Within 24 hours of returning to London, I had sewn my first piece of clothing. I was very naughty and ordered some fabric just before I went away, and I got back just in time to collect it from the sorting office before it was returned to its sender.
I have a mild obsession with all things related to the sky, so I couldn’t resist this adorable cloud print jersey. One metre was plenty to make a second Lark tee.
Following what I learnt from my first Lark, I removed 4 inches of length from the body. People don’t believe me when I say I have long legs and a short body!
Here’s a pic where you can see the whole shirt. Overall this was another pleasingly simple make.
Pattern: Lark by the Grainline Studio
Fabric: 1m of cotton jersey
Just as I was nearing the finish line and working on the final, extremely long, rows at the top of the shawl, I had to take an extended hiatus in order to squeeze in an urgent secret project. Knitting an entire fingering weight jumper in under three weeks killed my desire to pick up the needles for a while. Just as I started work on the wrap again, I hurt my thumb.
However, fortunately it didn’t take too long for me to be able to knit again. Before long, I’d finished the project. I decided to try out a new method of casting off, which apparently looks better on garter stitch. I used this tutorial for the Icelandic cast off.
My shawl came out pretty close to the measurements on the schematic. I blocked mainly to flatten it, and to improve the ‘W’ shapes. Looking at the pics made me realise that some of the lines are far from parallel, but I don’t think that’s noticeable when I’m wearing it.
Pattern: Wonder Woman Wrap (FREE on Ravelry)
Yarn: 1 skein each Ella Rae Lace Merino (Pineapple Soda) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (Kiss)
I’ve had plans to make a second pair of Sew Over It Carrie trousers with the Liberty fabric I bought in their sale since… well, since I bought it at the beginning of the year. I was a bit concerned that they’d be too similar to my original Carries, but I thought that these would be super useful on my trip to India, so I decided to forge ahead.
These trousers used around 1.5m of fabric. I felt that the ladder print looked pretty similar either way up- I would have needed close to the 2m I had if I’d cut all of the pieces going the same way. I paid £22.50 for the fabric, which isn’t bad for Liberty tana lawn (in fact it’s half price). The print is called Howells Ladders B. I had in my mind that it was Jacob’s ladders, which is rather different.
Just when I thought everything was going swimmingly, I realised that I was missing a pattern piece- the back waistband. Fortunately I was able to use my previous Carries and the pattern pieces to calculate how big it should be.
Put the waistband together and it seemed a bit snug when I tried it on. Quickly realised that I hadn’t added a seam allowance to my pattern piece. D’oh! I initially planned to fudge the trousers and waistband together, and try to ease out the 3cm discrepancy. I’m glad I decided to be sensible and instead cut out a 6cm rectangle to add into my waistband. Fudging it would probably have ended up taking more time and looked crap.
I made few changes to the pattern. Used French seams on the legs. Used 4cm elastic because the thicker elastic in my original pair has a tendency to fold in half, which annoys me.
Pattern: Sew Over It Carrie Trousers. Size 10 with additional length.
Fabric: 1.5m Liberty tana lawn
I can’t believe that I’m finally getting to type these words- I have finished making my Sew Over It 1960s coat. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. Though I’m not that happy with the pictures, this one excites me quite a lot.
This is what the back looks like.
Something I found notable about this project is that I never felt relaxed during any part of the making process. It felt as if disaster could strike at any minute. I suppose that’s the danger of investing such an enormous amount of time and money into something.
All in all, the hand-sewing required after the final class took a full day. There’s a little bit of pulling on the bottom hem that didn’t press out, but I haven’t fixed it because I’m considering taking some length out of the coat.
The next challenge was to select the buttons that would adorn the coat. I took her on a trip to Liberty to try out some different options. Black was the obvious choice, but I wanted to see if anything else tickled my fancy.
In the end, I picked the beautiful black glass buttons in the finished pictures. Nothing wrong with the obvious choice if it’s the right one! I decided to take the coat on a second trip to Soho to have the buttonholes professionally done. Marking out the holes was another source of anxiety. A small mistake could mean that the coat would never hang nicely.
I think my coat enjoyed the second trip into town. I’d rung up DM Buttons the day before to be told that the following day was their last before the holiday, so to go as early as possible. We got to see the Christmas decorations in the early morning light.
Before finding our way down a dark and scary alley to the lovely studio.
It was so cool seeing all the specialist equipment he has to finish garments. And the finished buttonholes look fabulous. I went for bar tacks for any buttonhole aficionados out there.
Getting the buttons to line up took FOREVER.
I have to say that the chances of me making another coat like this are slim. It’s an incredibly labour intensive process, and I’m not entirely convinced that what I can do at home is better than what I can buy. But I am happy with my fabric choices.
My biggest regret is not making the pockets bigger. This is a perennial problem I have with SOI patterns, so be warned if you like a capacious pocket.
Pattern: Sew Over It 1960s coat (size 12 with some fitting adjustments)
Fabric: 3m of wool and lining from Goldbrick Fabrics (I had 1m of wool left over)
Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas included a speed knitting contest, for reasons of drama and tension I guess. Perhaps they were hoping for some shots of wooly sabotage. Speed knitting is a bit of a strange concept because there is almost never a timed element to knitting. Although that could be said of baking, or any number of activities that are subject to televised competitions. In fact, the only other speed knitting I have ever done was making my Rainbow bright jumper due to the super tight turnaround time!
It was so strange to see how they edited all the footage they took of me for the final program. It was even stranger to be referred to as ‘yarn geek Monique’ on numerous occasions. But if the shoe fits…
I didn’t get to mention on the show that most of the clothing I wore was handmade. When I was being filmed at home, I had my better Breton sweater on underneath my favourite pinafore. During the speed knitting challenge, I wore my octopus Betty (as pictured here). And I wore my fuchsia tulip skirt with my finished jumper.
I had initially planned to make a cute mini hat to match my sweater, but I was asked to make a full-sized item. Fortunately, I had a ball of Crazy Sexy Yarn in my stash left over from a wrap I made a couple of years ago. This cowl is basically a Lil Snood Dogg. I would have preferred it to be a bit bigger, but I was limited by the amount of (also leftover) t-shirt yarn I had to cast off with for the circumference. I was then limited by time for the length.
I think it looks pretty good given that it only took an hour, and it’s been pretty useful in the current London freeze.
It was so weird that Jade from WatG was one of the judges! We’d met years ago when I did a knitting audition for them- back when they still sold items made by ‘gang makers.’ It was really interesting to hear how things went for the company.
Yarn: Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool and a couple of metres of Jersey Be Good
Pattern: Very Lil Snood Dogg
I already wrote about the substantive making of my Port Charlotte jumper, but I added a few elements to make it ‘more Christmassy.’ Even though I knit this sweater specifically for Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas, I was very clear that if I was going to invest so much time (and money) in a project, it had to be something I would love in its own right.
The words on the front are simply some chain-stitch embroidery. A top tip that really helped with this (thanks Jane) was to baste on the design with cotton first, to give myself a guideline. The only time I had to do it was on the train from London to Dorset, hence the uneven appearance. I’m definitely going to remove the embroidery once Xmas is over and done with.
I wore my jumper out and about on lovely day out in Bristol with my friend Jane to get some pictures. Here we are being geeks on the open-topped bus tour.
The yoke looks just as beautiful from the back.
I think this jumper fulfils its purpose of looking good with waisted skirts and dresses.
Something that I wish I’d had some more time to work on was the light-up element of this jumper. I’ve been interested in incorporating lights into my knits for a few years now- this was my reason for backing a project on Kickstarter about making light-up cards.
The card kit didn’t really translate into wearable tech, but I backed another TehnoChic project that came with a load of cool LEDs, which were perfect for this. If I’d had more time, I would probably have knitted little pockets behind the sweater to hold the batteries. In the end, I just slapped them on using Velcro! I’ve been too lazy to get the LEDs out again since the filming, so they’re not pictured in this post.
If you want to see more about this sweater and see how I got on in the Christmas jumper knitting competition, you can see my second small screen appearance of the year at 5pm on Thursday 14th December on Channel 4. I imagine it will be available on demand after that (I hope so because I won’t actually be home when it’s on).
Pattern: Port Charlotte by Kate Davies. I made size 4 and my gauge was pretty much spot on.
Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe. Around 2 skeins White Rose, Gobstopper mini skeins and some Jamieson&Smith jumper weight from my stash