A year in knitting

Happy New Year Everybody!! I thought I would round up the year by taking a look back at how far my knitting skills have come on in just one year!

Last Christmas I decided I wanted to learn to knit and asked for some supplies for Christmas. Nearly 1 year on and I feel like I am now a happy knitter! There were a few hiccups along the way but also some great projects too!

I started off just knitting a few swatches and was dropping stitches all over the place! At first I couldn’t figure out how on earth I was managing to loose so many stitches but once I got into the swing of things I managed to get going.

For my first proper project I decided to knit a cover for my Kindle. Not being a blogger at the time I didn’t get any good photos of the finished object but managed to  et one now – so you’ll have to excuse how grubby it looks but generally I was really pleased with it for a first project even if it did take forever!

Kindle cover.jpg

I then moved on to something much more extravagant…a hat! I still love it and wear it all the time even if the bobble is a bit loose and some of the ends have unwoven themselves

hat

Then I started this blog and the knitting began to be documented. I’m not sure if this made me think more about what I was knitting or if it made me want to make it better because everyone would see it but the skill level definitely kicked up a notch!

My next make was these fingerless gloves, it took a bit of help to figure out the thumb but after a few friends got stuck in we had it figured out and I was away! Another successful project.

For my next project I wanted to make some boot cuffs. After a long search on Ravelry I couldn’t find any that I liked that could be knit flat and did not quite feel ready to attempt knitting in the round so I decided to make up my own pattern! I also wrote up this pattern and it is available for free on Ravelry if anyone else, like me, wants to make some simple bootcuffs that can be knit flat and seamed.

Boot cuffs

Boot cuffs

After the success of writing my own pattern I decided to turn my hand to something more complicated! I think I was probably a it too ambitious and cast on a double length cowl on circular needles. Everything was going really well, I had managed the joining in the round and an inch of ribbing but once I got onto the body of the cowl things started to go worng! Why on earth I picked lacework for my 5th project I’m not sure but it certainly was a challenge. After only a few rows the lace pattern was completely out of sync and I was getting a bit demoralised so I decided to set it to one side.

beginnings of knitted cowl

beginnings of knitted cowl

This was quite a big decision as I dont like to give up on things easily. So instead of saying I had given up I have just left it for a little while to be returned to once my skills have improved.

So, I decided to try a different lace project to improve my skills. The oyster shawl seemed like the perfect solution as there was a large body with only a simple eyelet to contend with.

cream shawl WIP

It uses a much simpler pattern with periodic holes

After finishing the main section of this cowl I was much hapier to progress onto the more complicated lace border

Lacework

After working on this cowl for quite a few months I had to put it to one side for a while as I had some gifts to get to work on. I decided to knit a cowl for my mums birthday and had the perfect yarn for it! Again, I couldnt find quite the right pattern for it so decided to make it up as I went along. Hopefully I will get the chance to write this up soon (Watch this space!)

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After making my mum’s birthday gift I decided to join in with the innocent big knit too.

HH

Finally, in time for Christmas I finished the lacy border shawl. I was so pleased with myself as this was such a massive achievement, especially considering that less than a year ago I couldnt even knit a 3inch swatch without dropping at least 10 stitches!

oyster shawl full

So what now? well actually, I’m already progressing well with my next project. I have been an admirer of Andi Satterlund’s blog Untangling Knots for a while and really wanted to knit one of her cardigans. Especially as I kind of feel like you cant call yourself a knitter until you have knit a cardigan or jumper. So, when I saw she was organising a post-Christmas selfish sweater knit-along I just couldn’t help but start choosing my yarn and pattern.

I decided to go with the Miette cardigan, it’s a really cute cropped cardigan for the summer with a little bit of lace detail around the edges – perfect for showing off my new found skills!

I have chosen to knit it in Drops Paris, which is 100% cotton so it will be amazing for the warmer weather. In fact, I am enjoying knitting it so much I have raced ahead a little and already have the body of the cardigan done. There’s only sleeves and the button band left to do. I dont think the deadline for the knit-along in february should be a problem!

Body done

I almost cant quite believe how much I have knit in one year and how far my skills have advanced. Hopefully this will continue into 2016 and I can learn lots of new skills and complete loads more projects!!

H.

shawl knitting WIP detail

Oyster Shawl

I did it! I finished knitting my shawl!

oyster shawl full.jpg

It took a while and there were a few stops and starts along the way but I had completed my shawl in time for Christmas!

When I first began this shawl it was in an attempt to improve my lace skills. I had started to knit a lacy cowl but was really struggling so decided to try this shawl as the first section is just a solid knit with an occasional eyehole – the perfect opportunity to practice.

shawl knitting WIP detail

Then, once that section is complete the hard core lacework begins! At first I just took it steady but gradually I could gain pace as I learnt the repeats and began to feel more comfortable with the stitches.

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I had hoped to finish this shawl over the summer to wear at a friends wedding but when that didnt happen it had to get put to one side as I had some gifts to make. However, just before Christmas I found myself with a bit of time so decided to give it one final push and I’m really glad I did!

wrapped shawl.jpg

The final blocking stage was so important I almost couldn’t believe it. Once finished the lace section was a little disappointing as it was quite bunched together but after a little blocking all was fixed and now I love it!

lace.jpg

shawl

scarf shawl

The Details:

Pattern: Oyster Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Yarn: Soft and cuddly by the WI for Hobbycraft in cream and Soft and Silky by the WI for Hobbycraft in slate

I still can’t really believe that I made it! I love the fact it can look really smart as a shawl for special occasions or I can wear it casually as a scarf. This means I will certainly get the most out of it!

H.

Lou Lou Dress

A few months ago I noticed a new pattern from English girl at Home appear: The Lou Lou dress. It was her first dress pattern and so when Charlotte was looking for people to make and review the pattern I jumped at the chance and was delighted when she gave me the pattern to try.

Lou Lou Dress on HsHandcrafts

I chose to make view A of the dress – a simple shift dress with a cute lining poking out of the bottom. The dress is designed as a summer dress and calls for a lightweight fabric. Many of the pictures of Charlotte’s own look lovely and airy for the summer. However, it was already early Autumn when I had time to begin work on the dress. I decided to go with a navy twill for the main fabric and a navy and green tartan for the special lining fabric at the bottom. As this lining fabric is visible only at the bottom, the pattern allows for a different lining fabric for the full lining. I decided to go with a green lining to match the green in the tartan.

Lou Lou lining fabrics

As the dress is quite loose fitting it was recommended to go from the bust measurement alone. As, with every pattern (and almost every sewer in the world) I fell between 2 sizes. I decided to go with the larger size as I didn’t want to risk the garment being too small. The pattern was also designed to fit a B cup and so knowing there was no way that was going to work for me I decided to do a full bust adjustment adding 1 inch to the front pattern pieces for the lining and main fabric, I also added a bust dart so as not to add any length due to the FBA.

The sewing was actually quite straight forward and the instructions were really easy to follow. In fact I was really surprised to discover that I had just completed my first fully lined dress without only problems. The only thing I might change is possibly understitching the lining especially around the neckline because I have a feeling it will start to poke out after a few hours of wear.

After a quick try on I realised I probably could have gone with the smaller size as the dress was pretty loose everywhere, but this was easily fixed. I took 1/2 an inch off each side seam and resewed the arm holes. I also chose to take an inch off each of the shoulder seams. This made the armholes smaller and lifted the neckline up but this was more for personal preference than fitting issues.

The only problem I now have is the back does sag a little and I’m not sure if this is due to some of the adjustments I have made or if this would have been a fit issue all along

LouLou back

I especially like the detail of the contrast lining at the bottom of the dress. I feel like it allows you to have a layered outfit look without all the bulk.

Lou Lou layers
The details:

Pattern: Lou Lou dress from English Girl at Home

Fabric: Navy Twill from ebay, Navy and green tartan and green lining fabric from Fashion Fabrics in St. Albans

Notions: Gutermann thread in Navy

Alterations: Size 3 with FBA, 0.5 inch taken from each side seam and 1 inch taken off the shoulder seam

I really enjoyed making the dress, especially the fact that I made a fully lined dress for the first time. The instructions were nice and easy to follow. I like the layered look although I am not convinced of the style on me. Given the fact I added the full bust adjustment it feels very big, although once I put some heels on I did feel much better – perhaps it is not one for my everyday style but needs dressing up a bit!

H.

Pinterest Inspiration: Christmas Crafting

I’m so excited its nearly Christmas!

In just one week I finish work and I cant wait to fully get into the Christmas spirit. In the meantime I have been scouring Pinterest for some Christmas crafting ideas and I thought I’d share some of them with you here:

First of all check out this great way to upcycle old jumpers into Christmas decorations!

I also love this cute Reindeer hat…do you think I could get away with making one for myself?

Or for the more mature amongst us what about these gorgeous Reindeer ornaments

There’s so many great ways to bring a little bit of Craftiness to Christmas, you can see even more great ideas on my new Pinterest board: Christmas crafting.

Do you make your own Christmas ornaments or do you love to buy new each year? If your anything like me you will have a mish mash from across the years of shiny trinkets that caught your eye, some home crafted ones and everything in between!

H.

Innocent Big Knit

Each year Innocent smoothies run a promotion called the Big Knit where they raise money for Age UK by putting tiny hats on all of their smoothies and for each one sold they donate 25p to Age UK.

Age UK is a great charity who provide advice and help to the elderly across the UK.

I think the Big Knit is a really great idea as not only does it raise the profile of such a great charity it is a really fun and unique way of raising funds.

People, like me, who enjoy knitting can knit a bunch of tiny hats at virtually no cost to themselves. The tiny hats can be made from odds and ends of yarn from past projects and only take around 20 minutes to make and they are really simple too!

Also, the fact the smoothies have little hats on makes more people buy them, generating more money and also encouraging people to drink fruit-filled smoothies rather than fizzy drinks or something equally bad for you.

Anyway, now I hope I’ve convinced you all to buy a behatted smoothie when they come on sale in February I thought I would share with you some of my contributions to this cause!

I actually used the time spent knitting these hats to practice some skills I might want to use for future projects so many of my hats contained aspects of colour work or different stitch patterns.

 

H.

Goldhawk Road

A couple of weeks ago I took my first trip to Goldhawk road.

A quick trip around bloglamd and the sewing community will  have you realise that this is THE place to go for fabric shopping in London.

I wasn’t dissapointed we walked from Kensington gardens through Shephards Bush and arrived at Goldhawk Road. At first it just looked like any other street and I began to wonder what all the fuss was about. Once we started to walk down the street though I realised what an amazing place it really was. Pretty much every other shop was a fabric store and not only that some of them were like Aladdin’s caves which got bigger and bigger the more tiny archways or crooked stairwells you ventured down.

Unfortunately I don’t remember the names of the shops from which I made my purchases but the first purchase of the day was this aztec print jersey at just £6 a metre.

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I bought 2 metres and hope to use it to make a slouchy cardigan with all the new skills I hope to learn in the new year as I work my way through the Colette book I won a few weeks ago.

My other purchases were all from the same shop, again I dont remember the name but they had all sorts of fun cotton prints. I checked and these 2 are 100% cotton, another bargain at £6 a metre. Again I got 2 metres of each.
Elephants

bears

I’m not sure what I will make from these but I am picturing spring/summer blouses or dresses.

All in all it was a great trip. I’m so glad I went and I got some great fabrics to play with in the new year when I am back home and can sew again!

H.