OAL2016 is complete!

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Who doesn’t love the chance to both knit and sew whilst discussing it every step of the way with a group of like-minded crafters? I personally love it and the Outfit-Along has not disappointed. For those who missed my previous post about this and have no idea what I’m talking about it is a challenge to create an outfit in two months. There is a set pattern for both a sewn skirt and knitted top which you can choose to follow along with a series of guided posts from Lladybird and Untangling Knots or go your own way and make something different. This is what I chose to do as I have quite a few skirts and was looking to make a great summer dress. Also, another cardigan was top of my list for knitting so I decided upon the Agatha cardigan and got started.

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I picked up this gorgeous fabric from the knit and stitch show earlier this year and knew the subtle ivory and black print could handle a bright cardigan so chose to go with a red yarn. I used the suggested yarn for the pattern which was Cascade 220 and I actually really loved working with it. It is 100% wool so it’s really warm and will definitely make the cardigan great for the Autumn and Winter (even if it is a little bit much right now!)

 

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The dress is self-drafted. I used the bodice block from Freehand Fashion, a book by Chinelo Bally from Series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee. This is the second time I have used this bodice block and after a few tweaks it is almost perfect in terms of fit. I also drafted a semi-circle skirt. I am really pleased with it and the fabric is perfect for this kind of skirt. It drapes really well but has some body to show off the fullness.

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Also, I put the biggest pockets known to man into the side seams! Why doesn’t every dress have pockets this huge??

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I really enjoyed taking part in the Outfit-Along and I’m already looking forward to next year. It was a great experience to think about making an entire outfit as so many of my handmade clothes are one-off pieces that I have to mix and match with shop-bought to create a wearable outfit. Perhaps I will consider this more from now on and start thinking about creating a more cohesive wardrobe.

If you want to see more of the outfit along and see all of the other wonderful outfits people have created you should definitely head on over to Ravelry where there is a wonderful forum of delights awaiting you!

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram or Twitter

Blue Heart

Heart CowlI was looking back through my old posts to find out when I first started knitting this cowl and it turns out it was way back in April last year!For a long time it was a bit of a love-hate relationship. I hadn’t really knitted lace before and was really struggling with the pattern. After a few weeks I decided to give it a break and started work on my lacy shawl instead.

Both patterns are by designer Ambah O’brien and I really love them both. There is enough lace to make them feel delicate without being to fiddly and retaining that chunky knit feel I really love.

 

Having given this project a break I was quite pleased to come back to it. I love the yarn, and the pattern – and whilst hearts and normally my thing these have a geometric look to them which I find really appealing.

How could knitting this not make me happy - look at that blue on blue on blue!

How could knitting this not make me happy – look at that blue on blue on blue!

Once I was more confident with the lace this wasn’t too difficult a pattern to follow and a couple of long train journeys got me well on the way to being done.

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I actually finished this project quite a while ago and it managed to sneak into some of my me-made-may outfits. It was actually really great for those days when the weather is being particularly fickle and a cardigan isn’t quite always enough. This as an extra layer was perfect for taking on and off as the temperature dropped.

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I really like the length. It is plenty long enough to comfortable wrap around twice without being tight. Also, because it is blue it goes with pretty much all of my clothes! I’m so glad I persevered with this pattern as I think it will get a lot of use!

 

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If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current knitting projects on Ravelry where I share more details on what I thought of the yarn, the pattern and any tips or tricks I found to make it easier  for me to make.

Starting again

 

After another busy week I promise I have lots of lovely things to show you but just no pictures as yet…stay tuned.

Instead I thought I would share some thoughts I’ve been having about starting projects again and whether it’s a good thing to do.

Sometimes I start a project but find its just not right for me. Obviously I love the pattern and yarn/fabric otherwise I would not have chosen to make it but sometimes I just can’t get into it.

My lacy cowl was one of these projects. I started it almost a year ago but just couldn’t cope with the lace work – I really had jumped in at the deep end.

The project sat in my basket for months and months and months and I just couldn’t bring myself to work on it because I just had a mental block about how hard it was going to be.

Starting again can sometimes seem daunting

Not only did I not want to work on it, I didn’t want to stop working on it either. Now this had me in a bit of a dilemma. I really loved the pattern and yarn so couldn’t bring myself to admit defeat but equally I don’t want to waste my precious crafting time working on a project I wasn’t enjoying.

After a lot of deliberation I ripped it out, wound the yarn up and started again. Once I had got over that initial step I felt much better about it and actually wanted to start again!

Following the success of my shawl just before Christmas I decided that perhaps I could knit lace after all and maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad this time so I cast on again and got to work.

6 rows of ribbing boredom later (320 stitches per row!!) and I was so keen to start on something more exciting and in fact the lace work was much easier this time!

I am taking this one slow and have used so many stitch markers but I am determined to make it work even if it takes me a while!

lacework take 2

Do you like to complete projects once you’ve started them or are you happy to abandon a project that’s not working for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I promise there is more coming soon!!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Pinterest Roundup: August 2015

August is almost over, and we get the keys to our new house tomorrow! Unfortunately this means my month has been largely free of crafting as most of my possessions are packed away ready for the move and I have been too busy packing and getting excited about the new house to do anything anyway! I’m guessing there will be a lot more home-décor crafting coming my way over the next few months!

Despite, my lack of actual crafting I have been able to fill the void by looking at all the beautiful things that I could be making over on Pinterest. Here’s a round up of some of my favourites from this month!

delicate lace shawl

I think given the amount of time I have spent knitting my shawl recently (it is the only thing I haven’t packed) I should be fed up of shawls but look how beautiful this one is! I think its crochet rather than knit but the link through to the pin is not very detailed and the pattern is too small to read really but if any one figures it out it is beautiful!

 

 

 

I think I have de8ca9f1a712aa78bc69d32fd56d2bc09bfinitely had crochet on the brain recently as the next  two pins that I have loved this month are also crochet and as I don’t really like hot weather I am getting really excited about the Autumn coming and being able to wrap up warm I have picked this lovely colourful blanket and these really cute hats!

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f51d0328c3d96677e9aee96fba05c9e7Finally, (its another crochet one I’m afraid) perhaps a sign of things to come for the new house is this beautiful crochet cushion cover. I love how the stitch pattern creates diagonal checks whilst the colours are checked horizontally and vertically.

 

 

 

You can find these and more beautiful pins over on my Pinterest account.

H.

 

Stitch Markers

I have been a bit unsure about stitch marekers. They often seem very expensive for so little and for a while I was unsure of their merit. I had previously tied a bit of yarn of contrasting colour where I wanted to mark a point in my work, for example when marking repetitions of a pattern to check I had not gone wrong before I got to the end of a row.

However, after some time the yarn comes untied and is no longer of use and needs to be replaced. Surely, I thought there must be something I could use instead that would be just as good but wouldnt cost as much as those little stitch markers.

Then, one day whilst I was at work I found myself staring at my paperclips (in their nice little tray I made!) and thought to myself how perfect they would be – nice loops that are nt too big and slide easily on the needles and can be removed and reinserted if necessary. I had a collection of coloured paper clips to look like numbers which I thought would be great for counting repeated sections so I decided to try them whilst working on the lacework on my shawl (no, it did not get finished in time for my self-imposed deadline!).

number paper clips

number paperclips used as stitch markers on shawl

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So far they seem to be working great and the colours and number are really fun!

H.

My view for the whole week on the farm

Weekend WIPs: The end of a very busy week

So after returning from my holiday I jumped straight into what turned out to be one of the busiest weeks I’ve had at work in a long time. It wasn’t even busy in a nice way – rushing around seeing lots of people and getting lots of work done. No, it was a busy in a hot and exhausting kind of way. I spent the whole week out on a farm in pretty hot weather doing very physically tiring work.

My view for the whole week on the farm

My view for the whole week

So, by the time the weekend came I was ready for a well earned rest. I spent some time knitting – my shawl is now progressing nicely although I’m not sure it will be ready for my self imposed deadline for me to wear it to a friends wedding the first weekend of August. Also holding me back might be the fact that there is another section to come in cream and I have almost run out of the cream yarn. I have ordered some more so hopefully it will arrive pretty quickly so I can continue knitting uninterrupted!

Beginning of lacework on knitted shawll

Beginning of lacework on knitted shawl

I have just started on the lacework (in blue)and have been reminded of how I really need to learn not to knit so tightly! The last time I attempted lacework I got really fed up with it and I think that was partly because it was such hard work. As I knit really tightly it is especially tricky to knit together multiple stitches the yarn and needles begin to creak as I prize the stitches along! I thought I had managed to loosen my stitches slightly as I knit up the stocking stitch part of the shawl but obviously not enough to make the lacework significantly easier.

I have been knitting “continental style” ie with the yarn in my left hand. Any suggestions of how to hold the yarn better so that my stitches become slightly looser. Obviously I cant change it dramatically or it will look out of place on a partially knitted shawl but as I have just switched colour and the style of knitting is changing I think now would be the best time to try something new!

H.

cream shawl WIP

Knowing when to stop

Recently I’ve found myself struggling with the knitting pattern I’m working on. Its a knitted cowl with some lacework. The pattern offered two options for the length and I really loved the look of the longer one so that’s what I went for. However as its a cowl rather than a scarf this meant working the long edge so each row has 130 stitches. This was not great for my motivation as it felt like I was making no progress. Also, with it being my first attempt at any sort of lacework I was finding it quite tricky to follow the pattern and occasionally I would reach my stitch marker for the end of a row but instead of being at the end of the row on the pattern I was mid-motif. When each row was taking almost an hour this is not something I wanted to unpick! I decided to stick with it but after a while it was becoming more of a chore than something I was doing for fun.

Blue heart cowl

So I  made the decision to shelve the project, perhaps till I am a bit more confident with lace. Maybe if I come back to it again I will remember why I started it in the first place – I do still really love the pattern and the yarn but I just did not want to continue with a project that was more stressful than my day job!

I decided to try another knitting pattern with a small amount of lacework – it is a shawl that is basically a flat knit with periodic holes in it. Having started this new pattern I am remembering why I like knitting. It is fun and doesn’t require too much concentration allowing me to watch TV or chat to my friends as I go! I also seem to be making reasonable progress – look what I have achieved in a week! (along with work on my other projects)

Have you ever reached the point where you have to shelve a project because it just isnt working for you? How did you decide when to stop?

H.