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. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

By Hand London - Anna dress

So I finally finished my By Hand London Anna dress. I've loved so many versions online, I wanted to make my own. The material was from Edinburgh Fabrics, £6.50 a metre and I bought 2 metres. It's the most fitted and advanced garment I've ever made. 
I think I'm happy with it. I lowered the bust darts but otherwise made no alterations. I was incredibly impressed with my invisible zip insertion. It's the longest I've ever sewn. Thanks to Tilly and the Buttons I am now adept at this technique, which eluded me for so long. Somehow, though, the back waist panels didn't line up when I was finished, even though I'd checked them before sewing the second side of the zip. I expect no one will notice except me.

There is a bagginess about the top that I'll have to get used to. I can see the same with other online versions, and if I make it again I'll take a couple of chunks out of the pattern.

I decided not to line it after all, because when I went to cut out the lining I didn't have enough material. I'm not sure if the weight of the lining would have given it stability, or caused it to be over-fussy.

My head isn't in the photos because I was having an unwashed hair day, not because I'm trying to protect my identity. :)

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sewing, mostly.

I have almost finished knitting my cardigan Ysolda's Chikadee. I just have to knit the rib, which trims the entire garment, and it's finished. For someone who hates sewing knitted items together, this design has been a dream. It's knitted in one piece. No front, back and sleeves. It starts at the neck and finishes at the rib, and it's ready to wear! I think I'll choose buttons to colour-match the birds. I intend starting straight away on the next cardigan, though I think I'll replace the birds motif with a snowflake/Norwegian star design. 
This is my Lucy Liu dress. It started life as a Simplicity 3835 top. I love that pattern, in dress and top form. It's so easy to cut and sew together. Anyway, as I was hemming the top I started visualising it as a dress with pockets. So I bought the 'hospital' blue material and turned it into a dress. I like it. It's difficult to see the pockets in this photo but they are just patch pockets that came with the pattern. It's the first time I've done pockets and I learned a few things, particularly to sew as close to the edge as possible! That would've made it look better, though it's fine. I called it after Lucy Liu as we watched a programme with her in it and she wore some great shift-type dresses.  
This is the top version of Simplicity 3835. This flamingo material, which I bought from Edinburgh Fabrics for £6.50 a metre (I bought 2 metres) really suits this top. I gave it to my friend Fiona for her birthday. 
I almost had enough material to make a second flamingo top, but not quite! So I found the peacock feather (what I call my Turkey feather material) leftover material I had from my Amy Butler A-line skirt and made patchwork-sleeves. I also didn't have enough peacock feather material to make a whole sleeve. Still, I also love this version, which I kept for myself, and have worn it A LOT.
The sleeve detail.
I have no idea why the above photo is so bad! It's my By Hand London Anna dress. I LOVE the pattern, and have seen so many great versions in Blogland. I had intended making it for my friends' wedding in June, and I would've been able to finish it if I hadn't decided it would be better lined. I just didn't have time to make the lining and put it all together. So, the wedding came, I wore a Fatface dress that I also like, and my Anna dress has been hanging there ever since. The lining material is covering the piano, and I'm not sure when I'll get it finished now. It'll happen suddenly.
I also took part in the Oh Comely Perfect Strangers swap. Oh, I love this concept. You put your name forward to the organisers, they pair you with a stranger, and then you put together a parcel of presents for your stranger. It was such a lovely thing to do. These are the presents I sent off. I was teamed up with a woman in Ghent, Kentucky. She sent me some lovely things also, and knitted me a beautiful wash cloth as well.
We have had a dreadful time with our chickens recently. We have lost chickens to foxes before, but never on this scale. Chickens were disappearing one every day or every other day. The remaining girls were completely freaked out and spooked, and instead of going about their peaceful chicken business of scratching and meandering around the place, visiting the allotment boys, going for a walk on the lawns, an afternoon sleep in the shade of the trees, they took to hiding beside bushes near the henhouse and were on high alert the whole time. No one was having any fun. The final straw came one Thursday I returned home from work to find three chickens missing. One had been eaten (I found the feathers), one was halfway down a wild wooded area that goes towards the river, and one - my little friend Tiger, a bantam - was way down at the river's edge and ON THE OTHER SIDE! Poor wee thing had been scared/chased far from home. So I had to drive over the bridge, rescue her, put her in a box and drive home again. So, we moved the remaining chickens - 8 hens and 2 chicks - into our back garden. They soon returned to normal chicken behaviour and it has been a relief to break the fox cycle. 
And so the eggs are to eventually replenish the chicken stock, and to add some colour to our eating eggs. My neighbours found a company called The Rainbow Egg company. Great idea. Some great colours.

Keeping chickens I expect and accept we will lose a couple of chickens a year to foxes. We actually had a good year just before the two week slaughter, where we didn't lose any girls to the fox. 
Meg has been a great friend to me while Hagos has been on tour. She keeps me company every single day, and chats to me and gives me cuddles. She is a true friend and I love her.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Knitting mojo

My knitting mojo has been absent for quite a while. I finished the yellow jumper (sewing it together because I had nothing else to knit) and then - nothing.

But yesterday was my birthday, and I decided wool would be my present and I would choose a pattern to knit, so Hagos and I went into town to John Lewis and got some lovely DK Wendy to knit the Ysolda Teague Chickadee pattern. The link actually takes you to Sewaholic's version, because she also made herself a pair of matching mittens, which I love.
The great thing about this pattern is it uses techniques I haven't used before. I've never cast on a Yoke in a oner. The cardigan construction knits the entire garment, top down, which means no sewing together at the end. It's all still fairly new to me, which is enough motivation for me to want to keep knitting just to see how it all works out. I can already imagine using this technique with different motifs for future cardigans, though I love the little birds. 

I've also wanted to knit a cardigan for ages. And to knit in wool thicker than 4 ply! My TV jumper is great, but there are times when a cardigan is required. So, watch this space! The turquoise blue wool is Wendy DK, the cream wool is Rowan Pure Wool DK and the yellow-y-green is a UK alpaca DK I picked up years ago and have been waiting for a project to use it in. The burgundy birds I think is actually a Rowan Kid Classic, which is lambswool and mohair DK, which I also had in my stash from another project.
We went to Peter's Yard yesterday for coffee and cake and lunch. This cake was so delicious. Almond-y. I've been yearning for otherness recently. Things foreign and exotic. I used to travel extensively with work, but stopped to go to university in London and Norwich, and haven't really got into the habit again. I miss the friends and culture I had when I lived in London. All of my friends were actors (you know, actually on TV or in the theatre) or were in touring bands, or were writers. I miss the vibrancy of that, and the potential.   
These are two pockets I knitted just to have something to knit last week. I've still to press them and sew them onto the front of the yellow TV jumper. Rowan pure wool 4 ply. I plan to sew buttons onto the rib of the pockets and those green ones are the likeliest at the moment but I'll have another look in my button collection before deciding.
I love the way my cardigan looks like a shell, or a curled-up animal when at rest.