Monday, 14 July 2014

A New Vintage Coat

A few years ago I bought a length of grey and white tweed with the intention of making a coat, but never seemed to find the right pattern.  Last summer I found the perfect pattern on Pinterest - Simplicity 6311 from 1965. 

Trust me to fall in love with something that probably went out of print over 40 years ago.

 A few searches on eBay though, and it didn't take too long to find the pattern in my size (from an American lady with a Scandinavian name).  Before I chopped up the tweed I thought I would use denim fabric I also bought years ago but I can't remember why.  So, if it was a disaster it wouldn't matter.  Thankfully, it wasn't a disaster.

I cut out the coat last summer and like many more projects it got packed away as sewing with pins and needles isn't particularly child friendly.  One night a few weeks ago I decided I need to finish it so I worked into the wee small hours.  Hand finishing and the covered button has been done when I could grab a few moments.

It has white and red spotty lining: 
Altogether, it was a fairly straight forward project with no button holes, no inside facings and the fit is perfect so I didn't have to make any adjustments.  The only thing I might change is to add facings and hidden buttonholes on the next one as it swings open.  The only fasteners are the button and a placket at the other side of the neck - things that swing open doesn't really work here in the Shetland winters due to the prevailing winds.  I might also lengthen the sleeves as these are bracelet length and although it looks good and is fine on a summer garment, I think a winter coat would be better with slightly longer ones.
And - just in case you were wondering, the brooch is one of my newer designs, which will be available online with a whole new range of vintage inspired floral brooches in the Autumn.
Yay! - another FO I can now tick off my list!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

UFO Invasion

I have been invaded by UFOs.  Not the alien sort but the crafty sort (i.e. UnFinished Objects).  Lately I decided to try to sort them out and to finish or recycle at least some of them.  Today I have decided to make a list as it often helps to see it in black and white.

This is not actually as bad as I thought, although these are only the ones that spring to mind or I have easy access to, I have already remembered about another one that should be on the list.  Some of these UFOs go back around 20 years when I was at university!
My problem is that I love planning and starting projects and then often for one reason or another I lay them aside; maybe I reach a tricky part, or tidy the project away and it never comes out again or I get carried away with the next exciting project.

The first one I have tackled was the mouse from Mollie Makes magazine, issue eleven.

I love how cute these little mice are and started it in January while the weather was bad, I cut it out and then made the limbs but laid it aside as it was quite fiddly.  One rainy afternoon a few weeks ago I decided to go ahead and finish it.  I made the body out of scraps of linen I had leftover from lightshades my Dad and I made for the local church hall last year and it was stuffed with washed wool from our own sheep.  The beads and thread were already in my stash so there wasn't any outlay for this project, just time.

It was a lot more fiddly than I thought and all I can say is that I was very grateful for my jewellery pliers to turn the limbs.


The little jumper was made using the lambwool I use for my scarves.  It is a light laceweight yarn and using 2.5mm needles the jumper was made using the same techniques as I would make a full sized jumper (knitted in the round) and the arm holes were made with tiny steeks.

 The jeans were made using the pattern in the magazine, the instructions are fairly limited but I have made trousers before so could figure out how to piece the pattern pieces together.  They were very wide at the top so I put a bit of elastic to give them an elasticated waist.  If I was to make them again I would add another couple of cm to the length as they really are long shorts.

He seems to have been well received and has been Christened "Moosee-E" (don't ask me why).  When asked when Mammy and Baby mice would be coming I had to say I didn't think they would be!

I am a big fan of Lotta Jansdotter's work, and bought some Bella fabric last summer to make two cushions for the conservatory.  I bought plain white cotton for the cushion backs, One, because I hate it if I am using patterned fabric and I can't get the patterns to meet and Two, because I could then get two cushions out of just a half metre of fabric.
They were for the conservatory but are currently in the sitting room.  I think they will probably just move around.

I made a simple envelope back so there were no fiddly zips or buttonholes to work with. 

Two done, a few more to go!

Finally, I have lately become a convert to Instagram, if you fancy having a look at my pictures I am donnasmithdesigns.

Just another thing to distract me from those UFOs!

Friday, 16 May 2014

A steeked Circle of Lambs yoke cardigan

I have recently finished a little cardigan for my friend's baby girl.  She is a crofter and is a big fan of sheep so lambs really had to feature somewhere in the finished garment.  The pattern is Ella Funt by Pamela Wynne and I replaced the elephants with sheep.  The pattern has a blank chart for the yoke pattern with the decreases marked in so you can dot out your own pattern.  The design possiblities are endless!

I knitted this garment in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino which is very squiggy and soft to work with and will be super soft on a baby.  The advantage of it is that is machine washable.  Although I usually only knit with 100% wool, I think for babies (and in particular for baby gifts) its important to think about whether it can be machine washed or not.

I don't like knitting purl as I find I go too slow so I knitted the cardigan in the round on 3 DPNs and a knitting belt (of course!).  I cast on 5 extra stitches to form the steek at the front of the garment.  This photo above shows the cardigan just before I discovered I had run out of the main colour.  I ordered it nearly 3 years ago just after my baby boy was born, I was only getting back into knitting and had a plan for it but can't really remember what that plan was!  I thought I had 3 balls of denim blue but only could find 2.  So, I bought a lighter blue shade, ripped the yoke back to below the beginning and added in another row of the navy pattern to define the start of the yoke.

Once it was finished it was time to cut the steek. I machined a couple of rows of stitching each side of the central stitch ladder to reinforce the stitches and to make sure nothing unravelled.

The steek was then cut:
The raw edges were trimmed very close to the machine stitches and a ribbon was hand stitched over  it on the inside of the button bands to finish the garment.
The finished cardigan. 
For more information have a look at the project on Ravelry.

This design is very topical at the moment, the lambing on my Dad's croft has just finished yesterday.
A Shetland sheep with her triplets

Black and white twins


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Shetland Wool Week 2014

Looking forward to Shetland Wool Week!
Shetland Wool Week, which will take place in October, is in now in its fifth year and is a series of events to celebrate Shetland Sheep, Shetland's crofting traditions and it's textile industry.  The programme for 2014 has been released and tickets for the workshops will go on sale on Monday 28th April (tomorrow) and it looks really exciting!.  There will be a large range of workshops in a variety of woolly subjects, Fair Isle knitting, steeking, spinning, dying, lace knitting are only some of the topics that will be covered.   Lots of other exciting things will be happening that week throughout Shetland, several businesses have opened up their doors for textile tours, and the Wool Week Hub in the Lerwick Museum will be an excellent place to meet other textile lovers and to see demonstrations. You can see the full program on the Shetland Wool Website.

I hope to be able to attend more this time, other commitments last year meant I only managed to do two workshops, both in Jamieson and Smith's shop.  The first was taken by Shetland's own Hazel Tindall (the Worlds's Fastest Knitter and this years wool week patron).  I forgot to take any photo- taking devices to this workshop.  The other was a Master Darning workshop by Tom de Deijnen (also known as Tom Of Holland and is author of the Visible Mending Programme).  You can see him in full flow teaching mode in the second photo.

I thoroughly enjoyed both workshops and learned a lot while meeting lots of lovely people and just enjoyed being in such an exciting place watching people coming and going and buying their wool.

I attended to the Makers Market in the Town Hall on the Saturday, where I had a table selling some of my felt things and again had the chance to talk to lots of lovely people and eye up the knitwear going past.


I certainly hope to attend more this year and if you are in Shetland and you have any interest in textiles at all I urge you to have a look through the programme.  The tickets for the workshops go on sale at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning, but be quick, they are usually very popular and sell out fast!


Friday, 18 April 2014

Some New Knitting Books

I have to admit I am not much of a reader but I do have a weak spot for non-fiction books, especially cookery books and of course knitting books!

 Over the last couple of weeks I have bought 3 new knitting books to add to the collection.  The first was the spring 2014 edition of Pom Pom Quarterly which is almost a cross between a book and a magazine that arrived through the post beautifully wrapped with a personal note on the label.

There are eight beautiful and contemporary knitting projects as well as article on various things including the craft (or is it science?) of pressing seaweed and a recipe for chocolate bergamot cookies.

 The pattern that caught my eye and persuaded me to order Pom Pom Quarterly, is the Confetti cardigan, which has been knitted in Jamieson's of Shetland Spindrift.  I have inherited a sizable quantity of Shetland jumper yarn and have 2 cones of shades of purple which will be perfect for this design.

They sum the publication up very well on their website:
"Printed in the UK on lovely heavy paper, at a project bag-friendly portable size, it’s the go-to magazine for lovers of independent craft".

If you have read my previous post you will see I have thinking about and trying out knitting Fair isle gloves. I had seen the book knitting Fair Isle Mittens and Gloves by Carol Rasmussen Noble in one of the local shops a while back and wished I had bought it as it is now out of print.

I recently borrowed a copy from the local library, which is something I have made a note to do more when I get a chance, but I wanted to have permanently on my bookshelf.  I managed to get a copy from Abe Books after a friend found one there. The author collected many examples of Fair Isle gloves and mittens over a few years, and gives patterns for Forty different designs. There are general patterns for the gloves and mittens and once you have mastered that the design possibilities are endless as demonstrated in the book.

This is another book whose pages will be turned over and over again I am sure.

Since I was ordering books I thought I might as well order another (as very often happens). I am a big fan of Elizabeth Zimmermann's writing as I know many knitters are. I didn't have the Knitters Almanac in my collection so decided it was time to buy it.  In the book there is a pattern for a different project for each month of the year, and while I don't think I will be making any of the garments exactly how they are in the book, I will certainly be using the book for reference. I purchased her book"Knitting Without Tears" about a year ago and found it is invaluable when it comes to knitting your own designs. Someone mentioned to me that they had the book but hadn't read it as it was quite wordy and didn't have many pictures.  But I find it very easy to read, EZ (as knitters refer to her) writes in a way you would imagine her to speak with a lot of humour.  Her books are well worth investigating if you haven't done so already.

My problem is now I am starting running out of book space, especially considering I bought another yesterday!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A Trip to the Beach and a Finished Fair Isle Hat

This week the sun has been shining and the relentless wind and gales that seem to have battered us all winter seem to have subsided.  We headed down to the beach, it is only a few minutes walk from our house but it is the first time we have been there this year.

It is always a place of inspiration with it's beautiful colours and patterns

Lately I have been struggling to get my orders done and out in time so I have closed my Not On the High Street shop for a couple of weeks for a breather - yesterday the last parcel I put to the Post Office came back as I had addressed it to myself - definitely time for a rest!

I have been knitting though, mainly in the evenings. I find it very relaxing and therapeutic. There have been several reports lately of how knitting is good for your health, such as this one from the  Mail Online .  Studies suggest that it can protect the brain from ageing.  Here's hoping!  It's a good excuse to knit more anyway.

My latest FO is the Fair Isle beret from Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting. The yarn is Shetland jumper weight wool from both Jamieson and Smith and Jamieson's of Shetland.

I dressed it on a dinner plate to stretch and even out the stitches on the crown.  Once it was dry and off the plate I damped the edges again and stuffed it with a couple of muslin cloths to make it less like a flying saucer and more like, well, a hat.

The colours were inspired by a green Seasalt rain jacket that I bought from Smith and Robertson's in Lerwick.  I tried a few colourways, its always amazing how patterns can look completely different just by changing the colours around.  

I have added an email subscription link to the sidebar of this blog so you can be informed by email whenever I write a new post.   When you enter your email you will be asked to type in the figures you see on the screen and you will then be sent an email link, which when you click on it will then be subscribe you.  It would be lovely if you would!