Socks for Father’s Day

For some time now Pa Stitches-in-Law has been eyeing up the socks I’ve been knitting for The Husband and dropping some not very subtle hints about having cold feet.

Knowing that he wanted a pair for himself, and that he’s the same sock size as hubby, it was a complete no-brainer to make him a pair for Father’s Day this year.

Last weekend he and Button finally took some pictures of said socks for me to share with you.  So without further ado….

The yarn is lovely but it’s impossible to stripe match so I won’t be using it again.

For this pair I unwound the whole remaining ball and still couldn’t make it work.

Unmatched socks drive me unreasonably crazy but I’ll be sad not to knit this again as the socks are lovely and wear really well.  If unmatched stripes don’t bother you then I heartily recommend the yarn.

Thankfully Pa isn’t remotely bothered and absolutely loves his new socks.  He’s now angling for a second pair.  How many weeks until Christmas???????

Project notes

Pattern:                             Regia 4 ply sock

Pattern cost:                     Free

Yarn:                                 Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock

Colourway:                      11

Purchased at:                  Black Sheep Wools

Yarn cost:                         Sssssh….it’s a secret!


His Simple Socks

Hellooooooo!

If you follow my Instagram feed you’ll have seen that I’ve been sewing pink gingham curtains for Miss Button’s bedroom.

I have to tell you that I was snow blind with pink gingham!

All of these are interlined, French blackout, with buckram and hand pleated headings. That’s 4 layers to be locked together before you even think about adding the buckram and pleats.  It’s slow work but the end result is worth the effort.  I never fail to be delighted when a hand stitched curtain is hung.  Despite the grumbling and cursing the construction inevitably produces

I’ve also sewn a blind for Boy’s London themed bedroom.  It’s also French blackout, which is even more effective in a blind than a curtain!

Life has also been full of house plans, garden clearance and fencing, revision, final exams, doctors appointments and diagnoses, walking 10k steps a day to fundraise for Cancer Research, and just the general minutiae of daily life!

Whilst all of these are good things, by the end of the day the most I’ve been able to manage is box-setting Madam Secretary (soooo good!) and a little knitting or tapestry.

The sock on the needles at the moment is my usual, and much loved, Regia pattern, however, I recently ventured a little off sock piste and tried a new pattern. I’m so glad I did. Although I have to confess that I was forced to do so as a result of picking up some luminous yarn that was on sale in John Lewis only to find it was 3 ply.

It was a serendipitous purchase, as it pushed me out of my comfort zone, if only by a smidge. Whilst there isn’t a massive amount of choice in 3 ply sock patterns, having found His Simple Socks by Elizabeth Seidle I didn’t feel like I was missing out. This  is super pattern that is well written and easy to follow.  The stitch pattern is simple enough for mindless tv knitting, but a little more engaging than plain stocking stitch.

The heel is reinforced which is a nice touch and pleasant to knit.

And I love how the toe, instep and heel look crisp against the patterned section.

Obviously we veered away from the sober, gentlemanly colour scheme of the original with this bold chartreuse.  That’s how we roll in these parts.

I didn’t swatch.  Which I should have done, as they came out a little on the snug side. Thankfully not too snug!  But next time I’ll go up a needle size just to make them a little more relaxed.

Whilst I missed Woolfest,  it’s not too long to wait until Yarndale, especially with the summer holidays looming large.  When I’m there I think I’ll keep my eyes peeled for some lovely 3 ply yarns to make these again.

Project notes

Pattern:                             His Simple Socks

Pattern cost:                     $3.50

Yarn:                                 Bergère de France Goomy 50

Colourway:                      Imprim Jaun

Purchased at:                  John Lewis

Yarn cost:                         About £6


Stash

As the hoard of boxes were unpacked into the sewing room, it became more and more apparent that I had much more fabric in reality than in my head.

Much, much more.

There are 3 x 80 litre boxes and a Harrods hamper.

That’s too much fabric for my comfort.  Quite a bit of it has been very kindly gifted to me, and there are some beautiful vintage wools that will force me soon to overcome my trepidation about coat making.

There are some bits and bobs for making things for the kids, which they’ve mostly grown out of as this stash has mouldered unloved, so will be used for cute pyjama bottoms for the winter.

But, lets be brutally honest here, most of it is stuff that I’ve bought on a whim over the past few years and has been scattered around the old loft and forgotten.

I was astonished at what I uncovered, so I took some time to catalogue and sort it all out.

I know there are several electronic options for curating your fabric collection, but I decided to go old skool.

A notebook and swatches.

I measured each piece of fabric and took a tiny snippet for the book.  I’ve recorded what width the fabric is and how much of it I have

The beauty of this “system” though, is that as I leaf through the notebook, there is the tactile swatch that I can feel to remind me of the thickness and hand.  Without the colour distortion that can occur with a screen.

At the back of the book is a total of the fabric I have at today’s date.  It doesn’t include the 3 metres that are in the post to me.  There’s currently 179.5m.  I am mortified.

I’m going to track what goes in and what goes out. There needs to be more going out than in, for sure.  I need to get the curtains and blinds sewn and then really dive into this stash and make some pretty things.

I’m off to sew curtains!


Gaptastic Cowl

I know…I know.  It’s glorious weather out there and here I am, still babbling on about winter woolies. But this was another yarnie gift from a friend.  Thankfully this was only from the Christmas just gone!

There’s not much to say about the Gaptastic Cowl, other than it is a super simple knit, and a very wearable thing.  It’s been knitted 18390 times, according to Ravelry. That many people can’t be wrong.

Before the delicious sunshine arrived, this was heavily in rotation to keep me toasty on the school run.  I’d been planning to make it for forever and never got around to it.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long!

The yarn is lush!  It’s Debbie Bliss Winter Garden, which is sadly discontinued.  It’s a shame because it’s just the perfect yarn for this cowl.  Soft and cosy and lightweight.  The colour is a misty grey blue with delicious flecks of turquoise, chartreuse and white.

Basically, it’s the perfect combination of pattern and yarn.  And I love it!


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.  😯

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