Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Stephanie wearing a knitted cap-sleeve raglan top in pink variegated yarn.

Simplicity Top

In March, 2019, I went to Toronto for BreakoutCon. While I was there, I went for a nice walk in the rain and bought 2 balls of pink variegated fingering-weight yarn (Knitting Fever Painted Desert in color 104: Rosefield). I put them in the stash and periodically thought about what I might want to make with them. Sometimes I was tempted to just pull them out and make Yet Another Shawl Already, but I resisted the urge because I have a dozen shawls.

Last month, I finally cast on for a project which I thought would use just about the 2 balls of yarn. It’s a sleeveless raglan top (Simplicity 2 Ways by Jeannine Hoeffler) that is “reversible” in the sense that the front and back are interchangeable. It uses garter stitch for the edgings.

Description: Stephanie wearing a knitted pink variegated cap-sleeve top with a lace panel running down the center, and denim shorts.
New pink top! Fits perfectly!

It’s knit from the bottom up, and when I got to the shoulders, I ran out of yarn. My options at that point were to use a different yarn (which would contrast and maybe not in a good way), frog the whole thing and use the yarn on something else, or buy more yarn. I searched online and found just one store that still had this yarn in stock, but of course I had no idea if the dye lot would match. Since it’s variegated, it’s entirely possible to not match but be imperceptible– or it could match and be really jarring. I bought it and hoped it would be close enough, and intended to overdye it if it didn’t look right.

It arrived last week. 2 years and a completely different store and even country, and the yarn is the same dye lot. I was very pleased.

Description: Back view of Stephanie wearing a knitted pink variegated top with lace panels; the back has 3 lace panels, instead of 1.
The back!

I made a few modifications. I went down a needle size when I got to the waist, then back up, to give it some subtle waist shaping. At the top of the shoulders, where it’s supposed to turn into the neckline, I added a dozen short rows so the neckline wouldn’t be so wide it would expose my bra straps.

The pink variegated top, laying flat on a table.
Top without body in it.

When I was all done, I hated the bottom band, because it was kind of short, and flipped up (because of how stockinette curls, and because garter’s gauge is larger than stockinette). You can see that in one of the WIP pictures. So I cut that off, picked up the stitches, and knitted in a smaller gauge for 3 1/2″.

Front view of the pink variegated top, worn by Stephanie, noting the detail of the bottom edge rolling upwards. A single strand of yarn leads off from the neckline, indicating this piece isn't done being knitted.
Work in Progress: Note the bottom band.

I am pleased with the result. This top looks great, like it was custom fitted for me, because it was.

I’m a champion!

I finished up some knitting projects recently, and have a great announcement about a shawl I’ve been working on since 2015.

I finished the Nouveau Beaded Lace shawl I’ve been working on in black Baruffa Cashwool with silver beads:

2017-04-16 12.50.02I took it to the Clark County Fair and Rodeo, which was April 12-16. When  I got there on Easter Sunday, I made a beeline for the Fine Arts building, where I proceeded to search around for my shawl…

I found it! With a big blue ribbon for Best in Class (best hand knitting) and a big purple ribbon for CHAMPION! It took the best in its section, including all other needle arts.

I’m not sure there’s a Best in Division. If so, probably one of the beautiful quilts got that– as it was, I had a point docked for “presentation” because I didn’t turn it in inside a bag.

I’ll post a few more knitting projects later today. It’s been Finish Up month here at my house, with socks, gloves, scarves, and a sweater all reaching completion!

New Kickstarter! Naomi and the Dragon!

A while back, my best friend Toby and I did a 24-Hour Comic book project together. We didn’t finish, but it was a good exercise for us, and we did end up with a great script for a comic book that we decided we wanted to finish “someday.”

Well, last week we decided to pull the trigger, and launched our Kickstarter project to finish Naomi and the Dragon. Our funding goal is very modest– just enough to scan the art, print the copies, and send them out, with anything extra being available as profit for us to put towards our future projects (making games, music, other writing projects, etc.) We’re only allowing 100 print copies, ever. It’s a limited-edition, though PDFs are unlimited.

Yesterday was the eighth anniversary since I launched Handknit Heroes, so it seems appropriate today to announce this Kickstarter. There’s still plenty of time to back it– the project will be funding until February 9th.

So, if you like the stuff I’ve done before, and you’d like to get a copy of this comic book– back it today!

2016 Goals – How’d I do?

In early 2016, I made a list of SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.

How did I do?

Fitness: Run three 5Ks – I didn’t run any 5Ks last year, but I did regularly run, and I ran 5 kilometers on a fairly regular basis, culminating in a 10K on October 30th.

Play Bass Guitar – The measurable part of this was a set of specific songs I wanted to learn; I succeeded in this goal pretty well, and feel very confident about my “advanced beginner/intermediate” status as a bass player.

Dancing – My specific was to learn 3 new ballroom dances and how to shuffle. I didn’t get the shuffle down, but I did learn several new ballroom dances.

Visit Dad – I did this, in September.

Finish Mythic Mortals Adventure– At the beginning of the year, I had this as a task. It’s done, and published.

New Birth Control – This goal actually took more time and effort than I expected, but aha! It is done!

Finish Threadbare– I didn’t finish, but it is a lot closer to done!

Make an RPG Gateway for Envoy– I failed this goal.

Learn XML – I don’t even know why this is on the list. I didn’t get this done, either.

Lose 20 lbs. – I lost 10.

These were not the entirety of my goals for the year, nor are they the entirety of my achievements– I also obtained my Certified Scrum Master cert, read a bunch of books, ran a bunch of games, spent time with family, and generally was as awesome of a person as I can be.

I’ll post the 2017 goals shortly!

I Love Custom-fitted Dresses (eShakti review)

DressAs you know, I’m a short curvy lady whose wardrobe waffles between “Nice t-shirt” and “are you cosplaying something?”

The last month or so, however, I’ve been longing for some dresses that fit well enough to wear casually, but which aren’t specifically “party dresses.”

However, thanks to a medical condition, genetics, and not spending a lot of time on Arm Day at the gym, my top half averages about 2 sizes smaller than my waist-and-hips. My shirts can be bought in the “women’s” section, while my bottoms have to come from the “plus” section. That makes buying dresses difficult at best– if they fit the waist, they slide off my shoulders. If they fit the shoulders, they’re tight at the middle. And they are always either too long or too short– being 5’1″ means never having a knee-length dress.

I make a lot of my own clothes, of course, and I can alter a lot of things. But sometimes it’s nice to not have to do that, not put in the extra time, or a garment will be made in such a way as to not be practical to do so.

Enter eShakti, an online clothes store that custom-fits clothes to your measurements. You measure at home. You upload the measurements to the website. You order clothes. For the first order, custom fitting is free– after that, it’s $9.95 per item. Most dresses have customizable sleeves, skirt length, neckline, etc.

Their sizes go up to a 36 women’s, which is a 59″ waist and 69″ hip. With the custom-fit options, you can pretty much accommodate most “unusual fit” requirements, such as wide shoulders, small bust, larger caboose, etc.

Here are pictures from the party dress I bought. I’m wearing a crinoline under-skirt,because I’m heading out to a party, but these crisp lines and piping really flatter when they sit at the right places on my body!

DressFront

DressBack

The skirt fits well, and the top is like a well-fitted glove. For reference: I had more trouble with my bra straps sliding off my shoulders than my dress fitting! Normally, my shoulders are sliding around quite a bit!

I also bought a basic black dress with elbow-length sleeves and a v-neckline, for more casual wear:

The navy blue dress is a woven cotton (poplin?) that did wrinkle in the laundry. A quick ironing fixed it, though. The button loop on the back pulled out after a wash and wearing, but is easily fixed. The rest of the dress, seams, hems, manufacture in general, is quite good, and the fabric is thick enough that I don’t feel like it’s about to fall apart while I’m wearing it. It has a side zipper that is frankly superfluous– the back is elasticized and is easy to slip over my head (if my bust were larger, I would probably use the zipper.)

The black dress is a cotton knit, and very comfortable. It wrinkled a little bit in the wash– enough that I ironed it, but not enough that I would do so every time. It has a back zipper that I don’t find I need– again, a larger bust or a narrower neckline would change that. Again, the fabric is thick enough that I don’t feel like it’s going to wear thin quickly.

But perhaps the most important thing (aside from custom-fitting!) is that, so far as I can tell, dresses on eShakti have pockets by default!

And these aren’t tiny half-pockets like you get in some women’s jeans! Nope! These are cell phone-holding, full-hand deep pockets along the seams! There’s an option to remove the pockets if you really want to, but it’s a customization choice– not something you just have to live with. That navy blue dress? POCKETS. I took a purse with me to the party, but I could have gone with just my wallet and phone– in my pockets!

Pockets!

Typical cost for a dress at eShakti is $50-80, with discounts and credits back available. The dresses come from India, and the company has a statement about their wage and labor practices on their website, which makes me feel better about getting such a bargain on a custom-fit dress!

Sponsorship note: eShakti did offer a discount on my next order for talking about their dresses online. They didn’t commission this review, which I was planning to do anyway, because I like to share good finds like this, and they did not give me any free products.

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