A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Author Archives: The Crafty Crusader

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

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As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I had to move house at the beginning of July. Moving is always an opportunity to sort through ones stuff and I am currently minded to own a lot less of it. I wish that I had kept a bit more of an inventory of what I got rid of- mostly clothes and shoes that I no longer wear, books and a lot of odd paraphernalia.

One category that I found quite tough to let go of was gifts. I have received a few things, like a crepe pan from my dad, that are actually quite thoughtful and nice items. However, I just do not need a crepe pan right now. Hopefully it will be purchased by someone who will give it the love it deserves rather than keeping it in a box for years.

I have also had a history (not for a few years now, mind) of buying things for ‘one day,’ which generally means when I eventually buy a house. For example, I have set of four or six heart-shaped teaspoons that I must have bought ten years ago. This illustrates why I try not to buy for one day anymore- my tastes evolve quite quickly. This is especially why I try really hard not to stash yarn or fabric. Heart-shaped teaspoons are just not something I would think are a good idea now. In fact, writing that paragraph has just motivated me to get rid of those bloody spoons.

I still have two big items that I haven’t managed to sell yet. Since I’m not in a rush to get rid of these items, I will simply move with them and wait until I am able to get the price I believe they are worth.

I took the opportunity to finally unravel two projects that have been hibernating for years. I was trying to knit knee pads out of the rainbow yarn. I think knitting is just not the correct medium for what I was trying to make. I was making a plain cardigan from the purple.

To be honest I’m not crazy about the shade of purple and the whole project bored me, hence the fact that it ground to a screeching halt. I have picked up a few cute sets of buttons on my travels, so I’m planning to re-make the purple yarn into a baby sweater.

A friend mentioned that she was in the market for some free yarn so I collected a big bag to give her. It’s yarn from my stash that I don’t see myself using, so I’m pleased to see it go to a good home. I put some yarn in my first batch of items going to charity and I’m a little concerned that it will end up in the bin. But what’s done is done.

While going through my knitting, I realised that I had a small moth infestation. I believe the source was the Clanger, which I have since binned. That Clanger helped to inspire me to go on this decluttering crusade, so I can’t be too cross. I think that the infestation was confined to one shelf and I have managed to freeze everything that was in the vicinity. Both of my handmade baskets had evidence of moth life. Even though they’ve been in the freezer, I am a bit scared that they may have been permanently sullied.

Actually moving was a bit of a reality check. Even though I managed to get rid of a lot of stuff, I still have an awful lot left. I’ve been lucky that the last two properties I have been in were houses, where my possessions could be spread out. Now that I am confined mostly to one room again, it’s much clearer how much I own.

I think I’m doing relatively well at not buying new things. I try to make all of my purchases thoughtfully, secondhand as far as possible. I am going to try and continue with a process of perpetual re-evaluation of my things, really thinking about what I use, am likely to use in future, and what I enjoy owning.


I loved this pattern for a cute pair of rainbow mitts ever since I saw it on Ysolda’s Instagram well over a year ago. The kits popped up again, probably because it’s Pride month, and I couldn’t resist this time. My good friend Paula’s birthday was coming up and I thought these would make a great gift for her.

I’d also seen some wonderful pins that Ysolda was stocking, so the purchases justified one another and enabled me to get free shipping. I just had to get this pin of a woman with beautiful natural hair. Representation matters! I bought two Joy kits in the end because I can see myself making this project for someone else too.

There are mistakes on both flags, which is a bit of a pity because the flag is probably my favourite part of the pattern. On the first, I misread the pattern and somehow missed that each colour row is two garter rows rather than one. I’ve never done double knitting before, but I’m still a bit mystified as to how I failed so badly at reading. I managed to do the process correctly on the second mitt, but somehow did two rows of red rather than one (facepalm). Maybe I read the same section of the pattern twice?  Another shocking reading failure on my part.

I was on a tight deadline for this project because I wanted to give them to Paula on time. This meant that I did not correct the errors. I didn’t notice the mistakes in the first flag until I was working on mitt 2, though I had noticed that it looked wonky. Paula doesn’t knit and I’d be surprised if she notices anything untoward.

I did, however, manage to make yet another huge error that could not be ignored. I accidentally made two left mitts once I had finished the fair isle on the second one. This was a mistake that I couldn’t really let go so I unravelled.

Weaving in the ends was a slight pain but these mitts are finally on the blocking mat. I should be able to give them away at the weekend.

Pattern and yarn: Joy kit from Ysolda

Ravelry project page


Without tempting fate, this should be my last WiP Wednesday about this project. I did quite a lot more work on this sweater after my most recent post about it, which I think is worthy of some blog space.

Finishing the sleeves was quite straightforward and I joined the sleeves and body for the yoke. It was quite fun to work the marlisle pattern again, which was just as well because the first few rounds of the yoke feel incredibly long after the relative speed of the sleeves.

Checking the finished projects on Ravelry, I saw that there was a lot of variability in the necklines. Some knitters (including me) write quite detailed notes on their projects, while others don’t add anything. It was hard to tell how my project was going to turn out. I added a lifeline before working the neck shaping and I’m glad that I did.

A few rows into the neck shaping as written, it became obvious that the pattern is for a boat neck. Boat is one of my least favourite necklines- I just don’t think it suits me. I ripped back to my lifeline before going on holiday.

In the end I decided to tackle changing the neckline in two ways. I added more increases (every other row rather than once every three rows) along the raglan seams in the body on both the front and back. Since I have quite broad shoulders, I don’t like excess fabric  to accentuate that part of my body. I also changed the short-row shaping on the front neckline.

I had to do some more ripping when I accidentally knit the additional raglan decreases before I had calculated the changes to the neckline shaping. I used a combination of eyeballing and maths to work out how I wanted it to look. I think I’ve mentioned before that one of my pet peeves is having a t-shirt showing when I am wearing a sweater. I just think it looks messy. So my aim was a close neck that should cover the layer beneath.

I visually estimated the number of stitches I wanted left and then calculated which rate of decreases would get me closest

I took some pictures of the notebook pages where I did my quick maths. Kate Davies wrote a recent blog post about knitting and creativity. It discusses the idea that knitting is ‘relaxing’ at the expense of allowing knitting to be creative, engaging and absorbing. This relates to the idea that ‘women’s work’ is something straightforward and mindless, or even frivolous.

Even when following a pattern, knitting can involve a lot of processes that are not remotely relaxing. Undoing work can be frustrating. Figuring out how to change a design is a highly creative problem-solving endeavour, bringing to bear all the knowledge one gains through years of practice. It is an engineering project. Part of the reason I write all of these WiP posts is to give an impression of the work that goes on behind the scenes. When you say, “I made it,” most people have no idea of what that actually means.

In the end, I didn’t have quite enough of the light blue kidsilk to finish the sweater, so I had to buy one more ball. Somehow I hadn’t noticed that the balls are £8.95 each last time I went to John Lewis! I will have most of a ball left over.

The neck ribbing is virtually done now, so the final stage will be the finishing. I am using I-cord edging throughout, which I hope will give a very clean finish. It’s currently a bit warm for a sweater, but knowing English weather I imagine I will find an opportunity to get some pics once this garment is ready to wear.

Previous posts in this series

Planning

Ripping out a cardigan

Frogging a sweater

WiP Weds 1

WiP Weds 2

WiP Weds 3

Ravelry project page


I ummed and ahhed about participating in me-made May this year. In fact, I am vacillated all month. I loved MMM the first year I participated. I felt more connected to the sewing community and my handmade wardrobe. However, last year, I did not like it at all. I found it really difficult to find suitable locations for the daily pictures, sometimes walking around for half an hour or more on my lunchbreak, searching for the holy grail combination of a colourful wall with somewhere nearby to rest my phone. I think some of the big Instragram overhauls took place between May 2017 and May 2018 and the engagement with my posts really dropped. It was disheartening to spend so much time trying to get the pictures when no one seemed to care.

The funny thing is that I wore me-made items most days in May. I wear me-mades all the time. I would say it is quite unusual for me to go a day without wearing something I have made, no matter the month. But because I wasn’t documenting it, I didn’t feel like I was taking part. That definitely says a lot about my unhealthy relationship with Instagram.

I will continue to participate the way I always do in my daily life, capturing photos as and when I am able. Perhaps next year I will be in a better place for the challenge to serve me again.


I have to move house again at the beginning of July and I am finally confronting the fact that I own way too much stuff. I am trying to de-clutter in the most brutal way possible. I am tired of having to move this stuff around with me. I have been trying to follow some broad green principles that I’ve picked up from various Instagrammers during this declutter. I know that the whole ‘sparking joy’ thing has become a bit of a meme, but honestly I think it’s a good baseline for deciding whether something is worthy of space in ones life.

I am dividing the things I no longer need into what can be given away to people I know, sold, given to charity or discarded altogether. This requires me to balance different priorities. I have some things that I have been hanging on to because I don’t want to waste them. For example, I have a bag of old t-shirts that I might one day turn into jersey yarn. I am aware that sending old clothing to charity shops isn’t necessary the green solution we would like it to be; apparently some companies still send a lot of items to landfill, while on a broader level second-hand clothing has damaged the textiles industries in some developing nations. On the other hand, I don’t really want to take a bag of t-shirts (which I have already elected to discard) to my new house.

When selling items, I have to balance whether it will be worth the time and effort required. Selling is better from an environmental perspective because you know that the item is going where it is needed or wanted. However, photographing, listing (and often re-listing) and posting items is very time-consuming. In a lot of cases, I have donated saleable items because I am happy for the charity to take on the burden of selling them.

Some of the declutter has been great fun. I decided to donate (pretty much) all of the books that I have read. I posted some stories on Instagram and asked if anyone would like to take the books off my hands. I had a great response and it feels great to be sharing my books with friends. The rest were donated. I buy the vast majority of my books second-hand so I’m glad to be adding titles that aren’t old Dan Brown novels and copies of Fifty Shades of Grey to the shelves of charity shops in the local area.

One of the more brutal decisions I made (that I’m proud of) was to get rid of my old guide books. I have hung on to many of them for years as souvenirs of my travels, but it’s time to let them go now. I am old-fashioned enough to still like physical guidebooks, but it seems unnecessary to hang on to them as they become increasingly out-of-date.

So far I’ve got rid of a couple of big boxes and several bags of items. I plan to list the items above for sale soon. I also need to decide how and where to sell some larger items, including the stand mixer I won several years ago and my saxophone.


Decided to make a little post about this toy clanger, that I never finished knitting, in case it helps anyone else considering using this pattern. Overall I think the pattern is good and would produce a lovely finished item. Here is the Ravelry project page if you would like more information about the pattern etc.

I got quite a way into making this toy a good few years ago. I think I originally started it because my boyfriend at the time liked the Clangers. We split up about ten years ago now so I’m not sure that’s right. But I do know that I’ve been carrying this WiP around for a long time.

I think I got stuck on the pattern because I was a relatively inexperienced knitter at the time. I always thought I would finish it one day, hence bringing it with me on several house moves.

I had a moth problem in one of my previous houses and I’m sure that I froze this project to kill the larvae. However, when I picked it up again recently, I realised that both the yarn and the knitting had quite bad damage and evidence of infestation. I initially planned to keep what yarn I could salvage before realising- if I haven’t finished a project in a decade, when am I going to get to it? Even if I did finish it, do I actually have any need or want for the finished item?

I finally threw poor half-finished clanger the bin. I will now need to freeze the basket it was stored in as well as my mermaid Humboldt sweater, both of which were in the vicinity of the infestation.

Discarding the clanger is part of a wider attempt I’m making to de-clutter. My mother and aunt, probably the biggest female influences in my family, are enormous hoarders. While I felt that I have done my best to avoid following in their footsteps, I can’t deny that I own a lot of stuff (edit: I have denied this many times but I have now accepted the fact). Way more stuff, in fact, than it is reasonable for someone who does not own property to have. Moving the stuff between rental properties every couple years (an unfortunate but necessary part of living in London without familial wealth) is an enormous burden, both literally and metaphorically.

I have set myself a target of getting rid of half my stuff. Basically I am the Thanos of my own possessions. I’m not quite sure how I will actually quantify whether it was actually half, but I will know in myself if I have met my target. I will probably write a separate blog post about the de-clutter, but I will say that the project reflects an attempt in my life to get rid of things that no longer serve me. My relaxed hair, my burdensome possessions, and hopefully some psychological habits too. To the left, to the left.