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!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Green stripey jumper

Inspired by two similar striped jumpers that crossed my Ravelry radar, I decided I wanted to knit my own version.  The pattern I used is basically the same as I used for this jumper, although the neckline might be very slightly different - perhaps a couple of rows lower - I don't really remember now!

Anyway, I'm very pleased with how it's turned out, I really like this pattern as a go-to sweatshirt alternative.  I may well knit another one next year, I have rather a lot of leftovers of this particular yarn (Drops Baby Merino), in lots of different colours so will have a play around with different colour combinations at some point.

I probably won't wear this one until next Spring though...

Monday, 23 October 2017

Magenta cardigan

I don't think I've ever knitted two versions of the same pattern in immediate succession, but I did with this one.  It's the same as my Robin's Egg Vandyke cardigan, except with larger buttons and therefore fewer buttonholes.

This is the third garment I've knitted this year with this yarn - it is absolutely gorgeous and so soft.  If it were more tightly spun it would be my perfect yarn I think.  I've got one more colourway in my stash to knit although I might not get to it this year as I have rather a lot of things I want to get knitted before the end of the year (I won't).  But maybe next Spring.

Not really anything more to say about this - easy pattern and lovely yarn!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Heleniums dress

I picked up the pattern I used for this, Simplicity 2886, from the #Sewbrum pattern swap a couple of years ago.  I think the pattern envelope really doesn't do the dress justice, but the line drawings help and having seen a few versions pop up on my instagram feed I knew it would be worth the effort of making since I like the style of it.

Unfortunately, hot on the heels of Mortmain, this was another dress where the bodice didn't fit - although in this case it was too big.  I cut a size 12 and once I'd made it up had to do some unpicking and take the side seams in.

It was really quite disheartening to have two dresses in quick succession that needed this degree of intervention, however I really like this pattern and I think I probably will make it again, I'll just cut the bodice a size smaller.  And tbh I'd rather faff about like this than cut and sew endless toiles.  I'd do that for a special occasion dress using expensive fabric, but for an everyday cotton dress life's just too busy.

And that's me all caught up with my sewing output so far this year, just the knitting to catch up with now!

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Yellow and grey Hemingway dress

This dress is made with a gorgeous quality Hemingway design fabric from a trip to Brighton three years ago, and I love the print.  It's another Ruby bodice / different skirt mash up - I used the skirt from a vintage pattern which I picked up in the pattern swap at #sewbrum a couple of years ago.

I had to fiddle about with the pleats a bit to get the two waistlines to match up (the skirt being bigger than the bodice), but pleats are really quite forgiving of a bit of adjustment here and there and other than that this was a straightforward make.

Shown here with a petticoat - this dress is one I'll probably wear in the winter with a wool cardigan and boots (and the petticoat for extra insulation).

Friday, 29 September 2017

Mortmain dress

This dress was a serious disappointment, largely because it didn't fit.  I love this fabric - it's the fourth dress I've made from this print (the others are here and here) and the colour is just gorgeous. Going by the measurements on the pattern envelope I cut a size 10, and really I should have taken notice of the fact that the instructions say it is close-fitting.

Whilst I didn't find it uncomfortable it could do with a bit more ease (or me being a bit slimmer); the bust darts are also too high, although it doesn't notice with the allover print and it doesn't adversely affect the line of the dress.  The worst problem though was that the armholes are too high cut at the front.  So... having completely finished this apart from sewing down the bodice lining, I tried it on and discovered all these fit issues.  I unpicked the bodice side seams and armholes, created alternative bodice front and back pattern pieces (basically by looking at myself in the mirror wearing this dress and memorising where and how much fabric to remove around the armholes), and recut and resewed the bodice.  This was fiddly and didn't really make much of an improvement so I've decided to get rid of the bodice and turn this into a skirt - I've got enough fabric left to make a waistband, I just need to buy a skirt zip.

As I said at the beginning - a disappointment.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Betty dress

Another stash busting dress, this is a sew over it Betty made with rose print fabric in a lovely apricot colour which these photos don't really do justice to, it looks great with navy blue and sea green.  Here it is on its own

And here with a petticoat.

This was an easy make (although I lined the bodice rather than use the facings which came with the pattern) and I'll probably make another one sometime next year.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

St Ives dress

I made this from three remnants which I bought a while ago (I seem to be saying that a lot recently!) from, I think, Fabrics Galore at either an Olympia or Ally Pally show.  It's furnishing fabric and each piece was 1m long, and cut halfway down the vertical length of the bolt, so I was a bit limited as to pattern choice, but figured I could work something out.  And this is it!

A Butterick 5748 bodice and the straight skirt from New Look 6824.  I had a bit of fiddling around to do to get the pleats in the front of the skirt and darts in the back to match up with the bodice darts, and also to make the skirt the same width as the bodice at the waist seam, but it all worked out in the end.

I hemmed it by hand - with thinner fabrics I usually machine sew hems, but I thought this fabric would be too bulky for a machined hem, and it's thicker than the pink polka dot fabric of the previous dress.  Even though it's a straight skirt, I seem to remember it still took quite a while to do, but hand hemming was definitely the right choice.  I love this dress, just a bit miffed that we had such a grotty summer this year and I didn't wear it much.  Here's hoping for better weather next year!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Pink polka dot Ruby dress

This dress has the bodice from the Ruby dress pattern by Simple Sew, which was a freebie from Love Sewing magazine.  However, the circle skirt in this pattern is too short for my taste, so I used a skirt from New Look 6886, which is cut on the cross.  It's made from a 2m furnishing fabric remnant, so the skirt holds its shape quite well.

I traced the bodice pattern and increased the seam allowance to 5/8" (it only had a 3/8" allowance) because I thought it would make for easier matching up with the skirt if both parts of the dress had the same seam allowance.

Why don't all patterns have 5/8" seam allowances?  It would make mixing and matching patterns much less time consuming!  Also, I'm sure that one of these days I'll make up a pattern which only has 3/8" allowances and forget that fact and sew it up with 5/8" seams...

Monday, 25 September 2017

Purple bricks dress

I bought this fabric in John Lewis a couple of years ago and it's lovely quality - I really don't know why it took me so long to sew it up!  This is a Simplicity 2444 and I lined the bodice rather than use the facings that come with the pattern. 

Not really anything else to say about it!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

OAL 2017 - Robin's Egg Vandyke cardigan

So, having written about the two dresses I made for this challenge, I thought I'd jump the post queue with this cardigan, to keep the three OAL items together.  (In addition to the two OAL dresses I've already written about, I made six dresses during the time it took me to finish knitting this - I sew more quickly than I knit!)

I knew I wanted to use this wool (Madelinetosh sock in Robin's Egg) and so the fabric choices for the dresses came after I'd decided on the wool.  I also knew the shape of cardigan I wanted to knit (fitted, v-neck and waist-length), but spent some time scouring my stitch dictionaries and knitting some tension squares to see how the potential lace patterns knitted up with this particular wool.

I settled on using this stitch pattern (which is the top pattern in the swatch above) from the lace and eyelet stitches Harmony Guide.

As I was knitting, the first and third skeins I used bled colour a bit onto my hands and needles (although the second skein didn't...), so I was very pleased to find that the birds on dress number 2 were a great colour match.
Buttons were in my stash, but originally from Textile Garden

I've worn this cardigan a few times since I made it (thanks grotty English summer weather which necessitated wool cardigan wearing) and the colour didn't come off onto my (bare) arms - or the dress underneath it - but I haven't chanced wearing it with the Homemaker dress.  I still love it though, and I have plenty of other clothes I can wear it with.

Then, as a lovely surprise at the end of the OAL, a benevolent random number generator chose me as one of this year's winners!  And Lauren said some very lovely things about my cardigan on her blog - cue warm glow inside :-)  It took me a little while to choose the patterns which were the prize (two knitting patterns from Andi Satterlund, and two sewing patterns from indiestitches but I settled on Blaster and Mary Mead for the knitting patterns, and Stockholm and Emery for the sewing.

I'm not sure when I'll get around to knitting up either of Andi's patterns, I have a list as long as your arm of vintage patterns I want to knit (in addition to the ideas in my head and knitting for the family), and also I prefer to use 4-ply or thinner wool.  But I like the style of them so I might get around to them eventually.  The Emery is to replace the one I've got which has got a bit frayed around the edges from use, and the Stockholm jacket pattern is from a new-to-me company and I liked the shape of both jackets.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Hummingbird dress

So, hot on the heels of the Homemaker dress, I made this one.  Again, I used fabric which I've had for a while and which I thought would go well with the cardigan I'd decided to make.

This dress is a mash-up of the bodice from Simplicity 2444 which I modified to have a lower neckline at both the front and the back, and which I lined rather than faced, and the skirt is Christine Haynes Emery. 

I've used both these patterns before and since the skirt is gathered there was no lining up to do at the waistline and this was a quick make.  Another addition to my growing collection of bird print dresses!

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Happy Homemaker dress

Well, this blog has been very neglected over the summer and I have rather a lot of catching up to do!

I bought the fabric for this dress a couple of years ago (from here) after having seen it in my Instagram feed and I like it so much that I used it as the background for my header photo when I gave this blog a bit of a revamp earlier this year!  I love its retro vibe and I guess the design was inspired by the Enid Seeney Homemaker tableware design for Ridgway pottery which was originally sold in Woolworths - the teapots fetch silly prices on ebay.  I wonder which of today's teapots will fetch silly prices in 50 years' time? 

Anyway, on to the dress which I made back in June and which was intended to be for the #OAL2017 challenge run by Lauren and Andi.  They have run this outfit-along for the past four years - the first year I just watched from the sidelines, the second year I got my act together, last year I didn't, and this year I did - although once again I didn't use either the knitting or sewing patterns which were suggested.

For the dress I used Simplicity 4984, a vintage pattern from the early 1960s, and I made view 2.

It came together pretty quickly and easily - I moved the zip from the side to the back and I also lined the bodice.

I say this dress was intended to be the sewn contribution to my outfit, however... when I started knitting the cardigan (which I have yet to blog about) the wool bled colour onto my hands as I knitted - not much, but enough for me to think that I didn't want to risk wearing it with a white dress.  So I made another dress, which will be for another blog post.
With petticoat

I'm really pleased with this dress and will probably wear it into the winter too.  It's mid-calf length, which is longer than most of the dresses I've made, and I think with a petticoat underneath as an extra layer and boots it'll look just fine.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Me Made May 2017 final round up

Well, May flew by!  Here are my last three outfits for me-made May.

I do wear most of my dresses to work, but not the maxis, so as Monday was a bank holiday I wore my Tropicanna dress and a Honeybee cardigan - I really love the colour of this yarn (swoon).  

On Tuesday I wore a polka dot Butterick 5748 with an rtw cardigan.

And finally, yesterday I wore my red Cambie dress and a handknitted laceweight cardigan which I made a few years ago now - I must get around to knitting up the laceweight yarn I have in my stash - I love the fact that it makes such lightweight cardigans.

Despite having a few days off work during May they, and the weekends, were mostly taken up with doing other (fun) stuff.  And so I failed on the sewing part of my pledge, which was to make four dresses.  I did get the knitting part done though which was to complete two cardigans.  

Here are all this month's outfit photos...

Some of the outfit combinations from this year I also wore during me-made May 2014, 2015 and 2016 which just goes to show how useful some of these dresses still are!  And also that my taste in clothes hasn't changed much ;-)

And now, it's on to #OAL2017!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Smiling pink diamonds cardigan

I had originally intended to knit a short-sleeved top from this yarn, but when I saw this pattern pop up on Ravelry I decided that no, it would become a cardigan instead.  The name comes from the stitch pattern - Smiling Diamonds - which I found online here.

And so here it is, my second cardigan for me-made May.  This yarn (Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply) is just so soft and has a wonderful sheen.

I've had the buttons in my stash for a while - they are from Textile Garden.

I decided to continue the pattern onto the back of this cardigan.

Most of the cardigans I knit have stocking stitch backs, but I thought this was such a pretty stitch pattern that I would continue it on to the back too.  Fortuitously the pattern repeat worked out just right.  Usual construction - knitted in one piece up to the armholes, separated for front and back, top down sleeves, two-stitch one-row buttonholes and an i-cord neckline.  So predictable ;-)

This colour is perfect for summer, so I'm expecting to wear it quite a bit over the next few months!