Wet Blocking!

I just wanted to share my process for hat blocking.

Fill the sink with cool water, pop hat in and make sure it’s soaked. (Add some wool soak if desired, I was out! ) Leave for 10 mins, then gently squeeze out the excess water. Roll the knitwear in a towel and walk over it to help squeeze out any more water. Stretch the hat over a balloon inflated roughly to the size of your head and leave to dry 🙂

Tip – if it’s a cold day your balloon will shrink! So pop it in a warm window instead for maximum blocking time.

Swatching Again..

I’ve been off the design wagon (and out of the blogosphere entirely) since before I went on maternity leave, and reformatting and uploading my old patterns here recently got me itching to get going again.

When I’m working out a stitch pattern I always start with a rough chart that gets edited as I go along. The pattern evolves as the swatch gets longer.

I think I am getting there with this one now. It was going to be socks, but the repeat was too large, then I was picturing a hat but now I am thinking shawl edging maybe. It’s a pleasing one to knit.

A few years ago my entire stash was kept in a box in the cupboard under the boiler. One day there was a leak and half the box filled with water before I noticed there was a problem. The colours ran into each other but I couldn’t bring myself to throw all of it away. The best stuff I had to wash, dry and reskein.

This was a skein of Socks Yeah! which ended up with purple splodges all through it, I think it works quite well with this colour way though!

Llangennith

Llangennith_socks2
Knitted socks shot on wooden floor
Llangennith_socks3

**Updated 2022**

£4.70Add to cart

I wrote this knitting pattern around Christmas time, but it was decided that it would go in our special bumper edition of The Knitter Issue 100. The socks are knitted in Coopknits Socks Yeah!  which comes in 10 awesome colours and I love them all equally.

Using Judy’s Magic Cast On, the pattern is knitted toe-up, with a 4-row lace repeat worked across the instep. After you have turned the heel you get to mix things up a bit and knit some cables up the leg. This makes it a fun sock that doesn’t get monotonous – and it obliterates second sock syndrome as the foot section knits up quite quickly.

Errata from the version in The Knitter
In Chart A, the cable in row 1 should show the same as the cable in row 3, and they should both be worked as thus: slip next st to cn and hold at front of work, K1, then K1 from cn. (This has been corrected on the most recent PDF)

SIZES
To Fit Foot Circumference
S (M: L)
19.5 (22: 26)cm
7.5 (8.75: 10.25)in

Actual Foot Circumference
S (M: L)
151/2 (17: 20)cm
6 (6.75: 7.75)in

YARN
Coop Knits Socks Yeah! (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon; 50g/212m/231yds)
2 x 50g skeins of Ammolite

NEEDLES
A set of 2.25mm (UK 13/US 1) double pointed needles (DPNs) or circular needles, 80cm long if using Magic Loop method

NOTIONS
2 stitch markers

TENSION
36 sts and 53 rounds to 10x10cm (4x4in) over st st using 2.25mm (UK 13/US 1) needles.
Instep Chart measures 4cm from centre of wrap3 to centre of next wrap3

Resting..

Does anyone else feel that life is just a little too cluttered sometimes? There always seem to be those little chores we need to get done, and we strive to do the things we want to do, but sometimes aren’t really sure even what they are..

Photo 05-10-2015, 13 01 44 copy

I’ve been reading a book recently called The Organized Mind, which is all about focusing, decluttering and living in a world that is full of so much information without getting overwhelmed. It’s quite hard going, very science-y but explained well and I can’t get my head out of it. Having ticked off many of the things on my list that have been hanging over me since before the wedding, things are starting to get a little clearer.

I’m enjoying the peace and quiet of our new house, the ticking of the clock, working simple crochet granny squares placemats in silence, happily counting the stitches around and around like a meditation. There doesn’t seem enough time for these simple pleasures, though with no small people to look after and a normal working week I’m not sure why.

I’ve also been a little obsessed with colouring. The colours I’ve been attracted to recently seem to reflect those of the sea, the purple horizon blending seamlessly into that beautiful turquoise green. We haven’t made any of our usual little camping trips to the coast this year and I’m really missing Cornwall and the sea air.

I think a few more weeks of rest might allow me to find out what’s missing at the moment. I haven’t worked on any designs for a while and this makes me itchy, yet I took time out because I felt like I was working all the time. Recently my yarn has been calling to me and new ideas have been popping up, so hopefully soon something will emerge.

In the meantime I think I’ll continue to enjoy the quiet moments for a while.

IMG_0490

Making a Wedding Outfit Part 3, The Cardigan!

I’m really sad I hardly wore this cardigan on our wedding day. It was sunny in the daytime (but not massively warm), and for some reason I went without it. I think I thought I’d look better in pictures without it, as I’d really made it in case it was cold, but as a result there are only a handful of photographs of me wearing it. 

The pattern is Marianne by Sharon Miller, from Rowan Magazine issue 37:

Marianne_765_x_1020
Photo by Rowan Yarns
I used Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Marmalade (596), which I was unsure about to begin with as it’s soooo fluffy!! Actually it looks really lovely. I am not a fluffy person at all, but now I’m looking for an occasion I can wear this for more than 10 minutes! 

yarn on white
Photo courtesy of Immediate Media

There are mixed reviews of Kidsilk Haze online, and having never worked with it before, I was interested to see what it would be like to knit with. I have to say, I had no problems with it whatsoever, I was just careful not to make (too many) mistakes.  I worked the cardigan in one piece to the armholes and there was a bit of fudging to try and keep the pattern during the shaping, but the fuzziness of the yarn hides this quite well!  The pattern was easily memorised once I got going and it was good fun to knit up.

Faye_Chris_1521.CR2
Photo by Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos
I made a few adaptations to the pattern; I lengthened the sleeves and lowered the neckline. I wanted to be able to wear it open without it looking odd and hanging funny, so I started the neck decreases at the same time as the first armhole cast offs, then calculated how often to do them to end up with the right stitch count for the shoulders. 

I also omitted any sort of button band, as I liked the shape with the new neckline. Instead I went around the opening with one row of single crochet and fastened off. This picture shows the shape of it quite well:

Photo by Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos
Photo by Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos
Consequently, despite the extra sleeve length I still used far less yarn than the pattern called for, so if anyone is looking for a ball of Kidsilk Haze Marmalade from dye lot 3929 then let me know!

 

Making a Wedding Outfit Part 2, The Petticoat!

Part 2 – The Petticoat

In the last post I talked about my greatest ‘making’ achievement yet – my wedding dress.  I decided to make this so I wouldn’t let my future-self down, and I’m so happy I decided to go for it!  The dress itself was fun, and aside from the corsetry techniques I picked up as I went along, was fairly straightforward.

Photo by John Perriam
Photo by John Perriam

I never, ever intended to make the petticoat. I’ve tried (and failed) with petticoats before, and I hate working with netting!  I even found a very reasonably-priced lady that makes petticoats in every colour under the sun, Petticoats-a-Plenty, and talked about placing an order. But for some reason I found myself looking at tutorials thinking it could be do-able, and ordering 125m of netting.

Photo by Wild Wedding Photos

 Other than always-having-to-do-every-single-part-of-something-myself, the reason I didn’t order a bespoke petticoat was my complete inability to choose which colours I wanted to use.  I thought if I could see the colours first, things would start to slot into place.  I had already chosen two pairs of shoes and yarn for a cover-up cardigan (that’ll be the next post!) and I needed everything to match, obviously.

IMG_5204I ordered five 15cm x 25m rolls of premium netting from Raindrops Boutique which arrived the next day. Bias binding was more of a tricky decision, as I knew they’d show and need to match the shoes and yarn, so they all came from various shops.  My favourite was from Sew and Sew in St Nick’s Market in Bristol, it wasn’t cheap at 50p a metre, but the drape (can a ribbon drape?) was lovely. I also ordered a binding foot after watching this tutorial, which I can honestly say saved my sanity.

The petticoat tutorial I followed was from this one from Sugardale, and it’s really well written. The basis is that you have a series of strips of tulle in various lengths, sewn into circles, and these are gathered and sewn to each other to form the petticoat. 

Because my tulle came in 15cm wide rolls, I had to adapt slightly. The lengths I used were 12m, 6m, 3m and 1.75m, and then the final tier was made from 1m of cotton.

After working out a system, things got easier, but I was very grateful when my Mum offered to come and help. I think had she known what she was letting herself in for, she may have kept quiet! Thanks Mum 🙂

I cut my tulle by rolling out pieces to measurement – loosely folding the tulle into Z shapes as I went, so I could easily sew the length into a loop knowing it wasn’t twisted.  With the 12m lengths, this was a godsend! I marked every metre with a small line to make things easier to line up when it came to sew the tiers together.

That picture on the left below is all my different lengths of tulle neatly rolled up, to be sewn into individual petticoats.

netting_petticoatmountains_of_petticoat_tulle

Then we got to work. After a bit of playing, I managed to set my sewing machine to just the correct tension to gather the tulle by 50%, so each loop of tulle would be roughly the right size to pin to the next (smaller) tier.  As mentioned in the Sugardale tutorial, it’s vital that  the tiers are completed separately, so sadly you can’t go doing all the gathering first and then move onto the joining.

My preferred method to attach the tiers to eachother was to lay the longest loop around the ironing board, then set about lining up it’s metre markings to that of the one it was to gather to.  We then tacked each piece about 2.5cm below the gathering line, and reset the sewing machine to the right tension to sew without bunching.  I found it much easier to sew the tulle with the flat piece on top, and the gathered piece underneath, so the foot didn’t go crazy and jam up.

petticoat_nettingpinning_petticoat

There were originally 5 different petticoats in total, but I took one out on the morning of our wedding.  The peach just wasn’t doing it for me, and it was a smidgen too poofy.  It took the best part of a weekend to sew these, with two of us on the Saturday.  If you’re less anal about getting your all gathers even, it might be quicker!

With the binding foot and the help of the tutorial, the bias bindings were attached quite quickly, maybe 10 mins per skirt? It takes a bit of getting used to, so I would recommend practicing this first.  Hand finishing them is also a faff to hide the all ribbon edges.

finished_petticoat poofy_petticoat

Once all the skirts were complete, I cut a cotton layer to wear underneath to the same 175m measurement as the fourth tiers.  Then I cut a strip of cotton 1m x 15cm and gathered all 5 skirts, plus the cotton under-layer to this, then pinned and sewed the whole lot together.  Finally I made a wide hem in the top layer and added elastic.

Hopefully I’ll find some occasion to wear this part of the dress again!

Photo by Wild Wedding Photos

 

 

Making a Wedding Outfit Part 1, The Dress!

Part 1, The Wedding Dress!

Photo © Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos
Photo by Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos
So, the reason my blog posts have been so non-existent since August is because I was beavering away making a wedding dress! In secret! I took so many photos along the way and I really wanted to share it with people, as it was a huge learning curve for me but I don’t have many sewing buddies I could geek out with over it.  

I knew exactly where to begin when it came to the style of wedding dress I wanted to make.  I have sewn several patterns before for a similar design and I knew this was something I could cope with.  In that respect I did minimum research, other than looking at other dresses in this style to check out the length, the fullness of the skirt and how low the neckline came.  

My main inspiration was this dress from Petticoats-a-Plenty
My main inspiration was the Ella dress from Petticoats-a-Plenty
I completed a pattern cutting course about 10 years ago, but I’ve only drafted a couple of dresses completely from scratch since. Using my original bodice block, I made a rough pattern for the bodice. I don’t feel I have changed shape at all since the first block was drafted, but I discovered needed to make a few major alterations, which was suprising as it fitted quite well at the time.  

drafting_wedding_dressmaking_alterations

After all the alterations were marked, I drew the outline of where I wanted the neck to be onto the block and then transferred all that to the pattern.

adjustments_bodicefirst_fabric

The photo above is the first “main fabric” I purchased. It looked great on the roll, but when I got it home I had doubts about it looking cheap, and too see-through.

I had real trouble getting fabric as I’m so indecisive. I was originally looking for a really lovely silk, but I found that most fabric shops in Bristol don’t stock it, and I was too impatient to travel as I wanted to get started right away.  The best I could find was Fabrics Plus in Downend, which has a selection of books with samples of silk in, but they are only around an inch square, and without seeing how the fabric draped I wasn’t keen to order anything from them. So I settled on cotton, as I’ve worked with it a lot before and I have no clue about silk.

sewing_room

The dress itself is a very simple design, which I ended up making several times.  I sewed a toile in calico first, though in fairness the fabric I had was much thicker than the fabric I wanted to use for the final dress, so it wasn’t a great representation. It helped to give a general idea of fit and to get the waist measurement right on the circle skirt.  This app tutorial was useful for calculating the measurements.

first_toile_wedding_dresssecond_toile_wedding_dress

Above Left -The first toile, in calico too thick to tell me a lot, and the second version, right,
which was going to be the final dress, but didn’t feel very special.

Once I was happy with the fitting I pieced together the dress in my chosen fabric, only to find that once it was all sewn together, I had totally gone off the fabric, it looked like a flimsy white summer dress rather than a wedding dress, and was slightly see-through.  

I realised then there would need to be a lot more construction involved than I initially thought.  I was always going to bone the lining of the bodice, but when I looked at wedding dresses on pinterest for help I saw there was a lot more structure to them. 

I’d love to do a tutorial on what I did here, but it was all quite new to me and wouldn’t be fair on the many bloggers who’s posts I used to help me along the way.  Three tutorials I kept coming back to (I made my boned bodice twice) were Sewing a Boned BodiceSewing a Butted (or Abutted) Seam, and the Making Bust Padding tutorial  all from A Sewaholic.  The tutorial about the seams and the padding were particularly useful to someone who has never made any kind of corset before.  The first bodice I finished was in calico and was so chuffed with it –  the stitching was neat and it fitted so well.  I’m kind of rubbish with toiles and I like to just get stuck in, and this was going so well I decided it wasn’t necessary to remake it in nicer fabric, as the calico was stiff enough to help with the structure.  But the colour was too dark and was clearly visible through the dress fabric, so I ended up making the corset again in a white linen I had in my stash.

Bodice1 padded_bra_cups

The bra cups were fun to make, and made a massive difference! I have always thought this style of dress completely flattens me, and despite buying myself a nice fancy bra I felt I still needed some help in this department. Originally I padded out the entire front, but this just gave me extra structure that I didn’t need and made me look a size bigger than I am, so I cut the bottom section off and just padded the cups.

I tacked the boned corset into the dress and instantly felt better about the construction, but I still wasn’t happy with the main fabric. It just looked a bit cheap and didn’t feel special.  

I decided to take a look at quilting cottons, as often there is a nice sheen to them and they have a good weight.  There seems to be a bit of conflict here as to whether they are good for dressmaking or not, but I’ve always found I like the prints and the stiffness has never put me off.  After more searching I found the fabric to make the final dress in Country Threads in Bath, which I love because it’s paisley!

final_fabricYou can’t tell this from any of the wedding pictures, but I knew it was there 😉

I went for rouleau loops to fasten the back of dress, for the simple reason I didn’t want to ruin all my efforts by putting in a zip. I’ve never made these before and was quite keen to add yet another new technique to my belt, so I took to Pinterest looking for more information.  The process is all very simple, basically you’re just sewing a very thin seam and turning it in on itself.  It took me a few attempts using different methods, and in the end I settled with the loop-turner technique, using a needle from my knitting machine. Then I chopped them all up and painstakingly tacked them all to a sheet of paper ready for sewing on to the dress.

rouleau_loops finished_rouleau_loops

 At some point during all of this I also made a lining and attached it, and then finally added a waist-stay at the end. 

Photo Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos
Photo by Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos
All of the tutorials I used are pinned here, for easy access!

Stay tuned for the next post, when I’ll talk about the petticoat!

 

Buttercup

Simply Knitting 133
Simply Knitting 133
Simply Knitting 133

Published in Simply Knitting 133 (click to purchase issue)

I designed this pattern using Knitpicks Palette which is 4ply weight, 100% wool and comes in every colour under the sun. I found there was a surprisingly small amount of patterns for similar v-neck cardigans in 4ply on Ravelry, so I ended up crunching a few numbers. I’m planning to make at least 3 more, it’s a real staple cardigan and I love the neckline.  The yarn is lovely and it knits up really neatly.

The cardigan is worked flat in stocking stitch from the hem up in pieces and then seamed. The garter neck and buttonband is then picked up afterwards and worked around back and forth on a long circular needle.

SIZES
To Fit Bust
81 (86: 91: 97: 102: 107: 112: 117: 122: 127)cm
32 (34: 36: 38: 40: 42: 44: 46: 48: 50)in

Actual Bust
90 (95: 99: 105: 111: 115: 121: 127: 131: 137)cm
35.25 (37.5: 39: 41.25: 43.75: 45.25: 45.5: 50: 51.5: 53.75)in

Length
59 (59: 60: 60: 60: 60: 61: 61: 62: 62)cm
23.25 (23.25: 23.75: 23.75: 23.75: 23.75: 24: 24: 24.5: 24.5)in

Sleeve Length (All sizes)
44cm
17.25in

YARN
Knitpicks Palette (4ply weight, 100% wool, 211m/231yds per 50g ball
4 (4: 4: 5: 5: 6: 6: 7: 7: 7) balls of Canary (25531)

NEEDLES AND NOTIONS
A 2mm (UK 14/US 0) circular needle, 100cm long
A pair of 2.5mm (UK 13/US 1) needles
A pair of 3.25mm (UK 10/US 3) needles
Stitch holder
5 buttons, 1.5cm diameter

TENSION
25 sts and 38 rows to 10cm over st st using 3.25mm needles
32 sts and 40 rows to 10cm over garter st using 2mm needles

Portmeirion

TKN73.socks.ps14568TKN73.socks.ps14583

£4.70Add to cart

This pattern originally appeared in The Knitter issue 73. I love these socks; the yarn, the pattern, and how the photos came out. There’s another photo somewhere of them being worn with brogues but I can’t find it.  The pattern is a fun repeat which is easily memorised, and I worked them in Eden Cottage Tempo in ‘Ice’, which I’ve fallen in love with.

Sizes
To Fit Foot Circumference
S (M-L)
21 (23)cm
81/4 (9)in

Actual Foot Circumference
S (M-L)
17 (19)cm
61/4 (71/2)in

Yarn
Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon; 100g/400m/436yds)
1 skein of of Ice (01).

Needles
A set of 2.25mm (UK 13/US 1) double pointed needles (DPNs) or circular needles, 80cm long if using Magic Loop method

Notions
2 stitch markers

Tension
38 sts and 44 rounds to 10x10cm (4x4in) over stitch pattern using 2.25mm (UK 13/US 1) needles.

Pattern Notes
A simple 10 round lace pattern repeat gives these top down socks a vintage feel. Knitted seamlessly in the round using a traditional gusset and heel flap. The heel is worked in Eye of Partridge stitch. Yarn overs appear on every round.