Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Slouchie Cherry Beret III

Finally I have finished my Cherry Beret pattern. This is my third version, and I think I am at last happy. It is more or less the same as version two, with a few alterations, but this time in moss stitch. It is a bit more of a slouchie now.

This pattern has been much harder work that my little critters, which just seem to fly off the needles first time without any need for a rethink or reknit.

Thank you to my model, who is one of my colleagues from school. Can you see why the children love her? We dashed outside in the lunch break.

The pattern is available on Ravelry. It does not include instructions for the cherries and leaf, as I did not really see what I could add to the several really great cherry patterns that are already available free online. Perhaps people would prefer a tassel or flower.

Click Here to Link to Ravelry

Friday, 22 June 2012

Shocking Smocking

In a previous life I did a bit of smocking. When I was doing my City and Guild fashion course, one of my projects was a bucolic, shepherdess-inspired blouse. It has been lurking in the back of my wardrobe for a lot of years. There never seems quite the right occasion to wear this beautiful but rather unusual blouse? Hubby says it makes me look a bit like a Russian cossack. Surprisingly it still almost fits. It is rather lovely, and took a huge amount of work. One of the reasons I don't wear it is that the fabric is a rather horrible polyester cotton. As part of the course you had to imagine that you had a client, and make your garment to your imaginary client's directions and budget. My imaginary client was clearly a bit of a cheap skate, and gave me a very small budget. I think if I had made the blouse in a really lovely natural fabric, I might be more inclined to wear it now. A bit of a lesson there. (I have some other unusual garments that I might photograph some time: the African-inspired beaded skirt, my 1940's-inspired jacket.)

But I do remember I really enjoyed doing the smocking. My teacher lent me her smocking machine, and you had to feed the material in to make the pleats. The embroidery was hand done, and the design was inspired by patterns found in photographs of crop circles. 

For my craft stall I sometimes make cotton hairbands, which never sell well. In fact I think I've only ever sold two. I can't understand why they don't sell? Perhaps they are hard to present nicely. The fabrics are really nice, and I have made them in different sizes. I think part of the problem is they are difficult to buy as gift for someone, unless you know their exact head size. 

So I have had this idea brewing for a while for a smocked hairband. Smocking would give it a bit of elasticity. I also thought they would look really stunning, and be unusual. I have never seen a smocked hairband, and cannot find one anywhere on the internet. So, after a few attempts here are my first efforts at hand-smocked hairbands or headbands. I may put a few more photos on tomorrow, but my model has gone to Brownies, and the sun (which we are not seeing very much of this year) has gone in. They are really easy to make. You need to use a geometric print, or something with a regular pattern. In Britain a lot of schools wear gingham school dresses, so they could be made to coordinate with your school uniform.

Eating Pineapple

In A House Made Under the Washing

This would be a really good project for someone who has not smocked before, but would like a small project to get started. When I began I did a few samplers to try out different stitches, and your headband could also serve this purpose. The full instructions on how to make your own headband will be available on Craftsy, and I may sell a few actual headbands on Etsy .....
In my new Etsy shop! I will put some links here when they're on.

My Etsy shop still looks a bit rough, as I am having problems making a nice banner. I would really welcome any tips on how to incorporate text into a photo, and then save as a jpeg or png on a Mac. It has been driving me potty all week. The only way to calm down has been to sit and do a nice bit of relaxing smocking.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Monarch Butterfly

I really should have finished my monarch butterfly for the jubilee celebrations last week, but I just couldn't get it done. I've had it in mind for ages, as my very first pattern was a monarch caterpillar.

The pattern is on ravelry, but I have put a bit of a warning. I love doing little fiddly things, but even I found all the wing parts, and embroidery on the wings, and the sewing together a bit much. Not selling this very well, am I. If I ever have a book, this is definitely one for the advanced section.

Back to school tomorrow, so there will be a bit less time for knitting. I'm working on another cherry beret: I hope the final version. It is a bit annoying, as the very expensive rowan wool that I bought (I hardly ever buy wool, but usually use something I have, but I thought this deserved it) doesn't seem to be colourfast. It is not fun knitting, when your hands keep turning black. Went back to the shop today to check, and they say it must be a fault from the manufacturers, and that if I take in my half knitted hat, they may give me a refund or replacement wool. What to do, it was nearly finished?

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Dream and The Reality

As think I mentioned a few weeks ago, what I would really like to do for my birthday was to walk some of the South Downs Way. A proper lovely long walk, possibly with me taking some nice photos along the way, with hopefully my new camera.

So lovely hubby planned it all out. We would have one night away, in Littlehampton.  (I have been to Littlehampton four times, but always on the same school trip, so I also had the idea that it would be nice to go there and see more of the town.) Then we would drive to Chichester, leave the car, and get a bus to Cocking. Then a fairly long walk for us (11 miles), to Amberley, where we would get a train back to Chichester.

The Dream

The weather forecast was not great, but when we set off it was quite pleasant, and we thought if we could get most of the walk done before the rain set in, it would not be too bad. And how many times is the forecast wrong, anyway?

I'm not sure I should go into all the gory details: the nettle stings on my legs, the field of bullocks, and then when the rain did begin the field of rape our path took us through that meant our lower halves got instantly soaked. After about six miles we got to a road with a bus stop, but the "flexible Sunday service" meant we had no choice but to walk on to Amberley. 

Has anyone ever died of exposure on the South Downs in June? This is the only photo that got taken that day. We still had about 2 miles to go, but we were nearly back in civilisation, and found a kiosk with some hot chocolate. I do realize that we should have been better prepared. When we got back to Chichester we got changed into our pyjamas in the car, as we were all so wet and cold. I do hope that didn't get caught on cctv.

On the car drive home my little one said "You won't make me have a treat like that on my birthday, will you Mum?".

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Cherry Beret II

I have had another go at the Cherry Beret.  This time I've added a small rib brim, and made the hat a bit deeper, and in stocking stitch. It is bigger, as it has an extra panel, and also because I used double knit wool.

As you can see my friend's daughter looks absolutely fab in it. She wore it throughout our jubilee street party, which I took as a bit of a compliment. Teenagers don't do that if they don't like something. It is definitely trendier than the first version, which is what I was aiming for.

So why am I still not completely happy with the pattern? I think maybe because I'm not sure that it has anything that makes it more original that other beret patterns. Except the funny name perhaps.  So I think there may have to be yet another version.

Friday, 1 June 2012

A Loveliness of Ladybirds

Did you know that the group name for ladybirds is a "loveliness"? Well I didn't until I found out earlier today.  I read it online, so it must be true! There are also over 46 species, in Britain alone.  Ladybirds seem to be considered lucky all over the world!

I do know there are lots of other ladybird patterns out there, but I thought I would do my own version, and get back to my realistic insects. At first I had the idea that my ladybird would have a shell that flipped up, possibly even to reveal some ladybird wings, which would flip out. As my husband said, why not go the whole way and fit a motor and a small remote control. Ok, so my ambitions got a bit ahead of what was practical. I still like the idea of separate wings that flip, but I think it would have to be a much bigger ladybird for this to work.

My ladybird doesn't have wings, but she does have legs. I decided to use the same trick as on my stagbeetle, but as it is quite expensive to keep buying plastic, I have realised that you can make just as good, if not slightly better legs, just by using the black plastic from a food container. I love the idea of recycling. If anything the result is a darker black, and much more durable. But if you find the idea of legs too fiddly, she is just as nice without legs, as in the picture above.  The pictures are not great quality, but I am hoping I may be able to take some better ones later today - when I have opened my presents!

The pattern is available for free on ravelry and craftsy. If anyone knits one, I love to see it and would really love it if you would link a photo to the pattern. I'd also welcome any feedback on the pattern instructions.

So apart from my ladybird, we are all going a bit jubilee crazy here in Britain. School parties have started, and tomorrow there is a street party in my road.  My little one went off to school dressed in red, white and blue, determined to make the expression "have a loverley jubberlee" spread around the school.