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Inspiration: Winter Warmth, Cowl Edition


I shared some sweater inspiration the other day, and my selection for my next knitting project, at the same time as buying that yarn I spied some gorgeous yarn in the sale section at Wet Coast Wools that I bought some skeins of to make a cowl. Since then I have been trawling Ravelry for inspiration. I haven’t completely decided which route I’m going to go yet, so I thought I’d share my ideas with you today and see what you think.

First though, the yarn! The yarn I got is Diamond Luxury Collection 50% Mulberry Silk, 50% Merino Wool. This yarn is unbelievably soft, and has such a beautiful sheen to it. They had one skein left of a pale grey colour, and some lovely baby-blue that went with the grey really nicely, so on the suggestion of Glenda at Wet Coast Wools that I might want more than 2 skeins for a cosy cowl, I got two skeins of the blue and the one grey one.


Therefore, I am on the lookout for a design that will let me play with my two colours, ideally in a 2:1 ratio overall so that I can use up all my yarn and make a super warm and cosy cowl. With this in mind, after looking around on Ravelry these are the ideas that I’ve had…

(as always, click through for the patterns on ravelry)

Stripes is an obvious choice, and fairly easy to adjust to my 2:1 requirement if required.

PrismaLoop Duotone Foolproof
Prisma Loop | Duotone Cowl | Foolproof

Prisma Loop and Duotone are fairly simple striped cowls, and would be an effective but simple option. I particularly like the diagonal stripes of Foolproof, and the varying widths of stripes.

DivergentSeries Thorne Mirla
Divergent SeriesThorneMirla

Divergent Series and Thorne both have stripes and a slightly more interesting design than just a tubular cowl. Mirla has some nice differing width stripes.

Another option that might make the stripes a little more interesting is to use a different stitch, alternating the rows 1:2, it would still give stripes but in my mind there would be a more interesting edge to the stripes. Before going down this route I would need to swatch up the stitches to see if this would look as interesting as my imagination thinks that it might. Here are some designs that caught my eye…

BigHerringbone DropStitchScarf Chickadee
Flurries HoldingHandsFeedingDucks
Upwards PenAndInk
Big Herringbone Cowl | Drop Stitch Scarf | Chickadee Cowl
Flurries Cowl | Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks
Upwards | Pen & Ink

Another stripe variation is zig-zags, again very easy to adjust to my ratio for a simple but effective look.

LuckyNo7 Maritime
Lucky No 7 | Monster Cowl
Maritime Cowl | ZickZack Scarf

Here’s another design along those lines which I really like, the two colours of stripes, each of a different style. and it looks like it would be fairly easy to adjust the number of rows to match my ratio.


I found some other stripe based designs that are a bit more interesting that might also work:

MontagueStreet MixedWave
Hurricane Ridge | Montague Street Cowl | Mixed Wave Cowl

The below colourwork designs are interesting; essentially stripes but with some more interesting bits built in. Based on the pattern description, symphony of shells would already work with my yarn ratios, and Slip-Zag looks like it would also work if I stuck with one version of the design (rather than flipping the colours like in the picture).

SymphonyOfShells SlipZag
Symphony of Shells | Slip-Zag

I don’t necessarily need to stick with stripe based colourwork designs, here are some other designs that caught my eye.

ChromaticityCowl FullCircle Snell Boilermaker
Chromaticity Cowl | Full Circle | Snell | Boilermaker

This one particularly caught my eye, I like the idea of different sections of different stitches, which also seems like a good way to adjust the yarn ratio requirements.

Stitch Block Cowl

This also gave me the idea that there are other patterns where I could do chunks in different colours. How about the Hill and Dale cowl with one colour for the ribbing and another for the rest? Or the Challah Infinity Scarf, which includes instructions for knitting it up in all one colour, or in three colours; I could easily use the 3 colour version, with one colour being used twice.

AllAlong HillAndDale ChallahInfinity
All Along | Hill & Dale CowlChallah Infinity Scarf

So, what do you think? What would you do if you were me?









Portside Bag



Have you seen the Portside Travel Set by Grainline Patterns? This pattern got added to my to-make list after Melanie made hers, and the other gorgeous ones I’ve seen around the internet haven’t done any harm (see here, here, here, here, here and here for just a handful of examples).

I used to have a great overnight bag that I used for short trips, but a few years ago the handle broke (sadly in an unfixable way), and since then I’ve been making do with smaller or larger bags or borrowing from my parents. This wasn’t a sustainable solution, especially since I’m currently residing the other side of the world from them as opposed to a moderately short drive away.

So I finally pulled the portside up in my to-sew list, and got it sewn together during SewAway in June (and just in time to test it out properly on a long weekend trip to Queensland the following weekend). I’ll let you in on a spoiler here; it was a great success! It’s a great size; it’s plenty big enough to fit all I needed, but is still within the size requirements for carry on luggage.


Since I ended up making this fairly last-minute, I was limited to using materials I could find in stores locally. I decided to make up the bag in denim, using the two sides of the denim for the contrasting fabrics. After touring all my local fabric stores I ended up settling on red straps and a matching chunky plastic zip, and also got some red thread for top-stitching (primarily because I couldn’t get any other matching colours in strapping and zip other than black).


I used upholstery thread for the top-stitching; Which is somewhere between the normal and top-stitching thread in thickness, thick enough to make good top-stitching but more economical than the very short spools of top-stitching thread. Because of the denim fabric choice, I did a double line of top-stitching throughout to make it more jeans-like, which I think really makes a difference.


The actual hardware was the harder part. I couldn’t find suitable clips anywhere. The only ones that the fabric stores had were ugly plastic ones or really tiny metal ones. So on a whim I tried the hardware store, and found these (fairly heavy duty) double ended clips in Bunnings which I decided to go with.


The only D-rings that I could find in vaguely the right size were these thing ones I used, which turned out to be a mistake; when the bag was full on our trans-pacific trip the D-rings on the bag opened up and came out from the strapping. Because I top-stitched so closely we can’t get the ring back in, and one has come out completely. So for now my bag doesn’t have a shoulder strap, and I will need to source some better D-rings, unpick the top-stitching and replace the D rings on the bag.


Thankfully the handles are just long enough to put over your shoulder, so the bag is still plenty usable. When replacing the hardware I will also make the strap shorter; made at the current length, and adjusted to be as short as possible it is still a little too long, so I will remove some length so it’s the right length for me nearer the middle of the range of adjustment.


During the construction of my bag I stitched my little Ingress patch collection onto the bag. I started with sewing them on by hand, but that was not fun at all, and I ended up stitching them all on by machine, which was a much better solution!


As the machine stitching was better, and I know that I’ll be getting more patches for the bag, I slip stitched the lining in by hand so that it’ll be easy to remove to add more patches in the future. The lining is some printed poplin from my stash.


Despite the problems with the hardware, I’m really happy with my bag and found the pattern and it’s instructions really great,. My only issue was the fabric requirements; I ended up with LOTS of fabric left over, which would have been even more annoying if I had chosen expensive fabric for the bag. I also wish I’d been able to print only the pattern pieces for this bag rather than for the whole set (and that I could now go back and print only the pieces for one of the other two bags in the set).


Inspiration: Winter Warmth, Sweater Edition


A comfy couch and a new Netflix subscription has led to me getting through my current knitting project very quickly. Therefore, I have been casting my eye around for ideas for what to work on next, with a particular mind to things that will keep me warm for the upcoming Vancouver winter. Therefore, I thought today I’d share some of the knitting patterns that have caught my eye…

gelsomina waitingforspring
Gelsomina Aran | Waiting For Spring

These two are completely in my wheel-house, and I absolutely love them, particularly Gelsomina. However I think for my next project I’m after something that will push me a bit; either in style or in techniques or in some other way.


iheartaran sterlingcables
yeti Portsmouth
I Heart Aran | Sterling Cables Sweater #4
Yeti Pull | Portsmouth

These four have all got something going for them but they’re not quite perfect. I adore the neckline of I Heart Aran, it looks so cosy, but the rest of the design on the sweater is a bit too much for me. Similarly, Sterling cables is a little too much for me as well, but again looks nice and warm. I really love the design of Yeti pull, although I would make the sleeves long, but I don’t think that the bulky cables down the front would be all that flattering on a larger chest. And on Portsmouth there is a lot of ribbing, which I’m not a big fan of right now so don’t think I’d find it an enjoyable knit.


Kirigami insight
Kirigami | Insight

These two patterns both use multiple colours in a really interesting way. The design of Kirigami is something completely different, and really interesting. Insight is a reversible sweater, with the colourwork looking slightly different on each side. They’re both up there on the short list, but didn’t quite make it this time.



Now this pattern is really interesting, very different to everything else I’ve seen. I love how it mimics a blazer but is a knit. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite fit the bill of being a cosy winter garment so didn’t make the cut this time.

kross owls
Kross | Owls

These two round yoked sweaters are also really lovely, I love the colour work of Kross, and Owls is a very popular design and I’ve loved all the versions of this one that I’ve seen.



Now this one I really really love and I was so close to making it (and may still). Just the right amount of interest in the design, a cosy cowl, what is there not to love? I would however make the sweater slightly shorter for more versatility in wearing.



And this is the winner this time around. It ticks all the boxes; the shoulders of this one are a really interesting design, I’ve not done anything stripy yet, and the neckline looks lovely and warm!

While on a mini yarn store tour with the lovely Amanda yesterday I picked up some yarn to make this sweater. The yarn is a delightfully soft Baby Llama and Mulberry Silk blend, which I have in a lovely neutral combination of beige and grey.

My only concern with the pattern is the length of the sleeves, I am wondering whether I’d be better off making them full length. However, I don’t think I have enough yarn for that, so I need to make a decision about sourcing more yarn, if that’s possible.



White Jasper Hoodie



This is the first sewn garment I’ve finished since moving to Vancouver; the Jasper Sweater by Paprika Patterns. The fabric is from DressSew, and it was sewn on my new (old) machine. It turns out the machine actually does have a stretch stitch option, but since the fabric wasn’t overly stretchy I just used a normal straight stitch anyway.


As the pattern has shaping through princess seams, I decided to do a FBA to the pattern (FBA instructions for this pattern are available on the Paprika Patterns blog: part 1 and part 2). Based on my high bust measurement I chose a size 3, and then did a 1.5″ FBA (so 3″ total). Once I had done the FBA, I then addressed the sizing through the waist and the hips. The FBA had added 3″ to the waist and hips, which worked out perfectly for the waist, as the size 3 waist plus 3 inches was just about perfect for my size. The hips were still too small though (size 3 hips are 37″, so 40″ with the 3″ from the FBA, but I need around 42″), so I graded out the sizing at the hips. Rather than doing it equally, since most of the fullness through my hips is in my behind, I added more at the back than the front. At the end of this process, I ended up with the following pieces:

  • Front – size 3, plus length from FBA, graded to size 4 at the hip
  • Side – size 3, plus 1.5″ FBA, graded to size 6 at the back hip, no change to size at front hip
  • Back – size 3, graded to size 6 at the hip

Because of changing the size at the hips I then needed to determine how big my hem band needed to be (a step that wasn’t addressed in the FBA instructions). To do that I measured the original pattern to determine the original hem length for the hoodie (minus seam allowances), and the original hem band length (minus seam allowances) so I could see what proportion of length the band is to the hem. I worked out that it was 86.6%, so I measured my resultant hem length (minus seam allowances) and multiplied that by 86.6%

Lastly, as some of my grading at the hips was where the pocket goes, I had to make the same adjustment to the pocket piece as I did the front piece.

The hood pieces and sleeves were cut as a straight size 3.

It took a little while to make all the changes and double check I hadn’t forgotten anything, but I’m glad I did, I’m really happy with the resultant fit! The only thing I’d change when making another one is to make the whole hoodie a bit shorter. It’s a bit long for me,  I would shorten it so the whole hoodie is the length of the current hoodie without the band.


Construction of the hoodie was pretty straight forward. I’m pretty happy with how the welt pockets turned out, especially since they’re the first step and it was my first time using the machine. They’re not absolutely perfect, but they’re pretty close, and certainly good enough!


The way the hood comes together is really interesting and very clever. For finishing the seam allowances in the hood and neckline (as they’re visible) I pressed to one side, trimmed back the seam allowance closer to the fabric, topstitched the seam allowances, then trimmed the other seam allowance close to the stitching line. I’m pretty happy with how that turned out. All the other seam allowances I left unfinished, mostly pressed open.


The neckline on the hoodie some times feels a little strange, if the hood starts falling back over my shoulders it can feel a bit constricting against my neck, but a little tug on the collar part fixes that quick enough. And the hood is just the right amount of big!


I’m really happy with my hoodie, and the pattern was fantastic.The white is not the most practical, but so far I’ve been really careful not to get it too dirty (which, full confession, has involved taking it off for mealtimes!) and I really love how it looks. I can’t wait to make another one, this time the dress version with the collar… I just need to source some fabric, this time in a slightly more practical colour!

Flower Garden Quilt – An idea for some progress


This project has been a long time in the making and has been in hibernation for quite a while. I started this English Paper Pieced hexagon project back in 2010. I made some fast progress initially, selected my border colour, and started adding the border hexagons. However, my next step was my downfall; I started sewing the hexagons together before I had all my flowers finished and I didn’t think it through properly. I selected a regular repeating design and started sewing the hexagons together… and then I discovered that the layout I picked didn’t work with the number of flowers that I could make from the fabric that I had, and I was unable to source more fabric.


At this point I lost my enthusiasm and the project has been stashed away in a corner since early 2011 until fairly recently because I wasn’t sure what to do.

However, a few months ago, when going through all my stuff and deciding what to store, bring with me or get rid of I decided I needed to salvage this project; I still really love the combination of fabrics that I chose and their delicateness. So, I think I’ve come up with a plan of attack.


I intend on approaching it with a similar concept to the one I used on my concentric hexagons quilt; that traditional fabrics (or patterns in this case) can be give a modern twist. That layouts don’t need to be uniform and to embrace negative space. I did that with the layout of the hexagons on that quilt, and I think I can do the same with the layout of the flowers on this one.

My plan is to make the quilt a little larger than I had originally intended, and to use the piece that’s already sewn together as the top of the quilt, and have the hexagons below it appear like some of them have ‘fallen’ out of the design, filling in these extra gaps with the green border fabric.


I haven’t come up with the exact layout yet, but in the picture you can see how I’ve laid out the flowers in the kind of concept I’m thinking of. I still really love the fabrics that I chose, so I’d really like to salvage this project.

What do you think? Do you think that this will work?


My next step is to finish preparing all the flowers for sewing them together, I have now finished all the flowers, but I need to stitch 5 green hexagons around each one to make the shape that tesselates together. I’ve done this for a few of the flowers, but there are plenty more still to go…