Fingerless Gloves

I like hand knitted fingerless gloves and, unable to find patterns I liked, I decided to make some of my own. I’ve made a few pairs of these recently.  They’re all made from aran weight wool and knitted in the round.  Some are knitted from a really soft merino and some are a mix of alpaca and merino.  I was going to keep them for myself as I like to have unique items that nobody else has, but I have now decided to put the patterns in  my shop.

They are really quick and easy to knit on a circular needle using the magic loop method, or they can be made with DPN’s and there is no sewing to do.   I have recommended the Old Norwegian cast on for them as it is stretchy and neat.  When I was taught to knit I only learnt one cast on method and it wasn’t until about two years ago that I found out there were other ways.  After a bit of research I found Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor.  54 ways to cast on and cast off.  It was a revelation.  This is actually one of the best books I have ever bought and I have quite a few.  It doesn’t have any pretty, colourful pictures. Well, it does have pictures but they are useful ones showing what you can achieve for the various methods; it’s not a pretty coffee table book.  But it covers so many options to cast on and off.  It is spiral bound, so lies flat when you have your hands full of wool and needles, and has really detailed instructions and diagrams for each method.  The only downside, and I’m pretty sure it is the only downside, is that some methods cover two pages so that when you have yarn in one hand, needles in the other, it is virtually impossible to also turn the page to see the next step.  I refer to this book all the time and every knitter should have one.

As with all my patterns, these have Cornish names; Delen meaning ‘leaf’, Kadon meaning ‘chain’ (a cable look without the cable needle), Todnow meaning ‘waves’, Nedha meaning ‘twist’ (another cable look without the cable needle), Mor meaning ‘sea’.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

A New Pink Top

This pink top has been sitting in my sewing room part made for about two weeks.  I used the upper bodice pattern piece for the sweetheart bodice dress from Yoshiko Tsukiori’s Sweet Dress Book: 23 Stylish Outfits from Six Simple Patterns and my own pattern for the rest which I made from a drape, just as I did for the cream one I made a while ago with the pretty bridal lace section at the top.

I get a lot of comments on this one and have wanted to make another but took my time thinking about which fabric would be best.  I really like it in the cream and was tempted to make one in a similar colour.  I think the pale pink was a good choice, though, as I did not have a pink top.  I have some more fabric to make another one when I can find the time.  It is a pale coffee coloured cotton and a mesh fabric with coffee coloured spots on.

The pink top has turned out better than I thought.  Rashly, I decided to do a hand sewn scallop hem because they’re so delicate and pretty.  It took so long and it doesn’t even show up in the photographs!  I love the pink shell button I chose.  It really needed a more lightweight one so that the delicate chiffon wasn’t weighed down.  But my heart won out and I used the one I liked (again it doesn’t show up in the photographs).  It is a pink disc made from shell with a metal shank which ends in a square of metal in the centre at the front.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

Machine Embroidery Art

I’ve always loved to embroider, it’s something I was taught to do when I was very young.  Over recent years I have seen more and more embroidery done on a machine.  I did think this was cheating to start with and have continued doing it by hand, although a lot of my quilts do have applique that is machined.  But I have become more aware of local Cornish artists such as Poppy Treffry Freehand Machine Embroidery: Learning to draw with your machine who uses machine embroidery to sew seaside scenes onto items such as bags and cushions with ancient Singer machines and thought that maybe I should give it ago before dismissing it.

I was also really inspired by the work of a freehand machine embroiderer called Abigail Mill ( not Cornish) whose embroidered artwork I discovered online.  (I do make it sound as if I spend all day looking online for inspiration which isn’t the case.  Well, maybe it is.)  She uses a white piece of organza for the base of each piece and then layers it with different organza to create the background sky and sea.  This gives a real illusion of depth and it’s something I had to try for myself.   Despite spending a lot of time looking at her art work online I couldn’t quite see how she achieved her results.   So I bought her new book  Applique Art: Freehand Machine-Embroidered Pictures (The Textile Artist) .  This book is beautiful.

I began my machine embroidery with layers of organza and even before I had done any embroidery it looked really effective.  I am not entirely pleased with the background now that I have embroidered it with my machine.  Maybe machine embroidery is not quite my thing!  However, I shall reserve judgement until I have added all the details and have a completed picture.

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The initial plan with this one was to applique a seal onto this and maybe a Cornish gig .  However, when we were walking home from lunch the other day we saw a pod of dolphins stranded in the creek next to our house.  Several people had gone in to swim them back out to deeper water and didn’t look in any rush to get out (any excuse really).  It was a hot day and I wouldn’t have minded going in myself but walking home in wet clothes wouldn’t have been as much fun!  So I think I’ll have to put a dolphin or two on my embroidery – when I get around to it.

 

Basic Black Japanese Pattern Book Review

I didn’t expect to be reviewing another Japanese pattern book so soon, but I found this green top which was made using a pattern from one of my newer books Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe by Sato Watanabe.  I’ve had this book for quite a while but did not notice the detailing on this dress pattern probably because all the designs are in black, hence the name.  That is really the only negative I can find with this book.  It is one of my two favourite Japanese pattern books.  It describes itself as being edgy and I suppose it is when compared to other Japanese pattern books.  I just think it is more stylish and  definitely more to my taste.  The patterns are slightly more confusing than those in other Japanese pattern books due to them being all squashed onto (both sides) of just one sheet.  But I quite like the challenge.

So, here’s my version of this pattern:

This is not at all what I intended.  I had a beautiful piece of fabric lined up.  It was a silk cotton mix in a very pale peach with a slight gold shimmer to it.  (The darts would have shown up beautifully on this fabric, unlike the patterned fabric I ended up using.).  This fabric was tricky.  It did not even like being cut.  I spent ages getting it cut out, measuring and pinning the darts (all six of them).  I was just about to start sewing when I noticed the fabric looked almost transparent in places and when I investigated, it just started falling to pieces.  Hence the change of fabric.  This one is a cotton poplin which might not drape as well as the silk mix but I knew it would stay put while I cut it and I could iron it into nice sharp darts.  Good old cotton.  I did like that other fabric though.

So, when measuring the pattern I thought the boat neck might be a bit too wide, but decided to make it as the designer intended except that I was making a top and not a dress.  The neck is a bit too wide, but still wearable.  I should have made a smaller size and will probably have to do a few alterations to rectify that at some point.  The only other modifications I made were to sew a seam up the back with a small opening and a hand sewn button fastening instead of a zip, to hand sew a rolled hem and to hand sew much thinner bias binding as I prefer a daintier look.

I want to make quite a few of the patterns in this book.

I particularly like ‘a’ the Lace Shirred Blouse, and ‘g’ and ‘h’ both versions of the Whimsical Vest.  I find the names given to the garments amusing as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Knitting Baby Booties for a Neighbour.

One of my neighbours is expecting a baby soon and I thought that was a good excuse to knit some more booties.  I spotted this book while looking for ideas,  Knitted Booties for Tiny Feet (Baby Love).

Product Details

I just love the designs in this book.  The reviews are not good as, apparently, the instructions have a lot of errors (probably due to the translation from French to English) but I found a link for the Knitted Booties Errata so decided it was worth a shot anyway.  I particularly like the look of the booties on the front and they’re the ones I want to knit in some baby merino I have had in my stash for some time.

Although the book should only take a few days to arrive (and I still have a lot of WIP’s that really need sorting), once I had thought of knitting baby booties, everything else was discarded (there is a possibility that I am just avoiding finishing the jumper I have started knitting – it is taking forever)  and I started looking for a pattern for baby ballet pumps.   There are quite a few available but none to my taste.  So, I made some up.  I really need to work on my maths skills.  I was sure they were right.  I checked them more than once.  Then I tested them.  So many mistakes.  But now they are correct and the patterns are in my shop.

Both these baby booties patterns are seamless and neither require stitches to be picked up.   Where possible, I always avoid seams in knitting, and picking up stitches – which really is not difficult, it’s just the thought of it.

The first pair ‘Haf’ (‘Summer’ in Cornish) is knitted in garter stitch and has a knitted I-cord tie to help it stay on.  I was going to put in an optional eyelet row for this in case it was difficult to insert the tie between the stitches, but I had no problems doing that and I felt the tie would stay in much better than if it was threaded through eyelets.

The second pair ‘Kyfvewy’ (‘Party’ in Cornish; they are ever so slightly over-the-top!) is knitted in stockinette stitch, has a diagonal button loop stretching from near the heel, and a flower on the front.  Again, other than attaching the button and flower, and weaving in the ends, there is no sewing involved; the whole thing, including the button loop is knitted in one piece.  The green and pink ones are quite pretty but not exactly as I had planned (but hopefully my neighbour will like them) , so I have altered the pattern slightly and I am happy with the finished result.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

Tea Leaves Cardigan

I have knitted quite a few cardigans recently. I made this cardigan a few months ago from a beautiful pale pink soft merino which has a reputation for stretching in the wash.  I actually put this cardigan in the washing machine and I’ve not had any problems.  My alpaca and merino mix cardigans get hand washed, but the merino is fine in the machine as long as you put it in a net bag to keep it confined.

Melissa LaBarre’s Tea Leaves Cardigan is a really simple pattern suitable for a beginner knitter.  You do have a lot of stitches on the needle when doing the yoke but you only need to know a few basic stitches and techniques.  I could happily knit this one with lots going on around me without the worry of losing concentration and going wrong (I usually need complete silence when I’m knitting).  This could be my go to cardigan pattern when I don’t want anything too involved!  A lot of other people feel the same way.  More than two and a half thousand people have posted their copies of this cardigan on Ravelry.

There was a similar pattern on Ravelry for a short sleeved jumper called Ruched Yoke Tee by AnneLena Mattison which is knitted in a double knit yarn.  I really liked the keyhole at the neckline but I didn’t want a short sleeved version as I have lots of T-shirts and can’t be bothered to knit one.  But I really like that keyhole and this pattern is easy to knit like the Tea Leaves Cardigan so I have started knitting one in a pale pink cotton merino, but with three quarter length sleeves.  I usually only knit cardigans; I can’t remember the last time I knitted a jumper.  It is taking forever.  It shouldn’t be.  It is knitted in the round using stockinette stitch, so I just have to keep knitting.  No purling.  But it’s still very slow going (I do realize that’s only me as nearly everyone else on Ravelry has said it was a quick knit for them) and I keep getting side tracked with other projects like darted tops and baby booties patterns.  I really have to finish it.  Just one more waist decrease, then increasing again for the hips.  The worrying thing is that my next planned project is in 4 ply.  Perhaps I should put that off for a while and do a quick aran knit first.  Or perhaps I should stop thinking about what else I want to knit and just finish this one!

Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.

Acorns Cardigan

Another completed cardigan and in blue.  I’m not sure what’s come over me; prolific cardigan knitting and using the colour blue!  This wool reminded me of the sea on a stormy day.  (Although yesterday, when we were walking around the cliffs the sea was a brilliant turquoise blue, I am on the lookout for a yarn in just that colour.)  I knitted this from aran weight merino so it’s more of a winter garment, but you never can tell in Cornwall it will probably come in handy in July.

I really enjoyed knitting this cardigan with the acorns around the yoke.  Carol Sunday’s Acorns Cardigan is not a beginner’s knit, not that it is difficult, it just requires a lot of concentration due to the huge variety of stitches and the use of different increases and decreases.  This is my kind of pattern, I loved knitting it.   The yoke did take ages.  It seemed like I had been knitting it for weeks and had very little to show for it.  But once I got onto the body it took no time at all, probably because I could concentrate on the number of rows between increases and decreases which is much better than the usual ‘continue working in stockinette stitch until it measures…’.

I did miss off some of the acorns on the front of the cardigan because I thought it might look better with them just around the yoke, and I think that was a good choice.

A few people on Ravelry have mentioned the confusion with the cuff chart and when I got to that point I realized why.  The designer has been very helpful in converting the chart for working on the wrong side but has reversed the purl and knit symbols, so you have to pretend you are working on the right side, i.e. the empty square is always a knit and the square with a spot in is always a purl.

A lot of people have changed the neckline but I liked that part of the design so I knitted it just as the pattern said.  I probably should have taken more notice of their comments on the button band.  Even before I put it on I could see that it would gap and it does (although not so much when I put it on my tailor’s dummy because she doesn’t move) so next time I will possibly alter the number of stitches I pick up, and use extra buttons.  (I have already bought some extra olive coloured buttons for that purpose.  But that is several projects away.)

 

Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.

Solar Dyeing

I have always been intrigued by using things from the garden and recycling things you would normally just throw away.  My garden is not large enough to live off, a small holding would suit me better – maybe one day.  A couple of years ago I started researching natural dyes and had a few (unsuccessful) attempts at dyeing wool on my stove.  I say unsuccessful but had I been aiming for a dark grey then I could say I achieved my goal but I was not aiming for grey, dark for otherwise!  It was also quite labour intensive and probably used a lot of electricity as well.  So a few weeks ago when we were clearing out the attic I found my old aquarium and thought it would be ideal for a solar oven and while I was online looking for ideas on how to do that, I noticed a lot of people were using old jars, which seemed a lot easier and meant I could get started straight away.   The aquarium will still be useful for larger items.  Further research is called for, but for now it is quite happy sitting on the patio.

From my previous attempts at dyeing wool in a large saucepan on the stove I found the dye material was difficult to remove from the dye and got stuck to the wool.  This time I have chopped up my dye material, put it in a net laundry bag in the jar with hot water and left it in the sun for a few weeks.  When the dye is ready the bag can just be removed and emptied.  I have decided against dyeing wool at the moment (I probably have enough yarn in my stash to last about two years) but thought it would make a nice change to have some naturally dyed fabrics to sew with.  I make my own clothes to have something different to everyone else but then I buy the same commercially dyed fabrics that everyone else has.   Due to the unpredictability of natural dyes each batch will be unique.

I decided to get going with four dyes from things I had in the house and garden.  Spinach leaves for a yellow/green colour, plum skins for a deep pink/purple, avocado skins and stones for a pale pink, and black beans for a blue.

Then a late frost was forecast so I brought them inside for a couple of days.

It has become apparent that the black beans are not producing any dye colour, so I’m going to discard that one and either try again or find a different dye material entirely.

Meanwhile, I have dyed some cotton fabric on my stove top using turmeric for some almost instant results. Turmeric does not require a mordant and is good for dyeing plant material like cotton (apparently).  I soaked the cotton fabric for a few hours.  I mixed the turmeric powder (a whole jar) with a small amount of water to make a paste then added it to a large saucepan with enough water to cover my fabric and simmered it for an hour.  Then I put my fabric in the dye, simmered it for another hour and then left it to stand for the rest of the day.

OK, so this was not a total success.  I could say this was the effect I was going for but I would be lying!

In the pot it looked a lovely deep orange and when I rinsed it out (several times until the water went clear) it still looked a lovely deep orange.

So far, so good.  Except that it did smell very spicy, so I gave it a cool machine wash with my Ecover non bio and…

…not orange!  So, I probably won’t be making a fabulous garment from this, but it might be useful for quilting – or I might just re-dye it!  I’ll probably re-dye it.

I should be able to do this.  People have been dyeing wool and fabric for thousands of years.   After more research, I decided to buy Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint as there are many mentions of her work online.  I had looked at it previously but it was more expensive than some others, but I now think I should have bought this one first.

Now I know where I’m going wrong!  I really, really wish I had bought this book earlier.  Apparently, boiling your dye stuff to within an inch of its life and adding fabric that has had a  mordant applied only once the previous night with allum or cream of tartar, boiling some more, and expecting to be able to wash and use a newly dyed fabric immediately just does not provide the best result!  So I’m going to take my time and do repeated mordants of alkaline and protein solutions on several fabrics at a time so that I can store them for later use.

In India Flint’s book she describes the best way to treat various different fabrics.  She shares many new techniques she has devised to print flower and leaf patterns onto fabric using fabric bundles and hammering (with a mallet), how to dye with delicate flowers in a technique she calls ice flowers, even a way of using mud.  She also uses many different mordants which are so different from the traditional ones such as sea water (which we have here in Cornwall in abundance) and soya milk!  She also mentions solar dyeing using jars but she does not see the need to extract the dye first, you just add the (already mordanted) fabric at the beginning.  She says that dyed fabrics need to mature or cure before use and it’s best to let the newly dyed fabric to dry in the shade before even rinsing let alone washing.  That would have been useful to know earlier!

This book is very word heavy and also very beautiful with its muted colour schemes.  I have over simplified the contents of this book.  It is very inspirational.  I’m so excited to get experimenting and I have high expectations of what I will be able to achieve, but I have to remember the keywords: ‘slow’ and ‘time’.  I will update you.

 

 

 

Sweet Dress Japanese Patterns

I absolutely love Japanese pattern books.  A lot of people have had a meltdown when they’ve unfolded the patterns in some of these books and found that; a) there are about a million patterns on each page, b) you have to trace off all the lines for your garment, c) there are no seam allowances, you have to add these yourself.  For me, these are all bonuses.  I like the fact that I get a whole pile of patterns for very little money.  I prefer to trace off the patterns, so that I can still use the original in another size, and it is far easier to alter a pattern to fit me if it has no seam allowances to take into consideration.  Also, I can then choose the size for my seam allowances without having to work around what’s already there.

These Japanese pattern books are quite brilliant.

The Japanese pattern book I am going to share with you today is Sweet Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori.  Sweet Dress Book: 23 Stylish Outfits from Six Simple Patterns  OK, so most of the models do look really sad and motionless and like they’re wearing clothes belonging to someone far larger than themselves.  (Although this is not the case with my two latest purchases of Japanese pattern books)  I’m not sure if this is just the style they favour or whether they do this so as to provide less distractions from the shape and lines of the garments.  Size-wise I assume they’ve just taken the patterns directly from the books which have been created for the larger western body, so wouldn’t fit the petite Japanese frame.

Each of these books contains a wide range of very usable patterns.  Personally, I can’t imagine making many of these patterns exactly as the designer intended, but they are very adaptable.  (Again, my two new Japanese pattern books are very different from any other in that I want to make a lot of the patterns exactly as the designers intended and I will be sharing these with you when I have made some, my dilemma is which to start with!)  Some of the Japanese patterns generally are very unfitted and would benefit from a dart or two, and sometimes I have to add more width and darts for the bust.  (They are designed for the flat chested.)  But this book has a good variety of patterns with raglan sleeves, set in sleeves, puff sleeves, bishop sleeves, french sleeves, sleeveless and straps.  It has patterns for dresses, coat dresses, blouses, tunics, trousers and playsuits.  Even a cupcake recipe!

So far I’ve used pattern ‘R’ sweetheart-bodice dress to make a top for me, but I didn’t want the gathers so I combined the top of the Japanese pattern with the pattern I made from draping my tailor’s dummy.

I really like this top and have bought more fabric to make another one.  Another of the patterns I will be using is pattern ‘W’ bell-sleeve coat dress.

I haven’t decided yet whether to make it as a short jacket or the length it is in the book, but I will line it and probably change it from a V-neck into a round neck.

Next week I will be quilting and I will be showing you how to make a very simple quilt with no piecing, applique or added bias bindings!

 

 

Peasy Summer Cardigan

It’s nothing short of miraculous.  I’ve finished a summer cardigan in time for summer!

This cardigan pattern, Peasy by Heidi Kirrmaier has been sitting in my Ravelry favourites for months.  I’ve read all the comments people have posted about it and looked at all the photos of their versions.  I think the reason I was stalling was that I was unsure of the sleeves.  I’ve never really gone along with the whole three quarter length sleeve idea and, frankly, I was having difficulty getting past the fact that they reminded me of Spock’s trousers.  Maybe I should try out some cardigans with shorter sleeves though because I do spend all day pushing my cardigan sleeves up my arms!

I’m glad I eventually took the plunge and started this cardigan, but I did do the sleeves very differently from the pattern and I used an alternative yarn as well.  I chose an ice blue cotton which is such a departure from anything I normally use both in fibre and colour.  I usually favour warm fibres and warm, muted colours.  Once I made the decision and bought this yarn, I was ridiculously excited to get it finished.  It is so, so pretty and I just love knitting lace.  So much so that I tapered the cardigan’s sleeves, and added sixteen rounds of lace at the cuff to make them full length.

I loved knitting this pattern.  I did highlight the instructions for my size and jotted a few notes as there were so many things going on at once.  It worked out really well and I have some rust coloured alpaca and merino wool set aside to make another at some point.  There was one downside to this one.  It did use a lot more yarn than stated – a lot more. I usually have at least a ball of wool over at the end of a project but this time I had to buy four extra!

Now we need some more sun so that I can wear it.  My first attempt at getting photos of it ended in disaster as it was too cold and windy out on the cliffs to remove my raincoat or beany, so we had to come back to the garden to take them.

 

Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.