Stitch Shape and Bristol Fashion

Crafting in the West Country


January 2016

Lights! Camera! Knitting!

Inspiration for making something can come from all sorts of places, and one of the ones I am most conscious of using myself is film. I love the costumes, when ever I watch a period drama, I always want to make a dress afterwards. Here are a handful of iconic knits from the world of film.

Tom Hanks – Castaway

I love Tom Hanks. Anyone who knows me will tell you, he is my favorite living actor. If a film is ever made of my life, I want him to play me. (I know, I’m a 20something year old woman, but this man can do no wrong in my eyes.)

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Shame it got ruined by the ocean.
Can you imagine my excitement the first time I saw Castaway, before the floods of tears over the loss of Wilson, when I saw him in this masterful creation? Fair isle, cables and Tom Hanks all in one place! Plus, it’s not the only knitting in the film. Here are two more jumpers (and Helen Hunt).

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I like to think she’s thinking ‘Yey! Jumpers!’
Marilyn Monroe

One day I watched a documentary about the wonderful Marilyn and in it was a shot of her wearing a beautiful cardigan. I was in love.

Diamonds are a girls best friend in this fair isle pattern.
After much Googling, I finally managed to find the right phrase to find a collection of images that would allow me to really study it. This is the only one on the list I’ve actually made. I found an old Starsky and Hutch pattern, researched the unusual stitch and drew out the fair isle element. After a bit of maths and a lot of time, I eventually created something very similar. It’s not perfect, far from, but I am so proud of what I achieved. A whole post devoted to this one will appear in the future.

Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

There is plenty to get inspired by in this franchise, but the cowl worn by Katniss in the opening scene of the second film seems to really have caught the online crafting community in particular.

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It’s so cold she’s wearing it inside.
It’s hard to grab decent images of this creation, especially with the naturalistic camera work and dramatic lighting. If I was going to have a go, I’d try to be inspired by it rather than trying to replicate. I love the shape and colour, but I’d probably make the neck a little lower and see how many styles of cables I could include.

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Much easier to get shots of the back.
Mark Darcy – Bridget Jones’s Diary

The original ‘cheesey Christmas jumper’ in my opinion. In the past few years these garments have become a trendy new tradition which I blame on Colin Firth’s character in this classic rom com.

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It’s only a jumper Bridget.
By today’s standard, it’s actually embarrassingly tame. We see ones that light up, play music, have doors that open as an advent calendar and even animated creations. But back in 2001, this was so unfashionable it made Ms Jones question his suitability to be her partner. Little did she know he was actually incredibly fashion forwards.

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Close up, it’s really not a worthy offering by modern standards.
So many more to write about, another time though.


Kids Characters Costume Show Down

Anyone I know will tell you, I love fancy dress. And the more ridiculous the better. Putting a costume together is so much fun, and I find myself making more and more elements every time. I don’t tend to replicate costumes directly from film and TV, not that there’s anything wrong with this, I just enjoy the design factor as much as I enjoy the creation of the piece. Here are two very different approaches I take when I make a costume.

Alice in Wonderland

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A nice sensible concept sketch

This one’s about planning, planning and planning again. To begin with, I sketched out the basic elements of the design. The concept was to make it look like the part where Alice grew and ended up wearing the house. Rather than create some kind of cardboard house to spend the day wearing, I wanted to create an under the bust corset, which would be easier to wear and more fashion rather than costume.

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More detailed sketch. This was the design element I was most excited about.

To achieve this, I decided to look at all the elements individually. I wanted to make a dress and a corset. All the other elements (underskirt, wig, apron…) I was going to buy. Ebay is an excellent resource for buying bits for costumes. The dress I made straight from a pattern, but for the corset, after doing a bit of research, I decided to draft the pattern myself. I made a toile before cutting into my precious brick print fabric, just to be sure it would all work. The embellishment never ended up happening, but I was pleased with the outcome and I can always add it if I wear it again.

The final costume. Just wish I’d remembered to take my glasses off for pictures.

The Clanger

I want my own knitted clanger outfit. What sane person has never thought these words? My advice? Do not do it. It’s all fun and games and then you realise what you’ve done. I had no plan as to when I would wear this, and in all honesty, I still don’t have a clue.

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Cute or terrifying? You decide.

The idea crossed my head one day and I was already in possession of this book. As I work dangerously close to a well stocked craft shop, it didn’t take long for me to get going Using the pattern as a guide, I made it up as I went along.

It was somewhere around here I started questioning my decision to make this.

I used the pattern for the adult clanger for the head using chunky wool. I then kept increasing until it looked a reasonable size to wear as a waistcoat, kept going until it was time to split for the arm holes, added some sparse ribbing and kept increasing gradually until it was a reasonably ridiculous length. Finishing it involved constructing a pink fleece cushion to hold her head proudly above mine in addition to adding the ears and felt embellishments. Before these decorations were added was the lowest point where I was questioning what I’d done, but I kept going or I’d never know how she turned out.

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I’m simultaneously impressed at myself and questioning my sanity.

I have plenty of other costumes to write about, but that shall be for another day.


While crafting can be a way to find solitude in the 21st century, away from mobile phones and the Twitterati, the Kardashians and selfies, it can also be an incredible tool to help you with your craft, without interfering with the process.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how it helps me monitor my cross stitch progress. This happened by accident. I started out by taking pictures of what I’d done to see if my friends could work out what it was going to be. A really fun game if you’ve never played. It tended to be about one a day and I noticed that I could see what I’d done each day. When do something as focused as cross stitch where you can sometimes get bogged down in not making much progress, it actually really helps.

The month of Bill Murray.

Having photography as an instant form is useful for so many things really. I often photograph my knitting in case anyone asks me what I’ve been doing. Patchwork has an incredible application for this, arranging your blocks. This is my mums domain, and she’s always done it, even when you had to go and get film developed! (Although a little less frequently then) If you arrange your blocks in different ways and then photograph each of them, you can look at the different arrangements easier and decide which you like best much quicker. Plus, you don’t have to remember how you had them before, and get frustrated when you can’t remember how to recreate it. You have a reference picture!

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Mystery quilt! my mum had no idea how it would turn out. Now property of her mum.

If you’re anything like me, you keep track of where you are in your knitting with endless scraps of paper covered in tally marks. I haven’t completely said goodbye to this method, but I now often use my iPhone to make keep track instead. A well organized note conveniently titled is much harder to loose than that back of an envelope. Bonus feature when you’re making something big you can delete the notes that you’re done with, minimizing any confusion over which set you were using

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Tally Ho!

Last year, my huge Game of Thrones scarf got over 25 likes on Facebook, with a disclaimer it was not going to be knitted again for anyone (still didn’t stop people asking!). IMG_0062The lying down next to it was to demonstrate the scale. Apparently I look dead. Later in the year I reveled this flamingo jumper. This was the second customization of this pattern, which I am completely in love with. The response online? First time I broke 50 likes on Facebook! I don’t think I’d ever got 30 on one post before.

IMG_0061The jumper I finished this week, much less fantastical but got 40! Very grown up knitting by my standards indeed.

IMG_0060I don’t make things for likes or external gratification, I make things because I enjoy the process and out come. But boy, does it feel good for other people to acknowledge the skill, time and process that went into the piece.

Will You Make This For Me? No!

When I first started knitting the answer was simple. No. I didn’t have the speed or the skill level. The problem is, once you can do something beyond the very basic knit/purl abilities, non-knitters think you know it all and assume you will make them anything they ask for.

But how about now? Now my skill level is up and learning new ones isn’t hard. Will I knit something for you now?

In all honesty the answer is still more often than not, no. And here are my first set of reasons:

  1. I can’t make it. The pattern/picture of whatever you want me to work out how to make is actually crotchet, not knitted. I know a tiny bit of crotchet, but it is a completely different skill to knitting and I do not have the skill level to make that for you. I can probably work out a knitted approximation, but it won’t be what you want.

    This picture represents the best of my crotchet skills.
  2. You’ve sent me a dull pattern. While the outcome is very stylish and striking, the actual techniques involved are rather unexciting. You need to remember I knit for pleasure, and while the outcome is a part of that, it’s more important that I find the actual process engaging and exciting. Don’t pressure me into doing something that makes my hobby a chore.

    Stunning, but boring as hell to knit. Took a 4 month break in the middle. (Pattern from Ravelry)
  3. ‘I’ll pay you for it.’ No, no you won’t. This is one of the most common things people say when I say I don’t want to knit that for them. If you have asked me to make something I do want to make, covering the cost of the wool is a pretty nice thing to do. However. If you think you’re going to pay me for my time, you are very much mistaken. Say I manage to knit you a hat in 5 hours. Quite a basic hat. UK minimum wage is £6.70 an hour. That’s £33.50 you would be paying me for my time, not including materials. You probably want it to be made out of something pretty nice, since you’re spending all this money on it, so let’s round that up to £40. And remember this is not, taking into account that what I’m doing is skilled work, and I should be paid more than minimum wage. Do you really want to pay me £40 for a hat? I would much rather give my knitting away than be underpaid for it.
  4. ‘I told my friend you know how to knit and they were wondering if you’d make them a…’ I rarely knit things for people I care about, they’re the people I love knitting for. I’ve still never knitted something for my mum, who has made me two patchwork quilts. I knit things for people who I care about, when I want to knit that particular item. Unless there is a really special reason they really want a hand knitted item, the answer is a resounding no.

    Rare instance of making something for someone I don’t know, an old bosses Grandbaby.

There are more reasons, but they are for another day. See you next week!

To New Beginings!

Hello dear reader! You seem to have found my very first post.

Today we’re gong to have quite a light post, just to get us going. We’re just entering a New Year, and it’s quite timely to reevaluate what you’re doing in all areas of your life and set yourself some goals. While I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘new year, new me’ thing, working in retail and getting the Christmas season out of the way means a bit of head space and having time to look at what I’m doing. So why not set some craft goals too?

  1. Make things in a different style. I love to make really wacky stuff. I’m currently knitting myself some form of a Clanger costume. It’s completely mad and I love it. But I’m also trying to make some more sensible things. I’m also working on a much more sensible jumper from a book my brother got me for Christmas. While I love the creativity and making it up as I go along, working from a pattern and creating something I could wear in front of my Grandma is actually quite refreshing.

    Why wouldn’t an adult want to dress like a Clanger?
  2. Try new techniques. I’ve got myself up to a certain level in knitting where I have a wide skill set and don’t often try something new. However, in the jumper I’m making there’s a technique to create a cable I haven’t tried before. Guess what? I love it! I’ve been enjoying knitting this so much and I very rarely knit something from a pattern without changing something. A big part of that is enjoying this new technique. Try something new because you’ll never know if you like it otherwise.

    Please excuse the fuzziness, but hey, it could be a fuzzy jumper, right?
  3. Make more things to use regularly. In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a big knitter. It’s my absolute favorite craft. For years the only thing I really made and wore regularly were scarfs. Through 2015 I made a couple of jumpers and they’re even more satisfying to wear than scarfs, and I get an even bigger glowing feeling inside when people compliment the garment, unaware it was made by myself.

    Flamingo jumper. It might be mad and colourful, but so am I.
  4. Make more things for other people. Every now and then I go through a ‘I’m going to cross stitch all the birthday cards’ phase. You can completely customize it to be aimed at them and their interests, and they love that you spent to time on it for them. Maybe this year I’ll do it more consistently. Handing over a scarf you’ve knitted yourself, or something you’ve made and designed based on something they said? Even more gratifying.

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    Birthday Card for a friend who likes a good fiddle!
  5. Revise old techniques. This week, I found a way to make a purl stitch without leaving a big hole in what I’m making. I’m a little bit embarrassed I was living with the way I was doing it and didn’t think to correct myself earlier in all honesty. Just because you already know how to do something doesn’t mean it’s the best way.

Well, that’s about it for today. See you next week!

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