english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England

1 Comment

Best Beret

Best Beret by James N Watts

Despite the fact that I rarely wear hats, including the RTW beret I have owned for years, at the end of last year I suddenly got the urge to knit a beret. I originally purchased a different knitting pattern, but then James N Watts’ Best Beret pattern was released and was exactly what I was looking for. I made the Classic Silhouette version, in adult small size and with a single stalk.

Best Beret by James N Watts

I think a brighter yarn colour would have made for a more interesting finished accessory. This yarn was a spur of the moment purchase before leaving for a holiday in New York, where I first cast on the beret.

It is the same yarn, West Yorkshire Spinners’ Croft yarn (although in a slightly different colourway), that I used to make the cardigan below – Knitbot’s Trail Jacket. This is my first time wearing them together and, unsurprisingly, they pair well.

Best Beret by James N Watts

I usually pester Phil to take photos of my sewing & knitting projects for the blog, but I took these myself in the local park and am planning to do so more often. A key incentive to taking my own photos (other than being able to take as long as I like over it) has been purchasing a much improved tripod.

A few weeks ago Phil asked if we could visit a new photography shop that had opened in Birmingham. I wasn’t particularly interested but was happy to accompany him. Phil didn’t buy a thing. I left with a tripod and a ring light!

Best Beret by James N Watts

As a glasses wearer I find light sources for photo and video tricky, but I’ve used the ring light to help with a few photos taken in the house so far. It also came in useful as a general light source when I was attempting to set up a warp on my loom into the evening last weekend. It’s much brighter than most lamps and the warping process is liable to give anyone eye strain.

Best Beret by James N Watts

I posted about my first attempt at preparing a warp and putting it onto the loom on Instagram over the weekend. It wasn’t a success – I didn’t get to any weaving and will be starting again from scratch – but I’m feeling more prepared for next time, and looking forward to trying again when I can set aside a weekend for it. Expect to see some weaving on the blog (relatively) soon.

Best Beret by James N Watts

1 Comment

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

During January, I finished two coat sewing projects which I started one year ago, during the 2018 Christmas holiday. One coat for me, and one coat for Phil. I managed to complete both coats in time for a week’s holiday in New York, which we treated ourselves to last week. The timing felt fitting, since I was originally aiming to finish the coats before a previous trip to New York in March 2019 (which was timed to coincide with Male Pattern Boldness Day). At the time of that trip Phil’s coat had been temporarily abandoned due to fit issues, and my coat was still in pieces, awaiting its construction.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

Both coats were worn daily in (cold) New York last week and I got plenty of photos. I was planning to share one of the coats on the blog today, but, like the construction process, I expect that photo editing (e.g. weeding out the photos where we are pulling weird faces) and blog post writing will take me some time. Rather than wait, I thought I’d share a quick blog post about the most recent knitting project I completed.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

This is Kate Davies’ The Observatory hap pattern. I purchased the kit for this project (which is currently on sale, 50% off) as a gift for my nan, but, after discussing it with my mom, decided that she probably wouldn’t enjoy the combination of lace knitting and lace-weight yarn. I didn’t want the kit to sit in my stash so decided to start it myself a few months later, when my knitting needles were next free.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

The yarn included in the kit (Fyberspates Cumulus in colourway Pearl) is a blend of baby suri alpaca and silk fibre and is the softest yarn I’ve ever worked with. Starting a new ball (the pattern uses 3) was always a treat as each time it felt like unwrapping a tiny cloud. I’m happy to wear fairly coarse yarns against my skin, but there is something very comforting about just how soft this hap is to wear.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

I am not a fast knitter, and I have also been knitting much less frequently recently, so this hap took me a good portion of 2019 to complete. The Shetland lace edge of the shawl (which is knitted first) is of course the time consuming part, with the body of the shawl worked out from the edge relatively quickly afterwards. This definitely feels like a wintery accessory to me so I’m glad that I finished it in plenty of time to wear this winter.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

I probably wouldn’t have picked to make a lace-weight hap if I hadn’t originally intended to give the kit as a gift, but I actually really enjoyed a brief foray into lace knitting and working with the Cumulus yarn. I am a big fan of scarf knitting and have a growing collection, so it’s nice that this is something a bit different. Having said that, I am planning to start another (rectangular) scarf soon, once I have completed my current knitting project, started in New York, the Best Beret.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

1 Comment

Gift Sewing Pattern Suggestions

Vlog Title Screen

Now that it’s November I’m sharing my recommendations for present making. You can see the full list of pattern suggestions on my vlog, and the full list with links is also copied below.

I’ve included lots of free patterns, plus some paid-for patterns which make ideal gifts. I’ve focused on sewing patterns, but have also recommended a few favourite sources of free knitting patterns.

Now I just need to start making some of these rather than leaving it until the last minute…

Sewing Patterns

Bombazine (oven) Mitt: https://www.bombazine.com.au/bombazine-mitt/

Noodlehead, Forage Bag: https://noodle-head.com/2018/10/forage-bag-free-pattern.html

Noodlehead, Tiny Treasures Basket & Tray: https://noodle-head.com/2016/07/tiny-treasures-basket-tray-free-pattern.html

Victory Patterns, Tailor’s Ham & Sausage: https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2012/08/how-to-make-tailors-hams-and-sausages.html

Very Purple Person, Reversible Bag: http://verypurpleperson.com/2010/04/making-reversible-bag/

Thread Theory, Wallet Set: https://threadtheory.ca/collections/pdf-sewing-patterns/products/the-wallet-gift-giving-set-pdf

Milan AV-JC, Zero Waste Origami Bag: https://www.milanavjc.com/opensource-en-uamep-origami-bag

Very Sharron, Reversible Box Tote: https://www.veryshannon.com/patterns/reversibleboxtote

Wendy Ward / MIY Collection, various patterns: https://www.miycollection.com/collections/sewing-patterns-digital

Digital Pattern Library, House Tape Measure: https://digitalpatternlibrary.com/blog/2019/4/16/scrap-buster-zero-waste-house?rq=free%20pattern

Sew Over It, Tie: https://sewoverit.co.uk/product/tie-pdf-sewing-pattern/

Purl Soho, Tie: https://www.purlsoho.com/storage/fathersdaytie_FINAL.pdf

FreeSewing.org, Trayvon Tie: https://freesewing.org/patterns/trayvon

Grainline Studio, Stowe Bag: https://grainlinestudio.com/collections/accessories/products/stowe-bag?variant=22533587599442

Grainline Studio, Portside Travel Set: https://grainlinestudio.com/collections/accessories/products/portside-travel-set?variant=22533587501138

Grainline Studio, Hemlock Tee

Tilly & the Buttons, Eye Mask: https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2015/07/how-to-make-eye-mask-free-pattern.html

Tilly & the Buttons, Slipper Boots: https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2017/11/free-pattern-make-your-own-snuggly.htmlnne,

FreeSewing.org, Bruce Boxer Shorts: https://freesewing.org/patterns/bruce

Thread Theory, Comox Trucks Boxer Shorts: https://threadtheory.ca/collections/sewing-patterns/products/comox-trunks-pdf

So Zo What Do You Know, Pants & Vest: http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.com/p/free-patterns.html

Madalynne, Lingerie Patterns: https://madalynne.com/product-category/lingerie-sewing-pattern/

Ohhh Lulu, Lingerie Patterns: https://www.ohhhlululingerie.com/product-category/free/

Purl Soho, Free Sewing Patterns: https://www.purlsoho.com/create/tag/free-sewing-pattern/

In the Folds / Peppermint Magazine, Free Patterns: https://peppermintmag.com/sewing-school/

Sarah Kirsten, Fennel Fanny Pack: https://sarkirsten.com/patterns/fennel-fanny-pack

Kylie & the Machine, Ida Clutch: https://kylieandthemachine.com/introducing-the-ida-clutch/

Pattern Scout, Luna Crossbody Bag: https://www.patternscoutstudio.com/shop/luna-crossbody-pdf-sewing-pattern

Aneela Hoey, Accessory Patterns: https://comfortstitching.bigcartel.com/ / https://shopbeyondmeasure.co.uk/collections/patterns

Knitting Patterns

Purl Soho, Free Knitting Patterns: https://www.purlsoho.com/create/tag/free-knitting-pattern/

Fringe Association, Free Knitting Patterns: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/fringe-association-on-ravelry/patterns

Loop London, Free Knitting Patterns: https://www.loopknitlounge.com/category/free-knitting-crochet-patterns/

Arne & Carlos: https://arnecarlos.com/

Tin Can Knits, Free Knitting Patterns: http://tincanknits.com/patterns-free.html

Brooklyn Tweed, Lavender Sachets: https://brooklyntweed.com/blogs/blog/lavender-sachets


Polkagris Kerchief

Polkagris Kerchief

I hope everyone reading is enjoying the weekend. I had a great day attending the Sew Up North meet-up yesterday, and am thoroughly enjoying sitting on the sofa in my pyjamas this morning, with plans to sew while catching up with vlogs once I’ve clicked publish on this post.

Polkagris Kerchief

It’s been a while since I shared a knitting project on the blog. This is the Polkagris Kerchief by Kate Davies, which I bought as a kit when it was released in summer 2018. The kit (pattern, yarn and bag) was £10 so it was a really affordable project and gift to myself.

Polkagris Kerchief

The kit sat in my stash for a little while before I decided to knit it as an easy wind-down project at the start of 2019, once Christmas (and associated present making) was over and done with. With no fit worries, an easy pattern to follow, and good quality yarn to work with, I thoroughly enjoyed this project from start to finish.

Polkagris Kerchief

Since finishing knitting the kerchief, however, I have rarely worn it. I loved the original launch photos – which inspired me to order the kit in the first place – but I find it quite difficult to style. The kerchief won’t stay put without being knotted (or a pin added), but a knot looks very bulky on such a small scarf.  I’ve had a look back at the product photos and have spotted that it tends to be worn with a small knot at the very ends of the kerchief or tucked inside a high neckline, so I’ll have another go at pairing it with some outfits in the next few weeks. This is the perfect time of year for the scarf if I can find a way to be comfortable wearing it, while the weather is cooler but not yet cold enough for my larger scarves.

Polkagris Kerchief

These photos were taken just after I finished the kerchief, during a holiday to Alicante in early January. Not long after, Kate Davies was challenged for failing to make clear her stance on racism and diversity in the knitting community, and then reacted badly to criticism, posting defensive blog posts and deleting her social media accounts. As a result I wasn’t comfortable sharing this project at the time, but since then her business has clearly taken steps to diversify, in terms of people referenced in Kate’s writing, and featured in product and other imagery.

Polkagris Kerchief

I purchased another Kate Davies kit last year, for a much more involved project, which I’ve just finished knitting and am looking forward to sharing soon. It’s also a shawl, but couldn’t be more different from this kerchief.

Polkagris Kerchief

Leave a comment

October Sewing Zine Vlog

Alice & Co Patterns Georgie Dress

I’ve uploaded a new vlog about what I’ve been up to lately, including my Georgie Dress, Observatory Shawl and faux fur Tamarack Jacket.

View it below or via my YouTube channel:

Things mentioned:

Opian, Pilatus Swimsuit

Closet Case Patterns, Pietra Pants

Alice & Co Patterns Georgie Dress (free pattern)

Masson Mill in Matlock Bath

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers

Julie Hedges

SewBrum meet-up

The Little World of Fabric (‘The Liberty Man’)

Barry’s Fabrics

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

Sew Up North

The Knitting & Stitching Show

Les BG Patterns

Sew Over It Amelia Jacket

Pink Coat Club & Adornments by Rosheen Headbands

Petershams Millinery Supplies Headbands

Untangling Knots Arachne pattern

Kate Davies Observatory pattern

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

1 Comment

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

1 Comment

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