Grainline Lark and Japanese turtleneck

Grainline Lark and Japanese turtleneck

I have a little confession to make: I’ve been a bit love/hate with sewing lately. I know it can all look all sorts of easy when you cruise the sewing blogs and see everyone’s lovely end products, but lately my behind-the-scenes has involved tears, frustration and much, much ripping. And swearing.

I suspect this dissatisfaction of late comes from a mix of unrealistic expectations and not enough time – a recipe for grief in any situation. Like so many of us, I’m a little bit slammed right now. Work is big and wants more of my time. The kids are lovely little full-time freeloaders demanding constant food, lifts, love, listening and occasional hair-brushing. The mister is studying and working weird hours. The dog has an ear infection. The chicken’s gone missing again (she always turns up).  The house is a shambles and I haven’t found a matching sock in months. I purposely turn up late to my pilates class each week because I can’t face a whole hour of agonising micro-movements. I haven’t seen friends for weeks. You know – LIFE.

Usually at times like this, sewing and knitting is a welcome escape. I’ve always been okay at blocking out the madness and taking some time to sink into that lovely zone of colour and texture and touch and intense focus that comes when you’re making stuff with your hands. But lately? I can’t get there.


Grainline Lark and Japanese turtleneck


So I decided it was time to dial down the complexity and make a few basics. Klarissa and I both discovered during our recent Me Made May experiment that we’re sadly lacking in winter layers, and we both need to top up on basic merino tops, so the timing was right. Klarissa was after a long sleeved, fitted top with a scoop neck, and I’ve been obsessed lately by skivvies/turtlenecks – like this one (though sadly I’ll leave the bra-less skivvy wearing to the lovely 20-somethings like the woman pictured – it seems to be a thing at the moment, more power to them).


Grainline Lark and Japanese turtleneck

Grainline Lark and Japanese turtleneck


After sorting through pattern options, Klarissa decided on the Grainline Lark – using the scoopiest neck option (so many t-shirty choices in one pattern – it really is a wise investment). I tossed around a few ideas – I thought about the Papercut Patterns Rise and Fall Turtleneck, or the Named Paola Turtleneck Tee, but settled on the turtleneck in my Japanese pattern book for knit basics (it doesn’t seem to have a translated English name). So patterns sorted, we headed down to The Fabric Store, home of rolls and rolls of lovely soft merino knits in about a trillion colours, and quickly snapped up some in oxblood and a slightly acidic yellow. Yum. I also had some denim blue from Rathdowne Remnants in my stash, so thought I’d cut two at once.


Grainline Lark and Japanese turtleneck

Grainline Lark and Japanese turtleneck


So Klarissa reckons the Lark came together like a dream. Quick, easy, great instructions and a neckband pattern piece that was ridiculously exact for the stretch of this particular knit (she’ll probably delete this – but how damn perfect is that neckline?). She will add a couple of inches to the sleeves next time, but didn’t need any extra length for the body. It’s a bit roomy under the arms (made for a fuller chest perhaps?), so she’d consider sizing down in future.

My turtlenecks also came together pretty easily – I messed around with the sizing a little because I wanted them quite fitted, so I cut a size M but only added seam allowances at the neck, shoulders and armholes. I also halved the width of the neck pieces as I didn’t want them to fold over (too many bad primary school memories), and lengthened the body by a good two inches as the pattern pieces seemed quite short.


Grainline Lark and Japanese turtleneck


I made these two turtlenecks last Friday night, and it was the happiest sewing experience I’ve had in a long time. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say it was the happiest Friday night I’ve had in a while! The kids were in bed, my overlocker was fresh home from being serviced, there were good tunes on the stereo and I just got into the zone. My tops are far from perfect – there’s a little puckering on the back necklines, and the hems could be so much neater (I know, I know – I need a twin needle), but I’ve been wearing them all week and they’re exactly what my wardrobe – and mood – needed. Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics.


Japanese turtleneck

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Glad you could find an enjoyable sewing experience. Sometimes it takes a while to get in the groove doesn’t it? I have several knit tops cut out and ready to go but no motivation to sew them, so thanks for the inspiration.

    • Thanks Bella – I thoroughly recommend you get onto sewing those knits you’ve cut out, it’s weirdly satisfying to do an easy project….And thanks for asking about the chicken, she’s safe and well. She goes broody and hides for days in the weirdest places (we can never find her eggs!).

  • Also I hope the chicken comes home soon!

  • Aaaah June! The month of stress for so many of us! And how cathartic to make some lovely warm basics. How delicious are merino layers? I do love that little neckline on your demi-skivvy – might have to shameless copy it. And yes, Klarissa’s neckline is enviably perfect. I hope Klarissa doesn’t mind me saying that the side view photo makes it look like she might need to do a forward shoulder adjustment as the shoulder seam is sitting a bit far back on her shoulder. I’ve recently started doing these and it makes a huge difference to the fit of tops on my shoulders…… 🙂

    • Hope you’re coping with June better than I am Sarah 😉 Thank you for the tip on a forward shoulder adjustment, it’s great to get advice and troubleshooting online! Klarissa thinks she may have actually cut her Lark a size or two too big, hence the fit issues (Do you find Grainline patterns big for size??). I’m desperately in need of round-shoulder help though, my tops are often gapey at the back because of my terrible posture. I laughed at one of your posts about not taking your mum’s posture advice – I share your regret!

  • Great colours ladies. You’ll be warm and cosy this winter. I think I need to turn my mind to merino tees. Winter is really here!

    • Thank you Anna – trying to get a bit more adventurous with colour! Looking forward to seeing your merino tees – let me know if you have any good recommendations for mid-weight merinos, I’m desperately seeking something slightly thicker/heavier than the Fabric Store ones (as you say – winter really is here!).

  • I so need to embrace sewing with knits, but gah! They scare me. They are slippery and stretchy and all things bad and likely to get distorted. I know I’m a catastrophiser. But I am loving tunics over jeans and most all my tunics have no more than elbow length sleeves. I struggle to find a long sleeve tee that fits my small bust and waist but leaves enough space for my curvy hips. The struggle is real. Maybe I need to find the motivation to knock up a few tees myself. I also had to laugh at the Pilates dig… I’m a full time instructor LOL!

    • I’m with you on sewing knits Jillian – I find them difficult to wrangle and I have a shocking habit of mangling fabrics in my overlocker… BUT it’s so darn cold here in Melbourne and it felt slightly crazy to me that I make most of my tops, but had to keep buying stretchy layers to go under them to stay warm. Pilates instructing explains your great posture/presence in your blog pics – I hope none of your clients skip out on the first 15 minutes of class – as my instructor says – I’m only cheating myself 😉