Wednesday, 31 May 2017

OAL 2017

June arrives tomorrow and with comes the OAL, or Outfit Along, which is a really fantastic challenge that I love to take part in. The idea is to sew one garment and knit another to make an outfit.

For the last two years I have knit cardigans and sewn dresses and this year will be no different. If this took place in winter then I would probably sew jeans and knit a sweater but for this time of year I'll stick to dresses and cotton cardigans. This year the official patterns are the new Untangling Knots cardigan Anaheim and the By Hand London Kim dress. I'm really loving the cardigan and I'm going to knit that but I'm not wanting to make the dress so I spent a bit of time perusing my pattern collection to find the perfect dress for this cardigan.

In the end I settled on Colette's Hazel dress. I've made it twice before and really like it but I've been wanting to make one with stripes for ages to really make the most of the seaming on the bodice. I've chosen a black, white and green striped cotton which i hope will look super and for the cardigan I've gone for a simple black cotton because it matches my fabric and also because little black cardigans are so useful for me. I can't wait to get started! The OAL runs from tomorrow until the end of July and I hope to be finished long before then and maybe even complete a second outfit. We'll see how it goes though.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

Fresh from making the Sew Over It Nancy I decided to make another of their patterns that I've had for a while and not made up yet, the Vintage Shirt Dress.

I've been wanting to make a shirt dress for a while and I have several patterns in my stash, but I started with this one because it is relatively simple compared to some of the other I have.  I decided to make the sleeveless version of this for several reasons.  Firstly because it will be nice for the summer but also easy to slip a cardigan over if it is chilly, secondly because it would be quicker to make, thirdly due to the sleeves too tight issues I've had recently and lastly because I just prefer the look of this dress without sleeves.
I bought the PDF of this pattern, so my first job was to print it and stick it together.  Because I was making version 2 I went ahead and printed the file entitled PDF 2, a not too taxing 32 sheets to assemble.  However once I'd finished I realised that I was without several key pieces and upopn further investigation I reallised that I'd just printed the 2nd PDF of 2, both of which were needed.  Cue me begrudgingly sticking together another 32 sheets.  After all that I made sure to trace all of my pieces so that I would never have to go through that again if I needed a different size!

With regards to size I ended up choosing the size 10 which is the size I'd used for Nancy and Heather.  They'd both fit fine everywhere instead of the sleeves but I wasn't sure if that was due to a larger amount of ease included in those looser fitting patterns.  This looked as if it might fit closer so I considered sizing up but ultimately stuck with the 10.  I'm glad I did because I would even say that this is a shade too big.  It certainly doesn't nip in at the waist as much as I would like so I need to have a look at the fit as a whole before I make another to see if I need to size down or whether to just bring the waist in a little.

This was a very quick and simple dress to make and I'm really pleased with how it looks, except for one tiny little error that I made very early on in the process.  Can you see it?
Can you see it now?
Yep, I chose this lovely cotton fabric with cute little cottages, farm animals and adorable dog walking men and the first thing I do it cut it out upside down!!!!!
I could say this was an entirely selfish move because it's the right way up for me to see when I'm wearing it and because the print is quite small no one has actually noticed until I've pointed it out, but I still feel like a massive doofus.  Mostly I'm hoping that people will be too mesmerised by my super sparkly buttons to notice!  Ah well, it's a talking point, to be sure and no one else will ever have one like it which is entirely the point of sewing one's own clothes I suppose.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

2017 Boo Challenge: Almost Autumn

Hiya!  I'm gonna keep this one short and sweet because I've knit this pattern before and there's not all that much to say.
I previously knit this in grey Knit Picks Gloss Lace and, while I do love it and wear it, it is a bit small and the yarn hasn't really held the block as well as I would like so I knew I'd knit it again before too long.  This time I used Fyberspates Gleem Lace in the Lundy Island colourway which is absolutely beautiful.  The overall effect is a light greeny colour but there are lots of subtle shades within that which I really enjoyed as I was knitting.  The yarn, 50% silk and 50% BFL felt really lovely as it ran through my fingers and the finished shawl feels equally lovely and has blocked wonderfully.
Last time I only included one repeat of the main lace pattern, so this time I decided to do two to make a bigger shawl.  If I'm honest I was a bit surprised about how huge this actually turned out but having wrapped it round me I'm definitely feeling the love for it's hugeness!  I'm not sure I'd want to make all my shawls this size because it did feel like I'd be knitting it forever but I'd definitely like a few more bigguns in my collection.
The only thing I don't love about knitting this pattern is that you only start adding beads in the last few rows.  It's not really a complaint at all, but I do so love adding beads and the anticipation was starting to get a bit much towards the end.  The beads are Toho size 6 in gold lined black diamond.  I had a bit of trouble picking beads because of all the colours in the yarn, but these are fairly neutral and the sparkle of them keeps them from being lost entirely.  I like to switch between having my beads stand out and be the star of the show and having them act in a supporting role like here.
I can see me knitting this again in the future, I've had a lot of compliments on this one and I'm contemplating making the next one as a gift for someone special.....  For the mean time though I'm one clue in to the Just Be You MKAL and I've cast on another Boo Shawl for the gaps in between clues so my needles are pretty busy.
P.S.  It's my birthday today!  Happy Birthday to me and May the Fourth be with you!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


I've had my subscription to Seamwork magazine for a while now and I've been fairly slack about actually making projects from it.  I've also not really been sewing so much just recently so the Astoria sweater seemed like a nice quick and easy project to keep me sewing and also to prove I'm making use of the Seamwork subscription.

Before cutting into my sparkly sweatshirt fabric that I had been saving for this project, I did something largely out of character and whipped up a practice run first out of some red ponte left over from my Heather dress.  This was mainly because I wasn't too sure about sizing, I'd made Moneta in an S and that fit nicely so I figured I'd just make the same size as it is the same pattern company, but I also didn't want it to be too close fitting as I'd probably be wearing stuff underneath.
Ultimately, this is just about wearable but I wouldn't want to eat a big dinner in it and the neckline sticks up a bit where it's not sitting right so I decided to cut the M for the main event.  I also changed from mid length to full length sleeves because the shorter sleeves are a really weird length on me.

The fabric is a sparkly jersey with a loopy pile on the other side, it's not quite as warm as what I'd traditionally think of a sweatshirting but it's kind of sweatshirty if you know what I mean.  It's actually lovely and soft, sometimes glittery bits can make a fabric a bit scratchy, but this is not like that at all.  The only really problem I had with it is that the loopy bits on the back do unravel a bit so my cutting table needed a good sweep when I was done.

This one fits much better, it is still close fitting but there is a bit of room in there to wear something underneath.  Somehow I managed to cut the waistband on the cross grain meaning that it has very little stretch but this just make getting the sweater on and off a little more awkward than it should be!  Other than that I'm really pleased with this and it will be a really nice cover up for spring to throw over dresses and higher waisted skirts for cooler days and evenings.

This was a really quick little project, I think I made both of these tops on successive afternoons and that includes assembling the PDF.  So, great as both a wardrobe builder and also for when you need a quick win to get you back into the swing of sewing.  It's definitely getting a little warmer here now and it's usually about now that I start to slow down the knitting and pick up the sewing a little more so it's been nice to dip my toe back in the water with a few quick little projects.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Looking forward to May

We've not been having the best week here, the weather has been cold and grey and not at all like it should be. I'd been looking forward to Felicity going to preschool for longer morning sessions and having a bit more time to myself and then Cassie came down with chickenpox so I've had both of them home all week instead. It looks like Cassie should be back to school on Tuesday and then i just have to wait for Felicity to come down with it too. However, May is promising to be a super fun month so there is lots to look forward to.

Pox Child!

Today is the first day of a long weekend, so there's no work or school on Monday which is super useful as it's both the beginning of Me Made May and the latest Boo Knits Mystery Knitalong, Just Be You

Me Made May was really fun for me last year and also very useful when looking at my handmade wardrobe as a whole. I didnt actually find it too difficult to wear an item of handmade clothing every day so I wondered whether to bother again this year as it will probably be even less challenging but I do think it is a useful excercise for identifying wardrobe gaps and focussing on what I need to be making so I went ahead and made this pledge for this year:

"I Hannah of hannahknitsstuff sign up as a participant of Me Made May 2017. I endeavour to wear at least one me made item each day, with no outfit repeats for the duration of May 2017. I will be awarding myself bonus points for kids/husband also wearing handmade clothes,"

This is similar to the pledge I made last year, although I didn't deliberately try not to repeat my outfits. Essentially I will be trying as far as possible to largely wear only clothes I've made myself there are some things I will never bother making, like little jersey tank tops that I wear under shirts a lot so I just stuck with pledging to wear at least one item. Last year i discovered that i didn't have enough warm weather clothing and I found things more difficult towards the end if the month as the weather warmed so I'm currently working on sleeveless dresses and tops just to be sure I'm not caught out the same way again this year.

The main even in May will however be the Boo Knits MKAL. It is entitled Just Be You and there are 6 clues released between 1st and 19th May, which sounds pretty full on but I prefer that to having to wait for days for the next clue when I've completed the previous one. The suggested yarn for this one is Lichtfaden Meridian and as a massive treat for myself I waded into a Sunday afternoon Etsy update and found this one of a kind skein in Violet Grey calling me very strongly.

It made its way from Germany in just under a week and I have to say that it did not disappoint me at all. The purple is just beautiful and the yarn is shiny and drapey and just glows. I honestly cannot wait to get this stuff on my needles!

Picking beads was a a bit more difficult. I ordered 2 different types of beads to try out. Czech etched beads in Crystal Vitrail Light

and Toho Tanzanite Lined Crystal

and at the same time I ordered these Czech Etched Crystal Chrome which I had intended for another project altogether

Of course once I got them on the yarn it was clear that the Etched Crystal Chrome were the ones for me so I had to order a load more as i didnt have enough! Stu disagreed with me and was all for the Tohos but I decided that his eyes must be broken and have entirely disregarded his input.

So I'm all ready to go, roll on May!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Sew Over It Nancy

As soon as I got the email from So Over It introducing the Nancy dress pattern I knew it was one of those patterns that I had to have. The dress isn't my usual type of thing bit for some reason it really appealed to me. I joined the Sew Over It PDF Club for a fiver and claimed this as my free pattern so I saved myself £2.50 on the pattern, well worth doing if one of their PDF only patterns is calling you.

I chose Version 2, which has a slightly lower neckline, entirely at random as I think both necklines are very nice. This dress has a lovely loose drapey shape, but is fitted through the bust and sleeves as well as the back which stops it being at all sack like or giving off maternity vibes. All the volume is added with the addition of side panels which are sewn in under the bust. I was initially concerned that the panels would be super fiddly to sew, but actually it was really simple and they slotted in with no trouble at all. With a patterned fabric like this you can't see that the panels are there at all, but the shape they give is really nice. They are off grain, however, so I left the dress to hang for a few days before hemming like a good girl. A total test of patience for me! I'm aware that these photos make it look like I did a terrible job of hemming this straight after all that, but it honestly doesn't look that bad in real life. I think that as I'm leant slightly over all of the fabric sort of pooled over on one side and make it look super lopsided. It really isn't though, unless of course I generally list to the other side as I go about my daily business!

There is no fastener in the back of this dress, save for a hook and eye. I made a right dogs dinner of sewing mine in and I really should do it again. Next time I'll stick in a ribbon loop and button or just use a snap. I really like the way it looks, the open back adding to the whole easy-breeziness of the dress.

Overall I don't have a lot more to say about this dress, I really like it, it is super comfortable and very quick and easy to make. Mostly I just love it for the way it billows around me as I sweep down the stairs! Like my Sew Over it Heather dress it is a little snug in the sleeves, but whether that's because I chose the wrong size or because I have disproportionately huge arms I don't know. It's perfectly wearable, just a little fitting niggle I need to work out for next time. The fabric is a black anchor print viscose I bought recently. I always keep a stock of viscose with fun prints on to hand because its one of my favourite things to wear and with summer coming expect to see a lot more floaty viscose dresses right here.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

2017 Boo Challenge: Kindred Spirit

Well knock me down with a feather I've only gone and finished shawl number six of my Boo shawl challenge!

Just to mix things up a little I set aside the beads, took a break from lace and chose Kindred Spirit for my 6th shawl.
As soon as I saw this pattern I knew it would be a perfect showcase for some of my handspun yarn as well as using up some of the mohair in my stash.  This yarn is particularly special as it was actually years in the making so I'm very glad to use it!
The fibre was a sparkly BFL blend that I bought years ago and began spinning on a drop spindle, long before I even thought of buying a wheel.  The fibre had lovely long chunks of colour so when I finshed spinning it I decided to try my hand at chain plying to preserve the colour changes.  Long story short, that did not go well and my next 'logical' move was to pre-chain the singles before adding the twist separately once it had all been chained.  Yep.  Unsurprisingly any enthusiasm I had for that task wore off quickly and the whole thing got set aside for a very long time.  Eventually I mastered chain plying on the wheel, plyed up the section of prechained singles and the chain plyed the rest as I went.  Happily it turned out really nicely, the colours are perfect and the yarn has a really lovely shimmer to it.  I chose some black mohair from the stash to complement it for this shawl.
Because this was handspun I didn't want to waste a single yard which led to me carelessly not leaving enough to complete the border properly.  Whoops!  I considered switching to the contrast yarn and continuing but in the end I just decided to go with a shortened border and I think it looks fine.  I was beginning to lose interest by that point any way - obviously missing my lace and beads!  This is a lovely shawl anyhow, perfect for when I need something a bit snugglier than lace but still slightly sheer and delicate looking.  I'd like to make this again with less contrast between the main and contrast yarn for a very different look.  All in all I'm very happy, but excuse my while I go break out the beads for the next one!