shouldering on

Posted on Posted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden


nothing says summer like pie and with the advent of berry season—and fortunately, also biking prime season—it’s game on. on sunday i took a little time in the afternoon to bake one of my favorites—strawberry rhubarb.


i had more filling that i needed for the pie and a mess of ripening peaches as well, so i also baked a dish of fruit crisp with a jewel-tone filling. mmm. of course the two of us can’t eat two big plates of dessert in one week, so the pie went into the freezer for now. i’m sure we’ll be able to share it soon with friends.


slowly, slowly (or so it seems to me), i am approaching a completed illas cíes pullover in our hempshaugh fingering yarn, color buckwheat. because i am also trying to finish a surprise extra project to end our IMMERSION club, i am only allowing myself to work on the pullover as a treat at the very end of my day, late at night while we watch TV. haha, which means i often fall asleep over it.

but i managed to sew the sleeve caps into the armscyes over the last two nights and wanted to point out that if at first, your sleeve seams look like the one on the right there, it’s totally not you. it is completely normal for them to become quite distorted from the kind of handling they must take during the seaming process.


fortunately, there is a fix—ham to the rescue (see the left seam as proof!). a tailor’s ham, that is. you might have seen one of these in your grandma’s sewing room or you might even have one that you inherited somehow, but never knew what purpose it served. you might even know what it is and have used one before!


if not, you are missing out on one of the best aids for coercing your hand knits into a final, polished appearance.  let me now expound on the wonders of this magnificent tool. first, note the shape—it’s ham-like oblong form is comprised of every possible curve that might be used in a garment. it makes the perfect form for pressing and steaming curved seams or for molding wool into shapes that conform to the human body.


take that sleeve cap seam for instance; it’s a real mother to press, isn’t it, made up as it is from a series of opposing curves? if you get one part to lie flat than another part doesn’t and just when you think you’ve got it all right, you’ve gone and pressed in a nice crease where it’s supposed to tuck smoothly under the arm, unnoticed.

but with a tailor’s ham, you can lay that seam right over its form and steam in a smooth, crease-free final shape. nice. (for an even more in-depth discussion of the tailor’s ham and shoulder seams, see this post from 2012)


but look what a difference it makes to give that shoulder area the right treatment—WOW. so worth the effort (what tasks in fine finishing aren’t?).


when you consider that this seam is smack at eye level of whomever you might be taking to when you wear it, it is very worth investing in. we might not worry as much about dressing for success in our industry, but a little polish for any look goes a long way.

BTW, there are lots more terrific finishing tricks and tips in this DVD or this craftsy class. almost as good as having me there to harangue you in person.


with my shoulder seams complete, it was time to move on to seaming up the underarm and side seams. i worked on this at knit night this evening while chatting with barb (she is also currently knitting the same sweater, but in briar rose sea pearl for chris to use as a booth sample).

i got one side done and that leaves just one longish seam between me and a finished summer pullover. well, and a nice soak in a hot, soapy bath to make it über-soft and wearable. i am SO going to pack this for my trip to alaska in july, where i will be teaching on a knitting cruise.

i am so excited about this trip; i’ve never been to alaska, nor have i been on a cruise. i am doubly thrilled that our nephew amad, who will be visiting from switzerland in july, is going to join me on the trip. not only that, it will be his birthday week, so we plan to make the most of a wonderful chance to discover the unknown together. if you have some great alaska experiences or good advice to share, please leave a comment (i’m a little curious about what temperatures will be like).


another reason my knitting has been slow this week is that i’m getting used to incorporating the garden harvest into our daily routine.


we are currently dealing with an explosion of greens (much anticipated). this year we tried some new items—emiko cabbage, vitamin greens, mibuno greens, and kuniko greens. all delicious—i highly recommend them.


on monday, my friend mark came over to take some off my hands and while he was picking, i also hauled in a couple of big basketfulls.


half of them became this gorgeous stir fry with mushrooms, eggplant, carrots, and tofu. david cooked the other half this evening in his famous curry tofu pasta. (i know, but it is aMAZingly delicious, trust me).

and here’s the thing—we are not even nearly caught up; today i picked a HUGE bag for lillian to take home and asked the neighbors to please come and take some too. and still didn’t make a dent. i think i might have to start freezing some this weekend.

because even if i did feel a little caught up . . .


there’s a monster afoot right around the corner. it’s c-o-o-ming.

11 thoughts on “shouldering on

  1. You have reminded me to restart my search for a tailor’s ham…that armhole was indeed challenging on my red sweater and Zi know the right tools would make it easier (I remember that old post).

  2. Right now in Juneau we are having gorgeous days – warm for us so it is high 60s/low 70s. Layers and a raincoat are my packing advice. Everyone here is pretty casual which makes me very happy! I’ll try to remember to update you on weather before you leave. What do you have planned for your time ashore?

  3. As another northeast Ohio resident, I have been pleasantly surprised at how lush my garden is this year! After a lackluster season for squash and peppers last summer, it looks like I’m going to have a bumper crop this year. I’m also growing potatoes for the first time, and I’m delighted with how fast the plants are growing and how healthy they look! I hilled them last weekend, and they’ve grown so fast that I think I’m going to have to repeat the process this weekend.

  4. I had my first strawberry rhubarb pie recently, it was so good!

    I would LOVE to go to alaska and the knitting cruise someday, sounds like so much fun!

  5. Layers–the key to comfort while traveling in Alaska. That’s where we knitters have a real edge since we’re not afraid to wear wool! Jim and I took heavy Nordic sweaters and used them a lot. They were perfect for layering and we didn’t need coats. Rain gear is a must. and, of course when the sun is shining and you’re not in Denali, some lighter weight clothing is appropriate. Knitting cruise–what fun!

  6. I know what you mean about those monsters coming! One minute they’re just courgettes and blink and they’re become monster marrows! Good luck with that one! Mr JK grew so many one year that I started a courgette recipe book with a month’s worth of different meals!

  7. We went on an Alaskan cruise last summer – best vacation ever! Loved cruising through Glacier Bay, seeing Denali and the fireweed blooming everywhere – such a beautiful place! As for clothes, bring layers and be ready for anything from chilly rain to warm sunshine. Now I’ll be dreaming of Alaska the rest of the day…….

  8. I’ve done 2 Alaska cruises. I envy you your trip. Others have given good advice on clothing. Here’s my advice on other things. Get yourself a couple of motion sickness bands, available at drug stores or walmart. I got mine from TravelSmith ( Start wearing them a few hours before you board ship. Pack some candied ginger or ginger capsules for nausea. It’s tastier than dramimine without the drowsiness. I found that if I stayed near a window where I could see out, even at night, I was fine. The one time I ventured into the shopping area of the ship, I had to get out of there within 10 minutes because it was enclosed and I couldn’t see out. Stay hydrated, the interior of the ship (cabins, dining rooms, etc) are very dry for obvious reasons. Anything you buy on board will be overpriced and expensive. Pack a water bottle, you can refill it for free. Juice, sodas, hot chocolate, alcohol all cost extra. Internet and cell phone usage while at sea is expensive, wait till you’re in port to make calls or send email. You may encounter mosquitoes this time of year, prepare accordingly. Have fun!

  9. Echoing earlier comments; Alaska is an adventure not to be missed. Lived there many years ago, and have always wanted to return. Light, multi layers; a rain jacket or similar protection for the July season; and industrial grade mosquito repellent are all must haves. (Personally, I’d pack plenty of Avon’s Skin So Soft, including a spray applicator – can be used over/under clothing for land trips if needed.) Safe travels; enjoy!

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