Thursday, 23 June 2016

I'm IN

I interrupt this blog for a partly political broadcast.

It's referendum day, and I'm in*. 

That's all. 

* After 4 years of writing a PhD about Europe, its policies and ideas on territory and spatial planning, and almost 2 years of living and studying in other EU countries, I am a very firm believer in all the brilliant things that being part of the EU makes possible. I am not going to give them up in the vain hope that this will magically fix all of the 'problems' we have in the UK. It is a vain hope. I can see no rational justification for thinking that quitting the EU will solve anything. It will (in all likelihood) make a lot of things very much worse. 

Monday, 2 May 2016

Mending Monday #4: Kapow

Ahoy there. Apologies for the slight delay. Work happened, or life, or something. 

Anywayz. It's May! Just how did that happen?  One minute it's snowing, and then the sun is shining again and summer is just around the corner. Amazingly, the springiness of the weather, has also returned my sewjo, and over the weekend I blitzed my mending pile like a crazy mending ninja. KAPOW!

Just like that, I stormed through:

  • 2 pairs of boys trousers that needed a button replacing (for those waistband elastic adjustor things, you know)
  • One girls frilly tutu that needed a bit of waistband stitching to be redone
  • Repairs to a toddler grobag (sleeping bag thingy)
  • Two mummy-made girls tops that needed fixing in the under arm area
  • One pair of boys trousers that needed patching and fixing 
  • A school cardigan that needed an under-arm repair (oh - I see a pattern here - something about that girl and her armpits!)
  • 7 dribble bibs that have been waiting for poppers
  • overlocking the internal seams on dress I made in sometime in the late 1990s.  

That dress I mention, I did really make it in the 1990s. Probably 1997 or 1998 when I lwas a student. It's some kind of rather loose weave viscose, which frays badly, and which I bought from the absolutely fabulous Abakhan Fabrics in Liverpool. I still have a couple of other bits of fabric in my stash from that time too! Overlockers hadn't been invented when I made the dress, and although I probably knew about finishing my raw edges, I didn't. I didn't have pinking shears until after 2003... Anyway - despite being rather see through and having a wonky hem, this dress is still in my wardrobe, still fits and is still the sort of thing I like to wear. I can't work out if that means I have timeless style, or just no style at all. Sigh.

After that flying start, who knows what the rest of May will bring? What are you mending today?

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Things I realised this week: why I like knitting

Ah spring. There you are all green and springy, making things start to grow and inspiring me to start All. The. Projects. 

This week I realised just why I like knitting so much. Sure, it takes a relatively long time to get from a ball of string yarn to a finished sweater - but: 

1.  it's pretty portable. You can do it on the bus, on the sofa, in bed and standing up (and in most other places and positions, although please don't knit whilst driving or operating heavy machinery obvs).  

2. it's also highly pick up and put downable: you can do it for a few hours or a few minutes at a time. Just pick up the needles and knit a row, or two. 

3. Knitting is quiet - you can do it on your own, or in company.   

4. knitting is easy. If you go wrong, you can tink back (or frog) and put it right. 

Sewing on the other hand. Well, it's not quite the same. I want to sew, and to make all of the things, and I have lots of fabric. But:

1. Sewing requires quite a lot of preparation - getting the machine, scissors, rotary cutter, cutting mat, thread and fabric all together. 

2. Sewing has lots of stages: pattern tracing, cutting the fabric, making a toile, adjusting the toile, adjusting the pattern, cutting out the real fabric, sewing it up, adjusting it, finishing it off. 

3. Sewing often involves multiple gadgets (sewing machine, overlocker, iron, ironing board, tailors ham, tailors dummy)

4. Sometimes sewing requires all of those gadgets at almost the same time. 

5. Using the sewing machine and/or overlocker is not compatible with watching TV. 

6. Cutting fabric is final - although mistakes in stitching can usually be retrieved. 

Note to self: if you want to finish that quilt you actually have to do some sewing. Just thinking about it does not appear to be having any actual effect on the number of blocks which have been trimmed to size and stitched together.


Pass my knitting bag. 

Monday, 21 March 2016

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016

I had the briefest, fleetingest, shortest imagineable encounter with the Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016 on Friday, and I was utterly charmed. 

I wandered around the yarn market for an hour or so, with a stop for tea and most delicious cake part way through. It wasn't really long enough to do the place justice, or really have a good rummage and browse for the things I wanted.

I spied a few well-known faces from knitterati: Tom, but no Kate, from Kate Davies Designs, Ysolda, Stephen West - who was impossible to miss in his extraordinary outfit. I was trying to describe it to the jelly bean (age 6). She didn't believe me!

I stayed mostly on-message - with some rich blue DK yarn from Wollmeise to make myself a hat. That was definitely part of the plan. 

I also picked up some gorgeous DK weight yarn from Skein Queen - also part of my me-made plans. Stupidly I convinced myself that 2 skeins would be enough! It might be close, but I doubt I'll manage either of the two patterns I have at the top of my queue.  And, as you can see in this photo, the two skeins I picked seem to be subtly different in tone/colour. That is probably the fault of the 'show' lighting in the Corn Exchange - I did have 4 skeins to choose from! But it's not insurmountable. 

The extra thing I brought home was this little haul from Ysolda - two patterns and some of her kitten-soft silvery grey undyed yarn. 

The other pattern is her blank slate sweater. I had to pet the yarn a little bit yesterday, and hand wound it whilst drinking tea and chatting to the little bean. It's seriously nice. Silky and soft, and a lovely pale grey. I'll be casting on for that hat as soon as I can find the right needle, and, I can see a blue version coming along just behind it. 

Monday, 7 March 2016

Mending Monday 2016: #3 it's a holey-holeyday

Way back in the mists of time, before the internet and Taylor Swift were invented, I knitted myself a cardigan. It's from Rowan magazine 21, shown on the front cover. 

I have always rebelled it seems, and I knitted it in a nice wool based yarn (Jaeger wool DK I think), not the cotton yarn the pattern was written for. Anywayz. I have worn it a lot - for a long time it was the sort of thing I wore to work. Then the elbows started to develop holes and I patched them up and it became a cosy old friend to wear around the house. Gradually more and more bits of it are wearing thin or coming apart, but I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to it yet. 

Before Christmas I started knitting something for the bean, and realised that the yarn was pretty much the same colour as this cardigan of mine. Last week, I sat down to do some mending and spent a little bit of time patching up the holes and frayed cuffs.

Five or ten minutes, sitting in the light and stitching away. I was talking to my daughter at the same time - you can see her feet in the bottom picture - she is wearing handknitted socks that I made for her older brother a year or two back. That's the sort of housework I like!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Cowlowlowl (FO)

Howsyoudoing today, people?

The sun is shining here, putting a spring into my step (ha, ha). It's still cold and windy though, so I'm hoping I'll get a bit of use from my newest neck adornment, this plain and simple cowl.

I knitted it on a circular needle, using 100g of sock yarn - Regia Highland Tweed. I used a provisional cast on, then knitted until almost the end of the yarn before grafting the two ends together.  

You can see that it has some subtle colour gradations from purple through to pink. I have a lot of blue in my wardrobe, and some pink too, so it should go well with lots of things. It was one of the projects I identified in my New Year list of things to do, so I consider that to be my first me-made wardrobe filler!

It has been for a quick wash to help even up the tension of the grafting, and now it's ready to wear.

plain and simple cowl (no pattern)
cast on Jan 2016
completed Feb 2016
yarn: Regia Highland Tweed

Monday, 29 February 2016

Mending Monday 2016: #2 Visible Mending

It was Kids Clothes Week last week. I did my best to fit in some kids clothing related crafting each day. 

On Monday night I spent a lazy hour or may be less, darning the knee in a pair of toddler trousers. The trousers are old - handed down to us, and no doubt used by several children before they came to live with us. There are worn and cosy, in a useful muddy green needlecord, with a snuggly jersey lining. 

The first knee went into a hole a while back, and I used some embroidery thread to patch it up. Rather than attach a patch on top of the hole, I just stitched the two layers into a place in a messy jumble of stitches. The lining fabric didn't have a hole - just the outer layer. 

The second knee had the misfortune of developing a hole whilst at nursery, so there was plenty of time for small fingers to enlarge the opening - but, as before, the hole was only in the worn corduroy, and not the inner lining. By the time I got them off the toddler in question, the rip was quite large. I approached this hole in the same way - using embroidery thread to anchor the two layers together. 

Neither repairs are neat or tidy. But, they seem to be working. The first repair is holding up well, and we are ekeing out a little bit more wear from these well worn and well-loved trousers. I think they will do until the little bean grows out of them.