Summer of Basics III: I'd rather eat Kalle

October 02, 2018

Hey team! I'm back with my final project for the Summer of Basics, the Kalle shirtdress. As I predicted in my previous post, I didn't manage to write a blogpost about the dress before the deadline, but I did put up a picture on my instagram. Here you can find my blogposts about the previous two projects for the Summer of Basics, the Ninni Culottes and the Yari jumpsuit. If you follow me on instagram you will have seen that I posted some pictures of my makes on a hanger to wrap up the challenge on the 30th of August, the official deadline. I didn't have time to take any modelled pictures of the Kalle before that date, but last week we had a couple of late summer weather days so I took advantage of that by going out to take some photos of my more summery makes that were still waiting to be documented.

The Kalle was one of the patterns that I was already gravitating towards when I set out my initial plans for the Summer of Basics. Throughout the challenge, I mostly stuck to the plans I made before hand. I say mostly, because I swapped the fabric I had allocated to this project: I originally meant to go with a bordeaux red patterned fabric, but then I spotted this black viscose with calla or arum lilies and once I pictured it as a Kalle shirtdress, I really couldn't get the idea out of my mind. I think the fabric gives the shirt a very pretty drape. Perfect for an airy summer shirtdress! I really like the print of the fabric and it is definitely the sort of thing I can see myself wearing a lot. That being said, I do feel I had to be careful when handling it: it damages and tears easily. In fact, I had to redo the patch pocket because of this. Truth to be told, it's not high-quality fabric. I didn't expect it to be, with what I paid for it, it just mean I should probably not wash this dress unnecessarily much, and I should probably expect to patch it up a couple of times in the future.

Before I cut the pattern pieces, I wasn't sure whether I had to lengthen the dress. I had seen some warnings online that for some people the length was on the short side, particularly at the scoop at the side. Since I also want to wear this without tights, I wasn't sure whether I had to modify it. In the week I was going to start this project I just read a particular post of someone I follow who panicked because the dress length really was scandalously short and I guess my feelings of doubt were  influenced by that. Since I am a bit on the short side myself, garments being too short is not really a problem I encounter often! In the end, taking measurements confirmed that I would be fine on the length department. Just goes to show that it's best to keep in mind that someone else's fitting issues of  are not necessarily problems you will encounter as well.

Even though the dress has generous ease, the instructions still recommended doing a full bust adjustment if the difference between high  and low bust was is more than three inches. Closet Case provides instructions in their sew along on how to do this (as well as a bunch of other helpful adjustments). I did get some mixed signals though, because it is also mentioned that most people won't need it and you probably can get away with not doing such an adjustment? If I remember correctly I was just on the cusp of needing one, but decided to not do it, mostly because laziness. I think the fit is fine, so I'm not regretting not doing an adjustment, and probably won't do one when I make this shirt again.

Making the Kalle took far longer than I anticipated. I had a disastrous attempt at making shirtdress a long time ago, so I kinda knew what hurdles to expect. I mostly anticipated issues with the collar, but in fact that didn't turn out to be too bad. Instead I had loads of problems with the bias band finishing at the hem. Even with a bias band foot  I had to redo it multiple times over multiple days. I can confirm that swear words were used at this stage! The bias band was on the narrow side and, as I mentioned, in very lightweight fabric, so perhaps increasing the width slightly would have helped. The pattern does suggest using a rolling hem foot with lightweight fabrics as an edge finishing, which I want to try next time I'd make this pattern in a similar fabric. My biggest problem however was that even parts of the project that went right on the first try, still took ages. I'm not sure why, but all the sewing went at a snail's pace.

I often like to complain about sewing buttonholes, as with my machine the 1-step buttonhole function is a bit hit and miss. Either it's quick and easy, or you're left leaving offerings and praying to the sewing gods for months before it will let you make those goshdarn button holes in that particular project. This time, me and the button hole maker were on good terms. It was an almost surreal experience, getting so many buttons sewn on without problems! I initially picked different buttons for this project, but while they looked nice they also made the project a lot more dressy-er than I was going for -I wanted this to be an everyday dress. These brass buttons gave it just the vibe I wanted!

This was the first time I used the 'burrito method' for a yoke, and folks, I totally get all the raving about this now. While I was doing it I felt a bit sceptical and had no idea what I was doing, but I trusted the instructions and -O.M.G- it looks so clean! I am definitely a fan now! I thought the instructions for this pattern were pretty good. Even though I had a few problems in the process, I don't think they had much to do with the instructions. There is also a really informative sew along on the Closet Case blog, which was particularly helpful when sewing the collar and explaining the burrito method to this collar rookie. I also like that the pattern has pointers depending on your preferred way of wearing shirts (buttoned all the way or not) with regards to finishing. Personally I prefer the "all buttoned up look" but this shows the amount of details and though that went into the instructions.

After all those struggles, I had some doubts about whether the style would even suit me and through the frustration of moving at a snails pace I didn't have high expectations when I first put it on. At this point I hadn't put the buttons on yet and just pinned the dress close, because I wasn't convinced I even wanted to put in the effort if the whole project turned out to be a flop. Imagine my surprise when I put it on and instantly liked it a lot! On the aspect of technical sewing, this is definitely not my best make, I fudged a lot and I think my collar making skills can improve a lot with time and practise, but  it's also not the worse and to definitely not to the point that it is unwearable. I think this will get a lot of wear, possibly the most of all my Summer of Basics makes as it is better suited to layering when it gets colder. All in all, surprisingly pleased with this in the end and will probably return to this pattern in the future!

Finished Sewing Projects

You're a Wizard Yari, or Part II of the Summer of Basics

August 25, 2018

My second project for the Summer of Basic was going to be a linen jumpsuit and I went with the Yari jumpsuit by True Bias. My goal for the Summer of Basics was to make some hot weather clothing as the two unusually hot months before the challenge started proved I was in dire need of that. Well folks, that was definitely the right decision as it has been scorchingly hot the whole summer!

The Yari jumpsuit comes in four views: short versus tapered pants, and sleeveless versus extended sleeve. This can be mixed and matched and additionally you can add or leave off d-rings to add waist definition. The Yari was released at the beginning of summer, right when I first started to think about what I wanted to make for the Summer of Basics. Initially I thought to make the Roberts collection jumpsuit, but when True Bias released Yari, I switched to this one, because I love the seventies inspired style-lines and the more summer-suitable options it came in. Also - it's got pockets, super stylish pockets!

I went with the shorter version with a sleeve band. I opted to add the d-rings at the waist, to add some visual interest and also to have the option to decide how much waist definition I want. When I've had a good muffin week I can always just loosen that shit up, or just let them hang there. I've included photo's with the bands tightened and loose so you can see the difference in look and fit. I thought I would prefer the "waist defining" look, but after looking at the photos I think I like both equally well.

Putting together the jumpsuit does take a bit more time than your average jumpsuit. Okay, so to be fair that's just my guess because this is my first jumpsuit, but based on how long it takes me to sew other stuff, the Yari just is built up of so many smaller pieces of fabric with lots of seams as well as lots of top stitching. Seeing it all come together was very soothing though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It totally worked as an incentive to keep stitching. I also quite enjoy top stitching, so this was awesome pattern for me.

I knew I wanted to make it in a linen fabric from the onset, but I debated for a while which colour to go for. I was really drawn to the rusty orange one of the samples is also made in. Eventually I ordered this dark petrol green linen, which when it arrived was a bit more "dark green" than "petrol", but I think I like this even better. I also got these brass hand-hammered look buttons that I'm super pleased with. I'm very happy with the quality of this linen as well, my limited experience with linen taught me that the difference between linen quality can differ quite spectacularly. The fabric was nice to work with, wears really nicely. This is 100% linen and there definitely are some wrinkles in here, but that is something that I just expect and roll with when working with linen.

I didn't do any length modifications. The pattern is drafted for someone who is 5.5" tall, which is taller than I am, but I figured I could always take of a smidge more of the shorts if I needed to. I'm glad I went with this approach though, because this is the length as per pattern and I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be if it where shorter. 

So some real talk here. I'm super pleased with the jumpsuit, technically it's the best made garment I've ever made, it looks exactly like I envisioned and I'm also proud of my sewing on this. That's said, a garment like this is also a bit out of my comfort zone, and I needed to get used to wearing it out of the house. It's not just the jumpsuit in itself, which I mostly still try to figure out how to style best.  After wearing it I found that it's also the shorts that I need to get use to. I don't really wear shorts and need to get used to seeing all that leg out there when I look down! I think this feeling will pass though, with a couple of times of wear. Once I get a bit more used to it I think this might well become a staple of my summer wardrobe. Anyway, for my Summer of Basics, getting out of my comfort zone and experimenting a bit was the point of participating, so... mission accomplished? 

I made this jumpsuit back in July and these pictures were taken in another bout of 30+ degrees weather that we've had so many of this summer. I can definitely attest to it's heatwave appropriateness! The amount of leaves on the ground makes it looks a bit autumnal, but I can assure you autumn still feels like a long time away. Due to a record hot and dry summer we've had these scenes over here since the end of June and it has only worsened over the months. All of this is highly unusual over here and it is really odd to see these pictures knowing how warm it really was.

I'm currently in working on the final project for my summer of basics, which I hope to finish this weekend just before the deadline of the Summer of Basics. I'll try to post it on instagram once it done, but it will probably be a little longer before I post about it here on the blog.

See you then!

Finished Sewing Projects

Ninni-ninni-ninni Batman! - or - Part I of the Summer of Basics

August 03, 2018

My first item for the summer of basics was supposed to be the Ninni culottes by Named, and low and behold: I stuck to that plan! Here they are!

I'll be honest, when culottes made their (re)appearance in fashion and by extension in the sewing world I didn't think they were for me. I wear dresses most of the time, and just wasn't tempted to make any type of trousers. I did like their look on on other people, but it was just not something I thought I would ever sew for myself. But then came the record heat and this dry, never-ending heatwave of a summer we've been having, and I realised I needed more and more diverse summer clothing to get me through these months. That, combined with my low-key style exploration prompted me to try some things that I hadn't thought to make before.

Whether you call this loose type of pants culottes, palazzo pants or anything else, my sister-in-law calls them "wiebelbroek" - literally translated: wiggle pants. Last year when she was on holiday in Italy, and also heavily pregnant, she bought a handmade one in a shop there and came back home with buckets of enthusiasm for wiebelbroeken. (She also came back with a live baby, as some of you might remember). Her enthusiasm for wide trousers was definitely contagious as it basically planted the seed of making a pair in my head. (Her influence reaches further, as this household now only refers to any kind of loose pants as "wiebelbroek").

The Ninni-pattern has the reputation of being an easy pattern and it truly is. I finished most of this in a day, and then only had to stop because my elastic hadn't arrived yet. It turns out that 3.5 cm wide elastic is very hard to find in my city. Who knew? I went to a couple of places and watched baffled shop keepers rummage through a couple of boxes, with loads of  different sized elastics but not that elusive 3.5. I had to order some online and that took a bit longer than I expected.

While Ninni is an easy pattern, I did have to make some changes. Named patterns are designed for women whose height is more on the tall side of the lenght spectrum.

Which is great if you are tall.

I am not.

Holding the pattern pieces in front of me ensued in some hysterical giggles, as it was over full length on me. I think I took about 15 centimetres off of the length. There are no lengthening or shortening lines on the pattern, but as it is just a straight leg I took most of it off the bottom. Using a pyjama pants as a guide I also took of some at the waist, to make the crotch a little less low. 

This is a viscose (rayon) fabric. I hadn't sewn with viscose before, but I do own retail wear made with it. I'm kinda in two minds about it: both with sewing and knitting I tend to shy away from synthetic fibres because of environmental reasons, and I don't find them as comfortable as natural fibres. Viscose occupies that weird in-between state; it is at the same time natural and man-made fibre, and therefore it doesn't properly belong in either categories. I like wearing viscose: it is tied with linen as my favourite summer fabric. My options where I live regarding fabric are not as wide as in other places, particularly if you are looking to buy natural fibres on a budget: so for now I've decided to keep using viscose fabrics in my sewing.

I chose the print and colour to go for a more classic look. I was kinda weary of "Is she wearing her boyfriends swim shorts or did she make a pants from the curtains in her Airbnb?" vibes. Don't get me wrong, I like wacky prints and colours, but for some reason am really averse to them in trousers for myself. I noticed this when I was looking at retail culottes, to decide what look to go for. (Can you tell I was nervous about this, by how serious I took the planning?). I noticed that I gravitated to dark main colours and small prints so that is what I went for.

I wish I had bought more of this fabric when it was still in stock. I have zero shame in owning different things in the same print, or alternatively owning the same item in different prints if it is something that I wear a lot. I even knitted the same sweater multiple times. When I finished the culottes, I thought the print would also make an awesome Reeta Shirtdress, but alas the fabric had sold out. Oh well, just got to keep my eyes peeled for other suitable fabric!
I have been wearing them already and I have to admit I did feel a bit weird at the beginning, because it is a slight deviation of what I usually wear. I'm still trying to figure out how to best style them. Looking at the pictures, I'm more okay with how it looks than how I felt about it at the time. I guess most of it is just a matter getting used to and figuring out how to wear them with what's already in my wardrobe. I recently figured out that I don't typically like my shirts tucked in wide skirts, but while wearing these I found that I like it a lot better with culottes. I also think I might like cropped shirts or a hem-tie shirts to wear with this kinda style, so maybe I should put one of those on my to make list.

In the time it took me to get this project photographed and up on the blog I've also finished project 2 of the summer of basics and traced the pattern for my third project, which I hope to make good progress on over the weekend. So I'm quite positive about getting all 3 projects done before the end of august! My documenting of finished makes has been lacking spectacularly the past few months though, and this is actually the part that I'm most worried about. I'm glad that I finally broke through my reluctance to take finished project photos and hopefully this will give me the motivation to also document the non-summer of basics makes that have accumulated over the past months!

See you soon!


Summer of Basics 2018: The Plan

July 06, 2018

Hello friends!

I meant to get this post out sooner, but I was floored by the the worst flu I've had in years which knocked me out for two weeks. Before that, my cat died unexpectedly and it took me a couple of weeks to get my head towards making things again. Nevertheless, I'm now on the road towards a couple of projects, and I've decided to participate in the 'Summer of Basics'. What's Summer of Basics? Let me tell you!

This is the second year that Karen Templer of Fringe Association organizes the Summer of Basics.  For those who are not familiar with the event, it is a sort of challenge to crafters who spend their time knitting or sewing intricate sweaters or fancy fashion all winter, and calls upon them to take a break, sit down and use the summer to craft some beautiful basics. There´s a couple of rules:

- Make 3 items in 3 months
- The items can be either knitted or sewn
- The items have to be basic, but what basic means is not the same for everyone.

The theme for my personal Summer of Basics projects will be warm weather clothing. Before the Summer of Basics was announced I had actually already planned to dedicate this summer to making summer clothes. The end of April, the whole of May and most of June have passed in a succession of heatwaves, which apart from being very unusual and worrying in itself, also made painfully clear how little I have to wear when the weather really heats up.

The thing is, I clearly love making clothes, and part of why I love it is to express myself, to express who I am and what I stand for. So, my favourite things to make are... my favourite things. Looking at my wardrobe it is not hard to guess what my favourite seasons are, and in turn for which seasons I like dressing. I know we all have our preferences, and I know for many people, their favourite season is summer, and that is completely fine. Honestly, I'm not judging. But when I plan to knit or sew something I naturally gravitate to autumn/winter apparel. Even in my sewing projects, I just stick sleeves on everything. So, I knew that for planning out my makes I had to do some honest soul searching as to why I low-key hate dressing for summer. Plainly liking other seasons more, or having hay fever, don't tell the whole story here.

The truth is, I just feel uncomfortable in most summer clothing. Patriarchy and growing up with eating-, and body image disorders in my close environment have left me with a dose of body discomfort myself. Getting constant catcalls about my bust size from an early age made it worse. It wasn't until I got older, got more into feminism and came in contact with terms like body positivity, the male gaze and internalized misogyny that I recognized what happened to me, and recognize the poisonous pressures society puts on women. Even though I now recognize these issues, and am able to handle them  lot better, I'm not immune to them. Simply wearing fewer clothes -even to cope with heat- always makes these things more obvious, and in turn more uncomfortable.

So, for this summer of basics I want to make things that take my feelings of discomfort away and turn my thoughts about bodies and what I want to project to the world into something creative. I want to experiment a bit, this might be a bit of weird premise for an event that is all about making basics, but who says that basics shouldn't stretch a maker's skill? In turn, by shaking things up a bit, I want to bring back some of the joy in dressing for summer.

Since I am focussing on hot weather clothing I will not be knitting anything for this challenge. It feels a bit strange to not knit anything for a challenge that actually allows knitting, since I feel I am a knitter first and anything-else second, but the challenge focusses on gaps in your wardrobe and truthfully my closet of knitwear is quite substantial as is. I am aware that summer knits actually do exist and I thought for a bit of making a summer sweater or something, but each time I started thinking about it it morphed into something else that just wouldn't qualify for summer.

So what are the projects that I am going to make?

Photo © Named Patterns
1. A pair of summer trousers - Ninni Culottes (Named Patterns)
 One of the big gaps in my wardrobe is warm weather clothes that I can wear outside, biking, generally living life without worrying about looking like a hot mess or accidentally flashing someone. I was mulling this over and when it hit me that culottes were the answer I felt slight stupid for not realising it before. Culottes look effortlessly cool and chic on everyone I've seen them on so far and their floatyness makes them perfect for warm weather wear. That is the theory, but it is not a style I've ever worn, so I am curious how this style experiment will work out for me in practise. I've picked Named Ninni Culottes (possibly the easiest culotte pattern on the market?) to ease myself into my first foray into trouser making. This will be my first project for the summer of basics, so should be the first project appearing on the blog (if not, feel free to yell at me or something!).

2. A jumpsuit - Yari Jumpsuit (True Bias).
I know jumpsuits are probably not the first thing when you think about basics, as they are not exactly basic in construction or wardrobe stable basics, but their attraction as summer wear is undeniable. Jumpsuits appeal to me for many of the same reasons that I decided to make culottes for the summer of basics: they look cool and feel cool even when you are trying desperately not to melt when the world around you is stupidly hot. I debated between two styles that I liked and have seen a lot of lately: first, there is the boho/festival look jumpsuit, which is especially suited to summer. Burda has done a couple of them and I think Knipmode magazine as well. In the end I decided to go for second style I've seen making the rounds on instagram: a more minimalistic, linen style. It's probably the heat, but I'm currently going through a bit of a linen phase. Contenders for this one were Marilla Walker's Roberts collection and the Yari Jumpsuit from True Bias. I'm currently leaning towards the Yari jumpsuit, because the shorts version lends itself better to summer, and I'm quite taken with the seventies influence. Who knows, if it is a success I can always make the Roberts for autumn.

I'm interested to see how this will work for me. I haven't owned or worn jumpsuits since I was a kid -there are pictures of a tiny me and my cousin wearing matching ones on holiday in France. They must have made quite an impression on me, as they are still etched in my brain. Being a practical sort of person I'm especially interested to see how much the toilet situation will annoy me and whether it is outweighed by the pros of the garment. Stay tuned for that later in the summer! (I feel I really missed my calling in life not going into advertising...)

Photo © Closet Case Files

3. A summer dress - Kalle Shirtdress (Closet Case Files)
I live in dresses, so it felt weird not to include one here. While I have and wear a lot of dresses, I really need one geared fully towards summer: a sleeveless or short sleeved easy breezy one. Most prominent candidates so far include the Kalle Shirtdress, a darling of the sewing world and while the loose shaping is definitely a new direction for me, it's also one of the features that attracts me the most to the pattern. Other shirtdress candidates are Grainline's Alder Shirdress, the Jessica Dress by Mimi G and Sew Over It's Penny dress. A final option is the Kielo wrap dress by Named, another darling of the sewing world. It's possibly my favourite wrap dress pattern; its a unique style and I even find the untied version weirdly charming. I really like this dress, however it is also the only option in this entry I don't have fabric for yet, making it drop a bit in the hierarchy.

The dress will be the final project I make for the summer of basics so it's the one I'm most open-minded about. August is still a bit away, and my mind on this project might change a few times until then.

So there you have it, my sewing plans for the summer. Even though I missed the first month I feel pretty confident I can actually do this. I'm seriously motivated because I desperately need to have more stuff to wear for this ludicrous heat we're having this summer.

Speak soon!


Eloisa Dungaree Dress

May 03, 2018


Today I got another sewing project to show you. This project needs a bit of a back story though: About a year ago I made a dress, in this really cool flower print corduroy fabric. I had a vision of a shift dress that just oozed 1960's coolness. Well, I made it, but for some reason wasn't really jazzed about it when I finished it. I don't even know why as it was everything I pictured it would be -and more, because it had a sweet Henley placket to boot! Around the same period of time I started to lose weight, meaning that when I tried the dress on a few months later to see if I had changed my mind about it, it was actually worse! It had basically become a potato sack on me. Not a good look, and certainly not what I had envisioned it to be. Because I really loved the fabric I shoved the dress in my bag of scrap fabric with half a mind to re-use the fabric one day and try to get something like a skirt out of it one day.

One week, at the beginning of spring, I decided I wanted to do something with this fabric IMMEDIATELY. Before I knew it, I was unpicking the seams; not the fastest or most fun of jobs, but a necessity if you want to try to cut new pieces from an existing dress. While I was unpicking the dress, I thought how cool this fabric would be in a pinafore/dungaree style. I got out my pattern pieces for the Cleo I made previously to see whether it would be possible. It was... but only barely. While the dress takes up very little fabric, most of it is in one piece and that piece was hard to place on the re-purposed fabric. Then I remembered the Eloisa dungaree dress, and wondered whether I would be able to eke it out of the fabric (as it uses more fabric, but it has more, smaller separate pattern pieces). When I put the pattern pieces on the only half unpicked dress, the A-line option was quickly ruled out. While it used less fabric, it uses bigger pieces than the panelled version, so out that went. The second option, with it's panelled skirt, fitted nice and easy though, with a (tiny) bit of fabric to spare.

The Eloisa pattern is a fairly simple pattern for a dungaree dress, but with some neat details that set it apart from some of the other such dress patterns I have seen. It comes with two skirt options, one is an a-line skirt with nice big patch pockets, whereas option two is a wider panelled skirt without pockets. There are two length options; a midi and a mini length. There is an optional welt pocket at the bib, which you could easily replace with a patch pocket if you want a pocket there but don't feel up for doing a welt pocket. Parts of the dress are lined, but not the skirt, though you might want to do that if your fabric is clingy. All these details give the dress a wonderfully vintage flair.

The pattern instructions are minimal and at times the wording can be somewhat confusing, especially compared to many others in the indie sewing world. You can definitely still follow the pattern and end up with a dress that you are happy with, I just wanted to give you a heads up about this. I think part of the cause of this is the English version being a translation from Italian. It's also a fairly cheap pattern, and I believe this was the first pattern for this pattern company so maybe they were still testing the waters a bit with this pattern. Perhaps there is also a cultural difference here, but I definitely don't have the expertise to say anything about that for sure.

There is no seam allowance in the pattern, so you have to add that yourself after tracing. Having to add seam allowances is always a drag and a tedious extra step, but I find it even more annoying with .pdf patterns, when you already have to do the extra step of taping the sheets together. These days I'm always a bit baffled when I find indie pattern companies that don't simply add a seam allowance, but again this might be a cultural thing and more common in Italian patterns?

The most tricky parts of sewing the dress are the welt pocket at the bib and inserting the invisible zipper in the side seam. Inserting the invisible zipper is fairly straightforward, especially if you've done it before. After reading through the instructions I decided to do a different construction for the welt pockets, because I'm used to it and prefer the construction that way. In case you're curious this is the way I usually construct welt pockets.

The only downside to the panelled version is that there are no side pockets. Whenever I sew something myself I almost always just stick in some pockets somewhere if I can get away with it. In this case in-seam pockets at the side seam were not possible because of the zipper placing. For a moment I debated whether I could do some cool panel or patch pockets -because pockets are always a high priority in the Tree House-, but I ruled that out when I realised that I'd have to throw the whole dress away if I messed that up, since I had no back-up fabric.   

I'm really pleased with the end result. I think the colour and fabric print look pretty neat in a dungaree style. This is also a colour that I wear quite regularly and fits well into my wardrobe. I really like this vintage-ish style of dungarees, and I think my wardrobe has space for another version (especially now I've already traced the pattern with seam allowance anyway!). Perhaps I'll make the midi length instead of the mini. I don't wear mini length skirts that often any more, but I think it does suit this style and it doesn't make me uncomfortable when I do wear it these days.

I thought that dungaree styles might have had their best time in the fashion spotlight for now, because - sadly- fast fashion is often exactly that (mind, I wouldn't let that bother me personally). But this week's new pattern collections of the 'bigger' indie houses have proven me wrong - so many beautiful new dungaree patterns! I also think I've got a taste for re-purposing now, so I'm going to see if I can do this more often. Maybe I could start thrifting things specifically for this purpose... We will see, I don't want to end up with just a pile of stuff that won't get used, as that would pretty much defeat the purpose. So, better take it slow and see project by project. This first attempt though, is satisfactory all the way. 



Parrot Puffin

March 30, 2018

I don't often knit the same pattern twice. Certainly when it concerns garments, it is a rarity. I have often professed "I´d like to knit this again at some point", or "This pattern would be so cool in a totally different colour palette", but you know how it goes: The world of knitting is a vast place, and the knitting queue is. so. long. There are always new patterns coming along vying for their spot on the needles. This is just to say that while, when I finished my first puffin sweater, I immediately knew I wanted to make another one, I also knew that it would be a while before I'd actually do it. All good things are worth waiting for however, and some good things are worth waiting for for a very long time. Eventually, it was time to cast on.

I have couple of different approaches to my colourwork knits: Sometimes I meticulously plan out a project, sometimes I throw myself into it and just pick whatever colour I'm feeling like when I'm getting to it, and sometimes I follow a colour palette according to a broad inspiration. Sometimes I like the original colours the designer chose for a project so much that I can't see any other colour combination beating it. And sometimes I want to be a parrot. I had the idea for this project pretty close to when I finished my first puffin jumper, possibly even while I was knitting the original jumper.

I started preparing for a parrot version of the jumper pretty early on too. I can't remember when exactly I decided to buy the yarn for the main colour, but I know it had been sitting in my stash for quite a while when I got to it. This bright green cone of J&S might actually have been some of the deepest buried yarn stash in the house. The green is so deliciously bright and parrot-y that once I had seen it and matched it to the idea of a Puffin I really couldn't get it out of my head any more. I only started thinking about the yoke colours after I had cast on for the body. What followed was a careful study of different varieties of parrots (I wouldn't want to mess up this part!).     

Now, there are some 402 species of bird that make up the Psittaciformes family of birds, what we call parrots. 15 of them are extinct, the other 387 are each of them remarkably beautiful. (Fifty-five of them are endangered or critically endangered). Although quite pretty, the African Psittacus are uniformly grey and not that suited for a colourwork project. The beautiful Blue-and-Yellow Macaw and Scarlet Macaw are, as their name suggest, blue with yellow and scarlet respectively, so did not match my vision and yarn choice. The Grey Breasted Parakeet from Northern Brazil does have a vivid green coat, but so many contrast colours that it would require marled yarn to do it justice. Eventually my eye fell on the Great Green Macaw and the Military Macaw. They both have a beautiful green coat accompanied by clear red and blue markings and white facial fluff. Their similarity in both appearance and distribution range makes them easy to mix up, but one can keep the two apart as follows: The Great Green Macaw is slightly more large than the Military Macaw while the latter is slightly... er.... better armed?

I actually found the print-out of the pattern of the time when I made the original puffin. I couldn't believe I still had it! I had made quite some notes on that one as my gauge differed quite a bit from the pattern at the time. Miraculously, when I measured my gauge on a recent project using the same yarn, it was the same as back then, so I could just follow the notes I made to myself back then. There is possibly a lesson in here about note taking and organisation but I'm still trying to distil that bit.

Knitting this sweater was a great. The pattern was, again, awesome to work with and especially after the huge undertaking that Windermere was, I breezed through this one super fast. I couldn't even remember I was capable of knitting fingering sweaters in a shorter amount of time anymore. But it was of the needles before I knew it -and was ready for it t.b.h., as yarn for my next project was yet to arrive!

If you follow me on instagram you might have noticed that I mentioned and posted pictures of this sweater back in autumn when I was knitting on it. And it is true, when I actually went back to check, I saw I finished this in October. Which was a surprise, even to me. I can't exactly pin point a reason why it took me so long to take some pictures of this sweater, and I'm quite puzzled about it myself.

When I finally decided to go out and take some photo's of this sweater about a week ago or so, it was actually one of the coldest days of the winter. It may not look the part, but it was way colder then any of the pictures I ever took in the snow for example. It might have felt colder because of the springlike weather we had in the days before. Just to put it in into perspective: while we were out on our walk we hardly saw anybody save for an occasional someone forced to walk a dog -where usually those woods are very crowded on weekends. I almost chickened out, to save it for another day, but then I remembered how long this sweater was waiting for its pictures and I just had to do it.

So there you have it, quite possibly the coldest photo shoot for any project ever. All of this is just to say that I am so glad for the existence of wool. At that moment in time, I was particularly happy for the existence of bright coloured Shetland wool, to make cheery jumpers with that you can pretend to be an exotic bird in during frozen days. Even onlookers, who might think that you're a little barking for taking of you warm coat and layers, can't help but smile at the cheery brightness of it all!


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