Thursday, 11 January 2018

Halfmoon Atelier Roma skirt

This project was theoretically a quick mock up to see how the Roma fit.  I adore the Halfmoon Atelier patterns, but I always think they won't suit me.  So I wanted to see how this would go and whether I could make it work.  The linen was salvaged from a very shapeless dress which didn't work out so it has various seams in it.  It is heavyweight linen from Merchant & Mills - very heavy, consistent with the website - but still somehow difficult or different than I expected.  It's expensive stuff so I really did want to make something great with it.  I removed something like 8 inches of length from the pattern - a LOT, but I don't remember quite how much.

And then I didn't have the right kind of bias binding.  I ended up ordering some on Etsy.  And by the time it arrived I no longer had time and this project wasn't looking so easy!  So it became a UFO and I went travelling.

It was with unexpected surprise that I saw it come together now.  It's a quick make.  I had lost my pocket markings so I had to make the entire skirt in order to decide where to put the pocket, therefore ensuring that sewing it on would be a total pain, but the skirt was looking so cute that I knew I had to commit and stick with it.  I also customised how far down to sew by just pinning and trying it on, but I don't think I left the slit much higher than the pattern recommends.

I cut a size M!  I sized up based on my hips and an assumption that it would be better loose than too tight.

There is some bagging around my waist due to the thick fabric and the way it pools from the elastic waistband.  I think it's more obvious to me, looking down, than it is to the viewer, although I also don't think the skirt looks flattering, at least in these pictures.

I actually love this skirt!  The slit means it has great mobility and doesn't feel like a pencil skirt (a silhouette I really don't trust) and I am super happy with my gold bias binding. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

By Hand London Kim No. 2

After I finished my first Kim (which you can see here), I applied a few small changes to the already-cut out Kim 2.  I narrowed the bodice top by slicing a tiny piece off the sides of the center bodice piece, bringing the straps in closer and decreasing the space for the bust.  And I cut off 4 cm from the straps - mostly off the front.  And this time it's the normal length, ie only shortened 6" and not 12".  I did not think too hard about whether the armhole would be too small and in the end got lucky - I would have cut out a bit of the front of the armscye if I had remembered...but you will notice that I did all this a long time ago.  You will notice that I said rather prophetically that I hoped Kim no. 2 wouldn't take as long as Kim no. 1, and that I wrote about it almost exactly a year ago!

Well, I left these cut out pieces while I lived in New Zealand and Nepal, and have been sewing up my neglected WIPs all holidays as I wait for various visas.  It took me 1.5 days to sew up Kim no. 2, in between other things.  Those tucks are really exhausting, and it seems I just can't do tucks, gathering *and* a zip all in the same day.

So, Kim 2 fits fine.  The bust is better, but I have shrunk so there's still some space in it.  The armscye is too small due to how much I took off the straps, but the straps are no longer too long.  And the skirt is the "correct" length.  It dwarfs me - I feel pretty ridiculous in this poofy dress.  I think the removal of 1 foot of the skirt length was the best choice for me.

I was really thrilled by the Kim pattern because my first one fit crazy well.  I do feel kind of ridiculous when I wear it - it's the only thing I own with a gathered skirt.  So Kim 2 just feels like too much.  I do like the bodice, but I think I like the Elisalex bodice more.  I still want to do some Frankendresses but I am no longer so convinced this is going to play a part.  But if I keep working at this pace at least I'll finally get my first Zeena dress finished soon!!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Miette by Andi Satterlund - a two year project

I cast this on in Ukraine but realised the lace was too difficult at that time and stopped it.  I had considered using Malabrigo Rios (I ended up making my second simple sweater with it - here) but I thought the single colour that I had originally planned to use would indeed be nicer.  The yarn is Cascade Heathers 220, the colour is called iridescence, it is pale mauve from a distance but close up it's a rainbow and very beautiful. 

So I really cast on in 2016 while I was in Poland travelling with my cousin.  I got through the first 20 rows and then ran out of knitting time...until now.  I had progressed through increasingly challenging projects in Nepal and felt ready to tackle this monster!

This is a much harder project that the simple pullover I made before, and for that reason I'm glad I put so much time in between the two.  I had to relearn everything in Nepal - yarn overs, and ssk and all of it...maybe it will stick in my head this time?  The awesome thing is how my projects inadvertently were a progression of skills.  I started with the legwarmers, doing nothing new, but really needing my project to fit me.  Then I made the cowl which reminded me how to concentrate as you only have two rows of pattern but they are slightly offset.  After that I made the handwarmers and was really amazed how ok it was to do the thumb gusset and the thumb overall - plus those went into use RIGHT AWAY! The cables in my earwarmer made me more confident doing new things - so by the time I picked this back up my confidence had grown.

I picked this up at row 20, and with one week left in Nepal I was on a mission to get it done!!  I was a knitting machine!  I didn't finish it before leaving Pheriche - I had the body and one sleeve done and determined to finish the rest in Kathmandu.  As always with knitting, I have found that the minute you stop a project you doom it to potential eternity.

My colleagues in Pheriche totally laughed at the diminutive size of this thing.  They couldn't believe it was for me.  I made the XS and it's really small looking! But when I put it on, noting there were still no ribbing front bits, it seemed to stretch to fit.  So I guess blocking is when you really make something your size. 

I'm not sure what difficulty level people place this sweater at, but I believe it's relatively challenging for a beginner.  The lace rows mean that you are endlessly counting, ugh!  If you miss a stitch, you have to put it back into the right quadrant of the sweater.  I was totally mad at the single purl row at the bottom of the sweater, not realising it really is pattern!  And after that I didn't have the energy to figure out knitting and purling into my back loops, it was too hard, so I went with normal k2p2 for the bindings.  (During my last week in Pheriche I had no internet to check on things!)

 Also I thought the way the sleeves are continued makes it really hard to actually not have a hole in the armpit.  I assume this is beginner problems.  You only pick up two stitches at the bottom, then you knit those stitches together...on my first armpit that led to a massive hole.  I left a large yarn tail luckily so I kind of darned that thing shut while weaving in the ends.  I used a very short US 8 round needle for the sleeves and it was kind of a pain but I did the same with the second sleeve (not enough of a pain to switch to DPNs).  I didn't have a smaller needle for the sleeves so the cuffs were also done with US8.  I tried to be more clever about the second sleeve but even trying to pick up strategic stitches, there is a huge hole. It seems to me like you need to pick up 3-4 stitches to avoid having a hole.

I did get around to relearning purling in the back loops for my button bindings.  It is not all that easy and for some reason I had a real block at first but I got the hang of it.  However I don't think it looks better at all and it is *so much* harder than just purling, so I'm not convinced.  Or I'm doing it wrong?

The pattern read that I needed 7 buttons, which I already had gotten in Kathmandu, so I didn't double check.  It ends up you need 8 and I could have gotten one more!  I finally finished the bands after the holidays - didn't manage to finish it in Nepal, but I'm still really pleased it's done.  I feel more confident and ready to make larger sweater projects that will actually fill gaps in my wardrobe - I'm not really confident that I'll wear this much since it is best suited to going over dresses. 

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! 

And here's Holly in the cowl - she was stoked with her gift! 

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!