Saturday, 3 December 2022

Rainbow socks

 

I am doing well with this knitting so far this winter despite my sewing has slowed to a virtual stop. Still nice to get some of these projects finished and I really needed this one.

These are my latest basic 4 ply socks from the Winwick Mum sockalong pattern. The yarn is from Lang and is called Parrot. Its a self striping printed yarn so the black bits that look like fairisle are printed on so all you do for these is just knit round and round. Its a very effective way to get patterned socks.

I made these a bit longer than the last pair because now I have a guage by which to work out how much yarn is really available. I still have some left over but can make what people seem to call scrappy socks at some point if I carry on knitting socks. Scrappy socks is when people just use up all their odd bits of sock yarn so you get some random coloured socks - but still socks.
Not the most interesting post really I suppose but I do love how these have turned out.
The stripes really do ( almost) match. I think they print this pattern on though rather than dye them. Otherwise I cannot see how they make this work.Though I think my tension varies slightly because the patterns on the two socks are just slightly out. Still not to worry. They are loads better than I would have believed possible 18 months or 2 years ago - before I learned to knit socks.

I actually just started a pair in this years Yorkshire Spinners Christmas yarn called Ginger but if I actually get them finished to wear at Christmas I will be ecstatic. So far it takes me several months to actually get socks knitted. I started these ones back in May straight after I finished the last pair.
 
My last pair of socks I knitted

.
Still I very much like wearing these kind of hand knit socks so its worth the effort.

This pair also fit me the best of what I have knitted sockwise so I am happy with that as well. All the others are a bit loose. Looser hand knit socks wear out easier and the amount of effort involved I really need them to last around a year which I am told they should do.



 So now because I bought so called "Christmas Yarn" for my next pair of socks - right back in August - and its taken me till now to finish these I am desperately trying to get a bit more dedicated to my knitting and actually stick to just the one project because really that should mean I can finish the socks in time.

 Its just usually I have 3 or more things on the go and keep swapping around. I mananged to knit a pair of quite difficult socks last January as part of a New Year sockalong so it should be possible to get the one pair knitted to wear for Christmas. Anyway, thanks for popping over. I will blog hop and see what everone else has been up to this week after I finish this.

Happy weekend

Bracken


Saturday, 26 November 2022

Sustainable Fabric Christmas Gift Bags


 I decided last year really that the best way forward for us - from a sustainability point of iew was to go down the fabric gift bag route. I made a small and probably much posher gift bag last year for my Mum. She actually uses that as a bag. It was ot quite the same idea because I wrapped the contents in paper inside the bag. This year I want to make bags which are themselves all the wrapping there is - other than ribbon fastenings and tags anyway.
This year I want to make some more reuseable "every Christmas" type of bags and have some offcuts of christmasey fabrics left over from other projects from last year in various sizes which I decided were a good choice fabric wise.
I have some presents already bought so decided now is a good time to experiment and since I had half a day off this was what I decided to do. I still used bought gift tags and ribbon so its not perfect as yet and I added bought jingly bells as well but at least I have eliminated the paper wrapping this year. Next year if all my tags are gone then I will find a way to replace these.
These bags are still not perfect because they are all poly cotton so a man made fibre mixed with cotton and quite likely its not organic cotton but despite this I feel I am at least on the way to being sustainable. And by not sending this wrapping to landfill - as well as me using up scraps of fabric that otherwise could be thrown away - this does hopefully count towards making the world a better place.

These bags were quick to make as well. I overlocked the outside edges and the opening edge. If you do not have an overlocker though you could just sew up with a normal machine. It will still work.

Then add tags and ribbon and I added bells because I just love an excuse to use them.


Really of course you shuld make the tags yourself for true sustainability and maybe also swap to reuseable ribbon but I feel I should use up what I already have first - and its easier to use that of course. But still there cannot be an excuse to just throw something out because you decided there is a better way. I intend to use everything and as time goes by I will need to swap to making my own tags as well.

Interestingly despite the fact I needed to cut out the fabric into rectangles and sew up into bags, I reckon parcelling the presents I have to far bought was actually much quicker than with paper. I always hate the parcelling up bit as well so thats a definite plus for me. 

Or if you wanted to do something similar but have no easy way to sew, you could even just cut your fabric with pinking shears and tie around the parcel because there is no reason why you have to make an actual bag. I thought bags would be easiest hence thats what I made. Sizes of each bag were varied and according to parcel size and fabric shapes because my fabric is all left over from other projects so shapes/ sizes were a bit random. But then hopefully people will reuse them next year.

I think by the time my Christmas shopping is done then, I will also clear out lots of old bits of fabric from my stash so thats also a good thing. I might for next year have to keep a look out for sequin fabrics and glitter fabrics as well just so we get some sparkle and because they will be reuseable I do not feel that difficulty with my conscience that I feel when I want to use those super shiny glitter wrapping papers that look lovely but then I know it is going to end up in landfill becase its currently not recyclable. They regularly have glitter fabrics reduced throughout the year because people only want them at Christmas party season so now is not the best time to buy them. Although you might just find a good bargain out there if someone wants to clear some. I shall be keeping and eye open over the next few weeks now just in case.

I just have to hope now that my friends and relatives do not just throw away the bags as they would wrapping paper. Otherwise its kind of a waste of effort. I hope its obvious they can reuse the wrappings next year. With the younger people thats less likely than with the pensioners since it seems the older generations still do not understand the "reduce, reuse and recycle" mentality despite the media and most people under the age of 60 pushing it.

Still as we all age I suppose it will be easier to be sustainable. Its a natural thing for even most under 60-somethings, but it seems not the 80+s. 

Despite long conversations with my relatives over 80 years old they simply do not see the world the way most of us do. For example I have had arguements when refusing to sign a petition against wind farms because the older people see them as "polluting the landscape". Several neighbours still refuse to speak to me about that one! 

The good thing is as time passes there will be less and less people that do not get the idea of sustainability and no I do not wish they would die but realistically we all will. And we will become more sustainable as younger people want the world to be a better place. Future generations should hopefully be better educated than those older people who see the world as disposable. For now yes I think, I really believe, even the smallest of actions towards saving the planet will help so its all worth the effort.

Anyway enough ranting about sustainability. I hope this idea helps some people, or encourages you to think about ideas for other ways to wrap Christmas parcels. All ideas welcome here. I am sure this is just one way to deal with all that wasted paper ( and trees) we make every time we have a holiday. Please comment or tell me your blog address if you have some intersting ideas in fact because I would love to have more ways to wrap this year's parcels without wasting resources and polluting our precious world.

Take care

Bracken


Saturday, 19 November 2022

Sweater cape updated - making it wearable!

I made this ages ago and I kept putting it on for five minutes then taking it off because its doesn't fit right. I was actually uncomfortable. Sometimes when you make something it is just not right. In this case its actually down to the pattern not to me. Or perhaps my personal preferences?

This is the a sweater cape with added hoody cowl hood.  Both are Rebecca Page patterns and the fact it does not fit right is not down to me adding the hood from a different pattern but down to the original pattern itself having badly designed sleeves - so pretty annoying really. The hood is from the mens pattern Hoody Cowl and there's details of how to attach the hood to the sweater cape in my original post so I will not go over that here. This is just about the sleeves.

 

Though I have to admit I think maybe my next update for this is going to be adding a channel around the hood to put in some kind of pull-cord. The pattern does say to do that but I decided to miss that. It will stay on better with a pullcord though because I lined this with a scuba knit. I think if I made it in fur again I would line the hood with fur as well as the outer but for some reason it never occurred to me when I made it. 

Anyway: the sleeves are just too narrow and too short. They are the actual pattern with no alterations other than I joined the wristband to the sleeve ( when I originally made this that is) to avoid a thick hem due to the fabric being too thick to sew up easily. 

Anyway if anything that makes my sleeves slightly longer than they should have been. But still they are far too short. And far too tight.  That means this top was uncomfortable to wear for long and does not fit right. But I love the look. Its relaxed and comfortable - or should be.

These are my before and after photos:

Before.

After altering the sleeves

You should be able to see the sleeves are quite different. Though to be perfectly honest I am not so sure the photos show this well. The new sleeves are much wider at the shoulder and higher up closer to the neckline. They are also much longer since they incorporate a new bit as well as the original sleeve.


I love the idea of this top and especially on days when I work from home and its pretty cold due to our being in the middle of an energy crisis in the UK. Well we have actually turned the heating on now which is in itself scary but its on at 16 Deg C so not by any means warm. 

They have capped the average heating bill to £2500 higher than last year. But this does not help us because we do not have gas so do not get dual fuel which is who I believe this cap is aimed at. Where I live there is no gas so we have domestic heating oil and so far the government has not announced any kind of subsidy for us. Oil has actually risen more than gas in price too. I have even tried writing to our MP to find out if they will be subsidising us but so far have had no reply. So we need warm clothing because winter has hardly started here yet.

Of course if its a cold winter though then we may end up spending even more (even if they do decide to subsidise the one million households who have heating oil). Thats what our government have said relating to the dual fuel subsidy anyway. Its scary because we struggle with our normal bills let alone spending that much extra. 

 

Anyway layers is the way to go and this top is perfect for layering  - or with wider sleeves it is anyway. When I could not even get a long sleeved Tshirt under it, no it was totally impracticle. Winter here has not really even begun as yet. Some people are saying its warmer due to climate change. Well it could be, but my own experience when I was much younger is its often quite warm till the end of November then we often suddenly get snow. 

In my youth I used to do apple picking in October and early November. It was when that ended it got really cold. It almost felt like a frost at 05:30am this morning. I had to get up for the dogs who suddenly decided they urgently needed to go out. They are refusing to go out at night because of fireworks. There are not many now really but this year Diwali, Halloween then Bonfire night for 3 successive weekends have really upset my dogs. Once its about 16:00, so dusk here, there refuse to go out.  

Before.

Well what to do with this top then? I did not want to send to charity or dispose of because it was not cheap really to make. Not expensive either but costs is costs and its hardly worn really - down to the fact it doesn't fit and I always take it off after a few minutes. Also there is the fact I actually really like the idea of this top.

Then to top it all I decided yet again to try wearing it whilst working at my laptop (for work this is) and I wripped a stitch on the shoulder seam. Yes much too tight these sleeves!

Well thats the final straw. I spent my lunchtime that day ( a small perk from working from home!)  unpicking the sleeves and then over the next few days I found some left over bits from when I made this and some lycra bits from leggings etc to line it because the original top is lined with scuba but thats so thick with the fur it is very hard to get my overlocker to sew it. The edges of the fur do fray so ideally they need some kind of finishing so overlocking is the best for it really if you can get it to work.

So now I have the main body and the two original sleeve bits - still all lined. I opened the shoulder seams much higher up than the original pattern says. Now its sewn up I should have opened even closer to the neck but its still much better now than it was before so I will just try and keep this in mind for a second version if I ever make one. 

I am documenting what I did here anyway so should be able to come back in the future to check how I altered this to make it fit. The wonders of a blog! 

Over the years there are so many times its been really useful to have a blog when I have made something and for example cannot remember which pattern I used or how I altered it. 

Anyway; SLEEVES 
On the main body of the sweater cape where I took the sleeves out; I stay stitched the lining raw edge at new shoulder to the fur and then reinforced the actual seams as well - well I do not want this coming appart this time. Then I overlocked these to neaten and make stronger. 

I measured the new sleeve hole size (along my shoulder seams) and I decided to cut a new "top" of sleeve and use the original bits to make cuffs. Then I can fold them under. I was going to sew these in place but have yet to actually do that. They will not fit on my sewing machine so will have to be hand sewn - yes so very narrow I cannot even hem the things by machine!


I used odd bits of leggings weight / swimwear weight lycra fabric to line the top sleeves. Then sewed them up and overlocked the edges. I cocked up a bit here and ended up having to slightly ( like 4cm!) narrow both sleeves due to my overlocker eating the fabric on my second sleeve so I never even attempted to join the new top sleeve to the original sleeve, which is now a lower sleeve and cuff. 

So here you can see the original sleeve which I removed but kept at the top of the photos. I cut a new piece the width I estimated I would need to add to the top and tapered to the old sleeve part as below. Cut a new lining from the offucts of lycra fabric I have lying around.

The two new " tops" are lined in different fabrics but only I will be able to ever see them.

In the end I just overlocked all the raw edges which also secured the lining to the fur.

Then I used a regular machine and zigzagged the top and bottom sleeve together and also to join the sleeve to the main part of the body ( the poncho type bit). 

The sleeves are still nice and wide at the top which considering how much I had to narrow them ( when one got eaten by the overlocker) is very lucky and now I can wear a sweatshirt or thick top under this. So this will work for layering. In this photo I am wearing this over a sweatshirt so it is much wider on the sleeves than it was.


And thats it. Though really the sleeve joins are a bit thicker than I would like but sewing like this with my normal machine is better than wrecking it on my overlocker which really will not cope with that many layers of thick fabric. It works and if you usually use a regular sewing machine its what you would end up with anyway. I never used to own an overlocker and would have been very happy with the results then. I am just spoilt now.

And it works. It works like a sweatshirt really and is nice and warm and lovely and loose for working on a laptop and has been keeping me warm and toasty the last few days so now at last I am very happy with this top.

If you own this pattern which is actually the Rebecca Page Sweater Cape but with the RP Hoody Cowl Mens Sweatshirt hood added on, then I would recommend either make a mock up to check the sleeves size or just add a large amount of fabric to the width of sleeve if you want something like a warm sweatshirt. Maybe measure against your existing sleeves. I love the idea of this pattern but the RP pattern has a definite fault here. I think if I made it even in lace or a very lightweight fabric  I would want a wider sleeve.

You can see the original sleeve (now a long cuff) here and its far too narrow to be a proper sleeve. Especially remembering the width is exactly the same from wrist to what is meant to be where this joins the shoulder seams. It works ok as a long cuff though.

Of course next time I make one of these I will cut the sleeve as one piece but as an update and considering I did not have loads of matching fabric to play with this works well so I am happy enough with this and importantly I have been wearing it when typing at my PC most days since making the alterations. It even goes over a sweatshirt now as well so its a perfect piece for layering.

This was eventually worth the effort of making despite having to go back and make changes and now I know how to make it work I will probably make another one. Maybe in a normal sweatshirting fabric because I love this top. 

Its also good to actually get back into sewing. I have been doing far more knitting than sewing recently- not that it really matters.

Have a great weekend

Bracken

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Velvet leggings


Hello,

I have been sewing again which is a good thing because I got so into knitting I had virtually stopped. I feel it does not really matter what I make so long as a sew regularly because you can really spot the difference in my sewing level if I do not make anything for a few weeks. My accuracy just goes right down and I make such stupid mistakes. I mean even hemming a tea towel manages to keep my skill level up. In fact thats a good example because we could do with some new ones before Christmas gets here. I should try and plan to make a few tea towels over the next few weeks.

These velvet leggings were just made from scraps left from my Faery hoody dress that I made last year. I love this fabric so much. Its floral but sort of smudgy and watercolourish. 

They are made with my TNT leggings pattern - McCall's 6173 - thats another one I have used so many times its now all reinforced with sellotape and I should probably get round to tracing that one onto thicker paper. Each leg is just one piece with no side seam so just about as easy to make as you can find. Though, like my floral flares, I did add a lightweight waisband. I find them more comfortable with a waistband. That pattern is meant to just fold over and have elastic. Maybe its my body shape though and I need that extra bit of length for comfort.

Usually I would have tried to offset the pattern a bit so its not quite the same on each leg but this was not an option due to them being made from left over fabric from a different project.

 

They felt cozy and warm with my big icelandic jumper. I like this jumper best of all I have made and must really make a second one in different colours. It was much much easier to knit than I expected! 

I am thinking to still keep its subtle colours but maybe more greens or yellows with grey for the next version? I have yet to decide on that one. Its currently just  avague idea.

I usualy tend to knit bright jumpers so this is a real departure from normality for me and a completely different style option but I do like this one. I think its the paw prints. They are just that little bit different to your usual snow flakes, diamonds etc etc you find on icelandic patterns.

So now I have a new pair of velvet leggings as well as my floral velvet flares that a made a few weeks ago. Sorted for Autumn ( Fall) then and for my winter loungewear. I still have a lot of lounge type wear I made last December and January so these will enhance the older stuff and give me some variety because the original loungwear was all plain velvet and sweatshirting. These two pairs of trousers do feel a bit more glamourous and Christmasey so I will be wearing them lots over the next few months I think.

Since the last few weeks have meant loads of rain in my area that means I should manage to at least stay warm and cozy over the next few months. You can see the leaves are falling properly now. Winter is well and truly coming!

Have a great weekend and thanks for visiting my blog,

Bracken

Saturday, 5 November 2022

In the round knitted cable mitts



Hello and welcome to my blog. 


It must be winter approaching and the impending cold, because for the last 6 months or maybe even a bit longer I have been totally unmotivated to do any knitting. Now all of a sudden I am knitting all the time. It all began with the pixie hat for a baby. Since completing that I have finished Mick's jumper  that had both been hanging around since last winter as well as knitted these mitts.

And in the UK its bonfire night tonight so I will probably pop out for some fireworks and maybe a bonfire party later which these will be perfect to wear to.



These are my first every attempt at knitting gloves in the round.

I downloaded this pattern many years ago - https://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer06/PATTfetching.html

Its from a 2006 Knitty online magazine. I read recently that Knitty is the longest running free online knitting magazine on the internet so if you have never been there its well worth a visit and is full of interesting designs. 

Back in 2006 I did not feel I was up to knitting these so I am very happy I have actually completed them - and in time to keep my hands warm for winter. Also happy I actually bothered to download this because I seem not to get Knitty anymore unless I visit the website. Maybe I blocked it by accident? Something I should check out because I used to love getting their letters into my inbox. 

Anyway something relevent here is I downloaded something that was at that time beyond my ability and just a dream, and yes its years later, but even then I am so glad I did that dreaming. So storing that paper from that download has after all been worth it - something to let my partner know when he moans about the clutter I collect!

And I am so happy how these have worked out. I doubt very much I would have found this pattern had I gone looking for it on the internet. Though I am intending to spend some time this winter trawling through the Knitty backfiles and see what else I fancy making.


The picot edging on the cast off got me a bit stressed but its actually really easy and I will use it again because it makes for a very stretchy, attractive finish. I did have to actually knit it before I understood what the pattern wanted me to do. Usually I read and understand but this is different and I found it confusing until I actually started to do what it said, and its well worth trying.

Of course you could always do a normal cast off which I nearly submitted to. In the end I decided to not cop out and just give it a go and I am so glad I tried this. 

I did not block these so they are as they were knitted and possibly might look more professional if I had bothered with the blocking, but I am very happy with the final results here. And they were considerably faster to knit than expected even considering I changed needle size and yarn type from what I started with so effectively knitted the majority of the first mitt twice.

Here I did have an issue, because the original pattern is for Debbie Bliss aran yarn which is a bit expensive and at the start I really was not convinced I would actually manage to knit these so did not want to spend loads on a posh yarn. I am a loose knitter though which could explain my problems. I knitted the first mitt in cheap aran on the recommended 4mm needles and they came out too big even for my partner.  Next to me his hands are BIG.  It could be the different yarn but I suspect not. They were in a nice khaki colour but I had to rip them back. Just huge on me. 

So I swapped to some DK that was in my stash and went down to a 3.5mm needle and otherwise just followed the pattern and they worked out the right size which is great. This new yarn was from a Pound Shop a few years ago so is in need of using since I bought it and so far its just in my yarn stash taking up space. Its also bargain basement yarn and I used less than 100g of it for these. 

And its glittery!

Another thing about these, when I downloaded this a 4mm needle seemed so small so even considering using a 3.5mm was just unthinkable. How times change!

Well thats it for this week. I need a new knitting project now, though I have actually also started some sewing at last this week so hopefully soon I will have something to show that is not just knitting. After all this originally started out as a sewing blog. Still we all progress and maybe thats my latest crafting direction?

I also have some blog hopping to catch up on since I have been really busy this week or so, so I intend to pop along and see what other people have been up to the last couple of weeks.

Have a lovely week

Bracken


Saturday, 29 October 2022

Cotton skull print dress for Halloween

  

The perfect Halloween dress?

To be honest although its nearly Halloween I made this just because I fancied it and intend to wear it all year round. 

Its a really basic dress with the bodice based on the free pattern from Angela Kane that I used last year to make a top. I never bothered with the facings though,  and cut the back on the fold to eliminate the back fastenng, and added a gathered skirt which is just two rectangles.

The neck is overlocked and hemmed. It works and is very easy, but also fast and it feels like I achieved something despite its a very simple design. And yes its less professional than the facings would have been but I was acually recreating a dress I bought in the early to mid-eighties although the skulls on that were bleached into plain black cotton. You rarely found skull prints in those days.

Despite its cotton, so possibly more suited to summer, I can see me wearing this through winter and Christmas because its big enough to get layers under it.

The weather is getting much more chilly and winter is coming. We found a rare patch of sun for these photos. Mostly its feeling cold and damp. Autumn is well and truly arrived. You can feel it in the air even when the sun is out so this dress will I think make a good winter layer. 

Anyway I really like how this dress turned out. I only had 2m of fabric too which came from some random Ebay seller a couple of years ago. I don't think this cost much though, which is why I bought it. I think the muted colours will work well for Autumn and Winter.

I am, I must admit, veering towards the more simple designs right now rather than the more fitted clothing I tended to wear at the start of the year. I suppose with the colder weather I want more loose comfy clothing that I can lounge round in and wear in layers. 

Mind you I feel very tempted by some stretch velvet I was eyeing up the other day. This year, I have been trying to use what fabric I have stashed though, or at least to reduce what I have by a serious and noticable amount. 

Christmas is not far off now though and its been very much a year of using what I already have and not buying new fabric. Time for a buying spree maybe? 

I feel I deserve it now because I have successfully got rid of (well made clothing from so actually I still own it all!) lots of bits of fabric and some went back years. And when you sew all the time and obsessively, what else can you ask for for Christmas but more fabric, sewing thread, stitch rippers etc etc.

And I will be wearing this dress on Halloween this year.

Take care and thanks for dropping by,

Happy Halloween

Bracken