Last July I organised a Knit A Long! It was a crazy idea really as I was still very new to knitting and I hardly knew what was involved. But I loved this particular jumper and I was keen to show others how beautifully simple it was to make one.
About 12 of us got involved all over the world – some very experienced knitters, and some almost complete beginners. And every week for six weeks I explained how to make the jumper, so that in six weeks most of us had a nice, wearable sweater. And some took a little bit longer. And quite a few went on to do another one.
I have since raised the possibility of creating an Elizabeth Zimmermann New Zealand sweater which has a very nice construction. The body is knitted in stocking stitch in the round, then the work divides and the upper part is knitted in garter stitch. The sleeves are created by picking up stitches and I knitted them using the magic loop method. I used Kitchener stitch for the shoulders, and there are some short rows involved that I have not perfected yet, but I am improving.
I have made this up as a sleeveless sweater too, and it worked out well. But when I tried it for my husband in a chunky yarn I was disappointed with it, so I pulled it out and went for the seamless raglan.
Let me make the case for the seamless raglan so you can think about joining in with another cheeky Knit A Long. Here is the inspiration photograph supplied by Elizabeth.
To be frank, although she is great knitter, this doesn’t do anything for me. In fact I only tried it because I wanted to do a striped sweater. All my seamless raglans have been striped. I have two good reasons for doing a striped sweater.
- Firstly why knit a plain sweater, say in red, when the market place can supply millions of plain red tops? Stripes of different reds, or combining two or three colours are so much more interesting. And individual. And you can use up left over yarn or buy odd balls in charity shops and make something sensational. Here are a couple of my striped raglans. I particularly like the way the stripes sort of go a bit square at the shoulders. The yellow stripe and the blue one give a very nice bit of definition I think.
2. The method of decreasing creates a false “seam” on the raglan line. While I would not generally make a raglan as it is not my best shape in a tailored garment, with this method the shoulder is very soft and flattering. The sleeve is made in the same way as with the yoke sweater and the fake seam is not nobbly or annoying. There is some jiggery pockery in shaping the neckline, and if I might suggest it I think mine looks a lot nicer with a slight boat-shaped neck rather than the tiny neck hole which looks itchy and tight to me on the original.
So, arrogant beginner that I am, I believe I have taken a very wonderful idea from Mrs Zimmermann and improved it. I feel sure she would be entirely happy with my changes as she was a hugely community minded knitter who encouraged us to do our own thing.
Finally I know knitting in summer (UK centric that I am) is a bit crazy, but that means you have a jumper ready for autumn. Also these are little jumpers, the sort of thing I would wear in summer, as I have been doing. These shots are from Me Made May as it happens. They are nice over underwear or a slip, but of course you can wear a T-shirt or shirt underneath. I like a long-sleeved T so there is another layer of colour coming out from the very slightly too short sleeves.
Anyone up for a EZ Raglan KAL? I want a green one (striped). I won’t judge if you want a plain one. Or a little neck hole!
I would propose to start in June.
I have spent all weekend watching the royal wedding, followed by the football! Weren’t the dresses/hats/goals impressive?
Actually I have been sitting in the sun with my daughter Charlotte. Wearing linen dresses. Mine by YSL. Charlotte’s by me (with help from Winnie). Books on Chanel and Schiaparelli.
We were taking photographs for the book, and Char has been hard at work on the final layout. She is amazing and has been, as my Australian PA Sarah used to say, “head down, bum up”. As she flicks between Indesign and Photoshop I have been running around taking photos of whatever she needs. “I need shoes”. “What sort?” “Flat”. “OK, coming up”.
I have ironed, folded or put on just about everything in my wardrobe. And then tidied, and put away. And made tea. Gallons of it. And then done corrections, and decided on captions, and discussed the openers and the spreads (yes I thought these were kitchen words, but it is all learning). I think you will be pleased with the outcome. It really is starting to look professional thanks to Charlotte.
Mainly we have been eating amazing food, but that is what happens when you put Nick and guests together. All of the meals have been outside on the balcony, which has been so very enjoyable.
Better get back to the book now as I have a deadline to meet. We go to print on 30 May. On this blog you can pre-order the book, and if you are in the UK I will pay the postage and packing. Sending the book to Australia and US/Canada is really expensive so I am sure that will put most of you off. You are welcome to collect in person! Or get it sent free to a friend in the UK and maybe they can bring it over when they come. Anyway I am sorry about that. I would appreciate pre-orders just to get a sense of how many I should order from the printer. That is one of the topics of the day!
Also party plans are coming along. Just to remind you that you are most welcome to the book launch in London on 14 June. Please do come if you can – I still have plenty of space.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend, whatever you are doing. I am sure the wedding and football were lots of fun.
I have been participating in Me Made May again. Have you? This great initiative by Zoe of So Zoe encourages people who sew to wear their clothes. Although I have plenty of Me Made clothes I don’t wear them everyday.
This year I asked myself why?
I think the main reason is that they are a bit fancy. For work I tend to wear a “uniform” of trousers, shirt and jacket, with flat shoes. At weekends it is jeans and a long sleeved T and a jumper. Apart from the jumper, and the jacket most of these items are RTW.
Many of my Me Made items are party frocks or dressy items and they are not worn regularly.
So I was interested to see when “forced” by the SWAP rules to make neutrals and rather plainer garments if these items would get worn during Me Made month or not.
Here is my progress so far. I will not go through every day, just some of the “new” outfits I put together for MMM.
I found a few surprising combinations, all of which I enjoyed wearing. At weekends it is easy as anything goes, even too dressy. It is also much easier when the weather is warm. And I have found that even when I wear my work “uniform” I invariably need a sweater and now I have an absolute avalanche of hand knits.
I am on the case with dressing Me Made until the end of the month as I always learn something new. But I am now more and more convinced I have way too many clothes and maybe my next challenge is to go down to four or five interlinked capsules that reflect what I wear the most.
A thought for another day.
Do you wear most of what you make? Or do you stick with a few TNT outfits?
This whole post is a cheat.
Firstly my blog site was blocked yesterday, so I couldn’t post or even open the site.
Secondly this post was written in January and I felt it was a bit lightweight at the time.
Thirdly and far more importantly I have been struggling with the “interior design” of my book. I have laid it out in Indesign not once, not twice, but three times. It has been nerve wracking and disappointing and I have relied on a triumvirate of my son Gus, daughter Charlotte and Justin at work to help me work out, occasionally in person and mainly over the phone, what I am doing wrong and how to rectify it. Hours and hours have gone by. This has allowed me scant time for blogging.
So, following my SWAP photos post, because a couple of people admired my cushions, I figured it would be legit to drag the draft out and publish it today. By the way voting is now in swing for anyone registered on the site. There are some great sets – do go and have a look at Artisans’ Square.
Today’s interior fashions are mostly minimalist, supported by a light sludge or slight muds colour schemes. It’s understandable. With our busy, distraction-ridden lives we yearn for peaceful interiors. Additionally, homes are getting smaller and can soon look cluttered.
When we chose our colour scheme at Rainshore we went for grey! Farrow and Ball call these “easy neutrals” and I have to agree. Then, last Christmas, we watched the 2015 Walt Disney/Kenneth Branagh Cinderella (no excuse, the little kids were with their Daddy).
Not only were the clothes absolutely sumptuous (wicked Stepmother and Stepsisters) the interiors are completely over the top and glorious. Lots of pattern, texture and colour. I so enjoyed the riotous clashing and fabulously stylish draping. It is well worth watching if you love clothes and design. The naughty sisters wear gorgeous great knitwear and Cate Blanchett has some of the best hats I have ever seen. To be honest it would be hard to live comfortably in an environment as lively as this.
But we need a bit of excitement and beauty in our homes. Although I hate making household goods with a passion, colourful textiles can make our homes more interesting and personal. In fact if you dress head to toe in navy, maybe having red or yellow in your living room can provide some visual titillation. If it’s a lampshade, a table cloth, curtains or cushions you can change them if they bore or overwhelm you.
I go for cushions every time.
Buying lovely ones are expensive, and making them properly is skilled and dull. Here is my cheat.
Buy some inners. I have found cheap polyester ones perfectly OK and you can get packs of six or eight delivered by Amazon.
- The key with cushion making is to make the cushion cover smaller than the inner, by as much as 8 cms (3-4cms on each of the four sides). This makes the cushions nice and fat.
- Have one edge of the fold so you only need to sew two sides up on your machine.
- Press. Trim off the corners and turn the cover right side out and press again, this time folding in the seam allowance on the fourth side.
- Stuff the inner cushion in, pin and sew up the final edge by hand with a neat stitch. No zips. Cut open the stitches if they need a wash or if you fancy a change.
Now, I will get back to the book. I have a date with the printer (30 May) to focus my mind.
Do you cheat with cushions?
I know not everyone can because this is a real life event and it is in London. But if you are based here, or not too far away, then any of my readers, followers or commentators would be very welcome indeed. I have organised the event to be very welcoming for anyone who is on their own and is scared they may not know anyone other than me.
I said what I was thinking about, and having listened to your advice I have more or less gone with the plan.
The launch will be held in Central London, on Thursday 14 June, from 6pm until about 8.30pm. My work is offering our “break out” area which is very nice and airy, with an outside area, decent loos and other facilities. The office is wheelchair accessible.
Entry is free with a book which you should be able to buy on the night. A few people think this is cheeky, but I hope you will like the book and find it useful. I will also be (provisionally) offering four workshops on the night
- Learn to make a granny square
- Paper crafts – origami greetings cards and printed wrapping paper
- How to create an African headwrap
- Making slime with Lyla
In each case you will have something to take home (including the slime!).
Also there will be plenty to eat and drink. Nick, in the guise of “Jack and Mrs Spratt” our jokey catering “brand” (Nick labels his sausages…), is making Iraqi stuffed rolls and maybe something else. Mandy is cooking chocolate and lemon cakes. And there will be wine and soft drinks too.
Music will be on tap, organised by my son Gus who has bought some equipment to make it sound good.
We will be having six “selfie” corners with clothes and other items in each main colour palette so that you can try different looks to see what suits you best, and then we can take a snap on your phone so you can compare the different looks.
I am hoping that one of us can do a mini colour consultation on the night. Alternatively I will offer a full consultation to one of the attendees whose name is pulled out of a hat.
Several friends will be acting as hosts to help ensure you have everything you want and will be on hand to introduce you to people that you might like to know, increasing the networking opportunities so you will not feel left out even if you come on your own.
As usual with a book launch there will also be a couple of short speeches, and thank yous, and signing if anyone wants that.
So if you would like to come please follow this link and put your name down.
I do hope you will be able to come and I will do my best to make sure you have a nice evening a chance to meet other people who make life beautiful everyday. Even if you can’t come I will try to make the book special for you. I will have it for sale on this website and on Amazon.
Here is my daughter Charlotte doing the illustrations for the cover.
And no it is not finished yet. I have been busy with work and my SWAP. But now I have a deadline I will have to get it completed. I have the final few photographs planned, then I must finish the layout and the final edit. Then I need some proof readers and a nimble printer. I’ll let you know how I get on!
I am a day late with my blog this week, as I wanted to include the photographs of my Sewing with a Plan 2018 collection. We spent part of the bank holiday weekend with my Mum in Lancashire so I didn’t get started on the pictures until Saturday evening.
Furthermore the photographs did not go to plan.
I had wanted to do them myself with the timer, which would have been feasible if we had a studio. But we have a house, with a limited number of big white walls. So my chosen spot was squeezed between a thermostat switch and some shelving. Every decent picture included one or the other. So in the end I had to involve my glamorous assistant, Nick. Thanks to him the pictures have come out OK.
The first picture is the pencil skirt and the Chanel linen jacket, based on Vogue 1977.
And here is the jacket with the high fronted wider legged trousers I drafted from Aldridge. In the pocket is a silk handkerchief I painted, and round my neck is my accessory, which is a larger piece of painted silk.
The third picture is of my pleated silk skirt with a deep waist band. I added some dark red gros grain ribbon to match my shoes.
And here is the silk blouse with the skirt.
My fifth outfit includes the painted top, with the scarf, and my navy circle skirt.
And here I am wearing the skirt, but this time with the Elizabeth Zimmermann yoke sweater
The next picture includes Bella and her little sister who we met up with over the weekend. I am wearing the same jumper, but this time with the colourful shorts.
In the next photo I am wearing the pencil skirt drafted from Aldridge with exposed seams and hem, with my grey striped seamless Raglan sweater. Oops I can see a shelf in the corner. This may be one of my selfies!
In the next picture, including the darned shelves again, I wrapped the scarf around my head war-time style. I thought it might go with the trouser shape and hand knit.
The finale is the red coat. It is actually sweltering in the UK at the moment! But I shall enjoy this coat. It is so soft and I love this shade of red on me. Obviously worn with the navy trousers and the white shirt.
There we go. I hope you like the collection. At first I thought neutrals might be a bit dull, but I enjoyed making these outfit, for which I relied on TNT, or simple self drafted, patterns. I moved away from complicated or challenging patterns this year, but I did produce wearable clothes. The colourful shoes, “belt” and scarf give the plainness a bit of a lift.
I have loaded these on the Artisans’ Square site. If you are not a member you can still look at the pictures. If you are you can choose which collections you want to vote for later next week, I think. Good luck to all the participants. Producing eleven coordinating garments, or a capsule collection, is pretty hard work even if you use TNTs etc. Everyone has done very well to finish in the time frame. Well done all and Long Live SWAP!
We had such a thrilling class last week, where we started to learn how to use lighting.
It was so exciting.
We used hot shoes on our cameras that allowed us to use the flash attatchment. We used white polystyrene boards that reflected light, and backdrops, and lighting effects to produce soft and more harsh effects. It was just so creative and wonderful. We all got to model, and all to shoot. And while we only scratched the surface I realised there was so much to this game that I want to know and learn.
Here are some of the shots I was able to take.
I am over the moon with the amazing quality of the photographs and the very dramatic effects we were able to produce – they look like “professional” photographs to me. I was particularly taken with the backlighting of Annie’s hair. I am not sure I exactly understood how or why we produced these kind of effects, but compared to the usual hit and miss I get with natural light (and I have come to hate bright sunlight) once the light meter was employed, focus and focal length were determined, the ISO and the white balance, the actual shot was simple. So much control.
Over the weekend I took some photos of our visitors, outside, with natural light. And I still love taking pictures this way, but I really want to know how to use studio lighting and how to get even more interesting portraits.
And just for the people who come here for sewing, I did finish the grey jacket on Sunday.
Sewing with a Plan sewing finishes on Monday night at midnight. But I won’t be sewing on Monday. I have to finish the jacket this weekend, which I am confident I can do.
This is the final piece of my set and it is a pattern I have done before. I used a 1990s Ungaro Vogue pattern and made a few adaptions. I was pretty pleased with the outcome and I have worn this pink jacket quite a lot and it often gets nice comments. As you can see I have been able to fold back the cuffs and the upper pocket often has a handkerchief like Chanel.
Because I loved the jacket, but to some extent find the pink a little bit limiting in work contexts I thought a light grey one would be a nice addition to the summer wardrobe. The SWAP, based on neutrals, gave me a good excuse to have another try. This time I wanted to get a bit closer to the Chanel original, especially in relation to the collar. I made some adaptions and made a collar toile (covered in my previous post).
As you can see I had to draft a new collar, revere, front facing and pockets. And I shortened the body of the jacket and significantly hollowed in the waist. Other than that it was “straight out of the packet”! Ha ha. I actually made a mistake here and cut two of both the upper and under collar.
After that it was plain sailing. As most of the rest of my collection is self drafted or pattern-free I must say how much I enjoyed following the instructions. It is such a relief not to have to think so hard all the time, just do as you are told, with a pattern you have used before, isn’t it? I know some people prefer not to do a pattern more than once, but I love TNTs! It is just so much more relaxing. You don’t need to try it on during construction. No worries about fit, no need to ponder waist band sizes or closure approaches – you just do it.
Last weekend I made quite a lot of progress. I made up the body of the jacket and the sleeves. Looking at the picture I will have to repress that right lapel – the curve is not right. I even cut the button holes with my new buttonhole chisel! I bought one of these after struggling to get the button holes cut nicely in the pink jacket.
Again I made the sleeves relatively long for me, choosing to use dark brown buttons to get the Chanel look. I bought some vintage buttons that I thought were appropriate to the time of the jacket.
I have some left-over beige silk which I will use for the lining. So not too much to do
- Buttons and button holes on the front of the jacket
- Line the bodice
- insert sleeves (my favourite job)
- Line sleeves
- Remove basting and tailors tacks
We are having some friends round for lunch today. So I had better crack on!
I sincerely hope that all those participating in SWAP are nearly there and not stressing too much. For me this SWAP has been quite laid back. I have enjoyed it despite not challenging myself too much (as you know I have been extraordinarily busy and still have much to do on the book).
Happy Saturday – I hope the weather is better where you are (it’s raining in the Cotswolds).
The book is ready to be launched?
I have still to complete about 25 photographs, the cover is not ready yet, the layout is not finished, and it still needs a final edit and proof reading. And printing of course. But. Planning.
I met my dear friend and Instagrammer Lois for lunch the other day. Here she is showing me how to do a Flat Lay!
Lois @the_lois_edits (do follow her if you like beautiful photographs of particularly nice and unusual images of London), is an experienced photographer, marketeer, hairdresser and all round creative. She made me think about how I am going to market and promote the book and it was a salutary experience. I had not given it much thought until now as the baby is not yet cooked (perhaps not the best metaphor). But the launch needs planning and if I don’t commit to a date I won’t actually finish and publish the book.
So I am going to tell you what my first thoughts are, and maybe you would be kind enough to make some additional suggestions?
THE PROPOSED PLAN
- Book the large room in our Kings Cross offices as this will be fairly cheap, is very accessible, has a garden, toilets, crockery etc. I am thinking of asking everyone I know (!) and all my blog and Instagram followers (obviously many don’t live anywhere near London) via Eventbrite. I will especially encourage my collaborators, models and family to attend.
- June would be ideal if I can achieve it, but later is probably more likely and achievable. Certainly an evening.
- Free entrance to anyone who has already bought a book or who buys one on the night. The cover price is £15, but I was thinking of a special offer of two for the price of one. This would enable buyers to keep one and give one away. Another thought is to just offer a discount on the night. And probably a bulk discount for anyone who will take 10 or more.
- Special homemade food (this is where Nick comes in), tea and coffee, wine, soft drinks and water. Not sure what food to offer, but probably something cold, that can be eaten with the fingers. Ploughman’s? Bagels with smoked salmon, or nut butter. And cake. Any suggestions that appeal to all tastes and preferences?
- I will sign the book for anyone who wants it.
- Provide an activity such as sewing/painting/creating something on the night, providing materials. Setting up tables of six to ten where attendees can sit, work with others and network. It is possible that some of my more expert friends may be willing to sit and the tables and “teach” specific things. How to make a granny square. How to choose a harmonious colour palette. How to take a good photograph. Using watercolours. Basics of knitting. How to build your blog or instagram following. Embroidery. Make up advice for all skin tones. Paper pieced patchwork. How to make slime??? (I know a very good 8 year old expert).
- An outside speaker – a star blogger, or maybe something completely different – a clothes or textile designer, a museum curator, a photographer. Someone very interesting, perhaps with slides of exhibits.
- Doing something myself, such as a mini colour consultation. I could ask people as they came in if they want to “win” this, and then choose a name out of the hat. Or a talk, with slides, on wardrobe personality?
- What about a selfie bay (Lois’s great suggestion)?
I know I enjoyed having my picture taken in the Botticelli shell. I was thinking of creating some areas with the key colour directions eg Bright, Muted etc, using fabric, wall paper, paintings etc, The attendees could try pictures of themselves in their assumed colour direction, or I could give them a provisional guess.
- Show some of my home made clothes and fabrics, possibly to try on. Include a few mirrors in the room. I noticed at the V&A and other museums that people love to try things on.
- What about a present for the “best dressed” or “most stylish” on the night?
- At some point I would want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me. And that includes all of you. So maybe I can also blog about it to share more widely, or even arrange something like a short video via Facebook or Instagram? I would hope someone might take photos on the night to share with attendees.
All this on a fairly low budget as the book is not a commercial proposition, more a celebration of natural beauty, nice things, happy times and community. If you are willing and able to participate of course I would be absolutely thrilled – please comment below or email me kate (at) fabrickate (dot) com.
I would welcome your suggestions, and certainly any help you might offer. Thank you.
I am planning to have my SWAP completed by the deadline this year, which is the end of the month. Which is possible, or deliverable as we say at work.
Let’s have a look at progress so far.
I have constructed
- Grey pencil skirt
- Grey silk evening skirt
- Grey silk patterned blouse
- Navy trousers
- Navy circle skirt
- Navy sweater
- Navy patterned shorts
- Patterned silk scarf
Two other items
- Previously made red coat (with patterned silk scarf), [and red unfinished sweater in a bag in the background]
I have made this coat before, in brown, for Esme. She loves it and still wears it. Recently I did a major operation on this version of the coat as it was coming apart and was a bit worse for wear. Sometimes mending and altering is the only sewing I do.
My own version needed an alteration too. I used big press studs, as proposed in the pattern, to fasten it. They are silver and while Burda suggest covering them in lining, I didn’t bother. Then regretted it. I have removed the press studs, secured the coat with a big pin, and intend to paint them with red nail varnish. Hope it works!
- RTW white shirt
And still to complete (TNT pattern, adapted)
- Grey linen jacket, which I MUST CUT OUT TODAY!
And still to choose from (one more knitted item only)
- Yellow sweater
- Grey striped sweater
- Blue and grey ski sweater (in progress)
- Red Perry Ellis sweater (in progress), but I don’t think it will work.
As well as complying with the rules, which I believe any of these combinations would do, we have to be able to put together nice outfits that will get worn day to day. I cannot yet decide on which second knitted item to include. The four listed have been started, or completed during the SWAP period, so they would all comply with the rules, but I don’t know which one is best for making outfits up. I guess this will be finally decided when we come to do the photographs. When I chose the colours I knew they would all work together well, and I believe that nearly everything will work well with everything else in terms of
- silhouette and style
- good fit and suitable for my personal look
- work well with existing wardrobe
So let’s see if I can out outfits together. For the purpose of this exercise I am going to use the grey striped sweater. Things would be different if I used any of the other three, but I imagine any would have a place.
- Grey pencil skirt, grey silk blouse, grey jacket red shoes
- Grey pencil skirt, white shirt, grey sweater, white sandals
- Grey pencil skirt, navy sweater, navy tights and navy shoes
- Grey silk evening skirt, white blouse, red shoes
- Grey silk evening skirt and grey silk blouse, grey jacket, red shoes
- Grey evening skirt, grey sweater, navy tights and navy shoes
- Navy trousers, white shirt, red coat, navy shoes
- Navy trousers, white shirt, grey jacket, white sandals
- Navy trousers, grey sweater, white sandals
- Navy trousers, navy sweater, navy shoes, silk scarf
- Navy circle skirt, grey blouse, scarf, navy tights, navy shoes
- Navy circle skirt, white blouse, navy tights and shoes, red coat
- Navy shorts, white blouse, navy tights and shoes, red coat
- Navy shorts, grey blouse, grey jacket, navy tights and navy shoes
- Navy shorts, navy jumper, navy tights and red shoes
The rules on photos have just gone up:
- Provide 6-12 photos.
- Include one photo that includes the full group of garments (plus optional accessory if it applies)
- Include one photo of you wearing an outfit
- Additional 4-10 photos of various outfit combinations
- Every garment must be shown in at least two outfits
- Composite photos are allowed (but not required); however they are limited to a main photo and two smaller insers
- Photos should be sized to fit the page without scrolling.
- Photos should be posted by Monday 7 May
I shall have to work this out precisely. If early May is hot some of these items will be uncomfortable to model. But the woolies and coat are suitable for about nine months of the year. The silk and linen items will be perfect for our short summer season.