english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Knitbot Trail Jacket

Hannah Fettig Trail Jacket in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft yarn

Having done very little knitting last year after a couple of dissatisfying projects, I had a really productive few months over Christmas and into the start of the new year. One of the projects I completed was this Trail Jacket, by Hannah Fettig (Knitbot). I finished it shortly before leaving for a trip to New York in February, and I bought and attached the buttons while on holiday. These pictures were taken a few days later while visiting the Museum of the Moving Image (see picture with muppet below!).

Hannah Fettig Trail Jacket in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft yarn

I bought the pattern in 2016 and the yarn (West Yorkshire Spinners Croft Yarn in Boddam colourway) from BritYarn (RIP) in 2017, so I’m glad to finally bring the jacket to fruition. The yarn is aran weight and the pattern easy to follow so the jacket knits up really quickly.

Hannah Fettig Trail Jacket in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft yarn

I don’t have much of a yarn stash. I have the odd ball brought back from a holiday, leftover odds and ends, and a few more substantial amounts of yarn bought for a project, such as this, which it has taken me longer than expected to get around to knitting. I’m hoping to work through those project-quantities of yarn this year, and then buy yarn as I’m ready to knit with it. We’ll see how I do. The same is NEVER going to happen with fabric/sewing patterns.

Hannah Fettig Trail Jacket in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft yarn

My button placket isn’t the neatest (I had to position the buttons quite far across in order for them to sit centrally once fastened), but I know I’ll wear this jacket loads. I definitely wear knitted cardigans/jackets more than sweaters, since they can be worn as a layering piece year ’round. I really like the cropped sleeves (although inevitably they want to ride up when I put a coat on), and I love the specked ‘tweed’ effect of the Croft yarn, which is made with 100% Shetland Island wool.

Hannah Fettig Trail Jacket in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft yarn

The next project I’ve started using my existing yarn stash is a hap in lace weight yarn so I’m expecting that one to take quite a bit longer than this jacket. Wish me luck in keeping on track!

Hannah Fettig Trail Jacket in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft yarn
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Two Knitted Skating Hats

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat

A few months ago, a vintage fashion Instagrammer I follow posted a picture of herself in a ear warmer she had made and I decided I had to have one.

I made a search on Ravelry (ear warmer? head warmer? headband?) and managed to stumble on a free pattern by Julie Bierlein for the Portsmouth knitted skating hat.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in Alafosslopi

This is a simple and well designed pattern, with the option to knit in chunky/bulky or super chunky/bulky yarn. I knit two versions and each one took me two evenings, at a relaxed pace.

I really wanted a pink hat, but I thought I’d test the pattern with some stash yarn first, and used Ístex Álafoss Lopi in Golden Heather for my yellow version. I bought this yarn on a whim during a trip to Sweden back in 2015, and I previously used some of the ball in this hat. I still have loads left so no doubt it will show up on the blog again at some point.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in Alafosslopi

Having tested out the pattern, I ordered some pink yarn for version two. Always keen to support British yarn companies, I chose West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat yarn in the Escape colourway.

Both the yarns I used were chunky weight yarns, but the Alafoss is much firmer, which I think works really well for this pattern. Despite being my test version, my yellow version keeps its shape better and has a crisper silhouette. The soft pink yarn is much softer and has more stretch. I should have compensated for the stretch by knitting the pink hat slightly shorter but I didn’t realise until it was already finished and washed.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat

I wasn’t sure how often I would wear these ‘hats’, but I wore them daily during a recent trip to New York. From the perspective of someone with long hair, they do a good job of keeping your head warm, and wearing them doesn’t result in a ‘hat hair’ effect.

For a fairly frivolous looking accessory they are actually quite practical, and easy to roll-up and pop in a pocket or bag when not being worn.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat

I’m currently making a hat which definitely can’t be described as practical, a small pillbox hat to wear to the Dressmakers’ Ball next week, using some leftover fabric from my dress.

This was definitely one time when I was glad to have purchased slightly more fabric than I needed for the dress as I’m also planning to make a matching belt, and maybe a bag. There’s only four days left before the Ball now – wish me luck.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat


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Altered Wharf Street Pullover

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

During 2016 (and following being one of the winners of the We Wear Knitbot Competition), I was extremely flattered to be asked to test knit a pattern from Hannah Fettig‘s upcoming book, Texture.

I selected the Wharf Street Pullover, and it was a reminder that I am still a relatively inexperienced knitter as it took me far longer than the testing period to knit and I missed the deadline for feedback, plus my finished jumper (blogged in 2017) ended up excessively long in the body and sleeves.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get a lot of wear from a tunic length jumper, so last year I built up the courage to finally alter it. Since the pattern is knit bottom-up, it isn’t possible to unravel from the bottom. Instead you need to decide where you want to remove length from, cut into the jumper at this point, and then unravel downwards, towards the hem. Due to the honeycomb cables it wasn’t quite as simple as that, since the yarn didn’t want to unravel and needed quite a lot of untangling.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

As it was my first time removing length from a jumper in this way, I started by cutting into the jumper lower down and unravelling that section, then repeated the process higher up. Once the jumper was a length I was happy with I picked the stitches back up and replaced the ribbing. I repeated this process for the body and the sleeves, and the resulting jumper is much more wearable and flattering

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

These pictures were taken in front of a warehouse which is located right by Barry’s Fabrics. No wonder I look happy in the picture below, I’m probably plotting what fabric/s I am about to buy.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

My current knitting project is a Hannah Fettig design, Trail Jacket, which should be a relatively quick knit. My all-time most worn knitting project, the Hancock Cardigan, is also by Hannah and at some point I really must knit another as it’s the perfect cardi for throwing over any outfit.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Phil is busy laying tiles in our kitchen as I type, so I’ll leave you to show solidarity by preparing some lunch. I’m awaiting the imminent arrival of an embossing label ‘printer’, with which I plan to annotate a book of my sewing plans – sounds like a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

P.S. the yarn used was the yarn suggested in the pattern; Quince & Co’s Owl (worsted 50% American wool, 50% alpaca, which is spun and dyed in USA) in the ‘mesa’ colourway.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig


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Holiday Snaps & Meandering Thoughts

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

Phil and I dragged out the Christmas holiday as long as possible, spending a few days in Alicante before returning to work this week.

These pictures, of garments I’ve previously blogged, were taken while we were away (Malachi Vest / In the Folds Jumpsuit / Tamarack Jacket). I didn’t spend a lot of time sewing over Christmas, but did start the process of making two coats (one for me and one for Phil). I’m taking my time attaching interfacing and canvas, resisting the impulse to rush ahead to construction, in order to create coats which should look, and last, all the better for it.

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

I wanted to thank everyone who read, or got in touch about, my recent post regarding my experience with my previous employer. A few people who commented used the word ‘proud’ which led me to recall a memory from the time which I thought was worth sharing, and which I didn’t touch on in my previous post, since I kept that largely to a blow-by-blow account.

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

At my lowest point working for that employer I spent one week off work, and in bed, recovering from a combination of stress and anaemia. Amongst the many emotions I felt at that time, I realised that I felt ashamed.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Ashamed because, in a work context, I had come to view myself as a ‘strong’ person, and this had become central to my concept of – and what I valued about – myself. Certainly my concept of what constituted strength in this context (including being willing and able to work as long and hard as anyone, to take on more work and work out of hours without complaint and without getting stressed) was promoted by my employer (in my first interview for the organisation, when I was hired, I was asked about my willingness to work over and above my hours. I told them it wasn’t an issue, and meant it). However, my employer can’t take all the blame, they had simply built on an existing prejudice I held.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

How I felt at that time, physically and emotionally weak, but without a physical cause to attribute my symptoms to in order to ‘justify’ them to myself and to my employer, was incompatible with my own (and my employer’s) prejudice about what it was to be a strong person.

In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

Initially I was ashamed because my view of what I valued in myself was challenged, but once I had time to dwell on it I was ashamed that I’d been judging people (predominantly myself, but inevitably, if unconsciously, my colleagues too) against a practically feudal concept. It took being physically weak to teach me that my concept of a ‘strong’ person was a nonsense, and that by judging myself against it I had set myself up to fail.

It was a humbling lesson, but in learning it I hope to be kinder to myself and others in future.

In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit


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Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

Last Summer, I attended a brioche class with Renée Callahan of East London Knit at Yarningham, a Birmingham-based yarn festival. After the class, before I could forget everything I had learned about brioche knitting, I started this Brioche Twister Scarf, a free pattern for signing up to Renee’s newsletter.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

Satisfyingly this pattern only requires two skeins of (DK) yarn. Unlike fabric, I don’t tend to buy yarn without a specific pattern in mind, but I had two skeins of spur-of-the-moment purchase yarn in my stash, which were perfect for this pattern. I’m sure you must have some of those too.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

The two yarns I used were both British and from small independents. A skein of Daughter of a Shepherd’s Hebridean & Zwartbles DK, which I purchased direct from Rachel at Yarnporium, and a skein of Harcourt Rare Breeds‘ Leicester Longwool, which I purchased direct from the farm when I visited with my Guild. I believe the Harcourt Rare Breeds’ yarns are hand-spun by local spinners. The combination of yarns makes for a very warm and snuggly scarf.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

I finished knitting this scarf last September, then put it aside for a couple of months until a holiday to Paris and Rome during November, when it was finally cold enough to start wearing it, and where these photos were taken. It’s gotten lots of wear since during my commute to and from work.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

I really enjoy making scarves as they don’t take too long to knit, there’s no worry about fit, and they are easy to throw on in the morning, so they tend to get worn more than other knitted items. I was planning to knit a second Brioche Twister Scarf as a gift, but, having taken a break from brioche, I returned to find I’d forgotten the technique and kept making mistakes! I might be too late for this winter, but at some point I’m definitely going to knit this pattern again in a different combination of yarns and colours.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf


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A Malachi Vest & an Early New Year’s Resolution

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Hoorah, I finally made it back to my blog. A little more on that below, but first a finished knitted garment; the Malachi Vest from Purl Alpaca Designs.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

I bought the yarn and pattern for this vest as a kit from Purl Alpaca Designs at Yarnporium over a year ago. This make was a case of falling in love with the product photo. I still want to recreate the whole look, as the model looks sooo good. I used the recommended yarn, Purl Alpaca’s 100% pure alpaca medium yarn in colours Alpaca Earth and Champagne.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

In typical fashion I started knitting this last January, but didn’t finish it until April when it was too warm to wear. I was very happy to pack this vest for a recent trip to Rome and Paris, where I finally got chance to wear it, and where these photos were taken. I’m still figuring out what to wear it with, and (thanks to the product photo) I think I need a white shirt – something my wardrobe is currently missing, ever since I threw out the last RTW one I owned.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Knitting, along with sewing, blogging, and all of my other hobbies, had fallen by the wayside this year.

A little over six months ago I was asked to ‘act up’ at work and take on a raft of new responsibilities. Although ostensibly a change of role, in reality these responsibilities were on top of my existing job, since the existing work still needed to be delivered. In fact, over that six-month period the workload only continued to expand, and, as that happened, I made the decision to keep on top of the workload by increasingly extending my working days and retaining less and less time for my hobbies.

As an indication, I’ve published 1-2 blog posts per week for the last five years (an average of 64 –  86 per year), with 2017 the first year I didn’t manage that frequency of posts (or anything like it) since 2011.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Reducing time for my hobbies seemed a sensible decision; the best way to avoid them feeling like an additional task to tick off a to-do list. However, it also meant that I didn’t participate in things I’ve previously enjoyed (like pattern testing or community challenges) this year, and when the lure of a community challenge (like the Refashioners) or pattern test proved too great to resist, I invariably failed to complete by the deadline.

Those hobby-related activities which did have deadlines, like the Sewing Weekender or SewBrum, were less fun this year than previously. As organiser, half the fun of an event is in the preparation (as the event itself always whizzes by so fast), and if you have very little time for that preparation, and not enough to do as good a job as you would like, it takes away some of the enjoyment – and leads you to rely heavily on others (apologies to Kate, Rachel & Lauren!).

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Even trips like the holiday where these photos were taken became less appealing in advance, because when you’re working pretty much every evening you don’t have time to prepare yourself to go away, and are really keen to spend as much time as possible at home.

I was willing to commit time to work over my hobbies for one reason only – I have the best colleagues, who are some of my absolute favourite people, and I assumed by working hard I could make some positive changes which would benefit all of us.

In the last couple of weeks, my role at work changed in a way which meant that the workload (at least in the short-term) would continue, and likely increase, but my ability to actually make improvements to support my friends was further decreased. At the same time my body decided enough hours was enough and required a few days at home, resting and stocking up on vitamins.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

As is often the case, a little distance helped me to see sense. If the one reason I was willing to take on a difficult role was removed, why was I continuing? I’ve returned to my previous role at work and I’ve committed to a New Year’s Resolution starting right away, in advance of the New Year. I’ll no longer be working excessive hours; I’m going to do as good a job as possible during my working hours, and then I’m going to head home and spend my time on my hobbies.

Expect to see a lot more of me in 2018.

Charlotte x

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest


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Blacker Yarns Brushwork (and a cat!)

Blacker Yarns Brushwork Swatch

As during previous years, Blacker Yarns are releasing a lovely special edition birthday yarn! Brushwork launches on the Blacker Yarns website & in selected yarn shops this Thursday 28 September (£8.40 per 50g ball) and is guaranteed to sell out quickly.

Experts at showcasing the versatility and quality of British yarns, Blacker always take the special edition yarns as an opportunity to include unusual British fibres with limited availability. This year’s yarn, Brushwork, is no exception; a blend of Scottish Bowmont (70%), Castlemilk Moorit (10%), and British Alpaca (20%). The majority of Scottish Bowmont wool goes into luxury garment manufacturing, so it’s particularly rare in commercial yarn, and Castlemilk Moorit is a breed listed as ‘at risk’ by the RBST Watchlist with only around 1,000 of these sheep left in the UK.

Blacker Yarns Brushwork Yarn

I was given the opportunity to swatch with a sample of Brushwork (in the Impasto colourway) and I love it for garment knitting. It would be especially lovely for a knitted top or jumper as it’s drapey but with great stitch definition. I like that Blacker selected to release Brushwork in a Sport weight – which is a less commonly available weight in British yarns.

The colours of the yarn are also very thoughtful and have loads of character. Inspired by watercolours and ink, the colours were achieved by dyeing the fibres in the wool before spinning, and blending as little as possible to preserve flecks of individual colour. The attention to detail stretches to the ball bands, which reflect the watercolour theme, and are very cute.

Blacker Yarns Brushwork Swatch

I was attempting to photograph my swatch (the pattern is a detail from Jean by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne in PomPom Quarterly Issue 14) on Saturday and discovered that it is apparently exactly the right size for a (neighbour) cat to rest on.

Blacker Yarns Brushwork Swatch

Cat

Cat

Cat