HO HO Hope Floats……………

or the reflections of a garment maker ‘knitting’

2017 has been and is snowly going….. and again at Christmas I have been ill. Something, somebody or the universe is telling me something….

On reflection 2017 has given me some insights into shops and shopping habits, some of which will require further action.  It has also provided me with knitting insights which I want to share. I started 2017 wanting to do a group project with the team of rugby dolls (it was not going to work dolls… rugby just well ….was it a good combination)? So….. do I want to knit for those who do not appreciate the skill, love, effort and time that goes into unique one-off hand knits?

Make your own!!! I wanted to knit for me. I enjoy the speed of knitting small things it allows you to try techniques. I enjoy shawl making (and wearing) but there are only so many shawls I can wear and Lampeter does have many other shawl ‘ appreciaters ‘…. Attending the EYF in March with all the yarny people showing off their shawl and jumper creations pointed that yarn appreciation fashion is a little bit geeky. I like shawls, tension doesn’t matter, the patterns are easy to follow and play with repeated themes. I am impatient and have put off garments in fine yarn because it isn’t quick enough – shawls taught me that wasn’t the issue. If the pattern flowed my knitting flowed. So in 2017 I knit and completed several items in 4ply.

Jazzy Knit Design wear

This mad a jazzy free ‘design as I went’ A line jumper (knit in patons, woolyknit and eden cottage yarns from shop left overs). Knit gone crazy (it needed tweaking twice and I nearly lost interest). I like to wear it, I have no real idea if it looks OK but it is very comfortable.

The knitting was the easy bit so I decided I needed a pattern to guide me (following a pattern now there’s a novelty) and picked a garter st top down Drops pattern and Harvest yarn from John Arbon (a EYF buy). It is lovely to knit with but this is my 2017 ooooops (it is too small in the bust even though I picked the large size and did swatches).

John Arbon’s Harvest

My conclusion DROPS design for the skinny and flat chested. But there was  something in my knitting didn’t help.

I swatched a lot this year I learnt that, especially with fine yarns and circular needles, it gives a guide to needle size (I have to use smaller ) but it is not until I get going with the chosen pattern and volumes of stitches will I know for sure. This holiday I discovered my sock issues were probably due to this too. I have Alice Curtis’s book ‘knit your socks on straight’. And well…. from odd one sock disasters I now have 3 pairs of socks!! And when I perfect the size for me on 2.25mm needles ……..I love wool socks!

I finished three pairs of socks

I know from sewing all these year that fitting garments is the key to comfort and any design looking good when worn. Being realistic about your shape and size is key to any thing….. I tend toward thinking I am bigger than I am and I can’t remember the last time I measured myself!!! I work from items that already fit, or pick big safe styles.

The Hygge is big and safe, I finished this very quickly it used The Croft aran from WYS and a quick top down technique of a berroco pattern,  and it is easy to wear. Whats not to like? (it could be just a little longer and it gives you angel wings so beware of the extra, extra width when you raise your arms but that is the jumper style). The New Lanark damson DK yarn made a smashing square jumper with tight sleeves. A mixed media cardigan in boucle and 4ply cashmere.  All were big knits.

If I want to do knitting for me I will have to do some more thinking. The yarns I wanted to use weren’t cheap and I wanted things to fit me. I discovered I had to think hard about what I wanted/needed for my wardrobe. What actually looked Ok on my portly figure. Did I adapt the designs I liked to fit me or more make something to go with the item I wanted to make? The designs that appealed to me as a knitter (with interesting techniques or stitches) were not those I could ‘do’ in the shop. Except the much admired Shanandoah (Melissa Leapman) which proved I can follow patterns almost and well it fits too….

I bought wool (Cambrian Mountains 4ply slate and Triskelion Yarn and Fibre’s Elmet BFL semi solid dyed ) to do Veera Valimaki’s Top Down Breathing Space last year I wasn’t brave enough to think I could get it to fit but……. It combines interesting knitting and good fit. I might make more and I have yarn left for ……..socks? or cuffs.


Completed items jumble

In 2017 I also made quite a lot of clothes. I have a bad habit of buying fabric and yarn because I like the pattern or colour so I need to review my wardrobe to make outfits out of the jumble sale. I will make more socks and possibly a shawl. Waistcoats or sleeveless tops for over shirts, a neutral go with anything cardigan and I was gifted Marie Wallin’s new book Shetland I really fancy making the jacket cardigan……………….




4 thoughts on “HO HO Hope Floats……………

  1. I love this post Jude. It’s so easy to misjudge our body shape/size whatever. It’s something we were constantly up against with Llynfi, but also so rewarding when you could get someone to ignore what the size label says, (or not let them see!) but have them try on the ‘right size’ so they would look good in it. ‘standard sizing’ was only brought in with the advent of mass manufacture (n the 1940’s?) and are only averages anyway – no-one actually is an ‘average’ are they? I also find it odd that magazines etc request that a pattern should be in such a wide range of sizes – what suits a size 8 may well not suit a size 20 – and vice versa. But then – I guess they have limited space to appeal to a wide audience. But making one design fit across a huge range is tricky. Well…. I think so! ; )

    If you can bear it – I found it really hard with my funny proportions and crooked back – you can learn a lot about what works for you by doing a couple of things: tape together lengths of wallpaper and get someone to draw round you. Then put in the lines for proportion – I discovered that from above-the-waist proportions I should be 5’3″, but from the waist-to-the floor proportions, I should be 5’9! Such a short back-waist length makes anything waisted just a nonsense on me, and long skirts and short jackets are a no-no : )

    Also – again with someone you trust – wear some items that give you a smooth outline – and get them to take a photo from various angles. Print it out in black and white, draw round the outline to make a blank ‘paper doll’ and then you can try out some ideas. It just all helps to understand what works, and may help in trying new ideas – maybe something completely new!
    And this is a useful website : https://tracingrealbodymodels.org/
    Happy re-jigging of your wardrobe! x


    1. Too many people want to be a small number rather than themselves!! Quite almost impossible to design for something to look good on everyone. I read some interesing stuff over the holiday about the new Curve ranges I think for M&S and the changes the ‘plus’ sized consumer consultations are encouraging designers to design for real body shapes and not size 6 manequin ( they apparently had to special order size 22 manequins for the range). Fast Fashion does want everyone to conform to be coat hangers – I read a review (it was for shoes) recently where someone had returned shoes because she was a size 7 and their size 7 didn’t fit (wide fit) suggesting the manufacturer fitting was wrong!


  2. I like your ‘Breathing Space’ so much that I bought the pattern…. I just need to select some yarn (once I’ve finished a few of my WIPs).
    I hope you start feeling better soon – it seems to have been a bad winter for people being ill.


  3. I might make another – think the choice of yarn colours will be important. The semi solid colour worked for me and the designer uses flecked yarns it makes the fine stripes blend together.


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