Thursday, 27 September 2012

FO: Little Red Riding Hood Minoru Jacket

Hello Everyone! Thank you so much for all your helpful tips about knitting socks in response to my last post….I feel much less overwhelmed now and my sock is growing nicely. Today I am finally able to announce that I have finished my Minoru jacket! Yes that’s right….I have finished. Whew it’s been a long time! My Minoru journey started way back at the end of last year in November when I was lucky enough to win the pattern in Vicki’s giveway. Since then this project has been on the go, but for various reasons it has always been on the backburner a bit. For almost an entire year!!! I had no idea it was that long until I checked the dates just now. Opps. Anyways, I posted about my muslin way back in February!! Other projects with pressing deadlines got in the way, I started a new job, then it was summer (sort of)….all kinds of excuses kept cropping up for me not to work on my jacket. At one point I wasn’t sure how much I loved this jacket, and my lack of enthusiasm combined with my lack of motivation meant the outlook was bleak for a while. But I persevered and now I can proudly reveal the finished object.
Sorry for the slightly gloomy pictures...the weather is so dark and dreary at the moment, there was nothing I could do. So do I love it? Oh yes I do. I don’t know why I ever had doubts! Look at the hood….the beautiful polka dot lining….the gathered waist….I am totally in love with this jacket. It is definitely the most practical garment I have ever made, and probably the one that will get the most wear. I think the only thing I am missing is pockets….there are pockets inside, which are the perfect size for a phone or MP3 player, but no outside pockets. I’m the kind of person who habitually stick their hands in their pockets, so I miss them! I am considering adding patch pockets, but I will dwell on this for a while. If I added them now the stitching would show inside, although since there is already stitching where the elastic waist is attached, and where the inner pockets are, I’m not sure if this would bother me. I will see how it goes! Originally I was going to wash the outer fabric in NicWax to waterproof it. I decided against this in the end, but I may see if I can get a spray to make it at least water-resistant.

Right then here are the details:
Pattern: Sewaholic Minoru jacket

Fabric: Cotton canvas bought online at about £8/metre (I think) for the main coat shell, Polka dot linking £6.95/metre and slippery lining fabric for the sleeves at about £3.50/metre.
Notions: A 22” zip for the main closure, a shorter one (about 16") for the hood pocket, a tiny bit of velcro to close the inner pockets

Any adjustments?: I like my coats to cover my bum, so I lengthened the coat by a few inches. In fact I think you can tell how much I added, because I think the zip is actually supposed to go right to the bottom - but no matter, it's fine as it is! I cut a size 12, as I usually do with Sewaholic patterns, but there was a lot of room around the front so I chopped a few inches off each front piece before adding the planket. I’m not sure I adjusted the other related pieces appropriately, but somehow I seemed to get away with it!

Would I make it again? I do like this pattern a lot, but I’m not really one to make loads of jackets, so I suppose the answer is yes, but probably not for a long time.

My favourite things about this jacket are the hood (how could you not love the hood! I feel like Little Red Riding Hood...hence the title of this post!) and the fact that the sleeves are long enough to come partway down my hands…being tall this is a rarity, and it makes me feel so much more snug!!
Phew...I'm so glad to have this jacket finished, and so glad it turned out alright :)
P.S - If you haven’t already entered my giveaway there is still time…pop over and have a look to be in with a chance of winning one of three lovely patterns!

K xx


Monday, 24 September 2012

Socks: How do you knit yours?

A few weeks ago, my current knitting project (a jumper, you can see a sneak peak here) reached the stage where it was too big to be carried around in the little bag I use to transport knitting when I am on the go. It was therefore relegated to "home knitting", a fate which inevitably, sadly, means that progress on this particular project will now be much slower. I was therefore left with the dilemma of which new project to replace this with. In my wisdom, I decided that it was time to have a go at knitting socks. I've knitted snoods before...surely a sock is basically just a miniature snood with some shaping round the foot, right? Simples.

Oh how wrong I was. First, I naively assumed that I could knit a sock with a single circular needle (a la a mini snood). Apparently, this is not the case. After a bit of research, I purchased some double pointed needles and merrily cast on for sock number one.

Oh the minefield of the unfamiliar!! There seems to be a multitude of different things that can go wrong when knitting a sock...and bear in mind that I am currently about 15 rows in, and haven't even attempted any form of shaping yet. The set up of the double pointed needles seems to resemble some kind of knitting torture device (something I'm sure the many people who swiftly rejected the empty seat next to me on the train this evening on noticing the strange contraption I was wielding will agree with!). After a few tens of rows I seem to be slowly getting the hang of it. However, fellow sock knitters out there, I need your help. I have questions!

1) Firstly, I seem to be knitting my sock inside out. That is, the wrong side is facing outwards. I turned it so that now the wrong side faces in and the knitted tube is growing towards me, but this feels wrong. Is this normal?! And if not, what on earth am I doing wrong?

2) Secondly, I seem to have very obvious gaps at the join of each needle of stitches. I have tried knitting the first stitch of each section as tight as possible, but I still seem to have a very obvious join. I've tried to show a picture of this below but it isn't as obvious in the photo! Will this disappear as the sock grows, or is there a way I can avoid this?

3) The heel....oh my goodness the heel. I am terrified of this even at the early stage, as the instructions seem to make no sense. Can anyone recommend any good tutorials that can demystify this process for me?!

Thanks in advance sock knitters!!! Any other hints and tips for a sock knitting novice are greatly appreciated. Other than these slight issues, I am quite enjoying the way my sock is knitting up. I am using self striping wool, so it is quite fun seeing the pattern emerge. I will conquer this sock!!!

If you haven't done so already, don't forget to enter my giveaway! Three lovely patterns are up for grabs...pop over and have a little look and pick your favourite!

K xx

Friday, 21 September 2012

100th Post Pattern Giveaway!

Hello hello hello! Brrr it's a bit chilly around here. It's making me think of knitting snuggly jumpers (although the speed I knit this would probably have to be for next winter) and scarfs and hats and all other wintery goodness. I must admit that my favourite seasons are the "in between" ones - autumn and spring. I am not a bit fan of being too hot or too cold, so these fit the bill perfectly! I do like autumn - the wonderful colours, the re-emergence of hot chocolate as a suitable drink in the middle of the day, and snuggling up under a blanket in the evening knowing it's a bit chilly outside. However, the soggy days and dark evenings are less appealing aspects....but forget those for a minute....I have a giveaway to brighten things up!

Believe it or not, this is my 100th post! So a celebration of this milestone is clearly in order. Over the past year especially, my pattern collection has grown rapidly (although I imagine it is still in it's youth compared to a lot of peoples!!). However, I am rather aware of the fact that I will not ever get around to making all of them (gasp). I know i know - the intention will be there, but there is just not enough time to make EVERY pattern ever. So my solution is to weed out those I know I am least likely to make - be it because they are the wrong size (and let's face it, the less fitting the better) or because I am unsure about the style - and pass them on to other deserving bloggers so that they can be loved and used elsewhere rather than just sitting on a shelf. So, what have I got for you today? Let's have a little look....

Vogue 4108, size 14 (34 bust)

Simplicity 5386, size 14 (34 bust)

Simplicity 5086, size 18 (38 bust)

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning any of these three lovely patterns, all you have to do is be a follower of my blog and leave a comment below saying which pattern or patterns you would like to win (let's call them 1, 2 and 3 for ease!) by midnight UK time on Sunday 30th September. I'll then pick the winner of each pattern with the help of a random number generator. Simples :) Oh and I am happy to post internationally so anyone can enter!

Have a great weekend - I plan to finish my minoru I've written it down it has to be done...!!

K xx

Monday, 10 September 2012

FO: Truffle Dress

Remember this plan, from ages ago?

Or more recently, this sneak peak?

Well today I can finally show you the finished item the Colette Patterns Truffle was all done just in time for my friend's wedding in Scotland.

I made a muslin of the bodice in order to check the fit, as Colette patterns tend to come up big on me around the shoulders. Despite this I still had to play with the fit a bit on the "real thing"...although I think this was my fault as I tried to lengthen and widen at the waist without thinking it through properly. However with much pinning and basting, and a little bit of adjusting, all was right. I am really pleased with the bodice fit in the end...I think it is spot on.
I also put in my very first invisible zip! I have been avoiding these for so long but I faced my fear and followed the excellent guidelines in the Colette Sewing Handbook, and it was nowhere near as scary as I expected. I might even go as far as to say that with time, this has the potential to become my favourite method of zip insertion....!
My dress "in the wild" at the wedding
Proof it was a bit sunny...and windy! Look at that twirl :)

Pattern: Truffle Dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook

Fabric: Shinyish green fabric probably intended to be lining, purchased from Walthamstow at the bloggers meet up earlier this year. I chose it because it was the exact colour I had in mind for this dress, and at £4 for 5 metres due to a slight imperfection at one edge, how could I possibly refuse? The bodice is lined with grey lining fabric from my stash. The skirt is not lined - I was originally going to make a net underskirt to wear with it but I ran out of time to get it right - and also I don't think this dress necessarily needs an underskirt.

Notions: 16" invisible zip

Verdict? I am very pleased with the fit of this dress and would definitely make it again as I love the pattern. It was very straightforward to make once I had the fit perfected, and as always the instructions were clear and easy to follow. However, I would probably not use this type of fabric again. For the cost I can't really complain (the whole dress must have cost less than £10 to make!) but I'm not sure I'm completely keen on how shiny it is, and also it creased REALLY was a total mess after an evening of Ceilidh dancing!

I tend to have this creasing problem with a lot of my makes, whatever the fabric...cotton, lining, whatever. I just can't figure it out. Is it just me, or does everyone else have this problem?! I would love to hear if you do and how you get round it (apart from repeated ironing!).

I'll just leave you with a few of my holiday snaps of beautiful (but soggy) Scotland! We travelled around the highlands and islands and it was just breathtaking. I was blown away by the scenery and how remote some parts are. Have a look for yourself...

Left to right: Tobermory on the Isle of Mull; Iona Abbey; Isle of Staffa
Left to right: Loch Lomond; Glen Nevis; Fingal's Cave

K xx

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Knitted Meerkats: Simples!

Now I’m back from my Scottish holiday I can finally share with you some finished projects I have been quietly working on for a while now. One of my favourite crafty birthday presents this year was this book, which is full of adorable knitted meerkats.

As soon as I saw this book, I just knew that I had to knit a little something for my crafty friend who got married last week in Scotland (the reason for our holiday). So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the happy couple!
These little things kept me busy on my daily commute for a good month or two. They are a great project for knitting on the go, as there are many constituent parts so you can carry around a small ball of wool and knit bits up as and when. For example, I could easily knit up two meerkat arms on a 40 minute train journey. Simples!

The book suggests using a lightweight lace yarn doubled up to knit the body of the meerkats, but I used double knit with no problems. I also omitted a few of the accessories, such as the top hat for the groom (as I knew the real life groom would not be wearing one) and the veil for the bride, which I tried but ultimately did not like the look of. This is one of the great things about this book though, you can mix and math the clothing and accessories to make the finished articles exactly how you want them. I really like the construction of the animals – the author has obviously applied a logical approach to making the shapes, which I love, and you can really see what each bit is going to be as your meerkat comes to life. The trickiest part was sewing everything together, but even this was relatively painless. Although being the perfectionist that I am, I may have been making the final touches the morning of the wedding……!!

The human bride and groom were really pleased with their knitted characters, so much so that they are taking their meer-selves with them on their honeymoon to Cuba – I am looking forward to seeing lots of pictures of Mr & Mrs Meerkat lounging by the pool (although I really hope they stay away from the water!).

I have a feeling that there will be more meerkats to come….I have already had a request for a meer-scientist!

K xx


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