I was so excited about my latest knitting idea that I started to unravel my Bay sweater pretty quickly.
Just taking the pieces of the jumper apart was several hours’ work. Mohair is very sticky and I quickly realised that seaming using sequinned yarn had been rather stupid. Oh, past me who didn’t know I would one day rip this sweater out! I started to wonder whether this had been such a good idea after all. I worried that separating the sections where two strands of yarn are held together (the light blue) would prove impossible.
Fortunately, things got a bit easier once the sweater was back in its constituent pieces. Unravelling just takes quite a lot of patience. I had to undo each stripe, separating the strands on every other one, and then carefully wind. The yarn isn’t too kinky (quiet at the back, please) so I’m thinking I probably won’t bother with soaking it before I reuse it.
Light blue Kidsilk Haze: 16 balls, 44g
Kidsilk Haze Glamour: 8 balls, 50g
Turquoise Kidsilk Haze: 14 balls, 44g
I’m so pleased with how my Threadcount 1617 shirt turned out! When I look at it, I can hardly believe I was capable of making it myself. This project is a surprise win. I wouldn’t have chosen this fabric if it hadn’t been on sale, but it’s fun to experiment with a colour and pattern slightly outside my comfort zone.
There are a lot of lovely finishing details in this shirt. Plenty of slip-stitching of facings to hide seams. Overall I am very happy with the finish even though I made quite a few mistakes. I tried not to be too perfectionistic about tiny details, but rather treat the process as a learning experience for my next make.
I have mostly used indie patterns up until now. There is a lot of hand-holding and the techniques have been quite simple. It was nice to take on a more complex pattern. The sparse instructions gave me a sense of being trusted to know how to interpret them. Making the collar was the part I found the most challenging. You have to press the curved seam allowance, which is incredibly fiddly. I then managed to sew the collar on backwards!
I was glad to have done the Ultimate Shirt class at Sew Over It because I was a bit more familiar with the couture techniques that were just casually mentioned in the instructions. I had to think quite hard at times to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I found the process very engaging and twice looked at the clock to realise I had been sewing for several hours without noticing the passage of time.
I harvested these buttons from a RTW shirt that was worn out. Something so nice about making clothes is personalising to your unique body. The old shirt had such narrow cuffs that it was impossible for me to get them over my hands with the buttons done up. This made me feel like a huge-handed freak. I tested that the cuffs fit over my hands comfortably before placing the buttonholes and buttons.
I LOVE the button tab detail. So worth the extra effort.
I can’t wait to make my summery version of this shirt, though I think that will have to wait until after I have moved house. Something I will definitely need to consider is how to finish the seams. Even though I have become quite a fan of French seams , they weren’t suitable in many places. I didn’t realise until too late due to my bad habit of not reading through all of the instructions before starting out. It will probably make most sense to keep it simple and either use an overlocker or overcasting foot.
I think I will stick with the Size 12 next time. The fit is decent in the shoulders and I like the roominess for a breezy summer shirt. It’s also SO NICE to have a blouse that is the correct length and doesn’t pool around my hips.
- making a two-piece sleeve. The fit is great!
- making a curved hem that looks ok. I found this tutorial helpful. The secret seems to be just pressing it to death.
Changes not mentioned in last post
- shortened by 6cm
- added four press studs to fasten
Pattern: Threadcount 1617 View C size 12
Fabric: 169cm viscose remnant (140cm wide)
I think 1.5m of fabric would be sufficient for this size and view
Fabric: £10.89 (including delivery)
Notions: Around £5
Total: About £19
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.
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
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
I’ve been working on sewing my first version of the Threadcount 1617 shirt. I bought the olive fabric on a whim from a Cotton Reel Studio remnant sale at least a year ago, knowing it would probably be used for a wearable toile. Once I got it, I had the idea that it would make a cute garment with a mandarin collar. When I spotted someone’s version of Threadcount 1617 on Insta, I saved it and then promptly forgot the whole thing for several months.
While going through my saved images recently, I remembered the shirt. A cursory google revealed that someone was selling it on eBay and it arrived as a birthday present to myself.
I have a gap in my wardrobe for smart-casual tops. I basically have striped long-sleeved t-shirts, denim shirts and fancy collared blouses. Nothing that would look smart-ish with jeans for work. As my body and tastes change with time, I increasingly like the way I look in tops that fit in the shoulders and bust but are relaxed around the midsection.
I love the fit of this shirt. It would have looked frumpy on me as a chubby twenty-something (which I still am in my head) but it looks chic on my more mature, slimmer frame.
My space print top measures around 41″ in the bust. I decided to cut a size 12 in the hope that any extra ease would prevent the buttons from gaping. Since this is a relaxed fit shirt in a drapey fabric, I don’t think a little extra room will matter too much.
This pattern has a really good layout for cutting (a lot less wasteful than other patterns I have used), which was a little bit of a concern since my fabric was 140cm wide rather than 150cm. However, I had plenty of fabric. The pattern has LOADS of markings to transfer, which I found extremely tiresome. However, it is worth doing.
There were also quite a few pieces to cut out of interfacing. As you can probably tell, I initially intended to trace this pattern but there were way too many fiddly pieces so I gave up.
The construction of the shirt is a little more tricky than any other written patterns I have attempted independently. Making the front opening was a head-scratcher for me! I think it looks okay overall, even though the bottom edge is a bit wonky and I think it is likely that holes will form in the corners.
- Carefully check tension for sewing a single layer of drapey fabric (reinforcing the neckline)
- Be very careful when reinforcing- mark before doing. This will have a significant effect on the final look
- Use fray check in corners
- Because the fabric frays so much, I used French seams on the side and sleeve seams. DO NOT use a French seam on the first sleeve seam above the opening. Also be mindful of this issue on the bottom hem
- My machine seems to handle viscose better with a regular foot than a walking foot
- If making view C again, shorten by 4″
Overall I am pleased that I decided to make a wearable toile of this top. It has a lot of details I was doing for the first time. It would have been stressful to make using fabric I cared about more. I already have the supplies to make a second version. I quite enjoyed the trickier construction and am surprised to find myself looking forward to doing it all again.
Pattern: Threadcount 1617 View C size 12
Fabric: 169cm viscose remnant (140cm wide)
Fabric: £10.89 (including delivery)
Notions: Around £5
Total: About £19
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
I managed to finish sewing my wearable toile of the Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt and I’m absolutely thrilled with the result.
As I mentioned in my last post, I was a bit worried about how the jersey and scuba would play together. There was some puckering around the neckline due to the very different weight and stretch of the two fabrics, but fortunately this isn’t too noticeable when wearing. You can see it in the pic below.
I love the look of View B of the sweatshirt with no binding at the bottom- I really don’t like that shape for my body. It’s worth noting that the length is pretty short- when I raise my arms, my midriff does get exposed and I have a short body. It’s hard to judge whether the 6 is the correct size because of the amount of positive ease. I think I will wear a little more before deciding on the size for my next Linden.
I think I will have a go at making the next one using an overlocker. The domestic machine actually handled this pattern fine, but I think I would like a more professional finish when I’m using the expensive Atelier Brunette fabric.
Still making slow progress on my Wool and the Gang jumper. As predicted, the knitting became so much more fun once I got to the fair isle section. I was a bit worried about how this buttery soft yarn would take to fair isle- I feel that the natural grip of a more rustic wool helps to keep the tension even. However, I think it looks okay so far.
I’ve never knit fair isle flat before- I knit two handed (right hand English, left hand continental. Feel like there is a Brexit metaphor in there somewhere) on the right side but only purl English-style because I find purling continental too much of a pain. It’s easier just to drop the yarn each time.
As I got near to completing the back section, my thoughts started to turn to how I will change the neckline as I described in my last post. I’m planning to knit a couple of extra inches but I’m not quite sure how to calculate how much extra to do.
For now, I made the pattern as written and will re-evaluate once I have completed the other sections. Working the black section of the front of this sweater is proving arduous thus far.
Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit by Wool and the Gang