Thursday, 9 October 2014

Knitting & Stitching Show Dublin - Ticket giveaway


The Knitting and Stitching Show is coming back to Dublin, it will be on in the RDS from 30th October to 2nd November, and I for one am pretty excited! I was even more excited when the organisers offered me some free tickets to give away on my blog.

For those who haven't been to the show before its the largest textile and craft event in Ireland, with over 200 retailers selling everything you need for your craft from fabrics to wools, and threads to sewing machines, as well as patterns and books. There will also be loads of workshops where you can pick up new skills, as well as displays from artist and students from the Cork Crawford College of Art and Design. This year the show is also inviting attendees to The Great Irish PicKnit, a social gathering combining knitting and food, where people can share skills and experiences.




I've been the show a couple of times, and have enjoyed myself. The amount of crafting supplies on sale is astonishing, and I've certainly found that the range and price of fabric is really good compared to what is available in Dublin day to day. I'm already planning a trip to the show with my two friends from work who I am teaching to knit and sew.

Anyway, back to the really interesting bit - how do you get your hands on the free tickets?

Well, I have three sets of two tickets to give away. The tickets are only valid on Thursday 30th October, Friday 31st  October and Sunday 2nd November. 

To get your hands on a pair of these tickets you just need to leave a comment on this post, telling me why you want to go to the show. (Don't forget to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win). All comments posted before 5pm on Thursday 23rd October will be entered into a random draw and I'll announce the winner on Friday 24th and get the tickets to you. 

Good luck everyone...

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Practical Sewing - Results #2

I know it is October but I did get (nearly all) my practical sewing of t-shirts completed in September as promised. After my last post which included newly made t-shirts, this post looks at the three items I up-cycled. All three items came from a very successful charity shopping trip with T.


This t-shirt was originally from M&S (Limited Collection no less), and although I love the badgers I can quite see why someone gave it to a charity shop almost unworn as it is rather shapeless. 

My solution was to unpick the side seams and re-cut the shirt using the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern. 


As you can see this took off quite a bit of excess fabric from the seams especially at the bottom. A quick whizz through the machine and I had a new and much better fitting t-shirt.


Although looking at this picture I realise that I need to re-shape my dressmaking dummy, as she appear to have something odd going on with her hips.

My next up-cycling project was a bit more challenging - this black cashmere sweater, again originally from M&S.


I was a bit perplexed where to start with this one, I knew I wanted to end up with a close fitting short-sleeved 1950s style sweater but I didn't have a pattern for one. And then my copy of Gertie's new book Gertie Sews Vintage Casual arrived.

  
Look at that, the top I was planning right on the front cover - how perfect is that! 


Ta da! I was able to cut the front and back down to size keeping the originally ribbing at the bottom of the jumper. With the sleeves I had to cut them from the top so I couldn't reuse the ribbing, so the hems are just folded over. To jazz the top up a bit I used a small piece of lace from my stash to make the lace bid - tacking it in place on the front piece before sewing up the top. 


Luckily the neck ribbing was just the right size to go around the newly cut neck line and it finishes the top off rather neatly.

The final top was much simpler in that it already fitted me, but I felt the plain black and white stripes needed a little lift.


I'd love to claim that the idea was mine but I saw it first on Tilly and the Buttons. The flowers came from some fabric in my stash, I cut them out and fused them with Bondaweb to the t-shirt - simple and easy. I think I might go around the edges with a very fine zig-zag stitch as I'm not how long the bondaweb alone will last.

All in all I think my practical sewing has been a success - I have five new tops (plus a pair of pants) and every time I've worn them I've felt a great sense of achievement. I've also definitely caught the practical sewing bug and while at HandmAid last week I picked up some more jersey fabric.


I guess that these won't be the last t-shirts you'll see from me.

  

Monday, 22 September 2014

Practical Sewing - Results #1

At the beginning of the month I publicly announced my intention to undertake some practical sewing during September. I find this sort of pronouncement can be dangerous - normally I get totally distracted by other projects and then at the last minute have to scrabble to get things finished on time. However, for once I am on track and am delighted to present the first results of my practical sewing plans.


I whipped up these two t-shirt from jersey in my stash, using Sewaholic's Renfrew pattern. I've used this pattern before, and was really pleased with the results. Indeed the Renfrew on the right is very similar to the first renfrew I made two years ago - which just goes to show my tastes haven't changed that much. 



I like both versions, but I'm particularly found on the blue horses. I made a couple of changes to the pattern. Because I was using a darker colour jersey for the trim I thought there was a danger of this showing through the main fabric. To avoid this I applied the blue edging like binding, tucking the edges in and top stitching it into place, which produced a really nice finish. This was also the second of the t-shirts I made and I think I've got the fit a bit better, although this is probably also because the fabric has a bit more stretch in it.




So, in these two tops I'm half way to completing my September challenge, and I've used up some fabric from my stash which has been lurking there for months. Even better, there was enough fabric left over to make an even more practical garment - a pair of pants.


I've made a few of these in the last couple of months using Butterick Patten 6031, designed by Gertie. It's a really good pattern, quick and simple and very comfortable. Plus I now have matching pants and t-shirt, what's not to love?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Madame Defarge - The Literary Knitter

OK, this month's literary knitter has appeared on this blog before, but it was four years ago and I didn't actually read the book then, but I have now just finished it. However, I feel I can get away with mentioning her again, as she is the classic literary knitter - Madame Defarge from Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities.




Madame Defarge and her knitting are central to the plot of the book, and in evidence of this the word 'knit' appears 68 times in the story, and three chapters have the word knitting in their title. 

For those who don't know Madame Defarge sit in her husband's wine shop knitting, always knitting, it eventually transpires that she is keeping a knitted record of all those who have betrayed 'the people'
"Jacques," returned Defarge, drawing himself up, "if madame my wife undertook to keep the register in her memory alone, she would not lose a word of it—not a syllable of it. Knitted, in her own stitches and her own symbols, it will always be as plain to her as the sun. Confide in Madame Defarge. It would be easier for the weakest poltroon that lives, to erase himself from existence, than to erase one letter of his name or crimes from the knitted register of Madame Defarge."
Coded knitting - ingenious! Although, I certainly wouldn't want to get onto her wrong side, she is ruthless to her enemies and unremitting in carrying out what she sees as her duty. Later in the book she and her cronies sit knitting as the guillotine dispatches her victims.


Madame Defarge is not the only knitter in the book, many of the women in Saint Antoine (the Paris parish where the Defarge's live) are shown knitting in the book, although they knit from desperation
All the women knitted. They knitted worthless things; but, the mechanical work was a mechanical substitute for eating and drinking; the hands moved for the jaws and the digestive apparatus: if the bony fingers had been still, the stomachs would have been more famine-pinched. 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Practical sewing and baby knitting

In the past most of my dress making (especially when I'm making dresses) has been smart items for specific occasions. While these are lovely, there is a limit to the number of occasions on which they can be worn. Increasingly I've been making myself more practical everyday items, and been getting great pleasure out of wearing them. For example the tracksuit I made two years ago which I love, and the cycling top I made last year which I wear almost daily on my morning cycle to work. So for September I've decided to undertake some very practical sewing. I need some new t-shirts and tops for the weekends, so this is where I'm going to start my month of practical sewing. 



I've hunted through my fabric stash to dig out all the stretch fabric I have (the top three), and in another successful charity shop trawl with T I picked up three tops (the bottom three). All three are in good condition but could benefit from some up-cycling. 

On the knitting front, the unrelenting baby machine which is my place of work is gearing up and there will soon be several new arrival ready for knitted gifts. I had some cotton left over from my last project, and used this to whip up a baby cardigan.

The pattern is a free one I found on ravelry; simple, well designed and a delight to knit. Finished off with a couple of buttons from my stash.

I've cast on another project since finishing this, but its for the baby of a friend who has been known to read this blog, so I'm going to have to keep in under wraps for the time being - which is a great shame as I'm very excited about it.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

FO: Oh la la, nautical sweater

I've finished a knitting project, and its all for myself!


This pattern was a bit of a experiment for me to see if I could overcome by aversion to knitting with cotton. I've knitted a couple of items in cotton in the past, and not loved either knitting with it or the garments that I've made from them - I find they don't hold their shape.

In July Winnies' were having a sale on their Drop's cotton yarns, and I decided to give cotton one last go. I pick the pattern (Seberg Sweater) and decided to go with Drop's cotton viscose - it has both a beautiful shine and a lovely feel. 


My favourite thing about this top is the collar, I love the stripes and the drapes, which works very well in the cotton viscose. The project was a fairly easy and quick, and would have been quicker still if I hadn't set it up wrong. It's top down knitted in the round, but I managed to get myself muddled, and knit my two sleeves next to each other. Leading to ripping and associated cursing!

So, did the project convert me to knitting in cotton? Well possibly. The yarn does split easily when knitting, and that is a bit annoying. However, the finished fabric is very nice; soft, smooth and with a nice drape. I've only worn it once, so I can't comment on how well it holds it shape and how well it washes. If it holds its shape and washes well, then I probably would make something in this yarn again. In fact I already am making something, as I'm knitting a baby cardi with the left overs from this jumper.

Sorry about the quality of the photos today, my regular photographer is away and I'm having to manage as well as I can by myself!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Animal magic


After finishing my sock yarn blanket in June I felt I needed a quick and fun knitting project. I'd seen Vanessa Mooncie's Animal Hats Book last year and loved the pattern, and I have two little cousins in New Zealand who I thought might just like them. And, although I knitted these hats during some of the hottest summer days Ireland has seen for a few years, they are in the middle of their winter. Plus, the plan also gave me an excuse to head out to Winnies Craft Cafe to pick up what I needed. 


After a lot of thought I decided on knitting the sly fox and the cheeky monkey - I just couldn't resist them! The patterns use bulky wool, making them fast to knit, and they are fairly easy to make, even though there are quite a few small little piece to make and sew together.


Cute or what? These were just so much fun to make and so quick. The patterns are given in two sizes (child and adult) and I made the child size, but I was quite worried when I'd finish them that they looked rather big. There wasn't much that I could do at that point, so I packed them up and sent them off to New Zealand. I didn't need to worry - it turns out they fit (perhaps with a little bit of growth room) and have been keeping two little heads warm on their way to school.



Animal magic! 

I loved making these hats and I'm delighted they are enjoying their new home. I also suspect I'll be heading back to this book to make some more hats in the future. Which is fair warning to any of you who might be expecting a Christmas gift from me this year!