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

Operation Sock Drawer

Remember when I culled and categorised my handknits, and realised how pathetic my collection of socks was? That I, a knitter, was condemned to cold, cold toes when I travelled? How sorrowful was this collection, and how quickly I had to discard everything in it for being darned and patched beyond counting, felted to unwearability or mysteriously lost?

P1090999Weep no more!

Border

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Gulls and Stones

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Elm Turner

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Chevron Thyme

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CoP Legwarmers

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Rocaille

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Baltic

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Knotty or Knice

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Delicious Nectar

2016-07-22 13.57.30

And the last, unblogged Sidewinders

I see a lack of red/orange colours, so know exactly what to make next year. And I’m happy to report, I’ve been wearing these socks a lot. On flights, during travels, when the air conditioning is too cold… they have all proved themselves worthy!

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!

2014 Roundup

Another year, another chapter closed! I managed to put out an ok-ish number of projects this year, but with unprecedented amount of travelling, my output was  considerably lower than last year. Behold:

002 2014 knit 1

From top left to bottom right, Milk Maiden, Undergrowth, Strawberry Hat, Rosamund’s Cardigan, Opposite Pole, Chestnut Cable Knee Highs, Bubbly Cowl, Boticelli Tunic, Sweet Copper Beret.

I also did a Man Sweater:

small whole 2

 

And released a Custom Fit Recipe:

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I also sewed a bit:

002 sew 2014 1

From top left to bottom right, Border Print Taffy, Project Bag, Sleeping Pajamas, Ruffled Top, Colette Dahlia, Botanical Taffy, two more Project Bags, and Sleeping Shorts.

I hope you all have a wonderful new year full of things you want to come true!

 

 

 

Six New Sources of Happiness

Next up:

1. Catkin sweater: this shawl pattern is just too pretty to be ignored, but I cannot wear lace shawls in any way approaching the flattering. I’m going to make a stockinette yoke, use the herringbone stitch from the pattern for the rest of the sweater and end with the dancing catkins pattern around the hem. Oh and the bottom will be a wide U shape, bordered with the bright “Forestry” yarn (TML), scooping in to the waist and buttoned along the sides. The picture below is pretty, but not very real — Forestry is a much more vivid green and I’m not sure if the brown can be an equal partner; perhaps a swap is on the cards?

small catkin swatch

2. Leitmotif – in a lovely, licheny, Portland Tweed. I may work the stockinette section in the round and steek it up the front just to speed things up.

 small leitmotif swatch

3. Milk Maiden:  in Cascade 220 Sport, Ginger Spice. Probably de-sexified a little bit, so it’s more wearable.

 small milkmaiden swatch

4. Seamless Hybrid Man Sweater: The Man is 6’5” and only likes fingering weight yarns. Wish me luck. And my fingers, strength. And my mind, grim persistence. On the other hand, all 16 seasons of the utterly charming Midsomer Murders are on Youtube, so this just may go faster than expected.  To be worked in a combination of stockinette, twisted rib and subtle chevron texture, in TML “Grey Gardens”.

 seamless swatch

5. Talamh: in the iconic “Tart” in TML. This picture in no way does it justice — it’s a deep, complex, wine red. I’m thinking of converting this into a pullover, with i-cord necklines and overlapped, rounded fronts. Maybe also a detachable cowl in the same lace pattern if there’s enough yarn left over?

 small talamh swatch

6. CoP Legwarmers: It’s been long enough. Winter is coming. Let’s be prepared.

small legwarmer

A Slew of Laurels

Months and months ago, I made a Laurel muslin. I realized it is a basic kurti pattern and then used it to better fit some of my RTW kurtis. I generally manage to find RTW kurtas my size, except for handicrafts selections – there you’re paying for the gorgeous hand-woven textile or  exquisite embroidery, not so much for the cut and fit. So they end up being decidedly matronly off the rack.

I cut the sleeves off the matronly kurtas and separated the front and back. Then I positoned the Laurel pattern fetchingly on the embroidery, cut the pieces out and sewed them up. Instantly wearable!

The Laurel pattern drafting is excellent and fits my shape perfectly. The back was a tiny bit wide, though, so I just removed 1cm wide vertical sections from each half back piece, then redrew the neck curve smooth. Also, after making the muslin, I realized I didn’t really need a closure, so cut the back in one piece for all the rest (eliminating seam allowances).

1. The (Wearable) Muslin
Made with some cotton mix. Please excuse the fitting wrinkles:

full small

I scooped out the neck and finished it with i-cord…

icord small

… and the hems and sleeves with bias tape:

small hem

I also changed the back zip to a lapped construction. I can’t remember which tutorial I used, but there are tons online if you google “lapped zipper”. Innit lovely?!

small zip

2. The Green Alteration
Here’s the Before (awful low light pic, but gives an idea of the general shape!):

small before green

And the After; so much more wearable!

small after green

3. The White Alteration
(No Before photograph. I kept the original crochet sleeves)

small white after

4. The Diagonal Adventure
This fabric had diagonal pin-tucks stitched into it, giving it an unexpected stretchiness. It felt bias cut, although it is cut on the straight grain. I cut the back and front in halves. Of course I had to flip the pieces horizontally to do that, but I also flipped them vertically at the same to get chevrons.

small Diagonal laurel

Since I couldn’t add back darts to this fabric, I shaped the back waist curve by removing fabric at the centre-back seam. The edges have lace and bias binding finishing. I cut a v-neck and scooped the bottom into a U shape.

Having established that the Laurel pattern could be used for casual daytime tops / kurtis, I’m planning something slightly more complicated for the future. Let’s see!

Sew Ends 2013!

I managed a decent amount, although nowhere near the prolific levels of my knitting. And that’s because I was away from my machine for months at a time!

The undoubted star of my 2013 sewing has to be my Minoru! Here it is, centre stage:

Sewing collage 2013

Column 1: Paisley Back Wrap, Truly Myrtle Bag, Banana Republic Shirt
Column 2: Minoru!
Column 3: Truly Myrtle Bag, Navy and Lace dress, Laurel (unblogged)
Column 4: (Invisible, since unphotographable, since in another country): Two tunic length Laurel kurtis, sleeveless top.

In terms of usability, the two Truly Myrtle bags get used a lot, and the Paisley dress comes out quite often too. As do the sadly unavailable-for-photography kurtis  I made with the Laurel pattern because the original RTW pieces were too big to simply adjust for size. So I just laid the Laurel pattern over the giant sized RTW garments and cut out the pattern, positioning the embroidery flatteringly. The red/print Laurel hack (bottom right) is a bit too puffy at the empire waist and I may topstitch the pleats to move it into wearable rotation.

That’s all for the 2013 roundup! I was absolutely going to post this in December, but then spent the last 10 days touring a half excavated, once fabulously rich medieval city (Persian, Chinese and Italian travelers describe its markets filled with gold, diamonds and rubies; dancers with arms so laden with gold that they had to be supported by servants; sandalwood palaces and parties that went on for days); and then savouring Indo-French fusion food in the utterly charming maisons and villas of Pondicherry.

Thank you for reading, commenting, pinning and liking… you’ve made it worthwhile! I hope you all had a very happy start to the new year, and may 2014 bring you every happiness!

13-ish in ’13

13 in ’13! And 11 of them new projects started in this year, with only two of them WIPs carried over from last year! And this is without going on a knitting hyperdrive or taking leave from work to knit. In fact, I had fewer holidays than last year, and sometimes weeks went by without picking up the needles. 13 Sweaters made through after-work knitting, a couple of hours on weekend days.

Collage 1

Collage 2

Collage 3

Top: Nanook, Annis Shrug, Delysia
Second:    Ginger Lizette, Cranberry NectarTiger Whisperer
Third:   Aidez Beatnik Hoodie,  George St Pullover
Fourth: Charcoal DahliaKouklaAdriatic
Last: Rosamund’s Cardigan

So I thought about how I managed to do it. Were there Significant Life Lessons here? You decide, dear readers.

Decide to do it. I’ve made similar decisions in the past, but this time it worked. Perhaps I kept the decision at the top of my mind more often?

Be inspired. Before knowing about the knitting explosion on the internet, I would have thought churning out one sweater per year a pretty good goal. Seeing other, regular, people churn out sweaters every week or ten days sets the bar higher. Your brain starts seeing it as something possible, desirable and even doable. Once your brain accepts that a goal requires no special skill or perfect timing to get something done, it just goes ahead and does it.

Don’t compare. On the other hand, seeing people churn out a new sweater a week can be a source of despair! I was careful not to compare my own pace with any other person’s. Whatever worked was fine for me.

The two preceding paragraphs sound contradictory; a delicate balance is required. Turn off comparisons if they drain you, and only look to others as long as it serves as a healthy sort of inspiration. I would start checking other people’s completed sweaters on Ravelry only when I finished one of my own, or to top up flagging levels of my sweater greed, just for the feeling of belonging to an achievers’ club.

Pick your own pace. This was really important to me. I used to belong to a group on Ravelry which aimed to do a project, any project, each month. Although it was great fun and the organizers really put a lot of effort into the theme, after a while I started feeling a great sense of dissatisfaction and stress, because it didn’t mesh with my style of knitting. I like making large stuff, and it really annoyed me to make tiddly little things just to finish them within a month. Also, having to wait till the start of the next month, grrrrr!

So then I joined the IntSweMoDo group which was perfect! Aim to make one sweater a month at your own pace, starting and ending whenever. Sweaters, not egg cozies! Complete freedom of starting and ending time! Lavish praise when a sweater was finished! Perfect!

This freedom was particularly important to me because knitting very much occupies a ‘Do Whatever I Want’ space in my mind, as opposed to work where we are subjected to the tugs of what feels like millions of factions. I enjoy my work, which is a cause dear to my heart and has us conduct large, international, activities. But it also involves coordination with governments, donors, partners; requires constant checking to make sure everybody is mostly satisfied and nobody is offended; and is the sort of work which by definition can never come to a definite end. On good days it feels intricate and exhilarating, with a finger on the pulse of the world. On bad days it is wretchedly exhausting. So, monthly knitting goals would just be… NO. A loose and non-enforceable goal of 13 in 13, if I wanted to, was perfect.

Set things up to be easy. My multi-project harem system really worked. The most tedious tasks of any project are swatching, calculating, casting on. Decisions take time. So I would finish all the tedious work for a batch of projects in one go, and just enjoy soothing knitting for the next few months. This really helped with after-work knitting when brains were just too fried to think about anything.

Remember. In all this, I remind myself that knitting is something I want to do and can stop any time 🙂

So… you’ll notice I said 13-ish in ’13, and that’s because the last project is still incomplete (and I may only get 95% done by the end of the year). But WordPress reminded me this is my 100th post, so I wanted it to be Significant in some way.

Next year… I’ll start on the smaller stuff. I love making sweaters, but I do need cowls and hats and gloves, and have a few good patterns languishing in my queue for years. Perhaps 14 in 14 may work, mostly knitting small stuff?  This is dangerous ground; the secret of success is to know the value of restraint.