For those of you who don’t know, I am half Norwegian – or half viking as my cousin likes to tell me. Norway has a long history of beautiful knitwear, not least the famous Marius sweater which I have always wanted to make one day. My childhood was filled with Norwegian designed knitted items made by relatives, but until last year I had never tried to make any myself!
The pattern is on Ravelry and is free and really easy to follow. I used some beautiful yarn given to me by my husband which he picked up on trip to Australia. Made by Cleakheaton, it’s a soft and luscious angora silk, I love the way the red has hints of pink mixed through the yarn.
They took me a long time to make and the consequence of this is that the tension is all over the place. The first mitten was made at a quite stressful time and the knit is super tight, but by the time I got to the second mitten I had calmed down and the knit is much looser. I managed to make them close to the same size through blocking but it’s not perfect. I suppose that’s the maker’s mark!
To protect the wearer from the wind I lined the gloves with some brushed cotton. I’m really pleased with the results and since completing these I have been given a book of patterns so watch this space.
You might have noticed that this blog has been dormant for a little while due to lots of life changes (these mittens were completed in December!!). But I plan to spend some time updating it with lots of posts over the next few weeks. Thanks for your patience.
Last year I was very excited to be invited to write an article for Seamwork magazine about my home town of Edinburgh. The article has just been published alongside some fantastic articles including one from inspirational blogger (and one of my favourite Instagramers) Nicky Taylor and a piece on the origins of clothing size.
It feels fitting to end 2015 with an update on one of the projects I started in January, a machine knit scarf.
When updating my blog last week I realised that I had scandalously neglected to post the finished pictures of my Machine Knit Scarf which I made in the Spring. Here are a few shots of me modelling my creation on Arthur’s Seat.
It was finished just in time for summer and I have only just rescued it from one of the packing boxes. I’m loving wearing it so far!
Since making this project I have bought my own knitting machine and I’m looking forward to creating something new with it in January… watch this space! If you have any tips on punch cards or patterns please put them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year! Kx
Me Made May wasn’t just about what I wore. One of my favourite things over the last month was cruising the hashtag and seeing all the wonderful creations people had made. It was also a fabulous way to discover some really talented bloggers I hadn’t come across before. I had so many favourites that it was hard to choose, but I wanted to share a couple here. Make sure you check out the instagram feeds of all these talented ladies!
Vintage playsuit? Yes Please! This has given me some new inspiration for some vintage pattern fabric I have in my stash. GwenStella as a fabulous vintage inspired blog – enjoy!
Some of the best constructed shots of #MMMay15 – her pictures on their own are a work of art. Seeing these pictures has really changed the way I’m going to think about photographing my projects in the future. That’s not to mention the colourful and beautifully made clothing.
Check out all of her photos on her inspirational blog.
So many incredible creations. I think this beautiful yellow pattern skirt is my favourite but to be honest its hard to choose. Also she seems to be working on an amazing fairisle knit sweater. Definitely one to watch.
Be sure to check out her blog which is full of amazing makes!
The clothes, the glasses, the attitude! Claudine I heart your style. You can find out what she has going on in her studio right now by visiting her blog – a must read.
It’s been just over a week since the start of my Me Made May challenge to wear an item of clothing I have made myself everyday for the whole of May. So far I have been really enjoying wearing clothes I have made myself, although I haven’t had to change my normal outfits too much.
I’ve read a few blog posts from people taking part in the challenge and many people seem to have “learnt lessons” or gained insights from the process. I have to say that I haven’t learnt much about myself or my wardrobe from taking part but I have learnt a little more about social media. Here are some of my insights!
A Colourful Dress in a Sunny Location is Way more Likeable than Staple Items
The most liked outfits so far were taken when I was on holiday in the South of France. For example my own version of the Lisette Passport Dress photographed while on holiday in the picturesque town of Roussillon
Compare this to the number of likes my self-drafted white t-shirt attracted, there is no contest. White t-shirts are officially boring.
Nobody Likes Rain
My least liked picture so far has been this one of me wearing my waterproof pants. They may have been an intriguing and challenging sew but they do not make compelling instagram eye candy.
An Arty Shot Will Always Get Likes on IG
My most liked picture so far has been this one. Is it the liberty print fabric, is it the moody lighting, or the fact I am not smiling at the camera? I think this shot is more “classic” instagram than some of the others I have taken which may have helped.
Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags
I began by just using the official hashtag, #mmmay15, but in the last couple of days I have noticed a lot of people using #memademay15. I’ve started using both although the purist in me wants to stick only to the official one.
Follow me on instagram or check out the hashtag to see all the outfits for the rest of the month. I can promise you that I will be wearing some of the more unusual items I have made in the next few weeks, it’s not just going to be 19 days of office appropriate attire.
I’m always scared of sharing a picture like this. I’m terrified someone will say:
“What are you doing?! That’s not the correct way to wet block a piece of knitting! You’re not using the right equipment – are you sure those are rust proof pins? They certainly aren’t specialist pins designed for blocking. If you don’t do it right the edges will be uneven and you will get little rust marks on your wool.
“And is that a yoga mat? Why don’t you have a proper foam base on which to pin your fabric? One with a wire at the top to hold the piece flat. Also why is it on the floor? It’s a trip hazard and someone could hurt themselves on all those pins.
“And while I’m at it why do you have such badly finished black painted flooring? Don’t you know that it looks terrible in photos. This blog isn’t aspirational at all. Your interior design sense is terrible, and your project does not match your furniture.
“Also isn’t writing a blog post about this very self-indulgent? No one cares what you think about knitting or anything else.”
This is exactly the type of inner monologue which runs through my mind when I make something like this and think about sharing the picture. I’m largely self taught as a sewer, knitter and designer and almost everything I learnt came from books or the internet, as well as a few helpful tips from friends and relatives and the odd evening course and workshop. So when I come to actually work on a technique a lot of the time what I am doing is actually made up.
But what am I so scared of? There are plenty of internet trolls out there but not many dedicated to knitting (or so I hope!). And if it is wrong who cares? Really who cares?! This scarf is for me, I’m not hurting anyone and if I move fast enough when I wear it no one will notice the mistakes anyway.
There are a lot of conversations being had right now around imposter syndrome, particularly in women, and I have been speaking with lots of friends about how perfection in any artistic endeavour is a fool’s errand. But why can’t I take this to heart? Why am I still thinking these things? Does anyone else recognise these feelings?
What I am slowly discovering is that machine knitting a scarf might be an 11 week project but having confidence in your ability is one that takes a lifetime.
Hey everyone, this week was the last beginner’s machine knitting class at Edinburgh Contemporary Craft. For the last three weeks I have been working on a costume drama inspired plum and grey scarf as my final project. The scarf has two plum panels featuring a series of tucks and folds to create the illusion of folded sleeves and drapery whilst the middle three panels are made using punch cards to add a feeling of pattern and detail.
The are a few mistakes in the pattern panels which are caused by the punch card sticking in the machine but I think these add to the slightly abstract feel.
In the last session I decided rather recklessly to add a false rib trim to both ends of the scarf. In the end I only had time to do one but luckily Katy (the course tutor) has kindly agreed to let us come along for a drop in session next week so I will finish it off then.
After that there will be some darning to do, and then I will need to press and block the scarf. Pictures of this to follow!
The class has definitely given me the bug for machine knitting and I am looking into buying a machine for myself or coming along to more drop in sessions in future. If you are interested in taking the class yourself booking has just opened for the next session, more details on the Edinburgh Contemporary Craft website.
I know lots of inspiring people and perhaps one of the most inspiring is my friend Alex; who is a conservator by day and a demon quilter by night. I was lucky enough to receive one of Alex’s beautiful quilts as a wedding gift and since then I have always wanted to try and make one myself. I never quite managed it until the start of this year when post “lace-wedding-cover-up” I decided to clear out my stash and basically use it or lose it.
I challenged my friend, and no stranger to this blog, Kate to join me in a weekend quilting challenge figuring that the when you try something new two people are better than one. I also thought for some reason that she had made a quilt before, this turned out to be completely wrong.
We set out some rules for the challenge: a strict start and end time so that we wouldn’t be tempted to keep working when we were tired; we planned out our meals so that we wouldn’t be working hungry; and finally we also made sure we had lots of great music to listen too. Oh and we also agreed on a hashtag which is essential to the success of any project.
Saturday was mostly spent cutting out the pieces, I was amazed at how long this took. I think I was basically cutting, measuring and ironing fabric for 5 hours. Then we worked on how we were going to lay out the pieces. Kate came prepared with sketches whilst I decided to just cut out what fabric I had and then see where the inspiration took me.
On Saturday evening we toyed with the idea of watching 90s romantic comedy How to Make an American Quilt but when we found out it was £7.99 on iTunes(!) the idea was quickly rejected. We did watch the trailer though and all I can say is that I am really glad that this cringe-inducing pastiche representation of women’s relationships bears no comparison to my life or the thrilling reality that was #quiltathon. At the end of the trailer I want to shout at Winona Ryder, “It’s ok you don’t need to marry either of them. Maybe you shouldn’t rush into marriage but instead set up an avant-guarde art collective/quilting co-op with your mum and her friends. You are more than who you sleep with, you too can find empowerment through craft!” but hey what do I know?
Anyway back to the quilting – it was only on day two that I began sewing and even with the whole day ahead of me I only managed to finish the central panel.
We have already planned our next edition of #quiltathon where we will hopefully finish our quilts. Alex I am in awe of you, I don’t know how you managed to make that quilt by hand – incredible!
Kate has written her own post about #quiltathon, which you can read on her blog Getting Where?.
We are now on week eight of the beginners machine knitting course at Edinburgh Contemporary Crafts and the pace is picking up. Since my last post, I have slowly become more confident on the machines, getting better at casting on and off, and working with different weights and types of yarn.
In the last two weeks I have finally managed to get on to working with punch cards, which I have been looking forward to since signing up.
They are actually surprisingly easy to use, and give some beautiful results.
We have also started planning and now working on our final projects; I’m making a scarf in purple and silver grey, partly inspired by the costumes on the BBC programme Wolf Hall (ridiculous I know!). The richness of the colours and the way the sleeves of the garments move are what I’d like to capture in this piece.
There will also be at least one panel made with a punch card because I love the pattern effect so much. I am not sure if the final scarf will be a success but I am excited to try it and see the results. Here is a picture of my first panel on the machine, which uses tuck stitches to create a folding effect.
This weekend I was on a quest to hunt out the best place to find vintage sewing supplies in Edinburgh. Whilst rummaging in Herman Brown I discovered a stash of pattern magazines from 1984 called “Make it Easy: Mix & Match Pattern Wardrobe & Sewing Guide” published by Marshall Cavendish. Here is one of the original ads, which pretty much covers the awesome concept!
I’ve always been totally fascinated by collections which claim you can make an entire wardrobe with just one set of patterns. Has anyone ever done this? Could you dress yourself from head to toe with just one of these magazines – I’m tempted to try one day.
The magazines come in their own cardboard sleeve with a full paper pattern and technique cards. I only bought one because I wasn’t sure how good they would be – but when I opened it up at home I wasn’t disappointed.
As far as I could tell all the patterns were uncut and selling at £2 a piece. They originally sold for £1.75 back in 1984 (£5.10 when you account for inflation). I found a few for sale on Amazon at £4.50.
One pattern – so many options!
There are also helpful articles on colour matching.
Full instructions on how to make each outfit – including a step by step photo guide.
There are also pattern variations showing you how to transition the pattern effortlessly from day wear to evening wear. I love the dress and the evening wear version of the jumpsuit with the frill neckline. I think the dress would make a great casual summer outfit in a patterned cotton, while the jumpsuit would be fantastic in a dark silk with a slim belt (worn with or without the gloves!).
The technique cards also look pretty useful, especially if you’re a beginner. Why google how to do something when you can use one of these cards?
Herman Brown looked like they had almost the full set so if you’re Edinburgh based and having an 80s sewing moment its worth investigating.
Have you ever used vintage patterns? Where are the best places to pick them up? I’m looking for as many hot tips as possible so please share the love!