Ravello jumper – (yet) another lesson in checking gauge!

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The ribbing looks a bit messy because I didn’t quite get around to switching down to a smaller needle…..I think I can just about get away with it though!

As you may well have noticed I’m a big fan of Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca. If I had to choose it would be probably be my favourite wool to knit with because a) it’s fairly cheap b) it feels nice c) you get a lot of yardage for a ball and d) it’s splendidly fluffy (and hides your mistakes). My obsession with this particular wool is causing me a couple of problems. Firstly, I have ended up with a fairly vast selection of knitwear in exactly the same wool (sometimes the same shade of the same wool….) which is a little odd and means that if by some freakish turn of fate I don’t want wear alpaca I have very limited options. Secondly, I have ended up with numerous random balls of Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca in various shades. Not quite enough to make anything out of in any particular colour but enough to make me feel guilty when I see them sitting around…..The solution to the first problem is obviously to branch out and force myself to use some different materials and hopefully I’ll be able to share that with you in the next few weeks. The solution to the second problem? a multi coloured ravello by Isabell Kraemer! 

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Thankfully I had a few colours that sort of go together. You might recognise them from previous patterns? The construction was super simple and the pattern very easy to follow. It’s just a top down raglan jumper.  I don’t think I ran into one single problem with the pattern.

I got part way through one of the sleeves before realising that I probably didn’t have enough grey to finish both of the sleeves. This was a bit annoying as I think it would look much better with grey sleeves. However there’s always going to be a bit of compromise when you’re working with odds and ends of wool so I had a go with blocks of green at the bottom of the sleeves. It was looking a bit wrong when I started it but I hoped that it would look better as I got going. It didn’t….I think it’s something about the move from little stripes of green and grey to massive chunks of them that didn’t work. After starring at it for a lot time I decided to switch the green for the purple. That way it matches the block of colour at the bottom of the body and looks a little less random.

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I’ve finally tracked down some wooden 2.75mm needles which has made my old lady hands very happy!

I’ve been making a lot of knitwear with an open weave lately so I thought I’d use 2.75mm needles and have a firmer fabric. Given my many recent gauge based disasters you’d think that I’d make a swatch…….but I didn’t…I don’t know why….. I just started and hoped for the best! Because of that it’s come out a little small. Not so small that I can’t wear it without looking indecent but small enough that I feel a little self conscious about my recent cake intake. It also makes my arms feel rather tubby (I am going to pretend that is yoga based muscle rather than fat arms!) Because of that I haven’t worn it that much. I think it is waiting for a skinny day, or spring or a high waisted skirt……or a flash of inspiration!

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Look at my sad little face! I haven’t helped matters by taking a slightly blurry picture on a dark rainy day!

For some reason I decided to make it a little shorter than the pattern suggests. To be honest I don’t really remember why. Perhaps I was getting bored of the stocking stitch? In retrospect it probably would have been better longer but I’m not bothered enough to undo the ribbing and fix it.

All in all my attitude to this jumper is distinctly ‘meh’. I’m not sure about the sizing (my own fault) or indeed the busyness of all of the colours (inevitable when using up lots of wool). However I quite enjoyed making it and it was basically free so if it ends up at the charity shop or gets given to a friend I haven’t lost anything! Fingers crossed my next project with be more successful!

Summer cardigan (and a new house!)

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Things I like about new house: 1. We don’t have to keep our bikes in the dining room anymore.

If you read this blog regularly you’ll have noticed that I love cardigans. I have an insane amount of cardigans and I wear them virtually all the time. I am not the sort of person to let something like the summer get between me and my cardigans so this year I have made myself a Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig so  I can still have a cardy even when its hot… I have had this in my queue for years now and I’m not sure what finally  inspired me to make a start on it but I’m glad I did.

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2. We have sash windows. I really love sash windows.

I used Garnstudio DROPS Lace. I wasn’t overwhelmed with awesome colour choices but in the end I went for purple. When it arrived I realised that it’s pretty similar to the purple of my Relax jumper, I must really like that colour! The Drops wool offered really good value for money; when I bought it, it was about £7 for £100g (although I bought two to be on the safe side) and I used less than one skein! Hand knitting can often work out more expensive than buying from the shop so I’m rather chuffed with making a cardigan for £7! 

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3. We have an even patio so we can have garden furniture.

I love the finished cardigan, I cast off a few weeks ago and I have been wearing it a lot. The wool is super soft and isn’t as itchy as some of the alpaca blends can be and the finished cardigan is so lightweight that I can shove it into my handbag to keep me warm on the way home from the pub (or other more sophisticated evening pursuit..)!

As you can imagine though, with 2.75mm needles and lace weight wool this took forever. I was working on it for months and it got really dull in the end as it was just rows and rows of tiny stocking stitch. It’s weird the way that it is often the projects that are a  little boring to make that I wear the most; I think I have a preference towards fairly plain clothes.

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4. You can get wifi in the garden!

Regular readers may have spotted that my garden has changed, that’s because we’ve moved house. We’ve moved all the way from North London to Cambridge. We’re just renting (until we win the lottery…) but I love the new house and the new garden. I had the best time in London and will be going back on a regular basis but so far I am enjoying Cambridge very much. It’s very pretty, the pubs are awesome, there’s a good selection of beers, the restaurants are varied, the shops are good and the whole place is insanely cycle friendly!  Plus our  front room is big enough for Coco to have her own little run to hang out in!

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Pretend you haven’t spotted the bin bag on the cage…..

Now that I’ve finally unpacked my sewing machine and my wool I plan to do a lot of crafting here (and never move again- it was ridiculously stressful and expensive)!

Spring jumper

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It’s a coincidence that the flowers behind me are nearly the same colour as my jumper but I think it looks rather lovely.

Most people I know put away their wooly jumpers and cardigans as soon as the first hint spring comes. Not me! I love knitwear and being a knitter I have an exceptionally large collection. Luckily I am one of those people who is always cold so rather than bore my nearest and dearest moaning on about it I just carry on wearing my knitwear almost all year around (obviously it is occasionally too hot for a cardigan, I’m not cold blooded). Also as cold+ arthritis = pain I have an added incentive to keep knitting all year around.

If you read this blog regularly you’ll have noticed that I love Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca. I use it a lot because a) it’s cheap b) I like the colours and c) I like the texture. I’d highly recommend it. So far though I’ve never used it doubled up. I gave that a go with il grande favorito by Isabell Kraemer. 

I’ve had my eye on the pattern for a while. I love slouchy fluffy jumpers so it’s right up my street. It’s a bit of a simple knit though, lots of boring stocking stitch, so I wasn’t super excited about the process of knitting it. Once I got started I realised that it was going to be super fast. With the wool doubled up and 6mm needles the jumper zipped by. It can’t have taken me more than 3 weeks and those were 3 weeks of slack knitting as it was so dull. I got to use my cubic needles which is always a treat and much easier on my hands. I love my cubic needles and I just wish they made them in smaller sizes.

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I was very well behaved and made a tension square. I’m pleased I did it because it meant that the jumper was a fairly good fit. If anything I maybe should have made it a little bit bigger to accommodate my many voluminous tops. As you can tell by my happy little face I love this top. It’s really cozy, it has nice long sleeves and it’s a very pretty colour. I didn’t actually indeed to go for that sort of shade of lilac, I thought it would be more of a dirty pink. I got used to it while I was knitting it and now it’s really grown on me. Sometimes shopping for wool online can be a bit of a magic mystery tour where you don’t always get what you planned but you get something interesting. I’m very pleased and tempted to make myself another one in a bigger size in grey for the winter…..

Hey Girl cardigan

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Before Christmas I went along to a craft show with my mum and I found some Rowan Purelife in DK on sale. I haven’t used a DK in ages and I was taken with the colours.

It took me a while to find the right pattern for it. I wanted it to be a fairly classic cardigan with a V neck. Because the wool is variegated I needed a simple design that wouldn’t fight with the grey and white but wouldn’t be too boring. I hunted around for a bit and came up with the Hey Girl pattern by Bonne Marie Burns.

It’s taken me a quite a long time to finish the cardigan. The combination of 3.5mm needles and DK wool made for a very stiff fabric which was pretty tough on my hands. I couldn’t work on it for very long and when I did it wasn’t very comfortable. That probably would’ve have been too much of a problem if I’d been more excited about the project however as useful as plain raglan cardigans are they are super boring to work on!

The pattern was well written and easy to follow. I went with the plain version because there was already enough going on with the wool to need to bother with a textured stitch. I ignored the waist shaping because I wanted it a bit less fitted and more boxy. I also ignored the instructions for sewing up the neckband. I tried the whip stitch the pattern suggested but it looked really crappy and the seam was very obvious do I undid it and sewed it up with a mattress stitch which looked much better. It left things a little bulky but once blocked looked much better.

When I was making the body of the cardigan I put the sleeve on some orange scrap wool. After a while I got really attached to the combination of the orange with the grey/cream. I decided to see how it would look it I finished off the edges in orange. I wasn’t 100% sure at first but now I love it!

Because there were so many colours I wasn’t quite sure what to do about the buttons. I tried various combinations of grey and wooden buttons but it just didn’t look right. I thought orange would look pretty awesome but it turns out that orange buttons are virtually impossible to get hold of. I was having one last look in Dalston Mill and I spotted some lovely cream ones. I bought them on a whim and turned out that they were perfect.

Despite the fact that I hated this cardigan for most of the time I was knitting it I love it now that it is finished! It’s cozy, warm and comforting and the colours work really well. I’m so taken with it that I might make myself another one in a different colour.

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Antler by Ankestrick

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I think I might be getting a bit obsessed with a yellow and grey combo. I started off with the first hemlock tee I made  and I’ve moved onto a yellow and grey Antler. I am very pleased with this jumper. I was excited about it from the moment that I started knitting it and the finished garment hasn’t disappointed.

I used Garnstudio DROPS Baby Merino which was reasonably priced and lovely to work with. I’m used to working with much hairier wools so it was a bit of a shock to go back to a yarn with such clear stitch definition. It doesn’t leave much room for error! 

The pattern was easy to follow and I didn’t fun into any problems at all. Highly recommended.

Anna dress V.1

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I am very cold in this picture…..it’s not warm enough for this dress yet….

I was so enthused by the success of my darling ranges dress  that I started my Anna straight away. I popped down to Dalston Mill to pick up some cheap fabric to make a practise version first. Unfortunately I accidentally came across some really special cottony fabric which was quite expensive (well as much as Dalston Mill is ever expensive) and I had to buy it! I’d been warned that the Anna dress can have a few fitting issues so I didn’t want to risk cutting into my pretty fabric straight away. I dug about in my fabric box and I found some cheap fabric I got over at Walthamstow market ages ago. It’s entirely inappropriate for Anna as it’s got a very busy pattern and I am far too lazy to bother with pattern matching…..plus its a light fabric but in wintery colours.  It was the only fabric that I had enough of so I decided that it would do.

I was very good with this pattern and I took the time to trace  off the pattern rather than just cutting it straight out. The pattern was super easy to follow and I didn’t run into any problems with it at all. As I got sewing I started to like the fabric more and more realised that it wasn’t quite such a hideous pattern after all!

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I have no idea why I’m pulling that face but I’m quite enjoying the picture!

For some reason I was feeling very well behaved and I actually hand sewed the sleeves. They look very pretty awesome even if I do say so myself!

I haven’t had the greatest success with invisible zips in the past. To improve my chances I decided to take the plunge and invest in an invisible zip foot. I found a cheap generic one online and it fits my machine perfectly.  I am very pleased with my purchase- it pretty much did all of the hard work for me. I still struggled a little bit with my pinning and tacking and it took me three goes to get it right but I got there in the end!

I’m really pleased with my dress, I think it’s even good enough to wear in public! As the fabric is cheap it’s not the most flattering to wear. It’s a little bit unforgiving and tends to cling a little more than would be ideal…..The fabric I’ve got for my final dress is thicker so fingers crossed  I won’t have that issue again.

I need to make a few alterations for the final version. I think I need to allow myself a bit more room at the waist. It’s nice to have the bodice properly fitted but it emphasises the size of my bum far more than I’d like at the moment! I’ll also make it a bit shorter – I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me when I was cutting out the pattern pieces that I should  check the length.

I am very excited about the final version of the dress!

An accidental foray (back) into 90s grunge

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I hope you’re not getting too sick of shots of my garden…..it’s looking pretty bleak at the moment. Still, a garden in London is a very exciting thing.

Being of a lazy disposition I rarely bother to work out gauges for my knitting or do a tissue fitting for my sewing so I often find that there’s an element of surprise to trying on any finished garment I’ve made. Sometimes it is a pleasant surprise (it looks like it was going to be too small but it fitted or the cut/shaping is super flattering) and otherwise less so…..it’s not necessarily that I don’t like it but that it doesn’t look the way I had seen it in my head. I’m having that problem with my Robin  jumper at the moment. It’s come out waaaaaaaay bigger than expected and is looking very different to what I thought I was making!

You would think that I would have learned by now that as my knitting is so loose and everything I make comes out huge that I need to make the very smallest size and even then go down a few needle sizes. Perhaps you’d even think that I’d finally start checking my gauge properly and trying things on as go. But no…..for some reason I can’t comprehend the making of an extra small, it feels too cold to take off one jumper to try on a half finished one and I’m wedded to be 3.25mm needles  for 4 ply (even when I know that the fabric is looking rather open and distinctly unlike the picture on the pattern).

In my defence I find that working on a loose fabric is much easier on my arthritis. I think that it reduces the strain on my hands. Recently I was working with an aran weight on 4mm needles to get gauge (it was a hat for someone else so I was forced to make an effort) and the stiff fabric was so much tougher on my hands (even with my lovely cubic needles) that I could only work on it for half an hour or so at a time. I fear I am consigned to a life time of over sized garments unless I buck up my ideas and start measuring/trying on/adapting things!

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Here’s my jumper blocking on the spare bed.

Anyway back, to the Robin. I shamelessly copied Kathryn when I saw her making this in the summer. I  like the shape (I am a big fan of bat-wing sleeves) and also the stripes. I decided it would be perfect for the Du Store Alpakka Tynn Alpakka I picked up while we were in Norway. I love the shade of green, it’s muted and subtle but still pretty interesting. As this wool is pretty hard to get in the UK I had to use Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca for the stripe. The two are fairly similar so I wasn’t too worried about them looking odd. I tried out various colours with the green and went with grey in the end. For some reason I thought I would need loads of wool for the stripes and ordered three balls of the grey! In the end I only used one….

The pattern was super duper easy to follow, it’s a top-down raglan with short row shaping at the neckline and at the back and some stripes to keep life interesting. The only problems I had were occasionally getting carried away and forgetting the stripes and doing something odd with my first lot of short row shaping on the back. Other than that it sailed along smoothly and was a very relaxing project to get along with. A perfect TV watching bit of knitting.

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Here’s what it should look like……..

I knew as I was going along that it was looking pretty big. I suspected that it was going to be baggy but I didn’t realise until it was blocked and dried and I had put it on quite how big it would end up! It’s massive! I suspect that it doesn’t help that I’m only 5’2”……

There’s something of the 90s grunge about it that I wasn’t expecting, it’s something to do with the extent of the bagginess and the length I think. I  was decidedly unsure at first. But it’s really growing on me now! It may not be super flattering but it’s very comfy with nice long sleeves to keep my hands warm.  Anyway, I rather liked the 90s first time around so there’s no harm in getting on board with it again! Maybe I should get myself some Doc Martins as well……….

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