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.

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.

what it should look like

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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Wave and box hat- test knit

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This is my first ever test knit. Its the Wave and box hat by Aimee Nicholson. I used Garnstudio DROPS Lima because it’s reasonably priced and I like the colours they have at the moment. As you can see I was feeling very brave when I was ordering the wool as I went for a contrasting orange and green. It’s not subtle but I rather like it! Some cheerful colour for a dark and depressing time of year!

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The repeat was super easy to follow and remember so I didn’t need to be looking at the pattern every five minutes. The instructions were also well written and clear. It was a very quick knit too!

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I’m not sure why my boyfriend decided to take the picture from the side of my face with the huge spot on it…..

The hat is designed to be a close fitting beanie style but mine came out a little bit big. It wasn’t a huge surprise when that happened as my gauge was a bit off. I went down to a 4mm needle need rather than a 4.5mm for the main body of the hat. I didn’t want to go down any further than that as it would have made the fabric quite stiff and put a bit of strain on my hands. This is almost certainly more of a comment on my loose knitting than the pattern though. I’m always off gauge! To get around the sizing issue I blocked it out as though it were a beret and I think it’s come out rather well! All in all I’m pleased with it!

*Drum roll* I’ve finally finished my darling ranges dress!

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I don’t know why I’m tugging at the pockets in this photo. I was having a particularly non-photogenic day and this picture was the best of a bad bunch!

If you’re a regular reader of the blog you might remember me starting work on the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress. At first I was super excited and raring to get going. I picked some lovely leafy fabric I’d got from Walthamstow market for a few quid a metre and was happily working my way through the instructions and then disaster struck! The kind of idiotic error that saps all of the joy out of a project. I mistook my skirt pattern pieces for scrap fabric and cut into them for pockets! AHHHHHHHH. Then I proceeded to have a tantrum and call my Mum (I won’t pretend it was one of my most mature moments). Thankfully Mum came to rescue and got me going again but the joy went right out of the project for me. The project sat, looking rather unloved in the basket for some months. Every now and again I’d pick it up and do a tiny bit of work, a sleeve here and a bit of bodice there, but without any real momentum.

One of the reasons I carried on withe the dress rather than just starting again (like a sensible person) was the lovely fabric. It might be cheap (and probably very flammable!) but I love it! The pattern is so pretty and it hangs beautifully! It’s got a really autumnal feel to it and it’s unusual without being too insane. Plus the tiny pattern meant I didn’t need to bother with lots of pattern matching.

Sometimes a girl needs to be strict with herself and I decided that I was going to make myself finish the dress before I started on anything else. I have the pattern and some super pretty fabric for an Anna dress which I am desperate to get started on but first of all this one needed to get finished.

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The binding on the neckline looks lovely and neat – it’s a pretty touch!

Once I got started again I really enjoyed the sewing. I’d last stopped at the plackets because they looked super confusing and I’d never done that sort of thing before. It took me a while to figure out what I was doing with the folds and even longer to work out that the bias tape would be on the inside not the outside! In the end I figured it out from the tutorial – I don’t know why I didn’t just google it in the first place!

Once I’d got the neckline sorted out everything else went quite quickly. I was a little bit worried about the button holes as my fabric pen wasn’t showing up and I didn’t want to ruin the whole thing right at the end. After a bit of fiddling about I used tape to mark my placements in the end. I just sewed right through the tape and then peeled off the bits that were showing.  It’s not textbook technique (and probably isn’t very good for my needle or machine) but it actually worked pretty well!  The fabric is a bit prone to fraying so I think it might be reinforcing the button holes a little bit!

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The last step was to add the pockets. Pockets were essential to cover up the marks on the fabric where I accidentally cut through it. I didn’t have much choice about placement so I just measured the size I would need and went for it. I found this tutorial very helpful. Given that these were my first attempt at patch pockets I think they’ve come out pretty well!

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As I’d left the dress laying around for such a long time I had a few problems with epic fraying. I had to reinforce a few of the edges before sewing them because it looked like it was going to fray right through. Even with the extra care in sewing I think I’ll need to be very careful with this dress or it might just fall apart!

I am super duper pleased with my efforts. I really like the style of the dress, it’s very flattering, and the fabric falls very nicely indeed! I’ve already worn it out and about a few times  and had some compliments! It’s a slightly sheer fabric and the neckline is a little low so I had to buy a slip to go with it. I’ve never actually got around to buying a slip before but I am an instant convert. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was not to spend the whole day pulling down my skirt due to weird skirt/tight static making it ride up.

I love this dress and I think I’ll be making it again!

Christmas pinny for my Mum

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It’s always a bit of a challenge to think of something to make for a more seasoned crafter than yourself. My Mum is a case in point; while she’s always super grateful for anything I make her she would almost certainly be able to make herself a better version if she wanted….However to keep with my plan of making a little something for everyone I needed to think of something. In the past I’ve knitted various shawls which seemed to be well received      (although you can never tell if people just get things out of the cupboard to artfully display when you come round…) but this year I hadn’t left myself enough time….. I started thinking about things I knew that she would use and I came up with a pinny. My Mum can often be spotted in a pinny about the house (which would probably explain why she doesn’t ever suffer with the mystery bleach stains which appear on my clothing at random) so it’s something that I know will get used.

I thought it would be pretty easy to find an apron pattern as its a fairly bog standard item to make. I was very wrong indeed! It took quite a lot of hunting to find something appropriate…… for some reason the internet is crammed full of patterns for frilly, floral aprons in a variety of shades of pastel most of which only cover about 10 inches of a person’s bottom half (for people who mysteriously only spill stuff down their thighs?). I was a little bit confused……I didn’t realise that aprons came in frilly pink for ladies or blue for mens (which are all ‘butchers aprons’ because apparently men don’t cook or clean???)….I thought they were just one size in neutral colours? Even if we put aside my aesthetic preferences my Mother is  about as far from a wearer of frilly pinnies as you can get! In the end I found this one. I was super pleased. A normal unisex  apron my Mum could actually wear!

I got myself down to Dalston Mill for some suitable fabric. They helped me to find a nice cotton twill with a lovely green and cream stripe plus some cream tape. I’m very taken with the fabric; its nice and thick and feels a bit like canvas. For some reason I decided to buy two metres when I could easily have done with one. It was a ridiculously easy fabric to work with; not even a hint of slipping about! Plus it was nice to be working with a fabric that will take a really good steam after the jersey I’ve been using lately. It’s so much easier if you can press a nice flat hem before you sew.

The pattern was super easy to follow. Some measurements, a couple of lines to draw and I had everything cut out. It was really quick to sew up. A challenge is good sometimes but I do enjoy giving my brain a rest and sewing straight lines! As the hems got a bit thick (especially with the cotton tape in there) I used my walking foot. It made a huge difference and made it super easy.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the way that the pinny turned out. I really wanted to keep it for myself. I hope my Mum likes it!