With so many trekking websites I researched prior to leaving extolling the virtues of wool (the superior wool of course, Merino – the kind that put New Zealand and Australia on the map early last century) I was happy to stock up. Wool is such an incredible fibre – it keeps you warm and lets your skin breathe – but unlike other natural fibres it doesn’t take on the smell of body odours or sweat, making it the ultimate friend to the weary traveller who doesn’t always get the option of a hot shower at the end of every day. ie, Me.
I ended up buying quite a few wool things – super thick smartwool socks have been my favourite so far (yay for post-Christmas sales) but I also really wanted to take as many made-by-me things as time permitted me to make. And with Tessuti stocking gorgeous wool knit fabrics in prep for the upcoming winter, I had my work cut out for me (if only that was literally true!).
I used a lightweight wool knit called ‘Merino State’ in artichoke, which is still available and also comes in a charcoal grey. It was actually the leftovers from this dress (sadly, still waiting for a hemming job) which is actually the very first fabric I ever bought! Crazy, non? The fact that I had exactly the right amount left from which to cut this top from was like it was meant to be. Athough I did have to cut the waistband in two parts, rather than on the fold… It’s quite a thin knit, but super soft and comfy.
Again it was an absolute cinch to put together – easily under 3 hours of cutting out and sewing all up. The only change I made was to widen the shoulders by 1.5cm to get a better fit, as my previous Renfrew came up a bit small in that area (that’s me and not the pattern’s ‘fault’). But otherwise, this is such a great little top! And good thing too, because this Renfrew underwent the toughest of wear challenges – a gruelling 3 day hike to Machu Picchu.
And Gruelling (with a capital G) is absolutely the right word for it. Although about 4 days before we did a 3 day hike in and out of Colca Canyon, and to be honest – that was WAY harder. Maybe I was just in hiking condition! Mr poppykettle, who happens to compete in Ironman’s and does upwards of 15 hours of training each week had been on my backside leading up to this trip to get in condition. I ignored him most the time but did do a bit of stairmaster at the gym whilst wearing in my hiking boots. It helped that I discovered there’s a football team that trains at my gym on weeknights and the stairmaster machines happened to give a fabulous view across the free-weights area… ahem.
|From Huayna Picchu Mountain – overlooking Machu Picchu|
But this lightweight woolen renfrew held it’s end of the bargain – I wore it two days straight in very sunny and humid conditions, sweated bucket loads in it and when I finally took it off after wearily making our way back down the machu picchu hillside to our hostel for the night, it didn’t even smell like it had been worn. Honest!
My only bone to pick with this top is that when I made it, it fit perfectly. Very much like the practice version, but of course a little wider in the shoulders. But looking at the pictures, it looks a little… loose? Not quite as fitted as I imagined. I’m putting this down to excessive amount of hiking, a killer of a stomach bug that had me living off Dulce de Leche and Sprite for a good 5 days, and the fact that the altitude seems to significantly reduce my desire to eat. I think I’ve lost 3 or 4 kg’s! in the last 3 weeks! Yikes.
As far as action adventure clothing goes, this little Renfrew did the job. Before heading off I tried quite a few different knit tee patterns – this one is a winner in terms of ease (love the cuffs and hem!) and the fit ain’t bad. But I have another pattern that won my heart… location pictures to come soon, of course!