Finally, I’ve accomplished something knitting-related this year! This week I finished the Maile cardigan from What to Knit When You’re Expecting. This isn’t for me, but for a friend who had a baby in June. I knit it using Rico Baby Dream DK, which is one of the most gloriously soft & smooshy yarns I’ve had the pleasure to knit with. Technically this cardigan’s meant to be in 4-ply, but I had this yarn on hand & it turned out just fine, if possibly a little bigger than intended. The buttons are vintage cloth-covered ones that I had in my stash already.
This was a pretty straightforward knit, but I’m not sure I’d knit it again. I prefer top-down cardigans; this one had slightly odd construction. To her credit, the author does acknowledge that it’s a difficult sleeve join & offers tips (i.e. the magic loop method) to help. It was still a faff, though, and resulted in some awkward seaming.
The best thing about this knit was that it was my first knit using my set of interchangeable Hiya Hiya super sharp needles. And they were delightful! It was also a novelty to have spare cables, which meant I could just slip sections onto a spare cable & reuse the same size needles, rather than needing either spare needles or scrap yarn (which is useful, but I do find transferring the stitches back onto a needle annoying because I am terribly lazy).
This project hails from my metaphorical (or maybe literal…) pile of unfinished projects. Specifically, this mitt was supposed to be a Christmas present for a friend in 2015. Oops. In my defence, that is the Christmas we moved house! Anyway, I finally managed to finish it & gave it to her last week. She loved it – as expected given how much she loves foxes.
Making oven mitts was pretty straightforward. I didn’t buy a pattern, but instead just traced my own double oven mitt. I have concerns about how heat-proof it is, given I just used polycotton quilt wadding, but I’ve asked her to let me know (I forgot to test them).
Overall, I was pretty happy with these. It was my first time using bias binding on a curve, and as you can see I had mixed levels of success with being even. I was pretty disappointed with it, but I did find sewing it so stressful that I just couldn’t go back and redo it. I was really pleased with my pattern matching, though, and with the binding on the pockets. Next time I’ll practice a bit more before I take on bias binding.
At last, the Zitronenmelisse not-quite-kneehighs are finished. Whew. Never again will I forget to make sure I have enough yarn for a project!
I’m fairly happy with them, or at least with how the pattern looks. I still need to add some elastic to the cuffs. That might help with my main issue with the socks, which is that due to their weird length (mid-calf), they just keep falling down. They do feel absolutely glorious on my feet, though, as they’re an alpaca, merino, and silk blend by John Arbon. I think they will be quite hardwearing, but unfortunately they have already started pilling. I’m glad I got this wool in an offer, as otherwise it’d be a shame to waste it on socks. I’m not so happy with the yarn for the cuff, but sometimes you just have to use what you have in your stash.
I haven’t decided what I’m knitting next, but I think it’s between an Audrey in Unst cardigan or the Diamonds Are Forever. For purely practical reasons, I think it’s likely to be the Audrey; I already have some yarn I can use for it.
Any knitting projects?
I hope you are all having a wonderful break. I have had a whole week off, and also have Monday off. I’ ve been shamelessly lazy. The house is still a bit of a mess, but I feel rested for the first time in absolutely ages. I don’t expect it to last for long, so I’m enjoying it while I can. Can you believe it’s already New Year’s Eve?
In the run-up to Christmas, I shared that one of my happy things was the Thrifty Gift Swap, arranged by Janet. That’s mostly because I love buying presents so much, but it does also have the bonus of getting presents, too. This year my giver was Hannah McIntosh Burke, who makes gorgeous creatures, and also happens to be pretty good at giving gifts!
It was really lovely to get some chocolates from the U.S.! I also really liked these tiny earrings, which I’ve already worn. The highlight, though, is this alpaca yarn, which Hannah said comes from the alpaca in her village. How lovely! It’s so soft. I’ve spent ages looking at patterns, and am wondering if I might try designing my own at last. The 200 grams she sent is enough to do something cozy with, but not quite enough for a sweater. Hm. I won’t be rushing into picking a project, but I admit I’m very keen to start using this!
On the other side of the Thrifty Gift Swap, I can now reveal that I had the delight of picking presents for Alex. I won’t share most of what I got, but I did want to share the main present as I’d hinted at it on here previously. It was these fingerless mittens, another Kate Davies design. You may recognise this yarn from one of my yarnalongs. I was really happy with them, so I hope they keep her hands very toasty.
That lace jumper that I’ve been blogging about for months? It’s finally done! I finished on Sunday and may have had an evening of gleeful dancing around the living room. Or maybe I was responsible and prepared for my interview the next day. Who knows? I’m not telling. 😉
Overall I am happy with the jumper, and of course I’m delighted that I met my goal of finishing it in May. That means it only (!) took 3 months to make. It is lightweight, weighing only 150 grams, but because it’s a blend of merino and alpaca, it’s also quite warm & cozy. I also like the colour a lot more than I expected to. I got lots of compliments on the colour of the wool while I was knitting it, but wasn’t sure I could actually wear it. After wearing it to work today, I’ve decided I like it. I think it makes my complexion look kind of peachy, always a good thing. I am still a little undecided on the sleeves, which are puffier than I anticipated. What do you think?
All in all, I think this is a great English summer jumper, and it feels great to finish something I’ve wanted to make for years (I bought the magazine that has the pattern in it about 3 years ago). Now on to the next knitting project! Any suggestions? I’ve got no ideas at the moment.
It’s official – I’ve sewn my first dress! What do you think?
I am pretty pleased with it. For me, the most important thing is that I will feel comfortable wearing it in public in spite of its many imperfections. I’m going to debut it on Thursday at a friend’s birthday dinner. 🙂 Fingers crossed I don’t get any judgmental looks.
I’m also proud that I was able to make it through such a long, detailed project without giving up. A deep-seated perfectionism (which I’m trying to learn to suppress in the interest of greater contentedness) means that I often get impatient because I think I should be able to do things perfectly the first time. Rationally I know that’s ridiculous, but it’s still hard not to think that way sometimes. Making this dress over the span of months meant I was able to step back when I was feeling a bit crazy about how it was going. I think I will carry on with this approach for a few years. Maybe I will sew home items like cushion covers quickly, but I will be taking my time with any garments I attempt!
There are still things I’m not happy with about this dress, and there is a long list of imperfections:
- The zipper – I used a lapped zip, which I had a nightmare sewing in. I wasted so much thread sewing, ripping out, and resewing. I managed to insert it in the end, but it is a little bit visible around the waist. I’m sure this is because of the skirt lining, which means there is variation in thickness around this area. Sewing over this area was really quite difficult, so in the end I was just glad to get the zipper attached there at all! The fabric over the zip is also not as flat as I would’ve liked. Next time I will definitely be focussing on the zip more.
- Visible handstitching – It’s obvious where I attached the linings and hemmed the skirt. I handstitched the hem in herringbone stitch to match the lining, because I thought topstitching wouldn’t really suit the style of this dress. I regretted it by the end, particularly as it turned out to be fairly visible. I guess it’s partly down to my inexperience, but also partly because of the thin, shiny fabric. More practice required before the next project!
- The skirt/hem – I am not convinced it’s straight! I was lazy when cutting the fabric, so it wasn’t all actually an even length with to begin. Measuring from the top was really difficult because of the gathering on the skirt.
- Armholes/shoulders – Do they look awkward? I am not sure they fit as they are meant to. In future I will investigate armholes so I can do a better job with them.
- Loose stitching in random places.
All that said, there are many things I am very pleased with. I think I’ll end this post with the positives:
- Fit – Pretty good, right? The effort expended on the bodice was worth it in the end. The back really fits quite well. Going strictly by the pattern, it should be tighter, but I deliberately allowed a bit of ease. I don’t like really tight clothes because they feel so restrictive.
- The actual zip – It’s a vintage zip, one I suspect is also from around the time the pattern was designed (or up to a decade later – definitely pre-80s, anyway). Even if it isn’t contemporary, I think it suits the rest of the dress.
- The fact that it’s nothing like anything else in the rest of my wardrobe – I don’t often wear such bright colours or shiny clothes, so this feels like a proper party dress to me!
Finally, here are a few more pictures:
Thanks so much to my friend Jo for taking pictures while I showed it off to her. 🙂