Month: April 2020

Don’t worry, it’s in the bag…

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This week it’s been all about bags on the making front. As always I have to admit that my making started from a ‘selfish’ place. I wanted some nice project bags for my ever growing WIPs collection – Slow fashion makes 2020. And also as 2020 is also the year that I wanted to be even more conscious in my consumption, if I wanted them I was going to have to make them – and from recycled fabric from the stash.

The creative process

Once again no creative process with Scatty Knits is ever a straightforward A to B journey. Generally I go all round the houses distracting myself but knowing that I will eventually get there, but possibly not with the outcome I intended. I’m happy with that state of affairs but I suspect it drives others nuts. 

Actually I’ve just realised that the project bags were not the start of the bag making escapade. Originally I started thinking about messenger bags and made a few prototypes but dithered about style and size as well as construction material and fastenings. (Scatty remember!) So that went on the back burner and I made dog walking bags instead. But this now meant that I had left over cut out fabric from the messenger bags so that brings us to the project bags. 

To explain what happened next it’s worthwhile to remember that one of the central purposes of Scatty Knits was to aim for zero waste production. I had no real idea how I would achieve that but as usual I presumed a way would present itself as I got stuck in. Faint heart and all that…

But then what began as I must ‘make some project bags’ became ‘but what will I do with the scraps’ so then the notions pouches were made to use up the squares cut when I was boxing the bottoms of the bags. That, of course, then sent me down the rabbit hole of raiding my scrap stash to see if could cut some more squares which led to the ‘patchwork tote’, cutesy small and functional medium. 

By this point I was now fully committed (or is it that I should be committed – never sure on that one). I’d made coin purses before so what about matching coin and card wallets? Bear with me now because that somehow made me realise that I wanted to make two styles of messenger bags – one of a classic minimalist style, the other a bit modern with a zip!  So that sorted that problem. 

So what’s been the creative journey takeaways this week. I don’t think any of these will be ground breaking but they might be of use if you would to delve into bag making. (I highly recommend it)

Bag making essential reading

Luckily I have a very generous brother and sister in law and for 50th birthday, they got me ‘The Bag making Bible’ by Lisa Lam. It’s a treasure trove of techniques to get the creative juices flowing. Of course the internet is also a great place to see video tutorials as well but generally I’ve found that often the technique is described in the context of a specific pattern. Whereas the book while it contains patterns setting the techniques apart so that they are more easily transferable to your own designs. Everything from the basics to edging and trimmings are covered. I’ve referred to it daily and it’s got me out of a lot of tough spots.

It’s also worth noting that Pinterest is great at providing a great array of style ideas and also free patterns. I’ve created a Pinterest board – Sewing projects which has specific sections for different bag styles that you can follow.

You can also check out my progress in makes in my Etsy shop.

Cutting table double as photo studio…

Bag making workspace set up

I have been sewing seriously for over two years now and I am almost (but not quite there) with my workspace. I am fortunate that I have a good size room to house my industrial machine – Jack the Juki, my trusty Toyota workhorse and Beast the overlocker. But here’s the thing sewing is not just about sewing, its the cutting and the dreaded pressing that need to be accommodated as well. At first I was up and down to my cutting table and table top ironing board like a fiddler’s elbow. But after this weeks making I think i might have cracked it. I using the kitchen triangle approach – so there’s Jack on one side, table top ironing board along side and small cutting station behind for the on the go cuts with my recycled wheelie chair to scoot about on. Main and large scale cutting still takes place on the fab Ikea hack that Ian produced.

I love my Juki…

Must dos – cutting and pressing 

To my great annoyance probably two of the most important things about having a professional finish are the accuracy of fabric cutting and amount of ‘overpressing’ that you complete.

Despite coming from a family where my mum and gran would iron everything except for tights, I am possibly iron phobic. I firmly place myself in the ‘you look like a crinkly chip’ category or best case scenario I’ll iron the front and wear a cardigan. I firmly place the blame for this state of affairs on my gran. A rather formidable lady to say the least she felt one of the best ways to keep me out of mischief was to teach me to iron or smooth as they say in Northern Ireland correctly.

I don’t know what I’d done, but I’d done something…

Bear in mind I was six at this point and couldn’t reach the ironing board, so she made me stand on a stool. For the first few weeks she went easy on me and I was allowed to do the straight things – towels, tea towels and handkerchiefs. However, she soon realised the possibilities of this health and safety child labour nightmare as my grandfather wore dress shirts for his work as a chauffeur. And so began my apprenticeship in the correct procedure in ironing a shirt (my gran pressed shirts for living before she retired and believe me she was a stickler for doing it precisely.) I could probably still iron a shirt with my eyes closed but as I am now an adult (I use that term loosely) I do it my way (quickly, sloppily and wrongly) and hope that my gran is too busy bossing God around to see what I’m doing.

Right I might have digressed there – back to the point – yes there was one. Over pressing is essential for a professional finish – I’m getting in the habit (in a really grumpy way) of ironing every time I sew a seam. It makes hemming a breeze. 

As for accurate cutting I’m going to write a separate post later on that one as it is the bane of my life and I still feel like I’ve got lots more learning to do.

Useful tools

The usual suspects…

Usually a bone folder is used to crease paper edges smoothly but I use it for firmer finger pressing and poking poking out corners without poking through the seam.

The seam allowance guide is constantly used to check and recheck my seam allowance. I discovered very early on that ‘ah, that looks about right’ is not a viable strategy 🤦🏻‍♀️.

Washi tape is fab when used as a seam guide on the machine sewing plate. I use a nice bright neon one particularly if I am using a different seam allowance to my usual.

So what about you? Are you a bag maker too? Any tips to share? 😊

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Slow fashion – 2020 WIPs and FOs

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My name’s Bev and I’m a ‘startalcoholic’. In the interests of full disclosure I want to state clearly that I’m not unhappy with this condition.  As a matter of fact, I genuinely think that life is too short not to cast on that shiny new project or yarn or to delve into sewing a bag or hat or anything else that floats your boat. 

When I first started knitting seriously, I thought that i was definitely an ‘end product’ type of knitter. I wanted to finish that sweater, cardigan, scarf or hat as I really really wanted to wear it. But then I met Ravelry. I am not saying that its been a bad influence, but it opened my eyes to thousands of patterns, yarns I’d never heard, designers who were using fascinating techniques. I’d thought I was hooked before but now I wanted to KNIT ALL THE THINGS NOW. 

And so begin my odyssey of starting all the things and in that process I realised that I just liked to knit and not necessarily finish. I liked the rhythm, the wool fondling as I knitted and getting my head wrapped around new techniques. I also found that I view wool as the ultimate reusable creative material. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve completed a blanket, sweater or shawl and then thought ‘oh, you would be so much better as …’ so off I go to frog and reknit that yarn.

It’s lucky that poor old Drops Andes is a robust little number as it’s been an eleventh hour blanket, Jong and now it’s a Carbeth. I’m not promising that that will be its final resting place though.  

The originals knit of Drops Andes, which became…
Round or square buttons 🤔

Because you know, new patterns and techniques are always shiny. 

Full disclosure: I currently have 15 WIPs on the needles. I’m not saying its only 15 but that’s all i can remember right now… 

If you are interested to see the current state of play, then check out my pinterest board of Slow fashion makes 2020.

Do you know I thought I might feel a little bit embarrassed about the number, but in reality I’m sitting thinking I could probably cast on another 15 and still think that that was a reasonable amount.  

That said at the start of this year I thought that I needed to strike a happy balance. While I’m not promising that I won’t cast on something new I am using 2020 as the year of finishing my WIPs. 

2020 FOs so far

This year I’ve already finished Cookie (it’s like wearing a big hug, and is getting loads of wear as I’m doing my best to self isolate at home. Cookie is from Rowan magazine 60 and the yarn was Rowan Brushed Fleece which the lovely Ian bought me as a pressie a few years ago. Like a lot of my clothes I went with the purple shade Hollow. It is a nice yarn to knit with and lovely and squishy to wear but it doesn’t half pill. So it will be getting some careful grooming to keep it looking good. Like all rowan patterns it was well written and I even got into a rhythm with the bobbles. Even though I was initially hampered by my inability to count to five consistently. Honestly if I’d know that maths was going to play such a big part in knitting I probably would have tried harder at it in school.  But, and this is just a personal bug bear about patterns, it contained my two least favourite things – a small chart (make them bigger folks!) and the dreaded instruction …and at the same time which is half way down the page when I’ve been merrily knitting and not reading ahead. 

(I know that is my own fault…) 

Carbeth is mostly finished as well – just needs the buttons but as always I’m dithering over round or square wooden buttons from our homemade button range. I’ve knitted a few of Kate Davies patterns and totally love them. Interesting to knit and the end product is always attractive. 

Back view Of Carbeth

Another almost FO is the magnificent Persian Dreams blanket.  This beauty was started right back in 2016 (it is officially my slowest make… but the Saxifrage socks are snapping at its heels!). After reading all the notes on Ravelry about the construction I kind of reversed the knitting – deciding to knit from the outside in rather that the inside out of the hexagon. Mainly because I wanted to pick up stitches and join each hexagon as I went along to save some grafting at the end. It worked a treat it did mean that it was an ‘at home’ knitting project as it was too bulky to transport. On the upside it made for a toasty lap warmer while knitting. I also changed the border to an applied i-cord, simply because I like knitting them.

It’s still at the almost FO stage as I’ve got a billion ends to weave in, have to figure out how to block it and decide if I want to have a sew-on backing. These dilemmas don’t look like they would delay the finishing of this blanket but trust me I’m not called scatty for no reason. I bounce between ‘block it, its easy” and ‘who needs blocking?!’ as well as ‘back it, be professional!’ and ‘if you back it, thats less knitting time?! I probably change my mind about 30 times a day, but eventually a course will be decided on. I’ll keep you updated…

I’m ready for my close up…

While it was finished at the tail end of last year, I am going to include Affection in this round -up. This was another yarn which I love especially the chainette construction and the way it feels so fluffy. Originally I’d knitted this yarn as Mystery cardigan by Kim Hargreaves but wore it rarely as it felt a bit too floppy for that pattern. (The suggested yarn was Rowan felted tweed which would of course be a better fit – maybe these designers know a thing or two!) But it is suited to the style of the Affection sweater. Its is the recommended yarn (see note above about designers) I did worry that the yarn would be too dark (of course it’s purple – Guatemala) to really show off the cable pattern but I love it. Its cosy, just the right length for me and it is my current going out for special occasions wear. It is pairs so well with my favourite jewellery piece – waterfall necklace (another birthday pressie) 

BTW if you wondering why purple, check out the fabulous ‘When I am an old woman’ poem by Jenny Joseph…

So what about you what are your knitting plans this year? Are you upping your knitting output during the lockdown? How many WIPs have you got? Please, please tell me, its not just me!?

If you are interested in any of my FOs or WIPs you can check them out on Ravelry or on my pinterest board.  

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