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CardiganBook

Vintage baby knits: Audrey Hoodie

CardiganBook

Over the summer i’ve been dabbling in quite a bit of knitting for small people, with several friends expecting this autumn. The first of these is the Audrey Cardigan, taken from a book called Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren.

I picked this book up some time ago in a bargain book shop for a few pounds, although you can also buy it on Amazon for slightly more pounds. It is full of a good number of patterns ranging from the 1920s to 1950s, some of which have aged better than others!

I chose the Audrey Cardigan as it was touted as “an example of the quick-to-knit patterns so popular in the late 1950s”.

Hmm.

Pretty it may be, but quick-to-knit it sure isn’t, as anyone in my monthly craft group can testify! The pattern is fairly simple, and the cardigan is knit in one piece with the only seams to sew up being the underarms and sides, however the whole thing is knit in moss stitch which is not the speediest stitch. I was well and truly fed up of this stitch by the time this cardigan was complete!

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The yarn I used was Sidar Snuggly Baby Speckle, a 60% cotton and 40% acrylic blend, in colourway 128 “Billy Blue”. As the name suggests this yarn is super soft but yet feels quite robust, especially knit in moss stitch as it is here.

When I begun this hoodie I was unsure whether my friend was having a girl or a boy. As it turned out she had a little boy, but I personally would still have gifted this cardigan if she had had a little girl instead. Due to the flecks in the colour, I think this would have worked for either – although I am aware that some of you may disagree, and that’s ok.

An interesting feature of this cardigan is the shell edging, which is added in double crochet. My crochet is a bit rusty and so the edging is not quite as neat as shown in the photos in the book – however I think the desired effect still comes across.

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One frustration I had was down to the fact that I am a perpetually loose knitter, and despite knitting a tension square and already going down a needle size, the finished cardigan still turned out bigger than expected. Given this is for a child it’s not such a big problem, as it will just fit the little one at a slightly older age, but I do find my tension an issue. If any knitters out there have any wise words of wisdom to manage tension, I would greatly welcome your tips.

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Despite being a considerably less quick-knit than anticipated, I was pleased with the result, as was my friend to whom it has been gifted. So I wouldn’t completely discount knitting this again in the future – just perhaps with the knowledge than it might be a slow burner!

What’s on your knitting needles at the moment?

Kat x

Lady Grey Coco Dress

Howdy hi and Happy Wednesday! It’s all downhill to the weekend now and I have a new dress to show you!

This is the first garment I have sewn since my bridesmaids dresses way back before Easter. My hiatus wasn’t planned, but came about due to life happening and also the fact that my sewing room became a bit of a dumping ground, meaning that I physically couldn’t get to my sewing machine for a few weeks!

After the break I fancied a quick and easy made. Enter Coco from TIlly & The Buttons. My first Coco dress had almost weekly wear, and I had been thinking of a lighter boat neck version for some time. Last weekend I met up with Marie, Roisin, Amy, Helen and Lauren for some fabric shopping and gossiping and picked up a few bits…ok ok quite a lot of bits!…of new fabric. Top of the pile was some light grey jersey from the rag market which I straight away had pinned for a coco dress.

Despite having a long planned queue of projects, this one jumped right to the top. I’m a sucker for getting distracted!

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This fabric is jersey but with minimal stretch, and substantial enough to hold a nice shape and still be warm in winter. I cut a straight size 6 and used a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to whip this up. I also trimmed and zigzaged the seams for added stability (one of these days I will stop being too lazy to rethread my overlocker…!). The only alteration I made was to add two inches to the length to make this dress more work-appropriate in the summer months without tights.

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I’m really pleased with how this dress has turned out! The photos above look like there is something weird going on with the neck, but it’s just the way i’m standing. The only change I would make in future is maybe to add a little bit more room over the bust. Due to the lack of stretch in this jersey it’s a wee bit snug over the chest – but nothing I can’t put up with.

There is an interloper on my photoshoot demanding attention….

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Ok she wins…spoilt cat!

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What’s on your sewing table? Have you let any shiny new things leapfrog your sewing queue recently?

Kat xxx

 

Derby blogger meet-up 8th November

After the success of our first East Midlands meet up held in Nottingham in January, the lovely Samantha and I are joining forces again to host another creative and crafty bloggers meet-up, this time held in Derby.

The meet-up will take place on 8th November 2014, kicking off around 10.30am. It is open to anyone who considers themselves “creative or crafty”, not just sewists, and this is a great chance to learn about different things – for example last time I learnt about the world of mixed media, which was completely new to me. There will be chatter, tea, cake and crafting and this is a great opportunity to catch up with other creative blogger in the area and make new friends. We have a day packed full of activities including a chance to get crafty, a brilliant social media and web savvy clinic (I don’t know about you but I could certainly do with a few tips!) and a chance to visit some local creative businesses.

Places are filling up fast but if you would like to come along just drop me an email by clicking on the icon on the right hand tool bar, or leave a comment below and I will get back to you.

If you’re coming along, why not grab the button below for your blog? Just copy and paste the code below into your blog.

bloggermeetderby-badge

<a href="http://wp.me/p4depz-7y" target="_blank">
<img title="Derby blogger meet-up badge" 
src="http://www.akraftykat.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/bloggermeetderby-badge.png" 
alt="Derby blogger meet-up badge" height="175" width="175" /></a>

Looking forward to seeing some of you there, I do love a good meet-up. Unfortunately I can’t make the Sew Brum meet-up this weekend but it sounds like it will be a fabulous day and I look forward to reading all about it afterwards! It’s probably for the best though – I never can resist a splurge at Barry’s or the Fancy Silk Store, and I have plenty of fabric to be getting on with…

Kat xx

 

Blog hoppity hop

Hello everyone and happy Monday. I hope you had a good weekend, I mostly spent mine being full of the lurgy and wrestling with invisible zips so I can’t pretend it was the best, but hey, onwards and upwards!

Today it is my turn to jump on the blog hop wagon! Thank you very much to Freya from The Dressmaking Diaries, a fellow midlands sewist, who nominated me. I have lost track of where this all started but it seems to have been hopping around for a great long while and I have really enjoyed reading everyones answers to the four questions posed and learning a bit more about some of my favourite bloggers. So without further ado here are mine!

Why I write

Good question! I was inspired to start a blog after meeting Marie, one of my first real-life sewing friends, and being introduced to her blog and the whole world of sewing bloggers. I thought I’d like to try it for myself, and so this blog was born. That must be almost 4 years ago now – how time flies. I love the blogging community and the support and friendships that it provides. Also blogging allows me to document my progress and start a conversation with others who sew and who will be able to offer guidance and advice, in a way that non-sewists are not able too.

What I’m working on

I am terrible with UFOs and always have multiple projects on the go, as well as many others in the pipeline. I am currently in the process of tackling the enormous task of making bridesmaids dresses for my wedding next year (eek!). I have the fabric and mostly a plan of the pattern, which will be a modified Anna dress, and am almost finished making the first mock-up of the dress for myself before starting the daunting task of sewing for other people. Knitting-wise I am finishing a Miette cardigan and also have a number of other projects on the go including a pair of socks and some wedding-related knitting.

How my blog differs from others of it’s genre

I think that every blog is unique in the way that every person is unique and brings their own voice to what they write. However in terms of overall content, I am not sure that my blog differs greatly from others. What you get here is predominantly sewing and knitting, however I will try my hand at pretty much anything, which in the past has also included millinery, jewelery-making and embroidery. I suppose if I were a business I would be seriously lacking a USP – but I’m not a business and I write because I enjoy it, so it’s not something that I am going to lose any sleep over.

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A little bit about my writing process

Hmmm my writing process. I think calling it a process may be stretching it a wee bit. Usually this involves me sitting down at my laptop after having just finishing sewing, playing with some pictures and pretty much writing whatever comes into my head. I am not so much one for planning, which is why I am writing this at 9.40pm on the day that it is supposed to be posted. A good process would definitely remove a little stress from my life and I would love to be more planned in general. I envy people who have a back up of drafts just in case, and who have a blogging calender. I dream of being this organised! Even at work, where I manage a couple of team blogs, I am really not as planned as i should be (shh!). Is it too early to be thinking of new years resolutions?!

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So i think this is the bit where I nominate two people to go next! I am struggling to find people who have yet to take part, I think the following have yet to have a go but apologies if you have and I missed it:

Kerry from Kestrel Makes

Sabs from Tybalt:King of Cats

Happy hopping everyone!

Kat xx

 

Owls cardigan

Hello everyone and happy Saturday. It’s been a long and busy week and I am very glad that it’s the weekend. Today I can finally share with you my owls cardigan! Cast on here as part of the owls knitalong, I shamelessly missed my May deadline, although not by as long as it may appear as it also took a bit of time for it to be cool enough for me to be able to bear putting it on to photograph. It has been WARM in these parts! Even when it hasn’t been sunny, it has been muggy. But I now have pictures!

The pattern is a jumper, Owls by Kate Davies, but knowing that I wear cardigans a lot more than jumpers I have made it into a cardigan. This was really easy to do following the instructions on converting this pattern to a cardigan which I found on Ravelry. Jenny WIllknitt has kindly shared her guide to “cardiganising” the jumper and taken all the effort away from this adaption, with great results.

I love the colour of this yarn. It is Cascade Eco+ in Pumpkin Spice, purchased from The Knitting Shop.  It is also super soft and i know it will be super warm come the winter.

This jumper is meant to be knit with 2 inches of negative ease to make it quite snug, but I completely missed this and have made it according to my actual measurements. This is fine, as I like big and snuggly jumpers, but something to bear in mind if you prefer your jumpers more fitted. I also added a good bit to the length so that it just covers the top of my bum, which is my ideal cardigan length. This will be a great addition to my autumn wardrobe where it is not quite cool enough to wear a coat but a chunky cardigan thrown over a dress does nicely (the dress here is my Simplicity Amazing Fit 1652, in case you were wondering).

I don’t think you can see in the pictures, but each of the 20 owls have tiny buttons for eyes. I managed to find buttons which blend in nicely with the colour of the yarn, so from a distance you can’t see the individual eyes; I like this, it’s kind of a surprise when you view the owls close up and this subtlety makes the jumper more wearable. I also decided to only add three buttons to the front of the cardigan, and leave the rest open. I have another jumper in which the buttons are placed in this way, and I really like how it looks.

As I’m sure you can tell, I love this jumper! The only thing I would change if I could is that the buttons pull slightly which you can see in the photos. I have the same problem with my Corrine cardigan as well as some shop-bought cardigans.If anyone has any tips to fix this I would be most grateful.

I seem to be knitting up a storm this year, with three knitted garments under my belt already. And there is no time for a rest; I’ve already cast on the Miette cardigan after seeing so many lovely versions around the blogosphere. My autumn wardrobe is going to be bursting with homemade knits :)

What’s on your knitting needles or sewing table at the moment?

Kat xx

Letitia jumper

Well hello there strangers. How time flies! I can’t believe that it has been so long since I’ve been around these parts. Life happened, as it has a tendency to, in both good ways and bad. The last few months have been hectic and full of ups as well as downs, and sewing and blogging have unfortunately taken a bit of a back seat. To be honest with you, I haven’t really felt like it. But you know what – thats ok. I never want blogging or making things to become a chore, otherwise what’s the point? I knew that eventually my mojo would return, and I think its getting there.

Today I can finally share with you a jumper that has been a long time in the making. The pattern is the Letitia Jumper designed by Sarah Hatton from Issue 42 of The Knitter. The yarn I have used here is a 100% cotton dk yarn from Patons which is actually a beautiful deep red rather than the fluorescent pink it looks like in some of the photos; you’ll have to take my word for it.

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Letitia first popped up on the blog way back in July 2012 where, it must be said, she was looking in pretty reasonable shape. Despite the lace work, this is a reasonably straightforward knit, and the repeating eyelet pattern keeps you on your toes just the right amount. It’s simple enough to knit in front of your favourite TV programme, but with enough intrigue to keep things interesting. I soon finished knitting and sewed her up. I even wore her once. But – there was a problem (in all likelihood with my calculations!) and the jumper came up much too short. There are no pictures, for which I am very grateful as it was not a good look! Slightly despondent, I put this jumper to one side, where it languished for a good while.

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Eventually I decided I really needed to do something, and turned to Google for help, where I discovered this excellent video which shows you a handy method to lengthen a jumper knitted from the bottom up. So off I went, extending the jumper by a good few inches. I tried it on…and still wasn’t satisfied. Fussy me! This time I felt it was too long and didn’t sit quite right. This may have been overly picky, but I knew that if I wasn’t completely happy I wouldn’t wear it, which would have been a waste. So to one side the jumper went again, until I picked it up a few weeks ago. A few evenings of knitting later, and I have a finished jumper that I am happy with and know I will wear. Here I am wearing it over a blouse with a peter-pan collar, I did this almost by accident but I really love this look!

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So this jumper really has been a lesson in perseverance, but I am glad I didn’t give up. Sadly (well, not really!) it is far to warm to wear this jumper now, but never mind.

I’m going to leave you with a picture of another long-awaited knit, my owls cardigan, which has been waiting patiently to be blocked for a good month or two now, but look! Progress….

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Blog post coming soon. Yet another weather appropriate make…not!

Kat xx

Lady in Red Coco Dress

Hello Everyone! Thank you all so much for your lovely comments and congratulations on my engagement. It’s so exciting and I can’t wait to get stuck in to wedding planning. I’m going home for a few days over Easter and I am going shopping to try on wedding dresses with my mum. I’m feeling a little bit apprehensive as I think I have quite strong ideas about what I do and do not like, and I’m a bit worried I won’t find something I love – hence why I’m starting early! Although I have decided not to make my wedding dress – far too stressful – I am planning to make my three Bridesmaids dresses. I have a few pattern ideas already and I spotted the fabric I would like to use when we were shopping for my ring in Birmingham last weekend – I just hope there is enough of it left when we go back next week!

Aaanyways, while I will doubtless be chatting about my wedding around these parts from time to time, I have no plans to turn this into a wedding blog. Normal service does go on, and today I am pleased to be able to reveal my latest Calico Laine Blogger network made – the Coco Dress from TIlly and the Buttons.

coco1I love wearing dresses, largely because you can put one on and immediately feel put together. On top of that they are often super-comfy to wear – especially when made out of jersey. For this reason I was drawn to the Coco dress. I ordered the fabric, a delicious bright red double knit jersey from Calico Laine, about six weeks ago, keen to get started as soon as possible. I pre-washed it and everything, took it up to my sewing room…and there it sat for quite some time. Opps. What can I say, life happened. However, at the weekend I finally picked it up and boy, what a quick and satisfying make this pattern is! I cut out on Sunday and stitched it up last night, and it was all finished in time to wear to work today.

coco2The only alteration I made to this pattern was to lengthen it by two inches. I had read on some other blogs that it comes up a bit short on us tall laydees, and I’m glad I did because this length is perfect. This jersey is so soft and lovely to work with. I was initially unsure about making a plain dress in such a bright colour, but I decided to go for it and I’m glad I did. This is a really cheerful dress and it makes me smile :)

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One of my favourite things about this dress is the buttons – they are beautiful buttons from Liberty’s gifted to me by one of my bestest friends. I’ve had these buttons for a while and was waiting for the perfect use for them, and this dress is it. They are the perfect way to jazz up an otherwise plain dress and are a pretty good colour match too!

coco4I can see this dress getting a lot of wear. This is one of the few plain coloured garments I have in my wardrobe and it’s just so comfy. J’adore Coco! I can see myself whipping up another Coco or two in the near future, especially with Me Made May 2014 coming up! Last year I managed three days a week in me made clothes and this year I am upping my game and aiming for five days a week. Eeek!

Are you taking part in Me Made May? Are you going to be stocking (stitching?!) up on basics in preparation, and what garments do you think will be your go-to staples?

Kat xx

Owls knitalong: Choosing yarn and knitting a swatch

Hello Everyone! Today is the first day of the owls knitalong. There is a small group of us knitting along to make this great jumper pattern by Kate Davies, led by myself and the lovely Sabs. We are largely doing thing via email, but there will be a few blog posts along the way so you can keep up with our progress should you desire.

owlsAfter a bit of Ravelry research I decided to modify this pattern slightly to make a cardigan. As far as I can tell this basically means that rather than knitting in the round, I will not join the stitches and knit back and forth instead. The reasoning behind this decision is that I tend to wear chunky cardigans more than chunky jumpers, and I really want to get a lot of wear out of this garment.

The first two steps of any knitting project are arguabley the most important: choosing your yarn and knitting a swatch. You may remember a few weeks ago I frogged my St James jumper with the plan to repurpose the yarn for this project. Well, I should have read the pattern first. The owls pattern calls for chunky yarn, not aran/worsted weight yarn which is slightly thinner. You can sometimes get away with using a different sized knitting needles to get the correct guage, but it does explicitly state that this is not recommended for this pattern as the all important owls loose their definition. I would have known this, of course, had I read the pattern before blindly frogging my St James. The lesson here is READ THE PATTERN! It is a good idea to know what weight of yarn you are looking for before you start the hunt, and it’s also helpful to have a look on Ravelry and see what yarns others have used for the same project. Oh well. All is not lost as it has been brought to my attention that the miette cardigan calls for worsted weight yarn. I think I may have just lined up my next knitting project…

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Anyway. Back to the owls. With my original plan out the window I had to go on the hunt for some new yarn. I chose Cascade Eco+ in Pumpkin Spice, purchased from The Knitting Shop.  I think this particular colourway is currently out of stock, but it is a lovely orangey-brown and the yarn is just so super soft – I love it.

Yarn purchased, the next step is to knit a swatch. I’m as lazy as the next person and if I can get away with skipping a step I generally do. However, even I am resigned to the fact that knitting a swatch is the boring but necessary bit. The pattern will call for a certain gauge, which is basically the number of stitches and rows there are in a certain size segment (or swatch) of knitting. Often this is a 4 inches/10cm square. For some patterns, such as a scarf, gauge is not important, however for a jumper or cardigan which is knit to a certain size, if the gauge is even slightly out you may find that you end up with a jumper that is too small, which would be heart-breaking after all that work! The owls pattern suggests using chunky wool and states that on 6.5mm needles there should be 13 stitches and 20 rows to 4 inches in stocking stitch. You may find that your swatch measures slightly differently, which could be due to the yarn or your knitting style – everyone knits slightly differently and you may knit slightly tight or loose. To resolve this, you can go up or down a needle size to get the correct gauge. You can see my swatch below – this photo is also a pretty accurate representation of the colour of my yarn. Gorgeous.

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Swatch done it’s time to get knitting for real (always the best bit). If you would like to knit along, it’s not too late to join in! Below is a rough schedule. Each each stage has either one or two weeks allowed for it. The pattern is nicely split into numbered steps and I have indicted which steps are included in each stage. Timings are quite generous but hopefully this allows for a lot of flexibility and if you have a busy week or two hopefully there will be plenty of time to catch up.

  • By 17th March – Swatch and get everything ready
  • 17th March – Cast on and begin body (step 1)
  • 24th March – Waist increases/decreases (steps 2 & 3)
  • 31st March – Side increases, knit to underarm, divide (steps 4, 5 & 6)
  • 14th April – Sleeves (step 7)
  • 28th April – Knit the owls! (step 8)
  • 12th May – Decreases, neckline, cast off (steps 9, 10 & 11)
  • 19th May – Finish and block (step 12)

By happy co-incidence the knitalong will finish the week of my birthday. This gives me an extra incentive to finish on time – who doesn’t want to wear owls on their birthday?!

Kat xx

Starry-eyed Anna Dress

Hello everyone, I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. Mine has been a relaxing one full of sewing, knitting and baking – I feel rather productive! Unfortunately my hayfever seems to have started even earlier than usual this year – one of the few downsides of moving to the countryside it seems, so I have been extremely sniffly – ah well not a lot I can do. Other than that it’s been a lovely weekend, and to top it off I have a new dress to show you!

For February’s Calico Laine blogger network made, I have finally jumped on the Anna dress bandwagon. This pattern is the brainchild of the By Hand London girls, and there have been many wonderful versions of this pattern popping up all across the blogosphere ever since it’s release last year. Mr KK bought me the pattern for Christmas (there may have been a little prompting) and I’ve been looking forward to making it ever since. For this dress I choose and purple cotton with small white stars on from Calico Laine. This is a much smaller print that I usually tend to work with, but I think the subtlety of the pattern really lets the shape of the Anna dress shine.

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I did try to take some outdoor pictures of this dress, but the weather is so horrible it just wasn’t working…

Anna1So indoor it is!

I’ve mentioned previously my aim to conquer to FBA, and I was all ready to have a go on this dress, however when I looked at the measurements it turned out not to be needed on this particular dress. I’m not going to pretend to be upset. The construction of this dress was pretty straightforward. Anna’s kimono sleeves are built into the bodice which means no fiddling around inserting sleeves – winner! I decided to do a fully lined bodice rather that the dreaded facings, and for this I used the remains of my Goldhawk Road grey cotton silk, although sadly there was not enough left to line the skirt too so I left this unlined. I am most likely to wear this dress with a slip anyway. I made up the lining insertion as I went along, which resulted in a bit of of botched job – it was only afterwards that I stumbled upon By Hand London’s ANna sewalong post giving step-by-step instructions for inserting a full lining – doh! The pattern calls for an invisible zip, which always makes me nervous, but it actually went in pretty easily. For some reason it’s not quite as invisible as it could be, which may be down to the fact that the zip does not quite match but this is just laziness on my part. It’s still one of my best zip insertions to date!

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Even though I made a muslin, I was worried all the way through this make that it was going to be too small in the bodice. Luckily it has turned out pretty much perfect. I had to be picky I would add a bit more ease to the side seams next time, as there is a bit of pulling, but it isn’t too bad. I slip stitched the hem again – I’m not usually one for hand sewing, but it does give a better result. I also have my overlocker back in action, thanks to the lovely Claire who gifted me some overlocker thread, which means I was able to finish everything nicely, although French seams are still my true love when it comes to finishing. For the skirt I did a mixture of the two, overlocking the raw edges and then turning and stitching. This solves the problem I sometimes get with French seams where threads peak through the seams on the right side of the dress.

I love everything about this dress – the pattern, the fabric and the fit. I foresee more Anna’s in my future – I am especially looking forward to making the maxi version for summer. I have also seem some great versions which have a gathered shirt, which also suits this pattern.

I’ll leave you with a few out-takes including the one where I decided to do a thumbs up just a little too late…

Anna4…and the one with the photo-bombing cat!

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Happy Sunday everyone!

Kat xx

Decision made…

Thank you for all your comments and tweets relating to my last post on whether or not I should frog my St James jumper. Also apologies for the temporary blip in commenting – somehow I accidentally and mysteriously unchecked a box somewhere…but it’s all sorted now!

I think in my heart I knew what had to be done, and I can now report that this…

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…has become this…

froggedBring on the owls!

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I am so excited to knit this jumper. Firstly, owls! Secondly, I have seen so many lovely versions around the blogosphere, most recently Tasia’s. Sabs and I are planning a mini knitalong for this jumper starting in March – if anyone else fancies joining us, you would be most welcome! Firstly I have to finish my Corrine cardigan though…I’m on the finish straight now and hope to be able to share it (and wear it!) soon.

What’s on your knitting needles?

Kat xx