A tale of two sweaters

You guys, I finished a sweater... and it only took me two-and-a-bit weeks! For me, that is FAST. It was my big Ravellenics project, so I was determined to get it done before the deadline. I put my other works-in-progress aside for the two weeks and just worked on this whenever I could. Result: a new knitted garment that didn't take me several months. ;)

The pattern is Ysolda's Blank Canvas, and I used less than five skeins of Longrider DK from Madelinetosh in the 'River Water' colourway. I'm still completely in love with the speckles!

One thing I would do differently next time is to knit the sleeves on similar needles to the ones I used for the body: I used wooden double pointed needles on the lower part of the sleeves and slippery metal needles on the body, and the gauge is visibly looser on the sleeves. Ooops. 

I've been wearing it regularly for a few weeks now, and so far the only signs of wear are a few pills under the arms. I still need to block it, but I'm waiting for warmer weather so I won't be without it for long while it dries. <3

To keep my garment-knitting momentum going, I dug out an old half-finished WIP from 2014 and decreed it my new Weekend Knitting project. The pattern is Laura Aylor's Park Slope tee, and the yarn is Vintage Purls Sock in 'Across the Universe', with subtle swirls of midnight purple and blue.

I've nearly finished the ribbing at the hem, and then I'll just have the sleeve ribbing and neckline ribbing to go. And then I'll have another new top to wear, just in time for spring.

Up for a crafting challenge?

Like any popular website with a big social element, Ravelry has its own traditions and special events. One of my favourites is the Ravellenic Games, held every two years to coincide with the winter or summer Olympics.

Ravellenics participants choose one or more projects that will be a personal challenge, and try to finish before the closing ceremony. The next Games are coming up in a few weeks beginning on the 5th of August, so if this sounds like fun you still have time to pick your projects. Joining a team is optional, but definitely adds to the fun in my opinion!

Last time around I crocheted a great big rainbow blanket:

I'm still super proud of it, and it's fantastic to have a real wool lap blanket in the lounge when it gets cold.

This time, I'm going to go big again and knit a Blank Canvas sweater. It's DK-weight, with 3/4 sleeves, and using a pattern I've knit before, so it shouldn't be impossible to finish in two-and-a-bit weeks (I hope). But it will still be a stretch for me, since I usually take ages to finish a garment. My plan is to halt all design-related knitting during the Games and concentrate on making myself a new comfy jersey. :)

Swatching ahead of time is encouraged (by analogy to 'training' for an event), so I've begun my quest to get my gauge correct. This is my first swatch in Madelinetosh Longrider DK, which I need to undo and knit again on smaller needles:

Wish me luck!

Birthday Sale + Slow Fashion II

I'm having a pattern sale in my Ravelry store! On October 13th, all of my individual self-published patterns will be 20% off. Just use the code BDAYSALE20 at the Ravelry checkout.


I'm not sure yet how we'll be celebrating, but I'm leaning towards fish and chips at the beach. :)

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Now on to Slow Fashion October... this week I've been focusing on the 'handmade' part of the prompt:
Week 2, October 5-11: SMALL
handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

I desperately need more lightweight, breezy summer tops, preferably sleeveless or with very short sleeves. Tshirts just don't cut it for an Australian summer! I also want to sew at least one long lightweight skirt with an elastic waist for maximum comfort.

I've been doing lots of research, and even ordering some supplies. I've gotten as far as ordering some fabric, and I've found a few indie patterns for the kinds of tops I want to wear: simple, fuss-free, and beginner-level (especially as I haven't sewn from patterns before). I'm most excited about Sew DIY's Lou Box Top, which includes different options for the neckline and hem. I also ordered a copy of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, which looks amazing.

I'm also hoping to replicate my home-made dinosaur top in a lighter fabric. I sewed the original three years ago and I still wear it regularly! It's held up to wear and washing a lot better than my shop-bought tshirts, which usually end up out-of-shape and shabby after a year or two - hooray for handmade. :)

Dino top + crochet-in-progress (Feb 2014)

Slow Fashion I

I'm a little late with this post, but here it is - my intro post for Slow Fashion October! The month has barely started, and there are already a lot of great conversations happening in the knitting/sewing/crafting world. Bristol Ivy's Instagram post (plus its comments) on affordable, inclusive slow fashion is a thought-provoking example.

 And so, on to this week's prompt:
“Week” 1,  October 1-4: YOU
First let’s introduce ourselves: Where are you at with all this / What first got you interested in Slow Fashion / What are your skills / What do you hope to get out of Slow Fashion October / What are your personal goals for the month / Do you have a special project you plan to tackle this month?

I've been doing slow fashion for a long time. A fair proportion of my clothes and shoes are second-hand, and a few things are home-made by me. I struggle to find well-made natural-fibre clothes that are affordable, but I tend to have better luck in second-hand shops than elsewhere. I also have an odd-shaped body (with my sway back and total lack of hips), so making/altering my own clothes is often necessary for getting a good fit.

Of course, sewing and op-shop hunting can take a lot of time (that's the 'slow' part), and it can get frustrating if I can't find a very particular item which I need, and don't have the skills to make it.

My slow fashion skills are knitting (very confident), sewing (trial-and-error style), crochet (moderately confident), and spinning and dyeing (beginner-ish). This month I hope to make progress with a few projects, learn more about sustainable fabric dyeing, and get lots of ideas and inspiration from other participants. These are my plans...

Knitting

I'm trying to make more time to knit garments for myself, as I have a lot of must-make items in my queue. Lately I've been setting aside weekends as no-work-knitting time, which has been really refreshing. It's nice to knit from other people's patterns again! I've made lots of progress on my Royally Striped cardie, and I now have just the borders to go.

Here's a progress pic (not modelled, as it's 35 degrees and I am not putting on a woolly cardie):

Clockwise from top left: the lower back, the upper back, a sleeve, and a side.

Dyeing

Now that I have my own copy of Eco Colour, India Flint's amazing book on sustainable natural dyeing, I plan to embark on some more dyeing experiments. I've ordered a trio of lightweight ethically-produced wraps from Beautiful Silks - an unbleached linen wrap (to use as a sarong/scarf), an Australian merino wrap (for cooler weather), and a linen/silk blend scarf.

Sewing

I also have plans to sew a few simple summer clothes when I'm in Whakatane next month and can use Mum's sewing machine. I'm thinking a long, light skirt and a breezy top or two, as I really need some more warm-weather options. The sewing part will be in November, but I'll do some planning and fabric buying in advance.

That's all for now! If you use Instagram, do check out the #slowfashionoctober posts. <3

Needle and thread

Hello! I've been getting over a cold (again), so things have been a bit quiet lately. I hope my cough will be gone by Sunday so I can get back to choir...

I decided to use some of my sitting-in-bed-with-tea time to finish off a couple of little sewing projects. I've been putting them off since I find hand-sewing a bit of a chore!

The first mini-project is a set of lavender-bags that I started last time I was in Whakatane, using Mum's sewing machine.


I made basic rectangles, leaving a gap in each one for the filling. One side is patterned fabric from this Etsy shop, and the other side is plain linen with a less-dense weave (to let the scent through). This week, I made a pleasantly-scented mess filling the bags with dried lavender and cedar-wood chips and then stitching them closed.



I'll put one in each of the plastic storage tubs that hold my yarn and woollen clothes and accessories. I'm hoping the lavender and cedar will prevent weird smells from the airtight storage, and if they helps deter moths too that will be a bonus. :)

I also replaced the buttons on an op-shop cardigan which I've had for years.
It has nice classic cables and a warm peanut-butter colour, but the metallic buttons always annoyed me. I bought new buttons for it last year, and finally got around to putting them on the cardie now (that's how much I dislike sewing on buttons)! The new ones look so much better:

Before

During

After

The last little sewing project was supposed to be hemming a couple of pieces of silk fabric which I bought with the intention of turning them into scarves.
I want a scarf I can fold up small and keep in my bag, for surprise encounters with cold wind.

I realised one of my pieces of silk was a good size to turn into a double-wrapped cowl, so I set about pinning and stitching. Unfortunately, I made a silly mistake with the geometry and when I turned the cowl right-side-out, I had a very long tube too narrow to fit over my head.

At least my running-stitch seams will be easy to unpick, when I decide to give it another go. For now, it's back to knitting! :p