Thursday, 31 July 2014

Holiday projects

The summer hols are here now, and my boy has finished nursery. I surprised myself by feeling really sad about it. It made me realize how this is the end of a very sweet phase of his life, the easy-going nursery years. He had such a hard time settling in, and now it's over. Everything after this is more formalised, uniform, full school days. I won't miss the rushing back to collect him at noon though!
We had a good and bad first week of the holidays, a flood in our lean to, but also a great day at Rainham Marshes. They are hosting lovely events throughout the summer, including Mud Pie Mayhem, Mini Beast Hunt and Pond Detectives. We went last week and got very messy making mud pies, and we were the only ones there as some schools hadn't broken up yet. We then went on a mini beast hunt with nets and little plastic pots with the magnifying lid. My boy was very proud of himself when he caught a big grasshopper. It was such a hot day though, we had to set it free quite quickly or it would have cooked!

                                                           Image by Louise Moss RSPB

I'm also getting ready for our holiday to the States to see my husband's parents. I should be thinking about what clothes to take for the kids, and all the other paraphernalia that goes with travelling with children, but my real worry is what knitting and crochet to take, and do I risk putting it in my hand luggage? Will they make me post it back home, or to my address in the States? How long will it take to get there?! In reality, I probably won't get a chance to knit, with the children demanding attention. I suppose I could ask for a seat on my own somewhere and leave them to my husband. An upgrade even...I can dream.

I've been practising my crochet skills, with some lovely stitch samples.

I like the Catherine wheel above left, but also found a Long Wave stitch, above right at top, and Smooth Wave stitch which I hadn't come across before - above right, bottom. I like the boxy look of that one. These are all in Vol 1 of The Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches.

This one I found in The Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches Vol 7. It has no name, but I
really like the diamond shape, and prefer the pale grey between the pastel colours, rather than white. Cushion cover or blanket? I'm not quite ready to use them in a design for garments yet, even though I would love to have a crack at a dress for my little girl.

This is the one I have plumped for though, for a lap blanket.

It is a tutorial from Sandra Paul, at Cherry Heart. It is called Clamshell, and is a very pretty stitch pattern. I found the tutorial really helpful, the step by step instructions were fool-proof, and believe me if this fool can do it, anyone can.

I will also be taking some very special knitting.

More about that later...

In the meantime, I'm listening to one of the best tunes Benny Goodman ever recorded - Swingtime In The Rockies. It just sends me.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Free pattern Friday and Fenella

This pattern has to be one of my all time favorites, as single patterns go. My copy is in two pieces, but is still very clear to read, so I'm glad it's scanned now. It takes me ages to scan things, as I'm still learning how to use my new scanner.

It is called the 'Rainbow Jumper', by Lavenda, and it is an iconic wartime knitted. I saw a great version of it in Housewife 49, the drama with Victoria Wood playing Nella Last. I highly recommend the book too, Nella Last's War. Her sister-in-law, played by Lorraine Ashbourne, who is just wonderful in the role, is wearing it in an interesting colourway. I couldn't find an image, but the colours were mid brown, dark blue, light blue, light pink, and grey. I did notice that there was no fullness to the sleeves in that version though, which I think is crucial for a wartime knitted. It is a slip stitch pattern, not a Fair Isle, so just one colour is used on rows.

There is another version I saw recently knitted by Mim, at Crinoline Robot, which is just lovely. Take a look.

It is knitted in the elusive 3 ply wool, impossible to find now. Or is it?

                                                          image by Susan Crawford

Fenella is the new yarn by Susan Crawford, a 2 ply, which means it is made up of 2 strands of yarn, but it is a 3 ply weight and gives the same tension as the vintage 3 ply wools. Made up of 70% Exmoor Blueface and 30% Blueface Leicester, it is soft but not floppy, so will hold it's shape when a puff sleeve calls. I did a tension swatch with it, and it has a lovely halo. I am crocheting a 30s style hat with it at the moment and it is looking good so far.

Unsurprisingly I am VERY excited about this new wool, as there is no other 3 ply on the market. 4 ply just doesn't cut it for some of the vintage patterns. You might be able to get the required tension but it can look quite dense, and doesn't have the same drape. I've noticed this while knitting Starring Stripes, there is a significant difference between the 4 ply and the vintage 3 ply, which is much airier.

I can't wait to knit one of the Stitch In Time jumpers in Fenella, possibly Panelled Effect Lady's Jumper, but which colour? And I wonder if it would be a good substitute for the 2 ply wools required in so many vintage patterns? I'll just have to test it out!

I wonder how the Rainbow jumper would look in Roman Plaster, Forget-Me-Not, Marriner, Columbine and Constance Spry?

Anyway, enough jawing, here it is:

I hope you like it, and I'd love to see if anyone else has knitted it, or is going to give it a go. It's in my queue. But my queue is quite long.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Ants in my pants

I've been really restless recently with my knitting and crochet, I just can't seem to settle on one thing. I keep starting things then get distracted by something, a new pattern from a mag, or some wool that catches my eye, but usually by a child demanding that I be the mummy dinosaur. And the holidays haven't even started yet.

I've just finished my crochet course at City Lit, so I've been practicing the techniques I've learnt, which took up most of my evenings. I haven't picked up my knitting, (Starring Stripes) in weeks, which is most unusual for me. The last time I didn't knit almost every day was after I had my son. It was exactly one month later, and I had to force myself to do just one row. That's post-natal depression for you! I know now why sleep deprivation is used as a method of torture.

Here are a few samples from the course.
Just a few floral motifs and a leaf worked from a chart. No looking at written instructions for me! I now just have to practice all the different techniques I've learnt to keep them in my brain. I loved broomstick crochet, which is very delicate, and tapestry crochet.
I really want to give this a go, with different colours and diamonds in single shades.

It's been a great course. I am so much more confident now at attempting a whole garment, well, more confident. Amongst other things we were taught how to work filet crochet, which seems quite straightforward, but can look very effective. On this chic model below for instance.
I'm trying to work out how long the jumper would take to make, hoping it might be quicker than knitting. Probably not as I am much slower at crochet and am bound to get into a muddle with it at some point along the way. I quite fancy the skirt too, but I've set my heart on a knitted one, and have been searching for the 'perfect' pattern. I don't know whether I want a 30s tweedy affair, or a plain stocking stitch 'swing' skirt, knitted in the round. Hmm. My colour choice is quite limited too, as it will have to go with so many different coloured jumpers. Brown or grey, boring, but ever so practical!

We also had a birthday in June, my little girl turned two.
Here she is with her brother who is 'helping' her open her presents.

This is the last week of term, the summer holidays are almost upon us, and I'm looking forward to them. No mad rush to get breakfast down them, and run to nursery. Nice relaxing mornings, crocheting in the garden while they play. In reality I'll probably be tearing my hair out by Tuesday, with not a minute spare to knit. Hey ho. Trips to Rainham Marshes will be fun. I love it there.

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