Saturday, June 30, 2012

Even Cake Looks Better when the Sun Shines

I was woken this morning by bright sunlight pushing apart the curtains.  I cannot tell you what a relief it was not to face yet another day of thick grey fog and rain!

I caught up on two weeks' worth of washing, zoomed to the library to collect my latest batch of reservations...  and then attacked my fabric stash.

It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.

Apart from a coat-length of heavy wool, it all fits into a single suitcase.  So I was entirely wrong when I thought that it was overwhelming me.

At least... its volume was not overwhelming, but the weight of guilt it inspired was pretty huge.  I definitely felt the psychological pressure of its unused yardage suffocating me every time I thought about buying new fabric.

But like all dark secrets, it is wise to bring the stash out into the light of day for cross-examination every so often.  Blow away the cobwebs.  Let in the sunlight.

See?

It's not so bad!

Actually, once I got past the dull brown wool and the grey pinstriped suiting, there was a lot to make me smile :)

That black cotton will make a fine pair of everyday trousers for work - I just need to choose a funky pattern.

The red drill is a recent buy and it is destined to be a snazzy 70's suspender-skirt:  ooh!

The creamy cotton eyelet is just plain gorgeous and crying out to be made into something fabulous... and soon!

The orange-striped seersucker?  Lovely!  And look - there's my watermelon linen to make some pleated shorts like the Wearing History ones - woo hoo!

Where's that sewing machine?  Let me at it!

But the dark dull evenings have not been entirely wasted.

I finished my first Licorice Allsort sock.

It's the same pattern that I used for Dots and Stripes, Dotty by Carrie Sullivan.

What can I say?  I just love knitting this pattern!

Sock two will be cast on tonight... after I do some sewing :D

What?  You're only here because I promised cake?

OK!

Raspberry and Blueberry Lime Drizzle Cake from this book.  There are advantages to having guests for the summer - they bring their Christmas presents back with them! ;)






Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tangents, Roses and Stale Bread

Another week of heading off on tangents has meant I still haven't got to my sewing plans - I haven't got to either the plans OR the sewing! 

Kestrel wrote a great post yesterday about planning, and she got me at question number one:  "Do you really want to make a plan?"  My instinct was to shout at her:  "Yes OF COURSE I do!  Don't you know who I am?"  Tsk - childish, Roo!  Just because Planning is in the day job description, it doesn't mean I follow through in "real life"... in fact it probably makes me more likely to rebel!

Last night, I did try to make a start.  I cleaned the floor of whole-body dog-prints, got out two lengths of fabric from the stash and  laid out the pattern pieces for a vintage shell top... then I carefully folded them all up and put them away again. 
I discovered that I only need 0.6 metres to make that scalloped-hem shell top, and I was reluctant to sacrifice 1.4 metres of a distinctive rose print.  What would I do with the excess? 
I know I don't want two tops in the same fabric, so it felt like a terrible waste.  I have exactly 0.6 metres of cream broderie anglaise... but I just wasn't feeling it.  I already have a vintage eyelet shell top.

Kestrel goes on to discuss the need to make it interesting - don't just sew the basics, or sentence yourself to sewing stash fabrics you don't actually like... oh my!  Was she inside my head when she wrote this?!  More than anything else, I think I need plain coloured bottom halves and I know I should use the fabric in my stash... but it feels so dull.

Some of my stash fabric has been around so long that I can't "see" it anymore.  What made me buy it?  There was definitely an element of: "that will never go wrong, it's such a basic must-have staple" when I bought the brown wool, the black moleskin, the pinstripe suiting. Yawn!

Remember the fabrics I was looking for in Mandors?  Cobalt blue, mustard, orange... anything but boring!

There has been a lot of discussion in blogland recently of sewing "cake" or "frosting".  Readers, I am in danger of trying to sew STALE BREAD!  No wonder I'm not excited by it!
So I have been knitting a sock.

 
Let me distract you with my new nail polish:  Alister Stella Gray Rose. Designed especially for Stella Mccartney, Fall / Winter 2011 Paris Fashion Week (Name dropper!)

This is a lovely neutral dead salmon colour which matches my skin tone pretty well.

Ha!

Monday, June 25, 2012

New Vintage Pattern Fun


Guess who went shopping on eebaay again?

In the context of clutter clearance, this may seem... counter-intuitive.  But I have hours of fun ahead of me in perusing my latest box of "surprises".  This time, there was a single photo of the whole lot (25 patterns for £9.99) spread out , so I had a fair idea of what the box would contain, but still there were some unexpected treats... and disappointments!

 Here are some highlights!


First up:  a treat!

Simplicity 6376
This pattern is very similar to the Wearing History shorts pattern I have my eye on.  All I would have to do is deepen the waistband, move the zip to the side and add suspenders - woo hoo!

It is a 28" waist so I will have to take it in a little too... but it looks do-able.

Watermelon linen from the stash ;)

Bring on the sunshine!

Next up:  a blouse pattern with side-neck fastening.  I have wanted to try this style for ages.   There is a second pattern in the box for a similar dress.

I might use the red cotton from my Crafters' Ceilidh swop, for the cap-sleeved version.

Piping?  Maybe!
Simplicity 6238
This one was a huge surprise.  Because the envelope is a bit battered, the seller had slid the edge under the adjacent pattern to photograph it... covering up those cute scallop-hemmed tops!

It is my size! 

 You know I have been hunting for the perfect shell top pattern... could this be it?

Rose-print cotton or else cream broderie anglaise - both already  in my stash - ooh the excitement!
Ah... now this was a disappointment.

I saw the legs of those trousers and was besotted.  I scoured etsy in search of the same picture, but without the pattern number I was stumped.

It turns out that this is Butterick 4441 and the trouser waist is elasticated - ugh!  Could I adapt it?  Hmmm...

However, the top is included too - a sewn polo-neck jumper?  Maybe!
Ah but this one... this one could provide the trousers I am seeking!

Simplicity 6348

LOVE those bell-bottoms!  Would not dare wear the halter top!

Slightly small for me, but only by half an inch or so - woo hoo!
Errr... no.  Just say NO, children!


But isn't it interesting how those models look like real women?  Actual flat-chested pear-shaped soft-thighed humans?

Which doesn't mean I would ever want to be seen dead like that, you understand!

Swimwear belongs under water.


But all things considered, I reckon I got my money's worth with this box.  There is more - 19 patterns more!  A fair number of dull 70's suit patterns included.  But  overall?  A successful bit of risk-taking!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Cookbooks: the Interim Edit

Well that was fascinating!
Who knew that cookbooks were so important to so many of my blog-pals?!  You did?
I thought you would be interested to see the Interim Edit:  these are the survivors of my first attempt at imposing order.  These are the books that for one reason or another I am not ready to lose... some of them are definitely "keepers".
So what have we got here then?
In stack order (not indicative of relative importance):

The Greens Cookbook: this is actually FL's copy, but I don't suppose he remembers!  I see that later editions have pictures, and that can only be an improvement as this edition is rather hard going with tiny print and lots of text.  I don't cook much out of here but it's a book I used to borrow from Brixton library over and over again:  fond memories are attached to this one.  I like reading it!

New Food For Thought: A revelation to me at the time (1994) this was the first British vegy cookbook I came across which used "modern" vegetables (i.e. imported items such as plantains, sweet potatoes, aubergines, baby corn etc) in a light and refreshing style - so there is lots of what you might call "fusion food" in here.  After the first Food For Thought cookbook (coming up soon), with its reliance on root vegetables and heavy bean-based "bakes", this was delightful! 

Sophie Grigson's Country Kitchen:  This is a book I turn to for everyday meal inspiration, especially when we receive a "gift" from the gamekeeper. So not vegetarian (!) but full of lovely photographs of sun-lit plates in rural settings.  And the only cookbook I own which uses the Sweet Cicily from my herb garden!

Moro:  Mine is a first edition hardback, but I think I have linked to the same content.  I paid full price for this when it was published.  Tapas, North African tagines, sumac, pine nuts, chorizo, smoked paprika - it's all here! And the chocolate tart is.... words fail me!  Mmmmm.

The Kitchen Revolution:  A bit of a monster really.  Not a picture in sight.  Lots of prescriptive lists and convoluted instructions.  But I keep coming back to it for solid, hearty carnivorous crowd-pleasers.  I can see it will be on its way out on the next edit, but it is staying for now.

Moro East:  Take the Moro chef and give him an allotment in Hackney and what do you get?  Moro East.  Lots of "back to the land", "grow it yourself and cook it on an outdoor grill" ideas.  I haven't used it much but it fills me with nostalgia for East London (oops!) and the wonderful mix of cultures and cuisines that is absolutely missing from North East Scotland.  Oh lord, I miss the Cypriot corner shop so much!

Falling Cloudberries and Apples for Jam are stunningly beautiful books.  I could live inside them.  The recipes are kind of beside the point... but the white bread recipe is the one I always use.  These are keepers.  (And they were stupidly cheap from The Book People - maybe £3.99 each?)

Muffins Fast and Fantastic:  what it says in the title.  If I need to bake something, it is usually from here, unless I have to make a "big cake" in which case it is from my copied-out recipes for lemon cake or chocolate cake both from here) or gingerbread (from my aunt).

Food For Thought: good old-fashioned vegetarian cooking with beans and nuts.  Lots of casseroles and "bakes", but fabulous for one-pot family meals with interesting sauces.  Leek and Butter Bean Dijonnaise is a staple in my repertoire.  This is my second copy of this book after an unfortunate encounter with the hot hob.... but it was falling apart and needed replacing anyway!

Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home:  mostly vegetarian with a few fish dishes.  The first time I saw fish baked "in a packet", as popularised by Jamie Oliver!  More fragrant, herb-enhanced everyday family cooking drawn from many cultures but without too many hard-to-find ingredients.  This is by far the most frequently-used book in my library!
N.B. Amazon has the title wrong but the cover image is of the right book.
 
Veganomicon:  Quite a recent addition, and I still have a lot to explore in here.  Some of the recipes are very American and I get frustrated when I can't find the ingredients.  But I already have some go-to favourites in here:  Chick Peas Romesco is a regular, and I love the quinoa with pineapple and peppers and mint and basil and lime... and all the other things that are in there and ought not to work but just do!

Not pictured:  Wharf Street Vegetarian Cookbook  is a pure piece of nostalgia. Leeds in the 1980's.  Lovely illustrations.  I was there.   Nuff said!  Indispensable.

Late Edit:  In response to commenter Karen I have to confess to owning another cookbook which is definitely staying :  Slow Cooking:  Curries and Spicy Dishes.  Well spotted Karen!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

To E or not to (recip-) E (-book)... that is the question

This morning, I took 5 carrier bags full of unwanted "stuff" to the charity shop, and another black bag went into the bin at the end of the farm road - woo hoo!

Wendy (no blog) left a suggestion to look at a blog called the Vivienne Files, and one link led to another, until I found myself at Courtney Carver's lifestyle de-cluttering hub:  Be More With Less.  She is also behind Project 333, a wardrobe-refining programme, which aims to get you down to living with only 33 items in your wardrobe for a 3-month period.  While I am not quite at this evangelical end of decluttering, I have really enjoyed reading through some of the posts. 

She has written some e-books on the subject... but I don't have an e-reader device.  There's the rub:  to declutter in the technological age you have to ditch paper in favour of electronics! 

But I am seriously considering my options.

I took a big pile of books to the charity shop.

My next de-cluttering target is my cookbook collection.
The view when standing on FL's chair, peering over

I can't actually get at my cookbooks unless I ask FL to get out of his chair, then pull it away from the corner so I can get in at the bookshelf. 
The shelf, FL's pill collection and the only place the aerial can get a TV signal when the trees are in full leaf!

We did try making a kitchen bookshelf, but it collapsed under the weight of such tomes as "The Passionate Vegetarian" by Crescent Dragonwagon (yes, really). And in reality I maybe only use 5 or 10 recipes from each book. 

So I am looking at ways of making my go-to recipes more accessible.  I am thinking of photocopying all the ones I use and then putting them into some sort of loose-leaf folder, or pasting them into a notebook.

But I can see it would be just as easy to scan them and make them into a book using a web-based self-publishing solution... or subscribing to an online recipe database like Ziplist.  But I imagine this works best if you have an i-pad or similar.  Booting up the laptop and balancing it on the worktop while I cook sounds like a highly dangerous sport in this house!

So I am just wondering... what do YOU do?  How do you manage your recipe collection?  Or do you just enjoy having the books?  I  won't be ditching them all:  some are really beautiful!  But I know I don't need 27 cookbooks.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weekend Target-Setting: a Re-Boot


Marigolds - sown in spring 2011, only now in flower!
I am a very goal-orientated person.  Give me something to aim for, and I know what I have to do:  get there!
Without targets, I am a mess.  I drift along in a fog of listlessness.
 Take last week's trip to Glasgow: almost two days to go anywhere, do anything.  License to buy up the whole of Mandors (bank account permitting).  Films to see, exhibitions to visit, shops to browse around... and what did I do?  I wandered.  I made myself dizzy with indecision in the fabric shop.  I spent the evening in my hotel room knitting a sock and watching "Miss Congeniality" on TV. (Oh lord, did I just confess to that?!)
Another pair of Dotty socks!
So here I am, in the middle of almost three weeks of child-free splendour, and how am I spending my evenings?  Knitting socks while FL watches football on TV.  Now, as much as I love knitting socks, I know that this is essentially a waste of my free time.  I need to make a plan... more structure is required!
So I have decided to take myself in hand this weekend.  Stop drifting from project to project, accumulating "stuff" in a random way, but take the time to work out what it is I want, and head towards achieving that.

Sewing
I was looking at my me-made wardrobe the other day (post MMM) and it occurred to me that I would never buy half of those things if I saw them in a shop.  And I wondered what I would wear if I was starting from scratch with no clothes at all.
How about approaching my sewing with that in mind?  I need to think about this a bit more.
This weekend I will match stash fabric to patterns and set myself some realistic goals to make clothes I really want to wear - yay!

 
Watermelon linen with cream buttons?
 Knitting
Knitting feels a bit different:   I would never buy a knitted shawl to wear, so why do I keep making them?
I have realised that the creation of the knitted fabric is probably more important to me than the final product. And that's OK!  This is about process not product.  Keep knitting that shawl, Roo!

The beginnings of a new shawl:  K√¶llingesjal 1897

Home-making

This is a biggie and I reckon I could devote the next three years and more to improving my living space.  I have been chipping away at it for months now, but think how much I could achieve if I set aside more time to sorting things out instead of moping on the sofa, surrounded by FL's heaps?  More clutter clearance.  Planning my bedroom makeover.  Even just ordering the paint would be a start! (TICK!)
And I still have a sock-yarn-squares blanket to finish knitting... combining knitting with home improvements?  Bargain!
Farrow & Ball and Eiko paint charts... but I ordered Earthborn Vanilla again!  zzzzzz
 The Garden
I complain about the manual labour involved, but my herb garden is starting to look lively at last!
 Which is more than can be said for my vegetable plot.  I planted:  broad beans, courgettes, beetroot, kale, broccoli and salad leaves.  Hmmm... the broad beans are still alive but everything else is looking a bit sad  My goal must be to keep one step ahead of the weeds and make time to enjoy what I have already created:  just look at those colours!
Colour in the herb garden
Diet and Exercise
I am on a stealth mission to encourage FL to eat healthier food.  Unfortunately, he spotted my ruse straightaway!
Day two of healthy living saw him brandishing a battered haggis he had bought earlier from the chip shop to augment the fresh green meal I had prepared!
But I am not giving up.  He admitted that he really enjoyed my home-made vegetable-enhanced fish pie, and he didn't even comment on the veggie-ness of the macaroni dish of last night, but went back for a second helping.  Yay!
I have also managed to get him to walk the dog with me twice this week.  Actually WALK!  We took it slow and steady to the fruit trees and back.  He thanked me afterwards.
It's good for both of us!
But I need to do a bit more on my own:  a quick bounce on the trampoline, chasing the dog, maybe even an exercise dvd session. 

Vitality - that's what this living lark demands!

I've said it...now I just have to do it!



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pattern Alert: Wearing History shorts!

Ooh - look what popped up in my browser today!


Wearing History is showing previews of a new pattern for pleated vintage-style shorts!

The Rita Pleated Shorts are pretty much the shorts-of-my-dreams.  They could pass for a skirt in a workplace situation, they have suspenders for that slightly cheeky tomboy rockabilly vibe, and they are kinda vintage without looking like they should be in a museum - ooh! 

Chambray!

Denim!

Linen!

Or how about gingham?!
 


Let me at 'em!

So much for sticking to the plan...

All images borrowed from the Wearing History blog here.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I went to Glasgow and I bought...

Do you remember that children's Memory Game where you start off: "I went to the shop and I bought:  a bag of apples" and then your friend says "I went to the shop and I bought:  a bag of apples and a cucumber" and you bat the list backwards and forwards adding items until it becomes impossibly long and someone slips up and forgets an item? 

Well, last Wednesday / Thursday I went to the Glasgow branch of Mandors.  On Wednesday, I spent over an hour wandering the shelves in a daze, occasionally shoving a bolt of fabric under my arm and wandering a bit further, before returning it to its place with a sigh.  I bought nothing at all on Wednesday, but returned to my hotel and wrote a list of everything I had seen and liked.  It was a very long list!

On Thursday I went back and spent another hour picking things up and putting them down again, sighing and getting grumpy with myself. 

I am very bad at decision-making. Faced with an entire shop full of beautiful and ugly fabrics, I tried to find things I had seen or searched for elsewhere on line:  mustard corduroy (no), the right shade of orange cotton drill (no), Liberty Ornithology print tana lawn (no).  So then I went round the shop playing "I spy...", finding fabrics other people had used:  Karen's dinosaur camoflage fabric (yes), Shivani's elephant print viscose (yes), YesIlikethat's ballet dancer print cotton (yes) - but why?  I wasn't going to copy any of them, and I knew it!

So then I looked for things of fabulous quality that I would regret leaving behind.  I pulled out bolt after bolt of Paul Smith shirting in every possible colour of stripe:  turquoise, lime, orange - ooh yes, all of those please!  And some amazing double-faced cotton sateen in duck egg blue / khaki - oh wow!  And some heathery silvery grey stretch cotton twill with astonishingly good "hand" and recovery - ooh!  And some heavy cord-striped cotton for a dress:  cobalt blue and white - sizzle!  And some digitally-printed tie-dye jersey in shades of inky grey green black - edgy!  And some lilac and white check linen / cotton mix - truly lovely and the end of the roll, so unmissable really...

...and what did I actually buy?  In the end, I managed to buy the only thing I knew I really couldn't go home without:  one metre of the perfect colour of indigo and marl grey striped cotton jersey to make another Renfrew.  Sigh.  (Mind you, I ought to get another pair of knickers out of the remnants!)

Topshop jeans for people
 with incredibly thin knees
On Friday I emailed the shop and asked if I could mail order some stretch cotton twill in a chalky royal blue.  I could describe its exact location in the shop!  I didn't buy it at the time because I knew it didn't have enough "recovery"  to survive a day sitting at my desk masquerading as skinny-leg trousers.

After leaving Mandors, I tried on three pairs of ready-to-wear rich blue jeans, only to find they made me look like a Smurf (short with over-sized knees), and an overwhelming obsession to Make It Work was detonated and exploded while I was on the train heading north.  Oh dear.  Please reply to my email, Mandors - I was serious!  Do I really have to ring you up and beg?

And what have I learned from this?  That sometimes it doesn't have to be absolutely perfect to be the right thing... and that it is just as well I don't go shopping very often.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FO: Very Very Circus Knickers

When I finished my Renfrew tee I joked that I might use the leftover fabric to make a pair of spotty knickers.
I was tidying up at the weekend and came across the remnant, which I had shoved in a bag next to my knicker elastic collection. 
Ooh!  I have orange stretch lace! :D
Housework was abandoned for an hour or so, because I knew that if I hesitated too long I would never actually do the deed.

Process:
I used my "Pants To Poverty" tracing, but added a bit more depth to the front to support the broad elastic.
I have never used stretch lace before so I followed my instincts:  I vari-overlocked it along the raw edge of the knicker fabric, stretching the lace quite a bit to give it some grip.  I used my ordinary Bernina stitch number 6 for this - you truly do not need a serger to sew knit knickers!  I stitched it again lower down, about 5mm from the edge of the scallops to stop the lace from rolling.

Verdict?
Probably the most comfortable knickers I have made to date.  Yay!

Why "Circus" knickers?

OK, there is no way I am going to show you pictures of this... you will just have to imagine me doing a high-knees jog around the house at 7 am this morning wearing my spotty knickers, matching t-shirt and over-the-knee argyll-patterned socks.

FL was laughing so hard there were tears in his eyes ; )

Monday, June 18, 2012

FO: Dots and Stripes Socks


This is the fastest piece of sock-knitting in my history!

I cast these on in preparation for FL's hospital visit on 10 June, and I cast them off on 17 June.

They were my constant companion for that week, accompanying me to Glasgow and back on the train,  calming my anxiety in hospital and hotel room alike.


Stats:
Pattern:  Dotty from Irishgirlieknits
Yarn:  Online Supersocke 100 Paradise Color, from Germany via an eebaay shop, approx £4 per 100g ball (these took less than one ball).

Verdict?  I love this pattern.  I have knitted it twice before and it just keeps on getting better.  The spacing of the rows of dots gets larger as you speed down the leg and foot, and you start knitting faster and faster to knit "just one more repeat" until... oh look!  Finished!

I took the time to match up the stripes on the two socks, resulting in only a few yards of "wasted" yarn. 

More, more!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sweet Sixteen! This week's Other Birthday.

On Wednesday, The Girl turned sixteen.  SIXTEEN!
I was so tempted to post pictures of her as tiny cute toddler, but she would never speak to me again, so instead you have a photograph of her birthday treat: seeing William Control in Glasgow.

The Girl lives and breathes sweet William.  He is the centre of her universe, alongside Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Stephen Fry, Morrissey and The Cure.  We couldn't believe that he was going to be in Scotland for her birthday.
I travelled down to Glasgow with her and wore a hole in my sock prowling the streets while she hung around with "the guys".  We stayed at a hotel just behind the venue so she didn't have far to walk back in the dark.

It was, I quote: "the best day of her life"... hooray!

Glasgow School of Art, near our hotel
What did I do?  I went to Mandors fabric shop, where I bought one metre of t shirt fabric (the list of "near misses" was extensive!)  I tried on shoes (too big) and jeans (hilariously tight legs!).  And I drank coffee in the window seat of a cafe and watched the world go by.


Both The Girl and I agree that Glasgow is somewhere we could live.  It's on my list of "Places to Move To" alongside Hebden Bridge (Yorkshire) and Portland Oregon (USA).

I also knitted a sock.  A pair of socks!  I'll show you them soon.






On Thursday, I took her to Glasgow airport and put her on a plane to London for the next part of her adventure:  William Control in Southampton (her dad's half of the birthday tour extravaganza).

I won't see her again for three weeks, stage one in her gradual flight south to live with her dad and start Sixth Form College - woo hoo!

Happy Birthday Girl!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What Would Brad Knitt?

Today I am all about knitting and reading.

FL bought me a new wheelbarrow (aw - bless!) and after I chased the dog around the garden with it (hee hee!) I kind of over-did the weeding.  There are still lots of weeds but I am stiff and sore and covered in insect bites (nice!) so today is dedicated to reading and knitting in my green cave, aka the sitting room when the trees are in full leaf.


I spy bird poop on the window - lovely!
 My yellow vintage pattern cardigan is coming along nicely but it takes me almost an hour to knit one of the complicated "in the back of the second stitch, in the front of the first stitch, slip both off together" rows and I was in need of something more rewarding and portable.

Self-striping socks :D

This is a ball of Online Supersocke 100 in Paradise Color from my multi-pack bargain from Germany.  Lovely stripey stuff, treated with aloe vera and jojoba for softness... which is probably total hype, but it sure feels nice while you are knitting!

Lurking behind it you can see my current library book "Girl Reading", which was supposed to be light relief from the rather intense experience of "Wuthering Heights".  Ha!  I am traumatised by both.  I must be getting soft in my old age.
So it was with great delight that I picked up my other library book:  "Knitting Everyday Finery" by Mel Clark.

At first glance I was a bit "meh" about it... but on closer inspection I realised there are several things I really want to knit from this book.  The designs are quietly confident.  There is no clash of cymbals or blasting trumpets, just some rather appealing items I can imagine knitting and wearing... every day - well, duh!  That's the title of the book after all!

The shawl on the cover is lovely - there's another picture inside which shows it with a turned down "collar".  It is knit using two strands of laceweight held together but I am tempted to use a double-knit to show off the texture.

But I am really really obsessing over these tangerine tights!

Imagine hand-knitted tights!

I know, I know, they would involve such a lot of knitting in the round in ribbing for goodness' sake... but oooh! 

On a slightly smaller scale, there is a pattern for a dachshund pencil-case - hee!

And there is a lovely pattern for gloves, a pair of socks that I almost cast on for already, and a hat which uses the @ symbol as a motif and is double-layered for warmth.

And this cardigan?  I really like its simplicity.  That twisted rib cuff and the single button?  Lovely.  The original is in Cascade 220, but I am thinking it would be gorgeous in something sheepy from Blacker wools, or maybe a Shilasdair DK?  I also like a striped hood pattern, with sizes for children or adults... but Blogger is too tired to let me show you many more pictures, so you will have to look on Ravelry, because I am saving the best for last!
I bet you were wondering what my title was all about...
The most surprising thing I found in this book was a male knitwear model who is the dead spit of Brad Pitt.
Don't you think?  It is even more obvious in a photo of him wearing a rather fetching waistcoat, which I would show you if Blogger wasn't sulking.
But I just had to share the hen picture! ; )

Saturday, June 09, 2012

FO: Renfrew Tee (circa 1977)

I was all set to use this fabric to make a 1970's-pattern t shirt, when I remembered that I still hadn't tried out the Renfrew pattern that I snapped up in a pre-release deal from Sewaholic Tasia.  Considering the most yawning gap in my me-made wardrobe is for everyday long-sleeve t-shirts, this was just blatant ignorance.

So, on Wednesday evening I curled up on the sofa and cut the tissue pattern (yes, really, curled on the sofa!) and then summoned the energy to clear the table and lay out the fabric.  Somehow, it took me until midnight to get all the pieces cut - tsk!  On a work night!

On Thursday evening I made swift work of dinner, walked the dog and then cleared the decks to sew.  I stopped at 10.30pm with just the cuffs left to attach...
...which suggests that I could easily make one of these in about 5 hours, start to finish.

I decided to make the scoop-necked version with 3/4 length sleeves.  I had a metre of this anonymous "designer" jersey fabric and there is still a fair chunk leftover:  dotty knickers anyone?
Spots match at the front hem!

Stats:
Pattern:  Renfrew by Sewaholic, View A neck with View C sleeves, in size 2.
Fabric:  cool silky-feeling fairly stable "designer" jersey, probably viscose, from Minerva Crafts on eebaay, 1 metre for £5.99
Other: two tiny oddments of neon yellow ribbon to stabilise the shoulder seams; thread.


Spots do NOT match at the back hem - boo!
Process:
Very straightforward sewing.

I used the vari-overlock stitch on my Bernina, for the first time understanding that I had to change the presser foot to "Number 2" and not adjust the pressure of the foot to number 2 - duh!  It uses a lot of thread, but this stitch does all the work of a straight-stitched seam plus a zigzag in one line of stitching.  I then trimmed my seams to about 3/8".

The only mistake I made was to use neon ribbon to stabilise the shoulder seams.  The fabric is quite lightweight, and in strong light there is a distinct neon glow across my shoulders.

Size 2 is a pretty good fit for me I think.  I could possibly have graded it down to a 0 at the hip but I am not that pernicketty about a t-shirt.

Verdict:
Slinky! ; )
I realise that the print on this fabric is probably an acquired taste.  I would love to know the name of the "designer"... I suspect it is more likely to be "George at Asda" rather than Schiaparelli!  It reminds me very strongly of a dress I made when I was about 13, so that would have been 1977.   It definitely has a 70's vibe!

Does anyone recognise this print from the High Street?  I am thinking it could be somewhere like Wallis or maybe Hobbs?
It has a really lovely "handle" and drape.  I am tempted to head back to Minerva on eebaay to see what else I can find from this range.
Anyway... I love the neckline - not too high, not too low and there is no gaping trouble at the back.  I am not entirely sure I like the waistband and cuffs, but they do an excellent job of holding the shape - no ripple-y hemlines!  The sleeves are smooth-fitting without being clingy. 
OK - I admit it:  this is a really good "go-to" pattern for stretch knits!  I will definitely be making more of these and trying out the various neck and sleeve options.
Woo hoo!

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Sock Report

Stop what you are doing - immediately!

Look at THIS!

The Sock Report is a new online magazine devoted to all that is beautiful about sock yarn.
There is a lovely short story by Rachael Herron... which was what took me there in the first place.

But there are also lots and lots of fabulous new patterns for socks, shawls... you know the kind of thing!  patterns are available individually for $6.60 or for $16 you can have the whole lot.  You can guess which option I chose ; )

I have been floundering around with my knitting recently.  Plodding on with my yellow cardigan, liking it, but itching for something different.  This is it!  An entire summer of knitting laid out in one publication.

Go now - have a look!