Fancy and Frugal

Needless to say, the economy isn’t exactly in stellar shape these days. While this poses many problems- particularly for someone leaving school and (hopefully) entering the job market- the need to be frugal has an upside. Certainly, one takes fewer luxuries for granted. And, of course, one can become quite resourceful. I’m admittedly a little bias, but I feel like nothing’s more resourceful than patchwork. It is, by definition, an act of salvage and making do. So, when I spotted a beautiful Marc Jacobs sweater for about $300 in a magazine, I decided to make my own instead- and patchwork showed me the way! I swung by T.J. Maxx (a discount clothing store that I’d never shopped in before- it’s marvelous) and bought three sweaters for a total of about $12 (two were from the kid’s section). I spent an afternoon cutting, recombining, making fabric-covered buttons, and voila:


As you can imagine, the whole thing was just black and white stripes before I got my hands on it. Naturally, I prefer the contrast. And I must say it’s pretty gratifying to walk into a thrift store and end up with something more unique than the item I had originally lusted after- and hundreds of dollars saved!

However, thanks to my summer internship at Classic Elite which enabled me to afford cashmere yarn for the last time in what will probably be a very long time, I also finished up something a bit fancier this weekend. Let’s just say the train ride to NYC (not to mention the train delay) was just as productive as I had anticipated. While I may have gotten some odd looks in Penn Station as I sat knitting on the ground, surrounded by bright pink fabric, it was well worth it. My sweater is complete, simple and lovely:

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Like I said before, 100% cashmere yarn needs no embellishing. It’s a straight forward modified drop sleeve fit, three-quarter length sleeves… and fits perfectly. I owe the much-improved seams and picked-up stitches to Sharon Brant’s wonderful workshop that I attended a couple of weeks ago at Westminster Fibers. Thank you! I even have one ball of cashmere leftover. Who knows what I’ll do with it, but I’m in no rush to use it up…




Like any responsible knitter, I had my next project lined up and have since made considerable progress. I’m using Cascade’s 100% cotton Sierra (on the more frugal side of things as far as yarn is concerned) and working with a polka dot pattern that I came across in “The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques.”

This is, incidentally, a glorious book- well worth the investment for any color-minded knitters. Anyway, the pattern combines purl and knit stitches, as well as lots of slipped stitches, which precludes the whole lumpy intarsia problem I was having before.


I’m aiming for a sort of cowl neck minus the sweater… a cross between a scarf and a shawl if you will. The color combination should be familiar by now, definitely one of my favorites. It’s coming along quickly and should be finished soon- which means I’m already mentally conjuring my next knitting project.

I’m also getting much better- as in much quicker- at circular hand quilting. Furthermore, I’m really starting to enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, learning how to use a sewing machine changed my life, but a little handwork is a nice balance. So I’ve completed a couple more polka dot squares, making nearly seven altogether which is more than half of the total required for my Log Cabin with a Twist quilt.


Now, last but not least, mini quilting continues. I’m getting into the ‘sketching’ groove and letting myself be a little imprecise, even more improvisational than usual. This week’s little quilt is already finished- and to be honest I am yet again unsure of how the idea came to me. It’s a sort of woven quilt made of bands of overlapping fabrics, secured with french knots.


I feel like this would make a pretty awesome full-sized quilt. And it really isn’t all that difficult… some day… Meanwhile, I’m sticking to one big project at a time (more or less) with plenty of room for experimentation on the side.



Filed under clothing, knitting, quilting

4 responses to “Fancy and Frugal

  1. Nice. I like the cardigan you pieced together. The sweater looks simple and nice.

  2. You rock! You’ve inspired me to take up knitting.

  3. Jane

    Your “Marc Jacobs” sweater is marvelous! Take a look at Your fame is spreading….

  4. Carrie LB

    Great to see your work, and your writing!

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