Knitting in the sunshine

The weather has been nice and I have been escaping to my outdoor area* for my lunch breaks amongst some lovely flowers, so here are some pictures (can you tell I am loving discovering picmonkey?!)

This is the start of a Miette cardigan, using some turquoise cotton blend yarn I got at the weekend.

I’m not much of a gardener and never know what to do the flower beds in the garden during winter, as I know all these lovely flowers are hiding away and waiting for summer.

All the pictures were taken on my htc desire, using regular the camera or the Lomo Camera app (using the dream effect to get some random shades of colours)

I spent ages exploring picmonkey using loads of settings and tools, so I can’t really tell you how I edited these images – I kept clicking until I liked what I could see!

*I teach Reception (4-5yr olds) and we have to have outdoor provision available, so as well as the playground where everyone runs around I also have an outdoor classroom. In winter it is a pain, but on days like today there is nothing better than being paid to sit in the sunshine, splashing in a water tray full of lovely cold water 🙂

A word of warning…

If you are on the tube and it says it is terminating at this stop, don’t try and finish your row of knitting, even if it only 6 stitches. I’ve just spent 5 minutes sat in the depot waiting for the tube to turn around!

Next time I’ll ignore my grandma’s voice in my head, saying “never stop in the middle of a row!”

Happy Monday morning!

Versatile Blogger Award

Last week Hannah nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award 🙂 I was really touched and pleased to know I have inspired her crafting, so thank you again!

The award comes with the following rules:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award;
  • Include a link to their blog;
  • Next, select 15 bloggers that you follow regularly or have recently discovered;
  • Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile blogger-award;
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

My brain was frazzled last week with end of year data and wondering if kids in my class can count 9 or 10 things (frustratingly, it makes a big difference). But now that is all sorted, I have had time to have a proper look at my Google Reader account* so here are my nominations, in no particular order:

A Girl In Winter has only been sewing for 6 months, but has already made some lovely things. I wish I could have got such good fits in my first year of sewing.
Monkeysocks hasn’t posted for a while (busy with uni work) but I love reading about her pile of UFOs as it makes me feel less guilty about mine!
Did You Make That? Karen is a great sewer who isn’t afraid to make mistakes and her posts are always fun
Pincushion treats has made some fun clothes (lobster skirt!) and I like seeing all the different variations of tried-and-tested patterns.
Matin Lapin posts mini galleries of gorgeous etsy-finds – very inspiring but potentially purse-damaging!
Struggle Sews a Seam always makes me smile – her posts ooze character and fun. And she sews lovely clothes too!
Gingermakes posted an inspiring blog about dying fabric using natural materials recently.
So Zo has such an inspiring attitude towards recycling and materialism.
Scruffy Badger makes great clothes and is fun!
Crayons and Milk has the cutest photos of her little crochet creatures (see the bumble bees!)
Sew Smug has lots of great tutorials and makes loads of fun bunting 🙂
Yes, I like that makes the type of clothes I like and want to make myself-  classic casual pieces, in nice fabrics – I like seeing high-fashion inspiration, but it is nice to see things I could actually wear myself!
Teen Granny is 16 and spends her time knitting and baking. I wish blogs were around when I was 16, so I could have discovered how cool I was at the time instead of spending years feeling abnormal for my love of craft!
Pillows A-La-Mode has some great tips, like this one for organising bobbins!

So now for 7 facts about me:

  1. I hate toes and always have to have my toenails painted. Yesterday I wore sandals and realised I had naked toenails, and felt weird all day.
  2. I keep things “just in case” and get criticised by my dad and my deputy head at school for this. One of my best work moments this year was when the deputy asked if I had any tracing paper his class could borrow, and I replied that yes, I did have some in my cupboard, that I had rescued a few months earlier when he was clearing out the stock-room. I knew it would be useful!
  3. I accidentally set fire to my kitchen a few months ago while baking a birthday cake – greaseproof paper caught fire, I threw it in the sink but a tiny bit didn’t get extinguished and melted a hole in my washing-up bowl. The smoke alarm didn’t go off because I opened the window, turned on the extractor fan and did lots of tea-towel waving; this is why I am extra annoyed when people in my building set the fire alarms off at 1am!
  4. I am annoying everyone by complaining about my age – next month I am no longer officially a young person (holder of a 16-25 railcard) and will have to start paying full price train fares.
  5. My birth-certificate may say I am 26 but mentally I am nearer to 56 – my radio is set to Radio 4, I like doing puzzles before I go to sleep, and one of the reasons I like shopping in John Lewis is because it is nice and quiet and I can hear myself think!
  6. I find it hard to “do nothing” – I can’t sit and watch tv without doing something else, whether it is sewing, crochet or a sudoku.
  7. I usually agonise over minute decisions and check everything lots of times, but when it comes to crafting I jump in impulsively and get started. I currently have at least 6 different projects on the go.

* I usually read blogs on Google Reader, downloading latest posts as I walk to the tube and then reading them on my journey home. However this makes it hard to comment on what I read. What apps (Android please!) do you use to read blogs? Do they let you comment easily?

SALE shopping (aka Should Alison Learn to Escape shopping)

I feel like I need to add lots of background information to this post to justify what I am going to say (and ease the guilt).

Count them – TWO big bags…

Since last autumn I have bought no more than 4 or 5 items of clothing, and most of these have been knitwear. My sewing had got to the stage where I would try clothes on and think “I could make this” or “This doesn’t fit properly” and so I decided I wouldn’t buy clothes that I can make myself. At this point the list of shop-bought possibilities included underwear, coats, shoes and cardigans.

As a teenager I knitted a jumper and a cardigan, but they didn’t get much wear as they were very chunky and I now know that chunky knits are definitely not the most flattering choice for me. I really want to knit a wearable cardigan, to add to my wardrobe and to prove to myself that I do actually have the patience for it, so a few weeks ago I picked up a pattern book, and then have spent weeks pondering over different yarns online. The only problem is that for a cardigan to fit me, made in good quality yarns, the cost adds up; £5ish for a 50g ball, times 12 or so balls depending on the style, quickly gets pricey.

So, with all that background information, I can proceed to share my not-so-impulsive sale shopping! A friend informed me that there was a sale at John Lewis, and since I was passing through Oxford Circus I thought I should pop in..

First thing I put in my basket (yup, I had a basket on wheels and I filled it!) was this gorgeous shade of 4-ply chain yarn. It is cotton, linen and viscose and has at least 4 subtle shades of yummy purples. I’m slightly scared of the weight of this yarn, due to my tendency to get finger-cramp when knitting on thin needles, but the colour was just too perfect to resist at half price (enough for a cardigan at £40 instead of £80)

Next I loved the vibrant colour of this cotton blend. There was someone else hovering around it for ages and we discussed how bright it would be in a garment under natural light, but it was too good to pass; on getting it home I discovered is almost the same shade as a slightly sad-looking cardigan I’ve had for years, which I love wearing in summer to add a pop of colour to a simple outfit. This is aran weight and came to under £30 for enough for a cardigan, which competes with shop bought prices 🙂 *

Finally I couldn’t resist the delicious colour of this yarn, and the silk and cashmere make it lovely to touch. I don’t think the colour comes across properly (although I did work out how to reset the white balance and exposure on my camera) is a cherry pinky-red – too red to be deep fuscia but not quite red.

Now I need to match up these yarns with patterns. All three yarn colours will fit in with my current wardrobe, however they are not winter-weight so I may need to get a move on with my knitting so I can wear them in autumn. My favourite from my Cherished book is the Skylark, but I don’t think it is a good pattern for a first cardigan! I’m really tempted to try Miette on ravelry.com but first I need to get some long/circular needles (looking at the weather outside that wont be today!). Jumper knitters, what do you knit with? What is the best way to hold 100s of stitches safely?

I also grabbed some eco cotton in white and lemon to make a present for a friend’s baby (gender not yet known**) and a few fabric remnants from a huge basket – we were having to reach in and pull handfuls to the top as the basket was so deep. A few of these are pretty-must-get-just-in-case fabrics, and some have a purpose in mind.

There is a metre of purple jersey for a simple summer top, two lovely cotton prints to add to my stash (or use for my new favourite detail – contrasting secret pockets), some thick grey felt that can always be useful and some white linen for embroidering onto. Oh, and a glow-in-the dark skeleton window sticker for when we next have a doctor/hospital role play in my classroom. I also picked up my new sunglasses – one classic tortoiseshell pair and one fun purple pair – and managed to wear them for a few hours at the school summer fair (before the rain came out of course!)

Hope you have all had a fun (and maybe more frugal) weekend.

*I really need to stop comparing prices of my makes with what I would spent on RTW in a shop – handmade garments made with care from quality materials, and providing me with hours of crafting enjoyment, are obviously worth more than mass produced fast fashion so I need to start comparing like with like.

** I totally understand the reasons for not knowing the gender of a baby before it is born, and love that it can limit the amount of stereotyping if people are forced to get neutral clothes and gifts, but at the same time I find it hard as so much fabric and patterns are designed for baby boys or girls. When I made a basket liner for a colleague’s baby, I spent hours searching for a nursery print that wasn’t pink or blue, and gave up and picked a normal print – is there a market for cute baby animal prints in neutral and natural colours?

*** Do you like the photo montages? I have always wondered how everyone does such great photo layouts on their blogs, and then Shivani introduced me to picmonkey which is so simple to use. I can finally have rounded corners on my pictures! 😀 I am obviously not going to spend all day exploring it, when I have a class worth of reports to write by next week, am I?

This weekend I will…

…be making a jumpsuit/boiler suit/onesie. Why? To wear to the cinema next week of course!

Yup, weird I know. I can’t reveal exactly what or why as it is top secret (or Secret Cinema to be precise) but it seems like a fun challenge. I am going to combine my classic PJ bottom pattern with a lengthened bodice from my shirt dress – that should work shouldn’t it? And if it doesn’t, it is only for one night!

p.s. Hannah has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! 🙂 Thank you! I am really touched that she has been inspired by my blog, but I need some thinking time to decide who I am going to nominate.

Happy Bloggerversary to me!

It has been exactly a year since I first posted on this blog! Woo!

I finally feel like I am getting into the hang of blogging (see my self-coded table on the My Crafty Creations page!) and it is so great to read lovely comments from my new followers (not just my family!). Thanks so much to all the people who have taken the time to read and comment on here, and decide to carry on reading! 🙂

Since it is my blog birthday, its only right that I buy it/myself a little present (any excuse!)… After reading that Karen’s Faith cardigan took her 9 months to knit, I can’t stop thinking that I really should get to work if I want a cardigan ready for autumn. I spent ages looking through patterns for something simple and classic with a bit of a interest, that could be easily adapted.

Kim Hargreaves Cherished

It is such a beautiful book with some chunky cosy jackets and hats, a few fine-knit jumpers, and lots of lovely cardigans. The only problem is choosing what to knit first! (All knitting photos from here)

 

Option 1 – Cherished Skylark (sounds so pretty, doesn’t it?) – I really like the neckline and texture of this knit, and the sleeve length is great and snuggly, but is the lace rib too complicated for starting my first cardigan in 10 years?

Option 2 – Cherished Wisdom – It has pockets!! I love clothes with pockets! For some reason I’m imaging making this but slightly changing the moss stitch stripes and make them thinner with more stocking stitch between them (and lengthen the sleeves).

Option 3 – Cherished Fawn – A really simple, classic cardigan. The pattern is for a cropped cardigan, but would it be too hard to lengthen it (casting on extra stitches, and decreasing towards the waist as in other patterns)?

Hmm… decisions, decisions. And then I have to choose yarn, I’m imaging a deep plummy purple. Which pattern do you think I should start with?

All knitting photos from here

Liberty Love

Last weekend I was in central London and thought I would pop into Liberty. I’ve never been before, despite passing it loads of times and hearing all about it from everyone who sews.

Can I tell you a little secret? Promise you wont tell anyone? Okay, I’ve never been to Liberty because I always thought the much swooned over prints were a bit too twee for my taste*.

They are pretty, but never something I would wear or use**. Or so I thought until a few weeks ago I found this in Fabrics Galore:

Pink and purple Scottie dogs!! 🙂 I was planning to make this into a Sorbetto (or modification) but I can’t bring myself to cut the dogs.

So, after deciding that Liberty prints weren’t that bad, I popped in for a little look…

I had heard that the shop was pretty, but I didn’t realise quite how it would be inside! The creaky wooden staircases, the beamed ceilings and cosy corners, and all the cute displays were lovely. While I am still not sold on their range of fabrics, I could have browsed the haberdashery and trimmings all day, and just spent time getting inspired.***

So, did I find anything to buy? Of course I did! I feel like a proper blogger now that I can say I have a paper Colette pattern (after months of adding them to online baskets, but never getting to the check out as I didn’t have enough to make the most of postage costs). I got the Colette Ginger skirt pattern after seeing lots of inspiration on the sewing blogs, including Karen’s effortless summer skirt and Pincushion Treat’s denim skirt – it looks like it will be a great basic pattern with lots of possibilities for fun!

I also picked up a bold aubergine remnant, some of which is at my sewing machine waiting to turn into a pocket on something tomorrow.****  I will definitely be popping back again, if only for the pretty purple bags in my favourite colour (to match the prescription sunglasses I ordered today).

*All from Liberty website
**Okay, maybe I am generalising a little bit. I do have a fat quarter my mum bought when she visited Liberty (I guess in the 70s from the design) that she kept and never used. If I remember the story correctly, I think she went to visit the shop and wanted/needed to buy something as a keepsake, but never dared use it. Hmmm… is that a genetic trait? It had been sitting in my stash for years so I decided to make a little phone cover from it.

Vintage Liberty fabric for a modern phone.

I saw some similarly constructed phone cases, in a spotty fabric, on sale the other weekend and had a peek at the price – £12! Mine was made from scraps of fabric and a button, so let me know if anybody wants a tutorial for making these phone/gadget cases.
*** Is it just me, or does anyone else like spending time just browsing in craft stores? If I am early to meet a friend, I can happily spend half an hour just stroking all the yarns in a shop, even if I have nothing to buy. Its almost like visiting a museum, but a fun one with interactive exhibits.
**** I love having exciting pockets in regular garments! Even if nobody else knows they are there, they just make a handmade item even more special.

Denim Travelling Dress

After making my Summer Strawberry Shirt-Dress I knew I wanted to make at least one more everyday version – so here is my Denim Travelling Dress!

After some button-hole drama with the strawberry dress – apparently sewing a buttonhole where all the seams are pressed isn’t a good idea – I carefully positioned the buttons for ease of sewing. When I tried it on I discovered a small gape, so added a small hook and eye where the skirt and bodice join.

Speaking of buttons, here they are… They may or may not cost as much as the rest of the dress, but look how pretty and swirly they are! I thought a simple, classic dress needed some exciting buttons, and these were pretty close up but nice and simple from afar. The annoying thing about this dress is that, despite my overflowing button tin, it is hard to find 10 matching buttons.

Buttons!!

I wore it to school on Friday for a test-wear and it did the job of feeling nicely dressed but comfortable – the shirt part says smart, but the denim says relaxed.

I wore it again on Sunday, accessorised with red, white and blue to watch the Jubilee Flotilla and managed to get my big bro (and reader of my blog!) to take some action shots of flag waving. He did need a bit of artistic direction (I need a photo of the pockets!) but he did a good first job.

It worked well for a day out – pretty crease-free after a day walking and sitting in the rain, and it kept me fairly warm considering the horrendous weather.

exhausted!

I got home exhausted, but not too tired for some patriotic crochet for my blanket.

While I’m all patriotic, here is a picture of Monday night in my local park…

Fireworks and Jubilee beacon at Buckingham Palace

My day in pictures

I have my internet back!! hooray!!

Since technology is on my side, I thought I’d go photo* crazy and show you all the things I have got up to today, starting with my walk to the shops…

Stage being prepared outside the palace

View of the Mall

Guards practicing their steps

Ex-prime-minister John Major being interviewed on the Mall

I went for a walk via St James’ park…

A Filofax store!!

Sparkly Union Jack in Carnaby Street

… to Carnaby Street, to visit a little haberdashery shop called All The Fun of the Fair in Kingly Court. While I was there I thought I might as well visit Liberty (I’ve never been before and was pretty impressed) and then did some other shopping.

Liberty origami

Inspiring cross-stitches on show

Can you guess what city I am in?

The sun had come out so I walked back through the park.

Guard at Clarence House

Big crowds and there wasn’t anything happening (except hearing Cliff’s sound check)

Yet another flag…

… and again (to compare app effects)

The screens are ready for the weekend and the park was pretty busy. There was a man blowing bubbles, using two fishing rods and some string to make ENORMOUS bubbles.

If you thought these bubbles were big…

… think again! (at least a metre long)

I walked about 4 miles so I think I deserved a little rest

Then back home, with a bit of house work to do.

Clearing up the remains of Sorbetto and Traveller sewing

And then there was still time for a relaxing pamper (it has been a long, long week at school!) and time to prepare for festivities tomorrow.

Red, white and blue

Tomorrow I am off to Greenwich for some Jubilee celebrations, and will try and get some pictures of my latest make (it had a test wear yesterday but after having a class party with 25 4 year olds I got home too exhausted for a photo shoot!). What are you doing to celebrate the Jubilee and the long weekend?

*All pictures were taken on my HTC Desire, using FxCamera and Lomo Camera apps.