knitting, sewing, yarn

Cosy Feet (the less exciting sequel to Happy Feet)

Before Christmas, I stumbled across Tilly & The Buttons’ free snuggly slipper boots pattern, and thought they would make a great Christmas present for Luke. He’d been wanting slippers for some time, but a) he’s quite picky about what he wants in a slipper and b) he has large feet, so he had’t had much luck finding any. So while he was at work, I scurried off to the library and printed the pattern out, then went to Eurokangas and rummaged in their remnants bins for the right fabric. I bought some soft fleece, and then I found some leather with a thick fleece lining that I thought would be perfect for the soles. And then, I pondered how exactly to make them. Tilly’s pattern has a lining, but I dismissed that straight away because I figured it would come out every time you took your foot out of the slipper, and who wants that? I wanted to find a way to have them still look nice when cuffed, and be sturdy enough to hold their shape, AND have the fleece of the leather against the foot. I thought about interfacing the fleece, but decided on just doing a double layer of it, and basting them together to use as one piece. I cut separate pieces for the cuff, so the seams would be encased inside and not on display when cuffed, but then I didn’t use them at all because the boots were tall enough without the cuff (and I knew Luke would never bother cuffing them anyway, honestly).

I had to enlarge the pattern first – as I said, Luke has big feet and he wears a size 45 or 46 in European shoe sizing. So I got his gumboots and traced around those, and then enlarged the length of the sole piece by 4 cm (and then all the corresponding pieces that join to the sole!)

For the sole, I just cut one piece of the leather/fur fabric, and then I “shaved” the seam allowances to make it easier to sew. There was fur everywhere! It looked like I’d murdered a teddy bear. I assembled the boot as per Tilly’s instructions, minus the lining. I was worried my machine wouldn’t like sewing the leather/fur, but actually it went quite smoothly. Then I just folded the fabric twice on the top of the boot and topstitched it down. Bam, done!

In continuing the theme of keeping Luke’s feet warm, I decided to knit him a pair of socks. Handknitted woollen socks are a Big. Deal. here in Finland. Everyone has them, knitted for them by mothers, grandmothers, friends (or themselves) and they swear by them in winter to keep their feet warm inside their boots. I bought a knitting magazine from Novita, one of the bigger yarn/pattern retailers here, because they had a “my first sock” section, complete with diagrams and a link to a video. I wanted to use a Finnish pattern – I don’t know why, my life would have been much easier if I’d chosen an English pattern, especially since I’d never knitted a sock before, or used DPNs. Nevertheless, I painstakingly translated the pattern as best I could, and got to work.

The yarn came from Finnish sheep – I went to a sheep event with Luke’s supervisor and bought two skeins of yarn from one of the vendors there. It’s a wool/nylon blend designed for socks. It was a little greasy and smelled strongly of sheep, so they are very rustic socks!

They are not perfect – I’m sure any knitter would notice that the toe decreases are in the wrong spot on one sock. I got confused about which needle was which somehow, I don’t really know how. I also changed colours a row late on one of them, because I wasn’t paying attention. Still, Luke likes them, and he says they’re cosy! I already had to reinforce the toes though, because Luke feels like socks aren’t on his feet properly until he’s practically jabbing his toenails out of the ends. His store-bought socks always get holes in the toes very quickly!

I made my own “sock display” things out of a spare foam exercise mat that Luke had already cut up to reinforce his backpack (hence the little bit of blue you can see poking out of one sock), because I don’t want to pay 20 euro for a pair of sock-shaped pieces of plastic.

Any tips for sock knitting? I’ve heard about so many things, like toe-up, afterthought heels, and of the course the debate over magic loop versus DPNs. I’m slowly working on a pair of Kalajoki socks for myself, but I’d love to hear your favourite patterns as I want to increase my sock stash, stat. And I’m a bit shit at using it, but I’m whimsicalkitty over on Raverly if you want to add me there 🙂

 

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life lately, sewing

Return

Well, hello! Apparently I haven’t written a blog post since April 2017 – whaaat?! Not sure how that happened. Well, maybe I have some idea – not long after that, Luke and I packed up our lives in Auckland, New Zealand and made the move to Turku, Finland, via Australia to spend some time with loved ones. Even though this is my third overseas move, I still underestimate how long it takes to get your life back in order afterwards. I actually bought a sewing machine (secondhand) within a week of arriving in Turku, even though I’d sent my beloved Pfaff via sea mail, because I needed to do some pattern testing! But after that was done, I didn’t touch the machine for some time. We were busy doing all the official stuff one needs to do to become a proper resident of Finland, finding a place to live more permanently than the student housing sub-let we got for the summer, and exploring our new home.

We eventually found a gorgeous apartment in an old puutalo (wooden house) built in the late 1800s. I have a sewing nook on the top floor, in the same room as our bedroom. It’s less space than I had in Auckland, but I’m making it work. Besides, it’s so cute!

After three looong months, my Pfaff (and most of my fabric stash) arrived in Finland! The bad news was, one of the few plastic parts on the machine, the hand wheel, broke during transit. I tried gluing it back together (successfully!) but then discovered the plastic screw that holds the wheel in place had broken, leaving the threaded part inside the machine. In my search to find a new screw, I found a seller on eBay in Germany selling some parts in a bundle, including a new hand wheel! So I bought those, and also a new metal screw to replace the plastic one. The new wheel arrived, I went to put it on…and the belt around the wheel snapped. So. Much. Rage. So again, German eBay sellers were my friend, and I purchased a new belt. Finally, finally, I got it all put together and secured with a shiny new screw, and it works like a dream. So now I have two vintage machines, and for the first time, no modern one.

During surgery…

Good as new!

The agent who handled the rental of our apartment loves sewing too, and she has lent me an overlocker for the duration of my stay – such a lovely woman! Apparently it belongs to her daughter, who hasn’t used it in years. So I’m basically all set up now, and ready to roll. It’s not like I haven’t sewn anything in the past six months, though – I made a pair of curtains, hemmed another pair from IKEA, made a shirt for Luke and the piece de resistance – a pair of slippers for him for Christmas! I’ll do a separate blog post on those, because I’m kind of proud of them 😀 I also did a spot of embroidery, and I’ve been really digging knitting lately.

Curtains…

Shirt for Luke – Simplicity 1544 again

Slippers!

Mushroom embroidery

First knitted sock! The other is still on the needles…

I’d really like to blog more this year – I use instagram a lot (I’m kirstyteacat there if you want to follow me) but the chronology of the timelines is all kinds of fucked up nowadays, and besides, I like reading blogs, and hopefully some of you like reading mine.

I will leave you with some snapshots of my last 6 months, because I also enjoy seeing peeks of peoples’ lives outside of sewing, so maybe you will enjoy it too!

My first bike!

First Juhannus (Midsummer) bonfire

Housewarming party in our new flat, complete with pavlova!

Lots of berries!

Watching the squirrels outside my lounge room window.

SNOW!!

Someone else’s magnificent snowman.

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