Sunday, 30 March 2008

New Cardigan (Update)

The cardigan finished drying on Thursday, and I sewed on the "Sari Ribbon". However, I had a change of mind which wasn't at all related to the fact that I don't like sewing.

I think the ribbon looks great on the cuffs but would have been too much around the neckline.

(Apologies for the dirty mirror).

I've just come back from Newcastle. It was my Mam's birthday and I took her to see 'Swan Lake'. While I was there I stealth-knitted some more of the BF's jumper (Retro Big Sweater from "Sublime" in "Jaeger - Extra Fine Merino DK"). The back is now finished and the drape of the finished piece is really lovely. The stitch definition is very clear but knitted up, it still feels beautifully soft. I started the front this morning - it's very satisfying.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

New Cardigan

I have finally finished knitting a lovely cardigan for myself in "DB - Cathay".

Hmm - you wouldn't think I'd bocked it would you? The dishcloth presentation is an attempt to hide a join in the yarn on the inside of the back. I've recently become a well behaved knitter in the I join new balls at the edge of the piece.

I still haven't overcome the reluctance to go back to the edge when I find a join in the yarn, once I'm halfway along a row. It's bloody annoying. The thing is... I'm pretty good at hiding the join when you look at it from the right side of the piece, but when you have an open cardi like this one, the knot is glaringly obvious when you take it off. So, I won't be able to take it off at work and leave it on a chair, because I'll be embarrassed by the shoddy workmanship.

Oh well, I'll just have to cook if it gets too hot!

I'm really pleased that I've finally made myself something in "Cathay" - the BF's first Christmas jumper was in this yarn and it's so soft.

One major error I made when knitting this was - I forgot to switch from 3.25mm needles to 3.75 so it hasn't got the same drape as it would have. It's amazing the difference that 0.5mmm makes to the finished garment. However, I quite like this stiffer feel to fabric.

The next stage for the cardigan is a little more sewing... as it's the "Ribbon-edged cardigan" from the "DB - Cathay" book. So, I've bought this lovely stuff sew around the sleeves and the neck edge. The pattern required organza ribbon but I popped into "Wool" in Stockport to ask if they sold ribbon, and the very nice lady pointed me to the "Louisa Harding - Sari Ribbon".

I don't know whether I've broken my stashalong rule? I needed ribbon and I've bought ribbon... but it's a skein of ribbon... at 60metres... but it's probably better value than buying 3.5m of organza ribbon (is it?) as it was only £3... and it compliments the colour of the cardigan perfectly.

Anyway, I shall start sewing tonight at the knitting group. Meanwhile, I've also started this...

It's another "Tulip" (Rowan 41) in a lovely shade of red. I liked the first one I made so much, that I decided I wanted another one. Is that terribly unimaginative of me?

I find this a nice, easy and fast knit - a good way to use up the stash!

And, it's the last "Ashes to Ashes" tonight. I've enjoyed it but it's just not as good as "Life on Mars". Gene Hunt still rocks, though.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Nutty Neighbour

We moved to this house in July last year. For the most part, it has been fun and we largely get on with all of our neighbours, except for the woman who lives on the end of our block.

Parking is a problem on this street. All the houses have drives to accommodate two cars, but many of our immediate neighbours have three or four vehicles. We have one car and our nextdoor neighbours have one car. We're always getting blocked in by everyone else. On the one occasion we had a visitor who parked badly, we got a stroppy note from the woman on the end - demanding courtesy and consideration; reminding us that she has a baby (not sure what that had to do with anything) and threatening to report us to the police. Apparently this was the last straw.

I went around to apologise because I don't like bad feeling. I also wanted to point out that she's always blocking us in. Apparently, she's not.

I'm really annoyed with this situation because parking is such a petty issue but it seems to be causing all manner of aggravation around here - not least with us. We concluded that after her written outburst, the woman on the end... let's call her Mitzy... her real name is much sillier but let's give her some anonymity...we concluded, that she would behave like a Parking Paragon of Virtue, i.e. not park across our drive any more

A couple of weeks later, in a hurry to get down to London for Mother's Day, we left the house to find Mitzy's car partially blocking us in. The BF was annoyed and it was too early to be knocking on doors, so he left a note: "If you're going to dictate neighbourhood parking, you should probably act as an example to the rest of us. This is the seventh time you've blocked us in, including letting your friends park on our drive, since you threatened us with the police."

I expected a row when we got home. Nothing. But, Mitzy did stop blocking our drive.

Yesterday, I bumped into our neighbour and he asked me what I thought of the parking problems. Having checked the ground before I started discussing Mitzy, I told him the tale, and he told me a few of his own.

1. She always uses the fact that she has a baby as the reason for her complaint - no matter what the complaint is.
2. She complains about their parking too - usually while they're in the middle of unloading something heavy from the car - because she has a baby.
3. She complains about their noise - because she has a baby - then proceeds to drown them with her noise.
4. A parcel was delivered to them one day. They were out and the postie left it with Mitzy. When they went to collect it, they thanked her and said how grateful they were. Two hours later, there was a note pushed through their door, informing them: "I hope you don't expect me to spend all day, everyday, sitting in to wait for your parcels. I'm very busy and I have a baby."
5. She always complains with a note.

I'm really glad I spoke to the chap nextdoor. I was wondering if it was just us.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

New Curtains

Darth Sewing Machine and I have been getting on surprisingly well of late. I spent yesterday sewing the bargain material I bought last weekend into curtains for our bedroom. (Apologies for the quality of these photos - the flash is on the blink).

Our bedroom is painted Soft Truffle (chocolate), Almost Oyster (pale pink) and Cotton (white). For the window, I've made both a Roman Blind (earlier posts) and now some curtains in cream and chocolate. Our bedroom is in the attic, hence the sloping ceiling on both sides of the window. It can be a gloomy room on an overcast day.

Before (above) and after (below).

The curtains are made of cream cotton and I've added a piece of chocolate material, studded with diamante, at the bottom. It was really important to get the joins in the two colours to exactly match the level of the window ledge, otherwise there would have been too many lines (driving the BF crackers).

I was originally going put a piece of dusky pink material between the cream and chocolate to match the colour scheme of the room, but with the soon to be added pinkish Roman Blind, I felt this would have been too much.

Here are the closed curtains with a cushion I made, for the rocking chair, to match the room's colours. I don't like this one as much as the 'Ruby Hampton Check' one on the bed, which was made to splash some complementary but slightly contrasting colour into the room. (I prefer this one because I took the time to make the piping and think it looks much better).

Springtime in Paris

The BF and I have just returned from a few days in Paris. We've had a a lovely time - I've even been practicing my pidgin French without any mishaps. People have been very friendly and patient.

The weather has largely been rotten but thankfully there are plenty of museums in which to spend a windy and wet afternoon. On Monday, we had a sodden walk, down the Champs Elysees, from the Arc du Triomphe (near where we were staying) to the Louvre. I love the Louvre.

My Nana gave me some old encyclopaedias when I was a child. They're comically inaccurate. For example, in a section asking whether humans will ever walk on the moon or Mars, the authors solemnly state that the inhabitants of those planets may not appreciate visitors. However, these books are also full of photographs of the sculptures in the Louvre.

I always loved these as a child.

So, on my two trips to Paris, I've really enjoyed seeing the real pieces.

On Tuesday, we made the same walk, in drier weather, only to find that the Arc du Triomphe and most of the Champs Elysees was closed. Most of the main roads and grand bridges were closed too.

There were police and gendarmerie everywhere, all in dress uniform, so I asked one what was happening. There was a delegation from Australia visiting, and this is the view from the Louvre, back up the Champs Elysees to the Arc du Triomphe...

...completely empty.

In between rain showers, we also went to Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, riding the funiculaire to the top of Montmartre.

After visiting Versailles, we took advantage of the sunshine to see the Eiffel Tower in daylight - we had dinner there on Monday night and saw it all lit up. Then we popped across the bridge to the Trocadero, where you can get a great view of the city, and of course the Tower itself.

Before we left on Thursday, we took another trip down to Ile de la Cite, where we crossed the Pont Neuf and wandered around the Latin Quarter (in the rain, hence no photos) to see the Sorbonne, the Pantheon and the beautiful church of St Etienne on the Mount.

These ugly mugs on the Pont Neuf are caricatures of the dodgy characters that once lurked on the bridge - the usual suspects - robbers, thieves, drunks, harlots, loiterers...and dentists.

The Palace at Versailles

Even in the Winter, Versailles is worth seeing. I've read about it, but no amount of description does justice to just how vast the place is. Despite saying this, I am going to tell you that it was built by 30,000 workers, to house the 6,000 courtiers that Louis XIV was keeping on their toes by having them drag their huge retinues between Paris and Versailles.

Apparently, Louis XIV didn't like Paris, and he didn't overly trust the nobility - who would? Versailles was largely built as a monument to the glory of France and as a bit of a tribute to himself, the Sun King. Modest, wasn't he? The most useful aspect of the building was that it meant the nobles had no time to plot and form factions; because they were too busy keeping up appearances and travelling to and from Versailles which, at the time, was quite a trek.

He also built a little lodge on the estate at Versailles, to which he could escape from the people he had dragged with him.

However, the part that the BF and I were really interested in was the hameau (hamlet) of Marie-Antoinette. She had already been given her own houses on the land by her husband Louis XVI, on the occasion of their wedding, but at some point she decided she wanted to be a milk maid... so they built her a village.

Complete with livestock.

The farm struck me as 1700s France's version of 'ye olde' plastic 'authentic' villages and pubs that we build today. However, Marie-Antoinette used to live here on occasion.

It was a model village. The produce of this village actually came from villages outside Versailles.

Marie-Antoinette gets a terrible Press, and I'm not sure how much of it is well-deserved. She was criticised for actually raising her own children. The trend at the time was to dump your offspring, certainly if you were the Queen, on the court, but she was actually spent time with hers, actively participating in their education.

She's also portrayed as brow-beating and dictating policy to her weak husband Louis XVI. Could it be that the court just didn't like strong women?

I don't know a great deal about Marie-Antoinette so, for all I know, I'm spouting a load of codswallop. However, I did find myself wandering around and wondering whether she was utterly hat-stand in wanting this place built; or if she was just completely and totally bored out her mind, and sought an escape from an openly hostile court.

The last house in the hameau is this one - Louis XVI's house, nextdoor to that of his missus. The kitchen garden is still flowering.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

More Socks

Another oddment getting used up - "Opal - Blue Jeans" socks for me. (This yarn was bought to make gloves for my Auntie last year).

I'm off to Paris for a few days with the BF tomorrow. So, I'll be taking these "Admiral R Drucks" with me. I have no idea what the pattern is called, but I'm calling them my "Smarties". I love seeing how patterns shape up.

Am I weird for taking my knitting on holiday?

Cheap Materials

After finishing the Roman blind for our bedroom, I was very enthused to crack on with other projects for the house... which meant that a trip to Dunelm was in order. I hit the jackpot today - every piece of material I chose was either in the 'bargain bucket' or at the end of a roll, so I scored some excellent goodies.

Here, we have...

1.5m of (double sheeted) embroidered cream cotton - £11.98
1m of chocolate coloured diamante jewelled synthetic stuff - £7.99
1.5m of (double sheeted) lining - £3.36
3m of curtain heading tape - 60p

...And these new curtains will nicely frame the Amethyst Roman Blind - modelled above by the shopping bag I made yesterday.

I also decided that the downstairs loo needs something to give it a feature, so I decided to make another Roman blind - a 'diddy' one as the window is only 84cm x 41cm. I rattled up a blind in this 'Laser - Ochre' (the yellow version of the Amethyst one going in our bedroom), which I bought for £1.74!

So, after just one afternoon's sewing, I've turned this material into a Roman Blind.


...And this is how it will spend most of its time.

Blind Bag

Nope, not referring to myself.

I finally finished the blind for our bedroom, which has eventually gone from this:

...Via, sewing the dowelling channels in with dowelling tape - I love it when I find a cheat:

...To this:

As there was plenty of material left over, I've also made a shopping bag. I'm trying to use fewer plastic bags and I never have a bag with me when I'm at work - which is when the random shopping trips are made at lunchtime. So, this one will crumple up nicely in my satchel.

It's more like a beach bag, really.

Very simple - two squares of material, joined with a 15cm strip of material in between them both. Then I sewed two long strips of materials into handles, as I do prefer to carry bags on my shoulders.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Socks for the BF

Over the last couple of weeks... I don't think I've actually done much stash-busting knitting.

1. We've been busy each weekend - visitors or visiting. Spring is a bit of a busy family time for us - especially March - with christenings, birthdays and Mother's Day.

2. My lovely Step-Dad has been down to tile the bathroom and has done a lovely job... despite the cream tiles (which were to be used in a chessboard effect) being 3mm bigger than the green tiles. In the technical parlance, this would have "buggered up the grouting". So, he has made stripes, in a brickwork pattern and it looks lovely.

3. I finished the glove gifts for my pals at work, who loved them.

4. I have started some stealth knitting, while at my Mam's one weekend, and have done 2/3 of the back of the BF's Christmas jumper. (Decided I don't want to be finishing it off the week before Christmas).

5. The BF bought some yarn and asked me to knit him socks.