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little dungaree shorts – great british sewing bee

30 Jun

I’ve decided I really want to improve my sewing and finishing skills so not only have I enrolled on a online sewing course but I also bought the book ‘Great British Sewing Bee-Sew Your Own Wardrobe‘ (I’m not a reviewer at all so I’ve linked to someone that has reviewed it pretty well!)

My local craft pop up shop Make/Do was selling it with a discount so I thought I’d give it  a try.

It has some really cute patterns and 5 whole pattern sheets!

I decided to start with a cute little pair of baby dungaree shorts for my niece and they turned out pretty well indeed!

photo 5 photo 4 photo 3 photo 2 photo 1

I just made two alterations to the pattern: the duck instead of the stars and instead of working buttons on the sides I added press studs for ease.

I just hope they fit!


which buttons do I choose???

28 May

Ive been knitting Blue Bird by Valerie Morris for my neice Annabelle and although I’ve now finished knitting, have sewn in my ends (althought there wasnt many as the cute little jumper is knit all in one piece) and have blocked it out, I just cant decide on what buttons to pick!!!!!!

Here are my options


green mottled buttons


pink and purple mix


three solid purple buttons


multi pinks


baby blue for the purple Blue Bird


Or creamy white circle buttons


I need some help!!!!!!


twist collective spring 2013

16 Apr

What a delight to switch on my laptop Sunday morning and discover that there was a brand new edition of Twist Collective to peruse over my birthday breakfast! Patter-wise this issue is a bit thin on the ground for me. There are a few things I find interesting, but nothing I’m gagging to knit. Article-wise, this one was fascinating. Spring and summer are difficult times to design for, but well-written articles are year-round.

To begin with the patterns, I really like the looks of Rebecca Blair’s Eliza jumper and Emmy Petersson’s Alvinda cardigan. They both take advantage of the breeziness of a simple lace pattern in a light sport-weight yarn. I also think both would be adorable converted into henleys. Don’t you think Eliza would be super-cute with a little column of buttons?


I also enamored by Iris Wildsmith’s Galliera tam. Not only does she have the best name ever (she’s a smithy of the wild!) but she has great aesthetic.


Finally, Michaela Moores’s Castanea is amazing! The stole is beautiful, but the giant circular shawl is spectacular. I love the yarns chosen for the sample patterns; the colours really make the stitch pattern sing.


On to the articles: I really recommend taking a look at Robin Melanson’s feature, ‘The Error of Our Ways: A Knitter’s Guide to Fixing Mistakes‘. It offers both excellent solutions to common problems and a great pictorial guide that demonstrates clearly what these issues look like and how to fix them. I’ve always been fairly fearless when it comes to dropping down and fixing things in situ rather than ripping back six rows to sort a mistake out.


All you really need to be able to do it without damaging your work is to follow one of the best tips she gives: learn to read your knitting. This tip is repeated in Sandi Rosner’s article on lace, but it is well worth learning how-to whatever your project. It’s a bit tricky in the first repeat of a new pattern or chart, but it saves endless heartache in the end if you sit back, spread out your work and read the stitches after every few rows/rounds. You catch errors much more quickly, plus it’s really lovely to just be able to admire the results of all that effort you’ve put into your work!


The other article that really caught my attention is Leslie Petrovski’s essay on plant-based fibres, ‘In the Weeds‘, which gives both a historical perspective of how these fibres have developed in human hands and their advantages/disadvantages over animal fibres. It’s a very interesting read. I’ve never been particularly into plant-based yarns, as I find the inelasticity of cotton yarns difficult on my hands (and the very thought of hemp and linen gives me arthritis). As I get deeper into working with colour and knitting jumpers and cardigans, I’ve got deeper into exploring how different sheep breeds and other animal-based yarns react to different stitches and contours. Plus sweaters and cardigans designed in cotton or linen always seem to be too tunicy and mother-earthy or just somehow less agile than those designed for wools. But this has made me reconsider some of my prejudices and has made me really keen to get my hands on some linen. It might open up a whole new world for me.

Does anyone have any recommendations for plant-based yarns?

All images taken from Ravelry and the Twist Collective site.

fo: larch cardigan

11 Apr


After a mere nine weeks, my Larch cardigan is ready to wear! This project actually started way back in the depths of last year when I contacted Lyndsey from Countess Ablaze to ask her if she could custom dye me some of her DK-weight blue-faced Leicester, Bluefaced Baron DK. We back-and-forthed over the colour for a few weeks until she hit upon the single most amazing emerald you have ever seen.

This is the emerald that makes you think of rolling hills and mythical creatures and burial sites full of untold riches. It is lush.


I knew almost immediately that it had to be a Larch cardigan. Larch, for the uninitiated, is an Amy Christoffers design. Amy occupies a place of deep affection in my heart. She is an incredible designer. (I’ve heard several people say that it’s like Amy designs just for them, but they’re wrong. She designs just for me.) Her cardigans are exactly my aesthetic.


I did a few small mods that others might find helpful.

  1. I tend to find long, loose cardigans gape around the small of my back (because my bum sticks out and I have little natural waist), so I spread the decrease stitches evenly rather than at the sides where they would traditionally fall (every 50 sts for the first set and then immediately above [i.e. so they’re stacked] following Amy’s row count). This seems to have worked very well.
  2. As usual, I knit my sleeves until I thought they were long enough and then added an extra inch and then added ten rows. This seems to be the only way I ever manage to get sleeves that fit. NOTE: I did NOT do this for my Acer or my Tinder and my sleeves for both projects are definitely a bit too short. I think it works rather well with the vintage feel of the Acer, but I have a good mind to hack into the Tinder and add some rows.
  3. I extended the sleeve caps and arm holes by about 6 rows. Amy’s main criticism is that her sleeves tend towards the tight side, which I noticed in my Acer. These sleeves fit perfectly. They are deep enough to be able to comfortably wear a couple of layers underneath (which is totally necessary at the moment! When will it be spring?!).
  4. Amy suggests using a double-knit BO around the shawl part of the collar, which is super stretchy but looked very unfinished and amateurish when I attempted it. I stuck to my regular BO (k2, sl 1st st over 2nd, * k1, sl 1st st on right needle over 2nd, repeat from *), but looser than normal.

I am very pleased with the result.


On the needles now: not another Amy (I just couldn’t decide!), but my long-awaited Perfect Christmas Jumper! About time, no? Lou finished her’s years ago.

too many shawls?? – never!!

17 Mar

When I decided to knit my sister a shawl for her 30th birthday I didn’t think it would take me this long to pick one!

Her birthday was on 28th Feb!!

I knew I was leaving it late as I still hadn’t finished my brothers socks, (due 19th Jan! Still waiting to be posted!) but even though I’m never normally on time with knitted gifts, this is even late for me!

The first point I was stuck at was picking the yarn. I gave Jen six options and she got it down to two……


Wollmeise Pure in Petite Poison



Madeleine Tosh, Tosh Sock in Moss

Eventually I decided to go with the Wollmeise as Amethyst is her birth stone and I wanted a shawl with more delicate drape than comfort squish.

Other than finishing Adams socks and picking a yarn, my main issue was that I couldn’t decide on a pattern. I had a few ideas in my head but wanted it to be special and perfect for her. So I took to Ravelry to see if it would help.

Looking through Ravelry just made it harder, there are so many amazing shawls out there, all pulling me in different directions!

So I decided to put together my favourite five shawls and compare them all together to help me decide.

The greatest thing about Ravelry is having the ability to see many knitters versions of patterns, it different yarns, weights and colours.

The pics shown are a mixture of the designers own and other Ravelry knitters projects.

I love the bold, determined style of Trilinear designed by Cindy Garland, but the thought of having to make another decision for the second colour has put me off this but has also put this at number eight in my Ravelry queue!


© Wild Prairie Knits

The delicate draping leaves of The Lonely Tree Shawl designed by Sylvia Bo Bilvia are just gorgeous and the border adds such a pretty finish but I didn’t want a block lace pattern for the entire shawl. (I think this would be awesome in another yarn in my stash too)


© Sylvia Bo Bilvia

The shape of Lazy Katie has me obsessed! Brigit Freyer has designed a work of art in this shawl but it needs a bold, colourful, variegated yarn to create the brilliant effect.


© BonnieRed

Semele Shawl designed by Asa Tricosa is practically perfect, it has a delicate drape a base of stockinette stitch and pretty lace border, I think it has made the final cut….



Whenever I think to knit a shawl my default designer will always be Susanna IC and Oslo Walk is fantastic. I love the dangling ice crystals and the yo’s breaking up the main section of the shawl. Susanna’s construction is always a winner for me so into the final it goes…


© OrangeLauren

The final decision has been hard but due to the weather at the moment being so cold and so icy I’ve made my choice…..

The winner is Oslo Walk!!

new knitty, winter 2012

17 Dec

I was so happy when I opened up ‘Hot Right Now’ on Ravelry and saw that a new Knitty was out. Ahhh, fresh patterns! As ever there is a well-rounded selection to chose from, something for everyone. Here’s a round up of my favourite patterns from the bunch. Unusually for me, my favourites leapt off the screen at me — usually I dither and umm and ahh and faff for hours trying to decide which to highlight. Not so this time!

Starting with the Earlybird Socks, there is something about the textures and use of colour this year that really struck me. These socks are a really lovely case in point. The smooth, repeated lines are so satisfying. They almost look like the deep furrows of a ploughed field when seen from up high, out an airplane window, slowly arching round. The stitch pattern is one of my favourites, too. I think it’s the one that Lou used in the cuff of her Raspberry Ripple Socks.


Kittiwake, similarly, uses a really interesting, well-defined stitch pattern that looks like it would be fun to knit up. I’m nearly finished my Acer Cardigan and am consequently on a cables-and-lace kick. Kittiwake (oddly enough, one of the words I assigned my students for their spelling test just the week before I even saw Knitty’d come out) looks not only deeply satisfying to knit, but cosy and like it would fit beautifully. Mind you, Amy Herzog. Nuff said.


Two of the other cardigans in this Knitty also had me blown over. Iounn‘s gorgeous stranded work caught my eye initially, but the cuff detail and the amazing hemline are what sealed the deal for me. I bought a beautiful ginormous hank of teal merino at the Knitting and Stitching Show this year — practically the only yarn I bought there! — and I think it, paired with a soft dove grey or a daffodilly yellow, would make for a gorgeous Iounn of my own.


Rime’s the Reason is other other cardigan that I really liked. The name is not my favourite, but the construction is So Clever. I love the combination of buttons and zip, and the hood and in-built fingerless mitts are amazing added features — although it’s started to warm up a little here in London, last week I needed something that would keep me toasty. The zig-zaggy butterfly motif looks like it would definitely keep up knitterly interest, as would the protective hip panels.


Finally, as soon as I saw Lilaceous, I really wished I was getting married all over again. Or at least that this beautiful pattern had come out last year. It’s just so delicate, and so plush. It takes my breath away every time I look at it. I think I’m going to make one out of regular boldly jewelly sock-weight yarn and then another in the softest, most ethereal laceweight I can find. The description Derya wrote for it is equally lovely.



Honourable mentions go to rather fun mittens Caaaarbs!, the cardigan at the end of a really interesting article on Aran knitting in America, Ruth, and Argentière which has an amazing collar.

Note: All images slurped from itself.

new twist collective, fall 2012

10 Aug

I don’t know if it’s the Olympic fever or the heat, or the fact that EVERYONE is on holiday except me, but I cannot concentrate on anything for more than about 50 seconds.

Actually, I suspect it’s more due to the fact that the casing on my laptop has snapped, which means I can’t close the lid and thus am stuck at home (anyone have a laptop they’d like to sell me?) AND there has been building work going on in the downstairs flat FOR A MONTH. Being stuck at home — at my un-air conditioned, stuffy, noisy, nausea-inducingly drill-rattled home — sucks (seriously, I really need a new laptop, if anyone can help a girl out…). There isn’t enough lemonade in the world that can soothe my shattered nerves.

And yet, just when I thought the world had simply gathered up my pleas for help and swept them under a great cosmic carpet, the new Twist Collective arrives. [insert crowd going wild here]

I’m on a mad cardi kick at the moment — I’ve Paulie on the way off the needles, Tinder and Acer just on — so as soon as I saw Praline by Gudrun Johnston, it went straight into my queue. Obviously the pockets are excellent, but I also really like the delicate stitch pattern, which for some reason reminds me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Elizabeth Doherty’s Tenaya is also an immediate favourite — the cuff detail is delicious. It has the same cable-and-laciness that drew me to Amy Christoffers’s Acer cardigan.

As just about everyone I known is pregnant or recently given birth, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time gazing at tiny baby patterns. I am smitten with Kristen Rengren’s Barberry. The adult version is lovely, but the child’s size is fantastic!

(I really want to mention that I love how the editors chose to show the yarn for the storyboard Tenaya and Barberry are both from, Down East, and the One Morning in Maine storyboard. I like seeing what the strands will look like, as they usually display the yarn, but there’s something very satisfying about the close-up of the fabric created. Incidentally, I just noticed that both storyboards are photographed by Carrie Bostick Hoge — I wonder if that had anything to do with it.)

As well as the great cardi collection, there are some great little jumpers (Fortune Bay, Fara), fantastic mitten patterns, some very cute shawls and wraps (Pussy Willow, Bayfield) and some incredible sock patterns (Budapest Market, I’m looking at you); too many to play favourites, but I have a sneaking suspicion Rachel Coopey’s Banach or Barbara Gregory’s Horatio and Oren will find their way onto my needles at some point.

Lest you think I don’t actually read my magazines, Sandi Rosner’s article on shaping in pattern is GENIUS. I love these technical pieces that not only help (and inspire) budding designers, but explain just what our stitches are doing.

*All images slurped from Ravelry.