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:
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
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.
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.
I’ve finally finished my She Loves Wool jumper and, mercifully, I am pretty happy with the result.
From my experience with this sweater, I will be a lot more reserved about choosing patterns where there is no documentary evidence of the making process online. I think I was quite lucky. The few projects linked to the pattern on Ravelry indicate that others have found making this sweater a frustrating process. This kit is a luxury product- it is very expensive- so I would have expected a little more to make the experience as pleasant as possible for the user.
I think also being a fairly experienced knitter was a big help. The fact that I put so much time into planning this sweater meant that I was able to think critically about possible issues such as the fit and sleeve length, which circumvented what could have been very painful problems. There are hundreds of hours of knitting in this project so the idea of ripping back was unbearable.
Needle: 3.5mm circular; 3.25 for the neckline ribbing
I’ve been working on a shawl using the skein of yarn I picked up from Countess Ablaze when I was in Manchester a few weeks ago.
It’s very hard to capture the colour of this yarn on camera. This shawl is going to be a present for my auntie but it’ll be late for Xmas, partly because I’m working with a broken finger.
The shawl is growing quite slowly. It’s been a while since I made a plain stocking wrap like this. The last time was probably my stormy skies one. It’s pretty dull knitting but I think the final result will be worth it.
Pattern: Spindrift shawl
Yarn: Viscount of Spark by Countess Ablaze
Getting to try the sweater on for the first time was a huge relief. I’d pinned it together a few times during the making process to assess fit, but you can never be sure how something will look until it is all sewn up.
For some reason I’ve been hesitant about criticising Wool and the Gang- perhaps because I slightly know the founders. However, I strongly feel that this pattern was not designed for hand-knitters. Even the most basic fact of knitting fair isle flat is not typical. I can’t find any evidence to suggest that anyone test-knitted this pattern and you can tell.
My gripes are mainly small things, such as the way the decreases are done on the raglan seams that means they are a little untidy when sewn up.
I really wasn’t happy with how the raglan seams looked so I played around with ways to make them neater.
Annoyingly you can see the stitches against the other colour. I think it looks better but I’ve left the ends loose so I have the option of undoing it.
Perhaps I have been spoiled by knitting a lot of projects from Brooklyn Tweed, where every detail of the design is painstakingly thought out. I also feel the sizing is quite off. I know that WatG patterns tend to have a very relaxed fit but still. I managed to get a good fit due to careful swatching and knitting maths.
I sewed up the whole sweater and then picked up the neckline stitches in the round. I think this is a superior method to knitting flat and then seaming the neckline.
I picked up way fewer stitches than indicated in the pattern. I ended up with 120. I basically just picked up one neckline stitch per stitch on the front, back and sleeves. Since I wanted a tight neckline, it worked for me. I also made a folded neckband for a more professional finish.
As a note, I ended up using up nearly all of the black yarn (and I’m fairly sure I ordered an extra ball). I did omit the contrast hem and cuffs (knitting them in black rather than white), which increased the yardage a bit. However I am a little surprised I got through it all because I made my sleeves and body quite a bit shorter than indicated in the pattern.
I had more than two balls of white left.
I bought some fibre in Finland with the aim of knitting some replacements for our kitchen sponges. I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished! And I thought I would write up a quick pattern.
When I searched on Ravelry, I couldn’t find many free patterns for simple dishcloths, hence making up my own. I believe the technical term for this stitch pattern is a 3*3 garter rib.
22sts and 38 rows to 10cm in pattern.
I used a 3.5mm needle. I tried a 4mm first but I wasn’t happy with how the work looked.
A characteristic of this yarn is that it varies significantly in width- not really a problem, especially since a dischcloth doesn’t exactly have to be an item of great beauty, but I don’t like uneven knitting.
Cast on 27 stitches. I used long-tail CO.
Rows 1-3: Knit
4 (WS). K3 P3
5 (RS). K
Repeat rows 4-5 until work reaches desired length (I went for 12cm).
Knit two more rows.
I used the yarn tail to crochet a hanging loop in the corner.
I’ve been working consistently on my She Loves Wool sweater since picking it back up in the summer. I hope people don’t find these posts too dull, but I’ve been working on this project for so long and I don’t have that many other makes to write about.
I have now finished the front section and have moved back to working on the sleeves. I looked back at my previous post in which I blithely wrote that I was ‘nearly ready’ to start the colourwork on the first sleeve. I was nowhere near that point!
There is a lot of plain knitting to do once the sleeve increases are finished for the smallest size. I am mostly knitting on public transport or while watching TV at home so it’s not too bad but, as with the other pieces, still pretty dull.
The instructions state to knit the sleeve until it is 60cm long. This seems excessive. I have very long arms and they’re a little over 50cm from wrist to armpit. I’ve put the first sleeve back on hold at 21″, planning to re-check the length before starting the colour work. While I feel that I should follow my instincts and start the sleeve colourwork, I feel very apprehensive about deviating from the instructions. Normally I have to add length to my sleeves so it seems perverse to make them shorter than stated.
I took the time to check the sleeve length as accurately as possible. I pinned the sweater sections to my bra- the colour work is the same depth on all of the sections so the back is standing in for the sleeve. As you can see (I hope!) the sleeve looks good so I have proceeded with the colour work. I might even start putting the yoke together before finishing the second sleeve so that I can feel 100% confident about the length.
In more positive news, the neckline looks a lot better than I was expecting. The official pictures of this sweater all show the neckline being quite open, which I hate.
However, my neckline looks very different. I wonder if perhaps the sample was knitted in the largest size. Anyway, it gives me hope that I won’t have to make a lot of alterations because I’ve spent quite enough time on this sweater already.
Suddenly I am starting to feel like I am making good progress on this sweater so I am a lot more motivated to work on it. If all goes well I might even be able to wear it before Christmas.
She Loves Wool- kit from WatG * And Other Stories
Ravelry project page
I’ve been working on a dish cloth using the hemp yarn I picked up in Kangasniemi.
I saved a few dishcloth patterns on Ravelry. My favourite was this one, which cost $2.50.
Although I believe in supporting designers, I also felt that it would be pretty easy to improvise my own similar pattern, so I did.
I think the dish cloth is too wide and I’m not sure about the gauge (might be better on 3.5mm needles). But then I’m planning to use this cloth to scrub my dirty plates so does it matter? I genuinely can’t decide and so I vacillate between starting again and continuing.
I’ll probably write up a pattern at some point. It’s been a very long time since I published a knitting pattern. My last one was this cute baby hat. I check Ravelry intermittently and there are 37 projects on there! It blows my mind that at least 37 people (not everyone maintains their Rav as religiously as me) have made hats based on my pattern.