Knitting Fail: the Top-Down Turtleneck Cardigan

This is the first knitting project I’ve done where I finished and said, Huh.  I don’t really like this.  And that’s a little sad.

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Let’s start by saying that this post is NOT about: this post is not about my out-of-focus cell phone photos, or my frowny face (mostly cropped) from the sun being in my eyes, or my lack of ironing on my tunic.  Stay focused, my friends.  This post is about the fit of this sweater.  Last summer, in anticipation of our Big Trip to Scotland, which I learned during my pre-trip research was going to be 30 degrees cooler than Atlanta, I knitted two sweaters: the Georgia sweater and the Top-Down Turtleneck Cardigan.  Both are made in the same Purl Soho Mulberry Merino yarn.  One is yellow and I lurve it.  The other is…this one.

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How To Sew On Patches

How to Sew On Patches By Machine | Whipstitch

For our children’s Junior Ranger backpacks, I worked hard to plan the design to enable the maximum number of patches to be added over the years.  Every Junior Ranger receives a pin when they are sworn in, and I’ve seen some children at various national parks with dozens of these on vests and jackets.

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Some of the parks, however, also award patches to their Junior Rangers.  They do these in different ways: some parks give the patch as a matter of course.  A few have levels of patch, based on the age level of the Junior Ranger in question, and kids can earn more than one patch at that particular park by completing more Junior Ranger activities on subsequent visits (this is usually only the very largest and most popular parks, like Yellowstone).  Other parks have it in the gift shop where it can be purchased–but only after showing the pin badge as evidence of Junior Ranger-ness.  Some, like Grand Canyon, also have them in the gift shop, but behind the counter where Junior Rangers must ask for them and then purchase.  A few (like when we visited Mojave National Preserve this spring) award the patch only if the Junior Ranger activity booklet is completed on-site, versus being mailed in after the visit.*  And others have no patches at all, or at least not any specific to the Junior Ranger program (although we have encountered a very, very small number that didn’t have SOME kind of embroidered patch available).

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Junior Ranger Backpacks with Patches and Pins

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I make a lot of things for my children.  I don’t often make things for them that I want to get out and play with when they’re not home.  This time?  Yes, I totally do.

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These are one of my very favorite projects I have made for my children: their Junior Ranger backpacks.

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Organizational Tools for Creative Folks: On My Desk

planning and organizing for creative jobs | Whipstitch

Over the years as I have grown Whipstitch and altered focus or direction, I have developed an ad hoc system for keeping organized through both short-range and long-range projects.  This isn’t a “system” so much as the means I use each day to keep myself on-task, to keep ideas in order so that they don’t get lost or misplaced, and to enable me to meet as many deadlines and goals as possible.

I have two big needs each day: I have to both keep track of HOW I spend my time, meaning the hourly obligations and expectations for each day as the clock ticks by; and I have to keep track of WHERE I spend my time, meaning which tasks I have prioritized above others and which ones I have gotten going but want to keep on track.  I have learned over the years that no planner really has space for both of these goals–my daily planner, which I’ll share below, does a great job with day-to-day and hourly, but doesn’t give room for note taking or brainstorming or long-range detailed planning (which includes taking a sewing project from “idea” to “on the hanger”).

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Great Women in Sewing: The Seamstresses of Manzanar

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I taught tenth grade for a long time.  Part of the curriculum for that level in the state of Georgia is to cover the Holocaust, a tough topic no matter where you live.  Here in the South, discussion of any type of racial or cultural discrimination inevitably leads to discussion of the legacy human slavery has left in our backyards.  As Oprah pointed out in an interview with Elie Wiesel, survivor of Auschwitz and author of Night, we don’t compare our pain, and the heartbreak of the concentration camps can’t be held against the heartbreak of African slavery in the 19th century, but they both beg the question, according to Wiesel, “What is there in evil that becomes so seductive to some people?”

Heavy stuff for a sewing blog, I know, but I promise that I’ll bring it all back around.

When I was teaching this topic, I used materials provided for free by the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose mission is to combat hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation.  They not only include primary documents related to the Holocaust and to the Civil Rights movement in the American South, but also the Japanese internment camps in the United States during the second World War.

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How to Store Wool Yarn & Fabric

how to store wool yarn and fabric | whipstitch

When I started knitting, I realized I needed to think about storing my textiles differently.  For one good reason:  MOTHS.

Moths are the enemy of long-term textile storage, which we learned the hard way at our house from one vintage jacket purchased at a second-hand store that worked its way through three prized sweaters before we discovered what was going on.  Textile moths LOVE wool, which is why closets have been made of cedar and old ladies have smelled of naphthalene for decades.

With my fabrics for sewing, I admit that I didn’t think too much about storage, certainly not specialty storage.  I mean, cotton, right?  Fold it up, stick it on the shelf, done!  I have had a number of wools rolled up in a basket for years and never gave them a second thought, probably (and I’m ashamed to admit this, but it’s true) because I got them cheap at a closeout sale, so I didn’t ascribe any particular value to them.  Insert conversation about cost vs value here.  Sigh.

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Hand-Knitted Socks

Hand-knitted? Hand knit?  Whichever.  I thought at one point I would never, ever, ever knit socks.  The stitches are just soooooo tiny, you guys.

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But my friend Alexia assured me that once I got going they were really fast, and the appeal of knitting something that was so eminently practical was pretty strong.  Like when I started thinking about Sewing All The Things, the idea that another entire sector of my wardrobe had the potential to be Made By Me was hypnotic.

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Fiesta Fun Fabrics Romper for Summer

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I first met Dana through a benefit auction online.  I offered up one of the dresses I used to design, and she was the second bidder–outbid by a dollar.  And we bonded over how, in a benefit/charity situation, maybe our goal shouldn’t be winning the auction by the least amount possible, because maybe the goal isn’t winning the auction, but rather making an impact and the “winning” is icing on top.  We became fast friends.

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Last Chance to Find Your Sewing Buddy for 2017!

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TODAY is the final day to register for the 2017 Sewing Buddy Project!  After nearly a decade and over 1000 sewing friends matched, the Project is here to find you your perfect sewing pen pal!  A one-time fee gets you hand-matched to another sewing enthusiast for a year of sewing prompts, chances to connect, and the kind support of someone who really GETS you.

Already registered?  Don’t forget to log on to your account and visit the main group page to complete the Google doc with your information in order to be matched!  Matches will be emailed directly to your inbox by Feb 2, 2017.  I can’t wait to introduce you to your new sewing best friend!

Find Your Best Sewing Friend: The Sewing Buddy Project

sewing-buddy-button-2017At the beginning of 2010, I sent out a quick survey to see what it is that most of us see as the reason we aren’t able to successfully get our sewing goals met each year.  Is it time?  Or how much space we have to work in?  Is it lack of accountability?  Or something else?  The answers were varied and came from all over the globe, and I was fascinated to see what everyone had to say–and even more fascinated to know how many of us are having the same experience, despite very different backgrounds!

The results of the survey said that all of us had some goals to meet–goals we’d been sadly ignoring in years past.  Some of them were expected, and others were a surprise–not all of us felt the same way about every aspect of our goals and obstacles, but there was a lot of overlap in the answers.  Want to see my super-scientific-I-have-a-social-sciences-degree analysis of the answers that were submitted?  Here ya go!

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