Sunday, 27 January 2008

Stitching Up

The camera is working, so here are some pictures of the latest sewing projects.

I'm not happy with the finished table runner, but I'm too bone idle to unpick the stitching and sew it again. So, it will do. The BF likes it though.

It's trimmed with ribbon to hide the rubbish seams. I like voile but doesn't exactly collude with the botch jobs.

Remember the other cushion I made? Here it is, without the piping... which I've discovered I prefer because it hides the zip.

Despite, running two lines of stitching up each side of the zip, some of it has started coming away at the seam, which is a little annoying, but... still looks pretty good, and is going up in our bedroom.

Below is some material I've bought to make a Roman blind with. This is to go in our bedroom a long with come cream and chocolate curtains I'm planning to make. (The room is pretty neutral in the colour scheme so a few splashes of colour will look great).

Knitting Up

Here's my finished top - "Sirdar Peru Naturals". The yarn is quite similar to "Twilleys Freedom Spirit", though it's aran weight, so you can't pull it too tightly otherwise it snaps. However, it is strong enough to sew up with, which was surprising.

Finished, the wrap-over is lovely and soft, and I'm looking forward to wearing it to work tomorrow.

Below is a "Dumpling" minus the arms for Effie. I ran out of yarn after one sleeve, which was annoying. The BF suggested making it as a bodywarmer by sewing the contrast colour up the armholes, which I did, in mattress stitch. With any luck, I'll get this in the post tomorrow... but I'm so lax with actually posting items that bithday cards, bought two weeks in advance, are always late.

Here are some socks for Lois - I'm using up some leftover sock yarn for these. I think it's "Opal - Petticoat".

(My Mam was babysitting Lois and Talia this weekend. She forgot to take the Zebra socks I made for Lois, and there were complaints. Coming from my five-year-old niece, this is praise indeed).

Friday, 25 January 2008

Warmer Times

The heating is back on!!! Actually, it's been back on for a couple of days and I had the happiest shower I have ever had. Thank you for all of the warm wishes, and the hopes of a Mr Darcy, Seahorse ;-)

I'll tell you what the mistake with these socks was, now...

Look closely at the toe of the sock on the left.

I ran out of yarn twenty rows before finishing the sock, so I cut appropriate colour strands from two other balls of "Admiral R Druck" yarn that I had. I felt it was important, primarily, to get a good match of texture and, secondly, a good match of colour. So, as a result, I have worked out that I can get a pair of size 5 socks (following the "Opal" pattern) along with a pair of child-size 10-13 socks (following the "Regia" pattern, as long as I knit 40 rows from cuff to starting the heel) from one ball of yarn. That's pretty good value.

In other news, I finished the wrapover knitted from "Sirdar - Peru Naturals". It's toasty warm and only took a week of evenings to knit up. I love chunky knits... I'm knitting another "Dumpling" (Rowan Babies) for my friend Rachel's daughter, Effie. It's fast and fun.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

I Don't Like It

It's cold. I haven't had a shower since Saturday night. We can only wash the dishes, and ourselves, by boiling a kettle. I don't like it.

Yes, we've joined the statistics - the boiler broke down on Sunday afternoon.

Cutting a long, and frankly, boring, story short... we rang the company yesterday (as the staff don't work on a Sunday) and I'm currently working from home to wait for someone to fix the boiler. (I'm on my lunchbreak BTW).

It would appear that our model of boiler has a particular problem that crops up around three to four years after installation. So, the company are on to a winner here. Our street was built 3.5 years ago. Let's say that they were paid £1000 to per boiler to install them to all of the houses and all of the flats, and three years later...they all start going wrong. Here's another windfall as they charge a £300 all inclusive fee for a call out and repair and further one year warrenty.

(Yes, the insurance will cover this but that's not the point).

We have radiators - no fire - and the showers are powered... by the boiler.

So, here I am, currently doing an impression of Austenesque genteel poverty... I've lit as many candles as I can find (for the warmth, rather than the light) and am wishing I had knitted some fingerless gloves when I thought of it!

At least the lap top is keeping my thighs warm.


Saturday, 19 January 2008

Poo, Bum, Willy, Fart!

In an attempt to reduce my swearing... the title of this post.

Thursday night's knitting group (Mad Knitters' Tea Party) held in "Starbucks" ("Borders", Stockport) was very informative.

I learned that what I should have done with that flippin' table runner was do French seams. Put simply, I think this means that I should have converted the three pieces of material to two - attaching the voile to one of the pieces of cotton, and then sewing the other piece of cotton to this as the backing... which would have hidden all the seam work. Not sure if I can work out how to put this theory into practice....hmmm.

(Camera is still playing silly buggers).

One of the other things I learned was that "Borders" seems to have noticed its knitting group - not that it hadn't previously, but in terms of knitting magazines, Thursday night was a bonanza: "Knit 1", "Knitting", "Simply Knitting", "Knit Today", "Vogue Knitting", "Interweave Knits", "Knitters", "Let's Knit" and one or two other titles that I can't remember. Either "Borders" has suddenly increased its stock or it's always like this and Thursday just happened to be the first time I had noticed it. I'm the most observant person in the world.

(I picked up "Let's Knit", for the free DPNs and there are about four patterns in there that I like; and I also took a copy of "Knitters" because there was a substantial number of designs that I was rather taken with).

In current knitting news... I've done a few rows of the first sleeve all ready. The pattern is a doddle to follow and knits up incredibly quickly. (The shade is "Maccu Piccu" - a lovely deep blue).

In other sewing news... I turned the material, my friend Sian gave me, into a cushion this afternoon. This really didn't take long because I didn't make any piping. I have to admit that in future I will always do piping because I think it looks better, especially for hiding the zip... unless I sew a flap to disguise it.

Above: The material. Until the camera sorts itself out, you'll just have to take my word that I actually did turn it into a small cushion.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Me Vs The Iron

Thanks to learning how to sew, I've also had to learn how to use an iron. Laundry philosophy has always been to get the clothes on hangers as soon as they come out of the washer, so that the creases drop out. When I was a student, I used to do my laundry on the nights I went out clubbing. Get everything onto hangers, turn the heat up, go out.


Below is the iron that my Mam gave me when I left home twelve years ago.

It has been used approximately five times in all of those years... three of these occasions in the last four months since starting my soft furnishings course.

Also on the board is, some near invisible, cream voile patterned with glittery stars. (Not the daisy ironboard cover).

Here is the voile laid out on red cotton sheeting... to be made into a table runner for Christmas. (Am determined to get it done for the next one).

Here's the start of the sewing... a nice invisible seam... but then it went pear shaped and the bloody camera stopped playing nicely too.

Photos in the next post:

1. The nearly finished table runner with really rough seaming. Looks rubbish. I think I followed the instructions correctly. I know I was nervous about ripping the voile.

(Note to self - voile Roman Blinds might not be the greatest idea I've ever had).

2. I intend to sew some ribbon around the edge to fudge the naff finishing. Photos of before and after will be shown.

3. What is going well... my knitting! Have finished the back and one of the fronts of my "Sirdar" wrap over jacket. Aye Caramba!

Monday, 14 January 2008

SEX and Socks

Remember how I said I wasn't going to buy any more yarn, unless it was to make a gift for someone? Well, it's amazing how much yarn you can buy with this criteria. Observe...

The BF casually mentioned that if I were to knit him another jumper, he would like this one - from one of the "Sublime" pattern books. However, while the yarn is exquisite, it works out at £55.64, so I was looking for a substitute.

After some searching for a good price, I decided to substitute and "Jaeger Extra Fine Merino" seemed a good match. Having received it last week, it certainly is and I only paid £2.25 a ball for it - taking the cost of the jumper to only around £35. Discontinued lines can be a real gift. :-) (I'm also really chuffed with the bag's snap handle... simple things...)

My Mam came to visit at the weekend and we took a stroll up to Aileen's lovely "Wool" shop in Stockport. (This was after we had been on the "Wheel of Manchester" - great views from the top but as the wheel turned we found ourselves, sitting in the carriage, wondering if this had been such a good idea... not that we are big girly wusses or anything). At the bottom of the picture, you can see some lovely yarn from the Kaffe Fassett range for "Regia". The BF keeps hinting for some more socks.

I don't know if I have mentioned it but, I am a trainee consultant in public health. This involves trotting around Greater Manchester to different work places to build on my experience. I'm leaving my current placement at the end of February and three of the people I work with have been particularly supportive, so I'm making them some gloves before I go. Jeanette loves Autumn colours, Peter likes greys, reds and blues and Diane is a fan of turquoises, greens and aquas.

I'm a little bored with socks at the moment - still using up the oddments of yarn, but I was champing at the bit to get into my stash. So, last night, I started this wrap-top in "Sirdar - Peru Naturals".

It's beautiful yarn - really soft, and good and chunky. It's knitting it up really quickly too... good thing too. The office is bloody freezing!

Here's my Tiger Feet.

And here are some socks for Lois - made up with the remains of the "Admiral R Druck". See if you can spot the cock-up.

It was a very annoying one...keep looking...


Tuesday, 8 January 2008


The camera is playing nicely, so taking advantage of the moment, here's a shot of the socks (child size 10) for Lois and a hat for Talia.

Tiny Talia's head is so teeny that none of the hats bought for her fit and I made a hat with sock yarn, casting on 90 stitches. Sharon was over the moon with this one hat I made for her ("Opal - Rainforest - Flamingo") so I've rattled this one off for my Mam to take back when she visits at the weekend.

Something that will utterly swamp Talia is "Dumpling" ('Rowan Babies'). I made it in the 0-3 months size but the recipient is less than one month old, though even so, this cardigan will allow plenty of growing time. :-)

This is a great stash buster - made in "Rowan Big Wool" - knitting up in only a couple of evenings on 12mm needles. It only used 1.5 balls and I plan to use the remaining half ball with a full ball of cream to make another one for my friend Rachel's new daughter, Effie. I think "Dumpling" would look great with cream as the main colour and this pink blend as the trim. (That feels the wrong way around to me - it should be a cream trim... it's just the amounts I have won't work that way).

Do you like the gingerbread man button? One of a little haul from Ally Pally.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Messing about on the Dark Side

I've been doing battle with Darth Sewing Machine again. Despite the damn thing taking me out at the thumb, I won.

Before Christmas, I missed two of my sewing classes - one through rowing with MFI and one because I was ill - and I had a couple of pieces of work to do. I think classes start up again tomorrow and, in my usual fine tradition of being organised and not leaving everything until the last minute, I decided to make a start on one of these projects today... after lunch in fact.

Above... some strips of material laid out next to some cord. A big clue to what I was making is at the top of the picture, no, not the bin. Below, you can see the material being wrapped around the cord and sewn up - though there were several arguments with Darth SM to get a tight enough seam along the cord.

The piping was then attached to a larfe piece of material. (This is "Ruby Hamptom Check" by the way and is a lovely mix of colour and texture - chenille squares intersperse the silky-feeling stuff. Oh, yes, I understand my materials, not).

Next stage... putting in a zip and attaching the other piece of material. She says this like it was easy. The big guns were brought in at this stage after relations between yours truly and Darth SM broke down. Damn thing maliciously attacked my thumb (though perhaps I shouldn't have had my thumb right under the foot) so I retaliated by snapping the needle (though this could be argued as being a bigger pain in the backside to me than the machine).

Those big guns? The BF arrived with a cup of tea and cake.

Can you guess what it is yet?

Above - inside-out.

Below - the right way around and stuffed.

Check out my piping - I'm well chuffed with it (having previously sworn that piping was a Dark Art and to be avoided at all costs).

I'll be taking the cushion to class tomorrow - largely to prove I've done some work. There was also a table runner to do before Christmas, but that didn't happen as I was finishing my Christmas knitting. I might do this next weekend as it'll make sure I actually get it done for next Chrimbo. That's the red cotton sheeting and cream starry voile on the left of the picture (below).

On the right is some brown material patterned with pale pink and dark pink circles that my friend Sian gave me. I think there's enough for a small cushion there.

In knitting news, I bought "Son of Stich and Bitch" last week. I'm hiding it from the BF as I can see him getting a few presents out of there. I'm really fickle with knitting books - the first time I looked through the book, I wasn't overly impressed but now I love it. I've also finished a baby hat and some child's socks from the remnants of the "Opal -Rainforest - Zebra"... but the camera is now having a hissy fit so no piccies.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

A Few Thoughts on Last Year

I had several resolutions, some of them I'm keeping for this year.

The stash was never reduced. Hahaha! I made many, many pairs of socks for myself, and as far as having a go at designing went... I played about with a few baby hats and blankets, but nothing serious.

This year, I have catalogued the stash - with the exception of the big box of orphan balls that I'm scared to delve into. ;-) I want to break the back of these before I treat myself to more yarn (except when I need to buy yarn to make gifts for other people). I'm keeping the list in my side bar to help me keep track.

Books I read last year... lots. With the exception of 'American Gods' (Neil Gaiman) purely because I didn't like the style of writing, they've all been goodies. The BF mentioned that Facebook has a facility for scoring books, but I find this difficult... I'd rate 'Desperation' (Stephen King) and "The Time Traveller's Wife" (Audrey Niffenegger) with a 5/5 but there entirely different novels with 'Desperation' being a trashy horror. I score on enjoyment.

1. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
2. A Feast for Crows - George RR Martin
3. The Kraken Wakes - John Wyndham
4. Consider Her Ways - John Wyndham
5. The Children of Men - PD James
6. Cell - Stephen King
7. A Modern Utopia - HG Wells
8. All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye - Christopher Brookmyre
9. Havoc, in it's Third Year - Ronan Bennett
10. Until I Find You - John Irving
11. Slant - Greg Bear
12. Saving Fish From Drowning - Amy Tan
13. Labyrinthine - Kate Moss
14. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
15. The Traveller - John Twelve-Hawks
16. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Bill Bryson
17. The Hungry Tide - Amitav Ghosh
18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
19. As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela - Mark Thomas
20. Ringworld - Larry Niven
21. Lisey's Story - Stephen King
22. Desperation - Stephen King
23. The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant
24. In the Company of the Courtesan - Sarah Dunant
25. A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil - Christopher Brookmyre
26. Blood Music - Greg Bear
27. The Complete Robot - Issac Asimov
28. Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett
29. Making Money - Terry Pratchett
30. The Caves of Steel - Issac Asimov
31. The Naked Sun - Issac Asimove
32. The Night Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko
33. A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
34. Gerald's Game - Stephen King

The Joy of No Deadlines

As Piglottie has very rightly pointed out, knitting to deadlines takes some of the fun out of knitting and turns the hobby into a chore. So for next Christmas, I'm either going to start knitting earlier, or...and this is my preferred option... not knit as many things for people. Realistically, I know I'll be doing the former. D'oh!

Since finishing the socks for my Step-Dad (on the 26th, that I have forgotten to photograph) I've been churning out the socks for myself.

Here we have a pair of "Opal - Rainforest - Zebras" (which has been in the hoard since October 2006) and a pair of "Admiral R Druck" (which I picked up on my trip to Ally Pally - part of a 'three for £12 offer'). The Zebras were rattled off pretty quickly in 6ply.

To keep the Zebras company, I'm now on with a pair of Tigers... don't know how well that would work in the wild, although you don't get tigers in Africa.

The BF has been wandering around the house singing "Tiger Feet".

And, because I'm making a concerted effort to reduce the orphan balls... I'm going to knit these up before I start anything else. (Being a size 5, there's actually enough "Zebra" left for another pair of socks for me... but I can't possibly have two matching pairs of socks!!! :-) So, these will either be for my friend Debbie or my niece Lois).

PS News of another new baby. My friend Rachel has just had a little girl - long name... to be known as Effie.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!!

Posting disappeared by the wayside towards the end of last year, and then I was away for Christmas. There are advantages and disadvantages to keeping your families on the opposite side of the country. One of these is the travelling you do to make sure you see everyone and another is that at least their rows are kept on the opposite side of the Pennines when you escape.

In this instance, Christmas was spent with the BF's family where everyday could have been spent more peacefully in Basra. There's a lot of family tradition that to be followed... this translates as a lot of work that MIL and especially FIL ('cos he doesn't do any of it) view as essential to the true Christmas experience...that no-one else expects. When help is offered, it is always rejected and then there will be several rows to rival anything seen on 'Eastenders' as everyone is criticised for being unsupportive and ungrateful.

From there, we went to my Mam's (both of us breathing deep sighs of relief). My Step-Dad turned 60 on the 28th and, for eight months, my Mam has been planning a surprise party. She hired a small room at Lumley Castle (on the banks of the River Wear at Chester-le-Street for you cricket fans) for a family party.

For the first time (in six years) my brother and I (and our partners) met my Step-Dad's sons and their partners. It was a fantastic evening - everyone hit it off. My Step-Dad was stunned when he caught sight of his sons and my brother sat together in the bar: "But how do they know each other?" The food was delicious, the wine was free-flowing and the birthday cake (completely chocolate) smuggled up from "Slattery" ( in Whitefield went down a treat.

In other news... my second Christmas neice was born on the 15th December - Talia Rose. My brother sent me a text message: "New baby is here. Smaller than Lois - 6,10. She's got massive feet!" I love his sentimentality... and she really does have massive feet. :-) My brother and his wife loved the things I had knitted, as did her sister...who disappeared with the moon and stars blanket.

My Step-Dad was really grateful for the socks I knitted for his birthday - it was quite a reaction for someone who doesn't usually say much.

The BF loves "Saranac" though some blocking is required for better shaping. I'm a little disappointed with that, and I have made a further rod for my back. He loves the socks "and wouldn't mind some more if you're knitting them."

Meanwhile, my nephew has finally started wearing a hat. The "Sirdar Bamboo DK" paid off. Once the gift was opened (including the two jumpers which his Mum loved, but he wasn't much impressed by) he made off with the hat. He spent all night rubbing it against his head and face. So the softness works - that and the fact that we've fasted it to his head. (I previously suggested stapling, but for some reason, this wasn't a popular idea).

Some of my fab presents included "Bags Two" and "More Sensational Knitted Socks" - which I'm going to need some help with... regarding how to follow the instructions! Basically, I made out like a bandit.

Anyway, Happy New Year to you all - I hope the coming year is everything you want it to be.