Monday, October 17, 2016

Stuck in a knitting rut.

I have no idea what to cast on next. I've made an effort at using up scraps and knitted up a couple of beanies with a pattern I'm improvising, but there isn't much else I want to make right now. It feels weird, because I always want to be knitting something. My stash is getting to the point of random odds and ends or single skeins that could only work for socks. 

I need a good basic fitted cardigan, preferably with a bit of vintage style, that I can knit in a really dark grey or black to be a go-to for work, but I haven't found the pattern yet. 

I'm also dreaming about a cable sweater for next winter, or maybe a sweater for husband, but nothing is really jumping out right now. What do you do if you're stuck in a rut and not much is inspiring you?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Moana dress in Parisian fabric

I was terrified to cut this fabric. It has a very loose weave, and even though I got a three metre "coupon" in Paris, it's a long way to go and get more if I really screwed it up. Whenever I got close with a scissors, the fabric would just move. When I was sewing, the fabric just moved even more. 

Luckily I'd had a test run with the pattern, having made the Moana Top out of some Liberty fabric, so all I had to do was figure out how to add the skirt. As I've previously mentioned, Papercut Patterns write amazingly clear instructions, and I've got the burrito method of adding a facing pretty much down now. 

I think this is going to be a summer staple. I've already worn it to work dressed up, and paired with some Chucks, I think it will be perfect for bike rides and ice cream stops when the weather warms up.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Slow Fashion October 2016

I think it's quite fitting that the first week of October is the first week that I've been sick all year. I'm usually pretty good at avoiding all the seasonal bugs that go around, and I figured that since it's October, I'd made it through another year without getting anything more substantial than a runny nose. How wrong I was!

It's fitting because this week is the start of Karen Templer's Slow Fashion October, and what better way for me to start thinking more slowly than by having to physically stop everything, and take time to be still and stop running around so much. I'm one of those people who crams a lot in. I have an awesome job, but it can be very full on. I try to catch up with friends as often as possible, and that doesn't leave much time for resting and slowing down. 

I'm on day three of being at home, away from the office, with the biggest cold I've had in years. Today I'm starting to feel more like myself, so I'm likely to be back at work tomorrow, but I know I needed to take this time to not do much except catch up on my Gilmore Girls, and actually rest. 

Which brings me back to Slow Fashion October. This week in Auckland, both Zara and H&M have opened their first flagship stores in New Zealand. Being at the bottom of the world, it's taken a long time for some of the big international brands to get here. Top Shop arrived about a year ago, and Kiwis' love of fast, international brands looks set to continue. I'm doing my best to avoid the hype and make my own clothes, and if I can't make it, I'm doing what I can to source ethically made.

Since early this year I've been taking part in The Craft Sessions' Stash Less Challenge, and I think this year's Slow Fashion October will be an extension of that. I don't really have any specific plans for making, but I think I'll spend the month going back to my wardrobe and figuring out what I'm wearing, and what I'm not. 

While I was previously concerned about the amount of clothing I used to buy, now I'm concerned that my wardrobe is getting bigger again due to all the handmade things I keep adding. I'm happy that most of my wardrobe is handmade, but I'm still worried about how much I'm consuming by way of knitting supplies and fabric. Am I making things I need? Do I keep justifying my fabric and yarn consumption because I'm not buying into sweatshop production by making clothes myself? All things for me to think about over the next month!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Stash Less - using up the scraps

After I finished my Overbury Flip Tops I struggled for a few days trying to decide what to knit next. My last few projects had all been planned - yarn had been purchased with specific projects in mind and now I was at a dead end. 

The two lovely and bright skeins purchased in Paris on a holiday whim haven't found their projects yet. Typically, as with all my impulse buying, I've only bought a skein of each. While that's enough to make some very snazzy socks, I want to make something more visible with these precious skeins, and without finding extra yarn to go with them, or the perfect pattern, I'm not going to cast them on.

While these two skeins represent a wonderful adventure and whatever they eventually turn into will be very cherished, they both fail all of my Stash Less goals. I've added to the stash without having projects in mind, I've purchased quantities that might not work for what I want to make, and I haven't thought about what these skeins will also go with in my wardrobe. 

So, to resolve my dilemma of having nothing to knit, I had another look in the stash and picked up some leftovers. I figured a hat would go nicely with my Overbury Flip Tops, so I grabbed the remaining Uncommon Thread yarn. Then I grabbed the leftover Vintage Purls yarn from Husband's winter beanie, and the last of the blue Spinning A Yarn silk merino from my Onda Cardigan. 

With all of that - no fresh skeins required - I knitted a Fjordland Hat by Dianna Walla, from Pompom Quarterly issue 7. 

This was a really fun, quick knit, that took less than a week. The fingering weight makes it perfect for spring, and as well as using up leftovers, I used a pattern I'd already purchased through my magazine subscription. 

This is getting to the core of what I want to achieve with my Stash Less Challenge. I'm using patterns I already own (you may have noticed the recent obsession with all knitting coming from Pompom Quarterly patterns) and yarn in the stash. But it's not yarn that's just in the stash - it's leftovers that usually I would just get rid of, or just leave in a bag until I gather enough other leftovers to donate to an op-shop. 

This little project has helped me rethink about all of those little scraps lying around, that can be turned into something awesome with a few clever combinations. I think the next few projects might take a similar shape until I finally figure out my next intended project.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Finished Object - Overbury Fliptops

These might just be the coolest (read warmest) most practical things I've ever knitted.

The perfect use for my lovely skein of The Uncommon Thread's Tough Sock yarn, happily purchased on a day out in London with a good friend at Loop London, and finished with two vintage fabric buttons from my awesome boss. 

The pattern, by Lydia Gluck, is in the first issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. It's really well written and a nice alternative to knitting a pair of socks. Highly recommend!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Equilibrium Cardigan - deadlines met

I really underestimated how long it would take to property finish this cardigan. I met my deadline with the knitting, and started seaming the shoulders to the back on Friday night. That took a while, but I figured the sleeves would be relatively quick to do. So on Saturday, I sat out in the sunshine and set in the sleeves. It took me four hours. I had to unpick the sleeve seams a few times to try and make them as tidy as possible. The pattern is really well written, but one thing I think it would benefit from is instructions on the best way to do all of the seams. I kind of guessed my way through and I think it looks okay, but I'm sure I could have done a better job with a bit of guidance from the designer, to see what techniques she used.

Evening though it took a while, I was okay with it. All I had to do then was pick up stitches for the front and neckband ribbing and knit like eight rows. Except that it was 400 more stitches (way more than I expected) and another couple of hours. Saturday night was consumed by Netflix and Knit, which I'm totally cool with, but I had hoped to at least get it washed and on a blocking mat on Saturday, to give it as much drying time as possible.

By midnight, it was all done. 
I gave it a bath and soak this morning, and had it out in the sunshine to make the most of the extremely good spring weather we're currently having. Once dry, I spent a good hour weaving in the final ends and I'm happy with the result. 

I've only ever used Outlaw Yarns' Vanitas DK for accessories before, but I will definitely be using it again for garments. It is so incredibly soft and warm, without feeling too heavy. The pattern, by Gina Rockenwagner for Pompom Quarterly Issue 16, was really well written and clear. Aside from the seaming questions I have, I found the pattern easy to follow and I'd recommend it to others. 

I'm sure this is going to get a lot of wear. I can see it being worn to work and on the weekends, and I'm expecting it to become a staple in the wardrobe. Given it's a bit pink, this is quite odd for me, but as spring is coming and pastels become a big deal, this can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Spring schedule for a winter cardigan

We're six days into spring and it's suddenly dawned on me that the winter cardigan is a bit late to completion. Luckily, I work in an office with air-con that likes to run cold and the wind is still a bit chilly, but I'm determined to finish my Equilibrium before the new season gets really underway.

I've given myself a schedule. Today is Tuesday. 
I've finished the body and one sleeve. I've taken the opportunity to knit at any spare moment, like on the train on Sunday - see above - I'm going to cast on the second sleeve as soon as this post is done, and I intend to have it finished on Thursday.
That gives me Friday evening to knit the ribbed plackets and set in the sleeves and funny shoulder bit, and then the weekend to wash, block and dry. If I really struggle, I'll give myself a bit of Saturday to do the seaming. I'm one of those people who needs a bit of a deadline to get things finished, so Sunday it is. I'm not allowed to start sewing anything until this is done. This is a good incentive!