Norwegian Mittens

For those of you who don’t know, I am half Norwegian – or half viking as my cousin likes to tell me. Norway has a long history of beautiful knitwear, not least the famous Marius sweater which I have always wanted to make one day. My childhood was filled with Norwegian designed knitted items made by relatives, but until last year I had never tried to make any myself!

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The pattern is on Ravelry and is free and really easy to follow. I used some beautiful yarn given to me by my husband which he picked up on trip to Australia. Made by Cleakheaton, it’s a soft and luscious angora silk, I love the way the red has hints of pink mixed through the yarn.

They took me a long time to make and the consequence of this is that the tension is all over the place. The first mitten was made at a quite stressful time and the knit is super tight, but by the time I got to the second mitten I had calmed down and the knit is much looser. I managed to make them close to the same size through blocking but it’s not perfect. I suppose that’s the maker’s mark!

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To protect the wearer from the wind I lined the gloves with some brushed cotton. I’m really pleased with the results and since completing these I have been given a book of patterns so watch this space.

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You might have noticed that this blog has been dormant for a little while due to lots of life changes (these mittens were completed in December!!). But I plan to spend some time updating it with lots of posts over the next few weeks. Thanks for your patience.

Machine Knitting – Finished Project Pictures

It feels fitting to end 2015 with an update on one of the projects I started in January, a machine knit scarf.

Machine Knit Scarf

When updating my blog last week I realised that I had scandalously neglected to post the finished pictures of my Machine Knit Scarf which I made in the Spring. Here are a few shots of me modelling my creation on Arthur’s Seat.

Machine Knit Scarf - Full view

It was finished just in time for summer and I have only just rescued it from one of the packing boxes. I’m loving wearing it so far!

Knitted pattern clash explosion for the last day of work before Christmas #machineknitting #pattern #knitting

A photo posted by Kristina Seznec (@kristinajseznec) on

Since making this project I have bought my own knitting machine and I’m looking forward to creating something new with it in January… watch this space! If you have any tips on punch cards or patterns please put them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year! Kx

Cleveland: an Accidental City Guide

Downtown Cleveland seen from the shore of Lake Erie

Downtown Cleveland seen from the shore of Lake Erie

It’s been a little while since I last posted, a lot has happened in the last six months which has meant I have had to take a blogging hiatus (moving flat, doing DIY on aforementioned flat, getting a puppy) but I’m back now with a slightly different post to kick things off – an homage to the city of Cleveland.

This Autumn I was lucky enough to visit Cleveland for the second time. Cleveland is one of those towns you either only dimly aware of (if you are British) or have bad associations with (if you are American). When I told most Brits I was visiting they would usually say “Where is it?”, and when I spoke to Americans they would usually say “Why?”. But contrary to popular opinion Cleveland is a charming place, the problem is it’s so much of a hidden gem that even when you are there it is difficult to work out what to do.

My beloved and I were in town for a wedding and had a couple of days to explore the city, but when we weren’t with the bride and groom we really struggled to find where to go or what to see. In the end we based much of our trip on the following forum thread on the Apartment Therapy website. This was posted in 2009, and I think the fact that we used this to plan a lot of our time shows how bad the problem is.

So in the name of telling the world how great a city Cleveland is here is my hit list of things to do and see in the city.

The People

Friendly people in Cleveland

Friendly people in Cleveland

The people of Cleveland are incredibly friendly, they are also astonished you are there. This conversation I had with a woman in the queue for security at Cleveland airport exemplifies the kind of interactions I had all week:

Lady – “I just heard your accent, where are you from?”
Me – “I’m from Scotland”
Lady – “And you came to Cleveland?!”
Me – “Yes”
Lady – “What did you think?”
Me – “I had a great time”
Lady – “Well imagine that!”

Also at the airport there is an electronic screen advertising the city which says “Cleveland – More affordable entertainment than other US Cities!”

There is so much more to Cleveland than a cheap night out. People of Cleveland: have more confidence in yourself. It’s a lovely place to visit.

Food & Drink

We stayed at an Airbnb in Tremont, a part of the city with some fantastic restuarants and bars all within walking distance. We loved Barrios for its tacos, beer and cocktails, and had fantastic American style pizza at Edisons. For breakfast we drove to Ohio City to Jack Flaps (which has delicious breakfast burritos and Vietnamese breakfast Bahn Mi).

For afternoon coffee and cake Blackbird Baking Company in Lakewood had delicious pastries and the best pumpkin spiced latte I have ever tried. Made with real pumpkin, apparently.

Real Pumpkin Spiced Latte anyone?

Real Pumpkin Spiced Latte anyone?

Cleveland boasts an embarrassment of new-wave brewpubs, notable places we visited included: Fathead (the beer is great but the branding gives me the creeps), Platform, Market Garden Brewery, and Great Lakes (special shout out to the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter). There are far too many for me to mention here – this is an opening selection, not a definitive list.

Shopping

Canopy Collective had an incredible fusion of mid-century furniture and knick-knacks combined with artist books and prints.

Flower Child Retro probably the best vintage shop I have ever been to – put aside a good few hours to explore the shop, it has everything from furniture to ballgowns. I walked away with three incredible velvet dresses. This is a must visit if you are in the area.

River Colors Yarn Store (next to Blackbird Baking Company) has a large selection of locally spun yarns and international wools.

If you love vinyl Separate Reality Records is overwhelming, with one of the largest selections of records I have ever seen, go there and lose yourself.

Separate Reality Records

Separate Reality Records

My Instagram Favourites #MMMay15

Me Made May wasn’t just about what I wore. One of my favourite things over the last month was cruising the hashtag and seeing all the wonderful creations people had made. It was also a fabulous way to discover some really talented bloggers I hadn’t come across before. I had so many favourites that it was hard to choose, but I wanted to share a couple here. Make sure you check out the instagram feeds of all these talented ladies!

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Vintage playsuit? Yes Please! This has given me some new inspiration for some vintage pattern fabric I have in my stash. GwenStella as a fabulous vintage inspired blog – enjoy!

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Some of the best constructed shots of #MMMay15 – her pictures on their own are a work of art. Seeing these pictures has really changed the way I’m going to think about photographing my projects in the future. That’s not to mention the colourful and beautifully made clothing.

Check out all of her photos on her inspirational blog.

Kooky umbrella pose #mmmay15 #moonlightexpressions

A photo posted by Nicki Thisismoonlight (@thisismoonlight) on

Cleocmc

So many incredible creations. I think this beautiful yellow pattern skirt is my favourite but to be honest its hard to choose. Also she seems to be working on an amazing fairisle knit sweater. Definitely one to watch.

Be sure to check out her blog which is full of amazing makes!

Day 11. The skirt and matching headband were made by me. #sewing #memademay #mmmay15 #mmm15

A photo posted by Constance Caddell (@cleocmc) on

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The clothes, the glasses, the attitude! Claudine I heart your style. You can find out what she has going on in her studio right now by visiting her blog – a must read.

Me Made May – An Overview!

Me Made May is officially over and it’s time to pick over the remains of a month of self-made clothing like a vulture over a carcass. I thought I would do a round up of my most liked outfits and also reveal my most worn item of clothing (I bet you can’t wait!).

By far and away my most liked (31 hearts on instagram) outfit was my self-drafted faux leather turquoise leggings, worn with “My First Sweater” a basic chunky knit Lion Brand Yarn pattern and a yellow scarf.

Yesterday's #mmmay15 self drafted faux leather leggings with also homemade my first sweater #memademay15 #sewing #knitting

A photo posted by Kristina Seznec (@kristinajseznec) on

Second in line with was this Vogue dress with lace curtain-like fabric and a neon orange underlay which got 29 likes. I look particularly inscrutable in this picture – I am not sure why…?

Lace dress with neon underlay day for #mmmay15. Pattern vintage vogue. #memademay15 #sewing

A photo posted by Kristina Seznec (@kristinajseznec) on

Finally the third most popular Me Made May photo with 27 likes was the Lisette Passport dress, worn here with a trench coat in sunny Glasgow.

Conversely my least liked photo was this:

Sadly I also had the chance to wear my waterproof cycling pants today too #mmmay15 #memademay15 #sewing

A photo posted by Kristina Seznec (@kristinajseznec) on

Waterproof cycling pants – proving the observation I made in my last post which is that people really don’t like rain. This leads to my next big reveal: the waterproof cycling/hiking/camping pants were my most worn item of May. I wore them so often that I stopped taking pictures pretty early on so as not to bore people. Over the weekend a sales assistant in a camping superstore told me that this has been the coldest May on record. I have no factual evidence to back that up but based on the frequency I reached for the waterproof pants I would say it’s probably true.

Lots of bloggers like to talk about what they learned during the process of wearing homemade clothing everyday, but I am not sure I learned much at all. Maybe this is because I am particularly shallow or because I regularly wear things I have made myself and this felt more like a bit of fun than a journey of self discovery. Does everything need to be justified by a deepening self awareness? I’m not so sure. Or at least I am not sure that wearing faux leather leggings you made yourself deepens you in any significant way.

The best part of the month though was all the encouragement I got from friends, family and other people taking part in Me Made May. I was really surprised at how many people liked and commented. Thank you!

Well that’s it for Me Made May this year. I might follow up with a post linking to all my favourite instagrammers over the month. I think I’ll definitely take part next year, it may not be a journey of self discovery but it is fun!

Me Made May – First Week Round Up

It’s been just over a week since the start of my Me Made May challenge to wear an item of clothing I have made myself everyday for the whole of May. So far I have been really enjoying wearing clothes I have made myself, although I haven’t had to change my normal outfits too much.

I’ve read a few blog posts from people taking part in the challenge and many people seem to have “learnt lessons” or gained insights from the process. I have to say that I haven’t learnt much about myself or my wardrobe from taking part but I have learnt a little more about social media. Here are some of my insights!

A Colourful Dress in a Sunny Location is Way more Likeable than Staple Items

The most liked outfits so far were taken when I was on holiday in the South of France. For example my own version of the Lisette Passport Dress photographed while on holiday in the picturesque town of Roussillon

Lisette Passport dress in reclaimed batik fabric #mmmay15 #ochre #roussillon

A photo posted by Kristina Seznec (@kristinajseznec) on

Compare this to the number of likes my self-drafted white t-shirt attracted, there is no contest. White t-shirts are officially boring.

Self drafted white t-shirt for Saturday shopping #mmmay15

A photo posted by Kristina Seznec (@kristinajseznec) on

Nobody Likes Rain 

My least liked picture so far has been this one of me wearing my waterproof pants. They may have been an intriguing and challenging sew but they do not make compelling instagram eye candy.

First day back from holiday and wearing homemade waterproof cycling trousers for #mmmay15

A photo posted by Kristina Seznec (@kristinajseznec) on

An Arty Shot Will Always Get Likes on IG

My most liked picture so far has been this one. Is it the liberty print fabric, is it the moody lighting, or the fact I am not smiling at the camera? I think this shot is more “classic” instagram than some of the others I have taken which may have helped.

My first Liberty Fabric dress taken out of retirement for #mmmay15. Pattern by Burda.

A photo posted by Kristina Seznec (@kristinajseznec) on

Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags

I began by just using the official hashtag, #mmmay15, but in the last couple of days I have noticed a lot of people using #memademay15. I’ve started using both although the purist in me wants to stick only to the official one.

Follow me on instagram or check out the hashtag to see all the outfits for the rest of the month. I can promise you that I will be wearing some of the more unusual items I have made in the next few weeks, it’s not just going to be 19 days of office appropriate attire.

Me Made May 2015 Pledge

I just took the plunge and signed up for Me Made May 2015. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years but I always seem to forget to sign up till it’s too late. Because it’s my first year I’ve decided to take it easy on myself and include altered and refashioned clothing in the pledge. I have also decided that accessories count so I may just spend the whole month in a wooly hat if it gets too tough.

For those who don’t know, Me Made May or #mmmay15 is a challenge designed to get anyone who makes or designs their own clothes to wear them every day for the whole month of May. You write your own pledge so you can make it as easy or as difficult as you like. Here is my pledge for reference:

I, Kristina from www.artfashiontech.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear at least one item of clothing I made myself or one item I have altered/refashioned for each day for the duration of May 2015

I have been hoping that my Ginger Jeans would be finished before the 1st May but unfortunately that hasn’t happened so my additional challenge to myself is to finish them before the 31st. If you want to take part yourself this is where you can find all the details. I will be posting a picture of my outfit everyday to instagram using the hashtag. Wish me luck!

A Year of Practicality – Waterproof Cycling Pants

BikePants-10 Since the start of the year I have been running round telling quite a lot of people that this is my “Year of Practicality”. No more frivolous dresses or esoteric art-fashion projects (or at least some of those but not at the expense of everything else) – this is the year I make real world practical wardrobe items. This is the year I use up fabric rather than wastefully buy more, this is the year I try and practice what I preach and make my wardrobe more sustainable (at least in a small way). BikePants-15 So without further ado I give you my first hyper practical sew: water and windproof cycling pants. The idea for these beauties started way back in August when we were invited to a friends wedding in Seattle, where we spent some time exploring the area including many fabric and craft stores. By far the most exciting of these stores was Seattle Fabrics which was suggested by Brian (hi Brian!). This store sold technical fabrics and had everything you might need to make outdoor wear, sleeping bags, tents, and sales for boats. It was totally fascinating and exactly the kind of specialist shop you just don’t find in the UK. BikePants-9 I felt compelled to buy something from all the goodies available in the shop and came away with the pattern and all the supplies to make a pair of waterproof pants/trousers for cycling and camping. I thought since the winter was fast approaching this would be a great thing to make. But life got in the way and I only got up the courage to give them a go now. The pattern is made by The Green Pepper Inc and is printed on newsprint with a lovely 70s retro feel to the design. The instructions are very easy to follow and the pattern would have made up very quickly if I hadn’t had so much trouble topstitching around the zips where the bulky piping, zip and several layers of fabric met. In the end I had to take a break and do it over several days. BikePants-18 The fabric is water proof and breathable, with reflective pre-made piping for nighttime wear. In the colours I tried to capture some of the classic Norwegian cross-country ski wear of my youth, going with red and dark blue. A quick word on the pattern: I would buy a little extra fabric if you are even slightly taller than average height. The pattern instructions ask for  2 1/2 yards of 45″ fabric and this was barely enough to cut the standard length of trouser. BikePants-1 Of course, springtime decided to arrive in Scotland as soon as I finished these and I haven’t had a chance to test them against the elements. When we took these photos I asked my Beloved if I should take my helmet off for the shots because I was worried I might look a little dorky, but he gently pointed out that cycling back and forth having your photo taken wearing waterproof pants on the hottest day of the year isn’t exactly the coolest thing to do – so safety first!

(UPDATE – I tested these out in the rain and they were very waterproof! Here is some photographic evidence)

Machine Knitting and My Inner Critic

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I’m always scared of sharing a picture like this. I’m terrified someone will say:

“What are you doing?! That’s not the correct way to wet block a piece of knitting! You’re not using the right equipment – are you sure those are rust proof pins? They certainly aren’t specialist pins designed for blocking. If you don’t do it right the edges will be uneven and you will get little rust marks on your wool. 

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“And is that a yoga mat? Why don’t you have a proper foam base on which to pin your fabric? One with a wire at the top to hold the piece flat. Also why is it on the floor? It’s a trip hazard and someone could hurt themselves on all those pins.

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“And while I’m at it why do you have such badly finished black painted flooring? Don’t you know that it looks terrible in photos. This blog isn’t aspirational at all. Your interior design sense is terrible, and your project does not match your furniture.

“Also isn’t writing a blog post about this very self-indulgent? No one cares what you think about knitting or anything else.” 

This is exactly the type of inner monologue which runs through my mind when I make something like this and think about sharing the picture. I’m largely self taught as a sewer, knitter and designer and almost everything I learnt came from books or the internet, as well as a few helpful tips from friends and relatives and the odd evening course and workshop. So when I come to actually work on a technique a lot of the time what I am doing is actually made up.

But what am I so scared of? There are plenty of internet trolls out there but not many dedicated to knitting (or so I hope!). And if it is wrong who cares? Really who cares?! This scarf is for me, I’m not hurting anyone and if I move fast enough when I wear it no one will notice the mistakes anyway.

There are a lot of conversations being had right now around imposter syndrome, particularly in women, and I have been speaking with lots of friends about how perfection in any artistic endeavour is a fool’s errand. But why can’t I take this to heart? Why am I still thinking these things? Does anyone else recognise these feelings?

What I am slowly discovering is that machine knitting a scarf might be an 11 week project but having confidence in your ability is one that takes a lifetime.

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