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Tag Archives: wool and the gang

After serving several weeks as my inspiration project, I hit a speedbump in knitting my Mermaid Humboldt sweater. I had a few flights coming up and needed a relatively easy project that I could work on while travelling. I returned to my hibernating She Loves Wool sweater. It’s been a good few months since I ground to a halt with the incredible monotony of knitting long row after long row of black stocking stitch. However, this was exactly what I needed to ease my anxiety on the plane- and simple enough that I could start the new season of Orange is the New Black at the same time.

After a long weekend spent in France with my dad, I had nearly finished the black section of the front.

I am now coming up to what I think will be the most challenging aspect of this knit- the neckline. There are no modelled pictures of anyone wearing a She Loves Wool sweater online. From the few photos of unmodelled sweaters, the neckline looks far too open for my liking. I am going to have to make some significant alterations to get it the way I want, which will mean lots of lifelines and I will also attempt to take detailed notes.

With that in mind, this project was becoming a little unwieldy for travel knitting. I decided to cast on one of the sleeves to take on my various summer holidays. I finished the second ball of black yarn and put the body on hold until I have some time to start working on the fair isle section, which I think I will enjoy.

The first sleeve- I had used up one ball of wool at this point. The sleeves were quite funny to knit. At first, they seemed to be going really quickly compared to the body sections. A couple of inches into the plain black stocking part, they seemed interminable. Then, all of a sudden they seemed super long and the first ball was nearly complete.

I hadn’t mentioned in my previous blog posts but I made one of my standard alterations to patterns and used a tubular cast-on for all of the pattern pieces. I just love the neat edge that it produces. I used the Ysolda method for the sleeve- can’t remember if I did the same for the body but it doesn’t really matter. A tubular cast on is one of those things I prefer to do at home rather than on the move as it’s quite fiddly.

The current status is that the back is complete aside from alterations, the first sleeve is  nearly ready to start the fair isle work and the second sleeve is my current travel knitting project. Since taking the photo, I have managed to start the fair isle on the front section too.

Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit by Wool and the Gang

Ravelry project page

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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

Ravelry project page


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.

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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.

Photo credit: Tomo Sugiyama (すぎやまとも)

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.

Body length

Striped RTW 21.5″

Rainbow Breton 23″

Sleeve length

League 26″

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

Ravelry project page


After a year in the knitting wilderness, I’ve started to feel inspired about picking up my needles again. This post is a bit of an idea log. I have a few projects in mind that I hope will come to fruition in 2018. A couple of these projects will definitely happen because they’re my travel knitting for India!

Paper Whales

After finishing my Wowligan, I decided to try another kid project. I’m going to have a go at Paper Dolls in the smallest size, with some cute whales swimming around the yoke. Using remnants from my League sweater.

Sraid A’ Chladaich

I’m keen to use stashed yarn at the moment. I have a big box of wool and I don’t want to be one of those crafters who reaches SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) status. I opened up Inspired by Islay and remembered this delightful hat, which matches my current favourite sweater.

Wool and the Gang She Loves Wool sweater

This kit is part of a collab with & Other Stories, one of my favourite clothing brands. Although I rarely like WATG designs (too chunky for my body type), I fell in love with this sweater straight away, but vacillated about buying the kit since it starts at £90. I was reminded of my love for it in the Black Friday sales (curse you, relentless consumerism!) and, after nearly buying twice, decided to ask if I could get it for my birthday. Getting this kit is pretty much the only thing that will make turning 31 tolerable.

Photo taken from the WatG website

Humboldt

I knitted a couple of swatches for this sweater a while back. Again, I got close to starting but the cost of the wool I wanted was prohibitive. Pattern? I think I’m going to unravel one of the first sweaters I made and recycle it into a Humboldt, along with some beautiful speckled yarn as the contrast colour.

Lucky charms hat

I’m thinking of making up a pattern for more of a fitted bobble hat using the leftovers of my mini skeins from the Lemonade Shop. It might be a little to similar to the KDD hat but could perhaps become a gift.

It’s nice to feel inspired to knit again, and having ideas of my own rather than sticking to patterns as written. I feel increasingly cynical about my day job and seeing the success of other creative micro-business owners like Kate Davies makes me dream more and more about leaving the 9-5 behind.


Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas included a speed knitting contest, for reasons of drama and tension I guess. Perhaps they were hoping for some shots of wooly sabotage. Speed knitting is a bit of a strange concept because there is almost never a timed element to knitting. Although that could be said of baking, or any number of activities that are subject to televised competitions. In fact, the only other speed knitting I have ever done was making my Rainbow bright jumper due to the super tight turnaround time!

It was so strange to see how they edited all the footage they took of me for the final program. It was even stranger to be referred to as ‘yarn geek Monique’ on numerous occasions. But if the shoe fits…

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I didn’t get to mention on the show that most of the clothing I wore was handmade. When I was being filmed at home, I had my better Breton sweater on underneath my favourite pinafore. During the speed knitting challenge, I wore my octopus Betty (as pictured here). And I wore my fuchsia tulip skirt with my finished jumper.

I had initially planned to make a cute mini hat to match my sweater, but I was asked to make a full-sized item. Fortunately, I had a ball of Crazy Sexy Yarn in my stash left over from a wrap I made a couple of years ago. This cowl is basically a Lil Snood Dogg. I would have preferred it to be a bit bigger, but I was limited by the amount of (also leftover) t-shirt yarn I had to cast off with for the circumference. I was then limited by time for the length.

I think it looks pretty good given that it only took an hour, and it’s been pretty useful in the current London freeze.

It was so weird that Jade from WatG was one of the judges! We’d met years ago when I did a knitting audition for them- back when they still sold items made by ‘gang makers.’ It was really interesting to hear how things went for the company.

Yarn: Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool and a couple of metres of Jersey Be Good

Pattern: Very Lil Snood Dogg

Ravelry project page


Me Made May this year coincided with a long weekend away in Hamburg. It was nice to be challenged to wear some of my handmade items on holiday. I tend to be a bit more careful with my handmades than my RTW clothing, so it was nice to give some of them a fun outing.

I travelled in my jersey Bettine dress. My flight was after a busy day in one of my secondary schools, and the stripey dress felt smart enough for work, but was also very comfortable for travel.


On Friday, I was keen to wear my pineapple skirt. My main post contains some more pictures,  but here she is being worn while I posed with my friend Becci on a climbing frame. We were both too scared to climb any higher!

On the second day, my raindrop Bettine matched the weather better than I would have hoped! In this picture you can see the Hold Tight clutch I knitted a couple of years ago, which was quite handy for my essentials. I am just not a clutch bag person, so I have a leather strap attached to it.

Sunday was the nicest weather of the weekend. I almost wished that I had taken one of my pairs of shorts with me. In the end, I made do with my Cleo dress, which was also well-suited to travelling home. I do think I will lengthen the hem on this dress by an inch or two when I get a chance. Although it looks fine in front of the mirror, the corduroy has a tendency to creep up.

I think that incorporating my handmade wardrobe made an already-fantastic weekend even more fun. I can be very lazy about clothing and accessories, and knowing that I would be taking pictures inspired me to think more carefully about my wardrobe.

Thanks to Isie and Becci for being wonderful photographers, as well as awesome companions.


I finished crocheting my basket out of Jersey Be Good t-shirt yarn. It came out really well!

I’m not entirely sure if this object is really finished. I stopped because I ran out of yarn. The basket is big enough to be useful, so I’m not going to buy yarn specifically to finish it. The good thing about crochet is that I can leave it like this for now, and add more rounds if I decide I want the basket to be taller.

I followed the pattern pretty much exactly. Using JBG held double, this yielded a basket that is

The yarn ran out partway through row 20.

If you want to make a basket, you will need four cones of JBG, or about 400 yards total of t-shirt yarn. I think it would be a lot of fun to make a basket like this using old t-shirts. You could make the yarn thicker so that it wouldn’t have to be held double that way.

The pattern I used is okay. I spent a lot of time searching Ravelry to find a free crocheted basket pattern and this seemed like the best. My only criticism is that the bottom of the basket isn’t completely flat. There must be a different way to crochet a flat circle. This may also be a tension issue but I don’t know since I’m inexperienced with crochet. I blocked the bottom of the basket, which helped, but I wouldn’t really recommend doing this because the fabric is so thick, it took several days to dry and started to smell a bit musty.

 

Pattern: Neon touch baskets (FREE!)

Yarn: About three cones of Jersey Be Good by Wool and the Gang

Hook: 8mm

Ravelry project page