When I purchased the kit for my first pair of Joy mitts, I ended up buying two kits in order to qualify for get free delivery. When a friend came out, I thought she might like some mittens to demonstrate her pride too.
There was quite a bit of yarn left over from making the first pair- nearly enough to make a third mitt, though I did have to do quite a bit of splicing so that I used up pretty much every inch of yarn.
I took the leftover yarn as one of my projects when I went to Africa in January. This is as far as I managed to get before I ran out of the main colour. I’m hoping that, if I am careful with what I have left, I will get three pairs of mitts from the two kits. I think it’ll be an interesting game of yarn chicken to try and eke out every last centimetre of wool. Though I wouldn’t say I’m wasteful with yarn, generally I do have more than I need for each project so I don’t need to worry about, for example, leaving a really long tail when I cast on.
Pattern and yarn: Joy kit by Ysolda Teague
Details: Size small using 3.5mm needles
I found it pretty helpful to review the things I made in Winter 2018/9 so I’m going to review my makes from September, October and November 2018.
Corduroy cigarette pants
These trousers are certainly one of my most successful makes. I wear them all the time and think they are great. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably have seen me complain that it is impossible to get a good picture of these trousers. I’m convinced they look fabulous in real life.
The corduroy seems pretty hardwearing thus far. I probably wear the trousers once per week. The texture on the cord is a little worn at the inner leg (which is where my trousers always wear out) but showing no signs of developing holes yet. I wonder if I should attempt some pre-emptive patching.
Reusable cotton pads
These make-up removal pads were a complete disaster and have been composted. They absorbed loads of liquid, which seemed wasteful, and I didn’t like the way the stranded cotton felt on my face. I replaced them with some washable woven cotton pads that I bought from The Source and I like those a lot better. However, I try to wash my face with water and a flannel where possible rather than using make-up remover.
Fortunately the other ‘zero waste’ item I made was a lot more successful. I use these cloths for washing-up and wiping down surfaces and they do a great job, I don’t have any pictures because they’re not that pretty. You’ll just have to trust me.
The hemp yarn isn’t especially strong, which means that the cloths develop holes now and again. My system is to rotate the two dishcloths that I made. Once one develops holes, I put it in the washing machine and then put it in the repair pile. It only takes around 20 minutes to repair them every month or so.
The dishcloth I made using larger needles was even more prone to wear and kind of an annoying size so it has been composted.
I did some work to fix up my zebra shorts, which were looking a bit shabby. They’ve certainly stayed in commission, though I don’t know how much more life they have left.
Really I need to make a second version of these shorts using a more hardwearing fabric.
This new feature has been inspired by ‘One year sewn’ on the Sewstainability blog. Her idea was to review the clothes she has made a year later to establish how they have held up, and whether they have found a consistent space in the wardrobe. I will be doing the same for all of the things I have made- hence not just stealing her hashtag wholesale.
Eventually I plan to review everything that I have posted about on the blog. I’m going to start with makes from Winter (i.e. December, January and February) 2018/9. I am going to go by when I published the blog posts about the garments despite the face that this does not necessarily reflect when I made them.
This is a very warm sweater so I can’t wear it as often as perhaps I would like. In fact, a learning point is that I probably have enough warm sweaters and should probably focus my energy on lighter-weight garments. Since I have broad shoulders, I tend to be apprehensive about garments that draw the eye to this ‘unfeminine’ part of my body. In reality I love the way my shoulders look in this sweater. I have used the inverted commas there because I think women (and possibly Black women in particular since we often do not conform to white beauty standards) are programmed to hate our bodies. Especially since cutting my hair I have started to notice that ‘femininity’ is a particular arena for self-attack about my appearance and I’m trying to notice and deconstruct that.
I was concerned about how well the buttery-soft Sugar Baby Alpaca yarn would wear. Actually it seems to be holding up well. The sweater is quite prone to pilling, but the pills don’t really show up against the black background and the zigzags still look great.
Even though I am pretty happy with this dress, it doesn’t make it out of the wardrobe that often. It doesn’t help that the dress is on the tighter side so I don’t feel as comfortable wearing this as other dresses I own.
Mending these two pairs of jeans extended their life spans by several months. However, both pairs are back out of commission since they need further repairs and I don’t have anywhere to use my sewing machine. Writing this post actually prompted me to search for sewing cafes in London so hopefully my jeans will be back in rotation soon.
I think this is an interesting thing to note because mending has fallen so far out of favour that it doesn’t even occur to people as a possibility. Two friends have reached out to me offering old pairs of jeans. While in a way it’s sweet that they’re trying to think of a use for them rather than just chucking them- and also aware that this is the sort of thing I care about- I also think it’s a bit weird to offer someone else your trash. My view is why not continue to wear them as jeans?
It’s so clear how fast fashion has taught us to think Something has a hole in it, time to get a new one. By the same token, if anyone reading this is aware of any cool projects that have a need for old jeans, please let me know in the comments!
Unfortunately shortening my League did not have the desired effect. Part of the problem is that I made the front a bit too short and the placement of the ribbing is now really unflattering. It’s a real shame because it used to be a garment I turned to quite often, though now I’m wondering if that space in my wardrobe has been taken over by some of my newer sweaters (like She Loves Wool) that I simply like more design-wise.
I am now contemplating whether to attempt another mod to this sweater or just pass it on to someone else. I don’t think I want to unravel it because I’m never been in love with the colours (hazard of buying on line, which I now seldom do). My concern with donating it is that the weird length will make it unsaleable. This is an issue I think about a lot actually- whether I should repair my clothes before donating them. If any readers would like to have this jumper, please do let me know.
This pair of gloves has been a long time in the making! I cast them on around a year ago when I was returning to Finland, which is where I purchased the yarn for them. However, they are not as long in the making as the jacket that I specifically intended them to go with.
One mitten shell is a little bit uneven because I made it when my broken finger was still in a pretty bad way. But I don’t think anyone other than me would notice.
This is essentially the only type of glove that I wear. It’s the third pair that I’ve made and I still love the pattern and finished item.
December was a strange month for me. I was feeling super optimistic when I started drafting my review blog post. I had just got my new job and my life seemed to be on an upswing. Then, out of nowhere, I managed to break another finger. It happened at quidditch training, but it was strange because nothing actually happened. I threw a ball and all of a sudden my pinkie was pointing in the wrong direction. I thought it was a dislocation so it came as an enormous shock when, after three hours in A&E, I was told that it was badly broken and had my whole forearm put into a cast. I guess I must have had an underlying hairline fracture.
Breaking my finger affected me psychologically as well as physically. Having no use of my dominant hand left me feeling pretty helpless as well as unable to do what I normally would if I was ill- knitting. I couldn’t even cook for myself. Fortunately I wasn’t too depressed and managed to keep myself occupied by going to the cinema and reading.
A few days after the injury, I had to have surgery and now I have two metal wires in my finger. Although I was lucky that I had my operation under local anaesthetic (most surgeons do the procedure under a general, and I felt dreadful when I had one a few years ago), it took a lot out of me. I took four days off work, the most time I’ve had off in years. All of the plans I’d made about managing my last three months at my current job went out of the window.
Anyway, I did have some time to think about projects during my extended recuperation.
Current WiPs are my Ripple bralette, cat cardigan and these gloves, which are very nearly finished. I have a trip to southern Africa coming up and I need a suitable project to work on while I’m away. I have two projects in mind, but both will be gifts so I won’t write any more about them for now.
I’m planning to move again once I have settled in my new job, and one of my priorities will be finding somewhere with a sewing space. I’ve had several sewing projects cued up for some time. Hopefully this year I will manage to make my turquoise raincoat, at least one TC1617 blouse.
I’m also going to take my new job as an opportunity to slightly alter my weekday style and wardrobe. Since I’ll be in a more senior position, I think I’ll dress a little more formally. I’ve been planning for years to make a copy-cat version of my favourite pencil skirt, purchased secondhand a long time ago. I’ll use the Sew Over It ultimate pencil skirt as a starting point. I even have a remnant of nice navy blue wool ready to go.
If that works, I will also make a black version. I have a few shirts that don’t really work with navy blue (which is my main base colour). I even have quite a bit of magenta wool left over from my tulip skirt, which could also be pressed into use as a pencil skirt. While I wear the tulip skirt quite often, I’m actually not sure that the style really suits me.
While charity shopping a few months ago, I found a nice wool dress that was essentially a pencil skirt with a cropped boxy top layered over it. I didn’t buy it in the end because it was a bit too big, but I feel like it would be really cute to have a matching shirt for some of these putative pencil skirts. I love the shape of my short- sleeved Linden. I wonder how the raglan sleeve would work in a wool…
From my ramblings I’ve realised that I have the loose outline of nine items I’d like to make this year. I didn’t bother with a #2019makenine but I think I’ll do one this year to try and keep myself honest. I find making basics really boring so I have a bad habit of veering off and working on more fun projects. However, my basics get worn all the time so it’s time to buckle down.
It’s funny looking back on my review of 2018. While I haven’t actively thought about that blog post much, I have actually taken action in many of the areas I wrote about. In fact, I think this often happens to me- I reflect on something, then those thoughts slowly percolate in my everyday life and I make changes without even really noticing.
This year I slowly accepted how unhappy I was in my workplace. While I liked my colleagues and schools, I was generally unfulfilled and languishing in my career. I started putting feelers out and thinking about applying for a more senior position elsewhere. My confidence was knocked a bit when I didn’t get shortlisted for the first job I applied for. So it came as a bit of a shock when I did get an interview for the second job, and even more of a shock when I was appointed!
Fun fact: I realised on the morning of the interview that I must have donated my old navy jacket when I moved. So I wore the jacket I bought for my Joker costume.
Doing all the negotiation to change jobs proved super stressful, which is part of the reason why I have barely blogged in the past couple of months.
Another huge thing that has happened this year is finally embracing my natural hair texture. I cut all of my hair off in April and I’m so happy I finally took the plunge. One day I will write a full blog post about it.
Shall I mention craft now? As last year, my craft output has continued to decline. Part of the reason for that is practical- I don’t have a sewing space where I’m living at the moment. I finished sewing one dress in January, and that’s it for the year.
I do need to re-repair both of my pairs of jeans, so I plan to visit the Sew Over It sewing café soon. I will try and get a few repairs done but it may be a while before I have the opportunity to sew another garment.
Knitting-wise, I completed four projects. Three were gifts and the other is my Mermaid Humboldt sweater, of which I am very proud.
I’m proud to say that my purchasing has taken a huge downturn as well. This year I have bought three items of clothing new- a bikini, a cotton wrap and a summer dress. To be honest, I regret buying all three. I didn’t really need them and they were impulse buys. While I am comfortable with adding things to my life in a mindful way, this is not what I did with those items. It’s not something I’m going to beat myself up about, but I do want to keep learning and working towards living in the most sustainable way I can.
It doesn’t help that my craft time has been so significantly curtailed. Aside from the stress of changing jobs, I took on a trainee in September so my role was busier than usual anyway. In fact, I bought a skirt (secondhand of course) that didn’t fit properly and I took the decision to get it altered by a tailor rather than attempting to do it myself. Since I have such limited time, I really need to allocate those resources carefully. Deciding to outsource a tricky alteration means that I can use that time to do something else. It’s so funny to notice the change in the relative importance of time and money over time. I am in the privileged position of being able to choose to pay others to do some tasks for me, and I am so grateful for that.
This leads conveniently into sustainability, the other area in which I have taken significant action in my life this year. While I’m still more plant-based than fully vegan, I am proud to say that I have not cooked any meat in 2019. I’m not sure whether I feel the need to be a strict vegan or not. I like to have a bit of flexibility in my life in general, and give myself the freedom to choose non-vegan options occasionally. At the same time, sometimes I feel bad when I cave in, or at least I don’t enjoy the food as much as I would have thought. I guess this is just something for me to continue to explore and reflect on in the coming months and years.