Tuesday, 29 June 2010

It's a good job I married him....

Can it really be 14 years ago?  Where does time go?

Today is our wedding anniversary.  He very helpfully pointed out yesterday that I could pinch the transformer from the coffee machine if I wanted to sew (and as long as no-one needed a coffee) ... I knew there was a reason I married him!!

Anyway, I spent a happy few hours yesterday whipping up this little wristlet.  The fabric I've used is coincidentally from my wedding outfit - I only had the smallest piece of this patterned cream silk that was used for my waistcoat and this just happened to be enough for the overlay on the front of the bag - the rest (which you can't see in the photo above!) is from the plain cream silk used in my skirt and train.  This wristlet would have come in handy on the day!

I made this to test out a new pattern  from Nicole Mallalieu.  It was really, really fun to make and I can see me making more, in different fabrics in the future.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Problems, problems

Well I'm back from a very nice holiday in Germany  - I'm over the jet lag and wanted to start on some new projects.

Only problem is my sewing machine doesn't want to play.  At all.

It's not the machine itself - it's the transformer that it's plugged into.  My sewing machine is 25 years old and UK-bought ... and for the moment I'm in Canada on North American voltage.  It makes life complicated - not least because the step up/ down transformers don't appear to be particularly reliable.  I now have to wait probably a week for a replacement to be shipped from the US and get past Canadian customs.

And it could take longer.   (Yawn).

I have a project ready to go on my cutting table - a new bag pattern that requires possibly 2 or 3 hours more work to finish it.  Plus several orders to fulfil.

It's so frustrating.

Add to that the fact that my granny shrug was progressing nicely - right up to the point where I realised I didn't have enough yarn.  So that's been frogged - I'll make something else (smaller) with the yarn and look out for some different yarn for my shrug.

Talking of frogs - my friend's daughter and I made some lovely ones using Purl Bee's pattern and (completely relaxed as I was)  I forgot to photograph them!!

Oh well - time to sit back and twiddle my thumbs for lack of anything better to do!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A Quick Clutch Bag

As if I don't have enough on my To Do list before I head to Europe on Thursday, I decided I needed to whip up another clutch bag for my trip.  My others aren't very summer-y and I decided to rectify that with a bright polka dot....

This pattern isn't the easiest in my repertoire - so whipping it up actually took a good 6 or 7 hours over  a few days - but I love the size.  It just fits my essentials and works well in my camera bag or on its own when I'm out on the town.  The fabric is a sturdy cotton duck which I generally prefer to quilting cottons for my bags and it's lined with some fabric left over from my green blouse (not sure if I've shown you all this one - it's basically a lime green blouse - a bit bright; just the way I like them - but really hard to take a decent photo of!).

Now that that's out of the way and I've selected (and wrapped - with difficulty due to the weird shapes) some handmade goodies to take with me for my friends in Munich - I can concentrate on the washing and ironing (yawn!).  Never quite sure how people pack their suitcases way in advance of their travels - with me it happens just before I leave for the airport and usually I just hand piles of folded clothes to my packer. Unfortunately as he's currently in Brazil, I'm going to have to do the packing myself.  The really important stuff has however been taken care of - my camera gear is stowed in its bag with fully charged batteries, plenty of memory cards (I go through them at quite a rate) and all the cables and gubbins I'll need to feed my photography habit addiction for a few weeks.

Talking of which (habits, that is), I'm also taking a sewing project for my friend's kids.  She suggested that it might be a good way to introduce them to the sewing machine (I sense an ulterior motive - getting them to mend their own clothes!). Purl Bee to the rescue with these delightful frog bean bags - OK, lots of curves, but we'll practice first and I may draw the stitch line on the fabric for them in water-soluble marker pen.  I've got a choice of fabrics (off-cuts from other projects); the relevant threads and some lovely beads for the eyes.  The kids may or may not want to do this - we'll see!  

I'm also taking my crochet project - I'm 2 rounds in and thinking about changing hook size - but I'll have that figured out by the time I leave (fingers crossed).  The idea is that it's more portable than some knitting.  I'm making the granny shrug up in a denim blue cotton yarn, using two strands together as I couldn't find any chunk yarn that I liked and could wear (my wool allergy scuppered most of the more interesting choices).  

That's about all folks.  More from me on this blog when I get back in a few weeks' time!!  You never know - I may have a finished granny shrug to show you by then!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

First Sweater in 20 Years!

I eased back into knitting with a scarf or two earlier this year and then decided it was time to try something a little larger.  Whilst I really wanted to do a very lacy, short-sleeved summer sweater, I got fed up with the complex pattern half way up the back - it required way too much concentration for someone who likes to multi-task  - knitting plus chatting / knitting plus watching TV - you get the idea.

So the lacy knitting was frogged and I found a simpler design.  This was really very, very easy and knitted up quickly over the course of about 10 evenings watching TV.

OK - it's very plain and a little boring, but I'm sure I'll get a lot of wear out of it when the cooler weather finally comes this autumn.  

For the moment wearing as little as decently possible is the order of the day ... !

My next project will be my first real crochet project using kootoyoo's Granny Shrug pattern ... I'll be taking some yarn with me on my trip next week and hope to manage this without too many problems (and if not, I can always change my mind and start over!).  

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Learning to Crochet ....

I used to be an avid knitter - in fact, I've just finished a sweater which I'll get round to showing you all at some point - but I never learned to crochet as a child.  However there are some things that you just can't easily do with knitting and so, earlier this year I decided I would get a book and learn how to do it.

I never expected it to be so hard. 

It's just so different from knitting.

Suffice it to say that every time I returned to crochet between other projects, my frustration levels increased and I got nowhere.  So, the crochet hooks and book were shoved to the bottom of my knitting bag and were ignored for a while until I saw a pattern I really liked on a another blog and decided to give it another go.  

This week has been a revelation.  

I'm still far from being a competent crocheter (s that even a word?) - but kootoyoo provided a video demonstrating how to make up her shrug pattern and I realised that my problem was my crochet book (that's right - I'm blaming my tools!).  The video sorted out a few of my fundamental problems with the instructions in my crochet book and I was off.

I didn't follow any pattern at first - just doodled with some left-over yarn:

I was getting quite good at going round in circles!

Then I made my first granny square (following a pattern found on Purl Bee this time):

Yep - it's actually relatively square and doesn't look like a load of randomly knotted wool (you should have seen some of my earlier attempts... or maybe not!).

So I tried following the shrug pattern to see if it made sense - I could only go so far though as I ran out of yarn just into my fourth round.   

Not sure how accurate it is, but again it doesn't look too bad:

The question is this - is this good enough to commit to buying some yarn and attempting the shrug?  I'm still debating that one and will probably depend on what I find on my next trip to the wool shop.  

It could be a good project to take with me on my next trip (yes - I'll be away again very soon!).

Or maybe I should try to crack my other fundamental crochet problem - I simply cannot crochet anything in rows and keep the same number of stitches in each row!!  Makes for some 'interesting' and completely unsatisfactory results