Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Upholstery Braid Headband

Inspired by Emily Martin of Black Apple fame, I rustled myself up a little headband out of gold upholstery braid. This was a super simple project, but I'm rather pleased with the results - I might post a tutorial if anyone were interested? I haven't yet decided whether to add stars as in Emily's original... It was so easy and cheap that I might make myself a selection; my hair is behaving like a restless animal at the moment, and is benefiting from this gilt caging. 

I have been wearing my Haruni shawl and Evolution mitts together a LOT, and revelling in the co-ordination. Above they can be seen in conjunction with an unexpected canine companion.

This was a decidedly hand-knitted riverside stroll, as my friend wore her new Que Sera cardigan. This yarn used to be part of my six sweaters-worth that hung like an albatross round my neck, until I observed that the colour made me look more exhumed than exuberant, and gave it to Simone, who totally owns this shade of yellow. I'm so pleased this lovely yarn has found a good home.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Covered Buttons

The more I learn about sewing, the more impatient I am to sprinkle my wardrobe with couture-inspired details like bound buttonholes and French seams. The gap between the knowledge I have accrued and the practical skill I still lack in the apparently simple tasks of cutting and pinning fabric and manipulating it through the machine can be a little frustrating. I have been continuing to work on the Sencha blouse, which has been challenging me in all sort of unexpected ways. The next step in the instructions is to staystitch the neckline. I am making version 3, and am quite apprehensive about stitching around that keyhole, and so I put it off to make some covered buttons. I have a whole house of buttons, but these are unquestionably my favourites. 

Friday, 23 April 2010

Swingeing Cuts

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my last post - it's really great to know that I have some readers who sew: I may well be calling on your expertise in future! Last night, I cut out the pieces for a blouse whilst listening to the party leaders debate on Radio 4. I am so very much in love with this Liberty print fabric - it reminds me of a favourite party dress I had when I was about seven. I was more than a little nervous about hacking it up... I'll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

My body's too bootilicious for you, Vogue Patterns.

I have been following Zoe's Me-Made-May Challenge with a mixture of interest and envy. Interest because, obviously, it's a totally awesome idea, building on her Me-Made-March success in only wearing clothes she made herself. Envy because I am very much not yet good enough at sewing to take part (I do not think my knits are eligible, because I already only wear knitwear made by me, which I suppose is an achievement but does not make for much of a challenge).

Rather than weep into a knitted hankie about my sorry lack of sewing skillz, I decided to do something about it. 

Enter Vogue V8240, a halterneck dress with a daringly plunging neckline and a pleasingly full skirt. I read through the instructions, and was somewhat surprised to find I more or less understood them, which is progress in itself, as until recently sewing patterns might as well have been written in mystic runes for all the sense they made to me.

Then, however, I took my measurements, and everything started to go pear-shaped...

I am quite well-acquainted with the measurements of my upper half, as I check them quite regularly for jumpers and cardigans. As for the rest of me, I was vaguely aware of being a classic British pear-shape... seeing this translated into a sewing pattern size was something of a shock, though. It appears I am a size 8 at the bust, a 12 at the waist, and somewhere between a 12 and 14 at what pattern manufacturers refer to as the 'Hip', but which I prefer to call the bahookie. Now, I would like to stress that I do not normally have a lot of body hang-ups: I like and do not wish to change my shape. Part of the reason I so want to learn to sew is to fit it better. Late last night, though, as I was debating which size to cut out, I did begin to feel a little bit bad about covering such a wide size spectrum. Was I freakishly disproportionate? Did people wonder behind my back whether I was two differently-sized figures crudely welded together as the result of a cruel medical experiment? 

Leaving aside these body issues, this discovery also threw another obstacle into my path towards sewing wisdom. I have traced out the midriff piece, and attempted to graduate from an 8 at the top of it to a 12 at the bottom... I suppose I'll just have to make a muslin to see if that will fit my form. I have ordered Fit for Real People off of the internet in the hope that it might address this issue, but in the meantime I would absolutely LOVE to hear from anyone with a modicum of sewing experience on the matter.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Magnolia Blossom

Inspired by this clutch of beautiful ttv photos by Alli, I thought I'd share a little springtime loveliness of my own.

These are of a magnolia tree in the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, which is currently in exuberant blossom. My friend informs me of an eighty year old lady who calls blossom 'flourishes'; I think I might refer to it as such from now on.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Alhambra Scarf (and Mr Purves)

... and so the Alhambra scarf saga draws to a close. For anyone who has not been following it through the four thrilling months, this is a pattern by lace wizard Anne Hanson, knit in the buttery-soft Malabrigo sock in the colourway Botticelli Red

I have waxed lyrical about the colour (which like all reds is troublesome to photograph), but all along I knew it was not perfectly suited to my colouring. Since taking this online quiz, I have become rather evangelical about seasonal colour palettes, and this rusty red is definitely not flattering to Deep Winters. Fortunately, it looks lovely on my mum, and so this scarf has found a happy home on her neck.

Beautiful scarf, gorgeous pattern; slightly boring photos. So I thought I'd brighten up this post with some other snaps of one of my favourite Edinburgh fixtures.

This shop, on St Stephen's Street, is a glorious mystery to me, and I go out of my way to walk past it. It is only open for one half day a week, and caters for a decidedly niche market. Still, if you're in need of an oil lamp, and you're in Stockbridge between 1 and 6 on a Saturday, Mr Purves is your man.

Monday, 5 April 2010


I hastily pinned out my Haruni (Rav link) shawl before scampering off to Canterbury for Easter, and have just rattled off a few frames of it.

I knit this in the remainder of the Dream in Color Smooshy, in the colourway Gothic Rose, that I had left from my Evolution Mitts - I am excited about having a matching accessories set! This was a most enjoyable knit, and an admirably well packaged free pattern. I was rather apprehensive about the crochet cast off, as my nimble knitting fingers turn into clodhopper carrots at the sight of a hook. I managed it, though, and absolutely LOVE the effect: I would definitely use this on another shawl in future.

I'm very pleased with the marriage of pattern and yarn - the leafy border motif reminds me of a Victorian doily, and this bruised, brown-y purple seems like a decidedly Victorian colour: it is the shawl equivalent of a deep leather armchair with an antimacassar. 

Friday, 2 April 2010

'I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each'

Sometimes I think I spend longer dreaming about what to knit while travelling than I do actually travelling. I shall be spending about nine hours on trains over the next few days (I'm grateful that there will be any trains for me to take - I didn't think I was going to make it home this holiday with the possible strike), and so for most of today my thoughts flitted from wherever they were supposed to be focussed to prospective knittish ways to fill this time.

When I really start thinking about matching yarns and patterns, it can become quite an involved imaginative voyage. I had previously seen the green of the yarn above as summer shoots and juicy grass, but suddenly it transformed before my eyes from leaves under the sun to fronds under the water, and I knew I wanted to make a Laminaria. Lots of knitters seem to endow yarn with the faculty for reason ('it hasn't decided what it wants to be yet'), which seems ridiculous until you experience that moment of epiphany, when a clear decision emerges as if by magic from a mire of uncertainty. This one was accompanied by mermaids swimming through the underwater kingdom I was about to create, much like this old Levis advert, but with more knitting.

What's that? You want another gratuitous swift-in-motion shot? Oh, ok, if you insist. 

Ah Jonathan...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Two Skeins of Sock Yarn

I started and finished a shawlette, and I didn't even tell you. How rude. It's the one on the left; I'll get some proper pictures after I've blocked it. On the right is the tiny pile of yarn that is all that stands between me and finishing my Alhambra scarf. So very soon I should have two FOs to show you, or, to put it another way, about 880 yards-worth. It seems my knitting mojo is definitely back...
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