I finished a UFO!

In a flush of enthusiasm, I’ve managed to finish something that’s been hanging around my UFO pile for around 18 months. Back when we moved into our Seattle flat, I made a gigantic quilt and then some cushions (unblogged, but you can see a pic here), and with the very last few scraps, I thought I’d make some placemats. Seriously, everything in the flat is so matchy-matchy it’s getting a bit silly.

Why yes, I did lay the table nicely for the purpose of these photos.

Anyway, for a long while, these six placemats were just pieced together tops, languishing in a corner. That was until the last Seattle Sews meet-up of 2018. I was trying to find a suitable project for the afternoon and didn’t have any clothing on the go, nor did I want to spend my time cutting things out. It was time to crack out a mini quilting project. I made the quilt sandwich and finished quilting them that weekend, experimenting with the design as I went (with varying degrees of success as you’ll see in the photos).

This one’s my favourite. I like the quilting.
And here’s the back. I like the navy blue with white thread for contrast – reminds me a bit of sashiko.

All I had to do was attach the binding. I had a lot of bias tape left over after finishing my gigantic quilt, though at an inch wide, it’s probably a bit too big for a small-scale project. But since I’m on a scrap-busting mission, why not use it? It’s the same colour as the backing, so I figure it’s not entirely noticeable. Sewing it on, however, took me ages. I’m not the biggest fan of hand-sewing and I really have to be in the mood to do it, but with Season 3 of the OC to finish, I found I had the wherewithal to get the job done.

I went a bit overboard with this one. There was no need to do so much quilting, but once I committed there was no going back.

Side note: I am re-watching the OC for the first time since university, and it is gloriously trashy. I still love Sandy Cohen and Julie Cooper is brilliant, but I really don’t remember Seth being that awful and I’m not sure why Summer puts up with him for so long.

Anywho, despite the ridiculous amount of time it took to finish this little project, I’m quite pleased with my efforts. They were a good little project to practice some techniques, and they look quite nice on the table. I don’t think quilting is ever going to be a major hobby for me, but it’s nice to dip your toe in something different every once in a while.

I quite like this one too.

And I finished a UFO! Someone give me a gold star.

Catching up: the SOI Kimono

I was going through my blog stuff the other day, with the intention of getting back to it in 2019, and I realised that I’ve had this post all ready to go since AUGUST and never actually got round to sharing it. It’s cold and wet in Seattle at the moment, so here is a slightly-edited-yet-still-seasonally-inappropriate post with some nice and sunshine-y photos, because why not?!

Sometimes you just need to scratch an itch. I got back from a week-long canoe trip with the Girl Scouts at the end of August with a hankering to sew something. We were out and about a lot over the summer, and when we were at home I didn’t feel too much like sewing in the heat. Switching on the iron in an already stifling flat feels like too much, but when I touched down in Seattle, it actually felt cool enough to whip something up.

These photos were taken on Labor Day weekend. We went for a drive up to Anacortes and stopped off at Sharpe Park for a picnic before driving back via Deception Pass and Whidbey Island. The views are stunning.

When I say I had an itch to scratch, I mean I needed something quick, simple and satisfying that would fit with my stash. Before I left for my trip, I ordered some rayon poplin from Hart’s Fabric (still available!) that I had originally designated for some Sew Over It Carrie Trousers, but since I didn’t have any suitable elastic to hand, I decided their Kimono would be better instead.

And, oh my Lord, was it quick! I think I went from printing and assembling the pdf pattern, to pinning the neck band in ready for hand sewing (the final step) in about 3h 30. That must be some kind of record for me! It is super simple to put together – straight lines only – so if you’re a beginner, the only tricky part is handling slinky fabrics. By the time I had finished, though, it was getting late and I wanted to go to bed, so I finished it off by hand stitching the band sitting in a hotel on a work trip the following day. Usually, I wouldn’t bother taking it with me, but I was so excited to finish it (and wear it!) that I packed it up in my hand luggage.

Can we take a second to admire the fabric? This rayon is so lovely! It’s lightweight and drapey, but it’s dense enough that I don’t feel like I’m going to rip it any time soon. It was listed on the Hart’s website as being Liberty, but the price-tag doesn’t reflect that, and do Liberty even produce rayon? Anyway, it was great to sew with and presses very nicely. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, or maybe it’s just the pattern hiding it, but I don’t think it creases all that much either!

“I don’t think it creases that much either!” Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

Anyway, I wore this the day after I finished it, thanks to the iron in my hotel room. I was at our San Jose office in California, and it was just the right weight to switch between air-conned meeting rooms to the heat outside (the Bay Area is nowhere near as hot as Southern California, but I thought it was plenty warm for me). I had some lovely comments on it, and for something that took an hour or two from start to finish, I’m really quite enamoured with it. It makes me feel stylish and immediately dresses up my jeans just a little bit more (even if I’m wearing Converse). Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of wear out of it before the seasons changed but I am very much looking forward to the spring when I can wear it again.

Spring cleaning

Do you ever look at your sewing space with despair? When we moved to Seattle, I started with really good intentions of a) keeping everything neat and tidy, and b) keeping my stash under control. Well, reader, I failed. I am not a neat freak at all, but my flat is too small to be messy all the time. So, in the spirit of new year, new start, I’m getting organised.

I’m taking a three-pronged approach to sorting out my mess:

The stash

My stash is still quite small by many standards, but I made a rule that I wasn’t allowed more fabric than could fit in my stash box. There’s a lot of overspill. This afternoon’s task is to wash everything that needs it and reorganise the shelf. I’ll also earmark any big pieces of fabric I no longer love for the next Seattle Sews fabric swap.

The current state of my stash. I haven’t counted how many pieces I have, but I do know they don’t fit neatly on the shelf where they’re supposed to live.

Scraps

When I first heard that H&M will take your fabric scraps and recycle them, I thought ‘Great! Now I don’t need to feel guilty about the amount of waste I produce!’ Did I ever take my scraps to H&M? No! Do I have two huge bin liners sitting in my living room waiting to be taken downtown? Yes! I know what I’m like, and they’re never going to leave the house in their current state, so I need a different plan.

My scrap bags. The shame!

Scraps of usable size will be funneled into new projects:

  • Baby clothes: between Chris and I, we have a lot of friends who are pregnant at the moment. I have a lot of jersey scraps that can be made into tiny clothes. Bonus – they’re fast projects and can be done assembly-line style.
  • Homeware: I have been meaning to replace the crappy covers my sewing machine and overlocker came with. They’re cheap, white plastic and they have that plasticky smell that you can’t get rid of. Time for something more pleasing to the eye and the nostril. I’d also like to make a pouf for our living room – I like the look of the one Closet Case Patterns released before Christmas, and I think it would look good with my feet up on it at the end of the day.

Which brings me neatly to scraps that are too small to be used for larger projects. They’re going in the pouf. Hey, if you can’t use ‘em, hide ‘em! I did wonder about making a scrap quilt, but again, I know what I’m like. I’ll start with good intentions, but it’ll just end up in the UFO pile. Better to deal with the problem head on, I think.

UFOs

I used to be pretty good about dealing with my UFOs, but lately I’ve been getting distracted by new patterns and fabrics. I have a total of eight unfinished projects at various stages of completion waiting to be done – I just need to get my rear in gear and finish them up. So, my new plan is that I complete one UFO before starting on something new. Some of them are really quick fixes (like, topstitching or attaching snaps), so I should be able to clear several in one fell swoop.

My UFO pile includes sewing, crochet and needlepoint projects. Bonsai tree included in the background to represent the zen-like state I will reach when they’re all done.

So, that’s the plan. I’d like to hold myself accountable for doing all this, so I’m going to try and blog about my progress. Watch this space for more (fingers crossed. Regular blogging hasn’t exactly been a strong point of mine recently)!

I. AM WEARING. SPACE PANTS!

Do you ever get the urge to make something ridiculous, maybe based on something you’ve seen on TV, or in a magazine, just for shits n’ giggles? I mostly started this little project because of something I saw on the internet a couple of months ago. Seeing Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones sing about his space pants on Saturday Night Live appealed directly to the dafter side of my sense of humour, and I knew that I had to make some of my own.

Now, I’m sensible/conservative (small C) enough that I’m not going to make space pants for everyday wear. I’m really enjoying running at the moment but I’ve struggled to find ready-to-wear leggings that fit me properly. If they fit round the waist, they’re see-through on the hips/bum. If they fit round the hips, then they fall down because they’re not tight enough on the waist. It’s not a good look and, more importantly, it just isn’t comfortable. I think the Helen’s Closet Avery Leggings are the answer to my issues.

The pattern is exactly what I was looking for. When stitched together, the rise hits at the widest part of my hips, so all I needed to do was alter the waistband pieces to fit my waist. I made View B, which features a shorter leg and a waistband that hits directly on the waist, rather than the lower rise of View A. I cut an XL in the leg, then blended two sizes down to an M at the waist. They were also a bit too long, so I lopped a few inches off the length so they hit at the ankle.

Front

Sewing these up brought me so much joy. The whole project made me giggle for the daftness of it all. I love it when fabric does that. 

It’s an easy construction, as well. The hardest part was probably inserting the elastic, and that’s mostly because you cut it smaller than the waistband and then stretch as you sew. I’m not used to doing this, but it’s simple enough when you get the hang of it – you just need to remember to stretch both ends as you go. These are tight on the waist but not uncomfortably so, and it means that they are going absolutely nowhere. I’ve tested them out on a run and they DO NOT BUDGE. Exactly what I want in a pair of running leggings.

Waistband

They do look tight around my waist, but I assure you, it is not uncomfortable. 

So anyway, the ridiculous fabric. The Averys call for knit fabric with 70% stretch. I found this stuff on the Harts Fabric website under the Athletic section. They have some fun prints on there – mermaid scales, cats shooting lasers from their eyes – but it was all about the space print for me. Who wouldn’t want a tour of the Solar System on their lower body? I have no idea what the fabric itself is made of, but it sure as hell is not natural. When you cut into it, it produces actual dust, not fibres, and it has a kind of plasticky smell. I doubt it will do much to wick moisture away from my skin on warmer days, and it is getting warmer here in Seattle, so I probably won’t get much use out of them until the autumn. I’ve got another pair cut out in wicking fabric that should see me through the summer.

That said, I LOVE my space pants. They’re the perfect blend of a great fit and silliness. It’s this kind of thing that makes sewing your own clothes such a wonderful gift. You want to make leggings that cover your legs in the cosmos? You can totally do it. Awesome.

Back

On the cutting table: May

Hey hey! Happy Wednesday! It’s been a while since I’ve done a planning post, mainly because life has got in the way recently. I’ve been sewing here and there, but without any real plan against it all. Sometimes it’s nice to do that – to just make things because it takes your fancy, rather than meticulously scheduling everything in. I’ve had a few thoughts in mind for my spring/summer sewing (and my plans this month reflect that a little) – I did so much last year that I don’t think I’ll need all that much that’s new, but more on that later this month.

My sewing plans for May are, I think, a realistic take on what I think I can get done this month. Chris and I are going to Portland for the last weekend in May (Memorial Day over here) so I’ve tried to plan accordingly.

  • Multiple pairs of Helen’s Closet Avery leggings: I’m really into running at the moment but the thing I find frustrating is that I can hardly find leggings that fit me properly. It’s the age-old problem that if they fit round the waist, they stretch too much over my hips/rear and go see through. If they fit me around the hips, they’re too loose around the waist and they fall down. I’ve already muslined the Avery leggings and I’m pretty pleased with the results. I just need to get them sewn up in fabric I want to wear. Luckily I have AWESOME fabric up my sleeve (or rather, in my stash) so I’m looking forward to finally running in complete comfort. This will be my Make It Happen project for the month.
  • White linen Alex shirt: I know. I just can’t quite quit this pattern. But with summer approaching, I can’t get a loose white shirt out of my head. I want to use it as a normal shirt, but also something to throw on as an extra layer on cooler evenings. I already have a white shirt, but that’s a bit more fitted. This should be a good, casual basic.

Front

Like this, but in white. I might put the pockets on this one, too. 

  • Red Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes: Remember last year I had these wonderful red culottes that I loved, but then managed to irredeemably rip the fabric on a nail on a trip to the pub? Well, I loved them so much that I’m making them again. Those culottes were awesome. I obviously need more. The Winslows are a quick, uncomplicated sew, so I should be able to rustle these up in no time.

Front

They will be mine again. Oh yes, they will be mine again. 

What are you sewing this month? How are your SS18 plans working out?

The eyes have it

Hola! I know I said last time that I’d be back into regular blogging since I’d settled down into the new job, but I LIED. I’d do it again, dammit! It’s taken me longer than I thought it would to get back into working life. Turns out that after spending all day at a computer, I don’t really want to sit and write blog posts about what I’ve been sewing in my off time. And I have been doing a little bit of sewing. I have a small backlog to tell you about, and I have actually started making a pair of jeans! More on those once I’ve finished them, but for today let’s take a look at something a bit more simple – a Sew Over It Molly top.

Front

Can you believe that this is only the second pattern I’ve made from the City Break ebook? After all my fangirling? I’ve made all the Alex shirts, but so far I haven’t ventured further. The Molly is the first pattern in the book, and it’s probably the simplest with only four pattern pieces – a front, a back, a sleeve and a neckband. It’s designed for knits, which is probably why I’ve ignored it so far, but now I’ve made my peace with jersey it’s time to give it a go.

It is simple to put together, too. I’ve made quite a few easy t-shirts over the last six months (the TATB Agnes and the Deer & Doe Plantain), and this one’s probably the easiest due to the sleeve construction. The kimono shoulder means that there are no fiddly sleeve heads to contend with (not that sleeve heads are that complicated in knits; it’s more that these are super-simple by comparison), and you insert them on the flat, so it’s a single, straight seam. Otherwise, I cut a 12 and blended out to a 16 at the hips as usual, but I also reduced the seam allowance a bit on the sleeves – when I pinned it together it looked like it would be a smidge too snug. I’m glad I did, too, as they feel quite comfy, all told, though I’d maybe take a little out of the length next time.

Side

I feel like I don’t have that many light-coloured tops at the moment, so I cracked out this funky eye-print jersey which I bought at Drygoods Design a month or two ago (looks like it might be sold out now). Chris doesn’t like it. He thinks the eyes are a bit creepy. I can maybe see his point – perhaps it’s a bit much to have a whole top out of it. I’m thinking it might be better as a highlight fabric. I’m looking forward to the new Tilly & the Buttons book, Stretch, being released over here. There’s a raglan t-shirt in there that I’d like to try (the Frankie??), and I have enough of this stuff left over to get the sleeves out of it, and then I’d do the body in a contrast colour. Anyway, the fabric is lovely and soft, and although it’s quite light, it also feels quite snuggly and it was a pleasure to work with.

So yeah, the Molly was a nice, quick sew, and I’m sure it’ll see plenty of wear over the spring, but I’m not entirely convinced by it. If it was a toss-up between this and the Plantain, right now I think the Plantain would win. I’m not sure the combination of the sleeves and the drop shoulder suit me, and I don’t think the front view photo is the most flattering pic of me, but maybe I just need to let it grow on me? I printed off the entire pdf, so I have the dress extension – maybe I should give that a go and see what happens?

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Ice cold in Alex

Hiya! Hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend. Chris and I went up to Vancouver for a couple of days to see what’s going on, and I think it might be love. It helped that it was a beautiful couple of days, but man, what a nice place! It reminded me a lot of Sydney – a modern city built around water that’s full of friendly people. We spent Saturday exploring Stanley Park and Gastown, then yesterday we went on a tasting tour of Granville Island Public Market. If you ever find yourself in Vancouver, get yourself on one of those tours. We emerged from it feeling stuffed to Christmas Day levels, but so satisfied. Vancouver: recommended.

I took my latest finished project with me in the hopes of getting some decent pictures, but while it was lovely and sunny outside, it was damn cold too, and this Alex shirt does not lend itself to colder climes. I made it out of this gorgeous sand-washed rayon which I waited ages for. I spotted it on the Hart’s Fabric website over the summer and knew that it had to be mine, but alas it had all gone. I was a little despondent because in my experience, a lot of fabric shops won’t restock once they’re out, but this time my luck was in. They got more a month or two later, and I swooped like a fabric-obsessed magpie.

Front

It was worth the wait. This blush-pink stuff is BEAUTIFUL. It’s soft, it’s flowy and it’s everything I could want to bring my year of obsessive shirt-making to an end. It’s the perfect vehicle for an Alex shirt, lending itself brilliantly to the slouchy look. I began sewing it in November, and then… I left it until last weekend to finish. I got to the point where you have to hand stitch the collar closed and decided I’d leave it for the next day. That day never really came – I got busy with sewing a few things for our trip to Hawaii, and I discovered that knits weren’t so bad after all, and the shirt languished in a pile for a month or two. I know, I’m an awful person.

Anyway, once you stitch the collar closed the end is in sight with this project. It’s just the sleeves, hem and buttonholes left and then you’re done. So, I got on with it and sewed the last button on in front of the Super Bowl. Now, don’t get me wrong, some American sports can be exciting (Chris and I have been to the ice hockey a couple of times and had great fun), but I’m just not seeing it with American football. It was a good job I had something to do whilst it was on, cos I would have been bored to tears otherwise.

Back

I don’t really have much to say about this one. It is my fourth version of the Alex (see here, here and here for previous attempts) and I think I’ve pretty much got it down pat now. I left off the pockets this time, but I did do buttonholes. I don’t usually bother since it’s so loose I can get it on over my head without any trouble, but I might want to use it as a layering piece in the summer and maybe tie it over a dress so I thought it was worth it this time. And for once, my machine behaved beautifully and I had a completely Zen buttonhole experience. Win!

It’s lovely to wear, too. It feels so soft against my skin and the loose fit means I will always be able to have a big dinner and not feel a thing. This fabric was worth holding out for, and I’m glad I’ve finally managed to make it into something that’ll see heavy rotation in my wardrobe.

Yay!

Side

On the cutting table: February

Well, it’s been a little while, hasn’t it? Life’s been pretty busy over the last few weeks, and lately my blogging time has been greatly reduced. I started my new job three weeks ago, so instead of being a lady of leisure, I’m now gainfully employed and getting stuck in. It feels good to be working again and to have a real routine – having ten months off sounds amazing, but it’s definitely time for me to be earning my keep! I put the blog on hold for a few weeks while I’ve been settling in, but now I’m keen to get back on it. I have a couple of finished projects to share, but since it’s the first Wednesday of the month (only just!) it’s time to share my February plans!

Considering February’s a short month, I still have a bunch of stuff I want to achieve. We’re off to Vancouver this weekend, but we have the Presidents’ Day weekend coming up and I’m planning on spending it at my sewing machine getting on with this little lot. It’s gonna be awesome.

  • Start my Ginger jeans. So I was going to do this in January as part of my Make It Happen course at Drygoods Design. It didn’t happen. I was completely disorganized and couldn’t get my act together to print the pattern off and assemble my supplies and I ended up working on a couple of UFOs. That’s going to change. I have a lesson booked in and my fabric and notions kit are on order. Ginger jeans, I am coming for you. And I mean it this time!

Ginger jeans

  • Brindille & Twig pocket romper. Yet another of my friends has just had a baby. She lives in Australia, which is currently enjoying its long, hot summer so my traditional gift of a crocheted cardi just isn’t going to work. I wanted something lightweight and potentially short, and this seems to fit the bill. I’ve never sewn a B&T pattern before either, so this’ll be my “New To Me” sew for the month.
  • I can’t ditch the baby crochet completely, so this one is also going to get a crocheted blanket. I figured it’ll have a longer shelf life than a cardigan, and can be cracked out in the winter too. I’ve been furiously crocheting squares recently, and I’ve found that I can pretty much complete one on the bus to and from work.
  • I didn’t get to it in January, so the Grainline Morris blazer is still on my list. My work has a casual dress code, but it’ll be nice to have something to throw on over jeans that makes everything look a bit more pulled together. I’m just hoping that the jacket and jeans look doesn’t make look like Jeremy Clarkson too much.
  • I have been looking for a flowy top with a pleated neckline for AGES after spotting this one on Pinterest. I think it’s a Burda pattern, but the link was broken or something and I couldn’t find it on the Burda website (someone’s fixed it now though). That’s ok, because a similar one was on the cover of Love Sewing last month! I know I said last summer that I’m not a fan of the magazine, but I’m not above sourcing a copy (thank you, Mum!) when there’s something in particular I want to make. Anyway, I’m thinking this will be lovely in a nice rayon and I’m looking forward to whipping it up.

 

What are you making this month?

New to me: Papercut Patterns Coppélia wrap top

Sometimes when you sew, everything just goes right. Your invisible zip goes in first time. You put a sleeve in without getting any tucks in the fabric. You finish a seam just before your bobbin thread runs out. This is not one of those times. And just so we’re clear from the off, it’s all my own fault, and not that of the pattern. I made a fundamental stupid mistake which threw everything out, and meant that my first Papercut Coppélia top was a disaster.

Oops

Can you spot one of my mistakes? 

Before we get into that, let’s wind the clock back a little bit. The Coppélia has been on my sewing list since October but I didn’t manage it in 2017. This year I want to try more “new to me” pattern companies and this resolution seemed like the kick up the rear I needed to get this top made. I’m not a huge one for novelty prints (although I have been known to dabble), but I spotted this cute silver polar bear print knit in my local JoAnn and thought it’d be a good match for the pattern. I had visions of it being a Christmas jumper with a longer shelf-life.

Anyway, I decided Version B (the faux wrap top) would be the perfect pattern to kick off my sewing for 2018. I had to make my usual adjustments based on my measurements – blending out a couple of sizes to accommodate my hips. This was where I made my mistake. In hindsight, there were plenty of clues that would tell me which way up the front wrap pattern piece should go – notches, grainline, the cutting line for Version A – but I missed them all because all I saw was the pattern title, which ran perpendicular to everything else. Of course, I just assumed that that was the right way up, so I went on my merry way and began cutting everything out. Of course, I only realised that I’d altered the wrong side after I cut everything out and had run out of usable fabric. Arrgh.

So my mistake meant that my polar bears were running vertically rather than horizontally on the front two panels, and those panels weren’t quite wide enough to meet the back panel at the side seams. It meant that my snuggly polar bear jumper was not meant to be, but I did decide to treat it as a muslin and managed to stretch the jersey to fit at the side seams. Then I decided to put the cuffs on the sleeves. I had a complete brain fart with them and ended up sewing them every way but the right way, unpicking them at least three times and putting a hole in them in the process, not to mention when I got one caught in the feed dogs. Still, I persevered and I managed to get the muslin done. It was fine to check the fit, but not really wearable outside.

Take two

Front

Take two was more successful, though I’ve realised I’ve basically done a copycat version of Sew Sarah Smith’s Coppélia. Check her’s out here – it’s gorgeous on her!

Despite all that, I was determined to get something to show for my efforts, so I went back to JoAnn to pick up some more jersey. They didn’t have much of a selection – the shop is badly organised and the majority of the knits I could find felt synthetic or were just plain horrible. I eventually settled on this grey, medium-weight jersey, which I felt would fit in my wardrobe quite nicely.

Side

Today was perfect for blog photos – first time I’ve been up on the roof in ages! You can just make out Mount Rainier in the background. 

Taking all my mistakes into account, I was super-careful with my second attempt, and even then it only took me about three hours to complete it, including cutting out and a quick lunch break. It is a super-quick pattern with easy-to-follow instructions. I machined all the seams that would be concealed – i.e. the cuffs, and the neck and waist binding – and overlocked the rest. Once you close up the side and underarm seams it starts looking like a proper top and before you know it, it’s all done. From that point of view, I’d recommend giving it a go.

Back

You can see how the neckline doesn’t sit quite right here.

I did have to slip stitch the neckline closed, though, because when I pulled it down you could see a little bit too much of my bra – not a problem with the muslin. I think this has had a knock-on effect on the neckline at the shoulders, which doesn’t sit flush. I’m not sure how to fix it, but I’ll take it in to my next Make It Happen session at Drygoods Design to get some professional help (!). That little detail doesn’t bother me too much, so I’ll still wear this version; it’s just something to put right for next time.

Anyway, after I got over those earlier setbacks, I actually quite enjoyed sewing the Coppélia. It’s so quick and simple, that it feels quite satisfying. This jersey is quite thick, so I think I’d like to try it in something a bit more lightweight to see how it turns out, but till then I’m happy this one had a happy ending.

Doggo

I got photobombed by a friendly dog!

Off the hook: the Marion slouch

“You look like a total stoner.”

That’s what my tactful husband told me when I modelled my latest crochet project for him. To be fair we had just stepped off the beach and I was still in my cossie and caftan. I must have looked a state, but sometimes you’ve just got to show off the hat you’ve just finished even if the overall effect makes you look like you have a problem. I was just happy he didn’t tell me I looked like a garden gnome.

Front

I said in my last post that I’m not usually much of a beach person. I like to get out and explore, so having something to occupy my brain (and my hands) while sitting on a lounger was a must for me. So I picked the furthest thing from beachwear I could think of to make on a sunny holiday – a woolly hat. I like small projects like this, especially when I’m on holiday – small enough to fit in my carry on, works up in a day or so and can be squeezed out of a single skein. My one-skein-wonder this time was the Marion hat by Little Monkeys Crochet, which is available for free on her blog.

Poolside crochet

Poolside crochet. I was just starting the band here, but you can also see some nice details in the body of the hat.

Before I talk about the pattern, let’s take a second to admire the yarn. Back in August we visited Friday Harbor, which is a little town on San Juan Island near the Canadian border. We found a little shop called Island Wools who dye their own products, and I fell in love with their Whimsical Colors DK weight yarn. It’s just gorgeous! The variation in colour is beautiful – I bought a skein of purple to make a baby cardigan and the colour ranges from light blue in places to deep purple, with everything in between. The colour changes in the grey (Silver Fox) I also bought are more subtle, but just as lovely. I made another baby cardigan with that grey, and needed a tiny bit extra to complete the button band so I bought an extra skein, and used the remainder for the hat.

Swingset cardi in Whimsical Colors DK yarn

It’s another Swing Set Cardi! I’ve made a million of these – more details here.

The Marion pattern itself is super simple to follow, and I’d say that if you’ve crocheted something in round (like a granny square), you can probably make this without any issues. It’s written in US annotation and only uses two stitches – single and half-double crochet (or double and half-treble if you’re used to UK-style patterns). The interest comes with using them to create texture. For example, the raised stitches are done by going into the back loop of the previous hdcs, rather than the top two loops. It makes it look like I’ve chained-stitched on top but without the faff. I like it.

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Although there are only two stitches involved in the pattern, I did pick up a new skill! The Marion hat is started off using the magic loop method, which eliminates the hole you’d get if you used a foundation chain loop. I’d tried doing this several times before but could never get my head round it – I’m left-handed and find following instructions for right-handed people really confusing, so I used to give up and just use a foundation chain instead. Not this time! I found a YouTube video and cracked on. It’s not that hard, but it took me a couple of goes to get it right.

The other thing I’d say about this pattern is to make sure you follow its advice and count your stitches. My finished article is probably a few stitches bigger than it should be because I didn’t count properly. However, my head is abnormally large (no jokes, thanks) and I often struggle to find hats that fit me, so a bit of extra width is probably no bad thing in my case. But if you’re blessed with an average-sized bonce, make sure you check your stitch count – it’ll make the difference.

I do love this hat – it was a quick and fun project for my holiday and since I’ve been back in colder climes it’s been keeping my head nicely warm. If I was nitpicking, I’d maybe want a bit of extra length to make it a bit slouchier, but that’s easy to add in (just add an extra pattern repeat into the body once you’ve increased to 100 stitches round). It was a great one-skein wonder and now I’m eyeing up other hat patterns on the Little Monkeys site… Maybe the Barista or the Shiplap slouch???

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