Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Marian Cowl

Let knitting be thy medicine

Marain Jane Richmond Cowl

Mmm, so snuggly

I’ve been poorly. I think I’ve been over exerting myself recently, what with 4 day parties (see Bestival post), new exercise regimes and beginning a late night physical shift at work. No surprise really I found myself reduced to a good for nothing crumpled sofa dweller existing on hot toddies alone. I felt rough, and knew I had to take it easy for the next few days. Knitting felt like a productive way to pass the downtime, and really made the last few days enjoyable. Knitting just seems right in the autumn time. Everything in my garden is slowing down, and getting ready for its winter hibernation. I felt like this, huddled in wool, relaxed and thinking about the cold months ahead. I thought about a lot things, old friends, sewing plans, and other general life stuff. It felt really therapeutic, and guess what, I knitted 4 scarfs in 3 days!
Four cowls in Sidar Super Chunky

Four cowls in Sidar Super Chunky

Project Stats

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Yarn: Sirdar Big Softie Super Chunky and Sirdar Kiko Super Chunky in a variety of colorways
Cost:I bought loads of this yarn super cheap in the Black Sheep Wools January sales at the beginning of the year
Pattern:  Jane Richmond Marian Cowl – a free download
Time: 3-4 hours each cowl
Difficulty: Easy

The Pattern

Marian Cowl Knit scarf

Marain cowl in Sidar Kiko Super Chunky, shade 415 Duffle


This was one of the first knitting projects I embarked on, back when I taught myself to knit in 2011. The pattern is called Marian by knitwear designer Jane Richmond, and it’s available free on her website or via Ravelry. Marian is a mock-mobius cowl and can be worn several different ways depending on style and the weather. It’s also very quick to knit. I made a few of them back in 2011. One for myself and some for presents. I wear my Marian all the time, and love how it’s a scarf without the dangly bits. This has completely revolutionised my winter wear. It just stays put, keeps you cosy, looks great and you don’t get the hassle of one scarf end longer than the other, what shoulder to flick your scarf end over or running the risk of it falling in an icy puddle. It’s nice to wear inside also, when you are a bit chilly but too tight to put the heating on.

Materials

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The pattern calls for Super Bulky weight, and having used Sidar Big Softie before I knew it was a great yarn to work with. I stocked up on loads when it was cheap, with plans to turn them all in to winter gifts for friends, and perhaps sell a few. Sidar Big Softie is 51% wool and 49% acrylic and is sumptuously snug and cushiony. I chose some bright bold colours, some earthy tones, and some flecked varieties. The variegated yarn is Sirdar Kiko Super Chunky, which is also 51% wool and 49% acrylic but a fraction less fluffy than the softie. It more than makes up for this with it’s playful shades though, which is incredibly exciting to knit up!

Technique and required skills

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If you can knit one, purl one, you can make this pattern! Knitting in this sequence is what creates the bumpy effect called moss stitch. You also need to be able to knit in the round on circular needles, which if you haven’t tried before is super easy, and makes life so much easier when knitting tubular projects. I’d recommend this pattern to any beginner. Using super chunky wool on big needles is a really excellent way of honing your knitting technique without it feeling too fiddly. Once you’ve got your rhythm down, you can move on to smaller more delicate knits with confidence.

Other musings

You can choose whether or not to put a mobius twist in to this pattern. Doing so makes it look pretty stylish on, but I find that leaving it out means you can wear the cowl in more ways. It’s personal preference really, I like it both ways!

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It felt really good to knit these scarves. My current main knitting wip is complicated and takes some concentration, but this pattern is the opposite. You can knit it up without thinking, which is so relaxing and meditative. Knitting these kind of projects really calms me, and it was just what was needed.

You can really hide away in these cowls if you want to. Instant red riding hood!

You can really hide away in these cowls if you want to. Instant red riding hood!


I’m feeling much better now, the knitting therapy worked, along with some help from my pal Mr. Whiskey. Being ill isn’t that bad, especially if you get some of your Christmas gifts sorted! It’s been nice to bring you a knitting post for a change, I hope you enjoyed it. Please keep in touch and let me know if your crafty plans have taken a seasonal turn?

Happy Autumn everyone! How are you winding down and how are your projects reflecting this?

Happy Autumn everyone! Keep warm, well fed and cosy :)


Amy xx

Bestival Fashion and Highlights 2014

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Well my friends, have I been having fun or what? I have just returned from the awesome Bestival, on the Isle of Wight, for a 4 day knee’s up in sunshine. In this post I’m going to talk to you a little bit about fashion and some garments I made especially for the festival, but also mention some of the areas of the festival I really enjoyed and performances I rated. I usually keep my blog strictly about sewing, but in this case it seems right, not only to set the scene, but also to pay respect to all the amazing creativity I witnessed over the weekend. If you’ve been to a festival before, you’ll already know that each festival feels unique, and creates an atmosphere unlike anything else. If you’ve not been to a festival before, I urge you to read on and if you like what you see consider going to one next year (Invite me!). They have so much to offer, and are magical places where you get the chance to relax, connect with people, have a good time and often have your own little epiphany.

A spoon sized party

A spoon sized party – not quite, Bestival this year was attended by 55,000 people

After the August we had in the UK I was planning on filling my festival backpack with fleeces, hoodie tops and waterproof jackets. That was until I saw this:
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3 days of September Isle of Wight sunshine. What a gift. The race was on to create a handmade festival wardrobe I could proudly strut my stuff in. I already had a couple of jackets prepared, including my tape cassette jacket, and African print blazer, but I wanted a few other pieces to go alongside them.

I had a shopping trip planned to Leeds markets with some other sewing bloggers from the local area, so I used this opportunity to pick up some fabrics/items I could use to make some garments to loosely fit within Bestivals ‘Desert Island Disco’ theme. I had wanted to find some nice fruity prints, and go as a pineapple or something, but I couldn’t find what I was after. Instead I just picked out a couple of bold colourful prints that caught my eye, and some translucent water like fabric that shimmered under the light. I also had a reason to purchase some plastic flower garlands, birds on a sprig, and a couple of critter magnets.

Make 1: Tilly and the Buttons Clemence Skirt

Unfortunately no shots of me wearing this at Bestival were taken

Unfortunately no shots of me wearing this at Bestival were taken

I had recently received ‘Love at First Stitch‘ by Tilly Walnes as part of a subscription offer to Love Sewing Magazine, and the book really came in handy when making my festival garments. Most of the patterns in the book are simple enough to complete in a day, and as I needed something quick I decided it would be the perfect opportunity for me to give it a test drive. I only had just over a meter of the digitally printed colourful embroidery print, and worked out that I could just about make a Clemence skirt from what I purchased. Cutting out the skirt was simple, and consisted of cutting out 3 rectangles for the skirt, and then 4 narrower strips for the waistband. I just drew direct on to my fabric. No pattern needed! I won’t go in to much detail as it’s a lengthy post, but it’s a simple gathered skirt, with an interfaced waistband, and zip fastening. I used French seams which were perfect for the floaty, lightweight fabric. The final skirt ended up a little big, but it’s comfy to wear and great to dance in.

Make 2: Tilly and the Buttons Lilou Dress

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I loved the geometric print on the bright poly-cotton I purchased from the market. I knew I wanted to turn it in to a dress and Tilly’s Lilou dress seemed a fun and informal pattern that would look great in my fabric choice. The book provides ideas on how to make it your own, and one suggestion is to add a scalloped neck line which I spent ages labouring over to get it as neat as possible. I’m really pleased with the result, mainly because I managed to get this dress done in a day. Given the toddler watched a lot of cartoons that day but I did manage to feed him so it’s not all bad. The best thing about this dress is how comfy it is to dance in. So comfy I even fell asleep in it at 5am after having an entertaining evening listening to Beck, Toddla T, The Tune-yards and a Prince themed set from Bestivals curator Rob Da Bank.

Make 3: Simple fairy skirt

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This was just a really quickly thrown together item to brighten up an outfit I had. I’d worn it twice before taking this photo so it’s a bit raggedy now, but I wanted to show you anyway. I started with a big square of the shiny blue fabric, and cut a large circle in the middle for the waist to go. I then turned the fabric over and sewed a tube so that I could thread some ribbon through to tie and gather as the waistband. I then cut and attached some strips of cotton to add in some more colours. I knocked this up in about an hour, and it’s a really great one to do for kids.

Make 4: Anchor print leggings

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Now I haven’t attempted to make leggings before but how hard could it be? I pulled apart an old pair which had seen better days, and used it as a basis for my pattern, adding a little extra as seam allowance. I sewed up the seams, overlocked to finish, and added the old elastic to the waistband of the new leggings. I hemmed each leg with 2 rows of stitching, which I think I’ll try a double needle on next time round for a more professional finish. I completed this during an episode of the great British bake off, so an hour pretty well spent. I earned my sea legs!

Make 5: Shell hair clip

I just threw this together to make something exciting yet easy to put in my hair. It’s a spray painted shell I glued some fabric and a hair clip to.
My favourite part is obviously the crab, whose legs wobble as you move about, and I wasn’t the butt of any crab related jokes. Win.
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My handmade Bestival wardrobe

I can proudly say that I had something handmade to wear each day. Considering I churned most of these garments out in a couple of days, I was mighty proud of my efforts, and I proved to myself what is achievable in a few hours. Still, it was nothing compared to the effort some people went to!

Fun n footloose festival fashion

Festivals give you the opportunity to really go for it when it comes to fashion. Anything goes, nobody worries about looking stupid and that is a liberating feeling for someone in to making clothes. I really enjoyed witnessing this freedom of expression at Bestival, and how people choose to dress themselves when there are no rules. In the real world, women can usually get away with a lot more variation in terms of colour and style in their wardrobe, but men seem a more constrained within conventional combinations and rarely do we get to see themselves let loose with their clothing. At Bestival the men were as colourful and extravagant as the women, and it was exciting to see them embrace the opportunity to wear what ever they wanted without judgement. Sequined crop tops, shiny leggings, dresses, I wish I had more photos to show you just how good everyone looked, and how happy it made them.

no mate, breastivals that way

no mate, breastivals that way

Bestival 2014 photos

Some visual delights I managed to capture before the power went on my camera.

Bestival is hosted in the beautiful Robin Hill Country Park

Bestival is hosted in the beautiful Robin Hill Country Park

This lion decorated the entrance to the I Knit London tent

This lion decorated the entrance to the I Knit London tent

The night sky

The sky at night

Chuck out your lawn mower and build your own DIY dj booth

Chuck out your lawn mower and build your own DIY dj booth

Batala Portsmouth playing Afro Brazilian Samba Reggae

Batala Portsmouth playing Afro Brazilian Samba Reggae

HMS Bestival, a state of the art function one sound system featuring lasers, pyrotechnics, aerial performance artists hung from a crane and ridiculously good vibes

HMS Bestival, a state of the art function one sound system featuring lasers, pyrotechnics, aerial performance artists hung from a crane and ridiculously good vibes

The entrance to the Bollywood stage

The entrance to the Bollywood stage

Cycle powered phone charging. An awesome idea. Party on and power up.

Cycle powered phone charging. An awesome idea. Party on and power up.

Rob da Bank broke a Guinness world record by creating the worlds largest mirror ball

Rob da Bank broke a Guinness world record by creating the worlds largest mirror ball

A bar honouring the receptacle of 2014

a bar honouring the receptacle of 2014

Circus antics in the Caravansai area

Circus antics in the Caravansai area

Toy story plastic solider

Toy story plastic solider

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Awesome outfit, love everything about it

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This totally looks like the fabric I used on my fairy skirt – good choice!

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These giants are amazing, and they walk about on bouncy stilts occasionally roaring at people

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Gorgeous colours on a smiley happy lady

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Some lovely ladies. I like how they coordinated Hawaiian shirts and the headresses are awesome!

Some lovely ladies. I like how they coordinated Hawaiian shirts and the headresses are awesome!

Bestival – My top musical moments

Bonobo

Was delighted to see Bonobo (who played with a full live band) after being a fan for so long, and he didn’t disappoint. Stunning atmospheric electronic music which does everything when it should, beautiful and unpredictable to listen to.

Basement Jaxx

Basement Jaxx make excellent dance music. Bouncy, happy, fun and energetic. Given most of their hits (there are many of them!) are almost 10 years old, but their set was one of the freshest I heard all weekend. Hearing them play ‘Where’s your head at’ whilst thousands of revelers sang along was definitely my highlight.

Jenova Collective

A small group I stumbled across on the first day, who were the perfect introduction to the festival. They expertly spliced reggae, drum n nass, dubstep, jazz, house disco and funk into a delightful menagerie of upbeat sounds that made everyone there get loose. At the end of the set they announced they were from Leeds and it was a proud moment. I’ll definitely be seeing them again.

Fake Bush

No I didn’t get tickets to see Kate. Yes I am regretting it now. But seeing Fake Bush has softened the blow. A fantastic tribute act whose informative interludes between songs were as entertaining as she was. Fake Bush didn’t just try to emulate Kate, by respectively paid homage in her own quirky style. Almost cried when she played Wuthering Heights cause I’m a massive softie. Kate was only 18 when she penned this timeless classic.

Chic – Feat Nile Rodgers

True. I once went to a festival with disco inferno written across my face, so it is of no surprise I whole heartedly enjoyed seeing disco legends Chic live. The big surprise to me was how many songs the legendary Nile Rodgers had written for other popular artists, and alongside their well loved hits we were treated to his versions of ‘Get Lucky’(best known by Daft Punk), ‘Lets Dance’(more commonly known by David Bowie) and ‘Like a Virgin’ (Madonna)

Kate Tempest

The first time I saw Kate Tempest was in 2009 at The Secret Garden Party, and she completely blew my socks off. She performed in a tree house, and all the lights had stopped working, so I had to shine a torch on her whilst she delivered her poetry. It’s a memory I’ll never forget, and since that point I’ve told everyone about her who’ll listen. Over the years kate has grown as an artist, and at Bestival she performed her new album, Everybody Down, which is a concept album of twelve ‘chapters’ telling one long, inspired story. She has also just been nominated for A Mercury music prize, well done Kate, we love you!

Phew, that was a really long post!

Hope you enjoyed looking at the photos, which really only portray tiny snippets of 4 days of fantastic entertainment. I felt inspired. Everywhere around you were gorgeous clothes in unusual styles, and I’ve got a list as long as the queue for the showers for garments I want to make. Festivals make you want to live more colourfully, and I’d like to bring some of these elements and added wackiness in to my future makes, and create some really bold statement pieces. What a fantastic end to the summer, Maybe see some of you there next year?
Amy x

Bestival Cassette Tape Cropped Zip Jacket

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This fabric says one thing to me. Child of the 80′s. I’d had vague thoughts of making something fun and funky to wear to Bestival, a garment that reflects my love of music and will keep the September chill off. When I found this remnant on Frumble, Boom! I had found my perfect print! It’s probably a bit loud for me to wear routinely but the tape cassette imagery set me off on such a massive nostalgia trip, I couldn’t resist it. I have so many fond memories of the joy these little plastic cases played in my childhood/teenage years.

Cue series of photos posing with huge boom boxes

Cue series of photos posing with huge boom boxes

I love technology, but MP3′s just bare no comparison to the tactile wonder of tapes, vinyls and to a lesser degree, CD’s. My son is 3, and I wanted to find a way of playing him bedtime stories at night, like I used to on my Fisher Price tape player. Nowadays, the only options are CD’s (which would get scratched) or to buy some kind of digital mp3 player and docking station. I’m sure there are a few 3 year olds that can operate an i-pod but I don’t want mine to be one of them. I want him to be able to gaze at cover illustrations, give him the chance to select one from a collection and get the pleasure of pushing down a big clunky button and hearing it click as the music begins to play. Am I living in the past? Am I mad? I don’t know, I just haven’t found a modern replacement for these simple pleasures. Luckily I managed to find a collection of children’s tapes from charity shop for 10p each and I’m going to hunt ebay for an old fisher price tape player for him to listen to them on.

Channeling my inner hip-hop rude girl

Channeling my inner hip-hop rude girl

I tested my new tape collection on an old boom box we had lying around. Unfortunately it didn’t work, but it did manage to chew my tape up and I had to carefully dislodge the magnetic tape and wind it back in to the tape using my fingertip to spin the small plastic dial. This made me insanely happy. I hadn’t wound a tape up in over 10 years and it took me right back to my childhood.

Things I loved about cassette tapes

  • Recording the top 40 chart and eagerly awaiting to find out what was at number one
  • Making our own radio shows with my friends, which often involved lots of giggling and bad singing
  • They were relatively robust (compared to CDs) and could easily handle being carted about in a school bag
  • Making Mix-tapes – A carefully thought out and crafted gift reserved for the most special people in your life. They meant so much to me. A sign of friendship, a secret confession of love, or a way of showing off your most excellent taste in music?
  • Receiving Mix-tapes – Even better to get one in return. To discover new music, personally curated for you, and perhaps yes, your hearts desire might like you back to!
  • Designing covers for mix-tapes. A chance to personalise and add your own artistic touch to the collection. My favourites always had beautiful handwriting, messages and doodles on the inside
  • The anticipation in waiting to rewind / fast forward to your favourite song
  • and lets not forget, the joy of finding and re-listening to a mix tape from many moons ago. A guaranteed trip down memory lane

So yes, a fabric perfect for Bestival, dancing, being colourful and with significant cultural meaning. I’m on to a winner.

The photos don't get any less silly readers

The photos don’t get any less silly people

Cassette tape jacket stats

Fabric: Riley Blake Geekly Chic Cassettes Grey purchased from Frumble, A pink poly-cotton for the lining from Leeds market
Cost: £14.50 for cassette fabric, £4.50 for lining, £3.25 Cotton elastane ribbing from Plush Addict, £2.80 zip – All in about £25.
Pattern: Self drafted
Time: Half a day
Difficulty: Easy

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The pattern

This is a self drafted pattern that I based loosely around a RTW jacket in my wardrobe and then used the sleeves from the Salme jacket pattern in my previous post, which I modified to add length.

More pin-up than hip but I was running out of poses that didn't involve pointy hand gestures

More pin-up than hip-hop but I was running out of poses that didn’t involve pointy hand gestures

Garment Assembly

I used 2 really simple panels to create the front/back of the jacket, and then added the sleeves. One thing that I was questioning was whether to include darts in the front panel bust area or not. I decided to omit them, and then put them in a later version if I thought it looked to wrinkly.
I sewed together at the side seams and shoulders for both the bodice and the lining, and then attached the sleeves to each piece.

Oozing cool

The essence of cool

Cuff / Ribbing:

I added some ribbing around the neckline, the jacket hem and the sleeve cuffs.
The cuffing came as a loop of material, which was strange, and I just cut the pieces I needed slightly shorter than the length of where I wanted them to go, to provide a gathered look. I hadn’t worked with this fabric before and I expected it to have more elasticity to it than it did, so I had to add some elastic to the sleeves and the hem to give the look I wanted.
I added the ribbing in this order: neckline, hem, and finally cuffs. The neck and hemline were pretty straightforward, sandwiching between the lining/main fabric, but for the cuffs I had to make make sure the sleeves were inside out, so right sides together, sandwich the cuff in-between, and sew around the seam. Then separate the lining from the main fabric and turn the sleeve the right way out. It felt a bit like fabric origami, but I got there. Hard to explain, I should really have taken some progress photos!

Zip

To start off with I purchased a close ended zip, attached it, and realised my mistake when I couldn’t open the jacket. Doh! I won’t do that again. After another trip to the market for an open ended zip, and a few quid lighter (They have a new looseleaf tea stall don’t you know) I was ready to sew the zip on to the jacket. Sometimes zips just go in don’t they? but I faffed with this quite a lot, and although I’m happy it could be a little neater.

I look pretty pleased with my new jacket. All ready for festival fun times.

I look pretty pleased with my new jacket. All ready for festival fun times.

General happiness rating

:smile: :smile: :smile:
The jacket turned out a little small, which is ok, because I had no extra fabric to make it any bigger! Next time round though I’ll be adding some breathing space. For a basic, quickly thrown together item, I’ve got a really fun addition to my wardrobe, which I know I’m going to enjoy wearing. It’s also satisfying when you’ve drafted your own pattern, and had no instructions to follow other than make it up as you go along.

One last boom box photo. I could spend all day photoshopping myself with my imaginary boom box collection.

One last boom box photo. I could spend all day photoshopping myself with my imaginary boom box collection.

Look out for my white tree bloggers make, because it will be very similar to this jacket, but hopefully with a few improvements, better fit, and exciting twists!
Btw – if any of you are going to Bestival, get in touch! Hopefully my next post will feature some other exciting garments I’ve made especially for the festival. Neon colours, fun prints and clothes ready for a right rollicking rave.
Happy stitching :)