Sunday, October 30, 2011

FO: Betty Jean McNeil Cardigan

Pattern:  Betty Jean McNeil from Emily Johnson of The Family Trunk Project

Yarn:  Alba Yarn, shetland fingering from The Wool Shed in Trout (brown), Pumpkin (orange) and Lochan (teal)

Buttons:  1940's vintage celluloid from Clover Crafts and Curios at eeebaaay.

Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce Miss Betty Jean McNeil?

On first meeting, she seems like a rather buttoned-up and studious young woman, bookish one might say.  But I suspect she is wearing silk  under her fair-isle and tweeds.

There have been many times over the past seemingly endless months of knitting, when I questioned my sanity at taking on this project.

It was my first attempt at "proper" fair-isle knitting:  stranding, steeking and all, and it was not easy.

But the biggest strain on my patience was probably the sheer acreage of fine-gauge plain knitting.

I knit little things:  socks, hats, the odd shawl, and they usually have snazzy stitch patterns to keep me interested until the next bit of shaping.

Betty Jean was a very different kind of undertaking. She was a very technical, process-driven knit.  The first thing the knitter has to do is work a folded hem on circular needles - just one new technique of the many I had to master to complete this garment.

Betty Jean demanded that I slow down and just enjoy the feel of the wool passing beneath my fingers.  Even at the very end, when I thought I was nearly done, there was an hour-and-a-half's-worth of i-cord bind-off to negotiate... followed by sewing on twenty buttons.  TWENTY!
I didn't dare to try it on until the last button was in place.

I had taken liberties with the yarn / needle combination and I knew this was going to be a very fitted garment.  Luckily, I got away with it.  But I wouldn't risk it again.  Swatch, my friends, swatch!


I started this with the 1940's in mind, but the silhouette is actually late 1950's / early 1960's.  That high neck could be very prissy and self-righteous-looking.  I am going to have to take care not to look like a Sunday-school teacher when I wear it.

Knee-length tweed skirts may be a bad idea.  Cropped narrow trousers would be better.

But don't misunderstand me.  Betty Jean was a labour of love and she is everything I hoped she would be:  vintage-looking, fair-isle, a bit preppy College Girl... and really warm!

Yeah... Betty Jean was worth it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Squirreling: Preparing for Hibernation

I am determined that this year will not be like last.  LAST year the winter hit us hard and long... and we were not prepared.  As the hailstones battered the skylight on Wednesday night, I made a list:

Fuel:  This year we have laid in a pile of logs.  I am not convinced they will see us through to February, but at least we have made a start.  I may start buying a few bags of wood from the petrol station and hiding them in the Bothy as second-line defence against FL's through-the-night fire-hugging addiction.  Sssh - don't tell!  He insists we have enough logs from our own trees.

Food:  I am working through the contents of the freezer in preparation for a major re-stock.  This winter, I hope to always have a week's worth of meal ingredients in reserve, in case we get snowed in.  And we have twelve jars of runny marmalade in the cupboard.  If all else fails, we can have toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Garden:  I harvested all three of my courgettes before the first frost - yes, you read that right:  my nine plants produced three baby courgettes between them.  I also collected two handfuls of broad beans from my 15-plant plot.  So that's about two beans per plant - fabulous!  I am seriously considering abandoning the veg garden next year:  so much work for so little return.

The herb garden has done better.  New flowers are still appearing, including a deep red hollyhock from seed planted at least two years ago, if not three:  now that's what I call an incubation period!  My tulip and allium bulbs are all in the ground.  The garden has had its final weed for the season - you won't catch me out there again til the spring!

Wool: Despite extreme temptation, I came away from the Glasgow School of Yarn without adding to my stash.  But I was torturing myself with the memory of the Skein Queen stall, where every colour glowed more tantalisngly than the one next to it... so I signed up for the email list.
Ha!  A couple of days later I received an invitation to join the Queen's Surprise Yarn Club and was powerless to resist.  Each colourway is inspired by a book or a film, so that will perk up my reading list too. 
I have enough wool to last me at least two years. (Make that five:  I have no shame.)
But I will knit more cardis!
And next year I am sure I can knit a pair of socks every month.
Just let me get Christmas over...

Fabric:  I have the fabric I need "in stock" for several seasonal projects.  Once Betty Jean is finished I will get back to sewing. The only vacancy in my stash is for coat-material.  That's OK.  No rush.

Great Plains basic l-s top
Wardrobe:  My switchover purging session left me topless and grumpy, with very few "outfits" to call upon.
So this week I caved and bought three long-sleeved t shirts to see me through the season in presentable layers.
 Otherwise, I fear I would have worn my black Audrey-esque trousers and polo-neck sweater every day from now until the tulips bloom.  I really miss my short-sleeved blouse collection!    I still need to stock up with tights and thermal vests...

Please don't tell me I could have sewn my own long-sleeved t's.  I know.  But by the time I found the fabric I wanted and sourced a pattern, it would have been springtime again.  Life is too short.  I was cold.  And I need all my time for knitting. ; )

Office shoes

Shoes:  Sensible black ankle-boots have been purchased.  They are neutral, comfortable and immensely "safe".  I will probably wear them every day it is cold or wet or windy but not actually snowing.  Yawn. 

But the same internet shopping basket contained a pair of burgundy wood-heeled "70's does the 40's" funky lace-ups.  I wore them yesterday and they made me smile!  And they were in the Sale. :D

Reading Matter:  I have been loading my online wish-list at the local library, including the first two Skein Queen book inspirations.  This is not a snow-proof plan, as the library is seven miles away, but at least it makes it likely that I will have at least one unread book on the shelf at any one time.

What am I reading right now?  The Little Friend by Donna Tartt.  My daughter insisted.  It contains far too many snakes for my liking but I am almost done.  I can't stop now.

And Fitness:  This is an odd one to "stock up" with, but I really must ensure I go into the cold weather with some physical reserves.  It has been too easy to get into the habit of letting the dog run along behind the car instead of walking out  in the weather beside him.  FL can no longer walk the fields for hours on end, but I have no excuse.
The other day I deliberately walked from the end of the road up to the farmhouse, lifting my knees high in the air with every step.  I must have looked like an extra from a Monty Python film, but it was exercise.  I could hear the ball and socket joints grinding with every movement.  Not good.  : (

What about you?  Are you ready for winter?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wilma, or the Perils of Web-based translation...

"When planning a "D" in the part number is designed to be worn as a mini dress.

(Clarity of the time of sale in favor of "C" has been moved to No.)
I originally designed as lounge wear,
The article "garbled", an interesting pattern.

Bottlenecks and cut out, point by floating with a patch pocket.
Use a simple apology underlined finger hole sleeve.
Therefore, it is also twisted sleeve design point is underlined.
Collar is just a simple apology wraps
Slap on the back facing the stitch.
Length comfortably sit in cover, winter warmth.

Material has a relatively firm is facing second-knit place.
Fleece, wool knit compression, such as fleece.
Epidemic "can also Fuwa," as well as material, the design would fit.

I saw cute toile collar Guriwohasamidejokijoki off,
Collar B (de scoop neck) also put information on line.
When you arrange short sleeves, also make like a big T.

Deliberately dropped shoulders, and your cute tank top to show patterns.
If you are concerned about the visible bra straps,
Please pull back slightly inside the shoulder line.
(Personally, a little too stuffed collar,
I think I have devised an inner nice)"
This is Wilma.
You can buy the pattern here.
Photo credits:  Tamanegi-kobo

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Complementary Knitting

 Oh the joy!  Seraphine will rise again!  90g of grey gotland has arrived from the roadside shed in the Highlands and I have cast on for the West Wing - woo hoo!
While I was waiting, I could not resist making a start on the Ashby Shawl.  But I am a silly fool.  I did not pay sufficient attention to the chart key and I decided that all of my wrong side rows were inside out:  I knitted where I should have purled and vice versa.  "Sigh," thought I.  Riiiiiiiiiiiiip!  And then I looked at this photo again and I wasn't so sure... so I may have ripped out an entire chart's worth of perfectly good knitting.

Moving on...
I needed a project to knit on the train to Glasgow, so cast on for a sock.

It is the Retro Rib pattern from Favorite Socks.  The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the colourway "S.W.A.K" and I am delighted to have hit the sweet spot in the dye repeat - woo hoo!  64 stitches on 2.75mm dpns gives me this spiralling stripe of loveliness.

Remind me of those numbers the next time I am spitting fire at Lorna's Laces for pooling and splotching ; )

This was supposed to be a Christmas gift sock, but the colour isn't what I thought it was when I saw it in the skein.  This is quite a girlie-looking sock.  I am not sure that it ticks the box for an FL-sock or a Boy-sock.  And The Girl doesn't do brown.  So I may have to pause after sock one to prioritise my gift knitting.  Because despite all my resolutions about not knitting for non-believers*, I still feel the urge.

The List

For The Boy:  a Stephen West Man-Shawl
For His Girl: a stunningly blue hat to set off her shockingly pink hair
For FL:  a pair of Sock Hop handspun socks:  rustic and manly, just like himself!
For The Girl:  I can't say here because she might read it, even though we have promised not to read each other's blogs!  Hello girl! ; )
For My Mother:  OK... I might not knit anything for Grandma this year because it never seems to be the right thing (*too scratchy / hot / funny colour / modern-looking) and she is perfectly capable of knitting  her own black acrylic ribbed hats.  Or maybe I will relent and knit her a nice soft natural-fibre hat from a vintage pattern (*old-fashioned looking). Pffft!

Oh dear.  I think my list is longer than my available knitting time - again!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Betty Jean: the first cut is the deepest

This weekend I gathered my courage and began to steek Betty Jean.
Some of my readers mentioned that they did not know what "steeking" meant, so I thought I would treat you to some gorey operation-in-progress shots.  Those of a nervous disposition may wish to avert their eyes!

The picture above bears witness to the scariest part of the process: listen to me my children, you have to CUT your knitting!  GASP!!!

But as several wise commenters observed, this is a "sticky" wool fabric, which cut lengthwise will not instantly unravel itself.  If I were to cut it crosswise, it would be a very different story... so I won't be doing that! 

When you knit something with the intention of steeking it, you add extra bands of stitches, rather like a seam allowance in a sewn garment.  As you are knitting in the round, there are two such allowances next to one another, and where they join is where you cut... but because knitters remember the hours of work it has take to get to this point, there is an option to reinforce the fabric either side of the cutting line. Just in case.   Having found crochet too bulky, and heeding the advice that a machine-stitched thread line might eventually cut through my yarn, I opted for two rows of backstitch using the same weight of wool as my garment.

These are sewn through the centre of the line of stitches to either side of the centre-parting, as shown above.
And then you CUT your knitting right up the middle.  GULP.
And miraculously, it stays there.  As long as you haven't cut through your back-stitching (hence the contrasting colour), this is enough to hold the fabric steady while you fold and steam press under each seam allowance.
This is the top of a sleeve.
The safety pin is holding the stitches which will be grafted to a matching set on the main body piece under the arm.
And this is the centre front, after stitching, cutting,folding, steam-pressing and stitching into place with a simple big hand-stitch.

Easy, huh?!

Now all I have to do is sew in the sleeves and pick up the stitches down the fronts to make button bands.

In daylight.

See you next weekend!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Glasgow School of Yarn... Taking a Pew with Stephen West!

Yesterday, I took a day trip to Glasgow School of Yarn, organised by the wonderful Yarn Cake.

I took a class with Stephen West!  Here he is, the man himself, wearing a glorious man-shawl he designed and knitted, and demonstrating how to cable without a cable needle.  It was a pretty small class, so we got individual attention and could ask all those burning questions about his work, his life, what flavour of jelly beans he prefers... oh no, not really! I made that last one up!

I felt like a bit of fraud, because although I am a total fan-girl (a male dancer who designs knitting patterns?  Wow!  Carlos Acosta, stand aside, Mr West is coming through!) haven't actually knitted any of his designs! :O
But that is going to change because I am INSPIRED!
He had brought along an entire trunk-load of his work.  There were sample shawls, hats, mittens, a bag from past, present and future publications.  He talked through his design process, colour, yarn and stitch-pattern decisions.
Two-colour stripes are a bit of a WestKnits trademark, and I think they are one of the features which make the shawls appropriate for men as well as women.  I came away itching to make the Transatlantic Shawl for The Boy!
I love the holes in it!  I mean - what a crazy zombie-friendly idea!  And the vertical stripes?  The garter stitch sections, adding texture?  SO COOL!
Oh - did I mention we actually got to handle his knitted samples?  :D
Sadly, he didn't have any of his books available at the class.  I have sent a hopeful message to the Yarn Cake, asking to reserve a copy of WestKnits 2, if at all possible.  He mentioned a future publication on the theme of Movement - I will be queuing that one as soon as it comes out - Stephen West legwarmers?!  Yes please!
The event was held in the Mackintosh Church, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, but I didn't take many pictures of the interior.  If you look through the hole in Transatlantic (above) you can see a glimpse of this stained glass window:
Maybe if you ask her nicely, Christine will post her photos of the architecture, as she was far more diligent than me in this regard.  Hello Christine!
And Ms Ripples has taken a photo of our class from below, here.  I am gutted to note that Mr West is blocking your view so you can't see that this is a picture of him talking to Christine and me!  LOL

Of course, the purpose of the class was to practise various techniques.  When I look at my tiny swatch, I have to laugh that this was my output from three hours of knitting!  But I had another five hours' worth of stitching time on the train, so I also have half a sock to show for it!
And anyway... three hours with Stephen West?  Priceless!
P.S. And yes, there was cake too - mmmmmmmmmm! ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Step Away from the Steeks

What I didn't tell you yesterday, was that on Sunday I spent an hour and a half trying to crochet a steek on one sleeve of Betty Jean.  I had two problems:  seeing where to pick up the stitches was the first.  I kept veering off on the diagonal, spanning three half-stitches instead of two.

Then I checked the online tutorials by Eunny and Elinor, and realised that I had only pulled the yarn through the stitches once, not twice.  So I ripped it out, and put it away in disgust.

Yesterday (Monday) I had the day off to commune with The Girl on her return from London.   But being a teenager, she spent a lot of the day holed up in her room playing loud music.  Fair enough!  So I thought I would have another try at the crochetted steek.

I ended up sitting on the draughty windowsill trying to see my stitches.  I was becoming quite concerned by my foggy vision. This is the result of two hours of chilly effort.  (It was 2 degrees C when we walked the dog a little later...)

It is far too bulky.  These great ridges of crochet, folded underneath, will give me the most visible of seamlines.  It wouldn't be a problem up the front bands, but round the top of the sleeves?  Ugh.

A machine-stitched steek would be less bulky... but the sleeve top is too narrow to manoeuvre its length under the presser-foot unless... unless I cut the steek before I sew?

Does anyone know about steeks?  Can I safely slice before I sew?  It is pure wool so it will definitely felt a bit when washed, but what if it unravels before I get the machine stitching in place?  And why are the tops of the sleeves steeked anyway?

I put it away.  No more daylight for me til the weekend.

I made twelve jars of ruby grapefruit marmalade instead!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wave to Betty Jean - she's off on an adventure!

At about 5am this morning, FL woke me:

FL:  Is that you squeaking?
Me: Wassat? Huh?  mumble mumble sleeping...
Me: NO!  I AM SLEEPING!  What time is it?
FL:  Oh no, ho ho ho, sorry - it's the geese.  I heard the geese and I thought it was you!  Ha ha ha - now go to sleep!  It's only 5 o'clock...
Me:  Ughhhhhh...

But this disturbance propelled me into a strange dream, in which I was trying to ride a penny farthing cycle up a steep snowy hill, pulling myself up by grabbing hold of the grit on the walls of the houses I passed.
Halfway up the hill, I met Eunny Jang, who was unpacking a vanload of books into a student house, and wanted me to proof-read her PhD.  I told her I was too busy right now but could she keep in touch, please?
And then I met a group of foster-carers from South London, complete with dozens of children, who were showing me photographs and wanted me to read them stories - would I come to the library with them?  Sorry - busy right now, but I'll be back later.

Cute Child:  Whatya doin' Roo?

And that, my friends, is what you call a life-like dream.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

FO: Betsey Johnson goes to Bournville: 70's trousers

Well now... hands up who thought my Eva Dress 1940's trousers were wide?  You ain't seen nothing yet, baby!
Welcome to the 1970's:  platform soles, v-necked pullovers, the Bay City Rollers and all!


Pattern:   Butterick 3289, Young Designer Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat, Junior size 7.  I added a centimetre to the back side pieces and reduced all the seams to 1cm in the hope that they would fit.  Luckily I was having a numerate day!

Fabric:  2 metres of dark bitter Bournville chocolate chalk-striped cotton moleskin:  seriously heavy, warm to the touch and gorgeous!  From Croft Mill Fabrics, £5.50 a metre - sorry, it's sold out!

Button:  Vintage, from the button box at my local charity shop, 5p.  It is a chocolate button.

Zip:   At the side instead of the back, which is a concept that scares me.  Not exactly invisible, but it still goes up and down, and that was my priority! ; )

The Sewing:

This was a really fun day of sewing!  Once I had established that I had enough material (and we are talking about half a centimetre's gap between the edge of the pattern and the edge of the fabric on all four sides!) I pretty much threw myself into this project. 

I knew that the pattern was too small for my measurements, but figured that the sheer width of those legs must mean I could make it fit!  The first time I stitched them, I narrowed the pleats to give myself more space at the waist, but it wasn't necessary.  I had to unpick them and sew them again, using the original pattern markings.  I was really pleased to be able to do this, because the style depends on that contrast between the high fitted waist and the sheer width of those legs.  The fabric is stitched down for 7 1/2 inches (19cm) in four front pleats. Taking narrower seams was enough to make them fit, with a bit more length added onto the waistband.

So how wide are they, exactly?  Um... each leg is 29 inches wide:  that's 74cm for the metrically-inclined!  WOW!  This is the first time I have been able to slide an entire trouser leg over my ironing board!

I am calling this a Finished Object, but I haven't actually hemmed them yet.  I finally ordered a pair of simple black ankle boots:  good quality, hopefully weather-resistant, plain boots.  But when I went to try these on, they just screamed out to be worn with my ridiculously high tan wedges!  And I discovered that I can get thick hand-knitted socks on comfortably with these shoes... which makes them borderline appropriate for  winter wear.  If only I thought I could negotiate the cobblestones of my work environment in them, without twisting my ankle!  So I am waiting for boots to arrive before I make a hem-length decision.


They sang shangalang as they ran with the gang, singing doo-wop-sha-dooby-doo-aye!

Vintage Blouse and 70's copper pendant
Call me crazy if you like, but I absolutely love them!  They sing to me of another era and have so much attitude!  How can anyone take life too seriously in a pair of these trousers?

And before you ask... yes, I do intend to wear them to work.

Have you got a problem with that, sir?

The question is:  would it be totally ridiculous to make another pair in black?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Geese are Gathering, the Dust is Not

Every year, thousands (yes, really) of geese gather at the foot of the valley, preparing for their flight south.  It is a sure sign that winter is on its way.  Ignore it at your peril!  And every year I try to take photographs of the shrieking, squawking multitude as they settle on the fields, only to rise up again in swooping sweeping skeins when disturbed by a cow, a tractor, a photographer.  One day I will succeed!
For now, you will have to settle for a grey blur, centre left.  This is just a tiny percentage of the flock.
Goodbye summer!

So... the weather is on the turn, and I needed to perform the Great Wardrobe Switchover.   I approached the task with trepidation this year, because I remember being ruthless when I packed my clothes away in spring!

Moth Quarantine
Actually, it wasn't so bad.  I definitely have some skirts:  3 lined wool, 2 cord (1 lined), 3 lined cotton and 2 unlined mediumweight.  Trousers?  Hmmm.

My ten-year-old cotton velvet jeans are on the washing line in disgrace after I found a moth larva in them - aargh!

My navy Eva Dress trousers are still in the wardrobe but I have my doubts about their warmth.  My black Audreys are still in there and I think they will be OK until it gets really cold.

 But I definitely need to get on with sewing more warm trousers:  Betsey Johnson flares are cut and ready to sew, and I have aubergine stretch wool for another pair of Audreys.

I have my denim Lisette for layering at home, and  one work-friendly Brora 40's-style dress - woo hoo!
The Remains of the Day
Tops?  Oh my.  Not so much.  But I knew this.

I was relieved / delighted to discover two Boden polo-neck sweaters I had forgotten about, in navy and black.  Unfortunately, having hung them in the sunshine to drop their creases, there was a definite bad smell...  I will try washing them again, but I suspect they will have to go.  This was why I threw out my thermal vests.  Eau de nervous sweat - lovely, Roo!

I am keeping out my two Sencha blouses, South Riding and my new vintage white blouse to wear layered with a warm cardigan, of which I have seven:  Central Park Hoodie, Manon, Audrey-in-Unst, two shop-bought (as seen in all the self-stitched challenges), and my two green vintage cardis from Gabrielle - hooray!  And I have my two self-drafted tees. But there is a definite absence of long-sleeved tops / thermal layers.  I have one brown long-sleeved tee.  I have nothing resembling a crew neck sweater.
In the coat / jacket line, I have two tailored work-appropriate jackets, my home-made heavy wool coat, and the Dog Walking Coat of Doom which I have been wearing all summer - tsk!  My home-made coat is out on the washing line to blow away the cobwebs.  I need to wear it more often, instead of the Dog Coat.  But I still want to make a smart wool coat from my vintage Betsey Johnson pattern.
Call me Imelda
And footwear?  I put away my toes-out sandals and my silk sneakers.

Other than wellies and my red patent DMs, I have:  my brown vintage cowboy boots, towering tan wedges and black Camper lace-up heels. 

My two-tone brogues don't like the rain.  My embroidered Kickers pumps are being worn to death right now and are no good in the cold.

Yes, I must stop prevaricating and buy something practical for winter workwear.
Black leather chelsea boots?  Dunno.

What I definitely do NOT lack is woolly shawls ... which must be why I have two more on the needles.  Some people never learn!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FO: Colette Ginger skirt with added Mushroomz

Colette Ginger:  the skirt of my dreams!

Pattern:  Colette Ginger, View 3, cut on the bias, in size 2.
Fabric:  Kokka Trefle mushroom print heavy cotton / linen mix from Raystitch, one metre...
with inner waistband cut from plain purple cotton because one metre is not enough!
Lining:  Black with white polka dots, from favourite Fabrics at eeebaaay, leftover from my Japanese pattern jacket.
Other notions:  Purple gingham bias binding to face the hem and to highlight my hook-and-eye feature waistband (ahem!);  one damaged invisible zip.


 "Can we go for a walk now?

I've been very patient, while you fiddled about with that stupid zip.

And I don't know why you needed to sew 5 hooks and eyes onto the waistband, or put gingham bias binding on the inside of the hem, where you can't even see it.

Look - your wellies are by the door, and the sun is shining. 

We could go and look for some real mushrooms in the top woods.

And I might see some rabbits.

Or even deer!"

 I love the shape of the Ginger skirt.

It is so much more than a simple a-line.  The back seam curves in as it reaches that high waist, emphasising the small of your back.  And the bias version flips out towards the hem, for added movement.

Do you see how it curves at the bottom?

I wore it with my new vintage blouse from Love Alexandra.  You can't really see, but it is a kind of broderie anglaise at the front, with swirling lacey eyelets, and plain white cotton with buttons on the back.

I dug out my granny's purple glass and brass necklace.

And my lovely vintage cashmere cardigan from Gabrielle.

Yellow wellies... well, because I had to trudge across two nine-acre fields to get here!

If you look through the trees, there was indeed a family of deer browsing in the late afternoon sunshine...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quick catch-up: mostly sewing

Zip Action:
Everyone - you are stars!  Thank you so much for all your advice on zips.  It was good to hear that this is a problem I share with others.  I will try the pencil-rubbing first...but I have a lingering suspicion that I have actually damaged the zip during the "gentle pressing" deployed to open the zip coil before sewing.  And as I have never sewn an invisible zip before, and it is now encased by the waistband, I am not entirely sure how to get at the stitching to unpick it.
So... despite my perfectionist streak saying I ought to rip it apart completely and put in a new zip, I think I am going to do something artistic to secure the top of the waistband.  It is just so neat below the waistband, I don't have the heart to destroy my careful handiwork! I rather liked Lorna's suggestion to use a frog fastening, because this would not affect the zip function if it suddenly decides to work properly.  The problem with my original plan of adding loops and buttons is that I would want to sew the loops to the inside of the waist, and have them looping out to the upper surface to reach the buttons on the outside... past the zipper teeth.  Hmmm.
Which brings me back to the idea of corset tape with hooks and eyes.  I saw this rather funky gingham tape on eeebaaay - the one on the left.

Photo credit:  ebay seller.

As I am planning to use purple gingham bias binding on the hem, I think I will shamelessly copy this idea, and stitch big black vintage hooks and eyes onto a piece of the purple tape as a decorative feature, either on the outside or the inside, depending on how much of a feature I want it to be!  This would not prevent later use of the zip if it springs into life.

Bodge job?  I deny it! ; )

I am somewhat shocked to report that FL played 9 holes of golf yesterday.  This is the man who was supposed to be taking it easy!  He says he thinks the exercise "freed his chest" and that "a little breathlessness" was good for him.  What can I say?  But he must be feeling better - he could never have attempted such madness a week ago.  That's his first golf since August.

Although he was a bit grumpy about the removal of steroids from his treatment regime, his energy level has been noticeably more even.  I would much rather he went through life in a steady 2nd / 3rd gear, instead of surging from 1st to 5th and back again, shooting himself (and me) through the metaphorical windscreen once a week!

Other Sewing:
I have cut out my Betsey Johnson pattern trousers.  They are going to be amazing!  I hope to get on with them tomorrow as I have the day off to take The Girl to the airport for a trip to see her dad (it is half-term here).

And Knitting?
I am about ten tiny rows away from the end of Betty Jean's second sleeve.  After that?  Steeking, baby, steeking!  EEK!

And shoes?
Oh heaven help me, I am totally tied up in knots thinking about office-appropriate winter footwear.  I have spent hours scouring the web for something brown and something black... only to decide I want something burgundy, and buying nothing.  What a waste of good knitting time!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Zip-pity Boo Blah

This weekend I have been working on my mushroom madness skirt.

It is view 3 of Colette Ginger, so bias cut with a plain but high waistband.

I lined it with blackand white pin-dots.

It will be hemmed with gingham bias binding.

And this is my first ever invisible zip fastening, which is, frankly, a thing of beauty to behold, thanks to the Colette online tutorial.
Yet again I found myself eke-ing out a tiny piece of fabric to make a Ginger!  You would have thought I would have learned my lesson by now.  This is now the third time I have had to compromise to make it work.

This time I had a full metre of fabric... but I hadn't realised it was only 45" wide, not 60" as before. Nooooooooo! 

Any ideas I might have had about matching my mushrooms were curtailed.  I didn't even have enough fabric to line the waistband!  Luckily I had some plain purple cotton leftover from a previous project.
So, yes, everything was going pretty well.  There were fungi cartwheeling trippily on the bias, there was a danged sharp turn at the top of my waistband, and fizzy dots in my lining.

And then I went to try it on.

And this is how far my zip ascends...

This far, and no further.

It was operating perfectly smoothly until now.  I have tweaked it, I have prodded it, I have used brute force, but it will go no higher.  I can only imagine that I have stitched it too close to the teeth in my quest for perfection.

So now what?  I don't want to risk unpicking it as I think the bias-cut fabric will stretch out of shape in the process.

I am thinking of sewing on a piece of corset tape for a funky hook-and-eye feature centre back?
Or maybe a couple of fabric loops and buttons, as on the back of the Lisette Portfolio?
Tell me sew-ists:  what would YOU do?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Season of the Tweedy Shawl and a Baby FO

I have been having such a good time knitting Seraphine!

More and more I have come to realise that I have a bit of a fetish for sheepy wool and big textures:  cables you can get your teeth into and crunch.
At the moment I am stuck, awaiting news from the wild west on whether or not the spinner has any of their 2010 batch of grey gotland lurking at the back of the wool shed.  If need be, I am willing to adapt Seraphine to make an assymmetric shawl.  A big pin should hold her steady!

Meanwhile... I knitted a baby hat.  This is the Dear Baby Francis Hat from Irish Girlie Knits.  The pattern includes a baby sock recipe... and to be honest that was why I bought it, because they are so very cute and cabley.

 But I had this Shilasdair Luxury DK left over from the Demne Cardigan and a newborn baby to rustle up a gift for, so a hat happened.

Sleeve Two of Betty Jean has occupied my Waiting Room hours and I have high hopes for a FO in the next couple of weeks.  Honest.

All of which left me with an lingering itch for wool.  Payday came, and my yearning for a certain pair of golden shoes was tarnished by their lack of wooden heels, so I began fidgetting about, looking for another source of mustard glory in my life.  And I saw another shawl pattern, and I found some sale-price yarn... and a plan was hatched... or thatched.

My next Big Knitting Project?  Ashby by Leila Raabe, from the Brooklyn Tweed stable.

 To be knit in Rowan Scottish Tweed, in the discontinued colour Thatch, a gorgeous autumnal harvesty mustardy gold.

It is a colour that is probably not going to flatter my skin tone, but it is a colour I want to have around me.  This is a garment for home-wear round the farm.  An essential extra windproof layer.  And a piece of kntting therapy.  Delicious!

I hear there has been a foot of snow in the Cairngorms...  eek!

Picture credit:  Brooklyn Tweed

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If you are a Blogger user, please be warned that there is something going wrong with the comments feature. I can't leave a comment on other Blogger blogs using my home laptop unless I am already signed in and can't leave a comment at all from my work pc.  Not that I would ever read blogs on my work pc you understand...  But it has been very frustrating over the last couple of days.  If I normally comment on your blog and appear to be ignoring you... I'm not!