Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

Looking back on 2010, I don’t think I managed as many FOs as I have in previous years. That said, I think my crafting output was still fairly significant – especially if you consider that I was training for a marathon and starting a new job at the time!

Here’s the obligatory mosaic of some of my 2010 crafting (mostly knitting, of course):

From left to right, starting at the top:

  • Hawthorne in Shilasdair DK
  • Dashing in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (recycled from my frogged Gretel)
  • Tiramisu baby blanket in Anchor Style Creativa
  • Liesl in RYC Cashcotton DK
  • Manu in Rowan Felted Tweed
  • Garter Stitch Baby Kimono in Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply
  • Veyla gloves in Posh Yarn Sylvia 2-ply
  • Morning Echo in Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK
  • Weekender Beret in Rowan Cocoon
  • Ishbel in Posh Yarn Sylvia 2-ply
  • Tiny Shoes in Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply
  • Hedgerow Socks (no FO photo I’m afraid!) in Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca/Merino 4-ply
  • Socks for David in Patons Diploma Gold DK
  • Easy Mobius Cowl in Rowan Colourscape Chunky
  • Fishy Cushion from Clothkits
  • Stripy Socks in Regia Kaffe Fassett 4-ply

Including a few other things that I never got round to photographing (a cowl for my sister, a Clothkits doorstop, curtains for the dining room) my crafting output for 2010 amounts to:

Knitting and crochet

1 baby blanket (crochet)

1 baby cardigan

1 pair of booties

3 pairs of adult socks

2 cowls

2 lace scarves/shawls

1 beret

2 pairs of fingerless mitts

1 sweater

3 cardigans.


1 skirt (finally! After I started it 2 years ago! And now it’s too big!!)

1 doorstop

1 pair of curtains


So what does 2011 have in store, craft-wise? I have one hibernating WIP, a Whispy Cardi in a Posh Yarn laceweight. I started it on our holiday in Kenya, but the weather turned cold before I finished it. The only problem is I don’t think I made a note of the needle size I used (it may have been 3.5s)! But that’s a problem for the spring.

Chris’s Manly Gloves have been knit, reknit, darned and generally bodged back together more times than I care to count. They’ve also stretched a great deal and are really too big, as well as being increasingly fragile. So yesterday I cast on for a new pair for him, again in Felted Tweed. I’m radically downsizing them – making the Medium rather than the Large as well as using a smaller needle size – and I’m going to knit one glove, then wash and block it to see if that’s a better fit.

I got a copy of Brave New Knits for Christmas, and my Mum has requested a Sprouting Cloche hat in some soft purple acrylic I bought to make her a cardigan (but the pattern was appalling, lacking basic information about gauge, so I gave it up as a bad job).

Other than that, I don’t really know! I have some vague plans but they are subject to change on a whim!

Just one more thing to say: Happy 2011, everyone!




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I’m back to school tomorrow – probably minus a few colleagues and pupils who will be stuck on their holidays due to the volcanic ash! So I thought it was time to share my holiday crafting.

During the first few days I had a bit of a crafting marathon, and my main goal was to finish the Clothkits skirt I started, ahem, nearly two years ago. And I am delighted to report that it is, at last, finished!

Apologies for the lack of head in the photo. It wasn’t a very flattering picture! Finishing the skirt wasn’t that hard, after all – the side seams are a bit wonky, but a bit of judicious pressing took care of that. I’m particularly pleased with my hand-sewn blind hem. I’m now torn between ordering another Clothkits skirt, or making a trip through to Edinburgh or Glasgow to investigate proper patterns and fabric at John Lewis. Incidentally, that’s my Wicked sweater in the photo above – the sweater was originally knit to go with this skirt, but it’s been finished for so long it’s gone a big baggy and pilly in the meantime!

I have also resolved my Manu dilemma. I realised (with help from various commenters, thank you!) that I was never going to get a practical gauge with the Cashcotton. So I caved, went out and bought some Felted Tweed in a lovely pale green. And a 3mm needle gets me, after washing, a gauge that should work if I make the smallest size (why is my tension so loose? It’s crazy! But at least it’s consistent). And I’ve now finished the body and am about to cast on for the sleeves:

Quite a few people have commented on the 16.5 inches of plain stocking stitch, but I didn’t find it dull. I’ve recently discovered that I can quite happily knit garter or stocking stitch while reading (it has to be something that stays open by itself, but that makes newspapers and magazines quite handy) so I happily knit away while perusing the paper or watching TV of an evening.

A few days ago I decided to wash some of my most-worn winter woollens, and I managed to prise Chris’s birdwatching gloves away from him for long enough to wash them too. I knit them for him in November 2008, and he has worn them almost constantly except for at the height of summer! And I realised that they were starting to fall apart:

The thumb and index finger on both gloves was coming apart. Upon closer inspection, it looked as if the yarn had quite simply worn out from heavy use – the strands were weak, and broke easily, and it looked as if the cast-on edge had just worn away. So I decided to fix them. Luckily, my refusal to throw away any yarn meant that I still had a tiny ball of leftover Felted Tweed from when I made them in the first place.

I snipped one of the stitches a row or two beneath the worn part of each thumb/finger. I carefully unpicked that strand, effectively “unzipping” the top few rows from the rest of the glove. I picked up the resulting stitches onto a magic loop, and knit up until the digit was back to its original length.

Ta da!

Observant readers will notice that the thumb and forefinger don’t exactly match the original fingers. This is because the gloves were knitted fingers-down, while the repairs were knitted glove-up (if you see what I mean). So the new cast-off edge doesn’t match the original cast-on edges. I did try Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “cast-on cast-off” from the Knitter’s Almanac, but I think I did it wrong or maybe didn’t pull it tight enough, because it looked a bit weird.

I’m quite proud of myself nevertheless and Chris is pleased to have a new lease of life for his gloves!

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Remember the zigzag Noro sock I blogged about recently? I ran into a problem with the yarn. It wasn’t knots, the thick-and-thin crazy Noro spinning, or even bits of twigs. It was the colour. And given that colour is really the only reason to buy Noro…well, I wasn’t very happy.

See those pale coloured sections on either side of the black stripe? And in the little ball of yarn next to the heel? Those are sections where it appears (to my admittedly inexpert eye) that the skein hasn’t been dyed properly. It’s a weird pale pink that I think is the base colour of the yarn, because it doesn’t match the colourway and it never becomes part of the colour repeat (so the colour never goes entirely pink – you just end up with unattractive flecks of it through the project).

I emailed the shop from which I had ordered the skein, who replied very promptly and said that this effect was visible in several skeins in their stock, and that therefore the skein wasn’t defective and they couldn’t do anything about it. Hmm. But they did give me the contact details for their distributor, who I emailed. They, in turn, have asked me to return the skein to them. I was expecting to be asked to send a photo (to confirm that it was worth sending it back) and now I’m thinking that it’s probably not worth the trouble and cost of sending back one skein when there’s no guarantee that it’ll be replaced or refunded anyway.

So I think I’m just going to frog the sock, cut out all the offending bits, and make something else out of it. After all, I do love the rest of the colourway. I’m not really looking forward to frogging a whole stranded sock, though – too much potential for tangles!

After my disappointment with the Noro, I returned to my previous project, a nearly-finished Ishbel shawl in Posh Yarn Sylvia. After all, you can’t go wrong with Posh Yarn for colour! I also decided to bead the stitch between the yarn-overs on chart D with some gorgeous amber-coloured seed beads I got on Ebay. I used the dental floss method, which was simple and worked really well. The beads don’t show up brilliantly on the photos – I’ll have to take some close-ups sometime. But, voila:

I love the brightness and richness of the colour – the large photo is the one with the most accurate colour. It’s full of rich golden and tawny yellows. It’s also amazingly light – I only used 38g of yarn (I worked the small stocking stitch section, the large lace section, and used Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind-off as I found the bind-off in the pattern too tight). I think I might double up some of the leftover yarn and make a matching pair of Veyla mitts.

I have also finally got round to sewing the “eyes” on my Owls sweater, and here it is:

I love it! I rarely make patterns in the exact yarn or colour recommended by the designer, but I just loved everything about Kate’s original grey Owls, so used exactly the same yarn: Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky in Steel Grey Suffolk. No mods – I knit it exactly as the pattern said. And I love it. Here’s pic that shows off the owls better:

It’s snuggly and warm but because it’s so close-fitting it’s stylish and sexy. I wore it for work with a flouncy knee-length grey and pink skirt, grey tights and black knee boots.

And I finally got the sewing machine out again! After some faffing and reading the manual because I couldn’t remember how to thread it or how to wind a bobbin, I managed to make my Clothkits fishy cushion in a few hours over last weekend.

I even made buttonholes! On the machine!

How proud am I? Next weekend it’s the turn of the skirt. I will get it finished!

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I am emerging from hibernation! I haven’t blogged any of my recent FOs (most of which were Christmas presents, and at least three of which I failed to photograph), so I thought I’d just do a big Christmas FO/review of 2009 post.

Christmas knits from this year:

  • A sweater for my sister (Cozy V-neck Pullover with Deep Ribbing, from Fitted Knits).
  • A pair of Cairn mitts, also for my sister.
  • A Shroom slouchy hat for my friend Diane.
  • Knucks fingerless gloves for my friend Jonathan.
  • Two Turn-a-Square hats, one for my friend Luc and one for my sister’s partner, Matt.

I only managed to photograph the sweater and the Turn-a-Square hats – I was ill for a week before Christmas and completely forgot to photograph the other things in amongst the Christmas-preparation chaos.

Here’s a photographic summary of my 2009 in knitting (the first two photos are the Christmas sweater and one of the Christmas hats):

All my 2009 knitting photos can be seen here on Flickr, but the full list comprises:

5 sweaters or cardigans

1 baby cardigan

6 hats

4 pairs of gloves

2 shawls (one full-sized stole, one triangular shawlette)

Lots of buttonholes for the wedding

1 blanket

1 cowl

I think, if 2008 was the Year of the Sweater, 2009 was definitely the Year of Lace. Print O’ the Wave, Liesl, Hap, Veyla and Laminaria (Ravelry project links) were my lace projects for the year, and I really enjoyed knitting them all. I’m currently halfway through a yellow Ishbel (on hold until the cold snap passes – all I want to knit at the moment is snuggly woolly stuff!).

My knitting goals for 2009 were to knit more sweaters (check), knit lace (check) and have a go at colourwork. I didn’t manage the latter, but I am about to cast on for some socks in brown/grey/green Noro Kureyon (probably contrasted with some steel-grey Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply) – either Ziggy or Red Herring. So maybe 2010 will be the Year of Stranding – who knows?

So what are my plans for crafting in 2010?

Left to right, starting with the top row:

  • RYC Silk Cotton (a Kemps “mystery bag” – two different dyelots, but I can’t see any difference). I’m planning some sort of lacy cardigan, possibly a February Lady Sweater.
  • Posh Yarn Maisie, colourway “Copse”. Finally, I found the perfect coloured laceweight for that mythical Muir I keep saying I’m going to knit!
  • Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton (another Kemps bargain) – 5 balls in beige and 5 in lemon. Not sure what I’ll do with this – possibly some sort of baby items? The only problem is it’s hand wash only…
  • Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace, colourway “Milk Chocolate”. I love the subtle colouring of this skein – I’m planning a Featherweight Cardigan once the weather warms up.
  • Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK, colourway “Peacock”. I’ve had this in my stash for ages, and I’m now thinking another cardigan would be nice – maybe Morning Echo or Coraline.
  • Clothkits fish cushion cover kit – I really must get that sewing machine out again!
  • Clothkits birdie skirt – I started this during the 2008 Olympics and haven’t finished it yet…
  • Owls sweater – nearly finished, just waiting for another ball of wool to finish the neck.
  • Yellow Ishbel – half finished, waiting for the weather to warm up so I feel like knitting with laceweight again!

But first, off to make a decision which pattern to use for those stranded socks…

Happy New Year everyone, and happy knitting in 2010!

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In addition to Custom Knits, I got another craft-related present for Christmas. My parents bought me this:

I haven’t used it yet – I’m a little scared of sewing – but I do have plans for new cushion covers, and I must finish that Clothkits skirt once the weather warms up (I have little motivation to make a white cotton skirt in the middle of winter!).  It didn’t come with a case, so Mum made the one you can see in the middle photo above. Now I must remember to give the Pfaff one that I barely used back to the Home Ec department at school!

I also received some money from my parents, so a couple of days ago when The Fella and I were in Edinburgh to meet friends for lunch I dragged him off to K1. It really is a wonderful little shop (and it was quite surreal to see some of Ysolda’s knitting on display, when I’m so familiar with her patterns and blog – in fact the lovely shop assistant and I were comparing our Ysolda geekiness – she was wearing a Coraline and I was wearing my Gretel). I was immediately drawn to this skein of utter gorgeousness:

This is Fyberspates Scrumptious in Purple. It is the most delectably soft yarn I have ever had the luck to fondle. I carried it around the shop petting it like a small animal (apparently this is a fairly common response). It’s 45% silk and 55% merino. It has an incredible sheen, as you’d expect with that amount of silk, and a slight fuzzy halo due to its extreme softness. It’s going to be a lace beret – possibly a Rose Red, or maybe a Porom.

I also came away with more purple goodness:

Two balls of Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed, to make a fitted Gretel for my parents’ elderly neighbour, Florence. She’s a wonderful old lady and we were comparing knitting over Christmas. She wears a lot of tams and berets, and Mum tells me that lavender is one of her favourite colours. She’s also a fibre snob after my own heart – she scorns acrylics in favour of real wool, and when I visited she was knitting a sweater in some amazing pink 100% alpaca that she’d found in a charity shop!

When I eventually dragged myself away from K1, my squishy purchases were placed, to my great delight, in this bag:

Appparently they’re made in India from recycled paper to raise money to look after street children.

I just wish I lived near enough to Edinburgh to make it to the Thursday knit nights! Maybe in the school holidays I might head over there occasionally…

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I’ve been working on my Clothkits skirt over the last few days. I had a bit of a crisis with the sizing, and thought I’d cut out a size that was going to be too small, but after pinning it together and talking to people who are far more expert than I am I think it’s actually going to fit. Wazz emailed me, offering to help and sent me some fantastic instructions that really clarify what I need to do – thanks again!

So today I thought I’d break out the sewing machine for the first bit of actual machine stitching. I’ve practised threading it and I’ve been sewing up and down a bit of spare fabric. However, every time I make a row of stitches I end up with a bit of thread tangled round the back of the bobbin mechanism. I managed to get it out the first couple of times but now there’s a bit of broken thread stuck round there and I have no clue how to get it out or how to stop it from happening. I think I’m going to have to take it back to school and ask for some more sewing lessons before I proceed any further!

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After the shameless consumerism of my previous post I have a very exciting (and thrifty) new thing to show you all.

I mentioned to one of the Home Ec teachers at the school where I teach that I wanted to learn to sew. She suggested that I speak to the head of Home Ec, who offered to lend me one of the school sewing machines for the holidays. On Monday I popped into her room just to find out when would be convenient to sort it out with her, and she spent ages loading me up with various sewing equipment and showing me how to use the machine. I was very touched by the effort she went to, and grateful for the loan of so much stuff, which will mean I can buy my sewing equipment a bit at a time over the next couple of months or so.

So here it is!

Sewing machine

It’s old, but very solid, and I’m looking forward to trying it out. The head of Home Ec even gave me some greaseproof paper so that I could trace the pattern from my Clothkits skirt and try it out on an old sheet before I cut into the decent fabric.

That will all have to wait, however, because I’m getting the train down to England tomorrow to spend a few days with my parents. I do have a couple of knitting projects that are coming with me, though – my blue laceweight, ready to cast on for Muir, and some of my new sock yarn, which I have already cast on for a pair of Not Cable Socks.

Marble socks

It’s funny; I had lots of sock patterns queued and favourited on Ravelry, but none of them really struck me as suitable for this yarn. I wanted something easy to offset the complexity of Muir, and with a pattern simple enough not to compete with the colours of the yarn.

I’m still dithering over my Grace shrug, too, but that’s probably a whole other post. Something to mull over while I’m down south.

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