The goats of Inversnaid

With the temperatures today hitting the late 20’s, it is, of course, the perfect time to post a review of knitted hats and mitts.¬† ūüėĮ

This yarn and pattern was a gift to me from my friend Christian at Christmas 2015, and they’ve been finished, so Ravelry tells me, since February 2017. ¬†So this post is long overdue. ¬†I hope you’ll humour me!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before what a huge fan I am of Kate Davies, and I was keen to knit one of her patterns and try her Buachaille yarn too. ¬†So this was the best kind of gift from a friend who knows you well. ¬†I’m blessed with several of those.

Starting with the yarn, I have to say this is just about the nicest yarn I’ve ever knit with. It’s crisp and firm, with excellent stitch definition, and deep colour saturation. Hubby was bored senseless¬†of me gushing every time I picked up this project, but the yarn is simply joyous to knit with.

It’s not cheap, but it’s an artisan yarn and, I think, well worth the money. ¬†I suspect this is going to be one of those yarns that lasts through much wear and tear, making it, in reality, much better value for money than less expensive, or squishier yarns, that frustratingly give up the ghost much sooner.

Having had a few of those experiences recently, I’m vowing that whilst the cheaper yarns are fine for the kids, who grow out of clothes rather than wear them out, for us grown ups I’ll be investing as much in the yarn as I do in the actually knitting of the garment.

The pattern is equally lovely.

Expertly written. ¬†Easy to read. ¬†Delightful to knit. Everything I’d hoped it would be and more.

I’m not an expert knitted of stranded colourwork, but Kate helped me produce a result that would fool anyone into thinking I was.

Oh those little goats!  They are stupidly easy to knit and each one gives you a happy feeling as you knit the last row of its horn.

Miss Button is gazing wistfully at the hat.  She does look adorable in it, so I may succumb to her entreaties.

But the gauntlets are mine. ¬†I’ll fight anyone to defend their glorious goatiness.

And as they’re¬†stranded they are super cosy and warm.

I know it’s far too warm to be thinking of winter knits at the moment, but I’ll be smug when normal northern weather resumes and I’m already prepared.

Can I suggest you add these to your knit list for this Autumn? ¬†I promise you won’t regret it!


The Gentleman’s Wardrobe – Book Review

Sewing for my man isn’t something I’ve done a lot of in the past, although he’s not short of woolly socks! I’m hoping to do more for him in the future, but there is a dearth of good menswear patterns out there.

So it was with bated breath that I’ve been awaiting my copy of The Gentleman’s Wardrobe, Vintage-Style Projects to Make for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie.

The book is beautiful to look at. ¬†The styling is reminiscent of Japanese sewing books. Moody shots in a modern industrial setting. ¬†Whilst the styling appeals to the “hipster” look my husband likes, the patterns are really quite classic.

The shirts, trousers and a jacket could all be made up in different fabrics to achieve different looks. ¬†They are the kind of patterns that once you’ve got the fit nailed you’d have a set of basic styles that you could make over and over again for the man in your life.

There’s also a selection of useful accessories and nightwear.

It really does cover all the bases. ¬†The only thing really missing would be an overcoat. ¬†But that’s nit picking.

The book is, for a change, not aimed at the beginner sewist. ¬†There are some basic techniques included, but this is not a “learn to sew’ book.

There are full sized pattern sheets included.  They do require tracing but are nowhere near as busy as a Burda pattern sheet so should pose no trouble.

As you can imagine I was really excited to look through this book and was, quite frankly, planning to make everything except the wallet and bow tie and short sleeved shirt for my mister. ¬†The styles are that good and these are the only garments he wouldn’t wear.

And then I checked the size chart.

My man has a 19″ neck. ¬†And his chest is definitely more than a 42! The grading to get these to size would be ridiculous.

And lets be honest. ¬†As with us ladies, the 16″ neck market is widely served with both RTW and vintage patterns. ¬†This was a great opportunity to hit an untapped and underserved market with cool patterns that a wide range of men would be glad to wear.

Sadly it’s an opportunity that once again has been missed.

Thankfully I’d ordered this from the library to “audition” it. ¬†It’s not a book I’ll be buying.

I’m so disappointed!


Sewing room reveal

This project has been a long time in the making.  Not just the months since we moved into our wonderful new home in August, but the 10 years I spent sewing in the tatty loft room in our old home.

(Not that I didn’t love having that tatty old loft. ¬†I had some great sewing fun up there. ¬†But it was very tatty. ¬†And boiling in summer. ¬†And freezing in winter. ¬†With no storage)

But this room.  This room is just perfection.

It was originally going to be our company office with a projector and screen so we could use it as a home “cinema”. ¬†The previous owners had wired (and decorated it) as a cinema room:

However, I pointed out that:

  • we only use the office for a couple of hours a week
  • we have the most ridiculously large tv in the sitting room so why the heck do we need a projector
  • there is no way on God’s green earth I’d have got all my sewing crap supplies into the fourth bedroom that is now the office
  • I wouldn’t get a large cutting table in what is now the office
  • I want the big room, dammit!

No one was more surprised than me when The Husband said yes!  Love that man!

And so began the plotting and scheming. ¬†I knew that my main priorities were storage and cutting space. ¬†I’m so sick of not being able to lay hands on a pattern, or thread, or whatever. ¬†And also trying to cut out on the floor or kitchen table.

So, off to Ikea I went.

The first thing to purchase was supplies for the cutting table. ¬†It’s about 150 x 160cm. It’s constructed from 2 of the 8 box Kallax units with a 4 box unit at the top end. They are screwed together in a U-shape and then topped with 12mm MDF.

A pinnable surface proved invaluable in the tatty sewing loft. ¬†Sadly we couldn’t lay hands on any of the insulation board that we had used 10 years ago, but I’m giving it a go with layers of the underlay that you use under laminate floorings piled 3 high on the MDF.

Finally it’s wrapped with curtain lining stapled to the underside of the MDF to secure. And set on castors so you can move it to get around all sides for large projects. ¬†Or cleaning!

The top layer of spaces on each long side have drawer units, with boxes in the bottom. This gives me loads of storage options for tools, notions, patterns, yarn and all the other wee bits and bobs you have in a sewing room.

It is a joyous thing!

For books and magazines I have a run of Billy bookcases with half glazed doors.

I may have quite a few sewing, knitting, embroidery and quilting books!

There’s plenty of room for the odd magazine or two, too!

Crates of fabric and¬†the stuff I don’t need to access often are stashed out of sight in the understairs cupboard that runs along the back of the room.

I’ve also got all my drafting/measuring tools hung up here, as they’re too big for the drawers.

All of this covers my need for storage and a super cutting table.  Now all I needed was somewhere to sew.

We picked up this little table at GB Antiques in Lancaster a couple of years ago. ¬†It’s perfect for this corner, with a daylight lamp for when I need it, and a bluetooth radio for listening to music or podcasts as I sew. ¬†An Ikea Raskog trolley holds projects handy, and my overlocker sits to the side of my gorgeous new Bernina.

I have the luxury that if I decide I need a larger table for sewing on, there’s one in storage in the garage that I can swap for this.

The chair needs a lick of paint, but I’m in no hurry for that.

After, all, I do have sewing to do!

I love this room so very much. ¬†It makes me smile every time I think “I need a needle and thread” and can put my hands right on them.

And when we were house hunting, I never in my wildest dreams thought I end up with something so perfectly perfect.

Of course, none of this would have happened without my wonderful husband. Despite rolling his eyes at some of my ideas, he worked it out and brought them to life in the most amazing way.

“Thank you” seems so inadequate¬†in the face of such a wonderful gift, but I hope he knows just how grateful I am for such an amazing room, and how very happy it makes me.

 


Steampunked sewing

The sewing room is ready to reveal.  The last boxes were unpacked a couple of weeks ago. All the fabric has been sorted, measured and catalogued.  All paper patterns have been scanned to Evernote ready for tagging, and then packed into easily accessible boxes.  Even the new blinds have been fitted.  I just need a bin, an ironing board and iron specifically for that room, and a full length mirror.

As the first thing I’m going to be making is curtains, and I’ve got all of the missing items in other parts of the house, I’d say I’m good to go!

I need to take some photos so I can share with you, but till then I’ve got quick snaps of a lovely sewing room warming present the husband bought me last week from Pipecreative in Hebden Bridge.

I’m sure the vintage sewing machine purists will be up in arms about this but I absolutely adore it!

A Steampunked sewing machine. ¬†A Jones, no less. ¬†It couldn’t be more appropriate!

The owner was highly amused that he was selling a Jones sewing machine lamp to Mrs Jones to go in her sewing room. ¬†He didn’t believe us at first, and double checked the Mister’s bank card when taking payment.

It’s totally bonkers in the best possible way.

Sitting proudly on the windowsill to the side of my sewing table, it’s straight in your eyeline as you enter¬†the sewing room. It makes me smile every time I walk in there.

My hubby buys the absolute best presents. ¬†I’m one very lucky lady!


The little socks that could

My life feels dominated by socks and hospital visits at the moment. This pair is just off the needles and I have two other pairs on the go. ¬†Our little man is on the mend,¬†but his wound is still about 5 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep. It’s a slow heal. ¬†So three times a week we are at the hospital changing dressings. There is invariably¬†a long wait. That’s ok. We’re glad we don’t need the nurses urgently any more, and are more than happy to wait whilst they prioritise those that do.

Thankfully, a sock is a very portable project.  We grab drinks from the coffee concession on our way in and check into the ward fully prepped for however long it takes.

Whilst my wee man was poorly in hospital I had a sock with me at all times. ¬†It’s tricky to concentrate on knitting with a sick small person in a hospital bed, as the interruptions are constant. ¬†But slowly, slowly, between obs, and while he slept, my hands turned one round of stitches, followed by another. ¬†And slowly, slowly, the sock grew. And each stitch was a moment of calm that took him closer to wellness.

A sock is also a great conversation starter. ¬†I met nurses who knitted but had never dared try a sock, nurses whose grandmothers had knit socks and who thought the art had died out. ¬†A student nurse who had only used¬†a knitting frame and was intrigued to see how it was done “properly”. ¬†Small peeps whose fascination was wide eyed and intent.¬†And¬†worried mums were distracted for a few moments and transported to a place of calm and cosiness.

This is the pair of socks that I knitted by our boy’s bedside. ¬†That commanded attention and brought our little community behind the curtains together.

Who’d have thought a pair of simple socks could do so much?

Project notes

Pattern:                             Regia 4 ply sock

Pattern cost:                     Free

Yarn:                                 Stylecraft Head over Heels

Colourway:                      Kilimanjaro

Purchased at:                  & Sew What, Chorley

Yarn cost:                         About £7?


Cove Cardigan

I do love a good cardigan for Button, and this certainly fits the bill!

It’s a super little pattern that is easy to knit, but you have that lovely lacy button ‘band’ at the front that gives it a certain lift.

The yarn is starting to pill slightly due to wear. I really must get the pill shaver on it soon. But I’d rather that¬†than the garment languish in the drawer unworn!

This yarn is the perfect match for a pair of cotton trousers and print top that we bought from Next last summer. ¬†I’m really hoping she doesn’t outgrow them too quickly as they’re so cute. ¬†I think we’ll get away with the trousers looking adorably cropped, and the top will still be modest enough for her to get this spring out of the ensemble.

This ‘gathering’ is a simple technique but gives the overall garment a bit of shape and some interest to an otherwise plain back.

The 3/4 sleeves are perfect for spring and give a nice proportion.

I have no hesitation in recommending this pattern. ¬†It’s well written and easy to follow, an enjoyable knit that doesn’t need you to concentrate too hard, but the lace front detail takes the edge off the plain stocking stitch.

In fact, I like it so much I made a second version for Button’s school friend, who admired it when it was worn on a playdate!

Project details

Pattern:                             Cove Cardigan by The Velvet Acorn Designs

Pattern cost:                     $6.60

Yarn:                                 Cascade 220

Colourway:                      Smoke Blue and Dusty Rose

Purchased at:                  Loop London (No longer stocked by Loop)

Yarn cost:                         £5.99 per ball from Wool Warehouse

 


Pattern giveaway

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that at the weekend I decided to tip out the boxes into which I’d hurriedly unpacked patterns and have a bit of a sort out.

Hubby has kindly offered to scan everything into an Evernote catalogue for me so I’ll never duplicate a pattern again, and I’m itching to sew but not sure where to start. ¬†It’s been so long, I don’t trust my hands at the moment for much other than sock knitting!

As I emptied each of the 4 boxes that will be the permanent home of the pattern stash, I sorted them into piles of the same…..dresses, trousers, skirts, etc., etc.

It’s a bit of a revelation. I’ve some fabulous contemporary patterns in there, Big 4 and Indie, and¬†also a¬†growing¬†collection of vintage ones that is bigger than I’d originally thought. This is entirely¬†thanks to the kindness and generosity of my lovely friends Liz and Christian, who have gifted me some corkers over the last year or so. Liz is a whizz with the charity shops and is the person who always finds the most amazing things. Vogue Couturier for ¬£4 anyone!?!?

I think I need to get some archive envelopes for these and store them separately. I’ll happily share details in another post if you’re interested.

But for today I’m sharing some spares I have in my stash.

I’ve got half a dozen Cake Patterns up for grabs and a Frozen costume. ¬†Here are the ones available:

If you’d like any of these patterns then please let me know in the comments. ¬†If more then one person wants it I’ll draw names out of a hat!

Let’s say I’ll close comments on this on one on Friday¬†7th April. ¬†I hope they’ll find a good home.


Iggy

I finally get to share with you a finished project¬†that isn’t a pair of socks. ¬† Hurrah!

Last Wednesday the sun shone brightly upon budding trees and jolly daffodils, and the wee small boy and I took George to the groomers, then popped into a local cafe for a rather splendid hot chocolate.

It was such a lovely day. Especially as he’d¬†terrified¬†us all the previous week by being rushed into hospital and needing an emergency appendectomy.¬† The spring weather was the perfect opportunity to wrap him in his new Iggy sweater and grab a few shots. ¬†We’re ignoring that the shorts aren’t the best match….they were just the comfiest on the wound area.

I¬†wish that was the end of his medical adventures, but on Saturday afternoon he developed a nasty post-op infection and was back on the ward for another surgery on Monday. ¬†He’s home with us now, snoring his head off as I type, but we have daily hospital visits at the moment to change the packing and dressings on the wound, as they had to leave it open to avoid further infection.

It’s been, quite frankly, bloody awful. ¬†I wouldn’t wish the past few weeks on my worst enemy, let alone a small boy. ¬†Thankfully, today he seems to have turned a corner. ¬†We are hopeful that the worst is over.

So pictures of a smiling boy in the sunshine in his special request jumper are a nice reminder that this too shall pass.

He had a very clear picture in his head of what he wanted.  Having browsed my patterns to find a shape he liked, we drew out some stripes to get the idea out of his head an onto the needles.

The original pattern is Iggy, by Sarah Hatton. Apart from the stripes, the only change I’ve made to the pattern is to knit it in stocking stitch, rather than reverse stocking stitch.

It’s a quick and easy knit and the details of yarn can be found on my Ravelry page.

Needless to say, I have socks back on the needles again!


Life in a northern town – March 2017

Hello my lovelies.

I had a wee window of time where I should be doing other stuff but, quite frankly, can’t be arsed.

I’ve had a lovely morning skiving off with my friend Julia at my favourite cafe, No 15 in Penwortham. ¬†Julia is wise and witty and should be available on the NHS to cheer all who need it. ¬†She’d save them millions. ¬†With avo and poached eggs on toast and a couple of good cups of coffee, it was the perfect end to the week, even if she had to dash off to get her Louie cat to the vets.

Life here is a full as ever. ¬†The hubby is still working every hour god sends. ¬†The kids are dancing 3 nights a week and we’re about to put an advert out for a partner for our wee man. ¬†Much as I’d love them to dance together, my blood pressure really can’t stand it. The pinch and stomp and whinge and whine and it’s just not worth it. Maybe in a couple of years, but not right now.

I’m on the home stretch with the current studies. ¬†I’ve an exam next week and then two more modules and I’m done for this year. ¬† The jury is out whether I’ll do next year. ¬†Which is actually an 18 month course. ¬†I may bunk off and do something fun like a photography course or a couple of weeks of sewing in London (subject to being able to figure out a solution to childcare other than locking them in a cupboard. ¬†Apparently social services frown on that. ¬†Odd! ūüėČ )

I have much to share with you but it is so grey here that I struggle to get enough light for decent photos. ¬†But…spring is coming, and then I’ll catch up.

There are knits, almost a quilt, and….drumroll….the sewing room. ¬†As soon as I’ve finished the binding on this quilt that Ma made, I can finally, finally¬†go into the sewing room and get to it. ¬†First up is blinds. ¬†Preferably before the clocks change.

I can make 4 roman blinds in 3 weeks, right? (cue hysterical laughter).

I’ve got a review for a great Craftsy course on the topic of curtain making. ¬†So much to share.

But for now, I can share some super good news. ¬†Some of the best. ¬†As you know we’re having rafts of tests and meetings with various medical and educational peeps to try to get to the bottom of some challenges our wee monsters are up against. ¬†Last night we learned that the boy definitely doesn’t have ADD or ADHD and we’re 95% sure he’s not on the autistic spectrum. ¬†We’ll have final confirmation on that within about a month. We are narrowing the field and it feels good. ¬†Once we hit upon an answer it informs the support strategies we can put in place for them. ¬†This also speeds things up for him as the Autistic Spectrum Pathway (the route to a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is currently are 49 week waiting list in our area. ¬†Which is shameful.

So,¬†on that happy note I’m off to pin the final stretch of binding so I can spend a happy evening stitching with wine tonight.

Have a great weekend full of the fun things you love to do.


Tropical Two!

Unsurprisingly, I recently cast on another pair of my favourite vanilla sock pattern using a ball of Rico Superba that we’d picked up on our last trip to Black Sheep Wools.

As an aside if you’re ever in the Warrington area, do make a wee detour to Black Sheep. They’re homed in an industrial unit in what feels like the middle of nowhere but in reality is 5 minutes from the motorway. ¬†The store is stuffed to the gunnels with yarn, quilting fabric,¬†and all manner of lovely things. ¬†The staff ¬†are delightful and there is a very lovely tea shop with piles of crafty magazines to browse over coffee and cake.

Anyhoo, back to the socks.

As I was casting on I had a real feeling of deja vu, and not just from the fact that this is the pattern I always use. ¬†As I knitted I just couldn’t shake the feeling, so popped onto my Ravelry project page to confirm what I thought I already knew.

Yep….I’d knitted this yarn before.

My original pair of socks in this yarn were completed in April of 2015…nearly 2 years ago! And they’re still going strong. ¬†Bloody good yarn this!

The odd thing is, though, that this second pair hasn’t come out quite as planned. Where as the first pair came out with perfectly matched stripes, it was impossible to match the stripes on this pair once you hit the heel. ¬† And you can be sure that I tried.

It’s obviously a dyeing error, but annoying nonetheless.

I know that non-matching socks is a perfectly legitimate thing. ¬†And that my obsession with matched stripes is probably more than a little OCD. ¬†But I love matched socks! Sorry…not sorry.

So this pair took all my knitterly nerves of steel to finish, graft the toes and hand them over to a happy husband.

His stripe obsession is, thankfully, always overruled by his obsession with a new pair of socks!

Project details

Pattern:                             Regia 4 ply sock pattern

Pattern cost:                     Free

Yarn:                                 Rico Designs Superba Poems

Colourway:                      Fabre

Purchased at:                  Black Sheep Wools

Yarn cost:                         ?