Sunday, 25 January 2009

Mish Mash

It's been a busy old week.

Two of my colleagues are American and they decided to hold a party at work to celebrate Obama's inauguration. They were bringing in masses of food - all on an American theme - so a few of us thought we would help them out by baking some stuff ourselves. It's a pity we didn't coordinate - we all brought in blueberry muffins.

I also baked raspberry and white chocolate muffins...

...and chocolate and banana. (They were lovely, even if I do say so myself).

I've finished "Thomas the Tank Engine" - cheating on the face by sewing on googly eyes. I bought three bags of the things - because I wasn't sure which size would be be best - and the BF opened all of them before I could check. So, I can't take them back and now have enough googly eyes to last me a life time.

So, here are James and the Fat Controller on the front...

...with Thomas himself on the back.

Now, I'm on with a baby blanket for a friend. She's expecting a baby in the late Summer so I should have time to do it, but she doesn't know if it's a boy or a girl. I'm going for a brightly coloured neutral approach. It's going to be bounded at the top and bottom by rainbow garter stitch strips, and I'm going to do a range of different squares. This first yellow one is done in moss stitch.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


My Mam has rediscovered tapestry and decided to make herself some cushions... well, she'd do the tapestry and she asked me, very nicely, if I would sew them up. This all sounded very straightforward and I thought I could get these rattled off this afternoon. You may be already suspecting that things did not go quite according to plan.

It started off so well, but I ended up doing a lot of swearing at Darth Sewing Machine.

So, my Mam is going with an Egyptian theme - Nefertiti and Tutenkhamun.

I thought it would be a good idea to get rid of the excess tapestry backing and thought that folding under would create a piece of fabric that was too bulky to sew.

Therefore I stitched the cushion to a piece of cotton lining and then trimmed it. The next stage being to attach the piping braid.

Disaster! Look at the state of this. The tapestry backing is sticking out between the piping and the design. It looked rubbish, so I had to remove the piping and have a rethink... which then meant that the tapestry was in danger of unravelling itself. Bollocks.

The solution, though a less than brilliant one, was to do what I should have done in the first place. I used the material I bought for the cushion-back to tape the edges, and it actually looks ok.

I decided not to add the piping, for two reasons - it was going to make the cushion look to busy and, the fabric was getting too thick.

As it was, the zip took some sewing. With the thick tapestry attached to the cotton lining, plus the fabric tape to protect the edges, this had become a very chunky piece of material and sewing the zip showed that this was becoming to much for Darth. It snapped my heaviest needle.

I managed just to sew the zip but when it came to attaching the cushion back... things didn't go well. Two snapped needles later and I gave up, facing the inevitable - I was going to have to hand sew the two pieces of fabric together, to make the actual cushion.

And, here we have the finished product, finally.

I have to make Tutenkhamun's cushion this week as I'm going to see my Mam on Friday and I suspect she might quite like to have her cushions then.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


The BF casually announced the other day that I could either make him another jumper like the one I've just given him for Christmas, or I could make him a cardigan. "Maybe one with a zip?", I suggested, thinking "he's already got slippers and he's only 34".

"That sounds good," he said... so I started hunting around and have decided to make 'Avast' ( It's plain enough for even the BF's taste with a little cable detail that won't offend him too much.

Next, the yarn... I decided to try out New Lanark yarns, and I ordered a stash of "Donegal Silk Tweed (DK)" in Cobalt. It's 90% wool and 10% silk and at £1.95 a ball, I thought: "Bargain".

It arrived today. It's darker than appeared on screen, but that's one of those things. It's also a lot rougher than I expected. I'm hoping it will knit up softer than the individual strands feel because, together when squishing, they do feel very soft. Also, blocking might help and the BF will be wearing it over T-shirts. In addition, I wasn't sure about the last jumper and he loved that. Can you smell the reassurance I'm giving myself?

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Thomas, well James the Engine, actually

Stage 2 of the Thomas the Tank Engine cardigan. Here's James and I've made a heap big mistake.

No, it's not the absence of his face. I'll add that once I've blocked it.

See the big patch of white next to James. I thought that was supposed to be steam. Oh, no. It's supposed to be grassy hills. I'm assuming that the designers thought that the pattern would be clearer if they shaded the green bits in white and just wrote a big "G" on the section.

That was supposed to be a good idea?

Oh, well, I'm doing the "workman blaming his tools" tantrum aren't I?

Red Dress (Part 2)

I resumed my attempts to clobber together a frock on Sunday. It's still not quite finished, with a few seams requiring further sewing, a shoulder seam nowhere near as tight as it should be - there's a fold over the actual sewn seam - and a zip to be inserted.

The sewing started off simply. Having prepared the skirts pieces, i.e. cut them out, all I needed to do was sew in the pleats and then sew them together. Straightforward? Well, yes, it should have been. If the two back pieces are supposed to go together like this... "> <", why did I end up nearly sewing them like this , "< <"? Because I sewed a pleat on the wrong side of one of the pieces. So my neat sewing had to be pulled out of this...

...leaving the fabric looking like this...

...but, thankfully, I have a new best friend in the iron, so it ended up looking like this.

...And here's the nearly finished dress... looking remarkably like a red bin bag.

I think it will look better once I get the zip in - the big gaping opening at the back does not add to the overall impression.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Thomas the Tank Engine

I'm hoping to finish the red dress today, but I'm doing this as a 'mini break' from making this Thomas the Tank Engine cardigan for my nephew Thomas. (The SIL and BIL didn't think through the naming implications of this one. Their best friend's son is called... Ivor).

I enjoy knitting Intarsia and this is a very simple and fun knit.

Red Dress

I decided to do some sewing this weekend so I am in the middle of a dress. (I signed up to a dress making class which I'm just not enjoying as much as the soft furnishing class I went to. It's just not grabbing me the same way and I think I prefer my learning to be more structured than "just tell me what you need to know". I don't know what I need to know!)

So, we have a nice simple pattern... which I'll show when I've finished so we can see the side-by-side of what it's supposed to look like compared with what it actually does look like. I bought the linen from Abakhans for the bargain price of £7.83. It's a very forgiving fabric which is fortunate as Darth Sewing Machine and I have been having a few differences of opinion. The iron, meanwhile, has been great which is just as well as I hate ironing and dressmaking makes ironing an essential component of construction. (What was I thinking?)

Above, the pieces all cut out, waiting for the instruction details to be sewn on (for wear to sew the darts, etc).

Above - the bodice assembled: lining and outer pieces.

Below - the front of the skirt, draped over the ironing board.

Below: Skirt front pinned to the bodice for storage, overnight.

Yes, I've taken over the living room.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Postie Goodness

The goodies I bought on Ebay and from the Black Sheep Wool Company have been arriving over the last few days. Below is a picture of the "Opal - Circle" yarn (even if the usual Opal ball bands aren't on them).

...And more squishy goodness with the "Rico" yarns.

In other news, a few of us at work have decided to set up an office knitting group on Wednesday lunchtimes. Pam is a cables n Aran diva, Arteth is a whizz with toys, I've been asked to be the sockaholic and others have asked to come so we can teach them. Oh, yes, we will convert the rest of them.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

More and More Socks

Here he is, modelling the socks he mithered on for, for ages, and ages... the BF in his "Fortissima - Colori".

The boss bought me a most unexpected gift for Christmas - "Stotty n Spice Cake: The History of Northeast Cooking" - so I'm having a bit of a panic and knitting these for her, for Monday.

"Regia - Colour - Avenue" as selected by Liz, so if the boss don't like 'em, Liz gets the blame. Yes, my conscience is clear.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Books - The Big Read

I found this on Kai's blog (Yarn Mistrys).

BTW if you are wondering why I am posting so much today - I spent all of yesterday and last night being ill (not booze related) and I don't have any energy for anything other than sitting on my arse and messing about with t'interweb.

The original is from Big Read. Apparently they reckon most people will have only read 6 of the 100. Is this a challenge?


1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Underline those you intend to read. I’ve indented those choices…
3) Italicise the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling 5. To Kill a Mockingbird– HarperLee 6. The Bible (To quote the wonderful Tom Baker - a marvellous book for children... "full of sex and violence").
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott - really didn't love but can't switch off the italics.
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy - a novel to slit your wrists by - Hardy was a depressing bugger. "Jude" is even worse!
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare - dunno about complete but I've read a lot of them.
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks - and it's pants.
18. Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger - and it's worse than pants. I think my mistake was reading it when I was 21, rather than a 14 year old. This kid is such a whinge. 19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger 20. Middlemarch – George Eliot 21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell 22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (My mate Paul says I must read it).
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh - saw it on the telly, does that count? I'm joking!!
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck - Love it. It's fab.
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame - I hate all of the dramatisations so it's unlikely I'll be reading this one.
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres Mans - Big Pile of Poo. What a rubbish ending.
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown Yuk!! Spawned a million imitators and worse - Kate Moss "Labyrinth" and Barbara Erskine "Whispers in the Sand". These two produce Dan Brown for Girls. Cack, utter cack!
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving - I cried and cried. It's lovely.
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins 46. Anne of Green Cables - LM Montgomery 47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy - Probably not, I've learned my lesson.
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding 50. Atonement – Ian McEwan 51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel 52. Dune – Frank Herbert 53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon 60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding 69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie 70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73.The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker 84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro 85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert - Haven't read but can't switch off the bold on this one.
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White - Haven't read but can't switch off the bold on this one, either! 88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

49/100 Cool.

2009 Resolutions

So... this year's knitting resolutions are mainly about using up what I already have and finishing started projects.

1. Reduce the stash.

This year's stash is currently:
  • "Colinette Jitterbug - Lapis" socks for me
  • "Fortissima Colori" - more socks for me
  • "Knitwitches Cashmere Heavy Laceweight"
  • "Lorna's Laces - Mixed Berries" socks for me (Nagini)
  • "Lornas Laces - Flames" socks for me (Fawkes)
  • "Middle Earth Yarns - Captain Jack" socks for me
  • "Middle Earth Yarns - Davy Jones" socks for me
  • "Muskat" to make something for me - dunno what yet
  • "Regia Silk" Jumper for me
  • "Sir Galli" (silk) to be something for me
  • "Sirdar Escape" jacket for me.
  • "Touch Yarns" jacket for me
  • Fairisle gloves in lacewight 2ply (!) for me
  • One huge box of orphan balls
This is a huge reduction on last year's stash, though that box of orphan balls is a massive reduction in its own right. However, I have a plan... a good friend is expecting a baby so I'll get quite a bit used up with baby blankets and booties methinks.

2. No more wool shopping until the stash is reduced - except where required for gifts.

3. Finish "Wave" by Mother's Day and make it a gift for my Mam.

I realised that the only way I will finish this is to make it a gift (because I have gone off it) and my Mam will really like the colours, plus it's in "Rowan Summer Tweed" so it's not like I'm palming off a shoddy product.

4. Finish "Bonita" in time for my trip to Rome in April.

Another one where a deadline will inspire me to finish it. It's my Mam's 60th birthday this year and my gift is a trip to Rome and Florence for her, and "Bonita" will be nice for me to wear while I'm there.

5. Find the missing "Admiral R Druck" second sock that I had started and finish that.

Dunno where that went. It was paused when I started the Christmas presents and I was down to turning the heel. There's a big cupboard that is a likely suspect.

2008 Lists

In 2008, I knitted...

Various gifts, with yarn not from the stash:

1. "Alicia" ("Stylecraft DK Merino) for Talia - only Sophie got it
2. "Hannah" (Stylecraft DK Merino) for Talia - fit for a week
3. "Jaeger Extra Fine Merino - Ocean" for a jumper for the BF
4. "Regia - Kaffe Fasset " socks for the BF.
5. "Regia - Kaffe Fasset" socks for the BF's birthday
6. "RYC - Cashsoft Aran - Retropolitan" cardigan for my Grandda.
7. "Sirdar - Baby Bamboo - DK" cardigan for Lois
8. "Sirdar - DK Tweed" cardigan for Talia.
9. "Sirdar - DK" gloves for Pete.
10. "Sirdar DK Cotton" Numbers jumper for Thomas

11. "Stylecraft Kon-Tiki DK" Hoodie for Talia
12. "Twilleys Freedom Spirit" gloves for Diane.
13. "Twilleys Freedom Spirit" gloves for Jeanette
14. "Wendy - Bamboo" socks for MIL.
15. "Zoo Toy Bag" for Thomas in "Sirdar DK Cotton"

I used up the stash yarn on:

1. "Admiral Druck" socks for me
2. "Admiral R Druck" socks for Lois
3. "DB - Cathay" cardigan for me - trimmed with some "Louisa Harding - Sari Ribbon"
4. "Dumpling" (Rowan Babies) in Rowan Big Wool for Effie
5. "Dumpling" (Rowan Babies) in Rowan Big Wool for Talia
6. "Left for Lilacs" for Debbie
7. "Opal - Hundertwasser" socks for me
8. "Opal - Jeans" socks for me
9. "Opal - Petticoat - Lemon" socks for Lois
10. "Opal - Rainforest - Blue Frog" socks for Lois
11. "Opal - Rainforest - Tiger" socks for Lois
12. "Opal - Rainforest - Tiger" socks for me
13. "Opal - Rainforest - Zebra" hat for Talia
14. "Opal - Rainforest - Zebra" socks for Lois
15. "Opal - Rainforest - Zebra" socks for me
16. "Opal - Rainforest 3" socks for me
17. "Opal - Something or Other" socks for my Mam
18. "Puss in Boots" (Jean Greenhowe)

19. "Regia - Colour" Socks for the BF
20. "Regia - Crazy Colours" socks for my niece
21. "Regia - Polar" socks for my Step-Dad
22. "Rowan All Seasons Cotton Aran" jumper for Thomas.
23. "RYC Cashsoft Aran" "Bonnie" bag for SIL.
24. "RYC Cashsoft Aran" "Bonnie" scarf for me.

25. "Sirdar - Peru - Naturals" wrap over for me
26. "Twilleys Freedom Spirit" Gloves
27. "Twilleys Freedom Spirit" Scarf for Debbie.
28. "Twilleys Freedom Spirit" wrap-cardigan for myself
29. "Twilleys Freedom Spirit" Wrist Warmers
30. "Wendy - Aran" to be 'Retropolitan 2.0' for Granda
31. Another "Tulip" (Rowan 41) in Rowan Damask Mica (?) for me
32. Baby Blanket in "Sirdar Cotton DK" and "Dalegarn - Baby Ull"
33. Jelly babies (Jean Greenhowe) for Thomas.
34. Retropolitan 3.0" (!) for Granda in "Wendy - Aran".
35. Stashbuster gloves for Mary.
36. Strawberry hat in DK oddments
37. Strawberry teacosy for SIL

I also learned to sew, even if it is a Dark Art. Darth Sewing Machine will be popping out over the next few days to make some cushions for my Mam.

1. "Ruby Hampton Check" Cushion

2. Another cushion - brown with pink circles
3. Cream and chocolate curtains for our bedroom
4. Cream runner for chest of drawers in the spare bedroom
5. Roman blinds for our bedroom
6. Roman blinds for the downstairs loo
7. Shopping Bag
8. Table Runner - made of cotton and voile. Attached a red ribbon trim - but it still looked pants. So, I never actually fixed it and it went in the bin just before Christmas, given up as a thoroughly annoying bad job.