Customised Merch

I don’t normally buy merchandise but I’m a fan of Laura Kampf and her YouTube channel. I’d wanted a “Let Glue Dry” shirt for ages. Not only would buying it support her, it is nicely subtle merch plus I regularly need that reminder for my own woodwork. Sadly when I decided to order, I found that all the clothing was only available in straight cut styles. I’m curvy and pear shaped. Straight cut so doesn’t fit me! However, I’ve several times successfully altered large sized straight cut shirts to fit me better. I need a big size to get the width in the body. The only garment left in XXL was the logo hoodie. Never mind, I like the logo too.

Eventually it arrived. Hurrah! Here it is straight out of the post bag, wrinkled and of course the wrong shape for me.

I tried it on and found these problems that needed remedy, most expected:
-Too long in both body and sleeves
-Too narrow in the hips
-Too wide in the shoulder
-I dislike the central pocket and besides, it’s too low
-I can’t stand the hood. Feels like it’s strangling me and conflicts with my default hairstyle of a single bulky plait.

This is ok. I can deal with all these. So, unpick the pocket, cut it off carefully where it joins the ribbing and slice it in half:

Chop a lump off the bottom:

Cut the sleeve off and take a slice to move the armhole inwards. This makes the armhole too deep but I need the width for bust circumference so I’ll put a piece in.

Unpick the side seams to the waist, try it on to see how much infill is needed:

Then chop the hood off, leaving enough for a collar. The rest of the hood provides fabric for the infill pieces:

Then to sew it all back together. I started with the collar. I wanted to keep the eyelets, and the cord with it’s aglets for interest. The hood was lined, so I had the two layers to form a new cord channel. So I folded the collar edges inwards and sewed them together. Then ran another line of stitching to make the channel.

Then I sewed the pockets back on near the sides, attached the infill pieces, redid the side seam and set in the sleeves. Later on I top stitched all those seams with a twin needle to imitate the original finish but I forgot to get a picture of that. I also top stitched the shoulder seams with woven tape underneath to support them and help the the garment keep it’s shape.

Then it was time to deal with the hem. I didn’t have enough ribbing to do a full width hem of course, but I could cut the old hem in half lengthwise to give a half width hem finish.

All done! It still looks like a real thing but now it fits me. Hopefully the mark from the original pocket position will go when I wash it. This was near a day’s work plus a bunch of thinking and planning. I say it was worth it.

and right next to it’s old self though possibly not quite the same scale

On me to prove it works. Front and back. It’s very comfy, a bit baggy but that is nice I think.

Felted Pot Holders

I found myself in need of a pair of pot holders and I felt like doing a bit of simpler knitting. Realising that this was a good project to use some of my early handspinning made me even more keen.

Bits and pieces of handspun yarn dating back to 2015. I used some of this and added in a few other bits. Some I dyed blue, but I didn’t use the bluest yarn in the picture! .

I had a few goes at making up a pattern but wasn’t happy so that all got pulled back and instead I followed “Easy Pot Holders” by Junko Nakada. That went so much better. I started with a couple more stitches per side because my yarn was thinner than called for in the pattern. The neat two row colour arrangements are deliberate but the softer changes are random. Random they may be but I’m very happy with where those colours landed.

Then I popped them in with a load of laundry to felt so they would be thicker and better at insulating. A short and slightly nervous wait before I could see how they came out but I didn’t fancy felting them by hand. Happily they are fine and pretty much exactly what I wanted. Now to hope they don’t get eaten by moths. If I use them often they should be ok I think. The kitchen is about the lightest room in the house which clothes moths don’t like, and they haven’t eaten my woolen double ended pot holder that I made years ago.

A couple more pictures to show before and after sizing. They only shrank 10% in width which was less than I expected.

Baby Camel Project

Mid last year as a curiosity, I ordered 100g of baby camel fleece blended 50:50 with silk from Fibre Arts Shed. It turned out to be beautiful stuff. Soft, shiny, slinky and lovely to spin.

It then took me over a year to find something to make with it. I found a cowl pattern I loved (Berilo cowl by Keka Guillén) but my yarn came out about 5ply/sport weight and the pattern was for light fingering. Besides, I didn’t have enough of it. Dilemma! After some grumpy stomping, I remembered that I had another 100g of commercially spun very fine laceweight yarn in the same blend, incidentally from the same seller. Ooo, could I make that work?

It looked like three strands of the fine yarn came close to matching the heavier handspun. So I swatched and yes, that works. The three strands is a little finer still but would work in the way I planned to combine it.

Then I pulled back the swatch and wound the fine yarn into three balls. Ready to go.

I figured that working with a slightly larger needle size would still work and I am not size tiny. My plan was to knit the fancy lower border in the handspun, then introduce the finer yarn worked three together and in alternating rows with the handspun, and finish with the finer yarn after the handspun ran out. This did in fact work well.

Here are the beginnings

and the whole thing straight off the needles. I messed with the pattern a bit to shorten it and make for a sharper angle of decrease in circumference. I am not blessed with a long neck. I also reduced needle sizes as I got to the last few sections.

and here it is pinned out to block.

I had quite a lot of the fine yarn left and it occurred to me that if the weather is cold enough for me to wear this, then I would want to wear a hat too and wouldn’t it be nice to have a matching one? I chose the “Burka Leaf Cap” by Lynette Meek. Again my yarn did not match the pattern, so size selection was difficult. I started with the small size on much larger needles, but at this point realised it was firmer on my head than I can tolerate. So I pulled it back and resumed with the medium size.

It’s an interesting design and a better choice for the soft drapey yarn than I realised. It’s lacey but almost entirely made of variations of rib. Lace within ribbing was a new thing for me. I didn’t block it so you just get one finished picture.

and the obligatory photo of them both on me.
I’m pleased with them. They function well, look nice, feel nice and I’m quite proud of successfully stepping through the pattern challenges. Of course I have no idea when I’ll get to wear them. Spring is sproinging and we are still and again in lockdown.

Rainbow Stocking Hat

I do like a silly hat and this is a very silly hat.

I’m sure I’ve said before that I’m enjoying working with colour in the cold, dim months. I had a bag of leftover 4ply merino yarn in gorgeous colours that I wanted to do something with. So I got them out and they kind of arranged themselves into a rainbow. A slightly unfortunately arranged rainbow.

I had also been thinking of making another stocking hat after having given mine away a few years ago. These two things could become one! I looked again at the colours and refined them down to a smaller selection, happily of very similar yarns. The grey is slinky superwash with 20% nylon. The rest are pure merino. All are lovely and soft to the touch. The green and red are the (nearly) yellow and orange previously overdyed for other projects.

When I started in, I wasn’t sure I would carry on. 4ply makes for many stitches. After I did the first few coloured bands I was hooked though.

I made up the pattern as I went along. I think I’d start with 6 fewer stitches and smaller needles but I managed to drag it in to fit quickly and neatly enough.

I do enjoy the way that bottom up knitted hats feel like they accelerate as you go. This has a 6 stitch reduction every eleven rows, or twelve rows nearer the end. So that acceleration was pretty slow, but still the later stages get kind of exciting.

And then it was done!

The reverse stocking stitch bands give it a bunch of structure and bounce. It almost sits up by itself.

I put a bead in the tip to keep it round. Said bead is really a reproduction medieval woolen button. I had spare and I thought it would stay put better than a shiny bead.

There is a lot of knitting and a lot of sproing in this hat. The two pictures below show it partially stretched out and then sprung back.

and of course there must be a pic of it modelled. I was concerned that it might be TOO silly but no, I love it.

Not the original plan but I like it

Take about three metres of black and white wool jersey. Use it to exhaust some dye that you don’t quite understand the behaviour of yet. End up with a messy streaky ombre which was very much not the aim. Get grumpy with it and throw it in the naughty corner for a year or so.

A year or so later, realise that you can cut two skivvis, one from each end. The darker blueish grey end makes quite a nice darkly grungy shirt without further effort.

The paler end just looked dirty until I had some fun with food colours. There are days I would enjoy some mad colour to wear. I amused myself by making sure the red and green are the right way around for port and starboard, or they in wearing.

Lacey Ponchigan

A bunch of handspun yarn from last year forming a nice ombre. All natural coloured except possibly the grey.

It begins. Yes, this is working.

Three quarters done. Getting bored with the knitting but can’t stop now. Bonus evidence of lockdown online shopping.

One half blocked, one half not. A lovely example of what wet blocking can do.

All finished. Two rectangles seamed in back and sides. One button. Pattern is “Shaina” by DanDoh/Yumiko Alexander.

And on. Sexy squares. I like it. I did add some rows in the middle section but I wish I’d added more. Never mind, it still works.

The colours weren’t specially chosen to go with this dress but it looks like they might have been.

Winter Shibori Dress

A few years ago I scored a 4 metre bolt end of white pinwhale corduroy. I immediately knew I wanted to give it some shibori love though it took me until now to get around to it. Here it is divided up, pleated and tied. A tedious process, but the effort was worth it I think.

Put it through a dyebath along with a bunch of other things. In this case I used “indigo” coloured Procion fibre reactive dye from Kraftkolour.

I got three 1m pieces patterned like this meant for a skirt, some plain bits for a bodice and a smaller pleated bit for pockets. I undid the end most ties on the skirt pieces after the first long dip on the grounds that i didn’t want too much pale over my tum.

From there I built a fairly standard Montjoye dress. Semi fitted bodice and flared skirt. Except that I made a bunch of errors in the cutting. I’m still quite out of practice with sewing garments! Happily all errors were fixable in one way or another. The first big mistake was failing to allow the needed overlap for the intended buttoned front. Bother. Couldn’t fix that really without creating too much bulk. Never mind, I’ll just do a side zipper. Ah, but that means the skirt sections need to match the bodice waist properly both front and back. The skirt pieces were folded in half lengthways and divided diagonally to give a six panel skirt with the back panels joined in the centre. Guess who forgot to allow for the centre panel seam allowance in the back pieces? Yeh, me. That meant I had to dart the back of the bodice to get everything to fit. Happily that was actually a good thing. Then I found I needed to lift the whole skirt to place the pattern more pleasingly which meant the front skirt waist matchiness didn’t work anymore and the seams were all topstitched already so I wasn’t reseaming them. Botheration. I’m mostly laughing at myself here. I sure hope the next garment runs more smoothly!

The bodice has a fair few extra seams than would have been necessary if I hadn’t changed my mind about what garment to make from this fabric before it was even dyed. I had already divided it up into sections and folded it before changing my mind. Oh well. Because I wanted to make the seam allowances behave themselves I decided to top stitch pretty much everything, which also tied in the extra seams and the white parts of the shibori visually.

I still ended up with a frock. Front then back below. It’s cut to be shaped but still quite loose which is comfy and as flattering as possible for the iso belly I’m still carrying.

The pockets manage to be fairly stealthy, achieved by pleating that piece to match the skirt pieces.

Of course it is really just a winter version of this summer favourite made 3ish years ago, written up here and worn a great deal since.

and proof the new winter version fits on me. Yes I know it’s well off the vertical. I took a bunch of photos and this was the best despite the kooky angle.

Spun Colour Vest

Last October I spun this colourful yarn, written up here

I had been thinking it would be nice knitted up as the front of a vest. Turns out there was nearly enough for a whole vest. I got it into my head that I wanted the original colourway nearest my face, which made finding a pattern more difficult than it should have been. In the end I used a bottom up, seamed pattern (Inez by Emily Nora O’Neil) but made a bunch of changes. I started at the base of the neckline with a provisional cast on, knitted down or backwards for a bit to get a feel for how far the yarn would go.

I put this picture in because of all the ones I took, it shows the colours most accurately.

Then I went back and knitted the front shoulders, introducing some brown merino/alpaca handspun to make up the balance of the needed yarn. Then I returned to knitting backwards to finish the front, introducing the the second colourway and knitting the two in alternating two row blocks until the first ran out.

I changed the position of the body shaping from the side seams to two vertical lines below the bust points. I also widened the body from underarm level for better fit. The back was knitted in the more standard bottom up way. The third colourway got introduced when the plain second colourway matched the height it was in the front.

Eventually I finished both pieces and blocked them. Even after all the thinking and planning about colour placement, i’d do it differently if I was starting over, but this is appealing enough as is.

Then I got the seams sewn. All good. Then it was time to to the borders on the neckline and armholes. I had one attempt, failed and got scared of that. Roadblock hit in January, I put this away and knitted two whole projects before I felt brave enough to deal with it. Last Saturday i swore I’d not start another knitting project until this one was finished, and I wanted to knit, so I just had to do it. After all that procrastination and feeling offput, it wasn’t even that hard. I did all the borders yesterday afternoon and evening. The borders are quite minimal, just a thin line, but they serve well to smooth and stabilise the edges. I had been worried that the armholes were too deep, but the border sorted that problem out.

Here is a pic that shows how the brown hem and shoulders are worked to join to the coloured yarn in a way that looks like it was designed that way, which I suppose it was.

Here is the obligatory picture of it on me. I wasn’t in much of mood to smile at the camera but I do like my new vest really.

That’s one lot of handspun turned into a wearable thing. Now I get to embark on a new knitting project.

Seaweed Shawl

Back in early December last year, I decided to spin up some blended alpaca and silk tops that I had bought on a whim. I wanted something more than a standard 100g skein so I added in 60g of merino in lichen green and indigo blue left over from other projects.

I had a fancy to knit a lace shawl so I spun as fine as I could manage and over 5 weeks, produced 160g of approximately lace weight yarn. Really it was anywhere between cobweb and sport weight but primarily lace to light fingering weight. I was still pretty pleased with myself.

I liked the look of this but felt I might wear it more if I put it through a blue dyebath. So I did.

It was then saying “ocean” to me, so I went looking for patterns that also spoke of this. I settled on “Ocean Scarf” by Eunny Jang but had trouble getting the pattern. So frustrating! I persevered though and found the chart for the body of the shawl eventually. I knitted a couple of repeats of the main pattern and then reluctantly decided I wanted it wider, so I frogged it and started over with an extra motif. Yes, much better.

Yes that is a provisional cast on because I wanted to try my hand at a knitted on border. This was confusing for a bit but fine once I figured out how it worked. Very happy to have conquered another technique. I used a border called “Normandy lace” but expanded it to get a double zigzag to echo the main pattern.

Somehow I ended up in a very tight game of yarn chicken. I had kept records and calculated carefully but must have lost count somewhere. In an attempt to avoid having to reknit the last section, I swapped to slightly smaller needles halfway through the last border.

It was tense there in the last stages but I won!

Having thoroughly proven again that I enjoy lace knitting, I invested in a set of blocking wires which happily arrived a little before I finished. Here she is all pinned out, waiting for the afternoon sun.

I was so pleased with it that I couldn’t resist trying it out even before sewing in the ends. It has come out pretty much exactly the shape I wanted and i love the pattern.

I actually think of it as the Luidaeg shawl, but not everyone has read the Seanen McGuire’s October Daye books

Frilly Gothish Remodel

I had all sorts of plans for making clothing for myself this summer, but none of it happened. I got distracted by a bunch of other projects. This little plan was firmly stuck in my head however and I had a packet of navy dye that needed using before the water soluble enclosure succumbed to humidity.

This tiered frilly skirt was a 90’s Jigsaw brand number that I loved and wore a lot. I don’t wear this sort of warm colour combination any more though and besides, it no longer fit. I nearly consigned it to the opshop bag but the fabric is really lovely, fine and close woven cotton, near Tana lawn quality and all those gathers were already constructed. Surely I could rework it?

I pulled out the leftovers from the shirt featured in Irish linen, orange and grey shot. Really lovely stuff. Stiffer than the skirt fabric but a bodice is allowed to be different. It tones with the skirt so hopefully they would work together after dyeing.

I then put them both through the navy dye bath with a bunch of other things

Happy with the colours. I cut a bodice from the linen, black facings from the leftovers of a different shirt. I chopped off the original top tier of the skirt, which yielded a piece to make the visible part of a button band to tie the two fabrics together and add interest. Hmm, somewhat wonky sewing there. I made a bunch of mistakes in cutting, all of which were retrievable. I’m peeved that I screwed up by making the button band the “wrong” way around, buttonholes on the left. No one else will notice, but it will annoy me.

Here is the whole dress. Of course I put pockets on!

and on me. Maybe I’m too old to wear this many frills? I don’t care. I love the new dress.