Wrapping up 2019: Knitting, doodling and my make journal

January 29, 2020

They say once you pick up a skill, you never unlearn it, no matter how long you are out of practise. Well, I was definitely not keen to find out whether that was true or not, yet a couple of months into 2019 and I found out I had knitted very few stitches indeed.

I’m usually a slow maker and fine with that. I don't think I'll ever be the kind of knitter that ends the year with a completely new wardrobe to show for it. But, during a part of this year I almost didn’t make anything at all! I mentioned in my previous post about my year in sewing how my move at the start of this year played a role in it, but it would be dishonest to not talk about how racism, and the lack of inclusion and representation influenced my non-make months. The things I mentioned in my sewing post were as valid and more in the knitting community. The unwillingness to listen to marginalised voices, and how far people I regarded as online friends would go for that denial has changed how I relate to this community and in extension to my crafts. It took months for that change in relationship to settle on some new kind of form, and that was reflected in my making practise.

I took time to figure out how to connect to certain pieces in my wardrobe, stash and bookshelves now that I couldn't relate to the people and brands associated with them any more. My opinion on how to deal with that has evolved over the year. I still think whenever there is a call-out people, organisations and brands should be given space and time to reflect on the criticism, apologize and work on being better. That is the entire point of the call-out. I believe in giving space for improvement, but I think that should work in tandem with actual behavioural change and recognition. Say, changing behaviour without apology or reflection is better than no changed behaviour at all, but is also super cynical and makes it look at least like your only doing it because it's strategically more viable at the moment. 

I hope you'll understand why, for the moment, I'm opting to not share any makes or photos from companies that have not done better this so far. Sharing as such would in essence be free marketing for them, even with my smaller platform. My most recent finished knitting project is a reworking of a project that I'm not feeling ok with sharing at the moment but had already yarn etc for. I have to see where I'll take this in the future, but I actually like how this is going so maybe it's a route I'll take more often in the future for things already in my yarn, fabric or pattern stash.
What I have been Knitting 
Once I established how to relate to my crafts after all that, my making flame did return. Particularity in the last bit of the year I felt the old spark again when handling needles and wool or when thinking about things I wanted to make. Whereas before, at the start of the year my thoughts about projects where dulled and washed out, at the end of the year I felt a genuine enthusiasm again when engaging in whatever way about crafts. A feeling I do not take for granted, especially after this year.

With all that being said I think it is time to look at the things that did make it off of the needles and unto the blog this year and, and talk to you about something new I started doing this year that greatly helped my making!

The Return

Love Note marked a return to my knitting needles. Before that, my knitting had been sporadic at best. I had tried different projects but more or less lost my appetite for them before I finished the ribbing. This project was the first which made me want to knit on, and managed to yield some form of joy out of my knitting needles. It still wasn't on the level where it used to be, but I was knitting and I liked it which was a huge win at the time. I can't really separate that personal meaning from this jumper, and therefore I will probably always have some additional attachment to this Love Note.

 Apart from that, I also think this is just a really fun jumper. Green is one of my favourite colours to wear, and the speckles offer ample opportunity for subtle matching.  

For it is Summer

She still needs to make her first blog appearance, but I made a summer top in August this year. The temperatures were intense and I was losing my mind knitting on with wool so I wanted to see if summer stuff was something I could get into. I think I will always love knitting colourwork or cables with wool more than knitting airy summer tops, but overall I enjoyed the experience more than I expected, to the point that I think I will do it again if the temperatures send me up the wall again in the coming summers. First I want to see how much wear this Argil gets over the warmer days though.
The gift

I almost never knit for other people, even when I like you and think you are knitworthy, so me knitting an adult sweater for someone else truly is a once in a blue moon event! I did enjoy knitting this Riddari though, and it has been a joy watching someone I care about taking it on many adventures. So who knows, there might be another blue moon, in good time of course, but if not, that's ok too. 

I'm still quite chuffed about the time this sweater was complimented on by a non-knitter out in the woolless wilderness!
I Like Warm Hugs

This Heart cardigan is possibly my favourite make of this year. I had been on the look out for an Aran style cable cardigan like this for some time, and funnily enough I had the most perfect pattern waiting on my book shelve all that time. My time knitting on this is a hazy, confused and chaotic blur. I knitted it while packing up in my old apartment, doing home renovation stuff on the new one, moving and all the while I had a seriously ill cat. In hindsight it feels like I was subconsciously knitting myself a nice wrap-around hug.
Granted, almost anything I would have knit at that time would probably feel like that, given the circumstances I was knitting it in. However I'm glad it was this, and have something tangible to attach the memories and feelings of that time too. 

The Signature Make

Orkney had been in my queue for ages before I finally set my needles to the pattern. Looking back it feels a bit silly, but she was the first allover I ever wanted to make so I guess I made the step towards doing it needlessly difficult. It seemed more logical to just go and make a few other allovers, than to start this one. I mean, I love the sweaters that I made in that time, so I'm not mad at myself but I do find it funny to see how nonsensical humans can behave at times.

Anyway, when I did finally cast on I greatly enjoyed the knitting process of this one and it was one of my very favourite things to wear this autumn/winter!

 Making journal

The most rewarding new thing I did this year was start a making journal. I started journalling when I was a kid, and it is a practice I kept more or less up with until this date. My journal is very much a personal journal, not a making log. Until this year I used to scribble make notes on pieces of paper here and there, sometimes spread over lots of pages in between my regular journalling.
In the first half of the year, I had lost my inspiration and love for the craft in a way that I've never had before. It was an odd time struggling so much with something that defines how you think about things and how you define yourself. I decided to see if starting make-journalling would help me find something of myself back in my crafting, as well as some of my joy of doing it. I didn't have much expectations of what it would do, but I figured if in the end if I didn't use it much I could still use the notebook for regular journalling (HA!).

What I did not expect was how much good it would do for me! I think it was the thing that helped me get back into making things more than anything else. Not only did it help me document makes, track modifications and gauge, collect ideas for future makes and reflect on and appreciate the things I was doing better, but unexpectedly it became a creative outlet in itself. I did not start it with the intention of if becoming a scrapbook that would make it to bullet journal pinterest boards, and it isn't by a long shot. My doodling is charmingly mediocre, my handwriting never won any prizes (my primary school teachers made sure I was aware of that!) and my way of planning, tracking and note taking isn't ground-breaking by any stretch of the imagination. But it ignited a joy for doodling that I wasn't expecting and I have felt more inspired to go rogue with designs, changing and adding things, and trying my hand at working out stuff from my own imagination. Additionally, I found ways of enjoying and busying myself with making with the make journal that does not just involve the physical activity. None of these were things I was expecting at all when I set out to do it, and it has surprised me how often I sat down to write and doodle in it for the cheer joy of it.

I think another less tangible thing that I like about the my make journal is that it's nice to have something that I'm doing for me and that isn't meant for a greater public or anything, unbothered by expectations, amounts of likes or algorithms. I mean, I try to care or think about these things as little as possible anyway, (which is fairly easy to do and say for me since all my online outlets are personal making logs) but it's been nice to have something that's just for me and doesn't have any filtering or curating and whose most dedicated public consists of my cats and a cup of tea.  

That wraps up my reflection on my year. The end of the year also marked the end of a decade, which wasn't something that was hugely on my mind to the point that I didn't even realise it until I saw a lot of people do decade reviews. Most of those were in formats that weren't really a good fit for me, but I saw a couple of people do variations of "a decade of making" reviews which I thought was a fun way to look back on what I made. I only did it for knitting (since that is the craft that I have been doing for 10+ years) and it was fun to look back at my projects and see how my skills have developed over the years.

Well then, as January nears it's end, I suppose it's time to be done with looking back at the previous decade, and look forward to the next. Wishing you all a ton of inspiration and plenty of good days to get your needles out in 2020. Let's get on with it!


Wrapping up 2019: Sewing, Birbs and a tree

January 17, 2020

Hello blog friends, and hello 2020!

Happy new year! May 2020 be what you need it to be. So far it has been off to a heavy start, and this after 2019 proved to not have been exactly a grand year either. I know it gets tiring saying that, but pretending it's different is more tired. I don't tend to make any fixed resolutions at the beginning of a year, but I do however always take some time to reflect on the year gone by. I'd almost considered to skip it this year, what good would that do to anyone, least of all myself?

So, what I'm going to try to do here is look back first at the sewing I did this year, as well as at some other aspects of my year that brought me happiness. If you're interested in my knitting in 2019, I will follow up with a post about that in a few days in which I will talk about a new creative outlet I picked up in 2019 as well.

2019 was certainly a spectacular year in terms of being disappointed in public figures, and if your life has in any way been influenced by a certain School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the year ended with a bang on that front. The making world was certainly not excluded from this. My making as well as my blogging and social presence in general was slow at the start of the year for that reason.

 In the sewing world, a lot of discussion focussed on size inclusion and cultural appropriation, of which the latter in itself mostly focussed on the appropriation of Japanese culture and terms. In the area of size inclusion things have definitely been moving. A considerable amount of indie companies have stated their intention to include a greater size range in the future, and a few are currently working through their backlog of older patterns and reworking that in a more inclusive size range. Additionally this has translated to a greater diversity in models and it's great to see this change happen.

In terms of appropriation and anti racism I have mixed feelings. Certainly in some cases there have been improvements and I'm glad there have been, but not all companies handled criticism as gracefully as others and it went with quite some pain and fragility. The only companies who I feel handled it admirably are Helen's Closet and to an extend Wiksten. I feel that, possibly even more than in the knitting sphere, a lot of discussion was smothered with a blanket of positivity. I sometimes wonder if when something appropriative isn't explicitly naming the source its stealing from, it is recognized as such- as appropriation. I'm glad to see the progress that has been made though, and I hope it will continue this year.

What I have been sewing: 

 I didn't sew much at the start of the year, mostly because what had been happening in the making community as a whole, and partly because my move at the start of the year. I'm a slow maker in general though and my end of the year highlight reel will probably never shine in the quantitative output department. Indeed looking back at last year's review post I think I didn't make that much more. While I don't think being a slower maker necessarily instantly makes the quality of my output better, I have made some things this year that I really love and that have been worn a lot. 

So let's have a look:
The most worn:

I made these two driftless cardigans at the start of the year, and they have been hands down my most worn sewn make this year. To be honest, if I had to make a list of all time most worn clothing that I sewed these two would be on top, and the podium would be rounded out by the first driftless I made in a funky-er colour. This piece of lighter clothing just works really well in my wardrobe for layering. I remember making them one after the other within the span of  week and that is a huge rarity for me (It usually takes me a couple of sewing sessions over the span of a few weeks to finish things). That is testimony to it being a speedy sew sure, but it also is a enjoyable and intuitive pattern that rewards you with huge pockets. I read in the recent Grainline newsletter that this is one of the patterns from their backlog that they are going to republish in a greater size range later this year so that is excellent news!

I wore the charcoal version to go vote in the European elections in the summer. A right wing fascist party was poised to win in my neck of the woods, however it got unexpectedly bested by the labour party! Of course me wearing whatever has nothing to do with the election result, but it now forever gets an honourable mention whenever I talk about this cardigan.
 The Favourite:

My favourite make of the year was the Myosotis dress and it would have been the most worn had the driftless' not existed. A dress in a rust colour orange had long been on my list of things to make and I felt that colour-wise it would fill a huge gap in my wardrobe. It has since been in almost weekly rotation and it made it to the blog in combination with two other makes, Love note and Heart so I think it is fair to conclude it indeed did fill a gap in my wardrobe. 

It is decidedly more a warm weather dress though, and once the weather really got chillier it hasn't been worn that much, so perhaps I'll make a long sleeved dress in this colour at some point as well. 

The Skill Developers:

I started my bra making journey at the end of 2018, but I feel that this year I really took the time to develop my skills in this area. I made the red bra first, and the purple later in the year. I fine tuned the Harriet bra, and worked on a different bra pattern and getting that one to fit. I'm super proud of the bras that I made this year and really feel that I pushed my bramaking skills to a new level. I also think I worked out what style of bras I favour. In a practical sense that means I figured out better what stylelines and cup styles are a good fit for me and on a more superficial level it means that I have a better idea of what fabric and colours I prefer.

That being said, in the second half of the year my bra size changed. Not by a lot but enough to matter. This is a fairly common thing, bodies are not stagnant and bust size changes, big or small, happen pretty regularly. It does mean though that I have to figure out and make tweaks to my bras again, just when I thought I had figured the sizing all out. I don't start from scratch or anything, but I'm going to have to make some adjustments on my future handmade bras this year (until it of course changes again and again...ahahaha). So it looks like my adventures in bramaking are far from over and that it is something that will keep me busy for some time yet.  
The Unexpected:

To round out the year I made the Reggie wrap dress, which was a surprising choice for me. Wrap dresses were never something I gravitated towards, and Reggie is the first one I've worn in my adult life. On first viewing I quite like it, but admittedly I haven't had much opportunity to truly test it's place in my wardrobe since making it in early autumn. It's a mild weather dress, and we are currently in winter here so it's not exactly an extraordinary state of events. I'm excited to wear it later in the year though and see what I make of it then. In the meantime enjoy this well coordinated outfit post.

So as I had a bit of trouble finding joy in crafting in the first half of the year I thought I would talk a bit about the things that brought me joy instead.

I moved at the start of the year to an apartment with a balcony. This is my first time living anywhere on my own where I have my own outside space. I know it's tiny compared to a garden but it's been of a huge influence.

I have enjoyed doing a bit of (balcony) gardening, and growing some of my own stuff and caring for plants has been rewarding. I planted some insect friendly greens and it has been cool to see my balcony, which at the heart of it is just a concrete platform, so alive. At the end of the summer I got a (smallish) tree for my balcony, which took that a step further as I now have birds regularly visit my balcony. Haha, it's a tiny thing, but it's the pride of my apartment. It also ties in with another thing...
Cause I like...Birds

One of the things that brought me the greatest comfort and delight this year is getting into birds more than ever before. Like, I always enjoyed seeing them, but this year I more actively seek them out, and try to find out more about different species etc. I mean I wouldn't call myself birdspotter to the letter though because I don't plan trips specifically, and I don't make spotting rare birds a goal, more like a leisurely low key way of looking out for them more when I'm on my bike or taking walks. It's been cool to see them in forests and around the various ponds, channels and waterways around here, but I have equally enjoyed seeing the city birds surrounding my daily life.

For the autumn and winter months I also put up bird feed around my place and it's been neat to see the type of birds attracted to that and getting to know the preferences of regular visitors.

One foot in front of the other

Despite moving only a relatively short distance, moving house has changed -and you might have noticed this from my project photo's- the nature in the immediate vicinity vastly! I had a lot of fun exploring the fenlands, and seeing its colours change throughout the seasons. The vegetation has a lot in common with the Veluwe heaths that I also visited a couple of times this year, but the entire area has a lot more water and a lot less denivelation and thick woodland. It's been nice slowly exploring these differences, and seeing the seasonal changes in my new area. I found even more contrast when I visited the moody pine forests of the Ardennes in spring - they're relatively close-by, but if only they were close enough to visit them every change of season!

Thanks for taking the time to read this! So this was a look back at my sewing this year, as well as at some other aspects that I have been entertaining myself with. In my next post I'll talk about my knitting as well as a new creative outlet I picked up in 2019. So if that sounds like something that will interest you I'll probably have that post up somewhere in the coming days!

See you then!

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