Summer knitting

If you’ve ever met me, you’ll know that I can’t stick to one project at a time. For the past few weeks I’ve been concurrently knitting Cornwallis and Hildegard from the Rowan Summerlite dk book trying to get them finished in time for our hols. I have a bit of a thing at the moment for mustard yellow and blue in whatever combination and while I was knitting my blue cardigan I felt an urge to have a mustard coloured dress to go with it. So two days before the holiday I made one. This is another thing which I can’t seem to change whatever my intentions; everything I do is at the last minute. Anyway, it all paid off and here they are on their hols.


Well, Cornwallis is just in the lounge because although it came on holiday the only photo was taken by the official ship photographer and I wasn’t going to pay £12 for it. I did alter the pattern a tiny bit just by casting on more stitches than I needed and decreasing a little bit up the sides to make it less boxy and snug round the bottom and I moved the raglan shaping in by a couple of stitches to make it neater when it was sewn up.

The picture of me and my man is in Bilbao by a huge flower covered dog. It’s outside the Guggenheim if that helps explain the dog. I am so pleased with my dress and cardigan combo, although I did knit one of the fronts 3 times because I kept doing the pattern wrong. It’s got sort of stripes of reverse stocking stitch where sometimes it’s knit 5, purl 7 across the row and sometimes knit 7, purl 5. The first mistake wasn’t spotted until I had finished the whole thing and was wondering why the pattern didn’t match on each front. The mistake was about an inch above the rib. Grrrrr.

We went on our first cruise, sailing from Southampton to Bilbao via Guernsey and La Rochelle. It was great. I had forced myself not to start the Vertices Unite shawl even though I was desperate because I thought I’d be knitting almost all the time. I love having a brand new project for my hols. Actually there was virtually no knitting done although I could have gone to a knit and natter on the ship, I was too scared!


I can’t stop knitting it now though. There are six sections and I am on the third and there is always something going on. I’ve just noticed in the photo that I did my ssk’s the wrong way round on the left part of the blue stripe to lime green join. Can you see?  Am I going to pull it out? No. Will it annoy me forever? Probably. The perennial dilemma of knitters everywhere.

Sewing for Pleasure 

This weekend I was working with the Craft Network at Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC in Birmingham. Freddie Patmore and I were teaching four workshops, crochet, sewing and arm-knitting! It was a great weekend, lots of fun and we met lots of lovely people.

I did manage to squeeze a bit of shopping in… There seemed to me to be a lot more fabric and dressmaking than in previous years which is brilliant and I suppose driven by the popularity of the Sewing Bee to some extent.

All of my fabric came from the same place, Dots ‘n’ Stripes, who specialise in children’s dressmaking patterns and they stock a brilliant range of jerseys, corduroy and cottons in prints and designs you never see anywhere. Unfortunately my daughter is not into wearing things like that anymore, but I persuaded my 14 year old son to let me make him a hoodie jumper so that’s something.

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The skirt fabric is gorgeous soft baby cord which goes perfectly with a gold/mustard cardigan that I’ve just finished. I had to buy the Tshirt fabric because it is so innovative; you buy a panel which has this large picture print on the one half and a smaller repeat print on the other half. My daughter thinks it would be very sad if I made a Tshirt for myself but I probably will anyway.

 

 

 

mdfI also ventured into the Hobbycrafts area of the show after a tip-off from a couple of ladies on one of our workshops about the MDF Man. You buy cut outs of MDF shapes and stick paper on them then sand off the edges and ta-da it looks amazing.
All this was ten pounds, a bargain.

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My latest knitting project is Cornwallis from the Rowan Summerlite dk book. I have just finished the back after a minor setback on the garter stitch portion after I decided to work the first 2 stitches on each edge in stocking stitch so that it would look neater when sewn up. It took me about 10 rows to realise that the tension was going to be too different between the garter stitch and stocking stitch to work. Doh.

Happy knitting, sewing and sticking!

New year, new jumpers

Happy New Year! For almost the first time ever, I actually finished my Christmas knitting before Christmas so I started a new jumper on Christmas Eve Eve. It was Mailin, an Aran weight sweater, slightly shaped at the sides, not super fitted, nice rib cuffs and lacy cable down the front. I had some Rowan Pure Wool Aran which I got for a bargain when it was discontinued a year or so ago, so I used that. It has only taken 6 and a half 100g balls so that would be pretty good on price even if you bought yarn. I think the Rowan Pure Wool Worsted would be a good substitute.

Anyway, it took me 2 weeks to knit, pretty quick but top down which speeded things up as the only finishing was sewing the ends in.

  
I have worn it a lot which is why it is a bit creased. I have been sitting down a lot today!

Last night I started knitting Darcy from Rowan mag 58 in Fazed Tweed. I was a bit sceptical about the yarn because it looks weird with the net over it, in my opinion. But knitting with it is lovely and I love it! It reminds me of an old Jaeger yarn which was a similar look but I forget what it was called. Comment if you remember!

   
 
I am a bit worried about the crochet, more specifically getting tension that will mean the correct sleeve size! I will let you know what happens. I have almost finished the back so it will be finished sometime next week I hope. 

Happy Knitting x

Yarndale 2015

This year was my third visit to Yarndale. I had started to wonder whether I really needed to go again but aside from the wonder that is Yarndale, my friend and I always have a very nice time visiting Skipton. The traffic was so terrible on the way up that it took 5 hours which really ate into our shopping time on the first day. We did squeeze in a visit to Coopers for a late lunch and I sat in Lucy’s (Attic 24) chair for a ‘fan photo’ opportunity.

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We had a little look around her studio and then walked to the auction mart to Yarndale. Hurray! The first thing we saw when we walked in were the Flowers for Memories which looked stunning.

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This photo only really shows about half of the flowers (you have probably gathered that photography is not my strong point!) but you can get the idea. The colour wave looked amazing. Against all odds I found my flower!

 

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Not much purchasing took place on the Saturday but plenty of Sunday shopping planning went on late into the evening. My main Sunday purchases were this lovely Finnish yarn in a mustard shade. Everything is mustard at the moment for me. Love it.

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It is going to be a cardigan, pattern to be decided.

 

 

Then I went to see Rachel Coopey and bought her Toasty volume one with some Titus yarn from across the way at Baa Ram Ewe. That is going to be 2 hats and some handwarmers, all from the Toasty book.

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Oh, I could have bought a lot more than that but I do have quite a lot of yarn at home already…

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With that in mind, I did a tiny bit of stash busting and made these sleepy babies for 2 new real babies belonging to my cousins.
We met them on saturday for the first time and both babies loved chewing the pointy hats. I don’t think I have ever seen such an enthusiastic response to anything I have made before!

 

Carfest!

The summer holidays are almost over and we have been so busy with one thing and another that I haven’t done any sewing or serious knitting for quite a few weeks. 

But this weekend we went to Carfest South in Hampshire, organised by Chris Evans for Children in Need, and I decided I needed a festival dress. I picked the Dottie Angel dress, a pattern which has just been released commercially by Simplicity, available here. I used some Dashwood Studio prints from my stash and some bits of bias binding I already had and I was pretty pleased with it. 

  
If I made it again, I think I would raise the neckline at the back as it is the same as the front and doesn’t look so good with a top underneath. I love the shape of the skirt though and it is comfortable to wear. The pockets are super useful; I love pockets on a dress.

The construction uses a surprising amount of bias binding, seemingly wanting to cover every single raw edge in it. I chose to zig-zag some of this, only using the binding where really necessary, around the neck and armholes.

My husband was being useless with my phone camera which is why I am looking at him with this annoyed expression on my face. Also, there were no mirrors and no irons, the dress and I are au natural.

Oh my goodness, what a great weekend we had! We went with our very good friends, the Osborn family and enjoyed food, booze and masses of fantastic music. I still haven’t made my mind up whether Take That or Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbots were my favourites. 

  
Mrs O and I with a well deserved drink listening to ‘The Feeling’.

Our family aren’t that into cars but there are lots of famous cars which are pretty cool to look around, like this one

  
It is the actual one from the film, I think, because the sun visors have been autographed by the Back to the Future stars. The kids believed it anyway. My husbands favourite was the Batman car from the 1960′s TV show and mine was a purple original VW Beetle convertible. Mmmm. Not a famous car but anyway…

We managed to get pretty close to the front last night for Take That. It was absolutely amazing. I love them anyway but the kids knew lots of the songs and really enjoyed it too which made it even better. My daughter, however, didn’t realise that Gary Barlow was in Take That and my son who had forgotten his glasses couldn’t even tell it was Gary Barlow and only knew after we had left!

  
This is the best of a blurry bunch of Take That pictures but you get the gist. Basically we all know Gary is gorgeous.

I am hoping for lots of time over the next few weeks to do loads of knitting and sewing. I am desperate to start a new knitting project as I have been concentrating on finishing this ‘Still Light’ tunic which I’m knitting in Trekking sock yarn. 

  I am on the homeward straight with only a sleeve and the pocket linings to do. I love how the sleeves have come out in definite stripes because they’re on less stitches.

 That was a nice surprise, although now that I see an actual photo of the whole tunic, the colours are in quite defined stripes anyway which I hadn’t noticed!

The end of the summer holidays always leaves me with mixed feelings.  On one hand, I will miss spending time with the kids and I will miss the the lovely lie-in’s; I am not a morning person. On the other hand I am looking forward to having some time to myself again!

Latest obsessions

Yesterday I visited Madresfield Court with my WI. For as long as I can remember I have been to fetes and things in the grounds but never been into the house. There is a fantastic maze which we failed to conquer every time we tried, relying on those who had reached the raised middle part to shout directions to everyone else! It is a magical place, a moated manor house which was the inspiration for Brideshead Revisited. After so many years of longing to see the inside, it wasn’t a disappointment. It was a treasure trove of wonderful artefacts and the stories the guide told made the people who have lived there for centuries come to life.

 
I am wearing a newly finished top for the occasion. It is the Sailor top by Fancy Tiger Crafts and you can download and print it out yourself. I am so pleased with the fit of it. I made this one in Liberty cotton and have at least another two in the queue. I started it on Friday night and my husband, who knows me too well, said that I had better not be trying to make that to wear on Saturday. So I sneaked around on Friday night grabbing the odd 10 minutes of sewing time here and there and did manage to finish it on Saturday morning by forfeiting a lie-in. Hurray! It is super quick to make and there are some clever construction methods which I loved.

My current project is crochet-edged pillowcases. I am having a stall at a local festival so am trying to stockpile some things ready. I made a batch of pillowcases and am having ridiculous fun picking out colours to edge them with. These two were my first.

 
  

I have been teaching a lot of Learn to Crochet workshops over the past week and it makes me want to crochet when I get home. I haven’t done much knitting at all lately. The yarn I bought from Oxford Yarn Store to  knit a Kate Davies cardi is still in the bag but will be my next project. I did almost miss my train because I spent too long choosing it, so it is special. 

Happy Crocheting!

Birds and Gardens

A few weeks ago it was Quilts UK in Malvern and although I was working there every day, I did find time to shop. I bought some gorgeous wool felt and have spent many a happy hour making it into lavender filled birds.

 
I rarely do any hand sewing and actually I was surprised how much I have enjoyed it, partly because I can just pick it up for a few minutes when I have chance rather than finding a dedicated half hour or so to sit at the sewing machine. It was a lot of fun sorting through my embroidery threads for the perfect colours too.

I am sure that at this time of year everyone who has hobbies and a garden ends up being torn between the two. We have a garden waste wheelie bin which the council collects every 2 weeks and there are constant reminders from my husband at this time of year to make sure the bin is full so as to get our money’s worth. He thinks the bin is only collected from March to October… This week I surpassed even my expectations and had the bin filled later on the same day it was emptied! So although I begrudge the time it takes away from sewing or knitting, I do now have 2 weeks clear of HAVING to garden.

 
This rubbish looking patch of garden is actually a complete triumph of me over the brambles and grass and other stuff which I can’t identify. The bin was filled just from this patch which now, if you look carefully, is nurturing some courgettes and sweet corn. Yay!

I did have time to run a sock workshop at The Knitting Parlour on Saturday which was a wonderful day of sock knitting, obviously, along with good company and a lot of biscuits.

 
There were a couple of small tension issues and a misinterpretation of the pattern which contributes to the size differences but don’t they look great? They are small samples so not meant to be anatomically correct, just meant to have a go at knitting all the different parts of a sock.

Happy Knitting and Gardening! I’m off for a barbecue while the sun is still shining.

Skirts at Lovely Liberty

On Saturday I made my first trip of this year to Liberty to teach my A-line skirt workshop. It is so much fun because the participants get to choose their favourite fabric from the entire Rowan range and I love seeing what everyone chooses.

Katie was first to finish and decided to add a patch pocket to the front of her skirt and then upped the stakes by buying more fabric in a contrast colour but the same design! Look at her impressive pattern matching

  
Michelle and Tina came together for a lovely day out and were off to shop after they finished their skirts

 
Janine chose this fantastic Zandra Rhodes print, the richest purple you can imagine 

 
Katherine let her wacky side out with her fabric choice. You might not be able to make it out, but it has some long-beaked birds wearing crowns, cloaks and fabulous blue shoes. Odd, but a great result. There were rumours that the same fabric in another colourway may have been purchased afterwards…

 
Although everyone was pleased with their finished skirts, I think Amanda and Doreen were probably more accurately described as overjoyed. Amanda didn’t want to take hers off!

 
And Doreen had never finished anything she had made before AND don’t her beads match her skirt perfectly?

 

We also had the company of Marybelle who had been struck down with an awful cold and despite that made a fabulous skirt but was understandably keener to get home than stay for her photo!

 The Rowan department in Liberty has moved across the third floor to a room which is spacious, with light flooding in and is such a lovely browsing space now. Make sure to visit next time you are nearby.

Finishing off is in the air here at the moment. I have just finished a Hitchhiker scarf, have just half a sleeve left on a Kid Silk Haze jumper and about 20 rows to do on a crochet ripple blanket. I am determined not to start anything new until those things are finished. Having said that I did buy some Anna Maria Horner thistle print Jersey on Friday and was wearing a new dress on Saturday even though I already have 3 other dresses already cut out.  Better get on…

Happy sewing!

 

Tea Towel Tablecloth

A few visits to Ikea ago, I picked up a couple of bundles of tea towels with the intention of making them into a tablecloth. I forget how much they were but they were a Bargain. I diligently washed them straight away and then they stayed stacked ready to sew for quite a long time.

Yesterday the time came for the tablecloth to be made, fuelled by a need to get things made in order to have less of these things hanging around ready to be made…

I didn’t want to unpick any of the tea towel seams but they are quite bulky so I didn’t want to seam them like normal as it would be very lumpy even if the seams were pressed flat. I decided to use this stitch, number 12,

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and sew them in this manner. I kept the gap closed as I got towards the presser foot and the join is following the centre of the presser foot.

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There was a slight mishap in that a couple of the tea towels were different lengths so I had to rejig my layout part way through so that the long bit would be on an edge. I don’t mind if it is a bit uneven around the edge but if you do you could re-hem them before you start putting them together.

 

 

Here is the finished tablecloth! I am really pleased with it. It is not for eating on though, just for show.

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An adventure in machine knitting

About 3 years ago, I procured a knitting machine which had belonged to Auntie Kay but my Dad had commandeered in order to knit football scarves. He was hugely disillusioned with the machine and could not get it going at all so I offered to knit his prototype Worcester City scarf for him.

I diligently read the instruction booklet, set up the machine and got it knitting. At this point my gadget-loving son (clearly not just those with a screen) got involved and I don’t think I got a look in. He knitted his Grandad’s stripey football scarf in no time at all. I was so impressed at the speed of the whole business, I was desperate to take advantage of this apparant huge advantage over hand knitting.

At the time the kids were into their first wave of Harry Potter obsession and decided they both needed a Gryffindor scarf. Do you know how hard it is to find burgundy and gold yarn that will knit on a knitting machine, a 70′s knitting machine that is pretty fussy about what it knits? All I could find was a 4ply wool and acrylic mix which I thought would be ok and preferable to the plasticky yarn my Dad had found for his scarf, which by the way we still have 2 almost-full cones of.

Roll ahead 3 years to the second Wave of Harry Potter obsession. It is almost my daughter’s birthday so I put aside 2 hours before she came home from school yesterday to secretly knit her a Harry Potter scarf on the machine. It only took about 20 minutes to set up and I thought I would easily have it knitted in about an hour. Well, good grief, I can only think it was the more premium yarn that the machine hated but I could not get into the swing of it at all. The first thing was that when I changed colour the new one didn’t catch and it all fell off the needles. That took me about 20 mins to recover from and didn’t happen again. Then the carriage got jammed, then my son came home and touched it and the carriage got stuck again, then a ton of other things happened that made me realise why hand knitting is SO much better.

Hand knitting relieves stress, you are in charge, you can knit with whatever yarn you like, you don’t have to try and finish before dinner time so you can clear the table and it doesn’t ruin your eyesight.

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On the other hand we do have a very nice Harry Potter scarf which was worn to school today.