I’ve finally managed to get some pictures of my mermaid Humboldt sweater! I finished knitting it months ago, but it was far too warm to wear it for some modelled pictures. I took the sweater up to Edinburgh, where I was competing with my quidditch team in Highlander Cup VII (we won by the way) and managed to get some pictures.
All in all, I spent over a year working on this project. I consider that to be time very well spent. I was able to transform two garments that weren’t getting any love into a new sweater that I hope will bring me joy for many years to come.
When I first learnt to knit ten years ago, I was definitely more of an ‘item’ knitter than a ‘process’ knitter. I was desperate to finish projects, sometimes staying up all night to get them done. As the years have gone on, I’ve become aware of how important it is to plan a project. To swatch, to measure, to research yarn. As I’ve spent time on these preparatory stages, I’ve started to enjoy them for their own sake. I feel confident that all the work will pay dividends. And there is pleasure to be taken from the planning itself- from being meticulous, from experimenting and thinking deeply about what I am creating.
Fortunately, this fits in perfectly with my burgeoning anti-consumerist values. Just because you’re a maker doesn’t make you immune from the pernicious influence of fast fashion. It’s easy to feel like you need to churn out a certain number of projects each month, or that you need to compulsively buy yarn or fabric for your stash. I don’t want to become a Smaug enviously guarding a big pile of fibre. I want a carefully curated wardrobe full of items that I enjoy making and wearing.
This is probably the most alterations I have made to a pattern:
- Very different gauge
- Worked pattern with less ease than recommended
- Held yarn triple to incorporate ombre effect
- Provisional cast-on and tubular cast-off used throughout
- Altered neckline
I also did so much ripping that I have probably knit this sweater 1.5 times:
- Unravelled a load of the body because I wasn’t happy with the ombre
- Unravelled most of a sleeve to incorporate all of my remaining turquoise yarn
- Unravelled the neckline twice to get it to look the way I wanted
I’m glad that I am much more at peace with ripping and re-knitting these days. Again, it is part of the process.
Humboldt by Anna Maltz
3 skeins Malabrigo sock
4 balls Rowan Kidsilk Haze*
2 balls Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour*
I have nearly one ball of the lightest blue Kidsilk and a couple of small balls of the sock yarn remaining
*I held the Rowan yarn double, which is why I used so much
Original cost of materials
Sock yarn: £39
Kidsilk: £50-60 (six balls @8.95 = £53.70 but I can’t remember what I actually paid)
Cost of additional materials
Two balls of KidSilk haze @ 8.95 each = £17.90
Previous posts in this series
The international feminist craft swap is done and dusted! I have to say it was such a lovely experience for my first ‘proper’ craft swap.
I knitted my second Funkopop pussy hat. As I mentioned in my last post, the colourway is also called pussy hat. Here it is being modelled. I believe that Deidre is planning to customise this pop, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how she turns out. I didn’t even know that people customised pops because I am super behind the times as always.
Now we come to the really exciting part- my fabulous quilted items.
I think the Serena-inspired pillowcase came out beautifully. I haven’t purchased a pad for it yet- partly because I feel it’s too lovely to use. I really can’t wait until the day I have my own house so that it can take pride of place in my favourite crafting swap.
Deidre also surprised me with a bonus gift- the cute mug rugs emblazoned with the sentiment create the things you wish existed; create the world you wish existed. I will certainly try my best to do my small part in fulfilling that mantra.
You can check out more of Deidre’s amazing quilting over on her blog. I look forward to continuing our relationship through our blogs. This swap has reminded me of the amazing side of the internet, in opposition to the more scary and disturbing side.
For some reason, I’ve been more prone to shopping over the past month or so. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve been a bit stressed out and feel the need to buy myself presents to give myself the illusion that life is worth living. When I received a Kate Davies newsletter saying that her dyed shades of buachaille were on sale, I knew that my credit card was likely to take a hit. I love to support small female-led businesses when I can.
I ended up buying a kit to make the Oran do Chaora cardigan.
I got the blue colourway, which is called between weathers. I love the way Kate’s work is inspired by the natural world around her. Luckily the pattern was included because I thought that it was included in Inspired by Islay, of which I have a copy, but I was wrong.
When I was clicking through Ravelry looking for inspiration pictures, I remembered the Sinister Catdigan that I’ve had saved in my favourites for a while. I just love the way the kitties look.
I’d seen that someone had knitted a plain Oran do Chaora. My initial (mean) thought was that it was silly since the cables are the main feature of the pattern. But then I started to wonder whether I could incorporate a colourwork yoke into the cardigan. I wear a lot of blue and have a RTW navy blue cardi that I wear a lot already. I feel like a cute cat cardigan could add a lot to my life.
I dug through my stash to see what I could use for the contrast colours and I’m thinking about the leftovers from my She Loves Wool sweater.
I like the way the colours look together, but I am a little apprehensive about using two such different yarns in the same garment. Buachaille is a relatively rustic and sheepy yarn (for me), while sugar baby alpaca is super soft and feels a bit more processed. There is also a slight difference in my gauge. However, I am drawn to the idea of using the yarn that I already have rather than buying something new.
I think I’m going to steam ahead regardless. Oran do Chaora is knit from the bottom up, so I can always unravel and re-knit the yoke if I find that the alpaca really doesn’t work. I haven’t quite decided yet whether to buy the sinister catdigan pattern. I’m pretty sure that I could recreate the yoke without needing to purchase the pattern, but I also feel that the designer has created something very cool and unique and should be remunerated for that. I prefer the cardigan style of ODC so the fair isle will most likely be the only design element I use from the other pattern.
As always, I’d forgotten how boring it is to knit flat stocking stitch- though not quite as bad as the long stretch of ribbing. As usual, I used a tubular cast on (Ysolda method) because I love the way it looks. I’m sure no one else will ever notice this little detail, but it’s still worth the extra time to me. As I also often do, I forgot that you’re meant to knit the ribbing on a slightly smaller needle. That’s something that I don’t think makes a big enough difference to re-do, so I will be leaving it.
Yarn: Buachaille by Kate Davies
Pattern: Oran do Chaora x The Sinister Catdigan
I’ve been quite paranoid about my bike being stolen and my fears were partially realised when I returned to my bike one morning to find my waterproof seat cover gone.
The person must have really wanted it, since it was tethered to my bike seat. It hadn’t really occurred to me that someone would bother to take it. I was actually rocking a double seat cover situation. When I bought my bike secondhand around eight years ago, I was given a seat cover. The thief left the old one in the gutter.
To be fair, I can kind of see why.
Since it is now my only seat cover, I decided to give it some TLC. I like buying patches but I never know where to sew them. I used them to cover up some of the biggest holes.
I just hand-stitched them on.
The whole area at the bottom that encases the elastic is quite badly worn. I considered undoing it and appliqueing some ribbon over the top, but in the end that seemed too much work given that my sewing machine is still in a box following my house move. It doesn’t seem worth spending ages repairing an object I don’t really like all that much.
I think what I’ll do is wait until the brown part is beyond repair and then look into covering up the top (checked) part and replacing the whole brown section with some new fabric. I always hated the colour of this seat cover- brown is not my thing- but put up with it due to laziness/inertia.
To be honest, what is most likely is that I will buy a new seat cover next time I am in a bike-friendly city. I have so little crafting time and I want to dedicate it to passion projects.
However, it is nice to display some of my patches. The non-quidditch ones I picked up from a market in India. However, I really should stop buying patches because I still have quite a few for which I have no immediate use.
Last week I received a really exciting comment on the post I wrote about making a pussy hat for a Funko pop. I was inspired to write up a quick pattern when someone on Instagram told me that they made a hat for one of her own Funkos after seeing mine. Deidre, the commenter, didn’t feel her skills were up to making the hat herself, so she reached out to see if I would be willing to make one for her. Once I saw her amazing quilts, I was completely sold on the idea of a craft swap.
My half of the swap was knitting up a hat. I used this yarn I purchased from Ysolda a few years ago. I just noticed the label says Belyse kit, which is a pattern for some fair isle fingerless mitts. I have a feeling that the kit didn’t come with the pattern and I didn’t fancy paying for it separately, so the kit has been in my stash for a while. Since I bought the kit purely because Ysolda named the colourway pussy hat, this project feels as if it was meant to be.
I wound the yarn and cast on.
I quickly realised that this hat seemed smaller than my original. I used the same needles, so I wondered if I’d become a tighter knitter, or if the original hat had stretched after years of being on Arya Stark’s large bonce. I counted the stitches on my original hat and realised that I made a mistake in the cast-on numbers in my pattern.
My second version of the hat seems a better size.
Although the pussy hat moment feels like it has passed**, I’m considering trying to write this pattern up properly. Although I have technically published a couple of patterns on Ravelry, I don’t consider them ‘real’ patterns as opposed to glorified blog posts. Maybe I could test the water by writing up an easy pattern in a more formal way.
Deidre offered to make me a small quilted item in exchange for the hat. I love quilting and it’s something I’d like to get into one day. To keep with the feminist theme, I asked for a cushion cover inspired by my female icon, Serena Williams. She came up with these three lovely designs for me.
I went with design three. I’m so excited to see what the finished
Pattern: Funko pop pussy hat
Yarn: Ysolda Blend no. 1
**Update: I wrote that last sentence last week, without really thinking. Today it occurred to me how topical it feels to have scheduled this post on the day that Boris Johnson takes office as prime minister. This is a huge blow for people who want to remain in Europe and for the left-wing in the UK in general.
I work for local government and I’m scared that another five years of conservative leadership will have irreversible negative effects on our society. It feels really important to be clear about my feminist and anti-racist views at a time when it feels like some of the freedoms we have come to enjoy are at risk.
Despite the many, many mistakes I made when knitting these little mitts, they are finished and have been presented to my friend for her birthday.
Unfortunately I had a senior moment and forgot to take any pictures of the finished item apart from this one of them blocking. Maybe I will get a chance for a snap in the future.
Here is a slightly dodgy phone pic showing how they look on the hand. The blocking evened the mitts out a bit, and my friend’s hands are a little smaller than mine, so I think they will fit her beautifully.
The only substantive change I made was using a smaller needle. I also did a tubular cast-off because I am obsessed with fancy cast-on and cast-off edges. I have a second kit so there is a strong chance that I will make another pair of these little beauties.
I loved this pattern for a cute pair of rainbow mitts ever since I saw it on Ysolda’s Instagram well over a year ago. The kits popped up again, probably because it’s Pride month, and I couldn’t resist this time. My good friend Paula’s birthday was coming up and I thought these would make a great gift for her.
I’d also seen some wonderful pins that Ysolda was stocking, so the purchases justified one another and enabled me to get free shipping. I just had to get this pin of a woman with beautiful natural hair. Representation matters! I bought two Joy kits in the end because I can see myself making this project for someone else too.
There are mistakes on both flags, which is a bit of a pity because the flag is probably my favourite part of the pattern. On the first, I misread the pattern and somehow missed that each colour row is two garter rows rather than one. I’ve never done double knitting before, but I’m still a bit mystified as to how I failed so badly at reading. I managed to do the process correctly on the second mitt, but somehow did two rows of red rather than one (facepalm). Maybe I read the same section of the pattern twice? Another shocking reading failure on my part.
I was on a tight deadline for this project because I wanted to give them to Paula on time. This meant that I did not correct the errors. I didn’t notice the mistakes in the first flag until I was working on mitt 2, though I had noticed that it looked wonky. Paula doesn’t knit and I’d be surprised if she notices anything untoward.
I did, however, manage to make yet another huge error that could not be ignored. I accidentally made two left mitts once I had finished the fair isle on the second one. This was a mistake that I couldn’t really let go so I unravelled.
Weaving in the ends was a slight pain but these mitts are finally on the blocking mat. I should be able to give them away at the weekend.
Pattern and yarn: Joy kit from Ysolda
Ravelry project page