Autumn sewing plans

Hello there!

The chilly weather we have been having around these parts recently has got me thinking about my autumn sewing plans. There is definitely a change in the air; when I got up at 6am this morning it was dark. I’m not going to lie to you, I love autumn. I feel a lot more comfortable dressing for autumn, in layers and cardigans and scarfs than I do for summer. Nothing beats cosying up inside with a cup of hot chocolate, a cat or two and a blanket. Oh and the boy, if he happens to be around.

My autumn sewing plans were already in development, in my head at least, when the lovely Liz from Liz Makes It drew my attention to the Fall Essentials Sew-Along (aka FESA14) being hosted by the ladies from Rhinestones and Telephones and What Would Nancy Drew Wear. Never one to pass up the challenge, this sounds like the perfect opportunity to kick-start my seasonal sewing. FESA14 runs from 1st September until 30th November, and the idea is that participants sew items from one or more of the following categories:

  • Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather
  • Chic Chemises for Cool Climates
  • Fabulous Frocks
  • Underneath it all
  • Tender Tootsies
  • Those Cozy Nights
  • Baby It’s Cold Outside

Details and inspiration for each category can be found here. Being the ambitious kind, I am aiming to complete one item from each category. Nothing wrong with setting ambitious goals, and I already have a few WIPs that fit nicely into some of the categories, so this will be an incentive for me to complete them. Here are a couple of patterns that are currently tickling my fancy:

Miette cardigan

Miette cardigan by Andi Sutterland

I currently have a Miette cardigan in progress, in fact I just have one sleeve and the button bands left to complete. This is the perfect cardigan to wear with dresses to transition them from summer to autumn/winter staples.

Sewaholic Robson coat

Sewaholic Robson coat

I was given the Robson coat pattern from Sewaholic Patterns for my birthday back in May, and I am planning to sew this up as an autumn jacket, probably in a plain colour such as grey so that it goes with everything.

Coco from Tilly and the Buttons

Coco from Tilly and the Buttons

I see more Coco’s on the horizon; I wear my red Coco dress to death and am planning a version with contrast roll neck and cuffs, as well as some top versions.

I am hankering after a basic black work skirt, something warm and with a bit of drape. I am thinking of using wool of a wool blend. I’m still looking for the perfect pattern though, suggestions would be most welcome.

I also want to sew more dresses. I love dresses and would wear them every day if I could. My starry-eyed Anna and simplicity dresses get a lot of wear, but I need more! I am contemplating the Yaletown dress as I really like the wrap-style bodice.

Sewwaholic Yaletown dress

Sewaholic Yaletown dress

Yep, Sewaholic again…and what of it?! I make no secret of a fact that I am a total Sewaholic fan girl, Tasia’s patterns are great. And no I am not being paid or receiving any incentive to say that!!

Phew, that should keep me busy! Anyone else joining in with FESA14 or just hatching their own autumn sewing plans? I’d love to know what’s on your list.

K 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.

letita2

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.

letita1

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!

letitia3

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….

owls1

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

Kat xx

Me-Made-May 2014: My pledge

Me-Made-May is back for 2014! Can I hear a woop? I took part in this annual challenge organised by So, Zo… for the very first time last year, when my pledge was to wear something me-made at least three times a week. Well, this year I have more me-made garments than I did this time last year, and therefore I think I’m in a position to up my game, and up my pledge!

“I, Kat of www.akraftykat.co.uk, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavor to wear a me made garment for at least five days a week for the duration of May 2014”

Eeek! While I do have a reasonable number of me-made garments now, many of them do not see very much wear. I’m hoping that this challenge will encourage me to bring out some of the hidden gems, and work out why I don’t wear them more often. If I’m honest, for some of them I suspect it may be because I am too lazy to iron them, which is shocking I know.

(Just to clarify, it has occurred to me that my pledge could be read as, I endeavor to wear the same me made garment for at least five days a week. This is not my intention – that would be stinky! A different garment for these five days is the plan).

I am hoping that I will manage to take daily outfit photos and plan to blog weekly round-ups. I will also be joining the flickr and pintrest groups – I can’t wait to follow everyone’s me-made journey!

Are you joining in with this year’s Me-Made-May? Are you a first-timer or are you upping your game this year? If you’re still sitting on the fence, there is still time to sign up – just pop over to Zo’s blog for the details.

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 :)

 coco3

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

Corrine cardigan

Hello Everyone and happy Sunday. Phew it’s been a while! I’ve been a busy bee behind the scenes and have a number of odds and sods to share with you, starting with my finished Corrine cardigan.

This project has been on the go for quite some time. It is a simple loose-fit cardigan and the pattern is freely available on Knitty. This is a great beginners pattern as it is very straightforward – if you can do a knit stitch you can knit this cardigan. There is no complicated stitches involved, and not even any purl rows to worry about. Instead the shaping is achieved using the “short row” technique. Basically, you place markers at defined intervals and knit to the first marker, turn and knit back to the start, then knit to the to the second marker and back to the start, and so on. This is a clever way of creating shaping that I hadn’t come across before, and creates a pattern in the finished garment which you can just about see in the back view below.

I used yarn from the Sidar Click range in a lovely variegated shade. This yarn is beautifully soft and I love the colour. The buttons I used were picked up at the Birmingham Rag Market last month. They are quite large, and I think that if I were to knit this again I would widen the button band, as there is some pull here which you can see in the pictures.

All in all this is a simple knit, although I must admit that I did get a tiny bit bored towards the end because it is literally just knitting up and down! Another great thing about this pattern is that the sleeves are knit by putting stitches on hold, knitting the sleeves and then picking up the body stitches later, so the only seams to knit are at the bottom of the sleeves. If you’ve been dabbling in knitting for a bit and want to branch out to your first garment, I would definitely recommend this pattern. I am pleased I stuck it out as this is a great cardigan and perfect for the spring weather we are currently experiencing.

I do have a bit of news to share with you and well; the boy and I went away for a lovely weekend in the Lake District at the end of March, and while we were there we got engaged! It was all a bit spontaneous, were were walking around one of the many lakes in the vicinity and he asked me if I wanted to get married. Of course I did (and do!). I wanted to wait until I had a ring to share the good news, and while I don’t quite have it yet, I did pick one yesterday when we went shopping in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.

ring

Obviously I’m biased, but I think this is quite possibly the most beautiful ring I have ever seen. I was debating whether or not to get a coloured stone and when I saw this ring I knew it was the one. Sadly I couldn’t take it home with me as I have to wait two weeks for mine to be made – I’m so impatient but I suppose two weeks is not too long to wait for something that I plan to wear for the rest of my life.

Wedding plans are still in the early stages, we are thinking April next year, probably somewhere in Derbyshire. We want something quite informal, laid back and very us. I’m not so keen on the term “DIY wedding” but we do plan to do a lot of it ourselves – for me this is one of the most exciting parts! I can’t wait to put my own (our own!) stamp on things. So exciting! Any hints, tips and wedding blog links would be greatly appreciated!!

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…

frogged

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.

swatch

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.

Anna3

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!

AnnaBack

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!

Anna2

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…

stjames

…has become this…

froggedBring on the owls!

owls

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

To frog or not to frog? That is the question.

*Apologies to anyone who tried to comment on this blog post previously but were unable to, there was an issue with the comments box not showing up but everything is fixed now so you should be able to comment as normal. If not, please let me know!*

I have a dilemma and I need your help.

Some of you may remember my St James’ jumper, my biggest knitting project to date.

stjames

I was so proud of this jumper, but I do have a little confession to make. I don’t love it. Since I finished it, almost two years ago now, I have worn it a total of once. And that was just after I finished it. It has not seen the light of day since.

So the question I have for you is: do I keep this jumper in my cupboard, knowing that it is unlikely to be worn, or do I frog the whole thing and use the yarn to make a jumper I know I will love so much more? You may ask how I know I will love my next make more. Wait to you see what it is going to be…..

owls

Yep, Owls by Kate Davies. Predictable? Moi? I don’t know what you mean.

I think in my heart I know what I should do, but I am loath to pull apart a jumper I spent so many hours on. Have you ever knitted or sewn something you didn’t love? What did you do? Have you ever repurposed another knitted make? Did you ever regret it? I would welcome your advice!

Kat xx