colourwork

Wrapping up 2018: Knitting

January 05, 2019


It's the first few days of 2019, I posted my year in sewing a couple of days ago, so what better time to talk about and round off the knitting I did in 2018?  My knitting output -as in the actual volume of projects I made- was on the low side and it has been like that for the last couple of years. Nevertheless, I don't think I've ever been happier with the things I've knitted! I've knit some long longed-for projects, I've knit complicated and time consuming projects and I've made time to knit some things for my favourite people. All in all, I'm really pleased and wouldn't be mad if next year showed a similar picture as this one. So let's get into my year in knitting:

Year of finally finishing my oldest wip  


I finished my Kokkeluri Mittens knitted in Buchaille this year. This was my work in progress that had been languishing the longest of all my WIPs. After finishing the first mitten when the pattern came out in 2015, I  shoved said mitten in a corner, and forgot about it for a couple of years. I finally came back to it at the start of this year to make and finish the second mitten.

Looking back, I can hardly understand why I just let it sit there for years. The actual knitting was done in a couple of days and it's been my most worn hand armour since I've finished the second mitten. What can I say, second mitten syndrome is a thing. A terrifying, mystifying thing made of some dark, dark stuff. To other knitters with hibernating WIPs hiding in the cupboard: do not despair, for there is hope!

So nice I knit it twice


I knitted the Brackett hat, from Laine issue 3, twice this year. First I knitted the blue version for myself and shortly afterwards the green version as a gift. I love this hat pattern and it reminds me a bit of an updated fisherman style hat. I love the squishy cables and how it uses so little yarn to great effect. It is a great stash buster and a cost effective hat so if you were looking for one look no further. These colder days the green one is used all the time by it's recipient so I definitely feel my knitting effort were appreciated there as well which is always nice.


Looking back I like seeing that I did branch out a bit designer wise: I have quite an established style and I know what I like now better than ever, but I'd never knitted a pattern by Whitney Hayward. I have some firm favourite designers and know that whenever they will put out something new, I'm probably going to like it. It can be hard to keep my eye out for new designers through that wall of faves, especially when my queue list is the length of the Nile. But it is nice to see it still happens, even without me making a point of it.

The year of forgetting accessories exist 


I have always been more of a sweater and big project knitter but this year I basically forgot accessories exist after the first two months. Not entirely sure where this was coming from. I don't dislike knitting them and the hats and gloves I made at the start from the year are some of my favourites ever. I guess I just really like knitting sweaters and throwing myself at big projects. This year I threw myself into some really big and complicated projects, more than any other year, and I guess they just took and kept all my attention this year. I wonder what my mood will be next year.

Returning to an old favourite


I rarely knit the same sweater twice. It happened once in my early knitting days when I knit the
"Fair Isle Yoke" from a Stitch in Time vol 1 twice. However, since I designed an entirely different yoke for the second version I'm not sure if it entirely counts. I knit my first Puffin a few years back in the original puffin colours. It is a firm favourite in my wardrobe, but I had visions of a spectacularly more colourful sweater inspired by another bird when I was knitting that first sweater. This year I decided to make my Puffin-but-make-it-parrot visions come true and knit up this pattern a second time. I've worn this cheery jumper quite often this autumn and winter even though it is a slight deviation from my normal colour palette. I guess can put any doubts about whether I would wear such a bright colour decidedly to rest now. 

The year of more gift knitting than I give myself credit for


This year I knit a hat, a Pippi doll and an adult sized sweater as gifts for loved ones. As someone who considers herself predominantly a selfish knitter that is quite a tally. I knit the Pippi doll as a Christmas present for my nephew, and this was the last project I made and blogged in 2018. 

The biggest gift project I did this year was the lopapeysa I made for my partner. The sweater still needs to grace the blog in a post of its own - and that will happen in the new year- but since you've seen it in project posts and flatlays on instagram I figured I would include it here anyway. I do feel proud of this achievement and it does makes me happy seeing someone else wearing a sweater I made, which I wasn't expecting. Now, I'm not unsubscribing from the 'selfish knitters' group just yet, most of the things I make will always be for myself, but I can see myself knitting a garment gift again... somewhere in the far future.... after I've recovered and put in enough selfish knitting mileage.

The year of the  fair isle allovers

Knitting wise if I had to stick a theme to this year it would be the allover. I knitted three allovers this year, one minimalistic take and two more involved colourwork garments. My love for stranded colourwork and fair isle is no secret and for years it's been what I knit the most of each year. It has been evolving every year though. I love a good yoke sweater and have knitted my fair share of them. Since knitting my first allover last year, I've developed a taste for those. I always greatly admired them, but I also had been intimidated by them and put them on a pedestal as some sort of unreachable goal. When I made Windermere I felt like I broke through that mental block. This year I've proven to myself well beyond doubt that it no longer is an issue for me. Huzzah! More colourwork possibilities is more fun! 


Unst
 
The first part of the year Marie Wallin's Unst cardigan was my big project. This was the first multi coloured allover that I attempted. I significantly changed the colour scheme and added an additional colour. I relished the planning stage for this one and greatly enjoyed putting together a palette that suited my taste. It helps that the yarn I picked (Jamieson's spindrift) has a vast array of colourways to pick from and I was truly spoiled for choice. Even with careful planning though, there is an element of uncertainty when you come up with your own scheme but I am super pleased with the outcome of this cardigan. As with any fair isle project it was great fun seeing each band of colours emerge. 

I well took my time for this one, and it took longer than I expected it would take. At the same time I couldn't be more pleased with the result and I never lost my enjoyment in this project at the knitting stage.
    

Ashland 

 My next sweater was a much simpler and minimalist take on the colourwork allover. I've worn this one quite a bit since the colder weather set in. I especially wore it all through the holidays after I realised I accidentally made a low-key festive sweater. I got some questions about the festive nature of the sweater while wearing it over the holiday period, so I guess the red really speaks to our collective Christmas mood? In any case I hadn't intended it like one, I made it over the summer because I just like wearing red, but it was a nice coincidence.  

I wore this to the Christmas celebration with my family at my brothers place and when I came home I noticed a small hole in one of my armpits where the seam broke. This could say something about the yarn strength, but because it's plied, it should be sturdier than most tweeds. The break started at the end of the seam, so the yarn I used there had to suffer the most to get there so to speak. It was an easy fix the next day, but if it happens again I'll keep that in mind the next time I use this yarn and I'll find another yarn for seaming.

Orkney

Orkney was the final multi colour allover cardigan that I did this year. She still needs to grace the blog with her presence (and she'll do that soon) but since you've seen progress shots on instagram I don't think I'm giving away anything by including her here. Orkney is another fair isle design by Marie Wallin, and like Puffin I have longed to knit project for a long time. It had been in my queue since it was first published in a Rowan Magazine in 2012. I think making Unst liberated me of my feelings of inadequacy, and liberated me to start this project.

One of the interesting things about this pattern is that sleeves and body have different patterning and use different colour combinations. Instead of mirroring each other, they echo each other, which made playing around with colours even more interesting. You'll see more of Orkney on here soon so I'll share more of my thoughts then.


The Verdict

It's hard to pick faves and fails from this lot. I mentioned at the start of this post how I love all of the projects I made this year and consider them all roaring successes. I can't really ask for more than that. My favourites are probably the two allover cardigans Unst and Orkney. However, Riddari has a special place in my heart as the first lopapeysa I made for someone else and Parrot Puffin because it was a long held idea and vision that I realised this year. So while my knitting felt a bit slow at times and progress tedious, if that was the trade off for such a successful end-of-the-year knit pile then I'll take it!

As with my sewing I don't have any grand year goals or year challenges that I'm setting for myself or am participating in. These days it is less about the amount of stuff I make and more about the time and consideration put into that project. This certainly wasn't always the case for me, but it's been like that for me for a while now. Especially with sewing I deliberately take things a bit slower: knitting is always slower than sewing, but I always used to aspire to be one of those bloggers who has output every week (lol, never got close). I still admire these bloggers and makers, but it is no longer something I aspire to be and I'm way less focussed on the number of makes(Is this what getting older does to you? What would I do with all that stuff anyway?). I have some loose goals and things I want to make but I have these year round and they are fluid and adaptable. I find I work best that way, and enjoy things more if I don't put myself under extra self imposed pressures. Everyone is different though, so tell me if you have any fun challenges or goals planned for yourself for 2019!


I have one more post about 2018, in which I will talk about some of my favourite things that came out of 2018 (expect a listicle!) and some personal bits. See you then!

xxx

Finished Sewing Projects

Wrapping up 2018: Sewing

January 02, 2019


Hello 2019, and happy new year blog friends! Well, I don't know about you but to me it feels both wildly overdue and impossible at the same time to have arrived at a brand new year. Instead of trying to make sense of it all just imagine me making some wild gestures and muttering incoherent while I attempt to say something funny or smart about it. Anyway as the title suggest, I am not here to make any grand speeches about 2019 (yet). Instead I want to look back at 2018 for a bit more. Of course I had planned to type and post about all a recap of the year last week when everyone else was posting them but the last days of the year, with all the holiday stuff going on, can be so full and even though I had gotten quite far with my wrap up post and might have been able to finish before the new year if I had made a point about it, I decided not to stress it and just take the task into the new year. First week of the new year is the last week to do your wrap up posts amiright?

So here is my annual looking back on the year post. My main take away of 2018 is that it's impossible that this year was just 12 months long. I feel 2018 was at least ten years. Not because it dragged on and on, on the contrary I feel so much has happened and changed (and changed and changed again) in my life that it cannot just have been one year. To be honest I felt like December alone should have lasted a year given the amount of stuff that was going on. Most of that happened behind the scenes though, so hasn't made it to any of my tiny screen accounts. What has made it to all my various screen outlets is the making that I did this year.

I always like reading people's year reviews and looking forward to the year. I also enjoy writing them myself and I always come away with the feeling that I accomplished more than I thought when I started writing the post. This year is no different. I thought the start of the year was extremely slow for my making, and while that was not entirely untrue, I had also just forgotten quite a few things of what I did or misdated when I made them.

So let's have a look at my year in sewing: 

The year of focusing on basics


I started the year with sewing some basics. This started a sewing basics-kick that lasted almost the entire year. I don't know, but if I had to stick one theme to my sewing this year "the year of sewing basics" would have been a good candidate. Anyway it started with this t-shirt I made at the start of the year. I made some more truly basic stuff this year but none of them made it onto the blog. It's  hard to motivate myself to post about them cause I have way less to say about them. Maybe I should make a bumper post with a couple of similar items in them? We'll see. I didn't actually wear this Jane t-shirt a lot this year and I'm still trying to find out whether it is because something is bothering me with the shirt itself or whether it's because I just don't wear T-shirts a lot in general. 

Continuing on the sewing basics theme I signed up for the Summer of Basics for the first time. The goal was to give my woefully lacking summer wardrobe a boost. I'm so happy that I joined this challenge, looking back I think I succeeded in my goal, over the summer I regularly wore the items that I made. In general I think these three items are among my favourite sewn things ever. 


The Ninni's were an unexpected make for me. I don't often wear trousers and wasn't at all sure about the reappearance of culottes on the forefront of fashion when they first started to appear everywhere. Haha, joke's on me as this has been my most worn summer piece. It's super easy to wear and and a real heat battler especially made in such a lightweight flowy fabric. 

I worn this so much that I'm thinking of making another one next summer. It's also a real good reminder that it's not always the most involved and time consuming projects that turn out to be the real wardrobe winners.

The year of pushing skills 


 The Yari jumpsuit was another unexpected but satisfying make. It hasn't been worn as much as the culottes, but that is also in part of the type of clothing that a jumpsuit is. I feel jumpsuits are a bit of a statement piece, but this summery linen piece is toned down enough for everyday wear. I was really feeling linen in this summer's blistering heat and the Yari filled that linen jumpsuit shaped hole in my life perfectly. I really pushed my construction and topstitching skills for this project. I still think this is one of my technically best sewn things to date.

After finishing this jumpsuit and the Ninni culottes I really started to feel a lot more confident both in my sewing and in my summer wardrobe. I always had huge difficulty in dressing for warm weather in a style that still felt like "me". I think these pieces might be a step in the right direction in developing my summer wardrobe further and that is a huge (HUGE) win for me.


My final summer of basics sew was the Kalle shirtdress and this was perhaps the pattern I would have been most confident of it becoming an wardrobe winner if you'd ask me at the beginning. It is true, it has become a wardrobe winner. It was also, unexpectedly, the most tedious to sew and took the longest, not just of my summer of basics makes, but of all the things I sewed this year. I guess it is a testament to how much I like this dress that I actually still want to make more of these. It was my first proper shirt dress, or any shirt kind of clothing that I made and I learned a lot of new things with this dress (burrito method! Collar construction!) as well as pushed my skills in other areas, such as topstitching and neat finishes with delicate fabric. The latter of these also explains errr... why this project took so long.

The year of pushing comfort zone 


This year saw me pushing my comfort zone in various ways. I tried a bunch of new styles in term of clothing like culottes and jumpsuits. I broke through a mental block on taking modelled photos that I expertly put there myself in the first place at the start of the year. I properly got into sewing and posting about summer clothing, which as lame as it sounds was spectacularly out of my comfort zone.

I also tried some new dress, pants and short lengths this year. Or, returned to some depending on your outlook: I wore miniskirts in high school, but that long ago enough to make this feel like new territory to me. Like with this this dungaree dress: I distinctly remember taking these pictures on an icy cold day in March just after voting in the elections over here. I was and still am very pleased with this make. It's possibly one of the coolest things I made and one of the more successful projects. I like that I re-purposed fabric from a failed make and turned it into something I did like.

The year of acquiring new skills and crossing off big goals


Finally I sewed and posted about my first bra. This had become a personal sewing holy grail after having it as a loose goal on the back of my mind for years. I can hardly believe that I finally broke through it! The bra is this year's show-piece price, my masterpiece, the pièce de résistance, the crown jewel of my sewing this year. I made my first bra after wanting to do so for a looooong time and it is a big deal for me.

I felt a lot of pride and joy from this one, but I have to admit that I hesitated about posting it and  just felt a bit weird and awkward about it in general. At the same time I hated that feeling and I recognize the social systems in place that make me feel that nervous and I wanted to push through that (and also just want to show you guys what I make and help others but you get the idea). I haven't completely rid myself of those feelings but I'm glad I pushed through enough to post them anyway.

 I'm so happy, proud and somewhat relieved to finally have this goal crossed off of the long list. Bra fitting and making is a steep learning curve but I feel like I learned a ton already and I really enjoy throwing myself deeper into the craft that is sewing so I definitely consider this a success. I can't wait to develop my bra making skills further in the new year. 

The year of figuring stuff out


I feel like I made strides this year into finding out what I like in the clothing I wear. Particularly with sewing I feel I made a big step this year. I've been a dedicated knitter for a lot longer than I've been sewing garments and always felt that my sense of what I like and don't like with knitting was always light years ahead of my style and preference development in sewing. This year I've thought more about the overall picture and style I want to communicate and in turn have made progress in figuring out my non-knit style better. A  repurposing the fabric from a previous make to make Eloisa made me think more actively about what components go into making me enjoy a wearing a piece of clothing.

I did  part of Colette's wardrobe architect and Fringe Association's slow fashion October prompts this year. (I did this offline for myself and -shock horror- didn't record this online anywhere) but found them helpful in figuring some things out about myself. I've now got a much better idea of my fabric, print,colour and shape preferences. I still have more ground to make up in this area, and of course taste and style are ever changing but I'm really pleased with my progress and the work I did in this area.

Finally, the verdict 


My favourite sewn make of this year is surprisingly, ahum, the bra. However, given that I can't (comfortably) wear it I feel that doesn't entirely count. So of the other items my favourites are the Kalle shirt dress and the Ninni culottes...closely followed by the Yari jumpsuit and the Eloisa Dungaree dress. Given the difficulty I had to pick a favourite I can safely say that this year's sewing has been a success!

I'm excited to see what next year has in store for me. I have some ideas as to sewing goals and things I want to develop but nothing is set in stone yet. So that was my wrap up of my sewing. Stay tuned because I got two more wrap up posts to go before I sink my teeth into 2019 including all my knitwear. -I feel I can be as extra as I want on my own blog-

Take care friends and see you soon!





Finished Knits

Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking

December 28, 2018


Hej friends!

Hope you had a nice/fantastic/lovely/relaxing holiday whether you celebrated or not. I celebrated with my family at my brother's place but was at home for most days with my cat who is recovering from an emergency surgery and can't be left alone for longer periods yet (If you don't follow me on instagram you will have missed this but you can read up on it here).



Thought I'd quickly pop in here to talk about my gift knitting this Christmas. I say gift knitting as if I'm going to roll out an magnificent number of knitting projects here but like last year the grand total of Christmas knitting I did is one thing. The recipient for said gift knitting is also the same as last year: my nephew Luca. This year he is not a charming toothless smiling baby any more though! Now, he´s an energetic 1,5 year old toddler - whose hysterical laughing is still charming! It is safe to say that in the year since I last wrote about him a lot has changed. He has just learned how to walk by himself and fully utilises this newly opened up world to bounce around all the rooms. He really enjoys his soft toys at the moment, hugging them, carrying them while running around, feeding them etc. Other things he enjoys at the moment are pointing at things, shouting at things, sitting on his tricycle, playing peek-a-boo, watching (and pointing at) trains, ALL THE FOOD, Bumba, playing with wrapping paper and saying no and shaking his head when you ask him if he wants to sleep.

Anyway, I thought it be fun to knit him a doll this year because he is so in to them now. I made him a little elephant when he was born but this year I fairly soon decided I wanted to do something else and make him a doll version of my favourite fictional character of all time: Pippi Longstocking. She's not been in all my social profiles for ages without reason!



I adapted Ysolda's Poppy doll pattern to turn her into Pippi. This is an idea that I had for a loooong time. Way before Luca was born. Alas I'm just not that into doll making so it never happened...until now of course.What I like about Ysolda's toy patterns is the seamless construction that they have (or at least, both toy patterns that I made). The poppy doll is one she designed at the start of her knitwear design career and knitting from this pattern was like a nostalgic trip to back in the early days of Ravelry and knitting blogs. It was around this time that I started knitting and it's a period to which I (naturally) look back to with fondness.

Anyway, the Poppy doll is highly adaptable to any look you are going for. A lot of the projects on Ravelry are using the doll pattern to make the wildest doll visions come true. I've seen and admired a couple of Bowie poppy dolls and there are a few Pippi dolls out there. I greatly enjoyed seeing how inventive knitters adapted the pattern to their own liking.



My own mods to the pattern t make the doll more Pippi-like were fairly minimal. But here is what I did:

- I gave her stockings in bright orange and green like the late 60's and 70's Pippi film Pippi played by Inger Nilsson. I just knitted part of the leg in these colours instead of the bare legs she has per pattern. I first did 10 rounds of body colour and then switched to stocking colours. I didn't embroider the shoes as per pattern, because I didn't think that was very 'Pippi', so I just kept them plain brown.



-I went back and forth a couple of times on what dress colour to go with. I narrowed it down to a couple of options, taking into consideration the yarn I had at hand: a yellow striped dress like pippi wears in Inger Nilsson film version, a plain yellow simplified version of that or the blue dress she wears in the books and illustrations in said books that I grew up with. In the end I went with the blue dress, with the plan to add some coloured patches on. In the end I left these off because I was pressed for time.


-The biggest deviation from the pattern was how I added the hair. I added the strands individually using a crochet hook with the rooted method over the two head halves, creating a parted hairline in the middle. This different method allowed for the hair to be braided, which is of course a critical feature of any Pippi resembling doll. The only other thing I added to the face were a couple of freckles. I did this by un-plying the yarn I used for the hair and using that smaller thread to make small french knots on the face.



She was mostly finished the day before our Christmas celebrations, but I added the freckles on early in the morning the next day and took her pictures then. Because is it even Christmas if you are not frantically doing some last minute crafting? Anyway he unwrapped the present himself a handful of hours later and my entire family basically shouted "Pippi!" in unison the moment she came into view, so I was relieved I made her recognizable enough for that as dollmaking isn't my forte. He later ran around with her for a bit and tried to feed her by pushing his pear cookie through her braid so I'm calling it a win.

Project: Pippi Doll
Pattern: Poppy by Ysolda Teague
yarn: Drops Karisma
Raveled here

bra making

First Adventures in Bra Making

December 21, 2018


Makers, I did it! I started my bra making journey! Buckle up, this is going to be a long ride.

If you've been following me for a while you know that learning how to make a bra has been passively on my goals list for a while. Its something I've always wanted to do, especially since bra making really took off in the sewing world and it felt a lot more accessible than it had before. However, I've equally always been slightly intimidated by it. Reading up on bra making posts it always felt a bit like alchemy or magic to me. I have a hard time finding well fitting bras in retail wear, combine this with having low trust in my own abilities and my perfectionist nature I always felt that I had to up my sewing skills massively before I even started to attempt this.

This summer though, I've been changing my approach to things I'm intimidated by. The thing is if I wait until my perfectionist nature thinks I'm good enough for things I'm going to wait a long time. It was hampering my skill development, because while waiting "until I'm better at this" very little was being made and in turn I wasn't developing my skills any further. This summer I've been approaching everything I want to do and make with a different mind: If I'm not going to do or make this now, it will not happen at all, so I better just get on with it. I hope this mindset will stick cause, spoiler alert, so far it has made this summer and autumn the most productive in my sewing and making in general and I've also never been happier with the things I've made and tried to make.



So, why would you even want to make your own bra if it's so intimidating I can hear you ask. Couple of reasons:

Well fitting, nice looking and affordable bras are UNICORNS. Why are they unicorns? Women make up half of the actual population on earth, why are we not catered for and given the awesome bras we deserve? I know most bra wearing people experience trouble with finding well fitting unicorns, because we are dealing with a sort of arbitrary implemented standard... which fits almost nobody perfectly. And some fit less perfect than others. If you are really lucky, nothing really fits and you just end up picking the bra size that irritates the least. Ahem, so, I am one of the lucky ones. I have a non standard/difficult bra size and friends let me tell you the pickings out there are really slim if you fall into this category. More so if you are looking for a unicorn that isn't beige or pale white -sorry beige, it's not you, but I'm really sick of you. Let me just point out here for a moment, that I think women deserve nice looking, happiness bringing underwear for themselves. I think wanting underwear that makes you happy because of the way it looks is just as valid as wanting to make underwear because you can't find anything that fits well.

Anyway those are my reasons, wanting stuff that fits and isn't boring, you might have your own reasons. I thought it might be helpful to go over some of the things I learned while making my first bra. I'm very much at the start of my bra making journey, but I feel like I already learned a bunch of things. I figured that other makers looking to make their own bras might be interested in knowing what I know now. So here we go:



What pattern to pick?

Some people advice that when you start making bras, you ought to start with wireless bras. I dove into the deep for my first bra. When I convinced myself to just jump in with bra making I also instantly decided to go for an underwire bra. Why? I am a firm believer of making stuff you actually wear or use, even when you are just beginning or learning the skills to do it. I think you learn best by doing something you are enthusiastic about, invested in and motivated for. Sure, chances that you will fail are there, but they are there anyway (Don't get me started on knitting, I have opinions about dishcloths as a first project).  I never started my first bra with the idea that it would be instantly perfect or even wearable to be honest. But I did start it with the idea of making something that would learn me the skills to eventually make something that I could wear.

Where am I going with this? I only ever wear underwire bras. Does this come as a shock to anybody? I won't judge because to be honest I felt the same when I found out that there are people of the bra-wearing-kind who hardly ever wear bras if they can avoid it. I suppose it helps (or doesn't, depending on your view) that my bra size runs more towards the middle of the alphabet than the beginning. I need bras with a lot of support, or else my back starts to ache...ACHE. Since it just so happens to be that by far the most of the support comes from the bridge and wires, that's what I needed for my first handmade bra.
 
I read on some bra making sites that larger busted people can wear soft cup bras but I don't know. I'm just a bit sceptical because of my personal experience and based on what I read on the blogs of those more...uh well-endowed ladies. So far, I've only found one soft cup bra pattern that actually goes to my size, the Watson bra by Cloth habit, which does little to convince me that the type is suitable.



After deciding to go with an underwire bra, I had to make a decision regarding patterns. Sadly most bra patterns adhere to a particular, smaller size range. Most patterns I encountered didn't even include my size (sad trombone). That was a bit of a come down to be honest, but I guess the silver lining is that I wasn't overwhelmed with an avalanche of choices either. Orange Lingerie used to publish their bra patterns in bigger sizes, but with all their recent patterns they haven't. I get get the feeling that they are not planning to return to the more inclusive size range policy for the time being, which is disappointing. They did say that by tinkering a bit with the patterns by using sister sizing you can up scale the sizing. As a beginning bra maker that just isn't that appealing to me when there are more inclusive sized bra patterns on the market. Might keep the brand in mind for later though...if this bra making thing takes of that is.

In the end I narrowed it down to three options: The Marlborough Bra and the Boylston bra, both by Orange Lingerie and the Harriet Bra by Cloth Habit. I narrowed it down to these because they included a large size range, I've seen these about a lot and have seen them succefully made by bloggers and makers that I like and trust. In the end I went with the Harriet bra, on the basis of having seen a really glowing blogpost of someone with similar bra and fitting issues as myself. In absence of any other reason to pull me towards one of the other patterns this was the one I went with.



Things I learned before I even sewed my first bra:

-Kits, kits, kits. Shopping for parts has made me a big fan of bra kits.  There are a lot of sets online with matching fabric and lace, to which you only need to add the hardware. Alternatively you can order the fabric yourself and order a complementing or contrasting findings kit (this is a kit for all the bits and pieces that are not the fabric, lining or wires). The learning curve for bra sewing is pretty steep and even though I did read up (a lot!) on all the stuff that goes into making a bra I was really relieved to have all notions in one package as opposed to having to hunt them down one by one. I found that after actually making my first bra from start to finish I was already so much more familiar with everything, and had already start to form preferences for specific types of notions, but it still helped to have some basis to start from when looking for new materials later. 

-Fabric, fabric, fabric. Take great care what fabric you pick: The first bra I started was with fabric from a bra kit. Bra kits are great (see my previous point) however this fabric was some dark dark stuff. I mean, these days I'm not a newbie any more when it comes to stretch fabric but this was something else. This fabric wast not stretch fabric it was actual LIQUID. I've never seen anything like it, and it was of course a nightmare to sew. It was also a solid colour. Now here comes lesson 3: 

-Don't pick a solid fabric as your first bra fabric. Unless it is meant solely as a muslin. Solid fabric shows EVERYTHING. Bras involve a lot of top stitching. So here I was, top stitching on actual liquid fabric, in a solid colour which showed ANY wonkiness as if under a magnifier. I was sewing view A of the Harriet bra, which is the unlined version. The inside looked spectacularly untidy because - need I repeat - my fabric was liquid. To be honest all of this worked very demotivating and I will admit that I was pretty disappointed with my efforts.  Some doubt in my abilities started to creep in and I was wondering whether it had been a good idea to even start doing this. 


I started this bra over the weekend and at the time actually meant to finish this bra, but was so disheartened by it all and throughout the week it kept bothering me. In the end I decided that I needed a do-over. A re-start.  

So. That's what I did. I kept the same pattern but ordered different fabric and ordered a findings kit with that (as opposed to an entire bra kit). I ordered this super bright stretch lace. It's apparently hard to make yellow findings, or maybe the demand is just really tiny, cause I couldn't find a cohesive offering. So I went with contrasting all white findings.

It sounds a bit counter-intuitive but friends, this lace was so much easier to sew with than the solid fabric I used on my first attempt. I could weep of joy when I finished sewing the first seam.



What I learned when I actually sewed my first bra:

-Sewing a bra is not difficult, per sé. The stitches used are mostly basic straight lines and zigzag variations. There are a lot of steps though and takes a lot of those steps before it starts to look like anything recognizable. Some of the sewing  can be a bit cumbersome, but this is definitely something that will get better with a bit of practise. In fact I've already sewn my second (and working on my third!) bra and it was already a world of difference.

-Lined bras are awesome. This time around I went with view C of the Harriet bra, which is the lined version. It made a world of difference: and made the insides look neat and actually like a bra is supposed to look. If you are thinking about making a bra I would recommend doing a lined version. It looks better, is much more forgiving of small mistakes, feels better and sturdier and compares much more to retail bra finishing.

-The most difficult part of making bras is the fitting. Since I have such a hard time finding well fitting bras in stores this shouldn't have come as a surprise and well...  it didn't really. What makes bra fitting difficult it that you can only truly try the fit when it's done. All the little bits and pieces will have an influence on the fit and you don't know until the last frigging piece how it's going to pan out. 

-There's a lot to play around with! Like I said, I worked with a neon lace fabric and white notions. I decided to switch thread colours for the yellow and white top stitching and am glad with that decision. It was a bit finicky at the time, but I think it looks more professional this way. There's just so many options: different contrasting notions, contrasting lining, heck, even different colours of lace or solids in one bra.



The verdict: How is the fit?

Well...it doesn't fit (Sad trombone solo #4). I hadn't expected this first bra to fit perfectly and it didn't. But there were also some good things so lets go into some details about the fit:

I measured myself before deciding on a size with the measuring method included on the cloth habit website. The measurements I took matched the size I wear in retail bras, so that was a promising start. I read about other makers getting a spectacularly different size and consequently have huge problems getting it to fit. While making the bra, I did notice the cups seemed small... very small... certainly too small! I powered through because I could do little about it then, and you can't completely assess the fit until it's done.


When finished the cups were indeed too small. Laughably so. The bra is unwearable for me. The bands fit, albeit a bit on the tight side. There were also some good things though: the bridge is the best fitting bridge of my life. I don't think I really knew how bridges were supposed to "fit well" until I'd made this bra. So that is good.



I'm super happy and proud of this bra even though I can't actually wear it. It totally feels like I unlocked a long longed for achievement. Possibly the best and proudest thing I've ever sewn. It looks and feels like an actual bra. I'm proud for smashing through the mental block that making bras had become for me and pushing myself further. I also learned a ton about bra construction and fit and was able to take that knowledge further with the next bras that I made. 

Photographing bras is a bit of an issue. I lack both the confidence levels and trust in humanity (general humanity, not you guys of course) to model them on myself. I also live in a small apartment with two hobbies that already take in a lot of space, and another human who also has hobbies that take up space. As a consequence, I don't own a sewing mannequin and am currently not looking to acquire one. Meaning you'll all have to make do with these floating ghost-bra pictures. Which is not ideal, but better than nothing right? For the same reasons, I am not really comfortable with making my bra size googleable, I know it sucks because it can help other makers out there and I'd be willing to answer some of this via dm or something if you think it can help you.

I did warn this was going to be a long ride. As I said, I really enjoyed making this, and soon after, I already made another one, slowly fine tuning the fit. In all honesty, I had planned to split the content of this post between this bra and the next, but this just had to come out all at once. Thanks to all those bloggers out there preaching the bra making gospel: it's been a very liberating experience so far!

colourwork

Ashland jumper

December 07, 2018




Hey friends, in my ongoing mission to catch up with my summer (and now also autumn) makes on all my platforms, I thought I'd show you one of the sweaters I finished over the summer. The photos were taken on a dreary, rainy autumn day and, as you might be able to tell, but I'm going to roll with them anyway cause this sweater has been waiting too long already. So here we are with Ashland from Julie Hoover, originally published in Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2015.


I jumped right into knitting my Ashland jumper after I knitted Unst. Just when I said that -maybe- I should stay away from doing colourwork all-overs for a bit. Of course I can't help myself and instantly picked this jumper as my next project. What can I say; I love colourwork and I wear it all the time, so apart from maybe making a problem of this myself  -I am very good at that- knitting more colourwork is not actually a problem. Ashland is not an all-over like Unst or Windermere was, it is a lot less involved, and perhaps a more relaxed take on the fair isle allover. There is still a lot of stranded knitting though, uh well...all over, so I feel that it counts.


The pattern recommends switching needle size between bands of colourwork and plain knitting and when I first read that I nearly fell of the couch...that is a lot of switching between needle sizes! My first thought was ´bollocks to that´. But because we all need some confirmation from our knit posse on important decisions once in a while, I did a poll in my instagram stories explaining the situation at hand with the question: what would you do?  When the poll had just been up for an hour an overwhelming majority had voted for switching needles, which made me doubt my own judgement to be honest. A day later though the tables had turned and a clear majority thought that life was too short for this. I still wonder how many people would actually follow these instructions. Especially knitting the sleeves on DPN's would be a particular pain in the neck to switch needles every row, wouldn't it? I mean I know gauge is important, and everything, but so is joy in knitting, right?


I used Rowan Valley tweed as the main yarn (the colourway is Wold's Poppy). It is a new-ish yarn from Rowan, a 100% wool tweed yarn, that I think was meant to replace the 100% wool tweed yarn that they did away with a year or two ago when they culled a large chunk of their yarn range. I don't think they are very similar though: the previous was a traditionally spun, soft, single ply, thick-and-thin tweed whereas this tweed feels much more sturdier, is plied and has lost the thick-and-thin effect. It feels lofty and more hard wearing than it's predecessor. Maybe it has lost some of the fluffyness/ nubbyness and tufts that you expect from a classic tweed. Another difference is that the Valley tweed comes in 50 grams skeins with a generous 207m yardage. In theory this makes the yarn more economical, but the bountiful portion size can be an issue when you are planning to do colourwork. Finally, while I was knitting with it I did wonder whether there was still some oil from spinning on it, not as much as in some of the cones I've knitted with but I did think there was still something there. Could be just the batch I had though. Personally I don't really mind, and it washes of easily with a soak, but I thought I'd mention it in case it's a deal breaker for you.


I really loved working with this yarn. Surprisingly much even, as I was a bit on the fence about the plying when I saw some of the close up photos of the yarn online. But now I'm sold. It is a lofty yarn, softer than similar weight yarns such as Shetland wool, but it still feels hard wearing. I think it knits up beautifully, and because of the plying the stitch definition is much more even than from a classic single ply tweed.  What's not ideal for colourwork is that the colour palette is a bit limited though, especially when (again) compared to Shetland wool. Rowan did add a few more colourways in September, including a much needed light colourway, with the release of the A/W collection. So it's already better now than back in the summer when I knitted this project, and who knows perhaps they will expand the range more in the future.


After I picked the main colour for the sweater I picked two ancient Lang yarns tweeds from the deep stash for contrast colours. I initially bought these years ago to make a hat with that I planned to gift to someone, but that ended up not working out at all. The Lang yarn is a single ply tweed and much more similar to the old discontinued Rowan tweed than to the valley tweed, so I wasn't sure whether it would work out when combined. I think when I just started knitting the idea that you have to stick to the same yarn in one project was drilled into me to the point that I maybe am a bit too conservative in this aspect. I think designers like Stephen West are turning that around these days and it's inspired me to try to to this more as well, albeit in my own way. At the same time it's a good way to use up some of the odds and ends in my stash, and make use of what I have. I decided to go with two neutral colours to complement the vibrant main colour.


Now, want to hear that joke about the knitter who knitted an entire sweater body and sleeve and then discovered she knitted one of the repeated colourwork bands entirely wrong? Yeah, ha ha, that was me. I found out when I had a bad fever and I just kept staring from the chart to my knitting trying to figure out what was off. To be honest, apart from just being a bit baffled that it happened and I only found out when I practically finished the sweater, I don't mind it at all. I don't think most people notice, and I think it looks pretty cool. If you are curious it is the second band from below, the extended bits of colourwork should be alternated while mine just mirror each other. Anyway it's a design feature now!


I did intentionally narrowed the neckline a bit. The neckline in the original version is quite wide and a bit similar to a boat neckline, which isn't really my thing. The pattern has since been reworked for a different new yarn that came out, but this was after I had already started my project with the first version of the pattern so I can't say if the new version of the pattern makes a difference for the neckline. To make the neckline a bit narrower I bound off less stitches and I think I also decreased less but I can't remember exactly.


Okay, now for some uncomfortable talk. Around the time I was knitting this, some not so nice things about the pattern's company were emerging. Some of their old employees have started to speak out, although they don't feel like they can talk entirely open about it. These are people that I admire and the things that they said and hinted towards have left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Additionally, this summer A Verb for Keeping Warm has spoken out about the a couple of things with regards to one of their yarn concepts being stolen by the same company that published this pattern. The concept-theft was to the letter, even down to the very farm where AVFW sourced their yarn. It resulted in AVFW having to end their yarn line. Furthermore, one of this company's other new yarns has a name that I feel culturally appropriates a place that has nothing to do with the yarn. Neither the fibre content, way of spinning, yarn weight or place of origin of the yarn have any relation to said place. I have little patience for cultural appropriation, and feel particularly miffed about the reply they gave to the people that called them out for it. I guess the relatively short period in which I became aware of this amplified my feelings about these separate issues and my combined thoughts about it. I'm also aware that I hold this company to a high standard, higher perhaps than some other brands, because they have been the darlings of the indie yarn world for a long while. I'm not really sure where I want to go with all of this, I'm still trying to make up my mind about it and where I want to go with this company in the future. They work with a lot of independent designers and amplify their work, which I think is an excellent thing. I also think they do some other very good things, particularly their diversity in representation of their models, their pattern quality is mostly to a very high standard and their appeal to modern knitters is undeniable. I think they have attracted a new audience to knitting over the years of their existence. I also think that in principle, the values they proclaim are admirable and are similar to my own. It's just a bit sad to see that in practise, it doesn't always work out the way they preach. I haven't made up my mind yet, and tbh I also don't know if this is the hill I want to die on now, given all else that is going on in the world at the moment. Thoughts?


If you are still with me after that last bit of rambling I'll just end by saying this was a lovely project to knit on. The pattern was well written and I like the finished sweater. The colours really speak to me and fit well into my wardrobe. I also like that this is a pattern written with steeks in mind: my love of steeks in colourwork is well documented, so this pattern was a nice break from me having to do the work of calculating them into a pattern. I'd also say that this is a nice and easy introduction into knitting all overs. The pattern bands are easy to memorize, there is only one row that has you work three colours, while all the others are two colours, there is a lot of plain knitting in-between, and for those who find adding steeks a bit daunting this pattern has already done so for you. It's a more relaxed take on the allover, and might let you test the waters before committing to a more complicated and more time consuming colourwork allover.

Speak soon!



   



Cardigans

Unst Cardigan

November 09, 2018



I don't think any summer has affected my knitting as much as the last one. We broke through a couple of heat records and it was the driest summer of my life time. It went on for months. It reflected in my crafting; knitting went slow and at times I didn't knit at all. Documenting my knits came to an almost complete standstill. I posted a couple of WIP photo's on my Instagram, but if you only follow me on here, you'd be forgiven to think that I had sworn off the needles altogether...


Never fear. Eventually the summer did end, and the heat did relent and I started to believe that there would indeed be a time in which I would want to wear knits again (can you tell we had a stupidly hot summer?). With the return of autumn, my knitting has flourished again and in turn I also started thinking about documenting my makes again and well here we are.


I thought I'd start with my Unst cardigan, as this has been finished for a long time. I knitted the bulk of this at the start of the year and finished the knitting in april. Yeah, I know that's been a while. I though I'd get it photographed and posted in the same month, but then spring decided to skip this year an we were catapulted in a scorchingly hot summer -if I just keep mentioning this the weather might get the hint and we'll get a normal summer next year, right?-. Anyway, after it became clear that it would be a while before I could go out to photographed this project, let alone wear it, I really dragged my feet with all the finishing bits, i.e. sewing on buttons and weaving in ends. Normally I make myself do this right away, but what is the point when it's so hot that the only thing I want near my body is a bag of ice, right? So those last finishing touches only got done towards the end of the summer.


Unst was published in a collection of patterns called Shetland by Marie Wallin at the end of last year. It was in collaboration with Jamieson's of Shetland, and it was Marie's first (and so far only) pattern collection where she ventured away from her more familiar Rowan yarn waters. The entire collection consists of stranded colourwork garments and accessory designs inspired by Shetlands rich fair isle tradition, to which Marie has added her own particular flair. The collection was photographed in Shetland which provides a stunning background to the colourful designs. Naturally/Predictably, when it was published I promptly added the entire book to my Ravelry queue.


The garment designs are a mix of different types of constructions. The Unst cardigan and some  of the others are knitted flat and in pieces, there are a few that are knitted in the round and there is one cardigan that has a steek. Marie notes that some of the designs knitted flat could be knitted in the round and steeked, however there are no instructions for that so if you want to go that route you are on your own. In the back of the book there is a general "how to steek" instruction which focusses on the practicality of steeking. I really like seeing Marie broadening her horizons since she went on her own as an indie designer. I admire her for including designs in the round and dipping her toes in steeked designs after a lifetime where knitting flat was more of less the default way of doing things. I know there are pro's and cons to both knitting in the round and knitting flat and I know that there will be always knitters who will prefer one way over the other. I belong to the group of knitters that will always prefer knitting colourwork in the round with a steek over knitting flat (had you noticed?). All that is to say that I'm applauding her for making the effort to offer more of a mix of constructions.


I hadn't intended to start knitting from this book right away when I got it, but I had just finished a big project, my needles where free and I hadn't decided on something new yet, except that I wanted it to be a cardigan. Then this book landed in my mailbox and it just sort of happened, okay! Unst was my favourite design right away and I thought it'd be a great design to play around with colours for a bit and see how a multi colour all-over would suit my knitting and garment taste (spoiler alert: I've since started and almost finished a new one).  


Unst is knit flat in pieces though, and if you want to knit it in the round, like I did, you're going to have to do a bit of work yourself. I put in 5 steek stitches for the centre opening, 5 for each arm hole and 5 for the neck opening. You could also steek the shoulder caps if you want, but I didn't do this for Unst. I just knitted back and fort, but I tried shoulder steeks for two later garments. You might also want to change the pattern placing or centre the patterns or do a mock seam at the sides - all of which I didn't do. I can understand the attraction of mock seams, but I thought it was unnecessary.


I had recently knit Windermere, another design by Marie Wallin. Although the pattern was designed for Rowan yarns, I had knit it in Jamieson's of Shetland just like Unst, so I used Windermere as my gauge swatch. The gauge was spot on - or so I thought. It appears that my gauge is a maybe a smidge tighter when I knit with more than two colours, so the cardigan has a little less ease than intended, judging on the photos on the model. Mine is still definitely wearable though and I don't mind the difference.


Speaking of colours - there's quite a few colours to pick for this pattern. There's eleven colours in the original pattern, and I picked twelve. Why? I like playing with colours. I started off with replacing the two 'main colours' -insofar as the colours of the hem and button band can be considered main colours- with two of my favourite shades of Jamieson's: Rosewood and Cosmos. I let these two set the mood for the cardigan and began replacing the other suggested colours with colours to fit, beginning with replacing the original pinkish shades which were not really my colours from the get-go.  I ended up with a palette that I thought had a great, muted tone, but missed a contrast. That's why I added a skein of white Eesit to give some of the bands a bit more punch. I didn't really have a planned placing for this colour and sort of added it here and there whenever the mood struck.  All in all, I couldn't be happier with the resulting colour scheme! It feels very me and fits very well into my wardrobe. I got quite some messages about the colours on instagram en ravelry already, and inquires about which colourways I used. This weekend I'll add all the colours I've used to my Ravelry project page here, so you can have a look at what I did.


Just a heads up about the buttonholes: The ribbing is done in corrugated ribbing and the buttonholes are made with yo's and k2tog's, which usually works fine for me. The corrugated ribbing though is a bit tighter than normal ribbing so you might want to keep that in mind when making he buttonholes. Mine are definitely a bit smaller than usual, though it works for the buttons I picked out. Next time, I might change something here to give the buttons a more easy pass.  


The fit of this cardigan very much resembles a well worn fair isle retail-wear cardigan that I own. The style of that cardigan always reminded me a bit of vintage all-over cardigans, it's a bit fitted and on the shorter side and I wear it a lot with the buttons undone over dresses. It's old now though, I've worn it a lot and it shows. The colours have faded it a bit and I've long lost at least one of the buttons. The fibre mix was of course never wool, as women's retail clothing and for some reason (I know the reason) seldom is, but a mix of cotton, viscose and polyester. The reason I'm mentioning this is that this is one of my favourite and most worn clothing items and for the longest time I've had my heart set on making a similar, but improved version myself, to wear along side the old one. With better fibre content and colours that are more "my colours" I feel like I've now done so and I will admit that doing this, and making my first multi colour all-over feels a bit like a milestone and I am a wee bit proud.


I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this cardigan and my first all over. The process wasn't half as daunting as I had talked myself into believing. It was great fun seeing all the colours come together and seeing it take shape in front of my eyes. This is definitely not the end of my colour juggling days and there will be more in my future. The Shetland collection is one of my favourite books that was published last year, and possibly one of my favourite collections ever. This will not even be the last thing I make from this collection.

See you soon,



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