Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Unexpected Craft-Urge

You see this hat?
I love it.  I want it.  I gotta have it.
The only obstacle in my way is that it is crocheted, and my skills are... um... rusty at best.
But something about the looping lines of roses circling the model's flaxen locks gripped me the moment I saw this in Issue 50 of "Inside Crochet".
I had never picked up this magazine before.  Because I don't "get" crochet... or so I thought.
But as I turned the pages, my eyebrows climbed higher and higher.  If I had been wearing a hat, they would have disappeared under the brim.

Crikey - that is a pretty stunning over-top-thing!
It is kinda 70's, but in a good way.  I can absolutely see myself wearing that with my tiered Betsey Johnson maxi skirt!
And that tea-pot-mat has something of a Clarice Cliff vibe going on.  I could totally justify making one of those to save the kitchen table from further scorching.

And this bag is so very much like the ones I have seen in Japanese pattern books and dismissed as an unattainable dream.  In English?  Much more achievable!
 And this shawl uses that variegated yarn to such good effect - ooh yeah!

 I even found myself amused by this affectation of spring flowers to wrap around a tea-cup:

Just what I needed:  a new craft obsession!
I'll start with the hat...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Week in Knitting with A New Obsession

OK Roo, what's going on? 
That's not your cardigan or a sock or a blanket, is it?
It looks suspiciously like a shawl...?

This is Vintage Fremont by Jami Brynildson.  It is an asymmetric triangular shawl - not your usual "wingspan" style, but a long, pointy dangley shard of a drapey thing.  Mostly garter stitch, it is worked in slices with wedges of lace at the wide end.
And it is a compulsive knit.
I cast this on last Monday and I over halfway done.
I might just sit down and crank out the rest today.

The yarn is salvaged from a failed design project:  Skein Queen Flockly in the colour "Hollowgast".  It is soft and drapey in a deeply sinister grey / green which shifts murkily in daylight and creeps up on me from the shadows at night.  And really it ought to freak me out in my high-pitched state of post-work-stress.  Instead, it is my steampunk rebellion knitting.  After the zombie apocalypse, when my workplace is just a mushroom cloud of asbestos dust, I will still be knitting in my rural idyll.
Or something.
When I have finished this one (a gift), I want to knit another.  And another.
Which is why there isn't much progress to show on my second Arnulf sock

Or my Monte Rosa cardigan.
But it's not going away.  I still love it and enjoy the knitting of it.
I'll get there.
After I save the world, obviously.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

49 before 50: The First Quarterly Report

The first 3 months of my 49th year have passed, so what do I have to show for it?

To start with, I have only managed to gather 39 goals on my list for the year!
Hmmm... "39 before 50" doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?
But I am not going to stress about that:  I would rather not have meaningless targets just for the sake of it.

It has been a pretty stressful start to the year with new pressures at work and a lot of worrying about FL.  But my list of goals has been a useful point of focus.

Happy "True to Myself"  Footwear
"Be True to Myself" is top of the list and sometimes I cling to it like the mast on a sinking ship!
So when I have come under fire for "quirky language" (I kid you not) I have stood up for myself and brazened it out, while remaining entirely grown-up.  I avoided the temptation to retort: "Whatever, geezer!" which is what my inner voice was screaming.

Although I have not accomplished number 10 "Update my CV" I have taken on lots of new responsibilities at work (for no extra pay or thanks) and I know that my CV will look a lot shinier as a result, when I finally get round to writing it all down.

(37) I dyed my fringe blue :)
(20)  I have been wearing clothes that make me happy.
I have (6) knitted and (7) sewn from my stash.
(3)  I have read some good and great books.  Currently I am deeply immersed in:  "A Death in the Family" by Karl Ove Knausgaard, which is not a Scandinavian murder-mystery at all!  And it is part of a series - fantastic!  Lots to read!

(27)  I went to the dentist... and I went to the dentist again.  And again.  Once was all I had aimed for, but I reckon I have almost made up for those 7 missed years of appointments now!

(33) I have been sharing the love:  passing on books / magazines to family and friends after enjoying them myself.

(36)  I have been making more gifts and (32) I am up to date with my aim to knit 12 pairs of socks in the year.
This is not a picture of my teeth

The areas of slippage have been, as expected, the: (5) 49 Deliberate Acts of Exercise; (4) 49 Days of Vegan Living; (9)  Make connections / (16) Meet other knitters.  I am rubbish at sticking to goals around health and fitness and social interactions.  But I am aware of that, and I am determined to keep on chipping away at my flaws, while (19) Treating myself Kindly!

No sign of (2) a Walk on the Beach - pathetic!  How hard can it be?!
And I can't recall (31) Coffee in a cafe, though I am almost certain it must have happened since November...  yes?  No?!  Really?!  The fact that I am not sure says a lot!
And I haven't (28) had my hair cut.
And this is not symbolic of my goals crashing down around my head

In summary:  I have a lot of work to do.  But I am still determined to stick to my goals and identify some new ones as the year progresses.  Watch this space!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ten Days of Knitting

No sewing this weekend:  I have raging toothache and can hardly bear to move from the sofa.  This is good for my knitting though!
I have two single socks to show you.
First up:  Arnulf by Rachel Coopey.  Once I hit the stripes there was no stopping me!

I need to get myself to that point with sock 2 this week and then it will be all systems go.

And this is another Rachel Coopey design:  Solar Flair.

Although it is easily memorised, this stitch pattern aggravates my RSI, so progress is slower than expected.  I might take a break before I start sock 2.

I have reached a happy place with my Monte Rosa cardigan:  I can see what I am doing now and am less reliant on the charts. These pictures show what it looks like at the end of page 5.

I love the way the shoulders turned out!

I came close to casting on a new shawl  / scarf the other day:  Vintage Fremont.
Photo taken from the designer's page on Ravelry
It reminds me a bit of the Hitchhiker Shawl but is a bit more delicate with those lacey sections.

I even wound a skein of sock yarn into a ball before I realised it was a bit too crisp and borderline scratchy - that's no use for a scarf!  So I am just considering my options:  I have no shortage of soft and luxurious goodies in the stash, I just need to make a decision.  Perhaps I need to start by deciding who I am knitting it for - the plan of a genius!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

And the Winner is.....

Drumroll please, maestro!

The winner of the Peggy Skirt pattern by Bluegingerdoll is:


of  SewLittleTime

Congratulations Joanne - I will email you shortly for a postal address :)

I am sorry you couldn't all win.  I used my own personal random number generator (FL) to pick the winner.
You don't get more random than that! ;)

Sunday, February 09, 2014

FO: Skirt Salvage Success! Peggy's Petite Sister

An old boss once likened me to a Highland terrier:  once I get my teeth into something and start worrying away at it, I won't let go...
I sat there last night, knitting away at a sock, with the Peggy skirt in my peripheral vision, taunting me.
I had made such a good job of that zip!
The pockets were bound with the loveliest orange dotty bias tape!
The pleats were so cute!
Couldn't I make it work?  Somehow?

So I set aside my sock and picked up my scissors...

I shortened it by 8 inches.
I tapered away the excess fabric from the side seams, losing about 6 inches from the hips and a total of 9 inches from the hem circumference.
I realigned the pockets to lie flatter.

This morning I finished the hem with more dotty bias tape and attached the waistband.
And pinned the tabs in place - ooh!  I like those tabs!

There was some dancing :D
I even cracked out a bright lipstick to celebrate the occasion.

Pattern:  Peggy Skirt by Bluegingerdoll, heavily modified, approx size 6.
Fabric:  2 metres of organic fairtrade denim from deep stash, purchased from here several years ago.  Absolutely buttery soft but super-sturdy in rich almost cobalt blue - yum!
Other:  metal zip; denim sewing machine needles; orange dotty bias binding from here; scraps of navy and white dotty cotton for pocket and tab linings, from stash; and thread.  I have ordered some navy vintage buttons, but they are not here yet:  hence the pins!

Already blogged to death.
Much more trouble than it should have been, due to my mismatch of fabric and pattern.



I also have a new pair of Doc Marten Chelsea Boots... shazzam!

Can you tell I am pleased?!

Don't forget I have a giveaway for this pattern!  I absolutely love this skirt but I won't be making another one and the pattern deserves a happy (curvier?) home.  If leaving your contact details on the blog disturbs you, send me an email to:  ruknits at yahoo dot co dot uk
I keep that address for blog-use only, and I sometimes forget I have it, but I promise to look there when the giveaway ends on 14 February at midnight (UK time).  Good luck!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Pegged Out: A Giveaway

I tried. I really did.
But sometimes it doesn't seem to matter what you do, it was simply not meant to be.
No, I haven't put the waistband on yet, and I know that would pull it in and up a bit.
But  I honestly don't think that would help.
I chose the wrong size and the wrong fabric for this skirt.
The next picture demonstrates the issue a little more clearly...

But here is the clincher...

A vast behind, me hearties!
I have already taken it in by a full size down the sides, but there is way too much bulk from the multiple layers of too-heavy denim.  I can't shave off any more from there because of how the pockets fall. The sticky-out pockets are the point of this skirt.  But sticky-out side seams are not part of the design. 
I can see the potential of this pattern, in the right size (6 not 8, despite measuring myself and the pattern before I started) and in much thinner / drapier fabric.
But I should have listened to my gut instinct - it is a pattern for a curvaceous girl, not an ironing board like me.
Ms Idle Fancy looks frankly GORGEOUS in hers.  Oh good lord, have you seen her wedding photos?!
But I am an entirely different shape and size.
When will I learn?!
And I made such a good job of the zip too...
 The Giveaway
So here's the plan:  I am going to give away this pattern to one of you lovely readers.
It is the Peggy Skirt from Bluegingerdoll patterns.
It includes the full range of sizes on a single massive sheet of paper:  you trace the one you need.
Abby, the designer, was very kind and helpful in answering my questions, and there is a sewalong on her blog too.
Fancy having a go?
Just leave a comment (including a way to contact you) below by midnight on 14 February to be entered in the lucky draw.
Go on - you have nothing to lose!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Two Weeks in Knitting (with a dash of immunes)

I have lots of new things to show you!
I am halfway through the first Arnulf sock.
This is the January Knitting Goddess / Rachel Coopey sock club kit.  By the time you read this, I should be on the stripey foot.
FL had a hospital appointment last Tuesday, so I needed something easy for the waiting room.  Arnulf is not difficult but it does require concentration.  So I cast on the Solar Flair sock, also by Rachel Coopey.
I am using HazelKnits Artisan sock from the depths of the stash, in the colour "Cami Chic".
Squoosh-tastic!  I had forgotten how lovely this yarn is.

Health bit:
The hospital appointment was fine - FL's Myeloma is "steady" with a Kappa score of 226.  He has been suffering from recurrent chest infections though, so they are offering him an Octagam infusion.  That's like an intraveneous drip containing immunoglobulin.  His own body isn't making IgG to fight off infections.  It has to be administered really slowly to avoid anaphylactic shock, so it will take all day in the outpatients clinic.

Back to knitting... 

On the 1st February I cast on the Monte Rosa cardigan.  This tiny piece of architecture sits around the neck.  I cannot praise the pattern-writer highly enough (Isabell Kraemer).  The instructions are impeccable.  I am in awe.  This is what it looks like by the time you reach the top of page 4 of the 16 page pdf :)

Last but not least, my February sock club package arrived.

The yarn is called "Snow Blindness" and the pattern is called "Berdine".  This is a fairy-tale inspired club, but this one has me stumped.  Does anyone recognise the story from these names?

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Progress with Peggy

At 5pm on Sunday there was still some daylight!  I can't tell you how exciting that is to me after weeks of almost permanent darkness.
We have had so much rain that the surface water is not draining from the fields and I have been driving through floods to get to work.
It is just like spirograph really...
The crunch came on Tuesday night, when my car brakes seized:  they completely locked after one too many soakings.  I had to wait an hour and a half for the RAC to "rescue" me, smash the brakes with a mallet and then escort me to a garage.  This meant I was driving without proper brakes... and the route included the descent of a 1:10 hill... yeah, that was exciting!  Ugh.
This unnecessary level of mechanical detail might begin to explain my lack of blogging or sewing energy.  That and the hovering flu-like symptoms which kept boiling up and then simmering down again all week.  There was no possibility of me making sense of the Peggy skirt pattern.
Knitting has been far more appealing.
eetle ottle black bottle eetle ottle out...
But after some of my readers pointed out that I could and should contact the designer of the Peggy skirt to get some help, I pulled myself together and shot off an email.  Abby of Bluegingerdoll was SO kind and helpful!  She sent me a pdf which outlined in red which lines to trace for the size 8 skirt.  I had made the right guess for the darts, but not for the front tucks, so it is just as well I contacted her.
screenshot showing the correct lines for size 8 in red
Today I got down to work and cut out my fabric.  On Abby's advice, I omitted the "pocket fuse" layer, which is there for stability with thinner fabrics.  My denim is sturdy enough on its own.

I also decided to use a thinner dotty cotton for the pocket facings and to line the belt tabs.

I made the tabs first, to practice with my new "denim" machine needle.  I bought this after reading Jane's post on sewing denim and I am so glad I did - it slides through the fabric like a hot knife through butter.

The sewing is going OK.  But I would definitely say this pattern was more of an "intermediate" than "beginner" level.  I have had to stop and think a few times despite having made a similar pocket in the past.

It needs 5 buttons.  I don't have that many of either of these, so I will have to track down something suitable.

Hopefully I will get it finished next weekend.
But there's no rush :)

Saturday, February 01, 2014

What I Wore in January

I am conducting an experiment. This year, I am trying to record what I wear every day.
It began as an exercise in catching myself out. I say I wear home-sewn clothes most of the time - but do I really?
And when I choose shop-bought over me-made, I want to know the reason/s why.
The results are in for the first month of the year. Can I share?
There were 31 days in January, and I was at the office on 19 of them:

Ooh - that's exciting I just made a single image out of a Word document - go me! ;)

Ha ha ha ha ha!  Creature of habit, ME?!
There must be a reason why I wore my brown Chardon skirt every Monday and a Camber dress every Tuesday!
As you can see, I am a "repeater".  While I clearly made an effort to mix things up on a Monday, trying out new "Chardon skirt plus..." combinations, I reached for a Camber dress with my fair-isle yoked cardigan every single Tuesday... and on other days too!  I wore this combination on 6 days out of the 19 pictured.  As if that wasn't enough, I  wore a Camber dress with a different cardigan on a further 3 days.  So... I wore a Camber dress on 9 out of 19 days!
The Chardon skirt came out to play 5 times.
My side-buttoned Kelly skirt came out 4 times:  once a week.
The only outfit to attract comment in the workplace was this one:
Three people said I was looking very smart / coordinated that day.
This lime green cardigan (vintage, cashmere) is what I wear to posh meetings.
I have become responsible for three high-powered Capital-C Committees this term (on top of the ones I already had) and I have to make more of an effort to conform to something approaching a corporate image.
Tricky with blue hair!  But I would go nuts if I didn't retain some degree of individuality.

The other smartening device I have employed is The Silk Scarf.
I wore it on the 9th and the 13th.
This is in shameless imitation of my Boss.
Although she clearly would not be seen dead in a hand-knitted cardigan or, I quote:  "those funny little boots".
Yeah... you can't see my feet in these pictures, can you?

Flat black ankle boots:  13 days
Brown cowboy boots:  3 days
Navy suede ankle boots:  3 days
But the thing that strikes me most about this set of pictures is that it does not show the other 13 days of the month when I was not in the office.
What did I wear?
I can answer that very easily:  jeans, long-sleeved tee, plaid shirt, staccato cardigan, hand-knit socks, shawl and my sheepskin slipper-boots.  It's what I am wearing right now.
I can't help thinking there is an imbalance here...