Fast catch up

Posted by Caroline in doubleweave, sewing, Weaving on October 17th, 2018

September is the time when new university students take their first steps away from home. I have spent a month biting back “I told you so” and answering cooking related texts. That feels to be all I have done but there’s a roll of fabric on the loom that says otherwise. I think I’m about halfway through this now, it is a seven yard warp and I intended to cut it into three pieces and sew them side by side to make a blanket. The gold in the warp and the purple in the weft is commerical yarn and the rest is handspun. I’m changing layers as the fancy takes me, the whole idea is that there can be no match at the seams. The colours in this aren’t true but it will have to do for now, finished is better than perfect and that applies to blog posts as well as weaving.

I have also taken a layer of dust from the top of the sewing machine, put a new blade in the rotary cutter, been unable to reassemble it, put a new blade in the other rotary cutter and made a baby quilt. It is a while since I’ve done any quilting, I’d reached the stage where it was difficult to get rid of the finished product so I stopped. I am now catching up with the new developments since I dropped off the quilting earth, using one of those big developments which is videos. I can sit and spend half an hour watching someone quilt feathers and it beats anything on tv. After I wrecked the rotary cutter I had to buy blades for the other one and did a bit of window shopping while I was there. Pricing fabric by the half metre goes a long way to disguise just how much the price has risen since the last time I bought any. Fortunately I have an extensive stash that’s only short on lights.

I have finished a couple of pairs of socks, one of which is different to the previous seven pairs but the camera is right over the other side of the room so there will be no photos of that. The only time I’ll be leaving this seat is to dash to the bathroom as at the moment I am somewhat Unwell. I have written a blog post so that can be my achievement of the day, the thread clippings on the floor can wait until I’m feeling better.


Jingle, jingle

Posted by Caroline in sewing on September 10th, 2015

The tree skirt is now packed away for Christmas, given my recent exploits with putting things in safe places and losing them (tune in next time for the great sweater saga of 2015) I should maybe tell the blog that it’s in the airing cupboard. I thought about stippling the white spaces around the blocks for a bit more contrast between the boxes and the background but in the end I didn’t bother. I can always do it at a later date if I feel the need. I ran two lines that I’m calling a ribbon around the outer border, outlined the boxes and ribbons and then pondered the big green star. It’s a design process that I’m calling “making it up as I go along”. I’ve made five or six of these tree skirts before and in all of them I ran round with the walking foot and echoed the star shape. It’s quick, easy and rather boring so as this one is for me I thought I could risk something fancier.

I put a freehand Christmas tree in the top of the seven sections (one section is cut in half by the opening) which worked well enough once I’d worked out how many legs to give the star on the top. That left me with a big chunk of space below the tree trunks and the two triangles each side of the opening and I filled that with what I’m calling a holly wreath. It isn’t really, it’s a string of vaguely holly shaped leaves, some of which were distinctly more holly shaped than others. It worked well enough, I worked without marking (that’s pretty obvious given the shape of some of the leaves) and I managed to fill in the spaces without sewing myself into a corner so I think that it’s a win. I couldn’t get the hang of the ends of the holly leaves, I knew that I was on a loser there because if you can’t doodle it on paper then there’s no chance that you’re going to nail it sitting at the sewing machine. At the moment it doesn’t have anything to hold the opening closed, the previous ones have all had ties but they aren’t very dog friendly. I have a few ideas about what I’m going to do but I’m holding off until I see whether it’s the right size or fantastically too big, depending on how much I have to fold under it may need no closures at all.

The blue and brown striped cardigan is no more. There was no part of it that fitted properly, the neck was too low in the front and inches too wide across the back neck and although I could have added the extra inch or so of width it needed in the body with a decorative feature before adding the button bands I couldn’t be bothered. To fix the neck I would have needed to reknit everything from the cast on to the split for the sleeves and graft it to what I’d already knitted and I just didn’t think that it was worth the effort. It gave me a week’s entertainment and I can reuse the yarn so there’s no great loss. From this you might deduce that I have been casting on and have found better things to knit and you would be right.


Finished is good

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing on August 13th, 2015

I have been doing a fair amount of hand sewing in the evenings, I’ve hemmed a dozen hankies and sewn bindings on two quilts. When I’ve run out of sewing I’ve had a big slab of garter stitch to fall back on. This is sock yarn on a 3.25mm needle and before I’m done I’ll probably have used all of the ball and some leftovers as well. This will become a baby bog jacket, the last one I knitted back in 2007 was a smaller size, bigger yarn and bigger needles but I remember it as being much more boring than this. I have learned from last time and now if anyone asks me what I’m knitting I demonstrate by tearing and folding a sheet of paper. The orange waste yarn is where I will separate the sleeves from the body, fold the outside edges inwards to make the fronts and fold the top edge down to make the sleeves. I also sewed a few ends in, knitted a collar, found four buttons and finished another baby sweater. This is Drops B13-12 except that I ignored the striped pattern because I had a big bag of sock yarn leftovers to use up. It didn’t use up all of the leftovers but I didn’t enjoy trying to knit random rows so I didn’t feel like knitting another. I started it in March but compared to some of the other things I’ve been finishing lately it counts as a speedy project.

The thing in the wardrobe is now a thing on a bed, it took a ridiculously small amount of time to quilt once I had decided on the motif to fit into the trees. My quilting improved somewhat but it still wasn’t as good as the quilting in the sashing. I was moaning about my loss of skills to my husband and he worked out that the initial quilting would have been done on the Janome rather than the Bernina. I’ve swapped the machines around and he is right, the tension is far better especially on the swooping curves. The Janome has now been promoted to the sewing cabinet and the Bernina will now be the dining table machine. That will teach it to mess with my tension.

Flushed with success I set about quilting the cabin wallhanging for the top of the stairs. I went with something freeform that looks like wind and that was even faster to finish because I twirled my way across from one side to the other. That’s now bound and hung and it fits in the space I have so I didn’t do anything silly with my initial calculations. The small squares are four inches so the whole thing is less than a yard square. At the moment the wobbly edges aren’t bothering me enough for me to take it down, soak it and block it flat. I am really pleased with myself for finishing this, it deserved better than being stuck in a box in a cupboard. It goes without saying that I have other boxes in the cupboard, hopefully I’ll get to those before I run out of steam.

Next in the quilting queue was the larger of the two tree skirts, I was hoping to have it finished by now but I ran out of thread and enthusiasm at about the same time. I didn’t have time to get the coffee table moved, the three layers smoothed and the whole thing pinned before Mr Fluffy came back from his morning walk. He was a Good Dog and settled down to supervise with his chin just on the edge of the sashing. I went to get a cup of tea and give my knees a rest and when I came back he had settled down for a snooze on the section that I hadn’t pinned. It’s not far off being finished now, I need to bind the centre, stipple the white areas around the boxes and decide what I’m doing about fastening the open edge. I’ve quilted Christmas trees and holly leaves in the green star, outlined the presents and I spent two evenings sewing the binding. I’ll probably do exactly the same things with the smaller tree skirt too except with it being smaller I have a chance of getting it basted without canine assistance.


The thing in the wardrobe

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sewing on July 23rd, 2015

Looking back through the blog it seems to be six years since I cleared out the front bedroom so I shouldn’t be surprised that it took me so long to get down to floor level this time. It’s done now (hopefully for another six years), I can get in there to sew and I even dug some yarn out to make a warp. I’ve now got a queue of things to quilt – there is the tree skirt I made recently, the cabin in the woods wall hanging, the tree skirt I found in the wardrobe last week and a quilt made of trees. There is a certain tree theme here, it’s not intentional but just the way it worked out.

I knew this was in the wardrobe, it’s been in there for decades. I won the tree blocks back in the early days of the internet, they were paper pieced so I had hopes of them all being the same size but it was not to be. They were supposed to be 8″ finished but there were multiple makers and slightly different sizes and they were not going to play well together. I framed the trees with the light brown fabrics and squared it up as I went along making it less noticeable that some of the trees are significantly larger than others. Phase one of quilting was along the blue lines of the sashing, I had a long repeating leaf and vine motif running from one side of the quilt to the other and a shorter repeat in between. It’s more visible on the back, you can see the way that the leaves are currently framing a square of empty space. At that point my bright ideas stopped and the whole thing went into the wardrobe for a decade or so. When it came out of hiding for phase two of quilting I used some of the leaves to fill in all the triangles around the outside of the quilt and I bound the edges. That left me with the trees themselves and I was stumped. I tried a few things such as echo quilting the tree shape and a circular wreath of leaves but I couldn’t come up with anything I liked the look of so it went back into the wardrobe again.

Inspiration struck last week while I was making the bed, it’s been warm and we’re sleeping under a quilt that I finished in 1996. I looked at the quilting design in the corner block which has no resemblance to the tree quilt other than it is square but instantly I could see how I could fill those empty tree blocks. I drafted the pattern and then later that day I moved the sewing machine cabinet and found the pattern I’d used for quilting the sashing back in the 1990′s. I’m tracing the pattern, sewing through it and adding the wandering vine around the outside as I go depending on how much empty space I have. It’s going well so far, one block takes me about ten minutes but I’ve had enough after three of them. I’m hoping that by the time I’m done I will have recovered my machine quilting skills or at least clawed some of them back.

This has been my take along knitting project for a while, it’s been to music lessons, Saturday morning music centre, anywhere where I need to sit about. It started out as a skein of white yak/silk that I spun sometime in the past, the label said that there were 420 yards but it didn’t give a clue as to the date. I think it’s probably this one from 2012 that I spun as an attempt to forget all about junior’s audition. I dyed it a while ago but then couldn’t find the right project. In the end I grew tired of looking at it and decided that what it really wanted to be was finished. It is now a cowl, it comes to waist depth on me and will make a soft and warm Christmas present for someone. I will block it properly before I wrap it, it will get wires and steam to make the points pointy, I just soaked it and laid it flat to dry in an attempt to move it from the coffee table into the present cupboard.

My evening job this week is making more hankies for Christmas, he’ll get half now and half wrapped up later. The blue elephants were considerably cheaper than the yellow ones for reasons that are not at all clear to me. I would expect yellow to be discounted because it’s never a popular colour but the blue was less than half the price of the yellow. I bought a metre and it will make a dozen hankies. Sewing them is very relaxing, right up until the moment when the thread gets tangled after which it’s not relaxing at all. My other evening project has been, as always, socks but that has been derailed as I’ve reached the toe and despite counting, checking and counting again they don’t look long enough. I tried them on and they’re too big for me but not enough “too big” for me to be happy about knitting a second toe. The feet don’t return home until Saturday so until then the socks are on hold.

If I manage to quilt four blocks a day then there should be a finished quilt to show next time, I’m confident now that its future is on a bed rather than in a wardrobe and that it will be finished this time rather than stuffed away for another ten years.




Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks on July 14th, 2015

I’m popping in while I have a cup of tea, this is my break between phases three and four of tidying up in the spare bedroom. It’s needed doing for months but I really want to be able to get to the sewing cabinet so now is the right time. It’s coming up to the time of year when I have a week with no cooking and where the house stays tidy, where I’m nearly home alone all week. It would be a shame to have so much free time and not be able to use it to best advantage. The dog is happy with my progress, when I pulled the cabinet away from the wall to pick up all the many things that had fallen behind it I found what I remember as a puffalasauraus. It was one of my son’s toys some fourteen years ago. The dog is exactly the right age to enjoy it, it took him a while to find out how to make it roar but since then there has been nonstop roaring and barking. The lolling tongue indicates that he’s been working hard on subduing the dinosaur, at some point this afternoon I’ll confiscate it and he’ll collapse from exhaustion.

What have I been up to since I posted last? I drove Master WFB to an audition and out of desperation pulled off my best parking performance in years. It’s amazing what you can do when time and parking spaces are short, needs must when the devil drives (and parks). The results of the audition are not until mid December which is too long to be distracted with a diverting project (like last time) so I’m aiming to go with plan B which is to ignore it altogether. We also had a surprise! invitation which means he’s missing the last four days of school to go on a residential music course next week. The camera card reports that I have finished a pair of socks and made another bow tie. This one matched my son’s purple jacket, it’s a perfect match because I made it out of the trousers that I dyed at the same time as the jacket (really, it does match even though the two set of photos would say otherwise). It’s like the other one I made in that it’s hand tied (rather than folded and sewn) but opens at the back with a hook and eye and there’s a slider to make it adjustable. The socks are made from leftover sock yarn, there were still a lot of leftovers leftover so I immediately cast on for another pair. They will also be having an orange stripe because why not? He complained that he ended the day with striped feet but seeing as I didn’t dye any of the yarns in these I didn’t feel in the slightest bit guilty.

Duty calls, my next job is to sweep the floor now that I’ve uncovered it then there will be some packing away of wool, folding of fabric and admiring of progress. Next time I’ll probably be looking at What I Found In The Wardrobe (circa 1994)



Sixteen years of waiting and a week to finish

Posted by Caroline in sewing on June 30th, 2015

I find it easier to start something when there is a constraint. Give me total freedom and I’ll be stalled by too many possibilities. Once upon a time (or to put it another way “in 1998″) I joined in a round robin quilt exchange. We each made a centre block, explained our theme then boxed up the block and a selection of fabric and posted it to the next member of the exchange. When the box came home from its tour of the United States and Australia I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my cabin in the woods so I packed it away. It came out briefly in 2009 when I looked to see what I had in storage and then went back in the cupboard again.

Last week I looked at the space at the top of the stairs that has a small quilted wallhanging on it and I knew that’s what the cabin in the woods wanted to be.  I now had a constraint, the maximum size that would fit on the wall was 38″ by 40″. All the blocks we made in the exchange were multiples of 4″ so I simplified the maths by working in 4″ units. I worked out that I only needed twelve more 4″ units to make a 32″ square quilt and as that was the size of the quilt that was there I thought that would do well enough.

The first eight units were easy, they echo trees that are in the feature block and I made them longer to add a bit of variety to the shapes as the majority of the blocks were 4″ square.  That it was also faster was nothing at all to do with my choice. The top corner of the panel was the challenge so I ignored it and worked on the remainder of the blocks. I fiddled around until I had something that I liked and then I stopped. I could spend weeks rearranging these blocks to make them “better” but good enough will do. Back in the day I would have needed to write down descriptions of the blocks in a grid pattern if I wanted to be sure that I ended up sewing them in the order that I’d set them out – now life is much easier thanks to digital photography.

I wanted to use the yellow signature panel as the sun in the top left corner but because I didn’t plan for this sixteen years ago it was the wrong size for everything that I thought of. It wouldn’t fit into a circle to go in the middle of a mariner’s compass block. I thought that it would fit into an oval but after several attempts I had to admit defeat with that too, it was destined to remain a four by six rectangle. I then had an afternoon drafting all sorts of pointy sun ray edgings to make the rectangle into the eight inch square that I needed. I had the rectangle in the middle of the block, at the edge, at the top corner but I wasn’t really sold on any of them. In the end I threw all the paper in the bin (I ran to three sheets) chalked up the wasted hours to experience and added a strip of flying geese and a bit of sashing.

I thought it needed a picture frame, not a window frame because of course my cabin would not be overlooked. The whole point of having a fantasy cabin in the woods is that there are no neighbours. (As an aside, I wouldn’t be having the bears either but the beaver, deer and rabbit can stay) I had nowhere near enough of the cedar fabric that I sent out with the block but I had the same print in a lighter colour and although there wasn’t much I was happy that I could make it do. The constraint to the width of the border was not the size of the wall but the shape of the fabric I had. I didn’t even have enough to mitre the corners, two of the strips were only half an inch bigger than the panel. I do have enough left to bind it, there may be more joins than I’d like but that’s just how it is. It needs pressing but it will need pressing again before I come to quilt it so I opted for the time saving measure of not bothering. I think I’ll be quilting it with something that looks like wind, it will have to wait until I’ve cleared a path to the sewing machine cabinet.

As an aside, I made a bow tie this week. You have to tie it once (which obviously I did) but after that it unhooks at the back. I bought the hardware for three so there will be another two coming along in due course.


Good from a distance

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks on June 23rd, 2015

I decided that the time was right for making that tree skirt that I never get around to making. One of the reasons that I’ve been putting it off for so long was that I needed to enlarge the pattern which is easy with squares and more of a challenge with diamonds. I suspected that it might need the use of GCSE trigonometry and I was right. Fortunately I have an occasional GCSE maths revision session when I have to attempt to explain the trickier questions of junior’s homework so it wasn’t as challenging as it would otherwise have been. I scaled up the pattern, dredged out the scrap boxes and then lurgy struck. All I wanted to do was to cough, sneeze and moan about my sore throat but when the dining table looks like the photo on the left then stopping is not really an option. I made some really stupid mistakes when I was feeling rough, including cutting off the piece I’d just sewn on, sewing wrong sides together and not making an allowance for a seam. It took far longer than it should have done and there was much unpicking and muttering.

The wrapping on the presents is made from leftovers from the scrap box pieced onto a foundation of paper, I mostly used the offcuts from the Pokemon quilt I made in 2006 (there’s a photo at the bottom of this post) with a few other random bits as the mood took me. I pulled out two possible whites for the background but when I looked at them I didn’t think that I had enough of either to make eight blocks so I decided not to risk it but to make four blocks from each of the white fabrics. I am not at home to Mr CloseUp today because I absentmindedly took the paper off the first set of boxes before I’d sewn the background fabric to the sides. Without the paper to stabilise them the bias edges run amuck and the first four boxes are bigger than they should have been. The second four boxes are smaller than they should have been as I managed to allow for a seam allowance on only two sides rather than four. I think I’ll get away with it because of the sashing, in addition anyone wanting to have a closer look is going to have to get on their hands and knees and do battle with the lowest branches of the Christmas tree. It needs quilting but for that I need the sewing machine to be in the cabinet which means I need to tidy up. It’s only June, there’s plenty of time yet.

This is the second pair of child socks, it wasn’t until I came to take the photo that I realised that I’d managed a perfect match without trying. I was going to keep them for when I needed a bribe but he smiled and asked nicely so I handed them over and off they went to school. Note to self – do not leave potential gift socks in plain sight. The leftovers have gone straight into another pair, they are the third stripe from the cast on in this weirdly coloured photo. These are a pair of scrap striped socks, I’m knitting both at once because I’m expecting to run out of yarn multiple times. When a ball gets really small I’ll rewind it into a centre pull ball and knit from both ends  so it will end in the same place in both socks. There may be a random orange stripe once I’m past the heel, I haven’t quite decided yet. What usually happens when I’m using scraps in a project like this is that I pull out lots of little balls of sock yarn and then when I’ve finished I find that there are enough leftover leftovers to make another. In my dreams it makes a big dint in the pile, the reality is a different thing.

These trees don’t look all that significant but they are to me (in case anyone is wondering, yes, they do have a seam allowance on all four sides). Back in 1998 I joined in a round robin swap and when the box of blocks and fabric came back from its world tour I didn’t really know how to tackle it. I could add as many blocks as I wanted and make it whatever size I wanted, seeing as I didn’t have a clue what it was that I wanted I packed it away for another day. I now know exactly what I want, I’ve worked out that I need to make five blocks and these are four of them.

(Elizabeth – if you’re reading this, brace yourself for the sight of your sixteen year old blocks)

Zipping along

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks, sweaters on June 7th, 2015

I finished the cardi before I got my hands on the zip. I didn’t remember that the local shop doesn’t sell long open ended zips until I was standing there and I had a flashback to my previous attempted cardigan zip purchase. They didn’t sell 25″ zips then and they don’t sell them now. I tried to buy one on line from a sewing shop and came away with a pattern for pajamas because they had long open ended zips but only in neutral colours. Had I been knitting a cardigan in white, grey, brown, navy or black I would have been laughing but I was rather committed to seafoam green at that stage. I sat with a cup of tea and went hunting on the internet to find a zip that was the right length or longer and something resembling the right colour. There were plenty in the right colour which turns out to be “mint” but only in dress zips and that is no good for a cardigan as it’s a basic requirement that it open at the bottom. I know I’m a bit of a perfectionist but I quickly ditched “picky” in favour of “desperate”. The answer turned out to be an Ebay vendor in Hong Kong, by the time I reached that listing I was quite prepared to wait for it to be shipped from Mars. The zip is the perfect colour, arrived in eight days and cost £1.35 including shipping. The alternative in the wrong colour from the UK retailer would have been £1.85 plus £1.50 postage. There’s something wrong somewhere. The zip was a few inches too long but seeing as the internet is full of pages showing you how to shorten a zip I didn’t anticipate this being a problem for long. I pulled off an inch of surplus teeth, moved the metal stopper from the previous top to the new top and cut off the spare bit.

This is Highlander knitted in whichever variant of Ethical Twist featured at Kemps a couple of years ago. I think it’s the 70/30 wool/alpaca rather than the 85/15 but I took all the labels off to dye it so I can’t be totally certain. I added some more shaping in the body, changed the collar to roll over rather than stand up, added afterthought pockets and ditched the buttons for the difficult to source zip. I bought a kilo of the yarn when it was on sale (it was cheap then, oh so cheap) and I now have 500g left. I was knitting with three balls at a time to even out any colour changes but I could have easily got away with not bothering, the whole ten skeins were very uniform. It’s light enough to overdye and that’s what I think I’ll be doing with the leftovers. I’ve been calling the colour seafoam so I was mildly amused to see that the name of the matching thread I pulled out of the suitcase  was “Lagoon Blue”. It still needs blocking, I steamed all the bits that I needed to sit flat to be able to stitch it together because we’ve not had what would be described as good drying weather. At some point it will be washed and blocking will follow.

I’m sure it’s perfectly normal to go looking for a zip and come away with a pattern for pajamas, I was trying to feel better about the fixed postage cost on the zip and added the pattern to the cart before realising that I’d chosen a dress zip. In hindsight the clue should have been that the zip was the right colour but that was early in my search when I still thought that buying a zip was simple. These are test pajamas to check that they fit the son and heir. They need an inch or two on the length and the legs are ridiculously wide but other than that they are good. He likes his pajamas thicker, it would need a heatwave to get him into these. I made a pair for me as well but they’re not finished until I’ve made the top to go with them so the blog will have to wait for photos.

This is sock three of four, the first pair were finished last week and are now hopefully in the pile to be washed. I can but dream. They look like these, uniform compliant at the top and Opal something or other in the shoe. I weighed the bright yarn after the first sock so now I know that the coloured section takes 20g of yarn. I knew that I got two pairs from a ball with a bit left over but I’d never bothered to see how big a bit it was. I think the transition on this one may be my favourite yet, this may become the new standard boysock. At some point I will need to knit more socks for me, I’ve gone through the toes of another pair recently. When I checked I found that they were seven years old so really I can’t complain. I certainly wouldn’t expect to get more than twelve months out of a shop bought pair and my seven year olds may reach ten after a retoe.



Sew, knit, spin

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, sweaters on May 21st, 2015

This looks to be the last shirt I’ll be making for a while, I’ve used all the shirt fabric I have and the shirt wearer doesn’t seem to have ordered any more. This was another piece that I bought as a three metre length, I cut out a short sleeved shirt first and that made the cutting of the long sleeved one very tricky. Sleeves are bigger than you think and it was a close thing as to whether I could make a long sleeved shirt with what I had left. It does look as if you can get two shirts from three metres of fabric, I’ve done it twice now but it is much easier if you are cutting the short sleeves at the end. This one has hidden buttons (you may need to click on the photo to be able to see that they aren’t there…..). I think that this is worth the effort and that little extra fabric involved in forming the placket because you don’t need to fret about getting the buttonholes perfectly aligned. I got the idea from watching an episode of QI where Mr Davies had a shirt with hidden buttons so we can chalk this one up to their props department.

I was close to running out of thread as well as running out of fabric. The worrying thing is that I knew that I couldn’t go out and buy another spool as this one is most certainly not available in the shops. It’s probably older than me, certainly old enough to be considered vintage, but it was the right colour, perfectly sound and free. I have custody of the family thread collection as I now do more sewing than my mother does which means that a lot of the time I can match thread to my project simply by opening a suitcase and rummaging through the contents. It’s a bit short in the purple range and I use a lot more grey than there ever was in the case but for most colours I can find a close match. Finding two shirt’s worth of close match is another issue.

The cardigan is crawling to a finish. I’m on the bands now, they are “zip bands” rather than “button bands” so there will be two button bands with no holes. I steam blocked the body and the first sleeve before casting on for the second sleeve so that if the first was the wrong length I had the chance to correct it on the second one. I can’t see the point of making two identical wrong things if you have a chance of getting one of them right. I basted the first sleeve in to the body to check the length and the fit of the cap and it looked like a sleeve should look so I made the second one the same. I have to finish the bands, sew in the sleeves and add pockets to the fronts and hopefully by the time I’ve done that I will have got the zip that I haven’t ordered yet. This was supposed to be a stash reduction project but it doesn’t look to have reduced it by very much at all. It’s difficult to see how much yarn you are using when you are knitting with three balls at once because you can knit forever without making any impact on the yarn. I haven’t counted the balls I have left (they are upstairs, I’m not) but I don’t remember going upstairs to fetch more yarn more than once.

It’s been a while since I spun anything other than grey Wensleydale so this was really enjoyable. I have a big plan for this, one of those plans that looks wonderful in my mind but may or may not transfer to the real world. Next time I will have yarn and perhaps more of a clue whether my idea will actually work. I’m pretty sure that when it comes to sewing the fabric made from the yarn I’ll be needing to match the green because I’ll have no chance at all of finding thread to match the purple.

Do you have a collection of vintage thread? Do tell, I’d love to hear about it especially since the sewing machine man told me that “no-one uses thread like that any more”.  He’s wrong – I do and I suspect that I’m not on my own.

What has it got in its pocketses?

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing on April 28th, 2015

I’m sitting here with my cup of tea and the bread rising in the tins; at this time of day it would normally be a cup of coffee but the machine is in pieces for its monthly clean. Today has all the signs of a doing day and my to do list includes “blog”. I’ll get the knitting out of the way to start with seeing as there is so little of it that it’s easily summarized. There are no points for guessing that this is a sleeve. I usually knit both together so I don’t have to think too much about the increases, if I miss one and then catch it up later then I will be consistent if not strictly correct. I thought about doing that, briefly, before dismissing the idea as utter madness. I’m knitting with three balls of wool to even out any colour changes and the thought of untangling six balls on a regular basis was not enticing.

Knitting – tick. Next up – sewing. This was the next shirt that I made, with this one I solved the problems I’d been having with the outer cuff being too short for the inner cuff. This was also the one where I used the last of the buttons, I bought fifty for the first shirt and thought that would be enough to last me forever but it turns out that I had a longer run of shirt making than I ever thought that I would. The fabric is a fine linen and it’s shot through with a silver thread which gives it a bit of sparkle without being over the top blingy. I like it, it would have been good for a dress if I’d not already made a shirt from it. That’s now out of the question because I find the thought of matching his and hers wardrobe items to be too weird for words.

The next shirt was a short sleeved one, this is the first one that I’ve made with a pocket. There are two reasons for this, the main one being that shirt pockets are the devil’s plaything and an affront to all right minded people where the definition of “right minded people” is “people who do the laundry”. Some residents (naming no names to protect the guilty) recklessly use their pockets (no, the horror!) and then fail to remove the contents prior to throwing the shirt in the wash. I have no words to tell you how I feel about that, feel free to read my mind. The second reason for pocket elimination is that the shirts so far have had pleats on the front and that means that a pocket wouldn’t sit flat. This shirt has no pleats because it’s different to all of the others. The pattern assumes that you are a cylinder in that you are the same size at the top as at the bottom but the resident husband is wider at the bottom than at the shoulder. I’m not going to continue the simile by calling him conical unless he leaves tickets in that pocket in which case I’ll be calling him worse than that. I either choose a size that fits at the shoulder and then add a few inches lower down or choose a size that fits in the body and reduce it at the shoulders. The third option is to choose a size that fits in the body, make no alterations at all and see the shoulder seam end way past the shoulder. This is the ready to wear option and is the only choice for people who don’t sew. This shirt is a larger size with an adjustment for narrow shoulders rather than a smaller size with some added pleats. I adjusted the shoulder, the depth of the armhole and the width of the sleeve and was pleasantly surprised to find that the new and amended sleeve still fitted against the new and amended body. I was so pleased that I let him have a pocket – if I have a repeat laundry offence I can always sew it shut. The shirt has a contrast inner yoke, collar stand and under collar just to use up the last of the grey from previous shirts and seeing as I had to buy buttons anyway I bought coloured ones.

I also made the handkerchief, the one in the shirt pocket is a traditional square but the other one I made was a rectangle because it made better use of the fabric. If you’re going to be using it then bigger is better and why be bound to the convention of shape when you’ve taken the elephant option? My son is sneezing his way through tree pollen season and however many tissues I send him to school with it isn’t enough. I checked the school uniform policy and there is nothing in there regarding handkerchiefs with or without elephants. I thought a novelty handkerchief might actually get used and it’s looking like that is the case. I don’t think that I’ve ever sewn a rolled hem before, it was quite relaxing and not the chore that I was expecting it to be.

That’s it from me for today, the bread is creeping towards the top of the tins and it’s time to reassemble the coffee machine and test that it still works. My to do list calls.