A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: knitting

Finally ripping out my black cabled sweater opened my mind to the idea of turning disaster into triumph. Making is one of my passions in life and I believe it’s okay to spend money on the things you love. However, I’m also aware that I have a lot of cash tied up in unloved handmade items; wasteful both financially and in terms of the raw materials. I feel ready to stop carrying around an archive of mediocre knits and start ripping and reusing.

This change in my attitude got me thinking again about how my creative life might reflect what’s going on for me internally. I hope it means I’m getting ready to let go of emotional habits that do not serve me, changing to something more positive.

Sketch in my bullet journal

One thing that put me off making the Humboldt sweater when I first considered it two years ago was the cost of the yarn. Even using some recycled yarn, I would have to buy at least two skeins of speckled yarn (around £20 each) as the contrast colour.

As well as harvesting some yarn, unravelling took me on a trip down memory lane. I looked back on some of my old blog posts and tried to track when I started documenting projects here and on Ravelry. Seeing my Bay and Blue Ivy sweaters side-by-side on Ravelry got me thinking.

I remember spending a small fortune on the Rowan yarn during my first trip to Liberty of London when I was doing my doctorate. Though I loved the raw materials, the finished sweater was never me. I’ve probably worn it twice.

The navy cardigan got a lot more wear when I first made it. However, it was never quite the garment I hoped it would be. When I was younger, I was obsessed with designing things myself. I think I got this from my mother, who cannot even stand following a recipe. Now, I prefer to leave the hard work of designing to someone else, adding my own twist in smaller ways.

I think this cardigan was the fourth or fifth knitted garment I ever made and I managed to convince myself I was ready to take on a design project. Although the cardigan is okay, it has been unworn for the past couple of years. One of my quirks as a knitter is that I hate semi-solid yarns. I like things to be a uniform, saturated colour.

The juxtaposition had me. What about making a marl with the navy blue and a faded effect created with the kidsilk haze? I had a slight reservation about how the sequinned yarn would fit in, but I loved the idea.

As well as being less wasteful, I have been thinking recently about how I can downsize my stash. I am moving house soon and, as always, I have too much stuff. However, when I was planning this project, a massive advantage was the fact that I keep all my scraps. I had enough leftover yarn from both sweaters to make a gauge swatch and play a little bit with effects.

When I was working on the swatch, I initially preferred the stocking section (a happy accident). However, looking at it now, I think the garter stitch adds to the soft, dreamy effect of the mohair. I’m so happy with this swatch! The fade looks beautiful. The camera doesn’t really capture it, but there’s a lovely lustre to the yarn too.

Unblocked gauge (5mm)

20sts x 31rows = 10cm

Blocked

18sts x 29 rows = 10cm

Even though my gauge is off, I don’t think it makes sense to go up a needle size. I want a slightly more fitted version of this sweater anyway, so I will just be very careful when calculating the size I am going to make.

I’m thinking that my mermaid Humboldt could be the perfect project for the Upcycle challenge being hosted by #craftblogclub on Twitter. I think the deadline of 25th June is a little ambitious but it still gives me something to work towards. I took part a couple of years ago and made my Cateralls, so I like the idea of doing something very different.

Original cost of navy yarn: £39

Original cost of Kidsilk: £50-60

Pattern: Humboldt by Anna Maltz

Ravelry project page

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Over the Easter holidays, I took some time to finally unravel one of the first sweaters I ever knit. I’ve vacillated about whether to frog it for a long time. Even though I’m sure I’ve worn this sweater less than ten times, it can be hard to accept that something you spent such a long time making simply did not turn out the way that you had hoped.

Unravelling was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. There is a significant problem-solving aspect to it. You have to remember the order in which you knit the pieces, locate the ends you painstakingly wove in, and sometimes take a leap by yanking away on a piece of yarn that could potentially make your job a lot harder. The sweater had a few areas of moth damage, which is why there are so many little balls of yarn. Wherever there was even one broken ply, I split the yarn.

Since I made this sweater before I started blogging or using Ravelry consistently, I thought I would write a bit of a memorial piece.

I can’t remember how I came to own the book Custom Knits, but this pattern stood out for me straight away.

I remember buying the yarn from Knit With Attitude, back when I lived above a dry cleaner’s in Stoke Newington. Though I had very little disposable income (I was working in a school as a support assistant), I believed even then that it was worth investing in raw materials to match the investment of time in making garments. At that time, KWA was located in a teeny tiny unit on a back street next to the amazingly named Sell-Fridges (a discount refrigerator outlet).

The proprietor was really lovely and suggested this gorgeous alpaca yarn. I have moved house about four or five times since my Stoke Newington High Street days so I’ve long since lost the ball bands, though I’m sure I managed to keep hold of them for quite a few years. I remember even popping back into the shop for advice a couple of times.

I made this jumper when I was in a phase of adding bust darts to my knits. Since I also added waist shaping, it ended up being too tight. I also managed to make it too short. So much for being guaranteed a good fit with top-down knits!

I ended up with 16 variously sized balls of yarn, which weighed 260g. I threw away lengths shorter than a metre or so because life is too short. I froze the yarn due to the moth damage, and I will wind and soak before reusing it.

I think I’m going to use the reclaimed yarn as the main colour in the Humboldt sweater I’ve been planning for what feels like aeons. I think I will have some leftover sugar baby alpaca from my She Loves Wool sweater if there isn’t quite enough.

The experience of unravelling has got me thinking about some of the other unloved knits I have taking up space in my life. I’m hoping that reclaiming and reusing can be more of a part of my journey to be a less wasteful maker.

Pattern: Backward cabled pullover

Ravelry project page


I finished knitting my Shore Street hat while travelling northern India.

I initially got near to finishing the hat on the way to Jaipur. I’d been attempting to gauge the length by trying on at different points, but the hat still ended up way too long because of the way I did the brim. I eventually followed the shaping for the smallest hat using the stitch counts for the largest.

The next challenge was deciding what kind of pompom should adorn my new hat. I had an idea of making a giant rainbow pompom (see this post for more details) but I was unhappy about the idea of using up all of my remnants (I actually had enough for another Shore Street if I wanted).

I did end up making the pompom, but probably should have listened to my gut feeling that the colours weren’t quite right together. I might switch out for a plain yellow pompom one day, but wearing as is for now and I think it looks pretty cute.

An advantage of the extra size is that it fits all my hair!

 

Yarn: Leftovers of Baa Ram Ewe Titus and Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight

  • Main colour- Endeavour
  • Red, orange, blue- Gobstoppers
  • Yellow- J&S 91 Pumpkin
  • Green- J&S 11FC

Pattern: Sraid A’ Chladaich (Shore Street) by Kate Davies

Ravelry project page


I’m working on a mini Paper Dolls sweater with a yoke pattern featuring whales. I charted the pattern myself, based on a project I found when searching Ravelry.

Photo credit: Svitlana on Ravelry

My design was really chosen to work with the colours of yarn I had in my stash. I’ve been keen to use up some of my Titus remnants- over a skein of the turquoise and blue colours from my League, and over a skein of white from my first Paper Dolls and Port Charlotte. I was thinking about starting a challenge thing where I would try to make matching baby knits to my own sweaters. However, I worried that parents would think it weird if I wanted their babies to match me. Maybe an idea for the future. Until then, my friends’ children will just have to coordinate with me.

img_8399

I made the chart just from eyeballing Svitlana’s pictures. I was going to have zigzags at the top as well, but I couldn’t get the stitch counts right while incorporating the decreases as written. I decided instead to use a fair isle pattern I’d seen in another version of Paper Dolls on Rav. I would be such a different knitter without Ravelry there to inspire and help me!

I’m really excited to see how the colourwork will turn out. My yarn colours are less saturated than the colouring pencils, but I’m hoping it’ll still be cute.

I cast the sweater on in Udaipur. Used a 2.25mm needle, which I’m sure is what I used for Paper Totoros. The corrugated rib looks really neat, but it has turned out quite small. I’m hoping that a bit of aggressive blocking will sort it out.

I’ve managed to finish knitting the body. The next step will be to work the sleeve caps before the fun part- the colourwork!

Pattern: Paper Dolls by Kate Davies (smallest size)

Yarn: Remnants of Titus by Baa Ram Ewe

Ravelry project page


After a year in the knitting wilderness, I’ve started to feel inspired about picking up my needles again. This post is a bit of an idea log. I have a few projects in mind that I hope will come to fruition in 2018. A couple of these projects will definitely happen because they’re my travel knitting for India!

Paper Whales

After finishing my Wowligan, I decided to try another kid project. I’m going to have a go at Paper Dolls in the smallest size, with some cute whales swimming around the yoke. Using remnants from my League sweater.

Sraid A’ Chladaich

I’m keen to use stashed yarn at the moment. I have a big box of wool and I don’t want to be one of those crafters who reaches SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) status. I opened up Inspired by Islay and remembered this delightful hat, which matches my current favourite sweater.

Wool and the Gang She Loves Wool sweater

This kit is part of a collab with & Other Stories, one of my favourite clothing brands. Although I rarely like WATG designs (too chunky for my body type), I fell in love with this sweater straight away, but vacillated about buying the kit since it starts at £90. I was reminded of my love for it in the Black Friday sales (curse you, relentless consumerism!) and, after nearly buying twice, decided to ask if I could get it for my birthday. Getting this kit is pretty much the only thing that will make turning 31 tolerable.

Photo taken from the WatG website

Humboldt

I knitted a couple of swatches for this sweater a while back. Again, I got close to starting but the cost of the wool I wanted was prohibitive. Pattern? I think I’m going to unravel one of the first sweaters I made and recycle it into a Humboldt, along with some beautiful speckled yarn as the contrast colour.

Lucky charms hat

I’m thinking of making up a pattern for more of a fitted bobble hat using the leftovers of my mini skeins from the Lemonade Shop. It might be a little to similar to the KDD hat but could perhaps become a gift.

It’s nice to feel inspired to knit again, and having ideas of my own rather than sticking to patterns as written. I feel increasingly cynical about my day job and seeing the success of other creative micro-business owners like Kate Davies makes me dream more and more about leaving the 9-5 behind.


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.

Not the best way to discover there’s a hole in the back of your tights

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)

Ravelry project page


The knitting project on my needles at the moment is this beautiful hat, featuring the same slipped stitch pattern as my beloved Port Charlotte. I spent some time thinking about travel knitting projects that I could make from yarns and patterns I already had. I was mindful of how much money I have spent on knitting and sewing this year. Even though I don’t mind spending on my passions, it’s been a little bit ridiculous. I also don’t like having too much yarn or fabric lying around the house.

While glancing through Inspired by Islay for ideas, this hat jumped out at me straight away. I’d totally forgotten it existed after my initial perusal of IBI, but I knew it was perfect. I already had the rainbow colours from Port Charlotte, plus I still had plenty of dark blue left over from my League. I was so excited that I cast on before going on holiday. I had a very long car journey and wanted to spend the time productively.

From someone on Ravelry, I borrowed the idea of knitting the ribbing longer to wear it folded double. I think this will suit me better.

I had just started the orange teardrops when I tried the hat on and realised something. I wanted the brim to be even longer than I had made it. Sadly there was only one solution- frog all of the colour work and re-knit the ribbing to be twice as long. I will now be playing yarn chicken with my navy blue colour!

Although it was sad to undo my work, I am confident that this way I will end up with a finished item that I’m really happy to wear.

I will knit the brim to 5″/11cm. I also got to weigh the yarn I used for each colourwork section and it’s 5g.

Yarn: Leftovers of Baa Ram Ewe Titus and Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight

  • Main colour- Endeavour
  • Red, orange, blue- Gobstoppers
  • Yellow- J&S 91 Pumpkin
  • Green- J&S 11FC

Pattern: Sraid A’ Chladaich (Shore Street) by Kate Davies

Ravelry project page