Wednesday, November 02, 2016

New socks and the second chapter of the Coat Saga

My first pair of socks from Socktober crops. These were knitted with LouhittarenLuola Väinämöinen,
sturdy, hardwearing, fingering weight sock yarn with 2,25mm (US1) needles. I knitted them toe up.
We were taking pictures close to someone’s home… I did carefully try to peek inside but did not see anyone, and since I did not want to have unwanted encounter and scare him, I did not intrude further and we changed a location.
The new location pictures were not usable, but I had to include this one, because it is sort of funny … see the wellies… that sometimes happens; you forget to clean the area before taking the pictures.

My coat saga continues… I was wondering what would be the right name for this project, is it refashioning, or remaking, or redoing, or upcycling? I do like what Wikipedia defines as upcycling

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.”

In the spirit of transforming unwanted, useless (as without the closure before) product into new and better, I thought that I would need to add to the wool quantity (in the beginning 64%) of the coat. I remembered I had some Alpaca (truly old find in the stash: Du store Alpakka 50g = 167m, I believe it is this one, the beige balls were without the band but the brown still had the band) in the stash in a color that would be close to the coat’s color. (I know, Alpaca is not technically called wool, so I should maybe say that I wanted to increase the natural fiber contend of the coat.)
After buttoning the fake fur back to the hood, I took a long and good look at the coat. The design is simple, and since the front had the straps and now new buttons, and plain pockets, I did not want to break the look of the front. Even though I was tempted to add some detailing to the sleeves, I disregarded the idea, because the closure area needs to be the center of the attention. Instead I decided to knit long ribbed cuffs with Alpaca to make the coat warmer and cozier. Adding new, long cuffs meant that I could get rid of the old, worn cuffs.

Alpaca is warm, often soft, has a lovely halo and thus looks comfy but at the same time, it is not very bouncy and does not keep its shape very well. These two last facts required that for the knitted cuffs to keep their shape well, I had to knit them tightly and make them snug. With wear the cuffs are bound to get roomier (hopefully not too loose), so at this point they are quite tight. One layer of ribbing would have been too thin somehow for a coat, so I knitted them so long that they can be folded.
I started with tubular cast on for a polished look, used 2mm (US0) needles and made k1tbl/p1 ribbing for a good many rounds. The cuffs are knitted from the bottom up, and they are attached to the insides of the sleeves with hand stitching.
For the last few rounds of the cuffs, I changed the needle size two sizes for the bigger, so that they could be sewn on comfortably, and I would not need to stretch the cuffs too much to match the circumference of the sleeves. This worked beautifully. Now my cuffs are well-fitting, but they do not pull and crush the sleeves so that it would be visible on the outside.

Before attaching the new ribbed cuffs, I shortened the sleeves. Normal procedure: at first I picked out the seam that joins the lining to the outer fabric, ironed both the lining and the main fabric to be able to cut accurately, measured how long I wanted the sleeves to be, made the cut for the wool, folded and pressed the fabric to the inside and hand sewed it to its place. Then did the same for the lining, remembering to add the ease for the length. After the sleeves were shortened, I hand stitched the knitted cuffs to the inside of the sleeves. I thought this was the easy way to do it, but there might be better ways that I don’t know of.

What next?

Going back to the fact that the coat is simple, and I want to keep the front that way, does not mean that I can’t work on the back. There is nothing there, it is blank canvas and that is going to be my playground. I have some ideas for the back, but… before I am going to address it, I will need to think how I am going to wear this coat. If there is going to be something in the back side, then I don’t want to cover it by a scarf or a shawl. In this weather, you need to wrap something around your neck to stay warm. I need to think up a way to add a layer of wool (natural fiber) to the inside of the coat, in a form of a scarf or a shawl. So, I will do that yet, before I start the fun part.
I hope it is a fun part. Often though, what I anticipate to be easy and joyous, can turn out to be quite tricky and I am little bit cautious. I hope to stay focused, want to add to the coat, not to take away from it. I want to follow the upcycling movement and make a statement (quiet, firm, not loud shouting from the roof tops) that this garment is re-purposed, reused and has a long life. It needs to be at the same time, both discreet (for me to be able to wear it, I am not very showy) and it also needs to have the crack for the interest.

Next time the neck piece and then finally I get to work with the back. Stay tuned! (She says casually, because she finds this very, very interesting and gripping almost and of course thinks that you all feel the same way. But how do you feel? Do you have closet full of unused clothes that you are keeping in the hopes of using them sometime? Or just a few that you cannot give away? I know I have few sweaters too that I want to repurpose at some point and I don’t mean ripping them, although that would be reusing too.)

(This morning, I already visited the walk-in closet and was looking for the next coat. This is quite embarrassing, showing you all my "treasures" from the previous decades. I trust that you understand and maybe have a collection of your own, embarrassing or not. I even have a couple that I rescued from my Mom that she wore in the 1960´s. I am trying to think of ways to use knitting to alter these coats, as there are so many interesting techniques to try, like maybe double knitting and of course lace.)
Wool with you,

The pearl rows in the shawl I showed you last time were crocheted on, but using a technique that is called Mosaic Crochet. I learned this technique from Lily Chin's video I bought from Interweave Crochet. I am not sure if the stitch I used is there, but that is the principle and you can adapt the technique any way you can think of. Basically you crochet further down to previous rows; all the puff stitches in my shawl were long double crochet stitches that were done three rows below the row I was working the single crochet stitches. 


  1. Well, I for one find all this very interesting, and can't wait to see the rest!

  2. I'm not sure I would add anything else to the coat except accessories. It's such a lovely color.

    I have several handknit sweaters I don't wear. If they are feltable, I may do that and make something with the felted material.

  3. I'm curious, too. I have over the years now and again tried to alter things, save old ones or upcycle things from the charity shop, but often not with much succes. I am impatient and admire your patience. I am right now in the process of altering a sweater, felted and being turned in to a skirt, I am lining it with a thin, store bought skirt with pockets ... not quite sure how everything is going to work together ...

  4. Your new cuffs look fabulous on/with the coat. Great result! Playing with the back could be such fun. Can't wait to see what you come up with. Also love, love, love your socks...great shots (wellies and all!).

  5. Love your socks and updating old treasures. Carry on.

  6. Beth in Maryland19:48

    You are right, the coat odyssey is fascinating!! looking forward to the next installment. Thanks for the crochet info!

  7. The way you shortened your coat sleeves is exactly how I would have done it, and I have been sewing as part of my living for 30 years.
    I have lots of items that are the wrong size of unflattering, but I love them for some reason, plus things that I have picked up because of the color or texture. And I always mean to do something with them, but I'm not good at imagining them altered. Except for the easy silks that I make into small knitting project bags. My biggest challenge is a coat. It is much too small for me, and it's fur (which I don't generally wear)... but it was my grandmother's from the 50's. It is special to me. But what to do with it? Perhaps I will be inspired by you!

  8. sandra01:34

    I am finding the coat saga gripping! I have in my pile (I swear, I WILL organise!) a purple fur coat (the me-est coat ever!)that needs a new method of fastening, among other things. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  9. <3 You got some of Tuulia's yarn! She's wonderful!

  10. Having gone back and reread these upcycling posts, I am finding you have triggered my creativity for a coat I was sadly going to donate - it is a little too tight over the hips. Now I am thinking I could knit wedhe-shaped inserts to put in the side seams... and use some embroidery... The coat is light turquoise and my favourite combination is turquoise and cherry red: now, maybe that work could be in red and REALLY pep the coat up into a truly individual piece??!! Oh Lene, you are brilliant ;)
    ps also to even think of jazzing up self-striping socks with a contrasting stripe at the toe - pure genius!! I will definitely be doing this on my next ones... so pretty and subtle! <3