Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Sewing by subscription

Last month I found out about SewHayleyJane's new sewing box subscription; a monthly delivery of fabric and sewing goodies to your door! I was tempted, but I do already have quite a stash of fabric, also, do I trust someone else to pick fabric for me? Finally there was the problem of delivery to Ireland. Ignoring the note on the website that said delivery was only within the UK I contacted Hayley, who very kindly said that, although official they only shipped to the UK, they were making some exceptions to test international delivery and I could be one!. Well, after an offer like that I couldn't refuse. (Although, I've ended up using Parcel Motel as it was better value). I signed up for the medium box, making a deal with myself that if after three months all I've done is added to my stash, and not used any of the fabric, I would cancel the subscription.

My October box arrived today and I collected it on the way home from work. I wanted to rip in to it at once, but then I began to worry I wouldn't like the contents and would be disappointed. I armed myself with a steadying cup of tea and opened the box.

Nicely wrapped, always a good first impression ... and is that a packet of sweets I see peeking out?

A nice note as well ... I was getting more confident ... time to pull back the tissue paper ...

Phew ... I need not have worried, I love my box! I have 2.5 meters of the main fabric, four fat quarters, pins (I'm always running out), a zip, thread (so practical) and the cutest buttons!  

I've been lacking my sewing mojo the last few weeks (partly the reasons for the lack of posts recently) and I think this box might have got me back on track. I've spent the evening planning what I can make with the content, and I'm hoping the thought that that is another box coming next month might push me to get sewing as well. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Historical knitters: Tsarina Alexandra and the Grand Duchesses

I've been meaning to get back to my monthly posts featuring literary knitters (or other crafters), and yesterday I came across a group of historical knitters in the book I'm currently reading; The Romanovs 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

As Alexandra and the girls [the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia] did their knitting, behind her chair, bringing into splendid relief her bright gold hair, recalled Anna, stood a huge Negro servant gorgeous in scarlet trousers, gold embroidered jacket and white turban. 

As, in the passage before, Montefiore had commented on the families enthusiastic embracing of photography, I was hopefully I would find an image online of the Romanov knitters. I couldn't find one showing the exact scene described in the book, but I did find some other images.

Tsarina Alexandra knitting on the Royal yacht Standard, 1908

Tsarina Alexandra knitting in the outfit of a Red Cross Nurse, c.1915

Grand Duchess Anastasia knitting (something very large) in her mother's boudoir

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Tom & Jerry, Cath Kidson and Mrs Line of Holloway

I spent last Saturday afternoon engaged in one of my favourite activities, charity shopping with my friends T and M. We had a lovely afternoon and all returned home with bulging bags of goodies.

It is hard to decide which of my purchases I like best. The best bargain was certainly the unused Cath Kidson bag. Especially as I has been thinking that morning that I would need to get a new shoulder bag, before my current one completely falls apart.

I also go this retro/vintage dress which is very cute and wearable.

But if I have to pick a favourite it would have to be the 1990s Tom & Jerry sheets, which were just €2!!!!!
At T's suggestion I'm planning to turn them into a pair of pyjamas. I think I want to go for quite a traditional pyjama design, piping, pockets and all. Possibly making use of Closet Case Files Carolyn pattern.

Then, on Tuesday, the postman delivered a parcel from my mum containing this;

A Second World War guide to smart dressmaking, full of lots of handy hints and tip.

Possibly the best sentences come on the first page when, explain the need for the booklet, it states conversationally;

Well - let's face it - women's traditional aptitude with the needle is more legend than fact. It's by no means every women who can sew by instinct. Lots of them bungled through the mending and called it a day. Repairs were as far as they could go.  Anything which savoured of creative skill - such as renovations and remodelling (let alone dressmaking proper) - was quite beyond their scope.

Ouch - that's put you in your place ladies, nothing that 'savours of creative skill' for you! And, don't even think about 'dressmaking proper'. Although rather harshly worded there is, probably, a bit of truth behind the statement, and there is certainly no reason why women should be natural needlewomen.

As well as the home truths and handy hints the book also has some fantastic adverts, here are just two of the ones I like best. (Note the amount of copy - not like today's adverts with limited text and short catch phrases).

Four blouses from dressmaking cuttings??? Mrs Line of Holloway must have been some kind of magician or, alternatively, her children where wearing some pretty unusual patchwork clothing! I suspect she would think me very unadventurous for only planning to turn a pair of sheets into a pair of pyjamas. Oh well, you have to start somewhere.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Pints & Purls

Thanks to the Dublin Knit Collective I won two tickets to Pints & Purls at the Irish Craft Beer Festival on Thursday Night. With my trust knitting companion T, I set out to enjoy a couple of crafty ones!

The get together was organised by Phil & Sue of Mountain Man Brewing Company, and we had a table in front on their stand, with a very appropriate crochet patterns table cloth.

I went to the festival last year with the boyfriend and a group of his brewing chums, but it was a different experience being there with a group of knitters. I think it would be fair to say we were a bit of a talking point, and were photographed (not always very surreptitiously) by many others at the show. We also received, what I like to consider, as a number of admiring comments. Once we'd got used to the attention it was a really lovely evening; a delightful combination of knitting, beer drinking and chat.

Having said that, I probably should have brought something easier to knit than I did - as I frequently lost my place in the pattern and had to rip back and re-knit!

There were also a couple of raffle prizes for attendees. Slightly embarrassingly, given that I had won free tickets to the show, I followed this up by winning the mini skeins in the raffle. (Note, I wasn't embarrassed enough not to accept the prize). They are five beautiful jewel coloured mini-skeins of sock wool, hand dyed by the Dublin dye company. I also found out from T, that mini-skeins like this are called unicorn tails - what a great name!

'Hazwool' goes undercover as a hipster bearded craft-beer drinker,
it is a hard task but someone has to do it!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

August ends

Despite posting at the beginning of the month about my intention to blog more, I've not really done so and I still have a stack of finished projects to share. This is partly due to another little resolution I made at the beginning of the month, which I have been rather more successful in keeping.

Having finished my baby blanket and chevron top in July, I decided to spend August knitting up some of the ends of balls of yarn in my stash. The left overs from former knitting projects that I just can't bare to throw out. The pattern search function in Ravelry is ideal for this. It allows you to search the massive pattern database for patterns that use the amount of what ever weight yarn you have. 

In the last month I've knitted up a baby cardi and pair of fingerless mitts using left over sock yarn. (It would now be possible for me and my dad to wear matching father and daughter matching socks and mitts!) I've knitted a baby hat with the left overs from this jumper, and I've started on a scarf with some of the left overs from my chevron top.

I've found these small and quick project very satisfying to knit, and it has been great to clear some oddments out of my stash. Plus I've now got a stash of knitted gifts! I've still got a few yarn oddments left in my stash, and I think I might carry on working through them for a bit longer, especially as I don't really feel like starting on any of the bigger projects in my queue.

Depending on how I get on the leftovers, I'm also thinking of what I can make with the single skeins in my stash, some of which have been there for a while. I think all knitters probably know the problem of the beautiful single skein of yarn bought on impulse, which then lingers reproachfully in the stash :(

Having just come to this decision I met my knitting friend T for coffee today, and she gave me a lovely gift from her recent holiday in Denmark.

Yes, two more single skeins of possibilities. The one on the left is partly made of nettles!