Some time ago, one of my friends had a baby (I have not kept track of how many babies have been born in my circle of friends in the past year or two, but its a LOT) and this time, it was a girl! So I finally had a way of using up some pink yarn that was languishing in my stash by making My gift for you by Taiga Hilliard Designs:
The light pink yarn is DROPS Karisma and the dark pink is DROPS Lima. This free pattern worked up really nicely, but I did change a few things. Instead of the rib-like pattern at the end of the sleeves and hem, I used moss stitch. I also added some extra rows of garter stitch on the button band using short rows, as garter stitch is not as tall as stocking stitch. And obviously I used two colours and a random pattern for switching them. The recipient was very happy with it, and I will heartily recommend this pattern to anyone!
Wooow it’s been a while since there’s been a post here! As per usual, this is not because I forgot about the blog, but because I didn’t finish anything. Between the holidays and moving house, there just hasn’t been a lot of time for arts and crafts! But, spurred on by the 17 in 2017 challenge I am participating in on Ravelry, I did finally manage to finish a project that had been on my wishlist since 2011: the Saxon the City stockings from Stitch ‘n’ Bitch: Superstar Knitting.
Stitch ‘n’ Bitch: Superstar Knitting by Debbie Stoller was one of my first knitting books, bought for me by my mother while we were on holiday. I was struggling with my second ever knitting project at the time, a (far too small) poncho and matching fingerless gloves in a white-and-orange acrylic yarn. I’m not sure how I decided on that project, because I don’t like orange, I don’t like acrylic, and never wore (or wear) ponchos. Looking through the book, there were a few patterns I was immediately enthusiastic about, including the Saxon the City stockings by Julia Frank.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to start these straight away – I did not know how to do short rows or cables and in fact, I’m not quite sure I had grasped increases and decreases yet. But it went on my wishlist and stayed there for a number of years, until I decided to buy the yarn for them in December 2014.
Aaaaand I didn’t cast on until last summer. Of course.
First things first: while I finished the knitting of these back in January, and indicated they were finished then on Ravelry, I did not post them here yet because I thought they would need fabric tops to hold up with a garter belt. However, I wore them today with garter belt sans fabric tops and it worked fine. There are minor bumps in the stockings where the clips are, but I can live with that. With the garter belt, the stockings stay up nicely without slumping or sagging.
Second: though I am very happy with the end result, I am not very convinced of the pattern. The designer introduces the pattern by saying that shortly before her wedding she decided she needed to make herself stockings and that this pattern just sort of happened organically. Which… I’m sure that’s nice, but there was no mention of then going back and reworking the pattern to actually make it work in practice. I will list my issues with the pattern here (and don’t worry, I will also have a section on ‘where I screwed up making these’).
And third: where I messed up.
The socks were knit in Garnstudio DROPS Lima, a 65% Wool, 35% Alpaca DK weight yarn. It is slightly itchy, but I am confident this will diminsh with wear. It took 10 balls of the main colour and two balls of the contrast colour (keeping in mind that I knit three pattern repeats more than the pattern recommended). All in all, I am very happy with the end result. It was well worth the wait and the months of work. Also, these count as my first knitted socks! I sure jumped in at the deep end!
Happy New Year everyone! (it's still the first week, it's allowed)
Today is a two-for-one deal! A friend of mine had the cutest baby ever recently and so two gifts that I finished over a month ago can finally be revealed to the world. I tried to choose patterns that would match her aesthetic, which led me to knit the Gingersnap jacket by Kristen Rettig and sew a fox onesie:
The Gingersnap jacket is a popular jacket on Ravelry with over 200 projects and I must say, it's popularity is well-deserved! It was a very nice, easy knit and because of the striped pattern it's a good stash buster (at least, it was for me!). The only change I made was to add one extra garter stitch row on the button bands every 12 rows, because garter stitch is not as tall as stocking stitch. Adding extras with short rows makes the button band pull less. I think I made a mistake in how I picked up the stitches at the back of the neck, which is why it looks a bit odd. I'm not very good at picking up stitches. If at all possible, I leave any stitches where I will have to pick up later on stitch holders, but I forgot to do so in this case. I made it in Katia Merino Aran, a perfectly serviceable yarn.
In this case, I didn't find the jacket quite sufficient. I though this baby was the perfect excuse to make something very cute I wouln't normally have a chance to make: an animal onesie. I am sorry to say I don't remember which pattern I used, and as the original is somewhere in a box in storage right now (did I mention I'm in the middle of a move?) I can't look it up. If I ever find out/remember, I'll add it here. What I do know is that a fox was not an option in the pattern: this is in fact an adaptation of the zebra pattern. The white belly and the tail are my own addition, and I redrew the ears. The main body is made in felt, and the outside of the ears, feet and tip of the tail are a faux fur. Lovely end result; so, so horrible to have to cut it. I was vacuuming black fluff off of everything in my living room for a week.
As per usual, I made both these garments in a slightly larger size so that the kid can grow into it. In this case, I made the 12-month old size because that makes it perfect to be worn next winter.
In other news: the move is under way. I was very tempted to simply burn down all my possessions and start from scratch, but in the end everything was packed and moved to storage where it is waiting for the final leg of the move in the first week of February. And finally, I have decided to join a Ravelry group '17 in 2017', where I made it my goal to finish 17 projects using supplies from my stash this year. Wish me luck!
Some time ago, I finished a gift for a Secret Santa exchange. Since the recipient should have it by now (and it's anonymous, so they wouldn't be able to find it anyway) I can share it here. Because the recipient was into Victorian era LARP, I knitted a vintage opera shawl from a 1874 knitting pattern from "Handbook to the work table". The result is this:
The shawl is knit with two types of yarn, one thin and one thick. I used DK and fingering, but I think next time I would use DK and laceweight. I had to use a filter here to show the diamond pattern in the photograph. As you can see, it has a clear good and bad side. Because the whole thing is knit in garter stitch, it doesn't curl. I did block it, so that the diamong pattern is a bit clearer as shown below:
The shawl is knit in DROPS Baby Merino and DROPS Merino. It was quite a challenge to persevere with this. Starting at the long side with 300 stitches (over 2 meters after blocking!) meant little progress for a lot of knitting for the first half of the shawl, and the black made it hard to see where to pick up stitches for the diamond pattern. However, I think the end result is very nice. There is something special about knitting something that people a century and a half ago actually wore. Hopefully I'll be able to knit more vintage patterns in the future!
One of my coworkers recently had a baby, so I made her (and him) this cute little hat:
This coworker keeps bees as a hobby, which is why I chose this colour scheme and the little bee decoration. The pattern is Dino cap by Kris Hanson, although obviously without the spikes. It's an ingenious little hat that uses short rows to create the ear flaps, meaning that a double layer of fabric protects the ears and forehead. Here is a picture of the inside, showing this construction:
It's a pattern that is definitely worth making again. I made only minor changes. For a newborn, the straight part after joining the cast on edge seemed long, so I knit only 10 cm instead of the 11.5 in the pattern. I also cast off one decrease round early, as it was getting a little pointy. From other projects on Ravelry, I gather that this is a problem with the newborn size not quite scaling down right from the larger sizes. The fit of the larger sizes seems perfect. Next time, I will use a provisional cast on to try and make the join of the cast on edge and the live stitches after knitting the ear flaps a bit less prominent. Apart from that, however, I consider this a great success!
In preparation for my upcoming move, I am of course opening every drawer, cupboard and box to try and get a grip on exactly what I have and what I need to take. I am moving in with my partner, which means that we now have doubles of everything - do we take your ironing board or mine? How many bookcases do we need? We'll take my vacuum cleaner, but I want to buy new plates together. Etcetera, etcetera etcetera.
Part of this was opening a bag where I had, over the years, put the various things I made that I did not use. Here is a selection of these items:
I cheated slightly on the WIP-list, by the way: that blue-red-white hat on the lowest row and the red and white hat above it were made last week, to finish up some scraps of yarn that I was sick and tired of having in the house.
The reason I have not been using these is not that I'm unhappy with them - on the contrary, some of these things are awesome! The mittens in particular are amazing and I want to make another pair as soon as possible. However, they just don't suit my wardrobe or they're too small (I have a big head). I vaguely thought I'll keep these as a sort of stash of gifts, but in the end I am always hesitant to give someone something that wasn't made with their tastes in mind.
Luckily, a solution presented itself: I sent this picture around to my friends and family and asked if anyone was interested in anything. And yep, they were! So, I no longer have to move or stash these things and I made other people happy with it. Win-win!
I will soon be posting some gifts (Secret Santa and baby gifts) that I finished recently, as soon as they've been delivered to the recipients!
In two months, I’m moving. A year and a half ago, it was my goal to have unpacked all boxes in my flat before I had to start repacking.
Yeah, that plan failed spectacularly.
Despite my best efforts, I will probably have more stuff to move this time than last time. Even though I have donated by now five trash bags of clothes, even though I have made serious efforts to decrease the amount of books I own, even though I planned to craft through my stash and give as many things away as possible – it hasn’t been enough. I buy materials for gifts, I am given things, I buy new books and games and dvds. And on top of that, I have a whole bunch of projects still on the go and won’t even be able to enter my new house with a clean slate.
So today, I took a long hard look at all my projects and decided to just… give up on a few.
Maybe you have a project like that. Something that has been stuffed in a bag or box for years, something you just couldn’t be enthusiastic about anymore, something that you could already tell wasn’t going to suit you or work out the way you had planned. But hey, you paid money for those materials, you put in all that work, and it’s so wasteful – sinful! – to just throw out a perfectly good project. So you keep it. You keep it and you think that one day, when the stars align just right and you have plenty of time and energy and a general positive outlook on life, you will tackle and finish that project and…
And what? What do you do then, with a finished object you don’t like? In my case, I was planning to donate my finished objects to a charity shop. But the longer I sit on these projects, the less it seems worth it. Is anyone really waiting for my handmade stuff? I am a decent enough seamstress that I wear my own clothes with pride, but I don’t make them for other people for a reason: I don’t consider myself good enough. Would I buy my stuff if I saw it in a store? Maybe not. On top of this, my mother – one of those people who is very sensible, good with money and in general has her life together – gave me the advice to just throw them out. Just give the unfinished projects to the rag man, don’t let them bother you anymore. Sure, it was beautiful fabric but the world is full of beautiful fabric. Throw this out, let go of the guilt, and start fresh.
So here’s what I threw out:
P.S: I finished a gift for a friend’s baby which unfortunately can’t be shown yet, but which I am very happy with. Let’s hope she is too!
No, I didn't forget about this blog - I just literally didn't finish a single thing for two months. We'll blame work. Of course, I did start several things, because I seem to relapse every six months or so. All but one of the things I started are gifts, so I won't be announcing them here in advance. The remaining one is a top from scraps, which I only need to hem but which, unfortunately, looks horrible on me. So I will post it here when it is finished, but then it will go into the donation box.
But, anyway! One of the gifts I have been making has been for a Secret Santa. I love Secret Santa's, but unfortunately I do not want or need extra stuff cluttering up my house. The solution I found is to sign up as a rematch Santa, so that I need to send a gift to people whose original Santa didn't send them anything but don't get anything in return. And, preferably, I send handmade stuff! This one recently went in the post and should be arriving at the recipient's house tomorrow, so I feel at liberty to post it here today.
The theme of the Secret Santa was Pokémon. The recipient indicated that they had been a Pokémon fan in their youth (weren't we all, as a generation?) and had recently gotten into Pokémon Go. Armed with that knowledge and the desire to give things that are not just fun but useful too, I made a Pokémon Go backpack, to take on Pokémon adventures:
The backpack is modelled after the one worn by the female avatar in Pokémon Go. It features a drawstring and magnetic closure. It is made of heavy duty cotton with a light cotton lining and a crochet cotton pokéball emblem. I tried to make adjustable straps, but I couldn't get the necessary... ehm... what are those things called on your backpack straps? The plastic things? Anyway, I couldn't find them. I based the size of the backpack on what the internet tells me is the ideal size for the recipient's height (I hope this turns out to be true!). The emblem is sewn on the outer layer of fabric only, along the edge of the emblem, so if they ever get tired of it and want to have just a black and white backpack it would be very easy to remove.
As a bonus, this months Spritestitch Challenge is Pokémon Go, so I am entering it there as well. Two birds with one stone!
The backpack was definitely fun to make! The end result is almost exactly as I had intended. Here's hoping the recipient likes it as much as I do!
This weekend, I finished the knit summer top I cast on recently:
The pattern is ‘Anjou’ by the Berroco Design Team and is freely available. The yarn is Rowan’s Tetra cotton and was given to me by my mother. I used two skeins of the pink yarn and four and a half of the grey. I am very pleased with the yarn, which is easy to work with, comfortable to wear and had no snags or knots in any of the skeins. The pattern worked up really easily. I adapted it for working in the round. I started off making a medium size, but realized pretty quickly it would be too big. Being, shall we say, somewhat averse to unravelling and starting over, I simply decreased more often to the waist to reach size small and continued in that size from there. This does mean that below the waist, there is a bit of a bulge in the side seams, but not enough that it bothers me. The sleeves don’t have any ribbing: the natural curling of stocking stitch is used as a design element. I made sure the seam of the sleeves (only a short one, 10 rows) was visible only on the right side of the fabric, which is hidden by the curling.
I am quite happy with this top. What’s more, I have enough yarn left (four skeins of pink and 1.5 of grey) to make a second top. I am thinking of the notched hem tank top by Purl Soho. That pattern was written for a linen, ribbon-like yarn, which I think the tetra cotton would be a good substitute for. But first I must finish some other WIPs!
Yep, this post is a week late, but with good reason: this week, I submitted my doctoral thesis! This means that in a few months time, I will have to defend my work and hopefully move on to my next job with the title of Dr! Needless to say it has been quite a busy time and I have had very little mental space, or indeed time, for anything other than my work. But now: on to the quilts!
For some time now, there have been two quilts in my WIP-list: one a scrap quilt, and one a Japanese quilt. The scrap quilt took its sweet time because it is genuinely a scrap quilt, i.e. I had to make enough things to have suitable scraps for the quilt. The Japanese quilt was a social project which stagnated when the friend I was making it with decided to keep hers small and finishing it. However, over the past few weeks I made some good progress on both! Not enough that they’re actually finished, of course, but good enough that I wanted to show off the work in progress.
Now, I should say that prior to this, I had NO experience with quilting. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing – and in many ways still don’t. I just approached it from a ‘let’s piece together some bits of fabric to create a pretty thing’ angle and worked from there.
So, first up: the scrap quilt. After more than a year of collecting scraps and sewing up squares, this is where it is at today:
I had always planned on just making this quilt as big as it could get. The white fabric was the limiting factor: for each coloured square, I needed a white square. At some point in the last few weeks, I finally reached the end of the white fabric and thus, the limits of my quilt. You may recognise some of these fabrics from projects I have posted on the blog before.
You can see the blue flowery fabric used to make this hybrid dress, the bingata fabric used to make this summer dress, and the yellow fabric with white-pink flowers used to make my split skirt.
I sewed up 15x15 cm squares into larger squares of 3x3, with a coloured square on each corner, a pink one in the middle and white for the other four squares. Then, I cut through the middle of the white squares, rotated 3 of the ensuing patches and voilà, this quilt is the result.
Once I had all the squares, things suddenly moved really quickly. Determined to keep the momentum going, every morning before I went to work I would lay all the squares out on my bed, as above. That way, when I came home, I had a lot of incentive to sew up as many of them as possible: if I had to remove all the squares before going to bed, I might never find the correct order of colours again! Yes, I could have just taken a picture, but remember this was a trick designed to get me to keep working on it. As it happened, the first two times I had to replace the squares the next morning I could not remember the order in which I had placed them before. Those times I just made something up and came up with a new, probably equally reasonable design. By the third night enough squares had been attached that it was clear where the remaining ones should go. Which brings me to my next point…
Remember how I said I know nothing about quilting? Yeah, I really know nothing about quilting. When you google ‘quilting how to’ you mostly get info on the bit I already did: piecing fabric together in interesting patterns. But what happens afterwards is mostly kept a mystery, especially when you only have a regular sewing machine. I even found several tutorials (including a Craftsy class) that say that after you’ve made the top, you should just send the whole thing to a professional to quilt with a long-arm quilting machine. Uh, no. For starters, I’m pretty sure those don’t exist here, and second, that’s not how homemade works in this household. So I’m going to attempt the actual quilting on my regular sewing machine with very little guidance. To prevent me from mucking up my lovely scrap quilt, I made a little table runner with the scraps of the scrap quilt (i.e. leftover squares that I had cut when I was being a bit too enthusiastic):
This is going to be my practice piece for quilting techniques. Afterwards, I will move on to the big quilt. I know that with my regular sewing machine, it’s going to be impossible to quilt the middle of the big quilt by machine. I am still considering if I will do it by hand. I also have a cousin who quilts and I may ask her for advice (unfortunately, I live a long way from my family).
Apart from that, there is also the Japanese quilt! A friend of mine who is also into arts and crafts suggested this. We would do a 3x3 quilt of different Japanese-themed quilted motives. We got together several times to work on this, doing practically all sewing by hand. Later on, she decided to make hers into a 2x2 cushion cover rather than a 3x3 wall hanging, which of course meant she was finished more quickly than I was. After that, I didn’t really work on it anymore – until now!
As you can see, several squares are already finished, but some I haven’t even started on yet. I have my friend to thank for many of these fabrics, by the way! The white blob in the lower left is going to be a moon rabbit. The other three squares still left open will be a koi carp, an origami crane and... something else. I have a few ideas for the final one, but nothing clear. I may also redo the lantern - it was the first square I did and it's not as refined as the rest (and a bit oversized). But we will see how much puff I still have when I finish the rest.
So, that’s an update on how my quilts are progressing. It is starting to seem like maybe there will be an end to some of these long-term projects! I hope that now that a very hectic time in my professional life is behind me, I have more energy to tackle my craft projects.
Hi, I'm Mina and I have a stash problem. This is my way of trying to fix it.
Last yarn purchase:
Last fabric purchase: 02/03/2017