Monday, 21 July 2014

A new piece of furniture

About 10 months ago we moved into our new house. We were very in that we were able to buy all the furniture with the house, so we didn't have to buy loads of furniture at one. Some of the furniture is, um ... dated is probably the kindest word, were as other pieces are lovely especially the 1930s (ish) bedroom suite. 

We've not done much to the house since we moved in, the whole place could do with redecorating, but it needs rewiring as well, and that has to come first! It doesn't seem to make much sense to buy furniture until we've redecorated and decided what we want to do with the rooms, but I have been keeping an eye out for an interesting items in second hand shops, and last Saturday something caught my eye in Oxfam.

I really liked the shape, but as I got closer I wondered what exactly it was - some kind of hall stand? The wings on the side said umbrella stand to me.

 But then I lifted the lid and boom it hit me

It's a sewing box (with optional umbrella stand)! Well, unsurprisingly I couldn't resist, and I am now the proud owner of a new sewing box.

Inside the lid is a maker's mark for 'A Morco Product'

Sadly, my little Morco lady has some damage but the picture on the right shows what she should look like. It seems Morco specialised in sewing boxes and a quick google search turned up lots of different styles, although non quite like mine. I couldn't find out anything on the makers which was disappointing, but I'm going to say it's mid-twentieth century. My hunt on-line does seems to indicate that the pink lining is much more common than the shape. I have to say I'm not made on the pink, and I am considering replacing it, especially in the drawer where it is really coming away.

But it is not just the lining which is raising questions. There is also the questions of what I'm going to put it the wings??? Very long knitting needles perhaps? 

Monday, 7 July 2014

On many things

Three Men in a Boat -  This Old Thing  -  dyeing  -  I capture the Castle 
  -  changes to literary knitter of the month  -  new shoes

I've been listening to the audio book of Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat and he starts each chapter with a summary of what is going to be covered, as this post is going to cover a couple of different things I thought I might adopt the same policy today.

Has anyone else been watching Channel 4's new show This old thing? Any thoughts? I've been really enjoying the show, but it seems that the reviewers have not been. I find Dawn O'Porter an engaging presenter, and some of the clothes and ideas in the programme are good. One of the sections of the programme takes a neglected vintage item from a viewer's wardrobe, and revamps it to give it a new lease of life. In the first episode O'Porter's team update a white cotton dress with some dye.

To be honest I'm not mad on the speckled effect on the skirt, but the programme did inspire me to dig through my wardrobe and see if I had anything in need of a lift?

In the end I found two candidates lurking in the wardrobe. A Betty Jackson top which I loved when I first bought it but which I haven't worn for ages, and a hand knitted vintage vest, which again hasn't been out of the wardrobe for a while. A quick trip to the shops to pick up some dye and I was ready to go.

Now in true Jerome K Jerome style I'm going to digress. When ever I dye things I am always reminded of the passage at the start of I Capture the Castle where Cassandra, Rose and Topaz are dyeing;

When I came down from the attic yesterday, I found that Rose and Topaz had dyed everything they could lay hands on, including the dishcloth and the roller towel. Once I had dipped my handkerchief into the big tin bath of green dye, I got fascinated too - it really makes one feel rather godlike to turn things a different colour. I did both my nightgowns and then we all did Topaz's sheets, which was such an undertaking that it exhausted our lust.
As I've not come across a literary knitter for this month, perhaps I will expand out to literary crafters more generally?

Anyway, back to the dyeing and after 45 minutes I had two newly vibrant tops.

And, this is entirely unrelated but I want to show them off, I've got some new shoes

Sorry, totally no point to the shoes being included in this post, but they are so pretty :)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

1950s pattern haul

Last week Rosemary from the Constant Knitter gave me a text to let me know she had some vintage patterns in her shop. They came from the Oxfam shop next door, who had ask her if any of the students in the sewing classes held above the shop would like to buy them. Thinking I might be interested Rosemary asked me if I wanted to pop in and see if there were any I would like to buy as well. 

Not wanting to miss anything I hopped on my bike and headed down to see if there was. Nearly all the patterns were from the 1950s and were just the style I like; fitted bodice and full skirts (when I brought them home the boyfriend took one look and said 'but you have pattens like that already'). I'd guess that most of the pattens came from the same person's stash, as there are not only similarity in style but also in size, mostly 32" bust but with some 34" and 36". My biggest problem was trying to narrow down my selection, but in the end I settled for a baker's dozen.

I really like the high collars in these three pattens...

And for the more formally occasions there are these two ... I love the demure little figure in the bottom left corner.

A big thank you to Rosemary for the tip off, which just leave me with the biggest decision of all - which dress to make first!?!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Colette Moneta Sewalong

I've been thinking about making Colette's latest pattern Moneta for a while, and then I saw that they were running a sewalong, and I thought 'why not?'  The only sewalong I've done before is Sew for Victory, where you get to choose your own pattern - where as with this one guidance is given for anyone wanting to follow the same pattern.

I decided to make version 1 for the collar with version 2 for the sleeves, which meant I had to go slightly off piste as far as the instructions went.

The fabric I decided to use was some lightweight patterned jersey I picked up in Brussels a couple of years ago, plus some white jersey for the lining and collar.

I like this dress much more than my facial express would suggest - I really don't like being photographed!

The pattern was easy to follow, even with the modifications I had to make. I thought about dispensing with the lining but the fabric is quite thin, so that was no good. In the end I just stitched each of the main and lining pieces together and treated them as one - not as neat on the inside of the dress (but who is to know) but easier to do.

This is the first dress I've made from a knit fabric, and it was super quick and simple, without the need for shaping and inserting a zip. I didn't get on so well with the elastic for gathering the skirt to fit the bodice. I'm not sure if I cut too big a piece or if it wasn't good enough quality elastic, but I didn't get the skirt gathered in quite enough. Also once I had sewn the two together I found the elastic was caused a bit of bulk around the seam line, and was not very comfortable. In the end I decided to cut it out and it seems to be fine.

Overall, I really pleased with the dress and the fit is good. I added a couple of inches to the bottom of the skirt, as I like my skirts to cover the knee. However, I think I ought to have added a bit of extra length to the bodice as well, as it sits rather higher that I would expect it to. One thing I quite pleased about is the patten placement, as I've managed to get the pattern running fairly straight, certainly on the bodice.

All in all, a successful project and I think I will use this pattern again - especially given all the collar and sleeve variations that are available. The sewalong was helpful, it got me started on the project sooner than I would have managed on my own, and the pictures and extra detail in Devon's posts really helped.

I really love this collar variation, and I think the button I've added on the back is the cherry on the cake! Plus the dress has pockets - what is not to love?

Friday, 27 June 2014

Slower knits for larger toes

My long suffering father has had to wait nearly four months, but at last he has his birthday socks.

used the pattern Symmetry from Op-Art Socks. The socks are not as complex as they look, the pattern is clever and makes good use of variegated yarns. The detail in the socks are very clever, the left and right socks are mirror images of each other ...

... and the soles of socks have a different pattern, with slip stitches which I think should give them more strength ...

So if the pattern is not too complex, what took so long? Well, I was distracted with my sock yarn blanket, and my father does have very large feet so there was a fair bit of knitting in these socks. But thankfully my papa is a patient man so a belated Happy Birthday Dad.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Quick knits for tiny toes

After the mammoth knitting project that was completing my sock yarn blanket, I was in the mood for a quick knitting fix - and I have lots of small quantities of 4ply yarn to use up. I found the solution to this conundrum in the ongoing baby boom in my place of work and Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby.

Its a nice book, with some cute patterns in - although it seems that several of them were previously published in her others books, which is a bit naughty. I used up some of my leftovers in making a pair of cuff booties for a new born 

... and some socks for her older brother.

Quick, easy and satisfying.

The only change I made was to the toes of the socks; for some reason the pattern starts the decease before changing the colour, which seemed odd to me - so I started the toe decrease and changed the colour at the same time.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Literary knitter - Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough

Consuelo in 1901
As with last month's literary knitter, this months literary knitter is also a member of the Churchill family, and as with Lady Randolph Churchill she also published an autobiography so fits the literary knitter description. 

Consuelo Vanderbilt was born in America in 1877, the eldest child of a railway millionaire. Consuelo's ambitious mother was determined to use her daughter's marriage to push her family into the highest level of society. Consuelo was secretly engaged to an American, Winthrop Rutherfurd, but her mother used every trick in the book to separate the two and engineer a marriage to Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough. Marlborough was himself in love with another girl, but the money which Consuelo would bring to his crumbling family estate of Blenheim was to much to resist.

The Marlboroughs married in 1895, and from the first the marriage was not a success, and they lived a strained and formal life. Consuelo wrote of the long formal dinners at Blenheim 
'As a rule neither of us spoke a word. I took to knitting in desperation. The Butler - equally bored - used to sit outside the door reading detective novels'.
The Marlboroughs had two sons before their separation in 1906, they would finally divorce in 1921.  Shortly after the divorce Consuelo married Lt. Col. Jacques Balsan, a pioneering French aviator, this marriage unlike her first was a success.

The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, with their sons