I’m not even sure where to start here. This is my first “real” knitting project and I could not be more proud of it. There were a few different occasions last year where I almost gave up knitting for good, never to pick up the needles again. I was a beginner and it just wasn’t clicking as fast as I had hoped. I didn’t “get” knitting. It was frustrating, I didn’t find it very relaxing, and I was rather sad that I physically couldn’t make any of the awesome things I dreamed of making. I felt destined to knit plain scarves on straight needles for all eternity.
But I never gave up! My dreams of hand knit hats and sweaters kept me interested enough to just keep trying and keep trying. Finally I came to the point where I told myself I’m going to make some serious progress or I’m going to accept the fact that I’m just not a knitter. So I bought a Knit Lab Class on Craftsy and some quality yarn and decided it was do or die. After one mistake that ended in a frogging (that ended in me crying and skulking around for hours), and after one instance of messing up the cables and flying to DC just to have Tasha help me fix them (just kidding, that’s not the only reason I wanted to see her lol), I KNIT THIS HAT.
And you guys, I knit it pretty damn well. This was my first time ever using circular needles, my first time ever increasing or decreasing stitches, my first time ever using double pointed needles, and my first time ever attempting cables. It was mildly insane of me to attempt this beret while being such a complete and utter newbie, but working through an online class with videos and visual hand holding every step of the way made it possible for me to work through it. I highly recommend Circular Knit Lab – Hats Four Ways with Stefanie Japel if you’re someone like me who knows deep down in your soul you want to be a knitter, you just don’t know how yet. This class will teach you.
When I started the class I knew how to knit and purl, but I wasn’t even 100% sure which stitch was which. Sad, I know. I didn’t know how to “read” my knitting to tell whether or not you need to knit or purl next when doing ribbing. I was almost as clueless as you can possibly be, even though I had been “knitting” for a year. So you can see why something drastic needed to be done or I was bound to just throw in the towel. As you might guess, knitting is infinitely more fun when you can actually make things!
Speaking of making things, I whipped up a quick shirt to match my new beret and favorite pants. This is my version of the Portrait Blouse from Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing. The original pattern includes a side zipper and quite a bit of shaping, it’s a really beautiful silhouette actually, but I just don’t do blouses with zippers. I made a few changes to the pattern by taking away all the dart tucks and leaving just the bust darts. I also made the side contours just a tad less defined, made the neckline a tad less scoop-y, and stopped the side seam an inch short at the armpit because it was feeling much too tight originally. Oh, and I added two inches to the length so I had a little extra to tuck in. I made the size that was recommended and I can pull it over my head just fine!
Beret – Rosie by Stefanie Japel
Sweater – thredUP (Gap Brand)
Shirt – Portrait Blouse by Gertie
Pants – Modified Simplicity 3688
Shoes – Old Navy
Ghostly complexion c/o SPF 1,000 and wonky camera settings
Photos by William Waldon
While my heart will always be in the 1940s, I’m really loving the casual sportswear of the 30s lately. Berets, gigantic pants, sweater coats, skinny eyebrows …I want it all! Half the fun of exploring vintage clothing is finding out what works for you. As much as my heart goes all aflutter whenever I see a WWII era novelty print dress, I don’t really enjoy wearing dresses that much. I definitely plan to make a shirt and pants for Sew For Victory (more about that on Monday) because that’s what I feel most like “me” in on a daily basis, so that’s what I’m going to continue making. Oh, and berets. I’m going to knit soooo mannnnyyyyy berets.
So the moral of this story is: Never give up on your dreams (knitting or otherwise), wear whatever vintage styles feel most authentic to you (I actually wrote a few Craftsy posts on the subject), and don’t try to make Lucille wear hats because whole towns will drop dead from cuteness overload.
p.s. the yarn I used is Shepherd’s Wool by Stone Hedge Fiber Mill in the Lakeshore colorway, and I’ve worn the beret SO MUCH since I finished it that it’s already starting to pill and felt. I practically sleep in the thing.