Workroom Diaries 20211130

November 24-29

11/24 Well, I have finally decided which pattern to make with this glorious yarn I bought at the fiber festival a couple weeks ago. I’ve started working the math for this 1940s pattern and cast on my first stitches. The original pattern is 80% too small for me, so I’ve worked out a different gauge so I can use the same stitch numbers as the pattern.

Of course, I was worried about the bottom ribbed band with a regular long-tail cast on, so I switched to Tillybuddy’s Very Stretchy Cast-on to help it across my potential holiday girth. This was a brand new cast-on for me and it was very easy to do. I will be glad to use it on all my bottom-up, ribbed sweaters.

And, of course, I wanted to knit it in the round on circular needles, so I’ll have to adjust the pattern to reflect that. Not only that, it is worked from the bottom-up, so for future makes, I think I will figure out how to make it top-down, so I can fit it easier along the way.

According to my calculations, my ribbing should stretch from 28″-42″. The original pattern does not say what circumference the ribbing will be, so I just followed the directions as stated and gauged the ribbing on the needles.

New skill: spit joining.

11/28 I test-fit the garment to ensure it fit last night (see photo) without stretching so much that it looks ridiculous. So far, it’s all checking out. My swatch read about 6-7r/in, but my knitting in the round is giving me closer to 9, so that’s actually good, too, because the original pattern gauge was 10r/in. I’m cautiously moving forward as pattern is written and will adjust as necessary.

Because I’m knitting in the round, and the pattern has increases on each original, separated side, I’ve decided to increase by two stitches in the front of the garment for now, since my back is flatter and doesn’t require as much ease. I may change my mind as I move upward, but so far this seems like legit logic.


I decided to continue working on the vintage triple-collared dress using some leftover fabric from another dress I made over the summer. I’ll use the leftover avocado-dyed fabric from Pearl’s quilt for the piping & trim.

This actually took me most of the evening because I don’t seem to have a very efficient method of making this rouleau. I’ve read about others making it with some string and then you pull it through, but all of it is essentially the same process. I’m using a safety pin and a pair of tweezers to work it through. I think it’s just difficult because it’s such a small opening (3/4″ w/ 1/2″ seam allowance to make a 1/4″ roll). In more refreshing news, my piping came out nicely. I think I made about 3 yards of each the piping and the bias tape. It should be enough for both the collar and the pockets.

On a sad and unrelated note, I learned (like this very minute) that Virgil Abloh died today. I just saw his show at the ICA in Boston in September. His work didn’t really hit home until several days and much mulling later; in turn I consumed greedily any podcast with him divulging his process, thoughts, or practice and fell completely enamored with him. His absence is felt.


Today was very productive. I was able to knit another couple inches on the Bestway 2085 and another test fitting along the way, so yay! Everything so far is going well. I remembered I had this stitch counter from a Savers goodie bag. I had it stashed away in a mildly-sensible place so I only had to do a little searching to find it. I’ve hooked it to the center back stitch marker so I know when to make an increase.

I built and stitched the front half of the triple-collared vintage dress. First, I did the piping on the top collar, then I added the rouleau to the bottom collar and added the bias tape.

Then, I hand-basted the two collars together, and stitched the bottom collar onto the bodice whole. I’ve decided not to cut the opening first because it makes better sense to trim rather than try to anchor a very short seam allowance onto the bodice: it’s much less pulling this way. I’m not certain this is the best method yet, but it’s okay for now. Next weekend, I will cut out the back, skirt & pockets and put it all together. I need to remind myself to try French seams because I really want to focus on beautiful insides.


I finally cleaned the vintage coat I’ve been restoring. This project started a few weeks go with Reed from The Sustainable Garment with whom I took a workshop to groom sweaters (through the magic and courtesy of Eve who knows all of the most amazing things to do in this town). When I asked Reed for a dry cleaner recommendation, she suggested we try a butler’s method to coat cleaning with coat brushes and a light solution of ammonia with water. It worked beautifully on my mother’s camel-hair coat, but this old vintage coat needed a little more intense love. We barely made a dent in the filth of it.

Anyway, Justin & I scrubbed it down that weekend with Aveda Shampure to loosen any dirt. I stitched up any loose seams I could find, then tonight I soaked it in Woolite in a freshly-cleaned tub.

The camera really didn’t catch how gross the water is in the 2nd photo, but I feel much better already about putting the coat on my body. The inside of the coat has a few cigarette burns, and the buttons are chipped. It’s not fancy, but it’s a very practical garment. I imagine the former owner was often pregnant in a mill-owned company town where her husband worked. It is slated to become a wardrobe staple.

The back center seam disintegrated through the wash (I guess I missed that one!), so when it’s fully dry, I’ll ladder stitch it back together, like so:

The coat could probably use another full wash, but I will wait for it to dry, take care of any other repairs it needs, then see how it wears. One thing that’s really cool is that is lined with Milium, a mid-century metal-insulated fabric. I presume it would be a fairly warm coat even though it’s not too bulky. Our late-autumn weather should put it to the test.

I have several other coats that I will be cleaning & restoring, now that I’ve sourced some of the tools and methods for doing it. It’s a lot of fun, and I love watching them come back to life with sustainable practices.


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