The second part of my Summer of Basics outfit is done! My goal is to create an entire outfit, and now only the third and last part is missing. I am quite sure, I will manage to get the outfit done by the end of the month. My black silk shirt is cut and ready to assemble. So here is my second piece, my summer scarf! I wrote down the pattern, you can find it below or on Ravelry.
A few weeks ago I started knitting a cotton top, and simultaneously started to have pain and numb feelings in my hands and fingers – something that probably a lot of knitters, crocheters and other crafters can relate to. Maybe my hands got tired after a long season of intense knitting, maybe the texture of the cotton yarn challenged my hands in new ways… Anyway, the pain is gone now, but it left me thinking and reflecting on how I, as a knitter, can take better care of my most important tools – my hands.
I think it all starts with acknowledging the importance of my hands as my main instruments, and at the same time, accepting that they have their limitations, as do body and mind in general. I learned through many mistakes when I need to stop making (when I am getting too angry at the fabric for example…). And now I need to learn how to see the limits of power of my hands (and arms, shoulders, back…) to make sure they will enable me to make things in the future.
The most important thing for me is to change projects every now and then. From bamboo needles to metal ones, big yarn to thin yarn, from knitting to crochet to embroidery or sewing. Or even taking a break from fiber stuff sometimes and make a drawing or take photos. This gives my hands the needed change of movements to prevent them from hurting. Other things include giving myself a hand massage and using a nice hand cream.
From my days doing actual sports I still remember my favorite stretching exercises for the hands, and I took pictures to share with fellow crafters. Take a moment before or after a knitting session and stretch:
I hope this helps!
We all probably know these nice women’s jeans, well fitting, nice color… But then the usual disappointment: A move with the hands to the pockets – they’re tiny (or even worse: fake)! So tiny that your hands don’t even fit as fist, not even considering keys, phone or a wallet.
So I have these jeans, and the pockets don’t even fit the first half of my fingers. To make them more wearable I decided to give them an easy and invisible makeover (This also works for pockets that are ripped, have holes or a re worn out!):
Cut off the bottom seam of your pocket in a straight line, the pocket is now open.
Chose a nice non-stretchy fabric you have leftover from another project, you don’t need much. Measure the width of the pocket opening, and how much length you want to add to your pockets. You can do this by measuring your hands, your phone or the pockets of another pair of jeans that are big enough.
Cut your new pocket rectangles from the fabric (add seam allowances!) and start by sewing the rectangles to the bottom of the original pockets. It doesn’t have to be especially beautiful, you won’t see the pockets from the outside of your pants.
Close the side and bottom seams of your new pocket and finish the edges as desired.
Try on and enjoy! Bury your hands in your new pockets! Stuff everything you need inside! No more annoying handbags at parties!
I made this simple but effective set of bags a while ago for my girlfriend, who is a photographer, and therefore needs all sorts of bags for different lenses and cameras. I don’t like these giant camera bags that fit exactly one specific camera with one specific lens, so I thought about a bag that gives some protection and is easily adjustable for all sorts of lenses and cameras. Here it is!
The lining is a wool felt that I had leftover from making mittens and the outer fabric is a simple black cotton, and the bag is closed using pink velcro. You could easily make it waterproof by swapping the outer layer.
For a bag with the finished measurements of 15x11x25cm you need to cut a 25x55cm rectangle of lining and fabric (add seam allowances depending on the thickness of your fabric) for the sides and a 11x15cm rectangle for the bottom (add seam allowances). Sew the bottom part to the long side of the large rectangle and close the side seam. Finish your seams and hem the top of the bag. Add the velcro: the scratchy part in the lower middle of the back of the bag, the scratchy part to the lower middle of the front of the bag, so you can attach the two parts while rolling the top.
The construction is basically the same, just start out with a 18x27cm rectangle and a circle with a 9cm diameter.
I love the trend of these beautiful hand dyed marbled and speckled yarns that are all over knitting blogs and Instagram. When I saw this ombre sweater, I was instantly hooked. I googled around to see which yarn it was. Much to my disappointment, the yarn is a sweater set by Madelinetosh in the color „optic“ that doesn’t seem to be on sale anymore, and even if it would be, I could never afford, especially not with shipping to Europe and German taxes added. So it happened what mostly happens when I can’t afford something but really want it… I decided to make my own speckled yarn! I entered the dark hole of google research on how to do it and it became clear that I am moving on new terrains. There are lots of different yarn-dyeing tutorials out there, but nothing that could really answer my questions.
So I ordered some inexpensive drops yarn, Fabel sock yarn (75% wool, 25% polyester) as a tester and Nepal (65% wool 35% alpaca) for a sweater, and bought some black batik dye powder at Modulor. From the various tutorials online I learned, that I had to wind my yarn in loose skeins and soak them in warm water with some wool soap for about 30 mins, and that protein fibers need some added vinegar for the dye to last. I also learned that you have to heat-fix the color to the yarn and that you can do this in the oven.
So I embarked on my dyeing adventure and kind of made my strategy up along the way. I soaked my yarn and placed it in oven proof tarte dishes, and sprinkled on the dye powder. I waited a bit and added some water here and there to dissolve the powder. Then I sprinkled on some extra white vinegar to be safe and placed everything in the oven. I baked the yarn for about 30 mins, until the wool was hot and steaming. After that the wool needs to cool off before you can rinse off the excess dye. Wool can never be „shocked“ with hot or cold temperatures, as it might felt, so be sure to wait long enough after baking it. Rinse the yarn with some wool detergent in lukewarm water until the water runs clear. I was surprised and happy to see, that the yarn lightened up a bit after washing it.
After leaving the yarn to dry, I was quite happy with my result! The first try turned out quite well and looks nice knitted, too.
What I learned so far:
– The sharper you want the contrasts to be in your yarn, the drier the wool has to be, If you want a sharp contrast, don’t add extra water after placing the skeins in the oven-proof form, and don’t move the skein after sprinkling the dye powder on top.
– The 100% natural fiber seems to take up the color much better and also soaks it up, which means, the black turned out more grey and more „washed out“ so be careful when you add the powder.
– My impulse was to add more and more dye powder. Don’t do that if you don’t want your yarn to be black. The dye will spread with time and especially when it is in the oven, as the powder dissolves in the hot water.
– It was no problem at all to fix the dye in the oven, my superwash sock yarn with 25% polyester didn’t melt or burn at 150°.
– Avoid letting the yarn sit in water before you are done rinsing it, the white parts of the yarn might still catch some dye and turn grey.
Maybe you will be inspired to make your own speckled yarn? Do you have any tips on which dye to use?
The other day I bought beautiful handmade new leather shoes from The White Ribbon, a small indie company with a shop in Berlin. The shoes are all handmade in Budapest and the leather and fabrics are sourced from overproduction in the fashion industry and vintage garments. And the best of it is, that they are totally affordable! Shoes are the hardest part of an ethical (but affordable…) wardrobe, I think, so that’s an extra plus. However, leather shoes are high-maintenance and not suitable for all-year-all-weather walking around… One thing the shopkeeper recommended was treating them once a month with bee’s wax. This in mind, I wanted to try making my own shoe wax – of course! And it’s actually very easy and you might have all the ingredients already in your kitchen.
1 part bee’s wax
1 part oil (for example olive oil, almond oil…)
1/2 part coconut oil or shea butter
essential oils for a nice smell (I used lemon grass)
Put everything except the essential oil in a small bowl and melt over water. When everything is melted you can add the essential oil and pour everything into small lidded containers. Done!
Now you just need to polish your shoes with your new wax (that you could also use as a lip balm, by the way…).
A recent bloody disaster in the office, produced by a leaking menstrual cup, brought my thoughts back to period underwear. Not the one that every woman (or bleeding person, for that matter) supposedly has, in opposition, I guess, to sexy underwear or something. I do not own special period underwear, it all looks more or less the same and my washing machine works fine enough to clean the blood stains. However, after said morning in the office the need for some more protection entered my mind.
There are several commercially available products out there that made the news in the last years. First and probably most famous the Thinx underwear line, that is supposed to absorb up to one tampon’s worth of blood. Sadly, they do not have resellers in Europe, and after some horrible experiences with shipping fees, picking up packages at the customs control and paying the German VAT on top, I am reluctant to order things from the US. Also, in general, I love a good experimental DIY approach to things, and in this spirit I started my own period underwear project. If you are interested, there are several other DIY period ideas, such as handmade menstrual pads and crocheted tampons…
This sewing project is not really suitable for total beginners, but can be easily adapted for less experienced sewists. What you need is a dark stretchy jersey fabric with matching thread, preferrably with a four way stretch, underwear elastic (I used foldable elastic), a sewing machine and a small piece of some sort of absorbent material. For this I used some leftover cotton padding that I had from a quilting project, but hemp and bamboo are supposed to be an even better absorbent. This is a quite basic construction, and with respect to the characteristics of the fabric you might want to use another leak-proof layer. Out of the urgency of the project, I used what I had in my stash.
Start with your normal underpants pattern. You can trace your favorite pair or use a free pattern, such as the one by MakeBra. Assemble the pieces, but do not attach the elastic around the edges. Try on your almost-finished underwear and measure the length of the crotch lining. This should be a few centimeters longer than a standard crotch lining. Cut the lining pieces from your fabric and the absorbent lining.
I made one pair with just another layer of cotton jersey and one with a piece of cotton padding, that I quilted to the top fabric layer for safety. Hem the front and back edges of the lining and pin it in place. I sewed the front and back edge to the panties with a zigzag stitch, to keep the seam elastic. For elastic fabrics and especially underwear, using a ballpoint or jersey needle is a good idea, as it does not break the fabric and avoids creating holes. The final step is finishing all the edges with elastic. And done!
I will continue testing my DIY period underwear, but so far it held up some minor bleeding, and washed out really well in the machine. Tell me how it goes for you and leave me recommendations for DIY period supplies in the comments!
These are the favorite and most-worn wool socks of my girlfriend, and after two winters of heavy wear they have giant holes in the soles. Naturally, this poses not a problem, but a challenge! There are some supplies needed for a project like this one. The socks are machine-knit, which means that the yarn used is very thin – good that I remembered the tiny 2,5 needles that I got as a present once and never used. I am not a sock-knitter so far, and really don’t enjoy knitting with small needles like these, but in the end they come in handy! The next thing you need is a yarn in roughly the same color and weight as the socks, this is more important if the holes are in a more visible place. I could have continued the norwegian-style red and white pattern, but that was too much… I hope the yarn I chose will hold up the heavy wear these socks get, we will see.
The first thing is to turn the socks inside out and assess the state of the fabric: maybe there are smaller holes that are not visible at the first glance? Maybe there are other places that are getting thin? I chose to patch up a generous part of the sole, to avoid having to mend them again after two months.
After the area to be mended is determined, you pick up stitches using a tapestry needle and your first double-pointed needle. If the yarn is the same weight as the socks, you can orient the picked up stitches on the stitches of the original. Next you continue knitting until the damaged area is covered, bind up the stitches and the work is already almost done!
Seam the patch to the sock with the tapestry needle and you’re done! Good as new! I recommend attaching the patch to the sock when the patched area is as big as the one I encountered, so the two layers are not moving against each other too much.