Improvisation

Pumpkin forgot to take his football kit to school today for his after school football club. Fortunately for him, he has a kind mummy who was willing to come to school early to deliver his kit and then wait around for an hour until football finished. School is a 25 minute drive away so not worth coming home in between.

Fortunately for me, this gave me a whole hour of knitting time. Or so I thought, until I read the first line of the next section of my pattern which told me to slip around a third of my stitches onto waste yarn, and I had neither spare yarn, nor scissors, nor yarn needle with me. I attempted to improvise. Spare yarn was to be found in one of my existent sets of held stitches for the sleeves. I used a key to cut the length of yarn I needed, but was stumped as to how to get the stitches onto the yarn. I was just considering using a spare needle tip ( the split one I replaced recently) to somehow thread the stitches, when I went to put away the stitch marker that was no longer required and there, joy of joys, in my stitch marker box, was a yarn needle!

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The stitches were swiftly and safely dispatched onto scrap yarn and I made the most of the remainder of my knitting time!

Is there a good way to slip stitches to scrap yarn without a yarn needle? What would you have done?

Roll on spring

 

The show is over. I miss it. We all had an absolute blast but I was utterly exhausted by the end of the week. I’m just about recovered now and the stripes are calling once more.

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The sunshine and the garden are also calling. I’m enjoying seeing what appears from the ground in our new garden. Spring bulbs fill me with joy and the blossom is beautiful!

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Dagenham Dress

This was going to be a series of work in progress posts, but since it all progressed rather quickly and to a deadline, and injuring my wrist at rehearsal a couple of weeks ago made typing difficult, it’s ended up as a fait-accompli post instead!

I’ve been rehearsing over the last few months for a production of Made in Dagenham. It’s set in the 1960’s and is based on the true story of the women workers of the Ford factory in Dagenham who went on strike for equal pay. It’s a fun show with great music and of course it requires lots of great costumes in keeping with the 60s era. My character in particular needs several different outfits and since the wardrobe mistress has her hands full costuming everyone else, I offered to have a crack at making a dress for myself.

I’ve never really sewn a garment on my own from scratch before. I did a bit of dressmaking as a teenager, though only simple skirts, and always under the tutelage of my mum. My mum and I also worked together to make my wedding dress several years ago. I’ve wanted to have a go at something a bit more ambitious ever since I got a sewing machine for Christmas a couple of years ago, but until now had only ever done simple mending jobs, or basic projects like my crochet hook roll and Pumpkin’s pencil case.

So, after a little bit of procrastinatory research, I decided the only this to do was to bite the bullet and throw myself into it. A trip to the local fabric store and I was equipped with pattern, fabric, lining material and a zip.

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I was a good girl and put the fabric straight into the washing machine when I got home. Then read the pattern properly and realised I would need a few other things. Cue another hasty trip to a different haberdashery shop for interfacing, carbon paper, tracing wheel and a rotary cutter.

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Since I was between sizes, I had a go at grading the pattern out at the waist and further at the hips. I made a toile out of the lining fabric to begin with to check the fit and ended up adjusting the grading a fair bit. The red line above shows my first attempt.

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Tin cans make excellent pattern weights!

 

I spent a long time laying the pattern out and tracing it using the carbon paper and wheel. I still took a big deep breath before I started cutting it. (Rotary cutting wheels are awesome by the way!) There were quite a lot of moments throughout the project where I found myself starting to question each new step and whether I was doing it right or was going to risk messing up what I’d already done. I just told myself to suck it up and get on with it. I’m not always very good at doing that. Often projects sit and linger when I can’t quite bring myself to do the next step for fear of messing up.

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Once I was happy with the toile I moved onto the main fabric. I thought it could be a big challenge having to do all the pattern matching, but in fact having the lines to keep me on track really helped.

Sewing the shoulder seams would have been easier if I’d fully unpicked the lining after using it as a toile. I did have to unpick it all eventually, otherwise the construction wouldn’t have worked. Pulling the whole thing right side out through the shoulder straps required some mental gymnastics, but was easy enough. I would need to think through the seams allowances better if I was doing it again, in terms of which way they lie and trimming them better before flipping it through, as they ended up being a little bulky, but that’s just how you learn, right!?

Inserting the zip was a similar story. I’ve only done a zip once before – on Pumpkins pencil case – and never an invisible zip. The first side went in fine. The second side took me a couple of attempts and then when I flipped it round I discovered it was twisted anyway, so I had to unpick that side again and reposition it before stitching again. Fortunately it went in right first time after that and I was very pleased with the pattern matching.

This was the point at which I fell over at rehearsal and sprained my wrist, so the dress rested for a week before I could get back to it. But with the show looming I had to push on. I basted the sides together and my wardrobe mistress kindly helped to check the fit and mark the hemline and it was fairly straightforward after that, just a little slow.

The hem was the bit that I procrastinate over the most I think. With everything having gone together so well up to that point, I really didn’t want to mess it up at the final hurdle. I pinned and repinned and basted and pressed and eventually took a deep breath before chopping off the excess length. I hand sewed the outer fashion fabric for a neater finish on the outside and machine stitched the lining.

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I’m incredibly proud of the finished garment especially given it’s the first time I’ve made something like this, and to wear it onstage and pretend it’s a designer outfit is a fantastic feeling. I’m absolutely loving doing the show too. I got my nails done last week to help me get into character as well. So unlike me, but they complement the dress perfectly! Here’s to more successful sewing!

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Knitting and Stitching show

We had a great day at the Knitting and Stitching Show, once we’d successfully navigated past the queue of people that definitely didn’t fit the crafting demographic! They were there for Walker Stalker which I believe is a convention for fans of the Walking Dead.

Here’s a few snapshots of our day.

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Lauren Guthrie BBC Sewing Bee finalist 2013

 

 

 

We watched Lauren Guthrie give a very good demo of working with knit fabrics. We perused the many many stands and finally made our considered purchases.

I’m hoping to have a go at making a top out of knit fabric, so I bought a set from Guthrie and Ghani which includes ball point needles and twin needles and some helpful info for working with knits. Lauren recommended the Sewaholic Renfrew top pattern as a starting point and helped me choose some fabric. I went for the Art Gallery Tomahawke striped cotton jersey.

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I also bought thread to match the jersey and some more black thread for my current project along with some new dressmaking scissors. My old pair has been used for a lot of different purposes over the years and are less than sharp these days so a new pair was definitely called for.

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Tilly also featured in the 2013 BBC Sewing Bee

My friend bought the Tilly and the Buttons book as well as her Cleo dress pattern and some other bits and bobs.

It was a great day out!

 

 

Spring Knitting and Stitching Show

I had something else in the pipeline to post about, but I fell off my shoes at a rehearsal the other day and injured my wrist, which has put both crafting and typing about it slightly out of the picture for a few days. It’s nearly better now, so I’m just popping in to say I’m off to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at London Olympia this weekend, and having just perused the website, I’m now rather excited about it. I hope I’ll remember to take a few photos while I’m there this time. Is anyone else going? Do say hi.

In the meantime I’ll just drop this little teaser of what I’ve been up to recently. The stripes have been temporarily abandoned!

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Unravel 2017

I’m starting to really love my annual trip to Unravel at Farnham Maltings with my lovely friend, and this year was no exception.

I enjoyed a good squish of many different yarns, and delighted as usual in the vast array of colours and patterns available for purchase, and those being worn by all the yarn-addicts wandering the rooms and manning the stalls.

I largely failed to get any photos, mostly everywhere was too packed with people to get close enough to squish, let alone snap the gorgeousness.

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My split needle was very kindly replaced free-of-charge by Knitproneedles.co.uk. I was less successful on the quest for extra yarn. The lady at Debonnaire Yarns was as helpful as she could possibly be, but unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) she didn’t have any more yarn that matched my original grey. She has actually completely changed her yarn ranges and didn’t even have anything that came close to that same colour. She suggested using a contrast colour for the edgings, but I’m not quite convinced that will look right. She said she’d have a rummage back at base for anything that might do, but I think I may have to do something a bit different with the sleeves. I have just about enough yardage between the two colours to complete the cardigan, but the sleeves may need to be more predominantly done in the contrast colour, rather than striped as per the patten. Frustrating, but not entirely unexpected. I knew I should have bought 3 skeins of the grey in the first place.

As for everything else, it seems I was very drawn to grads this year. I particularly loved the Sweet Georgia yarns, and their Party of Five grad mini skeins, which I realised afterwards were the ones Cassy at Knitthehellout recently used for her daughters latest tunic. But I was very good and resisted the temptation to stash without plan. I need to finish my Crazy Stripes first, which was my Unravel 2015 yarn purchase, and then I need to use the grad I purchased at Unravel 2016 for the shawl I’ve been planning for years. After that I can start a new project and buy some more pretties.

Even my friend was very restrained. She was rather taken with a pair of socks she spotted at Hand Dyed by Kate, but since she also has projects on the go from the last two years of Unravel, she also resisted.

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So, instead of indulging any further, once we’d thoroughly explored the festival, we headed for home, and spent a rather enjoyable afternoon sitting on the sofa working on our respective WIPs, feeling very virtuous for having resisted the call of the yarn! We’re off to the Knitting and Stitching show in a couple of weeks, so we can always indulge then if we feel we’re missing out on something!

 

 

Snags

My lovely Knitpro symfonie needles have started to split along the grain, so they’re snagging every stitch as I try to slide it down the needle. Disaster! I’ve had to stop knitting mid-row as it was just impossible.

Fortunately, it’s happened at just the right time (if there can be a right time for such a thing!), as tomorrow I am off to Unravel 2017. Unravel is the annual yarn festival hosted at Farnham Maltings. I believe this is the 9th year it has run and it will be my third visit.

Since I am currently working through my yarn purchase from unravel two years ago, and haven’t touched last year’s purchase yet, my shopping list will be short and sweet. New needle tips and an extra skein for my cardigan. Anything else will be strictly squish and leave only!

Anyone else heading to Unravel this weekend?

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And relax…

There’s nothing better than curling up in a comfy armchair in front of a roaring log fire, pj’s on, glass of wine to hand and the time to knit for however long you want to.

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I got to do quite a lot of that this weekend. My folks offered to have the boys for a few days so we took the opportunity for a quiet child-free, post-moving-house de-stressing weekend away.

We stayed in a fabulous folly on a large country estate, which has been beautifully restored by The Landmark Trust and is now available as a holiday let.

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We slept in late, had leisurely breakfasts, went for long countryside walks and ate pub lunches. The rest of the time we lazed about in the folly, chatting, reading and of course, knitting.

I have now passed the point where I had to rip back a couple of weeks ago and it’s good to see it growing again. It was so nice to have some time to dedicate to it. I need a weekend like that more often. I definitely think we’ll be heading back there at some point!

Rrrrrrripppppp!

Wah! My grey stripe seemed quite wide and I still had a couple of rows to go. I counted and found that I had two more rows than I expected. Oh dear, time to rip back a stripe.

Then I counted the rows on the previous teal stripe. Two rows too many. Waahhhhh!!! Fortunately the grey stripe before that is correct, but I have to rip back 40 rows and do it aaaaaaall again. *sigh*

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