Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Bank Holiday Bikes and Hikes

The bank holiday was a gem. work was hard today though.

On Saturday Rich and I were the mechanics! we got our hands dirty fixing Ruby's puncture, and drank lots of tea in the street while we did it. It was fun, and a good day's work for a Saturday. I wore my trousers and Rich said i was like Charlene from Neighbours (but i think he meant because i looked like a mechanic and commenting on my resemblance to the teenage Kylie Minogue). The puncture is mended, but i fear that we broke the gears whilst trying to take the wheel off... poor Ruby. I have taken her in out of the weather for a while until she is in good working order.

Also that morning the curtains fell down and we went up the ladder and fixed them. We were like the DIY dream team.

On Sunday the weather was dull, but this meant a good one for some austere dressmaking. Unfortunately i ran out of thread before finishing, so will save news of this for a later date... but here is a clue:

I want every dress to be black from now on.

Monday (bonus day!)
Yesterday  i went on an outing with some of my friends to Arundel. That is such a lovely village with a Castle and Cathedral and a very grand park with a big valley and amazing views. I really enjoyed that bit. Also Yumi showed me the City News which had mine and Ruby's picture in from bike week (can you see us!)

There are also some photos here on their website, including one of Yumi.

yours famously,

Emilia. xx

Monday, 30 August 2010

Work in Progress - a BIG bit of knitting

When i was in Topshop recently i tried on this cardigan:

I know that it doesn't really look much, but it is navy cotton and has drop sleeves and the way it hangs is just lovely. I was not so impressed by the pockets and the sleeves though so deciphered the pattern and decided i can make one like this, with all the elements i was inspired by but without the ugly parts.

The shapes are all just big oblongs, and i consulted my book - Design your own Knits by Debbie Abrahams and published by Hamlyn - and the guidelines for drop shoulders there told me that there was very minimal shaping, and oversized but not too bulky is best.

here is the cover of the book in case you like the sound of it and what to find it. it is useful i would say and has a nice lot of proportional graph paper - good for accurate shaping.

I couldn't find any cotton in a colour i really liked in the shops as a lot was for baby knitting so only in pastels, and some of the other blues were just too blue and not dark enough. Rowan had a good one though, but i was perhaps trying to convince myself that Colinette was the place to go (it is my fetish i fear)

So i indulged (again) in a large quantity of a yarn they sell called Banyan which i think is 100% cotton, although the website contradicts itself. Whatever it is, it is just what i was looking for. I went for the colour Bright Charcoal:

Colinette Banwry in Bright Charcoal

So far i have completed the back which is possibly the largest single piece of knitting i've ever seen! Knitting in stocking stitch is so fast and satisfying though - i am experiencing similar addiction symptoms as with the crochet.

I have had a couple of dilemmas along the way though - firstly about the width of it (knitting on circular needles allowed it to spread out and it just looked so enormous) and then about how plain and flat it looked without any lace or stitch detail. but i persevered on the back and persuaded myself that it will be better to be true to that one that inspired me and that sometimes less is more (especially when using quite a colourful yarn) and as it grew so did my belief in it. I did take one small action though and created a small ruche in the middle of the back. This has broken up the vastness with a little bit of shaping and also reduced the width so the measurement at the shoulders is closer to my original calculations, but it hasn't really interfered with the simplicity i was aiming for. All in all i am very happy with progress. The cotton has such a lovely weight to it. i just love to squeeze it.

It will be better to show what i mean with some pictures (the sun came out today so hopefully favourable conditions for photos soon)

Now i have started the front panel and it's growing fast! I am worried about how much knitting i am doing at the moment though, and might try to cut back this week and try to do a bit more reading. All this quick stocking stitch makes me realise that it would be quite easy to make a couple of basic cardigans for the winter, and much nicer and warmer ones than from the shops. But less about that for now - we still have 22 days of summer to go...

Yours ambitiously,
Emilia. xxxx

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Crochet V-Cluster Stitch Cardigan Jacket

At the weekend we went to the Brunswick Square Festival. That was lovely with loads of stalls. The crepes looked good. especially with cheese! And Lucianna bought Jemima along and i gave her the little cardigan i had made. And then Deb held her which had been one of her new year's resolutions. She is so lovely and laughs. And then we ate some amazing cakes.

Then it started to rain (which as been a bit of a theme of the week) and we went to the pub where i finished my cardigan! (well, i finished the crochet part there - tying loose ends and sewing on buttons meant last night was the final date of completion!)

My first big crochet project! Here we are then:

headless. you can sort of tell the colour - it is called Banwry.

I was waiting for some daylight to photograph it in, but all the days are dull so it looks like probably i'm on a mission in night vision. (ps. i cut my hair!)

Crochet is like a dream! It is so fast (partly because it is so addictive i think) and satisfying and easy to make grand effects. I saw a lovely book of crochet stitches which is very tempting - maybe for christmas. This stitch I have been calling butterflies in my head, but it is really called cluster v stitch. Here you can find some instructions for it. Very easy indeed. It reminds me of the knitted daisy stitch i used to knit a scarf for Robyn, but much much easier than that to achieve. I really love the weight and texture.

I made this pattern up as i went along, despite my initial reservations about making something in crochet without a pattern. I used the colinette art wool i had started to knit into a lacey cardigan, but decided to unravel. I really love this wool. it is something like a bamboo blend i think and is really soft and nice. And the colours have a sort of tweedish effect. I also used this one for this puff sleeve cardi you can see in this picture of me with the baby. The effect is very different when knitted, and also took a look less wool (the crochet is like a rug!)

Art wool when it is knitted. Baby Lyra thinks it is nice and soft to sit on.

Here i have written out the pattern for my crochet cardigan. It is not really perfect i don't think, but it might be good guidelines if you don't know where to start. One good thing about crochet is that if you have made the wrong shape, it is quite easy to add stitches in.

Crochet V-Cluster Stitch Cardigan Jacket Pattern 

I am a 32" bust, or size 8 and the finished garment measures 16.5" from side seam to side seam when laid flat. The stitch is called cluster v stitch. You can see how it is done here. I used these instructions but decided during my warm up phase that i would just chain one between each cluster rather than two which kept it a bit tighter. To increase the width you can add more stitches - each one measures about 3/4 of an inch, but it is worth doing a tension test.

For my Jacket I used 6 x 100g skeins of Colinette Art (aran wight yarn) and a 4.5mm crochet hook

First make a chain of 97 (to increase add multiples of 4)

Working back into your chain, skip first 3 chains and crochet *1dc cl, 1ch, 1 dc cl* into the 4th loop. This *to* sequence is the cluster v stitch (you can see more instructions following the link above).

Skip the next three stitches in your chain and in the 4th work * to *

Repeat the stitch along the row. if you are following my pattern you should end up with 24. Finish the row with a dc and chain 2

Turn and on the next row work into the chain stitches you created in the middle of the cluster v. At the end of the row again chain 2 and turn. Work back and forth in this way until 16 rows have been completed (or to desired length)

Shape for arms:
On the next row skip the first 2 stitchs and work just 20 across, leaving the last two. Work a further 8 rows on these stitches.

Shape for the neck:
Work 8 stitches, chain 2, turn,
miss one and work seven (to keep the outer edge straight) chain 2
turn and work six, chain 2
turn and work six.

Work the opposite side identically.

FRONTS (make two)
Create a chain of 49, and from this work along to create 12 cluster v stitches. Work identically to the back for the length and arm shaping until 23 rows have been completed.

Shape for neck:
Work so the outer edge is straight, decreasing from the inner edge only:

Next row work 8 stitchs
Next row 8 stitches
Next row 7 stitches
Next row 6 stitches
Next row 6 stitches

SLEEVES (also make two)
Chain 77 and create a 19 cluster v chain
worked six rows
next row, decrease half a stitch at each end (just one cluster)
Work 3 rows.
Next row decrease another half a stitch at each end
Work three more rows
Continue to decrease on every fourth row like this until 13 stitches remain. Work 5 rows to finish (or more for longer sleeves)

i sewed all the pieces together using slip stitch seams. then i crocheted around the edges to create front bands and a collar.

Charted Shapes
(click to enlarge)

I remember a while ago i was looking at some granny squares that Deb and Yumi were making into blankets and just couldn't understand crochet at all. But it's grand when you know how! i am converted.

By hook or by crook,
Emilia. xxx

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Yoke Cardigans - for baby, for me

I have finished the baby cardigan for little baby Jemima. I had to get a move on because she is growing fast. Here we are:

little sheep

My fairisle knitting leaves much to be desired - i should definitely have used circular needles for the yoke so that it could stretch out properly. Or i should investigate what it is stranding or instarsia. As it is, it's a little wrinkled, but a sweet one i think. i am pleased with it.

Here is the pattern for that if you want to make one yourself. She gives a version for a boy or a girl so you can decide which is most appropriate. When i started knitting this it was before Jemima was born and i was expecting her to be a boy. I liked the version with the flowers though as thought the extra colour was nice, but used some peach instead of pink to keep it a little neutral. that is a good tip if you knit it for a baby that is not yet born. I think this is a lovely pattern for a baby.

I had never knitted a cardigan top down or with a yoke before, so it was really fun and exciting to watch how it grows and see how it came together. It was so satisfying and i thought it would be the perfect design to use up my Colinette Prism Toscana yarn that i had bought at christmas but not found anything good to do with yet (it arrived a bit different than i was expecting - a bit eco-warrior)

I thought i would need to do some conversions of the pattern to get to my size, but after doing a tension square i found that the Prism knitted on 6mm needles scaled up the pattern to exactly my size! I was unsure of this for a long while, but couldn't work out any other way of doing it, so proceded in good faith. and rightly! The only alteration was because i knitted the yoke in garter stitch i had to add in a few rows to keep the length right, and with the arms i knitted them straight instead of decreasing as on the baby one. they had to be a lot longer to make adult proportions.

Here i am, happy with the finished result
This it the back. i like the effect with the garter stitch yoke
a close up. the wool is pretty colours in the end.

I have not really worn this since i finished - i think perhaps a change of buttons will help, and maybe a wash will help settle it down a little. A good one for the autumn, over my summer dress.

I am excited to see Jemima in hers too.

Yours sheepily,
Emilia. xxxx

Monday, 9 August 2010

Floral Frock

For my birthday i got this wonderful book - Floral Frocks by Rosemary Harden and Jo Turney. What a gem!


The book is a critique of the Floral dress - an item which has been in style and worn by women in every decade for a century (i learnt). It is really interesting to read the history of the fabrics and fashions and the differing styles and social significance of the dresses. And very lovely to see all the pictures of women in their frocks! It has definitely brought to my consciousness what a lovely thing a flowery dress is, and how nice it is to wear one.

Whilst flicking through the book I found this beauty. I love everything about it.


So i tried for myself...

I used my tent dress pattern, this time using the round neck and long sleeve options. An added bonus is that C&H Fabrics are stocking some reproduction vintage floral print fabrics at the moment. They don't have one with the flowers in stripes like that, but i found an alternative with a big print which i really liked. A bold departure from the ditsy (literally).

Here is the result!

I like to wear the matching headscarf - but I do feel like i am in sixties fancy dress so probably just keep that for special occassions. My sister said i looked Russian - i think she meant peasant girl rather than Bond girl though. i didn't quite manage to get the sleeves - but maybe next time. 

here is what the dress looks like on a normal day, sans headscarf it is still a standalone gem!

I am pleased with the result, even though it is not quite what i had in mind when i started. This is to be my last summer dress of the year. But not the end of florals - Erdem is showing me the way forward! (there is even a patchwork skirt in there)

Yours Florally Frocked,
Emilia. xx x x x x x x x x

ps. while i am at it i will show you this little flowered one i made a couple of weeks ago. it is a simple tube shape with some chord for straps and a bit of elastic to help it fit. i made it from a curtain remnant - just like those coupon savvy forties girls. x

Friday, 6 August 2010

Show and Tell

This has been a busy week for me. I was asked to help make some cushions for a printing shop in Lewes. My friend Chrissy works there and the lady who normally does their sewing has gone on holiday for a little while. That has kept me busy! The designs all varied as the shop takes orders and you can go in and ask for what ever you like. Eleanor wants one with a fold cat on it so i will have to ask about that. I would have a mouse. The best ones i did were some which will be sold in the shop which and say 'no place like home' and are a nice style. If you buy one you will know who made it!
me with the finished products
It is nice to do a bit of moew professional sewing, although it is much more stressful than just making the dress for me. But it gives me a nice feeling of satisfaction and I was very pleased that I was asked to do that. I think i did a good job.

In other news i have my mind full of new things to try out. i have a friend called Marian at work who has done some quilting before and has told me how to go about it and showed me the book. i think a quilt will be a lovely project for winter. I can sit under it while i sew it! I like to look at all the pictures of them as they are so beautiful and amazing. Yesterday Marian took me to a shop in Lewes which is a specialist shop for quilting. The fabrics there are wonderful - i think i might even go there for dresses when i want a treat. The lady showed us around. she had made an amazing quilt - so big and colourful. i am not sure of my design yet, but i have found a lovely website with a lot of inspiring pictures. These are the ones i like most so far.

Marian says you can make one in an afternoon- but maybe that is only a small and simple one. i want to make a big spectacular one. I think it will be a long-term project but i think that will be the nicest way to do it. I am so excited to make the design and buy the materials.

Since my collars i have also been thinking a lot about crochet. it really is a satisfying hobby. I  have a dream of a crochet dress (not hippy style - something tightly stitched and structured in shape) but although i have done a sample and worked out my stitches, my lack of experience makes me a little nervous to start a garment without a pattern. There was a lady at Stitch and Beach last night who was doing a lovely little bit of crochet. perhaps she will be able to advise me.

Until then i will be on google images looking at these beauties (and more!)

These ones are Chanel from the ss2010 collection
Dolce and Gabana crochet pants!

I like this outfit Twiggy has

Works in Progress
As well as all my imaginary projects, i also have some real life ones. The baby cardigan is almost finished now so more on that at another time. I have also started a lacy knit cardigan using the Colinette yarn i bought a little while ago. It is colourway called 'Banwy' and the yarns are a mixture of Art and Skye - both aran-ish weight. I am making a chunky lacy cardigan.
Here is a sample
It's hard to tell, but it looks quite nice.

Busily yours,
Emilia. xxx

Monday, 2 August 2010

Crocheting a collar

This weekend I have been very much enjoying crochet and building on the skills i developed during my flower making.

I found this pattern for a lace collar. i like those as a little project. this one is really simple as only requires knowledge of chain stitching, single crochet and double crochet stitches. Easy and pretty. And very addictive.

Here you can see all the attempts
To begin with i was a bit confused though as wasn't sure if the pattern was in English or American (because i think the author of the pattern is Canadian) and so instead of making single and double stitches, i was making double and treble stitches (as with the lilac and peach versions) it all seemed to work out and did look pretty but didn't lay very flat and on closer inspection of the picture i realised my error. 

my third attempt was a triumph.

it was a pretty one for a birthday present for mum

I am pleased to be learning a new skill. i am working up to this little project which Eleanor gave me the pattern for as a birthday gift.

 "If you're running late with no time to mess with your hair, or you ride a motorbike to work, this snood is for you. Keeps shoulder length (or longer) hair in place and gives a finished look. Leave it on and no one needs to know you're having a bad hair day."

Yours hooked,
Emilia. x