Author Archives: Pendle Stitches

His Simple (Christmas) Socks

Phew.  A New Year is upon us and I’m glad.  Christmas Chez Stitches was immensely quiet, mainly due to us all contracting flu (including the grandparents) and after opening gifts and eating the feast, we all retreated to our beds.

I didn’t even have the energy to knit, so spent the time between coughing and nursing everyone, curled up on the snuggler with George and some simple embroidery.  It’s been most therapeutic and I can’t wait to share with you soon.

However, first up is the only Christmas gift I made last year.  Another pair of His Simple Socks by Elizabeth Seidle.  I love this pattern so much.

This time, although I used the same 3 ply yarn as the last pair, I knitted on 2.75mm needles, and am so happy with the result.  The fabric is soft and elastic and just all round much nicer that before.

The colours are much more subdued too. But these are for Grandad, and he has more traditional taste than Hubs!

Although, to be honest, if he hadn’t liked them as much as he did, I think they’d have had a home here, subdued colours or no!

Project notes

Pattern: His Simple Socks by Elizabeth Seidle
Pattern cost:  £3.50
Yarn:    Bergere De France Goomy 50
Colourway:  Bleu
Purchased at: John Lewis, Liverpool
Yarn cost:  £4.50/ball

 


The Most Wonderful Socks of the Year

Oooooh it’s nearly Christmas.  And whilst I’ve all but avoided the madness of making lots of gifts, I have finished all the sock yarn in my stash. More on those later, because my treat to myself for achieving this was to, finally, knit the Mind the Gap yarn from Trailing Clouds over on Etsy.

I bought this yarn at the beginning of August, following a tip from my lovely friend, Julia, who is happy to enable all the stripy sock knitting Chez Stitches.  Within minutes of her text arriving with a link to the yarn, it had been ordered.  And it’s been sitting patiently in a drawer until all less exciting yarns had been converted into socks.

I haven’t been so patient about wanting to knit it. But, it was well worth the wait!

The yarn is just delicious.  Its 75% British Blue Faced Leicester, 25% Nylon.  Crisp enough to get really nice stitch definition, yet squooshy enough to feel lovely in the hand.  It’s not remotely splitty, and slips off the needles at just the right rate (I knitted these on KnitPro Symfonie DPNs).

The colours…..oh, the colours are deeply saturated and sublime, and represent each of the colours of the different lines on the London Underground. The name of the yarn is a reference to signage and announcements on the London Underground, which extoll you to “mind the gap” between the train and the platform, and therefore avoid untimely mutilation, or worse!

Thankfully, the yarn is dyed in such a way that you get perfectly matching stripes all the way through.  Joy!

This is the first project in a long time that I was sad to finish.  I really wished that Trailing Clouds did other, equally luscious, colourways, because I’d be sure to purchase more yarn from her then.

If you like a stripy sock then I cannot recommend this yarn highly enough.  It’s just wonderful.

Hubby is overjoyed that they’re finished (to be fair, I did make him wait!).  I’m trying to get him to save them till Christmas.  I’m not sure I’ll succeed!

And speaking of Christmas…this time next week it will all be over.  So I’m ducking out until the new year.  2017 has been a bear!  Whilst we have much to be grateful for, and many blessings to count as the year bimbles to it’s close, there have been trials and tribulations this year that I am glad are behind us.

So for the rest of the month I shall be spending family time, chilling out with my loved ones, and edging slowly into a new year that I am hopeful will be gentler and lacking in drama.

Let me take this opportunity, then, to wish you and yours a peaceful and joyful Christmas, and a new year filled with happy adventures and dreams come true.

I’ll see you there!

 

 

 


Sewn Magazine – Review

When I heard that Michelle from That Black Chic was launching a new sewing magazine, I was, as you can imagine, really quite thrilled.

The current offerings for sewing magazines really don’t hit the mark for me.

Threads is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned, but it’s demographic, in my opinion, trends towards a slightly more conservative sewer, and the techniques demonstrated, whilst interesting, are oftentimes ones I won’t use.  I think if you love reading about the techniques just for interest, or you love constructing slightly more artisan garments (think Marcy Tilton, then Threads is right up your street.

I’ll be honest that I’ve cancelled my subscription, as I simply don’t have the time to read them at the moment.  But, never say never, when life is a bit quieter, I’m happy to revisit that decision because Threads is full of content.

The British sewing magazines swing in quite another direction.  We have Simply Sewing, Love Sewing, Sew, Sew Now, and Sewing World.

Each of these is a monthly publication, that invariable hits the newsstand in a cellophane wrapper with at least one, but often two or three, free patterns.  Sometimes the patterns are Big 4, sometimes they are an “own brand” pattern.

All of these publications feel aimed at a younger market than I sit in.  They can also run to twee, although I find Love Sewing to be the least of these.  They also mix dressmaking with fabric crafts (stuffed unicorn, anyone), which isn’t really what I’m looking for.

So, as a white, middle-aged, middle class Mum, whose taste runs more Hobbs than Cath Kidston, I’m not really served by the current sewing magazine offering.

It seems that Michelle feels the same way, and decided to do something about it:

I felt they (the current sewing magazines) didn’t reflect the culturally diverse world that we live in today”

I found that an exciting and enticing proposition and decided to bite the bullet and order the first edition of her new magazine, Sewn.

It arrived last week and, over the weekend, I made a cuppa and curled up to be delighted.

First, the positives.  The main one being that the models in the magazine are predominately women of colour.  Even as a white women, I’m appalled at the lack of diversity in all mainstream magazines.  Not just colour, but size, age and style.  We are not all Victorias Secret Angels, and I need to see that diversity represented in my media.  It’s one of the reasons I love instagram.  I can curate what I see.  I can also vote with my wallet, which is why most magazines don’t make it into my shopping basket.

Secondly, the magazine is printed on thick, smooth paper, so it’s a nice tactile experience when reading it.  You can feel the quality.

Finally, there are no advertisements.

However, there are also some things, that for me, are negatives.

My copy of Selvedge magazine dropped on the mat on the same day.  It runs to 96 pages.  Sewn is 82.  It just feels a little light, but that’s OK as long as there is sufficient content. More on that later.

I appreciate that a proportion of Selvedge is advertising, but those advertisements actually have value for me.  Similarly Threads magazine carries advertising, and it’s useful to me as it allows me to identify products and resources to which otherwise that I might not have access.

Secondly, the look and feel of the magazine is somewhat fragmented.  Most mainstream magazines (in fact most mainstream media) has a clearly defined “look” which carries across the different articles.  Again, comparing with Selvedge, that publication is tightly edited and cohesive.

Sewn isn’t so tightly edited.  Most of the pictures are great, but the article about decorating cookies (insert raised eyebrow here), in particular, has really dark photos that aren’t that good at all.

Finally, I found the magazine lacking in the content that Michelle sets out to achieve, namely:

“that showcases excellence…in the world of sewing, fashion, DIY and art…that tests and stretches all boundaries in the sewing community”

The articles aren’t particularly in depth and the projects are either really quite simple, for example, sewing rick-rack trim around the hem of your jeans, or a bit “Becky Home-Ecky”.  I’m looking at you Felt Christmas Bulb Pillow and denim ‘necklace’.

All in all I was left feeling really quite disappointed in this edition.  Especially as at $14.99 for a single issue, this isn’t a cheap publication. For comparison, I buy Selvedge on subscription.  Thats £48.00 per 6 issues.  Sewn on subscription is $89.94 for 6 issues.

I know that Selvedge is an established publication with a higher budget and an editorial team, but it’s a premium product, which is what Michelle has set Sewn out to be.  This is something we seamstresses see a lot of in the indie pattern market.  We pay a higher price for a product that is sold as something different from the mainstream, that is beautifully packaged, and which we sometimes purchase because we want to support indie designers, thus ensuring the diversity in the market.  But sometimes the product doesn’t match the hype.  Colette’s problems with pattern drafting over the last year springs to mind.

It’s really obvious that Michelle has worked very hard to pull this together, and I absolutely applaud her for having the chutzpah to actually do something to fill a gap in the market (whilst holding down a job and family….never an easy task without throwing a magazine launch into the mix).  It’s a hell of an achievement and not one I could pull off any time soon, that’s for sure!

The price will also reflect the cost of low quantity printing and the lack of revenue from advertisers.

Finally I’m pretty confident, having had a copy in my hand, that I’m not the target market for Sewn, and I have no doubt at all that a different demographic will have a significantly different viewpoint. For me, it misses the mark, and, sadly, I won’t be buying it again.  However, I’m hoping that it’s a success with those it’s designed for, because, for sure, we need more voices celebrating our diversity.

But what about you? Have you seen Sewn?  What did you think?

 


Tiny Terrapin

For her birthday, we bought Miss Button a pack of bulky yarn, as she’d said she wanted to learn to knit.

I’m fairly sure I don’t need to tell you what happened to that yarn…..

Yep, I knitted it.

There are surprising few patterns out there for tweenagers that require bulky yarn.

Funny that!

But I came across this pattern for a shrug and set to.

It’s a lovely pattern and a quick and simple knit. I’ll admit it’s a tad roomy for Miss B at the moment, but that’s not a bad thing.  She’ll get lots and lots of wear out of it.  It’s a great throw-on for cooler days that don’t yet need a coat.  And, for a girl with a passion for all things flamingo, it’s just the perfect colour.

I altered the neckline so that there is a defined top and bottom to this shrug.

The yarn is squooshy and soft and reminds of that Minky fleece fabric.

Not something I’d want to wear, but a hot pink, squooshy, fleecy shrug is quite the thing when you’re 9 and 3/4s.

Project notes

Pattern: Tiny Terrapin by Sara Gresbach
Pattern cost:  $6.60
Yarn:    Rico Essentials Big
Colourway:  Neon Pink
Purchased at: And Sew What, Chorley
Yarn cost:  £3.79/ball

 


The socks of truth

As I’m working through my fabric stash, I’m also working through the yarn stash, although, thankfully, I have only a few skeins of sock yarn yet to knit. My friends are as generous with yarn as they are with fabric, and this ball was a gift from Linda last Christmas.

I was glad to get to this one, as it has obviously been sitting there for a while.  The colours are more subdued than I usually knit, but I really enjoyed the change!

I love the little pop of burnt orange, which lifts the blues and purples to another level.  I’m sure there’s a colour theory explanation for this, but I just find it a really pleasing colour combination.

The yarn is study and quite crisp in the hand. This concerned me whilst I was knitting them, fearing that they’d be uncomfortable for The Husband to wear.  But I’ve just checked with him and he assures me they are comfy, cosy and warm.  Which is pretty much what we’re looking for in a sock, right!?

They’re also machine washable, which is absolutely a must in my book.  I know the hand washable yarns are softer and totally wondrous, but socks in this house have a habit of sneaking into a shirts wash and meeting an untimely, felty end if they’re hand-wash only.

And also, joy of joys, the stripes match.  I have a pair of socks on the needles that are likely to be scrapped, because I just cannot any more with the mismatched stripes.

Project notes

Pattern: Regia 4 ply sock
Pattern cost:  Free
Yarn:    Zwerger Garn Opal
Colourway:  Moments of Truth
Purchased at: City Knits
Yarn cost:  Gift

 


Yarn Shop Day Socks

“Yarn Shop Day is an annual celebration that takes place in hundreds of yarn and haberdashery stores across the country. Pay a visit to your local participating shop on the day and take advantage of what’s on offer, ranging from free patterns, discounts and competitions to book signings, goody bags and workshops.”

Yarn Shop Day (YSD) was held this year on 6th May and shortly afterwards Instagram lit up with lovely examples of socks being knitted in the official YSD yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners.

It’s such a pretty stripe that I couldn’t resist, and immediately hunted down a ball for socks for The Hubby.

My enthusiasm didn’t stretch to getting them straight on the needles, but they’re done now and I’m very happy with them.  Funnily enough, so is The Hubs!  We all know how much that man adores a hand knitted, colourful stripe!

As a little aside, I was recently knitting socks in the car with the kids in the back.  Hubby was jovially bemoaning the fact that the socks were on the needles and not on his feet, when Miss Button piped up from the back that perhaps it was time he learned to knit his own socks so that mummy could knit other things.  She possibly had the sweater for her, that was also on the needles, in mind, but I hooted with laughter. 

She may also have had an extra treat that day…just sayin’!

I have to say that WYS make a really lovely sock yarn.  It’s soft but sturdy, with good stitch definition, and, having knit with it before, I can confirm that it washes and wears well too. I think that makes the WYS sock yarns are great value for money.  If your budget doesn’t stretch to some of the lovely artisan sock yarns out there, or, like me, you like to stick your socks in the washing machine and then over a radiator to dry (please don’t judge) then you can’t go wrong with WYS.

Also, they make stripy yarn with stripes that can be easily matched across a pair of socks.  I may have mentioned previously that this is a personal obsession bugbear preference of mine.

I’d definitely recommend this yarn!  City Knits still had stock last time I looked.

Project notes

Pattern: Regia 4 ply sock
Pattern cost:  Free
Yarn:    West Yorkshire Spinners Sock Yarn
Colourway:  Yarn Shop Day Sock Yarn – Limited Edition
Purchased at: City Knits
Yarn cost:  £7.20

 

 

 

 

 


Stash Stories – October 2017

Back in June I catalogued my ridiculous stash, and then discussed how it was actively blocking my sewing mojo. This isn’t a new topic on the blog.  Back in 2015 I chatted about why a fabric stash doesn’t work for me.

But, as you know, thanks to the generosity of friends, and fabric shopping but not sewing, my stash had grown again.  And, I’ll be honest, it was making me uncomfortable.  I know that having a fabric stash is a bit of a contentious issue, and that many people would feel bereft without theirs, but I find it, quite frankly, oppressive.

When I started sewing, back in the days before the internet, I didn’t stash fabric or patterns, but simply decided what I wanted to sew, and then bought the fabric and pattern needed for that garment.

My goal at the moment is to pretty much get back to that state of affairs.  There are a couple of pieces of beautiful wool coating that will be the last things I sew, and some summer weight dress lengths that I’m not sewing till spring.  But everything else is going to be sewn as quickly as possible, just to get them out of a crate and into the wardrobe.

I even have a list!

So, October has been a bit of a crunch month for me, stash wise.  Not only have I been tweaking Newlook 6217 to perfection, I also decided to bite the bullet and go through the fabric book with a more critical eye.

I revisited each and every single piece of fabric, in a Marie Kondo fashion, and anything that didn’t “spark joy” was put to one side.  I filled two of the large blue Ikea sacks with fabric that I couldn’t see what I would make, or how it would fit into my wardrobe.  The friends who originally gifted it to me were happy for me to pass it on to a good home…so I did.  Another friend, who is learning to sew, was the overjoyed recipient of 71.9 metres of fabric that was weighing me down, but which has buoyed her up.  The gifting of this fabric sparked much more joy than the stashing of it ever did.  I highly recommend it.

I used another 5.4 metres for toiles, wearable or otherwise, and binned 2.5 more when I completely ruined version 3 of the Newlook top by completely not paying attention to cutting out!

So at the end of October I had 99.7 metres left in the stash, and I’ve pulled out about 8 or 9 pieces that have been pre-washed and pressed and are ready to go.  If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already have seen that November is shaping up to be a productive sewing month.

Stash Stories, then, is a monthly roundup of all things stash, where I’ll tally how much fabric I’ve used, what, if any I’ve purchased, and how much is left.  Hopefully, I’ll get to the bottom of the crates sooner rather than later.

By the way, if you’ve not already listened to the Love To Sew podcast “How big is your stash” then I highly recommend that you do.  In fact, I highly recommend you listen to all episodes…they are great!

 


And the winner is…..

NancyD you’ve won the Basic Black book!  Congratulations.

Please email me your mailing address and I’ll get it in the post to you.


Tin Can Knits Prairie Fire

We had a spot of sunshine at the weekend, so I grabbed the camera, the dog and the family, and, whilst we made the most of a beautiful autumn afternoon at the park at the bottom of the garden, Miss Button posed up a storm wearing her latest new sweater.

I’ve long admired Tin Can Knits for their wearable aesthetic and patterns that span a massive range of sizes.  You can knit for the whole family from some of their patterns that have a more unisex design.  I have many of their patterns in my Ravelry library, but haven’t knit one of them before.   I’m very glad that I finally got around to it!

This is Prairie Fire and comes in sizes 0-3 months to 59 inches.  Which is some seriously insane pattern grading, but makes the patterns fabulous value for money!  It’s also got the instructions for both short and long sleeves…I went long for this sweater at Miss Button’s request.

The pattern is exquisitely written.  Clear, concise instructions leave nothing to chance.  If only all patterns were this good!

Prairie Fire is a gorgeous design.  Knit from the top down, you start with the perfect neckline and the first of the tiny flame motifs.  As the sweater grows, the pattern gently swoops around to the meet at the back.

Garter stitch hems and cuffs match the neckline and add a nice counterpoint to the stocking stitch on either side of the flame pattern, and on the sleeves.

The flame pattern is simple, but, speaking from experience, it’s worth keeping an eye on the stitches as you knit, or you’ll be frogging back because you’ve missed a yarn over!

The finished sweater is just lovely.

I knitted this in an inexpensive cotton yarn from King Cole, simply because Miss B is growing out of stuff apace at the moment.  But if I were knitting this for myself (and I’ll admit I’m sorely tempted to do so) I’d be happy to splurge on the recommended Madeline Tosh, or something equally lovely, because this would surely be one of those sweaters you reach for time and again.

King Cole Cottonsoft is exactly that.  A soft, squishy cotton yarn that it delicious to knit with and is cosy with a lovely drape.  Just be aware that it pills like a beast, but I’m prepared to forgive it because it’s a beautiful colour and gentle against tender skin.

It’s perfect with jeans, as Miss B prefers to wear it.  But it would also dress up nicely with a winter skirt and boots for Saturday shopping and lunch.

Do you know, I may just be actually talking myself into knitting this for me!

Project notes:

Pattern:                           Tin Can Knits – Prairie Fire

Pattern cost:                   $7

Yarn:                               King Cole Cottonsoft DK

Colourway:                    Coral

Purchased at:                Black Sheep Wools

Total  cost:                      £15.96


Basic Black – Book Review and Giveaway

With the weather being so overcast and dull, it’s been nigh on impossible to get photos of finished knits and sewing, so I’m taking this opportunity to share another of the books that Tuttle Publishing recently sent me.

This time its a sewing book, Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe by Sato Watanabe.

This is a beautiful book.  I do love the Japanese aesthetic, but often find that it leans a little too much towards simplicity, or, even, too young.  But this one is full of clean, stylish, wearable garments that would be equally at home in the wardrobes of 20-somethings as well as those more *cough* mature, like myself.

The patterns include blouses, dressed, jackets, skirts and coats.  Pretty much a whole wardrobe’s worth of designs.

My personal favourites include:

J. Jumper Dress with Square Neckline

 

K. High Neck Shirt with Three-quarter Length Sleeves

S. Dress with Stitched Skirt

U. Asymmetric Jumper Dress

Y. Flannel Short Coat

Z. Raglan Coat with Pin Spots

See, I told you they were gorgeous!

I particularly like that Flannel Short Coat!  Just the most perfect Autumn jacket.

The instructions are quite basic, in a style reminiscent of Burda magazines, and just list a series of sewing steps.  However, where you’ll need a bit extra help, there are diagrams to assist you.

The sizes are quite generous…these are finished measurements:

Although it’s still not a book for fuller figures, unless you’re happy to do some grading.

Which I’m not.  I just don’t have the headspace for that at the moment.  I’m concentrating on clearing the stash and filling the wardrobe as quickly as humanly possible.

So, I thought that maybe one of you guys would like to have this copy of the book?

Yes?

If so, please leave a comment below, before noon on Friday 3rd November, and I’ll pick a winner after that.

I’m happy to ship internationally.

Good luck!

Disclaimer

The lovely Ann over at @TuttlePublishing supplied me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own and in no way influenced by @TuttlePublishing.