My new designer bag

Friends, this is perhaps my finest hour. Well. I hope it’s not my finest hour, but I did feel very accomplished when I finished this little bag. Any finished object is a victory. A finished object that didn’t spend three months languishing on a shelf? That’s a blow out, with Sewing, in soccer style, losing to me by one point. (Other ways in which sewing is like soccer: it’s boring to watch, I pretend to hurt myself a lot, and when I finish something I tear off my shirt and run around the house screaming.) But when I finish something in a timely manner, that’s also useable, and that I did not use a pattern for (a.k.a. designed), that’s a real triumph from which I may never recover.


Although “design” is a grandiose word to describe what I’ve actually done here, I’m not backing down. I skimmed a few tote bag tutorials, and ended up following this tutorial from Design Sponge*. I know that my bag looks nothing like the bag in the tutorial, even though I wish it did, but the instructions are easy to follow for the bag part, and when it came to straps and pockets, I was able to just wing it (a.k.a. design it).

It’s a very versatile bag. You can pretend to look for things in it…

… or pretend to stroll through your neighborhood with it.

I got this lovely Amy Butler canvas from a friend, and I’ve used it to make so many things. Mainly bags to organize my knitting and to put my knitting bags in. See below.

See? Matching bags.

Long story short: I like my bag, probably more than usual because I’m the one who made it.

*Citing dilemma: Do I site Design Sponge for the tutorial even though it was created by one of my favorite sewing blogger of all time, Renske Solkesz of The dress I made? She designs (for real) and sews the best things. Do I cite them both in the text, should I include a footnote, or should I trust my reader to click thru to find out the full story? More importatnly, do these questions make me seem crazy?


Ok. Now smock it to me!

Smock in repose.

I finally moved my sewing machine and doodads downstairs and got set up on a big table with room for cutting and sewing. Makes all the difference. Of all the obstacles that keep me from sewing, I think hunching over a pattern on the floor to trace and cut was both the worst and the easiest to remedy. Now that I’ve solved that problem, I’ve finally finished up a shirt that’s been in the works for months.

I was trying so hard to look normal in this picture, but my hair had other plans.

This shirt started life as a humongous collared button up that I found at a thrift store. I originally tried to make it a slightly less humongous button up, but the fabric (silk! for $0.90! haha!) defeated me. I decided to turn it in to a tank top based on Collete’s Sorbetto (the mother of all tank tops). Why making a tank top would help me work with the fabric is difficult to understand now, but it made sense at the time. Anyways, I stumbled along, figured out I needed a special needle to work with silk, stumbled a little more gracefully, then I got to the neckline. I thought I would peter pan collar it, but that seemed like too much work for, lets be real here, a trend that doesn’t look that good on me and will probably be out by the time I figure out how to do it. So bias binding it is! Now I just have to figure out how to that…

Look. I found a tree.

Three months later, a shirt is born! A strange and deeply flawed shirt. I wasn’t going to tell you how flawed it is, but I just can’t do it. In place of confidence, I’ve opted to tell people that this shirt has serious problems, but not pointing the issues out like I’d usually do. It’s a step in the right direction. And during lulls in the conversation, my companion can pass the time surreptitiously looking for wavy seams and loose threads. Everybody wins!

Next time, a tutorial on tree climbing. First, strap on your sandals…


Put (a) corn on it.

It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it’s at least as much fun and tastes so much better than put a bird on it. Especially when “it” is pizza.


I make these pizzas all. the. time. I don’t know if you’ve met John, but he likes pizza. And this is about as easy as any pizza could be. We get the herby pizza dough from Trader Joe’s and add pesto, goat cheese, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, shredded mozzarella, and recently, on my half of the pizza (John’s a traditionalist), lots of sweet corn. On this particular night there were also some grape tomatoes. I don’t know how that happened. I hope it doesn’t happen again.

Because it was super hot on this particular day, I decided it was also a good idea to roast a large eggplant. For this roasted eggplant salad from Melissa Clark’s blog.

Roasted eggplant!

It’s good. It’s even better with fresh sweet corn. I think I also added some red bell peppers because we had one that needed to be eaten. But I want you to focus on the corn. My only complaint is that it’s too much eggplant for one person (the salad had too much garlic for ol’ John).  I’m not sure who to direct that complaint to because the cook here does not take constructive criticism well.

Guess what I’m having for dinner tonight? Creamed corn.


Sock it to me

This year has been a lot of figuring out what I like and what I don’t like. I think some people go with their gut and steer clear of things that they don’t enjoy doing, but I’ve generally gone the just-keep-doing-it-and-you’ll-get-used-to-the-discomfort route. For example, in the past I’ve felt like I needed to listen to The Doors because they’re classic rock, and I should appreciate them. But I don’t like The Doors. They sound goofy, in a bad, not fully thought out sort of way. For a long time, I tried to listen to them and to understand their creepy art school jam band sound, but now I feel free to make fun of them when they come on the radio. (Knowing what I like and don’t like doesn’t seem to make me a better person for other people to be around.) I’m not trying to celebrate the hater side of my personality or convince other people to dislike The Doors. My real point is it’s nice to realize that sometimes it’s not that you don’t get something, it’s that you don’t like it. In that same spirit, I’ve also figured out that I don’t like big crowds, eating fish, living in Chicago (although I’m trying to be flexible on that point), and knitting complicated socks.

All that is just to say I’ve stopped trying to knit complicated socks. I like my socks mindless and colorful. No lacy bits or brain bending cables. I’m not against fancy socks for other people. They’re lovely to look at. I just don’t want to knit them. Socks are for traveling and watching suspenseful movies and family gatherings. Events that I need to knit through even though I can’t pay attention to what I’m knitting. This revelation has led to an unprecedented surge in sock production.

Too racy for the internet?

Pink and smooshy.

The two pairs above were made using Caryn Lantz’s Handspun Show-Off pattern, even though the yarn is not handspun. It’s quick and easy and features a delightfully smoosh-y short row heel and toe. I love wearing them because they’re so comfortable, but I think all that garter stitch makes the socks a little less hard wearing. I cast-on using two needles held together so I can get the sock on over my powerful calves. I’m pretty happy with this solution, but the socks do tend to bunch up around my ankles when I’m wearing them. I think more ribbing may fix that problem.

Shy clown feet.

These beauties are Oak Ribbed Socks by the rightfully famous Nancy Bush. (For my non-knitting readers, she is not only a knitwear pattern designer, but also a sock historian! Or she should be. This lady knows socks.) I knit these a long time ago, so I don’t remember much of what I did except that I probably followed the pattern exactly.

More extroverted clown feet.

And these, the socks that started it all, are  Gentleman’s Plain Winter Socks with Dutch Heel (catchy, right?), also by Nancy Bush. I love these socks totally and completely. I also remember nothing about making them. I’m a bad knitting blogger.

But I’m a good sock model. I think I may have found my calling. I can see the business cards now – “Cameron, Sock Model/Temp Office Worker/Babysitter/Waitress.”

Now, I’m working on some more complicated socks. What can I say? I was distracted by how pretty and Scandinavian the pattern was. I temporarily forgot what I like, and I didn’t remember until it was too late to turn back.

Final thoughts: The Doors are no good. And all this boring sock knitting has made me a better, faster knitter. Who knew there was something to all that practice stuff grownups are always talking about?

Next time on sixmontstoayear – canning! beaches! Sherlock Holmes!


Do over

I started this blog to talk about… Well, whatever, which I guess that was part of the problem of writing the blog. I didn’t know what to write about. My audience was people who know me, so I could write about me, but I’m not that interesting. I tried writing about the weather (really), but that’s only marginally more interesting than I am. (Related note – we’re expecting a tropical depression on Sunday. I can’t wait!) I could write about Chicago, but that would require being out in Chicago, and see there are like these shows on Netflix, and I’m like not totally sure how long they’ll be available, so I need to watch them before they disappear into the black hole that is the internet. And have you been in Chicago? It’s not that great.

So, for take two, I’m going to write about the stuff that I do everyday. I’m going to write about the books that I’m reading, the things that I’ve watched, the occasional Chicago outing, but mainly I’m going to write about the things that I’m making. Mainly, I’m knitting things. (Just ask John. I’ve been walking around the house singing “I’m makin’ a sweater” for the past few days. Guess what I’ve been working on?) I sew things poorly, but I think I’m getting better. I cook things with varying degrees of success. I’ve been hankering to spray paint something, so watch out. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Here’s a thing I made and some weird photos of it.

It’s a sweater! I swear.

I call this one the Wonder Woman.

“How tall was the person who stole your sweater sleeves?” “She was about yay high, Officer.”

Who put these flowers here?

Believe it or not this photo shoot was entirely self directed, to the amazement of my photographer. The main problem is me. I’m not so much uncomfortable in front of the camera as too comfortable. But this sweater is also a little, tiny bit strange and difficult to photograph. Don’t get me wrong, the sweater is awesome, and I plan on wearing it all the time, it’s just a little bit confusing. I think it demands skinny jeans and understated, yet quirky confidence to really pull off. But I’m not worried about pulling it off. I have enough trouble getting it on. Ba-dum-ching. But really, the sweater is very cool and some of my better knitting, I think. It’s too hot now to tell if I’ll really wear it as much as I’m hoping, but I’ll keep you updated. Don’t worry.

This is the lovely Inversion by Jared Flood. I didn’t make any modifications, unless knitting part of it twice because my gauge was so wonky counts as a modification. I really suggest for anyone looking to knit this sweater that you take the time to get gauge and take notes on how you got it. This much stockinette will really not hide many mistakes. Also, if you’re skittish about seaming, this might not be the project for you.

Next up, socks!


Milk free milk and other momentous things

It’s been a big couple of days here. Last night, I made Oreo milkshakes. Now, I don’t like Oreos that much, but an Oreo milkshake is pretty perfect. The chocolate cookie keeps the vanilla ice cream from being all super boring the way it usually is, while the frosting adds a little non-spicey spice. I guess I can’t really explain it, but trust me, they are good milkshakes. And because about one half of my readership is vegan, and I don’t want to alienate them, I’m very confident that these would be just as good with JoJos (wait, are Oreos vegan?) and some milk free ice cream. And some milk free milk. I’m looking forward to experimenting with gingersnaps and peanut butter. Not together. But. Well. Maybe together. I don’t know. How bad could it be?

Other important things that have been happening include bathroom cleaning, grocery shopping, and refrigerator cleaning. John watched every episode of Parks and Recreation for the first time. I watched every episode for the fourth time. I have driven to at least two completely new places without getting lost. Does missing a freeway exit count as getting lost? Yes? Ok. Does missing a freeway exits that is on the left of the freeway count as getting lost? No it does not. Left exit ramps are crazy and cannot be anticipated. It is also impossible to exit on the left when you have a strict no lane changing policy, like I do. Does missing a turn on to a street that does not a have street sign count as getting lost? Also no, mainly because if I am not on a not getting lost streak than I will be too discouraged for words.

Also, I’m coming to Portland February 15th thru the 21st. Wanna hang out? We can try out new milkshake flavors and try to figure out where Grimm is filming!