Archive for the 'Lessons learnt' Category

The Muslin Malformation

Chloé dress from Sew What you Like

This is the Chloe Dress from Tanya Whelan’s cute book Sew What You Love. Actually, it is the muslin for the Chloe Dress. Since the bodice is fitted, I thought a muslin was in order. And I’m glad I made it.

My bust and hip measurement corresponded to a size 10 (my waist was too large, but I figured the muslin would help show me if I needed to adjust for it). Because I made this as a muslin, I completed the bodice on its own, including the shirring in the back. When I tried the bodice on, it was – even with the shirring – ridiculously big. I had to cut more than six centimeters (!) – over two inches – from the sides of the bodice for it not to just slide right off me.

Chloé dress from Sew What you Like

Since I managed to get the bodice to fit eventually, I finished the dress, albeit without a lot of finesse (the neckline facing is actually elastic lace hem tape – my new go-to sewing aid). I don’t think the strapless style really suits me all that well, and I am pretty sure I won’t make any of the other clothing patterns from this book.

And while we’re on the subject of unflattering dresses, I might as well show you the Pinterest-inspired dress I made a few weeks ago:



After I got these pictures I added D-rings to the belt so I wouldn’t have to tie it in the back. It isn’t too flattering with the dark top and lighter bottom (with horizontal stripes, no less!), but it’s very light and airy.

(Can you tell from the title of this blog post that I am just a little obsessed with the Big Bang Theory?)


Because I *needed* a new hobby

So I’ve taken up weaving. I actually bought my rigid heddle loom – a 15 inch Schacht Cricket – this summer, but a failed warping had me relegating it to the corner of my bedroom. After I confessed this sad state of affairs to my spinning group, one of the members promised to help me warp it, so I brought it to our monthly meeting on Thursday.


I warped it with the Brown Sheep yarn that came with the loom – not necessarily the colours I would have chosen together, but certainly an easy first project.

It’s pretty short, 5′ 5″, not particularly pretty, but a good learning project. The hem stitching had to be pulled out a couple of times, but even that came out ok in the end.

Woven scarf

I then moved on to the project I had seen in my mind’s eye when buying my loom – a scarf using my own handspun.

Woven scarf

This yarn is a two-ply superwash BFL, dyed by Allspunup (bought on Etsy). The colours are mostly blue and dark purple.

It isn’t by any means perfect – the edges pull in a little, as a result of my lack of experience with warping and maintaining equal tension. But I love it.

Woven scarf


I think I might come to like this weaving thing.

A useful little knit


Pattern: Garter-cuff gloves and mittens by Deborah Newton from Weekend Knitting

Yarn: Rauma Istra kamgarn, colour #2028. The yarn is one of very few worsted-spun yarns from Rauma, and I’m not convinced that it is generally the best choice for mittens, but I chose it because it most closely matched the Rauma Vamsegarn that I used for my lace beret with matching scarf.

Knit: 24-26 November.

This is a very nice pattern. I had some problems of my own devising, because I thought I’d like the mittens better if they had a ribbed cuff. Apart from the cuff, I knit the pattern as written, but when I put the mittens on, it turned out that the cuffs weren’t very good looking and the mittens needed shortening above the cuff. So I decided to pull out one of the tricks I’ve learnt from the knit blogging community. I chose the correct row about 1.5 cm above the old cuff, snipped a single stitch, unravelled in both directions, picked up the resulting free stitches and knit down a new cuff.

It’s not actually all that difficult, but performing a trick like that makes you feel very clever.

And that is a good thing, because just this week, I did something so monumentally stupid to my knitting that I can’t even quite believe it. I was knitting the sleeves for my son’s cardigan two at a time on one circular needle magic-loop style, and it was taking forever because of the fiddliness. Eventually, though, I got to 30 cm, sometime after midnight. I checked the sleeves against the pattern to make sure I had enough stitches for the raglan yoke, and discovered I had sixteen stitches too few on each sleeve. I put them aside to count again the day after, but had the same too-low stitch count then, and decided to rip them out rather than trying to make do with too-tight sleeves. The moment I had ripped out both sleeves and rewound the yarn into balls, I turned over the page in the pattern book and discovered the pattern I had been knitting – and which showed that I had had the correct number of stitches. I still want to cry when I think about those sleeves. I’m a little over halfway on the first replacement sleeve, but with the bad karma of that project, I don’t think it will be finished too soon. But at least I have nice red mittens to make me feel warm and clever:

The perils of procrastination

Last year I failed, by an ignominious week-and-a-half, to finish my father’s birthday gift of national costume stockings in time for the national day celebrations. Then, when I DID finish them, they turned out to be about five centimetres too short. Utterly defeated by my failure, I purchased another ball of yarn, then stuffed the stockings and the yarn into a ziplock bag and tried to forget about them. A few weeks ago I happened upon them and realised that, were my father to wear them for the 17th May celebrations this year, I’d have to hop to it. When I finally got started, the addition of five centimetres of ribbing at the top of each stocking took me exactly three leisurely afternoons. As you can tell from this picture, the addition was a truly minute amount of knitting:

I’m beginning to realise that my “lessons learnt” category really should have a question mark, because hope as I might that these stockings have taught me a thing or two about the perils of procrastination, I really have my doubts.

Woollen woes

I haven’t been spinning long, and I have never taken a class or even watched anyone spinning on a wheel in real life. As a consequence, certain skills are rather hard to acquire. For a while now, I’ve wanted to learn woollen spinning. Woollen spinning refers to a type of wool preparation and a technique that, when combined, gives a lofty and airy yarn with low stitch definition but a great deal of warmth. Proper woollen spinning requires carded fibres, and my problems are compounded by the fact that I don’t really know how to card. I have hand cards, and I try to produce good rolags, but  I really have no idea what I’m doing. Recently, inspired by this article in KnittySpin, I decided to try blending some merino top on my hand cards. Here is the result, rolags pulled into roving with the two merino tops behind:

I have given it a quick test run on my wheel, and I still am nowhere near mastering the woollen long draw. I’ve watched YouTube videos and re-read all my spinning books on the long draw, but so far no luck. This is one of the nice aspects of crafting for me – it’s a low-stakes activity of continual learning and improvement. That said, though, I would like to get the hang of it soon.


The last few weeks have been rather busy, and my blog has suffered from winter-related lack of lighting for good photography, so I have a few items to catch up on.

First, my murky yarn, here off the niddy noddy:
Superwash BFL, handdyed by Allspunup


Superwash BFL, handdyed by Allspunup.

335 metres, 115 grams.

Spun and plied on my Ashford Traditional using the 9:1 ratio on the regular flyer.

This is my current spinning project:
BFL, handdyed by Allspunup

I’m hoping to turn this regular BFL into a three-ply. The single is so thin that I worry it won’t hold up to plying. Also, with the very thin singles this is taking forEVER.

My new knitting project, which will receive the honour of going with me on a weekend at the cabin, is yet another simple raglan, this one in a tweedy blend of cotton, acrylic and viscose. I’m particularly proud of the way I executed the turned hem of the top edge, even if the way I secured the stitches the hem slanted a little.

PS! I just finished making my very own light box for my craft photography. I’m not going to claim that the pictures in this post are photographic genius, but I do think the DIY lightbox makes a difference. Compare the top picture to this one of the same yarn, for example! I used this tutorial.

My best of 2008

Inspired by a discussion on the Ravelry Stash and Burn forum, here is my best of 2008.

What were your favorites in 2008?

knitting book: I hardly bought any new books last year. I find most new pattern books are really not that useful in the end, particularly because suitable replacement yarns are often all but impossible to find. The closest I can get is probably Start Spinning, by Maggie Casey, which I gave a less-than-completely-favourable review, but which I now, when I am a wheel spinner, is quite fond of. Ironically, this book contains no knitting patterns and precious little knitting info.

pattern (regardless of whether you have any intention of knitting it): The Cloisters Sweater from Spin-Off fall 2008, without a doubt! As with many of my favourite patterns, I suspect that the colour is a big part of the attraction. Sarah Swett, the designer, used plant colours to dye a grey handspun yarn, which gives the sweater an amazing, rich heathered colour. But apart from that, I love the lace details on the sleeves and the wearability of the pattern.

yarn discovery: my handspun! Knitting with handspun yarn is so much fun! Other than that, I liked the Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit that I used to knit my daughter’s cardigan.

FO (your own): The February Lady Sweater, I think. I wear it constantly to work and in private.

new knitting technique or other discovery/experience: Spinning, absolutely! I started spindle spinning in April 2008 and bought a used wheel in November. I spin a couple of times a week, and I love it.