A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: top

I already wrote about the substantive making of my Port Charlotte jumper, but I added a few elements to make it ‘more Christmassy.’ Even though I knit this sweater specifically for Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas, I was very clear that if I was going to invest so much time (and money) in a project, it had to be something I would love in its own right.

The words on the front are simply some chain-stitch embroidery. A top tip that really helped with this (thanks Jane) was to baste on the design with cotton first, to give myself a guideline. The only time I had to do it was on the train from London to Dorset, hence the uneven appearance. I’m definitely going to remove the embroidery once Xmas is over and done with.

I wore my jumper out and about on lovely day out in Bristol with my friend Jane to get some pictures. Here we are being geeks on the open-topped bus tour.

The yoke looks just as beautiful from the back.

I think this jumper fulfils its purpose of looking good with waisted skirts and dresses.

I STILL cannot pose for pictures.

Something that I wish I’d had some more time to work on was the light-up element of this jumper. I’ve been interested in incorporating lights into my knits for a few years now- this was my reason for backing a project on Kickstarter about making light-up cards.

The card kit didn’t really translate into wearable tech, but I backed another TehnoChic project that came with a load of cool LEDs, which were perfect for this. If I’d had more time, I would probably have knitted little pockets behind the sweater to hold the batteries. In the end, I just slapped them on using Velcro! I’ve been too lazy to get the LEDs out again since the filming, so they’re not pictured in this post.

If you want to see more about this sweater and see how I got on in the Christmas jumper knitting competition, you can see my second small screen appearance of the year at 5pm on Thursday 14th December on Channel 4. I imagine it will be available on demand after that (I hope so because I won’t actually be home when it’s on).

Pattern: Port Charlotte by Kate Davies. I made size 4 and my gauge was pretty much spot on.

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe. Around 2 skeins White Rose, Gobstopper mini skeins and some Jamieson&Smith jumper weight from my stash

Ravelry project page

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I can finally reveal the sweater that took up every minute of time I had available in late September. It’s Port Charlotte by Kate Davies, and I made it for a secret reason that I hope I will be able to talk about soon.

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I had three weeks and two days to knit a whole jumper. Including getting hold of the wool.

Port Charlotte is a pattern I coveted from the moment I saw Kate Davies post about it on Instagram. I have always been obsessed with rainbows, and I thought the design looked so clean.

I used a tubular cast-on throughout. I just love how it looks even though it’s a massive pain to do. I used Ysolda’s method, since I couldn’t figure out how many stitches I needed to cast on using the Brooklyn Tweed method.

Note for future me: do not use a smaller needle for the Ysolda tubular CO. After knitting the cuff, I realised that the cast-on was way too tight, so I decided to knit on a bit and use the sleeve as a swatch-in-the-round. It’s just as well I did- the gauge on the sleeve was quite different to the gauge square I knitted (back and forth) on the same size needles for my League sweater. The difference is so substantial that I need to knit a different size (4 rather than 3). So this was definitely one of those mistakes that turned out to be important.

Made some errors due to the lack of planning time I had for this project. I forgot to take into account that this pattern has bracelet-length sleeves, which is not a design choice I would normally make. However, the sleeves are made to fit that way so I just decided to follow the pattern.

I also cast on the body (the tubular CO took FOREVER) without thinking, and forgot that I am making this a cropped jumper. This means that I really cast on too many stitches. Rather than re-doing the CO, which would have destroyed my soul and taken too long, I decided to make the waist decreases in the ribbing. I’d never seen this done in a pattern so  worried it would look bad, but I have so little time for this project that I just have to plough on and hope for the best.

I did most of the knitting on a yoga retreat I happened to be going on during this time. I managed to finish the first sleeve in London, then cast on the rest of the pieces before setting off. I knew there wouldn’t be any wifi on Silver Island, so I didn’t want to risk drama with the tubular CO. This is what the sweater looked like when I was in Athens, the evening before I got the bus to the retreat.

For the week of the retreat, if I wasn’t doing yoga or eating, I was knitting.

Fortunately I had nice surroundings while I knit yard after yard of plain white stocking stitch.

The yoga helped stave off the RSI I’d started to feel in my wrist after a few days of intensive knitting. Having a digital detox was also a big help as I seem to use exactly the same muscles and tendons for knitting and swiping.

I did my cast off on the plane back to London.

Used Ysolda’s tubular BO. It was a stressful experience because I didn’t put in a lifeline, so couldn’t afford any mistakes. Fortunately it turned out fine.

I added some extra decoration to the sweater to make it more Christmassy. I’ll reveal all in a Friday post once I know when the episode is going to be aired.

Pattern: Port Charlotte by Kate Davies. I made size 4 and my gauge was pretty much spot on.

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe. Around 2 skeins White Rose, Gobstopper mini skeins and some Jamieson&Smith jumper weight from my stash

Ravelry project page


After a stressful few months, I decided that I would finally treat myself to a sewing machine. I’ve been getting more and more into sewing over the past couple of years, so it just makes sense. For anyone considering buying a machine, I really recommend getting advice from John Lewis. I found it much more helpful then trying to get my head around online reviews.

Anyway, here is my first make.

Overall, I’m somewhat happy with it. The fit is quite good, but there are armhole issues- you can see my bra. I had heard that double gauze is more drapey than ordinary cotton, which is true, but it’s probably still a bit too structured for this style of top.

I think the fit is okay. I prefer my clothing a little more fitted than this, but I think the fit is fine for this style of top. It might be the sort of top that is useful for travelling. I also think it would be cute tucked into something.

I shortened the front piece by over two inches after trying on. I have a short body. I also shortened the back over an inch- thought it would be nice to have an asymmetrical hemline. I botched the hem a bit by (I think) stretching the fabric while I was sewing. Curved hems are hard, and I don’t really know what I’m doing. I can’t be bothered to fix it now, but I might one day. I had hoped that ironing would sort it out, but it didn’t.

Going to test drive this a bit more, but I have a feeling it will be my last Silk Cami. I have a bit of a gap in my wardrobe for vests, but I think I will be looking for a different pattern to plug that gap.

Pattern: Silk Cami by Sew Over It

Fabric: 1.25m of double gauze


I bought this cool patterned shirt in a vintage shop in St Albans a while ago. I initially planned to wear it oversized, but that’s not really my style so it’s only been out of the wardrobe a few times.

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Not ideal that the only pic I have of this shirt is Anna’s Instagram photo of my semi-ironic hipster posing, but that reveals how seldom I have worn this garment despite falling in love with the pattern.

I decided to try putting my new shirt-making skills into effect by transforming this oversized shirt into a fitted shirt.


Since the shirt is fastened by studs, I was a little limited on what I could do without way more effort than I was prepared to expend. This meant no attempts at pattern matching. The pattern is very odd and the diamonds seem to be in a fairly random pattern, so matching would have been difficult anyway (I tell myself).

I vaguely hoped I could just modify the shirt by running some new lines of stitching down the side seams and sleeves, but that would have resulted in something very amateur looking. This meant I had to cut out new back, fronts and sleeves from the existing fabric.


I was lucky in that the collar and cuffs are pretty close to the size in the Ultimate Shirt, which cut out a hell of a lot of labour. Weird to think that these little details are what makes creating a shirt such a challenge.


So far I am very happy with the result I have achieved. This modification took me around six hours, and helped to solidify my understanding of how to make a shirt. I feel confident that the Ultimate Shirt would work and look cute in a heavier fabric.

Once I finish the hem, I will see how often I wear this shirt. Though I like the fit, I think that the oddness of the diamond pattern is more obvious now that the shirt is smaller. Might not be as much of an issue if I wear this tucked into a high-waisted skirt. Dyeing could also be an option. I’m going to take this shirt to class tomorrow as I would consider making a smaller size in future.

I have a feeling I will still wear it as long-sleeved work shirts that don’t gape at the bust are a massive hole in my wardrobe. Now I need to tackle the SOI Pencil Skirt pattern…

Pattern: Ultimate Shirt by Sew Over It (size 14 grading down to 12 at the waist)

Fabric: Salvaged from an oversized vintage Wrangler shirt


Part of my bank holiday weekend was spent at Sew Over It Clapham at their silk camisole sewing class. I chose to make mine from some lovely blue ombré silk I bought on the Goldhawk Road. I wanted to learn how to work with silk, which has always seemed a daunting prospect.

I was between sizes so I decided to go a size down. My Betty dress, another SOI pattern, came out large all over, so I hoped I’d be safe. I was also very tight on fabric because using an ombré limited where I could cut out my pattern pieces. This is something I need to remember if working with an ombré fabric again.


This pattern introduced me to French seams, which were actually easier than I thought. I got super focused while sewing, as usual, so I only managed a picture of the one on my facing. Also it’s a dodgy iPhone pic even though I took my camera along especially.


Due to the ombré problem, you can see that my facings and main fabric ended up totally different colours. Here they are showcased again in this understitching pic.


It all seemed to be going so smoothly. I should have heard the alarm bells ringing.


Cliffhanger.

Will our intrepid hero end up with a wearable top?

Will her nemesis, Professor Perfectionism, turn up to rain on her parade?

Will she poke herself with that unpicker?

Find out next time in the continuing adventures of the Crafty Crusader!


I finally managed to finish this mammoth project a couple of weeks ago. And I hate it. It’s my first UGH! on Ravelry and it feels like a cruel April fools joke played by the knitting gods.

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I’ve got to say that blocking this sweater was an absolute nightmare. The second the fabric got wet, it just stretched like crazy. I think part of the problem is that the pattern directs you to make a moss stitch swatch  that gives no indication of how the final fabric will behave. I say, ignore the pattern instructions and swatch the whole stitch pattern to avoid this problem.

I left the damp top to dry on a fan heater (I don’t have a tumble drier), which seemed to shrink it down a bit. However, as soon as I put it on, it stretched out again.

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Here’s how it was fitting before blocking.

Hideous quality pic but it demonstrates my point. Pre-blocking, the fit was pretty spot on. I block almost religiously, but this experience is making me question that habit.

It’s so frustrating to spend hours making something, then end up with a product that is unwearable. I feel this project was a little doomed from the start when I hated the colour of the yarn, which was totally different to the pictures I saw on the website. I may try one more time to shrink it if I ever get a chance to use a tumble dryer. Otherwise I will just give it away so I can forget about it. In moments of drama, which have been more frequent than usual lately, I have nearly chucked it in the bin.

Again, this making experience is an example of art (craft) reflecting life.

Craft can be a cruel mistress.

Pattern: Michelada

Yarn: Kettle Yarn Co Westminster in Mermaid

Ravelry project page


I fell in love with the knitting pattern for this cute top in the summer and excitedly bought yarn. Here’s how it should turn out.

Photo from Ravelry.

Unfortunately, the colour of the yarn was a real let-down compared to the pictures on the website and the company does not offer returns. Boo.

After a few months of sulking, I decided to cast on with the caveat that I will overdye the top if I still don’t like the colour when I am finished. The top is knitted in pieces and this is my progress on the back.

I cast on the extra stitches for the sleeves on Monday so I think I’m getting there with the back of the top. I need to do some careful measuring once I finish. My gauge is off and I couldn’t be bothered to knit a second swatch so I’m knitting in between sizes. I think I want a bit less positive ease than stated in the pattern. But I also don’t want the top to be too tight. Knitting involves so much maths!

  

Pattern: Michelada

Yarn: Kettle Yarn Co Westminster in Mermaid

Ravelry project page