Now it is boxing day! this is hard to believe. i spent quite a lot of christmas day asleep because of my cold. but it was a lovely time all the same.
And now i can tell you about a small bit of knitting i did for a christmas present for Rich (it was a secret so as not to ruin the surprise) since the christmas of 2008, i now keep handmade christmas presents to a minimum (that was a very stressful time, and i still ended up buying far too much) but it is nice to do one or two little things.
This is tofu. He is a dachshund that i have knitted. i think a dachshund is the perfect animal for Rich because they have a similar sort of a face. That is the friendly face but a bit like a scamp.
here is Richard
here is a dachshund at a similar angle to show you what i mean
I found this pattern on etsy from a lady called Rebecca Danger. This was really good as that day i was snowed in and this was a good project for me. Also good things are that the pattern is so cute and also the exchange rate is such that this was a real bargain. and she was very quick to email me with the pattern too.
here are the originals, i thought this looked like a lovely one to make.
Now today i think is a day of rest and recuperation before some more eating this evening. I am nearing completion of my snow day jumper now - not quite in time for christmas - but i am going to make the most of boxing day telly to get in some quality knitting time (i hope there are some comedy christmas specials).
ps. i have got a new camera now so maybe the quality of my photography will improve (but maybe it is not that simple?!)
This was the scene for me when i woke up this morning:
everything looks so soft
And so there is no work for me today. i like it when there is a bit os disruption like this. Especially when it is early in the morning and I can snooze.
And also it means i can spend the whole day doing some knitting and not feel guilty. Let me introduce my latest project:
My mum has knitted one of these and it has been on my agenda for a little while. I thought it was time to commit myself to follow a pattern and so this one is called Lombard from the Nostalgia section of Rowan book number 44. There are a few good patterns there! I have decided to use the same colour as she is pictured in here which is called Eau de Nil. I would like to have it ready to wear over christmas but this might be a bit ambitious especially as it is a busy time. I am hoping that today will give me a good head start though (and maybe tomorrow too, weather permitting!)
Today we had a lot of snow in my neck of the woods. it disrupted my journey home quite badly last night and left me with not enough time for steaming my christmas pudding before bedtime. Luckily though today i left work early due to transport concerns and finished the mixing.
i am not sure if this looks appetising or not. it smelled very good though!
Now it is steaming and only has fifteen minutes left. Because i reduced the amounts to make a 2 pint pudding, i am only steaming it for 4 hours rather than 5 (Nigella suggests this is appropriate). Then it will only (only!) need another 3 hours on the day of consumption!
There was a nice twist of fate this week too which meant that i got a sixpence in my change (i am not sure where from though and think probably it was magicked into my purse) and so i cleaned it in a bit of ketchup and wrapped in foil and mixed it in. Whoever finds that will have good fortune (unless they don't notice until it is too late!)
In other news, I did put last night to good use and managed to finish a wooly boble hat to match my shawl scarf. i thought that was a very good use of my time, and it certainly kept me warm today.
photo quality =very poor, but it is cable knit and i used the same pattern as on my cardigan.
Also it is December and the month of chocolates for breakfast. i have two advent calendars and this morning got a chocolate reindeer in one, and a funsize pack of maltesers in the other. i like this month already!
Now i must check on my pudding, but I will leave you with this nice picture my sister took of some gulls on the church roof. little bit of snow there!
Today it is stir up sunday. That is the last sunday before advent which is traditionally the day for stirring up all the christmas pudding mix.
And this year i am getting in on the act, with the help of Nigella. My mum always uses Delia's recipe, so this is a bit of an adventure, but i have a lot of trust in Nigella, after the Marmite Spaghetti success (you must try it - it's not what you think it will be like. ie. it is really really delicious!)
this is a good book full of grant festive treats. here is nigella with biscuits
It seems that recipes for christmas puddings can vary quite a lot. Mum says Delia's has beer in, and maybe some nuts but Nigella doesn't use those things. I can't find her recipe online, but the one I am using is a traditional one from her Christmas book (it seems she has perfected many type of pudding of the christmas variety)
The ingredients for the pudding are: 150g each of currants, chopped prunes and sultanas; 175ml Sherry (a sweet one in my opinion); 100g Plain Flour; 125g White Breadcrumbs; 150g Suet (vegetable in my opinion); 150g Dark Muscavado Sugar; 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon; 1/4 tsp of Ground Cloves; Grated Zest of 1 Lemon; 3 Eggs; 1 Medium Cooking Apple; 30ml (2 tbsps) of Honey (runny in my opinion)
These are the amounts Nigella gives, and this will make a 3 pint pud. For mine i have scaled it down by a third to make a 2 pinter, as fear the feast will be overwhelming.
I have had a very busy weekend so I am lucky that the process is in two parts, and today's part was very quick in that I had to measure out the dried fruit and put it in a bowl with the sherry and cover it with clingfilm to steep until tuesday when i will have the time for the rest of the activity (this is perfect as Nigella recommends the fruit is steeped at least over night or up to a week)
steeping fruits - sweet and gungey
Tuesday I will have to get mixing as soon as i get home as there is 5 hours steaming to do before bedtime! I am really pleased that I am making my own pudding though. it is a first for me but a very very good life skill.
This month, my mixtape is a celebration of my favourite instrument.
I love violins. I am learning to play but i am not that good. I am always inspired when I hear them though so I have created a collection of songs with some really great violin parts in them.
I am a bit happier with my artwork this month
although did get a bit gluey and messy on the back! oop.
I have been listening to this as a playlist on my ipod and am really pleased with this collection. I am a little nervous though because my mixtape partner is the chief organiser of the mixtape project, and also a boy who might not really enjoy this sort of music. I hope that maybe he will be inspired to learn the violin too.
This one has been a long term project due to all sorts of interruptions, however i am pleased to declare my October project complete!
lovely and warm on this very very cold day
a close up of my cable design
I am just in time as i have heard there is snow coming. this is exciting except that this weekend i am going to swindon and i know that trains and buses are not so good to rely on in adverse weather conditions.
Anyway. Would you like to know how i made this? I would like to make another for sure, although maybe not until next october, and maybe with some less fancy wool. And so, for the record, this was the procedure:
As this is a drop shoulder design, the shapes are very simple indeed. I used colinette skye for mine, but i am sure any aran weight yarn will be nice.
Using number 9 needles (3.57mm), cast on 88 stitches and work 9 rows double rib (ie k2, p2, k2, p2 etc)
Row 10: continue rib but increase 9 stitches evenly across the row (on stitches number 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72 and 81) so you have now got 97 stitches.
Change to 4.5 mm needles.
Row 11: *p3, k1, p3, k8, repeat from * five times until last 7 stitches, p3, k1, p3
Row 12: *k3, yf sl1 yb, k3, p8, repeat from * five times until last 7 stitches, k3, yf sl1 yb, k3
Row 13: as 11
Row 14: as 12
Row 15: (this is a cable twist row) *p3, k1, p3, sl4 onto cable needle and hold in front, knit next 4 behind, knit 4 from cable needle, repeat from * until final 7 stitches, p3, k1, p3.
Row 16: as 12
Row 17: as 11
Row 18: as 12
Row 19: as 11
Row 20: as 12
Row 21: as 11
Row 22: as 12
Row 23: as 15
repeat these rows 16 - 23 until you have completed your 13th twist.
Shape for neck and shoulders:
Next row, keeping pattern correct work 45 stitches and turn. decrease by 5 (as you like, i used a variety of methods really - either k2tog or casting off. k2tog might be the better 1 as fewer loose ends to tie up!) and work to end of the row.
Turn and work this row, decreasing six at the end,
Turn and decrease 4, work to end
Turn and work row, decreasing 3 at end
Turn and decrease 2, work row and decrease 1 at other end too (to give a slight shoulder shape too)
Turn and decrease 2 at start and 2 at end of the row
Turn and decrease 1 at start and 3 at end of row
with the stitches you have left on the other side, shape in the same (but opposite) way.
Front pieces (work two - ensuring they mirror)
Worked identically to the back, however this time only cast on 44 stitches (on 3.75mm needles), work 9 rows in double rib and on the tenth row increase 4 across the row on the 8th, 18th, 28th, 38th stitches (48 stitches)
This time work the pattern until you have completed 12 twists. continue for 3 more rows,
next 4 rows, decrease 3 from the inside (collar) edge (36 stitches) (rembmer: include the cable row when it comes)
next 4 rows, decrease 2 from the inside edge (28 rows)
next 2 rows, decrease 1 from inside edge,
next row decrease 1 from outside (shoulder) edge and 1 from inside (collar) edge
next row decrease 1 from inside edge and 2 from outside edge
next row, decrease 3 from outside edge and 2 form inside edge.
Sleeves (make 2)
I was not all so happy with my sleeves really, but will note what i did. I think if i were to do this again i would start with more stitches at the cuff and increase more gradually to make wider sleeves.
However, my sleeves were worked as follows:
Cast on 40 stitches and using 3.75mm needles work 9 rows double rib, and increase to 44 stitches on the 10th row. change to 4.5mm needles and work the cable pattern, increasing 1 stitch at each end of every 4th row until you have completed 119 rows (29 increases or 15 twists and 3 extra rows) cast off.
I used mattress stitch to sew my seams, and knitted double rib bands around the collar and then for the bands. I used this technique for button holes, and they have come out rather pleasingly! (i like this knitting help series on youtube!)
I fear my knitting patterns are not very user friendly. but hopefully they give a good sort of idea of what to do. I would like to do some more cable, but perhaps for panels and details, rather than all over.
Now i have started a tension square for my next project. it is something much different and i am going to follow a pattern rather than making it up. i think this is something i should try more often. although there is a pleasant element of surprise when freestyling.
ps. i am dedicating this piece of knitwear to my mouse Audrey who passed away at the weekend. I wrote a real dedication to her on my mouse blog, but feel this isn't so much the place. I miss her very much.
it was difficult to have my picture taken with mouse because she was so small and quick
I have not done any dressmaking since moving back to Burgess Hill, but have for some time wanted to make some winter versions of my summer dresses. So yesterday i bought some cotton velvet and unpacked my sewing machine and utilised this pattern with much success.
This time i made the sleeveless version
I used a trick my pattern cutting teacher showed us last week to help the facings lay flat - she said that once you have sewn them in, trim and notch the seam allowances and then sew the seam allowance down onto the wrong side of the facing. it works a wonder! I am pleased with all those smooth curve lines.
I do feel grand when i'm wearing this one. most oppulant. I forgot about the instant gratification of dressmaking (compared with knitting - i am still labouring!) I think next will be something in tartan.
Also this weekend
I saw some music and drank some sweet sussex stout (and a sneaky christmas ale)
I received a mixtape (for october - long overdue and a nice surprise!)
There were a lot of autumn leaves, and this afternoon 4:30pm, everything was touched with a golden glow.
Mouse doesn't seem well. I am worried about her
A nice weekend this one - except for concern for mouse. I am hoping it is just her hibernation instinct kicking in and causing her to be dosy, and nothing to worry about. She is nice in this mood though because i can stroke her a lot. I am showing her pictures of Deb's gorgeous mouse faced biscuits to cheer her up, and feeding her cornflakes.
Now I can smell apple pie cooking and mum is making boiled bacon and pease pudding dinner. Very good!
i am in full swing with my October cardigan - which is just as well because it's november now. luckily we are going through a mild spell, but i think this chunky one will be of great use in the coming months. I have just realised i have not even mentioned this again since it was just in the idea stage - here are the updates:
My design has altered a bit from my first ideas as after speaking to my mum, who is the guru, i decided that I would be more adventurous with my cables than i first planned, and do an all over cable design. Here is a small sample:
This is the wool - Skye in dark jacob colourway. i am pleased with it i think - although am never sure until i'm finished. I did a few sample cables to begin with, as found any small twists were lost because of the patterns in the colours. This one is worked over 8 stitches every eight rows (i think that will only make sense if you have done some cable knitting - but i will give some better instructions when i come to write the pattern) Then either side of the cable is three stitches of reverse stocking stitch and a slip stitch line. I am pleased with this pattern. very simple, but quite nice.
My progress so far is that i have completed the back and one front panel, and almost a sleeve. i am not sure about the sleeve though, and might start it again. perhaps without cables, or with a different texture as i have seen that done before and it might be a good idea. i am not sure though, and seem to have knitted a lot of it, so perhaps i will persevere.
Also, before i get back to my knitting, and put on the halloween special of psychoville, I would like to tell you about my cable needle - it is a hooked one. i hadn't seen one like this before (neither had the woman in the shop, or my mum) but i find it much easier to use than the straight or kinked types, as it holds the stitches safely but hangs out of the way very helpfully. i would recommend that type.
Yours knicker in a twist, let's twist again, marshmallow twist,
ps. i will leave you with some more Prada. it is good to be reminded of the inspiration.
unfortunately i missed Deb and Rosie's pumpkin carving party (self inflicted ills) but they created some amaaaaaaaaazing laterns. My carving attempt hasn't really advanced much since last year, but this year i did put the scoopings to good use with some pumpkin and nutmeg soup. That warmed my heart.
it is time again to post off my mixtape project for October.
this month the only thing i could think of as a good theme would be the autumn. this was a really lovely task to find those songs. i used the themes of this season as my focus. like the change of weather, nature, harvests, goldenness, hibernation, and being mellow and thoughtful.
I tried to make sure all the songs were still pretty and uplifting as i think autumn is a grand season and no real reason to be sad. the best sounds for this time are acoustic and comforting like guitars and harmonious singing. I feel that this project has really helped me come to terms with the cold and darkness. Here is my finished collection:
I struggle a little (lot) with the artwork aspect of the project as have seen some other submissions and they seem very well thought out artistically. i am not really very good at art, but i really love my friend Yumi's illustrations of leaves so her pictures were my inspiration and it was nice to use my colour pencils. I hope that this element is not so important as the songs though. I think i will concentrate on this more next month and try my very best.
Sometimes when i'm walking along i find a button. This means a good thing because it makes me feel like i have some good luck (like if i found a penny). Sometimes i'm lucky enough to pick up two in a day and i call it a two button day. If i ever say it, it means it's a good one. Quite recently when i was in Eastbourne i had a three button day. my heart beat quite fast.
So imagine how i felt about seeing this little lot in my path.
there are 21 of them
I was very excited. i can't really imagine where they came from. some look new, but some look like they have some thread in them so must have come from a shirt or a dress. it's a mystery to me, but i think a very good sign of fortune. and so far the sun has shone.
I like this time of year because soon i'll be finding all the lovely big buttons that have fallen off of coats and winter cardigans. Those are the nicest ones.
I have finished! My epic knit of the summer is complete! My long and colourful cotton cardigan.
hip hip hooray, rejoice this day. (it is difficult to take photos these days because there's no more sunshine)
I closed my eyes (i closed my eyes) drew back the curtain (oohoohooh) to see for certian (oohooh) any dream will do.
Here is the pattern i wrote (i am not really sure that you would want to knit one of these, but just incase):
Long Cotton Cardigan Materials: Colinette Banwry (100% cotton) and 4mm needles (my tension which i have based this pattern on is = 20sts x 28 rows to 4”)
The Back Cast on 110 sts and work in stocking stitch until work 110 rows ending on a P row. Next row – for shaping to the back – k40, k2tog, k2, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog five times, k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k2, k2tog, k40 (to end of row) [99sts] Continue to knit on these 99 sts for a further 90 rows (200 rows in total)
The Fronts (Create 2 – work down) Cast on 30 sts and working in stocking stitch, increase 1 stitch at the outer edge end of every fourth row (row 4, 8, 12, 16 etc) until you have worked 80 rows and have 50 sts. Continue to work this way until you have 167 rows (or 32 rows from finished length)Then in the final 32 rows, decrease to form a curve, ending with 27 stitches to cast off. (this is optional, but a nice little touch)
The Sleeves (create 2 – work down) Cast on 65 sts and working in stocking stitch for 11 rows. Next row k2tog to decrease one at each end of next and every twelfth row until you have worked 90 rows (51 sts) knit a further 10 rows, knit two rows, rib for 15 rows and cast off.
Sew the pieces together. I learnt a new sewing technique to sew my seams. It is a stitch called mattress stitch. It is so so simple to do and is really worth learning how because it is so neat.
Finally, finish with a border of your choice. This was the hardest part of the whole thing for me. First i crocheted - too baggy. then i knitted the border in rib stitch, but first time i cast off too tight, second attempt was a bit lop sided, third attempt... juuuuust right. The moral of this story is, if at first you don't succeed, try try again. I haven't put any buttons or fastenings on as think it will be my preference to wear it open. I am not sure on what occasion i will find to wear it. Maybe just on Sundays when we go to eat lavender cake at Treacle.
I finished just at the right time, as yesterday the wool i ordered for my October project arrived. Grand!
Last night i had evening class number 4. it is beginning to get exciting as the process goes on. Last night i fitted my toile (that is the basic calico skirt) to make sure it is the right size and from that i was able to make some minor adjustments to the pattern to make my own personal skirt blocks. These are card versions of the paper pattern to use as the basic templates for creating my own designs.
Here i am with some miniature versions to show you what they are like (the real ones are life size)
We are using the little ones to practise how to manipulate the shapes to create the pattern pieces for different skirt types. It is fun and now i think i just want to make clothes for small things. I hope we get to make up our final design in miniature first. that will please me.
working in miniature makes me think of Viktor and Rolf. that would be fun to make a whole collection in small sizes.
I think i have a good idea of my own design now. Here is my first attempt at a sketch (i traced from a template to get the right shape!)
The one on the left is the best version as more of a pencil skirt, and the pleats have a good shading effect. I am not sure of the fabric yet as that will make all the difference. My idea comes from this pair of trousers i saw. I only have a small picture in my scrapbook, but will try to find a better one to show you where the inspiration was from - that might help with the visualisation. I like the position of the pleats, and would like to put in some pockets if we are allowed. They are useful for when i find a button or penny (it is important that you consider the practicalities of the design)
It is very satisfying to be doing all this designing and making. It will probably be a couple of weeks before i have much more to show and tell, but i am hoping for grand things to come.
Today it is the start of October and my mind is thinking of the projects which will be lovely for the changing seasons. The last of my summer knitting is nearing completion now (it is in construction stage - so more on this soon) and my mind is wandering off to more woolly delights for the cold days ahead.
I really like all the cream aran cardigans i see around and think this is something i would really like to attempt. Yumi has been knitting a scarf as a present for her dad. it is called a toyboy scarf, and has some cable twists in it and it looks so lovely. i am very much inspired to make the leap and learn the techniques!
I have never done cabling before, so I am going to keep my first attempt nice and simple. I have drawn my preliminary design which is mostly stocking stitch, but has a bit of cabling at the front to get me started. Maybe twists or plaits would look nice there.
here is my vision. i enjoy the imagining stage.
this will be similar to the effect i'd like to see - maybe less mauve lipstick
I have ordered the wool (it was payday and i couldn't hold back) - it is some aran and the colourway is called dark jacob. I hope it will be a good one for this project.
my picture has pixelated a little with enlargement, but you can see the colours
I was pleased to see some cable knits in Prada's A/W 2010 collection. And also some evidence of blended yarns. I like it when high fashion accommodates my hobbies.
i like this blue cardigan - far left
I think i could recreate the look with this wool from a new range by Colinette. Perhaps when i am more confident of cabling skills.
This weekend has started to feel very autumnal, with a very chilly night or two recently and so I am accepting it is time to start to fully embrace the autumn in all it's golden leafed glory.
Last night i had my second pattern cutting class, and really we really got down to business drafting our first basic skirt pattern. I am proud of my efforts, and have almost finished producing my first skirt pattern.
First we used our measurements from last week and some paper called cross and dot paper (so called because of some very helpfully placed crosses and dots) and some instructions from Julia, our teacher, and drafted the shapes which make a skirt.
my draft pattern, ready for tracing and adding the seam allowances
My homework this week is to trace off my shapes and add the seam allowances and other information to make a finished pattern ready to use to make a calico toile in next week's next class.
It was really fun to be drawing and to be able to ask if i got stuck with something and to work with other people in my class. And the most pleasing part was to start to see the shape become something like a pattern. That was really exciting for me.
My homework now is to trace off and add the seam allowances and other information to make a pattern which can be used to make my calico toile in next week's next class. I think that is going to be a nice evening.
After we have made our basic pattern and adjusted it to a perfect fit, we will learn how to incorporate more features and create something that we have designed from our own imaginations. I have therefore been letting mine run riot so i can take full advantage of that. I think i have a good idea of what i will want to do now, although do change my mind a lot. I want to do everything!
i am keeping a scrapbook to hold my ideas
When i did french classes it really felt like hard work, but this is learning that is fun! There is a girl in my class who wants to work in the fashion industry. i can understand that as i think to be a professional pattern cutter would really be a satisfying occupation.
Last night i went to my first evening class. I have signed up for pattern cutting with City College. I was quite nervous but it was really grand once we had all said hello to each other. There is a really nice mixture of people i think, and everyone has different experiences and different ambitions so it will be really nice to be working with them to see what they do. I think their designs will be something quite different to mine so it is exciting.
Our teacher is called Julia and she is really nice and i think will be a good teacher. She showed us some sketchbooks that she did when she took courses. I would like to keep on of those. I have a scrapbook where i like to keep pictures i see, but i never do sketching. This will be a good skill to develop. I think i will study Fifi Lapin more closely for good drawing techniques. Perhaps i will ask Deb to help me with watercolours!
j'adore la lapin
Last night i learnt about some new equipment, like a tracing wheel and a pattern master. i am looking forward to getting my hands on those. Also we took some measurements in preparation.
this is a pattern master to help draw on seam allowances and draw curves
The course is for a whole academic year and the first term is devoted to skirts. i am happy about this. The first step is to learn how to use our measurements to make a basic silhouette. i think this will be our task for the next couple of weeks. Then after that we will learn to adapt the basic shape to make up our own designs. I have started some research on this but can never make up my mind. it will be fun to do proper designing instead of just freestyling!
Sorry Vogue Easy Options pattern 8363, it is time to move on
Yesterday i was delighted to receive in the post, my first mixtape from a stranger. It is really a great one with lots of bands i like on it and a lot of illustrations. I managed to find the creator online and here it is.
It is lovely to have received something which has had so much effort put in. i feel quite honoured. I will be sure to write and say thank you.
I decided for my introductory mixtape, i would use the theme of birds.
The past month has been quite hectic for so i fear i have not spent as much time and effort as i would have liked to, and certainly not as much as was put into the one i was sent. But i hope that my recipient enjoys my humble offering.
I am already starting to think about next month. This is a lot of fun indeed.