A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

WiP Wednesday: Into the wild blue yonder

For some reason, I’ve been more prone to shopping over the past month or so. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve been a bit stressed out and feel the need to buy myself presents to give myself the illusion that life is worth living. When I received a Kate Davies newsletter saying that her dyed shades of buachaille were on sale, I knew that my credit card was likely to take a hit. I love to support small female-led businesses when I can.

Oran do Chaora

Copyright Kate Davies

I ended up buying a kit to make the Oran do Chaora cardigan.

I got the blue colourway, which is called between weathers. I love the way Kate’s work is inspired by the natural world around her. Luckily the pattern was included because I thought that it was included in Inspired by Islay, of which I have a copy, but I was wrong.

Sinister catdigan

Copyright Marna Gilligan

When I was clicking through Ravelry looking for inspiration pictures, I remembered the Sinister Catdigan that I’ve had saved in my favourites for a while. I just love the way the kitties look.

I’d seen that someone had knitted a plain Oran do Chaora. My initial (mean) thought was that it was silly since the cables are the main feature of the pattern. But then I started to wonder whether I could incorporate a colourwork yoke into the cardigan. I wear a lot of blue and have a RTW navy blue cardi that I wear a lot already. I feel like a cute cat cardigan could add a lot to my life.

I dug through my stash to see what I could use for the contrast colours and I’m thinking about the leftovers from my She Loves Wool sweater.

I like the way the colours look together, but I am a little apprehensive about using two such different yarns in the same garment. Buachaille is a relatively rustic and sheepy yarn (for me), while sugar baby alpaca is super soft and feels a bit more processed. There is also a slight difference in my gauge. However, I am drawn to the idea of using the yarn that I already have rather than buying something new.

I think I’m going to steam ahead regardless. Oran do Chaora is knit from the bottom up, so I can always unravel and re-knit the yoke if I find that the alpaca really doesn’t work. I haven’t quite decided yet whether to buy the sinister catdigan pattern. I’m pretty sure that I could recreate the yoke without needing to purchase the pattern, but I also feel that the designer has created something very cool and unique and should be remunerated for that. I prefer the cardigan style of ODC so the fair isle will most likely be the only design element I use from the other pattern.

As always, I’d forgotten how boring it is to knit flat stocking stitch- though not quite as bad as the long stretch of ribbing. As usual, I used a tubular cast on (Ysolda method) because I love the way it looks. I’m sure no one else will ever notice this little detail, but it’s still worth the extra time to me. As I also often do, I forgot that you’re meant to knit the ribbing on a slightly smaller needle. That’s something that I don’t think makes a big enough difference to re-do, so I will be leaving it.

Yarn: Buachaille by Kate Davies

Pattern: Oran do Chaora x The Sinister Catdigan

Ravelry project page

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Less trash Tuesday: specialist recycling

I’ve been quite a busy bee for a while and not had time to blog. However, one thing I always have time for is responsible adherence to local recycling regulations. Yes, I am one of the cool kids.

I thought I would write a post about how I deal with specialist recycling. Most local authorities provide a kerbside recycling service for certain materials. I try not to look in other people’s bins on collection day since the vast majority of people do not understand (or don’t care) what can and cannot be recycled, and I find it really upsetting.

Aside from what the LA will take away from your house, you can check the Recycle Now website to see what the local authority is able to recycle but not collect. I recently used it to find out where I can get rid of a bag of small electrical items (a router, a load of old wires etc.) that I generated in my house move.

On top of that, some private companies are getting in on the act, since there is money to be made in recycling. The main one I know of is Terracycle, who partner with different brands to recycle specific types of waste.

I have a wastepaper basket in which I keep bags or padded envelopes for each recycling program. Currently I have metal lids, contact lens paraphernalia, crisp packets, plastic bottle tops and miscellaneous packaging. The handy thing about using jiffy bags is that you can make a note of which recycling program it is for and what they take.

I strongly recommend checking the Terracycle website to see what can be recycled near you- you may be surprised. The website isn’t the best to navigate- if you click the link and then scroll past all the options with ‘purchase required’ you can see where you can drop off things like chocolate packaging in your area. I am a very sad person but I quite enjoy recycling. I may not have much control over the climate crisis, but at least I can be responsible for the waste that I personally produce.

Of course recycling should only be used as a last resort after reducing and re-using. But we can also only do our best and sometimes you really fancy a packet of crisps even though you know it comes in horrible packaging.

I just listened to a podcast where they spoke about the tension between the often messy reality of zero waste and the pressure to present a certain aesthetic on social media. This solution for specialist recycling isn’t Instagram-friendly but it is easy and tidy.

My new house has a very small garden so one of the things on my summer to-do list is buying a compost bin. I am so pleased because I hate throwing away food scraps knowing that they are going to sit in landfill for years and years.

 

Planning and prep: Monstera shirt

I’m so excited to start a new sewing project. I haven’t had any time to sew for ages. I bought this fabric at least 18 months ago. I was inspired when I saw a similar fabric on Instagram, made up into a very cute top. This is my favourite leaf shape- I have three pieces of jewellery and a shirt featuring it. When I saw this in the Sew Over It fabric e-mail, it caught my eye straightaway. I won a Sew Over It voucher wearing my monstera blouse, so why not use it to make another?

The prizewinning picture

This is the fabric. I bought 1.5m, which cost just over the £25 my prize voucher covered.

This project initially got hijacked by another sleeveless top project. This provides yet more evidence that I need to start projects very soon after buying the materials, otherwise I risk losing motivation.

I was a little torn between making another version with sleeves or a breezy sleeveless top for summer. I decided to opt for sleeveless. I didn’t wear short-sleeved tops to work for a long time because I was self-conscious about my tattoo, but I’m getting over that. I think I will add buttons to the front opening- I love an excuse to find tiny cute buttons- but omit the patch pockets. I think they will interrupt the beautiful large-scale print. Also pockets like that are useless. I’m very practical when it comes to clothing, so any details like frills, ruffles and decorative pockets aren’t for me.

When I first resumed sewing, I was all about the FBAs (full bust adjustments). I made my first adjustment on one of the very first dresses I made- a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine. I was excited by the prospect of properly fitting tops. However, more recently I have felt… almost resentful of having to make them. It’s hard to say why. For some projects, it doesn’t matter, but it is pretty important in this top. The olive version (size 12) I made is a little gapey in the shoulder region, while the white version (linked above, size 10) is too tight across the chest. It is very clear that a FBA is needed and so I decided to bite the bullet.

I traced off the front pattern piece and followed this tutorial for a full bust adjustment. I made a 1″ FBA, which will give me 2″ of extra wiggle room.

I followed this tip from Karen at Did You Make That and split the bust dart since it’s over 8cm. I kind of just eyeballed the split so I hope it’s going to look nice.

One slightly odd note is that when I marked my bust apex, it was higher than the original point in the pattern- you might be able to make out two small pink ‘x’s in the image above. However, a larger bosom is more subject to the effects of gravity, so normally the bust point would be lower. This theory is borne out in the fact that the darts on my two previous TC1617s are too high.

Even though I tried remeasuring a few times, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and just moved the bust point down by an inch or two. Again it was an eyeball job.

I’m hoping to get the fabric cut out before I go on holiday. I have to decide whether to try and sort a workaround for my lack of table at home (the only thing I think would work is sewing on the bench in the garden, but I don’t have a long enough extension cord) or avail myself of the sewing café at Sew Over It one Friday afternoon. I’m currently leaning towards the latter, though I am rapidly running out of free Fridays.

I really hope this blouse turns out nicely, since I would like to make another one from this beautiful fabric I couldn’t resist buying a couple of weeks ago.

I have now unsubscribed from the Fabric Godmother mailing list. I am too weak.

Costs

Fabric: £3.50

Pattern: Third use, original cost £3.22

Notions: Around £5

Total: Under £10!

Mend Monday: Bike seat cover

I’ve been quite paranoid about my bike being stolen and my fears were partially realised when I returned to my bike one morning to find my waterproof seat cover gone.

The person must have really wanted it, since it was tethered to my bike seat. It hadn’t really occurred to me that someone would bother to take it. I was actually rocking a double seat cover situation. When I bought my bike secondhand around eight years ago, I was given a seat cover. The thief left the old one in the gutter.

To be fair, I can kind of see why.

Since it is now my only seat cover, I decided to give it some TLC. I like buying patches but I never know where to sew them. I used them to cover up some of the biggest holes.

I just hand-stitched them on.

The whole area at the bottom that encases the elastic is quite badly worn. I considered undoing it and appliqueing some ribbon over the top, but in the end that seemed too much work given that my sewing machine is still in a box following my house move. It doesn’t seem worth spending ages repairing an object I don’t really like all that much.

I think what I’ll do is wait until the brown part is beyond repair and then look into covering up the top (checked) part and replacing the whole brown section with some new fabric. I always hated the colour of this seat cover- brown is not my thing- but put up with it due to laziness/inertia.

To be honest, what is most likely is that I will buy a new seat cover next time I am in a bike-friendly city. I have so little crafting time and I want to dedicate it to passion projects.

However, it is nice to display some of my patches. The non-quidditch ones I picked up from a market in India. However, I really should stop buying patches because I still have quite a few for which I have no immediate use.

Another Tatty Devine workshop

Tatty Devine are having a retrospective of the 20 years they have been in business at the Lethaby Gallery in London. I entered a competition on Twitter, where they asked fans to share their favourite piece. I chose the rainbow necklace I made at another workshop I attended.

I was a little disappointed not to win, especially because I felt faked out when the gallery tagged me as the runner-up. Then there was a plot twist. The winner kindly offered me her +1 and before I knew it I was reorganising my Saturday plans so that I could go. Yeah, I guess I hadn’t checked my diary when I entered the competition.

I’ve actually been to a free bunting workshop at TD before. I just scrolled back through my Instagram feed to look for a picture and it was nearly four years ago!

I’d slightly hoped they might have some offcuts from the amazing acrylic they were using for another workshop available, but they didn’t.

I initially went for my default option of rainbow. However, since I know I’m pretty fast at making up the jewellery (I must have been to at least five workshops even though I haven’t blogged them all) I decided to spend a little longer at the design stage.

I laid out every colour of acrylic available, grouping them by the colours I felt went together. And this more pastelly option presented itself.

I also had a look around the exhibition- which I recommend if you are in the King’s Cross area for an hour or so. I first became aware of Tatty Devine when I was at university, so I’ve been well over ten years (god that makes me feel old). I remembered a lot of the collections. It’s interesting to notice how my tastes and personal style have evolved, and how that is reflected in the Tatty pieces I have been drawn to.

The founders of TD met at art school and I found myself, not for the first time, regretful about the way my life has turned out.

I don’t think the idea of studying art even crossed my mind when I was 17 and choosing universities, or even when I was 15 and choosing A’level subjects. I did art and graphics when I was at school. Back in those days, I think you had to choose a creative subject (art, music or drama) and a technology (my school was a ‘technology college’ and I think the choices were food tech, graphics or resistant materials (which once would have been woodwork and metalwork)) for GCSE.

Even though I spent more time on my creative subjects than all the others put together, I was raised with the idea that a woman has to earn her own money. Following my creative streak simply didn’t seem compatible with gainful employment. I ended up spending three wilderness years studying psychology at Oxford, then (after a couple of years of low-paid employment) a further three getting my professional doctorate to get the job I have now. While I don’t hate my day job, it’s also not a passion for me.

I tend to see some kind of second career in my future. I can’t imagine doing the same job for the next several decades. But at the same time, setting up a small business seems like an awful lot of work compared to the relative safety of my life now.

WiP Wednesday: International feminist craft swap

Last week I received a really exciting comment on the post I wrote about making a pussy hat for a Funko pop. I was inspired to write up a quick pattern when someone on Instagram told me that they made a hat for one of her own Funkos after seeing mine. Deidre, the commenter, didn’t feel her skills were up to making the hat herself, so she reached out to see if I would be willing to make one for her. Once I saw her amazing quilts, I was completely sold on the idea of a craft swap.

Arya Stark funko pussy hat

My half of the swap was knitting up a hat. I used this yarn I purchased from Ysolda a few years ago. I just noticed the label says Belyse kit, which is a pattern for some fair isle fingerless mitts. I have a feeling that the kit didn’t come with the pattern and I didn’t fancy paying for it separately, so the kit has been in my stash for a while. Since I bought the kit purely because Ysolda named the colourway pussy hat, this project feels as if it was meant to be.

I wound the yarn and cast on.

I quickly realised that this hat seemed smaller than my original. I used the same needles, so I wondered if I’d become a tighter knitter, or if the original hat had stretched after years of being on Arya Stark’s large bonce. I counted the stitches on my original hat and realised that I made a mistake in the cast-on numbers in my pattern.

My second version of the hat seems a better size.

Although the pussy hat moment feels like it has passed**, I’m considering trying to write this pattern up properly. Although I have technically published a couple of patterns on Ravelry, I don’t consider them ‘real’ patterns as opposed to glorified blog posts. Maybe I could test the water by writing up an easy pattern in a more formal way.

Deidre offered to make me a small quilted item in exchange for the hat. I love quilting and it’s something I’d like to get into one day. To keep with the feminist theme, I asked for a cushion cover inspired by my female icon, Serena Williams. She came up with these three lovely designs for me.

I went with design three. I’m so excited to see what the finished

Pattern: Funko pop pussy hat

Yarn: Ysolda Blend no. 1

Ravelry project page

**Update: I wrote that last sentence last week, without really thinking. Today it occurred to me how topical it feels to have scheduled this post on the day that Boris Johnson takes office as prime minister. This is a huge blow for people who want to remain in Europe and for the left-wing in the UK in general.

I work for local government and I’m scared that another five years of conservative leadership will have irreversible negative effects on our society. It feels really important to be clear about my feminist and anti-racist views at a time when it feels like some of the freedoms we have come to enjoy are at risk.

FO Friday: Joy for Paula

Despite the many, many mistakes I made when knitting these little mitts, they are finished and have been presented to my friend for her birthday.

Unfortunately I had a senior moment and forgot to take any pictures of the finished item apart from this one of them blocking. Maybe I will get a chance for a snap in the future.

Here is a slightly dodgy phone pic showing how they look on the hand. The blocking evened the mitts out a bit, and my friend’s hands are a little smaller than mine, so I think they will fit her beautifully.

The only substantive change I made was using a smaller needle. I also did a tubular cast-off because I am obsessed with fancy cast-on and cast-off edges. I have a second kit so there is a strong chance that I will make another pair of these little beauties.

Ravelry project page