Monday, 27 August 2012

Autumn Knitting Plans


After a scorching hot couple of days last weekend, the weather has turned decidedly cooler in the past few days and with it my thoughts have been turning towards Autumn knitting.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I am currently working on a striped sweater which is progressing quite nicely and I think the weather will definitely be right to wear it as soon as it’s finished – you watch, now we’ll have a heat wave mid-September!

I spent a bit of time the other day going through my “favourite” and “queued” patterns on Ravelry to come up with a bit of a plan for what I would like to knit for Autumn/Winter.  So far I have a list of three items, all of which I’m hoping to knit with stash yarn. 

The first will be a skirt, the Chelsea skirt by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.   This is a free pattern that can be downloaded here, from Knitting Daily.  


It’s knit in a worsted weight tweedy yarn.  I often have problems with tweedy yarns because I’m very sensitive to scratchiness in fabrics, knit or woven, and I find that tweed is terrible for being scratchy.  I’m slightly less worried about this as the skirt will not be directly next to my skin, but I was still apprehensive when I ordered the yarn. 

I’m using Donegal Yarns Soft Donegal that I found on Great British Yarns website.  The site says the yarn is soft, so I thought I’d give it a go.  And it is certainly much softer than many tweeds.  Not soft enough to wear around my neck, but as it’s destined to be a skirt, that shouldn’t be a problem!

The colour is scrummy – it’s called Eggplant and it’s a really dark purple shade with flecks of olive green,  violet, rose pink and fuchsia pink.  I'm really looking forward to starting this.
 

Next we have a Still Light Tunic, by Veera Välimäki, available on Ravelry.   I was tempted to knit this last winter and in fact bought the yarn I’ll be using and started knitting another tunic dress.  Unfortunately that turned into a massive failure as my gauge was way off, so it’s sat languishing in the cupboard for the best part of a year.  I’m going to have to rip it all out, skein and wash the yarn before I can start again!
 

I’ll be using an orange extra fine merino fingering weight from Colourmart for this.


Third on the list is a chunky cardigan.  The pattern is Kelly by Jo Storie, available here. 
 

Unfortunately, it’s knitted in a yarn that I know would make me itch just looking at it!  I find that many chunky yarns are very high on the scratchiness scale if they’re not a blend that contains a high percentage of acrylic.  I’ve got nothing against acrylic really, and in some cases it is exactly what is needed, but I do find quite a few of the heavier acrylic yarns have a tendency to look “cheap”.  (No, I’m NOT a yarn snob, I just like things to look worthy of the effort I’ve put into making them.  If the yarn that gives the look I’m after contains acrylic, I’m happy to use it!) 

I’m hoping I can use a yarn that I already have for this cardigan as well.  In fact, it’s yarn that is currently knitted up into a cardigan! 
 
I knitted this cardigan a couple of years ago, and while I still love it, it has stretched beyond belief, now almost reaching my knees.  I’m going to rip it out (I was planning on doing this anyway) and use the yarn doubled to hopefully get the right gauge.  I have a bit left over, so I’ll try with that first!  It’s another Colourmart yarn, this time a Cashmere/Silk/Viscose/Merino blend.

I think these three new projects should keep me going well into Autumn and possibly Winter as well!
 
Have you got any knitting planned for the coming months?  I'd love to hear about them.

 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Made by Me – the Tiger Lily Afternoon Tea dress


Last Saturday I was lucky enough to go to afternoon tea at Luton Hoo with a group of girlfriends. 
 
We were there to celebrate a “milestone” birthday for one of the group, and as such, of course all had to dress up in posh frocks.

I decided as soon as we booked the tea (about 6 weeks ago) that I was going to make my outfit.  Initially it was going to be a navy and cream peplum top and skirt, and I even cut out and started making the top from this pattern.  But the neckline went wrong, I needed to start it again and then I worried that the fabric I’d chosen would make it look like a uniform of some sort.

A trawl through the internet found me some pretty blue polyester crepe de chine from Fabricland for only £2.50 a metre!  It was called Tiger Lily on their website – hence the name of the dress.
 

I’ll have 3 metres of that I though, and duly phoned them and ordered it.  Their website isn’t the easiest to navigate and you can’t order online, but they are very helpful on the phone. 

My parcel of fabric arrived a couple of days later and I set to work trying to decide on a pattern.  I love the fit of my Burda Danielle dress and wanted to use the bodice pattern again, but I wanted a different skirt.  Step forward Burda 7407, which I’d used at the end of last year to make a tartan dress for a New Years Eve party.

 
The skirt was perfect for the look I wanted.

I also wanted some little sleeves, so using a random short sleeve pattern (I don’t remember where from) I drafted some tulip sleeves using this tutorial I also made the waistband about an inch deeper.
I'm really pleased with these sleeves and the fit of the bodice.

The back zipper was inserted using Scruffy Badgers fabulous lapped zipper tutorial and it worked like a dream!
Not bad for a first attempt!
 
I managed to get hubby to take a shot of me on the morning of the tea, sadly this was before I'd done my hair and makeup!

 
 
It was such a hot day last Saturday that I started to melt as soon as I put the dress on.  I was seriously worried it was going to be ruined by sweat marks before we’d even got to my friends house.  Ever lady-like I folded two tissues and stuffed them into the sides of my bra, and into the armholes of the dress.  Not the most elegant solution, but it worked!

We had a gorgeous afternoon, champagne before we were chauffeured to Luton Hoo, then lovely sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, followed by delicious cakes.  Then we retired outside to the terrace for a glass of Pimms. 
The only shot I have of all 5 of us!

All in all, a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
 
And I have enough of the fabric left for a top of some sort! 
 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Swatching Stripes


I don’t know about you, but I don’t like knitting gauge swatches. 
I know they’re necessary – having learnt from past experience that NOT knitting a gauge swatch and measuring it properly can cause you to have to rip back huge quantities of knitting – so I always do them, but they always feel like a chore.

I want to get on with the exciting part of actually knitting whatever it is I want to be knitting.

Imagine how I felt then knitting not one, but four – yes FOUR – swatches for the project I’m about to cast on!


Source

I’m knitting a striped sweater, the Satsuma Stripes sweater by Sharon Matarazzo to be exact, and I had yarn in three colours already in my stash that I wanted to use for it.  The problem is, I didn’t know what combination of those three colours I wanted to use.

The yarn is Colourmart fingering weight shiny cotton, a gorgeous cashmere / cotton / angora / viscose / merino blend.  It really is yummy.  On the cone it looks nothing special, but once the machine oils have been washed out it plumps and fluffs up beautifully.  I have some in a dark red, dark purple and a dull-ish pink. 

Last night I knitted the following swatches:

Pink with purple stripes


Pink with red stripes


Red with pink stripes


Red with purple stripes


This last one looks different because it is unwashed.  From the other pictures you can see how the yarn fluffs once washed.

I don’t have enough of the purple yarn to make it my main colour, otherwise there would have been 6 swatches!  I think purple with pink stripes would have been my first choice, but it wasn’t to be, without buying another cone of yarn.

So, decisions, decisions.  Which colour combination was it to be?



I immediately discounted the red with pink stripes.  I think I would have liked this combination if both colours had been slightly brighter, but it looks too dull to me. 
 
Red with purple stripes is a little better, even though it’s even darker the tones seem to complement each other more.

But it came down to a decision between pink with red stripes and pink with purple stripes, and finally the pink and purple won.   That combination is the reverse of my “ideal” so I suppose it makes sense that I’ve decided to go with that.
 
I shall hopefully cast on this evening, and begin to enjoy the knitting of the sweater now I’ve done 4 times the amount of swatching I normally do!
 
I think it was worth the extra effort though, to make sure I was choosing the right colour combination.
 
What about you?  Are there times when you make extra work for yourself on a stitching project?  And if you do, is it worth it?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Looking forward to September!


Now, I’m not normally one for wishing my time away, but I have to say, I can’t wait for September!  It is hard to believe that it’s only 2 weeks away – this year is flying by so quickly.

Why am I looking forward to September, you may ask?

Well, for a number of reasons, which I will tell you about.

Firstly, hubby and I are off on holiday at the beginning of the month.  After changing our minds goodness knows how many times about where we wanted to go, we’ve booked a cottage in Seahouses, Northumberland for a week. 

It’s not the first time we’ve been there, and we’re very happy to be returning.  It’s a pretty  little seaside town, perfectly placed to visit locations such as Bamburgh, Alnwick and the Farne Islands.

Secondly, I am excited for the release of 2 books in September, both of which I have pre-ordered on Amazon.

The first one is Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, written by the wonderful Gretchen Hirshe "Gertie" of Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. 

Her sewing skills leave me in total awe, and I love her vintage style, so I am extremely excited about her first book.   According to Amazon, my copy should be delivered to me on 5th September.  Unfortunately this is while we’re on holiday, so hopefully I will be greeted by it on our return home.

The second book I’m excited about is In The Pleasure Groove:Love, Death and Duran Duran, by John Taylor, their bass player. 

I know they’re totally uncool, but oh, how I love Duran Duran!  They were the first band I really got into in my teens and I’ve loved them ever since.  I can’t wait to see what John has to say about his life in and out of the band.   I can already see myself regressing 30 years as I read!!!  I’m going to have to wait until about 18th – 20th September for this one, according to Amazon. 

Thirdly, I have booked myself a workshop on machine embroidery and appliqué, with Katie Essam. 
I mentioned in a recent post that I’d seen some of her work at a craft fair, and that she runs workshops teaching her skills to others.  I contacted her a few days ago, and after a few emails backwards and forwards, we’ve settled on a date mid-September.  I’m extremely excited to be learning a new stitching skill, which will also allow me to do some drawing and painting at the same time.  I’m currently searching for inspiring pictures to take along to the workshop to base my embroideries on.  I have a few already saved to a Pinterest board, here.
These are the types of images that I'm currently drawn to taking along to the workshop.


Apparently I like piles of things! (Actually my hubby would probably agree with that!)

Lastly, and probably most importantly, it’s my birthday month.  And seeing as my birthday is 2nd September, I haven’t got too long to wait for that!  And we’ll be on holiday at the time, which is lovely.   The workshop I mentioned above is going to be my birthday present from my hubby.  I'm hoping I'll be able to document the workshop here after I've attended.  I'll certainly be excited to share what I've managed to create!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Friday Fancies


Hi there!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done one of my “Friday Fancies” posts, not because I haven’t found anything I fancy, but because I haven’t got my brain in gear enough to put the things I like in some sort of reasonable order!  I think it was a combination of the heat and the Olympics making me scatter-brained!!

But this week I’m back with another selection of some of my favourite things from around the interweb.

Firstly, this lapped zipper tutorial from Scruffy Badger.   I used it this week to insert the zip in a dress I’ve been working on and it worked great!  I’d been disappointed that I couldn’t find a concealed zip the right colour to match the fabric, but I didn’t need to worry.  I’ll be writing a post about the dress soon, but in the mean time here is a little sneaky peek at the zip.



Not really appropriate for the weather we’ve been having here recently, but the preview of the Fall Vogue Knitting/Designer Knitting is up on their website.    There are quite a few pretty things in this issue, which is great.  Sometime I can look and not see anything I’d like to make, but I’m tempted by a few this issue.  This cardigan in particular caught my eye.  It uses the reverse side of stranded colourwork to form the pattern.


I’d love to attempt it, but I’m not that great at stranded colourwork so it kind of intimidates me.  Maybe if I took it slowly, and alternated with a simpler project at the same time?  We’ll see. 

Whilst on the subject of knitting stranded cardigans, I just remembered I have Velvet Morning from Knitty in my Ravelry favourites too, so maybe it is time I tried to make one for myself.


This neckline. 

I came across the photo on Pinterest, and it links only to the photo, so I’ve no idea where it came from.  I love it though, so simple and unusual.  Looks like it would be REALLY fiddly to try and recreate myself.  


The darker brown chunks you see in them are broken up Oreo cookies!!  I have made these a couple of times and they are totally gorgeous!







Sunday, 12 August 2012

Made by Me: Stripes and Flowers crochet top

Last month I mentioned a crochet top from Anthropologie that I was planning on trying to recreate for myself.

Well, I am pleased to say I have succeeded, and I'm very pleased with the result.

Hubby insisted that the "photoshoot" should include his car - of which he is very proud!


The original top is the Eden Tunic,

Source


and my plan had been to use a Doris Chan crochet pattern, the Multi-Toned Shell. 

However when I swatched I found that the stitch pattern - while very pretty - was much too open for the effect I wanted.  I ended up switching to a free pattern, the Striped French Sweater from a Japanese company Pierrot Yarns. 



Luckily, many of their pretty patterns come with English translations!

This pattern worked out much better, I was able to get exactly the right gauge and of course it already had stripes!  I did change the stripes somewhat to match the Anthropologie top more closely. 

I decided to omit the vertical line of flowers from the centre back, as basically I couldn't get my head around the easiest way to construct the top if I put them in.  I like my version without them anyway.  I also did far fewer flowers at the hem.

I used 2 different types of flowers.  The larger, 5 petalled ones came from a free pattern on Ravelry, which I now cannot find to link as apparently I didn't bookmark it or add it to my favourites once I'd printed off the pattern!  The smaller, daisy type flowers I just made up myself.

The yarn I used is yummy - 50% cotton and 50% cashmere DK weight from Colourmart Cashmere.  If you love yarn, visit their website at your peril!  So many gorgeous yarns in gorgeous colours, and they are amazingly helpful people.  The website is a little confusing at first, but you can have the lighter weight yarns twisted up together to the weight you require, and they will help you if you get stuck!

I wore my finished top today, to a County/Craft fair at Knebworth House, where my dad was exhibiting and selling his handcarved walking sticks.  There were some lovely crafty stalls, selling all sorts of pretty things, and at one stall - Katie Essam - my eye was caught by some lovely crochet earrings.  Whilst chatting to the stallholder, she admired my top and asked if I made it myself.  She seemed pretty impressed when I admitted I had, and that today was it's first outing. 



This stall also had some beautiful machine embroidery and applique pictures, and Katie runs courses in the technique.  It's my birthday next month, and I think one of those courses is going to be my birthday present.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Wow!


My goodness, if I thought I was excited and overwhelmed by the Olympic opening ceremony 11 days ago, it’s nothing to how I’ve felt watching and listening to the coverage since. 

Every time a Team GB athlete wins, a lump comes to my throat and tears to my eyes.  As I’ve sat here typing this, Laura Trott has won the women’s Omnium (a cycling event I don’t pretend to understand), Victoria Pendleton has got silver in the Women’s sprint cycling and Sir Chris Hoy has won gold in the men’s Keirin (another cycling event I don’t fully understand).  And I’ve got tears in my eyes again! 


I believe Sir Chris Hoy is the GB athlete with the most Olympic gold medals now, overtaking Sir Steve Redgrave and his marvellous achievement in the rowing in past Olympics. 

I’ve been totally surprised by the sports I’ve loved watching too.  Things I would never watch normally, such as archery and double trap shooting (I was glued to that the other afternoon when our competitor won gold).   I’ve always loved the gymnastics, particularly the men on the rings – how do they do that?!, rowing, cycling and the equestrian events.  Our Dressage team won gold today too, how smart do they look?


Strangely the track and field events of the athletics are some of those I am less interested in, although Saturday evening was wonderful in terms of athletics for Team GB.  Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon; Mo Farah got gold in the 10,000 metres and a gold for Greg Rutherford in the long jump.  Hubby and I were down in Swanage for the weekend and I missed the action as it happened, but caught up on the highlights when we got back to our hotel. 

Swanage was lovely, a really nice relaxing break.  Exactly what I needed after a busy week at work that had involved a lot of driving and an overnight stay in a hotel in Worcester. 

We stayed in a lovely little B&B just on the edge of the town, close enough to walk to the pubs and restaurants on the seafront of an evening, but away from the noise.  On Saturday the sun shone (which was quite unexpected) so we took the opportunity to visit Lulworth Cove and from there walk along the cliff top to Durdle Door, a natural arched rock formation.   
Lulworth Cove - we walked along the path at the top left, across to Durdle Door.

Durdle Door

The walk was quite steep and my legs were definitely feeling it by the time we got back to our starting point.  The honey and ginger ice cream I treated myself too was well deserved in my opinion, and very delicious.

I also treated myself to a new stitching book, appropriately called “Stitch” by Cath Kidston. 


It contains some lovely needlepoint and cross stitch projects based in Cath’s trademark designs.  I can’t wait to get started on one or two, in particular the Union Jack Purse and the Electric Flower Specs case. 




But first, I have a crochet top to finish by Sunday for the Ravellenic Games on Ravelry (I don’t think that’s going to happen) and a top and skirt to sew for a week on Saturday – which should happen. 

I’ll be posting about my progress on both those projects later in the week.  I've also got another "Made by Me" item to share with you.