2017 Sewing Resolutions

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you’ve all started the year with a bang 🙂

I can already see that 2017 is going to be a busy year for sewing – hurrah!  As well as once again vowing to sew from my stash and have fewer works in progress (I must start finishing garments before starting another project!), I’ve decided to take part in two challenges, so I’m going to have an awful lot on my plate.  With that in mind, I thought I’d attempt to get organised and write down some resolutions.  If I have it written down here, I’ll feel more obliged to complete them, right?


Firstly, I signed up for Sew My Style, thought up by Alex over at Bluebird Fabrics.  This is a brilliant initiative promoting the slow fashion movement (something I feel very strongly about!) and encouraging young people to learn to sew.  The general idea is to sew a set garment each month for the whole year – you can read much more about it here and also take a peak at the schedule.  Lots of big names are involved – you’ll find By Hand London, Named Clothing and Megan Nielsen in there.  It’s just going to be brilliant!

The second challenge I’ll be getting involved with is Make Nine, which is the brainchild of Rochelle over at Lucky Lucille.  This is a list of nine projects to complete throughout the year.  Now, luckily for me, a couple of my Make Nine goals are actually covered in Sew My Style – score!  That will give me a little less to do.  We already know the schedule for Sew My Style,  but without further ado, let me share my Make Nine resolutions list with you.  They are in no particular order here, but I’ll probably do everything seasonally once I get going.

1. Make a coat.
I now have three or four coat patterns lined up in my stash (e.g. Papercut’s Watson and Sew Over It’s Lola from My Capsule Wardrobe), but one thing is for sure: I will at least be sewing up the Named Clothing Yona coat for Sew My Style in September, even if I don’t pluck up the courage to start the others.

2. A new Coco.
I love my first Tilly and the Buttons Coco so much!  So much, in fact, that I’m going to make a second one that is virtually identical to it.  I already have the fabric and everything.

3. Isabelle’s advent calendar.
My sewing machine broke in November before I had time to finish my lovely niece’s advent calendar, so this is on the ‘must finish’ list for next year.  I’m basing it on this lovely calendar by Amy at Stitchery Dickory Dock (excellent name!).  I’ve since managed to fix my stupid machine by the way, by simply opening it up and giving it a very thorough clean and DIY service – the problem probably had a lot to do with a very mangled pin caught in the mechanism.  Whoops!

4. Complete at least one knitted garment.
And I do not mean the cardigan I’m 95% finished, I promise!  I mean something new.  I have two possibilities lined up – this, which I’ll lengthen to make a dress, or this, which just makes me go all heart-eyed.  Thoughts?

5. Sew Over It City Break Molly dress.
I have some lovely navy and cream ponte from Sewn Bristol lined up for this – I’m ready to channel my nautical chic!

6. Complete my Dropcloth sampler.
Won’t this be a lovely addition to my sewing space?!  It’ll be a nice project to get along with while I’m commuting.  Yes, I’m one of *those* people who knits and sews on public transport.

7. Make a pair of trousers.
My first trouser making experience was not a great success.  I’ve been putting it off and off and off…  I need to overcome the fear.  No matter what, I’ll be attempting the Cali Faye Hampshire trousers in October for Sew My Style.

8. Closet Case Files Carolyn pyjamas.
I hope to get at least one pair done in January in nice, warm fabric.  I think my sister and I are going to make matching hedgehog pyjamas – eak, so excited!

9. Something involving sequins. 
In a fit of complete madness, and in a haze of all the beautiful sequinned fabrics we saw at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, my friend Rachel and I made a pact to make ‘something sequinned’ in time for Christmas next year.  We’re resting our hopes on Harrogate having lots of lovely sequinned fabrics on offer again in 2017, so we can pick up our fabric there and make something in the following weeks.  Any tips anyone has on sewing with sequins would be gratefully received 🙂

So there you have it – my sewing resolutions for 2017.  I’m going to try to stick to them as much as I can.  I will try to be good and not stray too far away from the plan.  Wish me luck!

Vianne Cardigan

Remember that bargain wool I mentioned a while back? It became a lovely cardigan 🙂  I’m very impressed with myself, and I’ve already worn it so much.

The pattern: the Vianne Cardigan from Untangling Knots. I must confess, I had not initially noticed the back of the cardigan, so that came as a bit of a shock when I came to start knitting. I’d purchased the pattern on a smartphone and couldn’t see how intricate it was. Having said that, it was still a great pattern to follow — the instructions are fab, it’s just that I ended up having to count a lot more than I’d thought.

Modifications: none at all.  I’m just not a skilled enough knitter to be deviating away from a pattern like this.

The cost: the pattern was about £4.50, once converted from US dollars to pounds.  I only ended up using five balls of wool, at £1 per ball. That’s a grand total of £9.50. Can’t complain about that at all.  The buttons were from my stash — I picked them up when I raided a family member’s stash a while back.

I’m so pleased with this knit that I’ve already lined up Anouk 🙂  I just need to find some nice yarn.

Everest Socks

You’re probably thinking the season for knitting socks is over, right?  Ordinarily I’d agree, but given the weather we’ve had recently – snow, hail, gale force winds – snuggly socks seem just the thing.  But the real reason I’ve been knitting unseasonably warm socks is that a friend of mine climbing Everest as I write.  That’s right.  Everest!  Wowzer.  Obviously she needs a pair of nice hand knitted socks to keep her feet toasty while she’s on her trek.

Can you imagine climbing Everest?!  What an incredible achievement.  I’m so proud!  Becky has raised an incredible amount of money for a fantastic cause, and in a couple of weeks she’ll be able to say, ‘I did it, I climbed Everest!  [And I got these cool socks.]’

The pattern: Hermione’s Everyday Socks, by Erica Lueder on Ravelry.  I really enjoyed knitting these – I like the textured stitch pattern and the way the heel is knitted makes it really sturdy.

Modifications: I didn’t make any changes to the pattern, but I did use just one circular needle (and the magic loop method), rather than two as the pattern suggested.  It seemed just as easy that way.

The yarn: I’m afraid I can’t remember the exact name of this yarn, and I seem to have misplaced the ball band, but I’m fairly certain it was a Woolcraft 4 ply.  I think it was part wool, part acrylic, but I can’t remember the exact percentages.  I bought it at Woolaballoo.

The cost: it’s a secret, as they were a gift 🙂

Milla Mia hat and mittens

Anyone else feeling the cold lately?  Thank goodness for wool!

The pattern: Elika and Yumiko from the Milla Mia Finishing Touch book.

The yarn: Milla Mia Naturally Soft Aran (absolutely gorgeous stuff!), in Ochre and Marine Blue.

The cost: usually around £5.50 per ball, but I think Woolaballoo were offering 25% off when I got mine.  I used four balls in total so instead of £22 I spent £16.50.  The book was also reduced, £9 down from £12, but there are so many great patterns in there so it was well worth the money.

I made the Elika mittens first (they’re actually called wrist warmers in the book).  The stitch pattern is created with cables.  If you’ve never knitted cables before, it’s uber-addictive.  You get some really nice results with very little effort.  Then I made the Yumiko hat – it’s a bit more complicated, but much easier than it looks, I promise.  I adapted the pattern so I could knit it in the round.  To do this, you just need to cast on two fewer stitches, join in the round and ignore the first and last stitch on each row.  Then, instead of purling every other row you just knit it.  I taught myself how to use the magic loop knitting method (loads of videos on YouTube), which is fabulous – my new favourite thing.  I used my leftover ochre yarn to make a lovely, full pompom to go on top (it used up almost all of the ochre I had left!).  Lovely 🙂

In other knitting news, I just started the Vianne cardigan from Untangling Knots.  It’s very early days yet and it requires a bit of concentration, but I’m managing.  I’m using Sirdar Country Style DK in yellow, which I picked up for the absolute bargain price of £1 per ball at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate last November (I forget which shop).  Given that I’ve recently stopped buying clothes, I thought I’d better learn how to knit some cardigans.

Aisling jumper

Good news, everyone – it’s autumn!  That means woolly jumper weather is upon us!  And that means I get to wear this beautiful jumper I knitted 😀

I’ve been working on this jumper for ages, so I’m really proud of myself for finally finishing it, especially since it’s the first wearable item of clothing I’ve ever knitted.  Until now, I’ve only ever made scarves and hats and things (and one completely failed attempt at a jumper!).  But this one looks okay, I think!

It’s the Aisling jumper from the Rowan Fazed Tweed pattern book.  It’s a really nice book – I want to have a go at making a few of the other jumpers from it when I get the chance.  The wool is so lovely and soft!  I got the book and yarn from the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate last November.  The pattern was really easy to follow, and it knitted up quite quickly, but by the time I’d almost finished it winter was on its way out, so I put it down for a while.  However, in a recent attempt to get through at least some of my works in progress, I was inspired to finish it.  And now it’s ready for me to wear this winter!  I shouldn’t have to wait long for that in good, old England, should I?

I’ve been wanting to knit myself some clothes for a while, so I’m glad I’ve got the ball rolling on that.  And I’ve already started my next jumper 😀

Milla Mia Elk Cushion

I forget exactly where, but I picked up a Milla Mia Elk Cushion kit a few years ago.  I thought it would be a good project for trialing Fair Isle knitting, but it soon became clear that I was a bit out of my depth.  I’d never done Fair Isle knitting before and it turned out to be a bit more technical than I’d expected.  So, I booked myself onto a workshop at Woolaballoo, where we made these little bags.

I thought I’d done quite well!  I mean, my bag looked okay and my tension was alright.  Now, I don’t know what happened to between the workshop and me actually starting my cushion (which was a while, I’ll admit), but obviously everything I’d learned had managed to fall out of my brain.  I just could not get my Fair Isle to look right.  I’ll show you.

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Can you see the way the stitches are sitting on top of each other strangely and making little zigzags?  It was all lumpy and bumpy and wonky.  I re-started it about half a dozen times and tried adjusting my tension and using different sized needles, but it just wasn’t happening.  After consulting with all of my knitter friends, I finally realised what I was doing wrong.  It turned out to be something to do with the way I was carrying my yarn across the back.  One tiny adjustment and I finally had my ‘Eureka!’ moment.  On about attempt number eight and months after I’d started, I’d finally cracked it.  I still had some tension problems, but I was happy enough with it to carry on and hope for improvement as I went.  And after weaving in approximately six thousand ends (will I ever learn to weave them in as I go?!), here’s what I came up with!

I found that the further I went, the more I got used to the technique, which was great, after months of being convinced I would never be able to do it.  I figured out the best ways to stop my two yarns from getting horribly tangled.  By the end I was really quite enjoying it!

I made some changes to the back of the pattern.  I did stripes to line up with my front.  I knitted it in two halves so the cover would be removable, which it wasn’t in the original pattern – I want to be able to wash my cushion easily if I need to.  Plus, any excuse to add buttons to something!

Let me finish by telling you why I decided to try Fair Isle in the first place.  My Dad bought a book called Knitting Wildlife in 1989, which was published in partnership with the Worl Wildlife Foundation to raise money for endangered animals.  The book contains colour work knitting patterns (mostly jumpers) based on various endangered species.  In said book, there is a tiger jumper, modelled rather impressively by Imran Khan.  Dad has wanted this jumper since 1989.  That’s a long time.  My Dad is blind, so he can’t knit it himself, but he mentioned it to me a few years ago and I decided I’d learn Fair Isle and intarsia so I could make him this hideous jumper.  He’s now gifted the book to me.  Here’s a pic I snapped from the book so you can appreciate just how wild this jumper is.

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I mean, I’m not sure this jumper was ever fashionable, even in 1989, but Dad insists he doesn’t care whether it’s stylish or not.  So, here I am, still planning to make this mad jumper for him, 26 years after he first spotted it.  I might switch up the colours – I’m just not convinced about the different shades of cream and beige going on here. Honestly, if you get a chance to look through this book, please do.  Believe it or not, this is one of the nicest patterns in the book.  There are some utterly insane jumpers in there.  It was all for a brilliant cause though!

Knit Happens

Every fortnight, a merry band of stitchers meet at the Traveller’s Rest (in Witton Gilbert, Durham) for Knit Happens.

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The group was formed by my friend Lucy, who owns a lovely wool shop called Woolaballoo in Hexham.  There are so many beautiful yarns to choose from, as well as all your needles and hooks and notions.  You can also attend workshops so you can learn new techniques – see the website for all the details.  For Knit Happens, we just get together knit and crochet an chat and laugh, and usually we eat copious amounts of delicious homemade pub grub as well.  Yummy!

We’re all working on different things at the moment.  Some of us are knitting (on a variety of needles) and some of us are crocheting.  Some are quite experienced and some are just starting out.  Here are some pictures of what we’re making – a couple of blankets, the beginnings of a cushion, socks, hats and snoods.

The blanket I’m working on is from the Attic 24 blog, the Cosy Stripe Blanket.  I just love the colours, and can’t wait to finish it.  However, as I discovered at last night’s Knit Happens, it’s getting a tad warm to be sat with an ever-growing blanket on your lap!  I may need to put it aside until the winter.  But, never fear – as every self-respecting crafter knows, it simply isn’t enough to have just one project on the go, and I have many works in progress I can pick up.  🙂

And, last night I came away with a new sewing project too!  Lucy has asked whether I can line this (soon to be bag) for her.  It will be interesting because I don’t have a pattern to work from, so I’ll just have to make it up as I go.  I think I have a pretty clear idea of how I’m going to tackle it.  Regardless, it’s so nerve-wracking knowing that if I fluff it up I’ll have ruined Lucy’s bag.  Keep everything crossed!  I’ll let you know how I get along with it.

If you live in the Durham area and want to pop in sometime, please do!  The next one will be on April 29th (and it’ll be every fortnight thereafter).

A spot of knitting

I’ve taken a bit of a break from sewing recently, partly because the dress I’m making is turning out to be a bit of a brain ache (and I’m absolutely incapable of continuing at home without Dan’s help!), and partly because I wanted to knit a baby blanket for my friends, Amy and Garry, who will be welcoming a baby boy over the next few weeks.  😀

I went for a very simple blanket (sometimes simple is best!), based on a baby blanket I had seen in the TV programme Once Upon a Time (Emma’s baby blanket).  I used a diagonal garter stitch, adding a stitch to each row as I went to make a square blanket.  I made the pattern up myself, which sounds very impressive until you realise how easy it is.  I used super chunky wool on 10mm needles, and ended up with 99 stitches before I started to decrease, but you could easily use a different weight of yarn and change your needle size accordingly.

The pictures aren’t great, I’m afraid.  They were taken in a mad rush on my mobile phone’s camera.

The pattern goes as follows:

Cast on 5 stitches

Row 1 – Knit 2, yarn over, knit to end

Repeat row 1 until you want to start decreasing

Next row – Knit 1, slip slip knit, yarn over, slip slip knit, knit to end

Repeat until you have 5 stitches

Cast off.

See?  Easy!  The yarn overs create holes, which you can then thread your ribbon through after you’ve finished knitting.  You can use whatever colours of ribbon or yarn you want.

I also have a jumper on the go, a pattern from Rowan’s Vintage Knits, which I got years ago.  This book has so many gorgeous patterns in it, I just want to knit them all.

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This one will be well worth it when it’s finished, but it’s fiddly and Rowan Kidsilk Haze isn’t that easy to knit with.  I will keep you posted, but it may well take me a year to finish it!