Knit improv…(knitting without a plan!)

Raspberry coloured and blackberry stitched cardi!

Somehow it’s March already and I feel like I’ve lost track of the year! The last few weeks have been hectic and I realised I hadn’t knit a single thing in February.

BlackBerry stitch cuff

So before I make a plan for some March knitting, here’s what I finished in January. It’s a child sized cardi.

It started out as an experiment – I wanted to use blackberry stitch for something for myself and just wanted to get knitting without swatching, so I cast on what I though would be enough stitches for a sleeve. But it wasn’t quite big enough to wear without cutting off my circulation 😂!

Tight squeeze sleeve

It did fit very nicely on my daughter’s arm, and the colour really suited her, so instead of ripping it back I decided to make a child sized cardi instead. Because I started this over the Christmas holidays, my muse was about the house all day, so I tried it on her every time she got within arms reach!

Body knit from the hem up
Trying on for size

When it fit to underarm height, I joined the sleeves and body to continue upwards to a circular yoke. I used scrap yarn for the design, which I also made up as I went along.

I gradually decreased the yoke as it got towards the neck, but there was no real method – except to evenly space the decreases on the decrease rows. The no plan approach had worked this far so I kept it up!

Made to include some growing room!

The neckline was finished in rib to match the hem and all that was left was a button band. I picked up stitches along the edge and evenly spaced the buttonholes….

First attempt at the button band

But I wasn’t happy with it…it seemed too thin for the weight of the blackberry stitch and the cardi in general. So for once I actually ripped back some knitting!

2nd attempt at buttonband

I knitted two bands using double knitting, and then Kitchener stitched them to the fronts.

Finished bands attached

The new bands gave it the structure it needed, and I used two large snaps to close it at the yoke and it’s being worn open below the yoke.

Snaps were added to the upper section afterwards

I really enjoyed making this, and because it’s a loose fit, it works really well as an extra layer over a school uniform on the colder days. It should also fit next year, and I might even add a centered zipper along the front instead of the snaps if it gets too snug for the bands to overlap. !

If you want to make something similar…. I loosely based my ‘plan’ for this cardi on info gleaned from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s book Knitting Without Tears. Which I bought after Kate mentioned it in her series on seamless knitting ☺

Great British Sewing Bee S5 ep1 – a wiggle or a wobble?

Did you watch it? I was delighted to see the Great British Sewing Bee is back on Tv! I loved the first series for giving an insight into the time and trouble it can take to sew a nicely finished Garment.

I love to see the different approaches used by the contestants, because there are so many ways of doing one thing. For example Mercedes used a hole punch on her pattern to allow her to mark darts, Sheila used carbon paper and a tracing wheel ( this never works for me!) and I think I saw tailor tacks/thread tracing being used by Juliet.

The first week was Cotton week, and the challenge was to create a wiggle dress to be modelled on a mannequin. Cotton is relatively easy to work with but the pattern was challenging enough to give us a good idea of the levels of contestants’ skills. After every challenge, I pick my favourites and see if the Judges agree with me!

Wiggle dress from episode 1


They were given 3 hrs and 45 minutes, which seemed fair enough when the dress was unlined and being made without any figure adjustments.

Pattern matching is always an issue – two people had some upside-down fabric designs, and I did wonder how the large pattern Riccardo was using would work out. Ricardo had issues with the zip and didn’t finish in time – He mentioned that he mostly sews menswear (and showed off a fab jacket he had made from a sofa!).

Almost perfect with pattern matching at the waist.

Janet who had never made this type of dress before, had chosen a smaller diamond pattern and also had a few issues with matching things up, and this was noticed by the Judges:

Esme and Patrick casting a critical eye over a zipper seam

Sheila mentioned she hadn’t read through instructions and was figuring it out as she went along – my kind of approach! She seems very experienced and one to watch – her dress was made with a small floral pattern and looked very well made.

Jen also made a very nicely finished dress. She mentioned that she also does woodwork, stain glass, silversmithing, sewing..and even built a wall!

Juliet was my favourite so far – she seemed very calm and confident and even had time to help Leah with the sleeve folds. Both judges loved Juliet’s dress.. good pattern floral, good weight, lovely finish, “very very nicely finished dress” was what Patrick said.
Ben’s dress used a fab red grid fabric and his garment also impressed the judges.

Leah had difficulty with the stretch fabric..slight puckering and a hole at the zip base. It was described as “More of a wobble than a wiggle” ! (Patrick)

I had ranked the top 4 as Juliet, Ben, Sheila, Jen. The judges picked the same four except with Jen in third place and Sheila in fourth.


The Transformation round came next and meant remaking denim, they had 90 mins and could use 3 items.
Lots of very different looks here with gathers in denim, a layered skirt, halter dress, one shouldered top etc. I loved the raglan top that Ricardo made but the Judges didn’t agree as they had asked for original features of the denim garments to be included.

Sheila used trousers legs for sleeves and they looked fab. Surprisingly Juliet went from top to bottom in this challenge. Not the worst garment but it didn’t work well on the mannequin. Mercedes dress was my least favourite in this round.

Not sure about this one!

This time Sheila was 3rd, Alex 2nd with his layered skirt and Jen first with halter dress.



Then it was onto the Jumpsuit round –
This is the made to measure challenge and
contestants all used different patterns that they had practiced with at home.

Because the contestants haven’t worked with their models before, a very tailored jumpsuit would be harder to fit under pressure. They were given 5hrs.

I was surprised that no one left extra fabric at the top of the trousers or the end of the bodice to allow for adjusting the rise. The extra fabric can always be trimmed after fitting…….As a builder once told me – ” It’s better to be looking at it than looking for it”.!!
When a wedgie situation arose, Alexi thought about letting the shoulders down… maybe scooping a little out of the crotch would have helped too. The lack of waist seam didn’t help here.

Sheila’s jumpsuit was “a little hungry in the bum” according to Patrick! For her jumpsuit, Mercedes could have added in a waistband to give some extra length, although time wasn’t on their side. I did feel bad for Tom.. wanting to impress with his lovely design meant he overstretched himself and hadn’t enough time to finish well.


The absolute standout was Juliet – she was cool as a breeze…even adding a belt when she realised there was enough time! Her jumpsuit was unreal! Gorgeous mix of patterns, great fit and design. ” absolutely sensational”.

Apologies for the blur…images taken from my tv!

Janet’s nautical jumpsuit was also fab..really nicely thought out, great fit and style.

So were there any lessons learned…? Here’s my takeaways:
Always follow the brief.
Plan the pattern matching carefully!
Time management is key.
And finally add in some extra fabric/fitting ease when cutting out a garment!

Phew! I can’t wait for next week 🙂

Finally Finished – Chunky Cardi

Since I last posted, I did manage to find my needles and finish my Chunky Cardigan …..

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So far it has only been worn a couple of times.  It’s cosy, but it feels like the neckline needs a bit more height, or a collar maybe.  I made the sleeves extra long as always, to cover my freakishly long arms! I’ve noticed my long-sleeved tees wear out at the cuffs from my constant tugging at them, so I always make sure to add extra length to any tops.

 

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Extra-long sleeves are my favourite ! 

 

As far as my knitting goes, I’ve only just started to get a good idea of what I should be making for myself.  I prefer looser styles, and although I have avoided knitting with light weight yarns, I think I would get more wear out of lighter knits that could be layered up. So that’s what I’m going to focus on if I ever get time to knit again!

 

 

Blog Hop

A big Thank you to Raphaelle at Deux Sourcieux for the nomination!! –   here’s my contribution to the Blog Hop that has been weaving its way through my blog feed for the past while 🙂

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Burda shorts – one of the first items I shared on my blog

 

Why do I write?

I had been reading and following various sewing and knitting blogs with a few years and would comment occasionally, but didn’t feel like I was fully part of the conversation.  I studied Textiles in college and loved the interaction with other makers, getting inspiration and giving and receiving advice on our various projects.  I don’t live near many people who share the same interest and passion for fashion and textiles so I decided to start this blog as a way to engage with other makers online.  I started with a sock KAl hosted by Kristin in December last year and it all kicked off from there .

 

First handknitted pair of socks

First handknitted pair of socks!

 

I also love seeing peoples finished makes, it helps me decide if a garment will look flattering on me. As well as knowing any pitfalls that might arise ( like being warned if a hemline is super short … or way too long.!)  I’ve found blogs to be very useful in helping me make up my mind to tackle a project. Hopefully my blog will be of some help to others too.

But mostly I blog to talk about what I’m making – no one around here wants to listen to me drone on about the amazing details on a dress pattern or the perfect (or not so perfect!) finish to a zipper! Basically all of the things that fellow makers can relate to !

 

What am I working on?

 

Right now I’m working on a few things!     Knitting wise I’ve just finished making a Wurm hat for myself using some leftover yarn.

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Wurm Hat in progress

 

I’ve been holding off on starting a big knitting project until I find a pattern that I’m sure I will be happy not just knitting, but wearing aswell.  I’ve been too quick in the past to jump into a new knit project without considering if I’ll really like and wear the finished piece.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the lovely finished pictures on ravelry or on blogs. But as luck would have it the new pattern released this week by Purl Soho seems to fit the bill:

It’s the City Cape pattern available for FREE on Ravelry!

City Cape Pattern by Purl Soho

City Cape Pattern by Purl Soho

 

And sewing-wise I’ve been working on a dress from the September BurdaStyle Magazine : ( I will be blogging more pics soon !)

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Side section of my latest Burda make

 

How does my blog differ from others in its genre?

Ooh tough question! I’m not sure if it differs much.  In terms of blogging , I’m still finding my feet.  I like to post about a mix of crafts – sewing, knitting , machine knitting.  I also hope to share some other textile related items, like manipulating fabric using stitching, dyeing, printing etc.

I’ve been saving a lot of pictures lately of ‘out-of-my-price-range’ fashion that I would love to recreate on a budget.   Like this skirt on net-a-porter that I have been drooling over:

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Good use of fabric scraps!

So I think this blog is still evolving, but I have been enjoying it so far and have lots of ideas for where I would like it to go from here

 

How does my writing  process work?

aaah my process….! I don’t think I have a process yet! I aim to post a few times a month, but I don’t want to set targets just yet. I have so much going on with work and family, that I want my blog to be fun instead of another item on the never-ending to-do list.  So I tend to photograph items as I’m working on them .   I then upload the photos and narrate around them.   Not very innovative I know!! But writing was never my strong point, so I’m hoping that interesting projects will make up for my lack of technichal skill with words!

Nominations

So all that’s left is for me to pass on the baton…!

Firstly I’d like to nominate the lady behind a great blog I found recently called The Overflowing Stash, written by Pia.  I Love her style, and she has been inspiring me with her skirt block project. Her sewing is beautiful, and I like that she infuses her blog with some runway fashion inspiration Check out her Martin Margiela inspired jacket – so clever:)

Next Helen From Cut it out stitch it up. Her sewing is beautiful, she has amazing patience for pattern matching and she also knits. One of my favourite posts is this great explanation of ‘Bagging out’ or lining a sleevless bodice.

And then also Cheryl from Redknits.  Her blog is a lovely mix of sewing and knitting. Her sock -making skills are unreal!

Ladies ….no pressure if it’s not something you would like to do:)  And readers ( if you’ve gotten this far!) Thanks for stopping by and commenting or pinning or liking or just following along xxxx