Eloisa Dungaree Dress

May 03, 2018


Today I got another sewing project to show you. This project needs a bit of a back story though: About a year ago I made a dress, in this really cool flower print corduroy fabric. I had a vision of a shift dress that just oozed 1960's coolness. Well, I made it, but for some reason wasn't really jazzed about it when I finished it. I don't even know why as it was everything I pictured it would be -and more, because it had a sweet Henley placket to boot! Around the same period of time I started to lose weight, meaning that when I tried the dress on a few months later to see if I had changed my mind about it, it was actually worse! It had basically become a potato sack on me. Not a good look, and certainly not what I had envisioned it to be. Because I really loved the fabric I shoved the dress in my bag of scrap fabric with half a mind to re-use the fabric one day and try to get something like a skirt out of it one day.

One week, at the beginning of spring, I decided I wanted to do something with this fabric IMMEDIATELY. Before I knew it, I was unpicking the seams; not the fastest or most fun of jobs, but a necessity if you want to try to cut new pieces from an existing dress. While I was unpicking the dress, I thought how cool this fabric would be in a pinafore/dungaree style. I got out my pattern pieces for the Cleo I made previously to see whether it would be possible. It was... but only barely. While the dress takes up very little fabric, most of it is in one piece and that piece was hard to place on the re-purposed fabric. Then I remembered the Eloisa dungaree dress, and wondered whether I would be able to eke it out of the fabric (as it uses more fabric, but it has more, smaller separate pattern pieces). When I put the pattern pieces on the only half unpicked dress, the A-line option was quickly ruled out. While it used less fabric, it uses bigger pieces than the panelled version, so out that went. The second option, with it's panelled skirt, fitted nice and easy though, with a (tiny) bit of fabric to spare.

The Eloisa pattern is a fairly simple pattern for a dungaree dress, but with some neat details that set it apart from some of the other such dress patterns I have seen. It comes with two skirt options, one is an a-line skirt with nice big patch pockets, whereas option two is a wider panelled skirt without pockets. There are two length options; a midi and a mini length. There is an optional welt pocket at the bib, which you could easily replace with a patch pocket if you want a pocket there but don't feel up for doing a welt pocket. Parts of the dress are lined, but not the skirt, though you might want to do that if your fabric is clingy. All these details give the dress a wonderfully vintage flair.

The pattern instructions are minimal and at times the wording can be somewhat confusing, especially compared to many others in the indie sewing world. You can definitely still follow the pattern and end up with a dress that you are happy with, I just wanted to give you a heads up about this. I think part of the cause of this is the English version being a translation from Italian. It's also a fairly cheap pattern, and I believe this was the first pattern for this pattern company so maybe they were still testing the waters a bit with this pattern. Perhaps there is also a cultural difference here, but I definitely don't have the expertise to say anything about that for sure.

There is no seam allowance in the pattern, so you have to add that yourself after tracing. Having to add seam allowances is always a drag and a tedious extra step, but I find it even more annoying with .pdf patterns, when you already have to do the extra step of taping the sheets together. These days I'm always a bit baffled when I find indie pattern companies that don't simply add a seam allowance, but again this might be a cultural thing and more common in Italian patterns?

The most tricky parts of sewing the dress are the welt pocket at the bib and inserting the invisible zipper in the side seam. Inserting the invisible zipper is fairly straightforward, especially if you've done it before. After reading through the instructions I decided to do a different construction for the welt pockets, because I'm used to it and prefer the construction that way. In case you're curious this is the way I usually construct welt pockets.

The only downside to the panelled version is that there are no side pockets. Whenever I sew something myself I almost always just stick in some pockets somewhere if I can get away with it. In this case in-seam pockets at the side seam were not possible because of the zipper placing. For a moment I debated whether I could do some cool panel or patch pockets -because pockets are always a high priority in the Tree House-, but I ruled that out when I realised that I'd have to throw the whole dress away if I messed that up, since I had no back-up fabric.   

I'm really pleased with the end result. I think the colour and fabric print look pretty neat in a dungaree style. This is also a colour that I wear quite regularly and fits well into my wardrobe. I really like this vintage-ish style of dungarees, and I think my wardrobe has space for another version (especially now I've already traced the pattern with seam allowance anyway!). Perhaps I'll make the midi length instead of the mini. I don't wear mini length skirts that often any more, but I think it does suit this style and it doesn't make me uncomfortable when I do wear it these days.

I thought that dungaree styles might have had their best time in the fashion spotlight for now, because - sadly- fast fashion is often exactly that (mind, I wouldn't let that bother me personally). But this week's new pattern collections of the 'bigger' indie houses have proven me wrong - so many beautiful new dungaree patterns! I also think I've got a taste for re-purposing now, so I'm going to see if I can do this more often. Maybe I could start thrifting things specifically for this purpose... We will see, I don't want to end up with just a pile of stuff that won't get used, as that would pretty much defeat the purpose. So, better take it slow and see project by project. This first attempt though, is satisfactory all the way. 



Parrot Puffin

March 30, 2018

I don't often knit the same pattern twice. Certainly when it concerns garments, it is a rarity. I have often professed "I´d like to knit this again at some point", or "This pattern would be so cool in a totally different colour palette", but you know how it goes: The world of knitting is a vast place, and the knitting queue is. so. long. There are always new patterns coming along vying for their spot on the needles. This is just to say that while, when I finished my first puffin sweater, I immediately knew I wanted to make another one, I also knew that it would be a while before I'd actually do it. All good things are worth waiting for however, and some good things are worth waiting for for a very long time. Eventually, it was time to cast on.

I have couple of different approaches to my colourwork knits: Sometimes I meticulously plan out a project, sometimes I throw myself into it and just pick whatever colour I'm feeling like when I'm getting to it, and sometimes I follow a colour palette according to a broad inspiration. Sometimes I like the original colours the designer chose for a project so much that I can't see any other colour combination beating it. And sometimes I want to be a parrot. I had the idea for this project pretty close to when I finished my first puffin jumper, possibly even while I was knitting the original jumper.

I started preparing for a parrot version of the jumper pretty early on too. I can't remember when exactly I decided to buy the yarn for the main colour, but I know it had been sitting in my stash for quite a while when I got to it. This bright green cone of J&S might actually have been some of the deepest buried yarn stash in the house. The green is so deliciously bright and parrot-y that once I had seen it and matched it to the idea of a Puffin I really couldn't get it out of my head any more. I only started thinking about the yoke colours after I had cast on for the body. What followed was a careful study of different varieties of parrots (I wouldn't want to mess up this part!).     

Now, there are some 402 species of bird that make up the Psittaciformes family of birds, what we call parrots. 15 of them are extinct, the other 387 are each of them remarkably beautiful. (Fifty-five of them are endangered or critically endangered). Although quite pretty, the African Psittacus are uniformly grey and not that suited for a colourwork project. The beautiful Blue-and-Yellow Macaw and Scarlet Macaw are, as their name suggest, blue with yellow and scarlet respectively, so did not match my vision and yarn choice. The Grey Breasted Parakeet from Northern Brazil does have a vivid green coat, but so many contrast colours that it would require marled yarn to do it justice. Eventually my eye fell on the Great Green Macaw and the Military Macaw. They both have a beautiful green coat accompanied by clear red and blue markings and white facial fluff. Their similarity in both appearance and distribution range makes them easy to mix up, but one can keep the two apart as follows: The Great Green Macaw is slightly more large than the Military Macaw while the latter is slightly... er.... better armed?

I actually found the print-out of the pattern of the time when I made the original puffin. I couldn't believe I still had it! I had made quite some notes on that one as my gauge differed quite a bit from the pattern at the time. Miraculously, when I measured my gauge on a recent project using the same yarn, it was the same as back then, so I could just follow the notes I made to myself back then. There is possibly a lesson in here about note taking and organisation but I'm still trying to distil that bit.

Knitting this sweater was a great. The pattern was, again, awesome to work with and especially after the huge undertaking that Windermere was, I breezed through this one super fast. I couldn't even remember I was capable of knitting fingering sweaters in a shorter amount of time anymore. But it was of the needles before I knew it -and was ready for it t.b.h., as yarn for my next project was yet to arrive!

If you follow me on instagram you might have noticed that I mentioned and posted pictures of this sweater back in autumn when I was knitting on it. And it is true, when I actually went back to check, I saw I finished this in October. Which was a surprise, even to me. I can't exactly pin point a reason why it took me so long to take some pictures of this sweater, and I'm quite puzzled about it myself.

When I finally decided to go out and take some photo's of this sweater about a week ago or so, it was actually one of the coldest days of the winter. It may not look the part, but it was way colder then any of the pictures I ever took in the snow for example. It might have felt colder because of the springlike weather we had in the days before. Just to put it in into perspective: while we were out on our walk we hardly saw anybody save for an occasional someone forced to walk a dog -where usually those woods are very crowded on weekends. I almost chickened out, to save it for another day, but then I remembered how long this sweater was waiting for its pictures and I just had to do it.

So there you have it, quite possibly the coldest photo shoot for any project ever. All of this is just to say that I am so glad for the existence of wool. At that moment in time, I was particularly happy for the existence of bright coloured Shetland wool, to make cheery jumpers with that you can pretend to be an exotic bird in during frozen days. Even onlookers, who might think that you're a little barking for taking of you warm coat and layers, can't help but smile at the cheery brightness of it all!



Brackett II

March 15, 2018

 "Hey, would you like me to make you a new hat?"

It was around December, and I apparently felt particularly generous with my knitting time when I spoke those words to S. Looking back, I think it was part the ratty state of the ancient hats he had been wearing all winter, part genuine kindness and a third part a delirious state brought about by an overdose of cheesy holiday commercials and, possibly, exhaustion.

Whatever it was, he took me up on the offer, so I'd better make good on it. I provided him with a selection of hat patterns that I'd be willing to knit for him. I made a pre-selection not because I wanted to control his fashion sense, but since I was the one who'd be knitting it, I wanted something that I'd actually enjoy making. During the process I found out he really isn't into slouchy hats. It came as a surprise as he never showed any signs of distaste towards any of my slouchy headgear. By way of explanation he swears the anti-slouch feelings only regard to his own hats. Enfin, he decided on the Brackett pattern, which again was a surprise to me as I just knitted it myself and hadn't noticed him being particularly interested in it. When he tried mine on -carefully, because my head is a tad bit smaller than his-, I had to admit though, it did suit him.

I showed him a couple of skeins I had and in the end he picked three colours that he liked - a bright yellow, a bright red and a dark green. He liked them equally and told me to pick one. I picked the dark green, solely on the basis that I had the other colours in garment quantities, which I would have to sacrifice for a hat. As he had said that he didn't have a preference between the three, I went with practicality.

I knitted it pretty much the same as my previous Brackett, so if you are interested in the practical details you can read my post about that here. Since I had already knitted it once, and fairly recently at that, this time it was even more of a breeze to knit. I knitted it, gently blocked it, and when it was dry and it was a cold day he just took it off the drying rack and wore it right away. And then... 

...he lost it. On the first day! He tried to reassure me he was pretty sure it was still at his office, but guys, this is the guy who regularly loses and forgets stuff of fluctuating importance: from keys to presents and from pencils to that one time he lost his passport on a plane after we'd been in it for like 30 seconds (It was eventually handed back to us by a befluxed stewardess). He lost the shawl I knitted for him on the flight back on that same trip. I'm just saying, it's not beyond the powers of this guy to loose something fast.

Luckily the stars were on our side this time and at least for now the hat will not join the impressive list of things he lost, or as he calls it, things whose "exact location is unsure". We took the hat for pictures a bit ago when we went for a walk, on a perfect, albeit freezing, winter day. We were in a cold spell of weather again, with temperatures below 0. It was such a glorious day and everything looked so beautiful outside.

I coaxed S. into having his picture taken for my blog because we'd be out anyway and he'd be wearing the hat, I only had to bring my camera. He said he was channelling me for modelling inspiration, which I think is a profoundly bad idea in any situation, but see if you can spot my aesthetics in these pictures. I think he enjoyed it, and more importantly, I think he quite likes the hat. He's not been going out without it -and luckily, he's since always come back with it still with him.

Finished Sewing Projects

Jane T-shirt

February 05, 2018

Part of the reason to have this blog is to have log of everything I make. Yet, I almost didn't blog about this latest project.

Not that I consider the project a failure, quite the opposite. However, the project is a simple T-shirt, and I wasn't sure that was 'exciting' or 'inspirational' enough to warrant the attention of a blogpost. Plus, to be honest: these pictures were taken inside, and I'm not the biggest fan of indoor project photographs (although I'm even less of a fan of taking pictures outside in winter in just a T-shirt). Nevertheless, if this really is an online logbook of my makes, this project should be in here. It's a basic garment, that I made in early autumn, but one that will -hopefully- get a lot of wear over the coming summer. Moreover, I don't only want to dazzle with the fancy stuff; the dreaded 'instagram effect'. And hey, who knows, maybe my project notes can help someone out there, so let's give it a go.

Why yes, I do have cats, why do you ask?

I'd been on the lookout for a T-shirt pattern for a while, mostly to wear with pinafore and dungaree style garments. But a T-shirt is a T-shirt so I'll end up wearing them with separates and under knitwear too. Over the years I've realised I'm quite particular when it comes to T-shirts: I don't like fitted T-shirts and I prefer round necklines. In the end I had my choice pinned down to two options: Seamwork's Jane T-shirt and Fancy tiger crafts' Wanderlust Tee. They both are beautiful patterns that I can see myself wearing regularly. I can't even remember what make me decide to go for the one or either, it might have been a coin toss to be honest. In the end it was Seamwork's pattern that the choice landed on.

Seamwork, which started as a Colette side project, is by now a well established name in the indie sewing world in its own right. They especially shine in the type of basic/everyday wear. The Jane T-shirt is more or less the epitome of that aesthetic. This design is mostly a classic t-shirt design with a loose fit at the bust and waist, but semi-fitted at the hips. I went with my bust measurements to pick my size. I fell in the middle to higher half of my size range, and am quite happy with the fit. The bust and hip measurements are the most important fit points on this type of garment anyway. I am quite pleased with the how it turned out straight from the pattern. It has as much positive ease as I envisioned. I noticed when looking through projects of others that some people commented that the loose fit is a bit too loose and even plainly too big. I don't have enough experience with Seamwork patterns to know whether this is a general thing with them, and as I didn't have any fit problems with this pattern, I am not too invested in it to find out quite yet. I'm am planning to use more Seamwork patterns in the future though, so I guess I'll find out at some point.

For the fabric I used a good quality cotton jersey. As a result, the shirt has bit more body to it than viscose jerseys. In terms of material quality, this is probably the best jersey fabric I've ever worked with. There is possibly a lesson in here about good quality material, and in general I do try to heed that, especially with regards to fibre content. On the other hand, I don't really consider myself to be proficient enough yet to really splash out in the fabric department, so the high grade fabrics will have to wait for some time.

I tried to match up the stripes as best as I could, and am quite happy with how that went. I'm not too strict about matching patterns up anyway, but with stripes I do try to make an effort. The sewing itself went quick and without a problem. Maybe if I were to do it again, I'd redo the neckline a smidge tighter, or do it with ribbing instead of the self fabric to give it more of a retail look. I'm not too bothered by how it's now though, and certainly not enough to go back and redo it.

Well, that's it for now, I hoped you enjoyed reading about this project! Speak soon!


Kokkeluri mittens

January 26, 2018

In the month that Kate Davies' new yarn and pattern club has started, I thought it might be a good idea to show you a finished project of her previous yarn club that ran a couple of years back. The Kokkeluri mittens were part of the Buachaille: At Home in the Highlands pattern collection that came out with the release of Kate's first very own yarn, Buchaille. The club ran in 2015, and was the first yarn/pattern club of this kind that I participated in. Long-time followers might remember I actually started this pattern in or around the same time of the club. I finished the first mitten in what I can remember was a rough week at uni. Possibly there were exams involved. Anyway, I finished the first mitten, was quite chuffed with the result, and subsequently never cast on for the second mitten.

Wait, hold on...what? Yep, second sock syndrome with mittens is a thing. A weird, mysterious and terrifying thing. Over the years occasionally my mind would return to the mitten, I even mentioned it here on the blog a couple of times, sometimes even in the form of a goal of some sorts to guilt trip  myself into finishing the mittens. However, one day at the end or beginning of December I found myself in-between projects. I just finished a big project, and had decided on and ordered yarn for a new project, but it hadn't arrived yet. So I went upstairs to my hibernating-projects box, located the project, located the yarn, started working on it like the adult I really am, and three days later I had a finished set. Just like that. The moment felt equally monumental, fantastical and silly.

I made this in the exact same yarn and colourway as the pattern suggests. I've always loved greens in combination with naturals. Islay was my favourite the colour of set right away, for no other reason than that my childhood toy rabbit, which I've owned since I was a baby, is the same exact colour.

Similarly, the Kokkeluri mittens were my favourite pattern from the collection, they still are in fact. I like mittens, and I wear them a lot. Curiously though, I haven't knitted a lot of them. I like mittens because they carry a rich knitting tradition, which I love reading about, and they are a great canvas to play with colourwork motifs. They remind me of all the good bits of childhood winters and nostalgic winter scenes as painted by Rien Poortvliet.

I knitted the mittens as per pattern, save for switching the cuff colours to the opposite colour. When I cast on the second mitten I noticed I had done this with the first mitten, and I honestly can't remember whether this was a deliberate or accidental 'design choice'. I had enough left of both colours to go either way, but since I liked it this way equally, I decided to just leave it.

Counting the time between the making of both mittens this is probably the longest I've "worked" on a project. I am a fairly monogamous knitter, working from project to project as I finish them, so I don't have a lot of hibernating projects or works in progress. I do have some, but I try to either come back to them fairly fast after abandoning them, usually when I've finished the project that distracted me from it in the first place, or -if I've fallen out of love with the project- I frog it. The mitten never made the frog list, but until recently it also never made the finishing list. I'm glad I got it together at last, and the project is now well and truly finished.

I took these pictures at the same time when I also took the project photos for the Brackett hat. So these pictures have the same winter wonderland vibes as in the previous post. In addition to the bracket hat I'm wearing it with my Afmaeli Lopapeysa. The snow is long gone these days, but one can still hope for some more cold days.

I mentioned in the introduction that this month Kate started her second yarn and pattern club. When I first heard about it I wasn't sure whether I'd sign up for this one. As more and more information came out, I got more and more enthusiastic. You can see were this is going, can't you? The new yarn turned out to be a tweed, spun in Donegal, and the words "ideal", "for" and "colourwork" were used in its description. Kate announced the club wasn't going to be just accessories, there would be an equal amount of garments. Garments! Also there where hints, dear reader! Hints of colourwork yokes. So really, in the end dear reader, how could I resist? By now, three of the patterns have been released, and all of them are colourwork designs so I'm definitely not disappointed! Yesterday Còinneach, the yoke jumper that was hinted at was released and I'm already thinking about different colour combinations. I'm looking forward to see the rest of the collection!

As a final aside before I truly bugger off, you might have noticed I redecorated the blog a bit. I gave the layout a bit of an overhaul. I wanted to smooth out some kinks that had been bothering me for a while, but one thing turned into a whole list of things I wanted to redo and in the end it turned out that it was easier to just redo the whole lot. You can imagine how much fun I am when you're clearing out the attic with me, we start with the attic and end up I retiling the bathroom! Anyway, the idea was to have a cleaner and more practical blog. I hope you like it!



Brackett Hat

January 11, 2018

I thought I'd show you one of the small projects I completed at the tail end of 2017. This one is the Brackett hat, published in Laine Issue 3. Laine is still a relatively new knitting issue, but has quickly made a huge name for itself as a Nordic high quality knit magazine. So far I've loved each of the 3 issues published, and projects from each of the magazines have made it into my knitting queue. Issue 3 might be my favourite of the bunch though, I love multiple of the designs and the gorgeous North Uist setting. The issue got caught up in a bit of a social media scruffle when online commenters got agitated about the magazine's model, and the candid photography showing her as an actual human being instead of a mannequin with a glued on smile. I think the (internalized) misogyny exhibited by many of these commenters was telling: when it comes to patriarchal norms about women's behaviour -including appropriate facial expressions-, these norms are unfortunately often policed by other women. I was glad to see so many in the knitting community who stood up for Johanna, the model, and used the occasion to hopefully bring about some awareness for the better.

Brackett caught my eye because of the cabled pattern and the folded brim, which are both features I've come to really like in hats. I made a couple hats from Brooklyn Tweed that have these features. There are some differences with hats I've made before however, most prominently the lack of slouch on the Brackett. This reminds me a lot of knitted fishermen-style hats. It instantly became one of my favourite pattern releases of the autumn-winter season and, being such a small project anyway, I swiftly cast on for one.

The actual cast on moment was quite a spur of the moment decision, when I found myself without a project one evening and I raided my stash for a suitable yarn. I found that I had some blue Malarigo Rios, hanging around in a large enough quantity. Since Rios is one of my favourite yarns to use for cabled hats, the decision was easy and I was swiftly on my way with the cast on. I did the cast on as written, the elastic tubular cast on, which is a bit more work, which if I were in a rush, or was at the movies or something like that, probably wouldn't bother with, but I happened to have the time for some extra effort so just stuck with it.

I loved knitting it. The cables look impressive but the pattern is easy and I got it memorized super fast. It helped that I was feeling like doing some cables again, after doing loads of colourwork projects. This was a nice in-between project to diversify my knitting. I think knitting it in a blue colour enhances the fishermen-like qualities of the hat.

 I had a considerable amount of yarn left over. The pattern states a yarn amount of 366 m., which meant two skeins of Rios. I had read on the project page though that most people stated they used less yarn. I was not prepared how much less though! I used less than one skein of yarn! I guess it helped that I used needle 4.5 throughout, instead of 5 (by accident, I had forgotten to switch over after the ribbing and only found out when I had cast off). I think that even with the larger needle seize you could squeeze it out of one skein of yarn. Which is actually great, because it means I have another project to use up some of those one of skeins of worsted weight I have hanging around.

These pictures were shot last month in December, when we went through a 2 week period of -for these parts- intense snow. We even had a snow warning, and my partner had to work from home for at least a day because going out, other than on foot, was ill advised. Oddly, my parents, living roughly 60 miles to the south, hardly had any snow. Anyway other than some travel inconveniences I thought it was glorious! I love winter and I love snow, and we were outside, going for walks everyday while we had it. I'd hoped this scold spell meant we were in for more snow this winter, but then we had the warmest new year's eve on record.... I don't know what the rest of winter will give us. I'm wearing it with my Afmaeli sweater.

I actually liked this hat so much that I already made another one, this time as a gift for someone else. (No, not the baby nephew this time!) I will try to post some pictures of that hat as well, but I first have to coax the new owner in taking some project pictures!

You'll see it when I've got them!

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