Elizabeth Zimmerman is ace!

Yup, it’s official – I really like Elizabeth Zimmerman’s knitting style. If you like being taken by the hand and led all the way through a pattern then she may not be for you but if you are prepared to ‘freestyle it’ a bit then she’s great.

You may remember I was knitting the ‘Stu’s Fair Isle’ pullover from the Knitting Workshop book which I still have from our local library. I’ll confess to having a good giggle at the instructions (such as they were), particularly when I read the instructions on guage – “6 stitches to the inch. GET IT RIGHT” (Her capitals). And I should have been paying attention.

In a straightforward stocking stitch this was achieved perfectly. What I hadn’t considered was that even doing my best to CARRY WOOL LOOSELY (again, her capitals) whilst knitting the fair isle pattern I clearly made it a bit tighter. Not horribly so, but I think The Management could do with a little more wiggle room. He thinks not as he is ‘going to the gym now so I should shape up sometime soon….’. I think we all know how often that works.

Anyway, in all his glory, here he is wearing the pullover within seconds of it being finished. I think he likes it!(Sorry for the fairly numpty I-phone picture)

Happiness is a finished fair isle pullover

Back to the pattern. Before I realised I was going to have to actually do a bit of work on this pullover I followed the fair isle chart exactly as printed. It didn’t fit the number of stitches I had. Nor any of the other sizes with the exception of size 40.  Lesson number 1 was that when it comes to the patterns you really are in charge. Pay attention.

I spent some time rejigging the pattern so that all the designs were divisible by 12 which meant that they fitted the stitch number I had. No problems at all after that. As you are working ‘in the round’ and all rows are knit rows this pattern knitted up much more quickly than I expected.

Can we talk about ‘steeking’? Following EZ’s instructions I knitted this all the way up to the shoulders – adding ‘kangaroo pouches’ and various other completely unknown methods – before being instructed to cut into my knitting. Yes, that’s basically what steeking is. Terrifying. I selected a ridiculously short stitch on my sewing machine (after  basting guide lines) and sewed three anchor lines rather than the two advised. Belt and braces? No way was this going to unravel if I had anything to do with it. And then I had to cut into the work I had spent so long knitting. If I could have safely done it with my eyes closed I would have done – I’m pretty certain I wasn’t breathing at this point. OK, long story cut short. No problems!

I picked up the armhole and neckline stitches with heart in mouth. I was convinced that this would end up in pieces on my lap but I can promise that it was absolutely solid. I was pretty confident that if the results hadn’t been predictable then there would have been warnings all over the interweb so I really shouldn’t have worried. If you ever have to do this then be brave (and don’t put it off for days in fear as I did). Herringbone stitching the cut edges down has made the insides actually look fairly presentable which I wasn’t confident about.

Anyway, I have done what I needed to ensure he now has a jacket, tie, and hand knitted sweater …… and the builders haven’t finished their stuff so the shelter isn’t going to be opened straight away (probably a good thing as the poor man would freeze in there at the moment!). He still needs to source suitable trousers and decide on a suitable shirt and shoes but I’m leaving that to himself – I feel that honour has been satisfied from this end!


View from our room

Snowy view from Salts mill

Another Snowy view from Salts Mill

Hockney at Salts Mill

I imagine you are all getting bored with the UK weather pictures now. The funniest thing I have read about last weeks storm was ‘In the UK it’s The Beast from the East’ but the Finns are calling it Wednesday’. So right and totally hilarious. I’ll confess a sense of humour failure after sitting for almost two hours in the same spot on a Yorkshire motorway as we traveled home after a trip to the Frozen North. We hit Northumberland overnight to attend a much loved (but exceedingly elderly) uncle’s funeral before spending a night in Skipton – after a wonderful bright snowy drive through the Yorkshire dales which were beautiful. We also took the opportunity to visit Salts Mill in Saltaire for a Hockney exhibition. It was wonderful and we will certainly visit on another occasion when we might even get to walk the wonderful area around there.



Costumes for our delight

Princess Margaret’s wedding dress

I had a very relaxed day at home….. before setting off into another snow storm on the way to London for a V&A talk on Costume and the Crown. I wasn’t going to miss that! The darling daughter was even willing to join me so we enjoyed a meal in the gorgeous members room before enjoying a very fine talk from Jane Petrie, the costume designer from series 2, and Vanessa Kirby who plays

Looking very pretty in the gathering dark

Princess Margaret. I enjoyed the talk, as did Jess, but I did hear some mutterings that suggested that it hadn’t been sufficiently focused on costume for some. We were able to have a good look at the few costumes that had been brought along for inspection – something that initially horrified Jess until she realised they were made for TV rather than original.


The following day was a lovely trip to Greenwich to enjoy the Royal Observatory. If you have the least interest in astronomy, particularly its relevance to maritime history, then this place is an absolute must visit. I enjoyed a show in the Planetarium too – wonderful! Again it’s

My feet and the Prime Meridian

I’m assured there’s a good view…

somewhere I am going to have to revisit just to see what must be just about the best views over London there are when it’s not misty as all get out! The Cutty Sark is in one of those photographs – no prizes if you spot it though.


I’m looking forward to a very quiet couple of weeks, I might even sew (although I have absolutely no sewing mojo at all at the moment – Lesley from Sewniptuck suggests a bit of stash fondling). That may work. Possibly. Maybe. I’m still knitting the Botanical Yoke sweater, now back on the needles stolen to make the fair isle, so I’ll quietly bumble on with that for now. And think kindly sewing thoughts which might ignite a desire….

Still knitting

Stay warm out there, and keep on with whatever craft makes you happy.




I suck at stashbusting

Yup. It’s absolutely official after yesterday. But I do have mitigating circumstances M’Lud.

Ok, I need to explain myself. After The Management retired he started to volunteer at our lovely local museum and was given the job as the person in the air raid shelter who explains how the war affected Bewdley and the surrounding area. He did all of last summer wearing ‘civvies’ but it was discussed and decided that he really needed to wear something not exactly period but more in keeping with the time. And it’s often freezing in there so he needs to be warm too. So we were thinking something a bit like this maybe….

1940s men's fair isle sweater vest

Well…. maybe not exactly like that but you get the idea. I did find another image which was full length but he looked a bit of a ‘spiv’. Anyway, the air raid shelter was originally built for the Post Office staff so maybe he would have been a Post Office Clerk, or since he’s The Management a Post Office Manager. This is getting a bit off topic.

Well I have wanted to use one of Elizabeth Zimmermans patterns for ages – Kate has been making some wonderful jumpers for herself here at Fabrickated . I managed to buy one book from Amazon, and got another from the library – EZ’s Knitting Workshop – which has a sweater that pretty much fits the bill for himself – check it out on Ravelry! And I get to use EZ’s methods. Score!

Well, I started looking for the shetland wool I wanted to make this in, located it online and costed the project, but left it unbought for now. Then what should happen but I get an email from the Worcester Resource Exchange to say they had lots of yarn for sale. It would have been rude not to go and…can you believe it!  The exact same yarn at a third of the cost. Well, I couldn’t turn that down could I?

The colours go brilliantly with a tweed jacket we found in a local Charity Shop, and a tie bought from E-Bay (I can’t believe how difficult it has been to find a suitable tie!). All we need is a pair of shoes and suitable trousers to go with the sweater and he will be done.

While I was there some sock yarn jumped into my bag too. I couldn’t stop it! Honestly – just look! How beautiful is that? I’m hiding that for the time being.

I’m up to the armhole divide now on my Botanical Yoke sweater if I use the length given on the pattern. I’m tempted to add a little extra length but will try the red one on again before making a decision. I will have to put it to one side for the moment so that I can concentrate of getting the Fair Isle sweater ready for the museum season starting in March.

Better get a move on!


So much stuff!

Anyone who knows me will confirm that I am no Marie Kondo. I do try to keep things moderately under control but honestly, I’m failing miserably! I can’t believe just how much stuff I have accumulated. And I’m not just talking sewing and knitting stash (though that is pretty embarrassing) – all round the house things are running wild.

How many face washes do you need? Certainly not the three opened ones that I have, and also three bottles of moisturiser – one in use and the other two obviously bought in readiness. And don’t even ask about opened hand creams. Or lipsticks.

I’ll conceded that some of the stuff waiting for action is not ‘going to go off’, and will be used in it’s turn, but I really need to start using this lot before I buy ANYTHING else! I assumed that I would be a more considered shopper now that I allegedly have more time but I clearly need to work on that skill!

Whilst cleaning, and also slight clearance, in the room that bears the worst of my fabric buying excess I did manage to make things look better – fabric folded and put away properly or bagged ready to be passed onto the art teacher that takes my scrap, patterns tidied up , and magazines tidied into their respective boxes. All looking better – but how did I convince myself I have no UFO’s? Actually they technically aren’t UFO’s as they haven’t been started. I did read a lovely term for my problem which I’m afraid I’ve forgotten – but they are basically aspirational projects that I still want to make but aren’t anywhere near being made yet. A horrifying amount of them. Oh dear.

Relaxing knitting

So, it’s agreed. I really need to stop buying yarn and fabric, also patterns, and start making up the projects I have waiting. With that in mind I gathered everything I needed (all available) to start another Purl Soho Botanical Yoke sweater. I had bought the yarn at Colourmart ages ago, the pattern had already been tested and worn here so I knew I liked it enough to repeat the experience. I started knitting whilst watching TV (loosely, as you need to concentrate at this point) and once past the first few rows I was happy I wasn’t knitting with a twist in the round so it has been nice to sit and enjoy the quiet of the project while I relax in the evening.

All was going well then? It was….

Until I visited a Scrap Store. I had been a little envious of the ‘op shops’ and ‘reverse garbage’ opportunities that seemed to be available in Australia – so many of the blogs refer to many of their ‘makes’ being from things rescued from landfill. The attitude to re-use seems to be much better there. I was confident that there wasn’t anything like that in the UK – the resale shops are called ‘charity’ shops here and don’t seem to have the same cachet that overseas equivalents have. Anyhoo, not to be put off I Googled a query and came up with Scrap Stores. I’m in the fortunate position of having several within easy reach, but my most local was the Worcester Resource Exchange. We were in that area last Saturday so I called in ‘just for a look’. Of course.

Merino felt and stretch lace

Vintage Vogue Designer Patterns

It was both fascinating and horrifying. There was stuff that you wondered if anyone would buy (only to hear people excitedly squeak when they found it!), and things you really wondered how you could justify taking them home. The Management was in the car so it wasn’t going to be easy to sneak things by him!

I was sunk when I saw the lovely bright merino wool felt – bags perhaps?, or maybe it could be used as a more exciting under collar on a tailored jacket? The stretch lace was completely unnecessary – I have a bag full of bits and pieces trawled from the Rag Market with the intention of making lingerie (another one of those aspirational projects) but I couldn’t resist. There were also lots of art supplies that I was seriously tempted by but I would have needed to find the bin marked ‘an extra day in the week’ even though I’m retired.

In another box I saw a load of used patterns, sorted by decade but just a lovely jumble to be looked through. And found four Vogue Designer Original patterns that I really liked. I swear that there were more but I didn’t just sweep them all up.

Who could have left Christian Dior – Vogue 1755, (in size 12 so I can probably make it up straight from the envelope although I haven’t done any thinking about fabrics yet), or Stan Herman 2057 – new to me but I love this dress shape, Diane Von Furstenberg 2065 – another very wearable dress, and lastly and Edith Head  1895 – I’m not entirely certain I would wear this but I do like it so it came home. Can I also say that after deducting my annual membership from what I paid this lot came to under £20. I’m afraid I will be back.

Yes, as you can see I am definitely cleaning and clearing. Just not my house. I hope to make use of all of these patterns – and a whole lot more that I have with plans attached to them! I really do need to get stuck in. I’ll be back eventually when I have something to show – but for now I’m off to knit while I calm my nerves 😉



July Round-up

Back again – and still in an uber relaxed frame of mind with what seemed like very little done until I decided to start a post. My sewing mojo is still missing but I’m assuming that it’s a reaction to being obliged to ‘sew to order’ for so long. It will be back. I think.

The Management and I spent a lovely few days early in the month in London. This had been planned for an age so the fact that I was hobbling around in a protective boot wasn’t going to stop us – we just rejigged the plans a bit.


What noise does rain make?

We started with a  trip to the London Transport Museum. This was largely for himself but I really enjoyed it. This was helped by there being a lovely art exhibition called ‘Sounds of the City’. Loads of gorgeous pictures but I particularly liked this one – I’m still wondering what noise rain would make when you drag something across it. Any ideas?


What no seagulls!?

The other great find was a picture depicting my closest city – Worcester! I’m a bit put out that the resident inland seagulls aren’t in there – they are definitely one of the most obvious noises almost anywhere in Worcester. They seem to be moving into Bewdley too so it sometimes sounds as though you are at the seaside here too. More pictures in the Flickr album.


The following day was spent almost entirely at the V&A. We had members early entry into the Pink Floyd exhibition. This was well worth booking – and almost worth paying membership just to get in on a quiet time. The Management really enjoyed this, and I was surprised quite much I enjoyed too. I can’t claim to be the biggest Floyd fan – I do enjoy the music but it’s rarely something I pick out myself – but I thoroughly  enjoyed the whole ‘art and music’ ethos that they seem to have. I have put more photographs onto my Flickr page here but for a quick squint here are three of my favourites. You have until 1st October if you want to get along to see this.

Obviously as I was at the V&A I wasn’t going to miss the current Balenciaga exhibition. The Management went off to do his own thing while I spent time in here. I had just read the wonderful book Balenciaga, The making of a Master  (HOW MUCH FOR THE BOOK !?!) so I was looking forward to seeing the actual garments. Sadly my pictures weren’t great but I have put a few here, and again a link to more on Flickr.

It was pretty busy, and I was still in my boot, so I was running out of steam by the end of this exhibition. There were some fabulous garments – and videos running to show the method of cutting the patterns or adding the hidden support. All of the downstairs was dedicated to the man himself and was wonderful. Lots of inspirational garments – something which was born out when I got upstairs and found it full of garments inspired by him. Some were too close to being a ‘copy’ in my opinion but many were absolutely gorgeous – and although very different you could see the influence there. My favourite was probably the almost unwearable ‘snake dress’ – how gorgeous is that?( I won’t be offended if you say not at all!). The exhibition is going to be in place until February 2018 so I am hoping to be able to go again and maybe get more out of another visit.


A brace of Presto Popovers

Any sewing yourself Kim? Well actually yes. But only a little bit. I have been wearing a load of t-shirts (well, not just t-shirts if I’m honest) that are a bit too big and I have been getting a bit fed up about it. After all, I’m a bl**dy dressmaker! Anyhoo, I knew I had this fine jersey in the stash which had been waiting an unreasonable time to be made up and decided it was time. These have both been worn and washed multiple times now. Having a couple of well fitting t-shirts now just makes me aware of how big the others are. Prepare for a major clear out.

That has been the only sewing I have done but I have actually done a fair quantity of knitting and have finished the Purl Soho Circular Yoke Summer Shirt. I used the cashmere yarn set that I bought at Colourmart a while back and I have to say I love it. It was a joy to knit (two strands at once makes it 4 ply) and was so light it seemed to last forever. In fact I had intended to blend the colours up through the yoke but ended up making it all in the mulberry colour. Sadly I have just realised I don’t have a picture so you will have to take my word for the moment about how lovely it is.

As a fabulous finale to the month I went here…….


Can you see what I see?

…….to meet someone very special.


NO….not a bear!

No. I didn’t go on a bear hunt – I was searching a very different and altogether more secretive animal. More news in my next post.


I plan and God laughs


Sock therapy

Yes, I did have plans to start sewing again despite a very weak sewing mojo at present. But…. I managed a spectacular fall in the forest whilst out walking (yes, WALKING – not even running) and I now have what turned out to be a sprained ankle with a little fracture on the knobby ankle bone. Painful and very life interrupting.

As a result I have been knitting socks again. The sharp eyed among you will recognise the green yarn from my Shrewsbury shopping trip which I bought so I could squeeze another pair of socks out of the hank of sock yarn in my Stitching Santa parcel. I also decided it would be a good opportunity to write the ‘size between’ instructions on my favourite sock pattern to get the perfect fit.

I was thrilled to get the pair out of what was left of the yarn with only yards to spare – look at what’s left on the photograph! I can’t verify that the fit is exactly what I wanted yet since my left foot is in a surgical boot at the moment. Very fetching 😉

Now that I am a bit more mobile, and it is my left foot after all so I could still use a sewing machine pedal, I will get back to work. I hope your plans are going better than mine out there.

Kim x

What’s been going on?

Hmmm. It’s been a while (again). I wish I could say I had noticed the time going by but I really hadn’t. However, an update since I was last here.

I have done what seems like a vast amount of gardening – not my strong point but I’m trying harder now I have more time. I have been inspired by the amazing talent shown at Serendipity Revisited where an astonishing amount of work has gone into their Tasmanian garden. We had been discussing the possibility of turmeric growing in the UK. Filled with enthusiasm I took an age to track down some tubers(?) in an organic deli and bunged them in a pot, inside a plastic bag to simulate a greenhouse even though they were indoors, and waited. And waited. I planted four and was going to be happy if one sprouted but all four did! Check this out!

I had a lovely extended weekend in Northumberland, Edinburgh, and Cumbria at the end of May. I checked in with my mother, sister, and mother-in-law before carrying on to run a half marathon in Edinburgh. (More info about this in the Old Bat blog). We carried on from there to Carlisle which many of you know is the home of Linton Tweed. It would have been rude to have been so close and not called in – I got off fairly lightly buying only one remnant piece in a lovely kingfisher blue.

I made up the Vogue 1410 again – this time in the yellow cotton stuff that I bought in Birmingham. The weather over the last week has been unexpectedly hot – everyone knows we Brits melt at above 25°C and it has been over 30 some days this week. As a result I have been very happy to have had this available (and both pairs of scrousers). I repeated the Epaulet top in the leftover cotton which worked well (The Management likes it) but I think it could do with a tiny FBA when made up in a woven rather than knit. Sorry, no photo. I’ve been cracking on with The Managements quilt too. I really hadn’t appreciated how long this would take! And I ran short of fabric.

Another trip to Shrewsbury was needed (Hurrah!) to buy the extra quilt fabric so I had the opportunity to make the order I wanted from Colourmart. But I added some. I bought the navy/black that is to make the Botanical Yoke sweater again, but I added a lovely cream cashmere blend double knit (Backbone maybe?) and a 300g pack of mixed cashmere lace weight. All gorgeous and I can’t wait to start. Off to Shrewsbury and I might have bought some more sock yarn. What can I say?

And what about the brown Larry Junior I hear you ask?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finished! And if it wasn’t so bloomin’ hot I would have enjoyed modeling this!


Stay cool out there ’til next time!


Bye bye Larry

Remember Larry, the wonderfully warm and useful sweater knitted way back in September/October 2014 which recently developed a hole right in the front? Well, with great regret I spent an afternoon when I wasn’t really able to do anything else ripping it to it’s component parts – viz, Rowan Wool Aran. This had cost me a fair amount way back and I’m nothing if not thrifty so I wasn’t prepared to just bin this.

I really liked Larry and if it hadn’t been too big for me now I would have repaired that hole and saved myself a bag load of work. However, I have also been going through the pictures ripped out from magazines that I like (we all save these, don’t we?) and found this….VINCE Sweater

…lovely isn’t it?

The picture hasn’t got a date on it but seems to have been late last year, and is by a brand called VINCE (pulled from Porter magazine). I love this so I’m planning to adapt another sweater from Ravelry. I have found the Berocco Bell Rock turtleneck which I think I can adapt to look much like this.

The yarn is now washed and wound into balls. Thankfully the ‘kinks’ all smoothed out after washing. The Management said it looked like I had shaved a poodle before that 🙂 .

It wasn’t until I was looking for the date when I knitted Larry that I realised just how much knitting I do! I knit to relax so this may reduce now that I’m not sewing for clients.

What do you prefer to do – knit, sew, or something else completely?

Look out for progress soon – I am missing my warm brown sweater.