yea for crochet – 2 new tanks

Crochet is the perfect go to for me right now, especially sitting in the evenings as tv gets very tired very quickly! I have always found it very calming, all you ever have to think about is one stitch at a time.

After making the pillar to post shawl/poncho last september, I had my eureka moment and decided to make a tank. I had found it tricky to dress for work in the hospital (in winter) as its a warmer office environment than I had been used to in previous jobs. My wool sweaters were too warm and cardigans were fine, but I needed something to keep my neck warm!

It really wasnt much of a eureka as the pillar to post stitch I used in the poncho, originally came from a tank pattern. The eureka moment was probably making a detatchable cowl collar. The first collar I did was just a basic rib, and the second style was one with a bit of a hem so it would sit better tucked in (I now think I should have made the hem longer an as I have red yarn left, I will get to it.

I was doubly pleased as the sirdar harrap yarn (although a synthetic mix) I picked up locally was a perfect match for my favourite ever pair of trousers (gorgeous wool, picked up at a charity shop some years back and only needed mimimum alteration).

Of course why make one, when you can make 2 so I made a 2nd in navy, using a beautiful tweed wool (and 2 different collars). in all the tanks and collars used about 750 metres of dk yarn and I used a 4 and 5 hook.

For me – the proof will always be in how quickly any new piece integrates with my wardrobe and both of these were worn straight away and lots since. Even though I am working from home since January, they are still worn plenty, as they work well with a cardigans.

Hope everyone is keeping well and staying safe!

Fashion Revolution plans, crochet makes and embroidered skirt

So how are ye all? I am sure everyone (I know I am) is still reeling in shock at how things can get up-ended so fast, and still changing daily.

In Ireland all changes had been introduced over the course of the last few weeks, from closing schools first then closing pubs, then restaurants to now ‘lockdown’ as of last Friday night, for 2 weeks so as to ‘flatten the curve’. About 10 days ago I developed a tightness in my throat and small cough while on some days off work, so before returning to work (clerical work in a hospital) I checked with the doctor if it was appropriate to do so. I was advised to self isolate for 2 weeks and return after that. On one hand I feel I may have been over-cautious, but on the other, I think it better I don’t bring in any bugs to work. (I am not going to be tested for Covid19 as I don’t have a fever), so the symptoms of whatever I have should have fully passed in the next week.

The absence of traffic (and jams) is both calming and eerie, and the absence of litter is a novelty. It seems the opposite to all the dystopian movies, and to feeling rather guilty knowing we can at least stay at home and not worry so about basics such as food and shelter ….. News is generally overwhelming so I tend to ration TV, radio and online news feed.  Right now I dont have any radio on, but I do think I will look up a podcast of my favourite radio show to sew to ‘Movies and Musicals’ later… its pure escapism for me to balance it all out.

On another note, in the last few months, myself and my friend Cathriona had planned some fashion revolution events which now will be shelved for another time. I had been looking forward to doing a repair cafe, and talk in Galway City Museum, isn’t this flyer great? Cathriona designed that one!

gandi davitt

We also planned an upcycling workshop the following day in another venue, showing how to make the denim patchwork dress as well as the three armhole dress (in the pattern section here). I have now decided I will work on a child’s version of the three armhole dress,  and aim to upload the pattern and photos of the make for April 25/26.

I have been doing some crochet since Christmas as its so handy to do watching TV. I loved the intricate design of this Huldra Sweater which is relatively simple once you get the pattern and went to great lengths to get the yarn as I did not have the quantities in my stash – I like the sweater but did make it twice as had to frog first one as it was too big, I also got a kick out of one colleagues comments, ‘like your sweater, its like something one of those Manson’ chicks would wear…..’ (I think he was referring to the movie ‘Once upon a time in Hollywood).

The second one is  Terra Firma, its a great pattern as you can use any yarn any size once you do a gauge swatch. I had some stash navy which I eeked this out of, the original neckline was a little bit high so I frogged from ‘beginning’ and used the yarn to get another 2 cm at the bottom. I used another same weight navy for all the trim, there is a shade difference but I think it looks well as the full trim is in this 2nd navy. The buttons were from the button box and were chosen in that I had a lot of them and they were the right size, I may yet change them for ‘flat’ style buttons.

terra firma

The second cardi was to ‘go with’ this embroidered skirt, as a layering piece for winter. I finally got around to lining it last week. I was so looking forward to making this and took ages figuring a colour way….. Now that its done, I think I have one or two motif too many, and should have let the front slit without motif – currently the skirt length is about 4 inches below the knee.

The skirt was a plain wool skirt I got in a charity shop some time ago. I really did not need any more skirts but I can never resist beautiful wool and often these skirts are overlooked and just left there…… The embroidery motif was purchased online and lining it up proved fiddly and I think (know) I may have deviated off grain with the embroidery. The waistband was reconstructed from the original pieced one. I am currently wearing it ‘around the house’ to see how it wears and moves as embroidery can make the fabric very stiff, so far its a good fit and the front slit is working as expected (ie not kicking out).

skirt and crochet

Ultimately my highlight of the week was seeing the growth in the garden and the insects all coming back, especially bumblebees which I think work the hardest and are so gentle. The past few years we have had late frosts which killed off a lot of plum blossom but so far it all looks promising there. The thoughts of a ‘silent spring’ gives me the most anxiety of all.

So thats the craic here. When the corona virus started to hit Italy so badly, I came across an article on the Decameron, and then I got lent the book last week….. and I will sit out the next few days on the sofa with this for company.


Anyone else coming across good books or podcasts…would love to know?

I do hope you are all keeping well, and staying safe.

FASHION REVOLUTION 2019 – Tee shirt dresses and discussions

As well as making the sweaters and tunic skirts, I made three dress.

They were very enjoyable but took a fair amount of trial and error. Originally my stitch mixes were very ambitious but also very fussy so I crocheted and frogged in equal measure. Figuring colours was also tricky as I wanted to used all the colours but equally didn’t want the look too busy.


The first dress was from an unworn ASOS dress from the charity shop, with bare shoulder detail. I trimmed the sleeves to make a trapeze style dress. The fabric was a viscose mix and a good weight. I trimmed the neckline and armholes with 2 simple lines, and the hem was done with coloured bands of stitch mixes. I used mainly US half-double stitches back loop only or a basic fillet stitch.

pink dress

I had purchased 2 of the same teeshirts from the charity shop, both were XXL cotton teeshirt which had some wear, and still plenty of wear left in them.

Both were cut and I put front and back pleats to take in the excess fabric at the ‘yoke’. I had tried gathering, but did not like the ‘effect’ of this. I could have cut these also to an a-line shape but I wanted to try a different cut to see how it worked.

For Dress 1 – I did a toned colour scheme. I trimmed the bottom of the dress with a series of stitches with coordinating colours ending with a ‘block stitch’. The shoulder band was crocheted separately and attached afterwards. The stitch is a v stitch.


For Dress 2 – I used some contrasting shades. I did a mix of stitches and patterns and got a bit more ‘experimental’. I swatched a fair bit for this which took a long time but it was worth it to get the balance in the end.

For the yoke did a simple rectangle shape using v stitch and with lines of different colours.


I then finished the armholes with lines of US single crochet and had to also ‘take in’ some of the excess from the armholes with some decreases.

The dresses were donated to Cope Charity Shop for Fashion Revolution week, the idea being that the charity shop could show them in-store to show some upcycle techniques for tee shirts, and I also did a free workshop in the museum to share the techniques from the makes. Luckily Claudia and Angelica from the weekly stitch meet ups (yarn collective galway) and helped show the crochet, so by the time the workshop was done, everyone learned the blanket stitch and crochet stitches.

Cope Charity Shop hosted a discussion for Fashion Revolution Week on the future for sustainable fashion. In ways I am rather surprised that more charity shops dont get involved with Fashion Revolution week – Galway and Ireland have a lot of charity shops and one thing that did come up in the discussion on Sunday in ‘Cope’ was Spain and Estonia do not. When I approached Cope Charity Shop originally last year to ask if they would show my remakes in the shop, they were the only shop I considered. They have high standards in their shop and also have a good outreach with their social media page. They also seemed to me to potentially be open to the idea (and I was so right there). I would love to see more charity shops work with other makers.

I have the links to the Cope Charity Shop Facebook page here – they did some wonderful photos of the makes, and their shop window has all the fashion revolution tips.


Again, I really enjoyed the making for the event, as by having to do repeat makes really upped the game and I tried a different take with each make, and experimented a lot more on the theme that I would do on single makes. I also got to make styles that I may not wear but others would (like skimpy beach tops!). I also got to try out some new crochet stitches, and my new favourite stitch is the ‘box stitch’ – thats the turquoise blocks below as I have also started to make a navy version for myself!


The stitch guide and pattern  will be listed with my patterns in the pattern page here hopefully next week…. once I finish the chart!

Fashion Revolution 2019 – Tee Shirt to dress / skirt / tunic

For this years fashion revolution, I had decided I would like to do a similar project to last years where I donated specific upcycled makes to a local charity shop so they could ‘exhibit’ these and sell in store.

Last years theme was denim, and this years is tee shirts and sweaters.

The reason I chose these items is both are ubiquitous items and heavily donated to charity shops. They are also sold a lot in fast fashion chains and discount stores and often of poor quality and disposed of quickly, so the idea to prolong the wearing of these was particularly appealing.

I had tried a crochet trim on knits before and find it a very useful way of upcycling sweaters and tee shirts. I prefer the ‘look’ of the crochet trim especially on sweaters when worn with tweeds as it seems to add another detail which I think balances with tweed so well. I did a selection of sweaters (see former post ) and also adapted the toast pattern for a heavier knit sweater.

The sweaters below are a mix. The pink sweater is a turtleneck boat neck, and made using ‘toast sweater pattern’. The red sweater is a basic raglan recut and remake trimmed with pink crochet stitches. The blue sweater is a sweater recut and trimmed with 5 chains (skipping 3 sc spaces) for a few lines and the last line is 3 chains to ‘draw’ it in)

For the tee shrits I made a tee shirt tunic which can be worn as a skirt or as a tunic.

fashion rev 19 montage 1

I was especially pleased with this, as I figured a nice trim for the hem which did not take up too much yarn. The tee shirt pictured here too less than a 50g ball of yarn. This 50g ball was used for this tee shirt and also for the neckline and sleeve trim of the cardigan.

There were a few versions made but the approach was the same for them all.

The teeshirt was checked for holes (which could be covered with a crochet motif or pocket teeshirt cut(if you wish), and then trimmed and cut out an a-line shape.

The tie is a foundation crochet length about 160cm/2m long. I chose foundation sc crochet instead of a chain as there is more stretch in foundation crochet and also it would be easier to wear. I finished the ties with beads, and knotted the end.


The top and hem are then finished with a blanket stitch and crocheted into. The pattern guide for this can be found in the pattern links section of this blog and also on ravelry which I have linked here.




Depending on the length of the tee-shirt, it can work as a tunic and skirt, or a dress and long skirt. I have made up a few of these and the pattern takes less than a 50g ball of 4 ply yarn. For this one, I used a 50g ball to make the tunic/skirt below and a matching cardigan trim!

sweater tunic twin set

I made some others in varying colours and lengths, if you have a long tee shirt it will wear as a dress, or you can add an alternative length trim.

I also did some dresses, but am still writing up the pattern for that, and should have the post up later in the week.

I will also be doing workshop in these in Galway Museum – which are free and part of fashion revolution week!

Looking forward to seeing the events on this year for Fashion Revolution (and of course MeMadeMay!)

My ‘Anthro’ crochet beach dress

My favourite way to finish sweaters is a crochet edge, one reason is its incredibly quick way to finish, and the second is it gives a sweet hand-made touch – the last one I did was a navy cardigan – I don’t have the before photo but it was a zara long cardigan which was rather jaded looking and languishing on the ‘euro rail’ (reduced rail in charity shop). (I have put a small ‘how to add trim’ or ‘how I do’ here)

I had thought a few times of trying crochet trims on tee-shirts but never did – until this ‘Anthopologie’ number popped up on my pinterest feed the Xanthe dress.

I follow Anthropologie on Pinterest, and I only got to visit the store for the first time in York.  It was interesting but slightly boring, the huge whale made from denim was brilliant, but it was really racks of the same clothes.  I think I have gotten used to charity shops with where everything is different and requires a look, that I sometimes get bored in shops!  I didn’t see this dress when I was there, but it did pop into my feed a week after I came back.  I really loved the fresh look and colours and thought I should try something similar.  So a few days later when I was in a charity shop, I got this jersey skirt and its a perfect colour (although a small bit light).  I cut the waist-band off, cut a ‘vague’ underarm curve to give illusions of sleeves, and then a neckline.

Originally this dress was to be whipped up in no time, and use some left over yarn. I blanket stitched the neck and sleeves and did them first in a mix of single, double crochet and fillet stitch.  but this was not meant to be, I was nearly finished when the weight of the yarn had the dress stretched to mid-calf.  But as I was happy with the dress besides…………I went out and bought the yarn in 4ply, and started all over again.  This time I flew through it as the stitches were worked out.  I pretty much went with similar patterns to the original, I used some fhdc’s here and there, and I am unsure how the braiding was done on the ‘Anthro’ dress, but I did a foundation chain, and threaded it through the white fillet.  I tightened the neckline but I am thinking of making it big again after seeing the photos, it was more boat-necked before hand.


There is something so perfect about crochet summer dresses, especially on a warm day, as they are incredibly comfortable to wear.  I don’t really like to sit in sunshine so generally use this sunhat every summer if I sit ‘out the back’.  (when I say every summer, I mean every summer for the past 27 years…… probably my best buy-it-once buy)




Sweater Remake

I got this sweater at the euro rail – its one of the few things I bought in a charity shop this year.  I am trying to get through what I have here – but I seem to make an exception for the euro rail – I often think these are the ‘no hope-ers’ and bound for landfill.  I love this colour, the fabric is cotton knit/ jersey.  The sweater colour is uneven due to wear and laundry, but to me this was part of the appeal as the colour now looked slightly textured,For the remake, I used the Astoria initially and also my own block.  It was all straight forward.  I added 5 inches to the length, and made the sleeves as long as I could.  I sewed it using the overcast stitch on the ‘new’ machine.  (so handy)

Cut out


Cutting Sleeve – I use bulldog clips to keep the two layers together, and it stops the fabric rolling back in.

I was unsure about the neck finish, and luckily I had some of the same shade in yarn, left
over from a previous project!  (its a colour I like).  I turned the edges and machine basted them, and blanket stitched them.  The trim is a mix of double and treble (uk) stitches.




Love how it turned out -I cannot believe how quick and easy these types of sweater remakes are, (and the corresponding amount of sweaters on the men’s rail in charity shops).  I have a few more sweaters to remake soon, but I am hoping to try a few different finishes, like embroidered hems and embroidered embellishments….


the best laid plans – future projects and cashmere sweater.

at the beginning of the year, I went through all the fabrics,/stash, and acquired charity shop buys and I made a plan to try and get through them.  Stash is about 12 x  half, 1 and 2 metre lots with 1 x 3 metre piece.  I divided everything by colour and then drew up some’ little ladies’ and had a plan for each month pretty much until August, and beyond.

For the most part this has been helpful to keep me focused and I can still update each month if any better options come to mind.  For all the remakes I have been doing – 50% have been trouble free and straightforward, and the other 50% have had to have a re-think, where there was insufficient fabric for the pattern (happens the most), or the design didn’t look right for the fabric.   Of these, most will go according to the new plan – however some do not. and these few are the ones I spend an obscene amount of time trying to make right before they work or I admit defeat…

May is not going to plan, at all, and I am having a week of it at the moment.  Two patterns I tried out on a whim are going a breeze, and one pair of trousers are going decidedly south (so they are being put away for the next while as they are breaking my heart) – and yet the piece I was supposed to be doing was still on the mannequin last Thursday waiting…..

refashion sweater to cardigan

its a pink cashmere sweater that came to a standstill – which is why this post is being posted a few days late…………When I got this sweater, I saw cashmere and the quality felt okay, and the size a little big, it was stained and had a hole in the underarm seam, and I bought it for 4euro.  When I got home, it went straight to the basin.   I am not too squeamish but I was surprised by how grubby this jersey was.   I did Home Ecc/Domestic Science in school, and amongst other things (like cooking sheeps heart…..), in one class we were taught how to wash a wool sweater.  At the time, I thought the nuns were leading me to a life of indenture and servitude and was not very impressed, whereas now I realised the value of these lessons (although I will pass on the sheeps heart!).  After laundering the sweater (and the dash of vinegar in rinse) it came up a treat and the cashmere got back its buttery softness – ah bliss!

I cut it to make a cardigan, trimming very little from the neck, cutting up a centre front, taking about 4 inches from sleeves and hem.  I hand hemmed using an ‘internal’  hand sewn zig zag stitch to keep it flat.  the thickness of the cashmere concealed the stitch (which was just as well as the thread is not an exact match.   

refashion sweater to cardigan

My original idea was to crochet and sew on an elaborate trim in orange like a matador jacket, for the neck, front and hem edges and the cuffs – a bit of a grandiose idea, and I even dyed some left over mixed-silk yarn (daft I know) from the poncho last year.  I crocheted a swatch in red and a swatch in orange as I was unsure of the orange, and in the end I didn’t think either would work as  ‘the elaborate border’ so went the more conservative route of a simple trim.  

Also as the yarn was originally 2 shades (and the yarn was made of 2 fingering weights, one linen pale, and one silk which was darker? I had to later separate them and used the darker silk yarn (and a 2.5 hook).  I stitched a blanket stitch on the inside in same colour embroider thread to hold the trim.   The cardigan is trimmed with some rows of single stitch, then one row fillet, and some single stitch.  I added a line of shells to the cuff.  A very simple re-do, but takes a bit longer with a 2.5 hook!


The other piece that fell by the wayside this month is my planned  galatzine coat.  I was going to use some dress linen but think the weight is too light.  I did a toile (the toile was cut from the lining pattern as it was intended on being the lining) from a sheet and put it in the orange dye (its pretty awful and came out a very lurid shade.).  The toile has a lovely fit, but as the entire coat is cut on the bias I will think about it some more, If I interline it, I could lose the quality of the linen, and I wanted a lighter weight summer coat.  I did put a post on we sew retro asking if anyone had made it (no one had) and there was the suggestion of just going for a heavier weight which I am now reluctantly agreeing with….I am thinking of trying a simpler coat with the linen…..

refashion sweater to summer sweater with crochet trim

crochet trim sweater

I got this jumper in a charity shop last year.  I can never resist a fine knit wool, this has some silk and rayon in the mix so its light and warm.  Its also got the style neckline I find odd, its neither a polo, or round neck, but I figured I would ‘road test’ it over the winter and decide its fate.  As its so light, I thought it would make a great ‘transition’ wear sweater (or as I am so cold blooded most probably a summer sweater).  I didn’t over-think it too much, and thought a simple border would work.  I had some double knits in stash, and would have preferred a 4 ply or fingering, but the double knit wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be (and I also need to shrink the basket of half balls of yarn).   I had this ‘nico’ cotton a few shades – dark red, hot pink, cream, and taupe.  Originally I was going to use the dark red and then do the red with taupe, and then figured the taupe on its own could look well.  It co-ordinates perfectly.

upcycle sweater crochet trim

I trimmed the sweater, and cut the sleeves a bit shorter, and cut a neckline.  I was a bit nervous cutting the neckline as I didn’t want to trim too much.  I tacked a hem on all edges and did a blanket stitch edging with matching linen thread (I would have preferred buttonhole thread but the linen thread matched perfectly).  The first line of single crochet was stitched to this.  I did some ‘single crochet together’ on the neckline rows to tightened the neckline a bit and finished the border with a row of picot.  I don’t know if this is too fiddly, but without it seems a bit too plain, and it can be easily undone.  It was relatively quickly done, over two evenings by the tv catching up on recordings (so didn’t feel too much of a slacker).   Really happy with sweater.  Always a good sign when I wear it straight away…………….

stripy tee – with crochet panel

gosh – these 1euro buys……. currently I am on a self-imposed charity shop buy ban (unless its so so essential – are coats essential?)  as I have to work through what I have!  This tee shirt was bought as I wanted to try out a crochet panel on a tee shirt which is pretty much what I did.  Crochet tends not to photograph easily, as the background colour (mannequin) tends to glow through!

refashion upcycle tee shirt crochet panel

I cut the front out, and had some circle motifs from a project some time back that I was going to use, but when it applying them, I had gone off the idea of the circles as 6 were slightly too long for t, and 4 too short.  I decided to make a panel instead.

upcycle tee shirt crochet panel

So after cutting the front, I was to do a blanket stitch, but the jersey was a bit mobile, so I machined a hem line, and then did the blanket stitch in button thread.  I then single crocheted (or double in uk terminology) around the edge.  I was to work into these crochet stitches but at this stage I had changed my mind about using the motifs, and crocheted a panel instead as it would also be easier as it would be even both sides.  If I was crocheting up the tee shirt, I would have used my side stitches.

The nice bit about crochet is it is so portable and a good few rows were done in the hairdressers!  I ended up hand-sewing the panel on as when I crocheted it in, it looked a bit lumpy.

The pattern is 
quite simple.  The fillet stitch  could also be threaded with colour ribbon, or the panel could be made in two halves with extra rows of single (uk doubles) at the centre for buttons and button holes to make a cardigan out of a sweater.

pillar to post, cardigan to poncho

Some years ago, I learned how to crochet properly.  and the one thing about crochet, for me at least is, it instills patience, and shows that all mistakes can be undone.  Another nice thing about crochet is that you are making the garment and fabric up at the same time and if you crochet in the round, you can try on as you go and wear when you do the last stitch!  

Crochet turned out to be easier than I thought, the big bit is learning to hold the yarn correctly, its like the tension control of a sewing machine, (thanks to Collette Burke for showing me that) and after mastering that and the chain stitch, my sister Eithne (a left handed crochet-er) showed me the double and treble stitch – all you need is to know are the 2 stitches, and everything else is a variant after that.  

I was very precious of all pieces crocheted at first but over time, if I didn’t wear them, they were frogged and remade to something else,all garments becoming functional storage for yarn!  It is not to difficult to unmake a homemade item, but its a bit trickier to undo a store bought, so I rarely try.  When I saw this cardigan in the charity shop I was drawn to the quality of the yarn , the cardigan was a bit pulled in places, and also.had a stain, but when you unravel yarn, these parts can be taken out then.  This cardigan yarn was quite luxurious being a mix of cotton, silk and linen, so it would drape well (cotton) and have some warmth to it (silk) and yet have a coolness (linen) – the best of all three, so worth a try.  

It came apart well enough, there was some yarn lost due to a strange stain on sleeve that didn’t come out.  The cardigan was machine knitted with two shades of yarn (you can see there is a small piece beside the balls of yarn), the darker yarn stayed at the front and the lighter to the back so when it unravelled, I got the two yarns together so its more of a tweed effect.  I could have split them back into two, but that would have halved the amount so I thought the tweed would be fine for a multi-functioning poncho wrap, and perfect for my sister Eithne who is blond and suits these shades, and also dislikes wool (in scarves as they can be scratchy), and likes the drape of cotton, and has some very early morning starts this winter.

so with the help of buttons,  its now a shrug, poncho, cardigan, scarf combo…………………the photos below were taken in natural light, so are slightly darker, whereas the ones on top were taken with flash so are lighter.  the silk in the yarn reflects light easily.

If you wish to have a copy of this pattern, please use the contact form and include your email address and I will forward it to you –please note this pattern is a first draft.  I have put it in chart format as I prefer charts. I have done some small charts of the pattern, and not the full thing, so you can increase the diamond pattern to the amount you would prefer.  There are written instructions for the charts on the last page.