Thursday, 31 December 2015

Knitting wishlist for 2016

Recently I've been browsing vintage patterns on Ravelry and elsewhere on the net and there have also been several lovely cardigans and jumpers appearing on my instagram feed and Ravelry friends' activity- so lots of inspiration there too. I now have a very long wish list to knit!  I started a cardigan before Christmas, so that will be the first finish, but for the rest of 2016 I hope to get some of the following knitted up.

Two more cardigans in Excelana - lovely wool from Susan Crawford.

A jumper in Malabrigo Arroyo - this yarn is divine and I can't wait to knit with it again - and I like the fitted style of this pattern, which has saddle shoulders - I haven't knitted anything with these before, so this will be a first.

A cotton DK cardigan

A rather lovely cardigan which, unless it turns out that I hate knitting the pattern, I'm sure I'll knit more than once.  This first version will have the waist ribbing in the darker/brighter pink, and the bodice and sleeves in the paler shade, although I'm not sure that I'll shape the ribbing at the front, might be a bit too much of a faff to keep the two colours separate on the same row (should have read the pattern through before deciding on the colour combination...).  And long sleeves I think.

This one I love - I first spotted the jumper being worn by Trixie in one of the early series of Call the Midwife (different colours from the pattern though) and I've wanted to knit the cardigan ever since.

I'll be reversing the colours in this, with the body in yellow and the yoke in blue, white and a paler yellow.

A cardigan in Malabrigo sock - the lace pattern on this looks rather lovely and I can't wait to get started on this, Mal sock is just as lovely to knit with as the slightly thicker Arroyo.

Then a couple of cardigans in Madelinetosh Tosh Sock - another pleasure to knit with.

And finally, one that's been in my queue for ages and is from a book - I love the look of this one.

Actually, if I only get half of these done next year I shall be happy!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Knitting and sewing review of 2015

Well, another year has nearly finished and looking back on my intentions (here) I've clearly achieved very few of them!

The frugal thing hasn't gone as well as I'd hoped - I've bought both knitting and sewing patterns, and yarn and fabric - although on the plus side I've destashed a lot more yarn than I've bought so there has been a net decrease in my stash which I'm pleased about, and I haven't really bought much fabric this year (although probably more yardage than I took to the sewbrum meet up for the fabric and pattern swap, so more in than out...).

The one very good thing though is that I have not bought any clothes except an orange coat.  I had a bit of a binge-watching session of Audrey Hepburn films after going to see the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery earlier this year, and she wore a fabulous (presumably designed by Givenchy) orange coat in Breakfast at Tiffany's.  I took some screenshots thinking I would try and hunt out a vintage pattern and some orange wool cloth to make one, and then made the mistake of idly doing a google image search for orange coats...  But, you know, I love it, it's a great fit, it's not a 'fashion' item (well, I say that mainly because I have no idea what's 'in fashion'), and if I ever do find the perfect pattern and fabric and make one then this can go to Oxfam.  Oh, and I also bought a pair of Freddies jeans earlier this month.

I've also done virtually no mending or altering of clothes which need one or the other, or both, so maybe next year I'll make some progress on those.  In fact, I've done very little sewing at all this year - I finished two dresses which I started last year, and made three others.  And that's it!  No making of separates, no dipping my toe into the sewing-with-knit-fabrics water, no dresses with buttonholes.  Well, there's always next year.  I've therefore completely failed on the vintage pattern pledge front - I've made loads of dresses in my head, just not in reality.  Yet...

I haven't read any of my sewing books either; the most recent book I read was this,

and I've now just started on the Lucy Siegle one.

I've been much more productive on the knitting front though, with seven cardigans and three jumpers for me, and four baby items, all of which I've blogged about.  Which doesn't sound like much when I say it out loud, but was quite a few miles of knitting! I've also just noticed that the first item I finished this year, and the one I shall still be knitting at the end of this year are both purple.  Coincidence rather than intention I think!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Baby/toddler knitting

While I'm in end-of-year catch up mode, I realise that there is a cardigan which I knitted for my grandson back in February which I haven't blogged about.  He's obviously grown out of it now, but it did last for a few months!  This is the second version I've made from this pattern, but I made a larger size than the first, and used different colours and stripe sequence.
He's a happy little chap

The second item is a simple pom-pom hat for one of my daughter's friends who had a baby girl in the summer.

And the third and final bit of not-for-me knitting this year is a hat for my grandson.  This pattern originally came up as a project in my friends' activity feed on Ravelry and I thought it was so cute that I wanted to knit it anyway whether grandson wears it or not (we haven't really had much hat weather yet this winter).  It made a nice change to be knitting with 2.5mm needles rather than the 5mms I used for the ten of hearts cardigan, although I'm glad it was for a small item rather than an adult-sized cardigan!
Three different pom-poms - red, navy, and mixed
I wrapped this up and gave it to him for Christmas - it fits but didn't stay on his head for long, after all, who needs to wear a hat when it's warm indoors!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Ten of hearts cardigan

I finished a version of this earlier in the year and decided that I wanted one that actually looked like the picture on the pattern - this doesn't happen often, usually there's some small detail that I want to change in a pattern, whether it's the colour, the yarn, the shaping, the length...

Pattern from Subversive Femme on etsy

I bought the yarn from Wool Warehouse in Leamington Spa - I'd called in there and had a look at several of the Cascade 220 colours and ended up picking three - this one, enough for an Agatha (so now I have no excuse not to knit this pattern - this is the recommended yarn), and one other colour although I haven't quite decided which cardigan that will become.
And here's my version

This was a very quick and easy knit because it's thick wool (well, for me anyway), although I did have to go down a needle size to get tension.  And exceptionally, I actually got the same stitch and row tension as the pattern!  Almost always one or other and usually both of these are different and I end up having to get the calculator out (or wing it and hope for the best, ssshhhh....).  The lace pattern is easy to memorise, and the back and sleeves are plain stocking stitch, so the knitting was done in a week.
Easy to memorise lace

I love the buttons - vintage ones from The Swagman's Daughter and a perfect colour match - yay!  It's always a bit of a leap of faith buying buttons online, because of the possibility that the colours will not be exactly as they appear on my monitor, but I struck lucky with these.

Close up of the buttons
All in all, I'm really pleased with how this has turned out and I can see me getting lots of wear out of it (I might even knit another version...).
And one more photo for good measure

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Sparks in the stream

And there seems to have been another blogging hiatus...

Fortunately, I've now finished work for the Christmas / New Year break, presents have been wrapped, food has been bought and the house tidied and decorated, so I can do some guilt-free blog-catching-up and scheduling of posts for the next week or so.

At the beginning of last month I decided that I wanted a bit of mindless knitting - a simple stocking stitch jumper - and this is it.  Perfect TV knitting and possibly my most favourite jumper at the moment.  The yarn - Malabrigo Arroyo - is super soft and absolutely lovely to knit with and to wear.  The name is basically a translation from the Spanish Arroyo = stream, and the colourway is Chispas = sparks.  Not very original but there it is.

The body is knitted straight and seamed, with no shaping until the armholes and the sleeves are picked up and knitted top down.

As I was knitting I thought that maybe it could do with a bit of a lift, and on one of these occasions I was wearing a mustard cord skirt and thought 'well, I like that colour combination' and that's why there is i-cord edging round the hem, cuffs and neckline in some leftover tosh sock from this project.
knitting in progress

I'm rather pleased with how it looks.

There are actually quite a lot of colours in this yarn!

I'm very happy with how this turned out, and the fact that it fits how I hoped it would. It's a great casual jumper and makes a change from the fitted styles I've been knitting for the rest of this year.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Sew Brum meet up

Goodness, this was nearly a month ago - how time flies!  I had a great day out - I'd booked my train ticket months ago so got a very good deal on the price and knitting time on the train to boot.  I did get a bit confused by the very posh refurb of New Street station in Birmingham, but fortunately managed to find my way to the meet-up cafe - there were already lots of people there and it was lovely to meet other sewing peeps in person - some who I follow on instagram and some who I'd never come across before but now do.

We started off in the city, with some folk going to the rag market and others (including me) going to Barry's and then the Fancy Silk Store.  By the time I was done there it was time to head off to Moseley on the bus so I didn't go to the rag market at all - another time!
Fabric shopping in Barry's

My purchases from Barry's - pink/red tartan wool, graphic stretchy print and two florals
Several of us sat at the back of the bus and there was chatting and general admiring of each others clothing and purchases which was fun.  The two fabrics above on the left will become skirts, and the two floral prints are for dresses.

Once in Moseley we stopped off at the Farmers' Market and bought food to eat for lunch and then headed to Guthrie & Ghani.  This is a lovely shop and Lauren (the owner and finalist in the first series of GBSB) was delightful and remained calm and serene despite so many of us.
All the other things

I'm dipping my toe into the sewing with knits pool - one of the ladies in the shop was wearing a top which she'd made from some mustard coloured sweatshirt material and it looked fab.  So I bought some in the same colour, and also in turquoise and finally succumbed and bought the Coco pattern (all in picture above).  I've seen so many of these popping up on the internet and I think it will be a good introduction - I like its simple lines.  I've already pre-washed and dried the fabric and am very pleased that it didn't shrink much at all.  I also bought some buttons and got a gorgeous goody bag in the softest baby needlecord.
Some of the raffle prizes
Along with yummy refreshments, there was a pattern and fabric swap in the upstairs room of the shop - I took several pieces of fabric and came away with four patterns - two vintage and two current ones.

I also won some fabric in the raffle - 2m of denim which I think is going to end up being a skirt, or maybe two.  I don't have a denim skirt and I've half-heartedly looked for one on rare excursions to clothes shops over the past couple of years and haven't found one that I liked, so I think perhaps a Kelly or maybe a New Look 4-gore a-line one (in the separates section of my pattern stash page).  Or maybe both because it's 60" wide so there might be enough for two skirts.

All in all it was a great day, I really enjoyed it - thank you so much to Charlotte of English Girl at Home for organising it.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Audrey in the attic

I've been meaning to knit this pattern for a while and finally I've got around to it!  I followed it more or less exactly, except I did full length sleeves and one-row button holes.  It's a well written pattern and easy to follow.

The twisted rib took what seemed like forever, but I do like how it looks.  I actually knitted this up pretty quickly - I had three return train journeys last month, one to Birmingham, one to York and one to Edinburgh, plus some overnight hotel stays so I had more than usual amounts of knitting time to get this done.

The yarn is absolutely gorgeous to knit with and is lovely and soft - the colourway is Attic Room, hence the name of the cardigan.  One skein was slightly lighter than the others, don't know how I didn't notice this at the time I bought them (or maybe I did and I've just forgotten...), so I used that for the lace portion of the two fronts, the button and buttonhole bands, the neckline and cuffs.
Difference in colour isn't as noticeable as it looks in the photo...

It came from Loop and I've got one more jumper quantity in my stash which I'd like to knit up quite soon, just for the pleasure of knitting it!  Not sure what it will become yet though.

The buttons are some vintage ones which I think came from Hammersmith vintage fair.  I've already worn this a fair bit, it's a very useful addition to my wardrobe. Now I must away - I have a jumper to finish and the delights of applied i-cord await.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Autumn Victory jumper

This is another pattern I'd been meaning to knit for a while and back in May several versions appeared on Ravelry and Instagram, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII - the Your Victory Jumper pattern was issued in June 1945 and is a free download from the V&A website.  However, it took me until July to get started on this...

 I'd had the Noro sock yarn in my stash for a while and thought it would work well for this pattern because it's self-striping and I knew there would be enough yardage for long sleeves.  I didn't bother to do a tension square, I just crossed my fingers that it would fit and despite the fact that with hindsight I think read the pattern wrong and didn't start the body increases soon enough, and didn't do all the increases before casting off for the armholes, it fits fine.  So that's good.

The actual knitting didn't really take very long but was done in fits and starts.  As with the Land Army-ish jumper I wanted long sleeves, but decided to knit them bottom-up since I knew I had enough yarn and also because I couldn't be bothered to work out how to reverse the pattern and knit it upside down.  This is the first time for ages that I've knitted bottom up sleeves and they really didn't take long at all.  Mainly because I can knit more quickly on straight needles than I can on circulars.  There was some unravelling and reknitting to get the stripes to match at the side seams and on the sleeves, but not that much and I think it was definitely worth doing.

This was a very easy pattern, it's only a two-row repeat and is easy to memorise and to knit.  I'd like to do more versions of this, possibly also a cardigan, with proper stripes rather than self-striping yarn.  I keep playing over differing colour combinations in my head... and changing my mind...

I knitted the neckband in the round and picked up fewer stitches than the pattern suggested so I was a bit concerned that it might not go over my head, but it does fortunately.

 All in all I'm very pleased with this and think I'll get plenty of wear out of it.

And now I'm off to sort fabric to swap at the SewBrum meet-up tomorrow. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Land Army-ish jumper

Well, this has been a long time in the making and I'm glad it's finished - I've probably knitted about 75% of it twice...

I've already blogged a bit about it here and here, so I won't repeat myself.  But I see that I'm about a year behind schedule on this one, despite starting the knitting in January!  I can also see that I haven't completed any of last year's autumn & winter knitting plans apart from this jumper, so I won't be making any plans for this year - although next on the needles will be an Audrey in Unst cardigan.

Pattern, in A Stitch in Time Vol 1, by Susan Crawford and Jane Waller

After knitting the body with smaller needles because my row tension was off with the needles stated in the pattern, I tacked it together and tried it on and decided that it was too clingy.  So that was the first lot of unravelling.  It fitted much better with the right size needles and either my row tension miraculously changed, or I can't count, or it didn't matter because I'm pretty sure I followed the pattern instructions for the armholes exactly.  I can't be sure though because I wrote my notes down with a Frixion pen and following an accident with a cup of tea they vanished.  So although these pens are great because you can rub the writing out just like a pencil, they are not waterproof!

So, after reknitting the body I knitted a sleeve as per the pattern and tacked it in to place so that I had something to refer to when trying to work out the shaping top-down.
Sleeve knitted exactly as per pattern and tacked in place

This took a bit of trial and error with the numbers and increases and they don't look exactly the same because the originals are gathered into the sleeveheads, whereas mine aren't gathered.  They do puff nicely though.

Back view

As I knitted the sleeves down to the cuff I decided to do the shaping with a mixture of 'seamline' decreases and progressively smaller circular needles.  The first version was a bit too clingy (again) for my liking, cue the next lot of unravelling and reknitting.  However, it did make it easy for me to work out where to do the decreases and which needles to use so once reknitted it fitted much better.

Love these sleeve heads
 The final bit of unravelling was the original sleeve.  Knitting the second one was straightforward because it was the same as the first, and because I did it more or less straight after the first one I could still make sense of the notes I took (which were on a different bit of paper and escaped the tea incident).

I did wonder whether I would have enough wool to knit this with long sleeves and as it turned out, I ran out with about an inch and a half of the second sleeve still to knit.  A quick stash search on Ravelry revealed that one of my knitting friends had a skein with the same lot number in her stash and I'm so grateful that she was willing to part with it.  If I'd knitted the body to the length suggested in the pattern then the six skeins I had would've been enough, but I made the body about an inch and a half longer than suggested and so needed a little bit of a seventh skein.

Now  it's finished I love it and I think I'll be wearing it a lot, both with skirts and jeans.  One thing which I might do differently next time is make the bits at the side front neckline a bit wider - I do wonder whether, in wear, the sleeves will pull the neckline so that the shoulder seams don't sit on my shoulders.  If they do, I'll have to think how to tighten up the neckline, but for now I'm leaving it as is.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Purple polka dots dress

This is another dress which I cut out in August last year and have only recently got around to finishing, although I actually sewed most of this up before I abandoned it, so it only needed the back seam finishing, hemming and the sleeves setting in.

The pattern is Simplicity 3184 from1959, and because I did most of the sewing last year I'm not counting it towards my vintage pledge.

I really wasn't sure whether I'd want to put the sleeves in, but decided to cut them out anyway since I could always remove them if I ended up not liking them.  Fortunately I do like them, so no need to unpick and refinish the armholes!  I seem to remember it took me a while to cut this out, because I wanted the polka dots to line up, so there was a fair bit of moving pattern pieces around on the fabric.

It didn't take me long to finish this and I'm really pleased with how it fits, I'll probably make another one, although possibly without the sleeves, just to have a slightly different version.  Also, I didn't put the bows on the back and I cut the skirt 6" shorter.  I don't remember now why it got put to one side for so long - it may simply have been that I felt a need to do more knitting and less sewing - but I'm glad that it's done now as this was the last of the dresses that I cut out intending to sew them up on August bank holiday weekend last year - ever the optimist!  (The others were the Carmen Miranda dress, the turquoise Ditto roses dress [and I still have another two dress lengths of this rose print fabric to make up, I love it], the Scandinavian birds dress, and the orange floral maxi dress.)

I bought the fabric in Fabricland and I used all two metres of it.  So, another spotty dress to add to my collection of spotty dresses!  It's also a really good match for my purple hearts cardigan, (or the cardigan is a good match for the dress, depending on your point of view), so that's good.  Now I'm off to my knitting group which I have sadly neglected for the past couple of months.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Bobby dress

I don't always give my sewing projects names - or the knitting ones for that matter - but this dress gets one.  Last August my grandson was born and sunflowers featured heavily in the flowers which my daughter and I received at the time.  I'd already seen and liked a dress made up in this fabric on Roisin's blog and so decided that I was going to have a dress covered in sunflowers too.  I'm not sure I agree with her about the '90s fashion vibe, but then, I was busy with small children in the '90s and probably completely unaware of what was going on fashion-wise.  In fact, now I think about it, I have no idea what was going on with fashion in the '90s; the only thing I would have concerned myself with when buying clothes was "is it machine washable?"  In fact, this still holds largely true now, although I've actually bought very few clothes since I started sewing again.  The only things I will consider buying that need dry cleaning are coats, and handwashing, well, only things I've knitted.  Everything else goes in the machine, even if the care label says it shouldn't and nothing has been rendered unwearable as a result.

Anyway, I digress, back to the sewing.  Once I'd decided I was going to buy this fabric it took a bit of hunting around on the interwebz to find it, but Ebay came up trumps.  I'd seen it in the flesh at Minerva (I was in the area at the time) so knew I liked it, but they didn't have enough, so Ebay it was.  And then it sat in my stash for the best part of a year because really, I'm not going wear sunflowers at any time other than high summer.  As my grandson's first birthday approached I decided I should really get my act together and make it up.  It's a Butterick 5748 bodice with an Emery skirt and came together very quickly once I'd got it cut out.  I cut the bodice out flat rather than on the fold so that I could get a flower in the centre of it

The Bobby dress
And since we've had a bit of an Indian summer this year I've worn it a few times in September too, but it's put away for the winter now.  Now I must go because I have a big pile of winter clothes which have come out of hibernation and need ironing...

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Orange floral maxi dress

I cut this dress out in August last year and then it got put to one side for the best part of a year... Rachel's recent instagram photo hop gave me the impetus to get it finished.  The pattern I've used is Simplicity 1801 view C and it would have been a quick and easy make if I'd made it as per the pattern!

However... this fabric is quite thin and I decided that rather than make the dress with just a neckline facing I would fully line it.  Which meant not following the instructions for the bodice construction - there was a fair bit of unpicking involved to get it sewn together just enough for turning it right sides out, and then adding the midriff pieces.  Getting the pockets to go through the lining (rather than between the dress and lining) was also a bit of a faff, but it was worth it once it was done.
Pocket inserted between outer fabric and lining

I wasn't sure which size to cut, so I quickly sewed up the bodice lining and tried it on and it looked OK, but now the dress is finished it has more ease than I prefer and if I make it again I'll cut it a size smaller.  I also think the neckline is a bit low, so I'll cut out another bodice front and cut the neckline higher (not sure whether I have enough leftover fabric to do this, if not then I'll fiddle about with neckline to make it more sweetheart shaped I think).  I did wonder about just hitching the bodice up at the front yoke seam, but then the midriff section won't sit in the right place, so that idea's out.  This won't be happening any time soon though because realistically I doubt I'll wear it again until next Spring / Summer and I'd rather be knitting and sewing things that I can wear now.
The finished dress

I probably will make another of these because I really like the style, but it will be made with the modifications above and also with thicker fabric so that it won't need a lining.  Should be a quick make then, in fact I'm almost talking myself into cutting one out now, but no, it can wait until next year.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Vintage pattern pledge dress no 1

Earlier this year I signed up to A Stitching Odyssey's vintage pattern pledge and finally I've made the first dress towards it - one down, three more to go!  And I've already got one of those cut out.

I bought the fabric in Fabricland last year and this was a quick and easy make - there will be more of these in the future I expect.
Simplicity 5510 from 1964

The pattern is Simplicity 5510 from 1964 and I made a few modifications - I graded the waistline out a bit and also didn't use the skirt pieces.  There were three - one for the centre front and two back pieces  which came round past the side to about where the bodice darts were.  Since I wanted seams at the side I cut two widths of fabric - one for the front and the other folded in half and cut down the fold for the two back pieces.  I also put inseam pockets in and used an invisible zip.

The bodice neckline is faced, so there was no lining to sew in which speeded things up a bit.  I cut the skirt to the length of the pattern pieces, which is longer than my usual just-below-the-knee length preference.  I'm still getting used to this longer length, but I think it will work well with boots in the winter.

And here it is.
Simplicity 5510 Vintage Pattern Pledge dress no 1

And now I'm all caught up with blogging about this year's finished projects.  Hooray!  And since I have the day off work today, there just might be another dress to post about over the weekend...

Thursday, 20 August 2015

OAL 2015 - a complete outfit

Last year Andi Satterlund and Lauren Taylor ran an outfit-a-long in Andi's Ravelry group and I loved seeing what people made, so when they announced that they were repeating the event this year I signed up - I wrote a bit about this here.  Although there were both knitting and sewing patterns suggested, which Andi and Lauren blogged about, I decided to do my own thing and the end result was another toshsock cardigan and an Emery dress.
It took me a while to decide on the fabric and yarn combination to use, with a couple of options which I eventually ruled out, but which will no doubt get made at some point.
Option 1 - Excelana 4-ply and Dear Stella Queen Anne's Lace fabric
Option 2 - Malabrigo sock and vintage fabric from Hammersmith Vintage Fair

I finally decided on this combination - I would make the cardigan design up, and the fabric would become a Simplicity 3774 (second dress down)
Tosh sock and fabric from Barry's in Birmingham
However... once I'd knitted the cardigan I decided that it wasn't a great match for the fabric.

Cardigan knitted in Madelinetosh Sock colourway Stovepipe
The lace pattern on the front is from Erika Knight's Lace and Eyelet Stitches book and the back and sleeves are stocking stitch.  The book actually lists the pattern twice - once as a single column called King Charles Brocade, and once as a repeating pattern called Diamond Rib.  I charted the pattern and it was easy to memorise.
Close up which shows the lace pattern in a bit more detail
These little buttons came from Hammersmith Vintage Fair and I chose them because they were the only ones in my stash that I had enough of - it doesn't show in the photos, but they are mirrored.

Once I'd got the cardigan finished I needed to find an alternative fabric for the dress and after a bit of humming and haa-ing I settled on this Bird on the Vine fabric from Michael Miller which I bought in Fabric Fair in Brighton last summer.  So I now have another bird print dress in my wardrobe.  I spent a bit of time cutting it out because I wanted to pattern match on the back of the dress and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.
Talking behind my back maybe?
Because this fabric has quite a large pattern repeat and I didn't have enough to cut symmetrical sleeves, it is sleeveless.  Which also saved me the hassle of setting in sleeves, possibly one of my least favourite sewing things to do.  Nothing else to say about the construction really, it's a straight size 6 and I love it!
Bluebirds on the Vine dress

And here are the two together - I'm really pleased with this outfit.

2015 Outfit-A-Long
If you'd like to see what others have made this year, the finished outfits are here - and there are some really great combinations there, more patterns / fabrics / yarn added to my mental wishlist...