Wednesday 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas - Iorek Byrnison

Iorek Byrnison: Can is not the same as must.
Lyra Silvertongue: But if you must and you can, then there's no excuse. 

Wishing a Happy Christmas to everyone who has visited my blog over the last year. Thank you for all your comments. I hope you are all enjoying being with family and friends, eating and drinking a bit too much, and having a thoroughly good time.

I am working on a new idea, inspired partly by looking a polar bears for my little model bear. Also because I am a big Philip Pullman fan, and love his character Iorek Byrnison. (Pullman beats Rowling hands down. Ooh - I bet that is a bit controversial and a few of you don't agree.) I should really have put him in a suit of armour. At the moment I am just playing around with a few ideas.


Tuesday 16 December 2014

Fair Isle Gloves

This is one of my Christmas knits, which I probably shouldn't be showing yet, but I am pretty sure that the recipient isn't a regular viewer of my blog. If she is then hopefully she won't guess and they will still be a nice surprise.

They are knitted from a free pattern on ravelry by Cailyn Meyer called Wintergreen Gloves. Some of her other patterns look lovely, so it may be time for my second ever pair of socks.

I knitted on double points, and rather just grabbed some wool from my stash that I thought would look nice together. After the first glove I realised that I might not have enough of the purple colour for the second one, so that knitting was a bit stressful. But in the end it worked out that I did have enough, but only just. I love fair isle knitting, as the end result is so pretty, but there were a lot of end to run in. The good thing was that they are knitted in the round so no sewing up.

The pattern was really easy to follow, with instructions and charts. Although I did think I might have to enlarge the chart on a photocopier. That isn't a criticism though, just a reflection on my eyesight. The pink wool I used was a bit thicker and fluffier than the others, which I think is why those lines have puckered a bit. I knew I shouldn't be using it, but I thought the colour was great so just went with it.

Monday 15 December 2014

Sylvanians Do Billie Jean Dance Routine

My daughter has got in the habit of making little videos, using my camera and iMovie. I thought I would put a few on over the holiday, partly because I wanted to see if I could upload a movie. Camera work, choreography, etc. were all done by her. This one does end rather suddenly. 

Some of the others are very funny: for instance the film trying to persuade us that she really needs more pocket money. This one is more of a straight dance routine.

Linking to Saturday Snapshot, which I hope is OK as I realise this isn't a snapshot as such, but a series of snapshots linked together with music. Enjoy

Monday 8 December 2014

A Polar Work in Progress (and a Poem)

Polar Bear in there

There's a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire-
He likes it 'cause it's cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He's nibbling the noodles,
He's munching the rice,
He's slurping the soda,
He's licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he's in there--
That Polary Bear
In our Fridgitydaire.

  by Shel Silverstein 

I've been working on something new, although I am not quite there with it yet. Still something not quite right yet about the shape of the head, muzzle and nose in particular. Perhaps the back should be a bit less curved? The legs could be stronger looking? the neck wider and a bit longer, I think?

What keeps you from sleep? Sadly these little details are the things that are keeping me awake at night ....

Saturday 29 November 2014

1940s Fashion - New Look Jacket

This is my second post on 1940s fashion. Previously, after my visit to the Imperial War Museum, I wrote a little about the utility fashion of the war years. But in 1947 Christian Dior came out with "The New Look". Although jackets still had the slightly military look, and a nipped in waist, The New Look was more romantic. They often had a peplum, to give a really feminine shape. There was a move away from the austerity and fabric rationing of the war years.

I am really using this as an excuse to show you a jacket I made as part of my City and Guild Fashion course, which I did as an evening course quite a few years ago. It skulks at the back of my wardrobe, as I never seem to have an occasion that is quite right to wear it.

Forgive the terrible photos. I forgot to brush my hair, and that my bottom half was in jeans. My eye is also immediately drawn to all the faults in the jacket, but I guess as I made this jacket two babies and a lot of years ago, it is not too bad. I had a second attempt at photos, but they turned out even worse. At least the garden looks nice in the background. What a contradiction - although I love fashion and clothes, I am also naturally quite scruffy, and would probably wear jeans all week if it were not that they aren't allowed in my job.  Also this is almost the most I have ever shown of myself on my blog. I am a shy blogger, which is also a bit of a contradiction. 

As well as designing and making the pattern from your own block, you had to have a theme and incorporate techniques. (I had a thoroughly good time, learned a huge amount, and met some lovely people. I also ended up with a collection of rather unusual clothes.) 

Sketches where I was working out my design ideas for the jacket

My theme for the jacket was 1940s "The New Look", but with a twist. The twist was that I used a zip as the front fastening of my jacket. Although zips were used in clothing in the 1940s, they tended to be used concealed in the side of the garment, and it would have been more usual to have buttons at the front. 

Drawings of the jacket

The jacket is made up of panels, which was also a feature of the 1940s war years, when large pieces of fabric might not have been available. The black pieces are made of a suedette fabric, and I was really pleased with how the handmade piping between the sections and around the edge of the collar turned out. Though probably the best bit, which you can't really see, is the lining. I hadn't lined a jacket before and probably won't ever again!

Here are some links to other garments that I made on this course: African Skirt, and Shepherdess Smocked Blouse. There is one more that I will show you in the future probably when I am a bit short of knitting news. Although I have been knitting this week, most are Christmas gifts, and I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Granny's Shawl

I've been knitting so many little things recently, I fancied a bit of big (for me!) knitting. My mum was saying that she would like a little shawl to put around her shoulders, or even over her knees in the cold weather, so this is what I have made. 

It is knitted from a free pattern available on Craftsy, called Lacey Zig Zag Shawl. I think perhaps I should have picked a brighter colour, but my mum is very much a green lady, so I am hoping she will like it. She doesn't get it until the weekend, but she is not a computer user so I can be safe that she won't see it here. 

The wool I used is Rowan Calmer, and I just kept knitting until I ran out. This was a fairly easy knit, with just two rows repeating. It is quite nice just to settle into a knit and not have to refer to the pattern. And after my big knit, I will probably return to something little and fiddly ...

Saturday 22 November 2014

Vintage Transport

It is strange that once you become interested in something it seems to pop up all over the place. I went on a trip with my class a few weeks ago to the London Transport Museum. We had great fun designing posters and looking around the museum, but as children from school have crept into nearly every photo I don't have permission to publish any of them here.

But then I remembered that at the end of the summer me and my daughter took some photos at a vintage bus rally near us. The best bit was travelling from our town on the "vintage bus" to the rally.

This was the bus we travelled on.

There were lots of other buses once we got there.

What I found a bit unsettling was that the vintage buses did not seem that different from the buses I used to travel to work on not so long ago. The sound of the engine instantly took me back to those days, and is quite different on the whooshy sound you get on a bus today. I spent a lot of time sitting on a No 9 from Hammersmith into central London.

There were a few vintage trains too.

I like this photo, because you really get a feel of the buzz around the buses as they brought in more people.

Monday 17 November 2014


I've been knitting a few more lizards from my own pattern. They may make some people recoil, but I love these little creatures, and they remind me of Noel, our pet lizard who has now departed from this world. 

They are knitted from sock wool, and I like the randomness of the wool, which means that they never turn out exactly the same. They are fairly easy, although perhaps after my fourth one I am bound to say that. They are knitted on just two needles, with a bit of icord knitting and short rows to give the curve on the body. You can also click on the lizard picture in my sidebar to find the pattern on ravelry. Though if you are not a knitter there are a few lizards for sale in my Etsy shop. I think they would make great stocking fillers.

I had quite a lot of trouble finding safety eyes that were small enough. Well what I mean is I couldn't find anything even close in the shops, and had to order them online. Then after all that I found I already had a pack in my work box, left over from another project. Duh. I do think the shiny eyes bring the little lizards to life.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Sunflower (The Sequel)

At this time of year we spend a lot of time seeing beauty in things that are dying. So I thought as a finale to my sunflower photos I would try to illustrate this with some photos of my sunflower as it is now. 

Looking at  the photos I thought there is something very mathematical about the arrangement of the seeds. Quick search and I found this site which explains all about the fibonacci numbers on a sunflower.

I probably should gather in the sunflower seeds, but I thought I would leave them for the birds and squirrels that visit my garden.

Click Here for Sunflower (The Prequel) and Here for Sunflower and Bumble Bee.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Vintage Tractor Pattern

I can finally announce the winner of my "guess the next pattern" giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered. I loved all of your guesses, and even if you were not right, perhaps you have given me some new ideas for other vehicles. I particularly like the idea of a snow plough, so you never know, maybe that will be what I work on next.

So we put the names of everyone who said tractor (and there were quite a lot of you) into a hat and the winner is Janet of Yellow Pink and Sparkly. I have sent you a message, so if you let me have your address (I won't publish it) through my comments box your Christmas Heart Decorations will be on their way to you.

Tractor before the mud guards are attached.

I think the tread pattern on the tyres were a bit of a clue. You might also have seen this post about my visit to the North Devon Show, where looking at the Vintage Tractors first gave me the idea.

This has been quite a tricky pattern to write. There has been unravelling, and a bit of frustration. Sometimes it is just like that, and for other patterns everything seems to just fall into place first attempt. The tyres took a lot of work, and I have had to devise my own codes for the cabling. It is a bit complicated, but I did feel that the cable on the tyres to give a deep tread was a really important part of the design. The other bits that caused me a bit of grief were the mud guards. They had to be big enough to curve over the back tyres, but also not so big as to be floppy. 

I also dithered over whether to add the chimney or not. This was partly because I thought it would need to have wire to keep it standing straight. But by making it not too big there is no wire, just wool, so this would still be safe for a child, and I think it does add something.

My two prototypes are for sale in my Etsy shop. My hope is that someone will buy them for a retired farmer, who wants to remember his many happy years on a tractor. 

The pattern is already available on ravelry and Etsy.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Loom Band Watchstrap

My watchstrap broke. It was a lovely brown leather strap, which came with my watch. But it had such an unusual fixing to the watch, that I thought it would be impossible to find a replacement. I really need a watch when I am at work in school. One of the most important things in a school is to be in the right place at the right time. 

So once again my daughter has come to the rescue with her loom bands. She has made me a really practical rainbow watchstrap, which has been admired and envied by many. (Ok, I admit, the many admirers have been mostly between about 5 and 10.) I wonder how many more posts I am going to do on loom bands, since the Loom band Keyrings.

Apologies to anyone who has been checking to see if they have won my Tyred of Knitting? challenge. I am just a few days away from finishing the pattern, so thought I would extend the challenge to guess what I am knitting to the weekend. So feel free to have another guess if you wish.

Friday 31 October 2014

Sunflower (The Prequel)

I recently posted some photos of a sunflower and bumblebee in my garden. I forgot that I had intended to put on these photos of the sunflower a bit earlier in the year. So here they are - the prequel. I think they are quite as beautiful as the flower in full bloom.

To Saturday Snapshotters especially please feel free to enter the giveaway on my previous post Tyred of Knitting. I will announce the winner on 5th November.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Tyred of Knitting? (and a Giveaway)

I've been working on a new pattern for the last few weeks. But I have got past the initial phase, when it is exciting, and it is now a bit of a slog. 

Sorry about the terrible pun in the title. I am not really tired or even tyred of knitting, just this particular project. Knitting cable with black wool and quite small needles is not easy. It would be all too simple to put it aside for a while, but I am going to keep going. I have already put so much work in it would be a shame to give up.

Needless to say, these wheels, which seem to have taken me ages, are too big. They are going to have to be unpicked and reworked. Can you guess what the new knit is? 

Perhaps I will change this post from a moan to a GIVEAWAY. If you guess accurately (no just saying a vehicle, you have to be a bit more precise) I will put you in a draw for two of my Blue Sparkly Christmas Hearts.  You can see them in my shop here. You can leave your guess on my blog or facebook page. No restrictions on where you live, anyone can enter. Closing date 5th November, which I hope will give me enough time to finish the pattern. Good luck!

Saturday 25 October 2014

1940s Fashion - Make-Do and Mend

I have just spent some of the morning at the Imperial War Museum in London. My son is going to monthly mathematics classes nearby, so my daughter and I had some time to kill. We decided to concentrate on just one small part of the museum, which was based on a real family of 10 children, their home and their experiences in World War II. We found it fascinating, partly because the family eventually moved out from central to London to the part where we live.

Clothes during World War II were typically utility clothes. They featured squared shoulders, narrow hips, and skirts that ended just below the knee. Tailored suits were the dominant form of utility fashion. Material was in short supply, and women were encouraged to make-do and mend. 

You are probably not surprised that when we got to the museum shop I was drawn to these postcards reproducing wartime propaganda posters. I am very much drawn to this idea, or as we would call it recycling, so am going to put the postcards up in my sewing room.

Women were also encouraged to knit socks for the troops. 

In a corner of one of the display cases was this sweet little needlecase, which I photographed because I thought it might be fun to try to reproduce it.

If you keep watching my blog, there will be a second part to this post on 1940s fashion.