Monday, 20 June 2016

One of these socks is not like the other...

Contrary to the evidence outside.. It is now summer. I know, I wouldn't have believed it if it hadn't been in the news. And what do knitters do in the summer... We knit socks! Small portable and pretty little socks.

I've made quite a few pairs of socks over the last year and a bit (my very first pair were in April '15) but asides from my first attempt, they have all been for gifts. So this year I have decided to be a bit selfish and make more pairs just for little old me. I also wanted to make some more challenging pairs as the last few sock patterns have been very basic ones. So for my first pair I have tried out some self-striping yarn, and of course this called for some afterthought heels.

I used the 'afterthought heels' pattern by Laura Linneman which of course I sourced on Ravelry, and decided to trust the pattern and make them up in the smaller size (there are only two specified on the pattern). Most of this involved just knitting a tube... Very straightforward. I used Regia 4 Fadig sock yarn in a lovely Aqua colour, with Grundl 'Hot Socks' super wash for the contrast in navy.

So after knitting a K2P2 cuff and swapping to the self-colouring stuff it's all plain sailing until the heel, then with a strip of waste yarn knit across half of the stitches... Then go back to where you left off with the colour and knit over the waste yarn... There are you-tube tutorials, this instruction just didn't make sense to me but is really easy when you watch someone else do it. You can see mine above, it's the random navy stripe. Then once again it's plain sailing until the toe... Which I also did in the navy contrast.

The tricky bit was picking up stitches either side of the waste yarn and then removing said waste yarn. Once that's done and you've got a whopping great hole in your sock, you can then fill it with said heel.

The advantage of this kind of heel in a self-striping yarn is that the pattern doesn't get broken up, no one wants that do they? And speaking of the yarn, this is the first time I've used a self stripe, and I must say I've got mixed feelings about it. It's great to keep the interest going, looking forward to the next step of the pattern is actually really satisfying. What is not is how unreliable the stripes are... Some are varying thickness, and others come out as blotches rather that vertical stripes. The little obsessive compulsive in me really didn't like that. But I actually really like the finished sock.

Now, on to that difference between the two... And no it's not the stripes starting in different places, can you spot it? Cos I didn't until I was halfway down sock 2...

Yep... One sock has a K2P2 cuff, as per the pattern... The other sock is K1P1... Gah!!! But you know, once I got over the stripes being mis-matched and crooked, I kinda got over the cuffs. Plus they're so dark you can't really tell.

Yes... These are good socks... They're a little loose in the fit, but they are comfy and pretty.

Onwards to pair number 2!!

Monday, 13 June 2016

How to make the easiest sewing pattern in the world difficult

Are you familiar with New Look 6217? If not then you surprise me, because it's been the topic of at least one blog post every week for the last few months... Not my blog.... Other sewing blogs... Obviously.

This little pattern includes a skirt, trousers, kimono jacket thing, and a loose kimono sleeved t-shirt... All of those in just one pattern packet... Bargain! But for today I am just here to talk about that little t-shirt. Which is so important that t appears on the packet a grand total of three times (I'm including on the actual model too), really not sure why there are two drawings of it on the front. This is a woven fabric t shirt with a button fastened neckline. It has a bit of shape, but not much, it's designed for fabric of the floaty persuasion so shape isn't a huge issue, plus it makes it easy to fit. It does have the advantage of only having two pattern pieces (though three pieces to sew together, the back is split) and can be squeezed out of a mere metre of fabric.. Plus some bias binding.

Well... What's not to love?! So I made me one..

Just look how pleased I am! I'm also kneeling down which is why the radiator is up to my waist (had nowhere higher to prop the camera). This is my wearable muslin, and it's pretty ruddy wearable if I do say so myself. It's made out of a cheap eBay viscose with little white and green hearts all over it. It has a fair drape, but you can tell it's not the really good stuff. If you follow my Instagram (or paid attention in me-made May) you will realise you have seen this before. 

The hearts are a minty green which is why they're barely showing up in the photos. Well this pattern has been hailed as easy as pie... And it is, there is very little I have to say about the construction. Sew front to back, bias bind the neck and arms, hem it and whack a button on the back...

Which by the way is really not needed as the neckline is so wide... But I kinda like the decorative effect. But, I hear you cry, you said in the post title that you made it unnecessarily difficult?! Well yes... I made a big mistake. I managed to get front and back mixed up while pinning the pattern pieces to the fabric, and before I realised my mistake I had already cut the back out... Leaving no fold on which to put my front... Oops

Solution? My very first French seam down the front...

Look closely, the black and busy pattern really hides it, but it's there. But hey, even with this extra step this pattern is a breeze. I really like the kimono sleeves, they're cute, but no effort at all to sew. And honestly, the only change I'm going to make to this pattern for the next version (oh yes... There will be more) is to go down a size... This is one baggy top!! And in this fabric (which also crinkles like mad!) I end up looking a bit...

... at the end of the day. Ha ha, just included that last photo for the humour of it. 

So short and sweet... Just like my little kimono sleeve t-shirt.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

A different shape of t-shirt

Also known as the Plantain t-shirt.

Ok that was an attempt to make my blog titles a bit more interesting after my last two. Maybe this one is more exciting, maybe not... I leave the judgement up to you.

I've got a bit of catch up to play for May as I had still spent my Saturday's doing a bit of sewing, but never blogged anything because of the whole me-made thing going on.

But yeah, Plantain! This is a FREE pattern from Deer and Doe in PDF form. I've made this pattern up before as a sweatshirt type thing in both red speckles and with shed loads of butterfly's. This is my very first actual t-shirt rendition. I chose this pattern rather than the Renfrew as I wanted something with a bit more drape and length to wear with skinny jeans.

The Plantain sports a really casual a-line from the bust down, and it's just that bit longer than the Renfrew so it fits the bill perfectly. From my sweatshirt versions the only adjustment for this version was to narrow the shoulders. I cut the size smaller over shoulders and sleeves and scaled out to the next size up over the hips (which I pretty much need to do with every top). I'd recommend this to anyone starting out with jersey sewing. The instructions are really easy, and there's only front, back, sleeves plus a neck finishing (also very good instructions), so it also takes no time at all to make up.

I decided to cut the sleeves at right angles to the main body to create a bit of a design feature. The fabric I used was from someone's de-stash on eBay, having no idea what it actually is, I would guess it's a cotton jersey (awesome drape). The grey has become like a uniform colour for me, but I loved the blackcurrant coloured spots on this jersey, so I can kidd myself it's got a splash of colour to it.

I'll be honest, because the Plantain pattern has so few fitting issues (as long as you get the sleeves right it's all good), there's really not much to say about it. But this little number has become one of my very favourite t-shirts... And I even have enough leftovers to make another... Maybe a vest top?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Wow am I getting creative with my post titles or what?!

Well it may not be witty or creative, but it's certainly to the point, and the point today is my new cardigan! Yes folks it's finished, sewn up... Pockets too, and ends all tucked away nice and snug. Put your hands together for.... Bailey!!

This fella has featured in many a work in progress post, but no longer! It was an easy knit and I'm very pleased with the minimalist look that simple knitting has produced. This is the Bailey Cardigan pattern by Amy Christoffers (go find it on Ravelry) which I decided to make after an already started cardigan just wasn't doing it for me. I do love me a cardigan, and I wear them all the time (almost), but all the ones I wear are a really basic coverup rather than being a bit bling with cables and lace everywhere. The appeal of this pattern was that it was simple, but not too boring, cosy, but not too fluffy, practical, but flattering... This is pretty much the cardigan Goldilocks would pick up if there was a chill in the three bears house!

It's design features are pretty much the tiny ribbing on the bottom, the sideways knit pockets, and a touch of the old I cord binding for the edge. Subtle and classy.

It's all knit up in one piece to the armholes, then separate fronts and back lead up to a shawl type collar (which I couldn't manage to photograph properly. Then the pockets are made and stitched on separately... Yeah I didn't enjoy that stitching stage! This version is knit up using a budget merino yarn which I'm not shy to say I didn't like. It's scratchy where merino should not scratch!! But this pattern really makes the most of it, and I've grown to like the red yarn. I'm hoping more fabric softener laced washes will give it more of a softness over time.

I've been wearing it all day and I love how cosy it is, without it taking over as a giant cardigan. I can see this becoming a regular favourite. 

I can also see me making this again in another colour... But I'm trying to resist the pull of a charcoal grey... Everything I'm making right now seems to be grey/have some grey in it. There's liking a colour, and having everything matching, and just going a bit monochrome (although I can pretend to be in a black and white film... Hmmm this does have its perks). 

Anyway, finished cardigan - check... Splash of colour in my wardrobe -check!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


You may have noticed recently (ie towards the end of me-made May) that I gained a new shawl in my wardrobe. I may very well have mentioned I never want to take it off again (there are rumours I've been sleeping in it which I promise are untrue... Honest). I have also several times promised this shawl its own write up.

Well ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, give a warm welcome to... (Cue fanfare and drums)... Brickless!!!

This little gem was begun back when I visited my parents over the May bank holiday ( the other one, not the one just gone), I discovered over Christmas that a shawl makes for a perfect travel project, mostly because I'm still too nervous about getting DPNs past airport security and have not mastered the magic loop for socks yet. So I decided it was the turn of the Brickless pattern (by Martina Behm on Ravelry). I also wanted to make it up using Drops Alpaca, which I had used for the Maluka shawl over Christmas, and even though Brickless asks for a bigger ply, the pattern converts to 4ply really easily.
It's basically three patterned rows with increases/decreases at appropriate places, so really easy to knit sans pattern reading every few minutes.

I won't lie, this felt like it took an age to knit up, as I got closer to the edge I also decided to add a splash of colour with the teal Drops Alpaca I had leftover from my last shawl. Only because I used it as a safety thread for travelling and thought the colour combination was awesome!

See safety thread top left.. It's a great knit though, and I actually loved that at a pre-blocking stage, this shawl is just a big wobbly lump! 

But it was finally finished last Thursday, and immediately after sewing in any loose ends it went around my neck... And has been a permanent fixture since!

Sooo... Any complaints about the pattern? Nope. Any adjustments to the pattern? Just to keep knitting until each row of pattern was a good size to compensate for rubbish gauge matching. Would I knit it again? Hells yeah! I'm planning a big ol DK one for winter too!!

Conclusions... This shawl is awesome!!

Me-Made May... The final countdown

Well that's it! It's done! The last day of May has been and gone! So without much further ado allow me to give you a very quick roundup of the final week (and two days) of Me-Made May, then I shall share some thoughts on the whole process...
On Sunday it was the turn of my badly dyed Renfrew... Super cosy, super scruffy looking. I have plans to re-dye that soon (properly this time). On Monday it was a much more sucesful Renfrew in a geometric jersey.

On Tuesday I wore my Hollyburn skirt, I love wearing this one and will make another as soon as I can I think. Wednesday I repeated my New Look 6217, so no new photo there (I decided to only Instagram the new ones so I didn't get bored).

On Thursday I had on my only just finished Brickless shawl (which I've already mentioned a million times, it will get its own blog post soon... Promise). On Friday it was a repeat of my grey Renfrew and once again Brickless.

On Saturday and Sunday I was in Ireland, and I had saved my Belcarra blouse for this occasion because I love it so much so I wore that out on Saturday. On Sunday it was a much more relaxed Plantain t-shirt.

And for the final two days I wore lady skater dresses, on Monday (to fly home in) it was an as yet unblogged grey ponte dress, on Tuesday is was my previously worn keyhole patterned dress... And yes you guessed it.... Brickless!!!

And my conclusions about the month.... Phew!!

Yes that about sums it up. It was a bit of a chore to think about what I was going to wear rather than just grabbing the first things that I find in my wardrobe. I have built a capsule style wardrobe for just that reason. But I really enjoyed wearing my own stuff, and was really pleasantly surprised that I only repeated clothes I think three, maybe four times in the month. Which lets face it, I do anyway with store bought stuff if I like it enough.
This was an interesting exercise that has really proven that my makes do fit into my day to day wardrobe... And I think I largely have the WardrobeArchitect series to thank for that (I know I keep harping on about it, but here's profit works!). Plus it's shown me just how much I have made, I think I really discounted my own productivity with my 'three items each week' target... I've got shed loads of stuff!

Will I do it again next year...maybe. But I'm a little glad it's over as I now have more freedom of what to wear each day, be it bought or made.

Anyway if you've been following my daily annoying posts on Instagram many thanks, if it's just been my weekly updates, thanks for popping in for a look.

Onwards to June!!