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!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Silence may not be golden but my new outfit is

I can't believe it has been over three weeks since I've blogged. Not really sure why, I've been knitting, sewing, baking and picking up gems in charity shops so I've had plenty to blog about - maybe I've been too busy? What ever the reason I'm back now, but where to start?

Well starting from where I left off, I'm going back to a Saturday in July when I meet my friend T for coffee. After we had finished some delicious sausage sandwiches, I tentatively suggest a visit to the near by charity shops. Tentative not because I thought she wouldn't want to go, but I'm not always good company when shopping (I get bored easily and then become a grouch) and I didn't know what kind of a shopper she was. Thankfully, it turned out we were well suited as shopping buddies, and we both picked up some great finds.

My favourite find was an amazing gold with black lace overlay skirt. It was too small at the waist, but a quick squint inside showed there was plenty of fabric turned in by the zip which could be let out. I'm very good at picking one exciting top or skirt and then never wearing it because I can't find anything to match it with. But it was my lucky day and I managed to pick up a top in another charity shop to go with the skirt.

A quick unpick of the zip allowed me to ease out of a bit of fabric and in no time the zip was back in and I could fit in the skirt.

I really need to learn to look happier in these photos, but I am delighted with my new outfit. Do you know what the best thing is about the skirt (aside from it being gold)? 

Well, you can do this ...

It certainly was a successful trip, and I'm delighted to say I'm meeting T for coffee again this Saturday :) 

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?