Thursday 18 August 2016

Summer Stripes

Hello!  I hope you are enjoying your summer.  We are two thirds of the way through the school holiday here, and I have a rare day of peace so thought now was as good a time as any to share with you a couple of jumpers that I knitted a few months ago.

I don’t know what it is about them but, like a moth to a flame, I always find myself drawn towards striped knits. 

Striped knits, along with Fair Isle, have always been popular, but were even more so during the war years.  Promoted to the Home Front knitter as a great way of using up those odd balls of wool left over from other projects, thus keeping hold of your precious clothing coupons a little longer (1 clothing coupon got you 2 ounces of knitting wool) there were plenty of patterns to choose from.
While saving and making do were hugely important at a time when literally every ounce of wool counted, you only have to take a look at the various ways the stripes were worked and woollens designed to understand that frugality wasn’t the only factor, and that fashion was also key. 

From graduated stripes of varying width, to a classic horizontal stripe.  Multi-coloured rainbow affairs to a far sleeker, and stylish, look. Look hard enough, and you’re bound to find a pattern to suit everyone. 
I’ve knitted a number of striped jumpers in the past.  When I first started to knit, I only used DK, so the colour range available to me, in what was then my favoured Stylecraft, was a little limited.  But once I found I could effectively use 4 ply, the options were vast!

In the early part of 2016 I picked up a pattern on eBay, a favourite hunting ground of mine, for a wavy stripe jumper.  I hadn’t heard of Pearsall’s before, but was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the instructions and clear way the pattern was set out. 

Trying to keep to the 1940’s palette, I looked to the original pattern for inspiration because, unlike many of my favourite patterns, it offered up colourways which could work well.  Chestnut with New Gold, Wine and Moon Blue, Navy and Hyacinth or Black and Peach were the options offered up to tempt your fancy.  Because I am on a bit of a stash busting blitz, or at least I should be, and I didn’t have anything close to the colours suggested, I had to pick my own shades from the hoard of wool I have squirreled away.  There was plenty to choose from and I finally settled on my much loved Adriafil Azzurra in yellow and brown. 

The pattern is simple, and knits up really quickly.  I ignored the bit in the instructions which said you weren’t to press the work.  I think the lack of pressing was to do with the fact that they used rayon yarn, which, I’m guessing, hangs differently to wool, maybe weightier?!  Anyhow, I did press my work, and glad I did, else it would have looked dire!


It has a slightly unusual neckline.  Rather than a closed neck ribbing where you slip the jumper over your head, or a side opening one with a little fastener at the side, the front and back neck rib were worked entirely separately, and then fastened with a little button each side of the neck.  Made me think of Frankenstein’s monster, to be honest, but in a stylish sort of way! 

It sold really quickly, to a lovely lady right here in the UK, and I like the design so much that I started on another one pretty much straight away, this time in two-tone green.  And that, too, has found a new home, this time over in New Zealand.  The shades I used were army green and emerald green.  Sadly, emerald has been discontinued by Adriafil, goodness knows why.

The pattern is for a 33”-34” bust, and at the tension I knit at, both mine turned out as 34”-35” busts.  It isn’t one to be worn too snug, because the open work means you can see everything that is going on underneath if you pull too tightly. 

An added plus point is that it is an economical knit, taking just 136g of main colour and 80g of the accent shade, so it really is perfect for using up the little odd balls.  And from a cost point of view, using Azzurra, the wool worked out at just less than £15.00.  Not too bad!

If you fancy giving this little knit a go, the pattern is for sale in my Etsy shop , here, .  If you do knit it, I'd love to see the finished result! xx

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Pretty as a Picture - Mark 2

A knitting post to share with you today.  A commission piece for a repeat customer who lives across the miles, over New Zealand. 
The piece is a knit that I've done before, a knit very aptly named "Pretty as a Picture" from a Stitchcraft magazine published in November 1936. 
The jumper is a really neat design, slim fitting with an oversized bow.  The bow in the original, as you can see, was knitted in angora, but it wasn't possible to match the base colour to an angora, so the same wool was used throughout.
When I did the first version of the jumper, it was worked in Adriafil Azzurra 4 ply in a gorgeous shade called Bordeaux.  The lady who commissioned this version wanted to go with a finer wool, more authentic to the 1930's, and opted for Fenella, by Susan Crawford.

Fenella is a wonderful wool which has been specifically designed to knit up to the 3 ply tension that is often found in vintage patterns.  It is a 100% British wool which is grown, spun, dyed and finished in Britain.  The colour range is absolutely delightful, with some great vintage inspired shades and glorious names like Porcellana and Phthalo, which is a divine shade of green.  I got a little bit distracted by all the gorgeous colours and ordered some for my stash!

For this knit, Myristica was chosen, which is a really dark chocolate brown. 

The wool comes in 25g skeins, which means you have to wind it into balls, but the wool is so gorgeous to work with that it's no chore, and it gave me the perfect excuse to buy myself a wool winder, and employ the services of Miss C to help me wind it. 

Although the pattern is by no means hard, it has a nice regular pattern repeat across 8 rows, it is a slow knit, or at least I found it to be.  Because I work my commission pieces in the evening, I struggled in the winter to see properly for any length of time, so only managed a couple of hours a night, at best.  Because it was slow going, it took about 5 months to do, but the customer was wonderfully patient and happy to wait. 

Although you can only see two buttons, the design actually fastens at the neck with three, only one is covered by the bow.  I rummaged through my stash and found the perfect buttons to go with the wool.

I had to make the jumper slightly smaller, so didn't do all the increases that were called for in the original, but other than that, it was knitted exactly as per the pattern.  

Fenella was gorgeous to work with.  It took a little getting used to as I've never worked with anything quite so fine, and because it's quite an expensive wool, I was so worried I'd make a mistake and ruin it.

Thankfully it all turned out well, and the customer was really happy with the finished item.  It was obviously worth the wait!!

Wool - Fenella by Susan Crawford in Myristica
Weight used - 10 balls
Time taken - 5 months
Size - 32" bust

If you fancy giving this neat little knit a go, the pattern is available as a PDF in my Etsy shop, which you can find here.


Saturday 11 June 2016

Hi, It's Been a While!

Hi!  It’s been a while.  Quite a while, in fact.  Please forgive me for my unintentional absence, I’m not quite sure what happened.  Seems like the year has half gone in just the blink of an eye. 
So what have we been doing these past few months?  Quite a lot, actually.  Working with the girls takes a lot of my time.  The older they get, the more time we spend learning, and it is such a blessing to be able to take this journey with them, but it isn't easy.  Home life is busy, but I know that’s the same for so many of us.  Fitting everything in is quite a juggling act, and Blogger is the thing that has fallen by the wayside, but I figured that if I didn’t get back to it soon, I might never, so here I am!!  I can't promise that I will be a more regular blogger, only that I'll try.
As you would expect, I’ve been a busy knitting bee and there have been lots of makes, which if you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably already know, but I’ll save the knitted bits for another day.
There have been quite a few knitting patterns added to the ever expanding collection, the Bestway ones are still my favourite leaflets to look out for.  I’m trying to be a little more selective and only buy patterns I’ll actually use, but it isn’t working very well!! 
As well as patterns, I have a bit of an obsession with Sylko cotton reels at the moment.  I’m not too bothered about looking out for the rare colours, I’m just on a mission to fill the navy and red Sylko box that I was given for Christmas last year.  Two drawers are full, one to go.  And I do actually use the threads in my sewing, so they aren’t just to look at.

In our quest for stock, we’ve picked up some amazing pieces, many of which have already found new homes.  Sourcing authentic 1930's and 1940's items is becoming more difficult, which is totally understandable, so we’ve been travelling further afield, and have been rewarded for our efforts.
We’ve been to a couple of events this year, and there are more to come.  One was a vintage fair just down the road from us.  Not many buyers, and we spent most of the day chatting to the other stall holders, including the people behind Dead Men's Spex .  We've know Darren for a number of years, and cannot recommend his work highly enough.  With over 30 years experience in the optical trade, he knows his stuff and is definitely the place to go for all your vintage eyewear needs.

We also went to GCR last weekend for their 1940’s event.  Can’t believe it was only a week ago, how can that be?!  As usual, it didn’t disappoint, and I have lots of photos to share, once I’ve taken them off the camera.
Oh, and during my absence from this little space, my oldest turned 10!  To mark Miss C's double digit birthday back in February, we took her to West Yorkshire Wildlife Park to visit their rather incredible polar bears.  She had such a memorable day, and they were so adorable!

 We also bought the most incredible print, by Made in Pixieland, that we had personalised for her.  It now hangs pride of place on her bedroom wall, the last thing she sees before she falls asleep. 

 We have another busy time ahead.  The school term ends in 5 weeks, so we have a lot to cram in, before heading back down to Cornwall over the summer.  xx 

Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

To all of you followers, old and new, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog, I truly do appreciate it.  2015 has been a beauty, and here's hoping 2016 is just as good.

Wishing you blessings and best wishes for a happy, healthy 2016! xx

Tuesday 29 December 2015

A Crafty Christmas

So, the big day itself has been and gone, and now we're enjoying the restful gap before the New Year.  I love the few days after the craziness of the Christmas buildup.  We tend not to make many plans and spend most of the time just the four of us, going for walks, picking our favourite festive flicks from the Radio Times, and eating far too much! 

It's my birthday tomorrow so Mr Y has taken the girls shopping for a few last minute bits so I have some peace and quiet.  Rather them than me battling with the crowds of sale shoppers! 

We had a wonderful time with family this Christmas.  This year, just like last, I decided to make a homemade gift for my nearest and dearest.  And this year, again, just like last, I left things a little late, so was still finishing off the final gift on Christmas Eve.  

As well as the staple foodie makes and bakes that have to be thought about at this time of year, I decided to make Miss C a dress from a rather delightful polar bear fabric from John Lewis.  

There was a slight hiccup with the fabric, and they sent 75cms less than I'd ordered.  A few frustrating phone calls, an email and finally a PayPal complaint later, I received my correct quota of fabric, and was told to keep the original lot, which meant Miss M got a dress also. 

Miss C also took a fancy to a collar in an old Mollie Makes magazine from last year, I think.  

I had to resize it quite a lot, but Miss C loves it.  Miss M wasn't at all impressed, so no need for a second one.

For their actual handmade Christmas gifts, I opted for a cot quilts.  Back in the summer I made a start on a quilt for Miss M's bed using hexies.  Seriously slow going, I knew it wouldn't be done in time for Christmas, so went for a quicker, smaller, machine worked version for her baby boy doll.

Having never tackled quilting before, I didn't know what to expect.  I used a mix if vintage, vintage design reproduction cottons and scraps of dress fabrics they'd had over the years.  I used 2" squares, and learnt as I went along.  

The binding was a pain in the behind.  The binding wasn't bias binding so there was no give or stretch.  The corners are poorly done, but the girls didn't notice and were over the moon with them.

My dad is never an easy option for makes, and it has to either be edible or knitted.  I went for the knitted option and picked what I thought was a relatively easy Fair-isle.  

cheated and made the back plain, and that knitted up really quickly, but the front was somewhat different.  I prefer to work Fair-isle from a chart, so where there isn't one, I make one.  The first pattern was a simple one but the second just wasn't turning out right.  I sought help from a friend who was an absolute wonder.  She not only found out what the problem was, she charted the whole pattern for me! 

Once the pattern problem had been fixed, I was able to start the serious work of knitting.

My most favourite gift to make, by far, was a bag for my amazing mum. Ever since I saw this picture on Pinterest, I knew I wanted to replicate it.

I dug through my felt stash and found some beautifully thick 4mm wool felt yardage.  I drafted the bag and flower shapes by hand and set about picking the right colour felt to match a piece if 1940's rayon silk that I had chosen for the lining.  

I stayed up very late on the 23rd of December to get as much done as I could.

It was finished on Christmas Eve, and 100 hand cut flowers and 150 beads later, this was the result.

I love it so much, that I may just have to make one for myself!!

All the gifts were well received, which made all the hard work worth it.  

I hope you had a fabulous Christmas, however you celebrated xx