Friday, 28 September 2007

My knitted Samples

Here are the samples I've knitted from the photocopied sheets we were given at College to try out a few patterns that are typically found on traditional Ganseys. (actually, I don't think these are, as such! but they are quite attractive and are in the spirit of it at least!).

This Monday, coming, we're to explore FairIsle and that should be fun! (not sure how much fun for the non-knitters in the group!).

This is the sock I'm knitting from More Sensational Socks, I had to start again after I realised I had gone wrong with the pattern, and discovered I'd actually gone COMPLETELY wrong from the very start with the ribbing, missing out the 2nd purl! duh!

My newest attempt is much better and looks like the illustrated example now!! I'm about ready to commence the main pattern which is simple 4 round repeat.


This is a great book and one I refer to often when making skirts, I've used an old favourite pattern for my newest skirt but adapted it to a kick pleat, centre back as per instructions in book (reinforcing the pivot bit with 2xsquares of interfacing at top of pleat).

I decided to try another method of inserting a concealed zip; normally I follow Gill Arnold's method of sew the back seam FIRST, but after a *lesson* from a colleague who is trained a different way I decided to have a go at her method (also used and demonstrated by Alison Smith) which is insert zip THEN sew back seam.

Honest opinion? not much between the two methods! However as it is a tricky fabric to handle with the distinct pattern I have to say I was impressed I got it to align without aid of sewing it first, on balance I'd say this is the *easier* method and one which I'll try again!

The skirt requires lining and a waistband to complete, photo to follow when its done!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Creative Textiles Course : week 2

Today we covered the history and tradition of knitting and looked at one or two aspects in particular, we all knitted samples of patterns traditionally used in sweaters used by fishermen - Guernsey's or Ganseys and it was interesting to note that originally fine knitting was undertaken by MEN (the women did the spinning) and that young boys were selected to become apprentices by The Knitters' Guild of Paris and undertook SIX years of training with THREE working with a "master knitter", and THREE in a foreign country learning new techniques! The test at the end was quite comprehensive and included the knitting of an elaborate carpet 8'x12' with intricate designs, a felted and blocked beret, woollen shirt and a pair of SOCKS! (with Spanish clocks? but the teacher wasn't able to explain this bit!!).

Interestingly we all were given a ball of Rowan DK yarn and a set of patterns to knit up - great fun for me as a knitter! less so for the ladies unable to knit! Much laughter and hilarity for 20mins before we were given permission to break for coffee and biscuits!!

Frustratingly, one of the more keen students was pulled to one side midway through the morning to be told she was not permitted to complete the course! She was very disappointed to learn that as she'd already done a course the previous year from the same *body* of course focusing on glasswork to the same *level* she wasn't allowed to do it again on the module *creative textiles*!!
She could, if she chose, pay another £50 and continue on a *leisure* basis, but as she is working toward a career she needs/wants all the paperwork and quals she can get! We suggested, could she not do the course FULLY herself and pay in addition, an extra fee for the examination? No. Apparently this is against the rules.

This is the trouble. This is why ordinary people like us find it difficult and annoying to work out WHY we can't sign up and DO a course that is apparently OFFERED that the colleges are apparently PROMOTING and wish to fill the places without there being some sort of BLOCK!
We had similar issues with the dressmaking course years ago, all of a sudden *we* were kicked OFF it and advised *we* couldn't continue to sign and attend. (the fact that the *we* I refer to were the ONLY ONES WHO ACTUALLY DID WANT TO DO THE COURSE AND DID SIGN AND STAY FOR YEAR IN YEAR OUT seems apparently to not count! now. what do YOU think happened? after *we* were refused admittance? to the course? yes. thats RIGHT! it CLOSED! why? you need to ask? why do you think? BECAUSE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY WANTED TO DO THE COURSE WERE THE *WE*! US! but *WE* couldn't. because *WE* had been going for too long! *WE* were taking up other people's places! preventing *others* from getting a chance.

Well. I'm only going to get a headache labouring the point. You do get my point?

The only good thing to come, was that this particular lady had chosen today as the day to do a show'n'tell on some wonderful glasswork she'd done and some wet felting techniques which represented some of her work recently accepted at a gallery and from which she'd secured some sales and commissions! (how unfair that the system is not encouraging of talented artists who wish to expand their learning at local colleges?).

Projects Complete and newly OTN's

The Picot Edged Trainer Sock came from Issue 10, Knit Today, June 2007, using Opal sock yarn sourced from a local ebay yarn seller.

The Patons cardigan was knitted using their Flower Garden yarn and leaflet PBN0000-03290 purchased from House of Fraser as a *pack* reduced to clear.

OTN currently is another pair of socks, this time using Lana Grossa yarn and I'm making up the pattern in More Sensational Knitted Socks on page 27 *Broad Spiral Ribbing*, but as I've only done about 8rounds of the K5P1 rib I've not taken a picture to show the colour and patterning yet!

Sunday, 23 September 2007


  • The Patons cardigan is finished! it fits! it looks lovely!
  • The 2nd sock in limes and browns is finished! they fit! they look lovely!
  • The orange skirt is finished! it fits! it looks lovely too! (jacket not yet started)

Photo's to follow once I've managed to pinch the batteries off the boys' torches again for camera! One of my lads has asked for a "turtleneck sweater, mum, please?" .. I'm not sure if he's just being kind in that encouraging way OR if he really wants one and since he's not yet worn the socks that he requested I'm inclined to ignore him!

I'm rather selfish in this respect, I don't generally *do* requests! I'm quite happy to smile and politely but FIRMLY say "no." I don't even thesedays add the work *sorry* either. or look pathetically like I might be persuaded otherwise by some flattery or begging.

Mind. he did look a bit disappointed. maybe I wil, just in case, look through a few patterns ..

I've added some *friends* to my Ravelry account and I'm looking forward to getting involved with this venture! I've not signed for any groups yet, and I've not uploaded any of my projects but next week I hope to spend some time getting started, I shall enjoy exploring this exciting medium of sharing knitting with others.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Ravelry! who else is on?

Ravelry! yayy!! my invite came!! I've signed up and set a flickr account but not yet uploaded anything! or even dared look around!! it all looks scarily like moving up to *big school* the corridors seem huge! and loads of rooms everywhere!

I'm hoping I'll find some *friends* there to connect too! and hoping to make NEW friends there too! If YOU are already there and would like to be my friend! please do make yourself known to me, I'd love to mix in and join in too!!

A Knit&Whine Evening! with friends

The whining was more about our lack of money! Too close this evening to the recent Knitting and Stitch show!!

Local ebay sellers, Kay and Carolyn, hosted an evening of cake and wine for knitters to enjoy a selection of yarns, patterns, accessories and notions yesterday!

I took my good friend, Ann, and we met with Sally and Lisa from 8pm each with our bags of knitting - as instructed! *bring your knitting! come and relax with a glass of wine*!

The weirdest thing; we got in and our former Rowan Consultant, Helen, was there! and so, too, were lots of people who looked familiar. but I couldn't place them. immediately!
One lady came over and engaged me in conversation and I tried to work out WHO she was, WHERE I knew her from before eventually I remembered! no.2.son's former teacher from yr.1!! I had to apologise and ask her for her name as I'd forgotten it! and I heard her mention "... Matthew's Mum! .." before whispering to another lady .. and then I remembered! THIS was the teacher that my son famously kicked on the shins! (blush!). There were lots of nods around. and THEN I realised why everyone looked spookily familiar! half the SCHOOL were there! One half of the knitting hosts is a teacher and colleague of our childrens' former junior school!!

Anyway. fortunately, aside from the unfortunate incident OF the kicked shins, my son was generally liked by this teacher and indeed she worked tremendously hard with him to get his outbursts sorted and under control and it was very nice to see her again!

Right. WHAT did I buy!?

  • 5 small heart shaped shell buttons .30p each
  • 4 large round shell buttons .50p each
  • Skein of YUMMY SCRUMMY Araucania yarn for socks! is described as a hand painted from natural yarns inspired by ancient Chilean crafts and the colours are FAB! £6.65
There was a discount of 5% for purchases and orders taken this night, and a promise that this will be a regular event!
Some lovely knitted samples in Sublime were hung up for display purposes and we all resisted the super yarns all laid out in baskets - due, sadly, to the fact that we were all spent out from the show!

It was good to browse the books and feel the yarn and the 2hrs passed very quickly! We chatted to a couple of ladies one of whom was knitting "continentally" and I tried to describe the "backwards" knitting and we talked about different ways of holding yarn!

Crochet? should I? learn I mean.

There are *SOME* that might be shuddering now.
Years ago, I attempted to learn via an overseas cyber pal who when visiting once, had a bag of crochet with her and I casually mentioned I'd never tried this ..
5mins later both my no.2.son and I were wrestling with hooks and yarn and 25mins later Pauline was wrestling hooks and yarn OFF US BOTH and it was politely suggested that we don't bother to pursue this activity ever again!
Now Pauline remembers differently. But I remember a frosted studied silence of huffiness broken only by dh suggesting that he change the channel from sky sports to perhaps a comedy channel? and I'm pretty sure we all had a large Gin and were talking again soon after.
I've not been tempted, since, to even consider crocheting! Not even when my friend and colleague, Heather, picked up a hook during a quiet moment at work and apparently managed to not only learn how to DO IT but also to make a complete scarf which then went on DISPLAY!

But on Monday, at my Creative Textiles course! our tutor, Sarah Hazell, flung casually across the table the new BOOK she has had published (to a round of applause and promised to purchase said book in exchange for personal messages signed within!) on CROCHET! and further! she'd brought in with her the collection of goodies made for the purposes of the book! and very yummy scrummy they looked too! far BETTER than the photographed images! and she has offered to teach any of us that cannot crochet that might be interested in learning, TO crochet! we all said YES PLEASE! (yes. even me!).

I'll let you know. How I get on. Or I might not. it depends. on HOW I get on. and whether I'm banned from holding hook and yarn - again!!

Creative Textiles course

On MONDAY I will be attending the course mentioned previously that is tutored by Sarah Hazell - Creative Textiles! This week being the first was mostly about introducing ourselves, finding out what the course is about and where the fire exits are and how to find the kettle, jar of coffee and the hidden stash of "best" biscuits!!

I arrived 10mins early at the centre and seeing a lady stood propped against the wall on her mobile phone, I stood and queued beside her.
Another lady came and queued beside me.
And then another.
We sort of nodded; generally muttered about it being the *first day* and the courses we were attending and how we hoped they'd open up soon!
Three more ladies arrived! walked past! and IN THROUGH THE DOOR!
The lady at the head of the queue wasn't in fact IN the queue. in fact there wasn't a queue! we all filed in and I found half the class already sat and ready to go!!

Sarah arrived, with daughter in tow! turns out we'd had a burst water pipe incident locally, and though I'd heard it on the news listening to the radio earlier, because it was the next district down I didn't register it might affect "us" and it turns out the SCHOOLS are all closed!!

My new mobile phone doesn't have the children's school in it and I decided since they both had keys I'd ring *home* and see if their school was closed. Didn't get a reply, assumed they were not affected. Big mistake! AFTER the class, I went into the shopping centre to pick up some sketch pads and various bits and pieces pondered about looking at things in Beatties before realising that the bipping noise everyone had been puzzling over in class was in fact ME! my MOBILE in fact! bipping to inform me that - sigh - there was a MESSAGE for me!
From my son!
Turns out, they HAD been sent home, however as they had told their respective teachers that their Mum was *out* only the elder was allowed home. HE was then told as I was only out for the morning that HE could collect his younger brother.
Off went no.1.son to collect from the hall no.2.son.
only, MY friend who works f/t as Solicitor in time wasn't able to come home and HER no.1.son wouldn't collect HER no.2.son (who is MY no.2.son's best friend). MY no.1.son (who used to be friends with HER no.1.son but isn't so much these days and in particular after today definitely ISN'T) had to take HER no.2.son home too!
I got home to find MY no.1.son home alone.
MY no.2.son, my friend's no.2.son and two more girls had all scarpered!
Eventually managed to track the whereabouts OF them and agreed they could go to MY friend's house if they PROMISED to BEHAVE and was to be available for collection by dh at for lift home!
He wasn't.
6.50pm and dh was still sat outside looking for them!
7.15pm they come home and I was not best pleased or impressed!

Domestic stress aside, the CLASS was lovely! Inevitably, its not as straight forward as it should be, however having had similar things happen when a few years ago I signed for one C&G's 7307 and ended up changing 4weeks in to th 7407 to change AGAIN to another level, I wasn't at all surprised when I discovered that in fact I'm NOT signed to start the beginners level, no, I'm actually on the ADVANCED stage.
I don't describe myself as *geographically;mathematically;ARTISTICALLY challenged* for nothing but I'm assured that I'm of standard and basically not to blither on about being crap at the creative side of things! Got carried away with the enthusiasm of it all and signed a cheque for £150.

Our programme is as follows:

  • 24/9/07 The Knitting Tradition: Guernseys
  • 1/10/07 The knitting Tradition: Fairisle
  • 8/10/07 Surface Design: Klee
  • 15/10/07 Surface Design: Klimt
  • 29/10/07 Patterns of India: Kantha
  • 5/11/07 Patterns of India: Shisha
  • 12/11/07 Patchwork: History of the tradition
  • 19/11/07 Patchwork: traditional patterns
  • 26/11/07 Review of portfolios
  • 3/12/07 Presentations followed by overview of the Spring term to follow
All sounds very interesting!
(and rather scary. the portfolio bit, I mean.)

Thought I'd get ahead of myself and spent 4hours searching the net for clues as to what it is I'm supposed to be working on however aside from finding a cheap flight for a weekend break to Guernsey and a small soil association accredited farm in Cornwall that offers a service to handknit traditional "ganseys" I ended up thinking perhaps I should add *computer seach engine challenged* to the list and not bother to wait in necessarily for the postman to arrive with the confirmation of my failure!

The presentation doesn't bother me, I've done this before and I've worked professionally in the area of standing up and *talking* and I'm quite good at blithering on with a few distinctive references to technical know how but the sketch books and portfolios we are to prepare are something else!

Our tutor suggested we carry, at all times, our cameras in our handbags for those inspirational moments when we might trip over a broken drain and see something reflected in the curve and the light that gets our creative juices going!
Naturally there was a moment when three ladies produced THEIR pocket sized cameras to a round of applause .. and I wondered, whether I might start a new trend of dragging about a midsized tote bag for MY rather larger proportioned camera that still takes four AA batteries! and has been previously described as "the brick" by our sons who also sport modern slim line cameras that look like ipods and in MY opinion, far too slim to be safe from random pick it up and THROW IT AWAY by mistake thinking is bit of plastic ..

TOMORROW we're to take along a pair of sized 4mm knitting needles and we're all going to knit a gansey. (no. I mean a swatch. ) (I hope!).

I tried to find off the internet a free pattern whereby I could practice a bit of authentic knitting but I apparently have language issues with Google. Google doesn't, apparently, UNDERSTAND my instruction and informed me that there were 0 results. fine. maybe the tradition has died out completely?

The Knitting & Stitch Show - NEC

Had a FABULOUS day out at the NEC attending the Sept Knitting & Stitch show with my good friend, Ann, her friend, June, who I mostly only see at such events! and Ann's daughter, Elizabeth. We met up with a colleague and friend, Heather, but sadly two others attended a different day!

Our plan at these events is always to split up and look around alone for a couple of hours upon arrival, meeting at a predetermined time for a coffee (to discuss stalls of interest and our opening opinions on the variety) split up! meet up for lunch to share goodies we've purchased, split up again for mad shopping and finally we meet to make sure we're all happy we've not missed anything! On this occasion I was grateful for the latter! I couldn't possibly go home without ONE new knitting project! now could I? do you think I could sort myself out? lol.

Although smaller than shows we're used to, we all agreed the mix was right and though we might have liked to see more stall holders with yarn for sale and we might have liked to have seen more sewing/dressmaking stalls, it was pretty GOOD as a show! Plenty of P&Q stallholders and lots of arty ones for those into the embellishing and creative side (which will be MEEE! shortly! I hope!). I bumped into my new *teacher*, Sarah Hazell, who is also a good friend of the store through her association with Rowan yarns and she was pleased to hear that I had indeed confirmed my place at her course the next day! She was buying lots of crafty bits but assured me I wouldn't need to look for anything at this stage which was a relief as the only bit of fancy pack of stuff I'd bought years ago for those "moments of creativity" is still in its pack and I didn't particularly want to waste valuable yarn-money!

Alright. you want to know what bought! what I saw! what I enjoyed!

  • Set of 3.5mm DPNs and some rather nifty stitch holders on elastic for my socks from Web of Wool
  • Skein of rather SCRUMMY "Coast" - a handpainted sock yarn 70% merino and 30% seacell from Kerrie at Hipknits (rather pricey at £15 for a pair of socks given I don't ACTUALLY wear socks BUT it is as I say, rather SCRUMMY and I have said my mission is to try new and scrummy yarns what ever the cost!)
  • Ball of yarn from a stall I can't recall name of who had displayed at the back wall loads of drop stitch scarves which I duly knitted up over the next two nights and wore last night to the *knit&whine* evening! June and Elizabeth bought the same, Ann bought a different type. this cost £4 which I think is a bargain for a rather nice variation on scarves! (I'm told that Bertie the cat particularly enjoyed playing with this yesterday evening and its true to say that I have got several EXTRA dropped stitches which look suspiciously like CHEWED stitches. I will have to keep this well away from him. naughty cat!).
  • MAGAZINES! most of which I've now read! but I enjoy collecting and reading magazines and these were very nice with some interesting patterns too! Had a lovely chat with the lady on the Knitting stand - she'd dashed off to buy a skein of rather funky furry white mohair and we all had to fondle it before WE dashed off to inspect! June had the bargain! from this stall she bought some super mohair in dusky pink/cream for £1 each
  • Picked up More Sensational Socks from The Home Workshop too! I was hoping for the first of the series, but they didn't have any and although they suggested I contact them, in fact I think this will be sufficient. There were several books I fancied buying but in the end I settled for just one, had there been any bargains or price reductions I'd have bought a couple more. Previously I'd managed to buy almost the complete set of Singer Sewing Reference books from this stallholder at various shows at half the price, but bargains don't seem to be about as much now.
  • My main purchase was bought right at the end of the afternoon! From RKM Wools a lovely pattern for a short sleeved shrug type cardigan in lovely scrummy yarn, the people here we ALL decided were the friendliest, the most helpful and also open to negotiation! Elizabeth and I both bought the pattern and yarn for the same project which was on display in the hot pink, she went for that, I went for the softer lilac, and we had the pattern booklet for free! and a discount of £5.00 off the purchase too which was nice!
  • Apart from bits and pieces like some buttons and yarn sewing up needles that was it!
We didn't get to see any of the fashion shows, we're told that they were good and that a lot of the garments were from the latest Rowan books and looked much better on the models than might look photographed! Sarah's daughter was a model too! her Mum had a picture of her on her mobile phone! but this wasn't on the day that we visited.

As it wasn't the main show for sewists, we didn't see anyone from the *old crowd* of sewing friends that we usually find ourselves bumping into and there were a few notable people missing, eg Gill Arnold and Linton Tweed and Geoff Rosenburg but as we'd gone mostly for the knitting side this was fine!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

*New Look 6729*

Current edition of Threads magazine (Nov 2007/133) has a terrific article "A figure-flattering Tee" which features a shape similar to that of New Look pattern 6729! These patterns are currently on special offer! and with further discount, makes it good value at £2.50 to try out this style and see if indeed it really IS the "style that flatters most women."!

The lime green jersey you see behind? is left over stashed fabric from the boys were little and is plenty for me to trial the fit before I splash out on some of the yummy scrummy modern jerseys on sale in store today!

I've made tees and other knit/jersey tops in the past and although in general it is now cheaper to buy these RTW, I have in mind two fabrics that I feel I must, simply MUST buy!

Threads this issue is particularly good, in my opinion, with super articles on wise shopping and project planning and coincides, spookily, with my own intentions for a more planned approach to my sewing (and knitting).

Elsewhere: the 2nd picot edged sock is turned at the heel flap! the sideways wrap is approaching first armhole and next significant shaping! the Patons cardi is still sat patiently waiting for the front band which I promise PROMISE to attend to soon if only to FINISH it! the orange skirt is waiting to be lined and my jacket pattern is sorted ready to cut out to complete the suit.

Today I telephoned the college to confirm my place! yayy! on Monday morning, I shall be doing all sorts of clever and arty things with fabric and yarn and I can't wait!! The course is not yet filled but has sufficient numbers to run and I hope that I will enjoy *playing* with textiles!

Later today I am meeting a knit-pal/ex colleague for a boozy lunch to catch up with gossip and tomorrow I am working but have the whole weekend OFF!! Plans are to spend Saturday tidying and generally domestically - in particular the boys are going to learn HOW to wash up! we've decided its time we got them doing household chores regularly as part of routine for their benefit as much as ours and I fear its not going to be too popular!

SUNDAY! yayy! Four pals and I are travelling together to visit the Knit and Stitch show and we hope to meet with one or two others at the NEC - looking forward to this as a day out and I'm not making ANY promises as to what I might attempt to resist buying but lets put it THIS way, my hand is never far from clutching notes and coins to be flung at the nearest traders' till in exchange for yummy scrummies!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Continental Knitting vs. Throwing the Yarn

And! a new book! Bargain at the reduced price! "The New Knitting Stitch Library" by Lesley Stanfield contains just about every possible pattern and stitch combination one might ever want to know about!

I've decided also to buy "Knitters Handbook" by Montse Stanley as this is such a lovely and good indepth book for having to read for information as well as guidance!
From this book I finally decided to set time aside to try out new ways of hand knitting!
At the outset it describes the various ways in which knitters generally go about it with some rather odd methods eg wrapping the yarn about the neck! (now I've often felt like doing this, but not necessarily for enhancing my knitting style!).
Woops! it appears that I am doing it all "wrong"! We are advised, generally, to consult a Doctor FIRST with our arm and hand cramps, stiff shoulders, neck ache, back ache etc just in CASE there is something seriously wrong - and there then follows a list of points headed "Do you:-" and it seems that : I Do!

Now I've had this before. When knitting in public, or at a couple of knitting clubs. Sat there. knitting tucked under the table, ducking left shoulder for extra privacy and head generally tucked the opposite way. bit of squinting too. often its dark under the table. in order to avoid having to lay myself open for ridicule at the obvious, which is that I knit like I'm STILL 5yrs old sat at Grandma's knee!
After discovering that in fact I'm not the ONLY one to have learned similarly to fashion their own style at Grandma's knee I was pleased to hold aloft my knitting, uncrick the neck and knit in the full glare of every body else in the light! My knitting is neat. stitches are uniform. tension is generally pleasing and appropriate. WHY should I need to bother or worry?

Except. if I go on this posh new course for creatively handling textiles and have to sit with lots of clever and artistic ladies knitting like I'm still at nursery I might feel embarrassed!
Our teacher, whom I know already from various clubs, classes and events, was actually the lady to bring my knitting OUT from under the table (mostly, I admit because she thought I was doing something either awfully clever OR terribly secret!) and to not FUSS SEW about it! But I do. fuss. SEW, with that in mind I set to and began to try out new techniques and methods of wrapping yarn and generally knitting "properly".

I am further reminded, that MY style (I don't so much "wrap the yarn" as first take it for a good long scenic walk about the park and THEN wrap it, the needle can take care of itself balancing precariously while we feed the ducks and make our way around to slip off the next stitch ..) is "the slowest, most awkward, most tiring and least even way of knitting. Very little control over the work is maintained .." hmmm.

Still. I tried. and have to say that although initially I felt rather awkward having a tangle of yarn running through fingers and I ached in a way reminiscent of a time decades ago when callanetics was popular and one would stand hanging onto the mantlepiece, dangling a leg over the back of a chair and make a 2mm movement of the ankle 10times before deep muscle spasm set in and about 4lbs in weight dropped off to reveal a flat blancmange free middle. except it didn't. After an hour of perfecting my NEW technique of knitting "needle as pen" with pin tucked under my arm and yarn wrapped creatively about my fingers I decided to go all "continental"!

Further inspiration to try "continental knitting" came from a discussion thread about this very topic in which this link was shared to best demonstrate a lady with a rather whizzo technique of knitting continentally while talking very slowly and showing even complete idiots like me the way to do it!
I must be more of an idiot that I previously thought. I can't do it. I can if I start off the other way just about manage about 3 stitches, but I can't seem to get the hand of wrapping the yarn and flicking it about the needle from the left.

On balance I decided to abandon the continental knitting and resolved to spend the evening knitting my sideways wrap cardigan. Slight problem, however, in that my armchair is not positioned right with the armrests for this and I ended up having to balance on one cheek and the opposite knee dropped to a cushion on the floor and with it being double episode of Coronation Street by the end I'd got muscle cramp all over which had to be relieved with half a block of chocolate! (so much for my knitting losing my weight for me).

Monday, 10 September 2007

A tidy and sort out

Today I am tidying and sorting my sewing room! (again).
Partly I am doing this to clear the accumulated junk that appeared over the summer that didn't get put away, sorted or thrown out because I didn't use my sewing room much over the summer on account of it WAS, afterall "the summer" and as such are exempt from tidying, sorting .. and sewing.
But now its officially autumn! not least because the children have returned to school and I am returning to *normal routine* AND because *classes* start here in the September!
I like the new term. The fresh start. Return to routine. In fact I prefer it to January in terms of new years' resolutions and promises to self to turn over new leaf and become marvellously organised and productively inspired to create fabulous projects!

To the side, you'll see that I've listed all my outstanding projects that require completion BEFORE I start getting sidetracked with NEW projects! 3 or 4 UFO's have today been consigned to the dustbin as not worthy of completion. I can do this. I know not everyone can, but I can. If a project isn't working and I return to it and decide its DEFINITELY not working, it goes! no hanging on to it just in case I lose a stone or change my mind! no hanging on to it just in case I decide I know just what TO do with it when its done afterall! no hanging on to it because it cost me money initially and therefore I MUST finish it even IF I don't then use/wear it. it all goes - in the bin! gone for good gone!

The only project I am truly undecided about is my ongoing star quilt project.
I am hesitant to bin this because it might work. it did cost me a bit of money. I may well like it and use it when it is finished. Some of the fabrics have associations through friendships made. it is my FIRST official quilt project.

However. I don't like it. I'm not enjoying it. I've got stuck about how best to complete it. I wish I'd done a different method of construction. I would have preferred a different block/s. I'm not keen on the light background. My class has now finished. oh. and my pal and the class whom I still see at quilt club finished HERS using a different method of construction and mixing some hand quilting techniques and it looks YUMMY SCRUMMY by comparison, and even SHE admitted that in fact SHE didn't much care for it and was glad to see the back of it!

With a nice freshly tidied and organised sewing room, I feel ready to spend time now in there and having worked one of my days already for the week, I have plenty of time to crack on.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

A Creative Textiles Course! yummy SCRUMMMY!

Today we had a display from the local College and one of the co-ordinators together with a tutor who we all know very well as she works freelance for "Rowan" and is a lovely lady! came and talked to people about whats available, generally, for the crafty minded of us!

They left very happy as they managed to inspire half the STAFF into signing up for various courses!!

I have provisionally booked a place set to start a week tomorrow on a Creative Textile Course which I'm told will encompass lots of different things, techniques and materials and will concentrate on HAND KNITTING!! and QUILTING!! and further, on EMBELLISHING/FELTING! we're to do beading! too! yayyy!! It will run in terms throughout the year and I'm assured its NOT strictly for the "artty types" rather ordinary crafty type ladies are encouraged to come along and explore their potential in expanding their experience creatively with full tuition but we can CHOOSE whether to formally take an "exam" or not.
At £150 per term its not cheap, however I think I might be able to manage it!
My colleague, who until recently was a creative emb. tutor and other sewing related courses tutor thinks she might take it too to keep her hand it and hope to perhaps get back into teaching when perhaps the funding is a little more forthcoming to us "crafty leisure learning" types!

We feel a bit left out! you can do these courses if you want to take a 3yr course and come away with a headache clutching a certificate alright! but YOU try asking for something that is challenging and inspiring but which is run leisurely and you can't get any satisfaction!!

I've practically talked myself into signing! I think I will!!
With this in mind, do please share your own thoughts on taking courses, tutoring them, how easy you find them in your locality and generally your opinion!
Do please visit the end of the screen and vote in the NEW POLL too!

Picot Edged Trainer Sock Complete

Finished my sock yesterday. Not sure I like it! I'll continue with its matching other but I didn't think straight off "great! I love it!" my ankles are a bit fat I think! My son laughed a bit too. but that might be because I'd tried it on over my tights and then put my slipper on over it and I admit I looked a bit of a nerd!

Knitted a few more inches of the wrap cardigan last night, its now becoming quite heavy! as it knits sideways all in one I'm wondering how I'll manage by the time I get to the final front!

Tomorrow I have a day off (yay!) and I will MAKE myself knit the band and aim to sew up and complete my Patons blue cardi. I have two complete balls of this yarn left, and the bag that accompanies the cardigan uses - I think! - about two-ish .. might see if can squeeze a bag out of it. ELSE it means it sits there looking not particularly useful, nor pretty! in my yarn stash bag. which is pretty well stuffed now as it IS with the yummy scrummy DB pure silk ..

Creative Inspiration - for the future!

Some sewing friends and I are swapping magazines, in one of them on this last round there was a lovely article which got my attention! I enjoy mixing my embroidery with sewing and now I read I can, if I wish! mix it with my KNITTING! what more could I possibly ask for!
I've taken a photo of this article to keep as inspiration for when an opportune moment arises and I'm able to incorporate "something" similarly!
I'd love to hear from anyone who might have tried this, or may have thought about it!
The magazine was one of the Creative Expressions/Jenny Haskins and I'm afraid I wrote the issue no/date and then "lost it" ..

Friday, 7 September 2007

Sewing Matters! (jackets!)

SEWING matters a lot to me! I've not abandoned sewing for knitting by any means! My current interests take me away occasionally, but its not long before I return to my main area of interest - Dressmaking!

My samples arrived for the rather lovely boiled wool and I took them into work to share with my colleague, Chris, who had also expressed an interest in this fabric which is rather hard to source locally. The colours are fabulous and the swatches are generous, initially I sent her a text to advise we needed to consider an overdraft in order to place an order (and as I'm several sizes LARGER than Chris, I actually need to rob a bank!) but after consideration we decided it was in fact still cheaper to make such a jacket as we'd seen similarly in a fashionable concession within a well known store.
My friend, Chris, is not one to part with her money easily or quickly (unlike me who has only to get wind of something yummy-scrummy and my hand is in my purse before I'd discovered WHAT exactly IS the yummy-scrummy and its not so long ago that I had to be restrained by Ann from purchasing several packs of tea-bag folding papers!) - ANYWAY she found another brand of similar jacket which while still being slightly dearer to buy than to make, we discussed the advantages OF making vs. buying your own clothes!

For me as I'm a very definite "pear" shaped individual with quite specific variations from "standard" in terms of MY particular shape (I'm trying to avoid actually SAYING it but well you get the picture! indeed you can SEE from the pictures what I mean!) its not a quesion of desiring to make my own clothes rather is NECESSARY to make them!
Skirts - okay, I CAN if I search around and am prepared to accept a lesser fit in one area over another actually buy my skirts
Jackets - INBETWEEN in other words, I have bought jackets however I have to either leave them undone OR buy a style where its shaped in order to allow parts of me to fill out OR I have it done up but the shoulders and neck are sliding off me!

Well I've not decided. yet. I've picked out a couple of new Burda patterns which would suit both myself and this lovely fabric and I may yet decide to splash out and treat myself!
In the meantime, I do have several lengths of fabric waiting to be cut and sewn into jackets, not least a rather scrummy piece of black and silver Linton Tweed "special" purchased - cough - about 8yrs ago .. it should be aged sufficiently now for me to sew up and claim as "vintage"? My plans for this include "something at Christmas". (at this stage, however, I've not actually got anything pencilled in FOR "Christmas" which is lucky. as aswell AS the scrummy black and silver, I have some rather nice pinstripe and four lots of faux suede which is rather more practical!).

When I eventually get myself together, I will post pics of both the fabrics and the accompanying patterns!

MOHAIR! should I?

I won't! if Rowan's latest offering "A Kidsilk Dream" is anything to go by! the models look like they might be dead!
However I've browsed the book for the Kidsilk Aura collection and there are one or two that I might be tempted with.
Mohair (and batwing sweaters generally) finally finished me off and PUT me off hand knitting in the 1980's and like it or not, it IS popular today and like a drip-drip its beginning to call to mee!
One of my pals is particularly good at incorporating a bit of what she likes into a project and twice now has managed to add some rather yummy scrummy Rowan kidsilk haze and I like how she's done this!

Progressing nicely OTN's ..

Progressing nicely OTN's is my sideways wrap cardigan which is knitting up beautifully and already the colours are forming into their pattern attractively! My button hole is a bit fudged as I temporarily "forgot" what I was doing but the yarn is very forgiving, its just unfortunate it landed in the middle of the lighter shades and thus is slightly more noticeable - to the discerning of knitters I mean! - as not quite perfect!

Also progressing just as nicely is the latest sock! this time I'm doing the picot edged trainer styled sock which is featured in Knit Today June 2007 no: 10 and is described as "exclusive" sited on their front page (which is actually why I bought the magazine!)

Last night I read the latest issue of Knitting October 2007 issue 42 and visited their "fab new website" (their words!), bought the magazine mostly for the free gift guide from Nicky Epstein an excert from "Knitting beyond the edge". I'm interested at the moment in exploring through pattern ways to create a bit of relief AT the edges particularly after drooling over a lovely book my friend, Ann, bought a while back the title of which I've forgotten!

As well as adding patterning - colour! don't forget my mission is to add colour! - to my knitting, I'd like also to explore different types, eg cabling and yesterday I bought a pair of circular knitting needles to finish my Patons blue cardigan as this will be a new method to me! (it helped the fact that House of Fraser currently have a 25% promotion which includes their haberdashery section!).

Two of my friends are knitting fairisle and cable projects and we had a good discussion about both, in particular Sally's insertion of her own interpretation which we decided was a combination of a mis matched colour and pattern as well as too uniform beading placement, she duly frogged and reported back with a revision which got the thumbs up all round! I've sorted out about 300 lovely pearls for Heather to add to her cable tank top project she is knitting from one of the latest Rowan books for her Mother and it has given me an idea of my own!

"Not Tonight Darling, I'm Knitting"

SHOULD read "Not tonight darling, I'm READING!" ..

I have a huge selection of sewing, quilting and embroidery books bought over the years but very few knitting books and certainly no modern knitting books! By chance I discovered that many of these lovely modern knitting books (and some well worth a look vintage books!) are actually available to be loaned from my local library!

Yesterday I collected the last of the batch ordered for reservation and collection at my local library and what a super collection they are!

I took the "Not Tonight Darling, I'm Knitting" by Betsy Hosegood with me to knit'n'chat night as its a small book and fitted into my workbag easily to share with my friends as its SUCH a good read! (a marvellous read for "free" - obviously - but this would be a book I'd actually buy had I not read it for free!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Last "day out" of the Summer

The last of the days out before we return to "normal" ie school! We nearly went to the local gardeners show. We nearly went to Henley in Arden. We ended up in Stratford upon Avon!
Our plan was to park up, walk the high street, have an icecream, stop for a drink, drive home .. we couldn't get parked! 4 times we drove up and then down the high street. In the end we had to duck, we felt sure people were "waving" at us and I'm certain one called out "goodbye!" .. We almost visited a craft centre/farm shop, only we failed to turn up the drive!
Our day IN Stratford was quite fun! in the end! luckily we managed to park right in the park! and discovered that it was largely full due to a "raft race" ongoing that afternoon which meant that the park was generally very well visited and had a brass band playing in the nearby bandstand of which we had a good view from the centrally located bar area!! We caught 3/4's of the very good street entertainer, too!
The weather was fair, fine but dull, and we enjoyed a good walk around the town centre too (I was trying, sneakily, to find Fred Winter dept store but wasn't able to get my bearings without sounding suspiciously like I'd set the family up - again! - into combining fabric/yarn shops WITH a day out! Matt kept noting my eyes scanning around and muttered pointedly about "NOT looking for KNITTING shops??" to which I had to reply "no! .. " with my fingers firmly crossed at back.

Well, we're lazy at home today! its the last day before school and lots to do to get prepared for tomorrow and start of term.

I need to focus on finishing my blue cardigan and decide whether to buy a pair of circular needles for the neckline OR do it in two tedious halves on straight pins .. my newest sock is looking yummy and scrummy OTN's and I've turned the heel surprisingly quickly due to it being more of a "trainer sock" and think this MIGHT mean I might squeeze two pairs out of a ball which will be marvellously good value! (albeit might mean I also have to scrunch my TOES a bit!).

On the home front, the HOME is looking decidedly shabby! and rather dusty! I shall have to hope for no unexpected visitors; if I'm not working this weekend, I might get everyone stuck in for a spot of housework! Soon I will know what my new work rota will be for the coming months and I'm hopeful for alternate weekends which will be marvellous! (we tried for one weekend in 4 however the "boss" got wind of our plan and said a rather firm "no!" never mind, eh?).

Things to look forward to include our knitting circle which meets first Wed of the month and we're hoping for a good turn out this month, also visiting the Knit and Stitch Show now confirmed for the Sunday with 4 friends definitely going, and another 3 "might".

Sunday, 2 September 2007

New Poll!

There is a new poll at the end of the page; do you plan to knit, sew or generally craft "gifts" for Christmas presents this year?
The last couple of years I've dropped this trend and now confine it only to novelties eg bookmarks or drawstring bag as "giftwrap".
Please add by "comment" any suggestions for gifts that you've made that have been successful and generally been appreciated - in particular for men!
oh! and don't forget to VOTE in my new poll!