Monday, 24 March 2014

Stripy Shellseeker cycling hoodie - DONE!

She sells sea shells?
It's finished, and I love my hoody, although my Shellseeker is not perfect, I learnt a lot. including my first attempts at off piste knitting, aka designing the hood. Other knitting techniques new to me were; 3 needle bind off, magic loop for the sleeves and applied i-cord! Next time I'd make a far better mark II hood now that I have worked out the construction! The top down construction of the whole sweater is ingenious, look mum no seams!
I blogged the start of my Shellseeker here. I used Drops Merino Extra Fine, and I can't recomend this yarn enough, I can only wear superwash, it's a far better price than other 100% merino brands and the colour spectrum is beautiful. I did order turquoise too, but a good knitty friend said that was not needed as too bright, funny how I have a turquoise T shirt on today! Perhaps I can use a colour like that for my next one? *

I was pleased with the red applied i-cord edging, I used 3 stitches so it's not too fat. I cannot get it to lay flat, I tried sort of blocking and sort of holding it flat whilst applying steam from the iron, but not touching.
I had not known about three needle bind off before either. what a quick and simple way to cast off and "sew" knitting together at the same time. Look how neat the seam is on the inside, you can also see how neatly the red applied i-cord attaches too.
This is the seam from the right side, every stitch perfectly matched up. 
Heidi's shellseeker just had a rolled unfinished edge but I picked up and added some 2x2 rib, I decreased a fair few stitches at the armhole seams on the first couple of rounds by starting k4 p4 on the sleeves and then reducing to k2p2. I then cast off the central front stitches and continued for the hood. I haven't blogged the mods as it's not great! 

I loved my stripe sequence but I did not like the evening spent sewing in three lots of all these ends, body and two sleeves, and then there were all the hood ones too! 

Self striping yarn would be my choice next time for many coloured stripes. The increases and decreases were harder as I didn't do the 2x2 stripe sequence recommended, if I had there would have been no need for a row counter and no ends. Heidi is so clever making the knitter's life easy.
The out takes! The back "flap" is a stripe longer than the front, I tried freestyling it to be much longer when on my bike but forgot the unseamed edge would just roll in, so it had to come out and I had to follow the pattern. These pattern designers do things for a reason!
The kangaroo pocket is a really useful value added feature of this pattern. I had flu really badly as I got to the pocket, and after 10 days I came back to working out the pocket construction from the pattern and was stumped. I couldn't picture it from the pattern. I thought I was wrong so I undid it. Stupid me, it was right! I searched Ravelry and found it wasn't just me, and the advice was to trust the pattern, do as your told and it will work out. The advice was spot on.
This is a sweater I'll take everywhere, abuse and love! If found abandoned on a garden bench please return to owner!

She Sells Sea Shells finished 20th February 2014 (took about 5 weeks but time out in the middle being ill)

Drops Extra Fine Merino DK 100% merino wool.
Light Grey Mix (05)
Denim Blue (13)
Light Grey Blue (19)
Green (18)
North Sea (28)
Red (11)
Mustard (30)
Pistachio (26)
Marine Blue 27
Purchased from Wool Warehouse

NEEDLES: KnitPro Symfonie circular 4mm

PATTERN: Heidi Kirmaier's Shellseeker


PS *I love it so much I have cast on the next one in cotton bamboo, the morning after finishing She sells sea shells.....She's still seeking shells. See the turquoise was singing to me!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Betsy Bunny - my Little Cotton Rabbit - DONE!

Meet Betsy. She is just about to be packaged up and sent off to Durham to be cared for by my nearly 4 year old niece as it's her birthday next weekend.
knit soft toy
Betsy is my first attempt at knitting any kind of toy, Nellie the elephant was crocheted! Most of the pieces are knitted flat so there is quite a bit of sewing up but I decided to half do the body, the legs and her dress in the round on dpns. Now I know how to do  magic loop I think I would use that to knit another bunny, easier and neater. The body is knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed in camel and Kidsilk Haze in pearl worked together and the dress, tights and shoes in Drops Baby Merino 4 ply, the colour range is just beautiful.
Julie's pattern is very precise and gives a great result, even for a beginner bunny maker. Lots of tips on sewing up and the all important stuffing and facial features. I made the dress a bit longer to cover up dodgy workmanship on Betsy's legs.
I even managed to be organised and knit Betsy in plenty of time for the birthday girl. I went to find her to package up and post and spent the whole weekend getting more and more desperate as she had run off. Eventually I found her on Monday night really buried in my yarn box under the bed. Phew, I didn't have time to knit another. Yes I had already looked in there several times! Betsy is having a breath of fresh air in the sunshine before a few days under wraps until being released into the wild in her new home next Sunday.

Next I will have to knit Betsy a brother, I think his name will be Bert!
Betsy Bunny finished 2nd February 2014 (knitted in a couple of weeks)

Body: Rowan Felted Tweed DK (157) in Camel 50% merino wool, 25% alpaca, 25% viscose and Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Pearl (590) 70% super kid mohair, 30% silk  Purchased from the ever wonderful Get Knitted in Bristol. 

Dress, tights and shoes: Drops Baby Merino 4 ply fingering 100% merino wool. Dress in Blue (30) and Light Sky Blue (24) Tights in Light Sky Blue (24) and White (01)  Shoes in Red (16) Purchased from Wool Warehouse

NEEDLES: KnitPro Symfonie 2.5mm 2.75mm and 3mm dpns

PATTERN: Little Cotton Rabbits' Bunny Girl in a Dotty Dress

HAPPY KNITTY INDEX: 8/10 (next one will be 9.5/10 as I know what I am doing now)

Monday, 10 March 2014

Shellseeker cycling hoodie or hoody - in progress!

I have made some more progress with my sweater, I am knitting Shellseeker by the talented Heidi Kirrmaier. I am using Drops Extra Fine Merino. I love this yarn, I used it for my French stripey throw and promised myself a sweater for me in it. Grey plus 8 colours, a ninth one has been rejected as being too bright. It's a superwash double knit yarn, so no hint of lanolin or itchy wool-itis, and it comes in lots of gorgeous natural shades and it is relatively affordable!
Shellseeker is a clever top down in the round construction with neat shaping... you can see below, which cleverly incorporates the kangaroo pocket. Decreasing in the centre and increasing at the sides so the sticth number doesn't actually change but shaping happens! Now that pocket was a bit of a challenge, I had had flu badly and been in bed for ten whole days with no hope of knitting, and however hard I tried I could not fathom out the pocket logic. I googled and found others had the same problem. The solution... to stop trying to imagine it and just follow the instructions exactly, and then it works. Even post flu befuddled brains can do it. I was so annoyed with myself as I undid it once when I had done it correctly...duh! Follow the instructions exactly as written and it works.

I am so proud of myself as, about a zillion years after everybody else, I also taught myself Magic Loop. I thought it was some extremely complicated clever technique for super advanced knitters requiring multiple classes to learn. It is extremely clever but super easy, knit anything in the round on one size circular needles. Google and watch a You Tube video for 2 minutes and anyone is an expert! I have just picked up the sleeve stitches from the holder in the pic above to knit magic loop. Now just to work out how you knit two socks at once.

The only problem with all these luscious stripes are the ends......I have sewn them all in except for the second sleeve I am just finishing off. 2 ends per colour stripe for the body and each sleeve Far wiser to use just two yarns as the pattern advises so the yarn can be carried up neatly! 156 ends, never mind a few grey ones too.....I have endititis.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Great British Sewing Bee inspiration

Well to say the last 2+ weeks have been interesting is an overstatement, they have been horrendous. I had flu again, the second time this winter...the "can't get out of bed or attempt to open eyes or sleep or do anything" flu. I was off work for two weeks but I went back on Thursday knowing I then had three days off before my next shift tomorrow.  I only started knitting again on Wednesday, which was also the first day I managed to be up for more than an hour or two. What a relief I can do something again.

The only other thing I have done in those two weeks was manage to get up to watch the first two episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2 aka GBSB. I love it. Like everyone else I want to see if I can still make clothes, I haven't made clothing in 20+ years as it was impossible finding fabric and expensive. Just like other hobbies, the internet has revolutionised the supplies available, the inspiration and the resources (many of which are free) available. I used to love my O level dressmaking classes at school and sewing at home too.

One very inspiring lady is "Tilly and the Buttons" who was on last year's GBSB....she now designs patterns and writes books and her inspirational blog. I love her Coco pattern which is a classic breton tunic with variations in cotton interlock fabric. I have never sewn with stretch fabrics and I want to have a go. I have scoured online, but the only fabric I can find suitable that I like is nearly £20 a metre!! That makes Boden look cheap. Yesterday I called in at Fabricland in Bristol, what an almighty load of tat, unless you want to make costumes for dance schools or theatre productions. I have resorted to sending off for samples from London shops enclosing stamped addressed envelopes that appear to have the stock, but don't have functioning websites. Antiquated and cute or just backward and annoying? So frustrating, I may be giving up before I get back into dressmaking at this rate. I know keeping a website up to date is hard work, but I did it with 1000s products for 8 years so I know it can be done.

I managed to make Get Knitted's knitting group on Friday morning, a huge tonic after being ill. I had cabin fever, but at least I was capable of having cabin fever! After knitting therapy with friends, I was driven to John Lewis by a lovely knitting friend and I bought some fabric, and I'm going to make a dress from the GBSB book that has lots of patterns in it. the material is a light cotton denim linen look.
Do I make this dress?
Shift Dress - pic from book
or this dress?
Skater Dress - pic from book
I am thinking the bottom one would be better in a stretch fabric, like Tilly's Coco, to wear with leggings. I canvassed my girls and they have given me a decision, it's interesting the bodices are identical and I could put the sleeves on the shift dress.

I am really inspired to make practical and different clothing that means I can still be active.....and I can wear whilst cycling as really I hate being seen wearing lycra, I'd like to be able to cycle into Bristol and be decent when I get there, not embarrassed!

Definitely a case of watch this space! Has anyone else been inspired to give making clothes a go again, or for the first time? I just hope the fabric sourcing problem doesn't continue to frustrate me and I give up again before getting started.

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