Stjärna for Christmas

Merry Christmas lovely readers! I hope that you all had a lovely, relaxing family time. I have just returned home after nearly three weeks away – a long drive, an overseas trip, a family holiday in Adelaide and the long drive back. I had a great time but I am very glad to be back home (a home full of suitcases, overgrown garden and dirty washing, but home none the less).

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In early December I finally felt inspired to knit again and decided on these star-shaped tree decorations that I had been in my Ravelry queue for a while. The pattern is Stjärna by Karolina Eckerdal and it’s a free Ravelry download. I knit it in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply which I happened to have, but I did have to make a special trip into Morris and Sons in my lunch break for a set of six 3.0mm double pointed needles.

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This pattern was pretty fiddly, I have to say, and it’s knit with 8ply yarn on 3.0mm needles with a firm tension so it was not the most relaxing knit either. You start with a provisional cast on in the round, move to five DPNs and knit in towards the centre until 10 stitches remain and then tie them together. This was the bit where I hit a snag, as I finished the first side when I was at a play centre with my son (a great place to take an active toddler on a rainy day) but didn’t have a needle to tie the stitches off. On the way home one DPN fell out of the work and I was unable to successfully pick up the dropped stitches, or bind off tightly enough to there is a slightly unsightly hole on that first side.

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You then pick up stitches around the long edge (that was fiddly) and knit the second side, stuff the star and then knit the final row and bind off (super fiddly).

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Here you can see the gappy first side and the better second side of the star. Despite this small error I was really happy with this little tree decoration and it’s certainly a fun, quick project. In fact, I made a second star that I gave as a gift to my lovely mother-in-law and the second one turned out even better than the first – but sadly I didn’t get any pictures of it!

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The tree that the star is hanging on is my Wollemi pine which I did use as a Christmas tree when it was in a pot, but it’s now a 2.5m tree planted in the garden.

After my successful Stjärna I have been reinspired to knit and have cast on Nymphalidea by Melinda VerMeer, a loosely knit shawl which I am planning to wear as a scarf.

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The gradient yarn is very motivating – I keep on knitting just one more wedge so that I see the next colour emerge.

On a totally unrelated yarny note, check out this cool yarn bombing we found in Ararat as we were driving through yesterday.

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The text reads “Women’s work but is it art?”

I hope that you are all having a lovely summer/winter break.

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Maternity skirts, repurposed and converted.

So the recent slowdown in sewing, knitting and blogging can be directly attributed to the fact that I am pregnant! Due with baby #3 in late March. All is going well so far but between quite awful morning sickness (thankfully mostly over), exhaustion and having two older kids, a household and working three days a week (at the moment) – well, my plate is pretty full!

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One fun discovery has been this skirt that I made last summer – like a year ago. The pattern is Simplicity 2195 (pattern reviews here) and the striped cotton I bought from Rathdowne Fabrics a long time ago, planning to make a pleated skirt from it. This was actually much more of a pain to sew than it looks, mostly because I had to grade the pattern up a few sizes and I ended up tracing off four skirt panels (they are all the same) to try and get the chevron pattern layout right on the fabric. Because of the irregular stripe pattern it was impossible to get all the stripes to line up, so I decided that matching the pink stripe was most important.

Despite taking in the waistband and side seams, this skirt still turned out a bit big for comfort last summer, and it kept slipping down onto my hips. I do really like the knit waistband treatment, even when not pregnant, it’s so comfortable and you do see it quite a bit in RTW, though more often plus sized styles, or styles aimed at a more grown-up demographic. Well now that I’m pregnant I’m quite happy to have a skirt that sits low on the hips so this wadder has been salvaged.

I have also recently had a big wardrobe clear out and found a bunch of skirts that I wasn’t wearing pre-pregnancy and decided to convert them to maternity skirts, my maternity wardrobe being pretty lacklustre.

Enter Kwik Sew 3362 (sadly out of print) which is perhaps my favourite skirt pattern of all time, I’ve made it at least three times. This denim version was fairly recent.

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I modelled the waistband panel on my favourite RTW maternity skirt, which I wore to death last pregnancy but sadly this time is a bit too tight and is also a bit short, which was fine with leggings but not so great with bare legs.

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The waistband is deeper at the front and is made from a double layer of cotton-lycra jersey with side seams.

My conversion method was pretty basic. I put the skirt on (side zipper didn’t do up all the way) and marked with chalk about where the waistband should sit. I then cut the skirt 1cm above this mark, evening things up as I went. I then ran a line of stitching around the new seam line to prevent stretching and zig zag finished the raw edge. I also lazily just cut through the zipper and zig zagged on top of it rather than unpicking and removing it, which would have been the slower and nicer thing to do. I was after instant gratification here.

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I then drafted up a front and back waistband based on measuring my RTW skirt. The back panel was 22cm x 50cm, for a 10cm deep folded band with 1cm seam allowances. The front panel I cut on the fold, 25cm wide (so 50cm unfolded) and 30cm (folded 15cm) deep at the centre and 22cm (folded 11cm) at the side seams.

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The front panel. The waistband turned out a bit big but because I had side seams it was really easy just to run in the sides once I’d tried it on. You do need a decent amount of negative ease to hold your skirt up. I tend just quartered the skirt and waistband and sewed the waistband on, stretching quite aggressively as I sewed to make the waistband fit skirt. On this version I didn’t bother neatening the edges together with a zig zag stitch but for the next skirt I did. That’s it!

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It was super easy and the skirt has been very comfortable and has had a lot of wear already. If the skirt was very unfitted at the hip I would probably have need to add elastic (which would be quite easy to do – unpick one waistband seam, sew a casing and insert elastic), but with a fitted skirt it was unnecessary.

In fact I was so happy I went off and converted a RTW Laura Ashley linen flared skirt. This one will be useful for work.

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I might even convert more!