Just catching up….

I’m still in a ‘no-sew’ mode so progress on anything is very slow. I have started to feel just the merest stirrings of a sewing urge so I’m hopeful of something to show you guys sometime soon!

I have, however, been knitting. I have finished the Purl Soho Botanical Yoke sweater that I was making. Hurrah! Pictures and details….

Heath Robinson knitting

You may remember that back in the mists of time I bought this gorgeous yarn from Colourmart. It was very fine and needed to be ‘navajo plyed’. If you need information of this click HERE . Basically this meant that the fine 80%Merino/20%Cashmere I had chosen was used three strands at once which brought the yarn weight up to be perfect for my sweater.

Now all of the yarn from Colourmart is actually intended for industry rather than hand knitting (not that that is an issue!) and comes on cones. After spending an unreasonable amount of time chasing the cone around the floor I came up with this rather odd looking but very effective way to cope. The cone is sitting on top of an egg cup, which in turn is sitting on top of my kitchen paper holder. Not pretty but very effective in allowing the cone to spin freely as I pulled on the yarn. That speeded things up significantly 🙂 .

Yoke detail

Happy? Yes!

Having said that, this isn’t a particularly ‘quick’ project. All of that knit 2 purl 2 rib gets old pretty quickly, and when you get to the exciting part on the cabled yoke it can get a bit tricky. Cabling ’24’ is a bit, well…… tricky. And not entirely easy to knit. Fortunately you only need to do that massive cable twice. Things get much easier after that.

Another feature of Colourmart yarns is that they are treated to run smoothly through industrial knitting machines. That makes them a bit firmer knitted up before they are given a bath. I did wear my sweater a few times before I washed it and found the polo neck a little bit ‘scratchy. I washed it by hand so that it didn’t all go horribly wrong in the machine and it has softened up nicely. It took AGES to dry as it has been so cold and damp here in the UK. I think we are all desperate for some consistently warm (and sunny… please!) weather. Anyway I am counting this as a win and I’m sure I will get lots of opportunities to wear it .Through our ENGLISH SUMMER 😦

Quilting progress

I have been trying to clear things around the house. You know, those odd jobs that I have been trying to ignore, all the things I would rather not do … so I haven’t. It’s been the equivalent of the ‘crate of shame’ or the ‘drawer of doom’ where sewing projects go to be ignored. Some of you with very good memories will remember the quilt I started to commemorate The Managements 60th birthday. I confess some time has passed since then and the quilt has been largely ignored. Actually not true, I snarl at it every time I have to move it to get to something I want in the sewing room. Well bullets needed to be bitten and I have got the whole lot out again into a much more prominent position so that I am totally shamed into getting on. It has grown fairly well over the last couple of weeks (hey! I have been sewing!) and I am starting to feel that it might actually become a functioning quilt. I did have a short time when I considered the whole thing ‘migraine inducing’ but the colours and patterns seem to be settling down as they get bigger. I still feel unbelievably stupid for taking on such a large and complicated project as my first attempt at quilting. Hey ho.

Celias Hot Cross buns

Perfection 🙂

One of the things I have been enjoying very much of late is baking sourdough bread. Celia recommended ‘Artisan Sourdough made Simple’ by Emilie Raffa a while back and I really love this book. If you love sourdough and don’t have it yet I heartily recommend it. There hasn’t been a dud recipe yet, and Emilie blogs as The Clever Carrot so you can check her out there before investing if you don;t want to take my word! Not in the book but absolutely delicious were Celias Hot Cross Buns. Shared with friends (those that didn’t get scarfed down disgracefully quickly by Himself and I) they were a roaring success and will be made throughout the year without crosses and just called ‘buns’!

A few things have made my bread making more pleasurable recently. Firstly I reclaimed a electric heated pad which was bought years ago for an elderly Siamese cat I was slave to. She felt the cold something chronic so during the day (when she couldn’t sneak into bed and be my furry hot water bottle substitute) she enjoyed this. It did go off to my mothers elderly cat until her recent demise when it was returned. Mine looks a bit like this one and makes a great job of the ‘overnight rise’ when my kitchen is freezing. I do use it for the other rises at the moment as its still cold here. Once the sun starts to show its face again maybe the bread will manage without it. The next thing is the  Lékué bread maker. No, not electric. This is a silicon bowl which you can use right from the start – measuring and mixing the dough, kneading, leaving to rise  AND COOKING! Yup, this baby goes in the oven. And the dishwasher – I’m officially in love. Finally is a Lakeland Magic tray liner. Fabulous. Absolutely non-stick – even for the filled focaccia from Emilies book which stuck like to the tray like it would never come off just slid off this baby. Reusable and dishwasher friendly if needed – but it’s unlikely as it is so slippy and any residue just wipes off mine. I’ve used it about a dozen times at least and it still looks great. I would definitely buy this again but think it will be a while before I need to!

EZ and Alpaca

I have started knitting again. This time I’m knitting one of the basic Elizabeth Zimmerman yoked jumpers that I became aware of from Kate. I would have loved to join in her knit along but had other projects that made it difficult. I’m using some beautiful alpaca DK that I bought from the WRE It’s knitting up beautifully, and The Management (who has been helpful winding those skeins into balls) says he likes it because ‘it’s not a girly pink’. It’s still for me.

Wax Cloth I shouldn’t have bought….. but did.

I had a lovely day out in Birmingham yesterday with Fairy and friends. It was unusually clement – sunshiny even (sadly didn’t last) – and we were able to enjoy a walk round the markets. Neither Fairy or I really needed to buy anything. We had both said so. So why did I come home with this length of African Wax Cloth? Other than the fact that the colours are absolutley fabulous, and will mix with a number of the fabrics already in my stash? Anyway it’s home now and I just have to locate that sewing mojo. Do send it back if you find it 😉

Enjoy life out there

Kim x

 

Advertisements

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.

 

Excited!

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.

Kim

 


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!