A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Category Archives: Knitting

I lost steam on my knitting again after getting near the end of my Wowligan. That  project is on my summer to-do list, so hopefully I’ll get around to finishing off the button bands in the next couple of weeks.


Copyright Carissa Browning via Ravelry

I’ve got a couple of summer trips coming up where it will be nice to have a fairly straightforward project along with me. Something that caught my eye immediately was this beautiful Wonder Woman shawl. I’m not especially into comic books but I am into bold, graphic designs and getting more red into my wardrobe. I picked up some yarn on the Love Knitting website but the red was completely the wrong colour. I decided to finally head to I Knit London, which is currently my LYS, to pick up a suitably cartoonish shade.

I’ve been aware of IKL since my days as a fledgling knitter, when I accompanied them to Camp Bestival to volunteer in their tent one summer. It was good to finally get a chance to visit the store just eight short years later (seriously where does the time go?). I’ve got to say that I liked IKL. Gerard dyes his own yarns and I will definitely have to go back as his speckled wool would make a great jumper. I still have a speckled Humboldt sweater in mind.

Anyway, I picked up some red- a bit more cherry than I would have liked, but I couldn’t be bothered to trek to another yarn store. I had some fun using the swift and ball-winder to wind the yarn, helped by the ladies in the knitting group that was running when I visited. I hate hand-winding so much, it was great to be able to skip that step and be left with a professional-looking yarn cake.

So far the knitting on this pattern has been going well. I’m really enjoying the fact that this project is mindless enough for me to work on while I finally catch up on Game of Thrones. I didn’t get a chance to watch series 5 or 6 (though I did read the books a few years ago) and I’ve been loving bingeing them. The other advantage of knitting is that it stops me from checking my phone and therefore missing bits of the action.

It’s not that easy to get a decent picture because of how the shawl is constructed, but here’s how it’s looking so far. You can see that the W shape is starting to emerge.

Pattern: Wonder Woman Wrap (FREE on Ravelry)

Yarn: 1 skein each Ella Rae Lace Merino (Pineapple Soda) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (Kiss)

Ravelry project page

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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!


Pictures and breakdowns of each outfit are available on my Twitter and Insta, but here’s my masterpost.

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.

Me Made May this year coincided with a long weekend away in Hamburg. It was nice to be challenged to wear some of my handmade items on holiday. I tend to be a bit more careful with my handmades than my RTW clothing, so it was nice to give some of them a fun outing.

I travelled in my jersey Bettine dress. My flight was after a busy day in one of my secondary schools, and the stripey dress felt smart enough for work, but was also very comfortable for travel.


On Friday, I was keen to wear my pineapple skirt. My main post contains some more pictures,  but here she is being worn while I posed with my friend Becci on a climbing frame. We were both too scared to climb any higher!

On the second day, my raindrop Bettine matched the weather better than I would have hoped! In this picture you can see the Hold Tight clutch I knitted a couple of years ago, which was quite handy for my essentials. I am just not a clutch bag person, so I have a leather strap attached to it.

Sunday was the nicest weather of the weekend. I almost wished that I had taken one of my pairs of shorts with me. In the end, I made do with my Cleo dress, which was also well-suited to travelling home. I do think I will lengthen the hem on this dress by an inch or two when I get a chance. Although it looks fine in front of the mirror, the corduroy has a tendency to creep up.

I think that incorporating my handmade wardrobe made an already-fantastic weekend even more fun. I can be very lazy about clothing and accessories, and knowing that I would be taking pictures inspired me to think more carefully about my wardrobe.

Thanks to Isie and Becci for being wonderful photographers, as well as awesome companions.


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.


Pattern: Wowligan by Kate Davies

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’m considering starting a denim cardigan. I love denim and the idea of triple denim (jeans, denim shirt and denim cardigan) intrigues me. Dare I embrace the taboo?

I also bought Inspired by Islay, Kate Davies’ most recent publication. 


I mainly bought it because I adore the Port Charlotte yoke. 


Heart eyes emoji. 

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

Method

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.

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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.

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This is the design, which will guide me when I’m wrapping the yarn around…

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…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…