His ‘n’ hers hats

Tin Can Knits Hipster HatTin Can Knits Hipster HatHeart Beanieheart beanie 1

We had a cold snap recently in Norwich during this unseasonably warm winter, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to roadtest a couple of hats. The first hat is Hipster by Tin Can Knits which I made for my partner, it only took a few hours as the majority is stockinette and it was ready for him to wear to work during the cold spell.

The second hat is the Heart Beanie I made for myself, I started it on boxing day with the interchangeable knitting needles I got for Christmas. I really like the Cascade Pacific wool I used for the body of the hat, it’s soft and brightly coloured, which is a win in my book. I’m using the other half of the ball to make a cabled ear warmer, that I’m about half way through.

Both of these hats were pretty easy to make and I really like how quickly hats knit up, they’re great for filling a gap between knitting or for when I want a quick win. I made some hats as presents in the run up to Christmas, but these are the first I made for me and Dave. I love hats, especially ones with pom poms, so I foresee more knitted hats in my future!

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January in review

What I loved:
I’m obsessed with this jacket, I just think it would be perfect for spring and autumn as an alternative to my denim jacket. I’m definitely not experienced enough yet to sew my own jacket, but I’ve got my eye on this pattern for when I do.

This outfit has everything I want from a handmade outfit, a loose fitting but still smart dress and a practical cardigan over the top. I’ve been contemplating the Inari tee dress pattern for ages, but I think I’ll wait until the weather warms up before I sew one.

On Friday afternoon two brilliant pairs of knitted socks came up on my feed, firstly these lovely socks from Tres Bien Ensemble and then these socks from Lladybird. I love the colours of both pairs, and the stitch pattern on the Skyp socks is great! I’m now convinced I need a Zauberball in my stash, and that I should probably finish the pair of socks I started for my partner…

What I listened to:
Planet Money – I listen to podcasts a lot on my commute and when I’m at work, Planet Money is one of the podcasts that I always listen to, no matter what. I think it’s because the subject, economics, impacts everyone but is not usually so simply explained. My favourite recent episodes are Bagging a Birkin and A or B.

A Playful Day – This knitting podcast was one of my recent discoveries that came with learning to knit. Kate is a great host to listen to during a frustrating day or waiting at the bus stop in the cold, because her soothing voice always transports me to a cottage near the sea and makes me feel much better.

Tiny House Podcast – I’ve recently become obsessed with the tiny house movement, and although there isn’t as many options here in the UK, I can still daydream about living in a tiny cabin in a forest or travelling the world in a house on the back of a trailer. I would recommend the interviews with Brittany Yunker and Abel Zimmerman.

What I was up to:
I planned this section in the hopes that I could share all the fun things I’ve got up to this month, but then I remembered it was January and the most interesting thing I did was probably the evening I spent failing to play badminton. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always spend January curled up on the sofa watching TV or daydreaming about going on holiday somewhere sunny.

Mostly this month we’ve been watching The X-Files, we were trying to catch up before the new series started airing, but we haven’t quite done that. Theoretically I’ve seen the show before, but I can only remember odd episodes. That being said, I always seem to fall asleep during the mythology episodes, so that may be why!

What I’m planning:
As usual, I’m a bit late to the party, but my first project for February is a Camas blouse for the sew-along. I’ll be lagging behind a bit because I didn’t decided to do it until the sew-along had already started and I’ve only just ordered the fabric.

I have honestly been planning to make a Moneta dress for over a month but have had various problems getting hold of the fabric I wanted. Firstly it didn’t turn up so I had to get it sent again and when it did arrive it was different to the swatch I ordered, so I don’t know when I’ll actually be able to start this.

The last thing I’m planning isn’t sewing related, but my partner and I have planned a trip to Budapest for the beginning of March, so I’ll be planning what we’re going to do and see while we’re out there.

Peak stuff and reducing responsibly

peak-lampshade

With the release of Marie Kondo’s new book and a comment from Ikea that we have reached ‘peak stuff’ there is a lot of discussion, in the British media at least, about consumerism and responsible consumption. For most people in the sewing community this isn’t a new concept, even if it isn’t a motivating factor in the decision to make your own clothes. However, I think this current media outburst comes partly as a reaction to the overindulgence during the holidays, whether of food or consumerism, and partly as a way of ‘detoxing’ in line with many new years resolutions.

I read Marie Kondo’s first book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ last year, and I will admit, I do still fold my underwear according to her rules (it makes storing underwear so much more efficient). Her book hinges on the idea that by throwing away a lot of your possessions and living more minimally, you can bring about change in your life. While I don’t disagree that living more minimally can improve your life, whether it is by changing what you spend money on or by making you appreciate certain objects more, I question whether throwing everything away in one day is responsible.

As with fad diets and resolutions to join the gym*, I wonder whether throwing away will turn into another cycle encouraged by consumerism. If people feel the same rush from throwing things away as they do buying them, that’s just more money to be made. Maybe that’s why Ikea has said we’ve reached peak stuff while simultaneously setting aggressive sales targets for 2020.

And yet I’m still taken in by it! My plan for this weekend is still to purge my house of the irritating things which are still lying about, half used diaries from three years ago, broken phone cases and £1.50 Primark tank tops with holes in. Things I haven’t been able to get rid of because I wish I’d never bought in the first place.

So, for 2016, rather than reduce my possessions or throw away everything that doesn’t make me happy, I’m going to consume responsibly. I want to reduce the volume of my things, not by throwing everything out, but by limiting the amount of things which enter my home. When I create something I want to do it with intention, considering the environmental impact rather than just making something on a whim. Instead of getting a rush from throwing away, I’m going to get a rush from not buying, from opting out of consumerism and setting my own rules for consumption.

This is an interesting podcast about how gyms are constructed to encourage people to take out a membership without actually going.  (Also while I’m recommending podcasts this is an interesting one about the architecture of shopping malls, if you’re interested in that kind of thing.)

Getting to grips with jersey

agnes-top2

Agnes

agnes-top4Before Christmas, with my sewing resolutions in mind, I bought a load of grey jersey and set aside some time to get my head around jersey. I used Tilly’s Agnes sewing course, which took me step by step through how to make this t-shirt. Surprisingly, it didn’t take me as long as I thought it would and apart from the neckline it was pretty straight forward.

The fabric in question I got from ebay for £4 a metre and although it seemed fairly good quality, it didn’t have quite as much stretch as the pattern asked for. To counteract this, I chose the larger pattern size, as I was in the middle of two, and ended up letting out most of the seam allowance at the bust. The only trouble I had was with the neckline, as the fabric didn’t have enough stretch it didn’t pull in enough, so I ended up re-doing it a couple of times. That being said, I’m glad I didn’t have too much negative ease on the top because I like my tops to be quite loose fitting. With the sleeves, I made the shorter sleeves, but when I tried them on they still came down to my elbows, so I cut them a bit shorter.

I definitely want to make some more Agnes tops, in future I will adjust the pattern a little at the shoulders, but that’s not a surprise since I have really small shoulders and should probably just adjust all patterns automatically. I’m thinking for my next one either a solid colour with the ruched shoulders, or a plain version with stripes.

So how did I find my first foray into sewing jersey? Pretty good, actually. I don’t have a serger (although I might buy one if I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it), so I was doing everything on my machine in zig zag, but that was pretty easy to get used to. I was surprised by how nice the zig zag stitch looked at the neckline and hems. For my next couple of projects I want to make a Moneta dress and a plantain top, I was planning on making the Moneta dress this weekend, but the fabric I ordered hasn’t arrived.

What a lot of socks!

socks4

In the run up to Christmas I learnt how to knit, this may have been a bad time to learn as it meant I decided I should knit most of my Christmas presents!

I’ve tried a couple of times to learn how to knit, but I’ve always started with a scarf which I haven’t found that fun and it always ended up wonky and half finished. Someone suggested to me that I learn how to knit socks instead, as they’ve got enough parts to keep my interest and they’re fairly quick to knit up… plus everyone likes socks!

The two pairs above were Christmas presents, the first pair was for my mum, I found a lovely self-paterning wool in her favourite colours. It was the first pair of socks I ever made, and I used these instructions, which were detailed enough that even I could follow them.

The second pair was for my partner’s dad, and I used a chunky wool so it would be quick to knit. I should have followed a pattern for worsted weight wool, but instead I just guessed the number of stitches I needed, so they came out  bit large.

hand knitted socks

This pair of socks for my brother’s birthday probably took me as long as both of the other pairs combined. It’s got a design made by switching between purls and knits, as I haven’t learnt how to cable yet, which meant it took so long to knit. I switched to using the magic loop method half way through the instep of the first sock, which sped them up.

I’m currently on my second sock of a pair just for me, which I am super excited for, since I haven’t actually knit myself a pair yet. I want to get them finished soon so I can wear them, but I committed myself to knitting my partner a hat first!

2016 Sewing Resolutions

2016 sewing resolutionsAgnes / Sea Wall / Moneta / Chuck

I started this year as I mean to go on, knitting on the train back from visiting friends in London. It was only at the end of 2015 that I got back into sewing and learnt how to knit, so I can’t really write a round up post, but I do want to look towards 2016 and set myself some sewing and knitting goals.

Learn how to sew jersey and knits, I wear mostly t-shirts and jersey dresses and I want to be able to learn how to sew these. I’ve just started making a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top from Tilly’s learn how to sew jersey tops course which will hopefully be a good introduction.

Conquer my fear of zips as they confuse and scare me! When inserting an invisible zip I can’t seem to make it neat enough to really be invisible, but I can’t avoid them forever, and I know have to make mistakes to get better.

Sew a blouse or a shirt dress. I find the idea of sewing collars really daunting, I’m hoping that by setting myself this as a goal I’ll at least attempt a blouse this year.

Improve my knitting technique, I’ve only recently learnt how to knit and I want to explore different ways of knitting to make sure I’ve got the best technique I can. I currently knit using the English method of throwing the yarn and it makes my shoulder ache after a bit so I might switch to the continental method of knitting.

Learn how to cable knit, this is pretty self explanatory, but I really want to learn how to cable so I can make loads of exciting patterns. I have my eye on some of the Tin Can Knits patterns I downloaded during their 12 days of Christmas giveaway.

Knit a jumper or a cardigan. I love jumpers and cardigans and I really want to be able to knit them for myself. I got a set of interchangeable knitting needles for Christmas (thanks mum!) so I’m all set for knitting a jumper in 2016.

I hope that by setting myself some goals I can make some awesome things this year and learn loads along the way.