Finally, Ginger Jeans!

Making myself a pair of Ginger Jeans has been on my to-do list since the pattern was released (seriously, it’s been on my 2014, ’15 and ’16 Top 5 goals list…), and I’ve finally knuckled down and made them. Just like with my Safran Jeans, they really weren’t any more difficult to make than any other garment with a moderate number of pieces, definitely easier than a winter coat (and 100% easier than the raincoat I’ve recently finished for my sister!)

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Check them out! These are view B, the high waisted/skinny leg version of this pattern, I like my jeans to sit at my natural waist and these are pretty much spot on. I didn’t make any major pattern changes to this version, I thought I should make them up as is for my first shot and then tinker with my next pair! To be honest, I was amazed at how well they fit straight out of the packet. I took 2” off the hem (next time I’ll take it out higher on the leg to keep the hem skinnier), and moved the pockets up 5/8”, and took out a bit of extra fabric at the outer side of each knee. For my next pair I’m going to play with a knock-knee adjustment, I think that should help fix the diagonal wrinkles at the knee that I have with this pair and my Safran jeans. I might also take a wedge out of each side of the yoke, there’s a wee bit of gaping at the back waistband. Other than that though, I think they’re really good!

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I put in the pocket stay option too, it does help to make the front feel nice and snug! I used more of that Liberty Poplin remnant that I’ve used for every pocket bag/under collar/yoke lining/bag lining since I bought it. There’s still plenty left, so expect to see it again! The denim I used is from The Fabric Store, of course. I bought it years ago, with the intention to make these jeans with it! When I pulled it out of my stash last weekend, I was surprised by how lightweight it was, I had remembered it being much heftier. It meant it was really easy to cut and sew, but these aren’t really winter weight jeans! It also felt quite rigid, and I was worried that I hadn’t bought denim with the right stretch percentage, but it turns out that next to the 30% stretch that my Safran Jeans have, this 2% lycra/cotton blend just feels stiff!

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I used a hardware kit from Closet Case Files (the gold colour way), and I really love the result. The zip is especially nice, the pull is really low profile compared to other zips I’ve used, and it helps the whole fly sit so nice and flat. I also love that the button and the rivets match, it looks all so nice and professional! I was really scared of putting the rivets in, I was sure I was going to ruin everything at the final step! I watched the video tutorial on the Closet Case Files Blog, and everything was really simple in the end. I just had to whack everything harder than I expected, and avoid stabbing myself with the awl (and the rivet posts, they were pointy!). For thread, I just used all-purpose Gutermann thread for construction, but I used Sulky thread for the topstitching. I’ve had so many issues with topstitching thread in my machine, and I thought that the slippery, shiny Sulky thread would show up nicely and my machine wouldn’t have a tantrum every time I tried to sew with it.

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I’m amazed at the difference moving the pockets made! They looked okay at the marked position on the pattern, but shifting them up 5/8” has made my bum look much better. I think the size and shape of the pockets is excellent, Heather Lou knows what she’s doing!

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I was a little bit worried about how firm and tight these felt when I first put them on, but after a few hours they loosened up nicely, especially around the knees (just as well, I thought I might have over-fitted them around there). I’m not sure how well this denim will hold up, to be honest. They’re comfortable now, but I have a feeling that they might keep bagging out and will need lots of washing to keep them in shape! I interfaced the waistband with the same hefty knit interfacing I used in my Safran Jeans, so hopefully they’ll stay up…

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Unfortunately, it turns out that Sulky thread really isn’t cut out for top stitching, especially not on a stretch fabric under stress! After a day of wear, I had popped several lines of topstitching on the pockets and around my bum. This morning I went back and re-did all that topstitching on the back crotch seam and pockets with normal thread in the same colour, and hopefully it’ll hold up better. I thought that since I had seen Sulky thread being used for topstitching on bags that it would be okay, but of course bags aren’t usually stretch fabric or being stressed like those seams, so I shouldn’t be surprised really! I have some heavier stretch denim in grey waiting to be made into another pair of Gingers, so for those I’ll use upholstery thread for the topstitching. I know my machine will sew with that, because I use it to sew leather!

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I really enjoyed making these, even though there were a few setbacks at the last moment! I like the precision of doing that  top stitching, and all of the other components like the bar tacks and rivets and fly make these a really fun project to work on, especially as I sewed them up in short bursts between writing an assignment. Best of all, I’m really happy with the final product! Stupid that it took me so long to make them really…

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Finally, I thought I should get a picture of this tee shirt, as it hasn’t made the blog yet! It’s a Molly Tee, from the Sew Over It City Break Capsule Wardrobe e-book. I really like the shape of it, especially the curved hem and the wide scoop neckline. I turned the sleeve hems up and hand stitched the cuffs rather than just hemming them, just for something a bit different. I keep meaning to make the dress version, but it keeps getting bumped down the list. Maybe for summer!

Knitting season

It’s winter! That means I have to stop bitching about it being cold (because it’s supposed to be), and I get to wrap myself in wool without feeling like I’m overdressed. I knitted both of these items a while ago, the scarf was finished in June last year and the hat in March this year, so I’m hoping I remember the details of both projects! I really should start keeping better notes on Ravelry…

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First up is the scarf, which is one of my favourite hand knitted things! It’s the Guernsey Wrap pattern from Brooklyn Tweed, in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. I had never knitted with BT yarn before, it’s quite different to other yarn I’ve used. It’s much woolier, if that makes sense, almost sticky and lumpy and very sheep-y! I was a little concerned about it being scratchy, but once I blocked it it softened up beautifully. And it’s so warm! I’m not sure I’ll be knitting much with BT yarn (it’s super expensive in NZ, might need to stick to hats), but I’m glad I used it for this scarf.

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The Guernsey Wrap pattern is lovely, it’s written for both worsted and DK weight yarn and the texture comes from knit/purl patterns which makes it quick and simple to knit. I love the blocks of texture, its quite subtle but looks interesting and kept it fun to knit. It’s a massive scarf, it took nearly all of the 5 skeins of yarn recommended and barely fit in my project bag towards the end! The pattern calls for ”extreme blocking”, where the scarf is hand washed and the stretched out on blocking wires much more than you would when blocking in the usual way. I ended up stretching it another 10” lengthwise!

 

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Before and after my extreme blocking

You can see how much bigger it is post-block! This extreme stretching gave what was a pretty dense fabric a lovely lightness and drape, which makes it much easier to wear. I tend to wear it wrapped around twice, I can tuck each end into the collar of my coat and it keeps me so warm and cosy on my pre-dawn trip to the train station!

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The other thing keeping me warm is this hat! I knitted this over the summer, from the book “Knitting from the North” by Hilary Grant. I love Hilary Grant’s knitwear (I’m going to try to buy one of her scarfs when I’m in Scotland later in the year!), so I was super excited to get a book of her patterns. I’m still pretty unfamiliar with fairisle knitting, having only ever tried it once, so I thought I would go simple with a two colour hat to start off with! It’s knitted in the round with no shaping, and is then gathered to form the crown. This made it easy to knit, but does mean some of the pattern is obscured in the gathering. I struggled a little bit with keeping my tension even, there are a couple of fairly tight strands where the floats get longer, but it’s not too bad.

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I used Zealana Yarn’s Kauri for this, it’s their 4 ply ‘performance’ yarn which is supposed to be machine washable. I haven’t tested this, but I thought it sounded good for a hat! its a possum/wool/silk blend, and it’s lovely and warm and soft, but the halo from the possum is possibly not the best for colourwork. It did make a lovely dense fluffy pompom though!

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I did find a few discrepancies between the colour work chart and the photographs of the samples in the book. There is a set of chevrons missing between every other arrow on the chart, but that was easy enough to draw into the pattern so that it matched the pictures! I don’t know if that was intentional or if it was an error, but again it was an easy fix. The only other thing I changed was to do a tubular cast on, because it gives such a nice edge to the brim! I think knitting a double thickness brim would also be nice on the hats in this book, since the fairisle knitting gives the body of the hat a double thickness of yarn all the way up.

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So there we go, more winter woolies to get me through the next few months! I’ve finished another scarf since finishing these, but it needs blocking before I can get some photos of it. I’d like to knit another hat, but once I do that I think I’ll be pretty set for this winter (except for socks, I have plenty of those planned!). Do you have any hat patterns you would recommend?

Me Made May 2017 musings

So #MMMay17 has just wrapped up (literally, its 8.30pm on the 31st as I write), and I wanted to get down some thoughts about it before I forget. I didn’t make a formal pledge or anything like I have in the past, but I thought I would use the month as a chance to get some perspective on my handmade wardrobe, and try to figure out what I should be making for this winter (if anything). I easily managed to wear at least one handmade garment each day in May, which was a nice change from my last Me Made May, but given that I tend to sew mostly basic separates it wasn’t exactly surprising! This is what I wore last month:

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Looking at this collage, I can see that I definitely have favourite colours and silhouettes! Denim, stripes, grey and navy are definitely my neutrals, with reds, greens and mustard as accents. It has been unusually cold this May, with snow and freezing southerly gales, so I’ve been pretty rugged up. My hand knits got a really good workout, as did my Cascade duffle coat and Waver raincoat. I think my Driftless cardigan and Safran jeans were probably the MVP’s in my wardrobe this month (and most months), though I’ve certainly got good wear out of my Lark tee shirts too! I also used my Genoa tote bag nearly every day, though it didn’t make it into any of the pictures. I started the month putting a star emoji on the days where I wore all handmade garments, but I apparently gave up on that pretty early!

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Oslo Coat by Tessuti and Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files

So I think I’m actually pretty well covered for winter clothes, but I do have a short list of things I think would fill the few holes that I’ve noticed. I could really do with another pair of jeans, so I’m going to finally pull finger and make some Ginger jeans. Hopefully I’ll get started on those during the long weekend we have coming up! I also have a few pieces of merino set aside for more long sleeved Lark tee shirts and maybe another toaster sweater, because I can never have too many knit tops. I wear my driftless cardi so much that I’m going to make another one in some wool ponte, which will get me closer to my goal of spending the winter swaddled in snuggy wool. Finally, I’ve decided I’d really like another warm coat, but in a neutral colour. I love my Cascade duffle coat, but a bright red coat can be a bit limiting sometimes! I’ve been wanting a charcoal or navy coat, and when Tessuti released the Oslo Coat pattern earlier this week I decided it was just what I was looking for. Emma (from Emma’s Atelier) and I are going to sew the Oslo up together, its always nice to have a sewing buddy! And I think that’s about it, which is pretty good. Hopefully I can get those things whipped up soon to keep me warm, so that I can get sewing the summery pieces I want to be able to take to the UK later in the year.

I’ve enjoyed Me Made May again this year, not only does it give me something to think about and to base my sewing plans on (rather than my usual ”ooh, shiny!” approach), but I really love seeing how people wear their hand made clothes in their everyday life rather than just how they’ve styled them for their blog posts. I always find myself reconsidering patterns that I’ve previously dismissed when I see them during MMMay! My to-sew list is unreasonably long these days…

A toasty sweater

Well, winter has arrived a month early in New Zealand! There’s snow on the hills around Wellington, and a savage southerly is whipping through the city. Time to sew some of my stashed merino!

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I really wanted to make the Toaster Sweater pattern from Sew House Seven after seeing so many versions made up during the northern hemisphere winter, I love the split hem with its mitred corners and the funnel neck of version 2. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the online sewing community, but I really hate turtle necks. I just hate having anything snug around my neck, even tightly wrapped scarves make me feel like I’m suffocating. I thought the funnel neck on this pattern would be wide enough not to freak me out though, and I was right!

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I used some merino interlock from The Fabric Store, and it is the softest, cuddliest merino I’ve ever sewn with. It has a bit more heft than most merino jersey I’ve sewn (obviously, as it’s a double knit), so I thought it might have enough body to keep the shape of the neckline but still drape nicely. I think I was mostly right, the funnel neck does sag a bit in the centre front, but I think if I had interfaced it it might have ended up too stiff.

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I cut it out in a single layer so that I could match the stripes, which was pretty successful. The merino is so soft and stretchy that it was pretty forgiving, but it was a bit tricky to keep it square as I was cutting it out. It also wanted to grow and shift as I sewed it, so I used about 15 times as many pins as I usually would when sewing a knit!

That mitred hem is possibly my favourite part. It was simple enough to sew, but looks so nice and clean! I think I’ll definitely be borrowing that part of the pattern for other tops, it will be easy enough to graft onto another hem.

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So there were a few things about this pattern which I found a bit odd. I had never heard of a double stitch before, which is the method recommended for constructing this top, but it’s when you sew a row of straight stitches and then a row of zigzags next to it. I’m sure it probably works (otherwise it wouldn’t be in the instructions, right?), but I was weirded out by it enough that I just used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew the shoulders and neckline, and then overlocked the side seams and sleeves. the hems are all top-stitched with a twin needle, as usual. I also thought it was weird that the neck facing which folds under to give the funnel shape didn’t extend to the shoulder seams, it means that it’s a bit messy around the shoulders on the inside. Its also super short! I’m really short waisted, and this is the shortest length I would want it to be. Tall sewers beware!

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If I make another Toaster Sweater 2, I think I’ll extend the facing piece so that I can catch it in the shoulder seams when I sew in the sleeves, just to keep it neat and hold down the facing a bit more securely. I think I might go down a size as well. This is the Medium, which is where my measurements put me, but I wonder if it would be a better fit in a Small. In this drapey knit I think the slightly oversized look is fine, but I have a more structured cream wool tentatively earmarked which I think would be a bit tent-like in the bigger size!

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I do like the slightly 1960’s beatnik vibe this top has, especially with my Safran Jeans and some flats. I just need to find a poetry slam or something (I wish I could find a poetry slam, does Wellington have such a thing? I so desperately wanted to see Kate Tempest in September, but she’s only doing one show while we’re in the UK and its the day before the only other thing we have tickets for. Such a bummer!) Zelda also gives it the cat-fur seal of approval, so it must be good. A few more snuggly wool tops, and the southerly can come at me!

Double Denim

At the end of last year, Emma from Emma’s Atelier organised a sewing challenge for the Wellington Sewing Bloggers. We were going to finally stop procrastinating and sew jeans! Now, I got my jeans finished by the end-of-challenge date in March, but the date was pushed back a few times to accommodate others who were still sewing. Eventually the 6th of May was decided on, so I decided to sew up something else for the challenge as I had already blogged my jeans

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I was going to have a crack at some Ginger Jeans, but I didn’t get organised in time. Instead I decided to use the rest of the stretch denim I had left over from my Safran Jeans to make another version of the skirt from v1247. I really liked my first version of this skirt, but it is pretty short, and the fit is all a bit squiffy because I was more worried about pattern matching than the trifling matter of accurate seam allowances…

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This version does fit much better, I don’t have the odd bubbling above the pockets like I did with my first version. Guess those seam allowances do matter huh? I added 3” to the hem of this one, and I prefer the longer length. I also added an exposed zipper up the back (I thought sewing denim and using a metal zip made this skirt enough like jeans to qualify for the challenge!). I used Megan Nielsen’s tutorial for the zip, and it worked fairly smoothly. It isn’t as neat inside as I would like, due to the way the seam allowance gets clipped, but I can live with it! I bound all of the internal seams with Hug Snug, to keep the bulk down (and because I couldn’t be bothered making bias tape). It looks a bit dodgy up close, but if you aren’t looking too closely it looks pretty good!

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I’ve been wearing this skirt heaps since I finished it, I didn’t realise I needed a denim skirt but it has obviously filled a gap in my autumn wardrobe!

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I’ve also made a long sleeved version of the Deer & Doe Melilot Shirt, in a Robert Kaufman chambray from fabric.com (I think it’s this one, but I’m not 100% sure). I love my short sleeved one, so I thought a long sleeved version would go well in my wardrobe, and I was right! I really love this shirt. I’ve seen some mixed reviews of the Kaufman chambray around, but it’s really hard to find lightweight chambray in store in Wellington, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s really nice and soft, and it pressed and sewed up nicely. Hopefully it’ll wash well, because I’d like this shirt to last.

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This is the first time I’ve sewn tower plackets, and I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. There was a little bit of head scratching as I tried to get everything to fold correctly, but it all suddenly fell into place and looked like what I was expecting! I put a bar tack right across the top of the split to reinforce it, as I’ll be wearing these sleeves rolled up most of the time, but next time I think I’ll use a shorter vertical bar tack to strengthen that area. The long bar tack is just a bit clumsy looking! I am happy with the way the cuffs turned out, the curves on the cuffs, collar and pockets look really nice together.

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I hemmed this one with some grey bias tape, as I’ve never been happy with the turn and stitch hem treatment on my first shirt. Bias tape just sits so much flatter around those sharp curves at the side seams. The buttons are my favourite mother of pearl shirt buttons from Made Marion Crafts in Wellington.

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I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with those big wrinkles above the pockets on this shirt, I wonder if that just happens with dropped shoulder seams? Any suggestions? I have so many versions of this planned now, I’ve got some rayon for another long sleeved version, and some more cotton for a long sleeved dress hack, and some linen for another short sleeved summer version… I need a job with a smart/casual dress code so I can wear them all!

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In the end, only Emma and I had finished items for the challenge reveal, so here we are in matching denim (she used the same stuff for her Safran Jeans), and with our matching Ida Clutches, before we had delicious chips and soda at Six Barrel Soda Co!

Finally, does chambray count as denim? Is this outfit double denim? I really like both pieces, so I’ve decided not to be to bothered about wearing them together. Double denim is in now anyway, right? I’ve seen the hipsters wearing it for years! Either way, down with fashion rules…

 

Unselfish Knitting

It’s a bit weird, I absolutely hate sewing for other people, but I rather like unselfish knitting. Maybe it’s because I know that there are only so many hand knitted things I need for myself, but I really like the process of knitting, so knitting gifts gets around that problem. I also find that people really appreciate hand knitted gifts (or maybe I only knit for people I know will appreciate it), which is always nice. I decided I was going to knit a scarf for Hamish for his birthday…last year. I got it done on time too, but it’s taken me just over a year to get photographs of it! Such a bad blogger.

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This is another Brooklyn Tweed pattern, the Guilder Scarf by Jared Flood. It was the first thing I made in Zealana Heron, and it definitely made me want to knit my Bronwyn Sweater in it! I picked the Bottle Green colourway, I thought it would be more interesting than grey or black (which is mostly what he wears in the winter), and I like the way it looks on him.

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This was an ambitious pattern for me to pick a year ago, the cable pattern is pretty dense and it took me a lot longer to knit than I expected! To be honest, I was wildly optimistic and decided I was going to knit this a month out from his birthday, so any pattern was going to be a stretch. I must have worked on it every spare minute of that month, trying to keep it hidden from him was a nightmare! This pattern taught me a bunch of new techniques, it was the first time I had done a tubular cast on and tubular cast off, and the first time I tried knitting an I-cord. The I-cord edging is a really nice feature of this pattern, it looks so tidy and I love how it matches the rounded edge created by the tubular cast on/off.

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I did manage to get it finished in time, though I was sewing the Kitchener stitch for the bind off on my way home from work on his birthday! I think it was only wrapped up for about 20 minutes between me finishing it and me giving it to him over his birthday dinner. Consequently, it’s unblocked. I meant to block it after giving it to him, but unsurprisingly I’ve never got around to it. It’s actually pretty even, and doesn’t look like it desperately needs it! He wore it lots last winter, and when I realised that he’d taken it away with us at Easter, I took my chance to get some photos at last.

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I also took my chance to get some photos of one of the merino tee shirts I made him for Christmas. The pattern is the Men’s Classic Tee Shirt pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book. It’s a slightly drop shouldered tee pattern with sleeve cuffs, which I have just hemmed like usual because they kept unfolding and were driving him nuts. I’ve made him three tee shirts from this pattern now, they fit him pretty well and he wears them all the time. This one looks too tight and wrinkly in these pictures, but I think it’s just a bit twisted because he took his jumper off just before I took these photos! It is a slim fitting tee-shirt, which he likes. This one and the first one I made are sewn up in merino jersey from The Fabric Store, and the third is made in a really lightweight merino loop-backed sweatshirting. I sewed them all up on the overlocker, and used a twin needle for hemming and top stitching the neckbands.

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I’m really glad he likes both the scarf and the tee shirts, it’s nice to see him wearing things I’ve made. He wanted to know how I wanted him to wear the scarf for his “photo shoot”, and I told him to just wear it like he usually did. Then I looked up from fiddling with the camera to find him like this, so naturally I took a photo and told him I was putting it on the internet. At least his ears/nose won’t be getting cold this winter! I also told him he didn’t need to put his jumper on for these photos (it was pretty warm), and he told me that he’d look ridiculous, as he’d never wear a scarf with bare arms. So that was me told! I’ll need to get him to style my photo shoots sometimes…

My Bronwyn Pullover (or, how I knit all the cables ever.)

Happy Easter/ long weekend everyone! We made our annual trip out to the boonies to spend the long weekend dancing Balboa and eating excelent food in a rural lodge overlooking the sea, which is always a nice relaxing time. It’s also a gorgeous environment to take photos (away from the teal wall), so I took advantage of the scenery and of my friend Lauren’s willingness to be photographer to get some pictures of my recently finished Bronwyn Pullover.


I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it on the Brooklyn Tweed Instagram page! It’s by Melissa Wehrle, and was released in May last year as part of the BT Wool People 10 collection. I had been planning to knit another cabled Brooklyn Tweed pattern as part of my #makenine2016 plans, but I switched patterns once I saw this one. Ravelry says I started knitting this in July last year, so I was apparently a bit ambitious thinking I would have it done by the end of the year… To be honest I could have knitted it faster, but I got distracted by a couple of other projects and then the idea of knitting it over summer wasn’t so appealing, so it’s taken me about 7 months to complete! 


The wool is Zealana Heron, a 10 ply merino/possum blend. This is actually the second thing I’ve knitted in Heron (the first has been finished for over a year, but only got photos last weekend, whoops), and it is so lovely. The yarn is almost felted together, so it just looks like a single fuzzy, lofty strand rather than two or three strands twisted together. I’m sure there’s a technical term for that, but hopefully you know what I mean! The 20% brushtail possum fur gives the jumper a lovely soft halo, and makes it super warm. As well as feeling amazing, I also just like the idea of wearing something knitted out of NZ wool and which directly aides in the conservation of New Zealand native bush by using possum. I know possums are considered cute fluffy little critters in a lot of the world (Australia, looking at you), but they’re a conservation disaster in New Zealand. They eat the eggs of our native birds (which need all the help they can get, given that a lot of them can’t fly and so nest on the ground), and are massively destructive to our native flora as well. So there are plenty of reasons for me to keep knitting with Zealana Yarns!


I’m looking a bit awkward in these pictures, there were about 12 people watching! I’m not a natural in front of the camera, let alone in front of an audience. The jumper looks good though, so just focus on that…

This pattern has you knit the jumper in several stages. The front and back hem ribbing sections are knit separately, then are joined in the round and the body is knitted up to the armpits, where the front stitches are put on hold while the back is shaped for raglan sleeves, then the front is picked up and finished in the same way.

Both sleeves are knitted the same from the cuff up in the round, until the raglan sleeve cap, which is different on each sleeve of course. Then the whole lot is seamed together, and the neckband is picked up and knitted. I like knitting in the round, but I also like that the sleeves were knitted separately, as there is a lot of jumper to cart around by that point! This method kept things manageable, but also minimised the seaming (which I’m a fan of!).


This was a really fun project to work on, once I got going. The cables were easy enough to keep track of after a few repititions, and there was enough variety to keep it interesting to knit! I used to hate doing a tubular cast on, even though I love the result, because it’s so fiddly and always seems like it’s going to collapse when I take out the waste yarn (I’m still not too sure why it doesn’t, must be witchcraft), but after doing a tubular cast on for the front and back and both sleeves, I might have got over my dislike. I do really love the split high/low hem, it’s such a nice touch. In fact, I enjoyed all of this jumper, except for the Kitchener stitch bind off for the neckband! I don’t think I’ll ever get over my dislike of Kitchener stitch, I just can’t get my head around the pattern of knit/purl/slip movements to make with the tapestry needle, I’m constantly referring to the tutorial on The Purl Bee. It’s bearable when it’s 12 stitches for the toe of a sock, but the 114 stitches around this neckband were a mission. I couldn’t bear to have the neckband not to match the cast on edges though, so I just sucked it up and did it!


I think this will be my last jumper for a little while, for this winter at least! I’ve got five hand knit jumpers in rotation now, so I’m going to try to focus more on accessories for the rest of the year. I’ve already finished a hat, and I have a scarf cast on, as well as a few pairs of socks planned. That should keep me busy for a wee bit…