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!



   



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