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. :)

Monday, December 14, 2015

A quiet day

Pattern: Ysolda Teague's Chickadee cardigan
Yarn: Wendy Ramsdale 100% DK wool

So this is my third Chickadee cardigan, though again I've drafted a new motif for the yoke. They are Christmas trees, as well as the motif and colours mainly being in homage to a regular route I drive through the Devil's Beef Tub, just north of Moffat, as I visit my family. There is a particular part of the road that is lined with Fir trees (I think), and the colours of the landscape are just breathtaking - muted purples and blues and greens. I absolutely love the scenery. It is a fairly quick knit for me now. I'm already on the first sleeve (I had taken a break to knit a Christmas present, below). It has become an easy-to-knit-while-watching-TV pattern.    
Pattern: Simplicity 3835
Material: Waterland Geese (from The Village Haberdashery)

I just love this pattern. It is flattering and easy. And it can be worn with jeans and a cardigan and the material makes it more interesting. I think I have five now. And I wear them all the time. 
Patterns: 55 Christmas Balls to Knit

I finally bought the book by Arne & Carlos. I had to, though I could get by with what other people had published on the internet. Still, there are so many Christmas balls I want to knit. The Pig, and The Sledger (in red and white, above). And The Snowman! 

These balls form part of my Make-it-Yourself Secret Santa present for my work colleague. Every year we do Secret Santa but we all have to make the present. It's something I used to do in my previous job, but my current colleagues have all embraced the idea with gusto and the reveal is such a great part of our Christmas night out. The second part of my MIY SS I wrapped before taking a photo. I sewed six double-sided Christmas coasters. The material on one side is the Makower ice skaters, and on the other is Makower cars laden with Christmas presents. I'll try to remember to take a photo after she's unwrapped them.

Yesterday and today have been much-needed quiet days. Where I keep the doors shut and light the fire early. I went to bed at 9.30pm last night and was finally woken up by my cat at 9.30am this morning. I feel like I have a bit of a cold, but it's also a desire to hole-up and take a break from the world. I have a busy week ahead, and I can't be bothered. It includes the Christmas work party. And working four days this week. And then on the weekend feeling like I should drive to visit my mother-in-law so that my husband doesn't have to the day after he gets home from working away for five weeks. Any one of the things I have to do, by themselves, would be fine, but all together it makes me want to keep the door closed and read and drink hot tea.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Chickadee Snowflake cardigan

Pattern: Ysolda Teague's Chickadee Cardigan
Yarn: Wendy Ramsdale DK

I can't stop knitting this cardigan. I love the construction so much, and as 100% woollen garments go, it is cost-effective. Around £35 all in, which I think is great. 

I substituted the bird motif for snowflakes, which I self-drafted and really love the effect. I have already started Chickadee cardigan #3 in a gorgeous heathery-purple with a vibrant green Christmas tree motif (understated, of course). 

Photos soon.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Too many sewing patterns, not enough free afternoons

These are the patterns I would make, if only I had the time.
The Linden Sweatshirt. I have seen so many great versions online. And who wouldn't find it useful to have a few Autumnal/Winter Lindens to hand?
The Colette Moneta dress. Again, so many great online versions. The main photo on the front of the pattern doesn't do it justice. I like the long-sleeved, collarless versions. I have some navy blue T-shirt fabric that would be great for this project.
The Bettine dress. It has an elasticated waist, and pockets. That's all you need when you're cruising through middle age. I'm not sure how this would translate into a winter garment, but perhaps if it was layered with woolly tights/leggings and a cardigan it would be fine.
The Coco. Again, so many amazing online versions. I would do the dress version with the collar and pockets. A great, slouchy, home-day dress. I might even substitute the patch pockets with a pouch pocket. Good for keeping hands warm too.