Me-Made-May ’14: The halfway point

I, Sue (ladystitcher.wordpress.com), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I will endeavour to wear at least one item made by me each day for the duration of May 2014.

Here we are – it’s the middle of May and we’re already halfway through this year’s Me-Made-May project. I’ve really been enjoying taking part so far and have found it quite challenging to not just keep wearing my five favourite things over and over.

I’ve been sharing daily updates of my pledge progress on Instagram and have pulled those photos together for my first MMM round-up post.

First 5

Day 1: Moonrise Kingdom dress, seed stitch scarf | D2: Easter Mortmain and RTW jacket for a wedding | D3: Grey Coco | D4: Vintage Pledge shirt dress, RTW cardigan | D5: Colette Mabel skirt and Sorbetto top (plus charity race medal – it was a family day out!)

The most notable absences in my handmade wardrobe are tops, trousers and cardigans/sweaters. I don’t plan on chucking out my RTW wardrobe any time soon, so there’s no urgency in making cardigans but I would really like a wider variety of tops that aren’t T-shirts. I also really want to make trousers, too! I have two patterns to hand but haven’t found the right fabric yet.

Second 5

Day 6: Grey and gold Coco, seed scarf | D7: Remnant fabric skirt (not blogged), RTW shirt and vest | D8: Beignet skirt, Simplicity 1693 top, RTW top | D9: Grey Coco, basketweave scarf (not blogged) | D10: Grey and gold Coco, RTW sweater, seed scarf

Since the start of May, I’ve realised just how often I typically reach for jeans, a T-shirt and a sweater in the morning. Looking back over these photos, I’m really surprised to see that I only worse jeans once in the first half of the month. I’ve also realised just how much I was wearing my grey and colour-blocked Coco dresses pre-May; I’ve consciously been limiting their rotation for MMM’14 but have already worn each a couple of times.

My pledge focused on better incorporating my handmade clothing into what I was wearing rather than trying not to repeat any outfits. That said, I’ve been happily surprised at how many outfit combinations I’ve been able to put together from the garments I’ve made.

Third 5

Day 11: Coco #5 | D12: Gingham Japanaese pattern dress (not blogged), RTW cardigan | D13: Sleeveless Mathilde (not blogged), RTW jeans | D14: Sporty Coco, Beignet skirt | D15: Nettie top (not blogged), RTW skirt

The pace of my sewing has slowed down since the start of May. For the first ten days, I was visiting with family in different parts of Ireland and since I’ve come home, I’ve been focusing on finishing my Owls sweater. I fell a bit behind Kat and Sabrina’s knitalong during the sewing frenzy for Sew Dolly Clackett and Sew For Victory and I had a bit of a nightmare with the magic loop method. I’m getting back on track now that I’ve sourced the right sized double pointed needles and am aiming to finish the sweater before the end of MMM.

Of course, having some me-made trousers to put with it would be nice too… 🙂

Seed scarf: Tackling negative knitting with simple stitches

Sirdar Click

My sisters bought me four balls of lovely double knit Sirdar ‘Click’ yarn for Christmas, and I thought that I would put them to good use to re-build my knitting confidence with a simple scarf project. I’ve found seed stitch great for producing a lovely, cosy scarf in lighter weight wool, and this knit up really well. Click is 70% acrylic and 30% wool, and comes in some really cool colours. This was the ‘teal twist 203’ shade.

Seed Scarf

My knitting hit a wall late last year about three-quarters of the way through a vintage pattern project. I was working on this 1940s tunic from one of Jane Waller’s fabulous books and was almost, almost, finished…but ran out of yarn just as I started into the second sleeve. I was pretty confident at the time that I had bought more (at least a whole 50g more) than I needed, but somehow, I was short. I tried and tried to source a ball from the matching dye lot online, but it wasn’t to be. I even tried comparing another dye lot, but the colour was way off.

So, the almost-completed tunic has been sitting in my knitting bag untouched for months. I was really enjoying the project and loved the yarn weight and colour. It was really frustrating to get stuck like that so near the end. And that’s not the first time it’s happened – I still have the remains of a long-ago half-knitted cardigan around here too (cringe…).

Well, I think enough time has passed for me to try again. I’m still shelving the tunic (for now!) but I’m determined to get back on the knitting wagon and actually make a sweater that (a) fits and (b) I like. I’ve had Kate Davies’s gorgeous ‘owls’ sweater pattern for ages and now I’ve signed up to join Kat from A Krafty Kat and Sabs of Tybalt: king of cats in an owls knitalong. We’re starting mid-March, so if you’ve never knitted it but fancy giving it a go along with us, just say so in the comments below!

Do you have any tips for getting back on track with a frustrating project or a craft?

Seed Close Up

Knitting inspiration: stitch ‘dictionaries’

Stitch dictionary

So the 1940s tunic/simple sweater I’ve been working on has hit a bit of a wall: I had bought more wool than the project apparently required in case I needed extra, but it turns out that I still need more. Unfortunately, I only realised this after knitting the front, the back, and most of one sleeve. There’s just no way I have enough to finish the second sleeve and I’ve been scouring the internet in a (so far) vain attempt to find just one skein from the same dye batch. Just one! Argh…

I’m trying to think of ways to salvage the project, but I’m putting it aside for the moment to see if the miracle ball of yarn shows up somewhere online. In the meantime, I’m turning my attention to Christmas present production.

Every year, I knit at least two or three scarves as gifts for family or friends and have found knitting or stitch ‘dictionaries’ brilliant sources of inspiration when designing scarves for different people. I bought this one (pictured above) in New York a few years back, after buying a copy for my sister who was then just learning to knit. I thought it would be really useful to have to hand whenever I would start to design my own projects and it’s been invaluable when it comes to scarves.

Stitch index

By outlining different types of stitches or different pattern plans, it’s really easy to modify them and to develop your own border and pattern combinations.

One of my favourite projects so far has been this red merino-mix scarf I made for myself a few years back using basketweave stitch with a moss stitch border. Although it’s fairly lightweight, it’s one of the warmest that I own and I just love the bright red colour:

Me scarf

I don’t have pics of the myriad other scarves I’ve finished over the past few years, but I’ll definitely be drawing on this book again in the coming weeks as I design a new batch of scarves for the festive season. I’ll post pics when the projects are underway, but I particularly love these three designs and hope to incorporate some of them into my plans:

Fancypants stitches