Theresa Shingler Knits > handmade wardrobe

Sweater Surgery – and embroidery on knits

I’ll show the pretty pictures first

Sweater Surgery


I  finished this cardigan, my version of Peggy Sue in June 2013, and only wore it twice.

The neckline was dreadful on me, far to high and unflattering on me, and because I have narrow shoulders and there were no no short rows at the back, I couldn’t wear it open without the wretched thing falling off. When I finished it I put a little yarn aside so that I could steek it, my Ravelry notes talk about doing so, but I didn’t, the cardigan was relegated to the back of the wardrobe and I moved on. About a year ago I snipped the front neckline out (after first reinforcing it with some machine stitching) and popped it into my works in progress box where it’s sat until the recent news reports of a super cold winter and my desire to stock up a woolies now yesterday

This is how it was when I pulled it out of the wips box. (well it was rather more crumpled and sorry looking, but you get the idea)

The first thing that I did was that I removed the ribbing at  the back neckline and picked up stitched all way around.

I worked short rows across the back neckline from the front raglan line back wards (I did 6 w+t each side)

Then I worked a border of twisted rib.

I covered the cut edges at the front neckline with bias tape.

And for a bit of fun embroidered some flowers

I’m very pleased to say that this cardigan has already seen more wear since it’s been refashioned, than it did in the previous two years.


How I wash hand knit socks

How I wash my hand knit socks

It’s ‘that’ time of year, the leaves are turning brown, the nights are drawing in, it’s getting flipping cold in the mornings and evenings, the woolly socks box has been pulled out and the socks are back in rotation. That means one thing, sock washing. Funnily enough washing the socks was one of the things that put me off hand knit socks for so long. Now I’ve got a good selection, as have the family, I have an easy routine that I’d like to share.

I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of sock washing methods; just between bung them in with the jeans at one end and gently hand wash at the other. Some disclaimers, all my socks are knit from yarn that is designed for socks, all can withstand the ‘wool cycle’ or my machine and I always wash a new pair separately at first to ensure that the colours won’t run onto it’s sock mates.

Here goes

  • I roughly sort the socks into lights, brights and darks. I usually do the darks and brights together as I know from initially washing them by themselves that they don’t run. (But I don’t want to tempt fate with the light delicate colours!)
  • Any really grubby patches are rubbed with a very wet block of Savon de Marseille that I use to treat stains in wool.
  • I put them in the washing machine set on the wool wash setting with the temperature set at 30 degrees Celsius. Into the detergent drawer I put about half a tablespoon of eucalan. If I’ve used the soap on any stains I wait ten minutes or so before setting the machine off. (If you have a machine that has a separate temperature control, do take care to ensure that it’s on the appropriate setting)
  • I take the socks out of the machine as soon as it’s finished as I don’t like them sitting damply around together.
  • I give the socks a flap and a gentle pull to make sure that they’re the shape and size I want them to be when dry, then if it’s a bright breezy day, I’ll peg them on the line. If it’s a damp grey day, I put them on a radiator to dry and by the end of the day I have a soft pile or clean warm socks, ready to go on feet again.

I never tumble dry my socks,and my routine does take a little time going back and to, emptying the machine and hanging up socks up to dry. I need to be home when the machine is finished, I can’t bring myself to just bung them in and forget about them, because given the many hours I’ve spent knitting the socks a little extra care seems worthwhile. However routine is much quicker than hand washing a families worth of socks on a regular basis, and thus far – fingers cross none have been ruined in the wash.

Disclaimer, the producers and/or sellers of any products that I mention have no idea that I either exist or are talking about their products. I’m just happy using these products and haven’t been compensated in any way.


The care and feeding of a handmade wardrobe

An ongoing series looking at the making and sometimes breaking of a handmade wardrobe

Part 1: Do you really want a handmade wardrobe in the first place?

There really isn’t anything wrong with knitting* for the sheer pleasure of the activity, for feeling the yarn move through your fingers, for enjoying the gorgeous panoply of colours available, just for the hell of it. If you are a process knitter who cares not a whit for the finished article, there is no shame in that, own it and enjoy it. (And perhaps come back later, this might not be the article for you)

(*substitute sewing as you see fit :o)

However that’s not me, I aspire to have a handmade wardrobe of my very own.


I’m not one to say that I’m a process knitter (or sewer for that matter), as much as I love the physical act of knitting I unashamedly love having the finished object more! Yet even so I’ve found myself getting cranky at the proliferation of handmade wardrobe posts springing up around the web. Very odd, some of my most favourite bloggers and designers are writing about something that I spend a fair quantity of my leisure time doing – creating a handmade wardrobe, and I get grumpy – why? And then it hit me, it’s the usefulness of the activity that rubs me up the wrong way, why should my leisure activity be useful? No one expects golf to have a useful outcome! (Cue gnashing of teeth at this juncture) Obviously I have some angst about this issue that has nothing all to do with the inspirational posts popping up all over the blogosphere – that I’ll come back to another day, for now a remedy.

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To counter the irritation the best course of action I find is to immerse myself in the flood of inspiration; I’m happily polycraftual and will as happily sew as knit (though it’s not as convenient for snuggling down with on the sofa) so my inspirations are mostly similarly polycraftual.

There are of course many and varied motivations to creating a handmade wardrobe, from concerns about ethical consumerism and worry about ecological sustainability to a wish to experiment with self-expression and personal autonomy.

Creator of the wonderfully inspiring Me Made May is Zoe at So Zo … what do you know? Her focus is primarily environmental sustainability, she sews but doesn’t knit, she has recently had a daughter and is clothing her in the same way that she clothes herself which is fantastically inspiring.

Someone else who I’ve been following for almost as long as Zoe is Libby at Truly Myrtle. Within the last few years, she moved to New Zealand and has taken up designing knitwear, she does sew as well though, often creating whole outfits and has a podcast where she talks through her creations.

Through the Truly Myrtle podcast  I’ve started following the wonderful Georgie Hallam (of the Milo  vest fame) on her website  As many others have, I’ve knitted the Milo vest more than once but I wasn’t very aware of her whole range, mostly of children’s patterns, I’ve quickly remedied that and am having my very own little Tikki fest knitting Posy and Jane for my girls this summer (more in a later post) I find her whole blog and website are very inspiring for me as I strive to create my own handmade wardrobe (and sneak a little into the children’s’ cupboards and drawers).


One of my biggest inspirations is Isabelle at I have followed her work for years from when she only sewed, then began crotchet and now knits and spins as well. Her work is amazing, she has a wonderful eye for colour and proportion and has exquisite taste, all the while managing a family life and a demanding professional career. She also has a podcast which has recently become a video podcast; my favourite as I love to see all the pretty things being talked about.

Of course, there are lots of wonderfully inspirational crafters whose work I love to follow, but if I need a quick fix, these are the ones that I go back to time and time again.



Next time in part 2 : Creating a handmade wardrobe that won’t be left at the back of the closet, aka making a wardrobe for the life that you lead.