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’ve had plans to make a second pair of Sew Over It Carrie trousers with the Liberty fabric I bought in their sale since… well, since I bought it at the beginning of the year. I was a bit concerned that they’d be too similar to my original Carries, but I thought that these would be super useful on my trip to India, so I decided to forge ahead.
These trousers used around 1.5m of fabric. I felt that the ladder print looked pretty similar either way up- I would have needed close to the 2m I had if I’d cut all of the pieces going the same way. I paid £22.50 for the fabric, which isn’t bad for Liberty tana lawn (in fact it’s half price). The print is called Howells Ladders B. I had in my mind that it was Jacob’s ladders, which is rather different.
Just when I thought everything was going swimmingly, I realised that I was missing a pattern piece- the back waistband. Fortunately I was able to use my previous Carries and the pattern pieces to calculate how big it should be.
Put the waistband together and it seemed a bit snug when I tried it on. Quickly realised that I hadn’t added a seam allowance to my pattern piece. D’oh! I initially planned to fudge the trousers and waistband together, and try to ease out the 3cm discrepancy. I’m glad I decided to be sensible and instead cut out a 6cm rectangle to add into my waistband. Fudging it would probably have ended up taking more time and looked crap.
I made few changes to the pattern. Used French seams on the legs. Used 4cm elastic because the thicker elastic in my original pair has a tendency to fold in half, which annoys me.
Pattern: Sew Over It Carrie Trousers. Size 10 with additional length.
Fabric: 1.5m Liberty tana lawn
I can’t believe that I’m finally getting to type these words- I have finished making my Sew Over It 1960s coat. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. Though I’m not that happy with the pictures, this one excites me quite a lot.
This is what the back looks like.
Something I found notable about this project is that I never felt relaxed during any part of the making process. It felt as if disaster could strike at any minute. I suppose that’s the danger of investing such an enormous amount of time and money into something.
All in all, the hand-sewing required after the final class took a full day. There’s a little bit of pulling on the bottom hem that didn’t press out, but I haven’t fixed it because I’m considering taking some length out of the coat.
The next challenge was to select the buttons that would adorn the coat. I took her on a trip to Liberty to try out some different options. Black was the obvious choice, but I wanted to see if anything else tickled my fancy.
In the end, I picked the beautiful black glass buttons in the finished pictures. Nothing wrong with the obvious choice if it’s the right one! I decided to take the coat on a second trip to Soho to have the buttonholes professionally done. Marking out the holes was another source of anxiety. A small mistake could mean that the coat would never hang nicely.
I think my coat enjoyed the second trip into town. I’d rung up DM Buttons the day before to be told that the following day was their last before the holiday, so to go as early as possible. We got to see the Christmas decorations in the early morning light.
Before finding our way down a dark and scary alley to the lovely studio.
It was so cool seeing all the specialist equipment he has to finish garments. And the finished buttonholes look fabulous. I went for bar tacks for any buttonhole aficionados out there.
Getting the buttons to line up took FOREVER.
I have to say that the chances of me making another coat like this are slim. It’s an incredibly labour intensive process, and I’m not entirely convinced that what I can do at home is better than what I can buy. But I am happy with my fabric choices.
My biggest regret is not making the pockets bigger. This is a perennial problem I have with SOI patterns, so be warned if you like a capacious pocket.
Pattern: Sew Over It 1960s coat (size 12 with some fitting adjustments)
Fabric: 3m of wool and lining from Goldbrick Fabrics (I had 1m of wool left over)
Homework for the Sew Over It class this week (after week three) was super arduous. I spent the best part of two days working on it.
I started by unpicking part of the collar to insert a hanging chain.
I then tacked the edges of the fronts and collar down in preparation for pressing. That took ages and was quite stressful as my fabric doesn’t like steam. I also had to hand stitch the neckline facings together, which apparently stops the inside of the collar ripping when you hang the coat up.
Another task was putting the lining together, also known as making a second coat to put inside the first one.
The final thing I did was tack the sleeves into the coat so I can check the fit properly. The shoulder pads aren’t inserted in these pics, which is why the shoulders look a bit droopy.
I felt like there was still an awful lot of work to do during the final class, but I spent hours on the homework, so I just had to hope that I wouldget closer to the finish line during the lesson.
After the lesson
Much of the lesson was spent inserting the shoulder pads and wadding. It was quite fiddly and I needed a lot of help from Julie to get the shoulder pads in the right place- this was my first time using them. Inserting wadding wasn’t in the instructions, but it was necessary in my fabric because the seam allowances were showing through at the shoulders, making them appear wavy.
The only other thing I managed to do was attach the lining to the facings of the coat. This was extremely fiddly and required me to go over a couple of bits. The wool and lining are very different weights, so I had to work to get them to feed through the machine at the same rate.
It’s not perfect, but I’m happy enough. The coat looks so much more finished now that all of the guts are covered up.
This is what the coat currently looks like on.
For the first time, I feel cautiously optimistic about coming out with a coat that I’m happy with. I now need to:
- Steam the collar to get it to lie flat
- Hem the sleeves
- Trim and hem the coat
- Buy buttons
- Mark buttonholes and take to DM Buttons to get them done
- Attach buttons
- Remove tacking and gently and press the coat
Still a way to go, but hopefully I will manage to get everything finished for when the cold weather truly comes to London.
I started to feel a bit less grumpy about the coat after getting a bit more sleep following the second class. I have a ridiculous number of things on at the moment and it’s hard to stay on top of it all.
I finished attaching the last piece of interfacing and sewed up some of the seams I was supposed to do in the first class. I managed to cut out all of my lining pieces. I had around 1m left (136cm wide). I was pretty lazy with the lining so could potentially have used less than 2m.
This week, I started to feel like I wasn’t miles behind everyone else for the first time. I attached the collar, which is very fiddly but the coat is starting to take shape.
I have a lot of pressing to do in the next week, as well as making up the lining and doing some work on the sleeves. However, it’s half-term next week and I have the day off on Monday, so I will have some breathing space. I’m hopeful that I will be able to get everything done to be able to come out with a finished coat.
Since I had only attended half of the first class at Sew Over It, I had a LOT of homework to do in the following week. I still had to cut out many of my paper pieces as well as all of the fashion fabric, lining and interfacing; test the fabric for how much steam it can take, test the interfacing, and fuse the interfacing to the fabric.
I had 1.2m of fabric left at this point- with one small piece to cut. Once more, I got fabric of a non-standard width from Goldbrick Fabrics. It’s 152cm wide. This is something to watch when fabric is over £70/m! However I’m kind of excited at the prospect of making a pencil skirt from the remnant.
I think that one of my pattern pieces is missing an alteration so most of the front pieces aren’t cut out. I also haven’t tackled cutting any lining yet. However, I cut and fused everything I was confident with.
After the class
Managed to cut out all of my fabric and interfacing, and fuse them together. The rest of the class was spent working on the pockets.
It’s quite nice to see my fabric and lining playing together.
I have to say I am not really enjoying coat class rn. I booked it before realising I was going to be crazy busy. Essentially, I have a stressful day at work, go and be stressed for three more hours, then get told to do a lot of stuff that I don’t have time to do during the week.
I do think it’s given me a bit more empathy for the kids I work with. Being stuck in a class, knowing that you’re behind and can’t catch up sucks.
Loads of homework again this week, and I’ll also be at a quidditch tournament in Edinburgh all weekend. We’ll see how I manage that.