Summer of Basics: half-time report

Summer of Basics: half-time report

Pass the orange segments: it's time for a Summer of Basics update!

Summer of Basics challenge: three handmade garments, three months (June, July and August)

Here's the story so far: the first piece – a shawl - went really well, but I doubted (far too late) whether or not it actually qualified for the challenge, not being very garment-like and all that. 

Then I made a sweater. This was a huge success and definitely fits garment category. Six weeks, two handmade garments. Excellent stats.

With no idea of what my third piece might be, I did some serious thinking in the final week of sweater-making, and here’s what I came up with as possibilities:

  • A light top with short/no sleeves to wear with my wide legged pants. I never know what I am doing with wide-legged pants these days. I think I have three pairs: all Tigerlily, all heavily patterned and all multicoloured. I normally pair them with a vest (English vest), sometimes throwing a chambray shirt over the top, but the vests are now ancient and they just don’t cut it as an outer layer anymore. 
  • A thicker jumper – I have been wanting to work with a thicker yarn for a while, mainly for a change from tiny needles, but also because I have a couple of gorgeous pattern books from Rowan that are full of highly desirable designs in 8ply and up. So beautiful. I’ll photograph them if I remember. 
  • A pair of legwarmers. Again, these fell into the ‘Garment or not?’ category. My legs get so cold at night at the moment, and I recently frogged my very first knit – a pair of legwarmers, no less – with the intention of reknitting thinner and longer ie wearable. But then I thought I could do better than a 3x3 rib these days, and I already have twenty billion projects on the go, so that idea has been temporarily shelved…

Amazing thoughts, I’m sure you’ll agree. No nearer to a decision, though. 

Then I had a think about me and clothes.

I hardly ever buy clothes now. 

I don’t worry about what I am wearing/going to wear on any given day (I do sometimes acknowledge that what I have ‘put together’ does not actually go together, to the extent that I decide to change it. Most of the time, however, the acknowledgement is as far as it goes. Generally, I don’t look in the mirror after picking clothes for the day).

I don’t care what is being worn by other people and I don’t care what is in fashion or whether I even know what is in fashion (I do not know what is in fashion: leg warmers?). 

There is also the more practical factor of time: it is a three-month challenge and we are halfway through. Choosing a pattern and suitable yarn, purchasing said yarn etc takes time, and I’d rather be knitting. 

All these things considered, I realised I had the answer covered before the challenge even began. When this thing was first blogged about on Fringe Association, I responded saying I would join in as I had just bought the yarn for a jumper that I knew I would wear all the time. How had I overlooked this? One of the patterns in my beautiful Rowan pattern book (Rowan 62), it is perfect for the Summer of Basics, 'basics' being defined as something along the lines of “stuff your wardrobe needs or that you think you’ll get a lot of wear out of”. There’s an argument that no Australian gets a lot of wear out of their sweaters, but the winters do actually get cold, and of course we love to travel to other countries/Melbourne.

There are, however, two issues. One, the yarn isn’t heavy. I don’t even think it’s really DK. Irritatingly, the designer’s gauge calls for 2.75mm needles – wee needles. My knitting style being considerably looser, I am swatching at 2mm. 2mm. For a DK sweater. Unbelievable. I’m a little narked, but there’s no getting around it and I love the pattern so much it’s worth the miniature needles for another few weeks (then I must make something on 4mm at the very tiniest). 

Second issue? Well (I just let out a big sigh then, thinking about the second issue).


There is not a chance of finishing it in six weeks (especially if I keep blogging rather than actually knitting). As I said, I’m still swatching, using this time to practise the technique (oh, just fair isle, knitted flat, with some purls on the knit side thrown in for a laugh). I have only done fair isle once before – it was difficult enough in the round with both yarns carried in the left hand, but I managed it. Purling fair isle seems to be easier with one yarn in each hand, or so my research suggests, so I am trying that (and using the word ‘easier’ very loosely indeed). So far I have managed three tiny rows for swatching purposes and I keep putting off doing any more. On the plus side I have made some progress with my crochet blankets as a result. 

So, six weeks to do this.

I’ll keep you posted.

P.S. I bought a sewing machine, but that’s definitely another story. Back-up plan: it might be quicker to learn to sew than to knit this sweater…