Waverly and Lark

Well, I’m still without my laptop! It’s such a pain, I’ve got three biggish projects photographed and ready to blog, but I can’t edit my photos until I get it back. First world blogging issues for sure! In the meantime, here is a quick little post to show off a recently finished knitting project and (another) Lark tee.


Apparently I was feeling very stern when I took these photos…

Knitting first! This is the Waverly Scarf pattern from Knitbot, which came as a free download with her latest book, Texture (though I see you can now buy it on Ravelry). I really love a lot of the patterns in Texture, I’m currently knitting the Eventide Cardi, but I was especially taken with the basket weave texture of this scarf so I knitted it first!


I used Quince and Co Osprey in the Canvas colourway, which is exactly the same as the sample. Such originality! I wanted another neutral scarf that wasn’t grey, and this cream/beige/nude colour is perfect. It goes with everything, but I think it looks especially nice with navy! Because it’s a 12 ply yarn it knitted up pretty quickly, though I have found that the resulting fabric is really dense and sometimes sits away from my neck if I don’t get it sitting just right when I put it on. I haven’t blocked it yet, because it’s been cold and I’ve been wearing it, but once the weather warms up I’ll wet block it and hopefully that’ll relax the stitches a bit.


Another thing that I think adds to it’s stiffness is the way the edges roll in, it just makes it a bit more bulky instead of draping around my neck. Again, hopefully blocking will sort that out! Regardless, it’s a lovely scarf and it’s kept me super warm this winter. I find that the loose ends of my Guernsey Wrap blow around (and off, sometimes), but obviously that isn’t a problem with Waverly!



I’ve finally photographed this merino Lark tee! Instagram tells me I made it last August, and I’ve worn it lots in the last year. It’s the long sleeved boat neck version, obviously. Because I had a bit of trouble with the neckline sagging on my previous version, I used a self fabric facing instead of turning and stitching. It’s worked really well, the neckline is still sitting perfectly.


The Fabric is a lovely fine merino from Drapers Fabrics in Auckland, I was so happy to see a nice striped merino! I’ve found that a lot of the striped merino around tends to be light colours or really narrow stripes, but this one is perfect. 


Hopefully I won’t be needing all of my winter woolies for too much longer, but I’m glad to have these ones in my wardrobe!

Holiday Planning (help me out!)

Hi all! So my laptop had a meltdown last week (the tracking pad was malfunctioning in a way that made it pretty well unusable), and now it’s away being fixed so I’ll need to wait until it’s back before I can edit or post any pictures of finished garments. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I’m underway again… In the meantime, I’m still sewing and planning for our upcoming trip to the UK. It’s only 5 weeks away now, eek! I might have to cull my ‘to sew’ list, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that it’s a bit ambitious.


We’ll be in the UK for 5 weeks all up, and we’ll be driving through England, Wales and Scotland. We fly in and out of London, and we have to be down on the South Coast for the Goodwood Revival, but other than that we’ve got a pretty blank schedule! I want to go to Brighton, Glastonbury, Bath, Stonehenge, Cardiff, the Brecon Beacons and the Lake District as we drive up to my family in Glasgow, and once we’re in Scotland I’d like to go to the Outer Hebrides (going to see some tweed and some puffins!). Then we’ll head back down through the highlands, via a few distilleries for Hamish (though his favourites are the peaty whiskys from the islands, so I suppose we’ll do some there too) to Edinburgh, and back down through England to London. Looks like quite a lot when I write it out like that, but hopefully we’ll manage! 

So, I was hoping those of you in the UK could give me some suggestions of where to go? What are your local fabric/yarn shops and markets? What about your favourite pubs and cafes, and your recommended  local highlights? Local delicacies we have to try? I’m so excited to be heading back, I never meant to leave it 6 years between visits…

Winter Favourite

It’s been so cold here for the past few weeks! We’ve had a (pretty low key) cyclone sitting over the country, and so it’s been all 130 kph southerly gales and torrential rain and hail. We’ve had a few good landslides around Wellington too, as well as the usual airborne trampolines and bits of flying roofing iron. In the middle of all of that wildness, I decided I needed to make myself a new winter dress, obviously.


The pattern is McCalls 6886, which I initially overlooked as it’s a pretty basic tee dress. I’m really glad I picked it up during one of the Club BMV sales though, because it’s a nice wee pattern. I love the shaping in the side seams, and the neckline has also turned out really nicely. I probably could have lengthened a tee shirt pattern to get a similar effect, but I’m lazy and this pattern has turned out well enough that I’m glad I didn’t try!

I took an inch out of the bodice length at the top lengthen/shorten line, which I think was a good move. I’ve got a little bit of pooling above my butt, but not enough to bother me. The only other change I made was to slim the sleeves by about an inch at the wrist, tapering back to the seam allowance above the elbow. It’s pretty slim fitting through the body, I think I’d sew a narrower seam allowance through the hips if I was using a thinner or clingier fabric. This stuff is heavy enough to skim rather than get caught up on the waistband of my tights!

I cut the crew neckline, with the intention to modify it once I could try it on, but I actually really like the higher neckline. It’s much cosier than a scoop or a boatneck! I followed the instructions to turn and stitch the seam allowance to finish the neck, which I’m usually a bit leery of (I’ve had necklines stretch out really quickly when they’re finished like that), but it seems to be holding up nicely.

The fabric is a loop-back merino sweatshirting that I bought last winter from The Fabric Store. I had planned to make it into a SOI Heather dress, but the idea of having to match the stripes across those princess seams kept putting me off. I’m actually really glad I kept it for this super simple pattern, I love the way it looks and it’s really warm and comfortable!

I’m so happy with this dress, it’s got everything I like! Stripes, long sleeves, cuddly merino… I’ve been wearing it as often as I can get away with! Obviously I should make another one… I recently picked up a length of seconded fleece backed merino sweatshirting which would be lovely. It’s bright red though, so I might try dyeing it. I also think that this would be a good pattern for the printed scuba I got from Mood ages ago, it would show off that busy fabric perfectly!

(also, my image editing program gave up the ghost mid way through these pictures, which is why I have randomly appearing and disappearing power points…)

A clutch of Ida’s

A couple of months ago Kylie from Kylie and the Machine got in touch via Instagram and asked if I’d like to test her first pattern, a fold-over clutch bag she was releasing just in time for Mothers Day. I’ve never tested a pattern before, and I’d be pretty wary of testing a garment (I feel like there would be a lot of pressure involved in that, rightly or wrongly!), but a bag I could manage. The Ida Clutch is a simple sew, with nice clear instructions, and can be made in a variety of materials. I’ve used leather for all of mine, but there are some really cute versions in canvas and linen on Instagram, and Kylie has made an awesome version out of a coffee sack and some clear vinyl. Best of all, its a free pattern!

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I made my first clutch out of a piece of gorgeous cornflower blue Tory Burch leather which I got at The Fabric Store. I really love the leather pieces they have at TFS, I’ve amassed quite a collection of smaller pieces so it’s nice to have something to make out of them! I used some of that never-ending Liberty poplin remnant that has been showing up in all of my posts for the lining, I thought it was a good match. I made a couple of modifications to the pattern (bad tester!), to accommodate the thickness of this piece of leather. I trimmed the seam allowance off the top edge and just top-stitched the raw edge to the zip rather than folding it under as you would if using a thinner material, and I also cut the bulk of the darts out after I sewed them. I didn’t interface the leather, but I did use a lightweight fusible on the lining. Finally, I added a loop of leather with a D ring through it to the side seam just below the fold line, so that I could add a wrist strap. I love the idea of a clutch bag, but realistically I know that I’d never keep hold of a bag without a handle of some description!

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The second bag I made was a birthday present for a friend. I used some super soft and lightweight leather, again from TFS. This one I sewed up exactly as the instructions suggest, since the leather was so thin, including using both interfacing pieces on the leather. The lining is some cotton duck from Spotlight, which is probably a bit heavy for lining such a thin piece of leather, but I liked the way it looked with the gold hardware! I really like the metal zip and magnetic closure with the gold toned G-hooks and rivets, I think that everything matching helps to make the bags look more professional. I made a wrist strap for this one too, but somehow managed to not take any photos of it. Its just the same as the one on the blue bag though!

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For my third version I decided to do some very mild pattern hacking. I had this piece of nude patent leather (again from The Fabric Store, try to hide your surprise), and I had been wanting a small cross-body bag. The patent leather is thicker than the blue leather I used first, so I made the same modifications. My machine was deeply unhappy about sewing through more than two layers of this leather (even two was a struggle some times), but we managed. I ended up hand sewing the corner seams at the darts, because I couldn’t get my poor machine to punch through four layers of leather! I used leather needles in my machine, and used upholstery thread to sew the whole bag. The patent side of the leather was sticky enough that the feed dogs couldn’t move it under my presser foot, so I followed the advice of the internet and stuck some sellotape to the underside of the foot which fixed that issue!

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Initially I was going to have this bag fold over like the clutch versions, but the leather was just too thick for it to fold nicely, and I decided that it would probably be a more useful size if I left it upright! The lining is the same pink and gold flamingo cotton that I lined my Genoa Tote with, I still really like it! I do wish I had added a pocket though…

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I added a D ring to either side, just below the zip, to attach the shoulder strap. Cutting the strap was probably the hardest part of all, I had to cut six lengths of leather the same size, as my piece of leather wasn’t long enough for a single strap. I sewed the strips wrong sides together to make the strap stronger, and because it looks better not to have the napped side of the leather showing. I couldn’t decide how long I wanted the strap to end up, so I cut it 1/3 of the way along, and added the buckle so that I could adjust the length. It took me a wee while to figure out how I was going to secure the buckle and the loop of leather that holds the strap down, but in the end I decided to fold the whole lot into a sandwich and hammer a rivet through it! It’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s covered by the strap so I figured I could live with it. I also added two rivets to the join in the strap, just to add a bit of strength to it. I tend to be quite hard on my bags!

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I’ve decided I like sewing bags, they’re useful and there’s no fitting issues to trip me up! This one is big enough to fit my sunglasses and my phone and the handful of lipsticks/balms which I seem to need to have on me at all times, so I feel like it’ll be a useful bag for running around town. It’ll be perfect to take to the UK in a few months!

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…