After serving several weeks as my inspiration project, I hit a speedbump in knitting my Mermaid Humboldt sweater. I had a few flights coming up and needed a relatively easy project that I could work on while travelling. I returned to my hibernating She Loves Wool sweater. It’s been a good few months since I ground to a halt with the incredible monotony of knitting long row after long row of black stocking stitch. However, this was exactly what I needed to ease my anxiety on the plane- and simple enough that I could start the new season of Orange is the New Black at the same time.
After a long weekend spent in France with my dad, I had nearly finished the black section of the front.
I am now coming up to what I think will be the most challenging aspect of this knit- the neckline. There are no modelled pictures of anyone wearing a She Loves Wool sweater online. From the few photos of unmodelled sweaters, the neckline looks far too open for my liking. I am going to have to make some significant alterations to get it the way I want, which will mean lots of lifelines and I will also attempt to take detailed notes.
With that in mind, this project was becoming a little unwieldy for travel knitting. I decided to cast on one of the sleeves to take on my various summer holidays. I finished the second ball of black yarn and put the body on hold until I have some time to start working on the fair isle section, which I think I will enjoy.
The first sleeve- I had used up one ball of wool at this point. The sleeves were quite funny to knit. At first, they seemed to be going really quickly compared to the body sections. A couple of inches into the plain black stocking part, they seemed interminable. Then, all of a sudden they seemed super long and the first ball was nearly complete.
I hadn’t mentioned in my previous blog posts but I made one of my standard alterations to patterns and used a tubular cast-on for all of the pattern pieces. I just love the neat edge that it produces. I used the Ysolda method for the sleeve- can’t remember if I did the same for the body but it doesn’t really matter. A tubular cast on is one of those things I prefer to do at home rather than on the move as it’s quite fiddly.
The current status is that the back is complete aside from alterations, the first sleeve is nearly ready to start the fair isle work and the second sleeve is my current travel knitting project. Since taking the photo, I have managed to start the fair isle on the front section too.
Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit by Wool and the Gang
Before going on a recent holiday, I sat down and had a proper look at my zebra shorts. These might actually be my favourite garment that I have made. Buying shorts ready-to-wear is a complete nightmare. It’s almost impossible to get anything in between booty shorts and knee-length. I have a couple of pairs of short shorts and I really don’t feel comfortable in them. My zebra shorts are perfect for me; short but with absolutely no risk of my arse being unexpectedly exposed.
Because I love these shorts so much, I have worn them loads over the past eighteen months. I wear my clothes HARD and they have stood up remarkably well.
Since I made them from a fabric that is not really fit for purpose, they are starting to show signs of wear. The fabric is fading, which doesn’t really bother me. But something weird was going on with the turned-up hems. Since I didn’t really have time to repair the shorts before I left, I just re-pressed the hems as best I could and made a note to work on them upon my return.
The first thing I did was take out the little stitches tacking down the turn-ups and then put them in the wash. I pressed the shorts and you can really see how the fabric has worn in different areas.
I added some fusible interfacing to try and reinforce the turn-ups. I think the cotton wasn’t really strong enough to hold them so hopefully they will stay looking tidy for a bit longer now.
I simply cut 2″ strips (enough to cover the whole turn-up and then some) and ironed on. I had a few weights of iron-on interfacing in my stash and went for the heaviest woven one.
It probably would have been better to unpick the side seams before adding the interfacing but I was constrained by time for this mend.
Although I did it by hand before, I made the hem on my machine this time. Since the shorts have turn-ups, it will be hidden anyway. I also have a funny feeling that the tiny hand stitches were causing more wear in this high-stress area of the shorts, where the hem had come loose on the backs of both legs. My mum taught me that when making an invisible hem you should try to catch only one thread of the fabric with each stitch. This looks great but can create pulls in the fabric over time.
I have come to realise that I loathe a bar as a trouser closure. I think people use it because it is considered neater than a button. Because I have narrow hips, I need my waistband to be tight to prevent my trousers from falling down, which means it is easy for the bar to come out or make a hole in the facing fabric. On my Cigarette Pants that are actually pants and not shorts, I have already had to patch the waistband and add a buttonhole because the bar destroyed the delicate facing fabric.
An easy repair was replacing the bar with a button. If I had had time, I would have gone out and bought a shiny new button but I just used one I already had in the house.
All in all, these repairs took around 2-3 hours.
Because of the inappropriate fabric choice, I am not sure how long of a lifespan these shorts will have. These repairs should at least keep them in rotation for another summer. I find myself keeping an eye out for some snazzy denim for a second iteration. I do have some denim in my stash left over from my denim day dress. I know I should really use this up rather than buying new fabric. I have plenty of patches I could use to jazz the shorts up. Or- heaven forfend- I could have something plain in my wardrobe.
I hope people don’t find these mend posts boring. I am partly writing them because I want to view mending as a creative process in the same way as making. I’m still trying to create a smallish wardrobe of thoughtfully made items rather than ending up with the handmade equivalent of fast fashion. And perhaps someone else has some tatty shorts out there and might get some ideas on how to spruce them up.
A few weeks ago I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition that is currently on at the V&A. Titled Making Herself Up, it displays a lot of her personal artefacts. I believe that her husband’s will requested that Kahlo’s bathroom remain sealed for a number of years after both of their deaths. The exhibition explores how she created and curated her image as well as how she presented herself in her artwork.
I thought I knew quite a lot about Kahlo before attending the exhibition. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was under that impression. I never really studied her when I was doing art at school. I was going through a phase of antifeminism at the time and for some reason picked Roy Lichtenstein as the artist I studied for my GCSE art project. Many a regret was had.
Anyway, it was really interesting to learn about her life and how it influenced her as an artist. In particular, I had no idea that she was disabled.
One of my favourite parts was seeing the display of her clothing. Her personal style evolved quite a lot over the years and she seemed to be very mindful of her image. I liked the way that she wore traditional Mexican clothing.
Many of the pieces were embellished with beautiful embroidery or beading, which must have been done by hand. It was also interesting to think about how Frida’s dress enabled her to present herself in the way she wanted in spite of her health and physical challenges.
I felt quite an affinity with Frida through the exhibition, in particular a love of colour and being inspired by flowers and animals. I had chosen an outfit especially to wear to the exhibition. Sometimes I curate my image very carefully, but there are also days where I don’t bother. I generally don’t think that I dress in a notable way until I see a picture of myself in a group and realise that I am wearing every colour of the rainbow while everyone else is monochrome!
I tried to get a selfie with the Frida earrings I couldn’t resist buying from the gift shop. I discovered that, even with a machine designed to take self-portraits in my pocket, I’m not very good at it!
I’ve been so busy writing about all my zero waste and cooking stuff that it could appear that I have not been doing any making. The truth is that I am working on a few things, but there isn’t much to post about. Sewing-wise, I am working on one project that I can’t write about yet and held up on another by a technology problem. I will have very little sewing time until September because I have a few trips planned. I can’t wait to get away, but I’m definitely a little frustrated by how little time I have been able to make for sewing.
Knitting wise, I am chugging away very slowly on my She Loves Wool. This project is probably the most suited to travel knitting, so hopefully I will make a bit more progress during August. I’m having a bit of time off from Mermaid Humboldt since I found it quite stressful to decide how I want the colours to look on the sleeves. I have also nearly run out of turquoise KidSilk Haze so I need to get some more.
ANOTHER unexpectedly time-consuming project has been shortening my League sweater. Although I wasn’t as ecstatically happy as I had hoped when I finished it, this sweater has turned into a great workhorse garment during the cooler months (i.e. pretty much all of them in London.) However, I have never been happy with the fit. I always finagle it for pictures so that it looks okay, but it is simply too long.
I don’t like the way that the combination of relaxed sizing and additional length works on my body. Somehow it took me nearly two years to realise that I could make it shorter (facepalm emoji).
Looking better already!
This project hit a bit of a roadblock after my Mermaid Humboldt made me realise that I could not re-knit the Titus yarn without washing and stretching it out first. I absolutely loathe winding yarn, so it took me about two months to get around to it.
I also wound the remaining yarn that I harvested from my blue ivy cardigan.
Very much regretting that I only cut the front of the sweater, which means I still have to unravel, wind, wash, hang and re-wind the yarn for the back.
On a more positive note, I have started re-knitting the ribbing on the front. I had to increase a few stitches because somehow my numbers didn’t add up. I’m fairly sure I haven’t dropped any stitches so no idea how that works.
I finished my latest summer top in short order after my last post, which meant that I met my target to wear it in Florence.
Fortunately the tight armholes are not too much of a problem.
However, I definitely need a full bust adjustment and possibly a back adjustment too. I see people talking about swayback adjustment quite a bit so maybe that?
For a top made in the wrong type of fabric, I’m fairly satisfied with it. I find the mandarin collar a little constricting around my throat, but I can’t really see myself wearing this buttoned all the way up so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
This picture was taken on the way to my first commentary spot at the 2018 quidditch world cup. Calling and analysing the matches was a lot of fun, and it was nice to realise how much my understanding of the game has increased in the past two years.
Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10
Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It
Notions: Around £8
Pattern: £3.22 (second use)
Total cost: Around £27.50
Not long after writing my last blog post, I tried on my Humboldt sweater and realised that I wasn’t happy with how the gradient was looking. When I calculated how long I wanted each section of colour to be, I didn’t know that I had made a mistake when measuring my Port Charlotte sweater and therefore the dimensions were out. Also, the ribbing section is much more navy than turquoise, meaning that the turquoise section looked way too narrow.
The only viable solution was to rip back to where I finished the turquoise part.
This marl is pretty difficult to photograph! When I was looking yesterday, I couldn’t see much of a difference but now I can. I spent quite a bit of time examining the pattern schematic to try and think about the look of the gradient rather than just calculating it and I’m hoping this way will work out nicely. I will also have to think about how to do the sleeves, which will be much longer than the body.
I’ve managed to finish knitting the body and I think the length is looking as I want it. It feels so weird to be deliberately making a jumper too short!
I managed to cast on my first sleeve so that I could work on it on a flight. Despite the current heatwave in London, I’ve been making decent progress.
Now having a bit of a dilemma about how I want the gradient to look on the sleeves! Maybe it’s time for another lifeline…
Pattern: Humboldt by Anna Maltz
Another upcoming holiday, another garment made up in the preceding week. I spent around 15 straight hours working on my second version of the Threadcount 1617 blouse in this cute cotton print.
I was a victim of the Sew Over It new fabrics newsletter once again! I really must unsubscribe. I actually fell in love with a different fabric in the newsletter and make the hour-long pilgrimage to the new Islington store. Once there, I realised that the fabric wasn’t quite perfect, but I felt that this one was.
Even though I was very proud of myself for managing to make my first version of this top (on a technical level), the finished garment has issues. It feels a little too big in the shoulders and the forward shoulder seams have a very annoying habit of slipping back. But I don’t have another pattern for a sleeveless blouse so I forged ahead. Pattern recommendations will be very gratefully received.
I made few changes to the pattern as written. I took a lot of time over attempting to pattern match. I used the burrito method for the first time and it worked really well.
I decided to size down for the present project, which in hindsight was an error.
- Armholes are a little tight
- If I make this pattern again, I must use an FBA
- Mashed up hemline shortened by 10cm
This project is a helpful reminder about the dangers of cotton. I’ve been very good about avoiding cotton but got sucked in by a lovely print. While I like the print, this fabric really is not ideal for this project because it lacks drape. I’m glad to have received this reminder because I very nearly purchased a dress-quantity of another cotton and I’m glad that I held off. I am pretty fussy about drape.
Update: I remain a sucker. Went in to Liberty to choose buttons for this top and accidentally bought 1.5m of cotton lawn in the sale.
Since it’s so hot in London, I’ve realised that my wardrobe has a complete dearth of summer tops. Liberty tana lawn is so gorgeous against the skin and has a little drape because it’s so fine. I’m still not totally sold on TC1617 so I’m going to try making a sleeveless version of the Sew Over It ultimate shirt. Wish me luck!
Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10
Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It
Notions: Around £8
Pattern: £3.22 (second use)