Sunday, 1 March 2015

Farewell to February

The month of March has dawned bright and sunny in my little part of Suffolk this morning.  Happy 1st of the month to you lovely lot; hope it’s a good one for you! x

February seemed to go by in a flash.  It was a busy one, two birthdays and a much longed for half term week off.  

I know we aren’t alone in our love of school holidays.  It seems that as soon as one is finished, we are already counting down to the next one.  Four weeks and counting until Easter break.  Does that sound bad?  It’s not meant to.  The Mr is happy in his new job, but teaching is a hardand time away from routine is very precious, so we make the absolute most of every day of it.

C had a birthday last week, my beautiful girl turned 9.

A birthday isn’t a birthday without a cake; a chocolate mud cake, to be precise.  Gone are the days where the topping for the cake is my choosing.  My decisive little Miss picked a polar themed cake to feature her beloved toy polar bear, Racey, who was once cream, but is nowgrey; a rather threadbare bear!

My dad also celebrated his birthday.  Peter Pan at heart, he’s not too keen on this getting old lark.  He’s my handyman, decorator and fixer of things that I break in my house.  A very dapper chap much loved and adoredby my girls and the rest of us.  

great lover of cake, he picked carrot cake for his celebration.  My first time making the Hummingbird Bakery version and it seemed to be a hit.  I don’t eat the stuff, can’t stand to eat cake, or biscuits for that matter, with bits in them, so I didn’t taste test it.  But it disappeared at a rate of knots; the last piece polished off yesterday, so it must have tasted good.  

A few rather special patterns found their way into my collection last month.  

My favourite is the Service Woollies for Women.  It’s somewhat battered and tatty, the pages are all loose and without their original staples, but I love it.  
also picked up a Knitted Comforts for the Royal Navy badge from WW2, and a white Beehive wool holder, which was a Valentine’s gift from the Mr.

Despite my best laid plans, I didn’t get half as much making time as I thought I would, but that’s so often the case in the holidays.  I made progress on the commissions I’m working on.  One is a real go slow project, taking an hour a pattern repeat!  

also managed to make a couple of anemone corsages which I will be listing in my Etsy shop later on today.

I’m off to make the most of this fine day.  I hope you enjoy whatever you are up.  I aim to be back to post some free pattern downloads this month.  Anything in particular you fancy seeing posted?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sirdar 1140 - 1940s Striped Jumper

Mr Y has been a star this morning, and has taken the girls off for an early morning swim.  We walked them through the streets of Cambridge for hours yesterday, and they were weary little lovelies when we got home, but a restorative sleep meant they were raring to go this morning, ready and out of the door by 7am!  It's another chilly day out there, and snuggled up indoors with the heating on, I think I'm in the better place!  

It’s another woolly post today, a quick knit that took just 12 days to complete.  I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that the pattern is from the 1940’s, this time a Sirdar pattern, from the middle or era.

I always have an easy knit on the go to stop my hands being idle when we’re travelling, or while the girls are working.  It’s surprising how quickly a jumper can come together when you do a few rows here, a few rows there.  I didn’t time how many hours this one took, but I started it on the 21st January, and put it on the dummy on the 2nd February, so not bad going.

The pattern is feather and fan, a popular pattern throughout the 1940’s, and still popular now.  The design is worked on a 4 row pattern repeat.  Three rows are stocking stitch, the fourth is the pattern row and it’s this easy pattern row that gives the design the wavy effect.  

I've knitted it before; I've actually knitted it a couple of times but changed the sleeve design and stripe order.  It’s a great pattern for using up those oddments of wool, and if you’re a fan of Goodnight Sweetheart, you may have noticed that Phoebe wore a similar jumper in a real rainbow of colours, which she teamed with a green skirt. Although the pattern shows a very definite stripe pattern, you could, if you wanted to, work in more colours or varying stripe thickness, to create a different look.  

The wool I used was Adriafil Azzurra, which is fast becoming a favourite of mine.  The main body of the jumper has been worked in brick red, with emerald green, dark brown and yellow stripes.  

Worked as per the pattern, the jumper was meant to come out at a 35” bust, but although my tension was spot on for the sleeves, the finished woolly ended up being for a 40”/42” bust.  It would be easy enough make it smaller by going down a needle size, it would also be possible to recalculate the actual number of stitches, but as there is a 12 stitch pattern repeat, it would take some very careful calculations.  

For the first time ever, I used a circular needle.  I thought it might speed up the knitting, but it actually slowed me down.  I'm a tight knitter, so struggled with the stitches getting caught where the wire met the needle.  Making the jumper up was quicker; fewer fiddly colours to run in and no joins, but I’m happier working on the traditional 2 needles.

I really love how this jumper knits up, and the colour possibilities really are endless.  It has already found a new home with a vintage loving lady, and I’ve just dug out the version I started back in 2013, worked in heather, grey, cream and mint, so will be completing that before moving onto the next pattern, well, maybe ;-) x

There were no quirks in the pattern, it knitted up exactly as it should have done, and came together well.  There is no neck opening on this one, but you could easily leave the left shoulder part open and add a couple of buttons and crocheted button loops.  The pattern is for sale in my Etsy shop, which you can find here.

Wool - Adriafil Azzurra
Weight used - 130g brick red, 64g emerald green, 24g dark brown, 17g yellow
Time taken - 12 days
Size - 40”-42” bust

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Bestway 1066 - 1940s Blackberry Stitch Bolero

Hasn’t it turned decidedly cold?  I’m sitting here, looking out of the window, ignoring the ironing, willing for the white stuff to start falling.  I’ve seen plenty of picture postcard views from other parts of the country, but Suffolk has avoided a covering, much to my girls’ annoyance.

They are off on a jolly with their grandma today, the first time this year.  Lunch and a spot of beach combing are on the cards; so I’ve got a small window of me time, in which to share with you my recently finished bolero.

I rather like a natty little bolero.  They were quite popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and could be found in both the fabric and woolly variety.  I have quite a few patterns for the knitted sort; some lacey, some simple, others hideously complicated.  After much deliberation, (choosing a pattern is a complicated job, don’t you know), I opted for the blackberry-stitch bolero, a Bestway pattern from the early 1940’s.

Quite a while ago, many months, maybe even years, us wool hoarders loose track of our stash, I picked up 4 balls of Jarol Heritage 4 ply. 

Jarol wasn’t a brand I’d heard of before, but on a mission for mustard shades, the Heritage range popped up in the search results.  The shade I used was No.140, which is a warm mustard/ochre.  It’s not the cheapest of wools, working out at about £5.00 per 100g, but it is worth the money, because the quality is there.  It’s a 55% wool, 25% acrylic and 20% nylon mix which is, apparently, washable at 30 degrees, although I always advocate hand washing the woollies I knit.  Although there is some acrylic in it, it doesn’t shine in the sunlight like some of the cheaper brands do.  It’s a dull, matt colour which, I know I’m not describing very favourably, is perfect for an authentic reproduction piece. 

About 7 years ago, when I first started knitting, and progressed beyond 6” squares, the first thing I knitted up was a blackberry stitch turban, worked on huge needles.  The joy of blackberry stitch is that when worked on larger needles, it knits up quite quickly.  This bolero was knitted on 8’s, so I could really see it growing, which is always a plus in my book.

I actually made a sleeve for the bolero back in the autumn last year, but with commissions and Christmas prep, everything got bagged up until it was rediscovered in a cupboard on New Years.  Sunday evening knitting was made all the more palatable by being able to watch Foyle's War.

I often wonder how long it actually takes me to knit a garment.  Because I knit as the girls work, or in the car, or while I watch television, I don’t notice time ticking by.  So, New Year, new start, and all that, I thought it was about time I actually found out.  So I timed myself!  Yep, armed with my trusty stopwatch and a piece of paper, I recorded how long it took me to knit every single piece.  I even timed how long it took me to pin, press and finish it.  The grand total was 46 ½ hours, which I don’t think is too bad.  

I would have finished it sooner, but I foolishly tried to knit the second sleeve while full of snuffles, and so my cotton wool brain fluffed it up, and I had to start the sleeve over again!  Note the curly wool from ripping back the sleeve!

Sometimes patterns turn out as per the original, but sometimes they don’t, and this was one of those.  Although the pattern was nice and simple to follow, with a really easy pattern repeat, the sleeve tops didn’t go together as they should, so rather than putting in the pleats as suggested in the original, I gathered them instead.  The finished bolero also ended up being 4” bigger in the bust, coming out as a 38” rather than a 34”, but that’s not the end of the world.  Sorry about my photographs, they aren’t the best but it’s been so dull here.  I think the sun has gone on strike!

If you fancy giving this one a go, maybe in a cornflower blue or pistachio green ready for Spring, I have put the PDF pattern in my Etsy shop, which you can find here. 

Wool - Jarol Heritage 4 ply
Weight used - 256g
Time taken - 46.5 hours
Size - 38”

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Knitted With Love - 1930's Jumper

Another woolly post today!  Not a garment that I've completed this year, I'm not that speedy, but one I managed to squeeze in just before Christmas.

The jumper in question is the one I knitted for my mum.  In 2013, as well as giving shop bought gifts, I made my family and close friends a handmade Christmas present.  Some edible, some felty things, others woolly.

I hadn't really planned anything similar for 2014, we'd had such a busy run up to the festive season that making gifts for family hadn't even crossed my mind.  However, come mind November, I realised I'd be disappointed in myself if I didn't make something for my much loved parents (why do we put such pressure on ourselves??) so I sorted out the patterns and wool and cracked on!

My mum's pattern was an easy choice, it was one she'd long admired, a stylish long sleeved jumper from a pattern originally printed in "My Home" in May 1936.  

The pattern was found in "The 30s Family Knitting Book", edited by Jane Waller, and printed in 1981; proves that loving vintage isn't a "new" thing! 

I think the male model has a look of Dracula about him!
opted for Adriafil Azzurra in Azio Blue as she, unlike me, loves the pretty colour.  

I did struggle a bit with my tension on the sleeves.  They are worked from the top down, and the heavy size 8's with such few stitches on we're hard to handle, so I switched so short double ended needles, and that helped a bit.  I use metal needles, but am going to try some bamboo needles to see if they are easier to handle.

I'm really pleased with how the jumper turned out, and more importantly, so was Mum!  It's not my best work, I can see a couple of wrong stitches, but as I put on the gift tag, every stitch was done with love, and that counts for a lot in my book.

No chance to show you a picture of her wearing it yet, so you'll have to make so with some shots of it on the dummy :)  Please excuse the rubbish shots, they were taken on my phone one evening, and the light was appalling.

I'm currently working in a bolero in a scrumptious shade of mustard, and will soon be picking up the needles on my next commission piece xx

Friday, 2 January 2015

Bestway 2024 - 1940's Green Cardigan

There's certainly no denying that 2014 was a busy year on the jumper front.  Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post; I'm glad you enjoyed looking at all the pictures as much as I did :o)

Over a year ago, I decided I wouldn't take commission orders anymore.  Problems with non-paying customers, issues with customers changing their mind once I'd started, or even worse, customers not liking the design of the piece, despite it having been their choice, put me off the process.  I kept knitting, but I knitted the patterns that I wanted, in the wool I wanted and in the colours I wanted! 

After a much needed break of doing as I pleased, and after countless emails asking whether I would knit to order, I decided to change the way I took commissions.  I now take payment for the wool upfront, am more particular about the type of wool I will use, and most important of all, I've learnt to say no when someone asks me to knit something that I really don't want to knit.

I had the pleasure of knitting for some truly fantastic people last year.  My final commission piece for 2014 was no exception, and was probably one of my favourite to work on.  It was knitted in a glorious shade of green and was, in the most part, all stocking stitch, so a nice quick knit.  

It was knitted in Adriafil Azzurra and the pattern was a Bestway pattern from the late 1940's.

I've knitted a few cardigans in the past, but I've never done one that required so many buttons.  Nine matching vintage buttons proved quite tricky, most of my sets had either four or eight, but I raided my own personal stash and found the perfect vintage set, heavy carved ones from the 1930's. Pretty, don't you think??

The pattern was nice and easy to follow, no little quirks or tricky bits.  It knitted up quite quickly (I was running it alongside another woolly), and everything fitted together nicely when it came to making it up.  The thing that took me the longest was the placket, it seemed to go on forever!!!

The cardigan has a new home with the very talented Kitty Lou who is an incredible seamstress who has an Etsy shop, Kitty Lou Vintage, which you can find here.

Mr Y is back to work on the 5th, so normal routine will resume.  I can't wait to start my next commission!