This was the first year that I’ve had enough handmade items to participate properly in Me Made May, and I must say I absolutely loved it! I tend to vacillate between dressing very carefully, and just grabbing a well-worn item from my wardrobe and chucking it on. Me Made May encouraged me to think about my clothing each day. I even accessorised!
It’s also been a lot of fun to interact more with other members of the online dressmaking community, and some of my favourite sewing brands. I think I’m going to make more of an effort to take a picture when I’m sporting one of my handmade items.
Lessons from Me Made May:
- Trousers. Since my favourite-ever work trousers wore out a couple of years ago, I have essentially stopped wearing trousers. I have one pair of jeans that are one strenuous bend away from destruction. MMM helped me to fall in love with my Cigarette Pants. I think the biggest problem with them is that I didn’t choose the right fabric. I am planning to make a pair in corduroy for winter.
- I don’t have enough plain tops. I’ve never been able to find the perfect plain basic top, but I should resume my search.
- In fact, plain things are a problem for me in general. I need a few more staple garments that don’t have a crazy print on them.
- I need to go through my older knitted items and decide whether to keep, frog or donate them. I have quite a few jumpers from the past few years that I simply never wear, and I have no real interest in hanging on to them for sentimental reasons.
- To be honest, I need to do the same thing with my sewn garments. I wore quite a few items that I would never have worn if it wasn’t Me Made May. I need to decide whether they are really deserving of a space in my wardrobe, or whether I need to accept whatever lessons I learned from making them and get rid.
- Weirdly, day dresses are a big gap in my wardrobe. I wear dresses to work all the time, so this is a very obvious area to get some fun projects in. I definitely need to move my Balinese rayon dress up my queue.
Since I had the stirrings of a wish to knit while I was laid up ill on the sofa, I bought a Wowligan kit from the Kate Davies website. Ever since Kate started producing her own wool, I’ve been itching to try it. None of the kits were quite speaking to me until these ones for cute baby cardigans were released.
I knit up a couple of swatches and soon cast on. I got gauge on 3mm needles. Since I couldn’t find any other small circulars, I used 2.25mm needles for the rib. I was a bit worried that the ribbing would be too small and look silly, but actually it looks great.
I was wondering whether Buachaille might replace Titus as my go-to yarn for sweaters. I think Buachaille is wonderful for wool. It softens up after blocking and has a lovely drape. However, it is still a tad itchy for my sensitive skin. Still, great to try a new product made by a small business that I’m keen to support.
Quite a few American knitting bloggers I follow mention knitting during meetings and at conferences. I never know whether this is a standard ‘thing’ in America, or something they have pioneered themselves, but it’s definitely not common here in the UK. As a psychologist, I know that keeping your hands busy with activities such as doodling can actually enhance concentration. However, it’s not widely accepted for adults to do anything other than stare in rapt concentration at the speaker (or play with their phone under the table).
While I don’t feel comfortable enough to ask to knit in team meetings at work (yet), it is something I’ve started doing when I’m attending training. I think I feel freer because I generally don’t know the other people there. Anyway, doing so really works for me, and gave me several hours of free knitting time on the body of this little cardi, which otherwise might have been quite dull going.
The sleeves are going super speedily! I used 2.5mm DPS for the rib and went back to 3.5mm for the stocking portion.
Yarn: 3 skeins Buachaille in the Furze colourway, provided in kit from website
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, my obsessive passion for knitting has taken a nosedive over the past few months. I think that this is partly due to becoming a highly competent knitter. I don’t feel particularly challenged by prospective knitting projects. Another part is dissatisfaction with some of the garments I have created. Since you are creating shaped fabric as you knit, once an item is finished, it’s finished. If there’s something you don’t like about it, often that’s a case of tough luck.
There’s also a limit to the number of knitted garments that a wardrobe can take. Realistically, I don’t wear knitted jumpers that often. They are a bit casual for workwear, and if I’m looking for comfort, I usually reach for a RTW sweatshirt or hoodie rather than one of my creations.
I think this is why sewing has started to interest me so much more. You can create a much wider variety of clothing, and home-sewn items are less radically different to shop-bought than handknit to machine knit.
However, the experiences of knitting and sewing are vastly different. For me, sewing is highly immersive and addictive. I fly through the steps, desperate to discover the result of my fevered work in front of the machine. I scarcely breathe. This is partly my personality- being outcome- rather than process-oriented (something I try to work on). It’s also a side-effect of my being a relative novice. When I first started knitting, I would occasionally stay up all night working on a project. However, I also think it’s partly due to inherent differences in the two activities.
This is a very long-winded way of saying that I miss knitting. As an attentionally impoverished millennial, I am basically incapable of sitting still. I’ve noticed that I’ve started playing stupid games on my phone while I’m watching TV. This used to be knitting time.
I haven’t forced myself to do any knitting during my fallow period. But recently my interest in yarn has started to pick up. After reading a very interesting blog post by Tom of Holland, I picked up a copy of Indigo Knits, a wonderful book about working with denim yarn.
I also bought Inspired by Islay, Kate Davies’ most recent publication.
This jumper is everything to me. I’m holding off on starting because I need to consider whether there is a gap in my wardrobe for her. I would like a cropped sweater to wear over skirts and dresses, but I’m not sure whether this is the right candidate.
I also bought some of Kate’s Buachaille wool. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since it was released. So far I’ve just made a swatch.
So, some stirrings of wanting to knit, and a small project to work on are positive signs. I think that even holding off on starting Port Charlotte represents progress. A mistake I’ve made over and over is starting projects without sufficient thought and research. Knitting a garment is slow, labour-intensive and expensive. I owe it to myself as a craftsperson to put in the legwork to have the best chance of ending up with something I love.
After knitting up a couple of pussy hats for Innocent, I decided to modify the pattern slightly to make one for Arya Stark, my lone Funko. I think she looks great!
I was inspired to write up a quick pattern after someone on Instagram liked my idea and made a pussy hat for Lagertha (I won’t pretend I know who she is).
You will need
- A small amount of fingering weight pink yarn
- 2.75mm DPNs/circular needles
- 3mm DPNs/circular needles
1. Using smaller needles, CO 40 sts. Join to work in the round
2. K2P2 rib 12 rounds
3. Change to larger needles. Work in stocking stitch for around 12 rounds, until total piece measures around 6cm
4. Rearrange stitches onto two straight needles and Kitchener together
I took some extra pictures in my garden, and somehow I made Arya look like a hipster taking selfies.
I finished my Unspeakable hat in pretty short order and quickly whipped up a yellow pompom as its crowning glory. Despite spending ages carefully cutting out my cardboard template, the pompom looked pretty crap. I noticed the last time that I made a pompom this way, for my other hat using the same pattern, the pompom was a bit wonky.
This time, no amount of trimming seemed to bring the pom in to the massive fluffy sphere in my mind’s eye. At the same time, I started to doubt my design choice. Was it a bit simplistic and crap-looking to just have a big yellow pompom plopped on top of the sparkly purple hat? (Note: Looking at these pics, the pompom really doesn’t look that bad. I think this is an example of me being a little bit of a crazy perfectionist.)
As well as ordering a plastic pompom maker from Amazon (I resisted for years since one can make do without, but I now feel this is a false time economy), I remembered seeing some beautifully designed pompoms online some time back.
After some googling, I found this tutorial for making pompoms with coloured designs on them, and decided to have a go at making my own golden snitch pompom as part of the #craftblogclub craft challenge.
This is the design, which will guide me when I’m wrapping the yarn around…
…this handmade pompom maker. The clever addition of the smaller rainbow of cardboard on the templates at the top creates a space for your scissors, to make cutting the pompom easier.
This pompom turned out okay for a first try, but I realised that I had made the snitch design far too big, so much so that it was difficult to tell what it was at a glance. I decided to try again.
I hope you can tell which pompom is which! I didn’t bother trimming the first one that much as already knew I would be trying again. I made a snitch design on both sides of both pompoms. I’m definitely featuring the better side in these pics.
Definitely feel like ‘trimming my pompom’ should be a euphemism for something…
I finally sewed my fancy golden snitch pompom onto my purple hat and, overall, I’m happy with how this project turned out.
Yarn: 3 balls of ‘Essential Knitting’
Pattern: Classic Cuffed Hat by Purl Soho (free pattern)