Winter warmer

This year my mum asked me to knit her a hat for Christmas, to replace one she’d lost, so I sewed her a dress. I also knit her the hat, but wanted to make her something she wouldn’t leave on the train!

The fabric is Liberty “Poppytot” fluffy sweatshirt in which I hot as a remnant about two years ago (half price! What a steal). I already made myself this sweatshirt from it last year and there was thankfully still enough left for a dress.

For the pattern, I used the Grainline Studio Lark Tee as a base, but added darts and length, and altered the neckline largely in line with New Look K6145. I sized up one because of the thickness of the fabric, and also added patch pockets.


A new sewing chapter

When I started sewing in earnest (is that really 6 years ago?!) my mum very kindly and presciently bought me my first machine – a John Lewis, red, basic model for just under £100. It’s served me pretty well, looking back at my makes, and it’s cheerful cherry red has been a cheeky source of inspiration and delight.

But after a while, it’s time to make new friends. Earlier this month I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally, and came back with a veritable beast. A Bernina 570QE, unicorn machine of dreams. I’ve been saving up for over a year, I’ve had help from generous benefactors (special shout out to my aunt and stepdad), and I’ve finally taken rather a big leap.

I was giddy all day after I brought the Bernina home, but a little bit  apprehensive of actually starting to familiarise myself with it. But last weekend, a convenient rainy day kept me inside and I started the long process of getting to know the Bernina.

So my inaugural make (in honour of having my first ever straight stretch stitch at my fingertips) is a Talvikki sweater, by Named Clothing. The fabric is sweatshirting by Atelier Brunette, purchased from M is for Make

The fabric is a bit thinner than I expected – if I make this again, it will be in boiled wool. The Atelier Brunette fabric is not designed for British (or Canadian!) winters. But I think this will be a nice anti-mosquito layer for hot summer nights, and for the time being it’s so roomy I can really layer up underneath. In the photos I’m wearing my Liberty Hesketh Apollon sweatshirt underneath. 

And the Bernina? An absolute dream. But definitely still a long learning curve ahead of me. 

Sweating it

A year ago, I made a sweatshirt in delicious fluffy-backed liberty sweatshirt fabric in one of my favourite prints, Hesketh. I’d self-drafted it based on my very first self-drafted sweatshirt, which sadly shrank lengthwise by about 6 inches the first time it was ever washed. It’s now a mainstay of my winter pyjamas, but nonetheless, tragic. 

So I carefully pre-washed my fabric and cut a new sweatshirt out of the Hesketh. And… It was still pretty tragic! The fabric this time stretched, so it was falling off my shoulders and the sleeves drowning my already apeishly long arms. I wore it on weekends sometimes, but generally just felt bad about it whenever I looked at it.  

Thankfully, its  enormity gave me a bit of wriggle room. I sliced it apart at the seams this weekend and managed to salvage the front and back pieces, and then miraculously had enough left over for new sleeves, cuffs, neckband and waistband. I recut it into a slightly modified (wider neck!) Apollon sweatshirt, my first experience of French I AM Patterns

I’m delighted! Its such a relief that it’s wearable now, and just in time for autumn. 

The pattern itself was a bit dodgy – firstly, my printer only printed some of the lines (!), and secondly, even on screen there were no notches to tell the front from the back of the sleeves. Anyway, it all came together and I’m very grateful for this pattern having rescued what seemed like a lost-cause project. 

As a basic, quick pattern, it’s brilliant. I like the set-in sleeves much more than the raglan sleeves of the Linden sweatshirt I made many moons ago (and have since given to a friend… Raglan sleeves and I don’t mix), and I look forward to making more. 

One sweatshirt clearly wasn’t enough, so on the same day I also whipped up another Named Clothing Sloane sweatshirt. This one’s in the same Liberty fleece, the print is apparently called Poppytot. I got 3m as a half price remnant at Liberty last winter. Hopefully still enough left to make my mum a dress. 

The Sloane sweatshirt remains a perfect pattern. The darts make it just a bit sophisticated. I’ve just printed out the Tuuli pattern from Named Clothing’s new range and I have very high hopes (watch this space). 

Troubled waters

It’s been a pretty grim couple of weeks in the UK. Rain, politics, and work have been a bit unrelenting.

However, I did find time last week to start mentally preparing myself to sail away from all these tempests (on holiday!), staying up late one night to convert a recent gem from the Liberty summer sale into a fantastic Sloane sweatshirt from Named Clothing.

I’ve only made one other Named thing – my Leini dress – but it got me a bit hooked. The Sloane sweatshirt is every bit as good – elegant, comfortable and easily wearable. I actually wore it to work this week  without criticism.

Bundled up

After the intense crafting leading up to and over Christmas, making has had to take a back seat for the past month or so while I concentrate on work and study. But come April – term will be over, a new job will be underway; and I picture a paradise of endless craft time.

I also just went to Istanbul for my birthday with my mum (amazing! amazing! amazing!) and we checked out lots of textiles in the Bazaar and lots of wonderful Byzantine mosaics in the churches and museums. I am filled with wonderful quilt and embroidery ideas now – although I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to embroider a whole suzani! Also there were millions of cats and it snowed and I was in heaven.

Suzani 1 Suzani 2Haghia Sophia mosaic detailIstanbul cats

So in the past month I’ve been doing portable and quick projects. I finished my first ever fair isle sock, using Georgina Parks’s Spots & Stripes pattern from her book Rowan Sock Knitting Workshop. I have to say that it’s a bit tight – I don’t think I got the tension of the floats quite right – but oh my goodness it is gorgeous. I used some Rowan Fine Art sock wool (the dark purple) and cheap sock yarn from Tiger (the pink/brown). I love the overall effect. When I was 4 years old I would have been completely transfixed (and even now at 25 I still am!). The very first dream I can remember was about an exotic fish in exactly these colours that was being sold in a pet shop in Toronto’s Chinatown.

fairisle sock fairisle sock floats

Not sure when I’ll have the appetite to start this sock’s mate. It might join my growing collection of single socks, especially given how tight it is. Although this would be unfortunate given how beautiful it is.

Next up is a Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt which I made when I was ill a couple of weeks ago. I’ve made my own self-drafted sweatshirts before, and I think I actually might prefer them to the Linden. I don’t like raglan sleeves that much, and the fit on the Linden is a bit odd – a bit too avant-garde for my sweatshirt needs! It has surprisingly narrow sleeves, a wide body, and I think the ribbing for the cuffs and waist isn’t tight/small enough to lend the finished garment a good shape. In short, it’s a bit sack-like (…apart from the sleeves).

lindenlinden lindenlinden linden

However, the instructions were fantastic and yielded a great finish, the pattern was easy to follow, satisfying to make, and despite my reservations I love my Linden, especially with its Liberty print additions. The Liberty fabric is a design called Pinky, and it was made of drawings by children from a local primary school. I want to make so much more in this fabric! I’m thinking of maybe a Republique du Chiffon Maeva blouse, or another Emery dress…

Finally, I’ve started on an epic knitting challenge: a 60th birthday present for my mum. I’ve got until September to finish it, but given the rate I’m going I think I’ll need all the time I can get!

The pattern is Jared Flood’s Girasole. It is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.


I’m using Malabrigo Sock in ochre to knit it – wonderful yarn. And it came fabulously packaged too, from, which I’d never used before but seemed to be the only vendor with the colour I wanted. They posted me my three skeins of wool in a sparkly blue gauze bag.

Spring sewing

Some time in early March the weather all of a sudden became glorious for a weekend, and I thought: I need a semi-nice sweatshirt.

A trip to the ‘other’ Cloth House (at the south end of Berwick Street) furnished me with some gloriously cosy fabric – natural cotton jersey with coloured flecks on the front, cosy fluffy fuzzy wonderfulness on the back. And after a bit of help from youtube and a close examination of an old hoodie, I whipped up this sweatshirt based on my favourite t-shirt:

Dropped sleeve sweatshirt

Dropped shoulder sweatshirt cuff

Dropped shoulder sweatshirt

Sadly… I didn’t wash it first. And when, after wearing it night and day for three weeks I put it through the washing (on cold!) it shrank considerably in length.  😦  So it’s now the length of those cropped t-shirts that Topshop girls wear. But whatever. I still love it and wear it almost as much as before.

I went back to Cloth House to get more of the same fabric in another colour, but they were out of the fluffy kind. So I got another 1.5m of navy blue ‘summer-weight’ fabric, carefully washed it (it hardly shrank at all), and made sweatshirt #2. This time with raglan sleeves. It is a bit humongous. I have given it to my mum.

raglan sweatshirt

Then I had enough navy and enough white fabric to make sleeves… But not bodies. So back to Cloth House for a metre more of each. I washed them together, and the white came out 70cm long whereas the blue had become 120cm long. So confusing! I can only think they gave me extra blue because it was the end of the bolt. Anyway, sweatshirt #3 was born. This is for a man friend, but I love it so much I want to make one for me too now. Time to get back to Cloth House!

manly sweatshirt and Rune

manly sweatshirt making-of

manly sweatshirt 1

manly sweatshirt 2

manly sweatshirt 3

manly sweatshirt 4