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The story of the sweater that took me 3 years to finish

I started this sweater almost three years ago. I was preparing to move to another country and as I was packing and sorting through my possessions I’ve decided not to buy anything new. Ever. 

As my sewing machines and all my craft items were either packed or given away, I realized I would need a new project that would keep me busy and happy, but also was easy to carry around. I had a gift card that I didn’t know what to do with; when I decided I would make myself my first sweater. 

I remember choosing the yarn. Spending an hour looking at everything in the yarn store, reading labels and touching the yarn to my inner wrist to see if the wool was itchy or not. I bought a light grey yarn, a type of superwash wool that looked pretty. I had knitted two cowls a few months before in a bulky, virgin wool and I was never able to wear them. They were too itchy. I bought six skeins, to make sure I had enough.

I didn’t use a pattern in the beginning. I just briefly researched the construction of a sweater and got started after I’ve seen a loose knitted jumper on Pinterest. I didn’t do a swatch test. I didn’t understand what gauge was and I matched my needles with my yarn weight by guessing. I just started knitting.

I was very slow, but I enjoyed it. I would listen to podcasts or audiobooks and think of the new place I’d live in. When I moved, the long winter nights, the cold and the knee-high show made finishing the sweater even more pleasant. Little by little I had finished it. It looked like a sweater.

When I tried it on, I realized the sleeves were maybe 30% longer than they should have been. In retrospect, they looked a lot like the Pinterest image I saw but they were not practical at all. The sweater fit awkwardly. I was very loosely knitted and just too big.

No worries, I thought to myself, it’s wool, so I’ll just was it in warm weather and dry it and everything will just work out. It didn’t. There was absolutely no shrinking. I tried wearing it a couple of times, but it just didn’t feel right.

It stayed in the back of the closet for a long time, before I’ve committed to using only the yarn I had in my stash before buying any more new yarn. So I unravelled the sweater and started making another one, in bulky wool that looked faster to knit. Again, forgotten.

A few weeks before moving again, I picked it up again. I used a pattern for the first time. I took my time to swatch and get gauge. I then adapted the pattern to my own gauge and started, slowly, knitting. I unravelled parts of it a few times. I knitted them again.

And then it was finished. And it fit.

The unfortunate saga of the little crochet tank top

I actually made this crochet tank top last year, but I didn’t get the change to post about it. I was also very excited about the project in the beginning, but the fit was… meh.

I first sewed a lined crop top in a green rayon. I bought this fabric with plans of making a beautiful evening dress for a wedding last year, but after many hours of frustration I ended up with no dress and lot of small pieces of fabric. This is what happens when you don’t plan sufficiently and just cut by eye. Alas, a year has passed and I got over it 🙂

The crochet tank top is a self-drafted pattern I use for silk tank tops and it works great unlined because it moves and it’s light enough not to gap at the armhole, but when you line it, the fabric becomes rigid, and without any darts the top doesn’t fit right. I think this would fit well someone with a smaller cup size. Mistake not to be forgotten.

I could have added some little darts to fix the gap in the armhole, but at the point when I noticed it, I was already frustrated with having ruined the dress and didn’t have the emotional strength to rip the seams and start over 🙂

After sewing the top I sewed an edge with blanket stitch, to which I added the crochet trim. I didn’t use a pattern, just played with double and triple-crochet stitches, then added some rows of simple netting. Six (what!?) years ago I did something similar, when I added crochet trim to the neckline of a RTW tank top.

crochet tank top scallop point

If I would do this again, I would make the crochet part more dense. I am not sold on the whole showing your midriff trend, so that’s another mistake in the design of this top.

So things to remember:

  1. If you’re lining a bodice, always use darts in the construction of the pattern, especially if the garment is sleeveless.
  2. If you’re crocheting the lower part of a top, pay attention to the density of your crochet stitching.
  3. When unsure, take some time away from the project and rethink before it’s too late to save it.

Fitting and personal preference aside, it was really great to experiment with mixing fabric and crochet on this crochet tank top experiment. I really like the texture and how the garment feels and falls. I might try this again in the future.

I also notice how I always gravitate towards the same colours, green and blue.

Knitting WIP: Leftover Cardigan (Inspired by Pegouno)

Not too long ago I decided that I would stop buying yarn. My yarn stash was growing bugger and bigger and the number of finished and loved projects was still very small. Some of the knitted projects I have finished lately are:

  • a white cardigan (my first knitted garment!) which turned out cute
  • this vest which is in the unravel pile right now
  • this mint knitted t-shirt which turned out meh and was since donated
  • this cute pom pom hat I wore all winter + 3 other hats I made as gifts (so rewarding <3)
  • and this wool chunky sweater, which I really liked but couldn’t really wear as it was too warm to layer under a winter coat or to wear inside during winter and not enough to wear on its own

At this point I was left with lots of tiny skeins of yarn in different colours, textures and weights. What to do?

leftover cardigan 2

And then, one day I saw the Pegouno (Penguin) cardigan designed by Stephen West, a knitwear designer based in Amsterdam. The pattern (like everything he designs) is really funky and really fun. A sort of patchwork for yarn, which allows you to mix yarn in different weights and textures.

Here are other amazing knit patterns by Westknits: this short-sleeved coat-cardigan, this magical sweater, and this embroidered panda dolman sleeve sweater.

leftover cardigan 3

Inspired by the Pegouno cardigan, I started knitting a similar cardigan. As usual, I am not following a pattern, but rather trying it on as I go. My cardigan – which I am calling the leftover cardigan – is a bit different: first it’s fitted and a bit longer. And I want to make it long-sleeved. But the principle is the same: play with the yarn you have and make something new.

leftover cardigan 4

To knit this, I started with the two square blocks that make the back and then added the rectangular stripes to the sides.

leftover cardigan 5

Then I picked up the stitches from the collar and front lapels and knitted a border. I did the same with the bottom hem and then I joined the shoulders.

leftover cardigan 6

If I leave it as a vest, I could to the same with the armholes, but I would rather like this to be long-sleeved, so I think I will knit another rectangle at the bottom of each armhole and then pick and knit the armhole on circular needles. Unless you have a better idea? 🙂

With the lovely weather outside I am not very inspired to keep knitting this, but it would be nice to finish it before moving to a next project.

 

Slouchy, cropped cardigan (knitted)

This is a slouchy T-shirt shaped open cardigan in stockinette stitch. It doesn’t get simpler than this. There’s no ribbing, no shaping, apart from the increase for the sleeves and it’s knitted in a cross shape, from the back piece, to shoulders and sleeves, to the two front pieces.

The fabric is lucky soft white acrylic that looks good over my mesa dresses. Being that the -28 C degrees weather doesn’t permit really permit non-warm layering, this will have to wait until spring, probably.

I keep thinking whether I should ad a closure of some kind or just leave it as it as.

white knitted crop cardigan collage

 

Oh, I almost forgot!

v

A hat that looks like desert ( + Knitting Pattern)

With the temperature dropping to -17 degrees celsius last Monday, I knew I needed a new hat. I had given a previous version of this to a friend and had remained hatless for the season.

I wanted to create a bit of space to tuck my hair in, which is more comfortable than fighting flying locks possessed by static electricity.

I made this hat in an evening. I used a bulky weight off-white acrylic yarn that actually feels and looks quite nice (I lost the label!) and a worsted weight pink wool for accents (also lost the label, I had it as a remnant).

My gauge was 11 sts and 15 rows = 10x 10 cm in stockinette stitch.

This is what I did:

  • Cast on 46 (this is a small size).
  • Knit ribbing for 8 rows (ribbing is knit 1 purl 1 row 1; knit 1 purl 1 row 2 and repeat)
  • Then I increased a stitch for each fourth stitch I knitted and worked it in stockinette stitch for 20 rows.
  • I then started decreasing one for each third on the knit side and just purled through the purl side.
  • I then decreased one for each second and purled all on the purl side. I knit, then purled all the stitches without decreasing for another row.
  • I then knitted 2 together until the end of the row and puled a long thread though and tied the top of the hat off. I sewed the back seam of the hat with a plastic needle (so much better than the tapestry ones I’ve been using and hurting myself with).
  • I then made a pompon and sewed it tightly on!

The hat is warm and comfy!

Let me know if you have any questions about this, I’d be happy to clarify!

 

The softest and warmest sweater with the very long sleeves

I’ve finished this sweater without trying it on during knitting (bad idea) and never thought about sleeve length + dropped shoulder. You’d think a person who sews would know at least that. Well.

I used 5.5 skeins of Bernat Roving yarn, and made up very simple pattern for the front and back (basically a rectangle with a neckline decrease) and slowly decreasing sleeves. I wanted this to look big and I decided to make it long enough to wear with leggings.

handmade wool sweater unfinished sleeve

Well, it is big. It’s huge. It’s like a sea of soft, warm, fibre. A sea with very long sleeves, that I will have to redo (serenity now!) because I actually want to wear this sweater. And because it was tested (yes with the sub par sleeves) and it’s sooo cozy! 🙂

handmade wool sweater

Instead of sewing the seams I used a crochet but this gave me big, bulky, visible seams, so I will redo that as well.

I didn’t finish the neckline yet.

I didn’t mean to color block it first, but I bought this yarn without knowing very well what I wanted to do with it. I first considered knitting a simple shrug, but I liked the texture of the resulting knitting fabric so much, that I went and bought more. And they were out of my colour of course :((

handmade wool bulky sweater back view

Look how crazy these sleeves are 🙂

handmade wool sweater extra long sleeves

Well, working with this yarn was so pleasant and the fact that I was knitting it while talking over the phone with love ones makes it even more special. Like their goodness is knitted in each loop of the sweater.

Garment notes:

Pattern: self-drafted (it’s really too much to say it’s a pattern. I just knit a 20x 20 swatch to get gauge then used very simple geometry to create this soft monster) – cost 0

Yarn: 36 CAD

Notions: wool needles 2 CAD, I already had the knitting needles.

Total cost: 38 CAD

 

Best of October in sewing and making

October was a good month. Not a lot of sewing unfortunately, but lots of ideas for projects and things to try.

I loved the October Slow fashion movement. I’ve written about the items I wear most and love most, the link between mindful making and slow fashion, and talked about buying pre-loved and mending things you wear. It’s also pretty cool because the end of October and beginning of November mark the eight months I didn’t buy any new garments (with the exception of socks and intimates and 1 blizzard emergency winter layer last March 🙂 I’m more and more interested in reusing materials, from tiny things like reusing paper for printing sewing patterns, to refashioning things you own and visible mending.

I have a refashion idea for a long sleeve I’ve been wearing weekly for some autumn and winters now and I’m getting inspired by the beautiful embroidery I see on Instagram.

I’ve experimented a bit more with knitting and crochet and made this tiny purse. There’s a tutorial too, but I guess I should read more patterns to be able to really write a good tutorial. Or make a video maybe?

I’m a bit impatient with patterns so I tend to just jump in and try things, but sometimes this actually takes more time in the long run because I don’t learn basic concepts everyone knows. On the other hand, it’s pretty cool to understand things like gauge and how to predict the number of stitches you’ll need to create a simple garment, so I’m enjoying that as well.

I’ve sewn some new things as well,  but more about that in a future post :>

Lemon banana muffins recipe: illustrated

Another little change you might have noticed on the blog is the new This Foodie tab, which is a link to my (very small) food blog. So if you’re into food, check it out 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 21.12.27

How was your October?

 

How to knit an easier herringbone stitch

THE HERRINGBONE STITCH from Oversize Me on Vimeo.

I love the video tutorial above by user Oversize Me on Vimeo. I wish they made more videos about knitting because this one is so inspiring. The light is beautiful and the wool looks so fluffly. It just makes you want to knit night and day.

In case you don’t read French, here is the technique as shown above.

This is how to knit the herringbone stitch:

  1. Cast on your stitches for you swatch.
  2. Knit the first row until the end
  3. Knit two toghether (k2tog), then slip off 1 stitch
  4. Purl two toghether (p2tog), then slip off 1 stitch
  5. Repeat

I find this version of the herringbone stitch easier than other versions I’ve seen, but this technique does make a rather stiff, close toghether knit fabric, so if you’re a tight knitter you might want to go down a needle size or two.

I feel it looks beautiful on bulky wool!

September sewing and knitting

I love fall. I love the rusty colours, the rough textures, the nutty flavours. Everything almost.

I took the photo below the other day and realised it captures some of my favourite colours: lots of earthy greens, but also some tones of blue and burgundy.

ivy wall

I used the Big Huge Labs palette generator to quickly look at this colours on a palette to see how much it resembled my current fall wardrobe pallete. I am trying to plan better what I make so that I make more things that I wear a lot. What is a lot? Is it every week at least once? How do you measure this? Is it important to you that you wear a lot the things you make?

It was fun to see the names they use for these colors: lots of turtle (ha!) greens, a rustic red, dark grey and black and some almost white tones of blue.

fall palette

So there you go! I had my fall palette!

The fun thing is that even without thinking about a palette, this last month, I’ve already finished some things in these colors: a dark (turtle) green vest and a plaid flannel shirt. I still have to press some seams and add buttons, but I’ll tell you more about this later.

I’ve knitted the vest over a few nights and I made up my own pattern, but I’ll write more about that in a future post.

The plant in the pot is the ginger I planted last month. It’s grown very fast! I love fresh ginger tea when it’s raining outside and everything is looking gloomy and I can’t wait to try the fresh version.

I’ve bought the Oslo Cardigan by Seamwork sewing pattern that I’ve been thinking about since it first came out. Initially I was going to make my own pattern for a cardigan. I’ve made one before and it was quite easy, especially when you’re working on an oversized silhouette, but I loved the Adelaide dress so much that I wanted to try another Seamwork pattern.

I have an idea how I want to modify it! Let’s see how that goes.

How was your September and what are you planning for October?

 

 

 

 

 

Best of June in sewing and making

Last month I started documenting the small pleasures, little discoveries and hopefully areas of personal growth in sewing, knitting, making in general. These were my favourite things to discover or do in June:

See also: Best of July in sewing and making 

Inspired to sew (or at least consider trying) sewing a bra.

I’ve been reading and admiring bloggers who make lingerie and especially bras, but I’ve never considered it something I could try, until I read Ingrid’s post about her Watson bra. She says this:

“I think one of the reasons I love making lingerie, is that it takes no time whatsoever, and I don’t have to break my back taping/cutting patterns and fabric on the floor. It all feels very civilised, sitting at my desk cutting out tiny little pieces with my rotary cutter”

and she made this:

neon-watson3

So inspiring, like everything she makes. Don’t miss out her blog.

I’ve been loving Sarai’s posts about the Florence bra and I have her Nutmeg pattern in paper. It’s one of the very few patterns I brought with me when we moved and I’ve never used it.

I started a new sketchbook

I’ve started a small notebook for sewing ideas and projects. I know there’s Pinterest (love it, wrote about how to stay away from buying more that you need here) but it’s different when you draw something and in this case when you stick the actual fabric on the same paper. It becomes almost real. I’ve shared this image on Instagram, are you on instagram? Follow me or leave a comment below so I can find you!

handmade sketch blouse idea diy sewing

I’m experimenting with watercolours

And realising how little I actually know about painting. Actually almost nothing. I will still share this with you because it will be cool to see the progress over the months. I like doodling, drawing, painting so it’s something I want to do more of. I got a new set of travel watercolours so this alows me to quickly doodle something in my lunch break and makes cleaning up/putting everything back really quick.

crochet watercolour by sky turtle

I’ve used the tinyest needles ever to swatch this cotton yarn

These needles are so pretty and at the same so fragile (or at least they seem to be so) that they allowed me to be patient with my swatching. It’s amazing how gauge changes with the different patterns. I really like this cotton yarn, it’s actually a darker blue that my camera captured it here. It’s also really thin so I really need to find a strategy to channel my inner zen knitter.

swatching in blue cotton and really tiny needles

What about you? What did you learn or experiment with in June?