Saturday, December 13, 2014

Another finished item and a bit of sewing

This is Wee Liesl, and was actually knitted in the summer, for my god-daughter's birthday in November, so I had to wait until now to post pictures. It took almost four skeins of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarn, which I love knitting with as it's so soft. And big daisy buttons, in the hope that they won't come undone too easily! I really enjoyed this pattern - there's enough going on for it to be interesting, but it's relatively straightforward. I now want to make a Liesl for me.

It fits!

I have another finished knitting project, but this one's a Christmas present, so I can't reveal it yet. I've been doing a lot of sewing in the last few weeks too - I've got my sewing machine all set up on a table so it can stay out instead of having to be put away every time we want to eat a meal, which has, funnily enough, dramatically increased the amount of time I spend sewing! I must take a picture of where I've got it set up. I've been referring to this as the "sewing room", but the OH is insisting on calling it the "small bedroom" still.

I've been working on a secret project (this is just a sneak preview), but I'm especially pleased with it because I've been watching videos of how to do things, and have done things like gathers for the first time on a sewing machine. At first I thought it was going to be a bit of a pain gathering on a machine, but it is so much simpler than that, and I'm really pleased with the finished results.

One project I can reveal is this little bag, which I made for my knitting group's secret santa exchange out of some cotton fabric I bought several years ago in Penrith. I've used the instructions on the Flossie Teacakes blog, which I've used before, but this version came out a lot better. I used lightweight interfacing this time, and the iron-in version rather than sewing it. I even managed to iron it on without attaching it to either the iron or the ironing board!

I was pleased with how it turned out, although the sewing machine struggled with the zip - I don't have a zipper foot for it.
Hopefully I'll get time for some more crafting over Christmas, as I only have two days left at work now.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Garden at the beginning of December 2014

Last one of the year! It's about 8°C today, so not ridiculously cold for the time of year. The leaves are off most of the trees, apart from the two apple trees actually in the garden, which have just begun to drop leaves. The garden is also probably looking a bit lighter as the neighbour's walnut tree was removed last month (it had died and had honey fungus).

Pretty leaf colours on the Hydrangea Twist n' Shout

The cyclamen I planted up in containers last month are just starting to flower.

The colours of the remains of the Spiraea flowers are really pretty (although they're prettier when the sun is shining on them!).

The Cotoneaster we bought last year has really pretty leaves now, and some red berries, although I think some have already been eaten by the birds!

The Alstroemeria is still flowering (it's tucked up in the cold frame for the winter).

And the Convolvulus has started flowering again!

Think that's all for now! Happy December gardening everyone. I think we've nearly done for the year, we had a big clear up over the weekend, and I got the soft fruit and rhubarb mulched.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My birthday (a while ago now)

So, back in October, I had a birthday, but, as I said in my last post, life was a bit busy for a while so I never got round to blogging about it. Ever wondered what Slough station looks like at  8am on a Sunday? Almost totally deserted. This was when I had to head over to Bristol for a work conference and, of course, there was engineering work on our railway line that weekend with rail replacement buses on instead, so it seemed easier to drive to Slough and go from there...

Anyway, that is now all finished, and I'm getting caught up with all the time off in lieu that I managed to accumulate in the early part of November. So, my birthday? Well, you've already seen the plant purchases, from our lunch and afternoon out to the garden centre.

Then I got some fabulously cool presents. The crafty ones are here. The OH got me some blocking mats, which are already proving useful for pinning things out for blocking. I like being able to use just a few of them to block a small item, or the whole thing for something big. A friend gave me a make a bag kit, which I'm looking forward to trying as I want to do more sewing.

These are the other ones (I also got a new dress, but I haven't got a picture of that!). The Borgen box set - we really enjoyed the first series but recorded it then waited ages to start watching it. It turned out that the final episode was only partially recorded so We Couldn't Find Out What Happened - really annoying! Anyway, this meant we could finish watching the first series, and then get going with the next two series. And the book about the Magna Carta and Lincoln, cos, you know, Magna Carta is going to be big next year. Oh, and a Montezuma chocolate library!

It was a lovely birthday, even though it feels like a long time ago now... We'd thought about trying to have a holiday the week of my birthday, but we couldn't quite coordinate getting the same week off work, so our few days in Salisbury ended up being a couple of weeks before it.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Even more finished items and CHALLENGE COMPLETED!

I seem to be on a bit of a roll with finished items at the moment, although most of them are small projects, it's not that I've suddenly become Speed Knitter.

I finally finished the fourth of my challenge projects this year (four adult-sized garments in a year, in 4ply, dk, aran and chunky). This is the Garter Yoke Cardi finished and blocked, although I haven't yet sewn any buttons on it, as I can't decide whether just to go for one at the top or all the way down. I think I should have made the next size up, as I can get into it and it's not tight, but it doesn't do up at the front. I hadn't intended to wear it done up so that isn't the end of the world, but it does affect what I decide to do about buttons.

At the last minute I made a load of mini Christmas stockings to go on a friend's stall at the church craft fayre. Almost all of them sold really quickly, at £2.50 each. These were a good way of using up oddments of sock yarn, and the free pattern is Mini Christmas Stocking Ornaments by Julie Williams.

I used the Knitting Goddess pack of sock yarn I bought at Yarndale to make the OH a hat for Christmas (don't worry, although he reads this blog, he's seen me making it as I kept trying it on him!). I chose the Mini Roni Hat pattern as it comes in such a wide range of sizes. I used about 5 mini skeins for the hat, so still have a couple of the lightest colours to use up.

And I've been knitting another Puerperium, this time for a friend who is expecting a little girl (actually, I know she went into hospital to have a caesarean a couple of days ago but isn't home yet, so I should get this in the post fairly soon!). I used the lime green RYC cashsoft 4 ply I dyed in the summer, with some careful measuring for the sleeves to make sure I used it all up.

Once it was finished though I wasn't so keen on the colour. It had dyed a bit splodgy in places and was a bit pale for a baby. So I got out the Kool aid and did a bit of dyeing again. I used some sachets of black grape flavour, and the microwave technique. This looks more like it! It was actually a lot easier dyeing the finished garment than the yarn-in-a-skein had been back in the summer. It turned out my skein winding was dreadful, so it took forever to disentangle the yarn and turn it into a ball the first time I dyed it.

When I blocked it (do you like my blocking mats? The OH gave me them for my birthday!) it looked a bit disturbingly in your face red, but I think that just the light then.

This is more like the real colour - a kind of deep pinky/purple, which is much more what I was aiming at. The buttons are little pandas, which I think I got free with a knitting magazine a while ago.

I'm pleased with how that has turned out. There are a few other things on the needles/sewing machine at the moment, but they're all Christmas presents so I can't reveal them on here.