This is the first version of a sweater pattern I’ve devised for M. I’ve named it ‘Queen Bess’ due to the influence of Elizabethan fashions on the design- hence the ruff-style collar, puff sleeves and smocking. It was actually quite pleasingly simple to knit, despite its quite intricate looking finish, with a top-down construction where the only fiddle is expanding the smock stitch into the increases round the yoke. It also has the advantage of being cosy without being bulky, thanks to the k3 p2 rib it’s based on.
As I have the possibly over-ambitious plan of publishing the pattern on Ravelry I’m now having to do the maths to work out how to make it in at least two more sizes. To this end, I’m going to try out the next size up so that M can have it for next winter and rather than the usable but dull acrylic I found in my stash for the prototype, I’ve invested in some rather beautiful Dazzle DK from the Natural Dye Studio (colourway is ‘Wisteria’, a kind of pinky-purple and I got it here). British Blue Faced Leicester, dyed without heavy metals or other nasties. Yum! Yes it’s handwash and yes, it’s for a baby but following reassurances given by other online knitting mums, I’m going to go with the theory that its easy enough to swoosh a few handknits in the sink with wool wash every now and then, and that if its worth my care and attention to knit, its worth knitting it in nice yarn.
We’ve got a lot of work in progress around our house at the moment. Really, I suppose the whole house is a work in progress, given that when we moved here there really wasn’t much we didn’t want to update or redecorate. Since this updating goes on as money becomes available, its going to be a slow process, but recently we’ve had the means to get two of the three bedrooms carpeted. Since carpet day is next Friday, this has put a bit of a rocket under us to get decorating done before we have new carpets to protect from paint. Cue rather a lot of late night work on everything from ceiling to skirting boards…
When I’m not covered in a layer of dust and paint I’ve also been working on some other bits and bobs. I bought a peg loom at Woolfest a few years back and have never really got around to using it. With what will be the children’s room needing a rug, I thought it was about time I pressed it into service, so I dug out some worn out jeans and some uncombed fleece I acquired and washed a few summers ago and I’m having a go.
Meanwhile, yet more leftovers in the form of several oddballs of sock yarn are being turned into a simple top-down rib sweater for M. It’s totally improvised and very much dictated by which colours I have most of, but I rather like it so far. Of course, chances are as ever with me that I’ll run out of yarn before it’s finished!
This somewhat solemn little chap is a small piece of a new beginning. Maybe a small piece of what will become something bigger. For quite some time my friend and I have talked about creating the sort of toddler group we’d like to take our littles to- less of the heaps of plastic toys and mothers sat around on chairs ignoring any newcomers, more natural materials, being in touch with the seasons and connecting families together. A lot like the Steiner playgroup we’ve been to, really. However, the Steiner group is a good hour and a half to drive to, a fact which has been increasingly hard to live with, both in terms of environmental conscience and, with rising fuel costs, budget. Our answer? To start up the group we want in our own living rooms- and once a month at the woodland recently bought by my friend’s mother. If all goes well, we’ll invite more families to join us and perhaps eventually find an official venue.
This, then, is ‘Pete’, our Steiner inspired story telling puppet. I hand-sewed him and filled him with wool, as this seemed to fit with the spirit of our enterprise. I haven’t hand-sewed anything much for years, and had forgotten how soothing it can be, providing the project is small enough.
If this idea is our indoors green shoots, then there are plenty of real green shoots in the outdoors. We’ve had a blessing of February sunshine today, inspiring us to go out to the woods. Trembling snowdrops somehow managed to avoid the stomp of muddy wellies and the leaf litter was peppered with tiny green spikes of promise- Spring is on the way!
How can someone with so many packing boxes marked ‘craft stuff’ (no, they still aren’t unpacked yet, but the day is getting closer), of which at least 50% is yarn stash, keep running out? Having more or less conquered the body of the long running saga that is the Pirate Sweater, I’ve now run out of Rowan British Breeds BFL before I’ve finished the sleeves or the pocket edgings or the hood (this last may be an optional extra, haven’t decided yet).
While I was deciding where to get more I thought I’d start on another idea for a child’s sweater design I’d had. Hmmm, seem to remember posting a couple of weeks back that this year I was going to concentrate on making things for the home rather than clothes- oops! Anyway, this sweater is going to be for M and is already christened ‘Little Queen Bess’ for it’s Elizabeth I influences- a frilled, ruff-like collar, smocked upper body and puffed sleeves. As I was just trying out the idea before finding some nice, preferably British produced, DK yarn to make the proper version, I picked up a ball of what I’m fairly sure is acrylic yarn from my stash. I thought there would be enough, but surprise, suprise, I got to the arms and found myself knitting slower and slower as the ball dwindled to nothing. I burrowed through the packing boxes and found all sorts of cream coloured yarn, which was all either too yellowy or too white. Eventually I realised that the yarn was leftover from some teacosies I’d made, including one that hadn’t sold in the Folksy shop and so had found it’s way into our kitchen….Yes, that’s right, I’m unravelling the teacosy to complete the sweater, having to avoid the tea-stained sections where necessary. Such is the lot of the cash-strapped knitter!
I’ve been totally preoccupied with possible nursery schools and wallpapering this week, with a background soundtrack of money worries. However, in the longer term plan, this year I really want to improve my sewing skills. I must have advertised this fact at least a couple of times, as my Nana-in-law very kindly bought me this cute sewing basket for my birthday (no more stuffing spare machine needles etc. in an old cardboard box), while my brother and his partner got me what they describe as ‘The Ferrari of sewing scissors’ (her mum teaches sewing, so no doubt they are). So I’m tooled up, but what about the projects?
Patterns from Oliver & S have been on my covet list for a long, long time but I’d never quite committed to buying. Then just after Christmas we sold some stuff we no longer needed on eBay and therefore had some money in the PayPal account…and Oliver and S did a lovely ’20% off during January’ offer…so welcome to my stash Music Box Jumper (that’s a pinafore dress for us Brits), Music Lesson Skirt and Blouse and Sketchbook Shorts and Shirt.
The reason for this selection is two-fold. Firstly, they range from what Oliver and S deem easy to medium in terms of how much sewing experience is needed. So in theory, if I work from the easier to the harder patterns I’ll increase my skills-base. Secondly, as I mentioned earlier in the post, the subject of nursery schools is on the horizon, which will mean school uniforms. The idea of P wearing cheap store-bought stuff doesn’t really appeal as
a. He has sensitive, eczema-prone skin
b. We try to avoid cheap, sweatshop produced clothing if possible, but don’t have a lot of money to back up our ethics.
c. He’s going to be at school five mornings a week. Then more the following year. So if I make clothes for him to wear the rest of the time then why not for school time too? A bit of mummy-love to take with him on this big step towards independence.
I’m hoping, then, that I can make the Sketchbook shorts in a long-trousered version for school uniform and with any luck will manage shirts by the end of summer when he’s due to start. Looking to the future, the girl’s patterns will be lovely for when M starts, just need to get a summer dress pattern to do in gingham- I like this one and fortunately I have a few years to acquire the necessary sewing ability before she’ll need it.