Monday, 18 March 2019

For Little Boys

Still stash busting. I started this little collared jacket estimating yarn amounts. I came up short. I predicted however that a one year old wouldn't mind a two tone knit. 

We bought him some stretchy jeans and thought it would make a perfect first birthday present.

The rib pattern is ideal for growing with the baby, it stretches on the width. The pattern is from Sirdar Little Sweet peas Design G.

The buttons were from my button jar and were the perfect size and match. A scrap metal skip is arriving at the farm today, my target is 1 tonne.

Jo xxxx

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

March ing...

'Marching' on with my postage stamp quilt.

Getting - All my WIP's done and not starting anything new.

Baking - A couple of fruit cakes. Not everyone in our family likes it but it was my turn to choose lunchbox cake for a change.

Building - Still more floors to clean up, this time a reclaimed parquet floor to sand and varnish. The scaffolding has come down which is a good milestone.

Wearing - Dickies work trousers a lot lately... so chic!

Disliking - Having our farm sheds burgled and losing power tools we need for our house build. The girls were a bit upset losing their motorbike too.

Buying - Wool for a new jumper but I don't have time to make it yet, Maybe next March!

Thinking - About tidying up the garden. 

Enjoying - The promise of Spring around the corner with a few sunny days out walking.

Loving - This sock pattern from Christina. It is my second ribbed pair and they are so comfy to wear.

Wondering - Shall I use black or white thread for the finishing on my swimsuit??! Now there's a conundrum.

Learning - How to apply swimsuit elastic all over again. I had forgotten how to do it.

Watching - The Sewing Bee on the BBC whilst shouting things at the telly - mostly encouragement you understand.

Fixing - the hoover, my sewing machine, seams in leggings, missing buttons - the usual...

Making -  A charity shop table cloth into a beautiful apron.

 Deciding - What to put in my best friends '50 things in a box' for her 50th Birthday an idea I got from Sum of their stories. The apron from above went in.

Feeling - The itch to be a horticultural queen and get outside.

Jo xxxx

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Use it or Lose it

I had a rare whole day to myself the other day just a haircut booked and a trip to the dog groomers so I decided I wanted to make another bra. Two of mine had actually worn out - holes, grubby, fraying edges, stretched out elastic etc. These casualties were two M&S ones. Maybe by working on building our house I have given them a good stretch painting ceilings!

I have made about five bras since I learnt way back in February 2016 so I felt confident about rummaging through my stash and whipping up a bra. I had got really good at it(see this beauty). I had more stuff than I thought in my stash boxes however, some of this is not really big enough to do anything with but with lingerie sometimes you only need small bits for some parts. I had quite a range of notions, elastic, wire casing etc. Some of it had been given to me from an ex market trader in haberdashery.

Treating myself to this glorious afternoon of sewing,I decided to open a whole new kit I bought about three years ago. Alarmingly, as I started to make it, I realised I couldn't remember all the things I had learnt. It was a bit like learning French at school and then not remembering any of it when you actually go on holiday as an adult. It was all gone.

It meant that making this bra felt like the first time all over again. I couldn't remember the best stitch lengths or which needle to put in my machine. I tried a few but mostly had seam lines like this until I used a super stretch needle. There was a lot of unpicking.

 I couldn't remember how to apply elastic or even which way round some pieces went! Think Leah on the sewing Bee with her swimsuit.

After a lot of swear words and shouting at my machine, I resigned myself to using this pink bra as my new learning bra which was fine as it turned out because there was not any pink shoulder strap elastic in the kit which seemed strange. I went for a pink/black combo which made for a slightly racy version but in the end the fit on the bust was excellent. The sewing quality is not great because I kept switching the gauge and it needs a tweek under the arms which I have transferred onto the paper pattern pieces for next time. I did however, use lace so it felt like I was was moving forward. The pattern is the Marlborough version from orange Lingerie.

I made two pairs of knickers to go with it and have decided to cut out another bra in black and continue my revision. I have found out with this project that if you don't use a skill, you soon lose it.

Tenacious as ever. Jo xxx

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Lady Kina Knit

 I have had this pattern in my Ravelry queue for a long time. I couldn't work out if it would look too old on me but I decided that if I made it neat and small it might be something I would wear.

After taking on a huge bag of donated wool I kept back these two colours. I don't know what you would call the one - it is not pink, not even antique pink. It is not brown, it is similar to the colour of raw kidneys, it is an 'offally' good subtle colour. I had five 50g balls. 

Can I be honest and say that I based this whole cardigan on two buttons which I had for my birthday! When paired with the other colour, lets say a slightly mottled dark moorland green, it was a match made in heaven. I had three 50g balls of this one.

They are vintage yarns so there was not a yardage count and it was DK not aran (worsted)as the pattern stated so I was taking a punt all round - as usual! You can tell the yarn is old, it was 59p a ball!

I got lucky with the sizing and it was a wonderful make. It needs a good blocking. Luckily, with the stripes in rows of four, it is easy for me to replicate this pattern again in exactly the same size.

This is it before blocking.

I wanted it to be a solid colour really but it was just too darn risky with the unknown yardage I had. I ended up using about about four balls in total so I could have made it all in the kidney colour. Maybe next time...

A tip for me to remember next time is that I used a 5mm needle to cast off from a 4mm needle to ensure that the bottom edge held its A-line shape and didn't pull in. (this is an evening shot under artificial light)

The pattern is free from ravelry and there are lots of makes to peruse. I particularly liked the classy grey version with 3/4 sleeves made by Christina from My colourful life. It is an easy top down knit with some very long rows across the shoulders but it soon got faster as I started the body section. I liked that the front bands were knit as you go because when I add a button band it always curls.

I made the second size which, as mentioned, was a guess because of the yarn but it turned out to be a great fit. Sorry I don't have any photos of me in it. My weekend farm face is just not willing for the camera today and I am not sure which colour long-sleeved T to wear underneath? 

Happy knitting indeed. Thanks for looking. Have a good week. 
Jo xxxx

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Spice for Life Blanket

This should been a long term stash busting project but it turned out to be such a row turner that the yarn was simply gobbled up night after night. I have really enjoyed making this blanket, it has been the most fulfilling project. One of my new years crafting resolutions eaten away as quickly as I made it.

These kind of blankets are always a little bonkers but I simply love making them. If they turnout really awful you can always donate them to a dog basket nearby. As it turned out, this one was a corker.

I thought that the little bit of orange I had in my original basket would end up being rejected but I found another whole ball of orange. I felt that if I could repeat orange within the overall blanket it would look more intentional rather than just one rogue stripe of orange and I am glad I used it now. I am normally a little frightened of yellow but again ensuring that it was evenly distributed on slimmer rows gave it a real colour lift.

I sewed the ends in at about every third point of the blanket so that it wasn't too daunting. Did I follow the pattern? A little bit here and there. Unfortunately,I started with more chains than the original pattern stated to get a bigger blanket but was then unable to use the waypoint stitch counts to keep me on track so there are some wobbly edges. I repeated my favourite stitch combinations and left some others after I had tried them once. I found out that I really like doing a V-stitch.

I don't mind the wobbly edge though, it is just for us to use as a TV blanket when we all sit down together. I did however rather enjoy making it in February. February is definitely the time to make a blanket. It kept me warm as I made it. 

For the border, I kept some yarn back. I used a granny stitch to give some movement on the uneven edge and stayed away from a double crochet edge which would have exacerbated the issue. The final row is crab stitch or reverse double crochet.

This is Bruce today not knowing that he was going to go to the dog groomers in an hours time. 

We had put him on a diet because we thought he was getting a bit chubby but... turns out he was just really really hairy!

Anyway, The spice for life blanket is especially good as a stash busting choice because it is very versatile and you can dip in and out of the pattern and colour choices. I recommend it.

Are you stash busting? Stupid question really - you probably all are! Thanks for dropping in. Jo xxx

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Behind the Scenes

I am all out of fabulous crafting things to share but that is fine because we are working really hard on our new house. I have been paid working only two days a week for January and February which has enabled me to go on to our building site and do some manual labour (and make tea in really grubby mugs) for a couple of days each week.

Because we are self builders we have a range of people who work on our house. We do not have anyone who oversees it and we can't even call ourselves project managers because that would sound like we knew what we were doing but I try to coordinate materials for each person before they arrive and make sure everyone gets paid alongside doing some menial jobs myself in between.

I have been showing you snippets in my ing posts, usually a tantalising picture of something quite tidy and enticing which may suggest that we are nearly finished but in truth we are a couple of years away from completing this hobby house. The kitchen mostly looks like this: a fitted kitchen packed in boxes, a table with sticky cups, milk you have have to smell before you use it and soft biscuits which you still eat because the hard work makes you hungry.

We have windows but not a front or back door so it has been bitterly cold in January and early February. This is compounded by the super insulation so the cold air stays trapped inside the house. Some days when I am painting inside you can see my breath but the builders pointing the stonework outside are warmer than me! 

I can light the log burner but it is futile without the rest of the heating system which is not ready yet. We use it to huddle round at lunchtime when who over is on site comes in to sit on plastic chairs and eat sandwiches, chat, tease each other and make plans for what to tackle next. 

We only have temporary electrics so we have to have spot lights rigged up to see later on in the day. We only have an outside tap meaning we have to boil the kettle every time we want to wash our hands or in this case keep my hands warm enough to clean the grout from the lounge tiles with a bucket and sponge. I have done two coats of sealant on the tiles in the lounge and am finished here. 

But floor work continues with another room to prepare, the kitchen, needed a full tile clean. This time with brick acid - nasty stuff. My cousin and I wore masks, gloves and glasses as we worked with caustic acid. The girls stayed outside and made sure the dog didn't wander in. Another spot clean for the ones which need a bit more mortar removal tomorrow and then back on my knees to add the coats of sealant. It is not all choosing curtains and cushions just yet!

The girls ate their lunch on bar stools today and the dog ran off with a huge chunk of cake when we weren't looking but he mostly likes to sniff out mice in the old grain shed when we are there.

There is not a staircase at the moment, it is in the kitchen which gave me the chance to paint the hall and landing in one swoop. When we have laid the parquet floor the staircase can go back in. Currently, the only way to get upstairs is via a ladder. This makes painting upstairs a pain. Everything has to be passed up the ladder but painting is a job I can do while other things are being done which I can't do or when builders leave our build to go and work on another. I plod on with three coats on every bare plaster wall.

Outside is another matter. The exterior of the house is nearly complete so we will need to remove all excess/broken bricks, tiles and stone now that we know what is surplus to requirements. This mess irks me because it is on the road side of the house and looks unsightly to everyone but it will be sorted soon enough. 

There are moments of order. The office is fully painted, the window cill I showed you previously pointed up well with the piping bag. It looks lovely with the sealant finish. I spent four hours putting a desk together to check it fitted in the corner. I wanted it to be checked before the electrician adds plugs to the room. With a new build, you get a chance to uber plan where things go and limit trailing wires and light switches in the wrong places.

So you see, although I am painting, we are a long way from the end but we are trying to enjoy the process - a bit like when you crochet a blanket or knit a jumper. The process is important. It will be part of our lives and certainly part of our girls childhood memories. 

I have chosen today to show you a little update because a) this is mostly what I have been doing and b) we are at the momentous stage where the scaffolding comes down this week and our house will be revealed to us just a tiny bit more. We are taking the chance to admire the view from the top level of the scaffolding before it comes down and this is what it was like today.

I love and loathe building a house but the good far outweighs the bad, even if at present, the beautiful does not outweigh the ugly in visual terms.

This post was inspired by reading A Colourful life blog this week. Christina's mundane titled post reminded me that we are all doing something different and it isn't always 'blog beautiful' but sometimes 'blog interesting'.

Thanks for reading. Jo xxxxx