for that self-reflection I mentioned above. Arthritis does not run in my family. So what the fuck is going on? Well, I don't think that hormonal change is helping the situation... Has the intensity of my yoga practice, in my teens, 20s and 30s, had anything to do with this? I wouldn't be the first person to cause structural damage with yoga (or any other form of movement). On the flip side, has yoga saved me from much worse damage? What about the miles and miles of walking I've done, almost daily, for most of my life? (I have cut back on this walking only one way to work these days, as my body currently suffers when I walk too far.) The great yoga master, BKS Iyengar always said that you are only as young as your spine - words I have lived by since I was 18. When I've written, in the past, that some mornings I wake up feeling 80, I had no idea that my spine was showing symptoms of age beyond those which my birth certificate would support... No question, I am going to use every known mechanism to reverse this damage and then I'm going to prevent it from recurring.** Even if it means I have to change my diet radically and forever. Cuz this is not taking me down.
  • But finally, on a lighter note, presuming you have AC - not sure if you've heard that TO is going through the biggest heat-wave in its history (save one other, many years ago). We're actually in a drought (which somehow I dispute, because I haven't turned the water on in my gardens all summer and they're adequately green). Just want to clarify, since I complain about every weather known to man, that I fucking LOVE this. It's hotter than Hades (or India, more to the point) at 43 degrees. It's sunny constantly (though not today). The patios are actually less full than usual cuz most people can't handle these temps. I may be the only person I know who'll be sorry to see this go (in truth, I prefer 30 degrees but hot is always better than cold) so I'm going to celebrate while the sun shines. Here's to focusing on the positive. Peace out.
*Amusing side note: My husband is a total wuss when it comes to these props - he cannot lie on the mat without screeching like a baby panda. Happily, for him, he doesn't need them.

** For better or worse, you will be reading about all of these mechanisms. Traction, anyone?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Finished Object: Color Blocked Bias Wrap

Yo peeps. While I could do 10 of a zillion things, I've decided to spend this (hormonally replete) weekend on my couch and in my yoga space a) knit swatching for a bunch of new projects, b) reading 3 new health-related books which were recently recommended*, c) lengthening the bits of my body that are scrunched into pain and d) trying out my latest online yoga discovery (you know how I love finding new home-based yoga sites).

That site would be Yoga International online. You may recall it was a well-respected paper mag for a good couple of decades. In the death-throes of that industry, it modernized with an online articles-meets-workshops-meets-yoga classes platform. While I cannot speak of this as yet (I'm still in the early stages of discovery), I sense that this may be my fave version yet. There's much more emphasis on alignment-based yoga here - and much less of that facile fusion everyone seems to be doing. Also, the people look just like those you'd see in your yoga class (real, if excessively competent).

I do have an exciting adventure on the horizon, which I'll speak more about soon. But in the meanwhile, let's look at one of the most satisfying knits I've encountered in a very long time:

Color Block Bias Wrap by Suzanne Shaw. I won't lie, spelling "colour" without the "u" is disturbing to me!


This is the yarn my parents bought for me in Charlotte this spring. I love it even more knitted than in the hank. These pictures really do not do it justice. The colours are delicious. The hand is awesome. The finished garment is the perfect size to keep you very warm all winter - even if your pre-renoed, century-home is a sieve. This is not skimpy, nor is it unweildy. When well-knit, it looks like an expensive thing you've bought in a fancy shop.

Who should make this? Everyone who likes shawls who's got at least 3 projects under his or her belt. You need to know how to cast on and bind off (but only in the most minimal way), knit, purl, increase stitches, decrease stitches, do clean colour-switch up (at the ends of each ball of yarn) and, natch, fix dropped stitches or other issues should they emerge. It also helps to block this with wires (found in any knitting store) because it will turn your finished project into a thing of professional standard.

What I Recommend:
  • Knit it with the prescribed yarn - Classic Elite Chateau (or Chalet, if you like colours). There's a tonal beige colour-way and this grey one (and a few other neutrals to substitute if you prefer). This chainette, bulky-weight yarn knits up exceedingly fast. I knit at a fair clip and I got through this in 4 days without trying, particularly. Even a nervous newbie could do it in a month. Sure, other yarns will work - but this yarn has the PERFECT hand and drape for a shawl of these proportions. You will not regret it - and the yarn is easily found and well-priced.
  • I won't lie, consistent tension is a must. That may become increasingly challenging for some as the needle size increases (and the project grows) because ergonomics erodes. When knitting in stockinette, consistent tension is always important but given the quality of this yarn, your project will not look optimal if the tension slips. That's why my point below is key.
  • Swatch to ensure that your fabric isn't too open / loose. This yarn will grow with blocking and under its own weight - given its drapey fiber composition of bamboo and alpaca. Seriously consider going down a needle-size unless you are a super-tight knitter. I hate knitting with a needle of the recommended size, US13 (or anything above a US9, though I can force myself to use up to a US11 if the project entices me adequately). I swatched with a US11 to ensure that I would be happy with the fabric, and I knew how my decreased gauge would impact the finished size. I'm very happy with it but I wouldn't have been if I'd used the recommended needle size.
  • Wet-block and use blocking-wires when drying.
  • With appetite and budget, starting now you could easily pump out 5 of these as Xmas presents.
So that's my weekend. What's up with you? Does this shawl appeal? Will you make it? Let's talk!

*In case you're curious, the books are My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel, Ending Back Pain by Jack Stern, MD, PhD and (my mother's fave) How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD... 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Finished Object: Charlie Skirt (A Legitimate Saga)

Lord, people, I have no idea where to begin with this drama-filled skirt saga, except to say that I've spent 4 fucking days making a pull-on garment. A faux version of a real thing. And I want my money back.

For starters, do NOT buy this pattern. Not if you're experienced, not if you're a newbie. Buy any other StyleArc Pattern, buy any other pull-on denim skirt. Just stay away from this one. While I generally find StyleArc instructions to be benignly inferior, these instructions are actually harmful. In full disclosure, I eventually threw them away and started using my brain because a) they made NO sense b) the only 2 other online peeps who have written about making this corroborate my perspective (and these are experienced sewists who often sew StyleArc) and c) the instructions produce an end result that actually catches the waistband facing and the side seams and the elastic in the waist seam allowance. In what universe is this good construction?? Non-sewists: This means the waist area would be a bulky mess.

Having said this, I am in no way dissing the drafting, which I actually think is pretty great. Too bad.

Let me cut to the chase: This experience was a successful failure for 3 reasons:
  1. I made the skirt too big and I used the wrong fabric. The end result produced a skirt that was too big in a minimal, but most unattractive way - and unfixable, short of taking apart the entire fucking skirt for a third time. Not gonna happen. I also used the wrong fabric, as it happens. Too much drape, not enough heft. I'm going to need real denim to make this skirt work. The other 2 bloggers who've made this both indicated that the pattern is way too snug for size and that, as a result, it emphasizes the abdomen and hips. I don't quite agree. I actually would have had a perfect fit, minus 4.5" of length, with 20% stretch fabric and an unaltered size 14 (I made an altered-up version - let's call it a 15). Not to second guess these excellent, experienced sewists (and really stylish ladies) but I think the reason that they feel that it's snug for size is because it's a style that totally calls attention to the midsection and they, like I, used relatively light-weight fabric with more stretch than strength. I mean, this garment is pegged. Why on earth I'm making it is beyond me. I'm certainly not looking to emphasize the waist area. But my hips are fairly proportioned and my legs work well with this shape so I am committed - after 30 hours - to get this thing to work.
  2. The construction methodology was whack, but I prevailed! I figured out how to assemble the waistband/elastic such that the end result is as it should be - elastic free from seams, seams clean, facings folded over the elastic on front and back waist. Feel free to ignore this section but below are some notes on it because I've spent a lot of time figuring it out and now I want to see if I can turn it into something wearable. 
  3. Finally, I really learned a LOT. I mean, top stitching (which I'm not good at but which I'm so much better at than I was at the start). My workmanship was pretty good (best hem I've ever coverstitched). My on-the-fly fixes were considered and they worked! I'm better at this craft for having made this skirt. Let's look at a few pictures!

C'mon - this is the freakin' inside of the skirt!!

This is the interior of my coverstitched hem. I free-styled this!

Top stitching is far from perfect but it's acceptable...
FYI - I'm not convinced that I shouldn't just redraft the waistband altogether and affix it differently (like the version I use to make Hudson Pants - I've done a tutorial on this, fyi, just search for it if you'd like to know more). The reason I'm not going to do this is because I'm not entirely sure it would work with a back yoke. I think it would but no harm in trying my modified method one more time...

Readers, please skip over unless you're making this thing, in which case, you're welcome!

Charlie Skirt Order of Operations:
  • Sew darts. Attach back waistbands (yoke) to the top of the back pieces. (Could prob make this easier but it's likely easier to sew the patch pockets on with this order...) No need to serge. Press seams up. Top stitch.
  • Attach the pockets - use lots of fusible tape.
  • Serge back skirt/waistband units to one another, wrong sides together. Press right. Top stitch.
  • Attach faux pockets to the skirt front by sewing. Note: before sewing, serge the pocket curve for more neatness. Also, clip and notch before sewing to ease the curve. 
  • Attach the front left and right pieces: Carefully serge from waist, around the faux fly curve, down to the top of the split. Or serge in the other direction if that's easier...
  • Sew the faux fly stitching (chalk it for alignment). Top stitch the front down to the split.
  • Double turn and sew split on each side. Use tape to facilitate.
  • Cut elastic to preferred size. 1"-wide, use soft elastic... Stitch it into a loop.
  • Chalk 0.5" seam allowances on the side edges of the front waistband. Note: I've altered this piece so that it aligns with the back waistband (yoke) height. It's 1" less deep than the pattern calls for.
  • Fold the front waistband in half, wrong sides together, and press. Chalk the centre line for better visibility when sewing. Affix the elastic such that you stretch it slightly and STOP stitching at 0.5" seam allowance. This must stay free. This side of the waistband represents the side that will face in i.e. into the wrong side).
  • Sew the front facing part of the front waistband to the front skirt, right sides together. Top stitch with the seam pressed up. Note: The inside-facing waistband is left unattached. At this point you have the back yoke affixed to the back skirt and the front yoke affixed to the front skirt - but both "inside" halves of those pieces are still unattached.
  • Align the side seams of the front and back skirt pieces. Carefully ensure that the waistband top stitching is matched. Make sure that the front and back waistband pieces are open. Pin the right sides together. Sew each side from where the waistband is affixed to the skirt (topstitching area) up to the top of the fully extended waistband interior. It will fold over soon but now it's full-height. Avoid the elastic.
  • Serge the side seams from top of the extended waistband to hem.
  • Serge the long edges of the free waistband pieces (front and back). Do not remove any seam allowance. This is just to neaten the edge but you need the full depth. 
  • Ensure that the elastic isn't twisted. Fold down the interior waistbands with the elastic enclosed. Pin the inside waistband pieces (the ones you just neatened) with precision. Stitch in the ditch to sew down the waistband on the inside.
  • Top stitch the side seams.
  • Stitch in ditch to hold down the elastic at the sides and back seams. This will be invisible and will not add bulk.
  • Coverstitch or top stitch the hem at 1".
A few thoughts about the sizing: I actually find StyleArc very true to size. In the past I've made modified 10s and 12s when sewing tops or dresses in jersey. I'm glad I cut the 14, in this instance, because my denim has only 20% stretch and I'd prefer to use a firmer fabric with a larger size pattern than a stretchier fabric with a smaller sized pattern. I mean, I'm the same size either way and I want a firm fabric to support the protrusion of my stomach. In fact, next time I make this I'm going to use more robust fabric and I'll insert a fucking stay! Why not. This is effectively what they do with RTW jeans pockets to keep everything sucked in. I have no idea of what fabric to use for the stay (maybe a stretch twill that is strong but thin?) Anyone else done this? How does it work or where does one find info? I increased the size of the 14 because a) I'd read that this thing fits tight and b) I measured myself and estimated that I'd want 0 negative ease given that I don't like things tight. What I didn't consider is that a pattern that's a bit too big made from a drapey fabric without much heft is, well, inclined to exhibit one's stomach bulge.

So that's my long weekend in a nutshell - well, except for the knitting (which is the topic of my next post). You may be happy to know that the knitting, it went unreservedly well!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Charlie Skirt - The Drama Continues (Or, if You Prefer, Help Me to Choose My Next Knitting Project)

Brief check in to tell you I've never spent so long making a skirt in my life. And this pattern isn't even lined?! At any rate, I have either made some sort of late-stage mega mistake (though my review of the pattern pieces doesn't lead me to believe this) or there's an error in the 16, pdf version. I think I can fix it but it's going to take ripping out a lot of top stitching at the front waist and cutting down the waistband depth. FYI, this issue was not caused by my minimal, horizontal side seam alterations (which were carefully paired). Having said this, the other two blog people who've made this (I believe in the same size Correction: I made a modified 14, I believe they made the 16) did not note this issue. Could be that I did something wrong, construction-wise, but I don't think that's the case either.

The point is that I've got to put down this project and let my mind unconsciously review the situation. I don't believe this is a foregone failure and I do believe that this version will fit in the end (if not awesomely, first time out). I pin basted it to confirm. I'm just not sure about this waist band/back yoke - not the drafting of the original pieces OR the construction method OR what the final fit will be. It seems like there's too much fabric at the back waist... Might have to alter the yoke next time.

I also have to remove, like, 4 inches of length from the hem. It's crazy. Could have saved myself that fabric! My legs aren't short, even if I am, so I can tell you this pattern is designed with a tall person in mind.

I'm putting it down till tomorrow (I actually stopped at 1pm) but this now leaves me at loose ends on a long weekend! I guess I'm going to have to find a new project to knit as I've finished the Bias Wrap (it's blocking) and my half done pair of socks is at the office. Man that wrap was a fast, terrific knit. Wanna feel productive? Use bulky-weight squish-ball yarn. It disappears like a wet dog in water. But as it's drying, you can see its reconstructed, bloom-y potential.

So here are my next-step knitting options:

Option 1: The Cozy/Chic Fall Topper

Modern Wrapper by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
Modern Wrapper Fine by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
These 2 patterns are supposed to be versions of one another but, from all photos, they seem to be quite different in more ways than simply proportion. The Fine version is meant to have more size and fit options (the original is one-size). But the Original seems to have a sleeker silhouette with those fitted arms beneath a dropped shoulder. I think I'm going to have to buy both patterns (10 buck USD each) to see how the construction works in each. Then I can determine which is the better bet. Right now I'm leaning towards the original pattern made on a smaller needle size with a couple of horizontal and vertical edits. If you've made either - or even if you haven't! - please chime in with feedback.

I'll use this yarn, the bamboo/alpaca Briza by Americo:

Briza in Bark
As long as it's not too fuzzy (and the store sample of this yarn was not), I think that the design will look quite good in the Briza. Have I mentioned how much I love having 1500ish yards of yarn for every project. It increases my options tremendously!

Option 2: The asymmetric sweater that could be awesome - or bland:
 
Sweet Jane by Amy Miller
I've got this yarn earmarked:
Quince and Co. Chickadee in Kittywake
In case you thought I was joking about my irrepressible tendency toward grey and neutrals, think again!

But then there's the pretty, fitted Arrow pullover (below). The Arrow is technically designed for fingering-weight yarn, though the Chickadee I have earmarked is sport-weight. I think it might work well nonetheless:

Arrow by Megh Testerman
Thoughts?

But finally...

Option 3: The Hipster One that Karen from Fringe Association would make

Nancy's Vest by Carol Sunday
The wildcard here is the boobs. I'll have to find a way to knit this just big enough or it could be a tent. I'm impressed that so many of the versions on Ravelry, made for peeps of different shapes and sizes, have turned out to be flattering. That's a mark of a good pattern, in my experience.

To make this, I'll use my fab Icelandic indigo merino, gifted by Nic:


So what's the delay? Well, partly I'm feeling conflicted about which choice is the best. If you have thoughts about what I should make first - do let me know!

Moreover, the part of me that doesn't much feel like doing a ton of sweater-math is not jumping on any of these - and I have no idea which will be easiest. I'd say the Modern Wrap, but it's just huge on everyone so I'll need to modify its size, for sure.

Then, it's not lost on me that all of this knitting is stockinette. And most of it not in the round! That means I'm headed for another couple of months of knit one row, purl the next. Having just done this with the bias wrap, I can say that it does get old. Mind you, I much prefer, and find it much more ergonomic, to knit on thin needles with thin yarn, which is what most of the patterns in this next batch require.

BTW, I've been on a roll when it comes to finding gorgeous knitting patterns on Ravelry. Check out my favourites page for some great ideas, dare I say it myself! Somehow those photos show all samples knit in grey?!