A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Category Archives: Knitting

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.

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This sweater has been in my WiP basket for several months now. Shortly after my last blog post (and taking this photo), I ran out of turquoise yarn.

I was also a bit uncertain about how to do the ombre on the sleeves. All in all, I was not feeling so inspired by this project, but fortunately that gave me the impetus to finish my She Loves Wool sweater that had been similarly languishing.

Looking at this photo with fresh eyes, I felt that it probably was time to start changing colours soon. I think it will make sense visually to have the colour change over my elbow.

Another complicating factor was the yarn. I had hoped that I had salvaged enough from my Bay sweater for this whole project but, alas, that was not the case. Even worse, I wasn’t sure which colourways of Kidsilk Haze I was working with.

I’m sure Stitch’n’Bitch, my bible in my early years as a knitter, recommends that you never throw ball bands away and thus avoid these problems. I know I followed that advice for quite some time, but old ball bands are a super annoying thing to have lying around the house. I’ve discarded them all in various house moves.

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What would make sense in the modern world would be to record this information on Ravelry. Now-me generally does that (I would like to be more fastidious about including all info, including dye lots), but unfortunately the Monique of 2013 did not. I have the colour recorded as ‘blue-green.’ I was fairly sure that the colour was ‘peacock’ but when I checked the Rowan website, there are two other shades that fit the bill. I had hoped to buy the extra yarn on eBay, but in the end I made the pilgrimage to John Lewis, praying that they had the right colours in stock. I took my swatch with me to compare.

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Not an exact match, but perhaps it is unreasonable to expect the colours to be a super close match when you buy extra yarn over six years later.

I wasn’t sure whether I would have enough of the lighter colour either, but I decided not to buy more at this stage. What I will do to try and circumvent that problem is make the section with the sequins longer than originally planned. I also wanted to use up the Kidsilk Haze Glamour.

I spent quite a bit of time knitting over the May bank holiday weekend. I was coming off an incredibly stressful week, and I needed the time to myself.

I finished the second sleeve and realised it made more sense to use up all of the turquoise yarn in the sleeves. Hopefully this will mean I have enough of the pale blue to finish the yoke without having to purchase any additional yarn.

I tried my best to make the sleeves match by weighing the yarn as I went along. Unfortunately I only have digital food scales that measure to the closest gram. Not especially helpful with mohair, which is incredibly light. Hopefully a local drug dealer will donate a more precise scale to one of the charity shops I frequent.

I have now ripped the first sleeve back to the turquoise area to insert the remaining yarn. The sleeves are lovely and quick to work so should be on to the yoke soon.

Before unravelling the first sleeve

I really really hope I am going to come out with a sweater that I am happy with. I have put a lot of work into recycling two old garments into this piece so I will be quite heartbroken if I don’t like the way it turns out. That being said, I am having a cropped sweater moment so it should slide seamlessly into my wardrobe as long as all goes to plan.

Previous posts in this series

Planning

Ripping out a cardigan

Frogging a sweater

WiP Weds 1

Ravelry project page


I finished knitting my Paper Whales sweater and I have to say that I think baby jumpers are the way forward. So quick and a great way to use up yarn left over from adult garments. I think this one turned out really cute.

I felt like there was still a long way to go after my last post, and I even envisaged doing a few posts about the sweater as I did with Paper Totoros. However, knitting the sleeve caps was super easy (just a couple of hours each) and then the yoke was so addictive that I nearly completed it in a weekend.

Here she is on the blocking board

The only change I would make would be to have the zigzag design both below and above the whales. The design is quite bold overall so having the more delicate fade design above the whales looks a little out of place.

Some notes for any future Paper X sweaters:

  • Knit ribbing on 3mm needles and body on 3.25mm
  • When decreasing, do so on colourwork rows (if alternating colour and resting rows) where possible to keep colours evenly spaced

I can already see myself making more of these for friends’ kids. I have nearly a skein of Titus in grey and I’m starting to picture a Paper Elephants…

I really wish I had weighed the yarn I used for this project. I even forgot to weigh the end product! I less than a skein of the main colour (I started out with a full skein plus some odds and ends).

I actually finished this sweater well over a year ago but didn’t want to post about it until I gave it away. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if they think the gift ended up with the recipient I had in mind when I started out! I think baby knits are a gift that need to be given in person (not least because I am rubbish with sizes so tend to have little idea when they will fit). My friend sent me a picture and I was relieved to see that the sweater fit her elder kiddo (though perhaps March isn’t the best time to be given a jumper 🤪).

I also have to trust that my friends will be happy with my colour choices. I am a firm believer that clothing does not have a gender and I think this little sweater would be adorable on any baby.

Yarn: Baa Ram Ewe Titus

Pattern: Paper Dolls by Kate Davies (smallest size)

Ravelry project page


I finished knitting the modified spindrift shawl I’m making for my aunt with the yarn I picked up at Countess Ablaze when I was in Manchester last year. I decided to omit the eyelet rows because I didn’t want the shawl to look busy. I think the yarn speaks for itself. However, it did mean that knitting it was unbelievably boring. I just don’t like knitting stocking stitch flat, but I do really like the way that it looks.

I took these pictures when I was at Hampton Court Palace for my embroidery workshop.

I ended up doing quite a few rows of garter stitch for the border since I had quite a bit of yarn left. I didn’t want to risk running out of yarn but I needn’t have worried. I actually finished the knitting and cut the yarn in Finland, before realising that I didn’t have a darning needle with me for the sewn bind-off.

I have no recollection of how I did it the last time. I’m fairly sure I used this technique on my Bad Day shawl, since I got the idea from looking back at the boneyard shawl pattern. I used this technique. It took HOURS.

Anyway, I hope that my aunt will appreciate this gift and get a lot of use out of it.

Pattern: Spindrift shawl (modified)

Yarn: Viscount of Spark by Countess Ablaze in Bienvenue

Ravelry project page

Cost: £20


I am coming to the end of knitting my galaxy shawl, for which I am grateful. The endless stocking stitch has been deeply uninspiring to work on. I had a holiday coming up and felt that I might be able to finish the shawl on one of the plane journeys. My mind turned to new projects.

Since I was going back to Finland, it seemed appropriate to use the yarn I bought when I visited in the summer. The beautiful ice blue also seemed appropriate to the freezing weather conditions.

I had planned all along for this skein to become a third pair of convertible fingerless gloves/mittens (striped pair, rainbow pair). These are intended to go with the Kelly anorak I am working on.

I found an hour to wind the skein before my trip and packed my 2.5mm DPNs and a spare for any casting on/off that might be required.

I am trying to recreate the most recent (rainbow) pair of these mitts that I made. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have taken any notes beyond mentioning that I improvised a size in between medium and large. I wonder if I maybe took notes in Adobe reader (as you would take notes on a physical copy of a pattern) and they have been lost. I am trying to recreate the same process I followed.

I used a 3.25mm needle for the tubular cast on. It looks a little bit loose so I will try to dig out a 3mm or even 2.75mm DPN for the second glove. It’s not bad enough that it’s worth redoing.

At the moment, I am working on the fingers of the first glove. Things are going well so far. I’m enjoying working on something smaller, and with more thought required than my last project.

Pattern: Modified version of Smartphone Friendly Mitts

Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres

Ravelry project page


I get quite a lot of wear out of my League sweater. I like to throw it on with jeans for work when I’m doing paperwork in the office. It’s great to wear under my raincoat in winter (and autumn and spring, let’s be real). The wool means that it’s nice and warm on chilly days, but I don’t overheat too much on the tube because it’s breathable.

However, I’ve never been thrilled with the fit. The length and shape of the sweater can make me look a bit boxy. I realised (18 months after finishing it) that I might be able to improve the fit by simply shortening the sweater- it’s kind of A-line and the pattern encourages blocking the hell out of the bottom ribbing so that it doesn’t cinch in.

The ribbing measures 4.5cm and I planned to shorten by 10cm, starting the new ribbing around 20cm below point of white.

I already wrote a post about my work on this sweater. I got held up for a while because I was worried I had made the front too short. I left it on the naughty step for a few months while I worked on my She Loves Wool sweater.

Method 1

Unpick one side seam below the waist

Pick up all stitches on a needle at the level you want the ribbing to start. Use separate needles for the front and back

Unpick the other side seam

Cut off the bottom part of the sweater

You might want to do this step for the front and the back at the same time so that you can skein, wash and ball both sections of yarn at the same time (I didn’t do this).

Unravel

If your harvested yarn is very kinky, you may want to skein, wash and hang it up to make your knitting more even. See this blog post for more details about this step.

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Attach the yarn you harvested and knit the ribbing

Remember to count your stitches! Many patterns have some decreases after the ribbing so be sure your numbers match those in the pattern before you start knitting.

Checking the length for a final time

Tubular cast off

After trying my sweater on once I’d shortened the front, I realised I wanted a split hem and to have the back a little longer. I had forgotten how fine the yarn and needles were for this project and the front running had taken a long time. So I used a different method for the back.

Method 2

Insert a long needle a couple of inches above the ribbing. Cut the sweater below the needle. Unravel down towards the ribbing until the sweater is your desired length. Pick up the stitches on another long needle.

Count the stitches on each needle and ensure you have exactly the same number. Adjust if needed.

Attach the two sections using Kitchener stitch.

Block

I blocked at this stage because the grafting was a little uneven.

Re-do the side seams

Block, if desired

Overall I am happier with my sweater now than I was before. However, I am a bit worried that the front is too short and the back is too long. I will wear a few more times before making my final decision, but this may not be my final post about altering this sweater.


I decided to sit down and reflect on the year since my last attempt turned into a post about future intentions. 2018 has been very much a mixed bag for me. Work has been mostly very challenging and I need to put some serious time into considering the next steps in my career. It’s hard for me because my mother really hammered into me the belief that a woman must have her own source of income. I have worked really hard to have a decent job that pays quite well. Although one of my core beliefs is about the importance of excellent universal free education- it was the route to independence from dangerous families for both my mother and me- this job is simply not my passion. While I don’t mind doing it, I’m not excited to get out of bed on weekdays. What does get me excited is the things I write about here- making things and reducing my impact on our one and only planet.

It’s been a funny year in my craft life. My output has decreased every year, but I really see this as a positive. I want to focus my time on making a small number of items that are of the highest quality I can achieve, that meet the demands of my everyday life, and that last.

This year I sewed seven items. They are also a mixed bag and as follows:

  1. Cloud tee
  2. Striped tee
  3. Boat Linden
  4. Olive blouse
  5. Speckled Linden
  6. Emoji blouse
  7. Corduroy trousers

The two Lark tees… meh. I have definitely learnt to stop buying jersey online. There are big variations in quality and that is the main issue with both of these tops. The cloud version does get worn sometimes but the black one is in the big bag of items I have that will one day be cut up into t-shirt yarn.

The Lindens… also meh. I love the look of the boat Linden but unfortunately the discrepancy between the weights of the fabrics did tell and the neckline has started to pucker. However, it has reminded me of how much I love pattern- and colour-blocking so I imagine there will be more of that in my future. The other Linden is nice enough, but just a bit boring. I don’t wear it much.

The olive blouse I was so proud of making does get worn, but I want to replace it with something better. The mistakes I made- especially sewing the neckline facing wrong and making a hole in the button band- mean that this is not going to be a garment that lasts for years. It was intended as a wearable toile, so I guess it served its purpose. While I really like the sleeveless blouse I made, I am very annoyed with myself for using cotton even though I know that I don’t like cotton tops.

The biggest win of the year was my corduroy trousers. Which is quite funny because it took me so damned long to make them. I guess it’s a reminder that projects that aren’t much fun to make can be great fun to wear. I adore these trousers.

So I guess that one of the main takeaways of the year has been to be super mindful about my fabric choices. I am very happy with my choice to state the costs associated with every make. It’s helpful for me to be clear about what I spend on craft. I wonder if it’s also interesting for non-crafters (though I’m not sure how many still read since Facebook links stopped working). People have definitely commented on how ‘frugal’ I must be since I make my own clothes. Of course they wouldn’t say that if they knew that my handmade coat cost over 600!

Especially when fabric comes out of stash, it’s easy to see it as ‘free.’ But of course, it isn’t. I believe someone has started a hashtag wherein she documents all the time it takes to make things too. I think that’s an interesting concept but I’m not sure if it would work for me. For sewing, yes. But knitting is generally something I do during ‘dead’ time such as travelling and watching TV. It would be logistically challenging to document.

I have spent time both on larger-scale alteration projects- such as unravelling two unworn jumpers to make a new one– and small-scale repairs that extend the lifespan of clothes I love. I have also made a few things in my zero waste journey, like my produce bags and dishcloths.

I have only finished one major knitting project this year- the sweater that took ten months to make. Again, I am happy to take more time to make better items rather than churning out loads of things of which I’m not that fond.

It’s been a good year for me physically. I only ended up achieving one of my three fitness goals, mainly due to breaking my finger. However, I know that I am stronger, faster, and better able to endure than ever before. I keep wondering when I will reach my fitness ceiling. However, my body continues to amaze me with the things I am able to do. This year I ran my first 10k.

Some of my fitness goals

  • Lift over 100kg in lower body compound lifts
  • Lift over 50kg in upper body compound lifts
  • Unsupported handstand
  • 5 pull-ups
  • Enter at least two more races, aiming for sub-25 5k and sub-50 10k

The Happy Book bullet journal

Finally, I started bullet journalling this year. I like the way I have been able to record some aspects of my day-to-day life. However, I have really struggled with the planning/future logging aspect, which is actually what would be more useful for me. I was also hoping that the bujo would be a creative space, but I haven’t realised this wish.

Me-made May layount with RuPaul

I was looking back on some of my very oldest blog posts recently and I remembered how much I used to love making cards. I haven’t made a card in years, though I suppose I have also largely stopped giving cards. My craft life has exploded but this has been at the cost of my more artistic side.  When I was at school, I spent hours and hours every week drawing and painting (I did art and graphics GCSEs).

It’s tough because there are only so many hours a day. I already work full-time, undergo psychoanalysis, play quidditch, go to the gym, knit and sew my own clothes, cook almost everything I eat, live a low-impact lifestyle, travel as much as I can and maintain a blog! That’s not even to mention socialising, life admin and rest/self-care.

However, as my weekly screen time reports attest, I do somehow manage to spend hours a day on my phone. I want to use the hours I have well.