Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Lawful knitting

If I look up from my knitting on my daily commute, this is all I see, so generally I don't, I knit.

I am knitting a pair of black socks, using a technique known to the sock knitting sorority as TUTAAT  (toe up two at a time).  Anyone who keeps a crafting project specially for travelling knows the value of a compact kit. TUTAATs are just that, two circular needles, some stitches permanently on the needles (so no dropping and foraging under train seats) and one ball of yarn (if you knit from the outside and the inside of the ball).  Although it can all get a bit messy at times

Most people who read this blog or follow me on twitter know quite a lot about my knitting life but it seems that fewer people know that I live a double life.  When last week I tweeted 

Time put nose to the PC. Working at home interrupted by 2 meetings at the Law Society in PM Must avoid dreaming of new  project 

Tanya, who tweets as @strikk and has a blog of the same name which I follow as she does mine, tweeted back

How is it that I've only just realised you also a lawyer-ly type who knits.....!  

This set me wondering how many knitting lawyers are out there (I know of at least one other)

I still spend a fair amount of my working life stalking the corridors of power in my dark Lawyers suit, much of it is fascinating

I took this photograph of the lobby to the House of Commons while no one was looking (I hope I don't get sent to the Tower for this!)

Even the escalators at Westminster tube station exude a rather exciting sense of power

But it can all become routine and at times my mind wanders to thinking about the work I shall do on the train home and my amusement at the looks on the faces of my fellow passengers as I pull out of my briefcase, not a sheaf of papers, but my knitting

Black socks might be quite suitable for work wear on a chilly day but I shall knit a fairisle border along the top. I'm thinking of crossed knitting needles and a ball of yarn




Monday, 19 March 2012

The third post

Not my third blog post ever but Titanic #3  A ladies skirt from February 4, 1912 (VPLL 0200)  I received the pattern as the largest size pdf and took it to my local print shop as before.

In size 34" waist it looked as though it was going to fit me without alterations (and without contemporary underpinnings being absolutely essential).  When I made the Princess Slip I had to compromise on trimmings and use lace made from synthetic fibre, but for this project I do want to use materials that are as close to the contemporary fabrics and notions as possible.  My local fabric shop was able to provide linen in gooseberry green, cotton binding in french navy and cotton tailor's canvas.   Nothing synthetic in sight (except possibly the sewing thread)

The hooks and eyes and press studs (snaps?) are metal so could have been made in 1912 but I will defer to friends who have a much better knowledge of what-was-used-when to correct me if necessary. I cut the facing for the scallop edge as a straight piece to begin with and cut it to shape, after sewing.

Linen and cotton may crease with wearing (I don't mind a few creases, though some do) but it is also a dream to sew with, as when pressed it is possible to get a near perfect alignment.

I chose to use the contrast binding to trim the top of the waist (which is interlined with the canvas) as well as the scallop edge.

In the picture at the top of the blog you can see that I have 9 vintage style buttons laid out with my kit but I soon realised I had miscounted and needed 13.  I could have redrawn the pattern to create fewer, bigger, scallops but instead decided to use scraps of the cotton binding to make covered buttons.  A button making evening followed...

The finished effect pleases me enormously, although I admit to the edge being more saw-toothed than scalloped!

The front opening is closed with hooks and eyes.  When I tried it on the points gaped a little so I fixed the points of the opening with tiny  press studs  and lower down small tacking stitches. Being used to 5/8 inch seam turnings on modern patterns the 3/8 on these was a bit of a challenge, but it does work, even when neatening seams by turning under the seam allowance and stitching on the edge. The waist facing is blind hemmed along the natural waist line.

Now I do intend to make a corset from Corsets by Jill Salen (purely for the purposes of the clothes hanging correctly, of course!)   But even without tight lacing the skirt fitted quite well.  Authentically in fact, as after half an hour walking about my bedroom trying to get the right shot, I felt mildly breathless from the tight fit around my lower rib cage.

The blouse is modern (Anthropoligie) but I felt it had the right shape, pin tucks at the shoulders and softly draping sleeves.  

Some bloggers have provided details of how long a pattern has taken to make up.  I have again failed to time myself but estimate it took about 5 hours to cut out and machine sew (the pattern pieces fitted together effortlessly without any adjustments) and probably as long again on the hand sewing.  But I didn't rush it and I had fun!



VPLL Checklist

  1. Pattern Name Scallop edge skirt  #0200
  2. Sewer’s Skill Level: Advance
  3. Pattern Rating:  I LOVED IT! the fit is really good (so glad some of those women in 1912 had a 34" waist!)   
  4. What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern? beginners with a little help I would say.  You need to do a bit of simple hand stitching and care to get the binding right but all the other shaping is in the seams
  5. Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes.  My only question was which way should the scallops face.  My instinct was that the opening should face the back but the pattern and instructions said otherwise so I followed that and put snaps on the points of the scallops at the opening and tacking stitches further down to avoid any gaping
  6. How was the fit/sizing?  yes exactly
  7. Did you make any pattern alterations? no
  8. Other notes:  The style would be great for contemporary wear too

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

When is a knit-along not a knit-along?

Answer:- when a novice tries to start one.  I'm afraid its all gone wrong already.  I think it should begin with a group of friends who decide to make something, buy the yarn at the same time, cast on in unison and keep pace as they reach the triumphal finishing line in a dead heat. And that is what is called a knit-along, a KAL in knit-speak (It was a while before I cottoned on to that one)

It began well when  Kathleen whom I met at P3 2011 posted a picture of this missoni-look-alike cowl on twitter

Liquid Amber (it's a free Ravelry download)
there followed a certain amount of tweeted oohs and aahs from the knitterati.  I tweeted that the pattern would be perfect for one of my unravel purchases and  Kathleen suggested a KAL.  She and I did agree we would link blog posts.  But that is when I let knitting temptation lead me astray and went off on what legally speaking is sometimes called 'a frolic of my own'  (once said by a high court judge, honest)

This is the yarn, beautiful fine sheeny 50/50 silk/merino hand dyed by the Skein Queen.  First problem, JTH was out and I wanted to begin AT ONCE (there's no satisfaction in delayed gratification knitwise).  I need a swift and yarn winder so much, but this day I looked around the house and my eyes alighted on this old tray

It might look a bit messy but the handles work perfectly well to keep the hank falling off.

wound and ready to...

cast on

It hasn't turned out as stripey as the original.  A more experienced knitter could have told me that from just looking at the skein, but I love the colours and I can always knit another, asking next time for yarn with long colour repeats.  .  The lace stitch is very easy to learn.  There is a chart and text instructions in the pattern. I added two more repeats (30 more stitches) to make my cowl a little longer. I found I could knit up one complete pattern per night so it's...

I realise that I should have waited, it is not a KAL, but more like a race and that is not polite.  But Kathleen is a very busy woman.  She is not only a PhD student she is also making more that a stripey cowl at the moment (see her blog for more detail!)  I think she has the yarn picked out, however, so keep an eye on her blog.

I have more on the Titanic project to blog next week but if all goes to plan there will be a big PS with a picture of the finished cowl as well


All done now

Lessons learned 

  • use yarn with long repeats if you want the stripey look
  • check the size as well as the tension.  I knew I wanted my cowl to be a little longer to drape more, so I added 2 more repeats.  But I should have measured.  After blocking it turns out 4 cm greater in circumference than the pattern - as expected - but that is still not long enough to get the look I like.  I have plenty of yarn left so no excuse!
  • photograph cowls in full light with a white background if you don't want your neck to feature (success there)

I still like it and it will make a pretty collar to a plain dress but if I make another I shall make it longer, probably  in 4 ply and get the colours right!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sleeping in your sock(s)

Very soon after he was born it became apparent that The Boy loved being cuddled.  His favourite sleeping position is being cradled in someone's arms.  He would sleep for England if only there were enough people around who did not need their arms for anything else for a while.  He often has to settle for second best if his mother is busy and be carried around in the baby sling.  Third best is being wrapped up very snugly.

So when I saw a pattern for the owlie sleep sack and hat by Theresa Cole on Ravelry it seemed absolutely perfect for him. I made it in my favourite Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (aran weight this time).  It knitted up very quickly, although after making it exactly the right length according to the pattern I had to unpick it and knit several more inches - The Boy is very long.

The owls are formed by little cables placed one above the other.

I have seen these owls decorating mittens and a child's jumper where tiny pearl buttons are used for the eyes but  buttons could be dangerous for small babies so I left them out as the pattern suggested.

I think it can be declared a success

The pattern name is sleep sack but The little Model calls it a sleep sock... so sock it is