Monday, 27 May 2013

Sun, shawls and mysteries

I had a lovely bank holiday weekend in the glorious sunshine. The view on our favourite walk was stunning

The bluebells and wild garlic everywhere

The blossom is beautiful against the blue sky
... and the grass is growing so high that Rosie can hardly make her way through ...

 ...My favourites are the cowslips

Cowslips remind me of being a child.  Not just because of their links to sunshine but because one of my favourite books was Alison Uttleys Little Grey rabbit's series Moldy Warp the Mole, where Fuzzipeg the hedgehog and Moldy Warp (great names!) makes cowslip balls.

until I managed to do something to my back .... did I do it rock climbing, doing the tango,  gardening,  no I'm afraid I was making the bed.  I'm sure I will be fine in a few days, but at the moment I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself and tied to the settee.  I'm not even up to sitting at the sewing machine (which is a shame because I have some trousers nearly finished).  I have, however, finished my shawl, and I do like it.  It is not much bigger than a scarf and I think if you don't know if you would ever wear a shawl it's the perfect inbetween as you can wear it pretty much like a scarf.  I hope it doesn't look too grannieish!  Once upon a time I had never heard of blocking knitting (obviously I stopped reading the pattern before the" making up" instructions.  However, this is actually in praise of blocking.  Here is the shawl before

and after

As you can see the pattern is much crisper and the scallops clearer.  I just block on a towel on my bedroom floor (and I'm a bit slapdash - but even this approach makes a big difference).

And here it is on my lovely assistant.


This was my first try at i-cord casting off, which is really easy (but took ages for 350 stitches).  It gives a substantial "cord-like" edge ideal for shawls. 

The wool is malibrigo sock yarn and I really liked it.  You can see the gradiated colour (not too strong, just right to be interesting) and it takes less than one skein.  The pattern is Dauphine and I would say an easy intermediate project.

I am a huge fan of the Miss Marple and Poirot series.  Nothing better than a "pleasant" murder mystery.  Part of the attraction is the styling and clothes.  I've just finished watching an episode which had the most beautiful dresses and one in particular caught my eye.
I couldn't find a better picture but these should give some idea.  It had a full skirt and would be an early fifities style.  The problem is I have decided that this is the dress I would like to wear to Dan's wedding!  (Having had no idea before).  I am going to have to hunt high and low to see if I can find a pattern somewhere (maybe even a letter to Granada), not that I would make it myself.  This is and example of a "Popover" dress introduced by Claire McCardell in the 50s, another great example here.
Mind you on that kind of figure a sack would look good!  Till next weekend, then, when Dan will hopefully be home and I can photo my trousers on!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Taking a liberty

It's been a very busy week, hence the delay in posting, infact over the last 3 days I've clocked up 31 hours so I'm really looking foward to a long weekend.  Partly of the long hours has included a trip to London which of course involved the need for some "vanilla" knitting for the train.  I don't know why I thought that a shawl pattern with lace and cable was suitable for this, as actually it required quite a lot of paying attention!  It is knitted on a circular needle

and there is no increasing or decreasing because it is shaped using short rows. 

You can just aabout see the pattern here, but it will need blocking.  This is how it is supposed to look

More info on the pattern in case you are interested on Ravelry.  Hopefully the completed item on my next blog.

In the lunch break in London (I was on a conference) I was determined to give myself a little treat and so I dashed down Oxford street to ....

Passing the most beautiful flowers

... and in less than 10 minutes left with

which contained 1 1/2 metres of fabric.  Not by usual style but it is beautiful and soft and will eventually turn into a blouse.

Last weekend I went to an Antique and Vintage Fair at Lowther Castle

... and came back with a lovely teaset, which included the basket

.. and a beautifully made vintage doily

I also bought some gorgeous plaid, at least 2 metres, enough for a jacket for £10 (I looked at some plaid on the internet recently and it was £40 a metre)!  Perhaps Rosie is sizing it up for herself!

Well all for now ... hope you are enjoying some sunshine where you are!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Just a material girl

Well it's official I have a new obsession .... making clothes!  Well actually the obsession is more about thinking about making clothes than actually doing anything, but a girl can dream!  Obviously inspired by The Great British Sewing Bee and enjoying making trousers and 2 skirts over the last month, I have been really excited by the possibility of future sewing.  I happened upon Debi's blog at My Happy Sewing Place and I've had a wonderful time reading right from the beginning of her blog where she started in 2009 with her first dress.  She is a hard-core sewer producing fabulous vintage outfits from original patterns  in very short timescales.  I have definitely been inspired.  So what am I going to do about it.  Well I have quite a collection of patterns (many coming free with magazines) ...

and what do you need with a stash of patterns ...... a stash of material.  I went for the first time to Abakhan in Preston.  Whilst it was a bit hit and miss there were some real bargains to be bought and all this material cost about £60.  There is  enough for a wool jacket, wool skirt, dress, 2 blouses and 2 pairs of trousers - now I just need to get sewing.

In the meantime I have made an outfit! I finished the stripey jumber which I had made to go with my pleated skirt.  It's turned out OK, but rather baggy in the body even though I only knitted the size 34".  I don't actually check my tension when I knit because I find it boring, though I think I really need to learn to do this and possibly switch to smaller needles!   Next time! 

The dog broach is one of my vintage fair buys, I love it, I think it is a pretty old one as it doesn't have a safety catch (and scotties were very popular in the Art Deco period).

I've wanted to photograph the outfit on and the only way was in the mirror - so excuse the poor quality,  the flare from the flash and the admiring doggy!


This is quite a good beginner's pattern as it is  juststocking stitch and there is no picking up stitches around the neckline, rather you sew-up 3 seams and knit the stitches in a straight row - you might get the idea from this piccie

The pattern is from Debbie Bliss Spring Magazine and this is how it looks on the model!

Striped Jumper

I have another completed project my crochet cushion this week, which is adding a bit of colour to my settee.  I stitched the crotchet circle to some lovely material (Moda Walk in the Woods) which I really like.  Infact I could see a really nice blouse made out of it, but unfortunately it seems to be unavailable in the UK now!

 I enjoyed making this.  If you make one yourself make sure that you pull the crochet part quite tight when sewing up to get a nice plump cushion.  I learn something every time I make something!  (By the way the round cushion inner was a bargain from Dunhelm Mill at £3.95).  Here it is with my favourite Kiss tapestry cushion and my ripple blanket.

Finally, in case you are keen to see the progress on the Crochet Scarf here it is .....

Yes, all I've done is sort out the wool and wind a third of it and this took more than 4 hours!  So beware if you go for this yourself there is a lot of preparation.  Anyway, I'm going to give the crotchet a go now  (by making a tension square of course!).  Enjoy the rest of the week and thanks for visiting.  What have you been working on this week?

A final word from Jessie who has exhausted herself this weekend with all the fun.

Monday, 6 May 2013

pleating away!

First thank you so much for your lovely comments.  I just want to repeat that I am definitely a crafty beginner; sewing - my fourth zip this week, crochet, only on my second project, cross-stitch started 2 years ago, knitting probably my most proficient craft but still early days.  I mention this because anything I try I think most people could have a go!

Oh what a lovely three days off!  Lots of crafty time and such glorious sun today that I even felt too hot at one time.  It was lovely in Morecambe.

First the answer to the questions posed last time, a) yes the "Anne scarf" kit was in, and b) yes I bought it ..... and intriguing it is.  There are 75 colours and a 27 page instruction books, which really means that I can't yet answer c) will I be able to crocthet it!  I'll give it a try though.  The colours are lovely.


I hope to start soon but I have unfinished crotchet project and in order for things not to get out of hand I do try to only have 1 crochet, 1 knitting, 1 cross stitch and 1 sewing project on the go at one.  So this weekend I've been working on my crotchet cushion (more next week) and I've got to the blocking stage of the grey striped jumper

Most of the weekend I've been sewing again.   Enter skirt no. 2.  I'm pretty pleased with this one.  (Excuse all the photos on a dummy - but Dan isn't home at the moment).

When the fabric arrived I could see it as a block pleated skirt.  I read a few blogs and watched some youtube tutorials and got the hang of how to do it (you don't need a pattern).  If you are interested in finding out how to make one read on - if not skip my rather confused explanation below.

You need one or two rectangles of material totalling 3 x your waist size.  I used 2 rectangles (side seams), so 3 x my waist size 84"  then divide by 2.  So each piece was 42" and add your seam allowance, my length was about 27" to allow for a 23" length.  I wanted 5 pleats on each side and so I spent some time trying the pleats out before I trimmed my fabric to the right size.  You need to make the pleats even - so if your waist is 29" and you want 10 pleats in total each one needs to be 2.9"

This is where you also need to take your pattern into account.  My pattern repeat was 3" (which did mean my skirt ended up a little loose).  It is worth the time to try and match everything up. to make the pleats  I used the method on this youtube tutorial as it seemed to make a very strong pleat.  So I folded the material at where the middle of my pleat would be, wrong sides together, then sewed a line 4 1/2" from this fold aboutt 3 inches long.

You can see on the wrong side how this works (and also whether you have matched your pattern correctly).

Then on the right side you squash down the tube you have created.

You have made a blox pleat!  Do this with all the tubes taking care to keep matching the pattern (You can see there are 2 pleats here).

Repeat this on your other rectangle.  Now you need to join the two rectangles.  I do the zip side first so you can spread the material out.  I used an invisible zip - I'm no expert on zips, pesky things.  I can't work out how to zip up or down mid sew without raising the needle, so I'll just suggest you look for an internet tutorial but will just say you need to get really close to the teeth!

It turned out OK, almost invisible and actually your pleats virtually cover the zip
Then sew up the other side.  Next you need to add a wait band.  Just a rectangle about 5" by your waist size plus 2" for overlap.  I fused some interfacing to half to give a bit of stability.  There is a lot of advice on adding a waitband - I just used the instructions and pattern from one of my skirt patterns.  Then just machine the hem and you are done.  I'll definitely make another of these.  I'm sure these instructions aren't anywhere near good enough!  But just to say I did enjoy making this skirt and it is pretty easy once you have worked out the measurements to make a wearable skirt.  This one would even do for work with a jacket.
So all in all I have enjoyed my quiet, solitary crafting long weekend!  I need to get back to the cushion to finish it!  See you soon I hope.