Friday, August 19, 2016

Chickadee Tetris

In my touring days, when I travelled the world with my husband's band, I played a game called Tetris, to while away travelling time. Shapes would fall from the top of the screen to the bottom, the object being that once a line was complete that line would disappear, making room for new shapes/lines.

And this is an apt analogy for my Chickadee-knitting obsession. I realised I had so many almost/partially complete/just started Chickadee cardigans on the go, that I had to stop and finish what I could before continuing with/making room for the others. 
I finally put buttons onto the Devil's Beeftub cardigan. Choosing buttons for knitwear is extremely important. There is a right button for every project. These purple coconut-shell buttons spoke to me. I loved the (kind of) woody nature of them, and the colour perfectly matched the cardigan. I sewed in the few loose ends, sewed on the buttons, et voila - cardigan complete. I love it.
I thought I had finished this cardigan, until I wore it out one day and found wool dangling out of the sleeves. I hadn't sewn in some ends. It didn't take long, but it's been in my 'to finish' pile for ages.

Button detail. I love these transparent-with-a-blue-tinge buttons.
And so to the unfinished cardigans. My charcoal, plain cardigan now has a sleeve. But then I saw the Wee Chickadee pattern, thought of my great-niece and great-nephew and bought the pattern and some wool.
This is for my great-niece Kelsie. It took so little time (comparatively!) to knit this. I was spurred on, wanting to see what the yoke looked like, then wanting to see how knitting the body compared with the adult version. I really love this. As you can see, just the sleeves to knit and it will be finished. In the wee version the body is knitted before the sleeves. I've already chosen sparkly pink buttons for it.
I then put the pink Wee Chickadee on hold so I could start my great-nephew Curtis's cardigan. I've decided to knit snowflakes into his, instead of the birds. 

Meg, of course, was keen as always to be where the action was.

Next post - sewing tetris! Which will consist of: one pair of pyjama shorts, one pair of 3/4 length pyjama bottoms (both cut out but not yet sewn), one skirt to hem (I mean, that will take no time at all, why haven't I just done it yet?), and one new phone cover to make from scratch. I lost my last one. I loved my last one. I found it again, all covered in black marks from being out in the rain for a week. Will probably re-make it in exactly the same material. I might also make a back-up phone cover as well! 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Cast Off, Cast On

I think this is my favourite make EVER. My Devil's Beeftub cardigan. My interpretation, in knitted form, of the drive from my home to my Dad's. Such stunning, inspiring, breathtaking scenery. The cardigan made me gasp when I finished casting it off. The heathery-purple, the tree motifs, the buttons. I love it. 
The tree motifs in detail.
They worked out well, after a lot of fiddling with charts and researching on the internet. (Buttons still to be sew on). 
Coincidentally, I finished my Apple Tree skirt at the same time, It is the same design as the daisy skirt in my last post, i.e. an altered Amy Butler A-line skirt, front and back cut on the fold, invisible zip at the side, and shortened. I think they go well together! Definitely a future combination for an outing.
Every so often I CAN'T STOP KNITTING. And I'm in one of those phases again. I couldn't wait to cast off the purple cardigan, so I could cast on the charcoal cardigan. It is the same pattern but I think this time I will knit it plain and not add any motif. I have red wool ready to knit the same pattern as well, but I thought I'd save the red wool for WINTER.
I actually love dreich, drizzly, cool Scottish days. They remind me of my childhood in Scotland, after living in the south of England for 25 years. London had what felt like its own thing going on, but I never felt comfortable in the Norfolk landscape. It was too flat. There was no relief in the land and it had a psychological impact! Whereas I love the Pentland Hills, and the countryside and weather and light and nature of where I live now. It all feels nutritious! Perhaps everyone has an inclination to their childhood environment (if that environment was healthy). 
Next up on the sewing table will be pyjama bottoms made out of the egg material. I don't think I'll ever buy pyjamas again. Making them is too much fun.
Followed by a Bettine dress made out of the blue and brown Amy Butler material that I got in a sale a couple of years ago.
I'm not a shoe person, but I do love my new Converse trainers.

We have been absurdly busy lately. My work takes a lot of mental energy. And we have been doing lots of drives to visit elderly relatives. And now Hagos's work is upon us as well. There are some days it feels like we go from one thing to the next without any rest in between. So when we do get a day off it feels very luxurious.  

Saturday, June 04, 2016

June progress

So, I haven't quite finished the Devil's Beeftub Chickadee cardigan. But almost. It's such a satisfying knit, and the finished product feels so comforting. 
This skirt is my quickest make ever. I amended Amy Butler's A-line skirt pattern, cutting both the front and the back pieces on the fold, and inserted the zip at the side. I also shortened it to knee length. Instead of lining it (because it's decor weight) I've done matching waistband facing. Then it just needs to be hemmed and that's it! The material is by a Finnish company. I love the daisy pattern.
We've been gardening when we can, trying not to overdo it. In this bed we have our brussels sprouts, cabbage and purple sprouting broccoli. We've grown sprouts and broccoli before but never cabbage. 
And in here we are growing pea shoots! It's something I first saw years ago, I think on Gardeners' World, and have been meaning to try ever since. They take three weeks from sowing to harvesting.
These strawberries pretty much died during a busy period, but I cut out the dead bits and repotted them and they seem to be thriving again.
This, according to a friend who knows, is a woody peony. I love the dramatic flowers.
And these are our carrots. I sowed them from seed, then planted them out a couple of weeks ago. They're a mixture of small, round orange carrots, and purple carrots! I mixed them up when planting them so we won't know what we're pulling until it appears. 
And I love this photo. Haggis and our wee cat friend, Cherry. She loves hanging out in our garden. Our weather has been good for the last week, and every day after I got home from work, Cherry and I would sit out companionably enjoying the heat (and shade).

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Paula's Projects

I seem to be in a phase of accumulating projects, rather than finishing them. The second sleeve on my Ysolda Teague Chickadee cardigan (with my own modifications) took ages. Anyway, now I'm on the body and it should be fairly swift from now on. I anticipate finishing it in two months' time. 
During one particularly challenging day at work, I headed to the haven of John Lewis haberdashery dept at lunchtime. It usually does the trick. Mostly I just browse, looking for new fabric I might like for future projects, or new wool or pattern ideas. I came across this knicker making kit, and, it being something I thought I'd like to have another go at I decided to just buy the (extortionately priced) kit.
Polka dots aren't my thing at all, and I'm fairly sure the fabric isn't 100% cotton, but anyway, I decided to press ahead and use it as a tester. The construction is easy, though lining up the front, back and gusset to sew showed me they weren't all the same length (I think they're meant to be?). Perhaps I'll understand better once I've sewn the elastic on. The instructions have revealed to me what I did wrong all those years ago when I made knickers before (without a pattern or instructions - I traced round an existing pair as a pattern). When sewing on the elastic a zigzag stitch is used, instead of straight stitch! This is (now obvious and) revolutionary! Of course.
While browsing the VERY DANGEROUS website M is for Make, I came across this material and before I knew it my online basket was full and I was pressing the 'buy now' button. I'm thinking it will make a good Amy Butler A-line skirt, knee length. 
Then on A Million Dresses' Instagram I saw THIS material made into her Emery Dress. Oh, I just love it. It has the same pull for me as the synchronised swimmers. So I searched the internet and found a company that sells it online and bought it. Hoping to receive it on Monday in the post. I'm thinking a Megan dress. Not sure. Definitely a dress. 
Then my husband came home from a work trip to Japan and brought me THIS. The top material will be for pyjama shorts, the bottom two materials are thicker and will make knee length A-line skirts. I love that he went to the effort to get me material. And the reason he chose the bottom two because the apple trees reminded him of our cider-making activities every year, and the daisies reminded him of how our garden looked (before the chickens turned it into a mud bath). (We are working on restoring our garden to its former glory now the chickens are back to their original hen house.)
The accumulation continued after I wore my blue snowflake cardigan for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I loved it so much and felt so proud of what I'd knitted, I went straight online and ordered more of the same Wendy Ramsdale DK from Loveknitting. I haven't even finished the purple trees cardigan yet (top photo) and I'm already lining up the next one. I've been thinking of what I could use as the motif on this red cardigan (the wool is a deeper red than the photo shows - it was taken on a bright sunny day in the car). I thought perhaps white wool but can't decide on the motif itself. And then I wondered if I should knit a straightforward red cardigan with no motif. ??? There's time to decide! I think this will be my winter knitting project for this year.
Managed to re-stock my pyjama elastic. I always like to have some ready!
The last couple of weeks we've been watching our neighbours' cat, and looking after the chickens too. Cherry Pops (as I call her) is an absolute sweetheart. She loves hanging out with people (and the chickens - they're not so keen on her) and accompanies me morning and night to let the chickens out and put them to bed again. And she follows me on daily walks as well. And she comes when I call her. She's very fluffy and is a smart wee thing.
I've taken a few days holiday over the course of April. It's been lovely being at home with my husband and animal friends, especially my favourite animal friend, Meg. She is high maintenance (very demanding and vocal) but of course totally worth it. I love her. She's a great wee friend.
And finally, introducing Kelsie Sylvia, my great-niece. She was born on the 19th March. I cried all day when my sister told me my nephew and his partner had called her after my mum and even now it still makes me cry. My mum would have been DELIGHTED to have her great granddaughter named after her. I love that she's covered in knitwear in this photo. It bodes well. Perhaps I'll get a little knitting buddy in a few years' time. 

So, the moral of this post is - STOP BUYING WOOL AND FABRIC! and use all the wool and fabric I already have to make stuff. 


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Simple Sewing

I decided to make more napkins. I am addicted to the online fabric shop M is for Make. They have such fun material. I could buy LOTS of it. And I've been taking simple pleasure from using the napkins I already made. Very silly. But I find colour particularly sparks my imagination and makes me feel happy. As does colour combinations. The blue dots with occasional orange - I love that. It transfixes me. 
The napkins have found a home in this transparent-lidded tin. 
On Valentine's Day I made heart-shaped scones.
Along with lemon curd, made with eggs from Bubbles and Tiger. Home-made lemon curd is amazing. I could eat the whole jar just by itself, though my scones are also great. I make them with skimmed milk and plain flour with raising agents, and somehow they turn out light and tasty.
It was Hagos's 40th birthday at the end of February. We had a great couple of days. As well as our local friends, three of Hagos's touring friends also came across/up. Mike from Northern Ireland, and Simon and his girlfriend Oktober, and Roger and his wife Bee from the south of England. It was so nice for me to properly meet Simon and Oktober, and we were delighted to see Roger and Bee again. Bee is another textile person so I find her really interesting to talk to in a nerdy way. Roger's present to Hagos, which he made everyone vote for Hagos to put on straight away, was an England Rugby Shirt. About the best worst present Hagos could get. Very funny.
I bought this material on a whim, thinking I'd make summer pyjamas - pyjama shorts and a top based on the top part of the Bettine pattern. I think I'll still make the pyjama shorts, but I'm not sure about the top. Would it be comfortable to wear? Also thought of making my great-niece Lucy a skirt as well. I love the coloured eggs.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Silly Saturday Satisfaction

I woke up feeling out of sorts this morning. I don't remember why now. But after Weetabix and coffee at the kitchen table (my favourite start to a day off) the first good thing to happen was this!
Polar Bear fabric from M is for Make. I ordered it yesterday. I'm supposed to be not buying any more fabric (until, you know, I make stuff out of all the fabric and patterns I already have) but I liked this so much. I can see it as another Simplicity 3835 top, or, possibly an Esme top from the Lotta Jansdotter book (which, er, I'd have to buy). 
The next good thing to happen was my husband suggested we go for a walk, which turned into, "Shall we take the sledge?" We had four runs on the sledge together. It was so much fun. Totally exhilarating and silly.
This is us at the bottom.
We then came back inside, had homemade soup for lunch, with whole SPROUTS in, my favourite vegetable, then parted ways for a couple of hours.

I really felt like sewing, but didn't want to get involved in a big project. Plus, I am between sizes at the moment, and until my body settles there's no point making anything fitted (I want to make the Moneta dress, and the Megan dress). I noticed we were down to one paper napkin in the holder and remembered some fabric bicycle napkins I'd made a couple of years ago, and had never really used. I found them in the drawer, and thought it would be fun to make more, and perhaps dispense with paper napkins altogether? I made three - the skaters, the feathers (fabric I'd forgotten I had) and the geese. I love them all. I thought I could make occasional napkins out of leftover fabric, and only ever make one, so I end up with lots of different napkins.
At the same time I cut out rectangles for my patchwork quilt. I'm cutting two rectangles from each piece of leftover fabric. I don't have many yet, so the quilt won't get made for (probably) years. But that's okay.

This evening we had eggs, beans and chips for tea! Our new Saturday favourite meal, and are just about to watch the second new Star Trek film.

Meg is on my lap. The fire is lit. My husband is home. It's been a great day.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Down the Rabbit Hole

So I am plummeting through January. Even at weekends I barely touch the sides before being whisked into Monday again. Time. I have calculated that if I can make it to July I can use my annual leave to work three days a week until the end of the year. I think I prefer that to taking a week or two at a time. IF I can make it...

I am on the second sleeve of my Devil's Beeftub Chickadee cardigan. I had a few lunchtime trips to John Lewis and these purple wooden buttons were the ones that were calling to me the most. So I bought them.
But in the meantime these blue on blue mittens were also calling me. Usually I go for high contrast colours, but I think these are really effective, and I'm enjoying knitting mittens again.
When I photographed them by the window today Marlena, one of our chickens, jumped up hoping I was going to throw food out. This is one of the things I want to get round to soon - moving the chickens back to their original hen house so we can get the garden back to looking good. We are taking tiny steps in that direction.
My visits to my Dad have dropped to every second week now. I wish he lived five minutes away, but he lives an hour and forty minutes away. And though I love the drive and the landscape, I find it incredibly tiring after a busy week at work. It's the concentration, and the sheer time it takes out of my week. Keeping on top of housework, and clean clothes, and even just washing the dishes sometimes is a mammoth task. And then there's socialising with friends, and what I'm left with is - usually not even the time to read a book! Knitting I do when watching TV in the evening (I usually watch something with my husband for an hour). There are other things I want to achieve. So I will have to keep working on time distribution to all the tasks that need my attention. The balance has to be better. 
Last Friday (a home day) I had the urge to go sledging first thing in the morning. So I went off by myself and did three runs. It was exhilarating. I love being outside. I love the countryside and fresh air and any sign of birds or animals. This felt far away from people and was just FUN.
I love crashing through the long grasses to stop when I reach the bottom.
We have been getting a slight increase in egg production recently so I made a batch of meringues dipped in Green and Blacks dark cooking chocolate to take to our friends' house for Sausage Sunday. They went down very well.
One thing I've realised I enjoy recently is taking group selfies. It's a similar thing to my Kitchen Table Microcosm photos. A snapshot of everyone together. This was in Wagamama's when two Mikes were in town. We haven't seen our London friend Mike for ages. We spent some time trying to persuade him to move to Edinburgh, which is where his new-ish girlfriend is from. I think we are halfway there. 
And today my great-niece and great-nephew visited with my sister and brother-in-law. They are great kids. I've come to the conclusion that all kids these days exude crumbs and are constantly covered in mud. And never stop talking. I don't remember being like that when I was a kid. I remember reading books and playing cleanly outside. :)