There’s a lot of talk in woolly circles about people being “bicraftual”. Normally, this refers to people who both knit and crochet. It’s surprisingly uncommon – most people either have a very strong preference for one over the other, or are like me. I tried crossing over to the dark side (crochet), but I just can’t get the hang of it. It’s not even as if I just need to get over the hump of being a beginner and therefore rubbish, as in the same timeframe I’ve gone from roving falling apart in my hands to being a reasonably proficient spinner. There is something about crochet that just. Does. Not. Compute. So the bicraftual label is not one I normally claim for myself.
However, I do sew. I sew pretty badly, but that’s besides the point. As it isn’t one of the “Ravelry crafts” – that’s knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, dyeing and tatting, for the uninitiated – I tend not to consider it as part of the same crafty sphere.
I’m currently making an exception, because recently knitting and sewing have come together in a way that I didn’t really expect. To be fair, it’s mainly because I’m cheap and incompetent, but never mind.
I decided to make a pair of pyjama shorts from a recent-ish issue of BurdaStyle. Don’t ask me which one, as it is currently in disgrace. I traced off the pattern pieces, drafted on the seam allowances and set to work. And before any of you start on me in the comments, yes, I checked my measurements. Several times, because I was a little bit taken aback (OK, and also slightly offended) to find that I had a size 16 waist according to the sizing chart. But I told myself to stop being vain and silly, to trust the pattern and tape measure, and continued.
Partly because this was my first time sewing with a knitted fabric, and partly because the pattern directions were sodding confusing, I didn’t register the true size of what I was making until the time came to put the waist elastic in. I get that these are pyjamas and are meant to be loose-fitting, gathered in by the elastic. However, what I had made was HUGE. Proper ribcage to knees Victorian bloomers huge. Of course, I didn’t notice this until after I’d gone through the massive ball ache that is hemming round a corner.
So I ripped all the seams out, hacked off the seam and hem allowances, plus a few inches at the waist for good measure, and redid it all. Still massive. Rinse and repeat.
Did I mentioned that this was the third time I’d had to hem around those sodding corners? In jersey, which slips and slides and gets pulled out of shape if you look at it funny? Good. So I think you can appreciate that perhaps I didn’t do my best, neatest sewing on the final product, and thus it looks like it was sewn by a particularly uncoordinated drunk. Distressingly, I was sober the whole time so I can’t use that excuse, but I think you can see why I couldn’t face ripping it out and redoing it a fourth time.
This project also involved a scalloped lace trim around the hem. “Great!” I thought to myself on the way into the haberdashery. “I can use the lace to hide the wonky hem.”
There was technically nothing wrong with the plan. However, as I went round multiple haberdasheries, it became clear that everything that even vaguely met the requirements of the pattern and what I had in my head either: a) cost upwards of £8 a metre, so to hell with that, or b) didn’t exist. I tried the internet, but still nothing.
So I had a little think. This, my friends will tell you, never ends well. “I know!” I said to myself over a restorative ice cream, “I’ll knit a scalloped lace edging for it. I’ve got loads of Victorian knitting pamphlets, and they’re full of this kind of thing. Also, crochet cotton is way cheaper than this.”
Again, this was perfectly sound reasoning, but this time I had failed to account for the fact that none of the patterns in these periodicals seem to have been proofread, never mind test knit. An afternoon of attempting to Macgyver a few of them into submission (and cursing the name of Mlle. de Riego) followed, until I realised that Franklin Habit had already done the hard work for me over at Knitty. So I stopped frantically charting lace and starting knitting instead.
This is the result. Yes, those are 1.5mm needles. I’m knitting a lace weight ballgown, and you only just realised that I have a weakness for big projects on tiny needles?
It’s also been quite fun having a project that will fit in a pencil case, but I digress.
Anyway, it’s taken a while, but I’ve finally managed to churn out enough edging to go around both legs, and sewn it on. I’ve even put the waist elastic in. So behold (I have ironed it, but for some reason it still photographs really creased).
It turns out I am bicraftual, just not in the way I expected.