Thursday, 31 January 2008

Knitting and cake

I went to my first knit night last night in Reading, with the outcast knitters. I am definitely a convert - tea, cake, chatting, knitting - some of my favourite things! Thanks to Knithappens, who invited me in the first place. I also put faces to some other etsy shops SkeinQueen, knitclicking and Knitwit. Now I have lots more etsy shops to browse!

I had the beginnings of the left hand glove of dashing on my needles when I got there - and actually didn't seem to advance that much! The pattern is really straightforward though, and I love the fact they're knitted in the round so there's no sewing up to do. The gloves are fingerless mitts, a birthday present for my father. His hands are considerably larger than mine, which is why the gloves look a little oversized in this picture.

Did I say gloves? I mean glove ... I managed to get one finished and in the post today for my dad's birthday tomorrow and the other one is still on the needles!

And here's a quick shot of my finished Gretel. I really enjoyed knitting this, but the slouchy size has turned out to be super slouchy. The shot from the back shows it a bit more clearly - it is a giant hat! In true cowboy style, I didn't knit a gauge swatch, so I only have myself to blame. I can't quite bring myself to unravel it back to regular and start the decreases again quite yet, but that's my plan. Or then again, maybe I'll just embrace the slouchiness! I hate to unravel things once they're finished. I would definitely knit this pattern again though, and I loved knitting with the Noro Cash Iroha.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Knitting Gretel

I've been sneaking a few moments to work on my latest project today, whilst my little boy plays with his duplo. It's a lovely slouchy cabled beret called Gretel (lots of other fantastic patterns for sale and free patterns that I have my eye on too!).

I'm knitting it in Noro Cash Iroha in a sort of bluey grey shade, which is so pretty. It's my first time knitting cables in the round, but it's actually a lot more straightforward than I anticipated (though it remains to be seen how straightforward I find knitting cables in the round whilst chatting when I go to my first knit night this week!). My main headache was figuring out how to do the tubular cast on method, but luckily there is a video tutorial provided on the website. I watched it once through, then picked up my needles and joined in, and it turned out to be really easy!

Not much left to do now, and I've already got a waiting list of knitting projects thanks to ravelry. I joined a few weeks ago, and although I haven't explored the site that much yet, I have a steadily growing list of projects that I have my eye on. Such a fantastic resource! It's great to read people's notes on their adaptations, difficulties, yarn choices, etc. I've also been looking at yarndex quite a lot as I never seem to be able to find (or sometimes afford!) the suggested yarns for different projects, so it's great to be able to search for substitutes by gauge.

I seem to be embarking on a bit of a knitting phase at the moment as I've been feeling a little under the weather, and curling up with my knitting on the sofa has been a lot more tempting that sitting at the dining table with my sewing machine over the weekend. My sewing machine is at the ready, though, sitting in its box looking most decorative near the plastic boxes of duplo in my living room!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

7 weird things about me

Thank you very much to Florence for nominating me for this amazing blogger award. As a nominee, I now have to list 7 weird things about myself. Like Florence, I asked my husband for help with this. He helpfully said he was sure there were a LOT more than 7 weird things about me but that he's know me for so long that he's just got used to them. Hmmm ... thanks, I think!

So here are my 7 weirdnesses in no particular order

1. I cannot eat melon. Physically can't eat it. Not even to be polite! Everyone who knows me thinks this is very weird as melon is thought to be totally inoffensive. Well, not to me! There's just something about the texture. I really can't stand it, and I'm not at all a fussy eater otherwise. Oh, and another fruity weirdness is that I can't bear to touch peaches. Sometimes I get the same recoil from cotton wool, or flour, but always from peaches.

2. While in labour with my little boy I didn't say a single word ... to the extent where the midwives kept on trying to get me to open my eyes to make sure I had registered their presence! I was 'in the zone' and not taking any notice of anyone!

3. I have a borderline phobia about plumbing. I hate to be the first person to use a shower in a hotel, for example (not that my life includes many hotel visits!), and would always make my husband take a shower first to make sure that it was safe. I can't bear that juddering noise some showers make as the water comes in. And I was really freaked out by the shower in a hotel I stayed in with my mum in Barcelona, as it had an old set of, now redundant (or were they????), taps in the shower as well as the set that really turned on the water. Oh, and I am also really scared of high cisterns with a chain pull in public toilets.

4. I have a weird mark on my arm. It's not a birth mark, as it wasn't present at birth, but I've had it as long as I remember. I'm totally used to it, but almost every Summer, someone will notice it and tell me I have glitter or paint on my arm.

5. Tuna sandwiches give me the hiccups, always, without fail. Sandwiches with other fillings do not give me the hiccups. Tuna in any other context does not give me the hiccups.

6. I am a sleepwalker. Not that weird in itself, and I'm not even sure if I do it any more (my husband is such a deep sleeper that he wouldn't clock it if I did). Once, though, at university, I woke up in the morning to find that I had made a neatly folded pile of clothes and towels on my desk.

7. I have quite a small frame, but an apparently overly large ribcage, so that if I breathe in really deeply I can get the fingers of both my hands behind my ribs. My brother can do it as well. Maybe other people can too, but usually they find it so freakish that they probably wouldn't try!

And now I have to nominate some others for the same award, so, if they would like to reveal their weirdnesses, I nominate AnnieB from overmilkwood, Melissa from Day to Day and Jo from Today we are ....

Monday, 21 January 2008

While he sleeps ...

Thank you for your good wishes in the comments to my last post. It seems to have worked - I'm just bagging a few minutes on the computer while my little boy sleeps (hooray!) and my little girl is busy colouring. I did the final bits of stitching on the bag with the wooden handles from my last post this morning while the children were busy pretending to be Mary and Joseph! Just the plastic canvas bottom to secure in place, the magnetic snap and slipstitching the lining closed. The plastic canvas definitely gives bags like this a bit more shape and structure.

I'm also really pleased with the ribbon detail at the top of the bag. The basic bag shape I'd planned just didn't seem to fit the fabric choice - it was a bit to gapey at the top, and I felt that the velveteen just needed a bit more shape than that. So, back to the sewing machine after a quick trip into Windsor to buy some ribbon yesterday. I came up with the idea of attaching the ribbon to the sides of the bag, inside and on the side seam, then machine stitched a couple of buttonholes on the front of the bag so the ribbon could be drawn through to cinch the bag in a bit at the top. It seemed to transform it from being a bit shapeless (in spite of several layers of interfacing) to looking a bit smarter.

The interior is made with this damask print by Moda, from U-handbag and has a zipped pocket.

The sewing machine is still out on my dining table (an attractive decorative detail for any home!). I'm thinking I might just cut out some fabric for that blouse from Ottobre this evening and make a start, children permitting!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Sleep-deprived sewing weekend

I'm going to stop telling people that I'm hoping for a couple of nights of unbroken sleep, as every time I do it triggers a week of sleepless nights! This week there have been colds, ear infections, a mysterious itchy rash and now conjunctivitis. The children fare quite well on it as they take it in turns to wake up each night! And somehow, it seems to make them more energetic by day, which puzzles me. I can only think that they are somehow feeding off my energy reserves. I'm sitting here with the proverbial matchsticks propping my eyes open. An early night tonight, I think!

There's been a bit of weekend crafting. I finished my so-called 'not-so-slouchy hobo bag'

I love the look of satin ribbon against more textured fabrics.

I've also had the teal velveteen out (I only bought a metre and it seems to have gone a long way! There's still a little bit left after a wristlet, hobo bag, shoulder bag and this latest creation).

These are my new dark wood handles, which are just lovely. I chose the ribbon colour to tie in with the colour of the wood, though you can't really see that from the picture. Still a bit of tinkering to be done on this one before it's finished, but I'm pleased with how it's turned out. I'll post pics of the finished bag tomorrow if I manage to finish it in daylight!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Goodbye Slapdash Annie

I've made a belated New Year's resolution ... to be a more methodical crafter. No more chaotic fabric stash. A place for everything and everything in it's place ... for a while anyway! Whenever I start a project, a vital item seems to be missing - the pretty buttons, the right colour ric-rac, you name it. As I type this, I am wondering why I've never thought to buy an extra measuring tape as this is the most often lost item of equipment, partly due to the fact that my children love rampaging around with it!

The cutting mat, cutter and big plastic ruler I got for Christmas should, I hope, help me on the way with this resolution. I was cutting out a bag today, and was really struck by how all the interfacing pieces and lining matched exactly with the exterior pieces - yay for the rotary cutter! Normally I end up doing a lot of trimming after the initial cutting-with-scissors-on-the-bedroom-floor method. (I expect my husband will be pleased too, as there will be a lot less stray threads sticking to his socks!) I also love the idea of making several of an item at once. Not totally identical pieces - that would really take the fun out of sewing for me - but say 4 coin purses in different fabrics. There's something very satisfying about ending up with a neat stack of items at the end of a sewing session!

As for slapdash Annie, I'm beginning to wonder whether this is a piece of family slang, as I can't find a definition for the phrase. I'm not even sure why Annie in particular is singled out for her slapdashedness ... I'll have to do some more research on that one.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Ottobre has arrived!

I'm so excited! My first issue of Ottobre Kids Fashion arrived today, a Christmas gift from my mother in law. I'd been thinking of subscribing for ages having looked at some of the patterns from back issues online.

so many patterns!!

It really doesn't disappoint at all! Full of lovely patterns that I'll make up for my 4 year old daughter and my 2 year old son. Normally I find it difficult to find patterns for boys' clothes that don't look too handmade. These are full of those little details that make the clothes look up to date and not homespun - knee panels, zip flies, etc. They also avoid the 'gangster rapper' style typical of a lot of clothes for toddler boys in the shops at the moment, with cute appliques and bright fabrics.

The girls' clothes are very cute too. I love this blouse - probably a bit fiddly, but so pretty!

This might well be my first project from the book as I've got some dotty white cotton lawn that would be perfect for it. Now I just need to do a bit of online shopping for fabrics to make the other projects I had my eye on ...

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Meatballs and moleskines

Today's been a day of jobs - popping into town for a few necessities, a bit of tidying here and there, and taking down the Christmas tree. It's amazing - it's like the walls have been pushed back and we've gained half a room. Maybe our tree was slightly large for the living space ...

I finished that moleskine organiser from yesterday's post this morning. Linen is so lovely to sew, and it looks so lovely and crisp when you press it. The organiser has a large sleeve for a moleskine, two pen holders, a divided card pocket and a further linen pocket for other bits and pieces. It's gone straight into my shop, but I'm definitely going to make another for myself. A couple of friends are moleskine lovers too, so I think I might be making a few of these as gifts.

This afternoon, I have been making meatballs*, a job which I truly loathe. All that mashing up of minced meat, grating of onions, chopping parsley, soaking bread in milk and then finally the messy bit of shaping the balls in your hands. Yuck.

I always do a huge batch as it's such a chore, which maybe makes the task worse ... a kilo of mince makes a whole lot of meatballs! Still, it's all in a good cause. I have a very fussy 2 year old (was lulled into a false sense of security by my 4 year old who will eat anything, so the fussiness is a bit of a shock!) who hates chewing, meat, most other sources of protein, etc, etc. They've been slow cooking in the oven for an hour and half now and they do smell good, so hopefully they'll be eaten! This is the second outing for my new Le Creuset casserole dish, which I've coveted for ages and which we were given for Christmas by my father-in-law.

Fingers crossed the meatballs go down well as the freezer's going to be full of them!

*similar recipe here, though my version is with beef mince and is slow-cooked in the oven

Friday, 4 January 2008

Sewing frenzy!

I'm not quite sure how I managed to wangle so much crafting time today, but I've had a really productive day. I cut straight into those Japanese prints last night and made a couple of coin purses and a tissue holder for my etsy shop.

I've also cut into the Amy Butler spotty print to make up a new design - a sort of wallet, designed to hold a moleskine, along with a pen and some other bits and bobs. It's all but finished now. I made it for the shop as well, but I'm very tempted to make one for myself too, as I really like the dotty print with the natural linen.

Next a teal and brown clutch/wristlet

Finally, I did make something for my own house - a cushion cover in a Moda print. I only bought half a metre of this one, but wish I'd bought more as I love it so much and I really love teal and brown at the moment.

This has turned into a bit of a picture-heavy post, but I really don't get a whole day to sew usually, so I won't be able to continue with this kind of productivity rate!

There was a bit of small person making too, supervised by my husband (funniest thing was hearing my little girl correcting him every five minutes! 'No daddy, mummy usually ...'):

(they are wearing slippers as it's so cold!)

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, I didn't exactly make it till midnight to see in the New Year! We've just come back from a few days visiting our families, and after a few nights of wandering and waking children overnight, it was nice to just slope off to bed early. The children even had a lie-in this morning till 8am, which was bliss!

The first day of the New Year, and I'm cracking on with some sewing. It's been so hard being away from my sewing machine after getting lots of sewing-orientated gifts. My mother-in-law not only subscribed me to Ottobre children's patterns magazine for the year, which I am very excited about, but also bought me this book, which I've had my eye on for ages:

My husband got me a rotary cutter and mat - fantastic gift, which I hope will revolutionize the detested cutting out process! I've only ever hand-pieced quilts (English style) before, but have been wanting to piece by machine, where greater cutting accuracy is required (!), so this gift is going to be put to really good use.

There's also been a bit of stash enhancement....

some gorgeous fabrics by Amy Butler for bags and the like:

cute Matryoshka, turtle and transport Japanese prints intended for coin purses, pencil cases and tissue holders:

and two different colourways in one of my favourite prints (I already have the brown); I think I'll make totes and baby bibs with these:

I'm off to start cutting into some fabric now, so I'll have some pictures of finished projects to upload soon.

Happy New Year!
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