Thursday, 19 January 2017

Literary Knitters - all the women at Fox Corner in 1915

January's literary knitters are from Kate Atkinson's Life after Life, which I am enjoying reading enormously. The quote is from a section of the book set in 1915.

All the women of the household spent an inordinate amount of time knitting - mufflers and mittens, gloves and socks and hats, vests and sweaters - to keep their men warm.
Mrs Glover sat by the kitchen stove in the evening and knitted huge gloves, big enough to fit over the hooves of George's plough horses. They were not for Sampson and Nelson of course, but for George himself, one of the first to volunteer, Mrs Glover said proudly at every opportunity, making Sylvie quite crotchety. Even Marjorie, the scullery maid, had been taken by the knitting fad, labouring after lunch on something that looked like a dishcloth, although to call it 'knitting' was generous. 'More holes than wool' was Mrs Glover's verdict, before boxing her ears and telling her to get back to work.
Bridget had taken to making misshapen socks - she could not turn a heel for the life of her - for her new love.
. . . 

Pamela's support for the expeditionary force had taken the form of a mass production of dun-coloured mufflers of extraordinary and impractical length. Slyvie was pleasantly surprised by her eldest daughter's capacity for monotony. It would stand her in good stead for her life to come.

Oh dear, it seems like only George is going to come out well from the knitting parcels sent to the from from Fox Corner.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Catch-up Monday: Full Circle Skirt

Towards the end of last year I was very bad at posting about my new makes, and I'm going to try and make up for that with a series of Catch-up posts.

The November sewing box from SewHayleyJane contained the Christmas fabric, sensibly enough to give time for making something from it before Christmas. My box contained 2.5 meters of the beautiful red cotton poplin, amongst other treats.

Having made a dress from my October box fabric, I wanted to make something else this time but also to make the most of the quantity of fabric ... the idea of a full circle skirt popped into my head.

While a pattern for a full circle skirt is not strictly necessary, I do happen to have a rather nice one.

I found it in the box of pattern in my parents' house, which is a mixture of patterns belonging to my mum, aunt and grandmother; we are a family of needlewomen. On application my mum thought that it wasn't one of hers, but probably belonged to my aunt (who died when I was a teenager). On the off chance, I asked mum if she might have any photos of my aunt in her skirt (a long shot but their father was a photographer so there are lots). Amazingly she dug up this photo, which, while it might not be of skirts made from this pattern, do show some very like it.

Mum on the left, Aunt on the right

I love that I'm sewing from the same pattern as my aunt, and that I'm keeping the flag flying for the Harvey needlewomen :)

My waist is not quite as small as my aunts was as a teenage, so I made some adjustments to skirt. I sewed the front and back of the skirt together, and then just cut a bit off the waist until it fitted, and added a little bit of length to the waistband.

The skirt is fully lined, I used some lace from my stash to finish the bottom, and the fancy zipper (from the October box) on the back. (When I showed the finish skirt to my boyfriend, he helpfully asked if I knew that I had a zip on the outside of it!)

I'm really happy with the result, and wore it to several Christmas parties and on Christmas Day itself. I don't seem to have taken any photos of the skirt on any of these occasions, and I didn't feel like getting all dressed up this evening, so my faithful mannequin will have to stand in.

Outfit details
Top - bought from Carousel
Belt - made by me
Skirt - made by me

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

New Year Sewing resolutions

Last week I set out my New Year knitting resolution, and this week I'm going to make some tentative sewing resolutions. I didn't make any sewing resolutions last year, which at least means I didn't fail to keep any of them. However, I am going to make some this year. Hopefully, they keep me on track!

Resolution No 1 - Still sewing by subscription
Back in October I received my first sewing box subscription from SewHaleyJane, and I made a deal with myself that if I didn't make anything from the material in the first three months I would cancel my subscription. Three months later and I've made things from the main fabric in the first two boxes, and I've even managed to make somethings from some, although not many, of the fat quarters. Although you wouldn't know, as I've signally failed to post about any of the projects ... yet! I've plans for the quilted fabric that came in my third box as well, it is going to be the lining for this coat.

As a result, I'm allowing myself another six months subscription on the same bases, if I don't use the fabric, I loose the subscription. Working with the fat quarters should be easier as I received this book for Christmas. To my surprise my boyfriend not only listens to me waffling on about sewing but retains some of the pertinent facts as well - I had no idea he knew what a fat quarter is!

Resolution No 2 - Working with my stash
Given that my first resolution revolves around increasing my stash, my second is rather contradictory, as I'm going to try and keep my other fabric purchases to a minimum, and sew up some of the beautiful fabrics already in my stash. Which will give me plenty of options. Killing two birds with one stone, the coat will be made, not only with last month's subscription box fabric, but will also use some fabric that has been in my stash for over two years.

Resolution No 3 - Outfits fit for Queens
My last resolution goes against my second (oh dear, how inconsistent I am). I'm not going to give much details here, because it needs a whole post to explain, but I'm going to be working on a small and detailed project, for which I will be buying special fabric, although not very much. I'll post more details on these soon, but for now all I'll say is this project is one I've wanted to work on for quite a while, is very special to me and will be, hopefully, regal!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy New Year and one (yes, just one) knitting resolution

Crikey, 2017 is here already and it is time for reflections, ruminating and resolutions!

Last year I made one crafting resolution - to down size my knitting stash which was getting out of hand. My aim was to reduce the size of my stash to under 20,000 meter. Which I'm glad to say I have achieved, my current stash total on Ravelry is 18,639 meter. If I'm honest I would have hoped to be closer to 15,000 meters, and I probably knitted enough to do so. But, kind lovely people will keep giving me wool! (I'm not complaining, just trying to justify myself!)

From my projects page on Ravelry, I see that I've completed 21 projects this year, using up just over 10,000 meters in a year, a personal record for me.  Picking a favorite from these was quite hard, but I reduced it down to two.

1) My happy ending jumper, which started out as the disaster of a lost scarf and ended up as a favorite and much worn jumper.

2) Summer Chevrons - worth correcting all the mistakes I made in knitting it and all the time which goes into knitting a top in lace weight.

Looking back I see that the chevron top is the only one of the five patterns I put on my proposed list of project this time last year which I have managed to complete.

So much for last year, what about this year? Well, I have so much enjoyed knitting out of my stash over the last year, and there is still so much wool left in my stash, that I'm making the same resolution again this year - to reduce my stash, this time I'm aiming to get it down to under 15,000 meters this year. My first new project will be one that was on my list for last year, with wool which has been in my stash for nearly two years - Puffin-tastic!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Virtuous sewing

This is the hook on the back of my sewing room door. It is quite exciting for me to be able to see it, as it is normally covered with half finished projects and items waiting for repair. 

However, I've been on holiday from work this week and set myself the task of getting to the bottom of the pile of half finished projects and un-tackled repairs. As a result I've taken up the hems on two pairs of trouser, and the sleeves on a coat for the boyfriend. He has been waiting, very patiently, for over two years for me to do this, and did look somewhat surprised when I presented it to him. I think he, like I, had half forgotten it was there!

I've finished three t-shirts for myself, which were cut out months ago but have been waiting to be sewn up since. 

I've also finished a shirt I started in the summer. All it needed was hemming and buttons, but once it had been put on 'the hook' it disappeared into the vortex of unfinished projects.

Although it has taken several months from start to finish I'm glad to have finally finished this project and I'm really pleased with the result. Now, I just have to wait for some warmer weather to be able to wear it. 

I think the little Vespa buttons are great touch, and I'm glad I let T convince me to use them on the shirt. Much better than the plan red ones I had originally picked.

I'm feeling extremely virtuous now I've cleared the backlog of projects from my sewing room, and inspired to keep on sewing. I guess a clean sewing room does equal a clean sewing mind. Especially as I no longer have to feel guilty when I go into my sewing room and see all the unfinished projects. 

I guess I'm not the only person who has problems with a backlog of half-finished projects? (Please tell me I'm not, it will make me feel better.) For me, it does tend to be sewing rather than knitting where they build up. Having said that, I do currently have four project on various sets of kitting needles, and one project has been languishing on said needles since 2012. Maybe I do need to get to grips with them as well.