Chevron stripes hand towel (with corrected instructions)

Chevron stripes hand towel - finishedI had intended to show you my finished Carolyn Pajamas today, but it rained during the only free time I had to take outdoor photos!  So instead I’ll share this small knitting project that I completed a few weeks ago.

Project Stats:

Pattern: Chevron Stripes Hand Towel (Ravelry pattern link) from Mason Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne (book published in 2006).  My Ravelry notes are here.

Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic, 100% mercerized cotton, DK weight, in dark pink and light pink.  Purchased approximately one million years ago.

Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm), 24-inch circulars

Modifications: None, although I re-interpreted the (awful) instructions.  See below.

Level of crafty satisfaction: This is a small knitted hand towel, no big deal!

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Carolyn sews the Carolyn Pajamas – update

Carolyn Pajamas in progress - front

Remember when I started this project?  Apparently it was back in August!  I had no idea that my sewing would take such a long hiatus while my work situation transitioned, but I’m happy to report that I seem to be getting back into the swing of things.  Case in point: more progress on this long-neglected project!

The pattern is, of course, the Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Files.  After making a muslin of both the shirt and pants, I finally cut into my flannel.  I’m using Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel in navy herringbone with accents of maroon flannel for the piping.  In hindsight, using flannel for the piping wasn’t such a great idea.  The flannel is pretty thick, and there are just too many layers where the piping is inserted.  Lesson learned for next time.  I really like the look of the contrast piping though, particularly since I opted not to use cording.  The piping is just single-fold bias tape, inserted flat.

Carolyn Pajamas in progress - pant cuffs

At this point, the pants are complete, and the shirt is in progress.  The collar and lapels took forever to get just right – they were a challenge!  I like challenging projects though, and I enjoyed taking my time with it.  You know I sew at a glacial pace.  :)  Since I very rarely get any sewing done during the week, I expect to finish these PJs next weekend.

In other news, I’ve been struggling to get good photos lately.  I’m in-between cameras and have been using a little point-and-shoot, which simply isn’t up to the job of taking close-up, indoor blog photos.  I took a ton of shots, and these two were the *least* blurry… but still pretty blurry!  Ugh.  Good cameras are expensive though, and it may be a while before I can save enough pennies to replace my old one.  Please bear with me until then.

Camera issues aside, I’m so glad to be back to sewing!  I’m excited to finish these fancy PJs and get cracking on John’s set.  Remember how I’m making matching PJs for us??  Hahaha, this is going to be awesome.  :)  Any recommendations for a good men’s PJ pattern?

Maurits scarf in progress

Maurits scarf in progress 1 - with yarn

Today I have another in-progress project to share: the Maurits scarf (with my Ravelry notes) by Andrea Rangel for Brooklyn Tweed.  This scarf is a colorwork infinity loop with a bold geometric pattern.  I really love the design and was drawn to this pattern as soon as I saw it.  I always enjoy colorwork knitting projects.  Even though they’re time-consuming, the finished projects always look so intricate and interesting.

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Aqueduct Quilt in progress

Aqueduct quilt in progress 1 - on table

Inspired by my trip to Spain, I started a small quilt to commemorate one of my favorite sights from the trip: the Roman aqueduct in Segovia.  I was a civil engineering major in college, and even though I no longer practice in that field, I’m still fascinated by large structures like this, both historic and modern.  I had been flipping through some modern quilting books in my local bookstore and was inspired to improvise my own design.  Above you can see the quilt top in progress – I’m quite pleased with it so far!  :)

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Highlights from my trip to Spain

I’m back today with some photos from my recent trip to Spain!  We had such a great time and really enjoyed seeing so many different parts of the country.  We focused our travels on central and northern Spain, making a loop from Madrid to the northeastern coast and back, with several stops along the way.  We made hotel reservations in advance, but other than that, we let our rental car and guide book lead us on an impromptu adventure each day.


On the streets of Madrid

We flew into Madrid and spent the weekend there, exploring this extremely vibrant and lively city.  To our surprise, our hotel was essentially in the TImes Square of Madrid, so we had a front seat to all the action!  Much of the architecture looked like the building above – cream and beige colored buildings about 5-6 stories high.  This was quite a welcome change from the steel and glass skyscrapers that we have in Boston and New York.  Typical of European cities (at least in my limited experience), everything was infused with history and was just beautiful.

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In transition

Me getting my feet wet in the Atlantic Ocean

Soaking up the sun and surf in San Sebastian, Spain

Life has been quite a trip lately.  I’ve started my new job and have been adjusting to my new schedule, and let me tell you, things are different around here.  My commute is longer (and more unpleasant thanks to packed subway cars), I leave home earlier and get home later, and after work I have just enough energy to eat dinner and crash around 9pm.  Unfortunately this means that I haven’t sewn anything in ages.  Even the idea of sewing makes me exhausted these days.

To add to the longer days, my new job is hard.  Hard in a good way though, in the way that pushes me to learn new skills and think in new ways.  Hard in the way that makes my brain hurt but leaves me excited for the next day’s challenges.  But still, hard!  I’m the kind of person who can admit when I’m wrong, when I need help, when I don’t understand something, and when something is difficult for me.  And people, I am having a hard time with this.  Growing pains, I suppose.  But hopefully I’ll come out of this position wiser and stronger in the end… assuming I survive that long.  :)

I feel like I’ve been fumbling around a lot lately, struggling with my work and struggling with my new routine.  Things definitely feel like they’re still in transition, both at work and at home.  I know I’ll find a way to get back to sewing and the other creative pursuits that have been with me throughout my entire life, and I know I’ll settle into my new role and responsibilities at work.  It’ll just take time.

One interesting side effect of my new life is that I’ve been plowing through novels on my subway commute.  I’ve found that the only possible activities to pursue when you’re packed ass-to-ass, face-to-face with a bunch of complete strangers is to (a) look down at your shoes; or (b) hold up a book about 3 inches from your face.  If you choose option (b), you get the added bonus of an opaque barrier between your face and the next one.  If you have any good book recommendations, I’m all ears!

It’s been interesting to go through this transition after having a relatively stable schedule for the past 5 years.  Looking back, though, I remember having a hard time settling in at the beginning of that period, so it’s no surprise that I’m back in this position again.  I’m looking forward to finding my new normal… eventually.

In the meantime, I hope you’re all doing well, enjoying the change of seasons, and perhaps settling into a new routine of your own.  Do you have any advice on finding peace in a new world full of chaos?  Lately I feel like this all the time:

Serenity Now

Wrapping up my vacation

Hello sewing friends!  Long time, no post!  I’ve been off from work for the past few weeks enjoying a much-needed post-PhD vacation.  While I had intended to sew up a storm during my time off, I wound up taking an unplanned break from sewing and blogging.  I didn’t even realize I needed it!  The vacation turned out to be a welcome break from many aspects of my everyday life, and I’ve been very much enjoying just loafing around, doing some shopping, catching up on old tv shows, and enjoying the absolutely beautiful fall weather that has finally (!!) arrived here in Boston.  My vacation was largely unproductive, but who cares!  It’s a vacation, after all.  I can go back to being productive when I go back to work next week.  :)

Maggie napping upside down

I found Maggie fast asleep in this position; she woke up when I took the picture!

With that said, I wanted to check in and share a little bit of what I’ve been up to.

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Video sewing update: Carolyn Pajamas pants muslin

What’s a girl to do with a newly-issued PhD, a few weeks off from work, and 8 yards of glorious flannel?  Get sewing, of course!!  I started working on the Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas a few weeks ago (before the infamous #diapershorts Version 2.0 incident), and now I’m back to working on them with renewed excitement.  Since I don’t have finished pajamas to show you just yet, I put together a video sewing update as a fun way to share my work-in-progress.

The 5-minute video features a completed muslin of the pajama pants, including – gasp – me modeling the pants in the video!  The video quality is not the greatest since my recording and editing skills leave a lot to be desired, but hopefully it’s a fun and informative way of checking out the fit of the pattern “in person.”  Plus, you can once again enjoy my nasal voice and American accent.  :)

I sewed a straight size 10 of the pajama pants, which corresponds well to my current measurements.  The fabric is a mystery cotton blend from JoAnn’s that I picked up over 10 years ago, long forgotten until my recent apartment move.  Hooray for muslin fabric that I never knew I had!  You’ll see in the video that the pants fit well with NO alterations, which is extremely rare for me.  How delightful!

You can view the video directly on YouTube here.  Oh, and I when I say that the pants weren’t too long for me, I meant that they weren’t too short (as patterns usually are for me) – oops!

To get a better look at the Shetland flannel, you can check out the navy herringbone here and the maroon here.  I wonder if I’ll actually use all 8 yards of fabric.  If I have some left over after making pajamas for John and me, maybe I can make a matching garment for my cat.  :)  The trick would be getting her to actually wear it, LOL!  I think there’s a better chance of me getting another PhD!!

To check out my previous video sewing updates, visit their original blog posts (Vlog 1 | Vlog 2) or simply visit my YouTube channel.  (I can’t believe I simultaneously own a flip phone and a YouTube channel.  Something is wrong here!)

I hope you’re all having a great week.  What’s on your sewing table these days?


Me with my grandmother

Sewing friends, I have some exciting news to share with you today.  After 5 long years, I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I am now the extremely proud owner of a Harvard PhD.  All went well with my thesis defense earlier this week, which means you may now refer to me as Dr. Carolyn.  :)

Not surprisingly, earning my degree has proven to be a very emotional experience, and I suspect it would be impossible for me to adequately describe how I feel in words.  Those of you who have gone through this process can relate to the wonderful feelings of accomplishment and relief combined with the strange anti-climactic sense of “that’s it?”  Mostly though, I feel proud and excited for the next step in my career, and I feel a sense of validation that all the years of frustration and sacrifice were worth it in the end.

I received a lot of good feedback during the defense from professors and colleagues, but the following comment from one of my committee members really struck a chord with me.  With a puzzled look on his face, he said:

“Carolyn, this was such a complicated project.  Why did you choose such a complicated project for your PhD??”

Haha, if only I knew what I was getting myself into!  He also referred to my project as an “odyssey.”  I think I would agree.

Anyway, my defense day was wonderful, made even better by the fact that John and my family could be there with me to celebrate, not to mention the absolutely gorgeous (not too hot!) weather.  My new job doesn’t start until October, so after finishing up some paperwork at the university, I’ll have a glorious 6 weeks off.  Can anyone say sewcation???  :)

Thank you to all of you for your encouragement and support over the years, and especially during the past few months.  As I’ve said before, the sewing community is such a wonderful group of kind and generous people, and each and every one of you has helped me along this journey in one way or another.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and here’s to exciting new adventures ahead!

Sarrouel Trousers in Loominous

Sarrouel Trousers in Loominous - finished

Damn right folks, I made another glorious pair of Sarrouel Trousers (aka #diapershorts), and I freaking love them!  I don’t know what it is about this crazy style, but I am totally enamored with these shorts.  They’re weird, they’re unflattering, but they’re so much fun to sew and wear.  I think the reason I love them so much is **because** they’re so unusual and non-traditional.  I spend so much of the year bundled up in boring old jeans and layers upon layers of sweaters that I find it really fun and exciting to wear something different for a change.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I’ve already worn these out and about on the streets of Boston and for a full day of work at the university… and no one said a thing.  Really folks, no one cares what you’re wearing, so wear whatever makes you happy!  My floral rayon pair has become my favorite summer garment and probably my favorite thing I’ve sewn all year, and I wear them with pride on a regular basis.  I’m so glad I now have another crazy pair to add to the rotation.  :)

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