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Dear Ann,

Last week’s question from Max Daniels really struck me: what are you going to do with your wild and precious August?

I know exactly what I want to do, and I’m doing it.

For me, the week before the Labor Day weekend is always about cramming in as much summer as I possibly can. It’s not so much that I love summer weather—like Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline, I love winter, snow, and ice—it’s the light of August for me. I love late-summer light so much that I wake up a couple hours early just to get a little more of it.

What do I do in this beautiful light? Well, I run around outdoors, and paddle and splash a bit in various bodies of water, but mostly I sit in the shade and do handwork projects that will remind me of these days all year long. This August, I’ve had one porch project and one beach project, and I’ve had the best time working on both of them as much as I possibly can.

The beach is for…

Knitting! All garter stitch, all stripes, all fun.

Stripes on stripes on stripes

My dishcloth-based baby blanket is in the fourth quarter. I’ve actually given a lesson on how to make this blanket, to a friend from my knitting group who saw it here and had to get started right away.

Lest you worry I’ve had too much sun, I don’t just work on this one on the beach. It’s also great for the car and the train. It’s easy, colorful, fun wherever I work on it. I will be thrilled to send it off to its baby, but also a little sad to have it be finished. I’ve still got plenty of Handknit Cotton in my hoard of this all-time favorite yarn, so I may just cast on another one.

The porch is for…

Stitching!

This project, a 3-layer swing skirt from The School of Making, is all your fault. I saw the one you started after Natalie Chanin came to Nashville last January, and I had to make it. I got the kit when Natalie returned to Nashville three weeks ago, and jumped in with both feet. For readers ready to jump in, enter code MDKFREESHIPPING at checkout at The School of Making at AlabamaChanin.com.

This stencil (Tony) stitches up so fast. This is my second time stitching this stencil, so I have names for the shapes: the heart, the 10 commandments aka the lungs, the pebbles, the map, the conversation bubble, and the extra-long flower.

Three of four panels complete! This speedy progress is thanks to early (for me) morning stitch sessions, plus lunch break stitch sessions and I-don’t-feel-like-working afternoon stitch sessions. I’m trying to catch up to you!

I’m calling it: Swing Skirt September starts tomorrow! I have at least 3 handknit sweaters to wear with this skirt this autumn. I will be sewing this one up over the holiday weekend. Race you to the waistband!

Sometimes it’s all on the porch at the same time: my happy place.

Love,

Kay

The School of Making at MDK

It Starts with a Running Stitch

Bedazzled and Hypnotized

Car Jacket Edition!

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33 Comments

  • Oh, that lucky baby! That new blanket is a delight, Kay.
    And I may have Tony in my cart, while I’m trying to decide on colors…

  • The beach and the porch. Just perfect.

  • Late August of my youth is a treasured memory. These days, sadly, there is often too much rain. Your porch project scene looks positively idyllic.

    • What beautiful work! What is the name of the pattern for the additional blanket shown in the last picture? It is stunning. Enjoy your porch time and the last magical light of summer.

      • That’s the first log cabin blanket I ever made. Up-to-date instructions by yours truly are in Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin, which you can find here: https://www.moderndailyknitting.com/shop/modern-daily-knitting-field-guide-no-4-log-cabin/.. If you already know how to log cabin, it’s even simpler: just make a single log cabin patch that keeps going…and going….until it’s a blanket. I used the same yarn back then that I’m using now: Rowan Handknit Cotton.

  • I when I thought of a mitered square baby blanket 5 years ago I knit one big square. It was great fun. All color changes were on the front knit side. Any small length of yarn found a place. No shade used more than 4 times. As you did, the yarn was one company, one brand. Widest stripe was 8 ridges. For small lengths of yarn I used short rows so a dash of color could insert in a wider stripe. The super wash wool was left overs from several years of charity hat knitting. An icord edge finished it. I planned out the stripes 10 to 12 at a time and stored up the yarns in order by stabbing them onto a 14 inch straight needle. Big projects like this, I use Denise needles to make it easier to move the stitches onto the needle tip. Save wear and tear on older wrists.

  • Idalia has put a pause on outdoor knitting here at the OBX of NC. Pity those in FL and south along east coast who’ve already felt her. It’s pretty wild out there this morning.

    • Yes, I agree. Wouldn’t those people love to swim in gentle bodies of water and relax on a screened-in porch. Hope your area remains safe!

  • I have a kit for a 2 layer swing skirt and am taking a virtual workshop with Alabama Chanin tomorrow. It is an indulgence but I think I will learn something.

    • You are in for a whole new adventure!

  • Your porch is very lucky to be witness to both of those projects! Bravo!

  • I grew up in a house with a large screened in porch where we lived all summer long. I was a massive reader as a kid and hours and hours were spent on that porch reading, after coming home from the library on my bike with its front basket filled with books. It would have been a fabulous spot for knitting but I had yet to discover it. Thanks for bringing back a very fond memory Kay.

    • My next-door grandma had a screen porch with a rollaway bed on it that ranks as a top 10 place I would love to return to. Perfect for reading and for eavesdropping on adult conversations. Thank you for that memory.

      • I was just thinking recently about rollaway beds and how no one seems to have them anymore. My best friend and I used to spend the night (Texas pre-ac) on them on her grandparents’ sleeping porch—another relic of the past.

  • Kay, I could stare at that last photo all day long. What an idyllic vignette of bright bursts of colorful creativity nestled down into an old-timey wistfulness for long-ago days spent on weathered back porches. Thank you for both the inspiration and the loving memories.

  • That’s gorgeous work. I’ve got all her books and a few of their standalone patterns and have bought a couple of kits over the years. Never anything three layer though, I didn’t even know they exist! How do you find stitching three layers at once?

    • The 3-layer stitching was weird for a few minutes and then I just naturally started making my stitches a tiny bit longer, and now it feels totally the same to me as 2-layer. I’m just doing the seams this morning, though, and flat-felling through all those layers is a test of strength! Ann tells me she did not fell the seams on her 3 layer skirt and I’m not judging her while totally judging her. It’s doable, I’m just going a little slower because there is absolutely no ability to load up stitches on your needle—each stitch is an event. Still: only a half hour to seam and fell each seam. I can do anything for a half hour lol.

      • Chiming in here to say the thing about the seams on my 3-layer skirt: I cut out all the motifs (twice as much cutting as two layer) so the edges of my four pieces are not at all consistent–sometimes one layer thick, sometimes three where a motif hits the edge. It all curls up in a way that makes felling really difficult, and also: my seams are sturdy anyway with doubled button thread. Thank you for listening to my TED Talk.

        • I do not know your life! I had to think real hard while looking at your skirt to realize you had to do all the cutting twice. Worked it out like that meme with the puzzled lady and the equations.

    • That skirt!!! Wondering about that three layer stitching, too. Please tell us more!

      On order is the Frances Top kit in Peacock and Navy. Starting to work on the poncho kit now. It’s amazingly meditative. So pleased MDK is partnering with AC!

  • I love the skirt colors. Are you using the Negative Reverse technique or the Outside Reverse? My eyes aren’t good enough, to figure it out from your picture. Please do model your finished project.

    • Outside reverse! My first time except on my transitional jacket, where it was one-third of the surface. It feels a bit transgressive to cut away ALL the paint. But I’m into it.

  • Kay, Kay, Kay…well, I do consider you an influencer so I just went and bought a(nother) AC swing skirt kit. Mind you, have not finished one started YEARS ago (living in fear it will never fit; long-held fear of garment fit from junior high home ec days). But the Tony stencil has been on my mind and I have birthday ending in 0 coming up next year, so I am hoping to make a pretty age-appropriate skirt for next spring. LOVE your holding-on-to-summer makes! Isn’t the August light GRAND?!?! Cheers!! xoxo

    • Once you get in the groove a swing skirt can go fast. My first skirt (a long skirt) took years because I stopped at the halfway point. Recently I’ve tried to look at each project as a unit to be done in chunks, to be sure, but without putting it all away in a bag between each chunk, if that makes sense? I just power through and am amazed at the speed. A bit like knitting….but definitely faster since the fabric is already made! It helps to have things to do like visiting my mom, which involves a lot of deck-sitting etc.

  • The Swing Skirt is my FAVORITE!! I have plenty of other AC stitching to do, though, so I think I’m going to join in with Cropped Pant September — not the same ring but OK! Will follow up with Cropped Car Coat (Continued).

    • I love the cropped pant! I think I told you I took apart a palazzo pant and cut it down to a cropped pant? Much happier with the fit. Still plenty of elegant width in the leg, but not enough to get stuck in a car door lol.

      • My biggest challenge with the palazzo pants is in the ladies’ room! So much to keep off the floor. lol.

  • You have pulled me down both of your rabbit holes! I just finished my first quarter of the baby blanket (baby due in early October, need to get a move on). And I’ve made one Alabama Chanin shirt and am working on a skirt. While I save my pennies for one of the kits, I’m working from the books. I have a question for you – how are you holding the fabric when you stitch around the shapes? Are you just sort of spreading it out on your lap and bunching bits up in one hand while you stitch with the other, or…? Any advice or insight for this new stitcher of clothes would be appreciated! (I’ve always used embroidery hoops for hand stitching before, so this is new territory…)

  • This is so lovely. Kay, you and Anne have been such eloquent supporters of the School of Making. Could you perhaps have a word with them about more inclusive sizing? So many more hand crafters would love to have a chance to make and wear these patterns.

    • I am wary of ordering a kit, even though they will add length—because I am so uncertain of the shaping of the precut pieces! I feel maybe safer working from the books and adjusting the pattern pieces for my own measurements. I do understand, though, that grading or reshaping a pattern can be dicey, and not all who want to do the embroidery have the experience to cut their own customized pieces. I always end up reshaping or grading, but a wider range to start with makes it easier.

    • I love the baby blanket Kay!

  • I love the skirt!

  • I especially love the light coffee colored patch in the center segment. It adds extra interest to an already interesting pattern.

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