Monday, March 29, 2010

A Bag and Works in Progress

Can I distract you with my new bag? It is the Namaste Monroe and it is meant to be a knitting bag, but I am using it for work. It is a gorgeous colour and looks very leather-like. I have had several compliments at the office!

It is big enough to fit in A4 documents and the straps are just the right length to go over the shoulder comfortably. Loads of pockets inside with zippy bits and magnetic closures.

I bought mine from Purlescence - thanks for finding it in the back of the cupboard, Robynn! It was a necessary purchase - a pen leaked all over my home-made Hummingbird bag - sob! I am feeling very grown-up at the moment, with lipstick and a handbag!
In sewing and knitting news... I will have so much to show you soon!

I managed to do a lot of sewing at the weekend, and had made most of a pair of Bella trousers when I ran out of matching thread. Just before I reached all the top-stitching! So FL has been dispatched to the local fabric shop with the almost-empty spool and I hope to finish them one evening soon. Now that we have daylight in the evening - woo hoo!

The Busy Lizzy baby cardigan is still in pieces, all pinned out on my exercise mat. I just need to sew it all together and knit the collar.

And in the meantime I have been knitting away on the Helleborus Yoke and reached the centre back last night.

And FL?

He managed 9 holes of golf on Saturday, practically jogged off the course, dumped his clubs in the boot of the car, drove straight home and collapsed straight into bed where he slept for 6 hours solid. He said he knew if he didn't come home immediately he would have had to ring me to come and collect him, he was so tired.

But that didn't stop him - he was off again on Sunday and managed 8 holes this time. Anyone would think he was in training for a golfing holiday!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sneak peek

My second Knit Love Club parcel arrived.
Sssssh! It's still a secret til everyone else's arrives!
I didn't blog about the January package because I wasn't sure about the colour. But lots of others have knitted their socks now, so I am feeling a bit left behind!
I am definitely going to be knitting THESE socks! But they are a HUGE challenge - a whole set of new-to-me techniques. I am going to pack them for my caravan holiday, which is coming up soon - eek! I have so much to do before then!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vintage-style blouse pattern

Back to sewing talk...

I came across this blouse pattern at Gertie's blog. I have to say that her inspired choice of gingham fabric was what caught my eye. Otherwise I think I would flicked past this pattern in the catalogue. Their styling does nothing for me at all.

And then I realised it was the pattern Green Apples used for her ladylike lumberjack blouse- really? Confirmation that it's a good pattern!

There are definite possibilities here!

I rather like View C, with the cute bows, but maybe taking the longer sleeves from View D... if they are not actually completely froth-tastic like in that photo - shudder! And I need to satisfy my craving for a tie-neck, puff-sleeved blouse with a dip in at the waist by taking the sleeves from C and putting them on body D!
I am thinking polka dots, or even the coral gingham I have in the stash, intended for a child's dress when my daughter was little.

The fitted waistband will work with my new high-waisted trousers, or even to wear over low-waisted ones, while still looking kind of "1940's".

And the pattern was half-price here!

But I have a second pair of Bella trousers to make first! In airforce blue this time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

FO: Kalajoki socks

My first pair of socks for 2010. (I can't really count the Mulled Wine socks, considering they were begun in 2008!)
And some serious spring sunshine!


Kalajoki socks from a free pattern on Ravelry here. I used Socks That Rock mediumweight in the Lucy colour and size 2.75mm dpns.
There are only 54 stitches round these socks, and a lot of those are plain knitting, so a quick project.
I really like the twisted rib "river".
This is my first outing with Socks That Rock and I can see what all the fuss is about - or was, before Wollmeise became the "hot" sock yarn! It's a lovely firm twist, beautifully dyed. Fabulous to highlight twisted stitches.
I was really happy to see it forming stripes as I knitted - there is only one "pool" on each sock and they are pretty much identical.
I have a LOT of yarn left over. I could have made these at least 4 inches longer.
I love the yarn and the pattern and the finished socks - woo hoo!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FO: BurdaStyle Bella Trousers

I finished my Bella trousers last Sunday, except for the buttonholes and bottom hem. I decided I needed daylight for both. They turned out to be the fiddliest part, so I am glad I waited!

There was a moment when I thought the corset-shaped waist panel was going to come up too high and cause a "boobs on the balcony" situation, but all is well. I did not make any adjustments to the sizing of the pattern, other than to shorten the legs.

The only things I changed were the front pleats, which I removed by pleating the paper pattern flat before I cut the fabric, and I also stitched down the sides of the front pockets. The front pockets are very strange. The actual "pouch" is only about 2 inches deep, and until I stitched it down, the side-on view gave the illusion of a baggy dungaree-front, which wasn't very flattering. However, I can see this non-pocket will be useful to clip my work ID card to.
I wasn't sure what style of button to choose. I want to wear these trousers for work, so they need to be more smart than casual, and the Bedford cord was already conspiring against me. The colour of the fabric is more grey-green than gold-green, so if I went for a metal button it would have to be silver / pewter rather than gold / brass. I tried a grey vintage plastic but it looked a bit fussy. "Bone" might work... but I went for self-fabric-covered buttons so that I could wear them with my Tara Starlet jacket.


Bella trouser from Burda Style, a pattern you download and print at home. Sticking the various pages together in the right order was surprisingly complicated. (Maybe that was just me.) The English instructions were pretty good with only two strange turns of phrase which confused me momentarily. The diagrams required a magnifying glass, but then were clear.

Size 38 fits me well - I usually think of myself as a "modern size 10".

The fabric is 100% cotton Bedford Cord from Croft Mill fabrics, described as "light olive" on the site: "rather splendid cotton trousering from Germany, an overspill from a trouser maker of immense repute". It was only £4.50 a metre and these took exactly two metres. It is a really high quality fabric - firm and yet soft. I would absolutely recommend it. They have it in burgundy too - I am tempted.
A very sharp style, which would be easily adjusted for a perfect fit, due to the large number of seams around the yoke. I really like the unusually-shaped back pockets which my photographer couldn't seem to capture without blur. You could add fake "corset-lacing" at the back to funk them up a bit for evening wear. Or braces for a vintage menswear twist.
They have super-wide legs, which appear to go on forever due to all those diagonal seams. The pleats on the original scared me - too much detail on the upper thigh for my taste / shape. Other sewers have left them in, but stitched them flat.

All in all, a wearable, flattering cut.

Yes, I like them a lot! And I plan to make another pair in blue.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Swing Dress Plans

Swept along in a rush of spring fever, I have ordered two 1940's sewing patterns from Etsy.

This dress is similar to the one I liked so much at Tara Starlet, but with a higher neckline. Much more sensible for a girl without much boobage.

I was impressed to see that the 1940's body measurements are identical to mine - maybe I have found my era!

I am thinking of polka dots or a floral print. I might even take both together with this fabric from Croft Mill but I think cotton might be too stiff. Maybe a viscose?

And from the same Etsy seller, a pattern described as being for a teenager. I can't imagine my daughter wearing this!

The short-sleeved version of the blouse called to me. I might mess about with my vintages and go for a 50's-style cherry print on a black base. Although I found some gorgeous 1940's turquoise heart-shaped buttons which are crying out to be sewn onto a cute puff-sleeved blouse, so I might have to make more than one...!

And wouldn't that pinafore be fab in black cotton sateen? Like the stuff I already have in the stash?

Poor FL doesn't know what to think.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Going Vintage

Image credit: Tara Starlet

No sooner do I get my hair cut, than I develop a passion for repro retro fashion. Typical. No fancy rolled fringes for me (thank goodness!) My style icons at University wore their Oxfam 50's frocks with punk haircuts and DM's and it worked. Not that I think I can get away with that particular combination at the office...

But I have a plan:

Wide trousers: material purchased to sew three pairs, first pair done except for buttons

Neat jackets: I bought one from Tara Starlet and obviously need to make another!

Fitted blouses: Come on Roobeedoo, you know you can make them yourself!

Tea dresses: still in my head/dreams

Neat cardigans: first up will be Audrey in Unst in sloeberry Sublime merino from the stash

I also had a bit of a binge on 1940's / 50's Stitchcraft magazines at Ebay. There was a lot more to choose from than I expected. I even recognised one (December 1957) from my mother's long-lost collection. I used to love flicking through these as a child! But she sent hers to landfill many years ago after the attic flooded. Sniffle. I managed to control myself and just buy a few, but I might have to go back for more. I really want to try knitting from the original patterns. Of course, I could just have bought Jane Waller's book, but I wanted to "discover" a pattern for myself, if you know what I mean.

Image credit: Dead Men's Spex at Ebay

Still unresolved: lipstick and glasses. I am seriously considering the purchase of some red lipstick, well reddish, oh my! Lipstick is a shocking enough concept for a scruff like me. And I really rather fancy some vintage-style glasses...!

How much of this will come to pass? Who knows - but is fun doing the "research"!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blog fodder

MMMM - dark chocolate cupcakes, allegedly made for the kids! If you have even the slightest interest in baking, my latest library find is for you! Until this book, I thought "cupcake" was just the name for a muffin with icing on top. Not so! I made these because it was the only recipe I (almost) had the ingredients for, and it happened to be vegan. Seriously more-ish!

I had to make a few changes: brown sugar instead of white, cider vinegar instead of wine vinegar, SR flour instead of plain. But they worked. And this is the last one, so be quick FL!

And I finished the first Kalajoki sock. This is the right foot.

See that crazy "anatomical toe"?

But most of the weekend has been about sewing. I am determined to get on with my Burda Style Bella trousers today.

The self-print pattern was a bit of a fiddle to put together and most of yesterday was spent cutting and sticking. But hopefully today I will get to the stitching stage.

I do fear that this fabric is too casual for work-wear. But I've started, so I'll finish... eventually!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

All Talk, No Trousers

While my knitting has been going smoothly, with several Works in Progress and a concentrated attack on the stash underway, there has been no sewing to show.

It is not down to a lack of inspiration. Or fabric. Or pattern books. But somehow it feels like such a major undertaking to clear the table of its daily detritus, that I lose my energy before I begin.

My three trouser-lengths arrived from Croft Mill Fabrics, and I am mightily impressed by the “handle” of the material. However, I pre-washed all three together, which may have been a mistake, as I suspect the black has seeped dye onto the other two. I need strong daylight to be sure.

The khaki Bedford cord is first up. I am considering a high-waisted trouser pattern, to shake things up a bit. I printed one out from BurdaStyle, the Bella trouser, and just need to sellotape the A4 print-outs together to check I have enough fabric. Why do I always buy fabric in one- or two-metre portions? I may not have long legs, but I still need a few spare inches for facings and waistbands! I am slightly wary of the high-waist thing, but I saw this pattern made up here and thought it looked fab, so we'll see!

In shopping news, the Tara Starlet tea dress sadly had to go back. I ordered it in pink, which made me look washed-out. I exchanged it for black with tiny red flowers – but it was made of different fabric which caused a major static storm. I just don’t “do” synthetics for this reason, but the pink had a “cold crepe” feel and was fine. Since I can’t go to work with my hair standing on end and my frock stuck to my knickers, it has had to be returned. Sob. So there remains a hole in my wardrobe for a 1940’s dress. I ought to make one… or buy an anti-static underskirt. Yuck, too much polyester!

Meantime, I haven’t ordered any of the patterns or books I showed you. The exchange rate has been conspiring against me for Japanese imports and I can’t bring myself to pay almost £20 for a book which might just languish under the bed beside its cousins. I think I need to plan an entire outfit, sew it, and wear it, and take it from there. Instead of fiddling about making single items which don’t go with anything else, so sit in the wardrobe, staring at me accusingly every morning. Some sewing bloggers have been doing a “Me Made March” where they could only wear clothes they had made themselves, for the whole month. I think I might have been a little chilly if I had tried this. But it is a great idea!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Waiting Room Sock

When I wrote that I knitted "a quarter of a sock" in the Waiting Room you probably weren't all that impressed. I actually meant a quarter of a PAIR of socks - i.e. half a sock. I do hope my daughter isn't relying on me for help with her maths homework!

It is the Kalajoki pattern (free on Ravelry!) and I am using Socks That Rock mediumweight in the colourway Lucy, 2.75mm dpns.
This is my first time knitting with STR. I had been saving this skein for the right pattern. Kalajoki is a good match, I think. Most of the sock is plain, but there is that river of twisted stitches meandering down the front to break up the pooling and add direction to the sock. I considered knitting Marina Piccola again, but it would have been too busy.

The sock-at-rest looks a tad wrinkly, but evens out on the foot. I love the firm, even fabric which STR produces. This is a substantial piece of hosiery.

As for the colours - ah, I am such a sucker for a colourway to match a cat! (Lucy is Wendy's siamese.) It was the Cheshire Cat in the new film of Alice in Wonderland which inspired me to dig out this yarn. Turquoise stripes - mmm!


Thank you, once again, for all your good wishes. FL is still getting used to the idea that he is "normal"! He was just on the point of cancelling his golf club membership and now he thinks he might hang on to it.
He is frustrated by the continuing tiredness / pain, but at least he now has some hope that things might improve. I have been granted permission to knit him another pair of socks, on the grounds that he might get a chance to wear them before he pops his clogs - such optimism!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Knitty Works in progress

First up:
Busy Lizzy from Rowan's Tadpoles and Tiddlers book.
I knitted this for my daughter in primrose yellow Wool and Cotton 14 years ago. I must see if I can find a photo. It was my favourite baby knit at the time.
I am using Yarn Yard Bonny this time round, and the variegated colour "Trente et Un" hides the criss-cross-iness of the smocking at the yoke.
But it's a great colour and I think it looks more modern than a plain pastel. It is a slower knit than I expected, but I am about halfway there.

And here is the current state of the Helleborus Yoke. I haven't touched it this week due to my dedication to the baby knit.
I must get back to it before the snow melts!

Today I am casting on some waiting room socks. Trying to decide between another pair of Marina Piccola's, Kalajoki or something using my only skein of Socks that Rock in the shade "Lucy", which I now see as the Cheshire Cat colourway - loved those turquoise eyes!
Yes, I took the kids to see the new Alice in Wonderland yesterday. Some terrible editing and excruciating "dance", but I love, love, loved the costumes! :)