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 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
I managed to finish sewing my second Avid Seamstress Day Dress at long last! This project has taken me around two years to complete. I was very close to finishing in late August, but this dress became yet another casualty of the secret project, my series of coat classes and my thumb injury. I prioritised finishing the coat instead, which turned out to be a wise decision given how cold January was. That decision meant this dress narrowly missed out on being the last item completed in my #2017makenine and now cannot be included in either make nine challenge.
In the end, it only took around an hour to finish the machine sewing on the neck facing. I was very relieved that the pieces all fit since I’d cut them such a long time ago. The facing looks so much better than my botched attempt at using bias binding on my first Day Dress (a combination of rookie error and overconfidence). I also hand-stitched the hem, which took a while but looks pretty good. I managed to complete the finishing in time to wear this dress on my 31st birthday.
Overall, I am very happy with how this dress turned out. The day dress pattern fits perfectly into my work wardrobe. More details about the changes I made, and my views on the pattern, can be found here. I really like this dress in the drapey rayon. It’s going to be great to wear in summer, though I’m not sure how well the fabric will wash. I have some gorgeous viscose ready to make into a third Day Dress, and I’m very excited by that project. I think I will cut a straight size 10 rather than the mashup size I attempted here, for unremembered reasons.
Pretty sure I popped a couple of stitches while I was messing around but I just can’t resist a cheeky crow pose
Notes for next iteration
- Lower the darts on the bodice by a couple of cm
- Use self fabric for pockets if possible
Pattern: Avid Seamstress Day Dress in a hybrid size 3/4 (corresponds to UK size 10/12)
Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased in Indonesia
I’m currently working on knitting the She Loves Wool sweater. As I mentioned in a previous post, I asked for this kit for my birthday (which just happens to be today) after having my eye on it ever since it was released.
I couldn’t resist opening all of my birthday presents as soon as I received them. I have always had issues with impulse control and I was really eager to start a new project after I finished my Paper Whales sweater.
I had a lot of weird ambivalent feelings before starting this sweater. I felt apprehensive about the fact that there are no projects on Ravelry. I also a saw a similar sweater and suddenly felt like maybe I should knit that instead.
I’m really keen to come out of this process with a sweater I am in love with. I measured a few tops and sweaters to gauge the length I want for the body and sleeves. I want this sweater to hit on the hip without loads of extra room. I want a little bit of ease but a decent fit that accentuates my figure.
Striped RTW 21.5″
Rainbow Breton 23″
Rainbow Breton 26″
According to the schematic, the sweater will be a little long in the body (24.25″). Sleeve length should be good (31″). I will have to be mindful to measure as I go since my row gauge is a bit off. I will probably knit the main body to 2″ shorter than the length stated in the pattern.
I also want a nice, tight neckline more similar to the ‘winter woven’ sweater pictured above. One of my current pet peeves is when you can see my t-shirt under my sweater. My aubergine rainbow sweater comes the closest to having the neckline size I want. Annoyingly I don’t ever seem to have knit a raglan sweater with a round neck. What I may have to do is keep the live stitches for all four pieces on hold after I finish them. I can then baste the seams together and check the fit of the neck before casting them all off. An advantage of the kit containing loads of small balls of wool is that this should be pretty easy.
I ended up knitting three gauge swatches. My gauge was slightly under that stated in the pattern on the recommended 3.5mm needles. Even though blocking brought it close, I wanted to try out going up a needle size. One criticism I have of the pattern is that it suggests that you can try to knit looser or tighter if your gauge is off. This is presumably aimed at newer knitters who don’t have a range of needle sizes, or anyone who is annoyed at paying out for WatG’s fancy needles only to find them of no use. I really think this is awful advice. A lot of different factors influence your tension and I don’t think that consciously trying to knit differently is an effective solution- especially when it is so easy to simply use different needles!
Anyway, I found that the fabric on 4mm needles looked awful and the gauge was way off- I frogged that swatch without even blocking it. After not liking the fabric as much on 3.75mm needles either, I decided to stick with a 3.5mm needle. According to my calculations if I knit size 1 my finished bust will be just over 38ins (zero ease). Size 2 would be just over 41ins (3ins ease). My League is around 37″ in the bust and plenty roomy so I will stick with size 1.
Another issue that I considered was whether to add waist shaping. Even though I want this to be a fairly casual sweater, I want to look nice wearing it. I like the fit of my Better Breton sweater so I eventually decided to add similar shaping to that pattern.
I’ve noticed over the years how much more willing I am to spend a lot of time in the planning stages of a project. I think this represents progress for me since I have a tendency in life to be so relentlessly focused on outcomes that I do not engage with or enjoy the process of getting there.
With knitting, time spent planning tends to be a worthwhile . Some things can only be learnt through (sometimes bitter) experience. However, there are other problems that can be avoided through careful planning, especially as you come to learn about the art and science of knitting over time.
Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit
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.
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
As I often seem to, I made the rash decision to sew a garment for holiday about three days before going, when I really didn’t have sufficient time. As a result, I only got two hours of sleep the night before my flight and ended up cutting my airport arrival uncomfortably fine. However, I am pretty happy with these trousers so I will forgive myself.
Aside from the mishap with the missing pattern piece (I must have left it behind after the workshop), this was a lovely and straightforward make. Really the perfect counterpoint to the coat.
I made the elastic on my first Carries too tight. I think I had some kooky idea about wearing them high-waisted. These are a lot more comfy.
It’s been surprisingly chilly in India so very happy I took the time to complete this make.
Pattern: Carrie trousers by Sew Over It. Size 10 with extra length
Fabric: 1.5m Liberty tana lawn