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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

All good intentions

The virtual knit night began well (for everyone else).  Lots of WhatsApp chat, photos and not a little frogging. We were joined by others, temporary members of the Basingstoke knit and Natter WhatsApp group, including knit-like-you-mean-it (after all what else do you do when you are in Oxford about to defend your PhD thesis the next day but knit?) 

I loved joining in all the chat, seeing all the photos, and commiserating over the ripping out but I still had the first task in Operation-Finish-Up-Stuff-in-2018 to complete.  This task took a lot longer than I anticipated (more about it later in the week) so I did not actually was on till late on New Year's Day. 

But I had already carefully selected pattern and yarn so I was ready to forge ahead... right?



But by midnight I was well underway



And forged on until I had completely finished the stars on the outer cuff (the cuff is double, the inner part ribbed in a single colour.)  Then I had a long look and realised three things


  1. I had begun with the wrong colour!  I should have cast on in white, the yellow is for the star, the inner ribbed cuff and the tips of the thumbs and fingers
  2. Therefore I would not have enough of the yellow

AND

    3. I don't like the yellow now it's knitted up anyway



Nothing else for it but to ribbit - ribbit - ribbit and stash dive



Actually I think I like this green better in any case and by midnight last night I was back on course



xx

c

Monday, 1 January 2018

mittens!

New Year - new intentions.  More blogging, and a bit of variety (sewing, reading, events as well as knitting).  But to begin, my first love, knitting, and something that began, as projects so often do, with sharing a new lovely pattern with friends, captioned 'see this, I want to make it, anyone want to join me?'

Consequently, when friends from my knitting group were all in the grip of frantic Christmas present knitting, we decided that after Christmas we would knit mittens.  We made our plans on WhatsApp, where we often continue the knitty chat begun on knit nights.

We would normally have cast on together at knit night but tonight, it's a public holiday and all the places we meet (coffee shops mostly) are closed so we intend to meet virtually on WhatsApp and Ravelry.  I'm also instagramming my progress with the hash tag #newyearmittsalong

Want to join in? You are Very Welcome!

I have chosen to knit Ysolda Teague's Mīlēt in these left over yarns - (Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight and Triskelion Mona Sport




More posts to come

xx

C

Friday, 21 April 2017

Yes, I am still knitting

No, I have not given up but I have been a little busy of late, however, I am not exactly sure at what. Although there was a sneaky little trip to Venice in March.



But when I have time to sit in the evening and watch TV or on a rare afternoon to myself, I knit a few rows.  I even have to odd FO yet the needles are not exactly smoking.

But I am going to WonderWool on Sunday and would love to meet anyone who from time times pops by to read this blog.  I am rather excited to be helping out on the Centenary Stitches stand.  You might remember (if you have been reading this blog for a while) that I knitted a couple of items for the costumes in a film about WW1 and later the patterns were collected together in the book Centenary Stitches.  Well, many of the original knitted garments made for the film will be on show at WonderWool at the weekend.  I shall be on the stand from 11-12 on Sunday.

So rather than blather on here I will just post photos of one or two things I have finished since... Oh! since I last posted, so long ago




Fintry by Kate Davies knitted in beautiful Foxen meets Merino by Daughter of a shepherd.  Finished two weeks ago.  All but lining the button band and sewing on snaps and buttons.  So far I have not been able to find the right braid or ribbon that I like.  I am hoping I shall find some that pleases me at Wonderwool.


The hyzenthlay bunny hat.  Made for Bella.  This is a mock up because...


...we had some sizing issues


In the end we (I !!) settled for this, with rather less embellishment.  Bella consented to play Easter Bunny for all of 2 minutes, sitting at the head of the table at our family Easter Sunday lunch

Lastly...



Another pair of Driving Miss Daisy gloves for DD2

And on the needles?  Three pairs of socks, all different methods of construction, and one in my own hand spun; a second Kate Davies designed cardigan, Deco this time, and a shawl that has been so long in the making I am wondering whether I should describe it as hibernating!

Perhaps not a bad tally after all

xx

c



Friday, 10 February 2017

A very particular commission


Soon after my friend K was given some bad news by her doctors we went out to lunch at one of her favourite restaurants.  We were not there to talk of gloomy things, we were there to enjoy the warm atmosphere, marvel at the proximity of the fen drainage dyke to the restaurant (a good four feet ABOVE the restaurant window) and eat very good food.  We both ate sparingly, me because my tendency to greed leads to a tendency to weight gain, K because despite her undiminished appetite for all the good things of life her actual ability to eat was reduced by her condition. Nevertheless we tasted as much as possible from the extensive menu.  In our conversation I stepped gingerly around the minefield.  How to say we could talk about the few months she had left, her wishes for that time and afterwards and the practicalities, even mention the D word, but we didn't have to?  So I said very little, just " if ever you need to talk about The Thing I'm here" (or more likely on the end of a phone or e mail).  In time we did talk, sorting out the practicalities in preparation for my duty as one of her executors and then she made one unusual request. It wasn't a very surprising request really, given K's life's passions.  
K began her working life as a wardrobe mistress for theatre and film and then in her late 30s went to university to read history,  her special interest was the English Restoration Period (from 1660).  Combining her two interests, theatre and the 17th century K was an expert on the clothing of the period, in particular the fine detail (wigs and mens neck-wear in particular).  Her knowledge was amazing, and so was her capacity to rant when a TV or film company got some small but important detail wrong.  Then came the day when she knew her life was running out and she asked if I would make her shroud based on a ladies late 17th c chemise.
Like this but simpler, she said
We discussed the shape (something simple) and the fabric (it had to be linen from Whaleys where K had bought fabric in her theatre days).  Following instructions I rang Whaleys and they were absolutely wonderful. When I told them that I had a very special commission and requested samples for K to choose from they sent them first class post and when I ordered the actual fabric they sent it by express courier.


As I stitched  K was in a hospice in Cambridge, surrounded by kind and skilful hospice staff and friends she had collected throughout her life and who in her last months had provided practical and emotional support of every imaginable sort.  As I stitched one friend sat beside her bed and another read to her from one of her favourite novels.  As I stitched she was cared for and loved, despite having no close family around her. She was not estranged from her family, it is just that they all live in Australia and K had lived in the UK so long that even when she got the worst possible news from her oncologist she chose to stay.

So, this is it, made from off white linen, embroidered at neck and cuffs in pale green linen thread, i-cord ties (something knitted at K's request), simple, long and voluminous . Patern adapted from one of Janet Arnold's book Patterns of Fashion 4


xx

c

PS, I have one more commission from K.  That is to make a knitted wrap.  She had planned it so meticulously, in shades of green, a pattern inspired by lichen growing on a tree trunk and all beautifully charted, yarn bought but never quite began.  A large hat box containing the yarn sits by my favourite crafting space, I shall cast on very soon





Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Hand made Christmas

When Number Two Daughter announced she would be making most of the presents she was giving this year she inspired me to get on with something I had been thinking about, but never quite getting around to, for a couple of years now - making quilts for the grandchildren




It all began when I found a fabulous stack of pirate themed fat quarters at a local store, perfect for a pirate ship quilt for The Little Senator


And one with cats for The (not so) Little Model


The littlest girl loves cuddly rabbits, so although this was a bit tongue in cheek...



I did include a pair of bunnies, pattern from the Little Cotton Rabbits collection


One of the girls has special needs, so for her a fiddle quilt


The other boy is always happy with his fingers around a pencil.



Lastly the big girl loves giraffes



2016 has been a stashdown year.  The shelves in my studio, carefully curated when JTH (a little fed up of every nook and cranny containing yarn and fabric) converted two thirds of our garage, were groaning and overflowing into five clip top plastic boxes. My aim, almost achieved was to get back to not needing those boxes. So making six lap quilts for the little ones in the family seemed a good idea, here they are, all done and ready for wrapping



I still did a bit of knitting and over the year, with the help of the Spreadsheet Of Doom on the Pre-process Yarnies group on Ravelry, I have either knitted, sold or given away over 15,000 metres more than bought, but more of that another time. Yet I still have so much on the needles, two pairs of socks, a shawl and a cardigan. I have looked longingly at posts on Facebook and Instagram at photos of holiday casting on but I'm remaining strong. I intend to complete WIPs first before beginning a new project.  I'm keeping strong... I am, truly ...

xx

C



Saturday, 29 October 2016

Collared

I am so pleased with the dark velvet I chose for the collar of my Joan dress



You may recal that I was aiming to get this dress out of two and a half metres instead of three and a half. I decided to achieve this by shortening the sleeves, cutting the skirt to above the knee instead of below, and dispensing with the collar...

Then I looked again at my fabric and thought that the blue flecks in it could be enhanced by a bit of emphasis and that would happen if I used something blue for the collar.  I bought half a metre of blue silk and viscose velvet from Beckford Silk and am so pleased I did.




By cutting the velvet on the bias and leaving it as a soft roll the neckline looks just right and I think the dress might have looked too plain without it.



All done! and feels just fine. Had I used fabric with a bit of stretch I might have made the dress in a size smaller, but in this fabric I think I would have has straining at the seams issues!

In summary, I made three adjustments to the pattern for fit


  1. Lengthening the bodice (in two places, armhole and underarm seam)
  2. Increasing the sleeve width
  3. Reducing the waist darts 


And three so that I could make the dress out of 2.5m instead of 3.5


  1. Shortening the sleeves
  2. Shortening the skirt
  3. Making a contrast collar 
I would love to hear about how other people have made up the Joan Dress - fabric choices, modifications and alterations please!

xx

c


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Toile-ing

Friends who know me and my knitting life will know I don't swatch.  Of course that can have bad results but give me a skein of squishy woolly goodness and a new pattern and I just can't wait to cast on 'properly'.  It's the same with making a toile when I'm dressmaking.  I mean, there's slow fashion and there's #whenamIEVERgoingtogetthisdone?' fashion. But I am making an exception with my Joan Dress - two reasons

1. There is a lot of shaping in this pattern, it has a waist seam and darts in several directions.  Each dart and seam must be in the right place. If I get the fit wrong it will not forgive me

2. My gorgeous Japanese fabric from Raystitch has very little give, I love it and don't want to ruin it but for me to do justice to the pattern and the fabric it must not be too tight or too loose.

So I made a toile.  Well actually I made up the lining as a toile using this lovely vintage fabric.  I bought it in a sale, from a place that gets stock that has lain in people's lofts for years. It feels like silk but I don't think it is, could it be rayon?  Does anyone know how to test?  I think there is something called a burn test but that sounds dangerous.



My two main fitting concerns were the waist, I am a UK size 16 and the bust and hip measurements were fine but I needed a couple of centimetres more at the waist, and the bodice length.  I decided the darts had enough in them to ease the waist size and to add 2.5cm to the bodice length midway down the underarm seam.  Otherwise I cut the pattern out as it was printed.



I had some cat help!




The fit was pretty good,  the waist in the right place and the sleeve/shoulder seam sat just right.  Sitting down, the skirt did not ride up too much



But there was a problem with the sleeve.  It looked fine with my arms straight but as soon as I reached forward it was too tight.  The solution was to widen the sleeve - possible with the outer fabric but what to do with the lining that is already cut?  I decided it would be OK if I let in a strip of fabric down the centre of the sleeve, from crown to hem giving me another 3cm around the top of my arms.  

This of course means the sleeve is fuller at the crown, with too much to shrink away with the usual double line of gathers. The solution was to make the armhole bigger.  So I split the 2.5cm extra length for the bodice by adding 1.5 above the bust (giving me a total of 3 cm extra circumference  to the armhole) and 1 cm below the bust.  It worked!  The only other modification I made is to shorten the skirt so that the finished length is just above my knees.




Needing to make notes on my modifications and not having a notebook to hand I wrote on the lining with a frixion pen - the writing will magically disappear when the fabric is ironed. Before laying the toile pieces out on my fabric and cutting out I ironed everything with Flatter By Soak.  An ironing spray, originally developed for patchworkers but also fab for dress making, it's not a starch, it does not clog your iron but it does give a lovely professional finish to any fabric and smells nice too.



When I made the toile I used a wide machine basting stitch and some bright red thread so that I could easily unpick and iron before using the modified lining pieces instead of the paper pattern.




And so, using my toile as a pattern I cut out my fabric  I only have 2.5m of fabric, much less than the pattern states.  To make this work I am going to 'bag' the lining (i.e. a similar construction to a coat or jacket), make the sleeves shorter and cut the collar out of a contrast material (to be revealed in a later post).  I just made it with not a centimetre to spare!.

I stitched all the darts, the shoulder and side seams and now I must pause, I need to shop for a zip and wait for my contrast fabric to be delivered.

More sewing coming soon

xx

c