Summer of Basics

A long, long time ago.

(Okay, it was last summer, but it’s October, so it counts.)

As I was saying… A long, long time ago I participated in a little Instagram inspired event called the “Summer of Basics.”  The general idea was to choose to make three garments before August 31 that would fall  into the wardrobe “basics” category.  Typical Diana, I started the summer with a serious list of epic projects (like jeans, coats and colorwork sweaters) that involved purchasing all new patterns, all new materials, a year off from my job, and the sale of one of my kidneys to afford it all.  Clearly, I needed to rein myself in.

I decided to use the self-imposed stipulation that I needed to already own either the pattern or fabric/fiber, as my guideline.  It felt good to move things from the stash to the hanger, and I’m finding that second kidney really handy.

After a summer of making lots of things for other people (which was great fun), it was nice to make a few things for myself.

Basic #1: Chambray shirt dress

All summer, I found myself reaching for a simple throw on dress that did not exist in my closet.  Something that would look nice, but also be casual…  Wiksten tank dress to the rescue.

Already owned pattern: Wiksten tank dress/top pattern

Already owned: Chambray from JA Fabs I believe.

Modifications: No pocket, serged seams

My take: I’ve made several tank tops from this pattern already, so the dress was an easy sell.  I opted to leave off the pocket so it would be a tad bit “dressier,” and took my time to match the stripes – using the bottom edge of the armpit as my guide.   Success!

Ginger makes an excellent pattern weight…

Basic #2:  Crop Pants

Already owned pattern: Emerson Crop Pants by True Bias

Newly Purchased: Robert Kaufmann Cotton/Linen blend Essex from Fancy Tiger



I grabbed this pattern last spring and finally their magic was realized. (Also, when sewing on a deadline, changing serger thread is optional… nobody has time for that nonsense.)

Mods: I did add back pockets, because I feel strongly that any additional layers between my cheeks and the world are a benefit for society… they do buckle a little at the top because of the elastic waistband, but since I won’t be tucking a shirt into these, that part is hidden.

My take: I will certainly be adding another pair (or three) of these to my wardrobe.  The pockets and pleat detail at the front elevate the simplicity of the elastic waist pants.  I’d definitely recommend this as a good first pants pattern, as the construction was easy and straightforward.  I cut a straight size six  with no adjustments. I’ll be honest – I have mixed feelings about elastic waistbands in general – on the Emerson, the flat front is a nice touch, but I find that where the elastic gathering begins at my hips isn’t super flattering with tops that shows off the waistband. Untucked shirts will be my go-to with these.

Basic #3: Knit Hat

Newly purchased Pattern: Proof by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed

Stashed yarn: Junegrass batch #1 from Fancy Tiger Crafts


Mods: I couldn’t figure out (read: didn’t have the patience to practice) the tubular cast on that the pattern called for, so I watched this video from Purl Soho and used their long tale tubular cast on method.  It worked fine, though perhaps doesn’t look as clean as Brooklyn Tweed’s method would have.

This hat was straight up fun to knit.  The cables look far more complex than they are to execute, and I adore the yarn.  Junegrass is a Colorado yarn project – sourced and spun right here in the beautiful state I call home.  It’s a DK weight in natural gray, and worked as a solid substitute for the recommended Arbor.  I used their recommended needle sizes, and found the hat came out as specified – it even covers my ears!! I’ll admit that day one of wearing it was a little itchy, but I think I’ll get used to it.  The hat is the tiniest bit on the loose side, so I may try to re-block at some point… maybe I stretched it too much the first time.

Summer of Basics – I think you’re pretty rad.

Until next time,

Di and Her Kidneys


Well, hello there

Well, hello there…. it’s been awhile!  I was on a solid kick with the every Monday postings, but then spring concert season hit and I basically got shoved off the wagon.  We have a week left of the school year. A week to get my Kindergarteners and 5th graders to perform one last time.  Six days to completely pack up my classroom so everything can be moved to our new building as soon as the kids walk out the door. Thirty-two more classes yet to hit my room with the expectation that they are going to learn something.  Then, we (and by “we” I mean “I”) will get to sleep past 6:30 a.m., take more than 15 minutes to eat lunch while only worrying about – you know – eating lunch, and go to the bathroom whenever I need to.

Ah, summer.

Since I last checked in, a few projects have been checked off the list, and a few have been started an abandoned in less time than it took to cast on.  But hey, this sweater for sweet baby Hazel is done. (Ignore the super bizarro lighting situation.)


Lilianna is a sweet little pattern. The lace keeps it interesting and the short sleeves keep it awesome (read: quick).  It took every inch of one skein of Madelinetosh DK to make the 6 month size. The button band is worked as you go, and thanks to my keen powers of observation I was able to notice (after binding off) that I had missed a row of garter stitch about 20 rows down from the top.  The sweater sat in timeout for a week while I tried to figure out how to fix/hide my mistake.  Now, I’d like to tell you that I fixed it, but as I told my kindergartners today, “lying is stinky and gross.” So, in the interest of not being stinky and gross, I’ll admit that my darning needle and a piece of scrap yarn came to the rescue – a bit of stitching to mimic the garter ridge loops and cover up the knit Vs and we were good (enough) to go.

My group of besties from college all started their families at a time when either I didn’t yet know how to knit, or was just learning and my skills weren’t up to snuff. This meant that adorable knits were not possible for the  babes born in that window. Now that I (sometimes) know what I’m doing, I considered trying to knit for the backlog of big kids… for all of about 30 seconds. I came to my senses when I reminded myself that, A. there are 15 of them now, B. I can’t even keep up with knitting for the babies that are still being born, and C. there are FIFTEEN of them.  So, the goal is to gift a knitted thing to (at least) one kid per family. My dear friend Molly and her husband had baby Jack last year, so I sent this scraptastic sweater his way.

It’s the Flax sweater from Tin Can Knits, and boy is this pattern a gem.  When I started this sweater (knit in Quince & Co. Owl – which I adore). I was confident there would be enough for the arms to be entirely blue…. but there wasn’t. So I decided to make the arms all in orange…. but there wasn’t enough orange to do that either.  Now, I do rather wish that I had made both sleeves like the striped sleeve, but part of me is also a fan of the mismatch – either way, Jack is so cute nobody is going to care about the sleeves!


The above photo was snapped by his mother Molly, who owns Paper Lemon Photography – if you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul neck of the woods – she is amazing!  Let her photograph all of your special people!

Finally – and this is big – I finished my two years in the making Featherweight cardigan.


My lovely in-laws gifted me four skeins of gorgeous baby alpaca fingering weight yarn from their trip to Peru – I did a lot of swatching and scheming to find the right pattern, and finally settled on the ever popular Featherweight by Hannah Fettig.  I was concerned I’d run out of yardage before I finished – I need not have worried, there is a TON left. I’m saving the fourth color, a lovely purple, for something special.  I knit this bad boy exactly as the pattern said, and made the stripes 20 rows each.  This is the first sweater I’ve knit for myself that actually fits! I’m pretty super pumped about it.

It’s nice to get back to the blog after such a long hiatus.  I was just feeling super motivated tonight, and it felt really important to get back to it, and I had so many things I wanted to share, and….

Okay, I’m avoiding report cards.

A Poem


Roses are red
Sheep have wool
All these new babes
Keep my knitting queue full

I put down my sweater
I set aside a hat
All those works in progress?
No one has time for that

Over pattern, color, and yarn
I hemmed and I hawed
For an itchy black pullover
Her parents might find odd

So lovely lark by Quince & Co
In the color Petal
On “In Threes” by  Kelly Herdrich
I finally did settle

I try to be so thoughtful
I think of my gifts as well planned
Yet I’m making a light colored knit for a newborn
That, “Sorry! You must wash by hand.”

I’ll hurry to finish this sweater
Though here I’ll admit where I fail
See I manage to finish the knitting
But can’t seem to get it in the mail

Now I’m off to pretend to do laundry
While instead I watch netflix and knit
I need my own sweater, I’ve decided
In Lark because I think it’s the…

loveliest yarn I’ve used in awhile.