Finished Knits

Year wrap up: Knitting and Sewing

December 31, 2015

The year is coming to an end. Everywhere year reviews are starting to pop up. I like to wrap up the year by looking back at various aspects of my year. Buckle up guys, this is going to be a long one.

As will become apparent when reading this post, 2015 was a tough year. It was my busiest year at uni, I took some difficult (but fulfilling) courses and of course there was my thesis research which took up most of my life for a considerable part of the year. Unsurprisingly this had effect to other parts of my life; for crafting it mainly meant that there was simply less. Not all was bad though: I'm absolutely positive that the knitting and crafting that I did made the year considerably better, and perhaps most important I'm just really happy with most of the things I did manage to make this year. In general 2015 was the year in which I knitted less sweaters than I wanted to, got back into sewing big time and made my first socks.

First I'll look back to my year in crafts, then I'll make it a bit more personal for those interested. If you're not interested, feel free to scroll further to that ultimate accountant-cum-judge of years: the final check list of last year's resolutions....

☆  Knitting   ★ 

It has been a very dry year for knitting at the Treehouse and it shows in the amount of finished knits, especially compared to last year, which was a wonderful year for knitting. This has everything to do with my life at uni. This year's coursework was incredibly intense, but most importantly my research and thesis soaked up a lot of my time, and basically took over my life for a while. A whole month could pass without me having picked up the needles once, something that would have been unheard of before this year. Only since September things have picked up again, though I still don't feel I'm back at my old level. But that's okay, I'm just glad to be knitting again.

Favourite makes this year:

1. Freydis (Grettir)
2. Foxglove
3. Nikka Vord

1. Follow Your Arrow II
2. A Hap for Harriet
3. My First Socks

Favourite knitting Books Published this year:
1. Autumn - Marie Wallin
2. Kofteboken 2 - Sandvik & Samsoe (This was on my wish list only two weeks ago, but the Christmas Goat has brought it to my door!)
3. Penguin: A Knit Collection - Anna Maltz

Most used yarn:
1. Lopi: 4 projects: one sweater, 3 Accessories
2. Old Maiden Aunt: 2 projects, both Shawls
3. Shetland yarn 2 projects: 1 sweater Jamieson's, 1 sweater Jamieson's and Smith.

☆  Sewing   ★ 

Even though I had as little time for sewing as I had for knitting, 2015 feels as a much better year for sewing. Part of this is because when I finally had time for crafting again the sewing bug hit with a vengeance. So far the bug is still here! Most importantly I now feel much more confident in my skills with a sewing machine and therefore dare to tackle a lot more projects. I think I learned many new sewing techniques, and progressed a lot. I'm also able to balance sewing better with my the rest of my life; enabling me to sew for small amounts of time in between other things I have to do. All in all I feel al lot more positive about this year's sewing than this year's knitting.

My patterns and fabric stash has grown considerably over the past half year. I'm very happy to have discovered some new pattern brands, while at the same time some of my older favourites, like Colette and Deer and Doe, have continued to make gorgeous patterns to fawn over.

Favourite makes:
1. Cooper Bag
2. Seda Dress
3. Flora Dress

☆  Personal Bits or what else happened this year ★  

2015 was a big year for the Treehouse. When I look back on this year I mostly think about academic things, everything else is pretty much a blur. I know it has come up here on the blog a couple of times but the past year was easily the busiest and most draining year of my life. As has been mentioned several times *cough*sorry*for*the*cough*repetition*cough*, my thesis did occupied most of my time and energy this year. It's been an extremely interesting process, and considering how much I was both dreading and looking forward to it in my wrap-up post of 2014, it is a strange sensation to have it behind me now (Oh, hullo there, master thesis!). I'm still fascinated by the subject of Irish modern and early-modern literature, but between the thesis and other coursework, it has also cost me a lot. Even now, almost four months since turning it in, I still feel like I haven't regained the levels of energy I had before. Nevertheless, I do feel like I have learned so much over the past year. I've read so many books from sources I hadn't been able to imagine. Irish farmers, cosmopolitan Nigerian female academics, Canadian Native Americans and Japanese-British novelists: the things I read have certainly diversified and reached across the globe this year. A part of this is to thank to a course on post-colonial literature I had, but from this has sprung a wider interest in literature from across the world.

My boyfriend graduated earlier last summer, got his first proper job (in local government), finished that job (it was a project that only lasted for a couple of months) is now jobless for a month or so but will start a new job around the end of January, at Loesje, a creative writing/activism organisation. He did an internship there during his studies and it is basically his dream job so we are all very happy about that. It was a bit of a roller-coaster, and I'm glad that the uncertainties of the past few weeks are over. He has been very lucky, getting a job that soon after graduating and after that project a new job straight away. Many people, especially in the past couple of years, have not been that lucky, and we have several friends who had to deal with unemployment for a year or longer.

☆  Books   ★ 

Because, even if I do this succinctly, I can't do this post without a list of my favourite books I read in 2015:
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
  • All Quiet on the Western Front -  Erich Maria Remarque
  • Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Islandman - Thomas O'Crohan
  • Fortunately the Milk - Neil Gaiman
  • Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie

Social Media and blog

My goal for the blog was to post a wee bit more and post more consistently. I did not make this goal. Things started out pretty well in the first few months, and even though uni was very busy I tried to keep up with the blog as best as I could. I think the Follow Your Arrow II KAL helped with this, as it offered me a steady supply of topics to post about. But in the end, when thesis madness really took over, the blog just slipped away, with august being the ultimate low point. While it makes me a little sad, I've accepted it. It has been a rough year and a lot has had to give and unfortunately blogging, as well as knitting and sewing were snowed under. It makes me sad, but it is the way it is.

One of the things I've let drop away was the monthly book posts I experimented with between December and March. I did like writing them, so maybe I'll bring them back in one form or another. Books are an important part of my life, and I read quite a lot, so I'd like to give them a spot here.

Another goal was to comment more on other people's blogs, and to be more 'social' on social media. I've started commenting more on other blogs in the beginning of the year, but as with everything things started to go downwards once the uni work started to pick up space. Since I haven't kept the resolution up all through the year, this resolution stays.

As for other social media; I signalled a slight shift from twitter to instagram in 2014, and I think the trend has continued. I've become much more active on instagram over the year. I  participated in my first photo challenge on Instagram; a 'photohop', a challenge similar to a blogweek. I had a lot of fun with that, and overall I think I feel much more in my place on instagram.

☆  Resolutions for 2015   ★ 

So... the end balance: Let's see how I did with my goals.

Make one project from the book Yokes by Kate Davies - Success: Foxglove.
Make one jumper/cardigan with colourwork all over - Success... though it is yet to be blogged (sorry!)
Make one jumper/cardigan without colourwork. - Success: Sibella Cardigan.
Make a jumper/cardigan in Icelandic yarn - Success: Grettir
Make a jumper/cardigan in Shetland yarn - Success, foxglove again!
X Make a garment using my colourwork motifs books - Failed.
X Finish one shawl by Lucy Hague - Failed, though I did make several other shawls that I'm very happy with.
Make a pair of mittens - Success, but is yet to be blogged 
Try new yarns - Success: Old Maiden Aunt, Buchaille, Jamieson. 
X Knit with beads - Failed, though I did sew with beads, and I liked it!
Make four (or more) projects with yarn from my stash - Success! Grettir, Foxglove, Mullspice, FYA2, Hap for Harriet, and Sibella were all made with yarn bought before 1-1-2015. This didn't mean I went cold-sheep, though.

Other crafts:
  Sew more, and try to pace sew time - SUCCESS!
  Sew with knits - Success!
X Make a doll - Failed.
X Try making jewellery - Failed.
  Do some small embroidery projects - Success! 

That's it! 2015 was an odd year for me personally, It was both incredibly fulfilling and at the same time a very rough year. Ah, well, onwards and upwards! I'm quite excited that 2016 is here and hopeful that it will be a grand year!

Thank you for reading my blog this year, thank you for your comments here and on instagram, and thank you for sitting through this year wrap-up with me. I'll be with you in a few days, with a list of my ambitions for 2016! Until then:


Finished Sewing Projects

Christmas Ornaments

December 28, 2015

Hey there,
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I just got back from a couple of days back in the south at my parents' place with my family. I stuffed myself silly with Indonesian food and Christmas pudding, got spoiled rotten with books, yarn, fabric and other crafty notions ( I finally own a blocking kit) and spend boxing day outside getting muddy feet in Belgium. Since it is over, I can show you some of my secret makes.

I don't often make any "big" handmade gifts for Christmas, and this year is no exception. But I do like to craft some small things to tag along with my gifts.  This year I spotted these ornaments on the Grainline Studio blog and thought they would do well for this year's Christmas. For gifts, knitting is usually my craft of choice, but this year playing with felt, beads and sequins was a nice change.  Also you simply cannot go wrong with whale or owl inspired gifts.

I did most of the sewing on my sewing machine. I started out with hand sewing, but my stitches are just so much neater on my machine that I soon switched over. Some parts were a bit finicky on the machine, because they are so small, and this felt isn't the sturdiest of fabrics but it all worked out fine.

I particularly enjoyed sewing on the sequins, especially when I found out how fast you can attach them if you use beads. I'm not particularly drawn to beads, glitter or sequins on clothes or in shawls, but I do think they look charming on these little guys.

I'm happy with how it turned out. I gave these guys away, but I do think I have enough felt, beads and sequins left to make some extra for next year's tree.



December Dress

December 23, 2015

This is my December dress. Also known as my "fancy-ish dress", or the "don't let the cats near the lace-dress" and the "if all fails I can always become a romantic heroine in a Gothic novel-dress". December seems to be the month in which a lot of makers either start to make tacky over-festive Christmas outfits, or fancy party wear. This year I decided to jump on that bandwagon.

Initially I wanted to make the Ava Dress by Victory Patterns. It is one of the patterns that caught my eye when I just started to get interested in dressmaking, but was way (WAY) beyond my skills at the time. It wouldn't be stretching reality too far if I said that Ava is one of the reasons why I wanted to become a better seamstress. So I decided that this year I would take the incentive of a Christmas dress as an opportunity to actually make it. But then Pauline Alice released the Seda dress in November and turned my plans upside down.While both have a lace yoke, the rest of the dress is considerably different. After a couple of days turning it over in my head, I decided to go for the Seda Dress, as it had the sleeves in favour and a more casual neckline which I felt slightly more comfortable with. Also: I tossed a coin and Seda won. Ava will have to wait for a little longer.

I ordered the Seda Dress directly from Pauline Alice. The pattern was swiftly brought to my door. Two days after I ordered it, it landed in my mailbox. I was impressed, I've waited longer for patterns ordered in my own country. The package of the pattern is beautiful! A large cardboard box, with a pretty illustration of the pattern on the front and pattern details at the back. Inside you'll find a multi language (Eng, Fra, Esp) pattern instruction leaflet and pattern sheets. The pattern pieces are printed on sturdy paper, which makes tracing the pattern much more pleasurable. I'm always happy to find pattern companies that print their patterns on sturdy paper instead of the see-through paper most companies use. In my experience, European pattern companies are most likely to print on sturdier paper, and American companies on the other variety. My guess is it's because tracing patterns is more common in Europe, and in the US most people just cut out the actual pattern. Aside from all this paper excitement, I think the overall package is just really beautiful. I can see that a lot of care and though has been put into it and just as with a pretty book or LP cover, I appreciate that. 

 Pauline's patterns had been on my radar for a while, she has a couple more that I'd like to make such as the Cami dress and the Turia Dungarees. I was anxious to try one of them, so I could see how I'd like her instructions and such. Sewing the pattern went really well and I didn't  run in any problems. The pattern is classed as intermediate, but I think that view A (the off the shoulder look) is harder than view B, which I made. The pattern instructions are not overly extensive, for some of the techniques she assumes that you know them. This wasn't an issue for me, but beginners might need to google a couple of things here and there.

I picked a medium weight cotton to sew my version. I wanted a thicker fabric, because it's a dress for winter temperatures. Or it's supposed to be, today we hit 15 C making it the most unusual winter I've ever experienced. Finding suitable lace was harder. I wanted a lace that with a lot of motives and would give some more cover. I found lots expensive bridal lace online, but didn't really liked most of them. Eventually I went with this cheap lace that I found at the market. It works well, and because the dress bodice is high cut, modesty isn't really an issue.

I'm really pleased with the end result. I think it can be both dressed up for fancy wear and dressed down for a more casual look. I'm a big fan of the fit and flare dress silhouette and wear it quite a lot. I think the dress has the best finishes of all my sewn projects so far. I upped my serger game and overlocked all the seams, which has made all the difference. The inside just looks much more professional. Finally, any dress that has big pockets is worth an extra star.

That's all I wanted to say about this dress. Now all that is left for me to say is send you warm wishes. I'll be popping back in here before the end of the year, but in the meantime, I hope you have a lovely holiday and want to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas.


Finished Knits

Wicky's Sokkar

December 11, 2015

Last week I finished the socks I was knitting for my boyfriend. I made these socks twice before.
He specifically asked me for plain Icelandic socks in a natural colour. You see these are not to be normal house socks, these are to be Viking socks!

Let me backtrack for a bit. Ever been to a reenactment/living history fair? Think fields filled with tents of people recreating whatever time period they're into. There's people wearing period-correct clothing, made using period-correct crafts and resources, doing period related activities and making music on period-correct instruments. Now, my boyfriend isn't a die-hard reenactor, but he does enjoy visiting living history festivals every now and then, and he's been gathering a wardrobe of late iron-age to early viking age clothing.

The one thing missing in his wardrobe has always been the shoes. This summer he started working on a pair of Iron age shoes, although the project went in hibernation when his graduation and new job came up. Now, in addition to the above, he's also quite the fan of Viking saga's and medieval legends, so when he saw an announcement that one of the winter fairs was going to have a "Vertelþing", or, a storytelling contest, he signed up immediately. Only when his participation was confirmed, he realised:  a) he still needed to finish his shoes an b) they were woefully unsuited for winter. So that's where I come in. He was in serious need of a pair of thick woollen socks!

I choose my beloved Icelandic Lopi, which is both perfectly warm and conforms to the look and feel of the kind of thing he wanted. There's a few things to say about the historical correctness of these socks. First of all, medieval clothing needn't necessarily be natural, bland, grey or brown colours. As many natural dyers know, there's a wide range of bright colours to be made with natural dyes that have been available for centuries. According to several sources I found however, socks were usually made using undyed wool, while the dyed wool was reserved for more prestigious garments.

Now for the obvious: did Vikings knit? No, they did not. Or, at least, no evidence has thus far been found to prove it. They did used Nålebinding, a craft similar to but predating both crochet and knitting. Archaeologists without proper knowledge of needlecrafts have often mistaken nålebound finds for knits: although the technique is quite different, the result looks remarkably similar to the untrained eye. Because of this, knitting seems to be close enough to produce 'Viking socks' that are comfortable to wear, simple to make and look convincing. My boyfriend isn't super particular about the period-correctness (hence "not die-hard"), and he likes warm feet so he's very happy with these socks. It helps that my boyfriend cannot needlebind, and I am not motivated and/or keen enough to learn it.

Finally I want to mention that I've been participating in my first ever photo challenge on Instagram. Those of you who follow me there will have noticed that it undoubtedly increased the amount of posts from me. It is a crafty photo challenge in the days leading up to Christmas. Each day has a theme, and participants post sewing or knitting related photos in accordance with that theme. I've seen these challenges before, and enjoyed browsing through the pictures posted there, but wasn't convinced I could keep up with posting everyday. Most of these challenges take a month, but this one was a lot shorter, so seemed a good way to test my endurance. There are only a couple of days left but you can see what I've been posting on my Instagram profile or in the daily photograph widget in the sidebar.

Have a great weekend! 


Parallel crafting

November 30, 2015

I thought I'd show you what I'm working on at the moment. Normally I don't have a lot of active projects that I'm knitting on at the same time. I tend to focus on one project until it's done, even if it means ploughing through when I've grown tired of a project. I fear that if I let a project linger too long, and start working on something else, chances of it ever getting finish will diminish considerably. Lately, however, I found myself juggling a couple of projects. This resulted partly out of practicality: one of the projects I was working on solo has a pattern that differs per row, so it doesn't make for the most mindless knitting ever and therefore I can't easily combine it with other activities. But I will confess that another big part of the reason is that I've been enthusiastic about a couple of other projects and I've just been lured in to cast them on.

1. First up is one of the projects from the seven skeins club. They are the Kokkeluri mittens by Kate Davies. I've the first mitten finished, apart from the cast on edge, which I need to unzip and bind off with and I-cord. The pattern advises to do so when you've finished the second mitten, which I've yet to cast on. I'm very happy with the first mitten and love how it looks, but I've been procrastinating casting on for the second because this is the project which needs a lot of focus as virtually every row is different. I figure that once I've actually cast on for this project, progress will be quite swift. I will try to cast on for this this week at least. Now I've said it you can hold me accountable for it (HA)!

2. Next up is my current favourite project: Jenny at the Fair. A long, all-over fair isle cardigan? Yes please! Because I enjoy knitting on this project so much it goes really fast. I've got the body done, up to where the sleeves join, finished the first sleeve, and am now working on the second sleeve. NO carrot and stick needed for this one!

3. Number 3 are plain Icelandic socks for my boyfriend. I already made this pattern twice for myself, and he has asked for an even simpler version, so there really shouldn't be a problem here (except maybe motivational issues). I finished one sock, and really should cast on for the second now, as to avoid a serious case of second sock syndrome. Now, you must be thinking: a non selfish project, during Christmas preparation month, how well-timed and thoughtful of you! Not so fast dear reader, I'm only making this because he asked me to make it and offered me sewing gear in exchange. In my defence, my will to knit for him has significantly dwindled since he lost his favourite handknit scarf on a plane ( my boyfriend has a peculiar talent to be able to lose absolutely everything, including his passport during same plane journey).

I'm technically only working on one sewing project at the moment, but it is taking A LOT of will power to not start different projects. I'm trying to finish my current project before I start any new and trying to sooth my raging startitis. My current sewing project is the Moneta dress by Colette. Incidentally this is my first real garment using stretch fabric. I'm equally excited and bewildered that I'm finally tackling this. The sewing goes quite fast, when I'm actually sewing, and not you know...dreaming about new ideas.  I'm hoping to be able to sit down for it this week long enough to have it finished. But after that: party dress sewing is on!

So what's going on in your crafty corner? Are you knee deep into Christmas crafting or confidently working on projects for your own use?


Finished Sewing Projects

Cooper in the Forest

November 18, 2015

Sometimes, you have to walk a bit to get to a forest. Sometimes, the forest comes to you: this week has been especially windy, with leaves and even small branches zipping along my window. Nevertheless, a nice long walk was tempting. In the woods and parks, the municipality doesn't clear out the autumn leaves like they do on the city streets. Instead, a thick, mushy carpet covers the ground. The wind whizzes through the trees, and as tiny raindrops start to fall, you can almost imagine even the barren leaves on the floor coming to life.

Inspired by this weather, I entered new sewing waters and made my first bag! This project has been a long time coming. Making a bag has been on my list for a while, but I stuck to sewing clothing. Clothing felt a lot less intimidating than sewing a bag. I know it's supposed to be the other way around (as you do not have to deal with things like sizing); and indeed the pattern itself advertises that it needs no fitting and should be easy. But neither that, nor the friendly reassuring words from bloggers was enough to reassure me: because I had been knitting clothes long before I sewed my first garment, making clothes has always felt more familiar and less daunting when sewing. The parts and concepts seemed that much more familiar.

In the end I needn't not to have worried so much, while there were a couple of new techniques to discover, most of this project went fast. The pattern was great, and because of the clear description it was a lot easier than expected.

Backpacks are my favourite kind of bags, and I basically use them all the time so choosing what kind of bag I wanted to make was easy. It was surprisingly hard to find nice backpack patterns out there, or perhaps I'm not looking in the right places? (Do tell me if I'm not!) I found very few, and those that I did find were either children's patterns or not really in line with what I was looking for. I wonder why, do pattern companies think that there is no market for bag patterns? In the end I found two pattern candidates, but went with Cooper by Colette, because it looked like it had more interesting finishing than the other. It has tons of pockets, both inside and outside the main bag. I'd seen some versions of the pattern floating around on blogs which I really liked. So I bit the bullet, and started gathering supplies.

I got my materials from a bunch of different places, as none of the places where I usually get my fabric had the hardware involved in making this bag. In the end I ordered the webbing, magnetic snaps and jiffy rivets, during the process I discovered I had even ordered the wrong ones of the latter so they didn't even make it into the bag. As far as I can tell they only have a aesthetic function, so it isn't a big deal that they're left out (apart from wounding my pride in my sewing related material gathering skills, of course). I used canvas for the outer fabric of the bag, and cotton for the lining. I was really pleased to have found the forest print canvas. The dark green uni-colour canvas complimented the canvas printed with all kinds of forest animals: foxes, hedgehogs, owls and squirrels. In the photos, I'm wearing it together with Freydis for extra forest-vibes. Sewing with a fabric print that has a difference between right-way-up and upside-down seemed a bit daunting because of the many pattern parts, but the sewing pattern provided all the cutting advise needed.

The hardest part was keeping track of all the different pieces and fabrics. There are a lot of pattern pieces involved in the construction of the bag, scattered over 3 different fabrics. As I said, I was not familiar with the construction, I had a hard time keeping track and visualizing where everything should go. In the end I just gave up trying to understand it all, and blindly followed the pattern. Honestly, that worked out well.

Another new thing was installing all the hardware. I stressed a lot about the magnetic snaps, but in reality they were installed in a couple of minutes (after which I felt ridiculous for all the stressing).
The webbing caused some more problems. I had relatively thick cotton/nylon webbing (cotton on the outside, nylon on the inside). I like the feel and look of these a lot more than pure nylon webbing, but problem I had was that the webbing was so thick at certain points that my machine refused to sew it. I searched the internet for some tips, and tried a couple of them. What worked best for me was to change the canvas needle I was using (one of the higher numbers of the universal needles) to a thick denim needle, but more crucially I stopped sewing electronically on the machine. I still used my machine, but instead of turning on the motor, I turned the crank by hand. This worked wonders, and after that I had no trouble with sewing the webbing any more.

Here you see the backside of the bag, with a tree that was friendly enough to model it.
I learned quite some new things, while working on this project. This was my first experience with top, edge and under stitching. With dresses you usually try to hide all the seams and stitches, but these techniques are all about being visible. I'm glad I tried these now, as I know it is used on clothing as well, and (when it is done properly) gives a really professional look to the project. In this case it also servers to make the bag a lot more sturdy. I'm satisfied with how my stitches came out. There are some wonky bits but most of it is decent enough. Slow and steady definitely wins the race with these techniques. Speedy sewing is not so speedy if you have to unpick all your top stitching because the lines resemble a line drawing made by a 3 year old.

This project makes me very happy. I made something that I've been wanting to make for a while and it actually came out nice. I tried a bunch of things I hadn't done before, learned loads in the process, and it didn't end in disaster!  I hope it has opened the door to other new/more advanced sewing (such as knits). Who knows, maybe I'm even up for making a coat in due time. The first snow has been forecast where I live for next weekend, so I hope you'll enjoy these last autumn walks!



Nikka Vord

November 06, 2015

Isn't it funny how I always think that during any given exam period I will have time to pop in here for a blog post and rarely do? I need to work on my time management a bit. Last week I wrapped up my midterms. I celebrated during the weekend by spending a couple of days at my parents, and by visiting my brother. We had a big get-together on Saturday to watch the Rugby World Cup final. Alas my favourite teams didn't even make it to the semi-finals, but to make up for it my mum made two epic rugby cakes: one shaped and decorated as a ball and another as a rugby field (she has watched a lot of Bake off type of shows lately).  I ended up rooting for the team that has a knitter as their number 12, and this was not entirely fruitless. Some knitting may, or may not have been tossed around when he scored an amazing try. Back to business: while I was there I took some pictures of my latest finished garment: Nikka Vord.

When Gudrun Jonston published The Shetland Trader Book Two last year I squealed with delight when I saw the designs. The patterns are right up my alley, the photos are beautiful, and I loved the yarns Gudrun picked for her book. Unsurprisingly, the patterns that spoke to me the most were the colourwork patterns. Especially Northdale and Nikka Vord called to me. As part of my apparent  mission to knit an ludicrous amount of yoke sweaters I went with the latter. Thinking back, a stranded yoke in DK was suspiciously absent from my wardrobe.

Another reason why I wanted to knit this sweater is because I had wanted to try the recommended yarn, Jamieson's DK, for a while.  I've knitted quite a bit with that other well known Shetland yarn brand, Jamieson and Smith (they are different companies, but have similar names, and thus they get frequently mixed up in Ravelry discussions and the like), but never with Jamieson's. The thing is, Jamieson's proved quite hard to come by. Recently a couple of stores have started selling Jamieson's in the Netherlands (yay!) but they stick to their fingering weight yarn, spindrift.  In the end the only option for me was to call one of these stores that stock spindrift and asked them (nicely) whether they were willing to order some jamieson's dk with their next spindrift order. Fortunately they said yes! So while I did had to wait a couple of months, I did get my yarn in the end.

I'm glad I went trough all the trouble to get my hands on it, because I love it. The colours are gorgeous, look very natural and are perfectly heathered. The feel of the yarn hits somewhere between Icelandic Lopi and Jamieson and Smith's. All in all this yarn is right what I needed. I do love the original yarn colours, with it's subtle yoke and oatmeal heathered main colour.

The yarn comes in 25 gram balls, which means the yardage of each ball is fairly small. This means that if you're making a sweater you have a lot of ends to weave in at the end, even more when you make a stranded colourwork sweater. I'll admit that this was not my favourite part of making the sweater. Normally I weave in the ends as I knit the sweater, but this time I left them all until the end.

I already talked a bit about the process of knitting this sweater in this post. Unfortunately I had to reknit quite a large portion of the sweater when the bust part turned out way (WAY) to big. As the sizing for the first part of the sweater came out right for me, this is odd, even more so because this never happens to me -that is to say, the bust area isn't exactly the area where I generally encounter the most positive ease in my garments. I ripped back the sweater to before the bust increases and just knit it without them, and now it fits fine.

 Overall I'm really happy with the sweater. I love the subtle colours of the yoke. I think I will be wearing this one a lot. A welcome addition to the Treehouse yoke sweater family.

I'm starting to notice that slowly winter is -wait for it- coming. The days are shorter, and there's less light out there, making the time frame for taking pictures noticeably smaller. Last year I practised with taking photographs indoors. I never really got the hang of it, but it won't be long until I'll have to resume practise. Nevertheless, I'm one of the few people in my environment who adores winter, and I greet her as a friend. Hope you're all enjoying the tail end of autumn!

Knit Alongs

First hike up the Buchaille

October 19, 2015

This week a rather exquisite parcel arrived at the Treehouse: Straight from Kate Davies' Scottish home, seven neatly packed skeins of Buchaille. As people who follow me here or on Ravelry might notice, I'm a bit of a fan of Kate's designs. Owls was the first garment I've ever knitted, and I think her Yokes make up roughly half of my favourite designs by anyone, ever. You can imagine my enthusiasm when Kate announced her own yarn range back in August!

The first batch of Buchaille was only sold as a part of the 'Seven Skeins Club': a package deal that included one skein of each colour of Buchaille. The idea was that by preventing people from stocking up large amounts of any given colourway, every enthusiast would get the chance to try the colourways. In addition to the skeins of yarn, the club includes a project bag, a weekly pattern release for seven weeks (resulting in seven accessories that combined can be knitted with the seven skeins supplied) and a hard copy book that includes the seven patterns, essays by Kate, beautiful Highland photography and Scottish recipes.

The yarn comes in seven colours; yaffle (a bright green), squall (dark gray), haar (light grey), Islay (dark green), Highland coo (red/orange), ptarmigan (white) and Between Weathers (a deep blue). At the moment my personal favourites are these three below, but I'm constantly shifting between them!

Although the club has now closed, the first pattern has been published, and Kate's Ravelry group is buzzing with excitement for it. I haven't really participated thus far, because I'm very busy at uni (another round of exams, gah). Things should quiet down a bit after this week, so hopefully I'll be able participate with the upcoming patterns. I also hope to have finished my Nikka Vord by then, so I can be fully focussed on the Buchaille projects.

See you all then!


It's a Frog Fest

October 10, 2015

The plan for this week's post was to show you my latest finished project, but as you can see on the photo things didn't go quite as planned. Instead of knitting the yoke of my sweater, I spent the weekend ripping half of my sweater. To provide a bit of background information: the yarn is Jamieson's DK, and the pattern I'm working from is Nikka Vord. The first part of the sweater fits all right, but somewhere, somehow, the body of the sweater got far to big, and I didn't find out until I was ready to start the yoke. While I was working on it, I did think that there were quite a lot of bust increases, but not excessively so. I had to come back to that quite spectacularly when I tried it on just before starting the yoke.

I had to rip back half the sweater -in total, I took out three and a half balls of yarn-, frog all the bust increases and basically have to reknit it the upper half without increases now. It's going to be a quite straight body now, but I think that that will look just fine. Since I'm at it anyway, I'm also going to cut back on the length of the body a bit. I think cutting the length back a bit will be more flattering for someone my length.

How is your knitting go on? I Hope your projects are going better than mine at the moment! Here's to swift knitting!



Blue Flora Dress

October 01, 2015

My boyfriend graduated earlier this summer (yay!). His official graduation was on Wednesday two weeks ago , which felt a bit odd to both of us as he has been working at a new job pretty much since he passed his final exam. Nonetheless graduating is a preeeettty big thing and it deserves to be celebrated a such. I have to say though, this celebrating can be quite a challenge for an introvert whose equivalent of a "wild night out" is either sitting at home with her knitting, a good cup of tea and an audio book or behind her sewing machine singing along to Queen songs. So I decided to make it easier and more fun for me, by taking some of "my kind of party" along. No, I did not sit through the ceremony with my knitting... I thought that was taking it a bit to far (though in hindsight!), instead I sewed myself a brand new dress for the occasion.

The pattern is the Flora Dress from By Hand London. When I first got properly interested in sewing clothes this was an upcoming indie sewing company, and I didn't really see them much anywhere. By now they're one of the best known brands in the indie pattern sewing community. I made the tank bodice of the Flora Dress, in the straight circle skirt variation, to make her more wearable during colder weather. I'd like to try the dipped hem circle skirt at some point as well, perhaps next summer.

The dress, as written, has a bodice lining, which I decided to turn into a full lining. Inserting lining was a first for me. I simply wasn't convinced about the advantages of a lining in relation to the trouble/extra time/extra fabric needed for inserting one (unless your outer fabric was see-through). What a fool I was! I'm totally converted to Camp Lining now! I love how clean it makes the inside of the dress look, I love what it does for the neckline and I love how much better the dress sits, and it gives the dress some extra warmth. As a bonus: no more dresses that stick to my tights for me any more! I'm super happy with the lining (and probably a tad more smug about it than I should be).

Another feature of the dress that went unexpectedly well was the invisible zipper. My last try at an invisible zipper was a DIS-AS-TER, and it totally ruined the dress beyond salvage. I'm still not completely over it. (How do you mean, "you never blogged about that"? OF COURSE I never blogged about it! It was a disaster!) But a sewing hiatus and a new invisible zipper foot later and I was ready to give it a new shot. Although installing the zipper took me longer than it probably should take (I wasn't taking any chances) I'm happy with the outcome.

This was my first shot at a By Hand London pattern. I was keen to try the pattern, and it definitely did not disappoint. The pattern directions are really clear and extensive, and to top it of most of their patterns have a detailed sew-along dedicated to them on the website. Apart from the clarity of the patterns, which I do admit is the most important aspect, I like the tone of the writing in the patterns as well. It's informal, it's cheerful, and yet it's informative; in short, I like it very much.
Finally, each pattern is dedicated to a female Muse, a woman whom the team knows in real life and admires. This just makes my feminist heart sing. Due to business difficulties, the company had to stop producing paper patterns, and now only sells pdf- patterns. Personally I much prefer paper patterns though, and luckily I was able to still find some of the patterns that I really would like to make in paper versions. Though, one of the new patterns that never even appeared in paper form and which I want to make, is only available in pdf, so I'll have to make the jump at some point. That'll be my first sewing project from a pdf, so at least I'll be able to say that I'll definitely learn something new.

The Flora really is a summer dress, so from now on I really should adjust my sewing to the colder weather ahead. Luckily I have a wardrobe bursting with handknits to layer her with, so I can keep on wearing her for now. I didn't bother with making bra straps for now, as I will mostly be wearing it with sweaters anyway. I can see the advantage of them during warmer weather, so I might make them then, if I can be bothered enough. 

The dress is not perfect. There are probably a bunch of things that I could do to make it better. Fit wise, I might do a full bust adjustment next time, to improve the fit of the bodice. For now though, I'm just really happy to have ended up with a nice new dress, but even more to have gotten back into sewing, pretty smoothly, thanks to this pattern. 

Towards the end of the summer holiday (oh the irony) the sewing bug really hit me. Past year has been rough on the craft front. University soaked up so much of my time, knitting suffered and got done only on few and in-between times, and sewing came to a complete stop all together. I needed most of my summer holiday to recover from the past year, without being able to really pick up my crafts where I left them, but once things got a bit normal again inspiration finally struck, to the point where I even dreamt about the long to-make-lists that I'd made during the day. I'm hoping I can manage to juggle responsibilities enough to make a tiny dent in that long list of awesome dresses, knitting projects, and sewing patterns I want to make reality.

I hope you all have a positive, crafty year as well. Do you have any sewing plans for autumn? 

Popular Posts