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
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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’m so excited to start a new sewing project. I haven’t had any time to sew for ages. I bought this fabric at least 18 months ago. I was inspired when I saw a similar fabric on Instagram, made up into a very cute top. This is my favourite leaf shape- I have three pieces of jewellery and a shirt featuring it. When I saw this in the Sew Over It fabric e-mail, it caught my eye straightaway. I won a Sew Over It voucher wearing my monstera blouse, so why not use it to make another?
This is the fabric. I bought 1.5m, which cost just over the £25 my prize voucher covered.
This project initially got hijacked by another sleeveless top project. This provides yet more evidence that I need to start projects very soon after buying the materials, otherwise I risk losing motivation.
I was a little torn between making another version with sleeves or a breezy sleeveless top for summer. I decided to opt for sleeveless. I didn’t wear short-sleeved tops to work for a long time because I was self-conscious about my tattoo, but I’m getting over that. I think I will add buttons to the front opening- I love an excuse to find tiny cute buttons- but omit the patch pockets. I think they will interrupt the beautiful large-scale print. Also pockets like that are useless. I’m very practical when it comes to clothing, so any details like frills, ruffles and decorative pockets aren’t for me.
When I first resumed sewing, I was all about the FBAs (full bust adjustments). I made my first adjustment on one of the very first dresses I made- a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine. I was excited by the prospect of properly fitting tops. However, more recently I have felt… almost resentful of having to make them. It’s hard to say why. For some projects, it doesn’t matter, but it is pretty important in this top. The olive version (size 12) I made is a little gapey in the shoulder region, while the white version (linked above, size 10) is too tight across the chest. It is very clear that a FBA is needed and so I decided to bite the bullet.
I traced off the front pattern piece and followed this tutorial for a full bust adjustment. I made a 1″ FBA, which will give me 2″ of extra wiggle room.
I followed this tip from Karen at Did You Make That and split the bust dart since it’s over 8cm. I kind of just eyeballed the split so I hope it’s going to look nice.
One slightly odd note is that when I marked my bust apex, it was higher than the original point in the pattern- you might be able to make out two small pink ‘x’s in the image above. However, a larger bosom is more subject to the effects of gravity, so normally the bust point would be lower. This theory is borne out in the fact that the darts on my two previous TC1617s are too high.
Even though I tried remeasuring a few times, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and just moved the bust point down by an inch or two. Again it was an eyeball job.
I’m hoping to get the fabric cut out before I go on holiday. I have to decide whether to try and sort a workaround for my lack of table at home (the only thing I think would work is sewing on the bench in the garden, but I don’t have a long enough extension cord) or avail myself of the sewing café at Sew Over It one Friday afternoon. I’m currently leaning towards the latter, though I am rapidly running out of free Fridays.
I really hope this blouse turns out nicely, since I would like to make another one from this beautiful fabric I couldn’t resist buying a couple of weeks ago.
I have now unsubscribed from the Fabric Godmother mailing list. I am too weak.
Pattern: Third use, original cost £3.22
Notions: Around £5
Total: Under £10!
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.
Without tempting fate, this should be my last WiP Wednesday about this project. I did quite a lot more work on this sweater after my most recent post about it, which I think is worthy of some blog space.
Finishing the sleeves was quite straightforward and I joined the sleeves and body for the yoke. It was quite fun to work the marlisle pattern again, which was just as well because the first few rounds of the yoke feel incredibly long after the relative speed of the sleeves.
Checking the finished projects on Ravelry, I saw that there was a lot of variability in the necklines. Some knitters (including me) write quite detailed notes on their projects, while others don’t add anything. It was hard to tell how my project was going to turn out. I added a lifeline before working the neck shaping and I’m glad that I did.
A few rows into the neck shaping as written, it became obvious that the pattern is for a boat neck. Boat is one of my least favourite necklines- I just don’t think it suits me. I ripped back to my lifeline before going on holiday.
In the end I decided to tackle changing the neckline in two ways. I added more increases (every other row rather than once every three rows) along the raglan seams in the body on both the front and back. Since I have quite broad shoulders, I don’t like excess fabric to accentuate that part of my body. I also changed the short-row shaping on the front neckline.
I had to do some more ripping when I accidentally knit the additional raglan decreases before I had calculated the changes to the neckline shaping. I used a combination of eyeballing and maths to work out how I wanted it to look. I think I’ve mentioned before that one of my pet peeves is having a t-shirt showing when I am wearing a sweater. I just think it looks messy. So my aim was a close neck that should cover the layer beneath.
I took some pictures of the notebook pages where I did my quick maths. Kate Davies wrote a recent blog post about knitting and creativity. It discusses the idea that knitting is ‘relaxing’ at the expense of allowing knitting to be creative, engaging and absorbing. This relates to the idea that ‘women’s work’ is something straightforward and mindless, or even frivolous.
Even when following a pattern, knitting can involve a lot of processes that are not remotely relaxing. Undoing work can be frustrating. Figuring out how to change a design is a highly creative problem-solving endeavour, bringing to bear all the knowledge one gains through years of practice. It is an engineering project. Part of the reason I write all of these WiP posts is to give an impression of the work that goes on behind the scenes. When you say, “I made it,” most people have no idea of what that actually means.
In the end, I didn’t have quite enough of the light blue kidsilk to finish the sweater, so I had to buy one more ball. Somehow I hadn’t noticed that the balls are £8.95 each last time I went to John Lewis! I will have most of a ball left over.
The neck ribbing is virtually done now, so the final stage will be the finishing. I am using I-cord edging throughout, which I hope will give a very clean finish. It’s currently a bit warm for a sweater, but knowing English weather I imagine I will find an opportunity to get some pics once this garment is ready to wear.
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This sweater has been in my WiP basket for several months now. Shortly after my last blog post (and taking this photo), I ran out of turquoise yarn.
I was also a bit uncertain about how to do the ombre on the sleeves. All in all, I was not feeling so inspired by this project, but fortunately that gave me the impetus to finish my She Loves Wool sweater that had been similarly languishing.
Looking at this photo with fresh eyes, I felt that it probably was time to start changing colours soon. I think it will make sense visually to have the colour change over my elbow.
Another complicating factor was the yarn. I had hoped that I had salvaged enough from my Bay sweater for this whole project but, alas, that was not the case. Even worse, I wasn’t sure which colourways of Kidsilk Haze I was working with.
I’m sure Stitch’n’Bitch, my bible in my early years as a knitter, recommends that you never throw ball bands away and thus avoid these problems. I know I followed that advice for quite some time, but old ball bands are a super annoying thing to have lying around the house. I’ve discarded them all in various house moves.
What would make sense in the modern world would be to record this information on Ravelry. Now-me generally does that (I would like to be more fastidious about including all info, including dye lots), but unfortunately the Monique of 2013 did not. I have the colour recorded as ‘blue-green.’ I was fairly sure that the colour was ‘peacock’ but when I checked the Rowan website, there are two other shades that fit the bill. I had hoped to buy the extra yarn on eBay, but in the end I made the pilgrimage to John Lewis, praying that they had the right colours in stock. I took my swatch with me to compare.
Not an exact match, but perhaps it is unreasonable to expect the colours to be a super close match when you buy extra yarn over six years later.
I wasn’t sure whether I would have enough of the lighter colour either, but I decided not to buy more at this stage. What I will do to try and circumvent that problem is make the section with the sequins longer than originally planned. I also wanted to use up the Kidsilk Haze Glamour.
I spent quite a bit of time knitting over the May bank holiday weekend. I was coming off an incredibly stressful week, and I needed the time to myself.
I finished the second sleeve and realised it made more sense to use up all of the turquoise yarn in the sleeves. Hopefully this will mean I have enough of the pale blue to finish the yoke without having to purchase any additional yarn.
I tried my best to make the sleeves match by weighing the yarn as I went along. Unfortunately I only have digital food scales that measure to the closest gram. Not especially helpful with mohair, which is incredibly light. Hopefully a local drug dealer will donate a more precise scale to one of the charity shops I frequent.
I have now ripped the first sleeve back to the turquoise area to insert the remaining yarn. The sleeves are lovely and quick to work so should be on to the yoke soon.
I really really hope I am going to come out with a sweater that I am happy with. I have put a lot of work into recycling two old garments into this piece so I will be quite heartbroken if I don’t like the way it turns out. That being said, I am having a cropped sweater moment so it should slide seamlessly into my wardrobe as long as all goes to plan.
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