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.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Simplicity 3835

Pattern: Simplicity 3835
Fabric: Nani Iro Pocho double gauze

I've been wearing my flamingo Simplicity 3835 top almost constantly recently, so when I felt in need of a quick fix sewing project I decided to make another. I had originally bought the Nani Iro fabric to make a Tilly and the Buttons Delphine skirt, but when I laid out the pattern pieces on the material I just didn't have enough! (I think I had only bought a metre.)

It took a bit of jiggling to get this pattern out of the material. I thought I was going to have to do patchwork sleeves again, but I just managed it, though the grainline had to be slightly off to make it happen.

It was only when I had cut out the fabric that I remembered and realised what 'double gauze' means. I've never worked with it before. Two pieces of light fabric stuck together. I love the end result. The tops are so easy to sew, as well as being a quick project.
Fabric: Cloud9 Water Land Geese

Oh, I love this fabric! I've looked at it, and looked at it, and put it in my online basket MANY times. And on Friday I finally decided to make another Simplicity 3835 top out of it and so put one and a half metres in my online basket and then completed the buying process as quickly as I could before I changed my mind. I had previously thought of making a dress, and as it's £15 a metre, and a dress would require two and a half metres, it was turning out to be too expensive. But a metre and a half? I think I can afford that.   

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ysolda's Chickadee cardigan

Pattern: Ysolda Teague's Chickadee
Buttons: from John Lewis

I have to say I love this pattern. It involved a new construction process for me, but it is so much more satisfying than knitting a cardigan in separate parts and then sewing them together (my least favourite part of knitting anything). This pattern begins at the neck and finishes with the entire rib edging. There is NO sewing together, so when you finish knitting the garment is also finished. The only final thing to do is sew on the buttons.

The only part of the pattern I tripped up on was the sizing. I somehow missed the line of information that said there was zero ease at the bust (I think this was on page 4!). The patterns I usually follow has this built in. So, I usually knit a size 34" and it fits me fine. This does fit me, but it is snug, and I can't wear long sleeves underneath the cardigan sleeves. I have a few Boden dresses that are short-sleeved cord, and so I will be able to wear it and enjoy it. I also plan to lose another stone in weight so hopefully this will also help!
I was so impressed with the pattern, and so keen to have more cardigans, I immediately cast on the next one. I changed the bird motif for snowflakes, which I drafted myself. I also decided to make it simpler: no border or multiple colours. I won't use contrast yarn for the cast off either. And I am knitting a 38" size!
What I also like is that Ysolda tells you what yardage of yarn the cardigan will take, rather than how many balls of a specific make. I worked out, from the yardage, that the first cardigan would need 8 balls, but actually I have two balls left. For the 38" cardigan I ordered 9 balls, again of the Wendy Ramsdale, but I anticipate having a couple of balls left over from that too.

I love all of the Wendy Ramsdale DK shades, and at £3.59 a ball that works out at a very cost-effective cardigan! I have become fed up of extortionately-priced wools. I used to be a Rowan devotee for years, and I still buy their wool, but it is becoming prohibitively expensive to do so, and recently I've only bought it for smaller projects - a hat or socks. 
This is Pebble (a bantam hen) and Grape (a bantam cockerel). They are a very sweet pair. Pebble is particularly beautiful. Grape, for now, is an acceptable cockerel. We've had some horrendous ones in the past. 

The weather has been beautiful for the past few weeks. I love cold, bright, Autumnal days.

September has been difficult for us as a family this year. My mum died on September 4th. It is a profoundly sad thing and we are all still adjusting.