Thursday, 7 December 2017

Cable earwarmer in Malabrigo rios

I felt so confident after making myself handwarmers!  Plus I was still wearing my legwarmers every day!  And nothing could be as boring as the cowl that I finished.  I've never progressed through skills like this before in knitting and the feeling of confidence - that I could start a project and conceivably finish it successfully - is really addictive.

So I decided to try using up the rest of my Malabrigo Rios and making my friend Helen, who is obsessed with knits, an earwarmer.  I saw her wearing one a few months ago and she's moving to the depths of northern Scotland soon so I reckoned she needed another one. Plus this gave me a chance to try out another new skill - cables!

I trawled Ravelry, as always, for something that fit my criteria and came up with this free pattern: the Chevron cable headband by Kirsty Grainger.  I wanted something with clear cables but not with too many of them and this fit the bill.

I cast on initially using size 4.5mm needles, as the pattern recommends, and knitted about three rows before deciding I thought it was too loose, so I sized down to a 4.  I was happy with that.  I found the c4 cable pattern to be pretty accessible, although of course with an extra tool in my hand things seemed to go awfully slow, I definitely gained confidence with the pattern as I saw my beautiful cables emerge!  This was a really fun project for that reason - I got faster as I went along, and I couldn't believe that I was making such a nice result! 

I got to the end and kind of winged it regarding sewing the ends together.  The join looks a bit rough but I think it's not going to be too visible, and it will hold pretty well.  I used a tapestry needle and the ends from the earwarmer and just weaved it through the obvious loops on each side.  I am not sure how you are supposed to knit pieces together.  There's always something more to learn in knitting!

Anyway my success with this bolstered me to pick my Miette back up.  That's a project I started over a year ago, when I was living in Arizona, and then put down early on.  Because of the lace, plus being a sweater, it seemed overwhelming!

Also this earwarmer took very little yarn.  I made two legwarmers and this from two balls of Malabrigo rios and I still have half a ball left - probably enough for another earwarmer! 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Easy handwarmer mitts in Outlaw Vanitas DK

These entered my head as a good next project after my cowl because my hands were freezing.  I needed mitts.  I needed easy ones.  And of course up in Pheriche, high in the Khumbu, I had some limitations on my yarn and needles.

The yarn is outlaw vanitas DK.
I accidentally didn't bring size 3.5 - 4 DPNs with me.  This yarn worked on smaller needles, and I thought it was the best choice for cozy handwarmers - everything else I had was too fine or too big.

The pattern is a free download from Ravelry, called the Sarah - basic fingerless mitts.  The yarn in the picture is so beautiful!  (It's Manos del Uruguay silk blend.) 

I got ready to start and realised that it required bigger needles.  I was nervous to do any changes to the pattern, but I went ahead with 3.5 dpns and this yarn, and did the size Large instead of small.

The knitting went very well.  I was nervous about the thumb gusset and really everything to do with the thumb, and so I was really impressed when it all went well!  I made these in just about 2 days each.  The only trouble was with the hole where the thumb meets the fingers - I did a good job on the first mitt and a bad job on the second one. The instructions have you mirror them, but I think this is not necessary as they are truly identical. Considering the location of my dpns, it would have been easier to make two right mitts.  That's what I would do in the future.

These got put to use right away.  The yarn has fluffed up and pilled a bit from use, but it has been literally daily use in the clinic for about a month, so I think they are holding up well.  They are warm and really help!  I was struggling not to have my fingers freeze every day, as our clinic in Pheriche is not heated and was averaging 3 degrees in the mornings - inside!  

When we closed our clinic I gave them to the guy running one of the lodges nearby as he is keeping it open for another month.  He was really happy to get them and I was particularly glad to have made the size large as it stretched to fit without problems.  I think that I could have made a medium for myself, considering that there was stretch over time. 

I might buy the beautiful silk blend yarn and make more of these. They were so fast and mitts are so handy that these might become a gift staple in the future.  Because it was a straightforward project I also really felt my confidence increase.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Mistake Rib Cowl by Purl Soho in Outlaw Vanitas

So what to knit?  I finished my nice legwarmers which I immediately put on and didn't take off for about a month.

I liked the idea of this cowl, which is a free pattern, as a way of practicing pattern.  I also wanted to make the Thorn Cowl but it is 5 feet long wtf??  So I thought I could judge by one cowl how much to shrink the pattern of the second one.  I am still not convinced about cowls for me but as a backup there are lots of other people that like them!  I thought this pattern would be really nice and particularly covet the scarf in the purl soho pictures but a scarf seemed too endless and I wouldn't really wear it daily in Nepal.

The yarn is Outlaw Vanitas (on Ravelry here), the colour is transience.  I really like working with this yarn.  It's beautiful and soft.  The pale ice blue is a lovely colour.  I had considered making the Purl Soho pullover with this yarn but wasn't sure it's the right size, plus it seemed like too big of a project to jump right into.

So, the cowl is pretty easy.  I used the same size needles as the pattern suggests, and it's quite boring and seemed to take forever.

Also I'm not sure why I love Purl Soho so much but I really am inspired by their ideas!  No affiliate links from me, never fear.

At the end I was ready to be done - made it 12 inches as 15 seemed overkill.  This definitely will be a gift.  Still not sold on cowls.

However I do love the depth that the pattern gives and eventually, when I'm cold and have time, I will probably make the scarf for myself! 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Simple Legwarmers in Malabrigo Rios

This pattern is called Simple Legwarmers, by Wendy Easton.  It’s a free pattern available on Ravelry.

I followed the pattern, casting on 52 stitches, but got the idea from a different pattern to do k1p1 cuffs for about 7 rows. 

These are really easy so there’s not too much to say about them.  I chose the pattern because I had this yarn: Malabrigo Rios (in hojas) and I did not have size 3.5 or size 4 needles, which limited me from a bunch of other nice patterns.  This was the best compromise based on the yarn and needles I had, plus cold legs (I didn’t want something too difficult.) 

I measured from ankle to knee and that’s how long I made them. I used size 4.5 Chia Goo bamboo sock needles for the cuffs, and have to report that the short needles made for socks piss me off, my stitches kept falling off.  Also these needles are really sharp.  I used size 5 Addi in the round for the rest, using the shortest cord that my amazing kit had in it (the Addi click turbo kit, a birthday present from my mum!)  It was a bit alarming to see the legwarmers stretched on the needle but of course they shrink back down fast.

I used Jeny’s super stretchy bind off which is now, rather embarrassingly, the only one I know. 

I didn’t block them because I couldn’t see the point. I get that blocking makes scarves longer.  But is there a reason to use it on tubular things like legwarmers before they stretch out of shape? 

Anyway I put them on and have only taken them off to sleep.  It’s no joke living in a village with no heating - emergency upcoming project is handwarmers and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m getting very 19th century chilblains on my feet because I just can’t feel them half the time.

I mentioned on Ravelry that if I were going for fashion I would prefer legwarmers in a finer weave and I will get on with those lace ones as soon as I can access the supplies.  (Er and the time…)  But for simple warmth these do, and I think when I return to civilisation I will block them (to make them smaller) and then wear them squashed down as per the photo below.

And the Malabrigo rios is as always delightful to work with, warm and chunky to wear.
On Ravelry too!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Life goes on: sock knitting

I started to knit these socks right over new year 2017.  My idea was that I’d knit these low cut socks and do two pairs so that I could start to understand the anatomy of the heel.  Also I knew that I had a swath of time ahead where I wouldn’t be able to sew.

The pattern is free from purl soho.
The yarn is koigu sock yarn, also from purl soho.  I love this yarn - it has turned out even more beautiful than I imagined.

As always I overestimated the size of that swath, and I overestimated my desire to knit while in airplanes.  I’ve had a personally traumatising life event occur because I was knitting on a long haul flight while all the other passengers were sleeping, and the airplane crew threatened me with legal action if I didn’t shut my window (and my eyes.)  I didn’t really get at the time that I did actually have rights and the power to do something about this situation, and the memory of that uncomfortable flight (it was well over 10 hours) stays with me.

So I managed to complete one sock while working in Thailand for a week.  (I thought it would be cute to kind of colour block with the blue - but I didn’t bother on the second sock.)  I started the second sock and got past the heel - and then my time ran out.  The first sock, even after being blocked with really hot water, was a disappointment.  It was loose and the arch was about 2 inches below my arch.  Learning to knit socks seems hard enough, without having to add in some kind of high arch adjustment!  Also a friend has knitted me a pair of socks that fit perfectly so I know it’s possible.  My goal for the second sock was to pay attention to knitting as tightly as possible to see how much difference it made.

So after the usual life transitions (+9 months), I found myself in Nepal ready to knit.  This sock was the first thing to finish before moving on to some other immediately useful accessories (it’s cold!)  I finished it without much ado, and luckily one other volunteer doctor in the area is addicted to knits!  She was ecstatic when I gave her these socks.  Her feet are a little bigger than mine and so I think the socks fit better but I suspect she’s also too enthusiastic to be a critic.  (Not a bad thing.)

I’m not going to use this pattern again.  It may be that having a sock which goes higher up the ankle helps to counteract bad fit in the foot - at least it is snug somewhere?  I also think that for my next pair of socks I’ll err on the side of smaller needles to see if that helps.

Sorry for limited photos!  My internet is quite slow so it’s easier not to have to load too many things at once.

And this is also on Ravelry. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

You never thought I'd say it: plaid Archer - DONE!

If you have ever stopped by my blog there's a decent chance you know one sad fact: I am really bad at pattern matching.  Partly because I am really bad at following grainlines. Nor do I own a grid mat, or a proper cutting table, or have a sewing room.

Maybe I finally hit the point where I learnt something, or maybe it's just luck that once in awhile a pattern comes together just right.  But I have to say, I worked harder on this Archer than I worked on most projects in my six months in New Zealand.  I prepped the fabric in one intense session about 3 weeks before leaving and it was the last project requiring any actual thought that I was able to fully concentrate on before catastrophic life dissolution took over.  It took over a week of painstaking effort to make (excluding the buttons, took another few weeks to get around to).  I love it.  I don't even wear this type of shirt very much but I love it anyway.

Size: ? Possibly a 4 and possibly a 2-4.  I traced the pattern in Ukraine over a year ago, and didn't write a lot of detail on the tissue.  Whatever I did - worked.  My measurements are 33-27-37.  I know I was itching to shorten the pattern and I think I didn't do that.

The fabric is a soft brushed cotton by Helmut Lang, from emmaonesock.  I had been waiting for just the right cotton plaid.  This was it.

Let's thank Thaniswar, my coworker, who never expected blog photos to be part of his job description.  (But I'm not going to apologise for not owning a hairbrush at 4200m.) 

I am also now noticing how obvious it is that my pockets are not really in the same place.  I hadn't put pocket marks on my pattern pieces and I spent DAYS moving the pockets around...c'est la vie...

The insides are all french seamed and look amazing.
The only little quirk is that I must have gotten the buttonhole placements wrong on the sleeves because they are too far away from the edge.  It's something I can live with.  The cuff edges stick out a bit, but I envisage that I will really wear this shirt over a tshirt and with the sleeves rolled up so I won't care. 

As you can see by my photos, I've changed scenery pretty drastically.  I'm working with the Himalayan Rescue Association as a volunteer mountain doctor for the trekking season, in Pheriche, Nepal.  So if you happen to be trekking to Everest base camp, stop by!

Because this was my last major project, I decided to post it last. And of course as I sewed it I took some time to reflect on the differences between sewing fast knits, sewing projects that just crop up in your head and say "let me out!" and these slower projects - as I've been prepping to make an Archer on and off for about 2 years.  I was thinking about how I want my next year of sewing to look.

In case you are interested, or in case you live in Perth - I'll be moving to Bunbury, Western Australia in December and I'd love any advice about the area and about sewing in the area!

I'm really glad that life is making me take a breather from sewing.  And my goal for next year is to commit to slow fashion with a challenge of myself that I'm calling my one-per-month challenge.  I think there are a few public groups doing something similar.  I'm not going to plan ahead too much - I want the choice to be spontaneous and reflecting my interests as they shift through the year - but I envisage that each month I will choose 1-2 patterns in a theme and only sew those patterns - and only once or twice.  I want to prioritise preparation, imagination, and my own excitement.  I want to make my own fashion feel like couture fashion.  I have spent about 2 years avoiding buying any button up shirts - because my own Archer was swirling in my head.  It took that long to find the fabric, to do the research, and to finally take the leap.  And it was worth it.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

French Navy Orla Dress in Orla Kiely stems

I got sucked into the excitement of anorlaaffair, which was an Instagram sewing challenge, in July.  I mean, a simple woven dress!  Free pattern!  Yeah, it was easy to get sucked into.  It was just the middle of July when my sad departure from New Zealand didn't feel too impending and I was going wild with patterns and fabrics and random ideas.

So I cut this out in a size XS.
The size chart for the XS: 81-63-87
My actual measurements: 83-67-94
The size chart for the S: 85-67-91.

Can you note some foreshadowing?  I have been sewing a lot of knits...but I'm not sure that's any excuse.  I know I have wide shoulders after all so on a dress like this if anything I should size up.  Oops.

The fabric is another piece of Orla Kiely stems, from Saved Fabrics etsy shop.
I really adore this rainbow fabric and I was totally excited about this dress - enough to try a few things.  I french seamed the side seams, although I still held off from doing so on the sleeves.  I assume you can't french seam a gathered waist but I remain puzzled how to finish it in a nice way.

I moved the back zip to the left side so that I didn't mess up my stem pattern.
And I skipped gathering the sleeves and just made haphazard tucks as I came to the top of the sleeve.

Well I got to nearly done and popped the dress on and realised it was a solid 4" too small.  I mean I could not get this dress on.  No chance.  And so it wilted into a UFO on my floor until I realised it might fit my friend's daughter.  (His 8 year old daughter.)  But still it sat there because now I was galvanised by moving panic and too many projects in too little time. 

It ends up I sewed this literally in the last hour before I had to put my sewing machine into a box.  I do give things to op shops when I'm not satisfied with them, but having a project nearly done, and a potential - and potentially excited - wearer, I just couldn't box it up undone and leave it for 6 months.

So here's the failed Orla:

In the end it didn't fit the 8-year old, but another colleague at work had daughters who it does fit, and they love it!  The best bit is that this colleague is Irish so the Orla Kiely connection seems like a match made in heaven.