S1201: The Machu Picchu Renfrew

S1202 Renfrew1

After my fun with the wearable practice Renfrew (thanks so much to ElleC for the info on how the dye reacts with the fibres! I love these kinds of info tidbits!) it was time for another. 

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.

S1201 Renfrew5

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.

S1201 Renfrew7
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!



  1. Wow. That looks like an amazing trip. Again. Wow. Now that you have sold me on the benefits of wool knit fabric, I realize that I have never ever seen it for sale. On to the online fabric shops.

  2. Your Renfrew looks awesome (love the colour) and so does your trip, it looks like you're having a fab time! Except that Delhi-belly bit (or whatever the Peruvian equivalent is!) I hope you're over that now, I lost a dress size when I went to India!

  3. Your photos are gorgeous, love the sound of that gym view too… lol!Yay for natural fibers, there's really nothing better.

  4. The top is great, the photos are great, and it sounds like (other than the stomach bug) your trip is also going great! Very exciting, can't wait to see more!

  5. Oh very nice, I really want to go there. But this review of the top in an atypical material is really good. I keep meaning to make myself some new thermals, looks like this might be a good pattern for the top :)

  6. Wow, I love this! I never would have thought to have used a wool knit, but it sounds like that was the perfect choice! I'm so jealous of your trip! Looks like you're having an amazing time (except for the flu… no fun!)!

  7. Thank you for sharing your trip with us – what a beautiful place. Wow – 3-4 kilos that's quite a bit to loose (I'm on the next plane). Seriously – thanks and I must make my Renfrew now!! It's on the list.Enjoy the rest of your trip!!

  8. Cute top, and it is a great thing to have worked out a good Tshirt pattern! I love the action shots! Lovely yummy merino fabric; Australia was truly built on the sheep's back.

  9. The top looks great. I never would have thought to make it out of a wool but it worked so well for you. The fact that it withstood that hike is amazing too!

  10. Wow! What amazing pictures! It looks like you had a lot of fun.Is it bad that I'm actually surprised at how well the wool held up? Maybe I've just been conditioned that man-made fibers are the only fabrics that are good for such strenuous exercise.The shirt and color look great on you! I still need to get this pattern.

  11. Love the top, and your vacation looks totally awesome! I haven't hiked to Machu Pichu (yet ;D ), but I can attest to the awesomeness of zip lining in the jungle!I'm going to be on the lookout for wool jersey now.

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