February 9, 2013

FO: Carrot Chuck

Filed under:Finished Objects,Sweaters — Aileen @ 19:20

This languished while I completed Christmas knitting but once I got going on the sleeves, it was quick to complete.


Pattern: Chuck, a download I found through Ravelry. It was about $5. Definitely worth it.

Yarn: Rico Essentials Soft Merino. I bought this from the Constant Knitter but I think This is Knit stock it too. I bought 11 balls but I only used 8.5.


I didn’t make many adjustments, just made the body and sleeves a bit longer. The pattern was really clear and easy to follow, including the charts.


I tried a new super-stretchy bind off for the cuffs and neckline. It works well but maybe a little too well for the neck. I think I might do the cast off again for a tighter finish.

All in all, a straight forward knit and a colour I don’t usually wear!


November 26, 2012


Filed under:Dress,Finished Objects,Stash Down,Sweaters — Aileen @ 12:02

I did a lot of job-y things this weekend. Saturday was so cold. I spent much of the day keeping warm and when I rallied in the afternoon, I spent it tracing patterns and cutting fabric (and cooking and cleaning and laundering and all the other things that go with Saturday). Yesterday, I was super organised. I got up early, went to Ikea and did grocery shopping before the rain started at lunchtime. I had been hoping to get some Christmassy biscuit cutters that are listed on the website but they’ve been out of stock for ages. I got a few other things, though, like these lights. We have a rope light that we put in the front window but it has slowly been breaking the last two years so I think we’ll retire it this year and replace them with these. Suction cups! Battery operated! I also got some other decorations and picture frames. When I got home, I took a student who’s preparing for auditions next week and after that, I was ready to sit down and be quiet. This is the result.

Pattern: The by-now-quite-famous Renfrew top by Sewaholic.

Fabric: About 1.75m of what seems to be a double knit. I bought it in April in Hickey’s in Galway; it was marked down from €20 a metre to about €8 so I bought 2m.

I cut a size 6 and the finished garment measurement of 35″ bust was spot on.

I tried it on before sewing on the cuffs and lower band and found that both sleeves and body were well long enough without them. What I did was overlock these edges, press them up about 3cm and stitch them down with my twin needle. I’ve heard all manner of horror stories of edges stretching out by using a twin needle but I had no problem here. I think maybe the structure of the fabric helped in this case.

The only downside, to me, is how low the round neck is. If I were making the version without the cowl, I would definitely raise the neckline a good 10cm.

The instructions are really clear and it came together very easily. I think it took me no less than 2 hours to sew. I should probably add that I was careful to use a ballpoint needle and take time to adjust the tension a bit on my sewing machine – it’s usually at ‘5’ and I turned it to about ‘8’. I just used my regular presser foot, too. Although it was really brilliant having the overlocker to finish things off, I see now that it is not totally essential for sewing knits. If I didn’t have an overlocker and I sewed my pieces together as usual and finished my edges by zigzagging them, it would be totally fine too. It helps that this fabric did not fray or shed one little bit while I was sewing it.

Here’s how I’m wearing it today – with my grey wool dress from last year.

I think there will definitely more versions in my future!


November 12, 2012

The other thing

This, my friends, is the other thing I mentioned I got at the K&S show. Momentous, no?


It is a Brother 1034d overlocker and I hadn’t really intended on buying one at all. About a week before the show, I was pottering online and thought: if I were to buy an overlocker sometime, what’s a good one to get? Some basic information on the subject could not possibly go amiss. I spent quite a while reading, finding the customer reviews on Amazon (both .com and .co.uk) to be very informative. I explored many different brands and price ranges. I came to the conclusion that about €200 seemed to be a reasonable amount to pay for a reasonable model.

The Brother seemed to score well on a number of fronts: it uses 4 threads but can be used with 3 threads also for different features (like a rolled hem); it has a colour coded threading system which many customers have reported to be very straight-forward and easy to use; it has a good range of ability and is reported to handle both light and reasonably heavy materials well; it comes with extra feet; it costs £189 in the UK. When I went to see what shipping would be, I discovered that the company selling through Amazon don’t ship to Ireland (this was before the Parcel Motel revelation). Curiosity piqued, I googled for other alternatives to discover that there is a Brother dealership in Bray and that there were to be exhibiting at the show.

I investigated the machine fully at the show and was quoted a price of €230. Given that £190 works out to be almost €240, before any shipping, I figured it was probably the best I was going to get.


This is how the front looks when you go to thread it or dust it out. Each thread has a coloured tension knob which relates to the guide along the rest of the machine. Very, very straight forward. I did a lot of fiddling about with it when I got it first and read the manual thoroughly. The manual is extremely clear and helpful and any issues I’ve had so far have been entirely user-related. Here’s a seam I finished this morning. I’m working on a top from New Look 6806.


Obviously, it’s not the kind of finish you want for everything but when you just want to finish something quickly, like this top, it’s nice to have. Before I forget, the feet I got with it are a blind hem foot, which overlocks and does the hemming at the same time, a piping foot (ditto) and a gathering foot. I haven’t tried any of them out yet but greatly look forward to it. To overcome my aversion to sewing with knits, I cobbled together one of these the weekend before last. I didn’t do a muslin or anything so the neck is far, far too wide. If I had cut a smaller neck and a smaller size, it would have been fine. However, it was most satisfying to find that sewing with knits is just not a big deal and the overlocker gave a great finish.

Other sewing includes a plethora of handkerchiefs (handkerchieves?). Scrap fabric too beloved to do anything else with. The fabric on the top is leftovers from this top and on the bottom, a quarter metre I bought a year ago at the Dundrum Cath Kidston shop specifically for this purpose. I have found that my nose gets quite runny on the bike and paper tissues do not cut it whatsoever.


A circular shawl from Malabrigo sock given to me as a present at my hen party.


A brown jumper of endless stockinette for Alb. Exact same as the last one. I didn’t even swatch, which was very bold of me, but it seems to fit fine. The only thing is that he did like the contrast colour I got for the stripe, so I left it out. I think I may run out of yarn as a consequence. I have almost two full balls with still a sleeve and the collar to knit. I might make it! Must knit faster to find out.



October 9, 2012


Filed under:Sewing,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 12:54

Awaiting a button.


Or buttons.


Knitting, knitting, knitting.


Trying to keep up with Autumn.



August 23, 2012

The world as we know it

Filed under:Finished Objects,Stash Down,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 14:59

I’m reading a very interesting book at the moment. It’s not a new book; I think it came out for the turn of the millennium. It is called ‘The Year 1000: An Englishman’s Year’ and fits neatly into dense-history-for-laymen category. Well-written and to the point, I have found it funny and refreshing. Imagine a time when the number zero did not exist in western mathematics, when the cog had only recently been invented and the button had yet to come!

Anyway, think about enhancing the world we know by participating in an upcoming event: HandmAid Craft Day. This year it’s taking place on September 22nd in Damer Hall, Stephen’s Green. They’re looking for unwanted stash to sell or use for classes, handmade goods to sell, baked goodies for the cake sale. I donated some stash last year and this year will be no different. I have three big bags of yarn, fabric scraps, books and needles. It can be hard to liberate stash but at the end of the day, I’d rather it be used and benefit a good cause. This year, I’ve used it as an opportunity for a good clear out, unearthing unused materials from as long as a decade ago. Check out the website if you have anything to offer or if you’d like more information about participating in classes or shopping on the day.

I’ve turned into a rather good knitter recently, working on only one project at a time. It’s a bit weird but I can see how some like it. This is the vest I was working on in Iceland.

No pattern so the sleeve caps are a bit poofy. I didn’t take into consideration the spread of garter stitch – but I like it anyway. Modelled photos will come soon, I hope. The yarn is Jamieson & Smith’s Jumper weight 2ply (just over 4 balls) and I used 2.5mm needles. It blocked out wonderfully and was nice and sticky to work with. I found it dried out my hands quickly, though that was probably exacerbated by the fact that I was in a dry, cool, exposed climate at the time.

Since finishing it up, I found old stash that made me ‘ooooh’ and I cast on immediately for another Tailored Cardigan. It’s a free Drops pattern and I’ve previously made it in green (see here).

I think my knitting needs and wants have changed over the last few years. I am more content to crank out basic pieces because I know they’ll be worn. A lot of my attention and energy is going into music so I find plain knitting is pretty much all I can handle most of the time. That said, during the course of my clear out, I realised just how much I love some of my knitting resources – my Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker books – and I think the time is ripe to re-explore their amazing bodies of work.