Colors of Fall 2015

Hello!

Aren’t make-alongs great? I am a big fan.

I joined the Yarniacs Colours of Fall knit-along to spur me on to make myself a Yama cardigan, and, well, it worked.

Although I don’t think you can tell from my face in the¬†photo below, I am really pleased with my finished Yama! Admittedly, it is not the most adventurous of versions, but I wanted a wardrobe staple and I got one. It is perfect for wearing over dresses and with higher-waisted skirts.

yama-cardigan-by-renee-callahan

I’m not bragging (well, I am), but I not only managed to finish¬†the cardigan, I also finished a long-languishing dress for a whole outfit.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress

I am especially proud of this dress. Not because I designed it: I didn’t, it’s based on a favourite dress of mine from Old Town. And not because it is a perfect fit; it’s not (I refer you to the innovative ‘bust darts’). But because it is my first attempt at ‘clean work’, that is to say, a sewn garment with all of the fabric edges¬†enclosed in the seams.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress-3

This was relatively simple in the case of the side seams and the fact that it is a sleeveless dress was also helpful. That said, I nearly broke my brain trying to figure out how to make the belt hole placket ‘clean’ and I had to admit defeat when it came to the patch pocket.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress-2

As for the difference in the fabric between fronts and back, I really don’t even know what happened there, as I cut all the pieces from a single piece of fabric. It was clearly fated¬†to be a learning project.

I feel like this is a slippery slope: I have to make the dress again, this time with improved fit, matching fabric and there must be a clever way of working those pockets…. (read: the beginning of an obsession here… :0)

Happy knitting (and sewing),

R.

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Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge

Hello!

I may have mentioned my ambitious ideas about that well-planned, hand-made wardrobe I was getting around to making. Or maybe I didn’t. It is hard to say as I have spent so much time thinking and talking about it, and¬†not much time actually doing it.

So when I heard Helen of the Curious Handmade podcast throw down the hand-made gauntlet, I was ready to take it up. It was the nudge I needed, really. Helen describes the impetus for the challenge in Curious Handmade blog:

If you heard last week‚Äôs podcast, you know that we‚Äôve just launched a really exciting challenge which will be running over the next three months. I‚Äôve been thinking a lot about how we can be more intentional about creating (and wearing) a wardrobe of handmade garments and accessories that work together for real lifestyles. There are so many reasons why a handmade wardrobe is a worthy dream: the ability to truly express your individuality, clothes that truly fit your shape, the chance to break free from the destructive cycle of ‚Äúfast fashion‚ÄĚ and (of course) the sheer joy of making things and flourishing in your own creativity.

I identify with this line of thought and really appreciate Helen’s initiative.

The CH rules are thus:

Make some handmade wardrobe items.

August: get the inspiration, design and materials.

September: get to the making

October: get to the finishing.

I, however, am a fan of rules. I work best when I set myself hard and fast (if arbitrary) rules and stick to them. So I decided that I would pick 3 items of clothing I already have–preferably those which I love, but don’t wear so often because they don’t play well with others, and build an outfit around each one.¬†Then I wandered around the wardrobe¬†and settled on¬†these things:

the wardrobeApparently, I have several dresses like this, and my wardrobe is really full of these dark moody colours. the wardrobe-2

This is a sweater from my new collection coming out this Autumn. It is a secret, so you haven’t seen this. I have been pondering what to wear with it for a little while now… And certainly hand knit sweaters are necessarily a solid part of my wardrobe, so there is a gap to fill here.
the wardrobe-4And finally, I do love a vintage dress, and there are a few printed fabrics I just can’t get enough of. These are the exception to the wardrobe, but again, I have more than I would have thought at first.¬†

In the end, I have 3 garments that I actually wear all the time, but still feel like they are in need of a little something. But what, layers? Accessories? Not sure yet, but it will be fun to decide!

Happy knitting,

R.

One for the road.

Hello!

As the end of Me Made May approaches, I thought I would post another sewing project.

Sewing: mmmay plaid dress

I would consider this a semi-successful project. Perhaps you can tell by the look on my face. I bought this fabric during a trip to Seattle a couple of years ago. What can I say? The grunge years were formative and I have never gotten over my love of plaid flannel.

Anyway, this is the 2246 Simplicity pattern: The Traveler Dress. I got the pattern a few years ago from Raystitch in Islington and don’t know why it took me to so long to get around to sewing it. It is a simplified version of a classic buttoned shirt, and wasn’t a difficult project.

That said, it came out rather shorter than I expected.

simplicity 2246 traveler dress

This is not passing the finger-tip test of my school days. We tried to take some pics illustrating the perils of bending over in a dress this short. Though hilariously unflattering, this is a family blog and I had to decide against traumatising you with that image. I suppose the solution is to wear it with jeans or leggings rather than the heels and bare legs modelled on the pattern envelope, which I still like for a autumnal look with boots.

After the I Knit Fandango, the lovely Bogga of Knitting in France has been publishing some profiles of fellow vendors, including a really sweet blog post about myself and Kettle Yarn Co.’s Linda. Bogga has also started a Beetlebum shawl which is going to be beautiful!

Knitting in France's Beetlebum shawl

If you aren’t familiar with Knitting in France, have a look at the Etsy shop and her blog–Bogga hand-dyes lovely yarn, makes beautiful jewelled stitch markers and has an interesting range of crafty notions. Thanks so much for the mention Bogga!

Happy crafting,

R.

Not quite #mmmay15

Hello!

**First of all: Next week the¬†‘knit your first cardigan class begins at Wild and Woolly¬†starts in East London. ¬†Please pass it on to beginner and improver knitters who may like to take the class!**

There comes a time for most crafters, I think, in which it becomes common knowledge amongst peers, family & friends that you make stuff. This knowledge may have ramifications, such as people asking you to make things for them, or, in my case, being regularly asked if I have made the clothing I am wearing. I would certainly like to have made more of my own wardrobe, and not just to thwart the disappointment people unintentionally express when I admit that I have not made what I am wearing, but that too.

So, although I would very much love to properly participate in me-made-may 2015, I am not there yet.  I am working on it. I have finished a few sewn projects and will share them with you over the next couple of weeks.

First up: This is a dress I made recently from material I found somewhere. ¬†It is a bad habit of mine to pick things up in the hope that they will be useful someday in the future. Mostly they aren’t. This fabric is an exception to that rule.

mmmay dress (1 of 1)-2 mmmay dress (1 of 1)

The¬†pattern is one I made. ¬†I have some blocks in my size, and I simplified it as much as possible–no closures (it is just big enough to go on over my head), pleats for waist-shaping, and binding at the edges.

mmmay dress WIP sewing

 

bias binding sewing

I suspect sewing facings on is an easier option, but there is something elegant in the simplicity of binding. Minimalist craft. Could that be a thing?

Happy making,

R.

A kimono dress

Hello!

Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before, but sewing isn’t really my strong suit. Possibly¬†because I don’t do it often enough to get good at it. ¬†I feel like it should be so quick and easy a way to make garments, since you don’t even have to make the fabric, but it is often an arduous task by the end.¬†Nevertheless (inexplicably?) I aspire to great feats of sewing. ¬†I have a considerable collection of sewing patterns, but¬†I’ve never managed to make much. Until now.

You see, the Man of the House broke an ankle, so has been home for some weeks.  Enterprising soul that I am, and knowing how easily he gets bored, I thought he would benefit from being given some homework. Does my altruism know no end, you ask.  Indeed, no! I immediately set about making lemonade with lemons and set us up as a sweatshop of 2. Having a sewing assistant has been great and I finally have some finished objects.

First on kitchen catwalk is the kimono dress:

sewing stuff (1 of 1)

I have this thing about dresses with pockets just now–in fact all garments should have pockets if you ask me. ¬†Hats, scarves, socks, all of ’em. ¬†So when I saw this dress, I celebrated the pockets by popping it right into the shopping basket.

Many years ago, the Man of the House and I married and honeymooned in Japan.  I bought many souvenirs, including vintage kimonos with the intention of up cycling them into some fabulous thing yet undecided.  I also came across 2 rolls of kimono fabric at a junk shop and had to have them.

sewing stuff (1 of 1)-3

This one is rather floral for my taste in clothing, but, I mean, really, how could I resist? When I realized that the Simplicity pattern could be easily modified to accommodate the narrow width of the fabric, I got cutting.  Only after I cut everything out did I notice a rolled up newspaper in the fabric tube;

sewing stuff (1 of 1)-4

Though I could be wrong, I reckon this dates the fabric to at least 1981.  The newspaper had some comics that you will no doubt also find hilarious:

sewing stuff (1 of 1)-5

sewing stuff (1 of 1)-6

 

The finished dress turned out lovely;
sewing stuff (1 of 1)-9 sewing stuff (1 of 1)-8

He doesn’t do bad work, eh? Of course, I am in no way advocating the hobbling of loved ones in order to get those languishing projects finished, and no hubbies were intentionally harmed in the making of this dress. But you know, silver linings…

Happy knitting (& sewing),

R.

**Edit: Turns out, Man of the House occasionally reads this blog, and objects to being called ‘Man of the House’. ¬†‘Why don’t you just call me Ben. ¬†It’s my name,’ said Man of the House to me. ¬†‘Fair enough,’ I replied.

A darned jumper

Hello!

So it would be super duper fab if you, yes you! would join me at Unravel in Farnham Maltings, at which I will be hosting a workshop on rejuvenating your unloved knitwear on Sunday 22 February.  I would really love to see your unloved and unworn knits, and work with you to resuscitate those jumpers, hats, scarves or whatever you may have around that needs a little work and affection.

In the spirit of making do and mending, I thought I would show and tell a jumper I worked on not so long ago.

Inspired by the gorgeous work of the lovely Julie of Knitted Bliss and, of course, Tom of Holland, Master Darner, I was keen to repair a particularly holey sweater I came across.  It was one for the bin rather than the charity shop, so I figured there was no risk in trying some visible mending.

ELK darned sweater 1

I didn’t mind the process, although I hadn’t considered my old eyes when I decided to darn a fine-gauge sweater. It seemed to get finer as the darning when on, and there was always one more hole than I thought there would be.

ELK darned sweater 2OK, it’s not the¬†most beautiful craftsmanship ever. ¬†I had imagined very neat and beautiful darning, but mine turned out rather more, err, rustic.

Nevertheless, I am pretty happy with it.

ELK darned sweater 3 ELK darned sweater 5 ELK darned sweater 4

I do hope to see you at Unravel. ¬†If you can’t make the workshop, it would still be great¬†to see you. I will be loitering at the Kettle Yarn Co. booth–please come and say ‘hi’!

Happy knitting,

R.

 

A sweater for him.

Hello!

I reckon¬†the long-suffering love of my life is knit-worthy. So I wanted to make him a sweater–something he can wear to work, but likes enough to wear in his own time. ¬†This began as the promise many months ago. ¬†It was going to be a Valentines day gift, an anniversary gift, a birthday gift. ¬†Somehow, there was never the time to do it, even though it was to be a machine knit, and therefore doable in a few days. ¬†Finally, after months of dithering and knitting a piece here and there, I managed it.

EastLondonKnit's hubby sweater before

And the conclusion was that it was too short.

I found this conclusion somewhat aggravating.

I didn’t have the time to re-knit everything, so decided I needed to find some way of lengthening the body that wasn’t too invasive, as it were. ¬†The best option was to make the hem longer.

So I knit some new, longer ribbing.ELK rib

And linked it on to the sweater, one row above the current too-short ribbing. (A mini-video of the linker in action is on the instagram feed, also, if you like machines, there’s one at work here.)

EastLondonKnit ribAnd in the end, we got there…

EastLondonKnit's hubby sweater after

 

And he likes it, which is lucky, because that is his knitting allocation for this year! If I start now, I may just manage next year’s anniversary/Christmas/birthday jumper….

Happy knitting,

R.