Friday, 26 October 2012

Better Late Than Never!

Not only am I an unreliable blogger, I am a unreliable daughter too.

Yesterday was my Mums birthday and I totally forgot. To be fair I thought today was the 25th not yesterday, but that's no excuse especially in the days of smartphones with alarm reminders. It is so bad that she had to ring me early this morning to see if I was alright. So I've not only forgotten to say Happy Birthday but also made her worry! *hangs head in shame*

Joyce Bayford
I love this picture so much, it has really captured a sweet moment between them, and have you spotted my Mums fabulous glasses!!! 
Luckily I am popping down to see my parents this weekend, so at least I can apologise in person, armed with a big box of chocolates, but I thought as an extra apology I'd share my favourite picture of my mum and grandma (more on my grandma in the next post), taken by my keen photographer Granddad in the 60s.
Happy Birthday Mum!
Wendy x

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Things To Make & Do - Winter Coat

It's certainly getting chillier around these parts and that has reminded me that I to get a good winter coat sorted as soon as possible. I have spent so many years now trying to find the perfect coat, and so far nothing has hit the spot, so as I do every year I turned to the good old interweb, for inspiration.

Well rather than just looking for inspiration, I got a bit carried away and spent some of my money on some bits from Etsy (so much more civilised than the old Bay of e) I shall duly be showing them all off over the next few weeks (weather permitting, they are quite summery), but as it's coats I'm talking about today, I wanted to introduce you to my favourite purchase of the lot.
The lady who originally owned it bought it in 1947 she only got to wear it a few times, before having children and so it's been in storage ever since.
I absolutely fell in love with it the moment I saw it and the fact that it might actually fit was too much for me to resist. I am not normally one for buying 'real' vintage items from this era, but it was so so lovely I knew I would regret not buying it!

It came from the very lovely Vintage Chrissy on Etsy who has some seriously gorgeous items in stock- I also bought a beautiful 60's dress which I am saving to show off at Christmas, it's very fancy and totally a Sunday Best contender!
I just love the drape of the pockets and the woven buttons
Anyhow, as lovely as this coat is it's not going to be warm enough for bus stop waiting in depths of winter and far too precious a thing to wear every day. So I have decided that 2012 is the year that I finally get around to making myself that perfect vintage coat I've been dreaming about for soo long. As it turns out I could not have picked a better time to try, as there are two contenders, both from Butterick which I think would do the job wonderfully.

The first pattern is Butterick 5425 a modern pattern with a 1940s flair!
Butterick 5425
In the shorter length, with the collars as on the white version, it's looking very 1940s to me!
It has the classic princess seam of all good 1940s coats, shoulder pads, slightly puffed sleeves (boy do I love a puffed sleeve) and the classic 'Fit n Flare' shape (nipped in waist and fuller skirt) which is what draws me to these styles in the first place, elegant and practical, warm but yet fitted.

The day after I bought my 5425 pattern, the fabulous Gertie announced a sew-along on her newest Butterick pattern, this gorgeous 1950s creation.

Butterick 5824
I want one in blue, red, black...
It's based on the Princess coats of the 50s and again it has the 'Fit n Flare' shape but with a much fuller bias cut skirt, a large draping collar and wonderfully roomy 'batwing' style sleeves, which are cut in one piece with the bodice, so no pesky sleeve fitting. Ingenious!

"Ooh count me in" I replied no one can have too many coats! So I set about finding the right fabric for these dream patterns and this is where I have hit a hurdle. I have really struggled to find suitable wool fabric online or in the shops. I have no problem spending a fair amount on good quality fabric (well I do, but for a staple like a coat I can justify it, sort of) but the colours are quite dull and unless I order a swatch I have no way of knowing that my £19.00 p/m is going to be worth it, oh and did I mention both these coats need about seven meters each! Eeek!

So anyway after my, what seems like fiftieth eBay search, and out of desperation, I decided to work on the Gertie coat first and use this fabric.

It's a short pile fur fabric which, from a distance looks like Astrakhan (a very 50s coat fabric) and is medium in weight £5.99 p/m.

As of last night, I have cut out all my outer fabric (my word the fluff gets everywhere) and I am patiently awaiting the arrival of my lining and interfacing before cracking on with the next step. I'm really hoping it will look great, though I have been getting pangs of terror every now and then, as I am aware that it could be an utter furry disaster, but whatever it looks like it's certainly going to be warm. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

Wendy x

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Knit It - A Parliament of Sleepy Owls

No, I have not gone all political on you with a comment on the state of our current government (though it would be apt) it is, in fact, my latest finished knitting project - Parliament is the collective term for a group of Owls, odd isn't it. I suppose it refers to the wisdom both 'creatures' are supposed to possess!

With today's project complete, it means I have gifts for Christmas ready in October! 
I confess to feeling a little smug at the moment, as this is unheard of and seriously out of character. So to mark this achievement (although it's a day late) I am linking up to Lakota's Tada! Tuesday. Have you signed up for her Christmas swap yet? Click the link on the side bar. Don't be shy it's honestly a lot of fun and you'll have the perfect excuse for even more charity shop rummaging!

Never fear I won't be wallowing in my achievement for too long, as I have recently committed myself to knitting my Dad a Fair Isle Pullover, from Tupneys pattern, oh and did I mention I haaaate knitting Fair Isle, one way or another I'm sure there will be plenty of last minute present related stress to enjoy!
Anyway back to the owls!

~ Sleepy Owl Cushions ~

Designed By: Knitting Pony
Free Pattern Here: Sleepy Owl Cushion
  • Chunky or Bulky Yarn
  • 6.5mm Knitting Needles 
  • Contrast Yarn Embroidery (eyes and beak)
  • 4ply yarn Various colours (Feathers)
  • 3.5mm crochet hook (Feathers)
  • Stuffing
  • Yarn needle
Youtube-ular Know How:
* If you can get this technique down, you will never use a chained circle to start your project again! This is so much easier especially for beginners, as you can make the required stitches in lots of space and then pull it all together nice and neat at the end. Marvelous!

I saw this tutorial over at Knitting Pony's blog last year, I knew as soon as I could find the right yarn I would have to make one for each of my friends little ones. I feel like I say this every post but, these are really easy to make! They are knitted on big needles with chunky wool, so knit up really quick which makes it almost feels like cheating!

For my owls I used 3 balls of  James C Brett Marble Chunky in brown 16, which I think has worked really well and it's lovely and soft, and definitely huggable! I went down a size on the needles to 6mm as the stitches were a bit too loose, looking at them now they are finished I could easily have gone down another size as you can still see the stuffing in places.

As I had 7 children (2 families with 3 Children, and 1 family with 1 child) to knit an owl for, I decided so as there was a bit of variety I would do one normal size (34st), one medium size (29sts), and one small size (24sts), to match the children’s ages biggest for the oldest child etc.

Rather than using just 4ply, I chose to use the chunky wool for the majority of the crocheted owl feathers. I made the smaller feathers simply by doing fewer rows/rounds, which I think worked quite well. I found the hardest bit of the whole process was stitching in the face, I ended up by couching the thread as all my other attempts came out rather wonky.

So from 3 balls of yarn I have knitted 3 large, 2 medium and 2 small owls, including feathers which is not bad going especially as I even have some left over perhaps for a small owl for me! Though I think I'd better put all thoughts of that aside for now and get cracking on that Fair Isle pullover!

Wendy x