Monday, 31 December 2007

Aran Teacosy

I've been thinking a lot about new year resolutions and fresh ideas and new knitting projects, but though there's tons of stuff I want to cast on I'm a bit limited by what I've already got, due to the other post-christmas inevitability, tight purse strings. Its very frustrating getting so many books which sob "knit me knit me" on every page, I think every new knitting book should come with £50 cash tucked in the flyleaf to nip down to the LYS with after some serious decision making.

Anyway, some lovely relative got me a Rowan magazine subscription this year, and though the first issue isn't due for some months the free gift arrived straight away - here it is:

Four balls of 'All Seasons Cotton' in beige, its a 60% cotton, 40%acrylic mix with an odd texture, almost like velour. Its machine washable and knit on 4.5 - 5.5 mm needles. As beige isn't my favourite colour (my least favourite is orange, though I do like ginger in all forms) it took me a while to come up with something to do with it. I'm going to try an Arran style teacosy for my grandmother, with the hollow oak pattern pictured in the centre, with an arran braid either side. I haven't tried such complex cabling before so that will be fun, and the whole thing will be small and light enough to post. Its hard coming up with stuff for my grandmother, Marjorie, because she is extremely frugal. In a 'born-during-the-war-and-prefers-powdered-milk-to-the-real-thing' kind of way. However, this should be suitably useful and utilitarian. The teacosy should only take 1-2 balls, so I could also think of something that matches - is it possible to knit oven mitts?

Happy New Year everyone x

Friday, 28 December 2007


what would a birthday be without a lovely haul of knitting and sewing goodies, especially some gorgeous additions to my bookstash, thanks everyone x

navy kidsilk, green little big wool
Liberty sewing (pencil) box
Sublime Stitching
Knitting America
The Gentle Art of Domesticity
Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts
Bend The Rules Sewing

Sunday, 16 December 2007

noelle - a folly

Here is a good sewing tip: it is very difficult, Very Difficult, crossing-the-north-sea-in-a-sieve Difficult, to thread a whole nutmeg. Don't be fooled by the brittle outer shell, it has a true nut core which will result in many bent pins and very sore fingers. Not with a normal needle anyway. In comparison a cinnamon stick is butter.

ah, christmassy mess

I just saw 'The Golden Compass' and wow, did you see Lyra's knitted hat in, like, the entire second half of the film? I reckon it was made with this Rowan Biggy Print - what do you think? I also loved the pinafore she wore at the beginning, that would be so cool as overalls or an apron in dark blue or purple fabric. And the white spotted blouse, and Nicole Kidman's wicked curls.

Today is the last episode of 'Cranford' and I think my heart will break, its so sad and so romantic. 'Ballet Shoes' is on Boxing Day, I've been looking forward to this for months. Thirties clothes rock.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

pink and red heart & smaug

pink and red heart1, originally uploaded by A Homely Heroine.

Here's one I made earlier.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

oh branwen

I've finished branwen...

acts of lunacy during this knitting -

not picking up enough neckband stitches, far too tight!
having redone the v-neck, casting off in extra stretchy bind-off - a little too loose : (
sewing up the armhole!!
not blocking before sewing
attempting to thread an ordinary needle with chunky wool

but, I didn't give up, and, having completed by first sweater, I think I can now say, I knit.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

My finished architect's scarf!

I took these photos inside on this blustery day, having been for a walk and forgotten all about the scarf. Don't you find that capturing the colours can be quite frustrating? Much better to be inside with some tea and Swiss roll for an awkward knitting photo shoot. This is officially my Homely Hero's scarf, a super early Christmas present, and its also my first serious knitting project completed.

Some knitting facts:

Black Forest worsted weight malabrigo from Get Knitted in Bristol - 2 skeins
I used 4mm needles and the scarf is about 6 feet long
The lilac shade naturally fell into a subtle zigzag throughout the scarf
It took me almost two months to knit - I needed some serious willpower to get me through the 3rd quarter
I'm so so glad I've finally finished it, and, believe it or not, I'm a third of the way through a second, in malabrigo loro barranquero on 5mm needles. It might be done by the end of January...

Saturday, 24 November 2007

j'aime des coeurs de cannelle

Heart no. 2

I must admit I nicked this idea from the 'nature's harvest' website, which also tempts me to buy some of their 'create your own' stuff. Its a bit rough and ready, using a sewing machine to sew round a heart is very tricky, and then I realised I hadn't hemmed the pocket. Anyway...

I've also finished the architect's scarf (at last!) and will post photos tomorrow, I have to wait for the weekends to see some daylight.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

This weekend I made...

My first Christmas decoration, a scented heart. It has a clove sachet inside, and a cinnamon stick on top. And that's malabrigo alpine pearl wool as the 'ribbon'.

My list of Christmas decorations to make, mostly in red gingham, is (note, none of these are original ideas (hangs head in creative shame) but have been nicked from various shops in Bath, and a certain book of the month);

two Christmassy placemats for trays

several small hearts, as above, for the tree

four hearts hanging one below the other with cinnamon sticks in between spelling 'Noel'

a garland of alternate Christmas trees and stars to hang across the fireplace

several scented stars, in blue fabric

Sunday, 11 November 2007

This weekend I made...

I made my curtains! This could have been one of those sewing projects that never, but no, I found my way to the fabric shop and we were on the road. They did not have the pink check I dreamt of, but instead I found this rather lovely blue/green/pink cotton check at a rather reasonable £4 a metre. 7 metres of the stuff I bought, 6.5metres after the initial wash and tumble dry, 3 metres per curtain, and 0.5metre for tabtops and tie backs.

After just 14 hours bent over my tiny singer sewing machine my glorious first ever proper sewing project was complete! The only person I actually know to have made their own curtains is my mum, and I duly rang her up feeling very proud of myself.

But truth to tell, this is the first time I have sewn something like this, and to a even vaguely careful eye there are many faults. Wavy sewing, bunched thread in hidden places, shortcuts and creases where I didn't bother to iron. I would be ashamed to give these curtains to anyone. They are not lined, they don't have curtain hooks or rings, there is no cord to move them. They are the very basic version of beginner curtains.

I love them with all my heart.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

knit knit knit

So, it was English Yarns that came up trumps with plenty of Heather and now I'm back to knitting happily along, and all the wiser for it I daresay. Also in the post this week was the rather lux Cabbages and Roses catalogue, which turns out to be a brown cardboard folder containing very large postcards of their products, with info on the back. An example is the picture in the sidebar with the pink checked curtains.

This is my new sewing project, a pair of pink checked curtains for the absurdly tall sash windows in my bathroom, though not with the £16 per metre fabric from Cabbages and Roses(!). Instead I shall investigate a tiny fabric shop in Bath on saturday. If its not too hard I might try and reupholster an armchair, gulp. Finally my sister sent me this lovely Habitat knitted stocking, check out those pompoms. Awful photo, the large snowflake in the centre is in purple. I might do some christmas knitting of my own soon.

Otherwise, progress is oh so slow on the architect's scarf, especially as the stitches seem so small compared with the branwen sweater. I love varied colours in very dark wool, and have been very tempted by the Dream in Colour wool featured on Weaverknits website. But how to track it down? We're getting the train to London for the day in late December, and I'll be heading straight for Liberty; fabric and wool dept. and Stash Yarns.

Friday, 26 October 2007

no more wool

So I'm trying to knit this:

and I've done most of it, but have only got this left:

with the entire front piece to go,
tomorrow morning I'll be calling all the rowan stockists in the south west, first one to supply those crucial 2 balls of heather (ok, lets say 4 to be safe) wins my undying consumer loyalty

but as a back-up plan I will frog and knit this:

knitting without tears?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

branwen heart

rowan country heather


So, last week I cast on my first sweater, time for some serious knitting. I'm knitting 'branwen' from Rowan Country Escape in Rowan's Country, shade heather. I intend to follow the pattern exactly as possible, except to make the body 3 inches longer and to put in a deep v-neck. I'm anxious not to mess it up and have researched the v-neck extensively, well for a few hours anyway. I've written myself a clear pattern for it, but its the last thing I'll be knitting. I started with the sleeves, I know, I know, this isn't ideal, its classic swatch avoidance. I'm working on the back right now.

I love the colours of the wool, which turn more blue and pink in the evening under electric light. Its also super chunky, I'm using 9mm needles for most of it. Going back to 5mm needles to work on my architect's scarf feels like working with super thin fragile needles. I started last week but it just knits up so fast the impetus to keep going doesn't disappear. I might even have it finished by the end of next week. Woah, way to set myself up for a fall. My reasons for doing a v-neck instead of the short roll neck in the pattern are a) I don't like roll-necks, they feel horrible and look worse on me b) the wool is heavy, and will always be worn over a cotton top or shirt because of its texture, so I reckon its going to be plenty warm as it is. I won't be doing the crochet things all over it either, though I admit they look good in the photos. Having manipulated this pattern so much it might not really be branwen anymore, but I think the branwen essence is still very much apparent, especially as I'm using the suggested shade of Country. Its just like adding sleeves to a vest pattern.
Speaking of which, I am very much taken by the Fyne vest in the latest Rowan magazine, which is also in Simply Knitting's free calender with twelve patterns for next year. If I can find the colours of Rowan Felted Tweed I like it might just be my next project. I'm mostly working on my architect's scarf, other than branwen, and still love the colours and softness of the malabrigo, which is surprisingly hard to get hold of. I'm using a different shade of malabrigo on my secret knitting project (the one I can't blog about as its supposed, if its ever finished, to be a surprise) which is on hiatus as there is apparently none in the entire British isles.
Don't you just feel when you find a great wool that you just want to knit a whole bunch of stuff with it, however useless or impractical or unnecessary? That's what led to my branwen heart, which was actually knit on exactly the same scale as my last ones, months ago and now on flickr, but is so much bigger because of the chunky wool. I associate the heather Country with the branwen pattern so much that I can't help but call it the branwen wool. In fact anything knit in this wool I'll probably refer to as branwen, it will after all have come from that inspiration. Its entirely possible I might knit a branwen scarf and matching mittens. I watch a lot of films when knitting, and I've just watched a bit of the third harry potter film which is my favourite. My mind might be addled but it seems that the colours and mood of that film go really well with this wool.

I think I had better just note, for the sake of agreeing with the law, which I know very little of, that I am in no way connected with Rowan or selling any of their products, and the above is just me being enthusiastic. Also, I am not the sort of person to spend hours writing about stuff I don't like very much, there's plenty of time to be morose in real life.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

finished knitting

Two finished projects in one weekend, the 'sox on two stix' in alpine pearl malabrigo, and the v&a birthday card inspired 'romantic style' bag.

I'm so pleased with the bag, even though the stitches do pucker ever so slightly round the intarsia (or is it fair isle?). The grey wool is so soft and supple, and the malabrigo so exactly the right shade of blue I wanted. I used 4mm needles for the whole thing to accommodate both wools. I'll finish it off with a pleated lining in this liberty fabric so it's roomy inside.
I knitted up the socks on a whim, my slipper socks are wearing through and its distinctly autumn now. I used Knitty's 'sox on two stix' method, but made them ankle socks with a standard k2 p2 rib, just cos' that's the way I like to wear them, and even though the wool is plenty soft I find some cotton ankle socks worn underneath is good too. I used 4.5mm needles throughout, left out the suggested thread for heels and toes, then seamed with mattress stitch. I'm not too sure about the graphic look from the way the wool is dyed, but then the colours are nice aren't they? btw, a good way to knit quickly without trying is to put on a tense film like 'master and commander - far side of the world', anyway its a good film.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

I'm knitting this weekend...

...Knitty's 'sox on two sticks' in alpine pearl malabrigo.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

My latest knitting book!

It smells totally of new bookishness. yum.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Jean Greenhowe Dolls

The v&a birthday bag is winding up, I've blocked, mattress-stitched, and knitted handles, and once the handles are sewn in all that's left is the lining, which means learning how to use my sewing machine properly I guess.

My new project is a Jean Greenhowe knitted doll. The plan is to make the basic doll, with knitted underwear for modesty, and then to knit a range of dresses inspired by the topsy-turvy doll dress designs, and my favourite period dramas. First up is the green dress Molly Gibson wears in 'wives and daughters'. The dress has been made, and half the pantalets, I need peach and white wool to make the actual doll, and then I'll make a set of accessories to characterise the doll, in Jean Greenhowe style. The current 'molly gibson list' is;

bonnet with ribbon ties
gardening apron
science book
poetry book
(and if I can manage it) map of Africa

Then as an alternative dress I might make the white ball-gown she appears in towards the end of the series, with white flowers for the hair, fan and puffed sleeves. Of course 'molly' will have dark brown hair. My grandmother used to make these dolls all the time for me and my cousins, I have the Cinderella topsy turvy doll, and my sister has the red-riding-hood and old mother Hubbard topsy turvy doll.

Monday, 27 August 2007

the v&a birthday card bag

This weekend I've been working on the grey bag from 'romantic style' with an intarsia candlestick design copied from a v&a birthday card. I worked out a pattern to fit the dimensions of the bag, 40 stitches across and 51 stitches top to bottom, the drawing above shows two different 'sides' and I decided to go with the right hand side stick on both sides. I knit the grey body of the bag in ryc baby alpaca dk, and the intarsia in the malabrigo, on 4mm needles. To get the contrast I skipped the light blue bits of malabrigo and just used the dark blue, which has lots of variation in shade. Its made the back rather messy, and the front is a bit bumpy, but some blocking and lining fabric should hide this.

On some of the lighter blue shades I've gone over it in darker wool with needle and thread to make the silhouette shape clearer, including the middle flame. I'm now knitting the plain back, and then the handles. I might knit one long handle to go from side to side rather than two small handles on each side, in garter stitch as in the pattern.