Saturday, 24 November 2012

Knit night with a difference

This Thursday saw me wending my way to London by train for a special knit night with fellow bloggers and knitters, Save the Children fundraisers and volunteers, Trisha Malcolm of Vogue Knitting, and none other than queen-of-the-yarn-world Debbie Bliss herself. We had been invited up for a knitterati event for Save the Children's new Christmas Jumper Day campaign, to make the world better with a sweater on Friday 14th December.

image copyright Magda Rakita/Save the Children
image copyright Magda Rakita/Save the Children
In spite of the wild weather outside over the past few days, there was a lovely cosy atmosphere inside Mary's Living and Giving Shop for Save the Children (do pop in for a visit if you're ever in the Primrose Hill area, it's an aladdin's cave of goodies!). We were each presented with a little Christmas gift bag, inside which was a selection of Christmassy yarns and a mystery pattern designed by Debbie Bliss, which turned out to be for a trio of cute Christmas sweater egg cosies, perfect for your breakfast on Christmas morning! I'm also picturing Christmas sweater bunting, tree decorations, and someone even suggested wine bottle cosies. Of course, all this would require me to knit in a substantially less mistake-ridden fashion. As is my knit night wont, I was so engrossed in chatting with the other lovely attendees that I spent as much time correcting mistakes as knitting on with the pattern! I managed just the back and front for this cute Santa jumper; I'm sure progress will be much faster (though much less fun!) without all the nattering and snacking!

I've been on a personal quest since Thursday to bookmark some of the amazing knitting patterns for Christmas jumpers out there, which you can find over on my Pinterest Christmas Knits board. Please do pop a link in the comments if you have any other gems to share with me!

Of course, the campaign doesn't require you to actually knit your own jumper, and I've seen plenty of beauties on the high street already this year! The hope is that come Friday 14th December, some 250,000 people, adults, children, celebrities, will pay £1 to wear a festive (or customised - think tinsel, baubles, pompoms!) jumper to work or school and support Save the Children's life-saving work.

image copyright Magda Rakita/Save the Children
There's lots more over on the Save the Children website, including some fantastic tacky or tasteful Christmas jumper e-cards, which you can customise with your own face for a truly personal Christmas greeting! You can download patterns for the three Christmas jumper designs, including the oh-so-cute shawl-collared reindeer sweater by Debbie that I have earmarked to knit for my two year old! The website is of course the place to go for a fundraiser pack, which will give you all the information you need to host your own Christmas Jumper Day fundraiser at your workplace or school.You can also follow the campaign over on twitter using the hashtag #xmasjumperday.

image copyright Magda Rakita/Save the Children
It was such a  pleasure to meet Debbie, the Save the Children brigade and all the other bloggers and knitters who had been invited; I have now discovered some lovely new blogs to read:

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Handmade Christmas stockings

Handmade Christmas stockings

The Christmas stockings are finished and up in the shop.

red-nosed reindeer stockings

Those reindeer rears I was stitching the other week are the reverse side of my Rudolph stockings, with the front side showing a reindeer profile, hand-finished with a super-shiny circle of red-nose sequins.

Christmas tree stocking

The Christmas tree design is made from three tiers of different green cotton fabrics, including one of my all-time favourite liberty tana lawn prints, all stitched in place with red zig zag stitching.

Both stockings have a cuff and toe made from a pretty vintage-feel fabric in cream and festive red or cream and moss green stripes with tiny flower posies. I'm so pleased I stocked up on this print when I had the chance, as I haven't seen it anywhere since, and it really does have a lovely Christmassy flavour!

Of course, just because the shop is stocked up with Christmas things doesn't mean that I'm remotely ready - I was frankly aghast when an acquaintance told me that he had his Christmas card-writing finished by the end of October. There's a distinctly more last-minute approach in the house of Angharad!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Paper dolls - knitting for my daughter

I've been admiring Kate Davies's Paper Dolls pattern for a long while. In fact, I first planned to knit it on 11 November 2010 (Ravelry is brilliant for showing you precisely how long you have been procrastinating for!) then promptly spent so long trying to decide on yarn types and colours that it languished in my to-knit queue for just a few days short of two years. In the event, I didn't have to actually make any decisions at all, as I found I had some artesano alpaca 4ply in my stash that was the perfect gauge for the pattern. I love it when a plan comes together.

Paper dolls fair isle jumper

I cast on at the beginning of the month, and the jumper is coming on apace. I've loved every thing about it so far - the chunky i-cord cast on (new to me) and corrugated ribbing, the frothiness and softness of the alpaca yarn, the little floral motifs emerging from the mass of grey stocking stitch. The joy of knitting in the round is that I'm not really aware of counting rows, and it's very easy to just tack on a few more circuits when I probably would have long cast my straights aside.

Reverse of two-colour corrugated ribbing

Knitting continental-style with the contrast yarn in my left hand, and UK-style with the main yarn in my right has left me zipping around the colourwork. I'm vaguely picking up the floats when they get too long, but I'm hoping the fuzzy softness of the yarn will sort the rest out once it's blocked. I'm also following Kate's tip of turning the work inside out so that my floats run around the outside rather than the inside of the knitting, stopping them from pulling too tightly and distorting the pattern.

I'm reaching the fun bit now, as my sleeve caps are joined to the body and I've just got to the point where I have a row of dolls' feet in front of me, and I'm feeling a little bit disappointed that this project will soon be finished. With so much potential for customising the yoke pattern I might just have to knit one for all the family. I'm picturing pi symbols for the mathematician-husband; I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed with such a unique jumper.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

On my work table this week ...

 ... there have been reindeer rears

Reindeer bottom applique

... sequin noses

sequin nose reindeer

... polka dot antlers

reindeer applique detail

... and Christmas trees

Christmas tree applique

Oh yes, I've been working on the Christmas stock(ings) which will be in the shop very soon.

And on my kitchen table ...

Black cat on the kitchen table

... one very relaxed black cat, taking the sun. She doesn't only go for quilts, you know.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Giveaway winner!

Thanks for all the comments in my giveaway post. I will admit to a small twinge of disappointment that no-one told me what they'd had for dinner, mind you. I love to know what people had for dinner. A reassuring number of mishaps though; it sounds as though there are many of us out there relieved to be still possessed of all our fingers. Now if only the makers of the self-healing cutting mats could put their skills to work on self-healing digits we'd all be fine.

The random number generator picked Dawn of UK lass in US as the winner, who made me laugh out loud at the thought of stitching with a frozen broccoli floret taped to her finger. Do pop over to Dawn's blog to say hello if it's not already on your reading list - it's full of lovely stitching, plenty of humour and lots of brilliant tutorials (my favourite is for the fabric dolls' house).

Thanks to everyone else who entered. It's always lovely to read your comments and pop over to see some new blogs.

I'm having toast and marmalade for dinner, just so as you know, it's been a topsy-turvy kind of day! 

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