Fingering Weights

Remember when I culled a lot of sweaters earlier this year? I identified colour and style gaps in my wardrobe, and determined what would be truly useful, reflecting my lifestyle and personal style. One of the strongest needs was for fingering weight pullovers.

So I made four this year, and each one has justified itself by being worn again and again, working with my other clothes, and serving the purposes of form and function.

Here they are, with a couple of outfits I used each sweater in. I hope, by logging outfits each time, I can do a more thorough analysis in a couple of years, but for now, I’m very happy with my knitting decisions!

Thermal Kitten

Natsumi

Arabella

Trika

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Breaking the Mould

I’ve been a busy little bee, sewing up a moulage for myself. And it worked!

Longtime readers may recall that ages ago, frustrated with sizing in commercial sewing patterns, I had applied the principles of knitting to sewing — draft a Back and do an FBA to get the Front. This actually worked surprisingly well, and I used this pattern to make quite a few pretty things.

But it was never quite right. Woven fabric behaves differently from hand knits, and there was always a little gaping here, a couple of diagonal drag lines there, some falling shoulder seams too, meaning the garments looked nice, but not stellar like some of my best hand knits (yes, modesty isn’t really my thing).

So finally I took a class on Craftsy, The Bodice Sloper, to draft my own sloper. People, it is a fabulous class, well worth the full price (and even better if you get it at a super discount like I did). The instructor, Suzy Furrer is very clear, articulate and competent, and the lessons are full of little nuggets of information: did you know, the front neck is 1/8 inches larger than the back to prevent gaping and pulling? And that if you’re over a C cup you should fold out half your armscye dart in a sleeved garment to have ease for sleeves and yet create additional cupping? That there is even a horizontal dart-like ‘waist shaping’ which needs to be dealt with to avoid wrinkling in the torso? That there are actually two points on the front, from which darts can radiate? I certainly didn’t, and I am so grateful I took this class.

You start off by measuring yourself and drafting a moulage which is a skin tight mould of the body in woven fabric. The theory is that once you draft a perfect moulage, you can then add ease to it to create a sloper, which is a basic template of a garment. So why not start with a sloper? Because the ease built into it will not allow you to correct fit problems. But by starting with a body mould (the moulage), you know that whatever slopers you create off it (with small positive ease for blouses, greater positive ease for jackets and coats, negative ease for knits) will fit exactly as intended.

I admit to having my reservations — I wondered if I should measure my front and back circumferences separately. But I followed instructions exactly, and yeah it all worked out! The only place where I went off script was to follow the instructor’s answer in reply to a question from a body type similar to mine. It was a minor adjustment to the side seam length, but it was necessary to get a good curve at the armhole.

Once my moulage was perfect (only took two tries, and the process was quick and exasperation-free), I drafted up a blouse sloper. What freedom that no further fitting was needed!

Here’s the Creature critically inspecting the moulage…

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I’ve already made a couple of blouses from the sloper, one sleeveless and the other with sleeves (which requires a further, small modification to the sloper), and will be posting about them soon.

Now, finally, I’m going to reanimate my plans for a Cambie and Parfait. I had dreaded the amount of adjustments required, but now I can just copy the style lines and draft to exactly my own shape!

 

Shocked and Random

I’ve been knitting dedicatedly for a while now, and have never feared to try anything. So I was shocked — shocked, I tell you! — to realise I’ve never done any intarsia! Of course I knew the theory. But looking back at projects all the way from 2008, I couldn’t find a single intarsia’d stitch.

Well, that’s been remedied now:

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I’m still chugging away at the sleep sack. I’ll write about all the design decisions in the FO post, but at least now it looks like what I imagined. There was a point where I was worried it would be weirdly long and lumpy.

In other random news, I jumped on the adult colouring book bandwagon:

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And ordered even more sock yarn:

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Thyme, Nectar and Ginger from Madelinetosh. Very botanical, no?

 

Wearing What I Make

Now and then, I may have mentioned on this blog that I am a product knitter.

Of course the process itself is important to me; I enjoy crafting very much, else I would just go buy sweaters from a shop. And among all other crafts I particularly enjoy knitting because it’s the perfect amalgamation of pretty colours, fun geometry, portability and spatial imaginings; it soothes my inner make-something itch; and I get something useful out of it. I will also admit that owning something more beautiful and flattering than everyone else’s clothes is very appealing to the shallow and frivolous part of my soul.

Most of that applies to sewing as well, although knitting is clearly my favourite of the two.

And that is why I have always made things I know I will wear. Some may not have worked out quite perfectly, thus all the knitwear culling a few months ago, accompanied by unblogged sewing projects’ culling, but that exercise helped me refine what I want and need from my me-made projects.

I want my wardrobe creations to be functional and beautiful. To me, ‘beautiful’ is a combination of striking, flattering, unique, luxurious and elegant. Only for clothes of course; I’m not that shallow! And ‘functional’ garments should  mix well with my existing (culled) wardrobe, reflect my style and taste, and fill identified gaps.

Now, everyone has their own happy spot on the spectrum of colour, ease, trendiness. Mine hovers towards more colourful, well fitted and classic. But increasingly, I’m leaning towards clothes that do not allow me to blend in – I like being noticed. This means that if I knit or sew with a neutral colour, there must be some element of intrigue through texture, style or notions. I really cannot imagine myself in an outfit where every element is neutral, shapeless, casual and laidback. Neither do I like bohemian, ultra-romantic, very girly, blingy, or super trendy styles. On me, of course – I have friends who carry off those styles very well.

I’m meandering, and will now come to the point: I looked, and looked, for inspiration online featuring how people incorporate their handmades into their real life, but found very little. There’s the Me-Made-May frenzy of course, but what about the rest of the year? What about travel where you have to pick a capsule for a different weather and culture? What about putting several me-mades into a single outfit without looking like a crazy crafting lady? What about making them work with RTW? What happens after the prettily styled FO post?

I have several ideas bouncing around in my head. Like travel capsules where I used my me-mades, with weather and culture information. Or quarterly roundups of most used me-mades with outfit pictures. The ideas are a little hazy right now, we’ll see what finally crystallises. Suggestions are welcome!

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Actually, wait, I know what I’ll do first. A recent travel capsule wardrobe to a chilly place, great for lightweight sweaters. Here’s one of the outfits featuring my Thermal Kitten; I hope to have the whole post ready soon!

 

On Instagram

Somewhere between all the travelling last year, I managed to join Instagram, posted a couple of pictures and then forgot all about it.

Then I met a couple of friends with accounts, and – driven purely by jealousy and competition! – started posting more regularly to mine.

I try to keep this blog mostly knitting / sewing / craft related, so if you’d like to check out occasional food, travel and puppy photos too, head over to onkuri.

Gratuitous cuteness, just because:

Puppykins sleepykins #beaglesofinstagram #beagle #puppy #sleepy #sleepyhead

A post shared by @onkuri on

 

And a reminder why I love my job:

See you there!

The Accessories

The final post in this series of sorting and discarding handknits! And when I say ‘discarding’, of course I mean ‘find loving homes for’, or ‘give to charity’.

Here’s the whole lot (kinda scanty, right?):

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From left to right, top row:

Braided Scarf, Seed Stitch Cloche, Endpaper Mitts, Aerang, Epistrophied, Sideways Garter mitts, Sweet Copper Beret, Chestnut Cabled Knee-Highs, Honey Cowl, Annis, Undergrowth, Brambles Beret, Leyburn.

And left to right, bottom row:

Forest Flower, 14-Cable Band, Candleflame beret, Mermaid gloves, Soap bubble, Zigzag gloves, Snails!, Slouchy Sleeves, Grey Leaves, Bacchus, Brioche Collar.

My criteria for selection were simple: had I worn them at all? If not, was it because they were ugly or unsuitable? Could the ugliness or suitability be fixed?

So I decided to keep most of my hats, gloves, mittens and cowls. And now I know I need to knit more hats, cowls and fingerless mitts in adaptable colours. Even a highly variegated one like the Honey cowl has been soooo useful because it goes with (or contrasts well against) so many things I own.

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I decided to discard some hats and scarves. Lesson learnt: more structured hats, no skinny or dangly shawls and scarves.

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I also made the shocking discovery that all but one of my handknits socks are beyond the stage of resuscitation by darning! I had to discard everything below, and seem to have lost a couple of pairs over the years. More socks, now!!

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Well that’s it! I have a knits collection that breathes easier now, and I love everything in it. I’ve also identified gaps, and am choosing projects keeping those garment and colour missing links in mind. Here’s to a more organised and pretty future!

The Heavyweights

Let’s continue today with the heavyweights – worsted and bulky. As usual, all pictures are read from top to bottom and garments are sorted into Keep, Reconsider or Fix, and Discard.

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Purples and Violets
Beatnik – If the last one was a list of Don’ts, this one is full of Do‘s. It’s tweedy, flecky, warm, light and most importantly, has ease for layers underneath. I modified this one to knit it mostly in the round and seamlessly, and did many complicated calculations to steek in a hood. It’s proved its worth over and over again. Keep.
Braided Pullover – This one is so gorgeous and flattering. I love the rich, deep, purple. And the yarn is a yummy, squishy, soft Zara Plus. But a worsted weight tight sweater doesn’t work in my life. Maybe in the lives of those with central heating, but not those of us who have to rely on layers and our mammalian ancestry. Luckily I’ve already found a good home for this beauty. If I ever find this colour again, though, I’m definitely making myself a cabled squish. Discard.
Lotushima – Great sweater. Not yet field tested, but I dare anyone to pry it from my cold dead hands. Keep!
Koukla – Very few patterns inspire me so much that I actually knit them in the same colour. This one did, and I’m glad of it even though light violet isn’t a colour I usually wear. I totally customised this one adding more bust shaping, a deeper scoop, longer sleeves and changing the waist ruffles into sleek shaping. Love. Keep!

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Blues
Nanook – I find waterfall drape fronts (unless they’re really long) very unflattering on me. This cardigan’s been adopted already. Discard.
Farmers’ Market – Love at first sight! Squishy Zara Plus again! But my young and inexperienced self did not realise that I need thick cardigans to close in front, otherwise they’re pointless. Good home already found. Discard.
Rosamund’s Cardigan – Wait, why don’t I wear this one more often? Because I can only wear thick cardigans when I travel to cold places, and when I do, I’m saving precious suitcase spaces for pieces I love. And this one, I don’t. But I still want to wear it, so for now… Keep.

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Greens and Yellows
Dusseldorf Pullover – absolutely adore this one. The colour, my modification to a wrapped V neck, the sleeker cuffs. It’s striking, it’s beautiful, it’s warm and a perfect fit. You will pry this from my cold dead fingers (YWPTFMCDF) category. Keep.
Sideways Spencer – I invented an entirely new stitch pattern for this one, but have never worn it. Probably because a spencer needs to be worn with a dress, and I don’t have any that goes with it. I should probably discard, but don’t wish to yet. Keep.
Cusp –  YWPTFMCDF. Keep.
Ondawa – not yet field tested, but a very stylish garment. Keep.
Kimono Style – Man, how much I modified this one, and what a perfect, flattering, garment I created! I loved and wore this one, but again: worsted weight – tight fit – need layers – look like sausage. Discard.

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Reds and Pinks
Carnaby Street Skirt – Alas for my beautiful pockets and shaping that I don’t live in a climate where I need warm skirts! Discard.
Aidez – It’s warm, it stylish and it’s striking. The arms have almost no ease, though, so it’s only good for long-distance flights when you’re wearing a very light layer inside, and just need to snuggle. Keep.
Burrard – I love it for the same reasons as my Dusseldorf. Keep, keep, keep.
Silk Cocoon – Not yet field tested, but I like. Keep.

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Neutrals
Ribbed Bolero – Ah memories! One of the first things I ever made for myself, before I discovered the explosion of knitting on the internet. Sadly it’s acrylic and has suffered some time damage. Discard.
Opposite Pole – I love this one, it is as striking, unusual and beautiful as Cusp. YWPTFMCDF. Keep.
Drops 103 – In the early days of Ravelry, everyone knit this pattern. I changed mine to a seamless raglan and a funnel collar. This has proved to be an astoundingly useful garment, with a colour that goes with so much in my wardrobe, a style which adapts to every occasion and  a fit which flatters each time. Keep, keep, keep.

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And Finally…
Huh, I seem to have very strong feelings about my heavyweights – there’s nothing for fixing or reconsidering!

I’ve decided to Keep:

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And to Discard:

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Next, Accessories!

The Lightweights

So — culling knitwear! Following on from the introductory post, today we tackle the lace, fingering, sport and dk weights. All pictures are read top to bottom, and I’m categorising garments into Keep, Reconsider or Fix, or Discard.

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Dark Neutrals
Icarus Dress – Totally, uselessly, unworn as a dress because too tight, too lacy. But I really like the lace skirt, so I think I’ll tweak it into a Coachella. Reconsider or Fix.
Tiger Whisperer – unworn because I need more coverage if I want to wear a cardigan. Discard.
Tangled Vines – Unworn because boring colour which goes with nothing. Discard.
Lacy Vesper – Unworn because I keep forgetting about it! Move into heavier visibility and see if it gets used or not. Reconsider or Fix.
Milk Maiden – Worn and loved! Perfect for layering in winter. Keep.

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Reds and Pinks
Zick-Zack Cardigan – Worn and loved! Goes wonderfully with dark bases like navy and black. Keep!
Cranberry Nectar – I love it and it looks great, but never seem to wear it because I never see it! Store for better visibility. Keep.
Manu – Sadly unworn. It felted slightly because of my dying experiments and has been just a little too tight ever since. I probably should knit another one, this is such a great pattern. Discard.
Delysia – Loved, but never worn because I don’t see it (seems to be a common theme with my cotton and other warm weather knits!). Store for better visibility. Reconsider or Fix.
Boticelli Tunic – Not yet field tested since I haven’t been in very cold weather since making this, but I totally love it. Keep.
Red Arrowhead – Sleeves were always too short, hitting at just the point where they enlarge my bust. Discard. Actually, I quite love the fabric… maybe cut and make a cushion cover or bag?

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Oranges through Greens
Ginger Lizette – Store for visibility, wear more. Keep.
Chainlink – Just finished, so not field tested. Keep.
Citrus Chevrons – Not field tested. Keep.
Shifting Sands – I love this one but never wear it because the short sleeves are uncomfortable! I’ve already bought the yarn to make longer sleeves. Reconsider or Fix.
Katharine Hepburn – The most useful cardigan ever! I’ve worn it with practically everything for five years, and the fabric is still strong and beautiful. Keep, keep, keep!
Climbing Vines – Well worn in chilly weather. Fabric still good. Keep.

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Blues through Purples
Blue Bamboo – Loved and still being worn. Keep.
Eyelet Top – Never worn because the armscyes are too tight. I learnt sooo much while making this one, probably because it was the first garment at the beginning of my knitting fever (fuelled by the internet) way back in the winter of 2008-09. I figured out lace pattern placement, positioning shaping in knitwear, modifying patterns and crochet finishing a neckline, only to stumble at correctly calculating armhole depth. However, this has been worn several times, and has served its purpose in teaching me to knit fitting garments. Discard.
Adriatic – Pretty, useful and wearable. Keep.
Nightblooms and Seedpods – Absolutely adore this one, but it leaves my arms very cold. Maybe order a skein to lengthen sleeves? Knit and attach contrast undersleeves? Keep.
Deep V Vest – So many memories! Reading Eunny Jang’s wonderful blog and finding the pattern. Ordering a pattern online for the first time (so speedy!), buying my still-favourite 3.5mm circulars, and falling in love with the heathered Zara Chine yarn line. I even remember I was at a training course and went to the big department store nearby, where the perfect combination of colours leapt out at me.  But most importantly, I value the experience of measuring my own body and discovering its quirks for the first time – and creating a measurement set that allowed me to make well fitting garments for years. I still use those figures from 2009 when I’m not using CustomFit to generate a pattern. Unfortunately, this vest never got worn because I could never find a suitable inner layer. Goodbye beloved garment! I’m glad I’ve already found you a loving home. Discard.

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Greys
Victoria Yoke -meh. This one feels as though it should be useful although I’ve never worn it. Probably because when I travel to a cold place, I save luggage space for gorgeous handknits and not a drab little thing? Must get over this thinking. Reconsider or Fix.
Thermal Kitten – Love! Keep!
George Street – Utterly, totally, useful as an inner layer in winter!! Keep!
Charcoal Dahlia – Very pretty, very useful. Keep.

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And Finally…

Discard (by which I mean ‘Find Loving Homes For’):

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Reconsider or Fix:

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Keep:

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Next, tackle the heavyweights!

The Life Changing Magic of Pretty Knits

I started out by doing another Rainbow FO day, but decided to put a little thought into it this time. I want to keep the pretty, joyous stuff, yes, but also the ones which work, with my lifestyle and wardrobe.

I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book yet, but all the reviews and media frenzy it has generated have convinced me that I must; not for guidance but for vindication. I confess I’m the type of person who is quite horror-struck at the amount of stuff the knitting world thinks necessary – a boundless stash, millions of dinky stitch markers, multiples of every needle size. At least – this was the case a few years ago when I first discovered knitters online; now, I’m happy to note, a more thoughtful buying pattern seems to be setting in.

Of course, everyone must decide on their own level of comfort with stuff. And we all have our own ideas of the ideal, hardworking wardrobe. For some, this may be a cool, stark palette of neutrals, but I confess that the very idea makes me shudder because I love colour. But I realise that a clown vomit wardrobe is a bit useless, which is particularly galling to someone like myself who loves being a product knitter.

I want knits I can wear (even if only in a specific season), which warm me in the way I like (no elbow-sleeved woolies), which work. I want to keep the ones which spark joy, decide which ones can be tweaked, and which ones to bid farewell.

So I piled up all my laceweight to dk weight FOs:

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And my  worsted to bulky weight ones:

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And also my accessories:

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Join me as I sort through them over in posts over the next couple of weeks, deciding what to keep and what to give away!

PS: I should add, I’ve already finished the culling in a single afternoon, and am only posting about it in stages. I don’t recommend lingering over this process because that’s the beginning of emotional attachment to stuff.