Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Hall of Shame - The Great UFOs of 2014, (and earlier)

This post has been a long time coming. (I have borrowed the title from Pin Up Crafts, via Wendy at Butterfly Balcony)

The purpose of this is to shame myself into finishing the projects shown here, and also to try to stop starting new ones. We'll see how that goes shall we?

 (Please excuse this shocking shot, it was so cold, and my two and a half year old was having a meltdown in the garden)

Firstly the crochet. Two blankets, the one on the right, (and below) was one of the first things I crocheted, so it had to be a nice and simple granny stripe. It's still not quite long enough to cover my legs - but nearly. Shame about the garish colours. I remember buying the 'wool' (all cheap acrylic), and getting a bit carried away. I think I spent under thirty pounds and came away with a black bag full. (Yes, they had to give me a black bag). I have since added to it. (Sigh. I don't know whether it is a compulsion or a full-on addiction).  

The wavy/ripple/chevron blanket (top pic, on left) was inspired by Coco Rose Diaries, whose wonderful blanket in more muted shades than mine was photographed so beautifully - I was hooked. (Sorry about the pun). It is lovely and dense, super cosy and again almost long enough to snuggle under.

There is a third blanket, lurking at the bottom there. (And below).

Another couldn't-help-myself, butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling until it was started. I think that is why I start so many things. The thrill of the new, the shiny.

I had had this as a pin on Pinterest for ages, and found it on Sandra Paul's great crochet blog Cherry Heart - her Clamshell blanket tutorial. I started it before I went on holiday in August, along with a cushion cover in a great stitch pattern, which is also in the Hall of Shame.

The granny squares I started two years ago are still hanging about like a bad smell on the stairs, but instead of doing something with them, I decided to start some hexagons. For a blanket maybe?!!!

They are now destined to be a bag, if I can work out how to put it together, and then find the will to line it.

The last offender is a hat and belt set, and actually the hat is finished so shouldn't technically be included, but I hate it. It looks like a bucket on my head, but I cannot rip it out, literally, as it is finished with a round of metallic wire. Not millinery wire, of no, that would have been too easy. This was thick jewellery wire. Ouch, my hands.

I started the belt as I had a lovely vintage mother of pearl belt buckle that would look perfect with it. The yarn I found in the States, Sugar n' Cream, an aran weight cotton, in what I think is a very 30s colour, a green and cream mix. Maybe I should give the hat another chance, I do love that shade.

Lastly, the cushion I have been working on from Inside Crochet magazine for months.

It is supposed to be about double this size, but I'll be lucky to do another two or three rounds. I'll then try to find a round cushion to fit it, fail, and end up stuffing it with Fiber Fill, or whatever that fluff is called.

That brings me to the end of the crochet.

Must try harder.

Next time - the Neglected Knits.


Friday, 19 December 2014

Free Pattern Friday - 1940s 'Oddments' Necklace

I thought I would save this pattern for Christmas, even though it is not terribly festive. It's a crocheted necklace, a quick and simple design, ideal for a beginner.

This necklace was inspired by a pattern originally published in a wartime Woman’s Weekly magazine. I actually saw it as a reprint in A Vintage View, Issue 4 (from 1940 - 1950). Only a snippet of the pattern was shown, so I filled in the gaps. I love the way even tiny amounts of wool were used up in the war against waste.

I have written up my revised pattern, which is available as a free PDF download here.

The original pattern suggests working three chains in four 'vivid' colours, so you end up with 12 chains.

I did a few versions in different weight yarns - one in d.k acrylic, one in 4 ply cotton, and one in 3 ply wool.  

The 3 ply wool one I did to match my Such A Debonair Little Jumper. I used the yarn from that (alpaca), some vintage aqua 3 ply, some 3 ply in a darker pink, and a dark brown from the Handweavers Studio. I worked three chains in each colour.

The two above are both made in d.k. acrylic, (excuse the phone pics). I used only 3 colours, as it turned out chunky enough for me. I would make them slightly longer next time.

Above is a nautical one, in 4 ply cotton, (sorry, it is a bit blurry, but you get the idea), with my Beret for Everyday. I would work more chains for this one if I did it again, but I quite like that it is delicate.

You can get this necklace pattern for free here.

I hope you have fun making it.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Tree Wars

We put up two trees this year, one for me, the 'tasteful' one, and one for my husband and children. I loved making lots of crochet snowflakes for it.

I was convinced mine would rule, but I'll let you decide.

Playing with different settings on my camera, but the tripod would have helped!

This is the white tree, with my crochet snowflakes, some Swarovski crystal ornaments and white baubles. It does look a bit bare still, but I am sick of making snowflakes now, so 20 odd will have to do. (I've also started a new project, and I'm in the process of putting out new designs, so I'm glad I started them early)!

And here is the other tree, with it's twinkly lights, giving different light effects. You can see my wool cupboard behind it. I can just about get to the wool.

Here the tree decorators are hard at work, barking orders at dad for more baubles.

They had such a great time dressing the tree and were so proud of it when they'd finished. My husband saw some reindeer lights, and couldn't resist.

I have to accept defeat graciously - their tree is the winner. It is a real one too, so the smell alone is enough for me - it's the smell of Christmas.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Beret for Everyday - my very first hat pattern

It's the hat I grab when I am running out of the house and don't know which hat to grab. It's a go-with-everything beret, and it is one of my favorites.

Photograph by R.B.

It won't win any prizes for the most exciting stitch pattern, but it is a great shape. And that is so important to me. Not too 'big'. Or floppy. It is close fitting, reminiscent of an early 1930s beret - but I can still get my hair into it if it starts to rain.

This is the first of a small collection of hats I have designed in recent months.

Photograph by R.B.

Photograph by R.B.

Photograph by Mike D.

Here it is worn with the open seam creating an alluring V-shape over the eye.

This is a design I first did back in 2006. I originally knitted it in an unknown cream wool, and scribbled down the pattern in my now battered old notebook.

Photograph by Mike D.
I wore it when I photographed some designs back in 2011, as it didn't detract from the jumper.

For this one, I've used Excelana 4 ply wool, in shade Saharan Sand. I just had one ball of it, from the photo shoot of A Stitch In Time Volume 2.

Image from Stitch In Time Vol 2

It's the remainder of this ball in fact! I hate waste.

Here's a bit more info if you are interested in purchasing the pattern:

Knit flat on two needles, from the bottom up. I used a thumb cast on method with one needle to give a neat ridged edge which seems to mirror garter stitch.

One ball Excelana 4 ply Shade Saharan Sand (159m)

2.75mm needles
3.75mm needles

24 sts and 28 rows = 10cms / 4ins measured over stocking stitch using 3.75mm needles.

To fit 21 - 23 inch head.

My head measurement is 22 inches, and it fits quite snugly. I would recommend using 3mm needles for the garter stitch brim if your head is 23 inches or more. But as with all knitted hats, I find it stretches slightly as you wear it.

It is available on Etsy here, if you fancy giving it a go.

Since rediscovering the social media world after years of self-imposed exile, I've become obsessed with it, taking pics of myself on my phone and posting them on Facebook and Instagram. Usually after too many glasses of wine, in the kitchen, next to the back door. (Ooh, the glamour).

Do you spy my Brace Of Acorns brooch? This is a little brooch I designed some years ago for a workshop I taught for Craft Guerrilla, along with my Posy of Violets. I'll be offering this soon too, in two colourways.

I'm also starting to offer a few vintage patterns from my collection on Etsy.

I really hope you like my first beret pattern. I'm very nervous about it, but I've got to try!


Thursday, 4 December 2014

1930s Beauty Tips

I collect women's magazines, (amongst other things - wool, vintage patterns, 78s, red lipstick, shoes...). They are predominantly from the 1930s and 40s, and whenever I do a Free Pattern Friday, I get so engrossed in the ads, that I promised to share some of these with you. These are all from a 1936 edition of Home Chat magazine.

I just had to put this first - What the hell...? Did no one realise the deep hypocrisy here? Ahh, smoking. It is making a comeback though, in certain private dance clubs in London. You can't really have an authentic 1930s French cafe/nightclub atmosphere without a little smoking.

Celebrity endorsements certainly aren't new. They were very popular at this time. Only the titled were sought out by cosmetics companies though, followed by Hollywood stars. Interestingly, titled ladies were also asked to endorse knitting patterns in the 1930s. Who wouldn't want to knit a jumper that a Lady might also be knitting for herself?

The Baroness Furnivall was quite happy to promote Ponds Face Powder. I wonder if she had a crumbling mansion to keep up? Or perhaps she relished the publicity? Of course I then had to go and find some on ebay, three in fact, but didn't bid on them as I knew I would not be able to resist trying them - and that would be bad. What I find fascinating is the 'science' they were using - in the form of that huge machine, the 'colourscope', that they used to 'complexion analyse' 200 'girls'. Cosmetic companies in 1936 were already trying to blind us with science.

Deodorant, not a very exciting product, but where would we be without it? You certainly wouldn't want to dance with anyone, for fear of unpleasant odours. And considering that was the second most popular pastime in the 30s, (picture-going the first), you would make sure you used it. I love the way the other ladies are looking enviously at her dancing with the dashing moustachioed gent!

The tiny ad at the bottom right of the page certainly piqued my interest now that I too have curls that do tend to be a bother. Denman products are still very popular, but I've never seen this Curl Comb and Curl Set. I would kill for one. It's portable too - 'you can set your hair in a very few moments in the theatre or restaurant cloakroom'. I'm sure it's not as easy as it claims to be, but I'd give it a good go.

Another curling product, by Carola, claiming they 'curl while you dress'. After seeing this I dug out mine and set my hair with them. (Well, somebody else set it, after taking pity on me struggling with the tricksy things). Ladies seemed very adept at setting their own hair back then. I'm afraid I'd have gone to the hairdressers. Although I might not have been able to afford it. Here is my set with the Carolas. I had somewhere special to go, to celebrate 10 years of djing with The Shellac Sisters

More about this lovely evening soon.

The ad for the free knitting leaflet voucher (above), is pure wish fulfilment. I dream of going to my local wool shop and choosing from a 'wide range' of vintage patterns. Like a kid in a toy shop.

I'll leave you with Vanity Fayre's regular beauty column. This week they give you 'Four Steps to Beauty'. It's essentially a beauty salon review, but includes all the information needed to do it at home. Of course, you'd have to order the products from the salon. Surprisingly, not that much has changed in nearly 80 years. We still use mud masks, and massage, and we are still obsessed with slowing down, (or halting), the ageing process. We've just gone to more extreme lengths trying to achieve it now. 

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