New Year, New Site

Happy 2017! You’ve probably arrived here from my old site at WordPress.com. I know that my old blog has been quite dead for some time, and since I’ve been experimenting with self-hosted WordPress for my other site about Audiobook Reviews, I decided to move my crafting blog here too. I had this domain for several years, and was not doing anything useful with it (I played with Drupal years ago but the site is mainly broken now). With my other blog I discovered the flexibility self-hosted WordPress gives versus WordPress.com, so I decided to move ElenaKnits, and maybe add a couple of ads to try to cover a bit of the host service. If you find them too intrusive, please let me know.

I am not a Xmas person or prone to making new year’s resolutions, but during my holidays I had the possibility to rest and come back with a fresh mind. I am not making promises, but I’ll try to share here what I’ve been making in the past months and what I will be making in the future. Plus other aspects of my daily life like BIRDS (I can’t imagine my life without them).

Again, I don’t usually do this kind of things but I couldn’t resist to the Best 9 of Instagram:

2017 was a year with a mix of things. We moved to this apartment in January, lost Daisy in July and then gave a home to Jane. My blogging and sewing stopped for a while, until I had to make things again, because I need it like I need to breath. I switched from crazy prints dresses and started making more useful garments, things that I needed and wear almost everyday. I tried to reduce my stash this year and avoid buying fabric. I almost succeeded here. I also took a break from knitting due to gauge issues and my stupid atopic skin. I’m back on the game, but taking things slowly.

I hope I will share this and much more here, but don’t expect very carefully taken photoshoots. I’ll get most of the pic from Instagram, since it seems to be the only way for me to document things nowadays.

I hope you enjoy the ride!

 

Gertie’s Knit Pencil Skirt

I completed this project almost two months ago, taken pictures shortly after but didn’t have time to blog about it. Life is so busy lately that sometimes I would like to sleep for days in a row. Work is freacking crazy right now, and we have Daisy at the vet since more than three weeks ago (Billy is keeping her company), where she’s fighting for her life. She got heavy metal poisoning (I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what she swallowed), and the side effect was renal damage. She’s on heavy medications to keep her uric acid levels at bay, but that means injections every two days and a weekly blood sample to test for levels (they can do it more often due to the little weight birds have). We’re so stressed out about her that we can hardly get enough sleep.

But let’s get on with what we’ve come here for. This is the knit pencil skirt from second Gertie’s book. I wanted to try to set a pencil skirt for ages but never got the time or the courage for it. I had this sweatshirt fabric  leftover from another project that will show you soon and decided that a knit pencil skirt would be the ideal to start with and find out if pencil skirts were something for me.

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I chose my size according to my measurements and the sizing, as usual, was right with Gertie (unless we’re talking about Butterick Gertie’s patterns). I didn’t even have to shorten the skirt, and for my desired length, I just had less than 1 cm to turn in to hem it. I am 1.58 m (petite), so for taller (regular) people, you will need to lengthen the pattern piece for sure.

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I got my hem a bit stretched out since I don’t know how to change the foot pressure on my new machine, but reaped it and added wash away quilters tape to it and it worked fine. I did a twin needle hem.

For the rest, this was a very quick project, since there’s just one pattern piece, and the result is very forgiving due to the stretchy nature of the fabric and the elastic band at the waist.

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I could test this skirt during the Screamin’ Festival last week, and I got a lot of wear out of it, especially when we were chilling out at the apartment, since I forgot to include anything else especially comfortable for when we were in (resting, cooking or eating). This skirt was like wearing pajamas.

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Here with my Untangling Knots Hetty.

Something that annoyed me a bit was that the skirt used to ride up my hips a bit when I took long walks in it. I don’t know if it’s due to a wrong sizing/fitting.

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For the rest, I love the skirt, and I may jump top the pencil skirt bandwagon, at least if they are made of a stretch fabric. I am not sure I could walk a lot in a non-stretchy pencil skirt (unless it has a good sized vent).

Butterick B5895 and Untangling Knots Hetty

OMG, when was the last time that I posted a finished project here? I have some to show you that I finished about last month but I’ve been too busy to blog about it. Pictures were taken almost four weeks ago but stayed in my hard drive until now just because life is very busy right now. I’m having so much work that after 6 pm I can’t bear to look at the computer save for watching some meaningless series. But fear not, here you have the first set of finished garments.

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These are Gertie’s Butterick  B5895 pants. Since I didn’t find the printed pattern close by I bought the PDF from McCallPattern.com and they redirected me to PrintSew.com to download the pattern. Here the nightmare started. They don’t provide a PDF file, but a PDC, which is an encrypted PDF for which you need to install a program, LockLizard, and download a license from PrintSew. I printed the pattern last year after I just bought it, but I didn’t have the chance to sew it until now, and since I misplaced some of the pages, I had to reprint them again. I still had the LockLizard installed on my Mac, but my license did not work anymore, so I had to send an email to PrintSew and wait for them to come back to me the day after. I wanted also to mention that the pattern is 48 freacking pages, 8 of them totally blank, and quite some mostly blank as you can see here:

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According to my measurements I should have made a size 12, but after measuring the pattern pieces at the hips and waist I went for a size 8, but I had to make a full inner thighs alteration (as seen on Cation Designs blog), adding 2 cm to each pattern piece (4 in total).

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I also shortened the pants around 7 cm and tapered the legs after they were already sewn.

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The fit is not bad, but if I don’t pull them up vigorously I get horizontal wrinkles, meaning that the waist is too high, around 2 cm higher than my natural waist. Nothing too surprising, since I have a short torso due to being petite.

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I thought I was going to need more space for the bum (as it usually happens) but the stretch cotton sateen helps here and I don’t feel constricted. But look at those wrinkles. I definitely need to shorten this for next time. Well, this is just a wearable muslin.

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Even though it’s just a muslin I decided to serge the edges so that I can wear this without fear of it getting disintegrated. The left part of the zipper is a little bit wonky. I should probably interface this next time or just use more wash away quilters tape).

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When I started sewing my garments insides were a mess. I take now the effort to make them neat, and with a serger it’s easy peasy.

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Pockets are a value added to a pair of pants, even though these feel a bit weird because the waistband sits too high.

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And here is another garment I wanted to show you this time. It’s Hetty by Andi Satterlund. I attempted to knit this cardigan just after it was released, almost three years ago, but the recommended yarn was difficult to find in this part of the world, and I just saw it in maroon. No my favorite color but I gave it a try. I failed miserably, it’s not that I fell out of love with the yarn because I never loved it. It’s just that I started hating it…

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The result was that I abandoned this project for a very long time. I started it again last year with this pink Cascade 220 but abandoned it again after Gerry left us. Just after the summer I retook it again and finished it at the end of last year. Then we had Christmas and moved to a new apartment, so I didn’t sew buttons until almost two months ago. It’s one of the things I enjoy less, so I tend to procrastinate here. I know, ridiculous.

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After all the time it took me to finish this cardigan, I am very happy with the final result and the fit. I had my doubts about what to do with the repeats at the “seams”, but after checking several projects in Ravelry, those parts (sides and where the seam would go on the sleeve) are never perfect, since the pattern repeat is broken by plain stockinette. I was bothered by it at first, but I learned to live with it. It’s just a design feature!

I added two repeats to the sleeves to make them longer, as I always do with Andi’s patterns (my wrists get cold!). The bulge you see on the left one is my watch under the cuff.

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Our four lovebirds are often perched on me at the same time but you’ll never see the four very close together, except for Billy and Daisy, because they are a couple since a very tender age. They are very territorial creatures and they tend to have quite a bad temper. I love them anyway and enjoy their cheeky nature.

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And I finally solved my lighting issues. There were two issues in fact. First, I should explain that I mainly use two lenses for my photoshoots. I like my 35 mm F1.8 for close shots, like when I want to show a cardigan or a top. It’s a fast lens and I don’t need a lot of light. But for complete body shots I need to use my 18 – 55 mm F3.5-5.6. This lens needs more light so it’s restricted to limited conditions. When using the remote I usually shot in A mode, so that the camera auto adjusts if light conditions change (a cloud at a certain moment). But the last time I used this lens my pictures were very dark. I found out that my camera somehow miscalculates when using this lens, so I decided to shoot everything in manual this day for both lenses. Another issue that I had to correct was the non-uniformity of the light. The photoshoot location in my previous apartment didn’t have this problem, but my current sewing room receives much more direct sunlight and they tend to be dark patches in some places. So I bought this little gadget that folds to a very small size and it seemed to help.

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Details:

Why I’m not (officially) participating in Me Made May (MMM)

The answer is easy: because I’m already wearing me made clothes everyday and for me MMM is an exercise to try and wear handmade clothes and find the gaps in one’s wardrobe. Then you have to add the hassle of taking daily pics and feeling guilty about repeating clothes. I don’t do parties, I don’t have to go to an office everyday. I just work from home and do my routinely grocery shopping, go to pilates class twice a week, and to the vet from time to time. I love sewing vintage dresses, but that’s not what I’m wearing on a daily basis and I have made peace with it a long time ago. I have already found and filled the gaps in my wardrobe. What else do I need?

When I’m at home I need to be comfortable, and I don’t wear my knitted garments because, in case you didn’t know, I’m going to tell you that birds nails felt wool like felting needles, that and the occasional bird dropping I may get on me. I admire Tasha for trying to dress glamorous at home, but that just doesn’t work for me. And not just due to the birds. I need to cook all my meals due to my autoimmune disorder, and then I need to clean up afterwards. Just don’t blame me if I’m wearing my two Carolyn pajama bottoms in heavy rotation.

And off course one of my four Barrie Briefs (planning more):

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Then I change clothes when going out, but it’s always to the regular things like the grocery store, the pilates studio, the vet and mundane places like these. If it’s cold you will see me wearing of my knitted sweaters. In the past I would also wear one of my me made pants, but after losing weight they don’t fit anymore, I’ll need to make new ones.

When the weather is a bit less cold I often wear my Ziggi Biker Jacket:

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And when the weather finally warms up I’ll be wearing one of my four Lady Skater Dresses, and I’m planning two more as soon as I have the time, since they are ultra comfortable:

Then I can also wear a blouse for a special occasion, and that’s it, really!

My wardrobe may seem boring, but I’m a practical person and I don’t need tons of different clothes; apart from the fact that my life is mostly at home with the birds and the occasional going out to run some errands. I’ll save you the boredom and I’ll save me the hassle, and I’ll just keep on wearing and making what I want, and enjoying other sewists pictures participating in Me Made May.

A Winter Hat

Just before Christmas I lost one of my two knitted hats, leaving me with the one I never wore because it was itchy on my skin. Since it was cold, I made a fleece hat this January, but I still missed having a knitted hat. I was worried about what yarn to use, since a continuous use of my wool socks caused some temporary itches on some parts of my feet.

One day rummaging through my stash I found that I still had around a skin and a half left from Artesano Aran, the yarn used at my last owls sweater. I made it a bit more than a year ago, and I wore it non-stop during the coldest months of the year (okay, it’s March and I’m still wearing it). It’s warm, cozy and quite soft. I should seriously consider making one in each color so that it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a uniform all the time.

I rubbed repeatedly this sweater and the new skin against my forehead, and it seemed okay. I just needed a pattern that would allow me to use this yarn.

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I like my hats warm. I am mostly a practical person, and despite I like beautiful clothes, the main thing I need for them to be is functional. An issue I have with knitted clothes is the wind. Unless I have several layers of them or an extra wind-stopping element, I will get cold anyway on windy days. So using a thick yarn was not enough. I needed a pattern that would allow me to fold the rim to protect my forehead and ears from the very cold winds. Colorwork would have worked too, but usually it doesn’t include the ribbing, and my ears get cold.

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I found this Hat Most Likely to Succeed and it was all I needed from a hat. A simple design, with a folded rim and suitable for my yarn.

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I had to reknit this one, due to my lose gauge and my very small head. The pattern instructs you to cast on 100 stitches and then increase to 120, making 8 repeats (15 stitches each). I thought that 7 repeats would be just enough for my tiny head, so I cast on 84 stitches, to increase to 105. I also omitted one of the vertical repeats, but in hindsight I think it could have worked with the pattern as it originally was. I did it like this for fear the hat would stretch after being washed (which I still didn’t).

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The hat is warm and cozy, and I have worn it for a couple of weeks during the coldest days. It doesn’t feel as soft as the one made of fleece but it’s good enough for my very sensitive skin. Now my biggest fear is losing it.

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My Ravelry project page.

 

Never underestimate the gauge

The Easter break is a bit longer here in Spain than in other countries, with Thursday and Friday off. I spent those two days and Saturday morning with a light migraine, but I was still able to do some useful things, and one of them was swatching. I am not sure if you remember, but I failed at knitting Penelope some time ago. I knitted the smallest size and just before the waistband ribbing I tried it out and it was like a sack of potatoes. I was horrified that my gauge had transformed so much in the last months that I could no longer knit successful sweaters after being able to test knit for Andi Satterlund several times in the past. What was happening to me? Was my current relaxed lifestyle affecting my knitting?

I saw that the pattern called for 4.5 mm knitting needles, and as usual, I used Cascade 220 wool since, this yarn goes well with this needle size, and in making many of Andi’s designs it has worked very well. Since I often knit with this wool I didn’t swatch, and this was one of the causes of the problem.

After the disaster I decided to swatch and see what I got, just for reference, to check how my gauge had transformed over the years. With 4.5 mm needles I got 18 st x 24 rows (4in x 4 in) before blocking, much different from the required 21 st x 26 rows. Wow, my gauge has definitely gone to hell, I thought, while I almost through a crying fit.

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I reswatched with 4 mm needles and my horizontal gauge was 19.5 st / 4 inch. Still not good enough. I tried then with 3.75 mm and got 20 st / 4 inch. Since the smallest size is 76 inches and my bust is 83, I could live with this, since the desired ease is a negative 0 – 3 inches.

It felt kind of lame to knit this yarn with this needle size, so I decided to check exactly how much my gauge had changed, and rescued an old swatch that I made for Émilien.

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This swatch is blocked, and the gauge is 19 st x 28 rows. Interesting. This means that my tension has indeed relaxed but not as much as I had thought. I went and saw then the required gauges for Émilien and some of Andi’s designs and I would have been fine with my gauge. Why not with Penelope? Now I saw that the required 21 st / 4 inches was not a typical gauge for a worsted yarn. And you know what? The recommended yarn for Penelope is Sincere Sheep Luminous DK. Yes, DK! Checking the Ravelry page for this yarn I see that the recommended needle size for this yarn is 2.75 – 3.75mm, and not 4.5 mm like Andi used. I wonder how she got gauge with this needle size. A tight knitter perhaps?

The conclusion of this is that my gauge has slightly changed, and I blame my efforts to live a more relaxed life, but not as much as I thought, and there is still hope for me to knit more sweaters. The other very important conclusion is that we have to be careful when substituting yarns, and never trust the recommended needle size if the recommended yarn is unknown to us. Swatching before would have saved me some months of frustration.

Warm Feet

There’s nothing I appreciate more in winter than having warm and dry feet. It’s the time of the year that I go back to thinking about hand knitted socks and regret having just a few pairs. After knitting a pair of Van Dyke socks for my mother, I new I needed a pair for my myself, and the Malabrigo Rios I had in my stash was very tempting.

I knitted them exactly like the ones for my mother, but adding an extra repeat on the leg portion, making a total of eleven, four of them just before the gusset.

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They took a little longer than my mother’s pair just because we were moving and there was a lot to be done around the house.

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I wore them a couple of times and they are very comfortable and extra soft, but the wool looks like it’s going to wear out quite quick and easily. It’s a pity because I usually have problems with itchy yarns on my feet, and this one felt wonderful.

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Despite making the smallest size the socks have grown a little and there’s not much negative ease anymore, it could be that even after fixing my gauge issues, I still knit too loose.

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I’m always careful, but somehow I screwed up the cuffs binding off, since they are tighter than usual and it takes me some effort to take these socks on and off, but at least I can do it 😉

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And you, are you knitting socks this winter?

Watching time, knitting time

You all know how addicted I am to TV shows. As I work from home, I have lunch alone so I always watch something to keep me company. Fall marks the start of the cold season in the Northern hemisphere, but also the coming back of many shows. Anyway, I don’t really follow the calendar, and I tend to watch what I feel like, and I usually wait a little bit to be able to binge watch a determined show. I couldn’t help myself and started the new season of Doctor Who, but I decided to take a break and watch other things for the moment to prepare myself to watch some episodes in a row.

As I didn’t have a lot to watch (I’m up to date in almost every show I was watching) I started a new one (for me). It’s called Dark Matter, and I couldn’t resist the sci-fy theme. The premises are good: six people awake from stasis on a space ship with their memories completely erased. There’s also an android on board who will help them to recover part of their memories back. I’m not going to tell more to avoid spoilers. It’s an enjoyable show but there’s something missing to make it superb. The characters are quite flat and lack charm, and I guess it is a result of them having lost their memories, but somehow I feel that they could be better constructed. We’ll be discovering more about them as the show progresses, and it is possible that this aspect improves, because for the moment I don’t care a lot about any of them, and that’s not something good to say about a show. There’s also the fact that most of them are quite young, and I am afraid it could develop in a teenager show. Anyway, I hope we can see some evolution and SyFy doesn’t cancel it like they did with Firefly and Warehouse 13.

DarkMatterMy lunch break is not the only moment I watch series. We also do it in the evening and during weekends, and that is happening a lot more than in summer, which means… knitting time! yay! I’m currently working on two projects: Hetty and Penelope, both from Untangling Knots.

I started Hetty in May, abandoned it and I decided to finish it this time for good. I’m starting with one of the sleeves, and I definitely want to finish it this month.

And as I’ve said last time, I have joined the Penelope KAL. I started a bit late with this one, but as it is a mindless knitting, I hope I can finish in time. I think I will be alternating the knitting of both cardigans to rest from the lace and the monotony of each one. I want to finish Hetty because I’ve been knitting it for too long, and I want to finish Penelope because I think it’s very wearable and it will be in my fall-winter-spring rotation, plus the colors I chose go with almost everything.

During these months I’ve also been watching Warehouse 13, Orange is the new black, Mistresses (US version), Seinfeld, Devious Maids, and some others. I’m really looking forward to the new seasons of The 100 and Call the Midwife, but for those I’ll have to wait.

And you, what are you watching right now?

I think Colin doesn't like my cardigan. #knitting #lovebirds

A video posted by @elena_knits on

Fall and winter plans

We finally signed the contract for the new apartment this Monday, I suddenly started sleeping fine again, and I found my fingers itching to start making things. I took the little time I had to read sewing and knitting blogs and I have my head full of projects to complete this fall and winter. It’s beginning to chill here and I decided to stop complaining about the cold and rain and embrace the change of season as an excuse to making proper winter garments. This 5th Fall Essentials Sew-Along seems the perfect way to get me doing this, even though I’m joining a bit late.

I am finishing the pair of shorts my boyfriend has been requesting for a couple of years. Sewing pants always takes me ages, and things always take more time with four lovebirds and lack of sewing mojo, so finishing this is passing a milestone.

wpid-img_20151008_172304.jpgI am currently knitting a Hetty. I tried to knit one just after the pattern was released, two years ago, but I fell out of love with my yarn and abandoned it quite soon. I started it again with new yarn a bit before Gerry left us, so it has been in standby for quite a while. I am working on it again whenever the birds allow me, which is difficult since I use plenty of markers to avoid getting lost in the lace pattern, and they want to steal them.

wpid-img_20150918_125008.jpgThe one in the picture is Colin, and he looks so much like Gerry that at the beginning I was deceived. Gerry turned two years old yesterday, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit melancholic. I just hope he’s alright and happy.

I didn’t have in mind joining the Penelope KAL, but as I’m getting my knitting juices going, I think I’ll try. I was not sure about what colors to combine since I usually have problems to match my clothes, so I decided to go for one of Andi’s choices, black and grey. They are not lively colors but they’ll go with everything.

This summer I wore my four Lady Skater dresses in heavy rotation, so I’m going to try something in the same line this winter, getting out of my comfort zone and see if I like it. I usually wear pants (jeans, corduroy, Thurlows) when the weather is not warm but I’ve been wanting to try merino jersey for a while, so I decided to do it now, and I purchased this merino fabric from NZ Merino Fabrics. I just hope the customs don’t overcharge me.

The jeans I made don’t fit me anymore. I went paleo three months ago (AIP, in fact), and my health as improved a lot, but my weight has also gone down quite a bit. I’m stable (I think), but many garments I made don’t fit me properly anymore. Maybe that’s why I’m leaning towards knits lately.

I have some corduroy in my stash, and I think I would like to make a Hollyburn skirt.

I had some beautiful knits to make more summery Lady Skaters but alas, it couldn’t be.
And I would like to end the year knittng the Rolling Thunder sweater, gifted by my friend Michelle.

I have off course a lot more projects in mind, but being realistic, I don’t think I will accomplish a lot more, taking into account that I take care of six birds, Christmas is around the corner and we’ll be moving around that time.

Another Lady Skater Dress and a new cardigan

During Me Made May, making the effort of wearing many different garments will teach you why you never wear some of them. But if you’re lazy like me, you’ll recognize a pattern and may even find your uniform. We are just over two thirds of the month, and I’m almost embarrassed when I realize that most of the time I’m either wearing either my Angela Wolf Bootcut Jeans or one of my Lady Skater Dresses. Going for one or the other it really depends on the weather. I’m just like that: practical, basic, boring. As we are having an unusual hot May (we almost reached 40ºC – 100ºF -) I’m heavily rotating my Lady Skaters. I thought of wearing once my Cambie Dress, but since I just go out to the grocery store (I work from home), I felt like I was going to be overdressed. I wore one my the Lady Skaters instead. Why? Because they are so easy and comfy to wear, almost like pajamas. But they are also very flattering, and the A-line skirt is ideal for pear shaped gals. Being made with knit fabric means that they won’t wrinkle, no ironing, and you can fold them to a very small size. And they are so easy to make. No interfacing, darts or zipper. Little pressing. It’s really a win win (no, Amanda hasn’t contacted me to write a post about the Lady Skater Dress).

So with all these reasons, it’s just natural that I was going to make at least another one. Let me introduce you to my new favorite dress.

I bought this fabric during my visit to Vigo around Christmas. I think I paid €4 for a meter and a half, it’s what you get buying fabric by the kilo. It’s a stable knit that would have been much more expensive in different conditions. I didn’t know what I was going to make when I bought it but I also got the same fabric in purple tones for the same price. This May it was clear that this had to be a Lady Skater Dress.

I didn’t try matching the print, but I did try to place it carefully so that the result would be harmonious. The print is centered in the bodice and skirt in the same way. Even the sides look good. What I did was using a skirt piece to cut the other one.

I usually turn in the instructed inch (2.5 cm) for hemming, but here I reduced it to 1.5 cm, and I like this length a lot better. The bodice is shortened like my previous Lady Skater dresses and that length was added to the hem of the skirt.

It’s incredible how the fabric can transform this dress from casual to something more elegant. I usually pair my LKD with a belt but this one I like it just like this. Maybe a thin belt would be nice. Black or matching color with a cardigan.

Not sporting a belt here but you get the idea. This is the Marion Cardigan by Untangling Knots. I love Andi’s designs, and it seems this year I’m only knitting her sweaters.

I like how it looks from the back combined with this dress.

I knitted the smallest size with no mods this time, apart for including an extra buttonhole. It took me ages to finish it, part due to my own mistakes and forgetting to count, and part due to this little prick 😉

And what are your current knitting/sewing plans? What’s your TNT pattern?