Reversible children’s sunhat

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Photo snapped at our local farm park, while he was playing on the toy tractors

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Summer’s in full swing here so I thought I’d try out the scrapbusting Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hat pattern to make my son a new sunhat.

It’s a free pattern, and great for using up any too-big-to-throw-away-but-not-all-that-useful-really scraps of cotton fabric you have left over – it’s ideal for all those fabulous printed quilting cottons, too. I chose leftovers from the lining of a Schooldays Jacket and my husband’s Fairfield shirt. This gives the hat a sensible side and a silly side – something that seems to run in our family… and anything reversible is automatically exciting to a preschooler.

The instructions are good for a free pattern, and anyone except an absolute beginner could zip through this fairly easily. The only disappointing thing is the sizing – my son is four, and I sewed the largest size, but it’s only just big enough for him. Admittedly, his RTW sunhat is labelled age 7-10, but I’d love it if this pattern would cover him for a bit longer. There are only three pattern pieces, so I might possibly venture into grading if I can find a good tutorial online.

You could have all sorts of fun with this pattern, playing around with trims, colour blocking, piping and so on – there are some great examples on the Oliver and S blog (follow the links at the bottom of the tutorial page). Go, on make a whole stack of them for your favourite small person.

 

 

Big Alps Beanie hat

Winter’s on the way, so I’ve tucked into some knitting over the past few weeks. My first jumper is still two sleeves short of a full set, so I switched to something easier just to get something off the needles and sewn up.

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This is the Big Alps Beanie hat, made using a kit from Stitch and Story. (It was a limited edition tie-in with Icelandic film Rams, so it may not still be on sale if you’re reading this down the line a bit.)

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The 12mm needles and superchunky merino wool meant it was really quick to knit up, once I’d sussed out how to cable… (Experienced knitters look away now.) This was my first attempt at cables. I love the way cable knitting looks – simultaneously intricate, outdoorsy, mysterious and intimidating.

It turns out it’s not really that hard. This pattern’s a good choice for a beginner cabler, because you only have to do the cabling part six times. The rest is all knit, purl and rib stitches in different sized chunks.

So this is definitely the simpler end of cable knitting. Browsing Ravelry, and the blogs of experienced knitters, can make me feel a bit queasy sometimes when I realise just how much there is to learn. (If you want to see some intricate and beautiful knitting online, may I recommend Kate Davies’ blog? Her colourwork patterns are incredible, and I would love to work up to a Braid Hills cardigan. Perhaps in my dotage.)

This hat came together pretty quickly, and I only struggled with my usual problem areas – garter mattress stitch for sewing up and attaching the pom pom securely.

My gauge was spot on, and my head is definitely not small, so be warned that this pattern comes out pretty large. Were I making it again, I think I’d make the rib section two rows shorter. But it feels lovely next to the skin and it’s very warm so I think this’ll be getting plenty of wear this winter.

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Are you knitting up a storm this autumn? Or can you point me to a great tutorial on sewing up?

 

 

 

 

What’s on my sewing table?

This hasn’t been a productive month so far. I’d been putting off a blog post until I’d finished something, but that hasn’t happened, so here’s a peek into what’s happening in my sewing space at the moment.

Nearly finished: a second toile for the Thread Theory Fairfield shirt.

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This is turning into a bit of a labour of love. In fact, I’m not sure if shirtmaking and I are going to become the fast friends I thought we might. The tiny seam allowances and fiddly pressing needed to achieve neat flat-felled seams are driving me up the wall, and I’ve just discovered that the collar is too small. Again. (I’m still scratching my head to try to work out how this has happened. I could swear I took all the measurements and followed the size chart correctly.) And of course, this is only a toile – there’s then the actual shirt to do.

Cut out and ready to sew: Ottobre bicycle print pyjama top

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I made the bottoms last month, and they’ve turned out well, so my son has requested the matching top too. This looks like a fairly quick make, so I’m looking forward to starting this one. Because it’s a knit fabric, hopefully there won’t be much fitting to do.

Next in the queue: Tilly and the Buttons Fifi set

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This looks like a lot of fun. Finally something that will fit on my cutting table in one go, and made from Liberty print cotton, too. Although I’ll need to learn french seams and work out how to fit the top, so it probably won’t be an express make.

Knitting: Big Alps Beanie and Flax jumper

I’ve also got two knitting projects on the go at the moment. The Flax jumper I started back in May (!) only has the sleeves to go. I’ve got the sleeve stitches onto double pointed needles (my first go at this), now I just need to pluck up the courage to dive in and knit them.

And because I wanted something I could knit up quickly – OK, and also because the kit was in the sale – I’m making the Big Alps Beanie hat from Stitch & Story. 12mm needles make this very quick, and I’m also learning how to do a basic cable knit.

What have you got on the go at the moment? Do you usually work on more than one project at a time, or do you always finish one before you start the next?

Supersized knitting

You know how sometimes you just want to finish a project quickly? It almost doesn’t matter what it is, you just need something that’ll be finished soon, rather than in three months’ time?

If you knit, or if you want to knit, have you tried knitting on enormous needles? I had my hair highlighted this week, and even I managed to knit up a good four inches of this hat in the time it took for my highlights to take.

This is the Big Alps Beanie kit from Stitch and Story. It comes with 12mm bamboo needles, which feel ginormous after knitting on 5mm circulars for the last few months. The wool is so soft because it’s merino, so it all feels lovely.

The kit was created as a tie-in with the film Rams. It tells the story of two brothers who have neighbouring sheep farms in rural Iceland. They haven’t spoken for years, but when a virulent disease strikes local flocks, they have to find a way to resolve their differences. It’s a slow burner, granted, but there’s something fabulous about knitting in front of a film about sheep’s wool.

I’d recommend it – and you might even have the whole hat done before the finale.

If 12mm needles aren’t extreme enough for you, have you seen these 40mm needles and kits from Wool Couture?

 

Supersoft pink beanie hat

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It’s definitely turned wintry here in Worcestershire this week. All the leaves have gone from the trees (revealing this year’s mistletoe) and the wind’s got up. All of which means it’s time to don a warm, woolly hat for my regular walks on the Malvern Hills. And this year, for the first time, I’ve made my winter hat myself!

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This was taken on the Worcestershire Beacon – you can see the southern Malverns behind me.

This is the third project I’ve made from Knitty Gritty. It’s quite simple for beginners  – there’s some rib stitch, lots of garter stitch and then a straightforward decreasing section to shape the hat. I used straight needles, so there’s a seam up the back of the hat (not my finest moment, but I have found a better technique for weaving in the ends this time).

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I really need to get better at sewing up!

I’d been eyeing up similar hats I’d seen in ME + EM, so I decided to make this one in pale pink wool. (And I decided yesterday that I’ll also add a grey fake fur pom pom on the top.) The wool is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in colour 300603, and I love it. I can see myself prancing around in the snow or ice skating in this hat. OK, maybe not, but you get the idea.

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Costs:

Pattern book £14.99 – used for six projects so far

Needles £4.50 – used for four projects so far

Wool £10

Fake fur pom pom (ordered but not yet arrived) £7

So I estimate this project cost me £20. Yes, cheaper hats are available, but ME + EM are charging £98 for their version, so I’m pretty happy with that.

Knitting seems to be becoming a regular habit with me, so I’ve also signed up to Ravelry

Knitting 101: my first makes

A confession: I’ve been bitten by the knitting bug.

It started as a way to keep my hands busy on a long train journey (Worcestershire > Berlin and back). With a toddler in tow and several borders to cross, I didn’t want to be doing anything involving sharp needles or scissors.

Secondly, toddlers quickly put a stop to anything that takes your attention away from them (goodbye reading, listening to music, watching films, doing anything on a computer or drinking your tea while it’s hot). My husband’s aunt can knit, watch TV and read a book all at the same time, so I was hoping to at least be able to talk to my two-year old about his Lego while I knit. So far, I can report that he seems very curious about knitting, loves talking to me about it and poking the needle into the ball of wool.

Thirdly… I love knitwear. I wear a jumper almost every day from September until April. My favourite season is winter and I really enjoy the sensation of snuggling up in hats, scarves and mittens to go out in the cold. I gravitate towards knitwear in clothes shops (OK, this might be partly due to fitting issues with RTW woven garments) and I was secretly gutted when jackets and blazers replaced cardies and pashminas as the dressed-up cover up of choice.

I’m a long way from knitting myself a jumper at the moment, but I thought I’d share a few of my beginner’s makes with you and hopefully you can point me towards some easy makes I could try next.

So far, I’ve just been working through Knitty Gritty by Aneeta Patel. I like this book because it really does assume you know nothing. Literally nothing. She teaches you how to cast on, knit, purl, and combine stitches, and provides some simple patterns you can try as they are or adapt if you’re feeling brave. I’ve supplemented it with some YouTube videos to see knitting in action. (NB If you buy this book, you should be aware that some copies contain errors – you’ll want to check the corrections.)

My makes so far are:

  1. A scarf for me in simple garter stitch (best to practise on yourself first, I always think). I love this multicoloured, super bulky, textured wool, but it wasn’t the ideal choice for this project as the scarf doesn’t hold its shape brilliantly. That said, it does cover up your mistakes…

    Exhibit 1: Rowan Big Wool Colour in Fairground, using 10mm needles
    Exhibit 1: Rowan Big Wool Colour in Fairground, using 10mm needles
  2.  A scarf for my son. He chose the colour, and I went for a super bulky acrylic yarn that felt soft and would wash easily. It’s not been cold enough for him to wear it yet but he says he likes it!

    Patons Fab Big super chunky in Frost, also on 10mm needles
    Patons Fab Big super chunky in Frost
  3. Baby booties. My sister’s expecting a baby at the moment and so I thought this would be a good gift for her. Double knit wool was a very different experience and I learnt to decrease. You can see here I’ve got the classic uneven tension that marks out beginner knitters – maybe the baby will have different sized feet to fit these unevenly sized booties?

    I've lost the label for this wool, so I don't remember anything other than the weight - double knit, on 5mm needles
    I’ve lost the label for this wool, so I don’t remember anything other than the weight – double knit, on 5mm needles
  4. A hat for my nephew. Again, this is in double knit wool, and deliberately knitted on 5mm needles (at Aneeta’s suggestion) so that’s it’s stretchy. I need to work on my sewing up but I’m pretty pleased with this for a first effort at a rib stitch. I’m now trying another one in a pink aran wool for me.

    Sirdar acrylic double knit in lipstick, on 5mm needles. This picture makes the wool look almost radioactive - it's actually much nicer in real life, I promise.
    Sirdar acrylic double knit in lipstick, on 5mm needles. This picture makes the wool look almost radioactive – it’s actually much nicer in real life, I promise.

Things I’d like to learn soon: a different cast on to make the hat hem neater, how to correct mistakes, how to sew up neatly (I have this Craftsy class in my queue), and what all those different complicated looking needles are for – I’ve only used straight ones so far.

I’m a bit overwhelmed by Ravelry at the moment – there’s just so much to look at and I get distracted by all the gorgeous pictures. What would you suggest I could try next?

A new beginning…

Thanks for bearing with me while I’ve been taking a short break. I’ve had a lovely holiday and been catching up with some needlepoint after setting myself one too many sewing projects since the New Year.

However, there is one pattern I’ve been making over and over again – and that’s this one: Butterick B5510. After finding out I was pregnant last year, I finally had to give up plotting my own DIY wardrobe, and start on someone else’s!

The little chap is due very shortly, and I decided to start with something very simple – the sunhat in size Nb (Newborn). Hopefully he won’t turn out to be so enormous that he’ll grow out of it straight away.

I have no idea whether he’ll let me get enough time to sew in the weeks and months after the birth, but if he does, I’d like to try the shirt and trousers from this pattern too.

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Here’s one of the finished hats in a cute elephant print fabric I found in Rags in Worcester.

I’d like to try some other childrenswear makes as well – does anyone know a good website that sells the stretchy cottons that sleepsuits are made from? I’ve had a bad experience recently with some very thin cotton jersey and I’m looking for something that’ll be warmer and easier to work with.