english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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


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Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

I’ve been knitting less frequently since I started catching the train to work, with colleagues, because I’m now too busy nattering. However, recently I finally picked up and finished this project which I abandoned last summer.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

This is the Point of View Vest by Hannah Fettig from Knitbot Linen. I started this vest to use up leftover Blacker Yarns Lyonesse yarn from my Hancock cardigan (another Hannah Fettig pattern). I didn’t have quite enough Lyonesse to finish this vest, and by the time I realised, the colourway (Rose Quartz) had been discontinued. Luckily, the replacement colourway (Tourmaline) is close enough that the change in shade at the shoulders doesn’t look out of place.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

The Point of View pattern is designed for linen yarn; because I used a wool/linen blend, the edges of the vest inevitably curl up. I like how this looks at the front, but felt the bottom edge of the vest looked sloppy, so hand sewed ribbon along the edges to weigh them down and keep them flat.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

This is a fairly impractical garment since it doesn’t add much warmth or cover, but it does look quite cute paired here with a Megan Nielsen Maker Tee and favourite People Tree skirt, and with an Inari Tee Dress. These photos were taken on holiday at Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, and the Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest


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Wharf Street Pullover

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

I’ve got a jumper to share today that has been some time in the knitting.

I’m a huge fan of Hannah Fettig’s knitwear designs. I knit two projects from her book Home and Away at the end of last year / start of this (Lesley and Hancock), and have two projects from Knitbot Linen on the needles (I failed to finish them in time for last summer; maybe I’ll manage for this spring/summer). So, unsurprisingly, I’m really excited about Hannah’s brand-spanking-new book, Texture.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

I was also really excited when Hannah asked if I would like to be a test knitter for a project from Texture back in the summer. However, I entirely overestimated both my knitting ability and speed, and available time. I selected the Wharf Street Pullover, a bottom-up pullover featuring honeycomb cables, and raglan three-quarter sleeves (ahem, more on these below).

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Feedback was due back with Hannah in the autumn; I finished knitting the pullover this week… So apologies to Hannah for being a useless test knitter, but I have ended up with a lovely jumper! I have also ended up with a jumper which is quite different from Hannah’s design, which is intended to be quite a bit shorter in the body and sleeves. I may yet go back and alter it to be a closer match to Hannah’s design, but I do quite like this alternative slouchy version. I attribute the added length to my gauge being off, and possibly also to wearing it for these photos (and for some hours before) while it was damp, following  its first wash, which I suspect resulted in some stretching which blocking should reduce. It possibly also resulted in me temporarily smelling a little bit like a wet sheep…

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

The honeycomb stitch which makes up the bulk of the Wharf Street Pullover is straightforward, if relatively time consuming. I made some mistakes when attempting to maintain the pattern on increase/decrease rows, particularly on the sleeves, but I was working from the test pattern, and the final version may do more hand-holding on these sections.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

In contrast to my usual contrariness, I knit this using the suggested yarn, Quince & Co’s Owl (worsted 50% American wool, 50% alpaca, which is spun and dyed in USA) in the ‘mesa’ colourway. The yarn showcases the honeycomb cable beautifully and is suitably sheepy and warm.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

The Wharf Street Pullover is one of 13 designs included in Texture, which features a mix of garment and accessory patterns using cables and textured stitches, designed in Quince yarns. As with Home and Away, the book contains a number of tutorials – I haven’t seen these yet, but the tutorials in Home & Away were excellent, so I’m expecting similar. Plus, the photography is gorgeous.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Other favourites from Texture, are this jacket (which should be a quick knit) and these cardigans 1 /2. Oh, and if you pre-order the book, you receive this rather lovely cowl pattern.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Right, I’m off to plan what I can knit next, and hopefully finish in time to wear this winter!

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

P.S. it’s worn here with Stork Scissors by Birmingham-based Frilly Industries, and People Tree’s Hesper Stripe Skirt.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig


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Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

Hurrah for Christmas holidays! I’ve finally caught up with video editing and have a few vlogs to share soon. First off, I have some footage from a day trip to The Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate, back in November. You can view the video here:

I bunked off work for the day with my friend and colleague Sheena and we had a very nice day trip to Harrogate and mooch around the show. Afterwards, I met up with another colleague and friend to head to a Cecille Grey (whose music is featured on the vlog) gig in Nottingham, so an extremely fun day all ’round.

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate


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The Smiths Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

This is my latest Linden Sweatshirt (number seven blogged). It’s View A, Size 0 – although in this fabric I should probably have sized up to a 2 as it has limited stretch.

The original inspiration for this jumper were the excellent British wool band jumpers which Hades released earlier in the year. The Hades jumpers were limited edition and I missed the chance to buy a The Smiths jumper, so I thought I’d make my own. I’d love to knit something closer to the Hades original, but am a bit wary about tackling knitted lettering without a pattern, unless anyone can recommend something similar??

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

For this version, I cut a stencil of the lettering in acetate (more stable than paper and also reusable) and screen-printed the text using black ink onto the pre-cut Linden sweatshirt front. For reference, I always use Permaset Supercover screen printing ink to print on fabric and find it really reliable, Fred Aldous stock it in the UK.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I found it difficult to gauge the best size and placement of lettering while the sweatshirt was in pieces. If I make another, I will increase the size of the lettering, and move it closer to the neckline.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The fabric is a loop-back jersey purchased at Guthrie & Ghani during SewBrum. This pale pink is great for letting the text stand out, but does also get grubby easy.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I also made my scarf. This is TOFT’s Block-Colour Filet Scarf crocheted in their (British) yarn, in a natural (stone) for the main colour, with yellow for the accents. I’m pretty sure this is the same pattern (knitted in a solid colour) available from TOFT’s free pattern section. I’m not great at crochet, but this is a nice easy pattern and a relatively quick project.

My jeans are not me-made, but were made in the UK by Community Clothing.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

These photos were taken in Hagia Irene, near Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, which was the first Byzantine cathedral built in Istanbul, and is now a museum. Like all Byzantine religious buildings in Istanbul, this has had a varied history, including earthquakes and acting as an armory. We had the building entirely to ourselves on our visit, and it makes for a pretty atmospheric backdrop.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

P.S. in a similar vein, I previously blogged a screen-printed Morrissey tee.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt


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Yarnporium

Yarnporium 2016

Recently, I spent a weekend in London for a friend’s birthday and to visit new yarn show, Yarnporium.

I spent a couple of hours in the Yarnporium marketplace, while Phil did his own thing. Footage of the marketplace, plus chatter about what I bought (spoiler, I have a lot of knitting to do), is on my latest vlog. Watch it here:

Also, a friend recently introduced me to the music of Cecille Grey, who are based relatively local to me in Nottingham. Cecille Grey have very kindly allowed me to use my favourite of their songs on the vlog – I hope you love it too.

Photos of the marketplace are below. Follow Yarn in the City to keep up-to-date with future Yarnporium and other events.

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016