Fabrics to show off my handknits

So what’s with me knitting all the cuffs? Why do I want them to be greys and purples? And why did I spend time to make a whole colourcollage of them??

Well…. I’m planning a new wardrobe.

Now that I’m living more in the city again and feel more active I want to dress up. Show off the quality yarns I’m using. With quality clothing.

This is my inspiration board:
Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 21.03.59
Clean lines, no ruffles. Functional garments. Natural fibres.
Nice details and well executed sewing.

Light coloured blouses and light coloured trousers/skirt (but not too light because I’m not planning on living a spotless life any time soon).
Wear a darker dress over it, a dress with pockets. A pinafore.
With a light shawl or collar on top, framing my face.


I’m going to make all these nice clothes myself.
Boom. Yes.
Because that’s what knitting told me.
Knitting knocked on my door and said: “A good fit at the shoulders is everything. Mass produced clothes don’t fit anyone, you included. Better make things yourself. Using quality materials. You’ll love it.”

So, I’m studying sewing. Not planned in any reasonable way. I just stumbled upon a few things that interest me and now that they seem to fit so nicely together I can present it to you as if it were a well thought out plan.

It’s a two pronged approach. One prong is the fitting part: bodyshape, wearing ease, drafting patterns, altering patterns, draping fabrics, swiveling darts. The colour analysis helped in this. The knitting experiences help tremendously! I’ve been sewing some dresses the past few years and learned a lot from that.

The second prong is a subject I stumbled upon only recently: precision sewing. With that I mean tailoring techniques, haute couture techniques, pressing, hand stitching.
At this moment I’m buried into bespoke dress shirt making. This is the book I’m reading right now: Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin:

Besides all this self studying I’ve also been taking a pattern drafting course since September. It’s a great source of frustration, being out in the real world trying to make thoughts work. You know me: brilliant in theory but not quite as adept in conjuring reality…
As you can imagine, the course has been a good mix of thrilling theory and bonking into the reality of measurements, teaching traditions and spending time with people who need more time than me to grasp concepts and hold onto them. I, on the other hand, slow everyone down with stupid ignorant questions about sewing basics. I feel quite the clutz.

This month we finally got to draft our body block into a pattern for a shirt, a pattern with wearing ease and all that. I’m still putting it onto paper (how wide should the cuff be? What kind of collar? How to close a shirt when you don’t have button hole help on your sewing machine??)
Once I have my shirt pattern finished I can turn any fabric into a shirt that fits me nicely!
I plan to crank out one shirt after the other this Summer, all based on the same pattern with just design changes in the details.

Last Friday I was pro-active and bought a whole lot of fabrics for my new wardrobe:
buit van Stoffenspektakel. vooral linnens

These will become shirts:
buit van Stoffenspektakel. vooral linnens

On top is a grey lilac cotton that will become my first real shirt, the one I’ll be showing in the next drafting class, on May 23rd.
The light grey and the soft lilac at the bottom are linens.
The white one is silk. The silk is for the end of Summer, when I’ve got this shirt thing down and might feel like venturing into shaping and draping a garment.

Here’s four meters of mid weight linen:
buit van Stoffenspektakel. vooral linnens

It was supposed to be the colour Mauseschwanzen from my cuffs but it’s a warmer tone than that, as shown in the top picture where the cuff is resting on it.
Not sure what to do with it now. Will think about it a bit. I bought it with the plan to make a shirt and a skirt or trousers. That’s why it already has a zipper. A zipper that’s too long for trousers with a zipper at the front, which was what I was planning… Clutz alert in aisle 2 of the haberdashery!

Either way this linnen will be flowing around my legs in some form or other this Summer. Trousers with a side zipper (or at the back) or a long skirt (with a side zipper, or at the back). And its colour will go well with the socks I’ll have made from all the sock yarn that magically appeared at my doorstep this week:

DROPS yarn is having a sale!

These are some darker and stiffer fabrics:
buit van Stoffenspektakel. vooral linnens

All intended for things to wear over a shirt and a skirt.
On the bottom is a denim and it’s for a pinafore dress, with pockets, which will be useful on a daily basis.
The dark grey linen in the middle will also become such a functional garment. It’s quite heavy! I think I bought curtain fabric… in fact I’m sure I did. Not a clutz move though, curtains are excellent for skirts. They wear well. I also like to use upholstery fabric for skirts. So sturdy! Yet with fun woven in designs.
(as a side note, I just read on the web that quality bedding sheets are excellent for dress shirts. High count Egyptian cotton? Why not. Just because it’s labeled “bed linen” doesn’t mean it isn’t a piece of quality fabric.)

Sourcing fabric with the qualities the garment needs to have.
Wearing garments that are functional to your life, not just decorative.
Patterns that flatter the body shape and provide ease of movement.
Thinking about colours and contrasts that suit my own complexion.
Not paying much attention to the current fashion craze.
Paying much attention to skilled professionals who know how to create with their hands.

It’s been done for ages.

Designer and bespoke tailor Ivey Abitz looks at historic dress and translates them into her collections of wearable, functional fashion.
She designed one of my main inspiration pictures:

pic by Ivey Abitz

Isn’t it great?! You can imagine this wears like a dream, not restricting you at all. With natural white long sleeves under it… yes please!

Although I don’t want my skirts to be so frilly, I’m not into the layer upon layer look. But I love the light-darker-light sequence of the design! That is exactly what I’m doing for me too. I bloggeded about the contrast my face has and how clothing/shawls help to flatter it. I mangled some pictures halfway this post to try and show you what I mean.

The smaller piece of olive green grey linen is intended to become an exact copy of this vest:
a design by Marcy Tilton, to show off her quality fabrics.

So many precision sewing details! How the back seam is bound with stripey band. How the inner collar differs in colour. Its shape! The round bib-shaped stitching. How the stitching in the side seam matches the bib-stitching. The button holes. How the vertical seams for shaping in the lower part are hardly noticable.

This is a garment very suiting for my body type.
If the “bib” shape is made stiff with underlining and topstitching it won’t present the breasts so readily to any pedestrian. Instead it will guide away the eye from them, upwards.
Below the bib there’s lots of inconspicuous shaping happening, right at the underbust, where I need it, without the pedestrian noticing.

The bib covers the bust and sets the stage for the neckline which in turn makes a perfect frame for whatever I’ve got going on there: a blouse with an interesting collar detail; a sparkling necklace orrrrr….a handknitted shawl!

There we are.
All this sewing plans with a particular goal of show off flattering (and functional!) handknits that I’ll wear around my neck and my wrists. In quality yarns. In the right colours.
Because I love it.


Weird Wool Wednesday: wearing the wrong colours

I had a doctors appointment the other day and I wore my yellow cardi. A warm woolen to fortify me on the visit. It’s colour a warm sunny yellow to make my face as grey and hollow as possible. On purpose.

I chose this colour on purpose because the doctor needs reminding that I’m actually pretty ill.

While I sit there reading to him my symptoms and requests I’m all businesslike and strong and confident. But just because I planned my energy peak, my food and my pills so that I am coherent and efficient for precisely the ten minutes I meet him, there should not be traitorous coloured wools giving my face a healthy glow.

That and I love this colour yellow, it always makes me happy.

Shawl on Shoulders: Thinking of Waves

Shawl on Hedge: Thinking of Waves

pattern: Thinking of Waves by YellowCosmo. 478 m of fingering weight total, on needles 3,25 mm.

this pattern is worked in shortrows and reminds of sea waves lapping at your feet. Each section can be modified with a different stitch pattern or a different colour. I chose to do my shortrows in the shadow technique.

It needed one additional modification: at the end and beginning of every row the edge stitches should have an extra YO to give the edge more stretch. It réally needs it:


pink = Posh Yarn Elinor Sock in colour Loudmouth. This was a birthday present from my dear friend Sokkenmuis and it took numerous tries to finally make a shawl of it that honours the yarn and the love with which it was given. Good yarn doesn’t mind being knit up and frogged numerous times to finally find the projects it’s meant to be. The colour is absolute perfect for a Clear Winter type!

turquoise = a plied dk weight pure silk dyed by my dear friend Marleen from Dutch Knitting Design. This yarn is not in her shop as this too was a birthday gift too, be it a year later.


my projectpage on Raverly here

February Sweater: start

here’s the start.

I did a provisional cast-on and started with the coloured yarn right away. This has two reasons. One is that I usually make a mistake in determining how much increases a round yoke needs. This way I can shift the yoke up or down the sweater, depending on where it fits best. Later on I’ll pick up stitches and work upwards, towards the neck. It’s easier to adjust the right fit then.

Second: I want to knit with the nice colours. Now!

Finally, a picture that shows the actual colours!

After knitting the yoke downwards I’ll pick up the thick and thin ‘Stientje’ yarn. I probably adjust needle size for that. I definitately will adjust stitch count. I’ll do this as I knit along. I don’t feel like doing calculations right now, not when I have not even started knitting yet. I want to get my hands on yarns first, get a feel for how it knits up.

After that I will add a border at the top, for my skinny little neck that feels so cold on most days.. Picking up the provisional cast on and working upwards will give me the freedom to make any border I feel like. Perhaps this sweater turns out so warm I want an open neckline. Perhaps I’ll feel giddy and want a frilly border. We’ll see. For now I am happy not to think abou tthat yet and just start knitting with these colours.

project page on Ravelry here

Cast on 60 stitches with needles 4mm
Increase 4 st every row, scattered randomly and evenly. This is the standard increase rate for a round yoked sweater. Or a round shawl. Or a round table cloth. Usually this is done by increasing 8 stitches every second row but it comes down to the same thing.

Provisional cast on: stitches on just a piece of string.

February Sweater: my colours and an ewe called Stientje

February: the light outside is bright and crisp. Colours are bright and contrasts are sharp. In the skin-colour-analysis -to find out what colours make your skin look healthy- these are the colours that suit me best. I’m a February-type. A Clear Winter or Bright Winter or whatever the current name is.

Cool colours. Saturated colours. Not warm colours, no pastels, no tans.

I got a present a while ago, it was a batt in just these colours. Blues, greens, purples, pinks. From Dutch indie dyer Passe-Partout. She knows a lot about colours.

I spun it, first into one long single which I then navajo-plied into a 3-ply.

that’s 97 meters of aran-weight. Good for needles 4mm (I standard have to knit on half a mm smaller than ‘normal’ people because I am a loose knitter when it comes to gauge)

and now I’m going to knit with it. Since I still cannot do fine motorskilled work where I have to look closely upon my hands such as colourwork or fine lace I’ve opted for a simple top-down sweater, with lots of ease. A working sweater that I can just put on and wear it without thinking too much about sitting upright and presenting myself in an orderly fashion. It’ll be more the kind of sweater that invites to think about snowball fights and tree houses. Yes, the yarn will do all the talking, both with colour and with texture.

The batt had lots of texture potential since it contained silk, various wools and glitter. Using it as an eye catcher for the yoke I combine it with a white yarn that is very rustic. This yarn I spun in one of my early days as a spinner. In fact, this is the first single yarn I ever made. A finished yarn that is not plied. At the time I was very worried because unplied yarn will surely fall apart.


It doesn’t. Especially not when you use Veluws Heideschaap which is a landbreed from the Netherlands with typical long sturdy locks. These fleeces are sought after by people who like to felt rugs. They let the locks flow freely and it looks stunning.

My fleece comes from an ewe called Stientje. In fact, all ewes from the flock in Loenen are called Stientje, that makes it easier for the herder. “Come on, Stientje, walk ón!” and they all listen


SInce Stientje’s fleece is way too coarse to wear next to the skin, i.e. the part above the coloured yoke, close to my neck, I have chosen another handspun to make the border with. It is a Nordic landbreed and quite soft. It was spun by Vonneke and given to me in a swap we regularly have at the Dutch Karma Swap Group on Ravelry I mention often. Vonneke knows about my love for Norway, a country that prides itself in its native sheep breeds and does not advocate breeding of non-native sheep.

notice the lovely sheen?

about 183 m of DK weight.

Well, I’ve made the skeins into balls, time to cast on!

here’s a little update on my eyes: I am wearing new glasses now, with a cylinder in it. I am seeing sharp which is an improvement but I’m still seeing double. Tilting my head all the time trying to avoid the cylinder…

I am patiently waiting for my brain to reroute its habits of interpreting my sight signals. The eye doctor said to call in two weeks if the two pictures have not merged into one. That means my right eye has not relaxed and has not given up it’s tendency to want to control everything (do eyes resemble their owners like pets do?). She said next phase will be to just add a prism to the glass. That will give much rest, I notice I’m looking ‘surprised’ most of the time now and it’s tiring.

here’s another picture from Passe-Partout. We shared a booth at the annual national spinners convention back in October 2012. It was very hard to be close to so much fibre candy!

fibre candy by Passe-Partout

she uses two bases: Merino-silk mix or BFL-mix. Both not-superwash which is a pre in my book (superwash makes the fibre very slick and not very fun to spin. Also it is a filthy process, to make fibre superwash. Lots of chemicals. However, colours are bright on superwash wool…)

Shawl on shoulders: Vlinder

so I fixed the kitchener stitch. Fixed the dropped stitch. Blocked it and Vlinder is officially finished! I’ve been wearing it for the last hour.

Vlinder is Dutch for Butterfly:

Detail of the ‘problem’ area:

some more detail pictures. notice how good the kitchener stitch is, it follows the stockinette stitch or garter stitch of the knitting fabric. A few flaws but that’s ok.

my project page on Ravelry

needles: 3,5 mm

yarn: 420 meters of high twist sockyarn, handdyed by me with food colouring and the microwave.

pattern: Vlinder on Ravelry

Vlinder at designers website 

designer: DutchKnittingDesign.com

Selfish Knitting

on Ravelry.com I belong to the Selfish Knitters and Crocheters Group. It’s a group about knitting what you want, when you want and for whom you want.

As a group, knitters often encounter social demands upon their knitting skills. People ask for a handknit without realizing the amount of time and skill involved. Other people look upon handknits as something cheap and don’t even thank a knitter when presented with a handmade.

The group shares hilarious stories about these encounters and tries to support each other in learning to say no to requests without feeling bad about it.

As a society, especially America, people (women) are still trained to oblige to every request that is thrown in their direction. They consider ‘no’ an impolite answer. When really, ‘no’ is just the other side of the coin a person flips up when making a request.

“can you knit me a bedspread?” “is the moon made of cheese?” “do you love your mother?” these are all questions that can easily be answered with ‘no’ of ‘yes’ without revealing anything about the persons involved.

To say no requires practice and mental fortification though and the group is all about that. And about how it’s allright to change your mind once you’ve said ‘yes’ in a reflex.

I do not get requests often. But I am a victim of selfish knitting….. the knitting itself is selfish!

look at this:

I’m just kitchenering up this shawl….Doing a really good job too, I might say. But see my problem?

grrrrr! special handdyed one of a kind beautiful yarn! not enough of it!

so. I picked up a piece of yarn in the colour red to match the reds in the yarn. Kitchenerd to the end. Washed the shawl to block it….and….

I hate knitting. Knitting hates me.

yesterday I felted my Kelmscott cardigan into a childsize…. I’ll tell about that when I’ve found and devoured a big chocolate cake to soothe my throat that is raw with yelling NO NO NOOOOOOOOO!

Day 24 of the Advent Shawl Poinsettia: finished.


poinsettia poinsettia1 poinsettia2

on the last page this was revealed: the whole shawl is made with the designer tool Unikatissima has developed: the YouKnits Designer.

Lace blocks are represented by their knitted appearance and they can be combined visually. It’s such an easy tool! You can drag blocks, remove them, replicate.

When you are content with the visual appearance your shawl you ask the tool to print out the pattern and then you can go knit it. From chart ánd written instructions.
youknitsYou can find the site with the tool here and on Ravelry there are many blocks, both free and for purchase. The Poinsettia was made with 6 free blocks and look how they flow into each other, such a unity! Lovely.

Have a nice x-mas!