Category Archives: Projects

Things what I am knitting

Those other WIPs I have

Just a quick one today! I may be spending most of my knitting time on version 2.0 of my shawl, but I’m rarely a one-project woman. There’s that laceweight blouse I’ve been working on since forever (at least it feels like it) and this week I’ve finally completed all the body shaping. It’s a worthy milestone! The secret to getting it done? Leaving it in the glovebox of our car the whole time. Whenever I ride shotgun, I knit. Because it’s such incredibly fine knitting it’s no problem to fit it next to all the usual car junk of cds, petrol receipts and the occasional impulse buy of crème eggs.

Laceweight car knitting

This whole time I’ve been using Addi 2.25mm circular metal needles. Did I mention it’s been taking ages? They’re not bad needles, but not amazing for a slippery silk mix laceweight yarn. I actually bought them with Shetland Heritage in mind which I think will work better. We’ll see if I’m right once I finish this blouse, possibly in 2016.

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A little prototype

So back when I was still high on Christmas leftovers I wrote a few sentences about how there was a certain disconnect between the things I like to wear and the things I like to knit. What I meant was, I received a sudden flood of really really freakin cute ideas for things I could totally knit, but might not fit into my wardrobe. As I said: high on Christmas leftovers. And crack.*

Eventually one of these ideas made it as an Idea To Make Happen, and I made it so:

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What you see here is a teensy little shawlette covered in adorable apples. So cute! Worth it! It also proved to be an excellent stashbusting exercise. If there’s any white 4-ply left in my flat then I’d like to hear about it. This isn’t a full size wrap, but as experiments go I’m pretty excited about it. In fact I’ve already acquired the wool to make a ‘proper’ version! Hopefully I can post more updates soon, because the world needs more knitted apples, and I need something to make up for the cardigan

*I am lying about the crack.

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FO: Triangle Check Cardigan

Oh dear, I’m not happy with this one. (You can tell because of my Definitely Not Happy Face)

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I had such high hopes for this cardigan, and fun knitting it, but the swatch lied. Now the shoulders are far, far too wide. What you see above is a cardigan held in place with a lot of hitching and hiking. What it naturally wants to do is this:

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And then it wants to slowly succumb to gravity and sliiiiide off my arms onto the floor. There’s an insouciant off-shoulder cardigan and then there’s this one. It’s got no stay-up-itude!

So close to the cardigan I had in my head and yet so far.  The body is knit entirely in one piece, so a re-knit is frankly not on the cards. All I can do now is block it to within an inch of it’s life and perform cardigan surgery.

I think the main lesson here is that slip-stitch knitting motifs are tricksy little things that need better swatching. I’m not angry at the swatch, I’m just very disappointed.

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A change is as good as a rest

Around about this time two years ago, Garnstudios put a 25% discount on all their alpaca-containing yarns. I bought a large amount of Drops Nepal and made one of my favourite jumpers to date. I even had 5 leftover balls when I was done – not quite enough for clothes but something to be put aside until an idea came along. Now Garnstudios have put all those yarns on sale again.

Dammit, I’m not made of stone.

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Old yarn, meet the new yarn. I’m sure you will be very happy together.

Recently completing a very fiddly fine-gauge project put me in the mood for the polar opposite: I want a big cosy rug of a project that I can spread out over my knees and keep warm with as I work. So, the next project will be a cardigan of the long, slouchy style commonly referred to as ‘boyfriend’. That term irritates me on several levels, not least because it insists on being the most accurate search term for the kind of cardigan shape I want. The nerve of it. No male I know will want to wear this thing when I’m done with it!

Grumping about confusing gendering of clothing aside, there are quite a few long cardigan patterns I’ve found and liked, but none were quite right for what I envisioned: Linney (don’t like the pockets), Shapely Boyfriend (don’t want raglan sleeves), Two Boyfriends (not sure about the proportions, don’t want stripes!). The problem with designing your own clothes, I’m finding, is that it gets very hard to work from other people’s patterns. It’s like if Goldilocks decided “None of these are just right! I’m going to the kitchen to make my own porridge! With golden syrup! And organic oats!”. What I’m trying to say is that improvising your patterns may get you exactly what you want but it’ll make you ten times pickier and it also it takes longer and you may get caught by bears.

Whilst the picture in blog post shows a serene pile of raw cardigan, I will have long since cast on long by the time you read this. I look forward to making and wearing this cardigan, I really do. It’ll keep me happy and warm until that glorious day when it finally becomes socially acceptable for me to wear my dressing gown to work.

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FO: Fancy Winter Gloves

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One of these gloves took a reasonable amount of time to make, the other did not. I kept putting it down and getting distracted by newer, shinier knitting projects that did not involve quite so much repeated twisted rib on tiny little needles. The coming signs of winter were what spurred me into finishing the second glove properly: the smell of frost in the air, the bite in the wind, the newspaper headlines of “SNOW: WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE” or words to that effect anyway.

The pattern is His & Hers Gloves by Dagmar Mora. My apparent mental block against twisted rib aside, it’s a great pattern. It’s extremely well-written and thoughtful, the construction is a masterstroke in simplicity and the end result is guaranteed to fit you like a second skin.

You know that little brain tingle you get when putting on clothing that fits you snugly and just-so without any tugging or fighting it? The perfect dress; the right walking shoes; these gloves. They slip on and suddenly all is right with the world. Maybe it’s the same part of your brain that enjoys order. Regardless, they’ve been treating my hands very well. New favourite gloves! Success!

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Impromptu Jumper Surgery Pt.2

In my last post I demonstrated the “hacking wildly” technique of jumper reconstruction. I wasn’t expecting such lovely words of encouragement in response! Thank you to everyone who commented, it was very reassuring.

In this post I have calmed down a bit as I sew and stitch up the mess. Here is your mood music for today.

As much as Shetland wool binds to itself, I still didn’t feel quite able to let the edges go unsecured. So I got out the sewing machine for some quick reinforcements. Sewing onto knitting is fairly similar to sewing with jersey fabric, only the scale of the fabric is much larger. After playing around with the cutting scraps I determined that a straight stitch is best for securing horizontal edges and a simple zigzag stitch does the job for vertical edges:

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And whilst the sewing machine was sitting there I thought I might as well save time and use it to sew up the seams as well. Now please don’t go thinking this is the expert handiwork of someone knows what they’re doing. It’s actually the late-night stitching of someone with nothing to lose. Oh, I might end up with a piece of knitting I might wear instead of one I never wear? What a decision!

Just like when you’re sewing regular fabric, every seam needs to be disciplined with a steam iron straight away. It took me a while to twig this and I was wondering why my seams looked so bad until the lightbulb went on. Eventually I was merrily steaming away like it was any other sewing project.

So after the reinforcing and basic seaming, it’s time to go straight back to the knitting needles and leftover scrap yarn. The buttonband is picked up through the fabric and knitted on just like a regular knitted cardigan. Let’s see how the body is fitting now…

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Much better. I even bagged some legit vintage buttons from Beshley’s (her vintage button collection is quite substantial these days!) That just leaves the sleeves to sort out. I picked up along the top of the cuff, and added an extra band of fair isle for length. Joining it all back onto the main sleeve body was a right faff though. It was basically impossible to keep the stitch count straight so I just whipped out the sewing machine again. It’s not terribly neat, but at least it doesn’t look like an accident.

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I seamed the sleeves with the sewing machine, but when it came to setting them in, I resorted to a proper hand-sewn backstitch. It’s just easier to get an even result that way, as far as I’m concerned. One thing I noticed on undoing the jumper was how crappy my stitching was back when I first made it. Nowadays my stitches are both smaller and faster and I have a solid method for setting properly (it involves a lot of safety pins). It’s nice to see how far you’ve come sometimes.

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Done! The cardigan still has a very boxy shape, but that’s ok. It keeps it vintage-looking. The new neckline and sleeves are a massive improvement in my book. It’s not perfect but it feels a whole lot more me when I throw it on over my existing outfits.

This was an interesting mixed-media experiment. If there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s that steaming Shetland wool like there’s no tomorrow is absolutely ok and should possibly be encouraged.

On top of this I get to feel as if I’ve made a whole new garment from scratch in a week!

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Impromptu Jumper Surgery

One of my earlier completed jumpers is the Fair Isle Yoke jumper from A Stitch in Time Volume 1. It’s knitted entirely in Jamieson & Smiths 2-ply Shetland wool. I think it looks great, with those colour choices and texture. But it fits horribly. That unflattering neckline, those badly gathered and awkwardly short sleeves, the weird boob-eliminating bagginess, ugh. Whenever I’ve worn it I’ve spent the entire day tugging it into place.

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The problem is, even though I have enough leftover wool for small alterations, I’ve already washed this jumper and the wool has matted just enough to make ripping and re-knitting an exercise in futility and madness. It sat neglected for some time, until I suddenly decided to take action. When ripping your jumper is no longer an option it is time to start treating it like fabric.

This post contains a fairly long photo sequence, so you may enjoy this background music to set the mood.

First things first is to unravel the collar. It’s messy, because of the aforementioned matting. On the plus side I have no problem cutting open all the seams. Then it’s just a quick steam and squish with the iron, and I have all these lovely pieces of knitted fabric just waiting to be measured and re-cut into a more suitable shape.

fiy-7Most of the increases are cut off the sides to reduce the blousiness. Bonus: watch as the winter sunset ruins most of my picture-taking.

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Then it’s time to deal with the neckline…

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I did this by eye because I am goddamn hardcore.

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That edges of that scrap are completely solid by the way. I know some of you would rather eat your own hands that cut into the colourwork you laboured over, but trust me, Shetland wool won’t let you down.

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I don’t know how the sleeves got so poofy originally. Total mistake on my part. Here is one sleeve laid atop t’other to show how much I ended up taking off!

Because the sleeves are too short I will be picking up and knitting along the bottom edge, then reattaching the cuff once I’ve inserted the extra length. It only needs an extra 1.5 inches to make it solidly elbow length, so it’ll be easy.

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And so, after all that, a new and slightly different garment begins to emerge…

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Join me in my next post where I will either be adding extra sleeve length and buttonbands or howling in despair at the realization of what I’ve done. Either way, fun times!

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