Saturday, March 30, 2013

FO: (Don't you get) Fresh With Me, Summer Concert Tee

If you squint into the sun, you can see there is still snow on the hills.
But I'm SO over winter, that the name of this pattern was enough:  the Summer Concert Tee?
Yes please!  Let me at it!

Pattern:  The Summer Concert Tee, a pdf download from Dixie DIY for the insignificant sum of $3
Fabric:  One yard of neon yellow and grey marl stripe jersey from Girl Charlee, $5 plus p&p
Other:  Neon yellow ribbon to stabilise the inside shoulder seams and back neck, from the stash.

Pdf downloads can be such a pain to put together, but this one was easy... after I remembered not to print it double-sided!

I cut it in the smallest size, XS, which is a 34 inch bust.  It's pretty much perfect.  I am impressed by the wide range of sizes on the one print-out. I traced my size onto tissue paper as ordinary printer paper is too stiff  to pin on drapey fabric like this.

The only thing I changed was the scoop of the neck.  I raised it up using the guide line for the largest size.  I know I will get more wear out of it like this.

If I was making it again I might lengthen the front a smidge, as it only just meets the top of my jeans and I reckon my belly-dancing days are limited.

It is one of those mullet-hem jobs which is probably "so last year", but I like it so I don't care!

It took me just a morning to make.  A morning, people!  Got up, made a tee shirt?  Shazzam!

It was a breeze to sew once I got my stitch length right.  I used the "vari-overlock" stitch on my Bernina and there were some initial foot-plate suckage issues... and some strong language.

It's fresh (FRESH!) exciting, it's so exciting to me-ee!

I am delighted to have injected a dash of neon yellow into my wardrobe, just as the sunshine appeared!

I hope that this will be enough to satisfy my craving for electric colour, but I seem to be drawn to it more and more.  I was ogling a pair of neon-trimmed trainers in Dune today - it was a close thing, they look much better in real life!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sunshine and Blue Skies

What do you do when the sky is grey and the ground is grey?
Knit up the brightest colours in your stash!

This is what I did on Sunday:

Please excuse the dusty stove!

The Betty tea cosy pattern by Ann Kingstone came in a "Best of the Web" leaflet within Knit Now Issue 16.  It is also available as a single pattern download or as part of an e-book on Ravelry.

I was smitten by this pattern's wonderful textures in a single sheepy colour, but decided to use my two recent handspun acquisitions to knit up a stripey version as a gift.  The beautiful turquoise yarn was spun from Old Maiden Aunt fibres by CouthyQuine, a member of the Yarn Yard group on Ravelry and another Aberdeenshire resident - hello Susan!  The Easter-chick yellow shetland wool was spun by Janet Mitchell on the isle of Skye.  A truly Scottish project!

It was a compulsive piece of knitting.  I really enjoyed watching the stripes, the ripples and the cables developing and playing off one another.  I would like to knit it again in a single colour - it was such fun!

On Monday, a business trip to Edinburgh provided plenty of  good quality knitting time on the train.
Another turquoise yarn!

These are my Echeveria socks, a free pattern by Rachel Coopey for the Sock Knitters Anonymous group.
The colourwork section echoes the shapes within the lace - very clever!

Knitting them both at the same time, step by step, it feels like I am knitting twice as fast as usual.  I know it is just an illusion, but it is certainly keeping me motivated.

And sticking to the colour theme... say goodbye to my honey-colored vintage cardigan.  By the time you read this, it will be unravelled and that lovely Albayarn will be back in the stash.  Just because a pattern is old, it is not necessarily good,  a lesson I have learned all too well from my sewing exploits!

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Deer & Doe Patterns!

Datura blouse
 Loads of cute details to play with here!  I rather fancy using this pattern as the basis for a refashioned man's shirt.  But I bet it could be squeezed out of less than a yard of fabric - what a stashbuster it could be!  
Chardon skirt

The skirt is a similar bell-shape to the Kelly, but without all those pesky buttonholes.  Great to define a waist  / disguise a pouting tummy / give shape to a flat bottom.

In other words, my kind of skirt!

Reglisse dress
This dress is very youthful.. I imagine it made up in a plethora of flowing viscose prints, or silk if you are so-inclined.  Ooh - Libery Tana lawn!

But it's probably not for me.  I would worry too much about that flippy short skirt in the wind.  I really need to move somewhere with less gales!

I see that some of the fabrics used in the samples are available to buy online, so you can recreate the original -that's a really good selling point for those of us who struggle to make wise fabric choices.

And they come in English too!
From Deer & Doe.
I'll race you there!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Springy cast-ons

I am having a casting-on splurge in penance for  to celebrate buying yarn last weekend.  There's a new pair of Rachel Coopey socks on the needles:  two sets of dpns have been deployed.

At the second attempt, I even made sure that both sets were the same size...!  I can now confirm that 2.25mm is my preferred size and not the 2.5mm I assumed.  That quarter of a millimetre was the difference between neat stitches and baggy ones, and I am so glad I spotted the error only four rows in to sock cuff 2!
These are in the Echeveria pattern, which starts off with a twisted rib, meanders into lace, celebrates colourwork around the ankles, and then returns back the way it came - fab! The yarn is Lorna's Laces from the Socktopus sock club way back when.  This is my third attempt at a pair of socks in this yarn.  Hopefully it will work out this time.

I also intend to cast on for Talia, a knee-high colourwork extravaganza.  The wool for these is Yarn Yard Marchmont in the colours:  Beetroot, Blueberry Juice and Lavender.  The Lavender was my Small Skein Society delivery for February.  The base is a lovely "round"  superwash merino.  I have slight concerns about my colour combination - it is so hard to tell when you buy yarn online, however good the pictures.  Even in daylight, I am unsure.  I will just have to start knitting and see what happens!
Last but not least, I am yearning for a shawl / scarf in this gorgeous springy yellow/ green from Skein Queen.  I have been saving this yarn for the right occasion - and I think that time is now, it being SPRING, allegedly.  Which pattern?  Hmmm...  maybe Zigzag Wanderer?

S'watch this space!

Thanks for all the suggestions on what to do with my 70's smock.  I do like the print, so I may try to rescue it.

Right... knitting!

Claiming my Blog on Bloglovin'

Technical stuff I can't be bothered with but here we are:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ho Ho FO: Simplicity 5583, a 70's Comedy Special

You might remember that I had a hankering for a 1970's smock. 

I was planning to use this 1970's brushed cotton to make a smock-tastic mini dress with long sleeves.  However... when I was ironing the fabric I realised that it was faulty.  There was a panel right down one edge where the print was staggered, so the colouring-in went over the edges of the flowers.  It was also far narrower than I remembered, and I realised I could either have a sleeveless dress or a short-sleeved blouse, but I definitely couldn't have the long-sleeved dress I planned.

Back to the pattern stash.  In fact, back to the box marked "Future Etsy shop".  I bought Simplicity 5583 one crazy summer day, but gradually talked myself out of sewing it and was resigned to selling it on.

That collar.  Oh boy, that collar just screams 1973!  Jackie magazine, Chelsea Girl, David Bowie, TRex, my cousin and her velvet flares, my pal and her suede patchwork mini skirt...  I had a shocking pink nylon blouse with a collar like this.  It gave me electric shocks and made my hair stand on end.  Ahem.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was time to revive that spaniel-eared style.  The 70's are "boho chic" now aren't they?  Bowie is having a retrospective at the V&A.  I thought it would look great with my Betsey Johnson pattern trousers / jeans / shorts /  a mini skirt... and a big floppy hat?  And I just wanted to get that fabric out of the stash:  it's time had come!

But I didn't really take note of the shape of the sleeve...

Pattern: Simplicity 5583 from 1973, size 14, found on etsy for about £5
Fabric:  1.7m of a pseudo-Liberty print on pseudo-Viyella fabric, found on ebay.  Probably brushed cotton, but who knows?  I think it cost me about £4.50
Buttons:  You think I'm going to waste my time making buttonholes and sewing buttons onto this thing?

I squeezed the pieces out of the available yardage, trying to avoid the mis-printed section.  But I misunderstood the collar instructions, and my plan to use the misprinted section as the under-collar resulted in me showcasing it on the top layer instead - duh!

The shoulder width seemed about right, so I decided to just go with it.  Reading the small print, this pattern is designed with "the new narrow shoulder".  Ah.  So I really ought to have reduced it by an inch or so to recreate the intended proportions.  Especially with those sleeves!

I suppose I can keep it as a painter's smock...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

FO: Betula (Silver Birch) socks

 I finished my Betula socks last night.
Yes, I ripped them back to correct the mistake,because my perfectionist streak (the violet one) demanded it!
 If you look closely, you will see they are designed to be different on each leg.
On one leg, the sets of three "buds" form an upward V and on the other, a downward... um... upside down V.
It is a quirky detail which is either clever or discombobulating, depending on your personality.

If these were for me, I think I would have both sets of arrows pointing the same way.
But they are not.  They are for the gifting pile - hooray!
Pattern:  Betula by Rachel Coopey, from Knit Now magazine Issue 7, but now available to buy through Ravelry.
Yarn:  Skein Queen Exquisite Twist in "The Man in the Grey Suit" colourway,  a yarn club special.  It is 80% merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon and has fantastic stitch definition, being lovely and firm and smooth. 
One of the prettiest pairs of socks I have ever knitted.  The leg is a bit longer than I usually knit, but it has plenty of stretch.  I love the twisted stitches and the wide ribbed panel at the front.  I will almost certainly knit this pattern again... but I have a couple of other Rachel Coopey patterns at the top of my queue to see to first! :D

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Lioness Arts display
Where to begin?
The Edinburgh Yarn Festival was a huge success.
The staff in the cafe must not have known what had hit them!
I arrived at noon and the Drill Hall was heaving with excited knitters / crocheters / spinners.  After an initial recce, I realised that I needed to step back and hope the crowds would thin out enough to let me actually get to the wool!
Skein Queen treasure chest
So Christine, my mother and I joined the queue for cake :D
Priorities, people!
Christine had a class to attend at 1.30, so I established my mother at Base Camp, on a comfy sofa with a heater nearby and a cute dog to talk to (not ours!) and then... ahem... worked the room.
The Yarn Pony stand
Yarn Pony Mustang
It is fair to say that I wanted to buy everything on the Yarn Pony stall.  But because I am incapable of making decisions, I did NOT buy the amazing shimmering bronze silk mix or the ashes-of-roses alpaca or enough charcoal-shaded gold to knit a cardigan. 

I did buy a skein of Mustang sock wool (100% superwash merino) in a handpainted (possibly gradient-dyed?) mix of charcoal greys and midnight blues which positively shimmers.  A shawl?

You need some Yarn Pony in your stash.  As soon as her online shop opens, I will be there!

It was great to see new indie-dyers and small businesses represented at the Festival.  So often, such events are dominated by the big established companies, but they were nowhere to be seen - hooray!

Sky Blue Pink Designs (£170 for this piece.  No, of course I didn't!)
It wasn't all about raw materials - there were a few sellers of ready-made handcrafted goodies. 
I loved the felted scarf pictured above, from Sky Blue Pink designs.  Gorgeous colours!

I met so many people I knew and others who knew me from the blog and came up to say hello - which was lovely!  My mother was bemused by this.  It was only afterwards that I realised she has never been with me in a situation where I know people and she doesn't.  Usually, she does that thing where the grown up speaks for the child, even though that child is now in her 40s! For once, she was on the back foot and I was the one making confident conversation about knitting / myeloma to "complete strangers".  An interesting turnaround!
Lioness Arts BFL sock in Pan
Skein Queen Entwine 4 ply sock
 Where was I?
Oh yes - I bought two other skeins of yarn.  On the left, Lioness Arts BFL sock, a light-weight fingering with 435 yards in the skein.  The colour "Pan" is slightly more mossy than my photo suggests, with shots of rich wine and forest green.  It called to me.
And on the right, the one that almost got away!  I spotted this on the Skein Queen table as I was doing my photographic tour, but didn't have any money with me.  I scooted back to Base Camp to retrieve my purse, but when I returned, the skein had gone - nooooo!
"Um... I was here a minute ago and there was a skein of brown wool just there... has it been sold?"  There was some sheepish giggling, and the Skein Queen herself rummaged under the counter and produced "my" skein.  She had just that moment decided to reserve it for personal use!  I promised that it was going to a good home ;)  It is the most wonderful marled cocoa wash on a pearly two-ply merino / nylon base, which will be perfect for another Rachel Coopey sock pattern.  I am so very pleased to have brought this home with me!
Jamieson and Smith 2 ply laceweight from 1992!
I also brought home some vintage shetland laceweight, which my mother bought in 1992 to knit a shawl for my son-to-be.  At the time, she said it was entirely the wrong colour for a baby, and ordered some nice safe lemon instead.  I thought she had  returned the heathery mix of blues and lilacs  - but no!  She had buried at the back of a cupboard, and only found it again last week!  Isn't it lovely?

I deliberately avoided taking pictures of people.  You'll find plenty of those photos around the internet soon enough, I'm sure.  I didn't want to add a layer of awkwardness to the day by cornering celebrities for blog-snaps.  Ysolda smiled at me, and that 's enough!

There were a couple of men wandering around with video cameras, and I was conscious of being "captured" knitting my sock on the sofa.  Let me know if you come across  that footage, please!  I don't know who they were.

I was home by 9pm.  FL and I stopped for fish and chips in the village, then I stayed up to stalk some vintage sewing patterns on ebay.  Fortunately I lost the bidding war.  I don't need 45 more patterns, really I don't!

Today, I want to do some sewing, but the house is a tip.  FL spent yesterday asleep / snacking / rearranging newspapers, and it looks as if the dog went mud-rolling, so there is trail of devastation to be dealt with before I can relax.  Such is life!

Oh - and I dyed my hair this morning.  I need to avoid strong wind, because there is a hideous deep purple tide line above my right ear... which is just not fair when the overall effect is fairly subtle.  You will have to believe me when I say I have violet slices of colour where the grey used to be - FL says he can't see them at all! 
Violet enhancements

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Lighter Head

Friday already?
I made it to work every day this week, despite snow and a heavy cold.  I have been coming home and collapsing straight into bed after dinner.  But I think I am almost over it - hooray!
FL is still coughing.  He is not happy.

But... I got my hair cut and feel a lot better for that - yay!  This was my main motivation in making that 6th attempt to get my car up the snow-laden hill on Wednesday! My next step will be to open the packet of Violet Vendetta hair dye.  I kid you not!  Have you seen Rachel Herron's hair?  Love it!

The new Boden catalogue is amusing me greatly.  I think they have been digging through my fabric store for inspiration!
Neon yellow and grey striped t-shirt?  In my stash!
Broderie, contrast cotton-lined skirt?  In my stash!
Orange dress?  In my stash!
Lots of lovely shoes and some more realistic prices this season - at last!
Orange patent penny loafers are very appealing... and I can't sew my own ;)

But best of all, the fresh colours (turquoise!  orange!  lemon!) and retro vibe of that catalogue has reminded me that I have a whole heap of vintage patterns that I want to sew.  Yeah, I know I said I thought I was "over" the vintage look, but I was wrong.  I was just looking at them in too literal a way.  So watch this space - some sewing may be on its way! :D

But tomorrow is the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, so there won't be much sewing this weekend.  I am zooming down by train, there and back in one day.  Christine and I will be knitting all the way!
I am meeting my mother there, which will inhibit my stash-enhancement activities but won't prevent me from eating cake.  Say hello if you see me!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Snow, a sock and hatching plans

 I might not have finished knitting a blanket on holiday, but I managed to complete my first Betula sock.
The pattern is by Rachel Coopey, Coop Knit on Ravelry.

I  have a bit of a knitter's crush on Rachel Coopey's patterns at the moment.
She has a penchant for twisted stitches and  a smattering of colour-work.  
Some patterns, like Echeveria combine both of these.  I saw Dianne B knitting her pair of Echeveria socks in York and was smitten.
I also have something of an obsession for Talia, from issue 3 of PomPom magazine.
I actually had a dream about that pattern the other night!
I have ordered some lovely YarnYard Marchmont sock yarn with Talia in mind.  That's my next pair of socks planned!

We came home from Skye to another dump of snow.
This is the view from the front doorstep.
I arrived home and went straight to bed, where I slept for 13 hours.  My cough is easing but I feel half-dead.  Yup, I am a zombie.
I hope to get to work tomorrow, but right now I am not sure I will make it.  While we were away, I had my car MOT'ed (It passed!  A miracle!) and took the opportunity to get my tyres changed back to the "summer" sort, thinking the bad weather must be past by now... oops!

We also came home to a bust lightbulb in the bathroom.
The only replacement FL could find in the house (I was asleep, remember) was a blue heat-bulb intended for hatching baby chicks...!  You can imagine my confusion when I stumbled through there, half-asleep.
So there are lots of bad jokes being cracked in these parts:  "I'm off to sit on the nest!" is but one of many.  No wonder my head hurts!  And yes, as you can tell, FL is feeling a LOT better! :)

Friday, March 08, 2013


It is the last day of our holiday, and I thought it was time to reveal the full extent of this little project of mine, the Kex Blanket.

There are four slices of this yarn gateau, sandwiched together with  3 layers of heather jam, and wrapped all the way round with heather icing.

Two slices are in the current colour combination, but alternating slices are dark blue, light blue and claret. 

As I type, I realise I may be one colour short.  Lucky this wasn't a longer holiday!  I need to go home and count out my balls of wool.
Yeah.  This is a big piece of knitting.
I hope to complete that first layer of jam tonight.
It is doing a good job of warming my knees already!

Thank you to everyone who has joined us on our fun-packed holiday here on Skye! 

FL is a lot better, but his antibiotics have run out and he is still coughing.  No toothache though - hooray!

Me?  I have just started to cough... noooooo!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Night Circus Knitting

You would think that a whole week in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do except knit, read, dog-walk and think would have led to enormous progress on my projects.  But the enormity of the Kex Blanket is only just beginning to dawn on me.  I will be lucky to finish the first quarter segment this week.  But that's OK!  It was meant to be a long-term investment knit, and so it will be.

Today, I hit the point in my book where I had to give up everything else and just read. 

The Old Inn, Carbost
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is not my sort of book.  And I resisted its charms for many many pages.  I was only reading it because it inspired the colourway of my Skein Queen sock yarn:  "Man in a Grey Suit".  And I have been pleasantly challenged by the previous inspiration books in the Skein Queen club series - none I would have chosen for myself, but all inviting total immersion.

There is something here with which to indulge all your senses.  I started off a little cynical and wry, muttering to myself that it was a jarful of sub-standard Harry Potter jelly beans.  That it was written to be a computer game.  That it was too flowery in its descriptions, too manipulative of its plot, too obvious.

But somewhere along the way, I stepped onto the circus train and wrapped the symbolic red scarf of the reveur around my neck.  OK, you win Erin Morgenstern, I enjoyed your book!

Does it require a belief in magic to be sucked into this dream-world?  Perhaps so, and that is something my logical self struggles with.  But the theatricality of it all, the construction of scenes and illusions and symbols and stories - yes, I respond to that very readily.

Real ale and real coffee - at last!
If there was one aspect of the book which I would pick out as unique, it is the olfactory element.  EH? Olfactory: the smells.  (There are some great words in this book:  FL is taken with "cartomancy" which he chooses to interpret as "the magic of maps".)  I am currently obsessed by the handmade soaps of Future Primitive.  I don't "do" perfume, but the multi-layered fragrances of these soaps have caught my imagination.  In The Night Circus, there is a tent where the scents of memories are bottled in tiny phials, bottles and jars:  uncork one and find yourself by the seashore, sitting high up in an apple-tree, eating popcorn by a bonfire (not all at once!).  That is the experience I am having with these soaps.  I ought to write to the maker and suggest she reads The Night Circus!  Maybe I will!

This morning, I showered with a sample bar of "Ethereal Seas" and suffused the whole house with a smell that is fresh and clean and clear-headed and energetic.  My breakfast mug of hibiscus, angelica and ginger tea was sipped and inhaled as I picked up my reading from where I left it last night.

Loch Harport:  did the Romans come here?  Discuss.
And now?  Now I have finished the novel, but it is still with me in many ways.  I am hatching a plan to knit a red scarf, that secret sign of a follower of  Le Cirque des Reves.  If you have read the book, I am thinking of this as Bailey's scarf.  It won't be for me.  It's a man's scarf.  I'll put it away in the gifting pile once it's done. FL isn't interested in a scarf.
Plaid scarf from Knit Now Issue 19

What will I read next?  Well... I picked up a copy of Handmade Soap in a charity shop in Portree yesterday for 50p... and a copy of A Good Yarn for another 50p.  Sadly, the handful of sewing patterns were not similarly priced - gold dust, clearly!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Zombies! Run!

The face of justified outrage
Don't get your hopes up kids, I have neither bought an i-pod doo-dad-thingy, nor have I taken up a hard-core fitness regime.
But when I was watching one of many knitting videocasts this week, I was tickled by the concept of an app which tells you a short story as you walk / jog along, and then suddenly interrupts itself with a shout of "Zombies!  Run!"... and you run.  Simple, but effective short-burst high-intensity exercise.
Yes, of course it is a stupid idea - that's the point!
The neighbours
I have been amusing myself by incorporating the concept into my twice-daily dog-walks.
Hero nearly had a heart-attack the first time I tried it:  "Zombies!  RUUUUUN!".
And we gave a jogger a hell of a fright as he came round a blind corner towards us... heh heh heh!
Holiday home from home

But it is fun and it works to get me moving a bit faster.
Did FL join in?
Don't be daft!

This far and no further...
But today was Dexy Day so he had a bit more energy to spare and walked with us as far as the path.
I handed him the lead for a minute so I could leg it down and back up the steps without fear of Hero tripping me up.
His exact expression was "Ye're feel!" (Translation:  You are mad!)
But who is wearing the silly hat, eh?
The garden.
Yes, my legs DO hurt.  Thank you for asking!
ScruffyBadger would be proud of me!