Sunday, 14 January 2018

Love Potion cardigan

Here is my first finish of 2018...

I have had this pattern for a few years now, I think I bought it when it was first published and it's been waiting patiently for me to get around to knitting it.

In all my years of knitting this is the first thing I've knitted top down.  I'm not wild about it as a construction method in the way that some knitters seem to be, but maybe that's because it's new to me.  I can't see me ever trying to convert bottom-up patterns to knit them top down though, although I may well try and do the opposite!

It was also the first time I used German short-row shaping - this I'll definitely do again.  I followed this little vid on YouTube to teach me how to do them - very straightforward.

I used Drops Merino Extra Fine wool, which is lovely and soft to knit with (although, like their baby merino, is a bit splitty if you need to unpick and reknit) and the cardigan is very warm to wear.  I wasn't sure whether I'd have enough of the mustard to knit the whole thing in one colour, so I decided to do the buttonbands and collar in grey (which I had left over from the winter Breton jumper I knitted for my daughter).

Now, the back neckline, I don't know why the collar sits like this rather than fully covering the part where it joins the back - maybe it's the shape of my shoulders?

I've spotted that it also sits like this on a couple of other projects made with this pattern (possibly more, people don't always take photos of the backs of their garments).  It wouldn't be so noticeable if I'd knitted the collar in the same colour as the body of the cardigan though.  I have no idea how to change the pattern to stop this from happening, and I'm certainly not going to unpick it and try!

I bought the buttons from Textile Garden - I used 8, although I don't think I'll be buttoning up the top two because it pulls the collar in too much towards the centre front.

I don't know why the pattern has the buttonholes on the left - maybe in Switzerland there isn't the differentiation between men's jackets and cardigans buttoning left over right and women's right over left (the pattern designer is based in Switzerland)?  Anyway, I put the buttonholes on the right-hand side and did one-row 3-stitch buttonholes.

Being knitted with DK this didn't take very long to make and, apart from the way the collar sits - which I can live with because I can't see it, I'm pleased with it and have worn it a few times since I finished it.  It's a bit of a departure from the waist-length fitted style of cardigan that I usually knit, but good for wearing with jeans in the winter!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Sewing plans for 2018

I've had quite a few posts popping up in my Instagram feed recently relating to the #2018makenine and #2018usenine challenges, and they've reminded me that I need to get on and finish writing this post!  So today I made some time to go through my fabric stash, think about what I'd like to sew and take photographs during daylight hours - always a challenge at this time of year.

This year I really want to focus on using fabrics in my stash which, for one reason or another, are still in my stash...

The reasons vary but can really be aggregated to
  • I can't decide what style of dress to make (and it is mainly dress lengths that I dither over)
  • I know what style but can't decide on a particular pattern
  • It's such gorgeous fabric that I don't want to make the wrong decision (or a cutting out error - they have been known), and end up with no dress at all

Maybe if I put things in black and white here, with photos, there will be progress!

I'd also like to finish a few items which are at various stages of completion - a denim skirt from this pattern

which I cut out back in June and have done nothing with since.


An Emery / Cambie mash-up dress with these two fabrics which I bought in Dreyfuss in Paris several years ago.

I cut these out last summer and have got as far as sewing the darts and no further.

Then there is a Vogue long-sleeved shift dress which I started making in January 2014 and has therefore been languishing for four years...  I've marked the darts on this one, but I haven't got as far as sewing them.

Next, I would like to tackle buttonholes (I think I've probably said this before...).  So the photo below represents this - I may not use this pattern with this fabric, I've got a fair few vintage shirtdress patterns so might end up using a different one, but I really would like to cross making buttonholes off my to-do list!


I would also love to make some 1940s dresses.


The fabric in the picture above is a Liberty voile and so will have to be fully lined.  The fabric below is also Liberty, both of these were my mother's, and I'm not sure how old they are - 1980s or 1990s I guess.


What else?

I had a spell of binge-watching Jane Austen dvds last summer which ignited a desire to make a Regency-style dress.  I bought some navy dotted Swiss fabric at GBSB live to make up with one or other of these patterns - which remind me of a couple of Laura Ashley maxi dresses I had in the 70s which were really very similar in style.  Whatever happened to them I wonder? 

Next, a couple of skirts.  A pleated one with this gorgeous harlequin border print,

and a fitted one with this pink and red checked wool which I bought at Barry's in Birmingham on the 2015 Sewbrum day.


Two Coco sweatshirts with fabric from Guthrie & Ghani, again, from Sewbrum 2015.


A maxi dress with this fabric, not necessarily this pattern though (but definitely a maxi)

A fitted bodice pleated skirt dress from this gorgeous summery border print fabric which I bought last year

A dress for my granddaughter with this fabric, which is a leftover from this dress I made four years ago.  A friend of mine gave me the pattern - isn't it fab?

A dress with  this lovely vintage fabric which I bought from Hammersmith Vintage Fair a couple of years ago

A Sew Over It 1940s wrap dress - I've been waiting for this pattern to be released since I first saw a version of it on a mannequin in Sew Over It's Clapham shop a few years ago.

A Colette Rae

A Marilla Walker Isca shirt dress.  I'm not sure whether I've got enough of this lightweight chambray - I hope so!

A fitted 60s dress in this coral coloured stretch cotton - this reminds me of the dresses which Emma Stone wore in The Help.  I already had the original version of this pattern and then was tempted to buy the re-release in a sale, just to see what differences, if any, there are between the two patterns.

A navy and turquoise floral print voile 1940s style tea dress


And I am sure there will also be some fitted bodice / pleated or straight skirt combos too, because these fit right into my lifestyle and actually get worn.

I'd like to make up this fabric this spring...

I am also being increasingly drawn to the styles of the 1930s (take a look at Cate's blog - she's made some gorgeous garments) but I don't have any 30s dressmaking patterns in my stash.  I have got a few knitting patterns though so maybe my foray into 1930s clothing will have to be knitted not sewn.  Watch this space!


Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 - End of year round up

Well, it's that time of year again - I've already done a 'what I want to knit in 2018' post (a sewing plans post will be along once I've got some coherent thoughts together), so here is a quick look back at what I made in 2017.

Knitting
2 short sleeved jumpers, 3 long sleeved jumpers, 7 cardigans, one baby cardigan, three baby hats and a pram set, and a neckwarmer.

The only jumper I haven't blogged about yet was a 'Weasley' jumper requested by my daughter and which I got finished just in time for her to wear to a Christmas jumper day at work.

I didn't use a pattern, but based it on a jumper I'd made for myself several years ago (although mine was just plain, no letter!) and adjusted the measurements to fit her.  The 'A' I plotted on graph paper.  It didn't take long to knit as it's made with aran weight wool (Drops Big Merino), but I don't want to do any more intarsia any time soon.

A fair bit of 2017's knitting was for other people - the neckwarmer, the baby stuff, the jumper above and one of the short sleeved jumpers, and some of it was as part of knit-a-longs - the two short sleeved jumpers and one of the cardigans.  I often don't get things completed in the alloted timeframes for knit-a-longs, but I always start them with the best of intentions!

I've just totted up the metreage that I've knitted and it's a grand total of 11,828, which is 7.35 miles.  This is just the finished items and so doesn't include the two wips which I am carrying forward into 2018.  For comparison (and out of curiosity mainly), I've also added up previous years' output - 2016 (13,343m), 2015 (10,386m), 2014 (4,368m), 2013 (4,795m) and 2012 (10,500m).  Which is 55,220m or 34.2 miles.  I think the dips in 2013 and 2014 were caused by my catching the sewing bug - I sewed a lot more in those two years than I have in the subsequent three.

Sewing
I made 9 dresses this year all of which I've blogged about so not really anything more to say about them at this point.  I would like to make a bit more of a dent in my fabric stash in 2018 though!

Baby knitting

Along with knitting for myself, this year I have been knitting for my new granddaughter (actually it's last year as we're now in 2018...).  The first thing I finished was this vintage cardigan (bottom left).

I love this pattern, I think it's so pretty and I knitted one for her mother when she was a baby.

Then I knitted a quick bobble hat to go with it - this is a pattern from Debbie Bliss Baby Knits book which I bought when I was first pregnant.

This is actually the same shade of wool (Drops Baby Merino) as the cardigan, the lighting must have been different when I photographed it.

And most recently a pram set - again, another vintage pattern which I'd knitted for my daughter.

I changed it slightly though - no criss-cross stitching, I just did plain  moss stitch, and an i-cord neckline.  The grey is Drops Baby Merino and the yellow was some I had left over from this cardigan.  The little flower buttons came from John Lewis.


This also got a matching bobble hat.

And I also made one exactly the same (minus the button) for one of her friends.


Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Knitting plans for 2018

Before I write about next year's plans I thought I'd have a look back at previous years' future plans just to see how they panned out.

From my autumn 2014 to-do list there are a few things outstanding - the Purl Alpaca Icon dress, which will have to wait until at least autumn 2018 now unless we have a freezing cold January and February, a green cardigan using madelinetosh sock in Grasshopper colourway, which I might get done next year, and a Love Potion cardigan which I've already started knitting (although not with any of the wool I thought I might use back in 2014).

From the ten items on my 2016 knitting wish list, so far I have knitted four...  And from this year's list, which I didn't write until April, I've knitted two pink cardigans.  I did a tension square with the Kate Davies Buachaille wool, because I really wanted to knit that up, but my row gauge was off and so I put it to one side awaiting the mental capacity to either adapt the patterns to my actual gauge, or knit a couple more tension squares with smaller needles to see if that would work without making the knitted fabric too stiff.  I haven't done either yet.

So... plans for 2018

Finish the Love Potion cardigan which I'm knitting with mustard colour Drops Merino Extra Fine.  There will be grey trim - how much will depend on how long I decide I want the cardigan to be and therefore when the mustard runs out!


Finish the top I started with such enthusiasm back in October for a KAL being run by killerkitsch design.

I love the pattern and joined the KAL because it was extended to the end of December which I thought would give me enough time to knit it.  But no.  Other knitting intervened and I have made very little progress.

I'd also like to knit this cardigan with some dark blue Malabrigo Arroyo I have in my stash.

I'd originally thought I'd use a different pattern for this wool, but it's for finer yarn and this pattern shouldn't give me any (or not too many) tension issues.  Not sure I'll have enough wool though so it may end up being v-necked.

I'd also like to knit this yarn up, it's the last of the Scrumptious 4-ply in my stash and is lovely to knit with.

Also, the Pantone colour of the year for next year is Ultraviolet (this colourway is called ultramarine), so I'll be nodding in the direction of a fashion statement with this one.

Next, a cardigan using the parasol stitch from one of my stitch dictionaries.

Theodora has knitted a gorgeous cardigan using this stitch - I'm not sure whether it's on her blog, but it does have a Ravelry project page.  Having done a small tension square (rectangle) with some Artesano alpaca silk 4-ply I'm not absolutely sure I'll use this yarn for this design yet, I think I need to knit a couple more pattern repeats before coming to a final decision.

It might look better knitted with wool which gives more stitch definition.

I also want to knit a 4-ply version of Lucy in the Sky with some brown Fyberspates wool, however, I'm not sure that I'll knit it before autumn because for me, brown is not a colour I am likely to wear in spring or summer.  And again this will also need swatching and sums.

I'm also going to put in a couple of other vintage patterns at this point.  The one below will be a stash busting project, either with Malabrigo sock, or Koigu sock, although I'll change the sleeves so that they don't have pointy shoulders.


And this one which I'll knit with green Wollmeise lace and which will need some alteration to make it smaller.


I think that's enough to be going on with for now!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Helmsdale cardigan

I bought this pattern from The Vintage Knitting Lady - a treasure trove of vintage patterns, it would be very easy to spend hours browsing (partly because it doesn't have a search function and the website design is rather charmingly 'retro').  I have bought several patterns from her over the years and hope eventually to get them all knitted up!

Anyway, this cardigan.  I've had this wool (Malabrigo Sock in Terracota) in my stash for a while now and eventually started knitting this pattern in October.  However, I was also knitting a jumper for my daughter, a pram set for my granddaughter, and a couple of baby hats at the same time (plus I also started another vintage jumper which I haven't made much progress on yet), so it took rather longer than normal to get it finished.

But finished it now is, and I'm really pleased with it.

I made a few changes to the pattern as written - the first one was to knit the body in one piece up to the armholes rather than as a back and two fronts.  Unfortunately, I did all the waistline ribbing before realising that I hadn't put any buttonholes in (in the pattern the buttonbands are knitted as you go rather than added afterwards).  This was my fault entirely for knitting on autopilot - I always pick up and knit buttonbands.  So, back to the beginning and start again with fewer stitches so that I could add the buttonband later.  I figured since I'd already forgotten to add the buttonholes once, I didn't want to chance forgetting again!

I also charted the lace pattern and changed a couple of the increases to make the pattern symmetrical.  I've found this sometimes in other vintage patterns - they don't always use mirrored increases - or decreases for that matter.  What else?  Fewer side seam increases, short row shoulders and top down plain sleeves.

The buttons came from a visit to the Vintage Village in Stockport last year, or possibly even 2015.  I thought they'd go with this wool and bought them on spec - they turned out to be a great match!
I've got some vintage fabric which this cardigan will go really well with, so I should really get on now and cut it out!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

SewBrum 2017

I had a lovely day in Birmingham yesterday at the #sewbrum meet up.  This is an annual get together organised by the lovely Charlotte.  It was a long day though so I was very glad of the extra hour in bed this morning because the clocks have now gone back for the winter (I think I've reset all the ones that don't reset themselves automatically...).

The day started in the John Lewis cafe and it was lovely to catch up with people who I hadn't seen since the 2015 event (I didn't go last year unfortunately), and to meet new people.  And admire the handmade dresses, jackets and coats that were being worn.  Thank you to everyone who made lovely remarks about my dress, it's one of my favourites and there are more details here.

After some much needed tea and a pastry (well it was nearly 'elevenses' time, and I'd had a very early start) I wandered across to the haberdashery department.  There were some lovely fabrics for sale and I almost bought a pair of knitting needles, but in the end my determination to not buy any fabric unless it was of the "Oh wow, I have to have that!" variety won out.  And I decided that it would be sensible to check through my needles and see whether I actually need any more of a particular size rather than just buy because they were available.  So far so strong minded.

After this the group split up to go and visit the various fabric buying opportunities that lay ahead.  I went down to Barry's but again, there wasn't anything that jumped off the shelves saying "buy me".  The only thing I was tempted by was some dark green corduroy, but it was a bit too much of a bluey green.  What I'd actually like, and would have bought if I'd managed to find any, is some heavyweight mustard corduroy to make a skirt.  I have an rtw one which I bought in H&M years ago and have worn loads.  Consequently it is now beginning to wear out and I would happily make a replacement if only I could find the right fabric.

There were some lovely fabrics in Barry's, but buying a dress length of cotton just because I like it and 'can make a dress with it', or because I've seen someone else's dress online and thought 'ooh, that's nice I could make one of those' isn't really what I want to be doing anymore.  I am resolved not to buy anything without knowing exactly what I'm going to do with it.  And I have enough fabric in my stash to make plenty of cotton dresses.

After that I ambled back up towards the bullring and had a quick wander round the rag market and then got a bus out to Moseley for the next part of the day.  This was a welcome bit of breathing space in the day as the city centre was getting crowded and traffic-y and it was nice to wander round the farmers' market and then walk up the hill to Guthrie & Ghani.  Or maybe I just needed a cup of tea!  There were already a few folk in the shop when I arrived, but the upstairs studio room was light, spacious, and with a cup of tea and a chair, just the right thing.  I even managed a couple of rows of my train knitting during the course of the afternoon!

Pram set for granddaughter - need to knit this quickly!

 I added the patterns which I'd brought with me for swapping to the pattern-swap table and had a look at what was already there.  I was determined not to come away with more than I'd brought with me (nine), and more or less managed that.  During the course of the afternoon as people arrived so did more patterns and by the end of the afternoon I'd picked up five patterns for me (win)
and five girls' dress patterns as I now have a granddaughter (these don't count as they're not for me - I know, denial).
I also bought two new patterns - a Sewaholic Cambie - I don't usually bother with tracing patterns and my copy of it has become very fragile - I've hummed and ha-ed about replacing it for a while now and yesterday was the day.   Although I've already made a few I still really like this pattern and actually have a mash-up of a Cambie skirt and Emery bodice partially made at the moment.  There will be more.  Especially now I've bought another copy.  The second pattern I bought was the Rue dress by Colette.  Sewvee was wearing one she'd made and it looked fab.  I love the fabric she used, but also was pretty sure that I didn't already have a pattern with similar style details.  I remember liking it when it first came out, last year?? but thinking 'no, you don't need any more patterns'.  Seems actually I do, now that I've seen it made up.

My final acquisition was a 2m length of furnishing fabric from the fabric-swap table.  I didn't bring any fabric to swap this year for two reasons (1) I had culled my stash earlier in the year and haven't gone through it again since and (2) I travelled to Birmingham by train and didn't want to be lugging a heavy bag of fabric around with me.  Also see (1).


When I saw this fabric I thought it would make a great straight-skirted fitted dress along the lines of this one, but now I wonder whether I like it because the colours are so similar and whether it will look chic, or like I've cut up a deckchair and turned it into a dress.  Time will tell, I won't be doing anything with it until the weather warms up next Spring.  And as there's 2m of it and it's 56" wide there'll be enough to make something of the non-clothing variety if it doesn't work out as a dress.

Well, I seem to have written rather a lot!  Maybe my blogging mojo is returning...  I didn't take any photos on the day, but fortunately other people did and there are already several on Instagram with the #sewbrum hashtag.  All in all a great day out!