A Quick and Dirty Sweater Cuff Repair

There’s a window of time between October and February when my ‘Owls’ jumper is the only thing in my wardrobe that is guaranteed to keep me warm. It’s by no means my best knitting (some very visible, very dodgey short-rows) and after five years, it’s bobbely and stretched out at the elbows, but I still dig it out every year without fail.

So, when I pulled it on for the first time last autumn, I was devastated to find one of the cuffs had split and started to unravel at the cast-on edge.

I was at a loss about how to fix it, since a straightforward darn wasn’t going to work, and the sleeves were knitted from the cuff up, so I couldn’t easily unravel the broken edge and re-knit it.

Owls Cuff-2

I picked my colleague’s brain about it, and we decided that the only solution would be to cut the whole cuff off and re-knit it from the sleeve down. Terrifying, but do-able!

sleeve cuff 1

First, I put a safety line in by threading contrast coloured yarn through every stitch around my sleeve, a row below the beginning of my cuff.

I then took a deep breath and cut away the cuff a couple of rows above my safety line (I was wary of accidentally cutting through my safety line stitches and losing them).

Owls Cuff-8

I then put the saved stitches on double pointed needles and ‘tinked’ back one round so I would have a long enough tail to join to my new ball of yarn (I had yarn left over from knitting this jumper, but I could have re-used the yarn from the old cut-off cuff)

Since I didn’t know where my original round started when I first knitted the sleeve, and I would be knitting in the opposite direction to the original (down the sleeve, rather than up the sleeve), I made sure I started my round on the side of the sleeve facing down when I wear it, so the ‘jog’ in the pattern wouldn’t be so obvious.

Owls Cuff-9

I then re-knitted the cuff following the original pattern. My tension was very different to the original (despite using the same needles and yarn…) so I found I needed fewer rows to get it to the same length as the other cuff.

After a bit of blocking, you can hardly tell the difference between the new and the original (New cuff on the left, original cuff on the right), and my jumper is ready for the next cold winter!

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Blue Linen Factory Dress

Since I spent most of last summer running around in loose-fitting sack dresses (including my Camber dress), I decided I was on to a good thing, so when a new batch of Merchant and Mills patterns arrived at work I decided to add a Factory Dress to my collection.

I haven’t always been convinced by the Factory Dress (in fact I was very derisive when I first came across it…) but after seeing some great versions on Pinterest I was confident that it could look good in an oversized Japanese style sort of way.

Factory dress-1-4

I had a really clear idea in my head about the fabric I wanted. It had to be linen, not too light weight, and what I’ve started calling ‘old-Dutch-painting blue’ – a dark, lapis blue that’s navy but also not quite navy. I find that this is a good neutral colour for me (I’m too pale for black..) and it works really well with my favourite catsick green scarves…

Factory dress-1-7

After uhming and ahing online over Merchant and Mills linen (which was a little too light weight, and not very budget friendly) I found this beautiful Irish linen for a very reasonable £10.50 a metre, at local fabric treasure trove Stone Fabrics .

Factory dress-1

As expected, it was a well drafted pattern, but I found the instructions frustratingly vague and inconsistent in places (e.g. the diagrams aren’t properly mirrored when showing the inside of the dress, so I got confused about whether it was referring to the inside or outside. Also, sometimes it specifically instructed you to finish seams before proceeding and other times it didn’t, but the diagram for the next stage would show magically overlocked edges). They’re not major issues, and anyone with a bit of dressmaking experience could easily work these things out, but it did have me unnecessarily scratching my head wondering if I’d cut/marked my pattern wrong, or missed out a crucial step.

That said, this may be my first ever dressmaking project without any major sewing disasters and it all came together fairly easily. Even my ninja (can you spot it..?) topstitched pocket looks acceptable!

Factory dress-1-2

I made the smallest size and didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern, other than shortening the skirt by a good 13cm before hemming. All the seams were overlocked apart from the back neck facing, which was finished with some chartreuse bias binding left over from my Camber dress. I’m still planning to stitch the neck facing down by hand, as it won’t stay put, despite lots of pressing and clipping.

I had a brief moment of doubt when I first tried this dress on when I wondered if it was a bit comically oversized. I hadn’t been entirely sure how it would fit, even after looking at other versions, as quite a few people have sized down to reduce the amount of ease. Oversized can be it a bit of a fine line and no one wants to look like a school dinnerlady…

Factory dress-1-13

I think I got away with it though…? I wore this dress everyday for a week after I finished it, and it’s proved comfy and surprisingly versatile. I’m patting myself on the back for my colour choice, which works really well with the rest of my wardrobe, and is neutral enough that it can easily work in winter or summer. I also really love having pockets to shove my hands into (more dresses need pockets!).

I think it’s going to be a great basic workdress this summer. All in all, another win from Merchant and Mills!

Funchal Moebius: Work in Progress

Hi Readers, it’s been a while has it not? I’ve been working on a slow and (literally) lengthy fairisle project which I started back in September.

I’d been mulling over fairisle patterns for a while, and decided on Kate Davies’ amazing ‘Funchal Moebius’ because it only has two colours and would be forgiving of any beginner tension issues.
Fairisle cowl wip

I also wanted to (gulp..) use up the Ochre Malabrigo Sock that I salvaged from my machine knitted t-shirt. I hate admitting defeat, but I wasn’t wearing it, and frankly, it was too small. I combined it with more Malabrigo Sock in ‘Natural’. As someone who doesn’t really ‘do’ bold patterns, I really like how the Ochre shows a defined pattern against the white, without it being too stark.

Funchal wip-1-2

It’s slowly growing, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve knitted about 11 of the recommended 14 repeats, and it’s shorter than it should be and also quite a bit narrower (judging from the pattern photos). I’m trying to keep it all super loose, but clearly my gauge is still pretty small. Hey, that’s why I chose a scarf and not a jumper for my first fairisle project… I think I’ll need at least 16 repeats altogether to get it to the right length.

Funchal wip-1-4

I’ve heard (and seen…) a few fairisle puckering horror stories and  was initially quite worried about the uneven texture of my knitting, but it really settled down after a quick steam with the iron. I’m optimistic that a good wet-block will even everything out when it’s finally finished (oh the miraculous wonder of blocking)

The first repeat of the pattern was quite the learning curve. The provisional cast-on took me at least 5 attempts to get right and looks a bit…rough. I also blundered in without properly familiarising myself with the colour work basics (“I tried it once 5 years ago, I totally know what I’m doing!”). My stranding was all over the place in the first couple of rounds, and it took a bit of experimentation to get the colour dominance right. I eventually found that it worked best with white carried as the dominant colour throughout (you can clearly see the ‘experimentation zone’ in the first row of diamonds below).

Funchal wip-1-5

I had rather optimistically hoped that this cowl would be finished by Christmas, but it looks like it’ll be one for next winter. Only 5 more repeats to go!